Hungarian who helped Jews flee Holocaust honored in Budapest
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Sweden says UN session on Mideast should focus on peace process, not Iran

Olof Skoog says settlements ‘dangerously threaten the viability of the two-state solution and destroy hopes for peace’

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Illustrative: Construction of new housing in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim, September 25, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Illustrative: Construction of new housing in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim, September 25, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • US President Donald Trump and US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speak during a meeting on United Nations Reform at the United Nations headquarters on September 18, 2017, in New York. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)
    US President Donald Trump and US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speak during a meeting on United Nations Reform at the United Nations headquarters on September 18, 2017, in New York. (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)
  • In this photo taken on Sunday, October 15, 2017, Great White Pelicans gather in Mishmar HaSharon reservoir in Hefer Valley, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
    In this photo taken on Sunday, October 15, 2017, Great White Pelicans gather in Mishmar HaSharon reservoir in Hefer Valley, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi on August 23, 2017. (AFP/Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky)
    Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi on August 23, 2017. (AFP/Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky)
  • Israeli soldiers patrol near an Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, in the Golan Heights, on January 20, 2015. (AFP/Jack Guez)
    Israeli soldiers patrol near an Iron Dome defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, in the Golan Heights, on January 20, 2015. (AFP/Jack Guez)
  • Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Galon seen during a finance committee meeting atthe Knesset on September 11, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Galon seen during a finance committee meeting atthe Knesset on September 11, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

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

Palestinian rushes IDF soldiers at Gush Etzion Junction, is shot

A Palestinian is shot by IDF soldiers after he apparently ran toward them in a threatening manner at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank, according to initial reports.

No Israelis are reported injured.

The Palestinian man has been taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment, according to the United Hatzalah emergency service.

— Judah Ari Gross

Meretz leader Zehava Galon resigns from Knesset

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon gives up her Knesset seat, saying she wants to dedicate her time to her party’s upcoming primaries.

“In order to become stronger, we must be open up and change,” Galon says in a tweet.

Iran’s supreme leader urges Europe to do more to back nuclear deal

Iran’s supreme leader says Europe should do more to back the nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump refused to re-certify the pact.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says in comments posted on his official website Wednesday that “European governments have underlined the nuclear deal’s issue and condemned the US president’s remarks. We welcome this approach but it’s not enough that they only tell him not to tear up the deal.”

Khamenei also says of Trump: “I will not spend time to respond to the nonsensical comments by the foul-mouthed president.”

He also warns that if the US tears up the deal, “we will shred it into pieces.”

The 2015 deal curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions on Iran. This allowed European companies to start signing deals with Iran.

— AP

In Egypt, archaeologists find part of 4,000-year-old statue

Egypt says archaeologists have discovered the head of a wooden statue, likely belonging to a female regent who ruled the country more than 4,000 years ago.

The statement by the Antiquities Ministry says the artifact was found in the district of Saqqara, near the ancient Pyramids of Giza. It says the part of the statue is in poor condition and will have to undergo restoration.

The uncovered head is believed to depict Ankhesenpepi II, the mother of King Pepi II of the 6th dynasty who ascended to the throne at the age of six. She ruled Egypt as regent during the early years of his reign.

Earlier in October, archaeologists at the same dig uncovered part of an obelisk made of pink granite that belongs to the same dynasty.

— AP

Brush fire forces evacuation of West Bank settlement

Some residents of the West Bank settlement of Dolev are being evacuated from their homes due to a brush fire, local authorities say.

Eight firefighting teams are at the scene working to put out the blaze encroaching on the homes of the community northwest of Jerusalem.

EU unveils measures to tackle lone-wolf, low-tech attacks

The European Union is unveiling new measures to help counter lone-wolf attacks following a spate of killings in major cities by extremists driving vehicles into crowds of people.

The measures announced today aim to better protect major gatherings like concerts or sports events. They include additional funding and steps to improve cooperation between police and private security at malls or concerts by holding joint training and exercises.

EU Security Commissioner Julian King says that “terrorists don’t stand still. They change and adapt their methods. We need to be ready to adapt our response.”

