AG backs fraud, breach of trust charges against PM in Case 1000: report
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AG backs fraud, breach of trust charges against PM in Case 1000: report

Justice Ministry deliberations in first of three criminal investigations into Netanyahu said to end, with ‘consensus’ on proposed indictment

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit,center, arrives at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the hearing on the corruption cases in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a suspect, on October 6, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit,center, arrives at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the hearing on the corruption cases in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a suspect, on October 6, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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

Lebanon protests rage on as politicians stall

Demonstrators in Lebanon try to block key roads after a weekend of mass rallies confirmed that political promises had failed to extinguish the unprecedented protest movement.

Nationwide cross-sectarian rallies have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.

The movement forced the government to resign last week and has spurred a raft of promises from political leaders, who have vowed to enact serious reforms to combat corruption.

But on Monday demonstrators battle on, vowing to keep up their street movement until all their demands are met, including the formation of a technocratic government.

“The people in power are not serious” about forming a new government, says Aadi, a 30-year-old demonstrator blocking a road that connects the capital to the southern city of Sidon. “They think we are playing here.”

AFP

EU lashes Israel over settlement building, West Bank road

The European Union on Monday condemns Israel after construction plans for 2,342 settlement homes were green-lighted last month.

The bloc says its position on Israel building in the West Bank remains unchanged: “All settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

The EU also criticizes the decision to approve the construction of a road that will connect settlements but bypass Bethlehem, saying it is “entrenching the fragmentation of the West Bank.”

Men dressed as Jews hand out Holocaust denial fliers at Colorado mall

A group of men wearing large white kippas and prayer shawls handed out fliers promoting Holocaust denial and hung up cards bearing anti-Semitic canards on a pedestrian mall in Boulder, Colorado.

The fliers handed out at Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall by the men who appeared to be posing as Jews claimed the Holocaust was “impossible.” The men also hung notes on index cards around the mall that claimed “Academia is dominated by Marxist Jews,” Jews run the porn industry,” and “Jews ran the Atlantic slave trade,” the Daily Camera newspaper reports.

The men livestreamed their actions, according to the report.

As of Sunday morning, no reports were filed with police about the fliers, Boulder police tell the newspaper.

JTA

Man arrested, accused of attempted sex assault on Jerusalem woman

A man is arrested in Jerusalem after he allegedly entered an apartment in the capital’s Nachlaot neighborhood and attempted to sexually assault a woman there.

The suspect flees from the apartment and is picked up by police based on a description.

It is unclear if the suspect and the woman are acquainted.

Committee green-lights Western Wall cable car plan

A government committee gives final authorization for a controversial plan to build a cable car to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The project is green-lighted by the ministerial committee on planning, construction, land and housing.

The cable car is billed as a tourism attraction as well as a solution to serious traffic congestion and pollution around the Old City walls.

Up to 3,000 people will be ferried per hour at peak time in up to 72 10-person cabins between the First Station commercial area and the Old City’s Dung Gate, near the Western Wall.

The planned cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City, as seen in a screenshot from a video by the NGO Emek Shaveh.

However, architects, academics, preservation experts and tour guides have heaped scorn on the scheme. They have called it a poorly-thought-out, Disneyesque idea that will scar the historic landscape with 15 massive pylons, sully unique views of the Old City and its walls — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and do little to solve the traffic problems.

Egypt says it killed 83 jihadists in Sinai since September

Egypt’s army says Monday it has killed 83 jihadists in clashes in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State group affiliate has waged a long-running insurgency.

Security forces “eliminated 77 takfiris,” referring to Sunni Muslim extremists, who were found with stacks of weapons and ammunition in north and central Sinai, the army says.

Six other “highly dangerous” jihadists were killed in shootouts in the region, the army says in a statement on a nationwide anti-militant operation between September 28 and November 4.

Three soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting, the statement adds, without elaborating.

About 61 “criminals, wanted individuals and suspects” were arrested, it says.

Security forces also destroyed dozens of hideouts and vehicles as part of the ongoing operation, according to the statement.

Agencies

Labor says it will condition coalition talks on Gaza ‘resolution plan’

Labor leader Amir Peretz presents a “permanent resolution plan” for the Gaza Strip which his party says will be a demand put forward to Blue and White in the ongoing coalition negotiations.

Speaking at the weekly Labor party faction meeting in the Knesset following a weekend of rocket fire from Gaza, Peretz says that “the situation cannot continue as it is. Hamas is getting stronger and our deterrence is getting weaker.”

