Dalai Lama may be reincarnated as ‘mischievous blonde’
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Yemen strikes resumed ‘because rebels violated truce’

Coalition general says rebels moved missiles closer to border with Saudi Arabia, ‘hijacked’ food and fuel aid

  • Chief of Israel Police, Yohanan Danino speaks at a previous press conference outside Tel Aviv Police station in 2014. (Photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
    Chief of Israel Police, Yohanan Danino speaks at a previous press conference outside Tel Aviv Police station in 2014. (Photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
  • Police officers preparing for a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent, in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)
    Police officers preparing for a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent, in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)
  • Nepalese students having a discussion with Magen David Adom paramedics and organization head Eli Bin after receiving diplomas of recognition from the organization. (Photo credit: Magen David Adom)
    Nepalese students having a discussion with Magen David Adom paramedics and organization head Eli Bin after receiving diplomas of recognition from the organization. (Photo credit: Magen David Adom)
  • Ethiopian Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
    Ethiopian Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
  • Israelis from the Ethiopian community protest in Tel Aviv on Rothschild Street on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)
    Israelis from the Ethiopian community protest in Tel Aviv on Rothschild Street on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

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

50 arrested for murder, drug-trafficking

Police unveil an organized crime investigation implicating dozens of suspects across several continents, after a court partially lifts a gag order on the proceedings of the probe.

Police chief Insp. Gen. Yohanan Danino says the affair, known in police offices as “Case 512,” is “one of the most significant investigations ever conducted by the police against crime organizations.”

In the case, officers are examining allegations of murder, controlled substance trafficking and other violent offenses conducted by more than 50 suspects allegedly at the behest of mob bosses.

This morning, detectives from the Anti-Fraud Unit 433 and the Unit for the Investigation of Serious and International Crimes raided dozens of homes across the country, seizing vehicles, assets and bank accounts which will be impounded.

Police says it will seek to extend the remand of some of the suspects at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court tomorrow morning.

Silvan Shalom tasked with Palestinian dossier

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Interior Minister Silvan Shalom to head talks with the Palestinians and to lead efforts to improve ties with the United States, Israel Radio reports.

Shalom will be taking over a role filled by former justice minister Tzipi Livni in the last Knesset.

Speaking to Israel Radio, Livni says she has not yet met with Shalom to brief him on where she left the two dossiers. Livni adds that she would be willing to assist any minister who would seek an agreement with the Palestinians, but that the appointment of Shalom will not change the position of the international community on Israel.

Silvan Shalom, March 12, 2014. (Flash 90)

Silvan Shalom, March 12, 2014. (Flash 90)

Kahlon holds 1st meeting as finance minister

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon convenes his first meeting in this position since the swearing-in of the government last week.

“The first meeting by the Finance Ministry staff will deal with the issues I pushed in my campaign. These are the housing crisis and competitiveness in the banking sector and in the market in general. My worldview is that competition is the consumer’s best friend,” Kahlon says.

“Man is at the center – economy must serve people. Happily, after meeting with ministry staffers here, I found that they are attentive and professional people, some of the best. They are also committed to the agenda. The fact that a young couple can’t buy an apartment – it bothers them too and they toil day and night to find solutions,” Kahlon adds.

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

MDA salutes Nepalese students in Israel

Five Nepalese students studying in Israel were given certificates of appreciation by Magen David Adom chairman Eli Bin. The five represent dozens of students who worked to help their families and friends in the earthquake-stricken country.

One of the students represents a group of 29 Nepalese students who were trained by Magen David Adom in administering first aid to victims of earthquakes. The students are returning to their home country and will be able to implement what they learned in the course in Israel when they assist the local population. The representative received diplomas of recognition as well as first-aid kits for each of the students who took part in the course.

The four other students attend the Weizmann Institute and the Faculty of Agriculture in Rehovot. Upon learning of the tragedy that hit Nepal they independently decided to raise money in order to help fund Magen David Adom’s assistance efforts in Nepal.

