The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
A woman who was hit by a train and killed this morning is identified as 19-year-old IDF soldier Yam Mesika of Netanya.
Hebrew media reports say Mesika fainted while waiting on a platform and fell in front of the approaching train.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discusses Saudi-Israel normalization efforts with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their first-ever meeting near UN headquarters.
Both leaders agree to coordinate mutual visits in the near future, according to Netanyahu’s office.
The leaders also discuss advancing ties in trade and energy, says Israel.
According to the Turkish readout, the leaders discuss the development in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Erdogan tweeted out pictures of the meeting, expressing hope that “our consultations be beneficial for our country and region.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair Netanyahu tears into the Israelis protesting against his father during the premier’s trip to the US.
“The extreme leftists of the ‘protest movement’ (funded by billions and foreign countries) flew to the UN General Assembly in order to demonstrate not in front of the head of the Palestinian Authority who justified the Nazis’ actions and not in front of the president of Iran who calls for our destruction,” Yair Netanyahu writes in his Facebook post.
Highlighting the protesters’ projection of a message on a building across the street from the UN that warned world leaders not to believe Netanyahu, the prime minister’s son writes, “Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinians could not have made more successful anti-Israeli propaganda.”
Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan stages a protest during the speech of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in front of the UN General Assembly.
Shortly after Raisi began his speech, Erdan got up from his seat in the chamber and raised a sign that read “Iranian women deserve freedom now” and included a picture of Mahsa Amini, who died in Iranian police custody after her arrest for an alleged breach of the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code for women.
Holding the photo above his head, Erdan walked toward the lectern from which Raisi was speaking before making his way out of the chamber. Before he reached the exit, UN security ran him down and escorted him out of the auditorium.
He was detained for several minutes by the UN security team outside the chamber before being released.
“It should not be possible for a vile murderer who calls for the destruction of Israel to be given a platform here at the UN. The UN has, once again, reached a new moral low,” Erdan says in a statement.
“While the butcher of Tehran is speaking at the UN and is being respected by the international community, hundreds of Iranians are protesting outside, shouting and calling on the international community to wake up and help them. It is a disgrace that member states stay to listen to a mass murderer,” he says.
Erdan has staged half a dozen protest walkouts during the speeches of Iranian, Palestinian and Turkish leaders during his tenure as ambassador, with his office filming and posting each demonstration.
שגריר ישראל באו"ם גלעד ארדן הניף כרזה עם תמונתה של מהסא אמיני במהלך נאומו של נשיא איראן ראיסי. לאחר מכן יצא ארדן מהאולם יחד עם הדיפלומטים הישראלים pic.twitter.com/6pBPHFF9mM
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 19, 2023
אנשי הביטחון של האו"ם הוציאו את ארדן מהאולם וליוו אותו החוצה pic.twitter.com/9dZy1Yt0gZ
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 19, 2023
NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York,
It is Netanyahu’s first-ever meeting with Erdogan.
The meeting is taking place at the Turkish House across from UN Headquarters.
Netanyahu was scheduled to visit in July but postponed the trip after having a pacemaker put in.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold a 15-minute one-on-one meeting after the extended working meeting with their respective teams.
The atmosphere as the aides exited the room was noticeably cheerful, with Mossad chief David Barnea speaking at length with Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer chatting with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
According to Netanyahu’s office, the meeting was “friendly” and Israel pledged to continue providing humanitarian aid, including assistance in dealing with land mines.
As he exited the meeting room, Zelensky said to the gathered journalists that the meeting was “good.”
Netanyahu and Zelensky agreed to stay in touch, and the meeting was “serious and comprehensive,” Israeli sources says.
Israel’s consulate in New York almost causes a major diplomatic incident after it grabs the wrong map for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Prime Minister’s Office wanted a world map for the meeting. So the consulate brought one over, according to Israel Hayom.
The problem? The map is from the 1960s and shows the Soviet Union, without an independent Ukraine.
It is quickly removed on a cart 10 minutes before the meeting.
NEW YORK — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky begin their meeting with a handshake and a hug, before exchanging pleasantries.
Zelensky remarks on the size of Netanyahu’s entourage, saying, “You have a very big team. It’s very expensive.”
UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan says, “Many people want to participate.”
Zelensky shakes hands with all of Netanyahu’s senior staff, and has a brief conversation with Mossad chief David Barnea.
Zelensky brings a smaller team, including his Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and chief of staff Andriy Yermak, said by some to push a harder line on Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is huddling with senior aides as he waits for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the two scheduled to meet at the UN now.
