Eisenkot says 25% of Hezbollah militants killed in Syria, Iraq
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Netanyahu says Jerusalem ‘eternal, undivided capital,” quiet on embassy move

Knesset, Congress mark 50 years since ‘reunification of Jerusalem’

Israeli and US lawmakers celebrate Six Day Way jubilee in first simultaneous video conference between two parliaments; Hezbollah threatens to attack Americans in Syria

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

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

Police find body in Thames; likely 8th victim

Police searching for a French man who has been missing since the London Bridge attack say they have recovered a body from the River Thames.

The Metropolitan Police says the body was found Tuesday downstream from the bridge. The force says formal identification has not yet taken place, but Xavier Thomas’ next of kin have been informed.

If confirmed, Thomas would be the eighth person killed in the vehicle and knife attack. Almost 50 were injured.

Debris and abandoned cars remain on London Bridge at the scene of a terror attack in central London on June 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Chris J. Ratcliffe)
Debris and abandoned cars remain on London Bridge at the scene of a terror attack in central London on June 3, 2017. (AFP Photo/Chris J. Ratcliffe)

Thomas, 45, was walking with his girlfriend over the bridge when the attack began on Saturday night.

Police said earlier that witness accounts suggested Thomas might have been thrown into the river.

Thomas’ girlfriend was struck and seriously injured by the van.

Macron confirms third French victim in London attack

French President Emmanuel Macron confirms a third citizen had died in the jihadist attack in London, after police searching for a missing Frenchman found a body in the River Thames.

“We received confirmation of the new toll this morning. There are three deaths and eight injuries on the French side,” Macron says, deploring the “heavy toll these attacks have taken on us.”

UAE minister says seeking ‘change of policy, not regime’ in Qatar

Measures taken by the United Arab Emirates and other nations against Qatar are aimed at pressuring Doha into changing its policies, not at overthrowing its regime, a senior UAE official says.

“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” UAE state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in an interview, accusing Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region.”

A general view shows boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar's capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)
A general view shows boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar’s capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)

On Monday Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar. The four nations alleged that Qatar harbors extremists and backs Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.

–with AFP

Spain urges UK to speed up IDs on bridge victims

Spain urges British authorities to speed up the identification of the dead and wounded in the London Bridge attacks to spare more suffering to the relatives who have been looking for a 39-year-old Spanish banker.

Ignacio Echeverria, who worked in the British capital as a financial risks analyst for HSBC, was last seen lying on the floor near London Bridge after he confronted assailants with a skateboard.

People lay flowers for victims of Saturday's attack on London Bridge, Monday, June 5, 2017 (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
People lay flowers for victims of Saturday’s attack on London Bridge, Monday, June 5, 2017 (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido says during an interview with Spanish public radio that he finds it strange that the identification was taking so long. He says: “Especially during a terrorist attack, the victims and their relatives have to be well taken care of.”

— AP

Iranian media says parliament siege has ended

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency says the siege at parliament is over and that four attackers have been killed.

Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, killing at least two security guards and wounding more than 30 people. The Islamic State group claimed both attacks.

A man hands a child to a security guard from Iran's parliament building after an assault of several attackers, in Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017 (Fars News Agency, Omid Vahabzadeh via AP)
A man hands a child to a security guard from Iran’s parliament building after an assault of several attackers, in Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017 (Fars News Agency, Omid Vahabzadeh via AP)

The attack on parliament, which was in session at the time, lasted more than three hours. Police surrounded the building and gunfire could be heard from outside.

It marked the first time IS has claimed an attack in Iran. The Sunni extremist group is at war with Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, and views Iran’s Shiite majority as apostates deserving of death.

— AP

12 killed, 39 wounded in Tehran attacks — emergency chief

Twelve people in total were killed in twin attacks on Iran’s parliament complex and the shrine of its revolutionary leader claimed by the Islamic State group on Wednesday, its emergency services chief says.

