The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Jordan’s Abdullah to discuss Temple Mount unrest at UN
Jordan’s King Abdullah meets in Amman with five members of the Joint (Arab) List Knesset factions, angrily asking whether Israel is trying to inflame tensions on the holy site.
“What does Netanyahu want to do with these actions? Cause an explosion?” Abdullah asks, according to Israel Radio. “I am following everything that’s happening closely and watching what will be in the coming days and this will be an important subject in my meetings with world leaders at the UN next week.”
Abdullah also says there can be no argument over the fact that the Temple Mount site, called Haram al-Sharif in Arabic and home to the al-Aqsa Mosque, is for Muslim prayer.
Majlis speaker speaks out against Israeli actions on Mount
In Iran, parliament speaker Ali Larijani also speaks out against Israeli action in Jerusalem from the Majlis rostrum, calling for international bodies to intervene on the Temple Mount.
“It seems that the Zionist regime has misused the turbulent conditions in the region and the conflicts and disputes among the Muslim states,” he says, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news.
He also calls Israeli actions “insulting.”
Friday passed relatively calmly on the site after Israel banned access to men under the age of 40, following days of unrest on the site that drew wide condemnation in the Muslim world.
13 migrants drown off Turkey coast, 13 missing
At least 13 migrants have died off the coast of Turkey Sunday after the inflatable dinghy carrying them to Greece collided with a ferry, Turkish media reports.
Four children are among the victims of the accident involving a boat carrying 46 migrants from the northwestern Turkish port of Canakkale to the Greek island of Lesbos, the Dogan news agency reports.
Twenty people have been rescued but 13 people are still missing, the report adds.
Hungary reopens border crossing with Serbia
IHungary has reopened its main border crossing with Serbia, whose closure led thousands of migrants to surge into Croatia and resulted in the shunting of the desperate flood of humanity from one country to another.
Hungarian and Serbian interior ministers jointly reopened the Horgos-Roszke 1 crossing, which had been closed since Monday, closing off the main route linking Belgrade and Budapest..
“The situation dictated the closure (of the border crossing) but in cooperation with our Serbian colleagues, the problems have been overcome and conditions reached for it to reopen,” says Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter.
The closure had led thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to try and find other routes to western and northern Europe, where most want to start a new life.
The crossing was the site of clashes on Wednesday between baton-wielding Hungarian riot police and migrants and the reopening follows negotiations with Pinter’s Serbian counterpart, Nebojsa Stefanovic.
Relations between Hungary and Serbia have been complicated by Hungary’s decision to construct a razor-wire fence along its 175-kilometer (110-miile) border with Serbia to keep migrants out.
— AFP and AP
MK Hazan: I’ll give Abdullah the real scoop
Likud MK Oren Hazan levels criticism at Jordan’s King Abdullah for meeting with “terrorist” Knesset members from the Joint List, and then calls on Abdullah and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet with him instead.
“MK [Ahmad Tibi] leads a delegation of peace process terrorists to tell him about a made-up reality and to spread lies and hatred, whose only purpose is to incite passions and hurt the State of Israel,” he says, according to the Maariv website.
“I call on King Abdullah and our old friend Erdogan to meet with me to get a realistic perspective on life in Israel and the fight against terror,” adds the MK, who is no stranger to colorful speech or controversy.
Firetruck, family pelted with stones south of Jerusalem
A firetruck traveling near the settlement of Beitar Ilit south of Jerusalem was attacked by a group of some 15 stone throwers, the Ynet news website reports.
No injuries are reported but the fire engine sustains light damage.
Earlier in the day, a convoy of two cars traveling from the settlement of Tekoa to Jerusalem was attacked by a similarly large group of stone throwers near the village of Beit Sahur, causing damage to the family’s vehicles.
The passengers, including a 6-month-old baby, escape unharmed.
6 foreigners said freed from captivity in Yemen
Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels have released six foreigners they were holding hostage and they are flying out of the country’s capital Sanaa, airport officials and Houthi officials say.
The airport and Houthi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters, say the six are flying to the Gulf nation of Oman, which negotiated their release.
The officials say the hostages, who were detained earlier this year, are three Americans, two Saudis and a British national. The identities of the hostages are not currently known.
Officials from the Houthi media center refused to explain why they had detained the hostages. But at least one of them is a journalist, whom they say “entered the country illegally” and “worked without notifying the authorities.”
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel Salam refuses to confirm the hostages’ release.
