The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they happened.
The Knesset holds a memorial ceremony to mark 25 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu draws jeers from lawmakers after asserting there are calls to murder him and his family.
“Twenty-five years after the murder of Rabin, there is incitement to assassinate the prime minister and his family, and almost nobody says anything,” Netanyahu said, to jeers from some listening lawmakers. “We must not accept incitement on any side, toward any community. Not toward Jews, not toward Arabs, not toward leaders.”
The prime minister also says political violence should be condemned on all sides.
“We must all condemn the destructive effects of incitement and strongly condemn the actual manifestations of political violence from any camp. A burst of gunfire was not and will not be a substitute for a ballot box,” Netanyahu says.
“Democracy depends on the media not being subject to one and the same voice,” the prime minister continues. “This is the greatness of social networks. They make an important contribution to democracy, but even there there must be no incitement to murder and violence from any side. An atmosphere of silencing political opponents is also a danger to a free society.”
The Ir Amim watchdog reports that 2020 has already set a new yearly record for the number of Palestinian home demolitions in East Jerusalem, with 129 units demolished between January and October.
Since the watchdog began collecting data in 2000, the previous high was in 2016, when 123 housing units were demolished during the entire year.
The municipality has said that it is merely enforcing laws against illegal construction. Palestinian residents of the capital have long argued they often have no choice but to build illegally, as little construction is authorized in their neighborhoods.
According to Ir Amim, detailed plans for over 21,000 housing units were advanced in Jerusalem in 2019, but less than 8 percent were in Palestinian neighborhoods, even though Palestinians make up 38% of the capital’s population.
“The record for home demolitions coming specifically during the time of the coronavirus crisis shows the priority of the government: even a pandemic can’t prevent it from continuing to issue and carry out home demolitions,” Aviv Tatarsky, a researcher at Ir Amim, says in a statement.
— Aaron Boxerman
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Saudi man stabs and slightly wounds a guard at the French consulate in the city of Jiddah, authorities say, as France urges its citizens in the kingdom to be “on maximum alert.”
The Saudi Press Agency offers no immediate motive for the attack in the Red Sea port city. However, it comes amid heightened tensions after an assailant decapitated a French middle school teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a class on free speech. Those caricatures were published by Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper’s editorial meeting in 2015.
The Saudi Press Agency report, citing police spokesman Maj. Mohammed al-Ghamdi, says the special force for diplomatic security was able to arrest the Saudi man. He is said to be in his 40s. The guard was taken to a hospital for treatment, the agency says.
The report doesn’t elaborate. A statement published by the French Embassy in Riyadh mirrors the details of the news agency’s account, saying that the diplomatic mission condemned the “unjustified” attack.
“We appeal to our compatriots in Saudi Arabia to be on maximum alert,” the statement says.
In Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam, there has been criticism of France but much more muted than in other countries. The Saudi Foreign Ministry has said the kingdom “rejects any attempt to link Islam and terrorism, and denounces the offensive cartoons of the prophet.” Saudi clerics have too condemned the caricatures, but have also cited the prophet’s “mercy, justice, tolerance.” Another prominent sheikh called on Muslims not to overreact.
LONDON — The leader of Britain’s main opposition Labour party apologizes after a government watchdog rules it had broken equality law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints during his predecessor’s tenure.
Keir Starmer, who has headed the party since April, says he accepts the report in full and will implement the recommendations immediately.
“It’s a day of shame for the Labour party. We have failed Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public,” he adds.
Israel and Italy have reached an agreement for Rome to provide the Jewish state with doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus, the Foreign Ministry says.
The agreement was reached as Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi hosts his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio for talks in Jerusalem.
“I thank the government of Italy for its agreement to transfer Israel doses of a vaccine for coronavirus and hope that soon we can renew tourism between the countries,” Ashkenazi is quoted saying in a statement from his office.
Italian biotech firm ReiThera is currently developing a COVID-19 vaccine.
Ashkenazi and Di Maio also sign cooperation agreements on education and culture.
Several dozen Arab Israelis are demonstrating in front of the French Embassy in Tel Aviv in protest of French President Emmanuel Macron’s statements defending cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Macron made his remarks following the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty by an 18-year-old Muslim extremist angered by Paty’s use of the cartoons in a class on free speech.
Visual depictions of Muhammad are strictly prohibited in most schools of Islamic law.
The protest in Tel Aviv was organized by the Islamic Movement. The Movement’s leader, Hamad Abu Daabis, can be spotted among the demonstrators, as well as Joint List MKs Mansour Abbas, Walid Taha, and Saeed al-Kharumi.
— Aaron Boxerman
PARIS — France raised its alert to the highest level nationally after a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in the city of Nice in the third apparent jihadist attack in just over a month.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex says today’s attack, in which at least one victim had their throat slit, was “as cowardly as it is barbaric” and tells parliament he has decided to raise France’s Vigipirate security alert system to the highest, “attack emergency” level.
Israeli and Lebanese negotiators wrap up a second round of maritime border talks, according to the Israeli government.
The negotiations, which are being mediated by the US and UN, are being held at the UNIFIL headquarters in the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura.
