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Israel’s COVID death toll surpasses 8,000

357 patients in serious condition; another 1,000 coronavirus cases diagnosed since midnight, as downward trend continues

Family members wearing safety gear visit a family member at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on February 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Family members wearing safety gear visit a family member at the coronavirus ward of Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem on February 3, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

TV: Israel earmarks NIS 5b. for capabilities to target Iran’s nuclear program

The Israeli government has approved a NIS 5 billion ($1.5 billion) budget to enhance its capabilities to strike Iran’s nuclear program, according to Channel 12.

The funds will go toward state-of-the-art aircraft and intelligence-gathering, possibly with satellites, among other options, the television report says.

‘He lied’: Iraqis still blame Powell for role in Iraq war

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell listens to a question from a reporter outside the front doors of the State Department  in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2003. (Tim SLOAN / AFP / File)
Former US secretary of state Colin Powell listens to a question from a reporter outside the front doors of the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2003. (Tim SLOAN / AFP / File)

For many Iraqis, the name Colin Powell conjures up one image: the man who, as US secretary of state, went before the UN Security Council in 2003 to make the case for war against their country.

Word of his death Monday at age 84 dredges up feelings of anger in Iraq toward the former general and diplomat, one of several Bush administration officials whom they hold responsible for a disastrous US-led invasion that led to decades of death, chaos, and violence in Iraq.

His UN testimony was a key part of events that they say had a heavy cost for Iraqis and others in the Middle East.

“He lied, lied, and lied,” says Maryam, a 51-year-old Iraqi writer and mother of two in northern Iraq who speaks on condition that her last name not be used because one of her children is studying in the United States.

“He lied, and we are the ones who got stuck with never-ending wars,” she adds.

As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell oversaw the Persian Gulf war to oust the Iraqi army in 1991, after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

But Iraqis remember Powell more for his UN presentation justifying the invasion of their country more than a decade later by casting Saddam as a major global threat who possessed weapons of mass destruction, even displaying a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon. Powell had called Iraq’s claims that it had no such weapons “a web of lies.” No WMD were ever found, however, and the speech was later derided as a low point in his career.

“I am saddened by the death of Colin Powell without being tried for his crimes in Iraq…. But I am sure that the court of God will be waiting for him,” tweets Muntadher al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist who vented his outrage at the US by throwing his shoes at then-president George W. Bush during a 2008 news conference in Baghdad.

Israel’s COVID death toll surpasses 8,000

Hospital staff tend to a patient in the coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, on September 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Hospital staff tend to a patient in the coronavirus ward at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, on September 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Nineteen months into the pandemic, Israel’s death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 8,000, with 11 new fatalities recorded since this morning, according to the Health Ministry.

The death toll now stands at 8,010.

According to the ministry, 357 people remain in serious condition with COVID. Another 1,004 cases were recorded since midnight.

TV: Israel may waive quarantine for tourists vaccinated with Sputnik V

A medical worker administers a shot of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Gostinny Dvor, a huge exhibition venue in Moscow, Russia, July 12, 2021. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
A medical worker administers a shot of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Gostinny Dvor, a huge exhibition venue in Moscow, Russia, July 12, 2021. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Israel is expected to allow tourists who received Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to enter the country and waive the quarantine requirement, provided they take an antibodies test, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The report comes ahead of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday.

Launched in August 2020 and proudly named after the world’s first satellite to symbolize Russia’s scientific prowess, Sputnik V has been approved in some 70 countries. The World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency have not yet approved Sputnik V for use.

The AP contributed to this report.

Health minister floats compromise to shorten medical interns’ shifts

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz speaks during a press conference, in Jerusalem on August 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz offers to accelerate plans to shorten shifts for medical interns, who have threatened to resign en masse to protest their working conditions.

Under the new proposal announced by Horowitz, shifts will be shortened in March from 26 to 18 hours at 10 hospitals in the country’s geographic periphery. Shifts will then be cut at numerous departments at two yet-to-be determined hospitals in the center of the country in November 2022.