A total of 39 people were wounded in the two attacks, and rescue operations are continuing, Pir Hossein Kolivand says.

–AFP

IS video purports to show Iran parliament siege

A 24-second video released by the Islamic State group’s Aamaq news agency purports to show the siege of Iran’s parliament.

The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk.

A voice on the video praises God and says in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words. The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year.

IS rarely releases statements or other media about ongoing operations. The video emerged before Iranian media reported that the siege had ended, with four attackers killed.

The group has claimed the attack on Iran’s parliament and another on the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, which killed at least two and wounded more than 30 people.

— AP

Trump announces nominee for new FBI head

US President Donald Trump announces that he is tapping lawyer and former Justice Department official Christopher Wray to serve as his new FBI director, on the eve of critical testimony by the intelligence agency chief he ousted.

Wray, a litigation attorney with law firm King & Spalding in Washington and Atlanta, previously served as assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005.

“I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow,” Trump writes on Twitter.

Tomorrow, former FBI chief James Comey will testify in the US Senate about whether Trump pressured him to halt a probe into an adviser’s links to Russia.

Comey was given the go-ahead to deliver potentially explosive testimony after the White House announced it would not use its executive privilege to block his appearance, less than a month after he was controversially sacked by the president.

Video emerges of Notre Dame ‘terrorist’ hammer attack

Surveillance video emerges showing a man attacking police officers patrolling in front of Notre Dame Cathedral, crying out “This is for Syria!”

The man, a former journalist who was working on a doctoral thesis, can be seen lunging at officers outside the cathedral with a hammer, then being shot to death.

An officer was slightly injured in the Tuesday attack. Police have not released his name.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but police searching the man’s residence outside Paris found a declaration of allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office.

A student identity card showed he was from Algeria and 40 years old.

Eisenkot says 25% of Hezbollah militants killed in Syria, Iraq

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says that up to 25 percent of Hezbollah fighters have been killed fighting in Syria and Iraq in the last three years.

Eisenkot says 1,700 militants of the Lebanon-based terrorist group’s total of 7,000 fighters have been killed, calling the high number a “severe blow” to the organization.

Hezbollah parading its military equipment in Qusayr, Syria, November 2016. (Twitter)
Hezbollah parading its military equipment in Qusayr, Syria, November 2016. (Twitter)

Speaking at an event marking 11 years since the Second Lebanon War, Eisenkot said that despite Hezbollah’s growth since then, the military operation has proved to be a success with the north of the country having experienced its quietest decade since the establishment of the state.

Denmark-Germany ferries halted briefly over unspecified ‘threat’

Danish police say that ferry services have resumed between Denmark and Germany after being briefly suspended because of an unspecified “threat.”

“Police have checked out the first ferries and after inspection they have been authorized to start again,” police say in a statement.

Ferry operator Scandlines had said on its website earlier that services had been halted because of “a threat,” without giving further details.

— AFP

Ariana Grande to resume tour in Paris amid tight security

US singer Ariana Grande is to resume her world tour in Paris tonight, more than two weeks after it was interrupted by the Manchester suicide bomb attack.

Security will be extra tight in the French capital, a day after police shot and injured a man who attacked an officer outside the world-famous Notre Dame cathedral

Roads will be blocked off around the concert venue in the east of Paris while police will help security guards to check fans as they arrive for the show.

On May 22 a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 22 people including 7 children at a concert by Grande in Manchester.

In this photo taken on Friday, June 2, 2017 provided by the Manchester Evening News, victim of the Manchester concert blast Lily Harrison hugs singer Ariana Grande during her visit to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, in Manchester, England. (Manchester Evening News via AP)
In this photo taken on Friday, June 2, 2017 provided by the Manchester Evening News, victim of the Manchester concert blast Lily Harrison hugs singer Ariana Grande during her visit to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, in Manchester, England. (Manchester Evening News via AP)

She canceled shows she was due to give in London, Belgium, Germany, Poland and Switzerland, and returned to Florida, before returning to Manchester on Sunday to headline an all-star benefit show for victims of the attack.

