The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Hurricane Ian is creating “catastrophic” weather conditions as it slams into Florida, the US National Hurricane Center says, with the center of the storm forecast to hit land soon.
The storm is “causing catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula,” the NHC says at 1800 GMT.
The government approved a plan to adopt European food safety standards, removing the vast majority of Israeli guidelines, in an effort to address Israel’s high cost of living.
The changes will affect the production and import of items including canned vegetables, pasta, rice, candies, spices, soup powder, condiments and milk products, among others.
“You know how Israelis always come back [from Europe] and say: ‘Why is it so much cheaper in Berlin?’ Because Berlin uses European standards and they are cheaper. So we are bringing them to Israel,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid says in a video statement introducing the measure.
The Central Elections Committee rules to disqualify renegade former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli from running with Likud in the upcoming election.
Chikli, who was elected with Yamina but voted with the opposition since the government was sworn in last June, resigned from the Knesset in July as part of a deal to avoid elections sanctions against him over abandoning his party — which would prevent him from running with another established party, such as Likud.
But the Central Elections Committee rules that Chikli did not follow the rule to resign “close to” the date that he abandoned his original party, overturning the terms of the deal he made in a Jerusalem court in July.
Likud vows to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court — which has a history of almost always overturning such decisions.
Meanwhile, the Central Elections Committee rejected a similar petition against former Yamina MK Idit Silman, allowing her to run with Likud.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemns Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli unilateral actions in her remarks at the Security Council’s monthly session on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Such sessions typically play out in a similar fashion each time.
At today’s session, Thomas-Greenfield hails the speeches Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave before the UN General Assembly last week when the former expressed his support for a two-state solution and the latter did the same while also “stat[ing his] commitment to non-violence.”
The US ambassador reiterates the Biden administration’s opposition to “unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions and move us further away from a two-state solution.”
She notes the steps taken by the administration to advance peace, then appears to take a shot at other countries, saying: “We strongly urge countries who espouse support for the Palestinian people to translate that conviction into concrete improvements on the ground.”
“And we call on the Palestinian Authority to ensure respect for human rights – and refrain from making payments to those who harm Israelis. A strong and legitimate Palestinian Authority is in the interest of the entire region,” she adds.
The Labor party plans to hold a rally commemorating the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin just days ahead of the upcoming election.
The rally is slated for downtown Jerusalem on Saturday, October 29, shortly before the November 1 national vote.
“The memorial rally for prime minister Yitzhak Rabin is the event where we all remember the terrible murder that was the result of incitement and violence against Rabin and against the courageous policy he led,” says Labor leader Merav Michaeli. “The Labor Party, Yitzhak Rabin’s party, will continue to campaign on the issues he prioritized, to follow his way in defending democracy and the State of Israel, and will fight with all its might against incitement and racism.”
Politicians on the right dismissed the move as cheap politicking so close to the election.
Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing extremist on November 4, 1995.
Retired Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein is approved as a temporary head of the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, spurring Defense Minister Benny Gantz to officially submit the next IDF chief for approval.
Rubinstein is approved by government ministers to temporarily helm the committee, after the appointment of a permanent head was struck down by a court as not possible during an election period.
Following Rubinstein’s approval, Gantz says he has officially submitted Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi as new IDF chief of staff — a move that is politically divisive so close to the November 1 election.
The Lebanese Finance Ministry says the crisis-hit country will hike its fixed exchange rate against the dollar to 15,000 Lebanese pounds starting in November, calling it a “necessary corrective action.”
Beginning in late 2019 the country has been spiraling into what the World Bank says is one of the worst economic crises in over a century. Since then, three-quarters of the population has plunged into poverty, and the Lebanese pound has lost around 90% of its value against the dollar.
The Finance Ministry says in a statement that the Central Bank has approved the new exchange rate change, and the decision was a “step to gradually unify exchange rates” in the cash-strapped country.
Interior Minister and Jewish Home party leader Ayelet Shaked rejects reports that she is in talks to drop out of the race for the Knesset ahead of the November 1 election.
