Ex-deputy IDF chief trying to conscript Labor MKs for Barak’s new party — report
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Abbas ‘certain’ US economic plan for Mideast peace will fail

PA president says though his government needs financial assistance, Palestinians ‘won’t be slaves’ to Trump administration

  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes notes during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 23, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes notes during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 23, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
  • US National Security Adviser John Bolton, (2nd L) tours the Jordan Valley with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu via helicopter on June 23, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)
    US National Security Adviser John Bolton, (2nd L) tours the Jordan Valley with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu via helicopter on June 23, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)
  • Linoy Ashram competes in the hoop event of the rhythmic gymnastics individual final at the 2019 European Games in Minsk on June 23, 2019. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
    Linoy Ashram competes in the hoop event of the rhythmic gymnastics individual final at the 2019 European Games in Minsk on June 23, 2019. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
  • Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, speaks during a press conference in Kuwait City on June 23, 2019. (Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP)
    Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iran, speaks during a press conference in Kuwait City on June 23, 2019. (Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP)
  • Istanbul mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu (C-R) casts his vote with his wife Dilek Imamoglu (C-L) and their son Semih Imamoglu  on June 23, 2019 in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic / AFP)
    Istanbul mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu (C-R) casts his vote with his wife Dilek Imamoglu (C-L) and their son Semih Imamoglu on June 23, 2019 in Istanbul. (Bulent Kilic / AFP)

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

Lebanon slams Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan

Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has criticized the Trump administration’s $50 billion investment proposal, part of its Middle East peace plan, saying Beirut will not be “tempted” by money at the expense of Palestinians’ rights.

State-run National News Agency quoted Berri as saying Sunday that those who believe Beirut will be lured by billions of dollars at a time when Lebanon is passing through an economic crisis are “mistaken.”

The 10-year plan calls for projects worth $6.3 billion for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza, $9.1 billion in Egypt and $7.4 billion in Jordan.

The large sums for Jordan and Lebanon, countries with substantial Palestinian refugee populations, are an apparent attempt to absorb refugees in these nations.

— AP

UAE calls for talks to defuse US-Iran tensions

The United Arab Emirates is calling for negotiations to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran after Tehran shot down a US drone.

“Tensions in the Gulf can only be addressed politically,” Anwar Gargash, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, posts on Twitter.

He says the crisis in the Gulf region “requires collective attention, primarily to de-escalate and to find political solutions through dialogue and negotiations.”

Head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh looks at debris from what the division describes as the US drone which was shot down on Thursday, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019 (Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency/via AP)

“Regional voices (are) important to achieve sustainable solutions,” says Gargash.

Tehran on Thursday shot down a US surveillance drone that it said entered Iranian airspace, a claim denied by Washington, which said the aircraft was above international waters.

Yesterday, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the charge d’affaires of the UAE, from where it said the drone was launched, to protest Abu Dhabi’s decision to “put its installations at the disposal of foreign forces for aggression.”

— AFP

PA says ‘obnoxious’ Trump economic proposal like ‘Balfour II’

The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry calls the “obnoxious” US $50 billion investment proposal “the Balfour Declaration II, which denies the existence of the Palestinian people.”

A statement from Mahmoud Abbas’s government says the proposal “does not talk about the economy of the Palestinian state and its components, but tries to whitewash the occupation and settlements.”

The landmark 1917 Balfour declaration, which promised British support in the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Mandate Palestine, is seen as a key milestone in the establishment of the State of Israel. The document is roundly condemned by Palestinians who say it was instrumental in their eventual dispossession with the creation of Israel.

The 10-year US plan unveiled yesterday in Bahrain calls for projects worth $6.3 billion for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza, $9.1 billion in Egypt and $7.4 billion in Jordan.

The PA is boycotting the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop and senior officials have rejected the US plan, charging that the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump is seeking to buy off the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

Turkey’s Erdogan votes in Istanbul mayoral rerun

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan votes in a closely watched repeat election for the next mayor of Istanbul, a contest that could have a political impact on his national government.

Erdogan casts his ballot at a suburban school, then is greeted by hundreds of supporters. He says, “I believe the thinking voter will make the best decision for Istanbul.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves the polling booth after casting his ballot for local elections in Istanbul, on June 23, 2019. (Adem ALTAN / AFP)

Today’s vote is being re-run after opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the Istanbul mayoral race in March. The result was canceled by Turkey’s main election board, citing procedural irregularities, after the ruling party protested.

The two main candidates on the Istanbul ballot, Imamoglu and government-backed Binali Yildirim, also voted.

