The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s developments as they unfolded.
Palestinian leaders head to Cairo for reconciliation talks
Leaders of various Palestinian factions headed for the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday ahead of talks aimed at moving forward with a reconciliation agreement.
Senior figures from 13 different political factions — including Gaza’s rulers Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah — are due to meet on Tuesday for three-day talks, with potential topics of discussion including the formation of a new unity government.
Under an Egypt-brokered agreement reached last month, the terror organization Hamas is supposed to hand over civil control of Gaza to the Fatah-led national government on December 1.
A source at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt told AFP that representatives from various factions including Hamas had crossed over on Monday morning.
“The aim of the meeting is to incorporate all the factions as partners and not just spectators as the page of division is folded for the last time,” Azzam al-Ahmed, who heads the Fatah delegation, said in a statement.
The Hamas delegation will be headed by deputy leader Salah al-Arouri and its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar.
Neither Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas nor Hamas chief Ismail Haniya will attend.
Another 11 other smaller political factions will also be in attendance.
The most likely source of tension at the meeting will be the future of Hamas’s vast armed wing, although the talks are not expected to lead to a final ruling on the matter.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of following Israel’s lead
Iran on Monday dismisses as “worthless” a resolution by Arab League foreign ministers that accused the Islamic Republic of “aggression” against Arab states.
“The solution to the region’s problems, many of which are down to Saudi Arabia’s sterile policy, is not to publish such worthless statements but to stop following the policies of the Zionist regime (Israel) which seeks to stoke divisions,” the ISNA news agency quotes foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi as saying.
On Sunday, the Arab League held an extraordinary general meeting in Cairo, at the request of Saudi Arabia, as tensions soar between the regional arch-rivals, including over league member Lebanon.
Palestinian BDS activists accuse Nick Cave of ‘art washing’
Supporters of an international boycott movement against Israel have lashed out at rock star Nick Cave after he played in the Jewish state and accused the pro-Palestinian activists of trying to bully musicians.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called Cave’s shows a “propaganda gift” that helps “art-wash” Israeli policies toward Palestinians.
Cave plays Monday in Tel Aviv after an almost sold-out show there the night before.
The Australian musician said he faced pressure to cancel shows by the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel.
Cave said he wanted to take a “principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians.”
Some artists have canceled shows in Israel amid BDS pressure while many others continue to play.
Lapid vows to ‘hit the streets’ if Netanyahu indicted but doesn’t quit
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid says he’ll lead mass protests in the event Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted and does not resign.
“If Netanyahu is indicted and does not quit, we’ll hit the streets,” says Lapid during the weekly Yesh Atid faction meeting.
Gabbay slams MKs for weighing in on presidential pardons
Labor chairman Avi Gabbay rebukes Likud politicians for condemning President Reuven Rivlin’s decision not to pardon IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who is serving time for manslaughter in the 2016 Hebron shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian stabber, a day earlier.
“Politicians are not supposed to deal with pardons, this is the job of the legal system, not the political system,” says Gabbay at the start of the weekly Zionist Union meeting. “We hear the embarrassing attacks by politicians in Likud [against the president] and the prime minister is silent because this is the political culture that he is instilling.”
Speaking just before Gabbay, Zionist Union faction chairman Yoel Hasson thanks Rivlin for his “brave decision” to commute the sentence of Yonatan Heilo, who was serving time for killing his rapist.
“The president did the right and moral thing,” says Hasson.
Lebanese president says country has right to fight Israeli ‘aggression’
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun says his country has the right to defend itself from Israeli “aggression.”
The Lebanese president is addressing the Arab League director-general Ahmed Abu el-Gheit on a visit to Beirut.
“Lebanon was able to face the Israeli aggressions since 1978 until the 2006 war. It was able to liberate its land. Israeli threats are still ongoing; the Lebanese have the right to fight and thwart it with all available means.”
At the same time, Aoun distances himself from the Hezbollah terrorist group and all regional conflicts.
