The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Polish lawmakers okay changes to Holocaust law
Polish lawmakers have passed changes to a disputed Holocaust speech law, removing criminal provisions for attributing Nazi crimes to Poles.
The speaker of parliament, Marek Kuchcinski, said that the amendments passed 388 to 25 with five abstentions during the Wednesday vote.
The original version of the law, passed earlier this year, called for prison terms of up to three years for falsely accusing the Polish nation of Holocaust crimes that were committed by Nazi Germany.
Poland’s nationalist ruling party, Law and Justice, said it was trying to protect historic truth about Poland, which was a victim of World War II.
But the law sparked a major diplomatic crisis with Israel and the United States.
Prince meets Abbas, says he’s committed to 2-states
The UK’s Prince William is meeting PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Prince William arrives in Ramallah for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
الأمير ويليام يصل رام الله للقاء رئيس السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية محمود عباس pic.twitter.com/Iz0yJStnFX
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) June 27, 2018
The royal tells Abbas that he is committed to a two-state solution, and that that stance will not change, according to a reporter at the scene.
Britain’s royal family does not set the UK’s political policy, but his views fall largely in line with Parliament.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells Prince William he is committed to a two-state peace solution and that will not change. pic.twitter.com/KUBQtp7tL9
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) June 27, 2018
Poll shows Zionist Union gaining with Livni at helm
A poll published by the Walla news site shows the Zionist Union regaining its political strength and then some should the faction be headed by Tzipi Livni.
The party is an amalgamation of Livni’s Hatnua and Labor, headed by Avi Gabbay, who is not a Knesset member.
The poll shows Livni’s ZU gaining 16 seats and bypassing Yesh Atid’s 15 to become the second largest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would stay well ahead, with 31 seats.
Under Gabbay, the faction would only get 12 seats, according to the poll, with Yesh Atid geting 17. ZU currently has 15.
Livni is pushing to be named opposition chief once former Labor head Isaac Herzog leaves his post to take over the Jewish Agency.
Gabbay is reportedly considering Shelly Yachimovich or Amir Peretz for the post instead. Among ZU voters, the poll shows 41% in favor of Livni heading the opposition, to 38% for Yachimovich, and 9% for Yair Lapid.
Iran supreme leader calls to quash those ‘disrupting economic security’
Iran’s supreme leader is urging the country’s judiciary to take measures to secure people’s “businesses and lives,” amid economic protests that have struck the capital, Tehran.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a meeting with judiciary officials on Wednesday that authorities need to ensure an “atmosphere of security” and that the judiciary “must confront those who disrupt economic security.”
Khamenei’s remarks are his first reference to the three days of protests that have erupted in Tehran, including protesters confronting police outside parliament and officers firing tear gas at the demonstrators. The rallies even lead to the temporary closure of the city’s Grand Bazaar.
The economic trouble comes as international firms have pulled away from Iran after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Russia-backed moves voted down, amid tussle over chemical watchdog powers
Diplomats are furiously working behind the scenes to win support for a measure giving the OPCW chemical watchdog teeth, or strike it down.
“It’s very intense inside,” one diplomatic source tells AFP.
Britain, backed by allies such as the United States and France, is leading a high-stakes drive to enable the independent OPCW to attribute blame for any use of toxic substances in Syria.
But they have met fierce opposition from Russia, backed by Syria and Iran.
Four amendments to the British proposal put forth by Iran, Venezuela, Kazakhstan and Belarus have already been decisively defeated Wednesday morning, the British delegation tweets.
“Belarus’ amendment to the Decision we and others tabled to strengthen @OPCW would have gutted it and made it impossible to identify the perpetrators of CW attacks,” British ambassador Peter Wilson says in a tweet.
“It was voted down. Only 23 countries voted for it 78 voted no,” he added, with the other amendments also being defeated by similar margins.
Iran’s amendment would have removed factual references to the @OPCW ‘s own Fact Finding Report on Syria’s use of chemical weapons
It was voted down
— Peter Wilson (@PeterWilson) June 27, 2018
Prince William recognizes ‘country’ of Palestine at Abbas parley in Ramallah
Prince William tells Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he hopes London and Ramallah can continue working together, appearing to recognize Palestine as a country.
“I’m very glad our two countries work so closely together and have had success stories with education and relief work in the past, so, long may that continue,” William says, according to Reuters.
“My sentiments are the same as yours in hoping that there is a lasting peace in the region.”
Abbas tells the prince that Palestinians are “committed to the peace process with the Israelis, so both states could live peacefully together within the borders of 1967.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had asked William to take Abbas a “message of peace,” when the two met a day earlier.
