Etihad plane lands in Israel with virus aid
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Likud vows to pass new West Bank land law as right wing fumes at court

Coalition crisis may be brewing as Blue and White says it will respect court decision on ‘problematic’ legislation

Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Israeli settlers protest the planned eviction of the outpost of Amona, in front of the Israeli parliament, January 30, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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

Second UAE plane with Palestinian virus aid headed to Israel

A second Emirati plane bearing Palestinian aid is set to arrive in Israel on Wednesday, according to the airline.

In this photo released by the state-run WAM news agency on May 19, 2020, an Etihad Airways flight with aid for the Palestinians to fight the coronavirus pandemic is loaded with its cargo in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (WAM via AP)

An Etihad spokesperson tells Reuters that the plane will only be carrying cargo, apparently coronavirus-related aid for the Palestinians.

A previous shipment of UN aid sent on an Etihad plane to Ben-Gurion Airport was refused by the Palestinians over the fact that it had not been coordinated with them. It is unclear what has happened to that aid or if this flight hasbeen coordinated with Ramallah.

An Israeli source says that unlike the May 19 flight, Wednesday’s plane will not have the Etihad Airways logo masked. Palestinians and others object to Gulf moves that they claim normalize contacts with Israel.

Germany says racism complaints up in 2019

Germany’s official anti-discrimination watchdog says it received significantly more complaints about racism in 2019 than the year before.

The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency says it received 1,176 complaints about racism last year, an increase of 10% compared to 2018.

This represents about a third of all 3,580 complaints received by the agency. Others concerned discrimination based on gender, disability, age, religion, sexual identity and world view.

The number of complaints about racism has more than doubled since 2015.

Bernhard Franke, the head of the agency, calls for changes in the law to improve the legal standing of those affected by discrimination, saying that “Germany needs to do more in the fight against racist discrimination.”

He notes that the coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated some forms of discrimination, with his office receiving numerous reports of racist abuse suffered by people of Asian background in recent months.

— AP

Fifty-one new immigrants arrive from North America

Despite the coronavirus crisis, or perhaps because if it, 51 North Americans immigrated to Israel on a flight that landed Tuesday morning, the immigration aid group Nefesh B’Nefesh says.

Immigration has continued — albeit at a lazier pace — since the start of the crisis, which has shut down air travel and forced restrictions, including mandatory self-isolation for arrivals. The new immigrants will spend the first two weeks in their new home living the dream of being in self-quarantine.

Three new immigrants after arriving in Israel on June 9, 2020. (Yonit Schiller/Courtesy of Nefesh B’Nefesh)

According to NBN, the group has seen a massive uptick in people interested in immigrating since the start of the crisis. Almost 800 people applied to immigrate in May 2020, up from 424 in May 2019, it says in a statement.

Aid shipment from UAE to be sent to Ashdod port, where first tranche waits

A United National official tells the Times of Israel that the UAE plane laden with aid for the Palestinians is the second of a pre-planned two-part consignment.

Once it clears customs, the goods will be dispatched to a holding terminal at the Ashdod sea port, which is where the first part of the shipment is also waiting.

The decision to send the goods to Ashdod indicates it will likely end up in Gaza and not the West Bank.

Both the West Bank and Gaza have managed to keep a lid on COVID-19 infections, with only a couple of deaths and a few hundred confirmed cases between them.

— with Jacob Magid

Slovakia eases border controls, allows travel to 16 more countries

Slovakia is easing its border restrictions, allowing travel to 16 more European countries.

Prime Minister Igor Matovic says that the countries are Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.

Matovic said the countries are considered safe for Slovak travelers and their citizens don’t pose a threat for Slovakia.

Last week, Slovakia reopened its borders with neighboring Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary.

Slovakia has not been hit as hard by the pandemic as some other European countries. It says 1,531 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and 28 have died.

— AP

High Court to hear petition against alternate PM post

The High Court says it will rule on a petition casting doubt over the constitutionality of a law creating the post of  alternate prime minister, currently filled by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Walla news site reports.