“There are no negotiations, it’s more spin,” Shaked tells 103FM radio of reports that she is being offered an ambassadorship to drop out. “It seems like [Bezalel] Smotrich and his friends don’t have anything to sell or anything to offer because they spend all their time focused on me.”
The minister says she has no intention to drop out and “plans to run to the end.”
Shaked was elected to the current Knesset with Yamina and had a short-lived partnership with Yoaz Hendel before rejoining Jewish Home earlier this month. The party is currently polling below the electoral threshold in most of the unreliable but influential Israeli polls.
Hours before their meetings with US officials in Washington, Science and Innovation Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and national security adviser Eyal Hulata say they are launching a process to transform strategic-technological cooperation between the countries, a field that has lagged behind Israel’s hi-tech partnership with the European Union.
“The goal is to tie Israeli entrepreneurship and innovation in fields that are at the front of global challenges, together with our US counterparts and American industry,” says Hulata, speaking by phone with Israeli journalists.
The pair are accompanied by dozens of senior representatives from government agencies, including the Agriculture, Energy, Health, Innovation, Environmental Protection, Defense ministries.
Hulata and Farkash-Hacohen will be meeting later Wednesday with US Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm and Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, as well as officials from relevant departments.
The meetings are the first major step in the initiative announced in the Jerusalem Declaration that US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yair Lapid signed during Biden’s visit to Israel in July.
The US Agency for International Development announces the recipients of three more congressional grants totaling $7.8 million aimed at strengthening Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs and Palestinian business development.
The grants are the result of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA) passed by Congress in 2020, earmarking $250 million over five years to support people-to-people peacebuilding efforts.
The US already began divvying out the first grants last year, and is now continuing with three more. The grants are announced during a visit to Israel and the West Bank by former congresswoman Nita Lowey, who championed the MEPPA act along with George Salem, who heads the MEPPA advisory board that makes recommendations to the USAID regarding which groups should receive its grants.
The first of those, totaling $1 million over two years, will go toward ‘Making Peace,” an initiative of Reut USA which works to “connect Israelis and Palestinians and leverage engineering innovations and additive manufacturing tools, like 3D prosthetic printing, to create and disseminate affordable solutions for the elderly and disabled,” USAID says.
Project Rozana’s Palestinian-Israeli Specialist Nursing Hub will receive $2.3 million over the course of three years in order to create a “systematic approach to cross-border cooperation as a form of health diplomacy and a way to improve health delivery,” according to the USAID.
A final grant of $4.5 million over three years has been awarded to the Next Generation Accelerator, which “offers an intensive three-month entrepreneurship training and follow-on support for over 120 Palestinian and Israeli youth fellows who will build personal connections through their work together.”
Military chief Aviv Kohavi holds a meeting with top officials at the IDF Central Command headquarters, following an uptick in violence in the West Bank.
“Every day and night, our forces arrest wanted persons, operate under fire and thwart terrorist activities,” Kohavi says in remarks provided by the Israel Defense Forces.
“Even this morning we carried out a complex operation in the Jenin refugee camp, which was carried out with determination and professionalism, with the goal of thwarting a concrete threat,” he adds.
The chief of the Central Command, Yehuda Fuchs, and commander of the IDF’s West Bank division Avi Blot, presented Kohavi with an updated assessment of the region during the meeting, the military says.
Iranian author and regime critic Mehdi Bahram, who lives in Tehran, tells Israel’s Channel 12 news that the ongoing women-led protests in Iran will not lead to an imminent revolution.
“I am almost positive that the process that has started now will not lead to any revolution in the near future,” Bahram says, noting that “the regime will put down or restrict the protests with violence.”
But, he says, “that doesn’t mean the women of Iran will give up on their justified demands.”
The ongoing protests, Bahram says, are fueled by “Iranian women looking at other women around the world making advances… and asking themselves why they don’t deserve the same rights.”