Israeli coach Blatt signs with Greek team after NBA comeback falls short
Apparently abandoning his dream of returning to the NBA next year, American-Israeli basketball coach David Blatt has signed a two-year contract to skipper Greek team Olympiacos Piraeus, the Euroleague website announces.
Blatt has spent the last two years helming Darussafaka Istanbul, after being unceremoniously booted from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 midway through their historic championship season. He still got a ring.
A reporter for Israel’s Army Radio notes that Blatt had been hoping to return to the NBA, but no team offered him a head coaching spot.
Blatt says he is happy to join the Greek team.
Lapid calls fix to Polish Holocaust law a ‘bad joke’
Israeli politician Yair Lapid says Poland’s changes to a controversial law on blaming the Polish nation for Holocaust crimes does not go far enough.
“This amendment is a bad joke. This law needed to be erased from the Polish lawbook. They need to cancel the ridiculous law and ask forgiveness from the victims,” he says in a statement.
The amendment passed Wednesday removes jail time for those found guilty of blaming the Polish people for the Holocaust.
Daraa pounded as Syrians flee toward Jordan, Israel
Deadly air strikes are hitting rebel-held towns across southern Syria, putting three hospitals out of service after the government launched a Russian-backed push for the region’s main city Daraa.
The bombardment of rebel-neighborhoods in the south of the city lasted throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“There are rockets, barrel bombs and Russian and Syrian air strikes hitting rebel areas of Daraa, particularly the Daraa al-Balad neighborhood,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
Ahmad Abazeid, a media activist who fled the town of Al-Herak in the east of Daraa province, says many are fleeing toward Israel, but are being chased by Syrian troops.
“People are lost — they don’t know where to go. Some are along the border with Jordan, others on the border with Israel,” he tells AFP.
“But the warplanes are following them wherever they go.”
The UN has said most of the 45,000 who fled are heading towards the sealed border with Jordan.
S. #Syria: intense aerial bombing on most of #Daraa province this morning. Area close to #Jordan also hit as well as frontline with #ISIS in #Yarmouk Valley (Sheikh Saad & Nawa). pic.twitter.com/o1N86r4dDG
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) June 27, 2018
Yad Vashem says Polish law change a ‘step in the right direction’
The Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial says the amendment to the Polish Holocaust law is a “positive step in the right direction.”
“We believe that the correct way to combat historical misrepresentations is by reinforcing open, free research and educational activities,” a spokesperson says.
“Yad Vashem reiterates its support for ensuring that educators and researchers are not hindered in grappling with the complex truth of Polish-Jewish relations before, during and after the Holocaust.”
Putin hopes for better ties after Bolton visit
Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed hope that the visit to Moscow of US leader Donald Trump’s national security adviser will help revive bilateral ties amid tensions between Moscow and the West.
“Your visit to Moscow gives us hope that we can at least take the first step to reviving full-blown ties between our states,” Putin tells US National Security Adviser John Bolton at the start of the meeting at the Kremlin, according to Russian news agencies.
Police seize thousands from family of Mercaz Harav attacker
Police have raided an East Jerusalem home that had belonged to the terrorist behind the deadly shooting of eight Israeli students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in 2008.
Authorities say they seized NIS 43,000 ($11,850) in cash that had been given to the family of Alaa Abu Dheim by the Hamas terror group, as part of stipends paid to relatives of terrorists, according to Hebrew media reports.
Abu Dheim was killed by responding security forces during the attack.
Reuters chided for bad pic tweet of prince with Netta-Abbas
The Reuters news agency has fixed a tweet after the snark brigade attacked over a headline picture combo that suggested that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas had transformed into Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai and Tel Aviv was part of the “occupied West Bank.”
You're all welcome pic.twitter.com/P17b4Ir3Qv
— Judah Ari Gross (@JudahAriGross) June 27, 2018
— Raoul Wootliff (@RaoulWootliff) June 27, 2018
— Aviva Klompas (@AvivaKlompas) June 27, 2018
The corrected version has a picture of William and Abbas in Ramallah accompanying the headline.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) June 27, 2018
Liberman slams Abbas for paying terrorists, not Gazans
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is lashing out at Abbas and the PA for spending money on terrorists and their relatives while keeping Gaza in dire conditions.
“Abbas is the problem. While he is preventing salaries from being paid to tens of thousands of civil employees in Gaza and blocking any international effort to bring in money that will ease the humanitarian situation in the Strip, he pays every month NIS 100 million to terrorists and murderers,” he writes on Twitter.
He says a law cutting tax transfers to the PA to offset the stipends to terrorists and damaged caused by kites from Gaza “sends a clear and sharp message. No more.”
The bill was pushed through the powerful Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs committee Wednesday.