Nepalese students having a discussion with Magen David Adom paramedics and organization head Eli Bin after receiving diplomas of recognition from the organization. (Photo credit: Magen David Adom)

Nepalese students having a discussion with Magen David Adom paramedics and organization head Eli Bin after receiving diplomas of recognition from the organization. (Photo credit: Magen David Adom)

Police bracing for Ethiopian Israelis’ protest

Police officers on Rothschild Street in Tel Aviv are preparing for a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent in Tel Aviv.

Today has been one of the hottest days this year. Past demonstrations over the past month often escalated to violent altercations between protesters and police.

Police officers preparing for a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent, in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

Police officers preparing for a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent, in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

EU countries to jointly develop drone

The German, Italian and French ministers of defense will sign a letter of intent today in Brussels, launching technical studies preparatory to the production of a European-made drone scheduled to be ready by 2025.

The letter discusses “defining studies to last two years aimed at determining the operational prerequisites with the view of conceiving a prototype,” an unnamed diplomatic official tells AFP.

Ursula von der Leyen, Roberta Pinotti and Jean-Yves Le Drian will sign the document on the sidelines of a meeting of 28 European ministers of defense which is taking place in Brussels.

The drone is expected to be of the MALE type (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) and the cost of development is expected at about a billion euros.

The project will be jointly undertaken by Airbus Group, Dassault Aviation and Alenia Aermacchi, three companies which submitted in May 2014 a concrete proposition to jointly build the drone by 2020-2025. The global drone market is currently dominated by the United States and Israel.

— AFP contributed to this report.

Ethiopian Israelis begin their protest

Some two dozen Ethiopian Israelis are protesting in Tel Aviv in a demonstration organized in coordination with police.

Demonstrators are protesting what they call discrimination and racist attitudes by the police and other state authorities.

“This is a national protest, not just an Ethiopian one. We are saying ‘enough,'” one of the organizers, Eyayae Avraham, from a group called Dor Amitz [Brave Generation], tells The Times of Israel.

“I hope the police don’t shoot us, don’t use (tear) gas, don’t use stun grenades. This is a national problem… If the law doesn’t protect us, what’s it good for?”

— Judah Ari Gross

Yesh Atid’s alternative government

Yesh Atid files a no-confidence motion, including a proposal for an alternative government made up of Yesh Atid MKs.

According to the proposal, party leader Yair Lapid would serve as prime minister and finance minister. Shai Piron, who served as education minister in the last government, would again serve in this position; Yael German, who had been health minister, would fill this role as well as becoming minister of environmental protection; MK Meir Cohen would serve as welfare and social services minister, as well as interior minister; MK Yaacov Peri would be foreign minister and in charge of the peace process; MK Ofer Shelach would be defense minister; MK Haim Jelin would serve as agriculture minister and minister for the development of the Negev and Galilee. Karin Elharar, Yoel Razbozov, Aliza Lavie and Mickey Levi would also receive ministerial positions.

A new law – initiated in the last government by Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman – mandates that any party filing a no-confidence motion must propose an alternative government.

One commentator on Facebook wrote “the new law makes no-confidence motions even more of a joke than they were.”

Police expecting thousands at protest

“Police have given a permit for the demonstration this evening in central Tel Aviv. Several thousands are expected. Police units will respond if necessary to any public disorder,” police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld tells The Times of Israel.

— Judah Ari Gross

Heatstroke leaves man in serious condition

A man collapsed from heatstroke in Givatayim and was evacuated in serious condition to Tel Hashomer Hospital by Magen David Adom paramedics.

Monday is one of the hottest days this year so far, with peak temperatures in the center of Israel reaching 40° centigrade (104° Fahrenheit).

Madonna posts photo of Jew, Arab kissing

American pop star Madonna has posted on Instagram a photo of a Palestinian and a Jew about to kiss.

The photo posted Sunday shows a Jewish man with sidecurls and wearing a large white knitted kippa of the Rebbe Nachman movement and an Arab man wearing a traditional Arab keffiyah. Their eyes are closed, noses nearly touching as they lean in for a kiss.

The photo’s caption reads “This image is 100. ❤#rebelhearts,” which is the title of her new album.