— AFP

Syria condemns ‘terrorist attacks’ in Iran

Syria condemns the “terrorist attacks” that targeted the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The Foreign Ministry says Wednesday’s attacks were backed by various governments, without specifying. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, which Syria routinely claims, without evidence, is backed by Western and other powers that want to remove President Bashar Assad from power.

An injured police officer receives medical care outside the Iranian parliament after a shooting attack on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 (screen capture: Mehr news agency)
An injured police officer receives medical care outside the Iranian parliament after a shooting attack on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 (screen capture: Mehr news agency)

Iran has been a key backer of Assad throughout Syria’s six-year-long civil war. It has shored up the government with arms and energy transfers and sent elite fighters, top military advisers, and thousands of militiamen to bolster Assad’s forces.

Iran and Syria both cast the conflict as a struggle against Sunni Islamist terrorism. Their opponents instead blame the two governments for casting the conflict in starkly sectarian terms.

— AP

Germany to pull troops from Turkish base in spat with Ankara

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet decides to pull German troops and reconnaissance aircraft out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base after Turkish officials refuse to let lawmakers visit them.

The troops and planes participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State group will redeploy to Jordan. Merkel portrayed the move as allowing Germany and Turkey to put aside one of many problems causing friction between the two NATO allies.

Germany has about 270 troops stationed at Incirlik, near the Syrian border, with six Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and a refueling plane.

Merkel said that Berlin will consult with its allies on “replacement capabilities” during that time, and the move “will be conducted as quickly as possible under the provision that the anti-IS coalition is able to work.”

— AP

Mexico City mayor highlights country’s Sephardi heritage

The mayor of Mexico City praises his country’s Sephardi heritage during the opening of the global biennial Erensya summit.

“In Mexico we have history, we have inheritance, we have language that comes from Sephardi history,” Miguel Angel Mancera tells the audience. “We are proud to host this congress here and for the first time held outside Europe. It is an honor.”

Sephardi Jews from more than 20 countries gathered in Mexico for the three-day conference to discuss their culture and tradition and the Jewish presence in Mexico in the past and today, and to exchange relevant experiences from the Sephardi world.

“Mexico receives and supports all the communities in the world,” the mayor added, pointing out that Mexico’s first constitution states that discrimination is prohibited and anti-Semitism is categorized as such. “What moves us must be tolerance. The strength of the communities is in their union,” he says.

— JTA

Miri Regev breaks her elbow during visit to Druze village

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev breaks her arm during a visit to a Druze village.

Regev visited the northern Druze village of Yanuh-Jat, near Acre, where she laid the cornerstone for the Druze Heritage Center on Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, after visiting the Western Wall, the minister arrived at the Terem Emergency Medical Services in Jerusalem complaining of pain in her arm. An x-ray found that she had broken her elbow and put a cast on her arm.

Culture Minister Miri Regev at the Terem Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Terem)
Culture Minister Miri Regev at the Terem Medical Center in Jerusalem. (Terem)

“I stumbled yesterday in Yanuh-Jat,” the minister posted on Facebook. “I returned to Jerusalem with a broken arm.”

St. Louis man accused of 8 JCC bomb threats to plead guilty

A St. Louis man and former journalist accused of making eight bomb threats against Jewish institutions, allegedly in a plot to take revenge on a former romantic partner will plead guilty to a cyberstalking charge.

Juan Thompson, 32, originally denied the charges in New York City federal court in April. But prosecutors say in a letter filed with the court that Thompson will enter a guilty plea when he appears in court on June 12, Reuters reports.

Undated photo provided by the Warren County Sheriff's Department in Warrenton, Missouri, shows Juan Thompson, of St. Louis. (Warren County Sheriff's Department via AP)
Undated photo provided by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department in Warrenton, Missouri, shows Juan Thompson, of St. Louis. (Warren County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

Before being extradited from St. Louis to New York, Thompson denied the charges, and said that he had no anti-Semitic beliefs and was being framed and targeted as a black man.

