4 Iranian separatists arrested in Europe for spying, terror plot
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UN Security Council to meet with Kushner on Mideast plan, diplomats say

Trump’s son-in-law and adviser will present the administration’s proposal to member states on Thursday and listen to their positions, officials report

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's special adviser and son-in-law, leaves 10 Downing Street in London on June 4, 2019, on the second day of Trump's three-day State Visit to the UK. (Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's special adviser and son-in-law, leaves 10 Downing Street in London on June 4, 2019, on the second day of Trump's three-day State Visit to the UK. (Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

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

Islamic State claims responsibility for London stabbing attack

The Islamic State’s propaganda arm is claiming responsibility for yesterday’s terror incident in London, in which Sudesh Amman stabbed and injured two people.

It says Amman, 20, was one of its fighters.

“The attacker in the Streatham area in south London yesterday is an IS fighter, and he carried out the attack in response to a call to target nationals” of countries belonging to the global anti-IS coalition, the terror group said in a statement released through the Telegram messaging application.

Amman, who was wearing a fake suicide vest, was shot on a busy road in south London on Sunday after what police said was an “Islamist-related” incident.

Amman was recently given early release from prison after serving part of his sentence for terror offenses.

He had been jailed for three years and four months in December 2018 for 13 offenses. He had been arrested in London in May 2018 on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack.

Police forensic officers work outside of a Boots store on Streatham High Road in south London on February 3, 2020 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)


Pan-Islamic body OIC rejects Trump’s Mideast plan

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) rejects US President Donald Trump’s plan for the Middle East, calling on its 57 member states not to help implement it.

The pan-Islamic body, which represents more than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide, “rejects this US-Israeli plan, as it does not meet the minimum aspirations and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, and contradicts the terms of reference of the peace process,” it says in a statement.

It calls on “all member states not [to] deal with this plan or cooperate with the US Administration efforts to enforce it in any way or form.”


EU top diplomat holds talks in Iran ‘to de-escalate tensions’

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell is holding talks in the Iranian capital on a mission aimed at lowering tensions over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

Borrell’s trip, his first to Iran since taking office, follows a spike in tensions between arch foes Washington and Tehran following the January 3 assassination in Baghdad of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike.

The two-day visit opens with a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, ahead of talks with President Hassan Rouhani and parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) welcomes European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in the capital Tehran on February 3, 2020 . (ATTA KENARE / AFP)


Prime minister arrives in Uganda for lightning visit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Entebbe, Uganda, for a one-day visit.

He says that he hopes to strengthen ties with Uganda, “and I hope that at the end of today, we will have very good news for Israel.”

In Entebbe, Netanyahu is set to meet with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, as well as with what Israeli officials called “regional leaders.” The military censor prohibited the publication of more details about the scheduled meetings, lest they be canceled at the last minute.

— Raphael Ahren

Boris Johnson says will change handling of release of convicted terrorists

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says plans will be announced later today to change the system on handling the release of convicted terrorists, after a terror convict released early stabbed two people in London yesterday.

He had previously promised such changes following the London Bridge attack in November, which was also carried out by a convicted terrorist who was freed early.

“What was he doing out on automatic early release and why was there no system of scrutiny, no parole system to check whether he was really a suitable candidate?” he tells reporters.

“Looking at the problems we have with re-educating and reclaiming and rehabilitating people who succumb to Islamism, it’s very, very hard and very tough — and it can happen that the instances of success are really very few.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly session of Prime Ministers Questions in Parliament in London, January 29, 2020 (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

“My anxiety is that we do not want to get back to a system where you have a lot of very, very, laborious surveillance by our hard-pushed security services…. when a custodial version might be better.”


Yad Vashem apologizes for distortions favoring Russia at Holocaust forum

Yad Vashem is apologizing for “inaccuracies” and “partial” facts presented at last month’s World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, after being criticized for overly emphasizing Russia’s role in ending the war and avoiding information Moscow finds unpalatable, Haaretz reports.

Videos presented at the ceremony attended by dozens of world leaders, among them Russian President Vladimir Putin, focused almost exclusively on the Soviet Union’s role in defeating the Nazis while downplaying the role of America, Britain and other countries, the report said.

They also failed to mention Joseph Stalin’s deal with Adolf Hitler in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that preceded the war, Russia’s occupation of parts of Poland and other facts uncomfortable to Moscow.