Among the responses on Instagram: “I see two men one Muslim perhaps and one Jewish together sharing a moment of peace. Can’t we just all get along without discussing religious beliefs ?” and “I’m arab, and I found this great! People have the right to be whoever they want to be and be who they really are…” and “If this pic portraying love between two human beings is ‘causing a commotion’ …YOU PEOPLE HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS. GET A LIFE!!! IT’S LOVE, IT’S HUMAN.”

Another response said: “I don’t understand all the ppl here say it’s not possible I’m Jewish from Israel my boyfriend is Arab Muslim and we live together for 3 years now!”

Madonna has posted other controversial photos with the tag #rebelhearts.

— JTA

IDF closes down Druze battalion

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot decided to close the Herev Battalion, which was established specifically for members of the Druze community.

In a statement from the IDF, the bond between the State of Israel and members of the Druze community was hailed as a “pledge among brothers.”

The move to close it down was undertaken in close coordination with the battalion’s commanders, senior leader in the Druze community and spiritual leaders. The IDF’s statement said the move was an opportunity to increase the integration of Druze soldiers in the IDF and promised to do so while cherishing the heroic past of the battalion, its fighters and its fallen.

According to the statement, some 80 percent of Druze eligible for military service join the army.

Members of the Druze community overwhelmingly serve in combat units, with many in elite commando units or in infantry brigades.

The Herev Battalion is a combat battalion with rich battle experience and it was noted for excellence during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Police say dozens of officers deployed in TA

After a demonstration of Ethiopian Israelis turned violent several weeks ago, forcing police to use mounted officers and tear gas, dozens of officers were deployed today ahead of another protest, for fear that rioting may ensue despite the scorching heat.

By 5 p.m. the ranks of protesters started to swell a little but there were no still no major disturbances of the peace noted. Just over 100 people were marching marching from Rothschild Avenue in the direction of Habima Square. They were not blocking any streets and at this time the protest was being conducted slowly and quietly.

Ethiopian Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

Ethiopian Israelis protest in Tel Aviv on Monday, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

1st no-confidence motion voted down

The first no-confidence motion filed after the establishment of the government, by Yesh Atid, was voted down 59-56.

The motion was filed on the premise that the conclusions of the Alaluff Committee on combating poverty were not being implemented.

48° (118° F) measured in northern Dead Sea

Forty-eight degrees Celsius (118° Fahrenheit) was measured this afternoon in Mitzpe Shalem, in the northern Dead Sea.

Mutzi Dehman, head of the Megillot-Dead Sea Regional Council, says it’s an all-time high in that location.

Police want protest dispersed by 11 p.m.

Police officers are meeting with organizers of the Ethiopian-Israeli protest in Tel Aviv, trying to establish a cut-off time for the protest.

Initially police told organizers they want the demonstration to disperse by 9 p.m., and organizers said they were unable to promise they’ll be able to control the crowd and enforce the deadline.

After a heated discussion, police extended the deadline to 11 p.m. and warned that at that time they will view the demonstration – which received a police permit to take place – as a disturbance of public order and will use necessary means to disperse the crowd.

Police are also trying to have the organizers personally sign an agreement, holding them responsible if law enforcement forces resort to crowd dispersal means. The organizers refused.

— Judah Ari Gross

Suspected ‘price tag’ arson in West Bank

A fire investigator rules that a Palestinian olive grove that burned down near Bat Ayin in the West Bank was deliberately set on fire, Ynet reports.

Bat Ayin is a settlement where many radical right-wing settlers reside. Recently a member of the community, who is serving in the IDF, was arrested on allegations that he leaked to his colleagues in the settlements sensitive intelligence information regarding investigations against them.

Police say 11 p.m. deadline due to noise laws

Organizers of the demonstration in Tel Aviv are requesting permission to let it continue until 2 a.m.

Police spokesperson Eran Yehuda says the 11 p.m. deadline was decided based on national laws regarding work and rest hours and how late people are allowed to make unreasonable noise in public.

