Australian PM discusses possible Jerusalem recognition with Netanyahu
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Australian PM discusses possible Jerusalem recognition with Netanyahu

Scott Morrison reportedly weighing relocating Canberra’s embassy to the capital, may reconsider support for Iran deal

  • Australia's Scott Morrison arrives for a party meeting in Canberra on August 24, 2018. (AFP/ POOL / DAVID GRAY)
    Australia's Scott Morrison arrives for a party meeting in Canberra on August 24, 2018. (AFP/ POOL / DAVID GRAY)
  • Palestinian protesters climb a fence separating them from Israeli security forces during demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 15, 2018. (Said KHATIB / AFP)
    Palestinian protesters climb a fence separating them from Israeli security forces during demonstration on the beach near the maritime border with Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, on October 15, 2018. (Said KHATIB / AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the winter session of the Knesset on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the winter session of the Knesset on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Chairman of the opposition Tzipi Livni addresses the Israeli parliament during the opening of the winter session on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Chairman of the opposition Tzipi Livni addresses the Israeli parliament during the opening of the winter session on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • President Reuven Rivlin (L) and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein at the opening of the Knesset winter sitting, October 15, 2018. (Knesset)
    President Reuven Rivlin (L) and Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein at the opening of the Knesset winter sitting, October 15, 2018. (Knesset)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israeli parliament during the opening of the winter session on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Israeli parliament during the opening of the winter session on October 15, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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

Turkey, Saudis to conduct joint ‘inspection’ of Istanbul consulate

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are expected to conduct a joint “inspection” on Monday of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, nearly two weeks after the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish officials say.

The announcement from an official at Turkey’s Foreign Ministry comes as international concern continues to grow over the writer who vanished on a visit to the consulate on October 2. American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Foreign Ministry official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.


Citing finances, Bulgaria withdraws from 2019 Eurovision song contest

Bulgaria will not take part in the next edition of the Eurovision song contest to be held in Tel Aviv in May 2019, the public BNT broadcaster announces, citing financial constraints.

“The decision is part of measures taken by television management in order to optimize the spending of public funds,” BNT says in a statement.

The broadcaster has acted as the organizer and producer of Bulgaria’s entry in the annual music contest for the past two editions.

But BNT says that it could no longer afford the associated expenses, which also include a share of the costs for the organization of the contest.

Bulgaria has been competing in Eurovision since 2005 and achieved its best result in 2017, when Kristian Kostov’s song “Beautiful Mess” won second place.


Kremlin downplays Trump accusations against Putin

The Kremlin on Monday downplays televised comments by US President Donald Trump that Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was “probably” involved in asssassinations and poisonings, saying they did not amount to a direct accusation.

“The US president didn’t make any direct accusations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells journalists after a CBS News interviewer asked Trump: “Do you agree that Vladimir Putin is involved in assassinations? In poisonings?” and he answered: “Probably he is, yeah.”


Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over toward US President Donald Trump, as Trump speaks during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Iran embassy in Ankara evacuated after ‘bomb warning’

Iran’s envoy to Turkey is evacuated from the embassy in Ankara after a warning of a possible bomb threat, local media reports.

The mission in the Turkish capital had been given intelligence warning of a possible suicide bomb attack, DHA news agency reports, without giving further details.

Police conduct searches of cars close to the embassy after the road was shut off, an AFP photographer says.


Liberman: ‘No choice’ but to strike Hamas hard, even if widens conflict

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel has no choice but to strike the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza forcefully, even if such a move would drag Israel into a full-blown military confrontation.

“There is no chance for a [ceasefire] deal with Hamas,” says Liberman at the Maariv conference. “From the perspective of the IDF, we are in the best shape since ’67. We have no choice but to strike Hamas hard, even if it leads to a full confrontation.”

He is speaking amid soaring tensions on the Israel-Gaza border.

Gabbay: Lapid keeping coalition afloat with support for enlistment bill

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay says that it is possible to bring the government down “within a month,” but that the Yesh Atid chairman is giving the coalition a lifeline by supporting the ultra-Orthodox conscription bill.

“Everything is resting on Yesh Atid,” he tells his faction at the opening of the Knesset winter session.