Shifts will then be gradually reduced at other departments and hospitals, with the aim of having all medical interns work 18-hour shifts by the end of 2025.

Biden says Powell embodied ‘highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat’

US President Joe Biden stands during the US National Anthem at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the West Front of the US Capitol Building, on October 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images/AFP)
US President Joe Biden stands during the US National Anthem at the 40th Annual National Peace Officers Memorial Service on the West Front of the US Capitol Building, on October 16, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images/AFP)

US President Joe Biden hails former secretary of state and war hero Colin Powell for embodying “the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat,” after the general’s death on Monday.

“Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity,” Biden says following the announcement that Powell had died, at the age of 84.

New trial opens for leading figure of Egypt 2011 revolt

A leading figure in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, appears in court along with two other co-defendants at the start of a new trial, his defense team says.

Abdel-Fattah, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer and another blogger, Mohamed Ibrahim, face charges of “broadcasting false news” in their trial before the State Security Misdemeanours Court in Cairo.

Rulings in the exceptional courts are final and cannot be appealed.

The next hearing in the case was set for November 1, their lawyer Khaled Ali tells AFP.

Abdel-Fattah, a computer programmer and prominent figure in the uprising that toppled former autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has been in pre-trial detention since September 2019.

He was arrested in the wake of rare, nighttime protests prompted by an exiled construction contractor calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on claims of corruption.

His lawyer Baqer and Ibrahim, also known as “Oxygen,” were also detained in a massive crackdown.

Abdel-Fattah has spent most of the past decade in jail.

Czech president can’t perform duties due to health, says official

Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman welcomes his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Czech Republic's President Milos Zeman welcomes his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, on August 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Health problems were preventing Czech President Milos Zeman from carrying out his duties, an official says.

The speaker of the Czech Senate, Milos Vystrcil, says that a letter he received from the Prague military hospital where Zeman is being treated says the 77-year-old president is unable to work.

According to the letter signed by the hospital’s director, Miroslav Zavoral, Zeman is unable to perform “any working duties for health reasons,” and the long-term prognosis is “very uncertain.” It said Zeman’s return to his duties in the next several weeks is “very unlikely.”

Zeman was rushed to the Czech capital’s military hospital on October 10, a day after the election for the lower house of parliament.

The hospital previously said Zeman was in an intensive care unit in stable condition, but further details about his health were unknown.

As president, Zeman has a key role in establishing a new government. Although the office is largely ceremonial, the Czech president is responsible for tapping a party leader to try to form a government after a parliamentary election.

If Zeman is not able to act due to his illness or other reasons, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament will take over his presidential powers.

The new speaker of the lower house will select the premier if that happens. The new house will first meet on November 8 to elect the speaker and other officials.

Vystrcil says the Senate representatives will meet the leaders of the parties elected to the lower house to discuss the temporary transfer of presidential powers.

Berlin museum returns, then buys back Nazi-looted Pissarro

Berlin’s Alte Nationalgalerie museum hands back and repurchases a painting by French Impressionist Camille Pissarro looted by the Nazis from the collection of Jewish lawyer Armand Dorville.

Representatives of the Dorville family signed an agreement for the museum to return and buy back “Une Place a la Roche-Guyon” (“A Square in La Roche Guyon”), part of the Berlin institution’s permanent collection.

“I am very grateful to Armand Dorville’s heirs for making it possible for us to purchase the work for the Alte Nationalgalerie and for coming to Berlin especially for this purpose,” says Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation (SPK), which runs the Berlin museum.

He does not reveal how much the museum paid for the painting but says the family wanted it to remain on public display and the deal had been achieved in a spirit of “good cooperation.

Painted in 1867, “A Square in La Roche Guyon” was acquired by Armand Dorville in Paris in 1928.

After moving to the south of France, Dorville died in 1941 and his collection was distributed to museums and private collectors.

