Abbas says Trump team offered Palestinian-Jordanian confederation
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Amman said to reject US proposal for Jordanian-Palestinian confederation

Kingdom ‘not willing’ to discuss Trump administration peace plan, says government remains committed to 2 state solution

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech on August 15, 2018. (WAFA)
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas delivering a speech on August 15, 2018. (WAFA)
  • A girl stands at the entrance of a school run by United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus in the West Bank on August 29, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Jaafar ASHTIYEH)
    A girl stands at the entrance of a school run by United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus in the West Bank on August 29, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Jaafar ASHTIYEH)
  • The UN flag at the Fawwar Palestinian refugee camp, southern West Bank, near Hebron, on September 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER)
    The UN flag at the Fawwar Palestinian refugee camp, southern West Bank, near Hebron, on September 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER)
  • Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (photo credit: United Synagogue)
    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (photo credit: United Synagogue)
  • A Syrian man rides his motorcycle at the entrance of the Damascus Eastern Ghouta on August 13, 2018.  (AFP PHOTO / Maher AL MOUNES)
    A Syrian man rides his motorcycle at the entrance of the Damascus Eastern Ghouta on August 13, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Maher AL MOUNES)

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

Former UK chief rabbi warns of ‘existential threat’ to British Jews

Britain’s former chief rabbi has warned that Jewish people are thinking about leaving the country because of anti-Semitism.

Jonathan Sacks tells the BBC that for the first time in the 362 years Jews have been in Britain many question whether it is safe to raise children here.

He singles out Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for failing to address anti-Semitic attitudes in the main opposition party, saying Corbyn would pose a danger as prime minister unless he expresses “clear remorse” for past statements.

Sacks says “when people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.”

Last week, Sacks branded Corbyn a dangerous anti-Semite, and accused him of giving “support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate, who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map.” The Labour leader, Sacks said, uses “the language of classic prewar European anti-Semitism.”

Asked this morning if his criticism of Corbyn went too far, Sacks says “absolutely not.”

“I had to issue a warning, anti-Semitism has returned to mainland Europe within living memory of the Holocaust,” he says.

“Anyone who uses the term ‘Zionist’ loosely and without great care is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that has reappeared throughout Europe,” Sacks says.

— with AP

Judge fired over texting scandal appeals punishment

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court judge who was dismissed for having ethically “inappropriate” communications with the state prosecutor in the Bezeq corruption case appeals her suspension to the High Court of Justice.

Ronit Poznansky-Katz says the disciplinary committee chose to suspend her even though the state never asked that she be fired.

The disciplinary committee voted unanimously to dismiss Poznansky-Katz in April after it emerged that she coordinated remand rulings for suspects with Israel Securities Authority attorney Eran Shacham-Shavit in a series of personal text messages.

Ukrainian city honors Jews on Holocaust anniversary

The Ukrainian city of Lviv, once a major center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city’s Jewish population by Nazi Germany and honoring those working today to remember and preserve what they can of that vanished world.

City authorities will honor recipients during Sunday’s ceremony with glass keys modeled by an American artist on an old metal synagogue key that she found at a Lviv market. The event, which will include a concert set amid the ruins of synagogues, comes amid a larger attempt to remember and celebrate the Jews of this region.

Organizers says it is the first time the city in western Ukraine has acknowledged in such an extensive way the work of Jewish heritage preservation.

— AP

Fourth suspect said arrested in racist beach attack on Arabs

A fourth person is arrested for suspected involvement in a violent hate crime targeting a group of Arab Israelis in the northern city of Haifa two weeks ago, according to reports in Hebrew-language media.

The suspect, a 21-year-old man from Kiryat Motzkin, will go before a judge tomorrow for a remand hearing.

Two weeks ago, a three men from Shfaram reported that a group of around nine Jews badly beat them up after learning they were Arab.

Three others were arrested for their suspected involvement in the attack last week. On Monday, a judge in the Haifa Magistrate’s Court released two of them to house arrest.

