The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s news events as they unfolded.
Netanyahu and Abbas shake hands in Paris
PARIS — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Paris, France, for the opening of the UN conference on climate change, and meets briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and the prime ministers of Britain and Italy — David Cameron and Matteo Renzi.
He also shakes hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and with Britain’s Prince Charles, whom he invites to Israel.
— Raphael Ahren (@RaphaelAhren) November 30, 2015
— Raphael Ahren
Netanyahu-Abbas handshake was first in years
The Times of Israel’s diplomatic correspondent points out that the handshake between Netanyahu and Abbas marked the first time in half a decade that the two leaders have met face to face.
The meeting was very brief, however — just a handshake and nothing more.
The conference tweets a picture of all of the world leaders in attendance.
Netanyahu and Abbas are in the left of the frame, a far cry from their location front and center in a picture snapped at the solidarity march in Paris earlier this year in the wake of the terror attacks in the offices of Charlie Hebdo and in the Hypercacher supermarket.
— UN Climate Action (@UNFCCC) November 30, 2015
Turkey refuses to apologize for downing Russian jet
Turkey will not apologize for downing a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border but urges Moscow to reconsider retaliatory sanctions in the hope of calming the crisis, Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu says.
“Protection of our airspace, our border is not only a right but a duty for my government and no Turkish premier or president… will apologize (for) doing our duty,” Davutoglu tells a joint press conference with NATO head Jens Stoltenberg after talks in Brussels.
Davutoglu adds that “we hope Russia will reconsider these measures in both our interests,” referring to the sanctions that Moscow imposed after the shooting down of the jet earlier this month.
EU insists it’ll retain role in peace process
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, meets Netanyahu on the sidelines of the climate conference in Paris.
According to Reuters, the EU says that it will maintain its role in the efforts to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians despite Netanyahu’s assertion yesterday that Jerusalem would suspend all ties with the Union vis-a-vis the diplomatic process.
That move was a response to the EU’s issuing of a directive to all its member states to begin labeling as such goods manufactured in settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
Despite Israel’s announcement that it was freezing dialogue on the peace process, “EU-Israel relations are good, broad and deep and this will continue,” an EU spokeswoman tells reporters in Brussels, according to Reuters.
“When it comes to the Middle East peace process, the EU continues and will continue to work on this in the Quartet with our partners with both parties because of course peace in the Middle East is of interest to the whole international community,” the spokesman reportedly adds.
According to Haaretz, during her meeting with Netanyahu, Mogherini demands an explanation of his announcement yesterday.
PM meets with Obama and Kerry, Japan’s Abe
PARIS — Netanyahu spends about 10 minutes walking around and chatting with US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the conference, and they are then joined by Secretary of State John Kerry.
He is now meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
— Raphael Ahren
Most wanted man in Paris attacks fled to Syria — report
French intelligence has concluded that Salah Abdeslam, the man most wanted in connection with the terror attacks in Paris earlier this month, has fled to Syria, CNN reports, quoting two sources.
Abdeslam is suspected of driving several of the attackers, among them his brother, Mohammed Abdeslam, to the attack sites, where they would go on to kill 130 people.
PMO denies Netanyahu met with Mogherini
The Prime Minister’s Office plays down reports about a meeting between Netanyahu and EU foreign policy chief Mogherini in Paris, noting that the two had merely shaken hands in the corridor.
Netanyahu had announced yesterday the suspension of all discussion with the EU vis-a-vis the peace process with the Palestinians.
Remember that time Netanyahu said there'd be no contact with EU because of settlement labeling? I guess someone should have told Netanyahu.
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) November 30, 2015
One world leader that Netanyahu conclusively did meet with was Japanese President Abe.
According to the PMO, the meeting was “warm and friendly” and the two leaders “exchanged opinions on the war on global terrorism. Abe presented his desire to keep advancing the cooperation with Israel in the areas of economy, cyber and the war on terrorism.”
Meanwhile, South African President Jacob Zuma — a frequent and sometimes vehement critic of Israel who is also in Paris — says his country’s relations with Israel “need to go up.”
— Raphael Ahren (@RaphaelAhren) November 30, 2015
— Raphael Ahren contributed.
Turkey’s Erdogan says he can ‘fix’ Israel ties
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Paris, tells an Israel Radio reporter that he thinks he’ll be able to “fix ties” with Israel.
But before he can elaborate on the details of his plan, his security detail shoves away the Israeli reporters.
— Raphael Ahren
PA suspends Hamas TV broadcasts in West Bank
The Palestinian Authority has suspended the activity of the Hamas movement’s Al-Aqsa TV channel in the West Bank, the channel says in a statement posted to its Facebook page.