“If we were to release anyone, it would be in exchange for the release of Houthis,” he says, without specifying which authorities he is addressing.
The conflicting information cannot be reconciled at this time.
Erekat: Israel wants religious war over Palestine
Top Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat accuses Israel of trying to foment a religious war with its actions on the Temple Mount.
The Israeli government is “enthusiastically trying to turn the question of Palestine into a religious war,” Erekat says in a statement, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.
Erekat says he won’t let Israel allow the conflict to be seen through a religious lens and calls on the international community to “assume its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people and their holy sites, and to take concrete steps to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”
Iran’s Rouhani to IAEA head: Inspect us fairly
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, telling him that he expects the nuclear watchdog to treat Iran fairly while implementing an oversight regime.
He also says he hopes the UN agency will help Tehran advance scientifically.
“We hope that by acting upon its responsibilities, the IAEA would move more in the next few months to help the scientific progress of countries, including Iran,” Rouhani says, according to the Fars news agency.
— Fars News Agency (@EnglishFars) September 20, 2015
He also says IAEA inspections until now have shown Iran’s nuclear program to be peaceful.
“Fortunately, the truth about Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities in the past few years has been proved by the IAEA supervisions and snap inspections and it has been emphasized that Iran has never had any diversion in its peaceful program,” he says.
IAEA inspections have until now been hampered by Iranian refusal to open up certain sites where suspected covert nuclear activities have taken place.
Amano is in Iran to discuss the implementation of a secret roadmap meant to solve those issues, though critics have pointed to faults in some parts of the agreements between Iran and the IAEA that have come to light.
Liberman to Arab MKs: Go to Syria and don’t come back
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman joins in the criticism of Joint List MKs for visiting King Abdullah in Jordan, telling them to add a one-way to ticket to war-town Syria to their agenda, which also includes a trip to Turkey to meet with Erdogan.
“This is another inciting step by the Joint List MKs who work day and night at anti-Israel activities and are doing everything in their power to inflame and destabilize the situation in the region and damage the State of Israel, in whose parliament they serve,” he writes on Facebook. “I suggest they add another stop on their planned trip — that they travel also to Syria and stay there.”
In response, MK Ahmad Tibi, one of the five lawmakers who went to Jordan, attacks Liberman’s Moldovan heritage, mistakenly calling him Russian.
“The man from Russia wants to expel us to Syria. We were born in our homeland here, and there were others who came from other homelands,” he says, according to Maariv.
Ministers trade barbs over gas deal
The weekly government cabinet meeting sees some fireworks as Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz trades barbs with Economy Minister Aryeh Deri over a deal with a multinational partnership to exploit Israel’s gas resources.
Steinitz accuses Deri of holding up the deal by refusing to sign on the deal outline, instead asking the Knesset to okay transferring the power to the whole cabinet.
“The gas is stuck in the ground and every day that passes is a terrible loss. Why don’t you sign?” Steinitz asks Deri.
Deri later shoots back at Steinitz, accusing him of having a big mouth.
“You confuse your brain and leak to every radio station possible,” he says.
“Hold your fire,” responds Netanyahu, in a bid to calm the quibble.
Power outages expected as rain whooshes in
The Israel Electric Corporation is gearing up for localized power outages on Monday as the first rain of the season is set to fall across much of the country.
In a statement, the company says the rain, coupled with a buildup of dust from a sandstorm of biblical proportions that blew through earlier this month, could cause transformers to blow, according to news site Walla.
Rain is expected in northern and central Israel Monday morning, tapering off toward the afternoon. Isolated thunderstorms are also forecast, according to the Israel Meteorological service.
Jewish extremist Ettinger to stay in jail 6 more months
Jewish right-wing extremist Meir Ettinger, the first Israeli Jew to be arrested under administrative detention, has been ordered to be kept in prison for another six month by a Lod court, Israel Radio reports.
Ettinger, a grandson of slain Jewish extremist Meir Kahane, was the first to be arrested under a crackdown on Jewish terror in the wake of the fatal firebombing of a Palestinian family in the village of Duma in late July.
The prosecution says Ettinger stands at the head of a group of Jewish extremists in the West Bank responsible for a number of hate crimes, including arsons at the Church of the Multiplication in northern Israel and Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem.
Administrative detention, a controversial measure which allows Israel to hold terror suspects for periods of six months or more without formally charging them, was extended to Jewish suspects in the wake of the firebombing attack.
No suspects have yet been charged in that incident, which left three members of one family dead, including an 18-month-old baby.
