The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.

Palestinian ‘day of rage’ riots being held throughout West Bank

Palestinians in the West Bank are staging protests and violent riots in at least five locations as part of the “day of rage” against the US stance shift on the legality of Israeli settlements.

Rallies are being held at Abu Dis, Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, a junction outside Ramallah, in Hebron, and at a checkpoint at the entrance to Tulkarem, according to the Ynet website.

Between 200 and 500 people are attending each demonstration, the report says.

Some of them are hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers and burning tires. Forces are responding with riot control means.

Riots are also being held in protest of the death from cancer of Sami Abu Diak, a Palestinian prisoner who was serving three life sentences for involvement in the killing of three Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli security services.

Report: Parties holding secret discussions on unity government proposal

Covert negotiations are being held in the Knesset in an attempt to agree on a unity government despite the political impasse, Channel 12 reports, without citing sources.

The outline reportedly being discussed entails Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu serving as premier for several months, then a Blue and White member — likely Benny Gantz — taking over for two years, after which a Likud candidate would take over for the remainder of the four-year term.

Muslim Council of Britain stands with chief rabbi after criticism of Labour

The Muslim Council of Britain releases a statement standing with the country’s chief rabbi after he criticized the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of next month’s general election.

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused Corbyn of allowing the “poison” of anti-Semitism to take root in his party.

But the council also warns of Islamophobia in the rival Conservative Party headed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“British Muslims… will listen to the Chief Rabbi and agree on the importance of voting with their conscience,” the statement says.

Death toll in Albania quake rises to 13

Thirteen people have died in today’s powerful earthquake in Albania, the defense ministry says in its latest update.

“The death toll is 13,” a statement says, without elaborating. The 6.4 magnitude quake is the strongest to strike the Balkan state in decades.


Poll predicts Peretz-Smotrich party would not enter Knesset if elections held

A poll conducted by the Midgam institute and published by the Walla website predicts that if Knesset elections were held today, the Jewish Home-National Union party, headed by Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, would not pass the electoral threshold.

The party, which ran in the last election as part of the Yamina alliance of religious right-wing parties, would get just 2.3% of the votes, far short of the required 3.25%. New Right, the remaining party that was part of Yamina but said yesterday it would run independently if new elections are called, gets 7 seats in the poll. New Right failed to enter the parliament in the April elections, coming some 1,400 votes short.

The left-wing Democratic Camp is also at risk with the minimal 4 seats.

Blue and White is predicted to be the largest party with 34, followed by Likud with 33, the Joint List with 13, Yisrael Beytenu with 8 and Labor-Gesher with 5.

The balance of power remains the same with Netanyahu’s bloc of supporters gaining one seat to get 56 seats in the 120-member Knesset, short of a majority.

Outgoing Lebanese PM Hariri withdraws candidacy for post

Outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he is withdrawing his candidacy for the premiership. The announcement comes nearly a month after he resigned amid ongoing protests as well as a severe economic and financial crisis.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during an address to the nation, in Beirut, Lebanon, October 18, 2019. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

In a statement, he calls on President Michel Aoun to quickly hold consultations with heads of parliamentary blocs to name a new prime minister.

Hariri submitted his government’s resignation on October 29 in response to nationwide anti-government demonstrations that erupted two weeks earlier. They’ve since targeted corruption and mismanagement by the country’s ruling elite.

Hariri says he hopes withdrawing his candidacy will open the way for a solution to the political deadlock. He insists that a new government made up of experts is needed to get Lebanon out of its crisis.

— AP

After criticism from chief rabbi, Corbyn says anti-Semitism ‘vile and wrong’

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says that “anti-Semitism in any form is vile and wrong,” a day after British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused him of allowing the “poison” of Jew-hatred to take root in his party.

Corbyn adds that his party has a “rapid and effective” mechanism to deal with cases of anti-Semitism within the party.

Data shows economic gap in Israel grew in 2018 for 1st time in 5 years

Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) shows that economic inequality in Israel grew in 2018 for the first time in five years.

The top decile of Israeli families had a net income of NIS 42,500 ($12,278), 8.4 times higher than that of the bottom decile — NIS 4,786 — the data shows. The top decile’s expenses were just 2.4 times higher than the bottom decile — NIS 21,200 compared with NIS 9,000.

