The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s developments as they unfolded.
Palestinian teen said killed in army clashes
A Palestinian teenager is killed during West Bank clashes with the Israeli army, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reports.
The teenager, identified as Omar Madi, 16, was reportedly shot in the chest. He dies of his wounds in a Hebron hospital.
The news agency quotes locals saying that both live fire and rubber bullets were fired at rioters.
Iraq says risk to Mosul Dam affecting anti-IS drive
The risk of Iraq’s largest dam collapsing and unleashing a huge wave onto Mosul is affecting plans to retake the city from jihadists, an adviser to the premier’s office says.
The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to recapture the city, the largest urban center in the Islamic State group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
Concern has grown that a failure of the unstable dam, which is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the city, could wipe out most of Mosul and flood large parts of Baghdad.
The Americans “frequently refer to Katrina” and say a collapse of the Mosul Dam would be “a thousand times worse,” the adviser to the office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tells reporters.
Hurricane Katrina ravaged the US city of New Orleans in 2005, killing nearly 2,000 people and leading to a wave of violence and looting that completely overwhelmed the authorities.
“If the dam busts, the center of Mosul goes under water by about a 40-50 foot wave (12 to 15 meters),” the adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It just disappears, so 500,000 people (are) killed within a few hours,” he says.
He says another dam in Samarra, hundreds of miles downstream, would also burst. It is estimated the wave would still be several meters high when it reaches Baghdad.
Palestinian activist urges Oscar nominees to forgo Israel trip
Palestinians are urging Oscar nominees to decline a free trip to the Holy Land sponsored by the Israeli government.
Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Lydia Weitzman says Israel is offering gratis ten-day luxury vacations to 26 stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says Sunday “their visit will have enormous resonance among millions of fans.”
Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti says Israel is fighting “its increasing international isolation through bribes,” rather than by changing its policies.
“There are no Hunger Games in Gaza but there is real hunger,” he says Wednesday.
In recent years, pro-Palestinian activists have called for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel to protest its policies toward the Palestinians. Israeli supporters say the BDS movement is in some cases thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
IDF says slain Palestinian teen was throwing stones
The Palestinian teenager who was shot and killed by IDF troops in al-Aroub in the West Bank had been throwing stones at passing cars, an army spokesperson says.
“During routine IDF security activity, forces spotted assailants hurling rocks at civilian vehicles on Route 60, adjacent to al-Aroub. Forces responded to the immediate threat and fired towards one of the attackers,” the IDF official says.
It was not immediately clear if the soldiers attempted to stop the Palestinian teen through non-lethal means before firing directly at him.
— Judah Ari Gross
Erdogan says US creating ‘a pool of blood’ in region
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday accuses the United States of creating a “pool of blood” in the region by failing to recognize the main Syrian Kurdish organizations as terror groups.
“Hey America… As you have never recognized them (as terror groups) the region has turned into a pool of blood,” Erdogan says in a lacerating attack on US policy, referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.
Thai cops bust gang sending fake passports to Europe migrants
Thai police have broken up a major fake passport ring led by an Iranian known as “The Doctor” which sent hundreds of passports to Middle Eastern customers trying to enter Europe, authorities say Wednesday.
Photos of the forged documents show some fake Israeli passports as well.
The kingdom has long been a hub for a forged document industry serving human traffickers and other criminals.
Five years of investigation culminated in Monday’s arrest of the alleged Iranian mastermind Hamid Reza Jafary who had learnt his skill from his late father, police say.
The 48-year-old had for many years been crafting sophisticated forgeries from his home in Chachoengsao province east of Bangkok, they say.
“He (Jafary) produced passports for people from countries including Iran, Syria and Afghanistan who were escaping wars and wanted to enter Europe,” according to immigration police commander Lieutenant General Nathathorn Prousoontorn.
“The Doctor” confessed to the crime and could face a decade in jail if convicted, he adds.
Clients emailed the Iranian forger their photos and specified the country for which they wanted a passport, the commander says, adding that Jafary guaranteed his top-quality counterfeits would not be detected by border officials.
— AFP, Times of Israel staff
Iran TV publishes new photo of US sailor crying
Iranian television publishes new photos of the formerly captive US marines, with several showing a sailor crying.
— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) February 10, 2016
Women of the Wall service draws 100
Women of the Wall draws 100 women to its monthly service a week and a half after the adoption of a compromise over the future of prayer at the Western Wall.
Ultra-Orthodox protesters shout insults at the worshipers Wednesday, according to a press release from the group, which conducts monthly services in the wall’s women’s section. The group is unable to pray with a Torah, as the site’s regulations prohibit Torahs in the women’s section.
The deal reached last month will expand a non-Orthodox prayer section south of the traditional, Orthodox prayer area at the site, which will be run by a non-Orthodox committee. A shared entrance will lead to both sections. The wall’s Orthodox prayer area will remain under Haredi control.
“We sang with the feeling that now we truly begin a new path to ‘being a free people in our land,’” Women of the Wall chairwoman Anat Hoffman says in the press release, quoting Israel’s national anthem.
Aleppo synagogue sustains minor damage in war
The Central Synagogue of Aleppo sustains minor damage in fighting between Syrian militants, according to photos provided by locals to an Israeli-American activist for peace in the war-torn country.
The damage affected a corner of the building and was probably caused by shelling, according to Moti Kahana, the founder of the Amaliah not-for-profit group, which aims to relieve the suffering of refugees from Syria and empower women there. The corner area is covered by debris, making it difficult to ascertain the extent of the damage caused to the building, which is believed to have been built in the ninth century A.D.
“It took a hit, but it’s still standing,” says Kahana, a businessman who says he has spent more than $2 million on rescue efforts in Syria. His contacts on the ground sent him pictures of the building from a sniper’s post overlooking it, he says.
“The synagogue lies between the sniper post of moderate rebels and forces fighting for [Syrian President Bashar] Assad,” Kahana says. Assad lost control over much of the country after the civil war in began 2011. Since then, at least one synagogue was almost completely destroyed in 2014, in the city of Jobar, near Damascus.
Ex-Netanyahu house manager wins lawsuit
Menny Naftali, the former caretaker for the Netanyahus, wins a lawsuit against the prime minister and his wife.
He is being awarded over NIS 150,000 ($38,000) in damages.
Naftali accused Sara Netanyahu of abuse while he worked at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Turkey seizes suicide vests, explosives at border
Turkey’s state-run agency says military officials have stopped a group of 34 people at the border with Syria and seized luggage containing four suicide vests and explosives.
Anadolu Agency, citing unnamed security sources Wednesday, says four men, 10 women and 20 children were stopped near the town of Oguzeli, in Gaziantep province. It wasn’t clear when they were detained, but Anadolu says that security forces had acted on a tip about plans to smuggle explosives across the border.
The luggage contained up to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosives.
There was no information on the nationalities of those detained. The report didn’t say whether authorities believe the group may be linked to the Islamic State group.
Anadolu says an investigation was underway.
Fabius’s one regret as FM — not striking Syria in 2013
Announcing his departure from France’s foreign ministry, Laurent Fabius tells iTele television his one regret as foreign minister is that “the world didn’t follow” France’s position on Syria. Paris was pushing for a military intervention with the US against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime during the summer of 2013.
He says “we should have taken action.”
— AP, Times of Israel staff
Arad resident held for placing pig feet in synagogue
A resident of Arad in southern Israel is arrested for placing a pig foot at the entrance to a synagogue on several occasions, police say.
The man, in his 60s, will soon be indicted, they say.
Israel, California sign stem cell research deal
Israel’s Science Ministry and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) finalize an agreement to begin joint stem cell research.
“This agreement will deepen the partnership between Israel and California, bringing together our most talented scientists to push the boundaries of stem cell research and advance medical breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases ranging from cancer and diabetes, to Alzheimer’s and HIV-AIDS,” says Science Minister Ofir Akunis.
Akunis was in Los Angeles to sign the deal, which will “provide funding for institutions from both California and Israel, a step certain to advance the progress of medical innovations,” according to a statement on the initiative.
‘I knew I would win,’ ex-Netanyahu caretaker says
The former house manager for the Netanyahus hails his court win and says this is “just the beginning.”
“I showed everyone that David can beat Goliath,” says Menny Naftali, according to the Walla news site. “I knew all along that I would win and everyone in the case knew this. This is just the beginning for me. I don’t wish on anyone that they go through what I go through.”