According to the Labor leader, his plan aims to break the current deadlock whereby “Hamas has no aim to get to a permanent resolution and Israel simply has no answer.”

Peretz says the plan involves three key steps:

1. Renewing coordination with the Palestinian Authority and the moderate Arab states over the Gaza Strip.

2. Presenting an ultimatum to Hamas: Rehabilitation for demilitarization and preparation of the PA to take responsibility for the Strip or Israel will embark on a broad military campaign “to destroy their military capability and bring about the replacement of Hamas in Gaza.”

3. “Renewing diplomatic dialogue” over the future of the Strip.

A party spokesperson confirms that Labor will present the plan to Blue and White as “a demand for entering the coalition.”

Raoul Wootliff

Jordan says citizens detained by Israel to return home this week

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says two Jordanian nationals being held by Israel will be returned home by the end of the week.

He makes the announcement on Twitter.

“Heba al-Labadi and Abdel Rahman Miri will return to the homeland before the start of the weekend. The government worked to secure their release since the first day [they were arrested] in accordance with strict instructions from his majesty King Abdullah II to take all measures necessary to bring them back safely,” he tweets.

Israel detained Heba al-Labadi, 32, and Abdul Rahman Miri, 29, at the Allenby crossing in the Jordan Valley on August 20 and September 2, respectively. The Palestinian Authority Prisoners Affairs Commission has said that both of them are being held under administrative detention orders.

Administrative detention orders allow Israel to hold certain suspects for months at a time without formal charges.

Earlier in October, Israel’s Shin Bet security service said that Labadi, who is of Palestinian descent, is being held “because of suspicion of her involvement in serious security violations,” without elaborating.

With Adam Rasgon

Human Rights Watch: Saudi prince’s rise accompanied by ‘deepening repression’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pursued landmark reforms since coming to power, but his rise has been accompanied by “deepening repression and abusive practices,” Human Rights Watch says.

Despite a perception that the outcry over the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi had left the Saudis chastened, critics of the kingdom are still being vigorously pursued with measures including arbitrary travel bans and harassment of their families, it says.

“Detaining citizens for peaceful criticism of the government’s policies or human rights advocacy is not a new phenomenon in Saudi Arabia,” the New York-based group says in a report.

“But what has made the post-2017 arrest waves notable and different, however, is the sheer number and range of individuals targeted over a short period of time as well as the introduction of new repressive practices.”

Since becoming de facto ruler two years ago, Prince Mohammed has been on a modernization drive with reforms including allowing women to drive, and to receive passports and travel abroad without permission from male relatives.

However, HRW says, those moves are a smokescreen for the ongoing detention of dozens of dissidents, some allegedly tortured in custody, and a lack of accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

AFP

EU says it’s still committed to nuclear deal as Iran announces new violations

The European Union says it’s still committed to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, even as that deal continues to collapse following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, says that the deal “is a matter of our security, not just the region or Europe but globally.” But she says the EU’s commitment to the deal “depends on the full compliance by Iran.”

Earlier Monday, Iran broke further from the agreement by announcing it’s doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates. The announcement comes on the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover in Tehran.

Iran has previously taken steps away from the accord try to pressure Europe to offer a new deal. But so far, European nations have been unable to give Iran a way to help it sell its oil abroad as it faces strict US sanctions.

AP

Iraq forces fire live rounds at protesters in Baghdad: witnesses

Iraqi security forces fire live rounds at protesters amassing near the state television headquarters in the capital, witnesses say.

Around 270 people have lost their lives since anti-government rallies erupted on October 1, according to an AFP count, but officials have stopped providing precise casualty numbers in recent days.

AFP

Hamas leader says terror group has ‘hundreds of kilometers’ of tunnels

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar threatens Israel, warning the Gaza terrorist group has  cross-border tunnels that extend for “hundreds of kilometers” and an arsenal of thousands of rockets and mortars.

Sinwar also directs warnings to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, saying that if the centrist politician succeeds in forming a governing Israeli coalition, “he’ll curse the day he was born.”

Sinwar’s comments come after a weekend of rocket fire at southern Israel from the Gaza Strip, which were met with Israeli reprisal strikes in the enclave.

Likud MKs square off in vote for faction whip; Netanyahu mum on support

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in the internal Likud faction election of the party’s Knesset chief whip.

MKs Miki Zohar and Yoav Kisch are facing off against each other in the vote by the party’s 32 MKs.