— AP

Top official says Iran may further scale back nuclear deal commitments

The head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations says Iran may further reduce some its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal unless Europe helps it circumvent US sanctions through a trade mechanism.

“If Europeans don’t take measures within the 60-day deadline (announced by Iran in May), we will take new steps,” the semiofficial news agency ISNA quotes Kamal Kharazi as saying according to a translation by Reuters.

“It would be a positive step if they put resources in [the planned European trade mechanism] Instex and …make trade possible,” he says.

Kharazi makes the remarks after meeting with the British Middle East envoy, Andrew Murrison. Media outlets in Iran say the two discussed “bilateral ties, regional issues” and the 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani: Airspace ‘violation’ by US drone triggering ‘new regional tensions’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the US drone that “violated” Iranian airspace and was shot down on Thursday is the “start of new tensions in the region” according to the semiofficial FARS news agency.

Bolton, Netanyahu reaffirm commitment to ‘confronting Iranian aggression’

US National Security Advisor Ambassador John Bolton discusses tensions with Iran in a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat in Jerusalem.

“The meetings re-affirmed the shared United States-Israel priority of confronting Iranian aggression throughout the region by continuing maximum economic pressure and increasing the cost of Iran’s malign activity,” US NSC Spokesman Garrett Marquis says in a statement.

“The Trump Administration unequivocally supports Israel’s efforts to ensure its self-defense and to roll back the Iranian regime’s and its proxy forces’ influence in the region,” the statement says.

The statement says Bolton will have a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart tomorrow and participate in the US-Russia-Israel trilateral meetings on Tuesday.

Justice minister strikes conciliatory tone after backlash over High Court remarks

New Justice Minister Amir Ohana strikes a conciliatory tone toward the justice department in his first public remarks after sparking a firestorm with suggestions that some High Court of Justice rulings need not be obeyed.

“I don’t come with a bulldozer or a tank but with bare hands and a willing soul,” he says at a swearing-in ceremony.

Likud MK Amir Ohana delivers his first speech as justice minister at a conference of the Israel Bar Association, in Jerusalem, on June 10, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

“We all want to strengthen the justice system,” the Likud minister continues. “I believe that the best way to do this is to stay away, as much as possible, from controversial topics in Israeli society.”

Cabinet minister: US proposal for West Bank-Gaza corridor ‘irrelevant’

A Likud cabinet minister and ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is questioning a key component of the Trump administration’s new Mideast peace plan.

Tzachi Hanegbi, minister for regional cooperation, says the US proposal for a land link between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is “irrelevant” as long as the Hamas terror group controls Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Tzachi Hanegbi at a Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on February 22, 2016. (Miriam Alsterl/Flash90)

The $50 billion economic plan, unveiled yesterday, calls for a travel corridor between the two Palestinian areas through Israel.

“It will be relevant when Gaza will stop being a pro-Iranian terror kingdom, meaning it’s irrelevant today and in the foreseeable future,” Hanegbi tells the Kan public broadcaster.

The US is holding a two-day conference in Bahrain this week. The Palestinians have rejected the plan, while Israel will have no official representation.

— with AP

No injuries as truck hits pedestrian bridge at Jerusalem’s Ramot mall

A tractor trailer hits a pedestrian bridge in the Ramot neighborhood in northern Jerusalem.

The truck struck the bridge on Golda Meir Blvd, adjacent to the Ramot mall. There are no immediate reports of injuries, but the road has been closed to traffic in both directions.

https://twitter.com/newsisrael13/status/1142772681395322881

Police are urging drivers to avoid the area and use the nearby Route 443 instead. According to reports, police have detained the driver for questioning.

Iran reports previous incident with ‘spy drone’ in May

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets a map on showing a previous border incident with a “spy drone” encroaching on its airspace in late May.

He says the reconnaissance aircraft, a US-made MQ9 Reaper — also widely used for carrying out military strikes — had encroached on Iranian territory on May 26 despite being sent several warnings.

Arabs renew pledge to give Palestinians $100m in aid monthly

The Arab League reaffirms a pledge to pay $100 million a month to the Palestinian Authority, a day after Washington unveiled its Middle East peace plan.

Arab finance ministers meeting in Cairo renewed a promise first made in April to boost “the Palestinian Authority’s budget with a $100 million monthly transfer… as it faces financial burdens,” a statement says.

They also insist, in an implicit rebuke to the White House’s economic plan, on the “complete Arab support to the Palestinian state’s economic, political and financial independence.”

