The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Kulanu said to oppose death penalty for terrorists
A senior member of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party reportedly says his party will oppose an amendment to Israel’s penal code that would allow the sentencing of terrorists to death.
The death penalty has been a key demand of presumptive defense minister Avigdor Liberman in talks to bring his Yisrael Beytenu party into the coalition.
“The defense establishment is unanimous in its assessment that it’s a bad idea that contributes neither to the war on terror nor to Israel’s security,” a senior Kulanu official is quoted by the Ynet news site as saying. “It is an inappropriate idea from both the moral and practical standpoints.
“Any attempt at irresponsible behavior in the cabinet and Knesset will come up against the fortified wall of the Kulanu party and its ten members,” the official adds, likely alluding to the fact that even with Beytenu’s five MKs, losing Kulanu would likely spell the end of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government.
Egypt says no theory favored on EgyptAir crash
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says no theory was being favored on why EgyptAir MS804 plunged into the Mediterranean and that Egypt was using a submarine to locate the black boxes.
The Airbus A320 carrying 66 people crashed into the sea while flying from Paris to Cairo early Thursday, and some wreckage but not the black boxes has been found.
Egypt’s aviation minister has said that terrorism was more likely than technical failure, but Sissi says in a televised address that “all the theories are possible.”
“There is no particular theory we can affirm right now,” he says.
Sissi says a submarine that could operate at a depth of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) under sea level was deployed today to search for the black boxes.
“This (submarine) moved today in the direction of the plane crash because we are working hard to retrieve the two boxes, which are the black boxes,” he says.
A civil aviation official tells AFP that search teams have found none of the passengers’ bodies, as the search continues.
Netanyahu demands credit for passing gas deal
During a discussion in the cabinet, Netanyahu demands credit for passing the contentious natural gas deal, according to an audio recording from the meeting.
“I think this is an important, even historic step for the Israeli economy, and especially its citizens,” he says, noting that plaudits for the deal belong first and foremost with Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Turning to Steinitz, he says, “As energy minister you worked vigorously, tirelessly, creatively, and I really appreciate that and think that the citizens of Israel should appreciate your contribution.”
After Steinitz says a few words, during which he fails to reciprocate with praise for Netanyahu, the prime minister says wryly, “Perhaps there was someone else who also contributed to the gas outline?”
“There were many,” Steinitz agrees, apparently slow to understand what Netanyahu is getting at.
“Perhaps there was another one?” The prime minister chuckles.
“I’m talking only about those who did the work in the last few days,” Steinitz maintains. “I’m not mentioning all the offices.”
But there is another person who deserves thanks for the deal, Netanyahu presses, “there is the prime minister.”
Ya’alon takes leave of ‘wonderful’ staff
Moshe Ya’alon says goodbye to his staff at the Defense Ministry as he prepares to hand the position over to Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman.
“It was a great experience working with these wonderful people,” he tweets, along with a picture, “the aides, the officers, the soldiers. Thank you, everyone.”
פרידה מהלשכה. היתה חוייה לעבוד עם האנשים הנפלאים, העוזרים והעוזרות, הקצינים והקצינות, החיילים והחיילות. תודה לכולכם! pic.twitter.com/H7JKScS5PG
— Moshe Bogie Ya'alon (@bogie_yaalon) May 22, 2016
Deputy Education Minister Porush quits Knesset
Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush resigns from the Knesset, although he will continue to serve in his ministerial capacity.
Porush, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, tenders his resignation to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
He will be replaced in the Knesset by party colleague Ya’akov Asher starting Tuesday.
קיבלתי עתה את מכתב התפטרותו של ח״כ פורוש מהכנסת. בעוד 48 שעות ייכנס לתפקידו יעקב אשר. pic.twitter.com/niPU7b4c5C
— Yuli Edelstein (@YuliEdelstein) May 22, 2016
Deputy defense minister banned from army HQ
Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan has been barred from entering the ministry’s offices due to a rarely enforced rule that automatically removes a deputy minister from his position once his superior leaves office, officials say.
Those close to Ben-Dahan, a member of the Jewish Home party, blame the entrance ban to the offices in the army’s Kirya central headquarters in Tel Aviv on a long-running personal conflict with outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Ben-Dahan’s office won’t officially respond to the incident, but a now-former Defense Ministry employee says the decision to remove Ben-Dahan’s access to the Kirya base was made “only out of unkindness and because of [Ya’alon’s] persecution of Ben-Dahan.”
The official provides a litany of examples of how Ya’alon kept Ben-Dahan marginalized during his tenure, including barring him from discussions and refusing to meet with him.
“All manner of dirty things were done to him. And this happened despite the fact that Ben-Dahan never said anything against him, even though he had cause to,” the source adds.