A winner is expected to be announced later today.

The prime minister declines to say who he has voted for when asked by The Times of Israel.

Raoul Wootliff

Likud MK Miki Zohar tapped as faction whip

MK Miki Zohar was elected Knesset chief whip by members of the party’s Knesset faction.

Facing off against fellow MK Yoav Kisch, Zohar wins by 18 votes to 11.

Raoul Wootliff

Settlement umbrella group elects new chairman

Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani has been elected the next chairman of the Yesha Council, the umbrella body representing the settlement movement.

Elhayani defeated Karnei Shomron Local Council chairman Igal Lahav in a head to head battle after two other candidates dropped out of the race moments before polls opened.

The two remaining candidates represented opposite sides of an intensifying rift between an older generation of settler leaders that is closely aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a younger group of council chairmen who believe in acting more aggressively on behalf of the movement, even if that means coming at odds with right-wing governments.

The former camp’s candidate, Elhayani, edged out Lahav 13-12 after the votes of 24 West Bank council chairmen plus settler elder Zeev “Zambish” Hever were counted.

Jacob Magid

Attorney general won’t investigate media leaks from PM probes

Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit rejects a request from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attorneys to investigate leaks to the media related to the corruption investigations into the premier.

While stressing he views such leaks “severely,” Mandeblit says “there is no room to check or investigate the incidents.”

 

Netanyahu huddles with right-wing bloc

Benjamin Netanyahu meets with leaders of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox political parties that support him for prime minister, in the Knesset.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his right-wing and religious allies, in the Knesset on November 4, 2019 (Courtesy)

Israel confirms upcoming release of Jordanian citizens

Netanyahu’s office confirms that two Jordanian nationals held in Israel will soon be released.

Amman will also send back its ambassador to Israel, who was recalled in protest of the detentions, the Prime Minister’s Office says.

“The State of Israel sees the relations with Jordan as a cornerstone of Middle East stability and will continue to work to preserve regional security,” the statement says.

 

Netanyahu: We agreed to concessions, but Gantz didn’t answer

According to a statement sent out by the Likud party, Prime Minister Benjamin told leaders of the parties that have pledged to support him that during his meeting with Blue and White chair Benny Gantz, “We agreed to many concessions. We asked to hear answers from Gantz and heard no answer.”

He added, “Our negotiating team has been trying for two days to meet with the Blue and White negotiating team, but Blue and White have been pushing them off from day to day — and so far no meeting has been scheduled,” the statement says.

Raoul Wootliff

Germany: Iran enrichment ‘unacceptable,’ puts nuclear deal at risk

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says Iran’s latest step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers risks completely breaking the entire agreement.

Hass says Iran’s decision today to operate a greater number of advanced centrifuges “unacceptable.”

Speaking to reporters in Hungary, he says “ultimately Iran is doing nothing less than putting the entire nuclear agreement at risk.”

Iran has said its centrifuge decision is a direct result of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement more than a year ago.

Maas adds that Germany expects Iran to “return to full compliance with the commitments” made in the deal.

Under the accord, Tehran limited its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

But since the deal collapsed, European nations have been unable to give Iran a way to help it sell its oil abroad as it faces renewed US sanctions.

AP

Suspect in woman’s murder named as husband Dr. Giora Praff

Dr. Giora Praff is the suspect in the Sunday murder of Esti Ahronovitz, 70.

Ahronovitz, 70, was found dead on Sunday evening in the small community of Talmei Eliyahu in the southern Eshkol region.

She is survived by four children and nine grandchildren and worked as an elementary school music teacher prior to her retirement.

Praff, 65, was apprehended when his car flipped over hours after his wife’s body was discovered on Sunday.

Outrage in Germany over neo-Nazis’ political ‘kill list’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government strongly condemns death threats against two leading Green party politicians by a neo-Nazi group, as concern mounts over a rise in right-wing extremism.

Greens lawmaker Cem Ozdemir, who has Turkish roots, revealed during the weekend that police are investigating an email he had received from a neo-Nazi group saying he was at the top of their kill list.

“We are currently planning how and when to execute you. At the next rally? Or will we get you outside your home?” the email reads, according to the Funke newspaper group.

Fellow Greens MP Claudia Roth received a message saying she was second in line to be killed.

Both emails were sent on October 27 and signed with “Nuclear Weapons Division Germany” (AWD), apparently a German offshoot of a notorious US-based neo-Nazi group.