“But Lapid has decided to support the conscription law, to support Netanyahu and to sell his values for his own seat in the next government,” Gabbay says.

“Friends, it is time for elections and we are ready for them,” adds Gabbay, amid speculation tensions over the Haredi draft law could drive the government to call early elections. Elections are currently scheduled for November 2019.

“Netanyahu will not get 30 seats and won’t be the next prime minister,” he says.

Raoul Wootliff

Lapid derides government for dependence on ultra-Orthodox ‘masters’

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid derides the government for its dependence on the support of the spiritual leaders of United Torah Judaism party — its “masters” — to advance the ultra-Orthodox enlistment law.

“Yesterday the coalition heads were meant to meet; the explanation for the cancellation was that there is no reason for the coalition heads to meet until the Council of Torah Sages had decided,” says Lapid at the start of the weekly faction meeting. “The government doesn’t initiate anything, they wait for their masters to tell them what to do.”

He is referring to a gathering of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudat Yisrael, a rabbinical council governing a key faction within the United Torah Judaism party, yesterday to debate the contentious legislation on drafting Haredi yeshiva students into the military. The panel concluded their meeting by agreeing to consider backing the current bill if “a few changes are made,” a source within the party told The Times of Israel on Sunday, confirming reports in the ultra-Orthodox media. The source declined to say what changes would be required.

“We say bring the bill now and vote on it,” says Lapid, reiterating that his opposition Yesh Atid party will support the legislation only in its current version.

“We cannot change a single word [in the legislation], the defense minister said so and we have said so. Not one word. The law will bring more Haredim into the army and into the workforce.”

Lapid also announces his party will bring a proposal for surrogacy for same-sex couples to a Knesset vote next week.

“Netanyahu said he would support it, he even made a video. So  I call on him to do what he says and support the bill,” says Lapid.

— Raoul Wootliff

Lapid says won’t join forces with ‘left-wing coalition’

Answering press questions at his Yesh Atid faction meeting, Yair Lapid rejects the idea of joining either the Zionist Union or the Likud party to create a center-left or center-right bloc, respectively.

“We are a centrist party so it wouldn’t be right for us to be part of a left-wing coalition,” he says of a rumored plan set to be announced by opposition chair Tzipi Livni this afternoon to form such a union.

Asked if Likud would be a better fit for a political marriage, Lapid says: “We won’t need to join Likud because we will win on our own.”

He did not, however, reject the possibility of joining with former chief of staff Benny Gantz who is rumored to be considering an entry into politics, but stressed that he would lead any potential joint party.

“The only party that challenges Likud is us, the only candidate that challenges Netanyahu is me,” he says.

Raoul Wootliff

Bennett opposes early elections, says enlistment fight can be resolved

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett opposes early elections and suggests the fight over the ultra-Orthodox conscription bill is a manufactured political crisis that could easily be resolved.

“For us, there is only one date for election — November 2019. The government is good and should continue,” says key coalition partner Bennett at the weekly Jewish Home party faction meeting, as the Knesset resumes its parliamentary activities after a three-month recess.

“The conscription crisis can be solved. The bill can be passed. And it should be,” continues Bennett, adding that the “roots of this disagreement are fake.”

“Liberman and the Haredim know this and can fix it,” he says.

Raoul Wootliff

Education Naftali Bennett speaks to press, prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, September 16, 2018. (Marc Israel Sellem/ POOL/Flash90)



Liberman says conscription law won’t bring down government

Yisrael Beytenu chair and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says that the conscription law will not bring down the government.

“I saw the decision of the Council of Sages yesterday and I have to say it is a wise and correct one,” he says of the United Torah Judaism’s rabbinic council decision to engage in talks over the law.

“Anyone looking for an excuse for elections will need to find another,” he says in a possible reference to Netanyahu who is rumored to be favoring snap polls.

Raoul Wootliff

24 new rabbinical judges sworn in

Two dozen new regional rabbinical judges are sworn in at a ceremony held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

“Dear judges, your role is to render true judgment, fairly and according to halacha (Jewish law),” says President Reuven Rivlin at the ceremony.

“This is no easy task, but there is an additional requirement that is even more demanding – that your judgments do not desecrate either God or man. It is not enough that your judgment be correct, it must also sanctify the Lord. This makes the responsibility on you even greater, and even more perilous,” he adds.