Police hunt down man with ax in Jerusalem
Police are chasing down a man with an ax in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, according to media reports.
According to Channel 10 news, gunshots have been heard in the area.
The news site calls it a suspected terror attack.
It is not yet known if there are any injuries.
The Ramot neighborhood straddles the Green Line in the northwest of the city.
Eiffel Tower shut over terror scare after bag man seen
In Paris, the iconic Eiffel Tower has been shut down and evacuated after a man with a large backpack was spotted scaling the tower before it opened Sunday morning.
Anti-terror police and a helicopter were dispatched to the scene, but the suspect has not been apprehended as of this writing. Tourists attempting to visit the site are being turned away, according to media reports.
While France is in a state of heightened alert, police say the man may not be a terrorist but a thrill-seeker who is attempting to parachute off the building.
“It’s happened in the past,” a police source tells the International Business Times. “The parachutist hides his kit the night before, and then gets into the tower and jumps off, while videoing.”
Jerusalem ‘ax’ suspect caught — without an ax
The man reported seen with an ax in the Ramot neighborhood has been caught by police with no weapons.
The man was spotted near the Ramot Mall and tried to run from police toward the village of Beit Iksa, but was caught after a warning shot was fired.
No ax or any other weapon was found on the suspect, but he was taken in for questioning because he was in the country without proper documentation, Channel 10 reports.
Ben Carson: Muslim should not be allowed to be president
GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, who is near the top of many early polls in the crowded field, tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t think a Muslim should be allowed to be president.
“I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that,” he says.
Carson also says he doesn’t think Islam is compatible with the Constitution.
However, it seems Carson’s views themselves may not be compatible with the Constitution, which contains a clause stating that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Trump drops, Fiorina vaults in new poll
Front-runner Donald Trump has slipped in the polls after this week’s Republican debate, while former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina shot to second place, a new poll finds.
The CNN/ORC poll has Trump still leading the field, with 24 percent of Republican voters supporting him, but that total is down eight percentage points from earlier this month.
“The only poll that matters is the big one. You know, that one. It’s going to be the election,” Trump tells CNN’s “State of the Union” in a telephone interview, saying he was surprised by the results.
Fiorina, meanwhile, gains after a strong debate performance in which she icily skewered the brash real-estate mogul for disparaging her looks in comments reported by Rolling Stone magazine.
The CNN poll has her at 15 percent, just ahead of Ben Carson, who in recent weeks has been Trump’s closest challenger.
Funeral for justice Mishael Cheshin begins
The funeral for former Supreme Court justice Mishael Cheshin, who succumbed to cancer Saturday at age 79, has begun on Kibbutz Givat Hashlosha, outside Tel Aviv.
The funeral for the justice, who was fondly remembered for his creative writing style and fight against corruption, is attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, Israel Police chief candidate Gal Hirsch and other dignitaries.
Rivlin, who called Cheshin the “poet of the judicial world” in an op-ed earlier in the day, is slated to deliver a eulogy at the funeral.
Four teens charged over rock throwing
Four East Jerusalem teens, including two minors, have been charged over stone-throwing offenses in a Jerusalem court.
All four, aged between 14 and 19, are accused of throwing stones over the Rosh Hashanah holiday last week.
The suspects, from different parts of the city, are accused of rioting and aggravated assault of police during unrest over the holiday, according to Walla News.
The prosecution has asked that they remain in custody during trial proceedings.
An Israeli motorist was killed in a rock-throwing attack in Jerusalem on Sunday night last week, drawing vows from officials to crack down on the phenomenon, including harsher punishments for stone throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks.
Tens of thousands rally against PKK terror in Istanbul
Tens of thousands of demonstrators are rallying in central Istanbul for a protest aimed at denouncing violence by Kurdish rebels.
AFP puts the number of participants as high as 100,000.
Almost all are waving Turkish flags under an anti-terrorism banner as speakers condemn terrorism and the violence which has rocked eastern Turkey since the resumption of fighting between the military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.
The protest is held under the banner: “Millions of breaths. One voice against terror.”
The PKK is considered a terror organization by the Turkey, the US and the EU.
The rally, which was widely promoted across the city, takes place under heavy police protection. It features a video montage of, among other things, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set to stirring music.
— AP with AFP
Rivlin eulogizes ‘courageous and original’ judge Cheshin
President Reuven Rivlin eulogizes Mishael Cheshin, praising his life’s work and unique style of writing his decisions.
