The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Three Sunni Muslim men are sentenced to prison terms of 16 and 22 years on convictions including engaging in a terror act by burning down a Shiite mosque in the Australian city of Melbourne three years ago.
A Victoria state Supreme Court jury convicts Abdullah Chaarani, 28, Ahmed Mohamed, 26, and Hatim Moukhaiber, 31, in May over the firebombing of the Imam Ali Islamic Center in December 2016. No one was injured.
Mohamed and Moukhaiber had both denied any involvement. Chaarani admitted his role, but argued he had been part of an act of protest, advocacy or dissent, but not terrorism. They each faced a potential sentence of life in prison.
Chaarani and Mohamed were also found guilty of attempting to commit a terror act over a failed attempt to burn the mosque down two weeks earlier.
The words “Islamic State” were also spray painted on the exterior of the building.
Mohamed and Chaarani had previously been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on central Melbourne locations including the Federation Square restaurant and nightclub precinct, St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral and Flinders Street train station on Christmas Day in 2016.
They were among five men found guilty in November last year after the plot was foiled by police who listened to their plans and watched their reconnaissance at Federation Square. The five have yet to be sentenced on those convictions.
The Shin Bet security service reveals that it has busted an Iranian intelligence network operating in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Shin Bet says the network was exposed in a joint operation with the police and the Israel Defense Forces several months ago.
The network was operated from Syria by an operative called “Abu Jihad,” who worked to recruit Israeli intelligence assets through Facebook and other social media sites.
Abu Jihad was tasked with gathering the locations of IDF bases, police stations, hospitals and other possible targets for a future Iranian attack.
According to the Shin Bet, Abu Jihad managed to recruit at least one person to carry out an attack against an Israeli target. The security agency says the vast majority of the attempts to reach out on Facebook were largely ignored by Israelis because the fake profiles set up by Abu Jihad and his associates appeared suspicious looking.
President Hassan Rouhani suggests that Iran might release a UK-flagged ship if Britain takes similar steps to release an Iranian oil tanker seized off Gibraltar earlier this month.
Speaking during a regular Cabinet meeting, Rouhani says if Britain reverses its “wrong actions, including what they did in Gibraltar,” then “they will receive a proper response from Iran.”
Rouhani adds that while Iran does not seek a military conflict, it will not allow threats to its security in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. He described as “professional and brave” Friday’s seizure by Iranian paramilitary forces of the UK-flagged ship in the strait.
Both sides have called the interception of one another’s ships “hostile acts” and “piracy.”
Turkey’s foreign minister says a new US proposal concerning the creation of a possible “safe zone” in northern Syria is not “satisfactory” and suggests Turkey will launch a new offensive in Syria if an agreement is not reached soon.
Mevlut Cavusoglu makes the comments after US and Turkish delegations discussed a possible safe zone earlier today.
He says Turkey and the United States do not agree on the size of the possible zone or how it would be administered.
Turkey views Kurdish fighters who have fought alongside the United States against the Islamic State group as terrorists and wants the safe zone established to keep the fighters away from the border. It has recently been sending troop reinforcements to its border region.
The owner of the UK-flagged ship held by Iran says it has made first contact with the crew of 23 since its seizure five days ago in the Strait of Hormuz.
Stena Bulk says in a statement it had direct communication with the crew of the Stena Impero olast night. The ship’s master said “that everyone was safe with good cooperation with the Iranian personnel onboard.”
The crew are mostly Indian, but also include Filipino, Russian and Latvian nationals. Iranian state TV aired video of the crew onboard the vessel off Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas earlier this week.
Stena Bulk’s CEO Erik Hanell says the company appreciates this as “a first sign that we will soon see more positive progress from the Iranian authorities.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan welcomes a US congressional resolution opposing the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel, while Palestinians say the decision is a blow to human rights and free speech.
The House of Representatives passed the resolution yesterday by a 398-17 margin.
The BDS movement promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israeli institutions and businesses in what it says is a nonviolent campaign against Israeli abuses against Palestinians. Israel says the campaign masks a deeper goal of delegitimizing and even destroying the Jewish state.
Erdan, who leads Israel’s efforts against BDS, calls the resolution an “important achievement” and a powerful show of bipartisan support for Israel.