— Judah Ari Gross
Cameron: I’d meet Trump, though his Muslim comments are wrong
British Prime Minister David Cameron says he’d be happy to meet Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican presidential candidate.
But the British leader repeats his claim that Trump’s proposal for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States is “wrong and divisive.”
Cameron says it was “a very dangerous thing to say” because it makes no distinction between the peaceful Muslim majority and a minority of extremists.
Trump said last week that he was “not going to have a very good relationship” with Cameron, who had previously called Trump’s proposal “divisive, stupid and wrong.”
Asked on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday” show if he’d meet Trump, Cameron says: “American presidential candidates have made a habit of coming through Europe and through the U.K., and if that happens I’d be very happy to,” he says.
10-year-old Palestinian arrested for throwing rocks in Jerusalem
A 10-year-old Palestinian boy is detained by police after he allegedly threw rocks at a tram near the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat.
Police summon the boy’s parents to the station and update welfare officials, according to reports.
The rocks cause neither injuries nor damage to the tram.
Zionist Union MKs said to boycott meeting called by Herzog
About a third of the Zionist Union’s Knesset members have reportedly decided to boycott a faction meeting called for later today in Tel Aviv by Isaac Herzog, who has come under fierce criticism from his peers over negotiations to join the coalition.
According to a Channel 2 report, during the meeting Herzog is prepared to attack members of the party whom he has accused of sabotaging the move to join the government.
When the negotiations fell through late last week, he lashed out at “far-left” elements in his own party.
The MKs – among whom Channel 2 lists Shelly Yachimovich, Yossi Yona, Stav Shaffir, Omer Bar-Lev and Mickey Rosenthal – are reportedly planning to offer individual reasons for failing to attend the meeting, including some who are expected to cite a crisis of trust with Herzog and others who said they had prior engagements.
Sissi says Egypt submarine headed to plane crash site
Egypt’s president says a submarine belonging to his country’s Oil Ministry is headed to the site of the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 in the eastern Mediterranean to join the search for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders, commonly known as black boxes.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also says Egypt is jointly investigating the Thursday crash with the French government. “It is very, very important to us to establish the circumstances that led to the crash of that aircraft,” he says in comments broadcast live on Egyptian TV channels.
He says the submarine, which has the capacity to operate at a depth of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) below the surface, left for the site Sunday. He gives no further details.
Military bid farewell to Ya’alon at TA ceremony
The IDF and the Defense Ministry bid farewell to outgoing minister Moshe Ya’alon in a ceremony at the Kirya military headquarter in Tel Aviv.
After a rendition of the national anthem, Hatikva, Ya’alon inspects his troops for the final time as defense minister.
He shakes hands with the officers on the general staff and members of his defense ministry before getting into his car and driving off.
— Judah Ari Gross
Ya’alon praises IDF’s ‘levelheaded’ officers
During the farewell ceremony for Ya’alon, the outgoing defense minister praises the officers on hand.
“Sitting here is a levelheaded and responsible group led by the chief of staff, which wields force in a considered way,” he says.
“Remember, an army needs to win, but we must remain human, even after the battle.”
Cops in TA severely beat Arab grocer who doesn’t show ID — witnesses
Several people allege a case of severe police brutality against an Arab man, in Tel Aviv. Police say the man was resisting arrest and had attacked officers.
“Just now in front of City Hall,” Erez Krispin writes in a Facebook post, “an Arab supermarket worker goes outside to throw out the trash. He’s approached by a man in shorts who says, ‘Show me some ID.’
“‘The ID is inside. Who are you?'” Krispin says the supermarket worker replied.
“Before he even finishes speaking, he’s being beaten senseless,” he continues, “a beating like you’ve never seen, teeth flying through the air. The Arab is crushed.
“When an elderly woman asks they why they’re doing it, they yell at her, ‘Fuck off before we finish you too,” Krispin writes.
At that point, he continues, uniformed police arrived and continued to beat the man.
“I don’t really know if the Arab is alive; they threw what was left of him into the patrol car, not an ambulance, and drove off.”
He notes that there were many witnesses to the incident, as well as security camera and other footage.
Another witness, Saguy Green, writes in a Facebook post that “dozens” of plainclothes and riot police descended on the man, “a worker at the Yuda Supermarket.”
Green’s post, which includes a picture of officers pinning down the man, quotes another employee at the supermarket who says that he was beaten because he didn’t show the police his ID.
“Not that there’s any comfort of hope in that, but many in the crowd sprung to his aid and protested the endless violence against him, and filmed the cops,” she writes.
A spokeswoman for the Israel Police tells The Times of Israel that the man had resisted arrest and attacked officers, and that the investigation was ongoing.