The cyberstalking charges are for eight threats against Jewish community centers and the Anti-Defamation League, which federal prosecutors say were copycat crimes during a wave of nearly 150 bomb threats to Jewish institutions during the first three months of the year.

Thomspson was arrested March 3 for the threats, which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. Bail had been denied at the time of his arrest.

Nearly three weeks later after Thompson’s arrest, an Israeli-American teen was arrested in Israel for allegedly making the bulk of the threats.

— JTA

Prominent Orthodox NY real estate developer pleads guilty to voter fraud

Shalom Lamm, a prominent New York Jewish real estate developer, pleads guilty to conspiring to commit voter fraud in an upstate New York village.

Lamm admits in a federal court in Manhattan to falsely registering non-resident voters in 2014 in Sullivan Country in order to elect public officials in the Bloomingburg village election who would be likely to approve a townhouse development for Hasidic families.

Lamm’s co-defendant, Kenneth Nakdimen, pleaded guilty last month.

Lamm, the son of former Yeshiva University president Norman Lamm, was planning to build a 396-unit housing development for Hasidic Jews in Bloomingburg, a village of 400 in the Catskills. As he encountered opposition from locals, Lamm and his colleagues allegedly attempted to commit voter fraud to elect politicians who would back the project.

Shalom Lamm. (Uriel Heilman)
Shalom Lamm. (Uriel Heilman)

The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and fines up to $250,000, or twice the monetary gain or loss. Lamm could be given a sentencing enhancement for leadership of a conspiracy, which prosecutors are claiming is the case.

— JTA

Netanyahu, Nikki Haley agree to try to scrap UN resolution on settlements — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley have agreed to work to overturn UN resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements — passed without US opposition in the final months of Barak Obama’s presidency — Channel 2 news reports.

The resolution, which passed in December 2016 with 14 yes votes and an American abstention, said Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and represent “a flagrant violation under international law.” Israel reacted furiously to the resolution, denouncing it as “shameful.”

US President Donald Trump condemned the vote at the time, questioning the efficacy of the United Nations, and promising that “things will be different” when became president.

Haley has has also promised a different approach than the previous administration.

“The days of Israel bashing are over” at the UN, she told the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby in Washington, DC, in March. “That happened but it will never happen again,” she said of Resolution 2334. “You’re not going to take our number one democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them,” she said.

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley thanks the crowd before she speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held at the Verizon Center in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley thanks the crowd before she speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held at the Verizon Center in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Furthermore, she declared then that when Resolution 2334 was approved, “the entire country felt a kick in the gut. We had just done something that showed the United States at its weakest point ever,” Nowadays, by contrast, she went on, “everyone at the United Nations is scared to talk to me about Resolution 2334. And I wanted them to know that, Look, that happened, but it will never happen again.”

Currently on an official visit to Israel, Haley told Netanyahu on Wednesday that she was actively working to change attitudes toward Israel at the UN.

“We’re starting to see a turn in New York. I think they know they can’t keep responding in the way they’ve been responding,” she referring to countries that routinely bash the Jewish state at the UN’s various agencies.

Overturning Resolution 2334 would require a new Security Council motion with the support of a majority of its members, and not vetoed by China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States.

Iran’s Rouhani calls for global unity after Tehran attacks

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani calls for “regional and international cooperation and unity” following the twin attacks in Tehran claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 12 people.

“Iran’s message as always is that terrorism is a global problem, and unity to fight extremism, violence and terrorism with regional and international cooperations is the most important need of today’s world,” Rouhani says in a statement.

— AFP

Two US intel chiefs say they were never pressured by White House

Two US intelligence leaders tell Congress they were never pressured by the White House, as they were grilled on reports that President Donald Trump urged them to help ease an FBI probe into an aide’s Russia ties.