Arab League foreign ministers meet in Cairo on March 7, 2018. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Yesterday, the United States said its Middle East peace plan to be presented this week in Bahrain aims to raise more than $50 billion for the Palestinians and create one million jobs for them within a decade.

The so-called “Peace to Prosperity” plan is led by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the Bahrain two-day Bahrain conference that opens on Tuesday, charging that pro-Israel Trump is seeking to buy off the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

— AFP

Moroccans protest against US-led Mideast economic plan

Thousands protested in Morocco are protesting against a planned conference in Bahrain where the economic component of a US-led plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians is set to be unveiled.

Demonstrators are gathering in the capital Rabat, burning an Israeli flag near Morocco’s parliament. Protesters are heard shouting: “Death to Israel!” and “Death to the United States!”

Other slogans decry “Arab traitor regimes” for planning to attend the conference, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The economic aspects of the US plan — dubbed the Peace to Prosperity workshop — are set to be discussed by attendees at a meeting in Manama on Tuesday and Wednesday.

— AFP

McDonald’s wins Ben Gurion tender despite boycott calls by settler leaders

McDonald’s Israel wins a tender to operate two restaurants at Ben Gurion Airport for the next seven years, the airport announces in a statement.

The NIS 17 million bid was 5 million to 6 million shekels more than those offered by its competitors Burger Ranch and Burger King.

McDonald’s wins the bid despite boycott calls by settler leaders who launched a campaign against the hamburger chain for refusing to open branches in the West Bank.

Trump says ‘not looking for war’ with Iran, willing to negotiate without preconditions

US President Donald Trump tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he is “not looking for war, and is willing to speak with Iranian leaders without preconditions.

Trump tells host Chuck Todd that he did not warn Iran of the impending US attack over the weekend that he later called off.

“I did not send that message,” he says. “I’m not looking for war.”

Trump says he believes Iran “want to negotiate. And I think they want to make a deal.”

He adds any future deal with Iran will ensure that it does not obtain nuclear weapons.

“They cannot have a nuclear weapon. It’s not about the straits. You know, a lot of people covered it incorrectly. They’re never mentioned,” he says. “They cannot have a nuclear weapon. They’d use it. And they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon.”

Trump brushes off UN call to probe Khashoggi killing

Trump isn’t saying whether he’ll direct the FBI to investigate the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump does not answer directly when asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he’ll allow the FBI to examine the slaying of the Saudi Arabian journalist. In the interview taped last week and broadcast Sunday, Trump says Khashoggi’s killing has been “heavily investigated.”

Khashoggi was killed, and believed to have been dismembered, inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey by Saudi agents on October 2. His remains have never been found.

People hold posters picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and candles during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have investigated. Last week, an independent UN report found “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi’s writings criticized the Saudi royal family.

— AP

US envoy calls on world to ‘urge Iran to de-escalate’

The US special envoy for Iran is urging “all nations to use their diplomatic effort to urge Iran to de-escalate and meet diplomacy with diplomacy” amid soaring tensions in the Gulf.

“We are not interested in… military conflict against Iran. We have enhanced our forces’ postures in the region for purely defensive purposes,” Brian Hook tells journalists in Kuwait City.

Polls close in Istanbul mayoral election rerun

Polls close in Istanbul after voters cast ballots in a rerun mayoral election after a March 31 vote was voided for procedural irregularities.

Opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu is seeking to repeat his win from 12 weeks earlier to become the city’s first mayor in 25 years who is not from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party or its Islamist-rooted predecessor.

The other candidate in today’s election is former Turkish prime minister Binali Yildirim, who received support from Erdogan at campaign rallies.

The Turkish leader was mayor of Istanbul, the country’s largest city, during the 1990s.

The election board’s decision to cancel the March election after the governing party challenged it polarized Turks, who attended campaign rallies in large numbers.

Indian soldiers recover bodies of 7 missing international climbers

An Indian official says paramilitary soldiers have reached the bodies of seven of eight members from a team of international climbers believed killed on a notoriously dangerous Himalayan mountain.

An administrator of Uttarakhand state, Vijay Jogdande, says the soldiers reached the bodies today, but they had yet to be identified. The bodies will now be brought from where they were found at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) to the base camp.

Ground expeditions were launched after helicopter missions failed to reach the area.

Veteran British mountaineer Martin Moran led the team of four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian on the expedition on Nanda Devi East. Moran’s Scotland-based company said contact with the team was lost on May 26 following an avalanche.

