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‘If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails,’ says UK’s Johnson of climate summit

As Israeli PM heads to UN summit in Scotland, British PM urges world leaders to commit to cutting carbon emissions

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a press conference at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit in Rome, October 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives for a press conference at the La Nuvola conference center for the G20 summit in Rome, October 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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

Vandals destroy Torah scroll at George Washington University Jewish fraternity

A predominantly Jewish fraternity house at Washington, DC’s George Washington University has been broken into and its Torah scroll torn apart and covered in detergent, according to a group that fights antisemitism on US campuses.

In a tweet, Jewish on Campus calls on the university to condemn and investigate the incident.

The American Jewish Committee says it is “appalled by the vandalization of a Jewish fraternity house… which included the desecration of sacred Jewish texts.

“We call on law enforcement and the GWU administration to swiftly identify and apprehend those responsible for this horrific act of antisemitism,” it adds.

IDF kicks off month-long drill aimed at preparing for war with Hezbollah

The Israel Defense Forces launches a month-long series of exercises to improve the military’s preparedness for a war against the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

The drills — known collectively as “Hewn Stone,” or in Hebrew, “Even Gazit” — will “simulate multi-front, intensive and drawn-out combat, with conscripted and reservist troops taking part, from all headquarters of the Northern Command, in collaboration with the General Staff directorates, the Ground Forces, Air Force, and Navy,” the IDF says.

All levels of the IDF Northern Command will participate in the exercises, up to entire divisions. “The goal of the exercises is improving the defensive and offensive capabilities of the IDF against a variety of scenarios,” the military says.

The Hewn Stone exercise is being held alongside a major nationwide home front exercise, which launched earlier today, that is also meant to simulate a war against Hezbollah, but from the standpoint of emergency services, rather than military forces.

The IDF says the drills were planned in advance as part of the 2021 training schedule.

France’s Macron praises G20 progress on climate

French President Emmanuel Macron calls the Group of 20 summit in Rome “a success” that delivered results, especially on climate change issues, “despite many divisions” between nations.

Macron says the two-day summit provided an opportunity “to revive convergence” among the world’s largest economies ahead of the much larger United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland that has gotten underway as the G20 meeting ended.

The French leader acknowledges that more efforts are needed to reach the goal set in the 2015 Paris climate accord of holding the global average increase in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius ( 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.

“Now, all the work will focus on getting additional efforts from China, from other emerging countries, from Russia, in order to keep going in the right direction,” Macron says.

“Indeed, we must get the G20 economies to do more on the coal energy in their country’s energy mix. That’s the next step,” he adds. “We didn’t reach it here…That was not realistic.”

UN chief says G20 summit didn’t meet his climate hopes

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is giving a mixed verdict on the climate change agreements reached at this weekend’s Group of 20 summit, saying he hopes for more ambitious commitments to be made at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

G20 leaders agreed during their two-day meeting in Rome on ending financing for new overseas coal plants, but did not set a specific year for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Group of Seven rich democracies set 2050 for achieving that goal, while G20 members China, Russia and Saudi Arabia set 2060.

“I leave Rome with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried,” Guterres tweets. “Onwards to #COP26 in Glasgow to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees alive and to implement promises on finance and adaptation for people & planet.”

Guterres told the G20 that “greater ambition” in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is needed to put the world on a path to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.

The G20 acknowledged that impacts are “much lower” with 1.5 degrees Celsius, but also reiterated the looser goals of the 2015 Paris climate accords, which calls for keeping the increase “well under” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F), while “pursuing efforts” to achieve the 1.5-degree limit.

The difference may seem slight, but the UN’s scientific committee has underlined that the disruption from climate effects such as rising seas and extreme weather is much less at 1.5 degrees Celsius than at 2 degrees Celsius.

Visiting Taibe, President Herzog says silence ‘unacceptable’ on Arab crime wave

President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal visit the Arab city of Taibe, meeting its mayor and urging action against the wave of violent crime plaguing Israel’s Arab community.

Herzog tours a local high school and says: “It is unacceptable for us as a society to remain silent in the face of violence, escalation, and loss of personal safety suffered on a daily basis by some citizens.

“We must not get used to this. We must not remain silent.”

UK’s Johnson warns on COP26: ‘If Glasgow fails, the whole thing fails’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges world leaders attending the UN climate change conference in Glasgow to commit to cutting carbon emissions, warning that efforts to halt runaway global warming will fail if they do not.

“If Glasgow fails, then the whole thing fails,” he tells a news conference in Rome, after a meeting of G20 leaders.

Girl, 2, dies after suspected car accident in Tel Sheva

A two-year-old girl has been killed in the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva in the south, with police suspecting she was run over by a vehicle.

Police say the toddler was brought to a local clinic and then to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center, where doctors pronounced her dead.

The statement says no further details are currently known about the incident.