“I have never been pressured, I’ve never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Director of Intelligence Dan Coats tells the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closely watched public hearing.

Both Coats and National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers declined to discuss any private conversations they had with Trump, with Rogers saying he has “never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate.”

— AFP

London mayor says anti-Muslim crimes spiked after attack

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speak during a vigil in Potters Fields Park in London on June 5, 2017 to commemorate the victims of the terror attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market that killed seven people on June 3. (AFP/ Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speak during a vigil in Potters Fields Park in London on June 5, 2017 to commemorate the victims of the terror attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market that killed seven people on June 3. (AFP/ Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

Anti-Muslim crimes in the British capital have increased fivefold since the London Bridge terror attack, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who warns that police wills take a “zero-tolerance approach” to such incidents.

“Provisional statistics for 6 June show a 40 percent increase in racist incidents, compared to the daily average this year, and a fivefold increase in the number of Islamophobic incidents,” the mayor’s office says in a statement.

It says 54 racist incidents were recorded on Tuesday, compared to a daily average of 38 so far in 2017.

Twenty of them were anti-Muslim incidents, well above the 2017 daily average of 3.5.

“This is the highest daily level of Islamophobic incidents in 2017 to date,” the statement says, adding it was higher than levels reached after the November 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

People observe a minutes' silence at south-side of London Bridge in London on June 6, 2017, in memory of the victims of the June 3 terror attacks. (AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS)
People observe a minutes’ silence at south-side of London Bridge in London on June 6, 2017, in memory of the victims of the June 3 terror attacks. (AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS)

Eight people were killed on Saturday when three Islamist extremists mowed down people on London Bridge before going on a stabbing spree in nearby Borough Market wearing fake suicide vests.

The three attackers, Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba, were then killed by police. The Islamic State jihadist group later claimed responsibility.

— AFP

Turkey debates military support for Qatar

Turkey’s parliament begins debating legislation for increased military cooperation with Qatar in an apparent move to support the country amid its dispute with Saudi Arabia and other regional nations.

Separate bills for the training of military personnel and the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar are being moved up parliament’s agenda, a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for Qatar and criticized other countries’ moves to isolate it.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen have accused Qatar of harboring extremists and backing Riyadh’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.

Turkey and Qatar have developed close ties over the years and reached an agreement in 2014 for the construction of a Turkish base there. Turkish officials have said as many as 3,000 Turkish troops could be deployed in Qatar.

— AP

US State Department condemns Iran parliament attack

The US State Department “condemns” the twin attacks in Tehran claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 12 people.

“We express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran,” spokesperson Heather Nauert says in a statement.

“The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world,” she adds.

Settler leaders meet with PM amid ‘tense period that’s not over yet”

Settler leaders meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid what they call a “tense period” in relations with the government.

The heads of West Bank regional councils say they pushed for the sit-down following what they view as an insufficient number of settlement construction projects in the West Bank which is “stifling” the natural growth of Jewish communities.

“This meeting comes after a tense period that’s not over yet,” Shilo Adler, Yesha Council chairman, says after the meeting.

Settler leaders outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem after a meeting with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
Settler leaders outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem after a meeting with Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Shomron Regional Council chair Yossi Dagan says in a statement that there was a “positive atmosphere” in the meeting but he expects to see changes in the government’s policy.

Asked if he was disappointed by recent talk of peace negotiations spearheaded by US President Donald Trump, Adler says the idea was pointless as “there is no technical possibility today to set up a Palestinian state.”

— with Jacob Magid

Hezbollah threatens to attack Americans in Syria

The Syrian government’s allies will strike at American positions inside Syria if it crosses any “red lines,” Hezbollah warns.

The Lebanese militant group, a close ally of the Syrian government, issues the threat via its military media arm — one day after American forces bombed pro-government forces in eastern Syria.

The Pentagon said Tuesday the pro-government forces were infringing on a “de-confliction” zone established to protect US-backed local opposition forces, who are engaged in fighting the Islamic State group.