The BDS movement says the resolution is “based on lies and aims to demonize powerful resistance to Israel’s military occupation and apartheid.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler says his committee has “a responsibility to address” the evidence that former special counsel Robert Mueller has uncovered in his Trump-Russia investigation.
Opening a three-hour hearing with Mueller, Nadler says there are themes to the hearing: “responsibility, integrity, and accountability.”
Nadler lays out the examples from Mueller’s report that committee members intend to focus on while questioning the reluctant former special counsel.
Mueller wrote in the document that he could not exonerate US President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice.
He noted Trump’s directions to then-White House counsel Donald McGahn to have Mueller removed and, once that was made public, orders from Trump to McGahn to deny it happened.
Nadler says “not even the president is above the law.”
US regulators formalize a record $5 billion fine on Facebook for privacy violations in a settlement requiring the world’s biggest social network to “submit to new restrictions and a modified corporate structure.”
The Federal Trade Commission says the penalty is the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.
“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons says in a statement after the split decision by the agency, with two members saying the penalty was insufficient.
Former special prosecutor Robert Mueller tells US lawmakers that his report on Russia election interference does not exonerate Donald Trump, as the president has repeatedly asserted.
“The finding indicates that the president was not exculpated from the acts that he allegedly committed,” Mueller says in the opening minutes of a closely watched hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
Answering questions by panel chairman Jerry Nadler, the former FBI director says that “no,” the 448-page report did not exonerate Trump.
Mueller says the president engaged in multiple acts that had the potential to exert undue influence over investigations into Russian election interference.
The Tel Aviv Labor Court orders nurses to end their labor strike and enter negotiations with the Health Ministry on reducing their workload, ending a two-day standoff.
Nurses went on strike across Israel yesterday after negotiations between the National Nurses Union and the Health Ministry broke down a day earlier. The nurses are protesting what they say are poor working conditions, heavy caseloads amid a manpower shortage, and low standards of care.
The court decision allows the nurses to continue with smaller protests, such as refusing to perform non-essential tests or computerize information, according to reports. But the decision also reportedly allows the ministry to reduce their salaries in retaliation.
The court decision is welcomed by the Health Ministry, which says it will immediately resume talks with the National Nurses Union.
Theresa May leaves 10 Downing St. for the final time as prime minister and is heading for Buckingham Palace to resign.
In a formal handover of power, May will ask Queen Elizabeth II to invite her successor Boris Johnson to form a government. Johnson will then visit the palace, and leave as Britain’s new prime minister.
May is stepping down after failing to secure lawmakers’ support for a Brexit deal and lead Britain out of the European Union.
"I hope every young girl who has seen a woman prime minister now knows for sure there are no limits to what they can achieve"
Theresa May thanks the public and her husband Philip as she leaves Downing Street for final time
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 24, 2019
In a final speech outside 10 Downing St. with husband Philip by her side, May says it had been “the greatest honor” to serve as Britain’s prime minister.
And she says: “I hope that every young girl who has seen a woman prime minister now knows for sure there are no limits to what they can achieve.”
Outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May formally tenders her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II as her successor Boris Johnson prepares to take over.
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 24, 2019
May arrives at the palace after earlier urging Johnson to deliver Brexit “in a way that works for the whole United Kingdom” — an allusion to the deep divisions that the issue has caused in the country.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is disputing President Donald Trump’s claim that Mueller was rebuffed in a bid to fill the post of FBI director.
Facing questions from congressional lawmakers, Mueller said he spoke with Trump about the FBI job before he was named as special counsel, but “not as a candidate.”
Then-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has said that while the White House invited Mueller to speak to the president about the FBI and thought about asking him to become director again, Mueller did not come in looking for a job.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that there are “numerous witnesses,” including Vice President Mike Pence, who could say that Mueller applied and interviewed for the job and was “turned down” for it.
Pence spokesperson Alyssa Farah told the Associated Press that the vice president “was present in the Oval Office when Robert Mueller interviewed for the job of FBI Director in May of 2017.”
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards denies losing a drone and challenges the United States to prove President Donald Trump’s claims they could find it at the bottom of the sea.
“I officially declare that none of Islamic Iran’s drones have been downed,” Major-General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying on the Guards’ official website.
“If our enemies have any claims on downing Iranian drones, they should show their proof,” he adds.
Yesterday, the commander of American forces in the region said a US warship may have brought down two Iranian drones during a stand-off in the strategic Gulf last week.