Parole hearing set for RFK killer
For nearly 50 years, Sirhan Sirhan has been consistent: He says he doesn’t remember fatally shooting Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in a crowded kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
The Jerusalem native, now 71, has given no inkling that he will change his version of events at his 15th parole hearing on Wednesday in San Diego. He is serving a life sentence that was commuted from death when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972.
His memory will be tested this time in front of Paul Schrade, 91, a Kennedy confidante who was one of five people injured in the shooting. Schrade will appear for the first time at a Sirhan parole hearing.
Schrade, who declined in a brief interview to preview his planned remarks to the parole board, has steadfastly advanced the view that there was more than one gunman.
Sirhan initially refused to appear at the parole hearing at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, where he has been held since 2013, said Laurie Dusek, one of his attorneys. Memories of the 2011 hearing made him physically ill, but Sirhan relented after Dusek begged him to come and said Schrade would be there.
Sirhan, who skipped earlier parole hearings, sent word through his brother, Munir, that he would appear, but Dusek said she didn’t know what he will say, if anything.
Jordan rejects extradition for 1982 Paris attack suspects
Jordan has rejected an extradition request from France for two suspects accused of carrying out a 1982 deadly attack on a Jewish restaurant in Paris, a judicial source says Wednesday.
The alleged mastermind of the attack, which killed six people and wounded 22 others, Zuhair Mohamad al-Abassi, 62, was arrested in Jordan last year.
The request was rejected because at the time of his arrest an extradition deal between Jordan and France had not entered into force, the source says.
The deal was signed in 2011 but became effective only in July last year, after Abassi, also known as Amjad Atta, was released on bail.
Jordan has also refused to hand over a second suspect, Nizar Tawfiq Hamada, 54, because the statute of limitations concerning the criminal allegations against him expired, the source says.
Minister slams Haaretz for ‘siding with terrorists’ families’
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan slams the Haaretz daily for “siding with the families with terrorists” with regard to Israel’s holding of Palestinian attackers’ bodies.
In a column for the left-wing newspaper, Erdan says it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that Israel is keeping the bodies as a deterrent or as revenge. The minister was responding to an editorial by the paper.
“It is regretful and disappointing to see that in this matter, Haaretz is standing on the side of the terrorists’ families, who insist on turning the funerals into mass demonstrations of incitement, and not by the state, which is demanding that they bury their dead without causing a danger to the public. Instead of lowering the flames, the Haaretz editorial staff is helping fan them,” he writes.
“Moreover, the explanation presented in the editorial, that the state has an interest in preventing terrorists from being buried for the sake of deterrence or punishment, is ludicrous. That claim appears in Palestinian propaganda and in its editorial, Haaretz lent it support. The truth is, to a great degree, the opposite. The Ministry of Public Security under my leadership is more committed to the law-abiding Arab population than it was in the past. We intend to build more police stations in Arab towns, to supply equal policing services and thus correct a long-standing injustice.”
Israeli lightly hurt in West Bank rock attack
An Israeli man is lightly injured in the West Bank after Palestinian assailants throw stones at his car, the Ynet news website reports.
The incident takes place between the settlements of Tapuah and Migdalim.
Fabius questions US ‘commitment’ in Syria
Outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticizes the US role in Syria, saying he did not see “a very strong commitment” from Washington.
“There are ambiguities… You don’t get the feeling that there is a very strong commitment,” Fabius tells reporters shortly before announcing that he was stepping down after nearly four years as foreign minister.
His remarks come as Syrian forces, backed by Russia and Iran, were besieging the divided northern city of Aleppo.
“There are words, but actions are something else,” says Fabius, whose country is a member of the US-led coalition bombarding the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
“Obviously, as the Russians and the Iranians sense that, they have understood… and (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad is regaining strength,” Fabius says.
The outgoing foreign minister also takes aim at Moscow, repeating a charge that Russian airstrikes are targeting “moderate” opposition groups more than IS.
Knesset approves paternity leave in preliminary vote
The Knesset approves in a preliminary reading a bill to give new fathers eight days of paternity leave.
Thirty-nine lawmakers vote in favor of the proposal by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, and one opposes it.
The bill was also green-lighted by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on January 31, giving it government backing.
UAE picks women as ministers for happiness, tolerance
The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday names women to the newly created posts of state ministers for happiness and tolerance, and a 22-year-old female for youth affairs.
Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum names eight women as he revealed his latest cabinet line-up of 29 ministers in a series of tweets.
Ohoud al-Roumi, who had served as director of the council of ministers’ office, was appointed “minister of state for happiness.”
“Happiness is not just a wish in our country. There will be plans, projects, programs and indices. It will be part of the job of all ministries,” tweets Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the ruler of Dubai.
Shamma al-Mazroui, 22, is appointed state minister for youth, while Lubna al-Qassimi, a veteran minister of international cooperation and development, is handed the new post of state minister for tolerance.
IDF chief says Israel dealing with tunnel threat
IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot says the army is working hard to “locate and thwart” cross-border tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
Israel is witness to a “complex security situation,” he says, according to the Walla news site. “The IDF officers and soldiers are working resolutely to locate and thwart the terror threat and the tunnel threat.”
Iran blames ‘terrorists’ for Syria peace talks collapse
Iran blames the failure of Syria peace talks on the participation of “terrorists,” state media says Wednesday ahead of an international meeting to try to get the process back on track.
“What created problems at the recent Syria meeting in Geneva was not having differentiated between the opposition and terrorists,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian told UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura by telephone, according to state broadcaster IRIB.
The presence of “certain terrorists” was “not constructive,” he is quoted as saying.
Iran openly gives financial and military support to the regime of its close ally Syrian President Bashar Assad, which objects to the inclusion in peace talks of Islamist rebels whom it brands “terrorists.”
Russia, Iran ‘complicit’ in Assad’s ‘brutality’ – Fabius
Outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Wednesday accuses Russia and Iran of “complicity” in the “brutality” of the Syrian regime.
“There is both the frightening brutality of Bashar Assad’s regime… and — I am going to name those responsible — there is complicity on the part of Russia and Iran,” Fabius tells lawmakers.
Knesset debate on two-state solution begins
The Knesset begins a debate on the two-state solution. The session was called at the request of over 40 MKs.
Meretz leader slams PM, Herzog on peace
Meretz MK Zehava Galon criticizes opposition leader Isaac Herzog for “supporting” Netanyahu by stating that the two-state solution is currently unfeasible.
She is interrupted by Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar.
Referring to the Labor-approved plan for “separation,” she critiques elements of it.
“Do you think you can take 28 Arab villages out of Israel without generating an escalation [in violence]?” she says. Galon says the world will not agree to it.
Livni urges PM to define Israel’s borders
In the Knesset plenum, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Lini turns to Netanyahu and says they haven’t spoken since he fired her.
“I’m putting aside my anger for what you’re doing to the state,” with recent legislation, she says, in order to talk about terrorism.
“The citizens of Israel have lost their sense of security,” she says.
Livni says bereaved families have requested from her that their relatives be the last victims.
“What are you doing to make them the last ones?” she asks.
Livni addresses Netanyahu’s fence plan, but says “he can’t escape” the question of Israel’s borders.
“Are all the millions of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria part of your Israel? Because they aren’t part of ours,” she says.
Livni accuses Netanyahu of “mimicking Liberman” with the MK suspension bill, which the Yisrael Beytenu leader submitted in the last Knesset.
She says that Netanyahu can thwart the French and Quartet peace initiatives with a series of trust-building steps.
Christie expected to suspend White House bid
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is indicating that he will end his White House bid, sources tell CNN.
The Republican presidential candidate is still working out the details, according to the sources.
Livni says Israel shouldn’t let Palestinians set peace terms
Livni says the two-state solution is the only solution, “and we strive to get there.”
“We are not hostages to the Palestinian will,” she says. Israel was established despite the opposition of the Arab world, she says.
We won’t wait for the Palestinians to set the terms, but rather move forward, she says.
UK firm to review security at Egypt’s Sharm airport
A British firm hired to review security at Egyptian airports after the October crash of a Russian plane will begin its work at the weekend, the civil aviation minister says Wednesday.
The global consultancy firm Control Risks will begin “assessing security procedures at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport from Sunday,” Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal says in a statement.
The A-321 airliner operated by Russia’s Metrojet and bound for Saint Petersburg broke up mid-air over the Sinai, minutes after take-off from the Red Sea tourism hub of Sharm el-Sheikh. Moscow has said the tragedy was caused by a “terrorist attack” but Cairo says it has no evidence to back up this analysis.