The US State Department condemns Iranian drone and ballistic missile attacks against the Iraqi Kurdistan Region “as an unjustified violation of Iraqi sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“We are also aware of reports of civilian casualties and deplore any loss of life caused by today’s attack,” the State Department says. “Moreover, we further condemn comments from the government of Iran threatening additional attacks against Iraq,” the statement continues. “We stand with the people and government of Iraq in the face of these brazen attacks on their sovereignty.”
The Israel Defense Forces publishes drone footage of two wanted Palestinian gunmen setting off a large bomb during an attempt to arrest them this morning in Jenin.
According to the IDF, as troops and Border Police officer closed in on the home where Abd al-Rahman Hazem and Muhammed Alownah where hiding, the pair set off several explosive devices causing a large explosion.
No troops were hurt in the incident, and the pair were killed in an ensuing clash.
Another two Palestinians were also killed in the Israeli raid in Jenin. One of them, a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces, was seen shooting at troops.
IDF publishes drone footage of the wanted Palestinian gunmen setting off a bomb in Jenin this morning, during an attempt to arrest them. pic.twitter.com/yBmJYZihOk
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) September 28, 2022
An Israeli truck driver is lightly hurt after his vehicle comes under a stone-throwing attack by Palestinians near the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.
According to the Rescuers Without Borders emergency service, the driver is being treated at the outpost, with an injury to his head. The Magen David Adom ambulance service says its medics are taking the 35-year-old truck driver to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva.
Earlier, an Israeli bus was pelted with stones on Route 55, close to the Palestinian town of Azzun. Nobody was reported hurt in that incident.
Earlier, a bus came under a stone-throwing attack on Route 55 near Azzun. pic.twitter.com/Sf3Canz3hW
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) September 28, 2022
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked issues a statement giving seven family members of a man who carried out a deadly terrorist attack in 2017 a week’s notice before they face expulsion from the country.
“In an unprecedented step I told the family of a terrorist who killed four IDF soldiers at the Armon Hanetziv promenade [in Jerusalem] that they must leave their home — and if they don’t they’ll be forcibly evicted in about a week,” Shaked says in a video statement.
The family members of Fadi al-Qanbar are not Israeli citizens and Shaked already moved to revoke their Jerusalem residency permits. Shaked did not say what country she believes will accept the seven deported individuals — who are not known to hold any other citizenship.
“This is an important step designed to prevent the next terrorist attack,” she adds. “As interior minister, I will use all tools at my disposal to protect the citizens of Israel.”
In 2017, al-Qanbar rammed a large flatbed truck into a group of soldiers at the promenade, killing 4 and wounding 16 before being shot dead.
The Transportation Ministry confirms that preparations are underway to have the Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan stay open 24/7 beginning next month.
In a statement to The Times of Israel, the ministry says that comments made earlier today by US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides about the crossing are accurate.
“Yes, we are making preparations with the Airports Authority to open on the date the ambassador said,” the ministry says, confirming a start date for the move announced by Nides of October 24.
Film icon Arnold Schwarzenegger visits the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, meeting a Holocaust survivor and the son of Holocaust survivors to deliver a message against prejudice and hatred.
The “Terminator” actor and former California governor views the barracks, watchtowers and remains of gas chambers that endure as evidence of the German extermination of Jews and others during World War II.
He also meets with a woman who as a 3-year-old child was subjected to experiments by the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.
“This is a story that has to stay alive, this is a story that we have to tell over and over again,” he says after his visit to the site of the death camp, speaking in a former synagogue that now is home to the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation.
Three rockets are fired at the Iraqi capital’s Green Zone, wounding four security force personnel as parliament was in session, a statement by the security forces says.
“One rocket fell in front of the Iraqi parliament,” the statement says, adding one officer and three other members of the security forces were wounded.
Earlier today, seven people were killed and 28 wounded in Iranian airstrikes on the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
As a fire rages in the Upper Galilee, firefighters are also called to the site of a blaze just outside Jerusalem.
According to the Fire and Rescue Authority, a brushfire broke out near the Mesilat Zion moshav not far from Latrun outside Jerusalem. A firefighting helicopter as well as 7 firefighting planes and 29 firefighting teams are battling the flames.