German foreign minister tells his country: Get off the couch and fight racism

Germany’s foreign minister tells his fellow countrymen they’re too lazy when it comes to battling racism and fighting for democracy.

“We have to get off the couch and open the mouth,” Heiko Maas says in an interview with weekly Bild am Sonntag. “Our generation was given freedom, rule of law and democracy as a present. We didn’t have to fight for it; (now) we’re taking it too much for granted.”

Maas’s comments followed yesterday’s demonstrations by about 4,500 far-right protesters in Chemnitz, who were rallying against immigration a week after a German was killed in the eastern city, allegedly by two migrants from Iraq and Syria. Around 4,000 leftist protesters also marched through the city in a counter-protest, and 1,800 police officers were deployed to keep the groups apart.

Eighteen people, including three police officers, were injured during the rallies, which at times were very tense, especially after police ended a march of the far right groups early.

— AP

Khamenei says ‘no chance’ of war, but calls for bolstered military

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says there is “no chance” of war, but says the Islamic Republic must work to boost its defense capabilities.

“In terms of political calculations, there is no chance of a military war; however, the armed forces must accelerate their human and equipment capabilities day by day, through vigilance, efficient and agile management,” Khamenei posts on his official Twitter account.

The post comes a day after Iran’s defense ministry said it planned it improve the capabilities of its ballistic and cruise missiles amid increasing tensions with the US over its withdrawal from the nuclear deal earlier this year.

Abbas says Trump team offered Palestinian-Jordanian confederation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the Trump administration’s Middle East team offered him a political plan for a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

Abbas says he expressed willingness to agree to a potential confederation only if Israel agreed to join.

He makes the remarks at a meeting with Knesset members and activists from the NGO Peace Now in Ramallah.

He says that when US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner floated the idea of a confederation he expressed support for the proposal.

“I said: ‘Yes, I want a tripartite confederation with Jordan and Israel, and I asked whether the Israelis would agree to such a proposal.'”

Abbas goes on to say that he supports Israel’s security, and wants to solve the Palestinian refugee problem.

He claims that Netanyahu is refusing to sit down and begin peace talks. He says Netanyahu has turned down several meetings initiated by Russia, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium.

“I have a problem with Netanyahu, not Likud,” he says.

Abbas says that he has met with Trump four times, and that the US president told him he supported the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state that will be defended by NATO forces. He adds, however, that he is against the Trump administration’s peace plan.

He also slams the US decision to cut funding to UNRWA, saying the administration was “trying to sabotage” the Palestinian aid agency.

Pope seeks talks to avert ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ in Syria

Pope Francis is pressing for negotiations to avoid a “humanitarian catastrophe” from a looming battle in Syria.

Francis appeals to the international community and “all the actors involved” to use diplomacy, dialogue and negotiations “in respect for international humanitarian law and to safeguard the lives of civilians.”

Addressing faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Francis says “the winds of war are still blowing and troubling news reaches us about the risks of a possible humanitarian catastrophe” in Syria’s Idlib province.

That’s where Syrian opposition forces have dug trenches around their bases, anticipating a ground offensive on their last major stronghold. The battle for Idlib might be the last in seven years of civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Idlib area have nowhere to flee.

— AP

New Israeli ambassador to Jordan presents credentials to Abdullah

Amir Weissbrod, Israel’s new ambassador to Jordan, presents his credentials to King Abdullah II in Amman, officially taking up the sensitive diplomatic post.

The post had been vacant for over a year, since Israel’s last ambassador to Jordan, Einat Schlein, hurriedly left Amman in July 2017 amid a tense a diplomatic standoff following the shooting deaths of two Jordanians by an Israeli security guard who Israel said opened fire in self-defense after one of the men tried to stab him.

A career diplomat who previously headed the Middle East Bureau at the Foreign Ministry’s Center for Political Research, Weissbrod is a fluent Arabic speaker who served as first secretary in Israel’s Jordanian embassy between 2001 and 2004.