The family was unable to flee occupied France and most members were killed by the Nazis, who occupied the country in 1940-1944.

Several close relatives of Dorville’s brother Charles perished at Auschwitz.

US ‘very concerned’ over China’s hypersonic test

Illustrative: A new hypersonic missile launched from Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County, Jagang Province, North Korea, September 28, 2021. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
Illustrative: A new hypersonic missile launched from Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County, Jagang Province, North Korea, September 28, 2021. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The United States is “very concerned” about China’s hypersonic missile tests, US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood says, after reports that Beijing launched one with a nuclear capacity in August.

On Saturday, the Financial Times reported that China had launched a hypersonic missile that completed a circuit of the planet before landing, missing its target.

“We are very concerned by what China has been doing on the hypersonic front,” says Wood, who next week steps down from his post in Geneva after seven years.

Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles, can fly more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). But they are more maneuverable than their ballistic counterparts and only need a low trajectory in the atmosphere, making them harder to defend against.

China insists that the test was a routine one for a spacecraft rather than a missile.

But Wood says that Russia also had hypersonic technology and while Washington had held back from developing a military capacity in this field, they now had no choice but to respond in kind.

The United States is already working on adding hypersonic missiles to its arsenal.

UK parliament holds minute of silence in tribute to slain MP

Members of the Freedom Hunters For Tamils rights activist organization hold up photographs and placards in honor of killed British lawmaker David Amess as they line Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in central London on October 18, 2021. (Tolga Akmen / AFP)
Members of the Freedom Hunters For Tamils rights activist organization hold up photographs and placards in honor of killed British lawmaker David Amess as they line Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in central London on October 18, 2021. (Tolga Akmen / AFP)

British lawmakers fall silent in somber tribute to a colleague who was stabbed to death while meeting constituents, as police probe whether a suspect arrested was motivated by Islamist extremism.

Members of parliament, many dressed in black, pack the House of Commons and stand heads bowed for a minute’s silence in memory of Conservative MP David Amess, who was killed in a church hall on Friday.

“May the bright memory of his rich life ever outshine the tragic manner of his death,” chaplain Tricia Hillas tells the chamber in a prayer.

The attack was the second killing of a UK politician while meeting constituents in five years and prompted calls for an end to sharply divisive partisan rhetoric that has intensified since Britain’s 2016 Brexit referendum.

At Rabin memorial, Netanyahu accuses Lapid of lacking ‘statesmanship’

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the Knesset memorial marking the 26th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, takes a swipe at Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Netanyahu says he supported the peace agreement with Jordan brokered by Rabin, when he was opposition leader. “I’m telling this to Lapid, who spoke now in support of statesmanship, but refrained from voting for the peace agreements with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.”

IDF: False alarm heard in south the result of ‘human error’

The Israel Defense Forces says the false alarm heard earlier in the day in southern Israel was the result of “human error.”

Earlier this afternoon, sirens were triggered in the city of Ashkelon and nearby towns, all of which have repeatedly been targeted by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

The military quickly clarified that this was a false alarm.

“An initial investigation of the incident found that this was a human error. There was no damage to the operational functionality of the alert system,” the IDF says.

IDF soldier moderately injured while loading shell during training

A soldier was moderately injured today while practicing how to load a shell into a tank cannon, the Israel Defense Forces says.

The serviceman was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital for treatment, fully conscious, the military says.

The IDF does not elaborate on the nature of the soldier’s injuries.

Lapid: Rabin assassin’s ‘ideological heirs’ are serving in the Knesset

Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on October 4, 2021. Photo by Oliiver Fitoussi/Flash90
Head of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on October 4, 2021. Photo by Oliiver Fitoussi/Flash90

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says the far-right Knesset members are the “ideological heirs” of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir.

“Yigal Amir’s ideological heirs are today serving in Israel’s Knesset. Had we not performed the miracle of the ‘change government,’ they would be ministers in the government,” says the Yesh Atid leader.