The data, however, also shows that the average gross income of an Israeli household in 2018 was NIS 21,063 ($6,085) per month — a 4.3% increase in real income compared with the previous year.

The average gross monthly expenses totaled NIS 16,475, a 0.5% increase.

Yesterday, the CBS released data showing unemployment in October fell to 3.4%, a 40-year low.

Australia sees 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents

There has been a 30 percent increase over the last year in serious anti-Semitic incidents in Australia involving verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation, according to the annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.

There were 368 recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Australia during the year ending on September 30, 2019, according to the annual report, published this week by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, or ECAJ.

A photo showing a Jewish boy allegedly being forced to kiss a classmate’s feet is causing outrage in Australia. (Twitter via JTA)

The incidents were logged by the ECAJ, Jewish community umbrella organizations in each Australian state, and other Jewish community groups, and included physical assaults, abuse and harassment, vandalism, graffiti, hate, and threats communicated directly by email, letters, telephone calls, posters, stickers and leaflets. The total figure comprises 225 attacks and 143 threats.

“The overall number of anti-Semitic incidents continued at, and slightly exceeded, the unusually high number logged during 2018, which saw a 59 percent increase over the previous year,” says Julie Nathan, the ECAJ’s research director on anti-Semitism.

“Most disturbing were the reported incidents of anti-Semitic bullying of Jewish schoolchildren at two Victorian public schools, and the manifestly inadequate way in which the schools handled those incidents,” Nathan says.

In one incident, a 12-year-old student in Melbourne was forced by other schoolchildren to kiss the feet of a Muslim fellow student.

“More subtle, but just as concerning, was the spread of calumnies about Jews beneath the cloak of political discourse about Israel,” Nathan also says. “Examples include a university lecturer and the utterly false claim made by a professional teaching body in July that Israel persecutes Arabs because ‘they don’t follow the Jewish religion.’”


Russia warns Syria’s Kurds against relying on US support

Russia’s foreign minister is warning Syria’s Kurds that relying on US support “won’t bring them any good.”

Sergey Lavrov accuses Syria’s Kurds of failing to abide by a Russia-Turkey deal that halted a Turkish offensive into Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

He says the Kurds are trying to stay allied with the US, and avoid engaging in dialogue with the Syrian government.

US and Kurdish-led forces fought the Islamic State group for years. Washington’s support allowed the Kurds to set up an independent government in eastern Syria.

But American troops pulled out of most of the country in October, paving the way for Turkey’s offensive against the Kurds. Russia, which backs the Syrian government, helped broker a cease-fire.

Lavrov dismisses the Kurdish claims of Turkey’s violations of the ceasefire.

— AP

Gantz slams Netanyahu for organizing protest against justice system

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz issues a statement criticizing the pro-Netanyahu rally planned tonight in Tel Aviv protesting the justice system’s “attempted coup” by announcing charges against the prime minister.

“The right to protest and freedom of expression is the centerpiece of democracy. In a healthy democracy a person has the right to freely express their opinion,” Gantz tweets, before adding: “In a healthy democracy a prime minister doesn’t organize a protest against the law enforcement system for which he is responsible.”

Rhode Island signs agreement with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo says she has signed a cooperation agreement with an Israeli research university.

The Providence Journal reports that the US Democrat signed the agreement with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev during a six-day trip to Israel last week.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, October 24, 2019, on the campus of Rhode Island College, in Providence, Rhode Island.(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

According to the governor’s office, the agreement encourages the US state and the university to create business startups and internships, as well as partnerships with Rhode Island colleges and universities.

Ben-Gurion University’s Advance Technologies Park will partner with a state-grant-funded business accelerator called RI Hub, which is run by IBM, Brown University and Mass Challenge.

During the trip to Israel, Raimondo and state Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor also met with multiple companies including Dell EMC and IBM about opening offices or otherwise investing in Rhode Island.

— AP

Turkey says car bomb kills 17 in northeastern Syria

Turkey’s Defense Ministry says 17 civilians have been killed in a car bomb explosion in northeastern Syria.

A ministry statement says about 20 people were wounded in the blast in the village of Tal Half, near the city of Ras al-Ayn.