— AP

British tourists removed from plane at Ben Gurion after making bomb threat

Eighteen British tourists were removed from a British Airways plane at Ben Gurion airport after one of the members of the group threatened to blow up the London-bound plane shortly after boarding, the Israel Airports Authority says.

The IAA statement says the plane was cleared of passengers and airport security teams swept the aircraft for explosives.

The Israeli teams determined there were no bombs on board, and cleared the flight for takeoff a short time ago.

The group, visiting Israel for a private event, was not allowed to re-board the flight per the airline’s instructions.

The statement says the BA flight to London will take off in the coming hour.

Huge crowds of protesters demand Czech PM step down

Huge crowds flood central Prague demanding Prime Minister Andrej Babis step down over allegations of graft in a protest that organizers and local media claim drew around 250,000 people, which would make it the largest since the fall of communism in 1989.

“Judging from the aerial photos, it looks like we’re about 250,000. We’ll see how many more people will still arrive,” says Mikulas Minar, head of Million Moments for Democracy, the NGO organizing the protest, as it got underway.

Netanyahu slams Palestinians for rejecting Trump economic package outright

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pans the Palestinian leadership for rejecting the American economic proposal for the region outright, before his administration formally unveils the first part of its Mideast peace proposal in Bahrain this week.

“I cannot understand how the Palestinians, before they even heard the plan, reject it outright,” he says during a tour of the Jordan Valley with US National Security adviser John Bolton.

“That’s not the way to proceed,” he says. “We believe that peace is coupled and dependent on security. Our presence here guarantees security and therefore guarantees peace.”

“Under any peace agreement, our position will be that Israel’s presence should continue here for Israel’s security and for the security of all,” Netanyahu says. “And in general, I would say that we’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly, and with openness.”

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the two-day Bahrain conference that opens on Tuesday, charging that pro-Israel Trump is seeking to buy off the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

Erdogan’s party loses controversial replay of Istanbul election

A former Turkish prime minister backed by Turkey’s ruling party concedes defeat and congratulates his opponent in Istanbul’s repeated mayoral election.

Binali Yildirim says that opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu was ahead, as the first returns were announced.

Yildirim says: “I congratulate him and wish him success.”

Istanbul mayoral candidate of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu (C-R) casts his vote with his wife Dilek Imamoglu (C-L) and their son Semih Imamoglu, on June 23, 2019, in Istanbul..(Bulent Kilic / AFP)

With nearly all votes counted, Imamoglu had a lead of more than 715,000 votes.

Imamoglu narrowly won office as mayor of Turkey’s largest city on March 31, and served for 18 days. Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts.

— AP

Ex-deputy IDF chief trying to conscript Labor MKs for Barak’s new party — report

Former deputy army chief of staff Yair Golan is working to conscript former Labor lawmakers to a new party headed by former prime minister Ehud Barak, according to a Channel 13 report.

Golan tells the TV news station that he “will not confirm, but also will not deny” the report.

According to Channel 13, Golan and Barak have meet recently to discuss “cooperation in a new political framework.”

On Friday, Barak confirmed long-running reports that he is looking to form a new political party ahead of Israel’s second elections of the year.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Barak denied that he would go back to the Labor Party, but said he would consider joining his former party to form an anti-Netanyahu bloc.

Syria says sabotage damaged underwater oil pipelines

Syria’s oil ministry says five underwater pipelines have been damaged and put out of order as a result of a sabotage attack off the coastal town of Banias.

The ministry says the damage was discovered after divers checked to see what was behind oil leakage, adding that the ministry’s experts are working to fix the damage.

The ministry gave no further details about the attack, saying that the damage will be fixed within hours.

It said Oil Minister Ali Ghanem visited the area and met with engineers over the “terrorist attack.”

Syria has been mostly relying on oil shipments through tankers to its Mediterranean coast. Syria suffered recently from fuel shortages that were largely the result of Western sanctions on Syria and renewed US sanctions on its ally Iran.

— AP

Abbas ‘certain’ US economic plan for Mideast peace will fail

Palestinian Authority President Mahmuod Abbas says he is confident that the US-led peace conference this week in Bahrain will fail.

“We are certain that the workshop in Manama will not be successful,” Abbas, who is boycotting the US-led conference focussed on the Palestinian economy, tells foreign journalists in Ramallah.

Yesterday, the US government unveiled the economic part of its peace plan that it will present in Bahrain on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the aim of raising more than $50 billion for the Palestinians and creating one million jobs within a decade.