US-made armored vehicles are seen on a road near the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa on June 3, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)
US-made armored vehicles are seen on a road near the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa on June 3, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / DELIL SOULEIMAN)

On its TV station al-Manar, Hezbollah broadcast footage it said was of an Iranian drone tailing an American one over eastern Syria. It said the video was proof the Syrian government’s backers could strike American units at will.

Iran is a key backer of Hezbollah and the Syrian government, and is deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.

Hezbollah’s military media said it was only “self-restraint” keeping pro-government forces from attacking American units.

— AP

US disputes claim Syria strike killed dozens of civilians

The Pentagon is denying that large numbers of civilians were killed in a March strike by a Syrian mosque, acknowledging only one possible civilian death at an adjoining religious compound.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has claimed that the March 16 strike in the village of opposition-held Al-Jineh in northern Aleppo killed 49 people — most of them civilians. But an investigation led by Lieutenant General Paul Bontrager found that about two dozen men attending an Al-Qaeda meeting were killed in the strike, with several others wounded.

“Sadly, we did assess that there was likely one civilian casualty,” Bontrager says, noting he was “unsure” if the person survived.

The general says the probe looked at media reports that indicated a large number of civilian deaths, but investigators did not uncover evidence to support those claims.

“We are not aware of large numbers of civilians being treated in hospitals after the strike,” he says. “We are confident this was a meeting of Al-Qaeda members and leaders.”

— AFP

Congress, Knesset hold simultaneous broadcasts to celebrate Jerusalem

The Knesset and US Congress are holding a live, simultaneous video conference celebrating 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are set to speak from Jerusalem.

House Speaker Paul Ryan will give an address from Washington, and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer will lead the session.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is in attendance at the Knesset.

The event comes days after the US Senate unanimously passed a resolution that said “Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.”

— Marissa Newman

Dermer opens Knesset-Congress event calling Jerusalem reunification ‘a modern-day miracle’

Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer opens the joint Knesset-Congress event marking 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem.

“Welcome to the celebration of a unique moment” in Israel’s history, he says.

“For over 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been at the center of our national and religious life,” he says, noting Abraham, Isaac, Jewish prophets, the Maccabees, and Rome feature in its storied history. “Despite 2,000 years of wandering… the Jewish people swore never to forget Jerusalem.

He says the liberation in June 1967 was “a modern-day miracle.”

“I don’t know if there’s a comparable moment in the history of nations,” says Dermer. “Those who witnessed it can hardly describe it. Those who lived through it, will never forget it.”

He says it’s “not the Jewish people alone” who celebrate today since under Israeli sovereignty, religious sites are protected.

“If there’s a country outside of Israel that appreciates what Jerusalem means to Jews and non-Jews alike, it is the United States of America,” he says, to a smattering of applause.

He thanks the US Senate for the resolution on Jerusalem, to more applause.

— Marissa Newman

Edelstein: Jerusalem will never be divided again

Next up, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein speaks in Jerusalem.

“Welcome to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel,” Edelstein says, to considerable applause.

“The Temple Mount is in our hands — these words were uttered by Col. Motta Gur 50 years ago today,… this sentence changed the course of history,” he says.

He says this sentence “touched” a young boy 50 years ago in the Soviet Union. “That boy was me,” he says, adding that it’s thanks to Israel’s victory that he is here.

“These words echoed around the world for millions of Jews, who rediscovered” their connection to Israel and the Jews,” he says.

“Since 1967, Jerusalem has again become a spiritual center where members of all religions may practice their religion freely,” he says. “This is Jerusalem. Reunified 50 years ago today — never to be divided,” he says, to more clapping.

— Marissa Newman

Edelstein calls on US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Edelstein calls on US to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“50 years ago, Israeli paratroopers touched the Western Wall, the very stones where your president recently prayed,” he says.

Edelstein urges bipartisan US support for a unified Jerusalem, saying only under Israeli sovereignty will all holy sites be protected.