“The PA’s security apparatuses have announced officially to all broadcasters in the West Bank that they are forbidden from airing the Al-Aqsa network,” the statement says.
Reports interpret the move as an attempt to curb Hamas “incitement.”
Spanish king honors expelled Jews
Spain’s King Felipe VI honors Sephardic Jews who were banished more than five centuries ago during the Inquisition, after a law allowing dual citizenship for their descendants came into force.
The legislation aims to correct what the Spanish government calls the “historic mistake” of the country’s monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand who in 1492 ordered Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave within the space of just weeks, under pain of death.
“Dear Sephardim, thank you for your loyalty,” the king tells representatives of Sephardic Jews from different countries, at the royal palace.
“Thank you for having kept like a precious treasure your language and your customs that are ours too. Thank you too for making love prevail over rancour and for teaching your children to love this country,” he says.
“How we have missed you.”
Netanyahu and Canadian PM meet, praise ‘friendship’
Another world leader to meet briefly with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the summit in Paris is the recently elected Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
In video of the meeting, Netanyahu can be seen extolling the “superb” relationship between Israel and Canada that can be made “even stronger,” and inviting his interlocutor to Jerusalem.
While Trudeau is noncommittal as to such a visit (“when it works out,” he says), he too praises the “very strong friendship and relationship between Canada and Israel.”
He adds that he “looks forward” to continuing that friendship, perhaps seeking to assuage concerns in Jerusalem that his government will be less chummy toward Israel than that of his conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper.
You can watch the full exchange here:
Obama, Putin discuss Syria, Ukraine during climate talks
President Barack Obama is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to decrease tensions with Turkey following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkish forces.
Obama, who meets briefly with Putin on the sidelines of global climate talks outside Paris, expresses regret for the death of a Russian pilot and crew member in that incident, according to the White House.
Obama tells Putin that Syrian President Bashar Assad must leave power in the transition to end Syria’s civil war, according to the White House. He also calls on Russia to focus its airstrikes in Syria on Islamic State militants, not rebels fighting Assad.
During their 30-minute meeting, Obama and Putin express urgency for a political resolution in Syria, as well as implementing a ceasefire in Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.
— AP contributed
Dozens protest Tel Aviv sewage dump
A crowd of several dozen Israeli activists stage a protest outside the Tel Aviv municipality building over the city’s decision to dump some 180,000 cubic meters of sewage runoff into the sea along its beaches.
The runoff — caused by municipal infrastructure maintenance and upgrades of beachfront areas — is being pumped into the sea from the Reading Power Station.
Six beaches in Tel Aviv and neighboring Herzliya have been closed indefinitely due to the sewage dump.
עשרות גולשים ופעילי עמותת צלול מפגינים מול בניין עיריית תל-אביב במחאה על הזרמת הביוב שגרמה לסגירת חופי ת״א והרצליה pic.twitter.com/4wTLqRQBtQ
— יערה שפירא (@yaara_shapira) November 30, 2015
— Times of Israel staff contributed
Suicide bombing against Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad kills 9
Iraqi officials say a suicide bombing in Baghdad targeting Shiite Muslims taking part in an annual pilgrimage has killed nine people and wounded another 21.
The attack targets a checkpoint along a route used by pilgrims in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of al-Shaab.
Police officials say four soldiers are among the dead.
It is the first attack on Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad during the lead-up to the religious commemoration known as Arbaeen, when Shiite faithful converge on the holy city of Karbala.
The annual commemoration is often marked by violence despite tight security measures to protect the pilgrims, many of whom travel to Karbala on foot.
Netanyahu meets with Australian counterpart
Netanyahu also meets with Australia’s new liberal prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on the sidelines of the Paris conference.
— Dave Sharma (@AusAmbIsrael) November 30, 2015
As he did with the Canadian PM, Netanyahu reportedly invites Turnbull to visit Israel.
Abbas calls for resumed peace talks with Israel
PA President Abbas, addressing the summit in Paris, calls for resumed peace talks while demanding that the international community “protect” Palestinians from Israel, according to Army Radio.
“Our hand is still extended in peace to our neighbors,” he is quoted as saying. “In the meantime, we will continue to build our state based on modern and democratic principles.”
Iranian general says he isn’t dead yet
The chief of foreign operations for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) says reports of his death in Syria were — wait for it — greatly exaggerated, the Tasnim news agency reports.
Rather, a chuckling General Qassem Soleimani says in his office in Tehran, “martyrdom,” which he has been traveling through “plains and mountains to find,” has proven elusive.