The Ukrainian leader is arriving after delivering an address to the UN General Assembly in which he accused Russia of kidnapping children, saying it was carrying out a genocide.
The two are tentatively slated to sit down for 30 minutes, with the Ukrainian leader expected to press Israel for missile defense supplies, a Ukrainian official earlier told The Times of Israel.
A 54-year-old man has been shot to death in the northern town of Tuba Zangaria, marking the 176th violent killing in the Arab community this year.
The man, who is not named, died after being brought to a hospital in Safed in critical condition. Police are investigating.
In a separate incident, a man in Lod was shot and brought to a hospital with medium to severe injuries, according to the Walla news site.
The 176 deaths, according to a tally provided by the Abraham Initiatives coexistence group, puts the community on a gruesome pace, far-outstripping the bloodshed in past years.
At this point in 2022, there had been 79 deaths, according to the group.
Lawyers for collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX Trading have filed a lawsuit accusing the parents of Sam Bankman-Fried of exploiting their influence over their son and the company he founded to enrich themselves by millions of dollars.
The complaint filed Monday against Allan Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried in the FTX bankruptcy case in Delaware seeks to recover damages allegedly caused to the company through breaches of fiduciary duties, fraudulent transfers, unjust enrichment and other wrongdoing.
The lawsuit alleges that Bankman, a Stanford University law professor and expert in tax law, and Fried, a retired Stanford law professor, participated in the wrongdoing that led to the collapse of FTX and resulted in both criminal and civil investigations.
“Despite presenting itself to investors and the public as a sophisticated group of cryptocurrency exchanges and businesses, the FTX Group was a self-described ‘family business,’” the lawsuit states.
“Bankman played a key role in perpetuating this culture of misrepresentations and gross mismanagement and helped cover up allegations that would have exposed the fraud committed by the FTX insiders,” the complaint adds. “And together, Bankman and Fried siphoned millions of dollars out of the FTX Group for their own personal benefit and their chosen pet causes. This action seeks to hold them accountable for their misconduct and recover assets for the debtors’ creditors.”
Attorneys for Bankman and Fried issue a statement denying the allegation and taking aim at John Ray III, who was named CEO when FTX sought bankruptcy protection and is charged with trying to clean up the mess left by its collapse.
“This is a dangerous attempt to intimidate Joe and Barbara and undermine the jury process just days before their child’s trial begins,” the attorneys for Bankman and Fried wrote. “These claims are completely false. Mr. Ray and his massive team of lawyers, who are collectively running up countless millions of dollars in fees while returning relatively little to FTX clients, know better.”
An all-clear is given to residents of the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim, following a suspected infiltration alert there earlier this evening sent people into their homes.
“This is not a security incident,” the Home Front Command says.
“Residents can leave their homes and move around the area without restrictions,” it adds.
The Palestinian health ministry raises the number of people injured amid intense firefights with Israeli troops in Jenin to 30.
Some of the injured are in critical condition, the ministry says.
Unverified reports in the Hebrew press say an IDF vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive while leaving the city.
No injuries to Israeli forces are reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia is carrying out “genocide” by abducting children, in a plea for solidarity to the United Nations General Assembly.
“Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide,” Zelensky says.
In a speech wearing his trademark military fatigues, Zelensky also renews his call for a summit of like-minded nations.
“We are preparing a Global Peace Summit. I invite all of you — all of you who do not tolerate any aggression — to jointly prepare the summit,” Zelensky says.
Zelensky says Russia — a permanent member of the Security Council — cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.
“Terrorists have no right to hold [a] nuclear weapon,” he says.
He accuses Russia of using both energy and food as a way to pressure the world.
“The aggressor is weaponizing many other things, and those things are used not only against our country but against all of yours as well,” he says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has begun his meeting with Paraguay’s President Santiago Peña at the UN in New York.
According to Netanyahu’s office, Peña said he would open Paraguay’s embassy in Jerusalem by the end of the year, which he already committed to in August.
Netanyahu said he would reopen Israel’s embassy in Asunción, the Prime Minister’s Office says.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is interested in arranging a trip to Israel as soon as possible to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, Channel 12 news reports, without a source.
The prayer would mark the 100-year anniversary of the Turkish Republic, founded on October 29, 1923.
President Isaac Herzog invited Erdogan to visit Israel during a trip to Turkey in July.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to meet Erdogan in New York in three hours.
He had been set to visit Ankara in July before a health scare grounded him.
A suspected infiltration alert is sounding in the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim, just over the Green Line near the Israeli city of Modiin.
The IDF’s Home Front Command orders residents to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows until further notice.