It’s not immediately clear when the hearing will take place.

The court earlier threw out petitions against that law and other measures created by the new power-sharing government between Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that it could not rule before the laws were passed into law and enacted.

Palestinians pushing counter-proposal to Trump peace plan

Palestinians have submitted a response to the US Mideast plan, which sees parts of the West Bank being annexed by Israel, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh says.

“We submitted a counter-proposal to the Quartet a few days ago,” he said, referring to the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.

He said that it proposed the creation of a “sovereign Palestinian state, independent and demilitarized” with “minor modifications of borders where necessary.”

— AFP

Former Miss Hitler entrant, other UK neo-Nazis, sent to prison

Four people, including a former Miss Hitler entrant, have been sentenced to prison by a British court for belonging to the anti-Semitic far-right National Action group.

Two photos of the winner of the Miss Hitler 2016 contest run by the British white supremacist group National Action. (National Action)

Alice Cutter, who joked about blowing up a synagogue and using a Jew’s head as a soccer ball, is sentenced to three years, while her ex-partner Mark Jones gets five years, according to Sky News.

Two other members get four-and-a-half years and 18 months respectively.

Cutter had entered the anti-Semitic Miss Hitler beauty contest run by NA in 2016 under the name Buchenwald Princess, according to The Independent.

Police release video showing suspicious figure near Jerusalem double slaying

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man seen walking near the scene of a grisly killing last year.

The black and white video shows the man walking in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood on January 10, 2019.

Yehuda Kaduri, 71, and his wife Tamar, 68, were found stabbed to death in their apartment in Armon Hanatziv on January 13, 2019, in what was initially suspected to have been a terror attack.

Several arrests have been made in the case, including a Palestinian man, and later relatives of the Kaduris when police began investigating the possibility that the deaths were the result of a domestic dispute.

Anyone with knowledge of who the man may be is asked to report it to the police.

אנו מבקשים את עזרתכם בבירור זהותו של אדם, שתועד בסמוך לזירת הרצח שהתרחש בשכונת ארמון הנציב בירושלים, בתאריך 10.1.19….

פורסם על ידי ‏Israel Police – משטרת ישראל‏ ב- יום שלישי, 9 ביוני 2020

Prosecution said to request three life sentences for Duma firebomber

The state prosecution is asking the Jerusalem District Court to sentence a man convicted of killing two Palestinian parents and their 18-month-old toddler to three consecutive life sentences, plus an extra 40 years, according to reports in Hebrew language media.

Israeli Amiram Ben Uliel carried out the firebombing attack on the Dawabshe family home in the West Bank town of Duma in July 2016.

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Nasser Dawabshe, whose brother Said was killed in the attack, tells the court that when he got to the house shortly after the attack “it was hell. High temperatures, explosions and smoke.”

He says when he went back in with firefighters he felt something soft on his leg.

“When I lifted it, I saw it was Ali,” he says, according to Haaretz, referring to the killed toddler. “When the doctor started to work on him he was coal. Parts of his body were no longer there.”

Bahrain releases activist jailed over tweet

Prominent Bahraini rights activist Nabeel Rajab was freed from jail Tuesday after being sentenced to five years imprisonment for tweeting criticism of the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, his lawyer says.

“Nabeel has been released and he is on his way home now,” Mohammed Al-Jishi tells AFP, adding that the remaining three years of the sentence would be served in an “alternative” or non-custodial setting.

— AFP

Knesset to push marijuana legalization reforms

Likud and Blue and White say they will push legislation “to arrange the issue of decriminalization and legalization via a responsible model,” apparently referring to cannabis.

The statement notes that the sides have also decided to push reforms to medical cannabis in order to make it easier for patients to get access to treatment and for growers to get a license to fill their fields with dank kind buds.

The statement does not give a timetable for the moves. The government has in recent years taken steps toward decriminalizing marijuana use, but it remains illegal.

Medical cannabis users have also complained of near-impossible access to the few dispensaries licensed to distribute weed.