“Lebanon cannot tolerate a suggestion that the Lebanese government is a partner in terrorist acts. Lebanon’s stance declared through its representative at the Arab League yesterday expressed a national will,” he says, according to the Lebanese Naharnet. “Lebanon is not responsible for the Arab and regional conflicts that some Arab states are witnessing. Lebanon did not carry out any aggression against anyone and it should not pay the price of these conflicts.”
Arab foreign ministers blasted Hezbollah in the Arab League resolution on Sunday, saying they would hold it “responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations in Arab countries with modern weapons and ballistic missiles.”
The concluding statement demanded that Hezbollah stop intervening in regional conflicts and spreading extremism and sectarianism.
— with AFP
Minister: All 120 MKs have accepted gifts
Defending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud Minister Ayoub Kara says all 120 lawmakers in Israel’s parliament have accepted gifts for which they could be prosecuted.
The communications minister is referring to allegations the premier accepted pricey gifts from millionaire benefactors.
“All 120 MKs accepted gifts, against all of us one could recruit a state’s witness,” says Kara, according to Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2).
After Rivlin slammed, Netanyahu says not all criticism is incitement
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses pictures circulating online of President Reuven Rivlin in an Arab keffiyeh, which police are investigating as incitement.
“In a democracy, you may criticize everyone. Not all criticism is incitement — but it should be without keffiyehs, without nooses, and without Nazi uniforms,” says Netanyahu at the weekly Likud faction meeting.
The photo of the president was circulating in protest of his decision not to pardon an IDF soldier convicted of killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker.
Ankara says US court case a ‘plot against Turkey’
The Turkish government on Monday describes a court case in the US that has aroused the ire of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a plot against Turkey, saying the suspects were being held like hostages.
Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian national, and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank, are being held in the United States on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
They are to go on trial on November 27, with the jury selection set to take place in New York later on Monday.
Turkish officials have already accused the prosecutors behind the case of having links to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based Islamic preacher who Ankara blamed for last year’s failed coup, accusations he denies.
“This is a political case devoid of any content,” the government spokesman, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, says after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“This case is a plot directed against Turkey. Quite clearly the defendants… are being subjected to pressure,” he adds.
“They are being held like hostages,” he says.
Zionist Union to support deportations of migrants — report
The Zionist Union party will reportedly back a government plan to expand the deportations of African migrants to a third country.
The change of stance for the opposition party was initiated by leader Avi Gabbay, according to Haaretz.
Twelve of the party’s MKs, including Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Isaac Herzog, supported the measure, the report said. Eight other lawmakers were opposed, in a vote held during the weekly faction meeting.
“We don’t need to be more righteous than the High Court,” Gabbay was quoted as saying, referring to a decision in August that authorized the deportations to Rwanda and Uganda, while banning unlimited detentions of the migrants, who are largely from Sudan and Eritrea.
“We will pay a heavy price for opposing the law,” Gabbay reportedly acknowledges. “It won’t look good to the public.”
Egyptian singer detained over racy video clip
Security officials say prosecutors have ordered an Egyptian female pop singer detained for a week on accusations of promoting debauchery in a racy video clip.
Shaimaa Ahmed, a 25-year-old singer better known by her stage name Shima, appears in the video in her underwear singing while suggestively eating an apple and a banana before a class of young men.
The video created a stir on social media in conservative Egypt and was discussed on TV talk shows.
The officials say Shima was arrested last week following a flurry of complaints. She was remanded for four days. Prosecutors on Monday ordered her detained for seven days.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Second woman accuses Franken of inappropriate touching
A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.
Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Franken’s first term.
The 33-year-old Menz tells CNN that the interaction made her feel “gross.” She says she immediately told her husband that Franken had “grabbed” her bottom.
Franken tells CNN he didn’t remember taking the photo with Menz, but that he feels badly that she felt disrespected.
Los Angeles broadcaster Leeann Tweeden accused Franken last week of forcibly kissing her during a USO tour in 2006, before he was elected to the US Senate.