“The German government clearly condemns any kind of threats or violence against politicians,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer tells reporters.

“We cannot and will not accept these attacks on our free democratic system,” she says, vowing to use the full force of the law against the perpetrators.

AFP

Right-wing, religious parties vow not to join minority government

A statement sent by the Likud spokesperson “on behalf of the national camp bloc” of parties that have pledged to support Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister says: “In light of security and national challenges, the leaders of the national camp factions are appealing to MK Benny Gantz to form a broad national unity government, according to the president’s plan and to avoid unnecessary elections.

“All faction leaders made it clear that they would not join a minority government.

“The factions of the factions repeat their commitment not to enter any government that they are not [all] partners of.”

Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu congratulates new settler leader

Prime Minister Netanyahu calls incoming Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani and congratulates him on being elected the next Yesha Council settlement umbrella group chairman, a statement from the PMO says.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu told [Elhayani] that they will continue working in full cooperation in order to strengthen settlement,” the statement says.

Jacob Magid

Netanyahu asks police to investigate Facebook user threatening his family

Netanyahu asks acting police chief Moti Cohen to investigate a Facebook user who is threatening him and his family.

The user, “Tzvika Sebag,” recently posted: “Israel Police. Get ready to direct traffic to the funerals of Benjamin, Sara and Yair Netanyahu,” according to a screenshot released by Netanyahu’s office.

The user’s profile picture features Netanyahu and a noose.

Blue and White says Netanyahu ‘spreading empty slogans’

Hitting back at Netanyahu, Blue and White accuses the Likud leader of “spreading empty slogans.”

The centrist party is responding to Netanyahu’s claim that Likud offered concessions to end the political deadlock, but Blue and White didn’t respond.

“The way to a broad, liberal unity government that the people want and voted for is open and well-known to Netanyahu,” Blue and White says. “We urge the Likud chairman and leadership to come to their senses and not to drag Israel to unnecessary, expensive elections for a third time.”

Kiryat Ata mayor named as suspect in bribery probe

The mayor of Kiryat Ata is named as a suspect in a corruption probe that has embroiled other municipal officials and an aide to a minister.

Yaakov Peretz has his remand extended by four days. He is suspected of accepting bribes, breach of trust, money laundering and other crimes.

The other suspects are not identified.

Columnist sues Trump for calling her sex assault claim a lie

An advice columnist who says US President Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a New York City department store dressing room in the 1990s is now suing him for defamation.

E. Jean Carroll files a lawsuit Monday in New York. The suit says Trump harmed her reputation and career when he said she was lying and he’d never even met her.

A message requesting comment was sent to a law firm that has represented Trump in other cases.

Carroll first made the allegation in a New York magazine article in June. At the time, Trump said she was “totally lying” and called her “not my type.”

He also said he’d never met her, though a 1987 photo shows him and Carroll in a photo with their spouses at the time.

AP

E. Jean Carroll in New York in 2006. (Juliean Nesmo/ Wikimedia Commons)

US announces new sanctions against top Iran commanders, officials

The United States announces sanctions against Iranian military commanders and officials, on the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US embassy takeover that started a 444-day hostage crisis.

The sanctions, announced on the US Department of the Treasury’s website, target nine people, including top Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Bagher, the country’s chief justice, Ebrahim Raisi, and Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The penalties also apply to Iran’s armed forces general staff.

Netanyahu offers to appoint Bennett as minister; he turns down offer

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to immediately appoint Naftali Bennett a minister in his caretaker government and grant him entry to the high-level security cabinet, reports say.

Bennett, of Ayelet Shaked’s New Right party, turns down the offer.

Netanyahu fired Bennett and Shaked from their cabinet posts in June, ahead of the September elections.

At least 5 protesters killed in new round of clashes in Iraq

Anti-government protesters cross a major bridge in Baghdad on Monday, approaching the Prime Minister’s Office and the headquarters of Iraq’s state-run TV, as security forces fire live ammunition and tear gas, killing at least five demonstrators and wounding dozens.

The protesters hurl rocks and set tires and dumpsters ablaze, sending clouds of black smoke into the air. Security forces flood into the area to protect government buildings, and gunfire echoes through the streets.

Dozens of motorized rickshaws race back and forth, ferrying the wounded to first aid stations at the main protest site in Tahrir Square.