The event is attended by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.

24 new rabbinical judges are sworn in at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 15, 2018 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)


Cologne police: Hostage incident at train station

Cologne police say they have closed parts of the western German city’s main train station because of a hostage situation.

Police officer Christoph Schulte tells The Associated Press that incident appears to have started Monday at 12:45 p.m. at a pharmacy inside the train station. He says parts of the station, one of the biggest in the country, were closed off as well as Breslauer Platz square behind the station.

There are no immediate details on who was taken hostage or how many people were involved.

German railroad operator Deutsche Bahn tweets that some of the station’s tracks were shut down temporarily.

Police on Twitter tell people to avoid the train station.


Bennett says Israel needs tougher policy on Gaza

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett says Israel must “change direction” and toughen its policy vis-a-vis the Gaza border riots.

“More than half a year ago, our soldiers were confronted by the growing chutzpah of Hamas terrorists on the Gaza border, and six months ago, when I began to say clearly: If a terrorist sends a balloon of terror to the State of Israel, if we don’t fire on one launcher we’ll receive 100 more. Then we did not receive 100, we received thousands,” he says at the weekly Jewish Home faction meeting.

“Hamas terrorists allow themselves to enter the territory of the State of Israel on a daily basis, to dismantle parts of the fence, to leave explosive charges… to burn our positions and to throw explosive devices at our soldiers.”

“It is time to change direction: instead of expanding and reducing the fishing space every day, instead of stopping fuel going into the Gaza Strip, terrorists must be prevented from entering Israel, and a clear rule must be set: A terrorist infiltrating is not returning,” he says. “The time has come to switch to an iron fist, to a real right-wing policy.”

Raoul Wootliff

Kahlon says party will only support conscription law backed by IDF

Kulanu leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon says his party will only support a conscription law that is acceptable to the IDF.

“The draft law is not for politicians, for solving political and coalition problems. Those who recruit soldiers are not rabbis, but the IDF, ” he says at his faction meeting.

Kahlon says he “hears all kinds of crazy laws that people want to come up in this Knesset … For three and a half years we have been blocking laws that are delusional from extremist organizations.”

“We won’t let them pass,” he vows.

Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu, defense minister defend IDF chief after criticism by Likud MK

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, and opposition party heads slam Likud MK David Bitan for his harsh criticism of IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Eisenkot over what he called the army’s “weak” policy in Gaza.

“The chief of staff is doing a great job. It’s important for me to say this here. We work together and he is doing a great job,” says Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting.

“Bitan’s words are intolerable and unacceptable,” says Liberman at his weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting. “You can agree or disagree but for politicians to attack the chief of staff is completely unacceptable.”

Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid calls on Netanyahu to “publicly denounce Bitan’s disgraceful attack on the chief of staff.”

Zionist Union chair Avi Gabbay says that “Netanyahu is the only one responsible. He is the one who is scared to make decisions for years. The security failure is on his shoulders.”

Raoul Wootliff

Cologne hostage is a woman; police in touch with attacker

German police said an unknown man believed to be armed had taken a woman hostage in a pharmacy inside Cologne’s central railway station on Monday.

“Eyewitnesses reported hearing shots, others spoke of smoke bombs, but we cannot confirm any of that so far,” a police spokesman tells news channel NTV.

“We have made contact with the attacker,” he says, adding that police were trying to clarify “what does this man want, what are his demands, and is he armed?”

Police commandos are deployed and the busy railway station was closed off to all passengers and trains.


Trump says he spoke to Saudi king, who denies knowing journalist’s fate

US President Donald Trump says Monday he is sending his top diplomat to Saudi Arabia after speaking to Saudi King Salman, who denied knowledge of the fate of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen,'” Trump says in a tweet, adding he was “immediately sending” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the king.


Knesset set to open with speeches by Rivlin, Netanyahu

The Knesset is set to formally open its winter session with speeches by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

In a video Twitter post ahead of the festive plenum session, Netanyahu promises his speech will be “very interesting.”

Entering election year, Edelstein says he won’t let Knesset become a ‘circus’

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein opens the winter Knesset session.