Iran, which last month shot down a US Global Hawk drone that it said had ventured into its airspace, has repeatedly denied it lost any of its own unmanned aerial vehicles.
In reaction to the Iranian denials, Trump yesterday insisted that a drone had been downed.
“You can see it laying right down on the bottom of that beautiful bed of water,” the US president said in remarks posted on the White House website.
Iran’s defense minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami responded to Trump this morning by saying the Islamic republic had put on display the wreckage of the US drone it shot down.
“If anyone claims that they have downed one of our drones they must show its (wreckage),” Hatami says according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Sri Lanka’s Easter attacks that killed 258 people were carried out by local Islamists who drew inspiration from but were not linked to the Islamic State group, according to a top investigator.
Ravi Seneviratne, the head of the Criminal Investigations Department, says the suicide bombers who targeted three churches and three hotels had no direct link to the foreign jihadi group.
“They followed the IS ideology, but our investigations have not shown any link between them,” Seneviratne tells a parliamentary panel probing security and intelligence lapses leading to the April 21 bombings.
He notes that remnants in the local group identified as National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) had persuaded IS to claim the attack two days after the deadly events in Sri Lanka.
NTJ leader Zahran Hashim had made a video with his fellow suicide bombers pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Bagdadi. The video was released by the IS two days later.
Boris Johnson arrived at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday to formally take up his duties as Britain’s new prime minister after Theresa May tendered her resignation, AFP reporters saw.
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 24, 2019
Johnson, who is the 14th British prime minister to serve under Queen Elizabeth II, was briefly delayed after climate protesters formed a human chain in front of his motorcade.
Police in Somalia say a suicide bomber has walked into the office of Mogadishu’s mayor during a security meeting and detonated explosives strapped to his waist.
There is no immediate information about other casualties in the blast in the capital. Police Col. Mohamed Abdi confirms the attack to The Associated Press.
It is not clear how the bomber managed to enter the mayor’s office or what officials were attending the security meeting.
The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group often targets government offices and other high-profile targets in Mogadishu with bombings.
The Somalia-based group was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of Africa nation’s south and central regions and is a frequent target of US airstrikes.
Boris Johnson is officially Britain’s prime minister.
Johnson left Buckingham Palace after being appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. The palace confirmed that Johnson had been appointed “as Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury,” another of the British leader’s titles.
He visited the palace to meet with the monarch earlier today after predecessor Theresa May resigned, failing to secure parliamentary approval for her deal to leave the European Union.
Johnson is going to 10 Downing St. to start work on forming his new administration.
The chief-of-staff of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Britain had sent a mediator to Iran over the seizure of a British-flagged tanker by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces last week.
Mohammad Mohammadi Golpaygani didn’t elaborate on who the mediator was but hailed the Guard’s seizure as humbling for Britain, which was now “forced to send mediators to beg Iran to release the vessel.”
His remarks were reported by the semi-official Tasnim news agency earlier this afternoon. The UK didn’t immediately comment on the claim.
There has been speculation that Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who visited Iran on Monday, may have acted as an intermediary in the tanker crisis.
Iranian officials say the seizure of the British-flagged Stena Impero was a response to Britain’s role in impounding an Iranian supertanker two weeks earlier off the coast of Gibraltar. That vessel was suspected of breaching EU sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
Newly installed British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promises to deliver Brexit on October 31 “no ifs, no buts” and prove wrong “the doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters.”
Speaking outside his Downing Street office after being formally appointed, Johnson — one of the key figures behind the 2016 Brexit referendum — promises to do a “new deal” with Brussels.
"The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and change the country for the better"
UK PM Boris Johnson says the UK "will come out of the EU on Oct 31st no ifs, no buts" #Brexit
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) July 24, 2019
He adds that while there will be difficulties leaving the European Union, much of the nation’s confidence has been sapped by the refusal to take action.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is affirming that a president can be charged with crimes after leaving office.
He says Justice Department guidelines prevented him from considering charges against President Donald Trump while he is in office.
Because of the longtime Justice Department guidance that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mueller says “one of the tools a prosecutor would use is not there.”
Mueller has said his investigators could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. His report said they did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mueller is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee about his Russia investigation.