Turkey-backed Syrian forces have held the area since a Turkish incursion in October to drive away Syrian Kurdish fighters who had partnered with the US against the Islamic State group.

Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists because of their links to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

The ministry blamed the attack, the latest in a string of attacks in the area, on Syrian Kurdish fighters.

— AP

Mandelblit decries Netanyahu’s ‘threats, lies and baseless slander’ at judiciary

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit delivers strong criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on the judiciary at a legal conference in Eilat.

“The dignified approach we take is not always embraced by others,” he says. “I am hearing expressions that don’t have a place in public discourse that are directed at the law enforcement system, and certain senior officials inside it. I am hearing threats. I am hearing lies. I am hearing baseless slander. That is simply shocking.”

Mandelblit adds that the fact that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and prosecution official Liat Ben Ari, who oversaw the investigations against Netanyahu, now require a security detail is “unacceptable.”

“Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of us all. He heads the government, which we serve. The state prosecution is not, God forbid, in a confrontation with the prime minister or any minister,” Mandelblit says.

Poland drops case of Holocaust scholar who said Poles killed Jews

Prosecutors in southern Poland have dropped a case over claims made by Holocaust scholar Jan Tomasz Gross that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during World War II.

In this April 13, 2016 picture, Princeton professor Jan Tomasz Gross speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland. (AP/Alik Keplicz,file)

Gross’s claim in a 2015 article upset many and a probe was subsequently launched into whether the historian insulted the Polish nation.

Prosecutors in Katowice say that the evidence gathered offers no clear guidance.

The case against Gross, now a retired Princeton University professor, raised questions about the commitment by Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice party to freedom of research and scholarship.

— AP

University of North Carolina to update policies following anti-Semitism complaint

The US Education Department is ordering the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill to expand its anti-bias training and expressly forbid anti-Semitism following complaints about a conference featuring a Palestinian rapper accused of anti-Jewish bias.

The university announced the changes yesterday after reaching a resolution with the department. Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz says the school is committed to creating a campus “free from anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination.”

US Rep. George Holding, a North Carolina Republican, called for an investigation following the March conference. It was hosted by a Middle East studies program run by UNC and Duke University.

A separate federal investigation threatened to cut the program’s grant funding after finding it didn’t focus enough on language instruction and promoted “positive aspects” of Islam but not other religions.

— AP

Helicopter makes emergency landing, burns in northern Negev; no casualties

A Yasur helicopter has made an emergency landing in the northern Negev region and is going up in flames.

Footage circulating on social media shows the chopper burning following the incident near Kibbutz Beit Kama.

The military says it made the emergency landing after an engine malfunction was discovered, and that there are no casualties.

Pompeo calls on Egypt to respect press freedom after crackdown

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls on close ally Egypt to respect freedom of the press after a crackdown that followed protests.

“We call on the Egyptian government to respect freedom of the press and release journalists,” Pompeo tells a news conference after repeating his strong criticism of US rival Iran’s clampdown on demonstrators and restrictions on internet access.


Pompeo: Turkey’s test of Russian defense system ‘concerning’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voices alarm over Turkey’s testing of its Russian missile defense system but says the NATO ally can still come back into US good graces.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC, November 26, 2019. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

“It’s concerning,” Pompeo tells reporters when asked about reports that Turkey used US-developed F-16 fighter jets to test the S-400 system, controversially purchased from Moscow.

“But we have made very clear to the Turkish government our desire to see them move away from the putting into full operationalization of the S-400 weapons system,” he says.


Firefighters working to put out fire engulfing IDF chopper; investigation opened

Three teams of firefighters are working to put out a blaze on an IDF Yasur Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter that made an emergency landing after its motor caught fire.

The crew made it out of the aircraft without injury. The military says the fire started because of a “technical malfunction.”

The local fire department says the fire is still burning, but firefighters have it under control.

The IDF says it is investigating the matter.

— Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu supporters gather for Tel Aviv rally, call for top prosecutors’ arrest

Some two thousand people are gathering ahead of a pro-Netanyahu rally outside the Tel Aviv Museum, which is set to officially begin at 8 p.m. under the controversial title “stopping the coup,” which has caused most Likud officials to stay away.