There are no immediate details as to what set off the alarm.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry says two Palestinians have been killed and 12 others wounded during clashes in Jenin.
The Israel Defense Forces confirms troops used a Rafael SPIKE FireFly loitering munition, also known as a suicide drone, during the raid in Jenin.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says he is being updated on the fighting in Jenin as well as on the Gaza border.
Palestinian media outlets report heavy clashes between gunmen and Israeli troops in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry says one Palestinian has been killed and 10 others are wounded during the clashes.
According to the reports, the IDF carried out a strike against a building.
Unverified reports suggest there are a number of Palestinians wounded in the fighting.
One video shows gunfire appearing to hit a minaret where shots are apparently being fired from.
BREAKING: The occupying Israeli regime attacks the minaret of the Grand Mosque of the Jenin refugee camp with gunfire. pic.twitter.com/4AIchWl1FY
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) September 19, 2023
The IDF earlier confirmed that troops were operating in the camp, without providing further details.
In contrast to previous years, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan refrains from condemning Israel and offers only a few words of support for Palestinians, mentioning them almost as an aside in his speech to the UN.
“In order for peace to ring in the Middle East, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be brought to an eventual solution,” he says. “We will continue to support the Palestinian people and their end-state in their struggle for legitimate rights under international law.”
Without a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders “it is difficult for Israel to find the peace and security it seeks in that part of the world,” he says.
“We will continue to pursue respect for the historic status of Jerusalem,” he adds, before moving on to the Balkans.
The comments, reflecting improved ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, come hours before he is slated to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York.
In past years, Erdogan has used the podium to sling harsh censure at Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. In 2020, he prompted a walkout by the Israeli envoy after saying that “the dirty hand that reaches the privacy of Jerusalem, where the sacred places of the three great religions coexist, is constantly increasing its audacity.”
A year earlier, he used a graphic to accuse Israel of expanding its borders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged German Chancellor Olaf Scholz not to accept Iran’s recent move to bar some IAEA inspectors from monitoring nuclear sites in the country, the Israeli premier’s office says following a meeting between the two on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly high-level meeting.
Netanyahu’s office says that the two leaders discussed Iranian attempts to spread terror and its efforts to attain a nuclear weapon.
They also discuss security cooperation, including the recently announced sale of the Arrow 3 ballistic missile interceptor system to Germany.
The German Chancellery has yet to release a readout of the meeting.
ראש המוסד דוד ברנע הצטרף לנסיעת ראש הממשלה לניו יורק. ברנע לא היה על מטוס ראש הממשלה, אבל הצטרף היום לפגישה בין נתניהו לבין קנצלר גרמניה שולץ. מעניין לאיזה עוד פגישות הוא יצטרף pic.twitter.com/STsZs3LfwB
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 19, 2023
Mossad Chief David Barnea joined Netanyahu’s meeting with Scholz, seated next to National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.
Barnea will also join Netanyahu for his diplomatic meetings later today and tomorrow.
He will be participating in discussions on Iran’s nuclear program and on attempts to reach a deal with Iran, says Netanyahu’s office.
The Israel Defense Forces confirms troops are operating in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, following Palestinian media reports on the apparent raid.
The army does not provide further details.
— WalaaMohamadd????????Gaza???????? (@Walaaaa1625926) September 19, 2023
Several hundred protesters gather in New York City’s Times Square to denounce Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit for the UN General Assembly.
Many of the demonstrators came from Israel for a series of protests throughout the week.
The crowd waves Israeli flags and chants “democracy.” Many wear shirts reading “Save Israeli democracy” and “loyal to the Declaration of Independence.”
The protests in New York started at 3 a.m. local time outside Netanyahu’s hotel when he arrived.
The Health Ministry and National Cyber Directorate are assessing damage after a DDoS attack on the computer system at the Kfar Shaul psychiatric hospital near Jerusalem.
“As of now, no damage has been found in the clinical system,” the Health Ministry says.
It says the attack affected a “small part” of the hospital’s computer system, but the entire network was disconnected from the internet as soon as the attack was identified as a precautionary measure.
The hospital is continuing to work by old-fashioned analog handwriting as the incident is surveyed and dealt with, the ministry says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have begun their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
A senior German official tells The Times of Israel that the meeting will cover a range of bilateral issues, including defense, the economy and Ukraine. The judicial overhaul in Israel is not going to be a major topic of conversation, the official says.
The official adds that a recent spat between the Israeli and German foreign ministries over a diplomat’s comment on the overhaul is not going to affect the relationship.
Palestinian media outlets report that one Palestinian has been shot dead by Israeli forces during riots on the Gaza border.
