Comptroller raps Foreign Ministry’s ‘failings’ against BDS
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Slim chance of criminal probe on Netanyahu, Justice Ministry sources say

Netanyahu rips media’s ‘biased’ coverage of state comptroller report

PM dismisses Shapira’s findings as ‘making a mountain out of a molehill,’ A-G to hold urgent probe; 77% of suspected Jewish hate crimes don’t end in indictment, according to NGO report

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev meet with Hapoel Beersheba F.C. soccer players and staff members in celebration of their winning the Israeli league championship, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 24, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev meet with Hapoel Beersheba F.C. soccer players and staff members in celebration of their winning the Israeli league championship, at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, May 24, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

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

Tel Aviv-Haifa train suspended after man killed

Train service between Tel Aviv and Haifa is suspended after a man was killed by a locomotive near the Beit Yehoshua station, near Netanya, Walla news reports. Traffic in both directions has been terminated until further notice, causing massive delays.

Russia calls for 3-day truce in Damascus suburbs

The Russian military says it has called for a 72-hour ceasefire in Syria between government and opposition forces in two Damascus suburbs.

In a statement issued late Monday, Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko says this would allow Russian war planes to carry out airstrikes against the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Kuralenko, who heads the Russian center monitoring joint efforts with the United States to curb the fighting, says the Russians have called for a “regime of silence” in Eastern Ghouta and Darayya starting at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

He says Moscow urges “all parties concerned to stop offensive operations and shooting and to distance themselves from the regions controlled by” the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

— AP

President praises decorated Shin Bet officers

President Reuven Rivlin presents awards to outstanding Shin Bet security agents today at the President’s Residence and says they’re the “secret weapon of the state, you do holy work far from the spotlight.”

The head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, says the security agency’s officers “do all that’s possible to keep the state of Israel Jewish and democratic.” He notes that they’re the “tip of the spear” but says “it’s not enough to excel and lead, you must also be human.”

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an award ceremony for Shin Bet officers awarded for outstanding performance on May 24, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend an award ceremony for Shin Bet officers awarded for outstanding performance on May 24, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Jerusalem light rail struck by stones

The Jerusalem light rail is damaged after being pelted by stones in Shuafat, a northern neighborhood of East Jerusalem. No injuries are reported.

Train service between Tel Aviv, Haifa resumes

Train service between Tel Aviv and Haifa has been restarted after being suspended because a man was struck on the tracks.

77% of Jewish hate crimes against Palestinians see no indictment

A report by the human rights group Tag Meir published today says that 77 percent of Israeli hate crimes targeting Palestinians reported to police in the past seven years didn’t result in indictments against suspects.

The report says that of the 1,562 cases opened by police into so-called “price tag” attacks by suspected right-wing extremists, just 18% resulted in indictments.

The remaining 5% are still open.

Blair calls for ‘proper ground war’ to beat Islamic State

Former British prime minister Tony Blair says the Islamic State group will be defeated only with a ground war involving Western troops.

Blair says airstrikes alone will not defeat the militants. He said Tuesday that “you are going to have to go and wage a proper ground war,” with British and American troops playing a supporting role.

Blair’s decision to take Britain into the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 remains deeply divisive, and Iraq is mired in violence. Blair is likely to be criticized in a long-delayed report on the war and its aftermath that will published in July.

At an event in London, Blair acknowledged the invading nations had underestimated the “forces of destabilization” that would emerge in Iraq after the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein.

— AP

No Trump trip to Israel ‘at the moment’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said a trip abroad would not be prudent “at the moment” because it would not sway voters.

Trump’s comments, made Sunday to the Wall Street Journal, come amid reports that the Republican Jewish Coalition is planning an Israel trip for the real estate mogul. Earlier this month, Trump said he would visit Israel “soon.”

But speaking to the Journal, Trump said he wants to concentrate his energy on issues in the United States as of now, though a future trip could still be possible.

“I don’t think it registers with the voters, to be honest with you,” he told the Journal. “What I really want to do is focus on our country and the election, but I might. I’ve been invited by numerous countries to go.”

The RJC trip is reportedly being planned at the behest of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a leading Republican donor who has pledged his support to Trump. Adelson has urged other Jewish Republican donors to back Trump, arguing that he will be more pro-Israel than likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump canceled a planned trip to Israel in December after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the candidate for pledging to stop allowing Muslims entry into the United States.

— JTA

State comptroller suspects PM of ‘criminal behavior’

The state comptroller says in a new report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of “criminal behavior” in handling travel expenses while serving as finance minister in 2003-2005.