“There is nothing at all to add,” she says, without saying what the man is suspected of. “The circumstances are still under investigation. Refusal to be detained and to submit to a search is illegal.”
— Judah Ari Gross contributed
Judge in Hebron shooter’s trial recused
The head of the military court panel trying Elor Azaria, an IDF soldier accused of killing a disarmed and apparently incapacitated Palestinian attacker in Hebron, recuses one of the judges.
Colonel Maya Heller says her decision to remove Lt. Col. Yogev Yifrah from the panel is due to Yifrah’s prior acquaintance with Col. Yariv Ben-Ezra, commander of the IDF’s Hebron Brigade, who is slated to testify at the trial.
The trial will continue as planned after a replacement is named, reports say.
Liberman’s death penalty bid won’t apply to Jews — report
A Likud source tells Haaretz that the coalition deal with Yisrael Beytenu will not see Avigdor Liberman’s demand for a death penalty for terrorist murderers applied to civilian courts in Israel, but only to military courts in the West Bank.
That decision, the source is quoted as saying, will all but ensure that Jews will not be sentenced to death, even when they kill Palestinians in acts of terrorism.
“Naturally, the military courts are those that judge Palestinians convicted of terrorism offenses, while Jews are generally tried in civilian courts,” the source tells Haaretz.
Pakistan blasts US for killing Afghan Taliban chief
Pakistan denounces the US drone strike believed to have killed the Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
In a statement issued to the media, Pakistan’s foreign office says the drone strike was a violation of its sovereignty, adding that information about the drone strike was shared with the prime minister and the army chief after the strike.
“It may be recalled that the fifth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) held on 18th May had reiterated that a politically negotiated settlement was the only viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan and called upon the Taliban to give up violence and join peace talks,” the statement says.
Hamas planning public executions in Gaza Strip
Authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip are planning to carry out a series of public executions, the attorney general in the Palestinian enclave says.
Islamist movement Hamas has carried out previous executions in Gaza, although rarely in public and mainly of people accused of collaborating with Israel. Sunday’s announcement involved those convicted of criminal offences.
“Capital punishments will be implemented soon in Gaza,” attorney general Ismail Jaber tells journalists. “I ask that they take place before a large crowd.”
Thirteen men, most convicted of murder connected to robberies, are currently awaiting execution, Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said on Friday at the mainly weekly Muslim prayers.
“The victims’ families have the right to demand that the punishments be implemented,” he said.
Lawmaker accuses government for Tel Aviv ‘lynching’
MK Dov Khenin of the Joint (Arab) List condemns the police beating of an Arab man in Tel Aviv, which he terms a “lynching,” and calls on the government to investigate it.
“I have conveyed an urgent message to the public security minister demanding answers for what appears, on the face of it, to have been a lynching in broad daylight,” Khenin says in a statement, “an assault on an innocent citizen by police solely because he is an Arab.”
He accuses politicians of emitting a “foul wind of racism” that stokes “an intolerable reality of violence.”
Khenin singles out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for criticism over allegedly racist comments during the 2015 elections, and adds, “when the government incites, there are those who are incited.”
Zionist Union MKs pile on Herzog at faction meet
Zionist Union lawmakers are bombarding Isaac Herzog with censure at a faction meeting over the bumbling of coalition talks with Likud.
Herzog’s co-leader, MK Tzipi Livni, is reported to have said: “I expected a lot more from the partnership between us, and I have immense criticism over the manner in which you conducted the negotiations.”
MK Merav Michaeli, meanwhile, accuses Herzog of “wrongfully taking advantage of the trust the faction put in you.”
MK Itzik Shmuli says “there is a sense of betrayal, that you don’t trust us and don’t include us in such a significant process.”
Other lawmakers for the faction, which combines Herzog’s Labor Party with Livni’s Hatnua, chose to boycott the meeting.
Netanyahu said to offer Begin cabinet position
Netanyahu, in the wake of Ya’alon’s resignation, offers Benny Begin a ministership along with membership in the security cabinet, his inner circle of ministers, according to a Channel 2 report.
Begin, who is considered one of the last remaining moderates among the ranks of senior Likud members, is likely to refuse, the report says.
Breaking the Silence refuses to name sources
An Israeli NGO that tracks alleged army abuses of Palestinians tells a court that it would no longer be able to function if the government forced it to name its anonymous informants.
“To demand lifting the confidentiality of testimonies would amount to simply demanding the end of Breaking The Silence,” the group’s lawyer Michael Sfard tells the magistrate’s court on the first day of hearings on the state’s demand that it hand over the names.
Proceedings are set to continue on July 18.