79 years later, Knesset marks Farhud pogrom for first time

The Knesset is for the first time marking the Farhud, a Holocaust-era pogrom against Iraqi Jews supported by Baghdad’s Nazi-backed government.

At least 180 Jews were killed in two days of mob violence on June 1-2, 1941. The event was seen as a turning point that brought centuries of strong Jewish-Arab ties in Iraq to a shuddering end. Today, only a handful of Jews live in Iraq; the remainder have fled to Israel or the West.

An Iraqi girl peers out from the door of her home on a street in what used to be the Jewish area of central Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011. (AP/Karim Kadim)

Israel had traditionally shied from taking any special steps to mark the pogrom, but in 2015 declared June 1 as International Farhud Day.

“The Farhud is Nazi crime,” says Joint List MK Ofer Kasif, calling for Farhud victims to be afforded the same rights as Holocaust survivors.

According to the Knesset website, 30 of the country’s 120 MKs are in the Knesset building, leaving the plenum mostly empty as a few lawmakers memorialize the massacre.

Greece says tourists from hard-hit Italy welcome to visit

Greece’s foreign minister says his country will gradually lift all restrictions on arriving Italian tourists.

The minister makes the comments after meeting in Athens with his Italian counterpart. He says the decision is made based on the improving coronavirus situation in Italy.

Rome had been angered by its exclusion from Athens’ initial list of 29 countries whose citizens will be allowed into Greece from June 15 without compulsory coronavirus tests or quarantines.

Greece later clarified that entry would be allowed to tourists arriving from airports not considered high risk regarding the virus by the European air safety agency.

Visitors arriving from airports not on the European air safety agency list of at-risk regions will be subject to random spot coronavirus tests but will not face the mandatory testing and quarantine currently in place for all international travelers.

— AP

Eiffel tower to reopen on June 25

One of the world’s best-known tourist attractions, the Eiffel Tower, will reopen later this month, the latest sign of Europe attempting to get life back on track as the coronavirus fades from view.

The Eiffel Tower will reopen to the public on June 25, more than three months after shuttering in France’s coronavirus lockdown, its operators say.

A statue wears a mask along Trocadero square close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, May 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, FILE)

The landmark will emerge from its longest closure since World War II with limited visitor numbers at first, and face masks mandatory for all over the age of 11, says the Eiffel Tower website.

— AFP

Gantz warns of international backlash to annexation

Defense Minister Benny Gantz appears to express qualms about Israel’s push to annex parts of the West Bank in a meeting with settler leaders, but does not indicate he will make any moves to thwart it.

He says that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are working out agreements on the matter, and calls the US “our best friend, which backs us on fateful strategic matters and we will preserve this partnership.”

But he adds that Israel should be wary of a diplomatic backlash, especially from Amman, which has fumed and threatened to review its peace deal with Israel over annexation.

“When we make diplomatic moves, we need to listen well to what is being said on the ground and around us, and to keep the peace treaty with Jordan, for instance,” he says, according to a statement from his office. “These agreements contribute much to our regional security and stability.”

He also appears to speak out against rushing to annex illegal outposts before taking care of more pressing matters: “Our responsibility before we make a decision about annexation is to foster and aid places where people live legally in security and allow them normal lives.”

Netanyahu backers share post claiming porn star joining defense team

A post making the rounds on social media groups supportive of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that “successful American lawyer Johnny Sins” has agreed to take on Netanyahu’s cases pro-bono and even donate millions of dollars to needy Israelis, according to the Seventh Eye media watchdog.

The only problem: Sins (born Steven Wolfe) is not a famous American lawyer, as claimed by the post. He does screw people for a living, though. He’s a porn star.

One version of the post shared by a woman on Facebook whose feed is mostly made up of far-right conspiracy theories, is shared hundreds of times, and garners nearly 1,000 comments, many of them marveling over Sins’ largess and Netanyahu’s ability to land such a hotshot at his table.

Sins retired from porn last year, and it’s pretty unlikely he is practicing law in Israel, or plans to donate millions of dollars to Israeli families. You never know, though, and perhaps the man Cosmopolitan called “a sexy Mr. Clean,” will in fact soon be filing briefs for the prime minister.