For days, the protesters have been trying to cross the Tigris River to the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the government is headquartered. Security forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to push them back from barricades on the Al-Joumhouriyah and Al-Sanak Bridges, but they managed to break through on the Al-Ahrar Bridge, farther north.

AP

AG expected to charge PM with fraud, breach of trust in Case 1000 — TV

Attorney General Avichai Mandeblit is expected to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in the so-called Case 1000, Channel 13 reports, as state prosecutors wrap up their deliberations on the case.

There is a “consensus” among Justice Ministry officials on the pending charges, the television report says.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of illicitly receiving gifts such as champagne, cigars and jewelry valued at some NIS 700,000 ($201,000) from billionaire benefactors Arnon Milchan and James Packer, and allegedly reciprocating in Milchan’s case with various forms of assistance.

State prosecutors have moved on to debate the proposed charges in a pair of other corruption investigations into Netanyahu.

A decision on an indictment is expected to be announced by the end of the year.

Jordanian in Israeli custody ends hunger strike after 42 days

Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian who has been in Israeli custody since August, ended her hunger strike Monday afternoon, a spokesman for the Israel Prisons Service says in a text message.

The spokesman makes the statement after Jordan and Israel’s authorities announce that Labadi and Abdel Rahman Miri, another Jordanian held by the Jewish state, would return to the Hashemite Kingdom in the coming days.

Labadi and Miri were detained several months ago over suspicions of ties to terror groups and held without charge, sparking a diplomatic row between Jerusalem and Amman.

Labadi had been carrying out a hunger strike for the past 42 days to protest her detention, according to the Prisoner’s Club, a group that mainly advocates for Palestinian prisoners.

Adam Rasgon

2 men shot dead in south in suspected underworld hit

Two men in their 20s are found shot to death Monday evening inside a car near the entrance to the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, near Beersheba, police say.

Hebrew-language media reports say police are treating the incident as an underground hit, following a conflict between two local gangs. The reports say the victims were Bedouin.

UK Labour Party candidate said she would ‘celebrate’ deaths of Netanyahu, Blair

A British Labour Party candidate for Parliament said in 2015 that she would “celebrate” the deaths of several politicians, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zarah Sultana, a Labour staffer who is running to represent the Coventry South district, made the comment on Twitter four years ago, The Jewish Chronicle reports Monday. The Chronicle has published a screenshot of the tweet, which since appears to have been deleted.

“‘Don’t ‘celebrate’ the death of any person regardless of what they did.’ Try & stop me when the likes of Blair, Netanyahu & Bush die,” Sultana wrote, according to the Chronicle.

The candidate is a supporter of the boycott movement against Israel, and has been critical of the Jewish state on social media, including implying that she supports “violent resistance” by Palestinians, the Chronicle reports.

The Labour Party has been facing accusations of anti-Semitism involving its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has come under scrutiny for his alleged failure to stop the hate speech and for past actions, in which he appeared to ignore, condone or encourage it.

JTA

US issues $20 million reward for American missing in Iran

The Trump administration on Monday offers a reward of up to $20 million for information about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, and imposed new sanctions on leading Iranian officials as relations deteriorated further on the 40th anniversary of the US embassy takeover.

The reward for help solving the Levinson disappearance and the sanctions also come as Iran said it was doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates to produce nuclear fuel, trimming the time experts believe that the Islamic Republic would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon.

The State Department claims Levinson was taken hostage in Iran with the involvement of the Iranian regime. The Iranian government has never acknowledged arresting him. Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, this makes a total of $25 million available to the person or persons providing information about Levinson.

“This is the 40th anniversary of the day in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days,” Levinson’s family says in a statement released after the new reward was announced. “Bob Levinson has been held more than 10 times longer — for 4,624 days. Bob Levinson must come home, and Iran’s hostage-taking as government policy must end.”

The senior officials are using the anniversary to call on Tehran to release all missing and wrongfully detained Americans, including Levinson, Xiyue Wang, Siamak Namazi and others.

AP

Undated photo of retired-FBI agent Robert Levinson (photo credit: AP/Levinson Family)
Undated photo of CIA contractor and retired FBI agent Robert Levinson (AP/Levinson Family)

Police: Settler youth throw stones at security jeep, slash tires

For the second time in three days, police on Monday say settler youth hurled stones at one of their vehicles dispatched to secure the central West Bank area.

The suspects then fled, police say.

Officers pursue the masked suspects, who also manage to slash the tires of their jeep, but no arrests are made. Police say they are searching the area for the perpetrators.

Jacob Magid

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