IRGC troops have been fighting rebels in Syria alongside the soldier’s of Iran’s close ally, President Bashar Assad.
On Tuesday, AFP reported that Soleimani was lightly injured in fighting against rebels near Aleppo.
Soleimani “was injured a few days ago” in an offensive in the southwest of Aleppo province, a security source on the ground told AFP.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, also said the general had been hurt.
— AFP contributed
Netanyahu and Putin begin meeting in Paris
Comoros comes between Israel, Palestinians again
Channel 2 notes that a historic picture of Netanyahu and Abbas shaking hands today for the first time in five years on the sidelines of the climate conference in Paris was ruined when it appeared to be photobombed (albeit inadvertently) by the president of the Comoros, Ikililou Dhoinine.
It wouldn’t be the first time that the Comoros has come between Israel and the Palestinians, the TV station points out: The infamous Mavi Marmara, which attempted to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010 to disastrous results (10 Turkish activists were killed after they attacked Israeli commandos who boarded the ship), sails under the flag of the East African island nation.
Sara Netanyahu pays tribute to Paris terror victims
While Prime Minister Netanyahu continues with his marathon of diplomatic meetings at the global climate conference in Paris, his wife, Sara, visits the city’s venerable Lucien de Hirsch Jewish high school.
“The State of Israel is your home,” she tells the students.
Ms. Netanyahu then continues to visit two sites of the November 11 terror attacks, the Le Petit Cambodge restaurant and Bataclan music venue, where she expresses solidarity with the victims in her husband’s name.
— Raphael Ahren
Putin says Hanukkah spirit should extend to international affairs
During his meeting with Netanyahu in Paris, Putin extends his good wishes ahead of the “very bright” Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which “symbolizes the triumph of light over dark.”
Putin hopes that the spirit of the holiday will extend to “international affairs,” as well.
He adds that Moscow is “satisfied” with the progress of its bilateral ties with Israel, as well as with the mechanism, which he acknowledges was proposed by Netanyahu, for ensuring that the Israeli and Russian militaries don’t step on each other’s toes in Syria.
PM says Russia, Israel fighting same fight against ‘barbarism’
In his response to Putin, Netanyahu says that “the events of recent days prove the importance of our coordination, our de-confliction mechanisms, our attempts to cooperate with each other to prevent unnecessary accidents and tragedies, and I believe that we’ve been successful. It’s important.
“Secondly, I think we are engaged in a big battle against militant Islam, the terrorism it spews forward, the savagery, the barbarism. And this is another point of contact in addition to many others that we’re engaged in. I hope that Israel and Russia can see eye to eye on all the strategic matters, but I want to assure you that we believe that it’s within our powers to have very good coordination on the ground and in the air so that we do not create the kind of problems that we’ve been experiencing.
“I’m very satisfied,” he continues, “by the fact that our militaries have been very careful to coordinate with one another and will continue to do so. I think this is an indication of the openness and the success of the relationship between Israel and Russia, our relationship. It’s good to see you again.”
You can watch the full exchange here:
Jewish lawmaker calls out Australian mufti for failure to condemn Paris attacks
Australian lawmaker Josh Frydenberg says the grand mufti of Australia “failed in his leadership” by not condemning the Paris terrorist attacks.
Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, the grand mufti, originally expressed sorrow over the deaths of at least 130 people in the wake of the attacks, but did not specifically condemn them. Media reports on the initial statement were critical of its failure to condemn the attacks.
The mufti later issued a clarification, which Frydenberg calls a “cover-up.” Speaking on a Sky News current affairs panel Sunday, the Jewish lawmaker also says the original statement was a “graphic failure” in leadership.
“I think the grand mufti failed in his leadership with his statement,” Frydenberg, of the Liberal Party, says on the panel. “He sought to cover that up subsequently, but it was a graphic failure and he has more of a responsibility, not only to the Muslim community but to the community at large, because all of our security is at risk.”
Frydenberg, who attended a Jewish day school in Melbourne, agrees that there is a large element of denial in the wider public debate on confronting that there is a problem of extremism in Islam.
“I would say it is a problem within Islam, and the point about Islam is that this is a minority of extremists, and you could argue that it’s even a small minority of extremists, but it’s a significant minority of extremists and it does pose a challenge to our way of life in Australia,” he says.
Notorious spy Klingberg dies at 97
Marcus Klingberg, a notorious Soviet spy who managed to reach a very senior position in the Israeli military, has died at the age of 97 in Paris.
He was released in 2003 after spending some 20 years in prison, the first decade of which was in solitary confinement.