— Raphael Ahren

Abbas says he agrees with Shin Bet chief 99% of the time

PA President Mahmoud Abbas tells Israeli lawmakers and peace activists that he regularly meets with Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, and that he agrees with Israeli security forces 99 percent of the time, according to reports in Hebrew-language media.

At a meeting in Ramallah, Abbas says that he supports Israel’s security and that Netanyahu has rejected multiple offers to meet the Palestinian leader that were initiated by foreign countries.

Abbas also says that the Trump administration’s Middle East team offered him a political plan for a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

Palestinian woman armed with a knife arrested at checkpoint near Jerusalem

Israeli security forces arrest a Palestinian woman armed with a knife at the Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem.

Police say the woman was planning to carry out a stabbing attack.

The statement sats the woman raised suspicions when she approached the checkpoint on the vehicle access route instead of the pedestrian passageway.

When she ignored instructions to stop, polic said security forces subdued her with pepper spray, and a knife was found in her bag.

French FM says Syria’s Assad has ‘won the war’

France’s foreign minister says Syrian President Bashar Assad has won his country’s civil war but won’t “win the peace” without a political solution brokered by the international community.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also reiterates threats of Western retaliation if Assad cedes to the “temptation” of using chemical weapons in the looming battle for the northern Idlib province, the last major opposition stronghold.

Le Drian says on France-Inter radio that “Assad won the war, we have to state this. But he hasn’t won the peace.”

He says that even if Assad’s forces retake Idlib, that won’t solve the problems that unleashed the war seven years ago.

He says France will press at this month’s UN General Assembly for a political solution in Syria, and is holding talks with Russia, Turkey and Iran to push them to use their influence with Assad to ensure political negotiations after the war ends.

— AP

Ex- British PM: Labour must immediately adopt IHRA anti-Semitism definition

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urges the Labour party to “unequivocally and immediately” adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism that was rejected by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a speech to a Jewish Labour Movement conference on Sunday, Brown calls for a comprehensive plan to tackle anti-Semitism within the party, saying the issue was “about the soul of the party.”

“This injustice has got to be remedied, this stain must be removed,” Brown says.

Brown’s speech comes days before Labour’s ruling body will vote whether to adopt all examples of antisemitism set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

Rights group: Strike on bus in Yemen is apparent war crime

An international rights group says an airstrike by a Saudi-led coalition that killed dozens of people in Yemen last month is an apparent war crime.

The coalition fighting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels has expressed its regret and pledged to hold to account those responsible for the airstrike, which hit a bus carrying children in a busy market. At least 51 people, including 40 children, were killed, and 79 others, including 56 children, were wounded in the airstrike.

Human Rights Watch says the attack adds to the coalition’s “already gruesome track record of killing civilians at weddings, funerals, hospitals, and schools in Yemen.”

It urges countries to “immediately halt weapons sales” to Saudi Arabia.

Yemen’s civil war has been raging since March 2015.

— AP

Egypt says village found in Nile Delta predated pharaohs

Egypt says that archaeologists have unearthed one of the oldest villages ever found in the Nile Delta, with remains dating back to before the pharaohs.

The Antiquities Ministry said the Neolithic site was discovered in Tell el-Samara, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Cairo. Chief archaeologist Frederic Gio said his team found silos containing animal bones and food, indicating human habitation as early as 5,000 BCE.

This undated photo released by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, shows one of the oldest villages ever found in the Nile Delta, with remains dating back to before the pharaohs in Tell el-Samara, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of Cairo, Egypt. (Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities via AP)

That would be some 2,500 years before the Giza pyramids were built.

In recent years, Egypt has touted discoveries in the hopes of reviving tourism after the unrest that followed its 2011 popular uprising.

— AP

Arab MKs praise Corbyn as ‘principled leader,’ say he opposes ‘all forms of racism’

The Joint (Arab) List Knesset faction has expressed support for the embattled leader of Britain’s Labour party, who is facing increasing criticism for failing to deal with anti-Semitism in the party.