There is no immediate confirmation by health authorities in the Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces has been deploying crowd dispersal means and using live fire in some cases against the rioters.
The US is imposing sanctions on seven people and four companies in China, Russia and Turkey who officials allege are connected with the development of Iran’s drone program.
The US accuses Iran of supplying Russia with drones used to bomb Ukrainian civilians as the Kremlin continues its invasion of Ukraine. At least one person was killed in a barrage of Shahed drones attacking Lviv in western Ukraine earlier Tuesday, Ukraine said.
Iran’s “continued, deliberate proliferation” of its drone program enables Russia “and other destabilizing actors to undermine global stability,” says Brian E. Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence
The parties sanctioned by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control include: An Iranian drone company previously sanctioned in 2008, now doing business as Shahin Co., its managing executives, a group of Russian parts manufacturers and two Turkish money exchangers, Mehmet Tokdemir and Alaaddin Aykut.
Treasury says the action builds on a set of sanctions it issued last March, when Treasury sanctioned 39 firms linked to an alleged shadow banking system that helped to obfuscate financial activity between sanctioned Iranian firms and their foreign buyers, namely for petrochemicals produced in Iran.
Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the State Department says the US “will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt these efforts and will work with Allies and partners to hold Iran accountable for its actions.”
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine Monday.
Israel is ranked 19th in the 2023 US News & World Report’s most well-developed public health system rankings.
Israel comes in behind Ireland and ahead of Spain out of a total of 87 countries surveyed.
Sweden is ranked as having the world’s most well-developed public health system, with Canada, Finland, Denmark, and Norway coming next.
Rounding out the top 10 are Switzerland, Germany, Australia, the UK and Belgium.
The public healthcare system rankings are a subcategory of the Best Country rankings, which examine a nation’s worth based on global perceptions and qualitative characteristics. More than 17,000 people from around the world from March 17 to June 12 were polled as part of the ranking.
The 87 countries in the report met certain benchmarks, account for about 95% of global gross domestic product, and represent nearly 80% of the world’s population.
“Countries that were perceived by the survey respondents as having good public health systems tend to have universal healthcare, spend more on social needs, and their citizens have longer lifespans,” the report says.
The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip reports four Palestinians wounded by Israeli fire and riot dispersal means during protests along the border with Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinians are currently rioting on the Gaza security barrier, hurling explosive devices and setting tires on fire.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II says the Middle East will suffer as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved, moments after US President Joe Biden touted a deal linking India and Saudi Arabia to Europe via Jordan and Israel despite the lack of progress on a two-state solution.
“No architecture for regional security and development can stand over the ashes of this conflict,” he says.
He also appears to chide the international community for its halting efforts on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“Where are we going? Without clarity on where Palestinians’ future lies it will be impossible to converge on a political solution to this conflict,” he says to applause.
“Delaying justice and peace has brought endless cycles of violence,” he says, noting the high number of Palestinians killed this year.
“How can people trust in global justice while settlement building, land confiscation and home demolitions are happening,” he asks.
Turning to the flashpoint issue of Jerusalem, he mentions his country’s role as custodian of Islamic and Christian sites there.
“Jordan remains committed to safeguarding the city’s identity,” he says, “but preserving Jerusalem as the city of faith and peace for Islam, Christianity and Judaism is a responsibility we all share.”
He urges more funding for UNRWA, the UN body that aids Palestinian refugees, as the key to keeping young Palestinians away from terror and extremists.
The Israel Defense Forces will begin to draft female recruits to the military’s most elite unit, Sayeret Matkal, as well as two other units that were previously closed off to women, as part of the latest pilot programs aimed at opening more combat roles to female fighters, the army announces.
Starting at the end of 2024, female recruits will be able to undergo various special physical and mental screenings, enabling them to potentially serve in combat positions in Sayeret Matkal.
However, the pilot program would only be carried out if the IDF has enough female recruits who meet the criteria for Sayeret Matkal, which would be decided before the first recruits are drafted in late 2024.
Separately, the IDF plans to open up the elite Unit 5515 combat mobility unit to female recruits, starting in 2025, also provided the IDF has enough female soldiers to pass the various screening tests. The unit is tasked with special driving-related operations and often works in tandem with other elite units.
Lastly, the IDF aims to begin a pilot program for female soldiers to serve in the Armored Corps sometime in 2024.
Currently, female soldiers can serve in tanks in the IDF’s Border Defense Corps, as part of an all-female tank company in the Caracal mixed-gender light infantry battalion, which operates along the Egyptian border — not in wars or in fighting deep behind enemy lines.