The EU Commission, which ensures compliance with EU laws, wants to help police defeat phone or computer encryption in terror investigations. It also wants to make it harder for extremists to obtain bomb-making ingredients.

— AP

Putin, Netanyahu discuss Syria, Iran in phone call

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Syrian conflict, the Iran nuclear deal and the unfolding crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan in a phone call this afternoon, the official Russian State news agency Tass reports.

“There was a thorough discussion of ways to resolve the Syrian crisis, the situation surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and the results of the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan,” a statement from the Kremlin reads.

The report says the phone call was initiated by Israel.

Saudi carrier launches direct flight to Iraq after 27 years

Saudi budget carrier flynas launches a route from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to Baghdad, marking the first direct flight between the two countries since the 1991 Gulf War.

The carrier posts on its Twitter account an image of the crew that took part in the inaugural flight, which took off to Baghdad just before noon today. In a statement, flynas says the flight reflects the importance of “brotherly ties and bilateral relations” between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

It’s the latest sign of improved relations between the two neighbors. A number of high-profile Iraqis have visited Saudi Arabia in recent months, including a rare visit in July by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Saudi Arabia is improving ties with Iraq in an effort to blunt Iran’s vast influence there.

— AP

Rocket sirens blare in IDF bases in Golan Heights

Incoming rocket alert sirens blare in IDF bases in the northern Golan Heights.

The army says it’s investigating what set them off.

There have been numerous instances of errant fire or projectile strikes from fighting in neighboring Syria over the past several years entering Israeli territory, and the IDF routinely acts against them.

— Judah Ari Gross

Rocket sirens blaring in Golan army bases said triggered by Syria fighting

The incoming rocket alert sirens blaring in IDF bases in the northern Golan Heights, appear to have been triggered by fighting across the border in Syria, Israel Radio reports.

There is no official IDF word yet on what set them off, though.

— Judah Ari Gross

EU says Israel’s continued settlement building threatening peace efforts

The European Union is warning Israel that continued building in the West Bank is endangering efforts to renew peace talks with the Palestinians.

“The European Union has requested clarifications from Israeli authorities and conveyed the expectation that they reconsider these decisions, which are detrimental to on-going efforts towards meaningful peace talks,” the statement says.

“All settlement activity is illegal under international law, and it undermines the viability of the two-state solution and the prospect for a lasting peace.”

On Monday, the Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction in the West Bank advanced plans for 1,292 housing units, drawing ire from the Palestinians.

IDF confirms rocket sirens in Golan triggered by Syria fighting

The IDF confirms the incoming rocket alert sirens blaring in IDF bases in the northern Golan Heights earlier this afternoon were triggered by fighting across the border in Syria.

— Judah Ari Gross

Liberman says Iran threats prove Israel right to be concerned

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says the latest threat against Israel from Iran proves Jerusalem’s concerns over Tehran’s military aspirations are justified.

“The threat today proves what we have claimed all along,” Liberman says at an event at the site of the future settlement of Amichai. “Iran is trying to entrench itself in Syria to establish facts on the ground and threaten Israel from there.”

“We will act with all of the means at our disposal so as to not allow this,” he adds.

Earlier today, Iran’s military chief of staff warned that Tehran would not tolerate violations of Syrian sovereignty by Israel and vowed that the two countries would jointly fight against Syria’s enemies.

“It is not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria any time it wants,” General Mohammad Bagheri said during a rare visit to Damascus that began Tuesday evening.

His comments came after Israel on Monday struck an anti-aircraft battery inside Syria, which followed the firing of a Syrian missile at Israeli planes on reconnaissance flights over Lebanon.

Israel among WTO members concerned by Trump’s ‘Buy American’ order

A Geneva trade official says China and Taiwan have joined many US allies including Israel at the World Trade Organization to express concerns over a Trump administration executive order that seeks to maximize use of American-made goods, products and materials in government procurement.

The 10 WTO members, also including the European Union, Canada and Japan, also urged Washington to continue honoring the trade body’s “Government Procurement Agreement” adopted by Washington and 45 other countries — mostly EU states — that aims to promote fairer, freer access to government contracts.

The official said the countries took issue Wednesday with the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order signed in April that lays out a policy aimed to “maximize” use of US-made items in government procurement and assistance awards.