Liberman has reportedly been among the ministers most skeptical about plans to rehab Gaza as a means of reducing tensions there.
Chemical watchdog okayed to assign blame in attacks
Member nations of the global chemical weapons watchdog have voted to give the organization the authority to apportion blame for attacks, expanding its powers.
The vote got the necessary two-thirds majority on Wednesday during a meeting at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which so far lacked the ability to say who was responsible when there was a chemical attack.
The vote came on a proposal from Britain. British representative Peter Wilson said it had 30 co-sponsors and passage will allow OPCW “not just to say when chemical weapons are used, but by whom.”
The vote came at the end of a diplomatic standoff at the two-day meeting between Britain and its key Western allies on one side, and Russia and Syria on the other.
Kremlin says Trump and Putin to powwow in third country
US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in a third country at a date to be announced, the Kremlin says.
“I can say that we have reached an agreement to hold a summit, we have even agreed on the time and the place of the meeting, and we will announce this obviously with our American colleagues tomorrow,” said Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, adding that the meeting would be in a “third country.”
Iranian lawmakers demand Rouhani overhaul economic team
Nearly two-thirds of Iran’s MPs have written to President Hassan Rouhani demanding he change his economic team to deal with the country’s worsening financial woes, state media says.
“The poor performance of senior officials in charge of the economy over the past few years has led to the population’s increased distrust,” wrote 187 of the Iranian parliament’s 290 lawmakers, in a letter published by IRNA news agency.
The warning follows demonstrations and a rare strike at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, as Iranians protested their country’s dire economic situation.
In their letter, the members of parliament urge Rouhani to act “as a matter of urgency,” calling on the president to make changes “in the management of the economic team.”
The overhaul must bring “dynamism” and an “understanding” of the economic situation, they wrote, before parliament “makes a decision on the matter.”
The government’s economic team is made up of vice-presidents and ministers, as well as Rouhani’s economic advisers and the central bank president.
William visits refugee camp, plays yet more soccer
Prince William returns to his Jerusalem hotel after visiting a Palestinian refugee camp near Ramallah and meeting young soccer players.
The Duke of Cambridge gets a tour of the Jelazoun refugee camp and meets with officials, students from a girl’s school and others.
In addition, he speaks with the staff and families involved in a UNRWA vaccination program.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) June 27, 2018
He also kicks a soccer ball around with Palestinian soccer chief Jibril Rajoub, a day after going 1-for-2 on penalty kicks in front of Jewish and Arab kids in Jaffa.
Some reports indicate his convoy is stoned by rock-throwers while in the camp.
A Times of Israel correspondent reports no visible damage to his limo as it nears his hotel.
US begins reinstating Iran sanctions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving to dismantle the sanctions relief that was granted to Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal from which President Donald Trump has withdrawn.
The Treasury Department has revoked licenses that allowed US-controlled foreign firms to export commercial aircraft parts to Iran as well as permit Americans to trade in Iranian carpets, pistachios and caviar. It said businesses engaged in any such transactions have to wind down those operations by August 6 or face penalties under US sanctions.
The notices have been expected since Trump in March pulled the US out of the landmark agreement under which Iran was given relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program. Another set of licenses are to be revoked in November.
Netanyahu says Israel welcomes change to Polish Holocaust law
Netanyahu is speaking on the Polish law being changed.
He says that “Israel welcomes the decision taken by the Polish government.”
“It’s obvious that the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime committed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish nation, including all Poles of Jewish origin,” he says.
He adds that both countries understand the importance of conducting “free research” into the Shoah.
“We’ve always agreed that the term Polish death camps is blatantly erroneous and diminishes the responsibility of Germany for establishing those camps,” he says, addressing the crux of the issue.
Netanyahu calls for academic freedom on Holocaust
Netanyahu praises Poland for recognizing the significance of the Holocaust.
He says he rejects “actions aimed at blaming Poland or the Polish nation as a whole” for Holocaust crimes and only acknowledges that “some people, regardless of their origin, religion or world view revealed their darkest side at that time.”
He says researchers and others need to be able to exercise free speech and academic freedom on the Holocaust “without any fear of legal obstacles.”
“No law can and no law will change that,” he says.
In Hebrew, Netanyahu less obsequious toward Poland
While Netanyahu’s English remarks were drafted with Poland’s input and are nearly obsequious toward Warsaw, his Hebrew remarks delivered beforehand are more strident in criticism of the law before it was changed.
“I am happy that the Polish government, parliament and senate decided today to fully cancel the legislated clauses that caused an uproar and anger in Israel, as well as the international community,” he says.