The IDF believes there is a low chance they will have enough women that will be able to pass the screening tests to serve in the Armored Corps, but plans to push forward with the pilot program anyway.
The moves come after the High Court in June demanded the IDF explain why it had not opened all units to women.
Over 75 current and former American Jewish community leaders have signed onto an open letter to US President Joe Biden urging him to only pursue a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that includes “measures that tangibly advance prospects for a two-state solution” and reverses “the worrisome trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“In practical terms, this would entail halting Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and increasing territorial sovereignty for Palestinians, while simultaneously holding the Palestinian Authority accountable to reforms and strengthening its financial stability,” the letter states. “These steps would arrest the current deterioration of the situation on the ground and advance American interests by improving regional stability and laying the groundwork for two states. This is necessary both for the sake of the viability of the agreement itself and as a bulwark against further escalation of the conflict, which is especially important at a time when Israel’s security and its Jewish and democratic character are being tested.”
Signatories include the heads of the Reform and Conservative religious denominations, former executives at AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, the Conference of Presidents, and the Jewish Agency along with former US ambassadors to Israel.
“In your upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and in your administration’s discussions with Saudi and Palestinian leaders, we urge you to pursue an agreement that would, in addition to advancing American national security interests, enhance Israel’s long-term security, and expand regional peace, which necessarily requires reversing the worrisome trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the letter organized by the Israel Policy Forum says.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro Urrego devotes a chunk of his speech to slamming what he says is world powers’ hypocrisy in defending Ukraine but not the Palestinians.
“The same reasons they used to defend Zelensky are those same reasons that should be used to defend Palestine,” he says, adding that all wars must end for the planet to be saved from the climate crisis.
Urrego, a leftist and former guerilla, says “world powers are helping to wage one war in particular because world powers see this suiting themselves, in their gamesmanship, games of hunger, and they are forgetting to bring an end to the other war because for these powers this did not suit them,” he says.
“What is the difference between Ukraine and Palestine, I ask,” he says.
“Is it not time to bring an end to both wars and other wars as well,” he adds, proposing two peace conferences at the UN: “one on Ukraine, the other on Palestine.”
“Not because there are no other wars in the world, there are in my country, but because this alone would bring an end to hypocrisy as a political practice,” he says.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are once again rioting on the border with Israel.
Footage shows a number of suspects crossing into the buffer zone — between Israel’s old border fence and a new security barrier — and placing Palestinian flags in the area.
تغطية صحفية | شبان يجتازون السياج الفاصل شرق جباليا ويرفعون الأعلام الفلسطينية داخل الأراضي المحتـ،ـلة. pic.twitter.com/2qaO37j2pM
— Jmedia (@Jmediaps) September 19, 2023
Palestinians have repeatedly rioted on the border in recent days, and have set off explosive devices on the fence.
In response, Israel has shuttered the Erez border crossing, preventing 17,000 Gazan laborers from entering Israel for work.
US President Joe Biden tells the UN that America is working with partners “to address Iran’s destabilizing activities that threaten regional and global security.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment that Iran must never acquire nuclear weapons,” he says, before segueing into a condemnation of Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
He does not mention diplomacy with Iran, despite a recent prisoner swap deal that also saw $6 billion in Iranian assets unfrozen.
US President Joe Biden addresses the United Nations while making an impassioned case for peace and multilateralism.
“No nation can meet the challenges of today alone,” he says, noting the decision to rejoin UNESCO, though he says reforms are needed.
Biden says he will work with other leaders to make sure artificial intelligence is “used for good.”
“We will not retreat from the values we hold strong,” he says, noting efforts to spread democracy and boost economic growth worldwide.
He touts the newly announced plan to connect India and Saudi Arabia to Europe via Jordan and Israel, which he says “will spur opportunities across two continents. This is part of our effort to build a more sustainable and integrated Middle East.”
Biden appears to defend the US’s push for Arab states to normalize with Israel despite the lack of progress on the Palestinian front.
“It demonstrates how Israel’s greater normalization and economic connections with its neighbors is delivering positive and practical impacts even as we continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, two states for two people,” he says.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh just wrapped up a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the PA’s official Wafa news agency reports.
They discussed the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) meeting of donor countries to the Palestinian cause slated to take place tomorrow, Wafa says.
During the meeting, Shtayyeh urged the US “to play an active role in curbing the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in the occupied territories,” Wafa says. “He also called on the US administration to curb Israeli settlement activity in order to preserve and protect the two-state solution in light of Israel’s systematic destruction of the possibility of implementing it.”