— AP

Egypt releases Israeli tourist arrested with M-16 bullets in his bag

Egyptian police release an Israeli tourist after he was arrested late last night for attempting to cross into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with 2 M-16 bullets in his bag, the Foreign Ministry says.

His release was secured with the help of the Israeli ambassador to Egypt.

The incident marks the third time in the last month Israelis were caught at the Taba border crossing carrying bullets, apparently left over from their military service.

IDF raids home of Palestinian who rushed soldiers with a knife

IDF troops raid the Hebron home of a Palestinian man who ran with a knife at a group of soldiers stationed at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank earlier today, the army says.

The man, who is in his 20s, was shot and wounded by the soldiers after he ignored their calls for him to stop.

None of the soldiers were injured.

The alleged assailant was taken to a Jerusalem hospital with a gunshot wound to the stomach.

— Judah Ari Gross

Petah Tikvah community center evacuated due to brush fire

A community center in the central city of Petah Tivkah is evacuated due to a brush fire raging nearby.

Eleven firefighting teams are working to put out the blaze on the city’s Refaeli Street.

An earlier fire encroaching on a number of homes the West Bank settlement of Dolev earlier this afternoon has been put out.

High Court said to nix PM’s plan for Knesset probe into foreign funding of NGOs

The High Court of Justice is reportedly putting the brakes on Netanyahu’s plan to establish a parliamentary committee tasked with investigating the funding Israeli NGOs receive from foreign governments.

According to a senior coalition member, Eyal Yinon, the Knesset’s legal adviser, has warned the government in a letter that it does not have the authority to establish such a committee.

Yesterday, Netanyahu told a gathering of Christian journalists at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that the committee would probe “organizations that operate against” Israeli soldiers.

Israel advances plans for another 1,300 settlement homes

For the second day in a row, the Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction in the West Bank advances plans for some 1,300 housing units.

Among the plans for the 1,323 homes green-lighted by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee were projects for evacuees of the illegally built outposts of Migron and Amona, which received final authorization for building.

The outposts were demolished in September 2012 and February 2017 respectively, after the High Court of Justice ruled they had been built on private Palestinian land.

Yesterday, the Defense Ministry body responsible for authorizing settlement construction in the West Bank advanced plans for 1,292 housing units, drawing ire from the Palestinians.

— Jacob Magid

French parliament adopts tough anti-terror bill

The French parliament adopts a controversial anti-terror bill that gives the authorities permanent new powers to search homes, shut places of worship and restrict freedom of movement.

The law, which will replace the state of emergency imposed after the 2015 Paris attacks, was adopted by the Senate on its second reading, despite campaigners warning of a threat to civil liberties.

— AFP

Israel to keep funding feeding ground for migrating pelicans

Migrating pelicans can once again stop by for a mouthful of fish in Israel.

The Agriculture Ministry says it will keep funding a pet project to feed thousands of Great White Pelicans who fly annually over the country. The idea is to centralize their feeding ground at a central Israeli reservoir so the birds do not harm the livelihood of farmers by poaching fish from nearby breeding grounds.

The ministry had previously said it was going to stop the project, claiming it was not responsible for feeding migrating animals passing through from Europe to Africa. But under pressure from farmers and environmentalists, it reconsidered.

Israel’s nature reserves authority welcomed the decision and said it hoped funding would continue for the sake of both farmers and pelicans.

— AP

Sirens go off again in Golan Heights army bases

Another siren has gone off in army bases in the Golan Heights, the army says.

As in a previous incident earlier today, it appears to have been triggered by the fighting across the border in Syria.

No rocket or mortar shell impacts have been reported in Israel.

The army is investigating the cause of the siren.

— Judah Ari Gross

Multiple injuries at Maryland office park shooting

A sheriff’s office in northeastern Maryland says it is on the scene of a shooting at an office park.

The Harford County Sheriff Office’s tweets that multiple injuries are reported at the Emmorton Business Park in Edgewood.

No other details were immediately released.

As a precaution and on the advice of the sheriff’s office, the county school system said on its website that students at five nearby schools were being kept indoors and no visitors were permitted.