He says there have been “question marks in the media whether this is the last session of the 20th Knesset,” adding jokingly that whether or not there are early elections, this officially marks the final Knesset session (which includes the spring sitting through the end of the summer) for this government, which is set to go to elections in November 2019.

He urges lawmakers not to slack off during this final Knesset period before elections and continue to work on behalf of Israel’s disadvantaged and the embattled communities in Israel’s south. Edelstein says this “is not the time” to advance frivolous laws, or give “extreme” speeches in the plenum.

“On my watch,” and despite it being an election year, the Knesset “won’t turn into a market or a circus,” adds Edelstein, adding that he won’t hesitate to sanction MKs who misbehave.

Ahead of local elections on October 30, Edelstein condemns divisive campaigns nationwide, “campaigns that are based on hatred of the foreigner and hatred of the Other.”

“End the incitement,” he says.

Rivlin makes plea for nuance in politics, laments polarization

President Reuven Rivlin addresses the Knesset plenum, praising Israeli innovation and security, but warning of deepening tribalism.

“In many ways, the state of the Jewish people, which was facing extinction 80 years ago, has never been better,” says Rivlin, listing Israel’s accomplishments and lauding the warmth of its people.

But, he adds, there is also greater political polarization.

“Still, in Israel of 2018 everyone wants to influence how the country looks. But I have a feeling that each side is pulling in its own direction and the flag may be torn. Peace, which we argue about, has become a weapon. Ideology has become dogma, passion has become herd mentality, and care for others has become factionalism,” he says.

“In the important debate about the way ahead, between people, between parties, between majority and minority, empathy is evaporating, our ears are closing, inner peace is lost. We are starting to think and talk about ‘package deals.’ Tell me your views on the settlements, and I’ll tell what you think about the Supreme Court, about LGBTs and I’ll even tell you if you use the term infiltrators, refugees or economic migrants.”

The president warns, “It’s a greater threat than nuclear bombs or terrorism, greater than the enemies who seek our destruction. The threat of internal division will always be the greatest threat of all.”

The president makes an impassioned plea for nuance in politics — something, he says, that has been lost in the Knesset and is of particular importance in an election year.

“Complexity is not a plague. Complexity is not a ‘lack of backbone.’ It is also not a lack of a clear point of view. Complexity is humanity. Complex people do not only vote for the center. They vote for the right, and for the left. Our complex views are also what binds us together… And that complexity, dear friends, is not adequately represented in this house today, has insufficient voice in this house today,” says Rivlin. “Led by strategic advisers and seasoned campaigners, that complexity has been silenced and does not speak out. They will tell you to say ‘it’s us or them,’ ‘black or white,’ ‘killer instinct.’ I beg of you do not listen to them.”

“I ask you in general, but particularly at elections – let the voice of complexity be heard. The voice of the many citizens of Israel, whoever they may be,” he says.

IDF bombs Hamas post in Gaza after explosives planted on border fence

The IDF bombs a Hamas post in the southern Gaza Strip after two people were spotted placing an explosive device along the border fence, the army says.

“The explosive was detonated within the Strip’s territory and caused damage to the fence. No troops were injured,” the army says.

Judah Ari Gross

Netanyahu applauds Israel’s economic successes in past decade

Netanyahu takes the Knesset podium.

He is recalling two “moving” visits to synagogues, in Vilna — where his family is originally from — and the Golan Heights.  The prime minister says he was moved by the Vilna visit, “where the walls screamed” and remembered the Jews of the community who were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

“I stood there and said, ‘We are here, we’ve come back. Grandpa, I’ve come back to Lithuania as prime minister of Israel,'” he says.

The second is in Ein Keshatot, an ancient synagogue restored in the Golan Heights, which Netanyahu hails as a testament of longstanding Jewish sovereignty in Israel.

“Look what we’ve accomplished in the past decade,” he continues.

Unlike the “stagnation” of other developed countries in the past 10 years, Israel has flourished, he says, applauding Israel’s economy and low unemployment rates.

He notes that 4 million Israelis are expected to travel overseas this year, “this is no longer a thing just for rich people.”

“Israelis like to go abroad, but they also like to come home,” he says. “It’s good to live in Israel.”