Dozens of Filipino schoolchildren and their mothers are protesting outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem against the arrest of three Filipino workers and four children during immigration raids this week in central Israel, as authorities appeared to accelerate their efforts to deport approximately 50 children of foreign workers over the course of the summer.
The children, born in Israel, are shouting, “I’m an Israeli child, don’t deport me,” “All my life I’ve lived in Israel,” “ Bibi please, we don’t have anywhere else, let us stay please.”
The protesters are also chanting slogans in support of Michael, Katrin and Kian, the three children that were arrested earlier this week and are awaiting deportation
On Sunday, immigration enforcement agents arrested a mother and son in their home in Yehud, central Israel. On Tuesday, agents broke into the Ramat Gan home of Geraldine Esta and arrested her and her two children, along with an unidentified second woman and infant.
— Sue Surkes
The Swedish company that owns the UK-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran said Wednesday it had finally been able to contact its crew being held on board and they declared themselves “safe.”
Stena Bulk says in a statement that the ship’s captain “advised that everyone was safe with good cooperation with the Iranian personnel onboard.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized control of the Stena Impero tanker last Friday as it was navigating through an international passage in the middle of the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow chokepoint at the entrance of the Gulf.
The ship has since been held off shore near Iran’s southern port of Bandar Abbas.
Iranian officials have given varying reasons for its seizure and continued detention.
Jordan’s king is standing by a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of a meeting in Amman with White House’s Mideast adviser Jared Kushner.
King Abdullah II earlier met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and restated his position that the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital is the only way to end the conflict.
Kushner will be returning to the Middle East this week to promote the Trump administration’s economic peace plan for the Palestinians. He outlined the plan’s ambitious investment and development goals at a conference in Bahrain last month.
The US under President Donald Trump has refused to endorse a two-state solution as part of Trump’s undisclosed “Deal of the Century” and has slashed aid and support for the Palestinians.
Robert Mueller is pushing back against Republican attacks with a forceful defense of his report on the Trump-Russia investigation.
Mueller testified earlier in Congress that he doesn’t think the lawmakers have reviewed “a report that is as thorough, as fair, as consistent as the report that we have in front of us.”
The former special counsel is making his first major public appearance on the findings of his office’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump’s response to the investigation.
The report says investigators could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice. It also said they did not find sufficient evidence to establish charges of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Mueller has been a reluctant witness before the House Judiciary Committee, delivering single-word answers to many questions. But in response to Republican Rep. Tom McClintock of California, he gave a full-sentence defense of his 448-page report.
Bombardment by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally kills 18 civilians including five children in northwest Syria Wednesday, a monitor says, in the latest violence to hit the opposition bastion.
Among these, 10 civilians including three children, all from the same family, were killed in Russian air strikes near the town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
New Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to be clearing out top ministers, firing several members of former leader Theresa May’s cabinet.
So far, May’s secretaries in defense, business, education, transport, local government and international trade have all announced they are leaving government. That comes hours after Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, resigned.
Some of those leaving had said they would rather go than serve under Johnson, who wants to leave the European Union even if no Brexit agreement is in place to ease the transition. Johnson insists the country will leave the EU by Oct. 31 — “do or die.”
However many British lawmakers, including some in Johnson’s Conservative party, worry that the shock of severing decades of frictionless trade would devastate the country’s economy.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak is calling for unity among center-left parties ahead of the September elections, saying that unseating current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the greatest priority.
“The question is not which of us will head the list, but whether Netanyahu will continue to head this country,” he posts on Twitter.
“We don’t have time to waste on ego games and electoral fantasies, we must unite, the entire democratic camp must join hands,” Barak says.
The post comes as Labor Party leader Amir Peretz faces criticism for saying he would not join forces with either Meretz or Barak before the fall vote, stoking some anger within the party.
All three other parties in the center-left camp — Meretz, Blue and White and Barak’s Israel Democratic Party — have indicated their willingness to forge alliances with Labor for the election.
Iran’s ambassador says Tehran will reconsider imports from Brazil if it continues to refuse to refuel two Iranian vessels stranded there.
Seyed Ali Saqqayian is quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency as saying that Iran could easily find new suppliers of corn, soybeans and meat.
He says he “told the Brazilians that they should solve the issue.”
Iran’s Foreign Ministry hasn’t commented on the issue of the two Iranian vessels, one reportedly loaded with corn, stranded at a Brazilian port due to lack of fuel. Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras says the ships, Bavand and Termeh, are on a list of US sanctions.