An Egyptian branch of the jihadist Islamic State group said it had found a way to “compromise security” at the Sharm airport and smuggled a bomb on board that blew up the Russian plane.
Likud MK says no ‘P’ in Arabic, so no Palestinian nation
Likud MK Anat Berko says there’s no “p” in Arabic, which proves there is no Palestinian nation.
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg writes on Twitter that the Likud MK “redefines the saying ‘no brains, no problems.'”
French MPs vote through post-attacks constitution changes
French lawmakers vote Wednesday in favor of a controversial package of measures to change the constitution following the November 13, 2015 terror attacks on Paris.
The amendment, including a hotly contested measure to strip convicted terrorists of their French nationality, is passed by the National Assembly with 317 votes for to 199 against, clearing a first hurdle towards adoption.
The package must now gain the support of the Senate, or upper house of parliament, and then three-fifths of the Congress, the body formed when both houses of France’s parliament come together to debate revisions to the constitution.
PM says Palestinians must recognize Israel, disarm
Netanyahu says 7 years ago he outlined what it would take to bring the two-state solution at Bar Ilan University.
He says it requires mutual recognition. “It’s only natural that they give us what they are asking for themselves,” he says.
He says a Palestinian state must be disarmed.
“Only experience teaches us that only the IDF can guarantee this disarmament,” he says. Not the UN or any other international force, he adds.
The prime minister is interrupted by heckling as he mentions Hamas control in the Gaza Strip.
“For all the talk of separation,” he says, we must understand: “There is no security separation. None. It doesn’t exist.”
“Israel must be responsible for the security,” he says. Israel must oversee disarmament, he adds.
Without mutual recognition and disarmament, there will be no agreement, he says.
PM to Herzog: ‘Good morning, welcome to Mideast’
Netanyahu says that in light of protests in the Arab world, he began doubting the feasibility of the two-state solution.
He characterizes the Egyptian protests as “anti-West, anti-liberal, anti-Israel,” and says he faced “serious criticism” for his assessment.
At the time, Netanyahu says he was urged to make peace.
“My responsibility as prime minister is not to dig my head in the sand,” he says. “We are fighting the enemy in our borders and outside of it.”
He refers to the fence at the border with Egypt, without which he says Israel would be “overrun” with migrants.
He says a year ago, “in the face of the incredible changes around us,” in which vacuums are filled with Islamist extremism, “I said in the current circumstances, we can’t implement two states for two nations.”
Netanyahu quotes the opposition leader saying the two-state solution is not possible right now.
“Good morning, Boujie. I’m glad you woke up. Welcome to the Middle East. The alarm clock has gone off, and maybe you’ve finally figured out where we live,” he says to Herzog.
“How can we trust you… when you only realize what is happening years later?” he says. First you attacked me, he says to Herzog, and now you are quoting me.
PM says he doesn’t want binational state
Netanyahu says he does not want a binational state, but says if West Bank is evacuated it will be overrun with Islamist extremists who strive to destroy Israel.
The prime minister says Palestinian children in the West Bank are taught to “liberate” the entire Israel — including Haifa, Acre, Jaffa. “No one is talking about ’67,” he says. “They’re talking about ’48.”
He rejects the statements that Palestinian terrorism stems from “desperation.” If that was true, he says, the Palestinians would have organized terror attacks on the British or Ottomans.
“Terror is not a result of occupation,” he says. “The terror stems from a culture of death. Its goal is not to free a state, it is to destroy a state.”
“Terror is the result of a totalitarian ideology,” he says, which includes desire to kill Jews.
PM says opposition MKs ‘defame’ Israel
Netanyahu says we “must negate terror, not justify” it.
He says during negotiations with Palestinians, they will have to give up right of return and to stop seeking “Israel’s destruction.”
The prime minister says he would enter talks without preconditions.
“If you understood earlier what you understand today,” he says to opposition. You would have joined us, instead of “defaming us on the global stage.”
He is interrupted by heckling by opposition lawmakers.
Netanyahu says “join us, as one front,” to oppose international efforts “to impose terms.”
He says Israel is talking to Arab states, says they appreciate Israel’s efforts to reduce terror.