Demonstrators are chanting slogans praising Justice Minister Amir Ohana and calling for State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and prosecution official Liat Ben Ari to be arrested and investigated for their role in the criminal cases against the prime minister in which charges were announced last week.

Soldier serious injured in car crash, officer lightly wounded — IDF

An IDF soldier was seriously injured and an officer was lightly wounded in a car accident in southern Israel, the army says.

The two servicemen were taken to the hospital for treatment.

The accident occurred earlier today, but the information was barred from publication until the families of the soldiers could be informed.

The IDF says Military Police have opened an investigation into the car crash and will present their findings to the Military Advocate General, who will determine if a crime was committed.

— Judah Ari Gross

Speeches delayed by 30 minutes at pro-Netanyahu rally

Organizers of the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv tell the crowd that due to “another 80 buses on the way,” the speeches will not begin until 8:30 p.m., half an hour after scheduled.

The announcer raises the spirits of the disappointing crowd by leading a round of “Bibi Melech Yisrael.”

— Raoul Wootliff

State prosecutor says he was ‘shocked’ to hear attacks by Netanyahu, allies

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan blasts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Amir Ohana, decrying a campaign allegedly aimed at lowering public trust in his office.

“I have to say I was shocked to hear his public attacks on the prosecution,” Nitzan says of Ohana in a closed discussion in Eilat, on the sidelines of a legal conference, in footage obtained by Channel 13. “He made blunt and severe remarks about the prosecution.

“There is a campaign with the sole purpose of causing public distrust in the State Prosecutor’s Office. And after they hammer [that message] every day, they say, ‘Here, look, public trust is down.’ Of course it’s down. There are huge forces doing whatever they can to harm the public trust.”

Poll shows PM outperforming Sa’ar as Likud leader, but still short of coalition

A poll published by Channel 12 ahead of likely Knesset elections predicts very similar results to those shown earlier today in a Walla survey. The poll also finds that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would score better as Likud leader than would his rival, Gideon Sa’ar.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then- education minister Gideon Sa’ar (L) attend an award ceremony hosted by the Trump Foundation, at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem, on December 25, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

If Netanyahu heads the ruling party, Blue and White would get 34 Knesset seats, Likud would get 33, the Joint List would have 13, Yisrael Beytenu 9, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 8, New Right 6, Labor-Gesher 5 and Democratic Camp 4. Jewish Home-National Union would not pass the electoral threshold. The poll showed a similar balance of power as compared to the current one, which has failed thus far to yield a government.

Changes if Sa’ar were to head Likud include Blue and White rising to 35 seats, Likud dropping to 26 and New Right climbing to 9. The right-wing bloc, without Yisrael Beytenu, goes down to 53 seats from the current 55.

Regarding who should serve as prime minister, Netanyahu would see 40% against Gantz’s 39% — a significant drop in support for the premier, following the announcement of criminal charges against him.

But he still fares much better than Sa’ar. When choosing between Sa’ar and Gantz, 40% picked the latter and just 23% backed the Likud MK.

Protester at Tel Aviv rally hopes it’s ‘the beginning of the end of the attempted coup’

Ari Vaknin, a “pro-Bibi, pro-Likud, pro-right” father of four from Beit Shemesh, who came to the rally with his whole family, tells The Times of Israel that he thinks tonight will be “the beginning of the end of the attempted coup.”

According to Vaknin, who says he has been to several pro-Netanyahu rallies in the past year, State Prosecutor “Shai Nitzan is trying to take down the prime minister. There is no question.

“We are here to say, and I want my children to know too, that we will not let it happen to Benjamin Netanyahu, the best prime minister this country has ever seen. We are the sovereign and we are the majority.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Miri Regev angers Tel Aviv protesters by saying PM shouldn’t seek immunity

Culture Minister Miri Regev tells the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv that the indictments against the premier should be heard in court and that Netanyahu should not seek immunity.

“Only the judges will decide, not the media, not the state prosecution,” she says, eliciting anger.

“Only the people will decide,” several protesters shouts in response.

Regev adds: “The rule of law is not above the law.”