Shtayyeh stressed the need for the US to pressure Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold elections in East Jerusalem, Wafa says hours after The Times of Israel reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas smeared the European Union as “animals” over Brussels’s conduct on the same issue. Ramallah has denied the report.
The PA prime minister stressed the importance of boosting US-Palestinian ties and urged the Biden administration to follow through on promises to reopen diplomatic missions serving the Palestinians in Washington and Jerusalem, which were shuttered by former president Donald Trump.
Leaf appears to be the most senior US official willing to meet with the PA delegation on the UNGA sidelines following a speech made by Abbas earlier this month in which he claimed that Hitler targeted Jews during the Holocaust because of their “social behavior,” not because of enmity toward Jews.
Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi has responded to criticism after he included a picture of a 5-year-old Israeli boy killed in a mortar strike from Gaza in a tweet that claimed to show children killed by Israeli shelling.
Shani Avigal, the mother of Ido Avigal, who was killed in 2021, had tweeted at Tibi asking him to remove the picture.
“It’s totally fine to take a bunch of kids, stick them in one picture and tell the world the IDF killed them, but is there a chance you’d take down the picture of my child? I’m pretty sure Hamas murdered him, injured my daughter and my in-laws, and me,” she tweeted at him, joining a chorus of condemnation against the opposition lawmaker.
In response, Tibi erases the tweet and replaces it with one showing a front page of the Haaretz broadsheet from May 2021 with the pictures of 67 children killed during fighting in Gaza. Both the original and the second tweet had come in response to Israel Hayom reporter Yehuda Shlezinger, who had claimed on X that the IDF does not bomb houses with kids inside.
חוץ מאלה שכן..
( מחקתי את התמונה הראשונה מתוך כבוד לבקשת אמא שכולה , אמו של עידו ז״ל שהזכרתי אותו כמה פעמים בשנים האחרונות.)
ילד הוא ילד הוא ילד . הרג ילדים הוא נורא . פלסטינים וישראלים. זה עדיין לא משנה את העובדה שהצבא ירה והרג מאות ילדים פלסטינים בשנים האחרונות. יש טייסת קרב… https://t.co/rtqAvRcWmN pic.twitter.com/EFunobED8I
— Ahmad Tibi (@Ahmad_tibi) September 19, 2023
“A kid is a kid is a kid,” Tibi writes, noting that he erased the picture of Ido. “Killing children is terrible. Palestinians and Israelis. It still won’t change the fact that the army has shot and killed hundreds of Palestinian kids in the past years. There’s a fighter pilot who admitted to it. I have empathy for the pain and sorrow of every mother.”
The spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issues a statement flatly denying The Times of Israel’s report that the PA president referred to the European Union as “animals” while expressing his frustration over Brussels’s conduct surrounding Palestinian elections.
According to two people in the room for Abbas’s meeting with leaders of the Palestinian-American community in New York City last night, Abbas referred to the EU leadership as “animals,” using the derogatory Arabic word حيوانات, or “ḥaywānāt” which can describe someone who doesn’t listen and misbehaves.
In a statement posted on the PA’s official Wafa news agency, Nabil Abu Rudeinah says the PA president did indeed speak about the issue of elections, “affirming the official Palestinian position to hold them as soon as possible in East Jerusalem, but he did not insult anyone in his words, nor did he use any word that insulted any party.”
“Such reports issued in the Israeli media are a continuation of the fierce campaign led by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian narrative, which is making its way in the United States and in the world at large,” Abu Rudeinah adds.
Several dozen demonstrators march on the street outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hotel in New York City.
The New York demonstrators, bolstered by activists who flew in from Israel, carry Israeli flags that say “Free in our land,” a line from the national anthem.
The protesters chant “Government of criminals” and “Democracy or rebellion,” were not afraid,” and “Bibi, Sara, Israel is not Hungary.”
Demonstrators arrived at the scene at around 3 a.m. local time as Netanyahu arrived in the city.
They are affiliated with the expat activist group UnXeptable and Israel-based groups including Brothers in Arms and Pink Front.
There are other protests against Netanyahu scheduled for later today, and throughout the week.
Kicking off the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says “escalating violence and bloodshed in the occupied Palestinian Territories is taking a terrible toll on civilians.”
He makes the comments while listing various hostilities around the world and urging more efforts for peace.
“Unilateral actions are intensifying and undermining the possibility of a two-state solution,” he says, calling it the best way for Palestinians and Israelis to reach peace.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is urging allied defense leaders to “dig deep” and provide more air defense systems for Ukraine, to help the country block increasing barrages of Russian missiles.
