search
Live updates (closed)

Broadcaster shakeup forces Israel Radio off air after 81 years

Trump hosts Russian FM amid row over Kremlin influence; Netanyahu speaks with Putin ahead of Abbas visit to Russia

  • US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) speaks while posing for photos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington,  (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
    US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) speaks while posing for photos with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
  • Israeli broadcast authority employees outside the IBA headquarters in Jerusalem, on May 10, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Israeli broadcast authority employees outside the IBA headquarters in Jerusalem, on May 10, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • A crowd gathers to witness thousands of books, considered to be "un-German," burn in Opera Square in Berlin, Germany, during the Buecherverbrennung book burnings on May 10, 1933. (AP Photo)
    A crowd gathers to witness thousands of books, considered to be "un-German," burn in Opera Square in Berlin, Germany, during the Buecherverbrennung book burnings on May 10, 1933. (AP Photo)
  • A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, looks on in the town of Tabqa, about 55 kilometres (35 miles) west of Raqa city, on April 30, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)
    A member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Arab and Kurdish fighters, looks on in the town of Tabqa, about 55 kilometres (35 miles) west of Raqa city, on April 30, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the summer plenary session in the Israeli parliament. May 08, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the summer plenary session in the Israeli parliament. May 08, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

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

Netanyahu slams sudden closing of Channel 1 news

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slams the way Israel’s Channel 1 nightly news was abruptly taken off the air yesterday, with only two hours’ notice, calling the way it was handled “disrespectful and dishonorable.”

“The prime minister heard about it from the media. He did not support the move and It was not done with his knowledge. He is also not authorized to make such a decision,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office says, disavowing responsibility for the move.

It was announced just before the main “Mabat” news bulletin that Channel 1 would be shut down today, as part of the changeover to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority TV station with a new publicly funded entity, known as “Kan.”

Many blame Netanyahu for the fiasco surrounding the whole issue of the public broadcaster, which has roiled Israeli politics for months.

Haim Yavin, the retired anchor who in 1977 announced on “Mabat” the political revolution that brought Menachem Begin’s Likud party to power in Israel for the first time, said in the final minutes of the Tuesday broadcast that the scrapping of the IBA was “idiocy” and the consequence of “the whim of one man, who happens to be the prime minister.”

Employees of the Channel 1's Mabat news broadcast sing Hatikvah during their final news broadcast on May 9, 2017 (Screencapture/Facebook/Channel 1)
Employees of the Channel 1’s Mabat news broadcast sing Hatikvah during their final news broadcast on May 9, 2017 (Screencapture/Facebook/Channel 1)

However, Netanyahu’s office said he was a champion of the journalists, many of whom wept openly in the last newscast.

“The prime minister was the one who fought so that the news company of the channel would continue broadcasting with as many workers as possible absorbed into the news body,” the statement says.

AP releases in-depth review after allegations of collusion with Nazi Germany

The Associated Press has conducted an in-depth review of its operations in Nazi Germany, concluding that the news agency acted as “forthrightly and independently as possible.” But the review also found AP handled some situations inadequately.

The review was undertaken after an article published last year contended that the AP allowed Nazi propagandists to exert some influence over its news photo report in the 1930s by maintaining a photo subsidiary in Germany, registered under a restrictive Nazi press law.

The author, historian Harriet Scharnberg, also identified AP German photographers who were drafted into or joined Nazi military propaganda units during World War II, some while still being paid by AP.

Adolf Hitler, left, shakes hands with 12-year-old Alfred Czech, a Hitler Youth soldier, after the young veteran of battles in Pomerania and Upper and Lower Silesia was awarded the Iron Cross at Hitler's headquarters in Germany on March 19, 1945, according to the German caption that accompanied the photo, taken by a Nazi photographer. The image is the last photo AP has of Hitler before his suicide a few weeks later. The photo was distributed by Buro Laux, a German Foreign Ministry conduit for photos, and transmitted to The Associated Press via the photo agency Pressens Bild in neutral Sweden. (Buro Laux/Pressens Bild via AP)
Adolf Hitler, left, shakes hands with 12-year-old Alfred Czech, a Hitler Youth soldier, after the young veteran of battles in Pomerania and Upper and Lower Silesia was awarded the Iron Cross at Hitler’s headquarters in Germany on March 19, 1945, according to the German caption that accompanied the photo, taken by a Nazi photographer. The image is the last photo AP has of Hitler before his suicide a few weeks later. The photo was distributed by Buro Laux, a German Foreign Ministry conduit for photos, and transmitted to The Associated Press via the photo agency Pressens Bild in neutral Sweden. (Buro Laux/Pressens Bild via AP)

AP’s review disputes Scharnberg’s conclusion that the news agency was in any way complicit with the Nazi regime during the years 1933-41, when the agency was present in the country. The AP was kicked out of Germany when the United States entered World War II in December 1941.

“We recognize that AP should have done some things differently during this period, for example protesting when AP photos were exploited by the Nazis for propaganda within Germany and refusing to employ German photographers with active political affiliations and loyalties,” the report says.

“However, suggestions that AP at any point sought to help the Nazis or their heinous cause are simply wrong,” it adds.

AP

Trump takes to Twitter to defend Comey firing

US President Donald Trump starts his morning with three tweets defending his sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying he will be replaced by someone who will “do a far better job.”

Kremlin denies involvement in Comey firing

The Kremlin describes the firing of the FBI director James Comey by US President Donald Trump as an internal matter that had nothing to do with Russia.

“This is absolutely a domestic matter for the United States, a sovereign decision by the US president which has absolutely nothing to do with Russia and cannot have anything to do with it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tells journalists.

AFP

Brush fire causes evacuation of homes in West Bank outpost

Residents of the northern West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen are being evacuated from their homes due to a brush fire raging in the area.

Police and fire teams are at the site and there is black smoke covering the area, the Regavim NGO says.

A brush fire encroaches on the West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen on May 10, 2017 (Regavim/Courtesy)
A brush fire encroaches on the West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen on May 10, 2017 (Regavim/Courtesy)

There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage to homes in the community, which is near the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Turkish PM objects to US arming of Syrian Kurds

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has spoken out against a US decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters, saying it cannot use one terrorist group to try and defeat another.

Washington regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters as key partners in the fight against Islamic State militants, but Turkey considers the group a threat to its security because of its links to outlawed Kurdish rebels.

Speaking to reporters before departing for London on Wednesday, Yildirim says Turkey cannot accept “direct or indirect” support for the Kurdish rebels, known as the PKK.

US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey on April 28, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)
US forces, accompanied by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters, drive their armored vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey on April 28, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)

Yildirim said “there is still an opportunity for the United States to take Turkey’s sensitivities into consideration. Otherwise, the outcome won’t only affect Turkey, a negative outcome will also emerge for the United States.”

The US announced Tuesday that it would arm Syrian Kurdish fighters as a necessary step to recapture the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

AP

Netanyahu and Putin speak ahead of Abbas visit to Russia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian leader Vladimir Putin have spoken by telephone, the Kremlin says.

The conversation happened a day before Putin is set to host Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Sochi.

“Topical issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as the situation in the Middle East peace process and the issues of the Syrian crisis, were discussed,” Russian news site Sputnik, quotes the Kremlin’s press service as saying.

Netanyahu also congratulated Putin on the 72nd anniversary of the Allies victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, celebrated on May 9.

Bahrain bars rights activist from FIFA meeting over settlement soccer

A Human Rights Watch staffer says he was barred from entering Bahrain for the annual FIFA congress in the Gulf state, which restricts access to foreign activists and journalists.

HRW director for Israel and Palestine, Omar Shakir, said he spent 18 hours in the airport before being obliged to change his return ticket and board an outbound flight.

Shakir says he traveled to Bahrain to lobby participants at this week’s FIFA congress to ban Israel from holding league football games in West Bank settlements.

Bahrain grants visas at the airport to nationals of many Western countries, but journalists and rights activists have been denied since its crackdown in 2011 on nationwide Shiite-led protests.

AFP

Tillerson meets Russian FM in wake of Comey firing

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for talks on Syria and Ukraine, amid a political firestorm that has placed Moscow’s alleged meddling in last year’s election back in the spotlight.

US President Donald Trump on Monday fired FBI chief James Comey, who was leading a wide-ranging probe into whether Trump aides colluded with Russian officials to sway last year’s election, which saw the Republican billionaire defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I want to welcome the foreign minister to the State Department and express my appreciation for him making the trip to Washington so that we could continue our dialogue and our exchanges that began in Moscow,” Tillerson says

After talks with Tillerson, Lavrov will head to the White House to meet Trump — an unusual Oval Office welcome for a foreign minister.

AFP

German defense minister vows clear army break with Nazi past

Germany’s defense minister is announcing reforms to rid the armed forces of links with the Nazi-era Wehrmacht, responding to a scandal around a far-right attack plot within the military.

Two soldiers and one civilian have been arrested over an alleged conspiracy to kill pro-refugee politicians and — having created the fake identity of a Syrian refugee — make it look like an Islamist attack.

Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced a series of reforms including a review of its 1982 “decree on traditions” which allows the display of Wehrmacht memorabilia within its “historical context.”

The current rules “include many good points but allow for back doors,” she says, following revelations that Nazi-era army steel helmets, weapons and pictures were on open display in some army barracks.

Amid the scandal, debate has flared on why a Wehrmacht item can be shown in a glass display but not in an officers’ mess, and why several barracks are still named after World War II field marshal Erwin Rommel, dubbed the “Desert Fox” for his North Africa campaign.

AFP

Turkish citizen arrested for kidnapping his Israeli daughter

Police have arrested a Turkish citizen on suspicion that he kidnapped his 4-year-old daughter from her Israeli mother and took the girl to Turkey, Hebrew media reports.

The man, 33, was arrested yesterday and today a Tel Aviv court ordered him held for a further day.

The man is reportedly refusing to bring their daughter back from Turkey after taking her there two weeks ago. It is not clear why he came back to Israel.

Sessions is interviewing candidates for interim FBI head

A Justice Department official says US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is interviewing candidates to serve as the interim replacement for fired FBI director James Comey.

Comey’s deputy, FBI veteran Andrew McCabe, has become acting director after Comey was fired by US President Donald Trump.

But a Justice Department official says senior leaders are interviewing additional candidates who could do the job until a permanent replacement for Comey is named and confirmed by the Senate.

An announcement about Comey’s interim successor could come as soon as Wednesday.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the selection process by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

AP

Trump meets with Russian FM amid row over Kremlin’s influence

US President Donald Trump has welcomed Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat to the White House marking his highest level face-to-face contact with a Russian government official since taking office.

The talks come one day after Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Foreign Ministry, Treasury heads to meet in bid to avert strike

The director generals of the Foreign and Finance ministries are to meet later in a bid to solve avert a strike by the diplomats that threatens to disrupt the visit of US President Donald Trump.

The Foreign Ministry is protesting the fact that agreements reached with the treasury after a major strike several years ago still have not been put in place.

The diplomats are warning that they will not help facilitate the first visit of Trump to Israel on May 22.

IDF slams B’Tselem for incitement

The IDF spokesperson is criticizing the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem for publishing a video of an IDF officer guarding outside the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank, which he says was filmed purely to “manufacture an incident.”

In the video, one of the organization’s Palestinian photographers approaches the officer and his soldiers, who tell the man to stay back. There is then a brief, mostly verbal scuffle between the man and the officer, before the Palestinian leaves the area.

In a Facebook post, IDF Spokesperson and Head of the Manpower Directorate Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz defends the officer’s actions and accuses B’Tselem of “provocation.”

He does not mention the group by name, referring to the group only in the second person, but the description of the video leaves no doubt about the post’s subject.

“There’s a difference between filming an event as it happens and manufacturing an incident by arriving to a place with a camera,” Almoz writes, accusing the group of causing “friction that didn’t exist beforehand,” he says.

“You will continue to make movies ostensibly out of freedom of expression… and we will continue to defend the residents of the State of Israel and ensure the well-being of its citizens, without putting the IDF into political arguments.”

In response, B’Tselem says in a statement: “The Palestinians aren’t ‘arriving to a place with a camera’ but live there, on their land. The use of the military to advance a political agenda — dispossession [of land] and settlement — is what put the army into a political fight. The end of the occupation will end that as well.”

Judah Ari Gross

Legendary Israel Radio to go off the air at 7 p.m.

Israel Radio, the mainstay of the country’s airwaves for over 80 years, will go silent at 7 p.m. tonight.

The move follows the shutting down of Channel 1 TV last night as part of the changeover to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority with a new publicly funded entity, known as “Kan.”

The TV went off the air last night with only a two-hour notice. The way the situation has been handled has drawn widespread criticism.

Speaking on Channel 2, veteran news anchor Haim Yavin is calling for a commission of inquiry at the highest levels.

 

Archbishop of Canterbury backs Trump’s Mideast peace bid

The leader of the world’s Anglicans is backing US President Donald Trump’s bid for fresh peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, saying “determined leadership” could tip the balance towards a resolution.

Speaking near the end of a 10-day trip to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Trump would be “in my prayers” when he visits the region later this month and attempts to restart the moribund peace process.

“We have known from history in this region that determined leadership by the United States, together with patient working by lots of other people in the background, often unknown, can tip things very, very decisively,” he tells journalists in Jerusalem.

“When he comes here my prayer for him is he will be filled with determination and courage and given gifts of wisdom that will make a difference.”

AFP

Trump says Comey ‘was not doing a good job’

US President Donald Trump says ousted FBI Director James Comey “was not doing a good job.” It was Trump’s first public remarks about his firing Tuesday of the FBI chief.

Trump briefly spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday after a closed meeting with Russia’s foreign minister. His remarks come as the White House is defending the decision to dismiss Comey. Administration officials have said the firing was not related to the investigation into possible contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

Trump was joined by Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser under President Richard Nixon.

AP

Israel Radio goes off the air after 81 years

Israel Radio is off the air after 81 years.

The broadcast on the flagship “Reshet Bet” news show ended with the Arik Einstein Song “We’ll meet again” and the familiar beeps and the phrase “This is the voice of Israel from Jerusalem.”

All programming is off the air, except for news bulletins which will continue to be broadcast until next Monday, when the new public broadcaster is supposed to take over.

The eight stations will continue to broadcast music between the news bulletins.

Dozens of workers from the broadcast network gathered at their headquarters to be together in the final hours, with correspondents and presenters recounting their memories and their thoughts on the impending end.

Dwayne Johnson considering run for White House

After conquering Hollywood, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may have his sights set on the White House.

The actor and former pro wrestler tells GQ that he thinks a presidential run is “a real possibility.”

Johnson says if he were president, “poise” and “leadership” would be top priorities.

One thing he’s not in favor of is President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban, saying that he believes “in inclusion.”

Johnson declined to give an endorsement in the last presidential election even though he says both campaigns approached him for his backing. Johnson explains that he didn’t want to sway anyone’s opinion or make people unhappy with his politics.

Johnson would have at least one high-profile backer in NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, who tells GQ he’d vote for Johnson “without a question.”

AP

Russian lawmaker said to have drowned in the Dead Sea

A 68-year-old man who drowned in the Dead Sea earlier in the week has been identified as Russian millionaire lawmaker Vasily Tarasyuk, the Russian news agency Pravda reports.

Tarasyuk, a member of the far-right Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, was said to be vacationing in Israel.

His body is being returned to Russia for burial, the report says.

Before firing, Comey asked for more resources for Russia probe

Three US officials say fired FBI Director James Comey told lawmakers that he asked the Justice Department for more money for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

President Donald Trump fired Comey Tuesday.

The officials say Comey told lawmakers he had made the request to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.

The Justice Department is denying that Comey asked for more resources.

The White House has wielded a critical memo from Rosenstein to justify President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Comey on Tuesday. Rosenstein’s memo focused only on Comey’s handling of last year’s investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices. It does not mention the Russia investigation.

The officials were not authorized to disclose the meetings publicly and insisted on anonymity.

— AP

Hamas wins student elections at top West Bank university

For the third year in a row, Hamas’s student party beat the rival Fatah party in student elections at the West Bank’s most prestigious Palestinian university, Bir Zeit.

Student elections are seen by analysts as a barometer of the Palestinian public in the absence of any elections that have included Hamas since 2006.

Hamas’s Islamic bloc party got 25 seats, while Fatah’s party took 22.

Dov Lieber

Trump asks Russia to rein in Iran, talks Mideast peace cooperation

US President Donald Trump asked Russia “to rein in the Assad regime, Iran and Iranian proxies,” a reference to the Lebanese Hezbollah and groups fighting in Yemen.

Trump made the request in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the White House.

Trump “also raised the possibility of broader cooperation on resolving conflicts in the Middle East,” the White House said.

Trump is due in Israel for a first visit on May 22 where he is expected to push Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks.

Eric Cortellessa

South African university investigates Nazi posters

A leading South African university is investigating an incident where Nazi-inspired posters have been put up urging students to resist integration.

Stellenbosch University was an elite school for Afrikaans-speaking whites during the Apartheid era.

“The posters and advertised event promoting racial polarization/superiority combined with highly offensive references to Nazi propaganda and neo-Nazism are totally unacceptable,” South African media quoted student representative Jaco Greeff-Brink as saying.

The posters were based on Nazi-era League of German Girls posters that urged Germans to fight for Hitler.

Some Afrikaans-speaking students have resisted a move to switch studies to English in a bid to be more inclusive.

Anti-Semitic incidents in Canada set record in 2016

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada set a record in 2016, rising by 26 percent over the previous year, according to an annual audit.

In total, B’nai Brith Canada recorded 1,728 incidents nationwide last year, according to its annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, compared to 1,277 incidents in 2015. The previous record was 1,627 in 2014.

The increase did not appear to have been affected by the election of Donald Trump as US president, B’nai Brith Canada says.

Possible reasons for the increase, the audit reports, include Holocaust denial on social media, university campus anti-Zionism and anti-Israel sentiment found in some Arabic newspapers.

JTA

Russian government releases photos of Oval Office meeting

The first photos of US President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to be made public came from the Russian government, not the White House.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted a photo of Trump and Lavrov shaking hands in the Oval Office. The Russian Embassy followed on Twitter with a photo of Trump smiling as he shook hands with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador in Washington. Kislyak has been a key figure in investigations of alleged ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

Trump considered firing Comey since day elected

The White House says that President Donald Trump had considered firing FBI Director James Comey “since the day he was elected president.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that the president had “lost confidence” in Comey and acted on the advice of the deputy attorney general and others when he decided to fire him on Tuesday.

Sanders said, “I think it’s been an erosion of confidence” and that there were a lot of “missteps and mistakes” leading up to the decision to let Comey go.

— AP

White House says Comey committed ‘atrocities’

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has described some of former FBI director James’s Comey’s actions as “atrocities.”

She was referring to Comey apparently circumventing the Department of Justice chain of command.

The spokeswoman was trying to justify why President Trump fired him.

read more:
comments
Live updates (closed)

Brush fire causes evacuation of homes in West Bank outpost

Residents of the northern West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen are being evacuated from their homes due to a brush fire raging in the area.

Police and fire teams are at the site and there is black smoke covering the area, the Regavim NGO says.

A brush fire encroaches on the West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen on May 10, 2017 (Regavim/Courtesy)
A brush fire encroaches on the West Bank settlement outpost of Givat Ronen on May 10, 2017 (Regavim/Courtesy)

There are no immediate reports of casualties or damage to homes in the community, which is near the Palestinian city of Nablus.