Abbas’s government had already rejected the proposal, saying the dispute with Israel is political and accusing the US of seeking to buy Palestinian support.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes notes during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 23, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

“We will not be slaves or servants for Greenblatt, Kushner and Friedman,” Abbas tells journalists at his presidential office in Ramallah, referring to US President Donald Trump’s negotiating team, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“We need the economic (support), the money and the assistance, but before everything there is a political solution,” he says. “For America to turn the whole cause from a political issue into an economic one, we cannot accept this.”

— AFP

Pompeo to visit Saudi Arabia, UAE for Iran crisis talks

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he will visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for talks on the crisis sparked by Iran’s downing an American drone.

“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned and how we can build out a global coalition” on Iran, he says.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media availability at the US State Department, June 13, 2019, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Pompeo says he will visit the two countries on his way to India, where he begins a visit on Tuesday.

— AFP

Ex-US military aide warns Iran crisis could ‘spin out of control’

A former top US military adviser warned Sunday that tensions with Iran “could spin out of control,” after President Donald Trump’s last-minute cancellation of air strikes on the Islamic republic.

Washington and Tehran have traded accusations since Iran shot down a US spy drone last week, prompting a plan for retaliatory strikes that was shelved when Trump decided the resulting mass casualties would not be “proportionate.”

“My biggest concern is the president is running out of room, running out of options and while rhetoric goes back and forth on how close we came to hitting Iran just the other day, that this thing could spin out of control,” former chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen tells ABC’s “This Week.”

“The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran,” he says.

Mullen, who served under George W. Bush and then under Barack Obama from 2007 to 2011, says politicians need to use diplomacy to prevent Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“That’s our system here and I think the politicians need to figure out a way to achieve the objective, which is Iran without a nuclear weapon — and, from my perspective, without regime change, without going to war,” he says.

— AFP

Gaza arson balloons spark 6 fires in southern Israel

Six fires broke out in southern Israel today, sparked by incendiary balloons launched over the border from the Gaza Strip, according to Israel’s fire and rescue services.

A fire department statement says the blazes were sparked in the Shaar Hanegev, Sdot Negev and Eshkol regional councils.

Firefighters with the assistance of the KKL Jewish National Fund volunteers managed to put out all the fires by this evening.

UK diplomat in Tehran warns against ‘escalation and miscalculation’

A top UK diplomat has met with senior officials in Tehran to discuss preventing “escalation and miscalculation” amid heightened tensions between the US and Iran.

The UK Foreign Office quotes Andrew Murrison, the minister of state for the Middle East, as saying his visit was aimed at “open, frank and constructive engagement” with his Iranian counterparts.

He says that includes reiterating the UK’s assessment that Iran almost certainly bears responsibility for recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, which Iran denies.

Murrison adds that Iran must continue to meet its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers from which the Trump administration withdrew a year ago, before re-imposing crippling economic sanctions on the country.

— AP

Pompeo calls drone map released by Iran ‘child-like’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounces the “child-like” map released by Iran, purporting to show that a US drone entered its airspace in May.

“You’ve seen that child-like map that Foreign Minister (Mohammad Javad) Zarif put out that contrasts with the excellence and professionalism of America’s military and intelligence services,” Pompeo tells reporters as he leaves on a trip to US allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Pompeo says the map “should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about where that unarmed vehicle was — it was flying in international airspace.”

Turkey’s Erdogan congratulates Istanbul mayor-elect

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulates the opposition candidate who won a repeat mayoral election in Istanbul and defeated Erdogan’s candidate for the second time.

Erdogan tweets: “I congratulate Ekrem Imamoglu, who has won according to unofficial results.”

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, AKP, contested the results of the first mayoral election, held March 31. Imamoglu won that contest with a narrow margin of 13,729 votes.

Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results and ordered a repeat election.

Unofficial returns from today’s election show Imamoglu beating Erdogan’s candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, by more than 777,000 votes.

AKP still controls 25 of Istanbul’s 39 districts and holds a majority of seats in the municipal assembly.

— AP

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Ex-deputy IDF chief trying to conscript Labor MKs for Barak’s new party — report

Former deputy army chief of staff Yair Golan is working to conscript former Labor lawmakers to a new party headed by former prime minister Ehud Barak, according to a Channel 13 report.

Golan tells the TV news station that he “will not confirm, but also will not deny” the report.

According to Channel 13, Golan and Barak have meet recently to discuss “cooperation in a new political framework.”

On Friday, Barak confirmed long-running reports that he is looking to form a new political party ahead of Israel’s second elections of the year.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, Barak denied that he would go back to the Labor Party, but said he would consider joining his former party to form an anti-Netanyahu bloc.