The report also finds that the Foreign Ministry has no strategy to deal with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement against Israel, and that the state failed abysmally in handling its 2014 war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Comptroller raps Foreign Ministry’s ‘failings’ against BDS

The Foreign Ministry lacks funding and overall strategic planning and failing to achieve its operational goals, particularly concerning international boycotts against Israel, a state comptroller report charges.

Shapira’s annual report criticizes a range of “failings” in the ministry, noting an inability to present any significant achievements in the battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“Foreign Ministry projects intended to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world are lacking in their planning, management and implementation and are failing to achieve their designated goals,” the report says.

Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu, Liberman said on verge of signing coalition deal

Netanyahu and Liberman are reportedly on the cusp of signing a coalition deal to bring Yisrael Beytenu into the Likud-run government. Liberman reportedly asks Netanyahu to delay the announcement, however, until they can iron out disagreements with Jewish Home “so that we won’t be caught in a farce on our way to swearing in,” Channel 10 reports.

Meretz MK says report shows Netanyahu ‘corrupt, hedonistic’

Meretz faction head Ilan Gilon lashes out at the prime minister following the release of the state comptroller’s scathing report: “This report paints a portrait of a leader with corrupt, hedonistic and irresponsible norms.”

Herzog: State comptroller’s findings ‘demand public debate’

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog says the state comptroller report’s findings concerning Netanyahu are “grave” and “demand public debate.”

“I have complete trust that the oversight, investigative and enforcement authorities will do their work faithfully,” he says on Twitter.

Israeli diplomats in Cairo for talks with Egyptians

A delegation of senior Foreign Ministry officials landed in Cairo yesterday and is meeting with Egyptian counterparts today and tomorrow. A Palestinian media report claims the delegation is there to lay the groundwork for a trilateral summit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Egyptian officials tell Army Radio that there’s no Egyptian peace initiative in the works, despite previous reports.

Netanyahu dismisses state comptroller report as ‘molehill’

Netanyahu’s office responds to the state comptroller’s report by denying there was any suspected criminality by the prime minister during his tenure as finance minister between 2003-2005, saying it was making a mountain out of a molehill.

“The attorney general already checked the material handed over to him by the state comptroller in 2013 and determined that there was no cause to open an investigation,” the prime minister says. “We’re convinced that it will be thus with the addendum given to him in 2015.”

“The feeling is that there’s one set of laws for Netanyahu, another set of laws for the rest,” the statement says.

“For many years they’ve gone over Netanyahu and his spouse with steel combs and haven’t found anything — because there isn’t anything.”

Dutch MPs vote to strip jihadists of citizenship

Dutch MPs voted on Monday to strip dual nationals of their Dutch citizenship if they join terror groups such as the Islamic State group to fight as jihadists, officials said.

“These jihadists can pose a threat to national security when they return to the Netherlands,” the justice ministry said in a statement.

— AFP

Attorney general to look into state comptroller’s findings

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit says the findings of the state comptroller’s report concerning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “must be inspected without delay, in a direct and professional manner. We won’t deviate from the professional standard.”

Bus hit by stones near Hebron

A public bus was reportedly damaged when it was struck by a stone near the West Bank city of Hebron, the 0404 website reports.

No injuries are reported.

Bank Leumi plans massive layoffs — report

Bank Leumi, the country’s second-largest bank, plans to cut over 10 percent of its employees over the next five years, Bloomberg reports. In the coming year it plans to lay off 1,000 workers and 100 each year after that.

2 nearly drown at Bat Yam beach

A 12-year-old girl and 40-year-old woman are in critical condition after nearly drowning at a beach in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, Ynet reports.

Woman drowns at Bat Yam beach

Paramedics pronounce dead a woman who was swept under by the current at a Bat Yam beach earlier this evening. A girl was seriously hurt.

Slim chance of criminal probe on Netanyahu, Justice Ministry sources say

Justice Ministry sources tell Channel 10 that they don’t believe a criminal investigation will be opened into Netanyahu’s suspected financial irregularities.

Netanyahu blasts media coverage of state comptroller report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizes the Israeli media’s coverage of the state comptroller’s report as “extremely biased” and charges that the media “ignored basic facts.”

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Slim chance of criminal probe on Netanyahu, Justice Ministry sources say

Comptroller raps Foreign Ministry’s ‘failings’ against BDS

The Foreign Ministry lacks funding and overall strategic planning and failing to achieve its operational goals, particularly concerning international boycotts against Israel, a state comptroller report charges.

Shapira’s annual report criticizes a range of “failings” in the ministry, noting an inability to present any significant achievements in the battle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“Foreign Ministry projects intended to improve Israel’s image in target communities around the world are lacking in their planning, management and implementation and are failing to achieve their designated goals,” the report says.

Raoul Wootliff