Netanyahu says that in the past, it was believed that Palestinian peace would lead to ties with Arab states. Now, he says, it seems ties with Arab states will lead to Palestinian peace.
Herzog says PM’s words ‘hollow’
Herzog says Netanyahu’s words are “hollow.”
He says that it’s the seventh anniversary to Netanyahu’s premiership, and housing prices are high, and the economic situation is dire.
“You aren’t Mr. Economy, or Mr. Security, but rather Mr. Excuses,” he says to Netanyahu.
He says Netanyahu is “paralyzed with fear,” and “time is working against us and deteriorating.”
Herzog says “unlike you, I refuse to accept that ‘we will live by the sword,'” he says.
Herzog says leaders can’t accept current situation
Herzog says leaders can’t accept the current security situation.
He reiterates commitment to two-state solution.
“The two-state solution is not dead, but it won’t happen tomorrow,” he says.
Herzog says coalition “doesn’t have solutions.” It has “bombastic comments” but no actions, he says.
Herzog says without deal, Jerusalem will have ‘Arab mayor’
Herzog says Netanyahu prefers to stand still, but “things are moving, and they are moving against us.”
Turning to the Meretz leader, Herzog says: “I won’t sell illusions to my voters, like you sell them to yours.”
“Without separating from the Palestinians, Israel will turn into an Israel-Arab state,” and Jerusalem will have “an Arab mayor,” he says.
Only separation “will separate the Arab villages from Jerusalem, and keep Jerusalem Jewish,” he says, in listing the benefits of his plan.
Herzog says PM doesn’t want to separate from Palestinians
Herzog says to Netanyahu: “You aren’t willing to separate from the Palestinians, that’s the truth.”
He says Likud hasn’t presented a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“You don’t have the courage and the desire to separate from the Palestinians,” he says.
Herzog says government only offers ‘despair’
Herzog says for seven years “there is no answers,” there is only “despair.”
“So what exactly are you doing in this government?” he says.
The Knesset will now vote on whether to accept Netanyahu’s statement with regard to the two-state solution.
Knesset votes 42-33 in favor of PM
Knesset approves Netanyahu’s response by 42-33.
‘Ya’alon conditions Turkey reconciliation on return of soldiers’ bodies’
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is demanding that any reconciliation deal with Turkey include a demand that Hamas return the bodies of slain IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, a senior official tells Haaretz.
The two soldiers’ remains have been held by Hamas since the 2014 Gaza war.
Ex-house manager says he isn’t out to hurt PM
After winning his case, Menny Naftali, the Netanyahus’ former house manager, says he was treated in the “most cruel way possible.”
“I am not here to hurt the prime minister, as had been claimed,” he says.
Naftali says his family are Likud supporters.
The former house manager indicates he will pursue further legal action.
“There will be other lawsuits,” he says.
UK urges Russia to stop Syria airstrikes
Britain calls on Russia to stop its aerial bombing in Syria and use its influence on President Bashar Assad to get a cease-fire and access for humanitarian aid — demands that Moscow approved in a Security Council resolution in December.
Britain’s UN envoy Matthew Rycroft tells reporters that progress on those issues would get a Thursday meeting in Munich of nations trying to end the conflict “off to a more productive start.”
He speaks Wednesday, ahead of a Security Council meeting on Syria.
France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre stresses that improving the humanitarian situation “is the condition for a credible political negotiation.”
He says “the regime and its allies cannot pretend that they are extending a hand to the opposition while with their other hand they are trying to destroy them.”
White House mum on Obama’s reaction to primary
The White House isn’t revealing President Barack Obama’s reaction to Bernie Sanders’ blowout in New Hampshire, but it is acknowledging he’s settling in for a long ride.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz says it’s clear that the fight between Sanders and Hillary Clinton — like Obama’s race against Clinton in 2008 — “is a process that’s going to go on for quite some time.”
Obama has not publicly endorsed a candidate in the race, although recent remarks suggest he favors Clinton, his former secretary of state. Obama says he doesn’t want to put his finger on the scale until voters get their say.
Still, Obama is slated to deliver a message on Wednesday that may again hint at his preference. The president is slated to address the Illinois General Assembly. The White House says he’ll make the case for less ideological, more pragmatic politics. Clinton uses similar rhetoric in campaign speeches when she tries to draw contrasts with Sanders.
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