“Air defense is saving lives,” Austin says as he opens a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. “So I urge this group to continue to dig deep on ground-based air defense for Ukraine. We must continue to push hard to provide Ukraine with air-defense systems and interceptors.”
The group is made up of defense and military leaders from more than 50 nations and is the main forum for raising contributions of weapons, other equipment and training for Kyiv’s war effort. It meets about once a month, in person and virtually, and this is the 15th gathering. Israel has quietly participated in the past, but has resisted calls to supply its Iron Dome short-range interceptor. It’s not clear if an Israeli representative is there today.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly pushed for long-distance weapons. Proponents have argued that Ukrainian forces need to be able to strike Russian troops and facilities while still staying out of range.
But the US has continued to balk, expressing longstanding worries that Kyiv could use the weapons to hit deep into Russian territory and enrage Moscow.
The Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, could give Ukraine the ability to strike Russian targets from as far away as about 180 miles (300 kilometers), but the US also has other variants of the missile that have a shorter range.
A court in Famagusta, Cyprus, says five Israelis accused of raping a British tourist will remain in custody for at least one more day before deciding on whether they will be held for the remainder of legal proceedings against them, the Cyprus Mail reports.
Defense lawyers yesterday objected to a prosecution request for the suspects to remain in custody until the trial, set to begin October 5.
The court was expected to decide on the matter today, but instead pushed the decision off by a day, the Cypriot news outlet reports. No reason is given.
All of the suspects, aged 19-20, are from the northern Israeli town of Majd al-Krum.
The five have been held since September 4 after a 20-year-old British tourist told police she was taken “by force” from the pool area of a hotel during a party and then raped by several men in a room.
Azerbaijan says it has launched an “anti-terrorist operation” targeting Armenian military positions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and officials in the area are reported heavy artillery firing around its capital.
Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh say Azerbaijani forces are trying to advance into the disputed region and that its forces are “resisting” the push.
“The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are trying to advance into the depth of Artsakh,” it says, using an Armenian name for Karabakh. “The Defence Forces continue to resist Azerbaijani’s offensive along the entire line of contact.”
Large scale fighting has just started in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Artillery and suicide drones are in action by both sides.#Armenia #Azerbaijan #NagornoKarabakh #Baku #Stepanakert #Yerevan #Karabakh #Artsakh #Breaking #StopGenocideArmenia2023 #Latest pic.twitter.com/mltzfeD7qE
— Nitesh rathore (@niteshr813) September 19, 2023
The Azerbaijani defense ministry announced the start of the operation hours after four soldiers and two civilians died in landmine explosions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The reports raised concerns that a full-scale war over the region could resume between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which fought heavily for six weeks in 2020.
Azerbaijan says “positions on the front line and in-depth, long-term firing points of the formations of Armenia’s armed forces, as well as combat assets and military facilities are incapacitated using high-precision weapons.”
The Azerbaijani statement claims that “only legitimate military targets are being incapacitated.”
But ethnic Armenian officials in Nagorno-Karabakh say in a statement that the region’s capital Stepanakert and other villages are “under intense shelling.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to deliver the inaugural speech of the UN’s 78th General Assembly, where he is expected to highlight civilian deaths in the West Bank, among other matters.
Guterres has made a point of devoting the start of the week to development, with nations on Monday pledging to keep trying to meet elusive UN-backed goals of eradicating poverty by 2030.
“People are looking to their leaders for a way out of this mess,” Guterres says ahead of the annual gathering of presidents and premiers, ministers and monarchs at the General Assembly.
He says the world needs action now – not merely more words – to deal with the worsening climate emergency, escalating conflicts, “dramatic technological disruptions” and a global cost-of-living crisis that is increasing hunger and poverty.
“Yet in the face of all this and more,” Guterres says, “geopolitical divisions are undermining our capacity to respond.”
You can watch the addresses here:
Lawmakers have approved a transfer of NIS 149 million ($39 million) to the Religious Services Ministry to pay for Chief Rabbinate operations and to renovate the tombs of Jewish sages, following a nearly half-billion shekel budget reallocation last week for ultra-Orthodox education and religious organizations.
A spokesperson for the Knesset Finance Committee, which okayed the transfers, says although the funds were initially budgeted to different ministries, they were padded into the state budget with the understanding that the Religious Services Ministry could pull them for future use, as if using a “line of credit.”
About NIS 61 million of the funds is being pulled from a budget section relating to pensions and worker compensation claims, while NIS 88 million was marked for the Religious Service Ministry’s potential usage, according to the committee spokesperson.