Tourism Ministry welcomes return of vaccinated tourists to Israel

The Tourism Ministry releases a statement welcoming foreigners back to Israel, a day ahead of a change that will allow vaccinated or recovered tourists to enter the country.

“Throughout the global corona pandemic, interest in visiting Israel has remained high and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has worked hard to find creative solutions to facilitate the safe return of tourists,” the statement says.

“A pilot program allowing groups to enter Israel has been successful, with several thousand tourists, primarily from the USA and Europe, visiting Israel’s religious, historical, cultural and natural sites within a safe and tourist-friendly environment,” it adds.

“Once again, tourists from around the world can make their reservations and enjoy the unique, varied and safe tourism products that Israel has to offer.”

Maternity ward guards use pepper spray against attacker

Security guards at Meir hospital in Kfar Saba use pepper spray against a man who assaulted them in the maternity ward.

The hospital says the man, a relative of one of the expectant mothers in the ward, assaulted the guards.

It stresses that the pepper spray caused no harm to babies or mothers.

Sudan coup claims its 11th civilian victim

The Sudan military coup has claimed its 11th civilian victim, a local group says.

The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors tweets that Marwan Gamal died yesterday after being shot in the head two days earlier by militias representing the leaders of last week’s coup.

Police complaint filed over death threats to head of Israel Prisons Service

Israel Prisons Service Commissioner Katy Perry speaks during a Knesset Public Security Committee meeting on September 13, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israel Prisons Service Commissioner Katy Perry speaks during a Knesset Public Security Committee meeting on September 13, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The office of head of the Israel Prisons Service files a police complaint following death threats received in a phone call to her office, Hebrew media reports.

The reports say a secretary for Katy Perry got a phone call in which an unknown man voiced the threats, subsequently updating her superiors and filing the complaint at the Shfela region police.

The prisons service doesn’t immediately comment on the reports.

Last seven years on track to be hottest on record: UN

The years from 2015 to 2021 are set to be the seven hottest on record, the World Meteorological Organization says, warning the planet is heading into “uncharted territory.”

Using data from the first nine months of the year, the WMO says 2021 is likely to be between the fifth and seventh warmest year on record — even with the cooling effect of the La Nina phenomenon that lowered temperatures at the beginning of the year.

Heading to Glasgow, Bennett says ‘desperate’ opposition will fail to foil budget

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett boards the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, heading for the UN climate summit in Glasgow, October 31, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett boards the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, heading for the UN climate summit in Glasgow, October 31, 2021. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Before departing for the UN climate summit in Glasgow, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expresses confidence that the state budget is going to pass following discussions this week, despite “desperate” attempts by the opposition to prevent that and effectively topple the government.

In a short address that includes no references to the climate crisis or an option to answer reporters’ questions, Bennett says: “Here in Israel we expect a crazy week, which will get wilder every day the closer the vote on the budget gets. The moment the budget passes, it gives the government stability for several years. The implication for the opposition is that it will fall apart and crumble to pieces. They understand this. They’re desperate. They are desperate to bring down the budget and bring about a fifth election [since April 2019].”

“Therefore, we expect the week of big fake news,” he continues. “There is nothing they won’t do this week to bring down the budget and lead to fifth elections. But I want to calm everyone. They are wasting their efforts. The budget will pass.”

“The budget will pass because Israel needs stability,” Bennett continues. “The budget will pass because the country needs good, calm management. The budget will pass because no one wants to return to the endless elections cycle.”

Bennett asks coalition lawmakers to be patient over the coming week and avoid trouble on the way to the passage of the budget.

Court rejects lawsuit by doctors against official who called them ‘COVID deniers’

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court rejects a libel lawsuit filed by a group of doctors against a senior Health Ministry official who called them “coronavirus deniers.”

The suit was filed over a comment by Sharon Alroy-Preis against a group of physicians called the Israeli Public Emergency Council For The Covid19 Crisis, which has been vocally decrying the policy of imposing restrictions and whose publications have gained traction among anti-vaccination activists.

The court rejects the NIS 150,000 ($47,500) lawsuit, but expresses hope that “the discourse between professionals tasked with battling the COVID-19 pandemic will be professional, respectful and to the point.”

Saudi-led coalition says 218 rebels killed around Yemen’s Marib

The Saudi-led military coalition backing the government in Yemen says more than 218 Houthi rebels were killed in airstrikes around the strategic city of Marib.

The Iran-backed Houthis rarely comment on losses, and AFP could not independently verify the toll.

“Twenty-four military vehicles were destroyed and more than 218” insurgents were killed in strikes in the past 72 hours in Al-Jawba, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Marib, and Al-Kassara, 30 kilometers northwest, the coalition said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, which has since October 11 issued near-daily reports of bombing around the government’s last stronghold in northern Yemen.

Government unveils new plan to alleviate Israel’s housing crisis

The government unveils its housing plan, aiming to quickly increase the number of apartments to lower prices and alleviate the ongoing crisis that has seen prices rise by 8% over the past year.