He is interrupted by Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, who are escorted out of the plenum.

Bennett: The right or religious didn’t murder Rabin, Yigal Amir did

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the official state ceremony marking the anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem, October 18, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the official state ceremony marking the anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem, October 18, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset memorial for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“I hope we learned that we cannot malign an entire community if one of its members… committed a crime,” says Bennett. “It wasn’t the right or the religious who murdered Rabin. Yigal Amir murdered him.”

He warns that bloodshed like Rabin’s assassination could lead to “losing everything we hold dear, including the state.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, who skipped the earlier memorial at Mount Herzl, is present for the parliamentary ceremony.

Netanyahu: We will always remember Powell’s friendship

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu also sends his condolences to the family of former US secretary of state Colin Powell.

Powell “served his country with great dedication and we will always remember his friendship to the State of Israel,” says Netanyahu in a tweet.

George W. Bush hails Powell as ‘great public servant’

In this file photo taken on October 26, 2000, former US President and then Republican presidential candidate and Governor of Texas George W. Bush (R) and General Colin Powell (L) stand together on stage during their introduction to supporters at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (PAUL BUCK / AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 26, 2000, former US President and then Republican presidential candidate and Governor of Texas George W. Bush (R) and General Colin Powell (L) stand together on stage during their introduction to supporters at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (PAUL BUCK / AFP)

Former US president George W. Bush, who picked Colin Powell as his secretary of state, pays tribute to the late top diplomat and war hero as a “great” man who counseled multiple presidents.

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” Bush says in a statement, adding that the former national security advisor and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was “highly respected at home and abroad.”

Powell died on Monday of complications from Covid-19 at age 84.

US defense secretary: World lost ‘great leader’ in Colin Powell

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell listens to a question from a reporter outside the front doors of the State Department  in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2003. (Tim SLOAN / AFP / File)
Former US secretary of state Colin Powell listens to a question from a reporter outside the front doors of the State Department in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2003. (Tim SLOAN / AFP / File)

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pays tribute to Colin Powell, saying the world had lost “one of the greatest leaders we have ever witnessed.”

“The first African-American chairman of the joint chiefs, the first African-American secretary of state…. a man who was respected around the globe,” says Austin, who is the first African-American defense secretary.

“It will be quite frankly not possible to replace Colin Powell,” Austin says during a visit to the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Lapid mourns Powell as a ‘true friend’ of Israel

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid pays tribute to former US secretary of state Colin Powell, who died of complications of COVID-19.

‘Bold’ titles break taboos at Saudi book fair

A man browses a book bearing on its cover an image of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he visits a pavilion at the Riyadh International Book Fair in the Saudi capital on October 9, 2021 (Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
A man browses a book bearing on its cover an image of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as he visits a pavilion at the Riyadh International Book Fair in the Saudi capital on October 9, 2021 (Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

Books on long-taboo subjects like intimacy, secularism and magic are among those on display at the Riyadh book fair this month, as Saudi Arabia seeks to modernize its ultraconservative image.

But despite the exhibition of works long rejected as un-Islamic by Saudi authorities, some publishers say they continue to practice a form of self-censorship while the new boundaries remain unclear.

Since Mohammed bin Salman was appointed crown prince in 2017, the kingdom has undergone economic, religious and social reforms. Changes have included allowing women to drive, the reopening of cinemas and mixed-gender music concerts.

But reforms have been accompanied by a widening crackdown on dissent, which has seen women’s rights activists, clerics and journalists detained.

Mahmoud al-Qadoumi, a long-time Jordanian resident of Riyadh, said the selection at the 10-day book fair, which ended earlier this week, was “bold and unprecedented.”

“There are books on Sufism and atheism, which is contrary to what has been the case for many years,” he says.

A woman views books as she visits a pavilion at the Riyadh International Book Fair in the Saudi capital on October 9, 2021. (Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

He points to a science book he had purchased on the origins of the universe that made no reference to divine creation.