The NGO provides a platform for military veterans to describe what they say were disturbing aspects of their service in the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip and in operations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The state attorney’s office says that anonymous witnesses allow potential lies to spread and make it impossible to investigate alleged abuses.
“What is at stake is more than the future of Breaking The Silence,” Sfard said in the packed courtroom in Petah Tikvah near Tel Aviv.
“Today it is Breaking The Silence that finds itself in court, tomorrow it will be bloggers, tomorrow it will be other members of the press and of course NGOs which defend human rights.”
Netanyahu to critics of Israeli society: Stop ‘moaning’
Netanyahu takes a dig at those who accuse Israel’s leadership and people of moral failures.
“In politics people say all sorts of things, but I, on the other hand, keeps my words to a minimum,” he says during a press conference with visiting Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. “I don’t concern myself with words but with actions… I hear these voices in the media, the self-flagellating voices, the fearmongering. I suggest they quit their crying and moaning.”
The statement appears to be leveled at media figures who in recent days raised an outcry over the manner in which Ya’alon was dispensed with in the Defense Ministry. However, it also likely alludes to the outgoing defense minister himself, who in the weeks prior to his resignation was highly critical of Netanyahu and of the alleged moral atrophying of Israeli society.
Clinton: Sanders has every right to finish campaign
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton says persistent rival Bernie Sanders “has every right to finish off his campaign however he chooses.” But she says she wants to focus on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump because his is not “a normal candidacy.”
Clinton notes in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she’s won 3 million more votes than Sanders in the Democratic primaries. She says it’s time to talk about Trump because his candidacy poses “immediate dangers” to the country.
Clinton criticizes Trump for being open to pulling the US out of NATO and allowing some other countries to have nuclear weapons.
She says she’s willing to talk with Sanders and “take into account” what the Vermont senator is asking for at the party’s national convention this summer.
Israel returns rare stolen relics to Egypt
The Foreign Ministry hands over to Egypt two ancient Pharaonic sarcophagi, giving symbolic expression to the warming of ties between the two nations in recent years.
The two rare ancient Egyptian sarcophagus lids were plundered from Egypt following the 2011 revolution, smuggled into Israel and held by Israeli authorities for four years.
The artifacts were found by Israel Antiquities Authority theft prevention agents in a dealer’s store in Jerusalem’s Old City in March 2012, but despite multiple requests by the Egyptian government they remained in climate-controlled storage in Jerusalem since their retrieval.
According to a Foreign Ministry press release, the ministry’s director, Dore Gold, “expressed the hope that the handing over of these ancient items can be a precursor to further bilateral cooperation in the field of historical heritage, as well as in other fields of mutual interest, to the benefit of both countries.”
Egyptian Ambassador Hazem Khairat “stated that Egypt appreciates the efforts made by the Israeli authorities to return these smuggled antiquities to their country of origin, Egypt, and is looking forward to the return of the rest of smuggled antiquities found in Israel,” the press release says.
The wooden sarcophagi are coated with plaster and decorated with hieroglyphics and brilliant illustrations.
Carbon-14 dating determined that one sarcophagus is 3,600 to 3,400 years old, from the Late Bronze Age 18th Dynasty, and the second is around 3,000 years old, the Iron Age.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement following their confiscation that the sarcophagi were cut in half in order to fit them into suitcases, causing “irreparable damage.”
— Ilan Ben Zion contributed
UK Jews call on Labour to suspend lawmaker
British Jewish groups and British lawmakers have called on the Labour Party to suspend a Member of Parliament who compared Israel to the Nazis.
The Labour Party said last week that Afzal Khan had been “reminded of his responsibilities as a Labour representative,” but that he would face no disciplinary action, the Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday.
Kahn tweeted in August 2014, during the war with Hamas in Gaza: “The Israeli government are acting like Nazi’s in Gaza.”
Jewish-backed Buenos Aires rugby club wins title
An Argentinian rugby team with a Jewish history and many Jewish fans wins for the second straight year the national league championship.
The Buenos Aires-based Hindu Club team won the Argentinean national title Saturday after defeating Belgrano Athletic Club, 38-23.
Identified as the Jewish rugby team among the national clubs, Hindu fans display Israeli flags during some matches. Hindu supporters have sung joyfully at several recent games: “We don’t have friends, we are black and Jews.” By “black,” the chant refers not to people of African descent but as a slang term for people who are low class or have darker skin than average, in contrast to the stereotype of blond, aristocratic rugby players.
During the 1960s, many Jewish families started to sign up for membership in Hindu. Many Jewish families own homes in and live in the residential sector of Hindu´s country club.
Despite having Jewish members and fans, Hindu is not a Jewish institution.