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech during the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 23, 2020 (Abir SULTAN / POOL / AFP)

The events of the Forum have been widely criticized as overly fawning toward Putin.

“Sadly, videos at the event, and particularly the one intended to summarize key points of World War II and the Holocaust, included inaccuracies and a partial portrayal of historical facts that created an unbalanced impression,” the Holocaust memorial museum tells the paper. “The videos… do not portray the complicated picture.”

Minister appoints new police investigations, anti-corruption chiefs

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan appoints new top police commanders, including in the Investigations Division and the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit.

Yigal Ben Shalom will head the Investigations and Intelligence Division; Motti Levi will lead Lahav 433; and Alon Aryeh will command the Traffic Division.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on July 9, 2019. (Flash90)

Lahav 433 is the unit chiefly behind the investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three corruption cases.

Likud blasted for photoshopped skullcaps on heads of soldiers in campaign photo

Likud is taking flak for a campaign image that photoshopped skullcaps onto the heads of Israeli soldiers in a famous historic photo.

The symbolic photo, known as “The Ink Flag,” shows Avaraham Adan, later a major general, climbing an improvised Israeli flag after a victory in the Eilat area during Israel’s Independence War.

Likud’s image put a blue and white yarmulke on Adan’s head as well as on that of an onlooker. “We’re always proud of you,” it says. “Likud — home of the religious Zionists.”

Adan’s daughter Netta Dor tells Army Radio: “I’ve heard of life after death but not of conversion.” She adds: “Perhaps that side [the religious] feels a bit left out of the formation of the state. Now that we’ve finished other annexations, maybe we’re annexing parts of history too.”

Families of victims of Tzafit stream disaster sue academy, state for damages

The families of the victims of the Tzafit stream disaster, in which 10 teenagers in a pre-military academy lost their lives in a flash flood, are suing the school and the state for their loved ones’ deaths.

The lawsuit filed at the Lod District Court demands compensation from Bnei Zion Academy, the Education Ministry and Defense Ministry for their parts in the tragedy.

The families did not cite a figure they desire from the defendants, saying they are leaving the decision up to the court.

In October the academy’s ex-director Yuval Kahan and ex-counselor Aviv Bardichev were charged with 10 counts each of negligent homicide, for organizing the ill-advised hike to the Tzafit stream in April 2018 during flooding despite receiving multiple warnings of the danger of such an exploit.

Top commander in Iran’s Quds Force, close to Soleimani, killed in Aleppo battle

A top commander in Iran’s Quds Force who was close to its slain leader Qassem Soleimani has died in battle in Syria, according to multiple reports in Iranian and Arab media.

Asghar Pashapour, a senior member of the Revolutionary Guards’ extraterritorial force, was killed Sunday in battle with Syrian opposition forces in Aleppo, the reports say.

He is said to have been at the forefront of the Quds Force’s operations against rebels in Syria, and in support of President Bashar Assad.

3 balloon-borne bombs from Gaza land in Israel, one explodes; no one hurt

Three balloon-borne bombs from the Gaza Strip are found by an Israeli community in the Eshkol Regional Council.

One of the bombs is said to have exploded. Two others are being handled by security forces.

There are no casualties or damage.

Ugandan president tells Netanyahu ‘we’re studying’ opening embassy in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Entebbe, asks Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

“We’re studying it,” he replies.

Abbas suggests security ties with US and Israel are still intact

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas suggests that security ties with the United States and Israel are still intact, despite earlier announcing their severance in response to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

A Palestinian official said as much to the Times of Israel yesterday — at least as far as ties with Israel are concerned.

Abbas, during a cabinet meeting, implies he has not yet severed ties but still could.

“If the Americans continue with this project, the boycott is there [as an option], a full boycott,” he says.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah following the announcement by US President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan, January 28, 2020. (ABBAS MOMANI/AFP)

“There is one channel left and this channel should be cut off,” Abbas adds, seemingly referring to security coordination.

— with AFP

Video: Border policeman hit by Molotov cocktail in Hebron, lightly hurt

A border policeman is lightly hurt after being hit by a Molotov cocktail in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The incident was caught on video, which shows the officer attempting to douse the flames as he and his comrades retreat from the scene.

Channel 12 reports that the policeman did not require medical assistance.