Palestinian clash with Israeli troops at Damascus Gate

Palestinians reportedly clash with Israeli security forces at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, according to footage from the scene.

Bennett: Rabin’s murder underlines that Israelis must never be torn apart

Memorial candles lit during a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 26th anniversary of former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin's assassination, at the president's residence in Jerusalem, October 18, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Memorial candles lit during a memorial ceremony to commemorate the 26th anniversary of former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin's assassination, at the president's residence in Jerusalem, October 18, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the state ceremony marking the murder of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin 26 years ago. The ceremony is taking place at the Mount Herzl military cemetery. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is not attending.

“The lesson I took away from Rabin’s murder — under no circumstances, no matter the situation, should the nation be torn apart. We cannot set the house on fire. We are brothers. The only comfort from this terrible murder is the fact that we managed to flourish, to correct,” says Bennett.

EU says no Iran nuclear talks in Brussels on Thursday

The European Union will not hold talks in Brussels on Thursday with Iran on restarting negotiations over the nuclear deal, a spokeswoman for the bloc says.

Spokeswoman Nabila Massrali tells AFP “there will not be a meeting Thursday,” despite Tehran’s foreign ministry saying talks would happen that day in the Belgian capital.

IDF: Rocket siren was likely a false alarm

The Israel Defense Forces says the rocket siren in the south was likely a false alarm.

Russia suspends work of NATO Military Liaison Mission in Moscow

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Moscow is suspending its mission to NATO and was also closing the Western military bloc’s liaison mission in a new diplomatic row.

“We are suspending the work of our official mission to NATO, including the work of our military representative from November 1 or it could take a few more days,” Lavrov tells reporters, adding that Russia is also shutting down the alliance’s liaison mission in Moscow.

Vote for new Jewish Agency chief delayed

View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem, November 29, 2016. Photo (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem, November 29, 2016. Photo (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The vote for the next chairman of the Jewish Agency has been postponed, according to Hebrew media reports.

The deadline for submitting new candidates is extended until November 17, while a vote on the new chief will be held a month after that, according to Army Radio.

The delay comes after Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern withdrew his candidacy for Jewish Agency chairman amid a growing controversy over comments he made suggesting he had ignored complaints, possible including sexual harassment complaints, during his time as head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate.

Former US secretary Colin Powell dies of COVID complications

Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former US secretary of state Colin Powell speaks at the State Department in Washington, September 3, 2014. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former US secretary of state Colin Powell speaks at the State Department in Washington, September 3, 2014. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Colin Powell, a US war hero and the first Black secretary of state, has died from complications from COVID-19, his family says. He was 84.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family says in a statement posted to social media.

Egypt to require virus vaccinations for civil servants

Egypt’s government will soon require public servants to have a vaccination certificate or show a weekly negative COVID-19 test before entering their workplaces.

The government announces the new measures. It says the requirements will be applied starting November 15. The measures also require the public to show proof of vaccination to enter government buildings starting December 1, according to a government statement.

The idea is to encourage people to get vaccinations, as the country of over 100 million people suffers through a fourth wave of the pandemic.

Health Minister Hala Zayed says the government has secured more than 62 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine, with 7.8 million more shots expected to arrive this month.

She says around 31.7 million shots have been given to residents since the vaccination campaign was launched in January.

Likud fumes over Rabin grandson’s speech

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party hits back at former premier Yitzhak Rabin’s grandson, after he praises the political shakeup that removed Netanyahu from power.

“The rule of the people triumphed over the rule of the individual?” Likud says, paraphrasing Jonatan Benartzi’s speech, “It’s exactly the opposite. It’s the individual who defrauded the nation to steal power.”

That’s apparently a reference to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose alliance with a diverse array of political parties landed him the premiership, despite holding just six parliamentary seats.

Herzog meets with Swedish FM in Jerusalem

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde meets with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem on October 18, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog meets with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde in Jerusalem.