“They want to protest, they can protest. They want to walk to Habima, they can walk. We’re not stopping them. But there are noise laws that go into effect at 11,” Yehuda says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Dalai Lama may be reincarnated as ‘mischievous blonde’

The Dalai Lama says in a recent interview he may be reincarnated as a “mischievous blonde woman.”

The politically charged issue of his reincarnation looms large in the run-up to his 80th birthday in July.

In an interview with The Sunday Times ahead of this year’s Glastonbury festival, where he is expected to appear, the world’s most famous Buddhist monk mused about his next life.

If he were to come back as a woman, explains the Dalai Lama, “then her face must be very attractive,” or “nobody will pay much attention.”

Another option is that he might not be reincarnated at all. “In case the majority of Tibetan people feel this centuries-old institution no longer relevant, then it will automatically cease,” he said. “In that case, I will be the last Dalai Lama… end it with a Dalai Lama quite popular.”

US President Barack Obama, right, and the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Washington on July 16, 2011 (photo credit: CC BY SFT HQ/Flickr)

US President Barack Obama, right, and the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Washington on July 16, 2011 (CC BY-SFT HQ/Flickr)

Protesters blocking main intersection in Tel Aviv

Protesters are sitting at the intersection of Rothschild and Sheinkin streets in Tel Aviv, blocking the intersection.

“The people are out on their balconies watching us; let’s make some noise for them,” some of them shout.

Police estimate there are approximately 500 people at the protest.

— Judah Ari Gross

Yemen strikes resumed ‘because rebels violated truce’

The Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen blames ceasefire violations by rebels for the resumption of airstrikes against them.

“They did not respect the humanitarian pause. That’s why we do what is necessary to be done,” Brigadier General Ahmed al-Assiri tells AFP. “There is an operation in process.”

The Arab-dominated coalition resumed bombing an hour after the five-day truce ended at 20:00 GMT on Sunday.

The pause was proposed by Saudi Arabia to allow urgently needed humanitarian aid into Yemen after more than six weeks of bombing, and battles between pro-government and Houthi rebel forces on the ground.

“These militia did not stop their fighting. They continued to attack borders, to attack cities in Yemen,” Assiri says, adding there was “a very big change on the ground” during the pause.

— AFP

Ethiopian Israeli protesters arrive at Habima

Ethiopian Israeli protesters arrive at Habima Square in Tel Aviv.

Earlier, they blocked the intersection of Rothschild and Sheinkin streets for a short while.

Police are using a surveillance blimp to track protesters’ movements.

— Judah Ari Gross

Tweeter-in-chief Obama gets own account

“Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.”

With that inaugural tweet sent from a smartphone in the Oval Office before jumping on Marine One Monday, the president of the United States Barack Obama — or @POTUS — cast off security and bureaucratic chains in place since he was elected.

The account — which already had nearly 150,000 followers in the first half hour — will instantly become one of the world’s top hacking targets, but it will also allow Obama to communicate directly for the first time.

Until now Obama has tweeted through his executive staff @WhiteHouse or the remnants of his campaign staff @BarackObama.

“The @POTUS Twitter account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him,” the White House said.

AFP

IDF reserve-service procedure now takes into account same-sex couples with kids

The IDF procedure on shortening, changing or postponing reserve military service was recently updated to take into account same-sex couples with children — whether the couple is married or not — as well as for soldiers living together and known publicly as partners, Haaretz reports.

According to the new agenda, couples who are married or recognized by the National Insurance Institute and who, together, are raising a child registered with at least one of the partners will be able to seek rescheduling if they happen to be called up at the same time.

“The [reserve duty coordinating] committee will consider the ability to enable one of the partners to take care of the children during times of a call-up for reserve service,” the new procedure reads.

The new process still discriminates between men and women: Single mothers of children under 18 can ask to postpone reserve service by an almost automatic procedure; however, with single fathers, requests are examined on a case-by-case basis.

Protesters blocking street junctions in Tel Aviv

Ethiopian Israeli protesters are blocking the intersection of Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, as the demonstration moves several roads after leaving Habima Square.