“Dear Misha, I separate from you today. Leave a friend and ally, a rabbi and a scholar, a teacher and bright academic, a sensitive and sharp judge, courageous and original,” he says. “Your rulings were a journey through time and imagination, to the depths of literature and sources, illustrated always with your sharp and honed language. Your contribution to the design of the language and Israeli judicial discourse was unparalleled — there is no and will never be a replacement.”
He also references one of Cheshin’s most famous rulings, in which he laid out that “no” always means “no.”
“You knew how to say yes, and when to declare that yes is yes and no is no,” he says.
Iron Dome batteries deployed in Sderot, Netivot
The IDF says it has deployed an Iron Dome anti-missile battery to the Gazan border city of Sderot, days after a rocket shot at the city damaged a home and a vehicle.
A second battery has been deployed outside the nearby city of Netivot.
The move comes after a weekend that saw multiple volleys of rockets shot from Gaza at Israel, including one that landed in Sderot Friday night. No injuries were reported, but shrapnel hit a home and a bus parked outside.
Two rockets shot at Ashkelon were shot by a battery that had been placed there only days before, as officials girded for renewed rocket fire in the wake of increased tensions over the Temple Mount.
The rocket fire was claimed by a Salafi group in Gaza.
Israel responded by hitting targets in the Strip belonging to Hamas, which Jerusalem holds responsible for any rocket fire as the de facto rulers of Gaza.
US to up refugee intake to 100,000
The United States is seeking to ease the Syrian refugee crisis by significantly increasing the number of worldwide refugees it takes in over the next two years, though not by nearly the amount many activists and former officials have urged.
The US will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000, and that total would rise to 100,000 in 2017, according to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is in Berlin to meet with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to discuss the mass migration of Syrians fleeing their civil war.
Many, though not all, of the additional refugees would be Syrian, American officials have said. Others would come from strife-torn areas of Africa. The White House had previously announced it intended to take in 10,000 additional Syrian refugees over the next year.
The migrants would be referred by the UN refugee agency, screened by the US Department of Homeland Security and resettled around the US.
“This step is in keeping with America’s best tradition as a land of second chances and a beacon of hope,” Kerry tells reporters after the meeting with his German counterpart.
Kerry also meets with some refugee families on the wooded, lakeside resort-style campus of the foreign ministry’s education center outside Berlin.
IAEA head pays visit to Iran’s Parchin military site
The head of the UN nuclear agency has made a ceremonial visit to the Parchin military site in Iran, Iranian media and the IAEA say.
The IRNA news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency, as saying that Yukiya Amano “visited workshops and nearby construction sites in the complex.”
The IAEA says the visit was part of Amano’s mission to work out outstanding issues on inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, known as the roadmap agreement.
“As part of the implementation of the Road-map, the Director General visited the site of Parchin, together with the Head of the Department of Safeguards, Tero Varjoranta,” a statement from the agency says.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has long sought greater access to Parchin, where Iran is alleged to have carried out tests in the past related to the development of nuclear weapons. Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit twice in 2005.
Iran denies ever seeking atomic weapons, and says Parchin is a conventional military site.
Amano, the head of the IAEA, arrived Sunday on his second visit to Iran since it reached a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers.
— AP and Times of Israel Staff
Attorney general opposes opening fire on rock throwers
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has come out against a plan pushed forward by Netanyahu to crack down on rock-throwing protesters.
The plan would have included orders allowing police to open fire on stone throwers and those with Molotov cocktails and other weapons and also upped minimum punishments for those convicted of taking part in stone throwing and other violence.
The news comes a day after the Prime Minister’s Office claimed that Weinstein supported the moves.
According to Hebrew media reports, Weinstein told a meeting of Netanyahu and other ministers that current measures meant to quell stone throwing and punish criminals are enough.
Channel 2 reports that Netanyahu is looking into other measures to deter rock throwers, including revoking national insurance for East Jerusalemites involved in the unrest rocking the city.
Syriza, Tsipras to remain in power in Greece — exit polls
The left-wing Syriza party of former prime minister Alexis Tsipras appeared to have won Greece’s early election Sunday, but without the absolute majority needed to form a government, according to exit poll projections.
Updated exit poll data shows Syriza winning between 33 and 35 percent compared to New Democracy at between 28.5 and 30 percent.
Syriza supporters outside the party’s main electoral center cheer and clap, waving party flags as the exit poll results are announced. The survey was conducted jointly for Greek TV channels by five of the country’s largest certified polling firms.