IS claims attack on Egypt gas pipeline

The Islamic State group says it blew up a gas pipeline in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, claiming it was connected to Israel.

Security sources earlier said the pipeline hit was a domestic one that connects to a power station in El-Arish, powering homes and factories in central Sinai. No casualties were reported.

In a statement posted on its Telegram chat groups, IS says “caliphate soldiers targeted… the natural gas line linking the Jews and the apostate Egyptian government.”

Israeli officials have said gas flow is continuing, and they are not aware of any damage to the Israeli-Egyptian pipeline.

— with AFP

Ukraine says Iran ‘knew from start’ missile downed plane

Kyiv accuses Tehran of knowing from the start that an Iranian missile had downed a Ukrainian airliner last month, after leaked recordings emerged from Iranian air traffic control.

The recordings feature a conversation between an air traffic controller and the pilot of another plane at the time the Ukrainian airliner was hit on January 8, killing all 176 people on board. The pilot can be heard describing “the light of a missile” on its route and then an explosion.

A bulldozer seen working as rescue workers search the scene where an Ukrainian plane crashed in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, January 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the recording “proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was hit by a missile.”


PM lays wreath at memorial for Operation Entebbe, where his brother was killed

The prime minister and his wife lay a wreath at Entebbe Airport terminal where his brother Yoni was killed 43 years ago during Operation Entebbe.

Netanyahu says he misses his brother and is proud of him.

Report: Sudan’s leader travels to Uganda during Netanyahu visit

The leader of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, traveled to Uganda while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the African nation, Sudanese media reports.

Prior to departing from Israel, Netanyahu was reported to be meeting with “regional leaders.”

He said he hoped to have “very good news for Israel at the end of the day.”

Police arrest 13 in ultra-Orthodox protest over arrest of draft dodger

Police arrest 13 ultra-Orthodox protesters during a protest in Bnei Brak for disrupting public order after they block the Route 4 highway.

Some of those arrested hurled rocks at officers, officials say.

The protesters are demonstrating against the arrest of a draft-dodging yeshiva student.

PM’s office now confirms Netanyahu met Sudan’s leader, discussed normalization of ties

The Prime Minister’s Office is confirming that Netanyahu met with Sudan’s leader while in Uganda.

The two agreed to start a process to normalize relations between the countries, which currently do not have formal relations.

Netanyahu’s office says he believes Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction. It adds that Abdel Fattah al-Burhan wishes to move his country toward modernization and out of isolation.

YouTube to ban ‘manipulated’ content linked to US elections

YouTube says it will remove election-related videos that are “manipulated or doctored” to mislead American voters, in the latest effort to stem online misinformation.

The Google-owned video service says it is taking the measures as part of an effort to be a “more reliable source” for news and to promote a “healthy political discourse.”

Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, says in a blog post that the service’s community standards will ban “content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users… and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm.”

The policy also bans content that aims to mislead people about voting or the census processes.


Anti-Semitism in S. Africa falls to 15 year low, Jewish leaders say

While global anti-Semitism remains a growing problem, Jew hatred in South Africa actually fell to a 15-year low in 2019, the nation’s Jewish Board of Deputies says.

The organization says the past year saw 36 recorded anti-Semitic incidents throughout the country, compared to 62 in 2018. Only one incident involved physical assault, and no Jewish property was damaged.

“We can be proud that at a time when attacks against Jews are everywhere growing both in number and severity, our country has consistently bucked the trend,” says Board chairman Shaun Zagnoev. “As a result, South Africa continues to be a country where Jews can fully identify with and practice their religion without fear.”

An illustrative view of Pretoria, South Africa. (iStock/Getty Images/vlbentley)

4 Iranian separatists arrested in Europe for spying, terror plot

Four members of an Iranian separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, have been arrested in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Three were arrested for the suspected spying of people and companies for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service over a period of six years, from 2012. Another was arrested for allegedly plotting one or more terror attacks in Iran and for membership in a terrorist organization.

“We are talking about a very complex case where two countries — Iran and Saudi Arabia — are bringing internal strife into this country,” Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen says.


Army searches Lebanon border area over suspected breach, gives all clear

The military says it conducted searches along the northern border with Lebanon after suspecting a breach.

Hebrew media says the incident occurred near the community of Shlomi.