High Court strikes down West Bank ‘land regulation’ law

The Supreme Court has struck down the 2017 Regulation Law, which gave Israel the ability to take over private Palestinian land in the West Bank in cases where settlers build there “in good faith.”

In an 8-1 ruling, the judges write that the law “infringes on property rights and equality for Palestinian residents, and places an overt preference for the interests of Israeli settlers over Palestinian residents.”

The judges say Palestinian residents should have the status of “protected residents,” of a disputed area, which should play a role in how Israel treats them under the law.

The controversial law was passed after Israel was forced to demolish a number of outposts and homes build on land found to have been owned by Palestinians. The settlers claimed to have purchased the land, or claimed to have been misled.

IDF releases ‘likely inaccurate’ figures showing stunted Haredi enlistment

The Israel Defense Forces releases fresh statistics on ultra-Orthodox enlistment for July 2018 to December 2019, but preemptively stresses that the figures are likely inaccurate — an acknowledgment of a scandal from earlier this year in which the military was found to have repeatedly published false enlistment tallies.

According to the military’s assessment, which it says is inherently flawed, 1,788 ultra-Orthodox — or Haredi — men enlisted in the IDF from July 2018 to June 2019 and another 983 joined the army from July 2019 to December 2019.

The military is no longer given required enlistment figures — so it can’t be said to have missed its target — but these figures fall far short of the numbers previously given to it by the government. In 2016, the last year a requirement was given, the military was meant to draft 3,200 Haredi Jews.

“In light of the fact that the duty to report is anchored in law, the IDF presented its reports to the defense minister. It should be stressed in advance and unequivocally that the IDF does not have the ability to present an accurate report,” the military says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Likud says it will pass new Regulation Law

The Likud party is vowing to pass a new regulation bill allowing the appropriation of West Bank land after the court struck down a previous one.

“It’s unfortunate that the High Court intervened and disqualified a law that’s important to settlement and its future,” the party says.

Left-wing rights group B’Tselem says the court decision does little to stop the larger settlement enterprise.

“All lands in the West Bank are Palestinian, and even after today’s HCJ (High Court of Justice) ruling Israel will continue to take over more and more Palestinian land. This reality of ongoing land theft by the State of Israel does not fundamentally change today, nor does it diminish the Israeli HCJ’s role in legitimizing it over the years,” it says.

Blue and White says court decision on Regulation Law will be honored

The Blue and White Party says it will do what it can to make sure the court decision striking down the Regulation Law goes into effect.

“The formulation of the Regulation Law was in opposition to the standing of Israeli law and its legal problems were known back when it was passed in the Knesset,” the party says in a statement.

Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser of the two-man Dereech Eretz faction of Blue and White express unhappiness with the decision, but say it won’t chill the drive toward annexation.

“The future of settlement won’t be decided in a courtroom, but by the Israel government, which has before it a historic chance to extend sovereignty,” the two say in a statement.

Right wingers fume over court decision on land law

Likud minister Tzipi Hotovely calls the court decision “a declaration of war on the rights of Jews to settle the Land of Israel.”

“The court has recognized the rights of Palestinians which never proved their ownership over the land, over Israeli citizens who serve in the army and pay taxes, and who settled the land innocently and as emissaries of Israeli governments over the years and are now considered criminals,” she complains.

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, despite being in the opposition, urges the government to respond by pushing ahead with annexation and passing a law allowing the Knesset to bypass the court.

The pro-settlement Regavim movement, which had pushed the law, says the ruling exposes the court as biased against settlements. “Today, at last, the High Court has admitted that for all practical purposes it is a High Court of Subjective Justice,” it says.

Over 130 new virus cases reported in last day

The Health Ministry says there have been over 130 new coronavirus cases over the last day, bringing the total to 18,180.

One new death brings the toll to 299.

Thirty-one people are in serious condition, including 24 on ventilators.

