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Settlement minister says PM has agreed to move to legalize West Bank outposts

With Trump set to leave office, Tzachi Hanegbi says he has agreed with Netanyahu to present a plan to the cabinet in the coming weeks

An outpost near the Yitzhar settlement on October 24, 2019. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
An outpost near the Yitzhar settlement on October 24, 2019. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.

Yamina will support opposition’s bill to disband Knesset, MK Shaked says

Yamina’s Ayelet Shaked says her party will support the opposition’s bill to disband the Knesset.

“We will support, and file our own bill,” Shaked tells Ynet.

“This government is a sick government. No medicine will help it, and it is right to go to elections.”

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked at a press conference in Jerusalem on May 14, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

She adds: “It’s a left-wing government. Netanyahu sold everything that’s important to the right to [Justice Minister Avi] Nissenkorn and his partners.”

Shaked asserts her party is now “a leadership alternative” to Likud, and says people are tired of “the failing parties currently running the country.”

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett “is able, worthy and needs to be the next prime minister,” she says.

Knesset committee backs two private bills tied to violence against women

The Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation approves two private bills tied to violence against women.

One bill is intended to limit the firing of women who are staying in shelters. The other rejects granting child custody to a parent convicted of the murder of the child’s second parent.

The bills are expected to receive the full support of the coalition.

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Iran rejects ‘interference’ over academic facing execution

Iran has warned against “all interference” by Sweden after Stockholm called on Tehran not to execute Iranian-Swedish academic Ahmadreza Djalali, who was handed a death penalty three years ago for spying.

“The judicial power of the Islamic Republic is independent — all interference in the issuance or carrying out of judicial decisions is rejected as unacceptable,” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says in a statement.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Anne Linde on Tuesday took to Twitter after being in contact with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, in the wake of reports that Tehran was preparing to carry out the execution of Djalali, a specialist in emergency medicine.

Ahmadreza Djalali, left, and his family. (Screen capture via YouTube/Amnesty International)

“Sweden denounces the death penalty and is working to not have the sentence against Djalali carried out,” Linde wrote.

Khatibzadeh says that the information being used by the Swedish authorities to inform their position on Djalali’s circumstances is “incomplete and false.” He does not elaborate.

— AFP

IDF drops leaflets in Syria warning against cooperation with Iran and Hezbollah

The Israel Defense Forces drops leaflets in the Syrian Golan Heights warning the country’s military to halt its cooperation with Iran and the Hezbollah terror group, Syrian media reports.

The move comes after Israel reportedly conducted a number of airstrikes in southern Syria, including in the Syrian Golan. Photos of the leaflets were posted to social media this morning.

“We will not allow anyone to upset the stability here,” the fliers read.

Illustrative — An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter flies during an aerial show at a graduation ceremony for soldiers who have completed the IAF Flight Course, at the Hatzerim Air Base in the Negev desert, December 29, 2016 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The military adds that it will “take action against Hezbollah and Iranian operatives at any time, as needed.”

The leaflets also refer to a recent attempt to set off explosive charges against IDF soldiers near the Syrian border, a thwarted attack that Israel says was directed by Iran.

“Hezbollah and Iran, as we have seen in recent years, are using [Syrian] military sites, military personnel and Syrian civilians unwittingly and carrying out their terrorist missions against the State of Israel,” the IDF writes.

— Judah Ari Gross

Mother of flight school cadet killed in crash: ‘What will we do without you?’

The mother of a 19-year-old military flight school cadet killed in yesterday’s light plane crash in the south has written a eulogy for her son.

“You set out to serve with such joy and hope. I kept my fears to myself,” Shibolet Ben-Bassa writes. “I didn’t want to stop your momentum and commitment.

“God, why, why you? I don’t understand… What will we do without you?”

Cpl. Lihu Ben-Bassa was killed during a routine training flight alongside his instructor Maj. (res.) Itay Zayden. The military has launched an investigation.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yosef meets delegation of Bahraini royals

Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef meets with a delegation of Bahraini royals in Jerusalem.

The Gulf state’s representatives are in Israel on behalf of the King Hamad Global Centre for Peaceful Co-existence.