Troops searched the area and there is no concern of a security incident, the army says.

Balloon bomb explodes near home in Israel; 8th Gaza balloon of the day

A balloon-borne bomb from Gaza explodes near a home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, causing no casualties.

According to the Ynet news site, it is the eighth balloon cluster to land in Israel today.

A bundle of balloons attached to a suspected incendiary device that landed in a home backyard in the Sdot Negev region on January 22, 2020. (Israel Police)

Diplomats: UN Security Council to meet with US’s Kushner on Mideast plan

The United States has requested a closed door UN Security Council meeting Thursday for President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to present the administration’s new Mideast peace plan, diplomatic sources tell AFP.

He intends to set forth the plan that Washington unveiled last week and to listen to the position of the council’s other 14 members, the sources say.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks during a television interview outside the White House in Washington, January 29, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

The meeting will take place several days before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas comes to the United Nations — he is expected on February 11 — to express opposition to the US plan and to demand adherence to international law.

Employers warned Israelis back from China must not be allowed to work

The Health Ministry is warning employers not to allow workers who have returned from China to work before they complete the required 14 days of home quarantine officials have demanded.

The ministry’s director general Moshe Bar Siman Tov says any employer who allows employees to work will be acting against the law.

The instruction for Israelis who have returned from China to remain at home for 14 days is part of the measures put in place in recent days as Israeli seeks to contain any possible spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Likud said pointing to faults in PM’s indictment to allow new immunity bid

Likud is seeking to force state prosecutors to refile the indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, apparently in order to allow the premier to reapply for parliamentary immunity, Channel 12 news says.

MK Shlomo Karai claims there were technical faults in the indictment filed to the Jerusalem District Court and that it must be resubmitted, the network reports.

Likud MK Shlomo Karai at the Knesset plenum, ahead of the opening Knesset session of the new government on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

If his appeal is accepted, the process would need to be restarted and Netanyahu could once again ask for immunity, which would push any Knesset deliberation on the matter to after the March 2 election.

Netanyahu abandoned his appeal to receive immunity last week after it became clear he did not have a Knesset majority for it and that his request would be rejected.

Report: Police suspect improper ties between Kahlon, judge he helped appoint

Channel 13 reports on text messages that a judge already suspected of improper sexual relations with the former head of the Israel Bar Association sent to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

Eti Craif is suspected of providing sexual favors to Efi Nave in return for his recommendation that she be approved for a judicial position.

The network now reports on text messages Craif sent to Kahlon, also on the powerful Judicial Appointments Committee, which raisd questions as to their relationship.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon hold a press conference with at the Finance Ministry office in Jerusalem, September 23, 2019. (Flash90)

In one message Craif says: “I’m alone tonight and really want to see you.” In another, she thanks him following her appointment: “I won’t let you down. In any way. Kisses and love.”

Both Craif and Kahlon have denied a relationship. The network did not report on any replies Kahlon may have sent to Craif. He has claimed he only met Craif for a few minutes during her nomination process.

Report: Netanyahu sought deal with US, Morocco to allow normalization of ties

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to arrange a three-way deal between Israel, the US, and Morocco, whereby Washington would recognize Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara (which no nation recognizes as Moroccan), and Rabat would normalize relations with Israel, Channel 13 reports.

The network says Netanyahu made several overtures to Washington over the past year to promote such a deal, but former national security adviser John Bolton was strongly opposed. In recent months, following Bolton’s removal, Netanyahu tried again through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but so far the White House has not agreed to the trade-off.

Street view in Rabat, the capital of Morocco (Russavia/Wikimedia Commons)

An Israeli official adds that the Moroccans are very unhappy with the gap between Netanyahu’s promises and the results so far, along with his touting of clandestine relations with Rabat for his own political purposes.

Israel and Morocco have had no official ties since 2000, though Israelis are allowed in the country and it is a popular destination for Israeli tourists.

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4 Iranian separatists arrested in Europe for spying, terror plot

Four members of an Iranian separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, have been arrested in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Three were arrested for the suspected spying of people and companies for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service over a period of six years, from 2012. Another was arrested for allegedly plotting one or more terror attacks in Iran and for membership in a terrorist organization.

“We are talking about a very complex case where two countries — Iran and Saudi Arabia — are bringing internal strife into this country,” Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen says.