“We stood up for defending the truth and fulfilled our chief duty: To guarantee the historical truth of the Holocaust. This is how we’ll continue to act,” he says.
Poland-Israel statement brings close to diplomatic ruffle
Quoting an Israeli official, Channel 10 reports that the joint statement brings a close to the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland.
The official says Israel’s representatives had demanded that Poland get rid of the parts of the law leveling criminal charges on blaming Poland for Holocaust crimes.
The channel also reports that opposition MK Itzik Shmuli is calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move an “embarrassing attempt to claim a win over a law that did and continues to deny the Holocaust.”
Germans grouch after soccer squad bounced from World Cup
Call it the night of the long faces.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is sharing the shock of a nation over Germany’s stunning World Cup exit Wednesday, tweeting “How sad!” after the defending champions’ 2-0 defeat against South Korea.
“Not our World Cup – How sad! There will be other tournaments where we can cheer again,” Steffen Seibert writes.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 27, 2018
Football-mad Germany was plunged into mourning after the title holders were knocked out of the group stages for the first time since 1938.
“A historic disgrace,” Der Spiegel news weekly calls it.
“Speechless,” reads a tweet on the German team’s official Twitter account.
At Berlin’s fan mile, supporters had begun leaving even before the final whistle blew.
“These aren’t world champions, they didn’t fight at all,” fumed 27-year-old Oliver Fischer, wearing a Germany jersey.
Meanwhile Brazil, which lost 7-1 in the World Cup final, is having itself a nice long laugh.
— FOX Sports Brasil (@FoxSportsBrasil) June 27, 2018
— with AFP
Prince refused to meet Jerusalem mayor in Jerusalem — report
Israel’s Hadashot news reports that British Prince William refused to meet Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in the capital.
According to the report, officials told Barkat he could meet William at a reception at the British ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan, but he would not meet with him in Jerusalem.
Barkat refused the offer.
William is staying in Jerusalem during his three-day trip. On Thursday he is slated to visit the Old City, in what his office called the “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” raising Israeli anger.
William has spent much of his time in Tel Aviv and met with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai during a stroll on the beach Tuesday.
US backs Iran protests, blames woes on support for Hamas, Hezbollah
The Trump administration says it supports fresh protests in Iran, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attributing the country’s economic woes on Tehran’s support for terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah and its destabilizing regional activities.
“The Iranian government is squandering its citizens’ resources, whether its adventurism in Syria, its support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis, or its ambitions for wastefully expanding its nuclear program, it will only add to the suffering of the people of Iran,” America’s top diplomat says in a statement. “It should surprise no one that protests continue in Iran.”
“We condemn the government’s same futile tactics of suppression, imprisonment of protesters, and the denial of Iranians’ frustrations. The people of Iran are tired of the corruption, injustice, and incompetence from their leaders. The world hears their voice.”
Meretz activist named Peace Now head
Peace Now announces that Shaked Morag has been appointed as the next director of the settlement watchdog.
Morag, 33, has served in a variety of positions within the left-wing Meretz party, most recently as secretary general. She also worked as a parliamentary adviser to lawmaker Michal Rozin.
Yaniv Shaham, who has been serving as interim head of the organization after Avi Buskila stepped down last year to run in the Meretz leadership elections, will now serve as deputy director.
“Peace Now has been leading the peace camp for 40 years and is one of the pillars of civil society in Israel,” says Morag, reflecting on her appointment.
“Together with the activists of the movement, I intend to continue the struggle against the creeping annexation policies of the Netanyahu government, which is abandoning the future of Israel.”
— Jacob Magid
Protesters block major Jerusalem artery
Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators have completely blocked Jerusalem’s Bar-Lev Boulevard to protest the arrest of a Haredi woman by military police in Safed earlier in the night, the Ynet news website reports.
The street is a major thoroughfare through the north of the capital and is on the city’s sole light rail line.
Kennedy announces retirement from Supreme Court
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, giving US President Donald Trump the chance to cement conservative control of the high court.
The 81-year-old Kennedy says in a statement he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.
Kennedy said he has informed his colleagues and Trump of his plans, and that his retirement will take effect at the end of July.
Without him, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans. Trump’s nominee is likely to give the conservatives a solid majority and will face a Senate process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority, but Democrats can’t delay confirmation.
Polish president approves Holocaust law changes
Poland’s president has signed into law amendments which abolish the threat of prison for anyone who blames Poland for Nazi Germany’s Holocaust crimes.
The amendments were introduced Wednesday morning by the prime minister and quickly approved by lawmakers.
President Andrzej Duda’s office says he “consistently emphasizes that the fight and care for the good name and honor of Poles and Poland is a task that should be fulfilled by all Polish politicians and public institutions.”