Some people in the crowd call for the group to walk toward the Ayalon Highway and to block it. Others want to stay put.

The scorching heat today may be a contributing factor to the relatively calm demonstration. The turnout is much lower than the demonstration that took place in Tel Aviv two weeks ago.

Ethiopian Israeli protesters blocking the junction of Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Weizmann Street in Tel Aviv, on Monday evening, May 18 2015. (Photo credit: Judah Ari Gross)

Ethiopian Israeli protesters blocking the junction of Shaul Hamelech Boulevard and Weizmann Street in Tel Aviv, May 18 2015. (Judah Ari Gross)

EU seeks more active role in Mideast conflict

The EU would like to take a more active role in advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of the two-state solution, Reuters quoted the union’s foreign policy czar Federica Mogherini as saying.

It is clear to everyone in the region, Mogherini is quoted, that the status quo is not viable.

Mogherini has been in the role for six months, taking over from Catherine Ashton. She has already announced her intention to make the European Union Israel’s largest trade partner and the main donor to the Palestinians. She is scheduled to arrive in the region this week, to visit Ramallah and on Sunday to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Protest of Ethiopian Israelis winds down

At least 100 protesters leave Shaul Hamelech Boulevard in the direction of the Ayalon Highway, but organizers of the official protest send someone to talk to the breakaway group, to convince them to come back and abandon the idea of walking to the highway.

“Do you want there to be arrests?” one of the protesters asks the breakaway group. “We didn’t come here to be violent. There’s no point. There’s no point.”

There’s some infighting amongst the protesters, although police officers in riot gear are just spectators at this point.

The officers are not letting anyone past them, but they are also not moving them away from Shaul Hamelech Boulevard.

Eventually, the splinter group is convinced to abandon the idea of walking to the Ayalon Highway. Police are moving the stragglers away and reopening Shaul Hamelech to traffic.

Judah Ari Gross

Yariv Levin says Tourism Ministry a full-time job

In the changeover ceremony of ministers at the Tourism Ministry in Jerusalem, incoming minister Yariv Levin underlines the importance of the ministry, saying, “Tourism is an engine for growth that has a direct influence on employment and development in the periphery.”

Levin thanked outgoing minister Uzi Landau, noting the importance of the position: “I chose to come to the Tourism Ministry. This is a ministry that requires a full-time minister. I believe in the importance of the ministry in terms of its influence on Israel’s image overseas, its economy and social fabric. Israel’s strength is expressed in its ability to make the most of its advantages and the good things at its disposal. The tourism industry is an engine for growth that has a direct influence on employment and development in the periphery.”

Landau told Levin, “You are receiving one of the most fascinating ministries in the government. I am pleased that the Bank of Israel and the Finance Ministry recently identified tourism as an important engine for growth that accounts for between 2 to 2.5 percent of GDP.”

Yariv Levin (L) and Uzi Landau at the ceremony in which Levin took over the Tourism Ministry from Landau. (Photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Yariv Levin (left) and Uzi Landau at the ceremony in which Levin takes over the Tourism Ministry from Landau. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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Dalai Lama may be reincarnated as ‘mischievous blonde’

The Dalai Lama says in a recent interview he may be reincarnated as a “mischievous blonde woman.”

The politically charged issue of his reincarnation looms large in the run-up to his 80th birthday in July.

In an interview with The Sunday Times ahead of this year’s Glastonbury festival, where he is expected to appear, the world’s most famous Buddhist monk mused about his next life.

If he were to come back as a woman, explains the Dalai Lama, “then her face must be very attractive,” or “nobody will pay much attention.”

Another option is that he might not be reincarnated at all. “In case the majority of Tibetan people feel this centuries-old institution no longer relevant, then it will automatically cease,” he said. “In that case, I will be the last Dalai Lama… end it with a Dalai Lama quite popular.”

US President Barack Obama, right, and the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Washington on July 16, 2011 (photo credit: CC BY SFT HQ/Flickr)
US President Barack Obama, right, and the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Washington on July 16, 2011 (CC BY-SFT HQ/Flickr)