— with Raoul Wootliff

Pompeo urges justice over 2008 Mumbai attacks that targeted Jewish center

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urges justice for the victims of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, after Pakistan arrested the alleged mastermind of the bloodbath.

Addressing reporters on the 11th anniversary of the siege that killed more than 160 people, including six Americans, Pompeo says that the “brutality of the attack shocked the entire world.”

Indian commandos prepare to storm the Nariman House in Mumbai during the 2008 terror attacks. (photo credit: Youtube screen capture)
Indian commandos prepare to storm the Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai, during the 2008 terror attacks. (YouTube screen capture/File)

“It is an affront to the victims and their families that those who planned the Mumbai attacks have still not been convicted,” Pompeo says.

Pakistan in July arrested Hafiz Saeed, a firebrand cleric who heads the UN-designated terrorist group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, shortly before Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the United States.

Saeed has mostly lived freely in Pakistan since the attacks, enraging India, which demanded his prosecution. The United States also put a $10 million bounty on his head.

Saeed has denied involvement in the attack, which targeted emblematic sites of the Indian metropolis, including the Taj Hotel, as well as the local Chabad Jewish center.


Likud MK at rally: Judiciary the victim of ‘plot by the the left, media’

Reports estimate the number of people currently at the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv at 5,000 people. Organizers claim the number is at least double.

Likud MK Miki Zohar addresses the crowd: “The leftists invented all the conspiracy theories. Law enforcement bodies are the victim of the plot by the left and the media. The prime minister had a distorted investigation, a dirty investigation, an investigation of lies. And we are expected to remain silent?”

Six dead in 3 blasts in Iraqi capital: medics, security source

Six people have been killed in near-simultaneous explosions across various Baghdad neighborhoods, medics and a security source say, amid deadly anti-government protests in Iraq’s capital and its restive south.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the three blasts, two of which were caused by explosives-laden motorcycles and the third by a roadside bomb, the medics and security source tell AFP.


Rocket sirens blare in Sderot

Incoming rocket sirens sound in the town of Sderot and surrounding communities, sending thousands of residents to bomb shelters.

There have been no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The military says it is investigating the matter.

— Judah Ari Gross

Woman lightly injured after falling on way to bomb shelter

A woman is lightly injured upon falling while running to a bomb shelter, after rocket sirens were triggered in southern Israel, medics say.

There are no other injuries reported in connection with the apparent rocket attack, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

— Judah Ari Gross

Prominent lawyer lambastes AG, top prosecutors as ‘head of the snake’

Yoram Sheftel, a prominent right-wing lawyer and pundit, tells the crowd at the pro-Netanyahu rally that “we cannot let the legal system take over.”

“Every disgraceful act committed by the police in these investigations was ordered by the heads of the snake, Liat Ben Ari, Shai Nitzan, and Avichai Mandelblit,” he says to boos from the crowd at the mention of each name.

“We will not let, under any circumstances, let this putsch succeed,” he says.

— Raoul Wootliff

Two rockets shot from Gaza, one intercepted — IDF

Two projectiles were fired at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, the IDF says.

One of them was shot down by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the army says.

There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage caused by the other projectile or the shrapnel from the interception.

“Searches are currently being conducted to find impact sites,” a spokesperson for the Sha’ar Hanegev region says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Footage shows Iron Dome interception while kids run to bomb shelter in Sderot

Footage shows children in Sderot running to a bomb shelter as rocket sirens are heard, and an apparent interception by an Iron Dome missile of a projectile launched from Gaza by terrorists.

Clip shown at pro-Netanyahu rally says state prosecutor is ‘corrupt’

Protesters in the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv are shown a video montage of State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan with the repeated text “Shai Nitzan is corrupt” flashing up on the screen.

The slow motion images of Nitzan, put to ominous music, is spliced with interviews of various lawyers, including disgraced former head of the Israel Bar Association Efi Naveh, trashing the state prosecutor.

— Raoul Wootliff

In BBC interview, Corbyn refuses repeatedly to apologize for anti-Semitism

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gives an interview to the BBC and refuses repeatedly to apologize for anti-Semitism plaguing his party.

He ignores the interviewer’s questions about an apology, instead repeating general statements about anti-Semitism and other forms of racism having “no place in our society.”

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