Greece set to oppose EU settlement labeling
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informing him of Athens’s opposition to the EU guidelines on the labeling of goods produced in Israeli settlements, The Times of Israel learns.
Kotzias’s message to Netanyahu came three day after Greek PM Alexis Tsipras visited Israel on Wednesday of last week.
Other than Greece, the only countries to break ranks on the measure are Hungary, which has declared its opposition; and Germany, which has yet to say whether it will implement it.
— Raphael Ahren
‘Dramatic’ breakthrough in Jewish terror case — Shin Bet
The Shin Bet security service announces a “dramatic development” in a Jewish terrorism case that it defines as “one of the gravest in recent years.”
Publication of any details of the case is blocked by a court-imposed gag order.
According to Hebrew media, the Shin Bet has been cooperating with police in the West Bank, as well as with the State Attorney’s Office and the attorney general, to crack the case.
Security officials are optimistic as to their chances of attaining a conviction, reports say.
Netanyahu meets with French president
Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his meeting with French President Francois Hollande, reiterates Israel’s solidarity with the French people and Israel’s condolences for the victims of the November 11 terror attacks in Paris.
The two leaders also discuss expanding security cooperation.
During the conversation, Netanyahu also insists on Israel’s right to defend its interests in Syria.
— Raphael Ahren
Netanyahu plays down meeting with Abbas
PARIS — Netanyahu says his brief meeting today with PA President Abbas should not be misinterpreted as a harbinger of a rapprochement between the two men.
“It was purely protocol, not a working meeting,” he tells reporters on the sidelines of a climate conference in the French capital.
As world leaders attending the convention readied to pose for a group photo, Netanyahu was standing next to New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, when suddenly Abbas arrived and was placed right next to Key, Netanyahu recalls. “So we shook hands, that’s crystal clear. But we didn’t talk.”
There are no plans for a formal meeting, he adds.
“It’s important for the world to see that we’re always willing to talk. But, on the other hand, I have no illusions about Abbas,” he says.
Abbas continues inciting against Israelis and Jews and is thus partially responsible for the ongoing wave of terror striking Israel, Netanyahu laments. “Abbas has to stop his incitement and to stop spreading lies about [Israel’s alleged intention to change the status quo at] the Temple Mount” in Jerusalem, he adds.
— Raphael Ahren
Netanyahu says he complained to Obama about Abbas
Netanyahu also complained to US President Barack Obama about Abbas’s incitement during a spontaneous 10-minute conversation they held in a conference hallway, he says.
“I told him that a central aspect of terror is incitement,” the prime minister states. “President Obama told me that he intends to talk with Abbas about this issue and that he agrees with me that this has to end.”
Netanyahu describes his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as very broad and deep.
“Our conversation went into significant detail,” he says, adding that Putin updated him on the Russian jet that was shot down last week by Turkey over that country’s border with Syria.
— Raphael Ahren
Jewish Kurds hold groundbreaking Iraq commemoration
A ceremony marking the deportation of Jews from Iraq seven decades ago is held for the first time today in the country’s autonomous Kurdish region.
It also marks the beginning of Jewish representation in the Kurdistan region’s religious affairs ministry as a result of a law passed in May to promote minority rights.
The ceremony in Kurdistan capital Arbil is attended by Kurds of Jewish origin and officials, who also visit an exhibition of old photographs and records documenting Iraqi Jewry.
According to Sherzad Omar Mamsani, the Jewish representative at the Kurdish regional ministry, the ceremony is the first of its kind and marks what is known as the “Farhud,” the dispossession that led to the flight and deportation of Jews from Iraq.
Mamsani, who has Jewish origins, says he estimates that the families who self-identify as Jews in Kurdistan but are still officially registered to as Muslims number around 400.
He adds that the number of families who converted to Islam but “are Jews in origin” is in the thousands.
There is no active synagogue in the region but Mamsani has said he hopes that will change soon.
Deadly Kurd-Islamist clashes in northern Syria
Islamists and a US-backed alliance of Kurds and Arabs have fought deadly clashes in Syria, a monitor says, as the almost five-year-old conflict draws in more local and international players.
At least 23 fighters were killed in the fighting between the Kurdish-led alliance and the Islamist rebels, who include al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra Front, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Fifteen fighters from al-Nusra and its allies were killed Sunday, along with at least eight members of the Syrian Democratic Forces dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The clashes in the northern province of Aleppo began Thursday, when the Islamists attacked posts belonging to Jaish al-Thuwwar, an Arab rebel group allied with Kurds, said Kurdish journalist Arin Shekhmos.