According to Israel National News, Yosef tells the Bahrainis that the people of Israel want peace across the Middle East, and asks the representatives to convey his thanks to the country’s king for his work on the normalization deal with Israel.

He hopes for “a friendship that will bring economic and social flourishing.”

Police report apparent ramming attack at checkpoint near Jerusalem, driver shot

A man has apparently tried to ram his car into border guards at a checkpoint outside of Jerusalem, police say.

“An apparent attempted car-ramming occurred at the a-Zaim crossing,” police say.

Border Police officers opened fire at the driver, injuring him, according to police.

— Judah Ari Gross

Car driver said seriously hurt in suspected ramming attempt, taken to hospital

Media reports indicate the driver of the car in the suspected ramming attempt was shot in the stomach and seriously injured.

He was taken to Hadassah Medical Center for treatment.

Djibouti leader says not considering normalization of ties with Israel

Djibouti is currently not considering a normalization of ties with Israel, the African Muslim-majority nation’s president says.

“No, because the conditions aren’t ripe,” Ismaïl Omar Guelleh tells the Africa Report in an interview. “We neither have a problem with the Jews as a people nor the Israelis as a nation. Some of them even come to Djibouti on business with their passport, and Djibouti’s citizens have been able to travel to Israel for 25 years now.”

However, the small nation on the Horn of Africa takes issue with the Israeli government “because they’re denying Palestinians their inalienable rights,” he adds. “All we ask that the government do is make one gesture of peace, and we will make 10 in return. But I’m afraid they’ll never do that.”

Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh attends the Paris Peace Forum, November 12, 2019 in Paris (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP)

— Raphael Ahren

Israeli economic delegation meets Bahraini trade minister in Manama

An Israeli economic delegation met with the Bahraini Minister of Industry, Trade, and Tourism in Manama earlier today, Bahraini state media reports.

“This meeting is the beginning of a strategy to enhance joint cooperation between the two countries in order to achieve common interests within the framework of peace,” says the Bahraini minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani.

— Aaron Boxerman

Health minister says people calling him ‘Mengele’ for push to vaccinate public

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein laments being compared to Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor who experimented on humans, for his push to vaccinate the population from coronavirus.

Some have accused Edelstein of planning to seek legislation to force people to vaccinate, a notion the minister has denied.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein holds a press conference during a visit at the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem, on July 15, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I’m being called Dr. Mengele, the damnable Nazi murderer, because my office is securing vaccines for the entire public. Being vaccinated is not an obligation. It wasn’t and will not be. To be vaccinated is a right. It is my duty as health minister to ensure vaccines… that will be enough for all Israelis.

“Vaccinate if you want, don’t vaccinate if you don’t.”

Report: IDF preparing for possibility Trump will order strike on Iran

The Israeli army has been preparing in recent weeks for the possibility that US President Donald Trump will order a strike on Iran before leaving office, Axios reports.

Citing senior Israeli officials, the website notes that there is no specific information that such an attack is imminent, but leaders believe the US president’s final weeks in the job will be “a very sensitive period.”

US President Donald Trump in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, on November 20, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Last week The New York Times reported that Trump convened top advisers earlier in the month and asked about options to strike Iranian nuclear sites during his last weeks in office.

The report said Trump was dissuaded with warnings it could lead to a wider conflict.

UAE halts visas to 13 Muslim-majority nations over security concerns — report

The United Arab Emirates has stopped approving visas for the citizens of 13 countries with Muslim majorities, due to unspecified security concerns, Reuters reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The nations include Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The report says the ban is unlikely to remain in place for long.

Reuters’ sources say the move is not connected to Abu Dhabi’s recent normalization deal with Israel.

A photo of Dubai’s skyline with Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in the center, as the sun sets over Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 4, 2016. (AFP/Karim Sahib)

Driver in suspected ramming attempt near Jerusalem dies of his wounds

The driver shot by Border Police while allegedly attempting to ram a checkpoint has died at Hadassah Medical Center, officials there say.

Doctors say the man suffered a serious stomach injury, and they were unable to save him.