In a letter to the Guardian published today, the the Arab MKs praise Corbyn for “his long-standing solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people.”

“We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognize him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”

Unlike their Arab colleagues, Jewish MKs have largely criticized Corbyn for allowing anti-Semitism to fester within the party and for refusing to adopt an internationally agreed-upon definition of anti-Semitism in Labour’s new code of conduct.

Afghan teen to appear in court for Amsterdam station attack

A 19-year-old Afghan man who was shot and wounded by Dutch police after allegedly attacking bystanders at Amsterdam’s Central Station will briefly appear in court tomorrow, police say.

The suspect, identified by authorities as “Jawed S.,” “will appear before a judge and until then no further details will be released,” the Amsterdam police say in a statement.

Two American citizens — both believed to be male — were seriously injured when a knife-wielding man attacked bystanders around noon on Friday at the busy station next to the Dutch capital’s historic city centre.

Police quickly reacted and shot the man in the lower body. He and the two injured bystanders were taken to hospital. There was no update on the victims’ condition, which police yesterday described as “satisfactory”.

Amsterdam municipality said yesterday that based on the suspect’s first statements, “he had a terrorist motive.” The statement didn’t elaborate on what he said.

Jawed S. has a German residency permit and German police raided his apartment yesterday.

— Agencies

Zandberg urges Rivlin to cancel visit with Duterte

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg is urging President Reuven Rivlin to cancel his visit with visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte tomorrow over his highly criticized drug crackdown that has killed thousands.

In a letter to the president, Zandberg says hosting Duterte at the President’s Residence will “make Israel a partner in the crimes against humanity being carried out by Duterte in his country.

Zandberg says the Israeli-made Tavor gun is being used by Filipino security forces to kill thousands of drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines.

Duterte is seeking weapons deals outside of the US and Canada, who recently have limited military hardware deals over human rights concerns.

According to the Kan state broadcaster, Duterte is bringing with him a delegation of 400 officials, including top army and police officials, some of whom are expected to visit Israeli army bases.

The Philippines emerged as a significant new customer in 2017 for Israel, with sales of radar and anti-tank equipment worth $21 million.

Amman said to reject US proposal for Jordanian-Palestinian confederation

Amman reportedly rejects the US Middle East peace plan proposed by Trump administration officials that calls for the creation of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

“The establishment of a confederation is not something that we willing discuss,” the government says in a statement according to Channel 10 news.

“The Jordanian position remains the same: a two-state solution to the conflict with the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

US condemns ‘horrifying’ Amsterdam attack on 2 Americans

The US State Department condemend what it calls the “unprovoked, horrifying attack” at Amsterdam’s Central Station on Friday in which two people, both US citizens, were injured.

Dutch authorities have said the attacker, who has been identified as a 19-year-old Afghan man with a German residency permit, had a “terrorist motive.”

The US statement offers full support to Dutch authorities both in their investigation and “in our common fight against terrorism in all forms.”

Both of the wounded Americans are in satisfactory condition, officials said yesterday. The suspect was being held in hospital under police guard.

The midday attack caused panic in the crowded station — used by a quarter-million commuters and tourists daily — as the suspect stabbed the two and then was shot by Dutch police, prompting the evacuation of the building.

— AP

Duterte arrives in Israel for first-ever visit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lands at Ben Gurion Airport for a three-day visit to Israel.

Duterte’s visit to Israel will be the first by a Philippine leader in more than 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

His trip will focus on bolstering bilateral ties, including in trade and defense, as well as the conditions for thousands of Filipino caretakers working in Israel.

Netanyahu changed Israel’s position on UNRWA without consultation — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unilaterally and secretly changed the government’s position on the US funding of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees with hardly any consultation from the security cabinet or defense officials, Channel 10 reports.