During the meeting, he welcomes the boosted ties between Jerusalem and Stockholm, “as expressed in contacts between the two states’ foreign ministers.”

The president ” highlighted recent normalization accords with Arab states as positive developments toward peace in the Middle East and encouraged Sweden to actively support efforts for peace and normalization with more states in the region,” his office says.

“President Isaac Herzog thanked Foreign Minister Ann Linde for Sweden’s hosting of the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism last week and stressed the need for international unity in combating antisemitism in all its forms wherever it appears,” according to a statement from his office.

The statement says: “President Isaac Herzog emphasized the importance of the indisputable fact of Israel’s unique status in the family of nations as the state of the Jewish People, which maintains equality between all its citizens and is a liberal democracy.”

Linde will meet with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. She will also participate in the opening of an exhibition celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Linde is also due to visit the West Bank, where she will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials.

British parliament to hold session of tributes for murdered MP Amess

People attend a vigil at St Michael and All Angels church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, England, October 17, 2021 for Conservative MP Sir David Amess who died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery on Friday. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)
People attend a vigil at St Michael and All Angels church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, England, October 17, 2021 for Conservative MP Sir David Amess who died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery on Friday. (Kirsty O'Connor/PA via AP)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a special session of tributes in Parliament to the Conservative lawmaker stabbed to death as he met constituents, an attack that has fueled concern about politicians’ safety and the level of vitriol directed at them.

A 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali, is being held under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of murder in David Amess’s killing. Police say the suspect appears to have acted alone and may have had a “motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”

The death of the popular legislator who had served in Parliament for almost 40 years shocked Britain, especially its political class. It came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist.

The House of Commons returns Monday from a three-week break, and most of the scheduled business has been replaced by tributes to Amess. That will be followed by a service at the medieval St. Margaret’s Church in the shadow of Parliament.

The government has ordered a review of lawmakers’ security following the attack on Friday. British politicians are protected by armed police when they are in Parliament but generally are not given such protection when they meet with constituents in the districts they represent.

Syria buries former lawmaker allegedly killed by Israel

Midhat as-Saleh (Screenshot/Channel 13 news)
Midhat as-Saleh (Screenshot/Channel 13 news)

A former Syrian lawmaker allegedly felled by Israeli sniper fire is laid to rest in an official funeral attended by hundreds of people near Damascus.

Midhat Saleh, a well-known figure in Syria, was fatally shot Saturday in Ein el-Tineh, a village along the Israeli border in the Golan Heights where he ran a Syrian government office. Syria said he was killed by Israeli sniper fire. Israeli military and other officials declined to comment on the charge.

Israeli media, however, said Saleh had been assisting the Iranian military presence against Israel. If the Syrian claims are confirmed, it would mark the first time that Israeli snipers are known to have killed someone identified as an Iranian-linked target across the border.

Saleh’s coffin, wrapped in a Syrian flag, is brought in an ambulance from the Mamdouh Abaza hospital in Qunetira to Jaramana, on the outskirts of Damascus, for burial at a Druze cemetery. Hundreds of people attend in addition to senior officials and Druze clerics.

Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, and was jailed several times by Israel, most recently for 12 years until 1997. He later moved to Syria, was elected to parliament in 1998 and served as an adviser to the government on the Golan issue.

Saleh’s son, Golan, a 17-year-old student, says that his father had always told him that the territory would return to Syria.

“I am proud that my father was martyred,” he says.

Memorial for Rabin held at President’s Residence, 26 years after murder

A memorial for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by a Jewish extremist in 1995, is held at the President’s Residence.

Speaking at the ceremony, Rabin’s grandson, Jonatan Benartzi, addresses the change of government earlier this year that removed Benjamin Netanyahu from power.

“After dark years of fear and [political] paralysis, Israel has won. In the face of a culture of tyranny, the people won. This morning, 26 years after the terrible night, I can say that the mourning period is over,” he says.

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