The business park is just south of the Interstate 95 interchange with Route 24.

— AP

Israel UN envoy tells Security Council Iran’s ’cause is terror’

Israel’s ambassador to the UN says Iran supports terrorism across the globe and grossly violates human rights of its own people.

In remarks delivered to the Security Council, Danny Danon tells member states that there “is no refuge from Iran’s deadly deeds.”

Iran, “whose cause is terror,” is funding terrorism all over the world, Danon charges.

“When terror strikes, a trail of bloody footprints so often traces back to Iran,” Danon says. “From Bangkok to Burgas, from Buenos Aires to Beirut, and all the way back to Tehran.”

Haley to UN: Iran must not be allowed to ‘consistently violate international law’

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tells the Security Council that Iran must not be allowed to “consistently violate international law,” urging it to adopt the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to the Islamic republic and address all aspects of its “destructive conduct.”

Haley says the Iranian government is a main source of arms in Mideast conflicts, in defiance of several UN Security Council resolutions.

“Worse, the regime continues to play this council,” Haley says. “Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits of its behavior, and we have allowed them to get away with it.”

She urges the Security Council to change its policy toward Iran.

“I sincerely hope it will take this chance to defend not only the resolutions but peace, security and human rights in Iran,” she says.

“Judging Iran by the narrow confines of the nuclear deal misses the true nature of the threat,” Haley stresses. “Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish.”

Haley spoke shortly after Israeli ambassador Danny Danon warned about Iran’s global funding of terrorism and widespread human rights violations.

— with AP

3 killed, 2 wounded at Maryland office park shooting

A Maryland sheriff says three people have been killed and two were wounded during a shooting at an office park in the northeastern part of the state.

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler identified the shooter as 37-year-old Radee Labeeb Prince. He says Prince opened fire with a handgun and police are looking for him. He is considered armed and dangerous.

The suspect and the victims were all associated with a company at the Emmorton Business Park in Edgewood. The sheriff says the two wounded people are in serious condition.

Nearby schools have been locked down as a precaution.

The business park is just south of the Interstate 95 interchange with Route 24.

— AP

Iraqi Kurds postpone polls in face of crisis

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region is postponing presidential and legislative elections because of the current crisis with Baghdad, its electoral commission says.

The region’s Independent High Electoral Commission says it has “decided to suspend temporarily preparations for the elections set for November 1 because of the current situation.”

Iraqi government forces said earlier that they had retaken from Kurdish fighters almost all the areas disputed between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan region in response to a September independence vote.

— AFP

5.2-magnitude earthquake jolts southern Iran

Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency says a 5.2-magnitude earthquake has jolted the southern Kerman province.

The report says the quake rocked Anar village, some 700 kilometers (400 miles) south of Tehran. It says the epicenter of the earthquake was 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep. There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

Iran is prone to earthquakes as it sits on many major fault lines. In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people.

— AP

IDF major arrested for drug dealing

Military Police arrest an IDF major in a sting operation in which he was trying to sell a “significant quantity” of hard drugs, the army says.

The investigation leading to the officer’s arrest was conducted by the Military Police’s investigatory branch. It is ongoing, the army says.

In a statement, the IDF says it “denounces all the actions that the officer is suspected of doing.”

— Judah Ari Gross

Ultra-Orthodox protesters block entrance to Ma’ale Adumim

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox protesters are blocking the entrance to the West Bank city of Ma’aleh Adumim in the latest anti-draft protest sparked by the arrest of two yeshiva students for failing to show up to the Israel Defense Forces draft offices.

A statement from police says that security forces at the scene working to disperse the protesters.

Earlier this week, 40 ultra-Orthodox protesters were arrested for taking part in similar demonstrations in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak that turned violent.

Sessions tells Senate he won’t divulge ‘confidential’ talks with Trump

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions tells senators he won’t discuss “confidential” conversations he had with President Donald Trump.

Sessions tells members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an opening statement of his oversight hearing Wednesday that the president is entitled to have private conversations with cabinet secretaries.

Members of the committee have told Sessions that they intend to press him on his conversations with Trump, particularly about the firing in May of FBI Director James Comey.