A tired-looking Tsipras is hugged by party supporters as he arrives at Syriza headquarters, waving to the crowd gathered outside.
Eight parties appeared to have won enough votes to enter parliament, with a ninth — the anti-bailout Popular Unity party formed by rebel Syriza members — struggling to make it past the 3 percent threshold.
MK to Jordan’s king: Pressure Israel to ban Jews from Temple Mount
MK Taleb Abu Arar, who earlier in the day visited Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman to speak about unrest in Jerusalem with other Arab lawmakers says in a statement that the meeting was “positive.”
He says the group asked Abdullah to pressure Israel to ban Jews from visiting the Temple Mount, considered the holiest site in Judaism.
“I clarified that Netanyahu labors day and night to change the status quo any way he can, and he works according to the agenda of the extreme right-wing Jewish groups, who want to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque,” he says in the statement.
He tells Abdullah not to trust the promises of Netanyahu, who has vowed in recent days that he does not seek to change the status quo, which prohibits Jewish prayer at the site.
“He is not a peace partner, and not a partner to fix the situation today on al-Aqsa. Netanyahu misleads and feeds violence and claims that he is acting against ‘terror.'”
Second person in gas explosion dies
A second person has died from injuries sustained in a gas tank explosion in central Israel last week.
Levana Jahan had been injured along with her husband, Aharon Jahan, in the explosion at their Gan Yavne home early Friday morning, and succumbed to her wounds Sunday evening.
Aharon Jahan died earlier in the day.
Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox protest army draft
As if the violence rocking neighborhoods of East Jerusalem weren’t enough, ultra-Orthodox in the capital’s Mea Shearim neighborhood are now protesting the mandatory military draft.
Protesters have set two garbage Dumpsters on fire at the central Kikar Hashabat square, according to Army Radio, and police are on site.
Pope meets Cuba’s Fidel Castro to talk big issues
Pope Francis and Fidel Castro have held a meeting at the revolutionary leader’s home shortly after the pope told tens of thousands of Cubans to focus their lives on service to others instead of ideology.
Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi says during the conversation that Fidel wanted to reflect on big issues and questions facing the world and humanity.
Francis’s recent encyclical on the environment and the global economic system was discussed. Lombardi says that unlike the 2012 visit of Benedict XVI, when Fidel peppered him with questions, the meeting with Francis was more of a conversation.
Lombardi says that out of respect for the family and the informality of the encounter, no photographs would be released.
US confirms 2 Americans released in Yemen
The United States confirms the release of two Americans who had been held hostage by Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen for months, and say they have arrived in Oman.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says Washington is “deeply appreciative” of those who helped obtain the release of the two citizens, who were not identified in the statement.
Price specifically thanks the government of Oman, and says the US ambassador in Muscat had greeted the two citizens at the airport.
“We welcome the release of two US citizens who had been detained in Yemen since earlier this year,” Price says in a statement. “These individuals departed Yemen today and have since arrived in Oman.”
Croatia: 27,000 migrants enter since last week
Croatian police say about 27,000 migrants have entered the country since the surge started several days ago.
Police say that they are still expecting many more migrants to arrive from Serbia in the coming days. They say authorities are setting up tents for migrants to find shelter from rain and cold.
Migrants hoping to reach Western Europe started going through Croatia last Wednesday after Hungary pushed them away from its border with Serbia.
On Friday, Croatia said it was overwhelmed by the influx and has been sending the migrants to neighboring Slovenia and Hungary.
Police say 1,600 migrants have left for Hungary on Sunday and the flow will continue.
Hungary has started building a fence on the border with Croatia after it had built one along the frontier with Serbia.
Conservative leader admits defeat in Greek poll, neo-Nazis take 3rd place
In Greece, the head of the conservative New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis has admitted defeat, handing the victory to Alexis Tsipras, head of the leftist Syriza party.
“It appears that Mr Tsipras’ Syriza is first, I congratulate him,” Meimarakis says.
Exit polls show neo-Nazi Golden Dawn taking third place in the polls with 7.35 percent according to exit polls, beating out the socialist Pasok Party.
Golden Dawn’s appeal has not dimmed despite its leadership being on trial over the murder of an anti-fascist rapper two years ago.
Church shooting reported in Alabama, 3 injured
Three people have been injured and a suspect is in custody after a church shooting in East Selma, Alabama, the Associated Press reports.
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