Iran’s police warn they will confront “with all their might” women-led protests that erupted nearly two weeks ago over the death of Mahsa Amini in custody, despite growing calls for restraint.
Dozens of people have been killed since demonstrations erupted when the 22-year-old Kurdish woman died after being arrested in Tehran for allegedly breaching the Islamic Republic’s strict rules on hijab headscarves and modest clothing.
Widespread protests took place for a 12th straight night on Tuesday, according to opposition media based outside Iran, despite internet restrictions designed to impede gatherings and prevent images of the crackdown getting out.
“Police officers will oppose with all their might the conspiracies of counter-revolutionaries and hostile elements, and deal firmly with those who disrupt public order and security anywhere in the country,” the police say.
Firefighting teams and planes are battling a widespread blaze in northern Israel, according to firefighting authorities.
A spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Authority says that 18 firefighting teams, eight firefighting planes and other first responders are working to extinguish the flames, which are burning at several different locales near the Manara kibbutz in the Upper Galilee near the border with Lebanon.
The authority describes the blaze as “very extensive” and says it does not currently have control over the flames.
Pope Francis will travel to Bahrain in November to press his message of dialogue with the Muslim world, the first pope to visit the country the Vatican says.
Bahrain is home to the Gulf’s first Catholic Church, located in the capital Manama, as well as its biggest one, Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral, which opened last year in the desert town of Awali.
Francis is due to visit both cities during the Nov. 3-6 visit. The Vatican says he will take part in a conference called the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.”
Francis, 85, has made dialogue with the Muslim world a hallmark of his papacy. He recently returned from a visit to majority-Muslim Kazakhstan, where he took part in an interfaith summit.
Moscow will not give out passports to Russians mobilized by the army, a government information portal says, as fears of travel restrictions rise and tens of thousands flee the country.
“If a citizen is summoned for army service or received a summon (for mobilization), he will be refused a passport,” the portal says on its website.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party says its national headquarters in Berlin were searched by officials with the city’s prosecutor’s office.
“Since this morning, the Berlin public prosecutor’s office has been conducting a house search in the premises of the federal headquarters of Alternative for Germany, without any prior inquiry having been directed to the AfD regarding the facts to be clarified,” the party says in a statement.
The search is primarily concerned with a investigation against former party chairman Joerg Meuthen in connection with earlier statements of accounts, the party says.
Investigators “copied complete hard disks, mailboxes and file folders” the AfD says in its statement.
Two people are killed in Iranian cross-border strikes against military bases in Iraqi Kurdistan belonging to the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, the KDPI says.
“The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran with missiles and drones” in Koysinjaq, east of Arbil, the KDPI, which operates rear bases in Iraqi Kurdistan, announces in a statement. “Two people have been killed, while several peshmergas have been wounded,” it says, referring to fighters.
Israel’s nuclear chief tells the International Atomic Energy Agency conference that Iran is “the leading factor” in instability in the Middle East, and that Israel will not accept Tehran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“The ongoing unrest in the Middle East is a threat to peace and security worldwide, and requires the attention of all member states,” says Brig. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Edri, head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission. “One country is the leading factor in the instability of the region.”
In his address to the nuclear watchdog’s general assembly in Vienna, Edri reminds the body that Iran “has continuously failed to provide credible explanations, or clarifications, regarding the nature of these past activities, and continues to deceive the Agency and the international community concerning its clandestine nuclear activities.”
The Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting October 24, according to US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
The move is one that US President Joe Biden heavily pushed for ahead of his visit to the region in July, in order to ease travel restrictions on West Bank Palestinians.
“It’s worth the investment to get to 24/7 access & will make a real difference in people’s lives!” Nides tweets.
Nides tweets that the crossing will be open 24/7 for a “pilot period” beginning a month from now, though the US administration had wanted it to start by the end of September.
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said at the time that her ministry was committed to the effort, but that a manpower shortage made meeting that deadline unlikely.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
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