Government orders upped enforcement of virus guidelines

Israeli authorities have decided to leave current coronavirus guidelines in place despite the rise in infections, but instead order stricter enforcement of the existing rules.

Police and other government inspectors have been told to crack down on people not wearing masks or gathering in large groups, and to up oversight of businesses and those in self-quarantine.

People in central Jerusalem, some wearing masks incorrectly or not at all, on June 8, 2020.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

It says local authorities will be deputized to help in the war against improper mask-wearing.

The decisions were made at an emergency meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, other ministers and top law enforcement officials, among others.

Annexation will solve Regulation Law issues, source close to PM says

A source “close to Netanyahu,” is quoted saying that annexation of parts of the West Bank will “solve most of the issues” of the struck down Regulation Law, the Ynet news site reports.

It’s not clear how annexation would do this, but the comment could indicate that Israel may not fully respect Palestinian property rights on lands it annexes.

Could Regulation Law spark a coalition crisis?

The Kan broadcaster reports that a dispute between Likud and Blue and White over how to react to the Regulation Law being struck down could end up tearing the government apart.

“We won’t give way, even at the price of a [coalition] crisis, Blue and White will need to agree to legislate a new Regulation Law,” a Likud source is quoted saying.

Yamina, in an apparent bid to help spark that crisis, says it is pushing a court override law to separate the leftist chaff from the right-wing wheat.

“Supporters are right
Opposers are left.
The excuses are done…
We expect to see Likud’s decision.
Without excuses.
For or against,” the party says in a haiku/statement.

UN chief slams police brutality, urges global fight against racism

The United Nations secretary-general is urging a global fight against racism and discrimination following the “murderous act of police brutality” against George Floyd that has led to widespread protests in the United States and cities around the world.

António Guterres says in a letter to staff, “the position of the United Nations on racism is crystal clear: This scourge violates the United Nations Charter and debases our core values.”

Guterres says “the primacy of reason, tolerance, mutual respect” in the world is now being called “dramatically” into question by nationalism, irrationality, populism, xenophobia, racism, white supremacism, and different forms of Neo-Nazism. He said a central problem is not only police brutality but “the difficulty of many authorities to deal with diversity,” starting with so-called profiling.

The secretary-general calls for all police forces to be fully trained on human rights, adding that “many times police brutality is the expression of the frustrations of the police officers themselves, as well as of the lack of adequate psycho-social support to them.”

— AP

Etihad plane lands in Israel with virus aid

An Etihad Airlines plane from Abu Dhabi has arrived in Israel, for only the second time ever.

Unlike the first flight last month, this time the plane includes the Etihad logo and the UAE flag.

An Etihad airlines cargo plane at Ben-Gurion airport on June 9, 2020. (courtesy: Moni Shiffer/Israel Airports Authority)

The plane is carrying UN-supplied virus aid for the Palestinians, though its unclear if the PA will agree to accept it.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry says the flight was coordinated by it, and the aid will be transferred to Gaza and the PA.

 

Biden calls for racial justice in message to Floyd funeral

Joe Biden is calling for racial justice in a message to mourners at the funeral of George Floyd.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee speaks via video at Floyd’s funeral on Tuesday, a day after he met privately with Floyd’s family.

Biden says in his recorded remarks that “when we get justice for George Floyd we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America,” adding a message to Floyd’s daughter by saying, “Then, Gianna, your daddy will have changed the world.”

More than 500 mourners gathered for the service at Fountain of Praise church in Houston, where Floyd was raised.

— AP

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Etihad plane lands in Israel with virus aid

An Etihad Airlines plane from Abu Dhabi has arrived in Israel, for only the second time ever.

Unlike the first flight last month, this time the plane includes the Etihad logo and the UAE flag.

An Etihad airlines cargo plane at Ben-Gurion airport on June 9, 2020. (courtesy: Moni Shiffer/Israel Airports Authority)

The plane is carrying UN-supplied virus aid for the Palestinians, though its unclear if the PA will agree to accept it.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry says the flight was coordinated by it, and the aid will be transferred to Gaza and the PA.