Franken’s office has not responded to Associated Press messages seeking comment Monday.
Dozens said hurt as ultra-Orthodox protesters clash with police
Ultra-Orthodox anti-draft protesters clash with police in Bnei Brak, reportedly leaving dozens injured.
The injuries — reported by Hadashot television news — are not confirmed by police, who say in a statement that three demonstrators have been arrested.
The demonstrators are blocking roads in the central Israel city in protest of a court decision sentencing 12 draft dodgers to jail sentences ranging from 40 to 90 days.
PM to discuss Iran, Hezbollah with France’s Macron
Netanyahu says he will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in early December to discuss threats against Israel from Hezbollah and Iran, and “ideas to stabilize the situation in Lebanon.”
The prime minister told his Likud party at a meeting Monday that he spoke with the French president “at length” the previous day.
Lebanon was plunged into crisis earlier this month by the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Hezbollah rival. Hariri recently traveled to France from Saudi Arabia, where he had made the announcement.
Netanyahu says he and Macron agreed to meet to “see if we can adopt similar approaches, as much as possible, concerning this threat and the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
Dozens gather in anti-draft protest in Jerusalem
A second anti-draft protest gathers in Jerusalem.
Dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters try to block an army induction center on Rashi Street, according to police.
There are no reports of injuries or arrests. Police are at the scene.
Police update the number of arrests in the Bnei Brak protest to five.
Coalition MKs, Zionist Union back migrants plan in first vote
Lawmakers, including from the opposition Zionist Union party, approve a government plan that would shutter the Holot migrant facility in southern Israel in four months in anticipation of wide-ranging deportations of illegal migrants to other African countries.
Holot, an open facility in the desert that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, would be closed three months from December 16, according to the decision.
The proposal will allow for further extensions to keep Holot open in the event the mass deportations are stalled. It passes its first reading with 53 MKs in favor, 10 opposed.
In closing the facility, migrants will be given an ultimatum: Leave the country or face imprisonment.
“What is wrong with you?” Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg rages against the Zionist Union party in the plenum. “Have you lost your minds? This is no longer a tactic to win votes but rather [a matter of] the most basic values. It’s the ability to distinguish between good and evil.”
“What is the difference between you and Miri Regev and Oren Hazan?” she asks, referring to Likud MKs. “What will your extra seat be worth if you are the worst populists?”
“Soon you’ll be putting the president in a keffiyeh,” she says, referring to photos circulating online by critics of President Reuven Rivlin. “You are not the opposition.”
Israel tacitly recognizes that Sudanese and Eritreans cannot be returned to their dangerous homelands, so it has signed deals with third countries, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement, according to activists.
In August, the High Court of Justice approved the emigration policy, but also ruled that Israeli authorities had to first ensure that the countries to which migrants were being deported were safe. Though the state has not named the third countries, they have been identified in media reports as Rwanda and Uganda.
2 IDF soldiers hit by a truck in northern Israel
Two soldiers are injured in a car accident in northern Israel, the army says, in what is the second such incident in under a week.
One of the soldiers is moderately to seriously wounded, the other is lightly injured, according to the IDF. They were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The two soldiers were standing next to their car, outside of Hatzor Haglilit, in northern Israel, when they were hit by a truck, the army says.
Military Police have opened an investigation into the incident, the army says.
Last Wednesday, one soldier, Staff Sgt. Ariel Harush, was killed and another seriously injured in a car crash in the Galilee.
— Judah Ari Gross
Liberman demands NIS 4.8b. bump for defense budget
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman demands an immediate increase of NIS 4.8 billion to the defense budget, as a result of “significant changes” in the region affecting Israel’s security.
The treasury dismisses his request, citing earlier agreements, according to Hebrew reports.
New York Times reporter suspended over harassment claims
The New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush has been suspended after Vox publishes accusations of sexual harassment against him.