The funds will be used for paying salaries of Chief Rabbinate employees, rabbinic court operations, renovating mikvehs, or ritual baths, in Beit Shemesh, and to bulwark the tomb of Jewish sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron, a pilgrimage site where a deadly crush killed 45 people in 2021. Money will also be used to renovate the graves of other sages and to prepare for celebrations at the Baba Sali tomb in Netivot, along with “establishing religious institutions,” according to Finance Committee chair MK Moshe Gafni’s office.
Several of these goals fulfill coalition promises made by the ruling Likud party to its religious coalition partners, in order to form a government in December.
Americans detained for years in Iran have arrived home after being freed as part of a politically risky deal that saw US President Joe Biden agree to the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.
The prisoners land at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, with clapping and cheers heard in the predawn hours.
Here are the seven Americans on their way home from Iran alongside a world class group of American diplomats. Welcome home. ???????? pic.twitter.com/fjkAhNkGPw
— Jake Sullivan (@JakeSullivan46) September 19, 2023
Siamak Namazi, the first off the jet, pauses for a moment, closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before leaving the plane.
Loved ones, some holding small American flags, tearfully envelop them in hugs and exchange greetings in English and Farsi, the main language of Iran.
“The nightmare is finally over,” Namazi’s brother, Babak, says at the airport.
“We haven’t had this moment in over eight years,” he adds, his arm around his brother and his formerly detained father, Baquer, who had been earlier released by Iran. “It’s unbelievable.”
The former prisoners later posed for a group photograph with their families, calling out: “Freedom!”
David Amsalem, Likud’s second minister in the Justice Ministry, says he disagrees with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Monday remarks distancing the premier from his coalition’s judicial overhaul, as Amsalem calls the controversial package a “good” idea.
“I disagree with what the prime minister said on the subject of the reform,” Amsalem says, nodding to Netanyahu’s Monday remarks on the X platform, where the premier called pieces of the reform “bad” and claimed he had stepped in to prevent their passage.
“I think that the reform that Minister Levin [presented] is the beginning of the reform, it’s not everything, and it’s the way to go, all the way. It’s a good reform,” Amsalem continues from the Knesset rostrum, speaking during a special parliamentary session on Tuesday.
“The State of Israel, I say, is not a democratic state and we want to make it a democratic state,” he adds.
Amsalem, who has been a longtime critic of the judiciary and claims it is discriminatory against Israelis of Middle Eastern origin, like himself, appears to compare the plight of right-wing Mizrahim to the official oppression of Blacks under apartheid South Africa.
“In South Africa as well, the whites eventually lost. We are not second-class citizens,” he says.
Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was detained on espionage charges, is appearing in a Moscow court to appeal his arrest.
The 31-year-old United States citizen was arrested in the city of Yekaterinburg while on a reporting trip to Russia in late March.
He and his employer deny the allegations, and the US government declared him to be wrongfully detained. Russian authorities have not provided any evidence to support the espionage charges.
Gershkovich is the first American reporter to face espionage charges in Russia since September 1986, when Nicholas Daniloff, a Moscow correspondent for US News and World Report, was arrested by the KGB.
NEW YORK — Diplomatic sources tell The Times of Israel that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will focus on missile defense during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later today.
“There are only 5 countries producing effective missile defense and Israel is one,” says a Ukrainian official.
Ukraine also believes that Netanyahu will use the meeting as an excuse not to accept Zelensky’s invitation to visit Kyiv.
“Netanyahu is the only leader from a friendly state who has not visited during the war,” says the official.
Kyiv is still hopeful that President Isaac Herzog or Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana will visit.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to hold a series of diplomatic meetings in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, which kicks off in a few hours.
Netanyahu will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at 11:45 a.m. (6:45 p.m. in Israel), followed by sit-downs with Paraguayan President Santiago Peña at 1:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. Israel) and Ukraine’s embattled president Volodymyr Zelensky at 3:25 p.m. (10:25 p.m. Israel), all at UN headquarters.
He will cap the day of talks by making his way across 1st Avenue at 5 p.m. (midnight in Israel) to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Turkish mission to the UN.
All four of the foreign leaders are scheduled to speak at the General Assembly today, along with US President Joe Biden, who will meet with Netanyahu in New York later in the week.
Also on the UN lineup today is Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Netanyahu will be riding the pine at the UN until he is slated to speak on Friday.
Are you relying on The Times of Israel for accurate and timely coverage right now? If so, please join The Times of Israel Community. For as little as $6/month, you will:
We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.
That’s why we started the Times of Israel eleven years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel