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‘Amona residents won’t be allowed to move to adjacent plot’

Claims alternative parcel is also privately owned reportedly preventing deal for residents’ resettlement; Erekat says PA will give ICC information to help investigate outpost bill

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

  • Young Israeli men build a structure in the West Bank outpost of Amona on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the outpost, which was built on private Palestinian land. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Young Israeli men build a structure in the West Bank outpost of Amona on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the outpost, which was built on private Palestinian land. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in the Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)
    PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in the Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)
  • Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her caravilla during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
    Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her caravilla during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)
  • State Comptroller Yosef Shapira presents the State Comptroller's Report in the Knesset on November 1, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    State Comptroller Yosef Shapira presents the State Comptroller's Report in the Knesset on November 1, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Likud MK Benny Begin during a plenum session in the Knesset, August 1, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Likud MK Benny Begin during a plenum session in the Knesset, August 1, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • French-Polish film director Roman Polanski attending a press conference at the Bonarowski Palace Hotel in Krakow, Poland, October 30, 2015. (Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images/via JTA)
    French-Polish film director Roman Polanski attending a press conference at the Bonarowski Palace Hotel in Krakow, Poland, October 30, 2015. (Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images/via JTA)
  • Norbert Hofer of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, at a news conference after the presidential election in Vienna, Austria, December 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
    Norbert Hofer of Austria's Freedom Party, FPOE, at a news conference after the presidential election in Vienna, Austria, December 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.

Coalition suspends Benny Begin from Knesset committees

The governing coalition suspends veteran Likud lawmaker Benny Begin from the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee a day after he broke ranks and voted against the so-called Regulation Bill on illegal settlement outposts.

Yesterday, the Knesset plenum approved a new draft of a bill to recognize West Bank settlement outposts, a controversial measure castigated by its opponents as an illegal land grab that paves the way for Israel to recognize some 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian land.

Likud Knesset member Benny Begin attends a Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 20, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Likud Knesset member Benny Begin (center) attends a Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee meeting on June 20, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Begin, who had expressed his opposition to the move in the past, was the only coalition member to oppose the motion.

Coalition head David Bitan (Likud) writes in a letter to Begin that the suspension will be in place for three weeks.

Poland’s top court upholds refusal to extradite Polanski

Poland’s Supreme Court upholds a refusal to have veteran Jewish filmmaker Roman Polanski extradited to the US if he enters Poland.

Polanski is wanted in the US in a case involving sex with a minor that has haunted him for almost 40 years. He lives in France, where he was born, and also has a home in Switzerland, but has often visited Poland, where he grew up and studied at a film academy.

The three-judge panel rejected a request by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro to overturn the extradition refusal and upheld the procedure and decision taken by a lower court in Krakow in 2015.

French-Polish film director Roman Polanski attending a press conference at the Bonarowski Palace Hotel in Krakow, Poland, October 30, 2015. (Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images/via JTA)

French-Polish film director Roman Polanski attending a press conference at the Bonarowski Palace Hotel in Krakow, Poland, October 30, 2015. (Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images/via JTA)

“We feel relief,” says Jerzy Stachowicz, one of Polanski’s lawyers. “As of today, the case is closed once and for all.”

Another lawyer, Jan Olszewski, said Polanski has paid dearly for what he has done, with all the films that he was not able to make in Hollywood and the 40 years of stigma.

“You can hardly imagine a heavier punishment” for a filmmaker, Olszewski says.

— AP

After defeat, Austrian far-right candidate plans 2022 run

Austria’s defeated far-right candidate for the presidency says he will run again in six years, when the term of the left-leaning winner ends and new elections are held.

Norbert Hofer says results “can look differently” in the next race for the position, adding “I hope I will win then.”

Norbert Hofer candidate for Austria's Presidency in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP/Ronald Zak)

Norbert Hofer candidate for Austria’s Presidency in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. (AP/Ronald Zak)

Hofer spoke Tuesday as final results were tallied. They show Van der Bellen extending his lead with 53.79 percent of ballots cast in his favor, compared to 46.27 percent for Hofer.

Sunday’s vote was viewed Europe-wide as a proxy test of populist strength in other EU countries fielding strong euroskeptic candidates in elections next year.

— AP

Syria government says no Aleppo ceasefire without rebel exit

Syria’s government says it will not agree to a ceasefire in Aleppo unless the deal guarantees a full withdrawal of rebel factions from the city.

“Syria will not leave its citizens in east Aleppo to be held hostage by terrorists, and will exert every effort to liberate them,” a foreign ministry statement carried by state news agency SANA reads.

“It therefore rejects any attempt by any side to reach a ceasefire in east Aleppo that would not include the exit of all terrorists.”

Since launching an all-out assault to retake Aleppo three weeks ago, Syrian government forces have seized two-thirds of the former rebel stronghold in the city’s east.

The statement says the Syrian government “appreciated” the double veto by Russia and China on Monday of a UN Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo.

Monday’s vote marked the sixth time Russia has blocked a council resolution on Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, and the fifth for China.

— AFP

Mysterious gold Netanyahu statue taken down

A golden stature of Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netnayhau is removed from Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square after it mysteriously appeared there overnight.

By 9 a.m. inspectors had stuck a notice on it warning that the city would remove it and charge the artist unless it was taken away within four hours.

Sculptor Itay Zalait, who had given advance notice to Israeli media that he was “going to perform an underground political-artistic act which will have major media reverberations,” said it was just the first in a series of artistic acts he was planning.

Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud) provoked a lively debate on her Facebook page after posting, “How cut off from reality can an artist be? Israel is democratic, [with] individual rights, civil rights, moral sensitivity, an activist judiciary, free media, in short one of the free countries…But for artists disconnected disconnected from reality, the one golden calf is hatred of Netanyahu.”

Dozens arrested in drug trafficking sting

Twenty-eight suspects have been arrested for involvement in drug trafficking and buying and selling illegal drugs, police say in a statement.

The arrests took place as part of a sting in which a police undercover agent operated among drug dealers and suspects. The agent gathered information on the suspects for a period of eight months prior to the arrests.

During the arrests police teams raided dozens of buildings, businesses and apartments in Jerusalem, police say.

The value of the drugs seized is estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Netanyahu says submarines needed to ward off threats

Amid questions over his decision to push through a deal to buy three new German submarines, Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayhau says Israel needs the vessels in order to ward off military threats made against the country.

“The IDF has become one of the strongest and most advanced army in the world,” Netanyahu says at a memorial service for Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion. “Anyone that makes threats against our existence places themselves in grave danger.That’s why we are arming ourselves with F35 fighter jets, submarines, cyber [warfare] and defensive mechanisms such as Iron Dome.”

Last month it emerged that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal lawyer worked as a representative of the German company in Israel, in what may constitute a grave conflict of interest. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered the police to look into allegations that David Shimron used his close relationship with the premier to push Israel to purchase several submarines from ThyssenKrupp, award the company a contract for naval vessels to defend Israel’s gas fields, and allow it to build a shipyard in Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman shrugged off on Wednesday recent reports detailing the partial Iranian ownership of ThyssenKrupp, saying that “the issue was already known.”

Up to half of Israelis lack access to a bomb shelter — comptroller

Between a quarter and half of all Israelis do not have access to a proper bomb shelter in the case of an emergency, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira says in a new, damning report.

The document, a review of the country’s preparedness against rocket and missile tanks, finds numerous gaps and failures in the government and military’s plans to protect Israel’s civilian population. A similar report, released last year, also noted shortcomings in the country’s home front defense.

The 65-page report documents a whole host of issues, including an ongoing failure by government ministries to formalize areas of responsibility during an emergency, incomplete evacuation plans and budgetary problems for rocket alert systems.

However, Shapira’s harshest criticism is levied at the gap between the number of bomb shelters — private and public — that Israel has and the number that it needs.

Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her caravilla during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Devorah Israeli, of Nitzan, with 8-year-old Idan and 6-month-old Ron in the sewage pipe bomb shelter next to her caravilla during Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

As the document notes, the exact percentage of Israelis without access to proper bomb shelters is subject to some level of debate. According to the IDF’s Home Front Command, 27 percent of the country — or just over two million people — do not have protection against incoming rockets that is “up to standard.”

However, the Interior Ministry puts that figure substantially higher, at approximately 50%, in accordance with its definition of what constitutes a “proper” bomb shelter.

The disparity comes from a ministry directive that demands a minimum of 54 square feet (5 square meters) per person in a bomb shelter, as opposed to the 21.5 square feet (2 square meters) required in the past. This change was made in light of the belief that civilians may be forced to spend long periods of time in their bomb shelters, which in turn would require additional space. This requirement disqualified some 23% of shared, private bomb shelters, like the ones found in apartment buildings, from being considered fully functional.

— Judah Ari Gross

Burger King announces whopping doughnut burger for Hanukkah

The American fast food chain Burger King announces its Israeli branches will be serving a special hamburger for Hanukkah which is a cross between a sufganiya, a traditional holiday jelly-filled doughnut, and a Burger King Whopper hamburger.

The normally sweet dough will be transformed into a savory deep fried bun with ketchup topping the creation instead of jelly.

The SufganiKing, as it is to be known, will be available across the country from December 5 until January 1 for NIS 14.90 ($4).

Merkel launches election bid with tough line on immigration, niqab ban

Chancellor Angela Merkel is setting out a tough line on integration, including a ban on the veil, as she launches into election campaign mode.

Outlining her strategy to counter a wave of populism that has consumed key allies abroad, Merkel vows there would not be a repeat of last year’s record refugee influx.

She also stressed it was legitimate for Germany to expect newcomers to integrate, and this included rejection of of the niqab full-face veil. “The full veil must be banned wherever it is legally possible,” she tells the annual gathering of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses delegates during her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party's congress in Essen, western Germany, on December 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/PATRIK STOLLARZ)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses delegates during her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party’s congress in Essen, western Germany, on December 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/PATRIK STOLLARZ)

Next year’s polls will “not be a walk in the park” as Germany is deeply polarized, noted the German leader, but urged the population to remain “skeptical about easy answers.”

“Rarely is it the easy answers that bring progress to our country,” she says, in a clear reference to the upstart anti-Islam and populist AfD, which Merkel had previously criticized as offering no solutions to problems.

Merkel, who has led Germany for 11 years, last month confirmed she would run for a fourth term but acknowledged that the election would be “more difficult” than any other she has contested.

— AP

ADL decries anti-Muslim attacks

Anti-Muslim attacks have “absolutely no place in our neighborhoods,” the Anti-Defamation League says in a statement.

The ADL condemns an attack over the weekend on a New York Police Department officer Aml Elsokary and her teenage son. Elsokary, who wears a hijab, was off duty at the time of the incident in Brooklyn.

Elsokary and her son were accosted by an assailant who shoved her son and yelled “ISIS (expletive), I will cut your throat, go back to your country!” Christopher Nelson, 36, was arrested Sunday and charged with a hate crime and first-degree aggravated harassment.

“We are disturbed and shocked that Officer Elsokary and her son were subjected to apparent hate-fueled threats and bigotry,” said Evan Bernstein, New York Regional Director. “Officer Elsokary risks her safety and well-being every day for the City of New York and her community. Attacks and threats against her and her son are completely unacceptable and have absolutely no place in our neighborhoods. We stand with Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD in condemning this heinous crime.”

The New York Police Department on Monday said it has seen a dramatic rise in hate crimes following the election of Donald Trump, with the majority of incidents directed at Jews.

— JTA

Saudi condemns 15 to death for spying for Iran

A Saudi court sentences 15 people to death for spying for the kingdom’s rival Iran, local media and a source close to the case says, in a move likely to heighten regional tensions.

The source tells AFP that most of the 15 Saudis were members of the kingdom’s Shiite minority.

Their trial opened in February, a month after Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran over the burning of the Saudi embassy and a consulate by Iranian demonstrators protesting the kingdom’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Houthi Shiite rebels hold posters of late cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during an anti-Saudi protest outside the Saudi embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, January 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Houthi Shiite rebels hold posters of late cleric Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia, during an anti-Saudi protest outside the Saudi embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, January 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

The most serious charge leveled against them was high treason.

Prosecutors also alleged the accused had divulged defense secrets, tried to commit sabotage, recruited moles in government departments, sent coded information and supported “riots” in the Shiite-dominated eastern district of Qatif, Saudi media reports.

The 15 were among a group of 32 people tried over the espionage allegations, Alriyadh newspaper says.

— AFP

Erekat says PA will give ICC information on outpost bill

PLO Secretary General Saeb Ereket says the Palestinian Authority will give information to the International Criminal Court following a Knesset vote on a bill to legalize West Banki outposts.

The so-called Regulation Bill, which has been harshly criticized by the US, EU and UN as a breach of international law, sailed through the Knesset in a preliminary reading, clearing its first legislative hurdle by a count of 60 MKs to 49. Israel’s attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, has warned that the bill breaches local and international law.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in the Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference in the Roosevelt Hotel, NYC, on December 13, 2015. (Photo by Amir Levy/Flash90)

“We call upon all states of the United Nations, particularly Security Council members, to support a forthcoming resolution on settlements,” he says in a statement. “Additionally, we will provide the International Criminal Court with information about this and other steps taken by the Israeli government relevant to its Prosecutor’s current examination into the situation in Occupied Palestine, including in and around Occupied East Jerusalem.”

Saying that Israel has “a long history of attempts to ‘legalize’ war crimes,” Erekat says, “This culture of impunity continues to destroy the prospects to end the Israeli occupation and achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.”

Israel summons Ecuadorean diplomat over UN envoy’s remarks equating Zionism with Nazism

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is summoning an Ecuadorean diplomat in Tel Aviv to protest a speech delivered by his country’s envoy to the United Nations that equated Zionism with Nazism.

Modi Efraim, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Latin America, summons the Ecuadorean embassy’s third secretary, Enrique Ponce, to complain that the November 29 speech was filled with historical falsehoods and inaccuracies, “especially the comparison made between the treatment of the Palestinians to the horrors of the Nazi regime.”

Israel asked for “clarifications” from Ecuadorean officials; Ponce promised to report the matter to his office immediately.

Ecuador has not had an ambassador in Israel since it recalled its envoy from Israel during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

Horacio Sevilla Borja made the remark, a quote from a speech by the late Cuban President Fidel Castro, during a session marking the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the General Assembly.

— JTA

Danon calls for UN chief to condemn Ecuadoran ambassador

Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, wrote a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on him to condemn Ecuadorean Ambassador Horacio Sevilla Borja’s statement equating Zionism with Nazism and demand he apologize, the mission says.

“The UN cannot treat such despicable words of hate and pure anti-Semitism as business as usual,” Danon wrote. “It should be made crystal clear to all member-states that such antisemitic behavior will not be tolerated at the UN”

— JTA

Biden hints at 2020 presidential run

It’s more than a month before Donald Trump even enters the White House, but Joe Biden says he’s running for president in 2020. Maybe.

“I’m going to run in 2020. For president. So, uh, what the hell, man,” the departing vice president tells reporters with only a slight smile on his face. Given a chance to walk it back, he does — but only a bit.

Asked if he was joking, he said: “I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”

Vice President Joe Biden waves after speaking at a memorial service for former Israeli president an d prime minister Shimon Peres at the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Zach Gibson/AP)

Vice President Joe Biden waves after speaking at a memorial service for former Israeli president an d prime minister Shimon Peres at the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington DC, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. (Zach Gibson/AP)

Biden, who turned 74 last month, will turn 78 shortly after the 2020 election. Ronald Reagan was just a few days short of turning 78 when he left office in January 1989, making him the oldest person to serve as president.

The vice president decided to not seek the White House in 2015 and instead backed this year’s eventual Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He ran unsuccessfully for his party’s nomination in 2008, when now-President Barack Obama selected him as his running mate, and in 1988.

— AP

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube agree to curb terror content online

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube say they will partner to curb the spread of terrorist content online.

“There is no place for content that promotes terrorism on our hosted consumer services. When alerted, we take swift action against this kind of content in accordance with our respective policies,” a statement released by the social media firms says.

The companies say they will create a shared industry database of unique digital fingerprints, called hashes, for violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images that were removed from their services.

People pass by the stand of Facebook during the Web Summit at Parque das Nacoes, in Lisbon on November 9, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

People pass by the stand of Facebook during the Web Summit at Parque das Nacoes, in Lisbon on November 9, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA)

“By sharing this information with each other, we may use the shared hashes to help identify potential terrorist content on our respective hosted consumer platforms,” the statement says.

Social media has become a tool for recruiting and radicalization by the Islamic State terror group and others.

The program is expected to begin early next year. The companies said they would look to add other firms to the collaboration in the future.

— JTA

Herzog: Submarine corruption to blame for lack of bombshelters

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog suggests “corrupt considerations” regarding a deal to buy three German submarines may be to blame for a lack of home front preparedness noted in a State Comptroller report released today.

“This report heightens the feelings of most citizens that everything has been abandoned,” Herzog says in a statement. “If we have got to the point where corrupt considerations are connected to the purchase of submarines, and now it has been made clear that they [the government] have not dealt with protecting children and families from rockets, then everything has been abandoned.”

The report said between a quarter and half of all Israelis do not have access to a proper bomb shelter in the case of an emergency. The document, a review of the country’s preparedness against rocket and missile tanks, finds numerous gaps and failures in the government and military’s plans to protect Israel’s civilian population. A similar report, released last year, also noted shortcomings in the country’s home front defense.

Last month it emerged that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s personal lawyer worked as a representative of the German company in Israel, in what may constitute a grave conflict of interest. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered the police to look into allegations that David Shimron used his close relationship with the premier to push Israel to purchase several submarines from ThyssenKrupp, award the company a contract for naval vessels to defend Israel’s gas fields, and allow it to build a shipyard in Israel.

UK man found guilty in case linked to Brussels bomb suspect

A British man is found guilty of providing cash to a key suspect in the deadly Brussels and Paris bombings in a case that linked England to the Islamic State group attacks in Europe.

Zakaria Boufassil was convicted of “engaging in conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism” by providing £3,000 pounds ($3,700) to bombing suspect Mohamed Abrini at a secret meeting in Birmingham, England. Abrini is the “man in the hat” seen on video footage moments before the March 22 bombings at the Brussels airport that killed 16 people. He also is wanted in the multiple attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 that claimed 130 victims.

The third suspect in the Brussels airport bombings on March 22, 2016 can be seen leaving the scene in a video circulated by Belgian police in effort to track down the man. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The third suspect in the Brussels airport bombings on March 22, 2016 can be seen leaving the scene in a video circulated by Belgian police in effort to track down the man. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Boufassil, 26, and accomplice Mohammed Ali Ahmed, 27, who earlier pleaded guilty, could face life imprisonment when they are sentenced in Kingston Crown Court next week. West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Marcus Beale say the conviction was important because the money transfer “identified a dangerous link” to Abrini.

— AP

Online petition calls on Trump to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

The Orthodox Union is starting an online petition calling on President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The move would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s “chosen capital,” the OU petition on Change.org says. It also notes that June 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

The petition currently has more than 1,200 signers out of a goal of 1,500.

“Early in your presidency will be a fitting, if overdue, time for you, President-Elect Donald Trump, to relocate the American embassy in Israel to the capital of the Jewish state,” the petition to be sent to Trump concludes.

— JTA

Palestinian Authority capital Ramallah to name street after Fidel Castro

The municipality of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, will dedicate a street to the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a “gesture of gratitude.”

“Castro bravely faced the world, the Palestinian people admire and love him,” a statement from the Palestinian Authority said, according to the Latin American Jewish news service Iton Gadol. The decision was made by the city’s Central Council “in recognition of Castro’s support for the Palestinian people and former leader Yasser Arafat.”

An undated file photograph of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, and late Cuban Pesident Fidel Castro, made available by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza City of the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Palestinian Authority)

An undated file photograph of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, left, and late Cuban Pesident Fidel Castro, made available by the Palestinian Authority in Gaza City of the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Palestinian Authority)

Located six miles north of Jerusalem, Ramallah serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, where Arafat established his headquarters, the Muqata.

The Fatah party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement of mourning after Castros death, saying he was a “world leader and great friend of the Palestinian people.”

In 1973, Castro suddenly announced the rupture of relations with Israel and declared its recognition of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

— JTA

Restitution group launches Warsaw database to counter limiting legislation

Responding to legislation deemed harmful to efforts to return privately owned Jewish property in Warsaw, a major restitution group says it will builda database to facilitate claims.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization, or WJRO, announces the new tool three months after regulations went into effect that drastically limited the window for filing claims for property nationalized by the Polish government directly after the Holocaust, in which 90 percent of Polish Jewry was murdered. The regulations were based on recent legislation that gave prospective claimants of Warsaw property six months to come forward, the WJRO says.

“To help property owners and their families, WJRO has created a unique new searchable database that for the first time puts together a number of historical records from Warsaw and allows a search for a property using an address or a family name,” the organization says in a statement.

Last June, the City of Warsaw published a list of 2,613 street addresses for open property claims, but without the names of the owners. WJRO’s database matches the street addresses with property owners’ names found in the 1939-40 Homeowners Directory for Warsaw or, where that was not possible, with the 1930 Homeowners Directory as well as through use of mortgage information, WJRO says.

— JTA

‘Amona residents won’t be allowed to move to adjacent plot’

Residents of the Amona West Bank outpost — due to be demolished on December 25 — will not be allowed to move to plot adjacent to the settlement due to Palestinian claims that the alternative parcel is also privately owned, according to Hebrew media reports.

The head of a Palestinian village and an Israeli rights group petitioned Monday against the government’s plan to move residents of an illegal West Bank outpost to the area.

Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Young Jewish men seen building a structure in the Jewish settlement of Amona in the West Bank, on November 28, 2016. The structure is meant to house supporters for when the state decides to evacuate the illegal settlement. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

With legislation scuppered to prevent the High Court-imposed demolition order, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has proposed an alternative solution whereby the evacuees of Amona would be housed temporarily on three plots of land administered by Israel’s Custodian for Absentees’ Property.

The Jewish Home party had agreed to drop a clause regarding Amona from a bill to prevent settlements built on private land from being demolished if they were built with state assistance on the condition that the Amona residents would be allowed to move to the adjacent plot.

Iran back under nuclear deal limit, says UN watchdog

The UN’s atomic watchdog has verified that Iran has exported enough nuclear-grade heavy water to come back into line with last year’s landmark deal with the West, a diplomatic source says.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has told member states that it has “verified that 11 metric tonnes of nuclear-grade heavy water have arrived at its destination,” the source says.

A worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, on October 26, 2010. (AP/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour, File)

A worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, on October 26, 2010. (AP/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour, File)

This brings Iran’s stock of heavy water back below the 130-tonne level set out in the nuclear accord with world powers that came into force in January, the watchdog told its members.

Heavy water is not itself radioactive, but is used in certain types of reactor. Plutonium for use in nuclear weapons can be extracted from the spent fuel of such reactors.

— AFP

Israeli green light for sale of gas fields to Greece

Israel is giving the green light for the sale of two gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean to the Greek firm Energean, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announces.

The two fields, named Karish and Tanin and estimated to hold 60 billion cubic metres of gas, had initially been allocated to a consortium grouping US firm Noble Energy and the Israeli group Delek, which already control two much larger fields.

Illustrative photo of Israeli natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, September 2, 2015. (Flash90)

Illustrative photo of Israeli natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, September 2, 2015. (Flash90)

“We have decided to put an end to this monopoly situation,” Steinitz tells public radio, explaining the consortium’s sale of exploitation rights in the two fields to Energean for $150 million.

According to the minister, total production from the four fields would bring in $92 billion dollars, or “more than all the US aid granted over the years to Israel”.

— AFP

Libyan forces seize last stronghold of IS in Sirte

The last buildings occupied by Islamic State militants in Sirte have fallen into hands of Libyan fighters, officials say, as anti-IS fighters celebrated in the streets of the final IS stronghold in Libya.

Ahmed Hadiya, the head of the media center for the anti-IS operation, says: “This is the last major battle, but it is not the end of military operations, nor the declaration of liberation.”

Hadiya said that 12 fighters were killed on Tuesday in “intense fighting.”

The United States threw its support behind the anti-IS operation in August, helping break weeks of stalemate with dozens of airstrikes.

While the extremist group has lost its major base in Libya, IS militants might seek sanctuary elsewhere — such as Libya’s lawless southern regions.

— AP

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Libyan forces seize last stronghold of IS in Sirte

Burger King announces whopping doughnut burger for Hanukkah

The American fast food chain Burger King announces its Israeli branches will be serving a special hamburger for Hanukkah which is a cross between a sufganiya, a traditional holiday jelly-filled doughnut, and a Burger King Whopper hamburger.

The normally sweet dough will be transformed into a savory deep fried bun with ketchup topping the creation instead of jelly.

https://twitter.com/EylonALevy/status/806067055686459393

The SufganiKing, as it is to be known, will be available across the country from December 5 until January 1 for NIS 14.90 ($4).