Officials say the man was undergoing a security inspection when officers began to suspect his documents were not his own. The man then accelerated and hit a Border Policeman before being shot.

The policeman was lightly injured.

Or Akiva mayor and former minister Yaakov Edri suspected of rape, other violence

Or Akiva Mayor Yaakov Edri is suspected of rape and other violent crimes, Hebrew media reports.

Edri was arrested two weeks ago and has had his remand extended several times.

Edri is also suspected of other offenses including fraud and bribery.

Edri is a former MK for the Likud and Kadima parties, having served in the Knesset between 2003 and 2013. He was also health minister, immigration minister, and minister for the development of the periphery, the Negev and the Galilee.

Yaakov Edri at the Knesset Jan. 03, 2011 (Uri Lenz/FLASH90)

Ramming suspect identified as Silwan resident, not clear it was terror

The Palestinian man involved in the suspected ramming attack has been identified by Palestinian media as Nur Jamal Shaqir, a 30-year-old resident of the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Police say it is not immediately clear if the incident was an act of terror.

— Judah Ari Gross

Rivlin presents awards to two women for helping female victims of assault

Marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, President Reuven Rivlin presents awards to two women for helping female victims of assault.

Adi Guzi and Shiri Mandelbaum both defended women when their partners physically attacked them.

“For too many women, home is a hell. Home is fear,” Rivlin says. “It is tense silence that could turn into threats, humiliation, the next beating.

“Violence is not just a punch. Violence is the power of words to humiliate and ridicule. Violence is manipulation, shouting, whispered insults. And violence can be expressed in limiting the freedom of women, limiting their ability to choose, limiting their ability to manage their money and their lives as they wish. We must not turn a blind eye to the plague of violence against women.”

Left to right: Shiri Mandelbaum, President Reuven Rivlin, Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen and Adi Guzi at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, November 25, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Mine explodes, damaging oil tanker off Saudi Arabia

A mine in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia near Yemen exploded and damaged an oil tanker, authorities say, the latest incident targeting the kingdom amid its long war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The blast happened early Wednesday and struck the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed oil tanker near Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

“Their vessel was attacked by an unknown source,” a statement from the Agrari’s operators say. “The Agrari was struck about 1 meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.”

Seagulls fly over the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Oct. 11, 2019 (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

The Saudi-led coalition reported yesterday that it removed and destroyed five Iranian-made naval mines planted by the Houthis in the southern Red Sea, condemning the attempted attacks as posing “a serious threat to maritime security in the Bab al-Mandab strait.”

— AP

Health Ministry chief: Virus rate above what we set to further ease restrictions

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levi says Israel’s virus reproduction rate stands at 1.06 — higher than the amount set by officials to enable further easing of restrictions.

Any number over 1 means the virus’s spread in the population is growing.

Levi says that out of some 60,000 tests yesterday, 1.8 percent came back positive.

“Vaccines will arrive in the first and second quarter of 2021, and perhaps there will be a first batch in December,” Levi says.

“We will bring to Israel [only] vaccines that have all been rigorously tested,” he adds.

Health Ministry Director-General Chezy Levy during a press conference in Jerusalem about the coronavirus on July 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Levi warns against further moves to ease restrictions, including the opening of malls and markets, which he says “without a doubt may cause morbidity to rise.”

Iran says British-Australian academic freed for 3 Iranians

Iran has freed Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic who has been detained in Iran for more than two years, in exchange for three Iranians held abroad, state TV reports.

The report offers no further details beyond saying that the three Iranians released in the swap had been detained for trying to bypass sanctions.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert (Screen capture: YouTube)

Moore-Gilbert was a Melbourne University lecturer on Middle Eastern studies when she was sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison in September 2018 and sentenced to 10 years. She is one of several Westerners held in Iran on internationally criticized espionage charges that their families and rights groups say are unfounded.

It is not immediately clear when Moore-Gilbert will arrive back in Australia. State TV airs video showing her with a gray hijab sitting at what appears to be a greeting room at one of Tehran’s airports. She wears a blue face mask under her chin. The footage shows three men with Iranian flags over their shoulders — those freed in exchange for her being released. State TV earlier described them as “economic activists,” without elaborating.