He also says the past 10 years has seen Israel flourish diplomatically.

Netanyahu hails Russia, US ties

Netanyahu says China’s VP will come visit in the coming days, “a very, very important man,” to bolster trade ties.

He also underlines burgeoning trade ties with India and Japan. With the latter, Netanyahu says trade ties have increased 40 times over in just four years.

He also hails ties with Russia.

“I am in direct, frequent contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” says Netanyahu, to confront the “complex, very difficult challenges in our region.”

“This is very important for Israel’s security,” he says.

But above all, Netanyahu says, is the United States of America.

He thanks Obama for generous military aid to Israel.

But Netanyahu adds that the Trump administration has reached “new heights” in US-Israel security, intelligence, diplomatic coordination, including at the United Nations.

“We’ve never had such cooperation with the largest world power,” he says.

Netanyahu lashes Abbas for not condemning Barkan terror attack

Netanyahu says PA President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to condemn the “brutal and cruel” killing of two Israelis in the Barkan industrial zone in the West Bank last Sunday.

“Not only have I not heard a condemnation, but the precise opposite is happening,” he says, noting ongoing PA stipends for terrorists’ families.

“The obstacle to peace is not by us — it’s by them,” he says.

He also condemns Abbas for denouncing Israel’s Jewish state law.

He also thanks Trump for recognizing Jerusalem and moving the embassy to the capital.


Netanyahu says Israel fighting Iran in Syria ‘in these very days’

Netanyahu says his “most important goal is to counter Iran’s aggression” and its efforts to harm Israel.

Recalling his lobbying against the Iran nuclear deal, Netanyahu says “I warned about these dangers even when it meant a direct confrontation with the American administration because Israel’s security is above all.”

“We are working against Iran’s regime militarily in Syria, even in these very days, and President Trump is working against it economically around the world,” says Netanyahu, thanking the US leader for withdrawing from the “dangerous” nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions.

He also says covert ties with regional states are developing rapidly and will soon be revealed.

Netanyahu also says he aspires for peace with the Palestinians. “Peace is our soul’s desire,” he says.

“I am doing everything to prevent unnecessary wars,” he adds, before saying Israel won’t hesitate to fight when required, in an apparent reference to escalating tensions in Gaza.

After Netanyahu says the Palestinians are obstructing peace efforts, he is heckled by Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi.

Meretz leader, Arab MK ejected from plenum for heckling

Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg and Joint (Arab) List MK Ahmad Tibi are removed from the plenum for heckling the prime minister.

Netanyahu derides the opposition for being “disconnected from the public.”

Netanyahu: Claims Israel’s democracy, courts endangered are ‘just absurd’

Netanyahu says claims Israel’s courts and democracy are “just absurd” and “empty.”

“The courts are not in any danger,” Netanyahu says. “In every democracy, there are arguments on the balance between the authorities and within the authorities.”

“What bothers you is not the loss of democracy, but the loss of the leftocracy,” he charges.

Netanyahu defends Jewish state law, free speech

Netanyahu says there are no limits on freedom of speech in Israel.

“Those who limit the freedom of the speech in the media is the media itself,” he says angrily.

He also defends the Jewish state law, denying it impinges on minority rights.

“There isn’t and will not be any discrimination against anyone,” Netanyahu says.

“It’s your right to criticize, to propose changes or amendments; constructive criticism is crucial in democracy,” says Netanyahu, but calls claims Israel is descending into fascism or apartheid over the top.


Netanyahu says he hopes to pass draft law

Netanyahu says he hopes to advance the ultra-Orthodox enlistment law, with recognition of the importance of both Torah study and “the unity of the nation.”

Livni: I hope this is the last government in which Netanyahu is PM

Opposition chief Tzipi Livni is up next.

“I hope this is the last government in which Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister of Israel. This is not a personal issue, it’s a national issue,” she says. “Instead of waiting for criminal proceedings, I am lodging an indictment of the public.”

She is lashing Netanyahu for his “whining” and asks, “Are you interested in anything other than what they write about you? Security, perhaps?”

Netanyahu is seen smiling.

She accuses Netanyahu of turning Israel’s media into a mouthpiece, leading Israel to annexation of West Bank lands and creating a Muslim majority, and of “tearing the Declaration of Independence to shreds.”