Senior Israeli officials tell the TV station that up until a few weeks ago, Israeli government policy was opposed to an intimidate and complete cut in US funding for UNRWA, especially in the Gaza Strip, out of fears that a further deterioration in humanitarian conditions would spark violence. The report says Israel’s official position on UNRWA was supported by the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and COGAT, the defense body that oversees Palestinian civilian affairs.

But several weeks ago, Netanyahu changed UNRWA policy, and expressed support for US support to UNRWA in a message to the Senate Appropriations Committee through Ambassador Ron Dermer.

Senior Israeli officials told Channel 10 that Netanyahu did not consult the security cabinet before changing the policy, and only held cursory discussions with defense officials.

The officials said the change in the Israeli position regarding UNRWA came as a surprise to many. “None of us understood where this came from,” one defense official said.

Pentagon witholding $300M in aid to Pakistan

The Pentagon says it has taken final steps to cancel $300 million in planned aid to Pakistan.

The move earlier this summer reflects the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with Pakistan’s commitment to assisting the US strategy for pressuring the Taliban, whose leaders use Pakistan as a sanctuary.

Pentagon officials say a request was submitted to Congress this summer for authorization to use the $300 million for other purposes. The request has not yet been approved. The move was first reported by Reuters.

A Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Kone Faulkner, said Sunday the request to Congress was made in June or July and was “due to a lack of Pakistani decisive actions in support of” the US strategy for bringing the Afghan conflict to a political solution.

The Pentagon announced in January that it was suspending aid, known as coalition support funds, to Pakistan, and subsequently, Congress cancelled $500 million in such aid. But the Pentagon did not take final steps on the $300 million until this summer.

— AP

Spokesman says US aid cuts will not destroy UNRWA

A spokesman for UNRWA says the end of US support will be “difficult,” but will not cause the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to close its doors.

“It will be difficult, but UNRWA will not abandon its responsibilities,” Adnan Abu Hasna says in an interview with Hadashot news… [the cut in US aid] will not destroy UNRWA.”

Hasna slams the Trump administration for blaming UNRWA for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee issue.

“UNRWA is doing its job in accordance with a UN resolution, if they want to destroy UNRWA, then they should go to the UN and explain it there,” he says. “If they have a majority, there will be no more UNRWA.”

Hasna says the UN agency provides food and education to over a million Palestinian in Gaza, and without it, humanitarian conditions in the Strip would significantly deteriorate.

“If there will be no UNRWA, there will be starvation in Gaza,” he says.

Trump team mum on Palestinian-Jordanian confederation proposal

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt declines to comment on remarks by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who earlier said the Trump administration suggested a regional peace plan that includes a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

‎”Over the past 19 months, we have probed all relevant parties about many ideas and possibilities. The plan, when released, will reflect ideas that we think are realistic, fair and implementable that will enhance the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people,” Greenblatt tells The Times of Israel.

“We will not discuss any specific ideas or private conversations that may or may not have been had with leaders in the region,” he says.

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Abbas says Trump team offered Palestinian-Jordanian confederation

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says the Trump administration’s Middle East team offered him a political plan for a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation.

Abbas says he expressed willingness to agree to a potential confederation only if Israel agreed to join.

He makes the remarks at a meeting with Knesset members and activists from the NGO Peace Now in Ramallah.

He says that when US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner floated the idea of a confederation he expressed support for the proposal.

“I said: ‘Yes, I want a tripartite confederation with Jordan and Israel, and I asked whether the Israelis would agree to such a proposal.'”

Abbas goes on to say that he supports Israel’s security, and wants to solve the Palestinian refugee problem.

He claims that Netanyahu is refusing to sit down and begin peace talks. He says Netanyahu has turned down several meetings initiated by Russia, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium.

“I have a problem with Netanyahu, not Likud,” he says.

Abbas says that he has met with Trump four times, and that the US president told him he supported the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state that will be defended by NATO forces. He adds, however, that he is against the Trump administration’s peace plan.

He also slams the US decision to cut funding to UNRWA, saying the administration was “trying to sabotage” the Palestinian aid agency.