— AP

Ethiopian Israelis protest in Jerusalem over delays on relatives’ immigration

Some 200 Ethiopian Israelis rallied outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem earlier, condemning the government’s foot-dragging that has prevented their relatives from immigrating to Israel from the war-torn African country.

“We demand justice for our relatives,” read signs at the protest. Others held up photographs of the relatives left behind.

Up to 14,000 people with Jewish roots are waiting in Ethiopia to come to Israel, but the government approved the airlifting of just 2,000 in January.

Members of the Ethiopian Israeli community hold up photographs of their relatives outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on November 25, 2020 (Menahem Kahana / AFP)

The government policy on the immigration of Ethiopian Jews in recent years has been rife with abandoned pledges. In 2013, the Jewish Agency declared the end of Ethiopian aliyah, prompting protests by Ethiopian lawmakers and community members in Israel. In November 2015, the government passed a decision to airlift “the last of the community” waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar to Israel within five years.

Since that decision, however, just 2,257 Ethiopians have been brought, in dribs and drabs, according to Jewish Agency figures.

Soccer legend Diego Maradona dies after cardiac arrest

Soccer legend Diego Maradona has died after suffering cardiac arrest, Argentinian media reports.

The 60-year-old had undergone an operation earlier this month for a blood clot in his brain.

Maradona had been admitted to hospital three times in the last 20 years for serious health issues — two of which were potentially fatal — due to his drug and alcohol addictions.

File: In this March 7, 2020 file photo, Diego Maradona sits on the bench prior to Argentina’s soccer league match against Boca Juniors at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

Biden to receive his first classified briefing next week

Joe Biden will receive his first classified briefing as president-elect and announce his economic team next week.

Biden transition adviser Jen Psaki says Biden on Monday will receive his first presidential daily briefing, the regular briefing on the most sensitive intelligence offered to top US officials.

Biden had been blocked from receiving intelligence briefings and his team members had been blocked from contact with their counterparts in the Trump administration due to the General Services Administration’s refusal to ascertain that Biden won the election while Trump campaign legal challenges against the vote continued. That ascertainment came Monday, lifting those roadblocks to cooperation.

In this November 10, 2020 photo, US President-elect Joe Biden smiles as he speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Transition adviser Kate Bedingfield says the Biden team will begin briefings with the Trump administration on vaccine distribution, testing and the personal protective equipment supply chain today.

Bedingfield says the team has been in touch with FBI and Department of Justice officials about coordinating expedited background checks for Biden’s senior White House staffers and the Cabinet nominees he announced yesterday.

— AP

Settlement minister says PM has agreed to move to legalize West Bank outposts

Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi says he has agreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to present a plan in the coming weeks to legalize West Bank outposts.

“We agreed to draft a resolution for the cabinet to advance all legal actions to authorize [outposts],” Hanegbi says.

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett says this would be a “historic” achievement, but stresses that “the only test will be in the implementation.”

Tzachi Hanegbi attends a Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group in Kedem, in the West Bank, on September 5, 2019. (Hillel Maeir/ Flash90)

His deputy Bezalel Smotrich says he too hopes that this will not “a meaningless declaration.” He adds: “Twenty thousand [outpost] residents are not second-class citizens and deserve to have equal rights.”

With US President Donald Trump set to leave office in January, Netanyahu has faced pressure to take advantage of the outgoing administration’s goodwill toward settlements to authorize illegal outposts.

Gantz calls to approve raising fines for violators of health rules

Defense Minister Benny Gantz calls on the prime minister to bring to a cabinet vote next week a proposal to raise fines for violators of coronavirus restrictions.

“It is inconceivable that while we discuss in the cabinet ways to keep to restrictions and strengthen discipline and enforcement, we are delaying realizing those decisions,” Gantz says.

A senior official in the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism tells Ynet in response such comments are “impudent” and accuses Gantz of “pestering” Haredi institutions.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the Jerusalem Municipality on November 10, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Widespread reports during the pandemic have shown the ultra-Orthodox public to be one of the least disciplined in keeping to virus guidelines.