“The behavior attributed to Glenn in this Vox story is very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times,” the paper says in a statement. “We intend to fully investigate and while we do, Glenn will be suspended.”
In the Vox report, Thrush, who is Jewish, was described as preying on young female journalists and initiating unwanted kissing and touching.
Trump intends to declare N. Korea a state sponsor of terror
US President Donald Trump says he intends to declare North Korea a state sponsor of terror.
Trump says Monday that the designation will impose further penalties on the country. He calls it a long overdue step and part of the US “maximum pressure campaign” against the North.
The move returns North Korea to the list of countries the US views as state sponsors of terror for the first time since 2008. That’s when the North was removed in a bid to salvage a deal to halt its nuclear development.
US officials cites the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother in a Malaysian airport this year as an act of terrorism.
North Korea would join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list of state sponsors of terror.
Hezbollah says it sent missiles to Gaza; not to Yemen, Bahrain
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denies on Monday that his group had ever sent weapons to a host of conflict-ridden countries, including Yemen, Bahrain, and Kuwait. But he concedes the terror group sent projectiles to Gaza.
“I want to formally deny it: we did not send weapons to Yemen, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Iraq,” Nasrallah says in a televised address.
“We only sent Kornet missiles to Gaza, while in Syria we’re fighting with our arms,” he adds, according to the Naharnet website.
— With AFP
UN warns of conflict in Gaza if reconciliation talks fail
Conflict is likely to once again engulf Gaza if a deal on the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Hamas-controlled enclave fails, the UN envoy for the Middle East warns.
Addressing the Security Council on the eve of talks in Cairo between Palestinian factions, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov says the Egypt-led “process must not be allowed to fail.”
“If it does, it will most likely result in another devastating conflict,” warns Mladenov.
“Whether it would be triggered by a meltdown of law and order in Gaza, by the reckless action of extremists or by strategic choice, the result will be the same — devastation and suffering for all.”
Germany’s Merkel prefers new election to minority gov’t
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Monday that she was “very skeptical” about leading a minority government if no coalition could be formed to run Europe’s biggest economy, and thinks a new election would be a better solution.
Her comments come after the country’s president appealed to political leaders to rethink their positions and try again to form a new government, once coalition talks between Merkel’s conservatives and two parties collapsed. But there was little immediate indication that his call would be heeded, and a new election looks increasingly likely.
The conservative Merkel spent four weeks haggling with the pro-business Free Democrats and the traditionally left-leaning Greens on a new, untried governing coalition until the Free Democrats walked out Sunday night.
Her partners in the outgoing government, the center-left Social Democrats, said Monday they would not join a new Merkel administration, a stance the party has repeated time and again since it slumped to a disastrous defeat in Germany’s September 24 election. No other politically plausible combination of parties has a majority in parliament.
“We now face a situation that we haven’t had in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, so in nearly 70 years,” President Frank-Walter Steinmeier tells reporters after meeting Merkel. It is Steinmeier who will have to decide whether to pave the way for a minority government or a new election.
“This is the moment at which all parties should pause and reconsider their position,” he says. “I expect from everyone readiness to talk, in order to make the formation of a government possible in the foreseeable future.”
Hamas rejects Arab League designation of Hezbollah as terrorists
Palestinian terror movement Hamas rejects on Monday an Arab League resolution labeling Lebanon’s Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
In a statement, the party says it “rejects the description of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement as terrorist.”
Instead, it adds, Israel’s actions against Palestinians should be labeled “terrorism.”
It also calls on Arab states to “support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people” and urges them to work together to solve their differences through dialogue.
On Sunday, Arab League members adopted a resolution saying they would hold the “terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah… responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist organisations in Arab countries, with modern weapons and ballistic missiles”.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
French Socialist politician may be ousted over anti-Semitic tweet
France’s Socialist Party says it has initiated a procedure to oust a lawmaker whose Twitter account featured an image of President Emmanuel Macron deemed anti-Semitic.