At a separate hearing in June, Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would not disclose his communications with Trump.

— AP

Three shot in brawl in Bedouin town

A 25-year-old man is critically wounded and another six are injured in a street brawl that was accompanied by gunfire in the southern Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, police say in a statement.

The critically wounded man is reportedly shot in the head.

Two others, aged 18 and 35, are seriously injured, and four more people, including a 50-year-old woman and three men in their twenties, are moderately hurt.

All seven were taken by Magen David Adom ambulances to the Soroka Medical Center in nearby Beersheba.

Police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Mehta, Israel Philharmonic to start tour at Carnegie Hall

Conductor Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra are starting a two-week North American tour at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The Oct. 25 opening-night concert will feature an all-Mozart program including the overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.”

The orchestra will visit Toronto, California and Florida before returning to Carnegie Hall on Nov. 7 through Nov. 9.

The tour will celebrate the legacy of the 81-year-old Mehta.

Mehta has announced that he will retire from the Israel Philharmonic in 2019 after almost 50 years with the ensemble.

The Indian-born Mehta has also led the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

Benefit galas honoring Mehta will be held in New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami.

— AP

Hungarian who helped Jews flee Holocaust honored in Budapest

A Hungarian who printed thousands of passports allowing Jews to flee the country during World War II has been honored with a memorial plaque.

Emil Wiesmeyer’s printing company initially made 4,000 of the basic passports, part of efforts by Swedish special envoy Raoul Wallenberg to save Jews from Nazi death camps.

He then produced about 20,000 more on his own to help Jews make it out of Hungary.

The plaque honoring Emil Wiesmeyer was unveiled Wednesday in Budapest by Szabolcs Szita, director of the Holocaust Memorial Center, and Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouve.

Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Wiesmeyer later suffered persecution and was jailed in the 1950s, during Hungary’s communist era.

Wiesmeyer died in 1967. His son Gabor attended the ceremony.

State rejects settlers’ petition, agrees to evacuate Hebron squatters

The State Attorney’s Office rejects a petition filed by a of a group settlers squatting in a disputed property in Hebron, and says once again the 15 families living there illegally must be evacuated from the premises.

Some 100 settlers have been living in the Machpela House adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the flashpoint West Bank city since July 25.

The High Court of Justice has previously ruled that the property does not belong to the settlers and ordered them to vacate the property. The State Attorney’s Office came out in support of the decision.

The settlers had tried to circumvent the ruling by filing a petition with the court, claiming ownership of Machpela House. That petition was rejected by the court last month, saying the settlers lacked proof of ownership.

The legal process has been delayed due to the Jewish holidays in September and October.

While the settlers will be forced to vacate the Machpela House, the State Attorney’s Office said they would be eligible to return to the property if they locate their missing paperwork.

— Jacob Magid

Sweden says UN’s Mideast session should focus on peace process, not Iran

Sweden’s ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog says today’s Security Council session on the Middle East should focus on the peace process and not the Iran nuclear deal.

“The nuclear agreement is underpinned by UN Security Council resolutions. It’s clear where we stand,” Skoog says according to reports. “The EU is determined to preserve the JCPOA as a key pillar of the international nonproliferation architecture.”

“Settlements dangerously threaten the viability of the two-state solution and destroy hopes for peace,” he adds.

Skoog’s remarks come after Israel and the US strongly condemned Tehran over what they said was its support for terrorism and flagrant human rights violations.

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Hungarian who helped Jews flee Holocaust honored in Budapest

A Hungarian who printed thousands of passports allowing Jews to flee the country during World War II has been honored with a memorial plaque.

Emil Wiesmeyer’s printing company initially made 4,000 of the basic passports, part of efforts by Swedish special envoy Raoul Wallenberg to save Jews from Nazi death camps.

He then produced about 20,000 more on his own to help Jews make it out of Hungary.

The plaque honoring Emil Wiesmeyer was unveiled Wednesday in Budapest by Szabolcs Szita, director of the Holocaust Memorial Center, and Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouve.

Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Wiesmeyer later suffered persecution and was jailed in the 1950s, during Hungary’s communist era.

Wiesmeyer died in 1967. His son Gabor attended the ceremony.