Health Ministry says 576 people diagnosed with virus so far today

The Health Ministry says 576 people have been diagnosed with coronavirus so far today.

The death toll stands at 2,826, with four new deaths since the morning.

The number of active cases is at 9,010, of which 285 are in serious condition.

UN agency: Israel’s Gaza blockade has devastated economy

Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has cost the seaside territory as much as $16.7 billion in economic losses and sent poverty and unemployment skyrocketing, a UN report says, as it calls on Israel to lift the closure.

The report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development echoes calls by numerous international bodies over the years criticizing the blockade. But its findings, looking at an 11-year period ending in 2018, mark perhaps the most detailed analysis of the Israeli policy to date.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 after Hamas, a terrorist group that seeks Israel’s destruction, violently seized control of Gaza from the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The Israeli measures, along with restrictions by neighboring Egypt, have tightly controlled the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.

A Palestinian Hamas policeman wears a face mask as he guards in a street in Gaza City during a 48-hour lockdown on August 25, 2020. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

Israel says the restrictions are needed to keep Hamas from building up its military capabilities. The bitter enemies have fought three wars and numerous skirmishes over the years.

— with agencies

Rivlin: Maradona brought moments of hope and pure happiness to millions

President Reuven Rivlin comments on the death of Diego Maradona:

“Maradona, the wonderful artist of soccer who brought light and joy to millions around the world, is no more. A soccer legend whose story we will tell over and over. Those of us who saw him play the ball with such lightness of touch, unstoppable on his way to the goal, together with our children and grandchildren who heard the stories of every legendary goal — all give thanks tonight.

“Thank you for unforgettable moments, in sorrow and in joy, for the moments of hope and pure happiness that you brought to millions around the world. I send consolation to the Argentinian people and to soccer fans everywhere on this sad evening.”

In this March 26, 2006 file photo, former soccer player Diego Maradona smokes a cigar as he watches Argentina’s first division soccer match between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)

Netanyahu’s trip to Bahrain postponed at Manama’s request — report

The prime minister’s planned trip to Bahrain next week has been postponed at the request of Manama, Walla news reports, citing Israeli officials.

The website says Benjamin Netanyahu had been set to visit both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. However, the UAE asked to delay the trip to later in the month due to scheduling issues.

After learning of this, Bahrain asked to keep Netanyahu’s visit adjacent to his trip to the UAE, leading to its postponement as well.

A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)

This has also led Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to cancel a planned trip, as Bahraini protocol says a head of state or government has to visit before a foreign minister can.

TV report details government’s vaccination priorities plan

Channel 12 news reports on a preliminary government plan for the priorities in which Israel’s population will be vaccinated against coronavirus.

1. Medical staff and doctors.
2. People aged 65 and up and endangered groups.
3. Workers who regularly come into contact with the public, teachers and prisoners.
4. Pregnant women and babies, workers at retirement homes.
5. The rest of the population.

Coronavirus cases worldwide top 60 million — AFP tally

More than 60 million cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected worldwide, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP as of this evening.

In total 60,014,291 infections, including 1,415,258 million deaths, have been recorded around the world since the pandemic emerged in China late last year.

Commuters wearing facemasks walk in an MTR underground metro station amid the coronavirus pandemic in Hong Kong on November 25, 2020. (Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization, probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries test only symptomatic cases or the most serious ones.

— AFP

Plane involved in fatal military crash recently experienced engine trouble — report

The plane involved in yesterday’s fatal military air crash had seen a previous malfunction in recent months, Channel 13 reports.

The Grob G 120 “Snonit” that crashed yesterday during a training session had had a previous problem with its engine which was fixed, the network says. Another plane of the same model also had an unspecified malfunction during the recent period, the report adds.

The plane is generally considered to be very safe.

The site of a plane crash in which two Israeli soldiers were killed near Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev in southern Israel on November 24, 2020. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

The crash killed trainer Maj. (res.) Itay Zayden, a 42-year-old from Kibbutz Shoval, and cadet Cpl. Lihu Ben-Bassa, 19, from Rishon Lezion.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

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