He calls on the US to declare Jerusalem the “official and unquestioned capital of the State of Israel.”

Take these “important, just , and historic steps,” including moving your missions to the capital, he requests.

— Marissa Newman

Speaker Ryan says, ‘United capital of Jerusalem, never to be divided again’

House Speaker Ryan says he is “so honored” to be here on this “historic anniversary.”

“50 years — can you believe that? It’s pretty amazing. Some of us weren’t even born yet — isn’t that right, ambassador,” he says, to some laughter.

Jerusalem, the “spiritual and religious capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years”, was reunited again, he says.

Israeli soldiers saved their country from “annihilation,” he says, noting the heavy casualties during the Six Day War.

“There is something so special about Jerusalem,” he says, “you cannot explain it in words, but you feel it. It is unlike any other place in the world,” he adds, noting the convergence of the three monotheistic religions.

Jerusalem is a place where all may worship “safely and peacefully,” he says. “Let’s not take that for granted,” he adds.

Ryan mentions Yonatan Netanyahu. He says that if the prime minister’s brother had lived to have grandchildren, he would have told them: “After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home… home in the land that so many have died fighting for… Home in the eternal, united capital of Jerusalem, never to be divided again.”

— Marissa Newman

Comey confirms Trump told him to let Flynn probe go

Fired FBI director James Comey confirms in a statement that US President Donald Trump urged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, then under scrutiny for his Russia contacts.

This file photo taken on March 20, 2017 shows then FBI director James Comey during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
This file photo taken on March 20, 2017 shows then FBI director James Comey during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy,” Comey quoted Trump as telling him on February 14 as they sat alone together in the Oval Office.

“I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with his false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,” Comey says in a statement for the record ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

“The president said, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.’ I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey says.

— AFP

Netanyahu says Jerusalem ‘eternal, undivided capital,” quiet on embassy move

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes the podium.

“It’s a pleasure to address you from Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of the State of Israel,” he says, to strong applause.

“Why do I say Jerusalem will never be divided again? Because I remember what it was like when it was divided,” the prime minister says.

Admitting he was born in Tel Aviv and came to the city at the age of two days old, he says the city was “divided, wounded, besieged really. Besieged in the sense that it enclosed on all sides.”

He is recalling the snipers on the walls of the Old City. “It was a wounded, divided city that had no future,” he says.

And he remembers the Six Day War and the moment when Motta Gur said “the Temple Mount is in our hands.”

“It was like a lightning bolt — I can’t describe it any other way,” he says.

“We came back. We united the city…And then we proceeded to do two great things. We ensured that Jerusalem was a free city for all,” he says, referring to “unfettered, untouched” access to all holy sites for all religions.

Without Israel, the city “would descend into horrible sectarian violence,” he says.

“There’s another small thing we did… we also guaranteed the freedom of markets,” he adds. The prime minister says he wants to see the entrepreneurship and Israeli innovation spread through the region and bring peace.

He thanks the US for this “brilliant” gesture, and says the US has no better friend than Israel and vice versa.

He notably doesn’t repeat his previous calls fro the United Staes to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

— Marissa Newman

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Netanyahu says Jerusalem ‘eternal, undivided capital,” quiet on embassy move

Eisenkot says 25% of Hezbollah militants killed in Syria, Iraq

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot says that up to 25 percent of Hezbollah fighters have been killed fighting in Syria and Iraq in the last three years.

Eisenkot says 1,700 militants of the Lebanon-based terrorist group’s total of 7,000 fighters have been killed, calling the high number a “severe blow” to the organization.

Hezbollah parading its military equipment in Qusayr, Syria, November 2016. (Twitter)
Hezbollah parading its military equipment in Qusayr, Syria, November 2016. (Twitter)

Speaking at an event marking 11 years since the Second Lebanon War, Eisenkot said that despite Hezbollah’s growth since then, the military operation has proved to be a success with the north of the country having experienced its quietest decade since the establishment of the state.