Accusing Netanyahu of “incitement” for “cynical” political gain, she says: “You are causing people to hate one another.”

Livni says she is representing thousands of Israelis who are branded traitors by the Israeli government for their views.

“It’s not loyalty to the state that you want, it’s loyalty to you,” she says to Netanyahu.

Livni says PM prefers to deal with Hamas rather than PA

Livni says the opposition is no less connected to Jewish tradition and culture, but does not, like Netanyahu, use a historical “pogrom” for political campaigning.

“Our country is not a halachic [Jewish legal] state, we will not have ‘religionization’ in schools,” she says, also lashing the government for its treatment of Diaspora Jewry.

Livni is also criticizing Netanyahu for his security policies.

“You take pride, Mr. Prime Minister, in being the first to recognize the Iranian threat, and I will give you credit,” she says. But 10 years on, Iran is now on the border, she adds.

On Gaza, she says: “The people of Israel must know the choice is not between a capitulation deal with Hamas or an operation.”

Livni accuses the Israeli government of preferring to deal with the Hamas terrorist than with the PA, “because it’s comfortable.”

“The Hamas is a security threat. But with Hamas, there is no threat of peace,” she says.

Trump: ‘Rogue killers’ might have slain missing Saudi journalist

US President Donald Trump says Monday that “rogue killers” could be to blame for the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist and says that the oil-rich state’s monarch emphatically denies involvement.

“The denial was very, very strong,” Trump tells reporters at the White House after talking to King Salman by telephone. “It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”

“All I can do is report what he told me. He told me in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it. He said it very strongly,” Trump says.

Trump says that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to Saudi Arabia within the hour to discuss the controversy over journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post and critic of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


German police free hostage, injure suspect in train station

German police stormed a pharmacy in Cologne’s main train station Monday, freeing a woman who had been held hostage by a man for two hours, officials say. The suspect sustained life-threatening injuries.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the man was injured and police said on Twitter that emergency personnel were trying to revive him with CPR. The hostage was also slightly injured and treated on the scene.

Police didn’t give details about the hostage-taker’s identity or motive. They also didn’t reveal the hostage’s identity.


Gaza border protests resume, dozens of Palestinians said injured

Thousands of Palestinians are protesting on the Gaza border with Israel, throwing rocks and firebombs and burning tires, the army says.

IDF troops use tear gas and live fire to beat back the protesters in the northern Gaza Strip.

The army also confirms that ships had attempted to breach the blockade on Gaza, but were driven back.

Palestinian reports say as many as 60 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israel on Monday.

with Judah Ari Gross

Clashes after Israel closes Palestinian school in West Bank

Clashes broke out in the West Bank on Monday after Israeli forces ordered the closure of a Palestinian school, AFP correspondents said.

The Israeli army says the school had been the source of months of violence, with stones thrown at a nearby major road used by its forces and Israeli settlers.

The school serves the Palestinian villages of As-Sawiya and Al-Lubban south of Nablus and is located on a main road through the West Bank.

The Israeli army on Sunday issued an order for the school to be closed, but students tried to enter on Monday morning alongside some officials, AFP journalists say.

Israeli soldiers and border police fired tear gas at protesters, including into the school premises.

Four people were hit by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent says, with a number of others affected by tear gas.

AFP photographer Jaafar Ashtiyeh is injured in the clashes.


Jerusalem-Ben Gurion airport train stuck in tunnel

The new fast train between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport is stuck in a tunnel with 150 passengers on board.

Australian PM said considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is weighing recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Morrison will also reconsider Canberra’s support for the Iran nuclear deal, the report says.

Australia’s Scott Morrison arrives for a party meeting in Canberra on August 24, 2018. (AFP/ POOL / DAVID GRAY)

Turkish police begin search at Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate

Turkish police and other officials on Monday entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul to search the premises, in the investigation over missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an AFP correspondent says.

Uniformed Turkish police and other officials in suits believed to be prosecutors went inside the consulate after receiving agreement from Riyadh to conduct the search. Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the consulate on October 2.