The ministries of finance, construction and interior say in a joint statement that the 2022-2025 plan will shorten the bureaucratic process and overhaul Israel’s real estate landscape.

The plan sets a target of starting construction of 280,000 homes over the next four years — significantly more than in recent years — passing plans for 500,000 more housing units, publishing tenders for 300,000 homes on state-owned land, and having 180,000 successful such tenders.

The plan will invest NIS 8 billion ($2.5 billion) in developing transportation, drainage and sewage infrastructure; NIS 5.5 ($1.75 billion) in creating new kindergartens and schools; more than NIS 2 billion ($630 million) in developing, planning and removing hurdles for new homes in the Arab community; and NIS 640 million ($202.6 million) to encourage municipalities to approve construction permits.

Biden says US and EU are entering a ‘new era’ of cooperation after trade dispute

US President Joe Biden says the United States and European Union are entering a “new era of transatlantic cooperation” after parties agreed to end a dispute over steel and aluminum.

“The United States and the European Union are ushering in a new era of transatlantic cooperation that’s going to benefit all of our people, both now and I believe in the years to come,” Biden says after meeting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Biden pledges to only leave renewed Iran deal if Tehran clearly violates it

Left: Then-US President-elect Joe Biden on January 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Matt Slocum); Right: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 9, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
Left: Then-US President-elect Joe Biden on January 14, 2021, in Wilmington, Delaware (AP Photo/Matt Slocum); Right: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 9, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

US President Joe Biden has promised that if his administration renews compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, Washington won’t leave it unless Iran clearly violates its terms, according to a joint statement issued today with European leaders, The Guardian reports.

The statement is issued after a meeting Biden held with Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

“We welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to return the US to full compliance with the JCPOA and to stay in full compliance, so long as Iran does the same,” the statement says, using the deal’s official name.

Meeting to okay 1,300 new Palestinian homes in West Bank delayed by a day

After Israeli authorities advanced around 3,000 new West Bank settlement units last week, a rare meeting to advance Palestinian construction has been delayed by a day.

An Israeli security official, speaking anonymously according to protocol, chalks the delay up to “scheduling issues.” Around 1,300 Palestinian construction units were set to be discussed at the meeting, the official says.

The official adds that the meeting is expected to be held tomorrow.

Last week’s settlement homes, the first to be advanced under the Biden administration, sparked widespread condemnation in the international community. Many view Israeli construction in the West Bank as a serious obstacle to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel is responsible for administering construction in the West Bank’s Area C, where the agreement allocates it both civilian and security control.

But Israel rarely issues construction permits for Palestinians in Area C. According to Defense Ministry figures, just 21 of the 1,485 Palestinian applications, some 0.81%, were approved between 2016 and 2018.

2-week UN climate summit formally opens in Glasgow

The UN climate summit in Glasgow has formally opened, kicking off two weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations by almost 200 countries on how to tackle the common challenge of global warming.

Following the opening gavel, officials set about addressing a raft of procedural matters before leaders from around the world gather in Scotland’s biggest city tomorrow to lay out their countries’ efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the effects of climate change.

The meeting will see negotiators try to resolve issues left hanging since the 2015 Paris climate accord was forged, and find ways to ratchet up their efforts to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) this century compared with pre-industrial times.

Man detained after knife, fire attack on Tokyo train injures 6

A man has been detained after a knife and fire attack on a train in Tokyo, Japanese media says, with six people reportedly injured and one in serious condition.

Multiple media outlets including public broadcaster NHK say the man spread a flammable liquid around the train and set it on fire, as a video posted on Twitter shows people climbing through the windows to escape the Keio Line train.

Health experts afraid to speak about COVID vaccines due to threats — official

Prof. Gili Regev-Yochai, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at Sheba Medical Center (YouTube screenshot)
Prof. Gili Regev-Yochai, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit at Sheba Medical Center (YouTube screenshot)

Many health experts are afraid of giving media interviews about COVID-19 vaccines due to concrete threats posed by antivaxxer activists, says a senior official at Israel’s largest hospital.

The comments by Prof. Gili Regev-Yochay, the director of Sheba Medical Center’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, come after the Health Ministry’s director of public health services, Sharon Alroy-Preis, received a security detail due to death threats.

“The threats against Sharon Alroy-Preis are concerning,” Regev-Yochay tells the Ynet news site.

“It begins with incitement and ends way worse. We already had a prime minister who was murdered,” she says, referring to the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing extremist.

“There are people who don’t want to go and speak to the media about vaccination of children or in general, out of fear,” she says, as the country is set to start vaccinating children aged 5-11 in the coming weeks. “There are people who aren’t voicing their opinions, and that’s a shame.”

Regev-Yochay says she too has been receiving “curses and derision.”

“They call me a Nazi, a ‘child poisoner,’ these sorts of things, mainly surrounding the vaccines. It isn’t comparable to what Sharon is going through. I think it’s shocking and can’t go unanswered.”

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