Gérard Filoche’s account last week showed Macron wearing a Nazi-like armband with a dollar sign and three well-known European Jews — the French economist Jacques Attali, entrepreneur Patrick Drahi and the British banking magnate Jacob Rothschild — in the background towering over the earth, flanked by an Israeli and American flag.
Filoche, who removed the image and apologized for its posting, says he “did not do” it himself, but assumes responsibility. He tells the Liberation daily it “should not have posted because it and its source are bad.”
The Liberation traced the image to the website of Alain Soral, a far-right Holocaust denier and member of the Anti-Zionist Party that he founded with Dieudonne M’Bala M’bala. Both have multiple convictions for inciting hatred against Jews.
But Filoche, defending himself against accusations of anti-Semitism, tweeted that he does not apologize for calling out the “cabal” depicted by the image.
The National Bureau for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism and the Union of Jewish Students in France, or UEJF, filed police complaints against Filoche for alleged incitement to racist hatred, the La Depeche news site reports, and on Friday the party began looking into kicking out the activist for workers rights and against racial discrimination.
Manuel Valls, a former prime minister of France and senior member of the Socialist Party, called the Filoche tweet “anti-Semitic” and grounds for expulsion.
Saudi FM denies ties with Israel
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denies ties between the kingdom and Israel.
“There are no ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” Jubeir tells Egyptian media, according to a translation by the Ynet news website.
He says the Arab Peace Initiative would normalize relations between Israel and Arab states.
A cabinet minister said on Sunday that Israel had covert ties with “many” Arab and Muslim states, but was obliged not to name them at the other sides’ request.
A rare interview given by the head of Israel’s armed forces to a Saudi-owned news site was published on Thursday, further fueling talk of close links.
This followed previous broad hints by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Israeli-Arab relations, and accusations by Hezbollah that Saudi Arabia was pushing Israel to attack the Lebanese Shiite terror group.
“We have ties, some of them secret, with many Arab and Muslim states,” Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio on Sunday. “Usually the one who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side,” he said in response to a question about ties with Riyadh.
— With AFP
BBC host apologizes for ‘fat Jewish guy’ comment
A BBC host apologizes for saying it is “great” that music artists are no longer being managed by “some random fat Jewish guy from northwest London.”
“I am hugely apologetic for this flippant comment,” Reggie Yates, a Radio 1 host and TV presenter, says Monday in his apology. “It was not my intention to offend or reinforce stereotypes, but I’m aware that this could have been interpreted that way and for that I am also deeply sorry.
“What I was actually trying to say was how proud I am of the new generation of artists making their success independently on their own terms and without giving away control or their rights to major labels.”
Yates, 34, made his comments earlier this month on a podcast in response to a question about current popular black music artists and expressed pleasure that they were being “managed by their brethren.”
“The thing that makes it great about this new generation of artists is that they ain’t signing to majors,” he said on the podcast titled “#Halfcast Podcast: Take Back The Power,” hosted by the DJ Chuckie Lothian. “They’re independent, they’re not managed by some random fat Jewish guy from northwest London, they’re managed by their brethren.”
Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust, a London-based group that combats anti-Semitism, told the local media, “Even worse than any offense is the message Yates gives his audience by reinforcing an anti-Semitic stereotype” that Jews are money grabbing and untrustworthy.
IDF suspends 2 infantry commanders over shooting death of Palestinian
The IDF suspends a deputy company commander and a squad commander from the Givati infantry brigade over the shooting death of a Palestinian motorist near the northern West Bank settlement of Halamish last month.
The soldiers opened fire on a “suspicious” vehicle they said they believed was attempting a ramming attack against fellow soldiers.
And army investigation concluded that the driver, Mohammed Abdallah Musa, was listening to music as he drove and did not notice a soldier on the side of the road signaling for him to stop.
Musa’s sister was shot in the shoulder in the incident and was moderately hurt.
The commanders’ suspension follows a preliminary IDF inquiry into the incident. A full Military Police investigation is still underway.