32 Palestinians said injured by live fire at Gaza border riots

Thirty-two Palestinians, who were injured by live fire in protests near the northern border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, were hospitalized, according to Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

Dozens of others are treated near the border after suffering from tear gas inhalation and shrapnel-related injuries, the ministry says.

Adam Rasgon

Policewoman suspected of firing rubber bullet at Palestinian ‘for amusement’

A female Border Police officer is suspected of firing a rubber bullet into the back of a Palestinian man in the West Bank, the Ynet news website  reports.

The policewoman apparently opened fire in the May incident “out of amusement,” the report says.

The officer, who is not named, has had her remand extended on Monday by three days.

Deputy foreign minister: Detained US student wasn’t really a boycott activist

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely says Lara Alqasem, the American student who was barred entry into Israel and remains in airport detention over her alleged support for the anti-Israel boycott movement, “wasn’t really a boycott activist.”

“We must use the boycott law wisely and consider whether the international damage supersedes the benefits,” she tells Hadashot television, referring to a 2017 law allowing Israel to bar boycott activists from the country.

“We made her an uncalled-for symbol,” adds Hotovely.

Alqasem, who arrived in the country to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is waiting for the Supreme Court to decide if it will hear her appeal.

US student Lara Alqasem sits for a hearing at the Tel Aviv District Court on October 11, 2018. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Police to recommend indictments of top officials in submarines probe — report

Police are set to announce their recommendations for indictments in the so-called Case 3000, on the purchase on naval submarines, Hadashot news reports.

According to the report, Netanyahu’s longtime adviser Yitzchak Molcho will not face trial.

But police will recommend that the prime minister’s attorney and cousin, David Shimron, be charged in the case, along with several others, the network reports.

Netanyahu’s lawyers and advisers David Shimron (L) and Yitzhak Molcho (R). (Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90 and Michal Fattal/Flash90)

The investigation involves suspicions that state officials were paid bribes to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, costing a total of 2 billion euros, despite opposition to the deal by the Defense Ministry.

Fatah-Hezbollah clashes in Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon wound 6

Lebanese security officials say clashes between rival Palestinian factions in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon have wounded at least six people.

The officials say the clashes broke out Monday between members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and Jundallah, which is allied with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, say most of the six wounded are Fatah members.

Clashes are uncommon in the camp of Miyeh ou Miyeh, near the port city of Sidon.


German police not ruling out terror motive in Cologne hostage-taking

German police say Monday that they are not eliminating terrorism as the motive for a hostage-taking at Cologne’s central station that left several people injured.

“The investigation is considering all possibilities and we are not ruling out terrorism,” says Cologne deputy police chief Miriam Brauns, at a news conference.


US Embassy, envoy condemn death of Palestinian woman by stone-throwing

The US Embassy in Jerusalem and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt condemn the death of a Palestinian mother of eight, who was killed in a car crash allegedly caused by stone-throwing in the West Bank over the weekend.

Police and the Shin Bet security service have launched an investigation.

“Saddened to hear of the death of Palestinian mother of eight Aisha al-Rabi this weekend in the West Bank. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time. We urge the perpetrators be brought to justice,” says a statement from the US Embassy.

“My thoughts & prayers are with Mrs. Aysha al-Rabi’s 8 children & husband. Mrs. al-Rabi was killed when her car was struck by a stone thrown onto the roadway. An investigation into this reprehensible act is ongoing,” adds Greenblatt.

Netanyahu speaks to Australian PM about possible Jerusalem recognition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, who is deliberating whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate its embassy to the city, his office says.

“The Australian prime minister updated [Netanyahu] that he is weighing whether to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the Australian Embassy to Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked him,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.

Gabbay: Netanyahu responsible if aides are corrupt, even if unaware of crimes

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay says Netanyahu must be held responsible for alleged corruption on the part of his confidants, whether he was aware of the purported crimes or not.

He is responding to a television report that said police will recommend prosecutors file criminal charges against former Netanyahu attorney David Shimron and others, in the submarines probe.

“The prime minister is responsible for the corruption of his associates and his cousin Shimron in the submarines case,” says Gabbay in a tweet. “Whether he knew about it or not. Someone who those closest to him took bribes at the expense of state security and he doesn’t even bother to distance himself from them is unfit to govern a country.”

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