Iran is one of the largest grain importers from Brazil and the complication with the ships raises Brazilian concerns about the broader impact on trade with the Islamic Republic.
The White House describes Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress on the Russia probe as an “embarrassment” to Donald Trump’s Democratic rivals.
“The last three hours have been an epic embarrassment for the Democrats,” says a statement from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, issued midway through the marathon day of hearings by the former special counsel.
“Expect more of the same in the second half,” she adds.
Grilled by lawmakers on his two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Mueller said he did not exonerate Trump, but once more refused to tell lawmakers if the president committed a crime.
Right-wing media personalities Yinon Magal and Shimon Riklin are in talks to join the New Right Party, according to a Channel 13 report.
The two are hosts of a political TV show called “Riklin and Magal” on Channel 20. Magal is a former Jewish Home MK who resigned from the Knesset over claims of sexual assault when he headed the Walla news website.
If they join, Magal and Riklin are expected to be at the top of the list after Justice Minister Ayalet Shaked and Naftali Bennett.
Magal and Riklin have declined to comment on the Channel 13 report.
Jeremy Hunt says he’s leaving the job of foreign secretary as new Prime Minister Boris Johnson sweeps into office with a fresh team at the top.
Hunt’s position had been closely watched. He had challenged Johnson for the job of Conservative leader, and says he wanted to stay on as foreign secretary. But Hunt says Johnson offered another role.
Hunt tweeted that “after 9 yrs in Cabinet & over 300 cab mtgs now is the time to return 2 backbenches from where PM will have my full support.”
Former prime minister Theresa May’s secretaries in defense, business, education, transport, local government and international trade have all announced they are leaving the government. Treasury chief Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke, International Development Secretary Rory Stewart and May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, resigned.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert cancelled a trip to Switzerland this week out of fears he would be arrested for his suspected involvement in war crimes in the 2008 Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, Channel 12 report.
Swiss authorities notified the justice and foreign ministries over the weekend that Olmert could be arrested and taken for questioning upon his arrival in Zurich.
Olmert initially did not want to cancel his trip scheduled for Monday, and told Israeli officials he would confront the investigation into the 2008 conflict.
“I led a war against terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. After the war, six heads of state and foreign ministers came to Israel to voice their support,” he reportedly told officials.
However, the report says the justice and foreign ministries eventually convinced Olmert that a public war crimes arrest would be hugely embarrassing for Israel and create a potential diplomatic situation.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas congratulates Boris Johnson on becoming the United Kingdom’s prime minister, the PA’s official news site Wafa reports.
Abbas extends his congratulations to Johnson in a telegram, Wafa says.
“We wish you success in forming the next government and [accomplishing] everything that your friendly people want with regard to progress and prosperity,” Abbas tells Johnson.
Johnson officially became the UK’s new prime minister on Wednesday after a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace said in a statement.
Johnson, the former mayor of London and foreign secretary, won a vote on Tuesday to become the head of the Conservative Party, which paved the way for him to become the British prime minister.
— Adam Rasgon
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson names former interior minister Sajid Javid to take over from Philip Hammond as finance minister in his first cabinet appointment, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.
Javid, a former banker from a modest background, was a contender for the premiership but endorsed Johnson when he failed to get enough support from fellow Conservative MPs.
A suspected shoplifter is seriously injured after jumping from a second-story balcony during a pursuit with security guards at Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall, according to Hebrew media reports.
Police say the woman jumped while running away from security guards who were called to a store where employees believed she was stealing merchandise.
The woman was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem, and police have opened an investigation into the incident.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller is condemning President Donald Trump’s praise for WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Testifying before the US House Intelligence Committee, Mueller says calling it “problematic is an understatement.”
During that campaign, WikiLeaks released troves of hacked emails from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
US intelligence agencies and Mueller’s investigation determined Russian government entities were responsible for the hack and furnished the embarrassing correspondence to WikiLeaks in order to support Trump’s bid for the presidency.
Newly installed Prime Minister Boris Johnson names Brexit hardliner Dominic Raab to be Britain’s foreign secretary, the government said in a statement.
Raab, 45, who was also named as Johnson’s effective deputy, resigned as Brexit minister in Theresa May’s government last year saying the divorce deal she struck with Brussels offered too many compromises.