The sides also met yesterday.
The Israeli delegation for talks on the issue of the maritime border with #Lebanon completed the second round of talks at the @UNIFIL_ base in Nakura. The meeting was attended by American mediator John Desrocher. Another round of talks will take place during the coming month.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) October 29, 2020
President Reuven Rivlin condemns a deadly stabbing attack in the French city of Nice and expresses condolences to the families of the victims.
“Notre coeur est avec la France,” he writes on Twitter, French for “our heart is with France.”
Our hearts are with the families of the victims of today's despicable terror attack in a church in France and our prayers for the recovery of those injured.
Terrorism, violence and hatred are modern plagues that blight our world.
Notre coeur est avec la France.
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) October 29, 2020
ISTANBUL — Turkey strongly condemns today’s “savage” knife attack in Nice that left three people dead, offering its “solidarity,” despite a running diplomatic spat with France.
“We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice,” a foreign ministry statement says, while offering condolences to the victims’ relatives.
Labour suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn after the release of a report faulting the party for anti-Semitic discrimination in its ranks.
“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party,” a party spokesman is quoted saying by Sky News.
It is not immediately clear what comments he is referring to, but Corbyn earlier put out a statement in response to the report.
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated,” Corbyn said.
My statement following the publication of the EHRC report:“Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible…
TEHRAN, Iran — Coronavirus infections in Iran have set a daily record of more than 8,000 new cases, official figures show, after two straight days of record deaths from the pandemic.
The latest figure of 8,293 cases of infection in a 24-hour period far exceeds the previous highest number registered only two days earlier of 6,968 people who tested positive.
The virus has also claimed another 399 lives in the Middle East’s worst-hit country, the health ministry announces, raising the total number of victims to 34,113.
Yesterday, Iran reported a record death toll of 415 over a 24-hour period, 69 more than Tuesday’s toll which was also a daily record.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned last week that his country faces “a larger wave of this virus and we have to fight it.”
Figures have kept rising since September.
In the eight months since the first cases surfaced in Iran, a total of 596,941 infections from COVID-19 have been confirmed.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announces that “effective immediately,” American citizens born in Jerusalem will now be able to list Israel as the country of birth on their passports.
In a statement, Pompeo says the policy change is “consistent” with US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital and decision to move the American embassy there, but stresses the administration is not taking a position on Jerusalem’s boundaries.
Islamists have declared war on France, a senior leader of French Jews says following multiple assaults, including today’s murder of three people at a church in Nice.
Gil Taieb, the vice president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities, makes the comments in reference to the knife attack outside the Notre Dame church of the Mediterranean coastal city.
“The Islamists are waging war against us!” Taieb writes on Twitter. “We stand united against Islamist barbarism.”
The incidents follows protests across the Muslim world against a plan of action against radical Islam being pushed by French President Emmanuel Macron. It includes banning home schooling to eliminate underground Islamist schools and limiting foreign funding for houses of worship, Macron said.
PARIS — A man armed with a long knife was arrested in the southeastern French city of Lyon today as he attempted to board a tram, a source close to the inquiry tells AFP.
The suspect, an Afghan national in his 20s who was dressed in a traditional Afghan outfit, had already been flagged to French intelligence services, the source says.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz lauds an agreement signed with the United States last week as ensuring Israel has the capabilities necessary to confront the threats it faces, during a visit by US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper today.
“The joint declaration we signed last week means that Israel will have the tools it needs to contend with aggressive and de-stabilizing forces, making it an even more effective ally to the US and creating the conditions for peace to prosper,” Gantz says following a meeting with Esper.
Gantz is referring to a document they both signed in Washington last week that reaffirms American commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge, the technical term for military superiority in the Middle East.
Esper visited Israel today for a short trip on his way back from India. During his stop in Israel, Esper visited an Iron Dome missile defense battery that had recently been produced for the US military by the Rafael defense contractor. He and Gantz then held a meeting in Tel Aviv with Director General of the Defense Ministry Amir Eshel, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
“They discussed the imperative to maintain regional security and stability and to confront Iran,” Gantz’s office says.
— Judah Ari Gross
French President Emmanuel Macron vows that “France will not give up on our values” after a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in what he calls an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
Macron offers condolences to the country’s Catholics after the killing, and urges people of all religions to unite and not “give in to the spirit of division.”
Macron also says he will immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 currently to 7,000. French churches have been ferociously attacked by extremists in recent years and today’s killings come ahead of the Roman Catholic All Saints’ holiday.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid joins condemnations of today’s deadly stabbing in Nice, which French authorities have labeled a terror attack.
We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France and @EmmanuelMacron as they fight this wave of violence and hate. Free speech is sacrosanct. We must never give in to violent fundamentalism and terrorism.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) October 29, 2020
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog, who formerly headed the Labor Party, cheers the decision by the UK Labour Party to suspend former leader Jeremy Corbyn following the release of a report on anti-Semitism in the British opposition party’s ranks.
Herzog says that while serving as Labor chief, he invited Corbyn to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
“He never responded to me just like he didn’t respond to my request as chairman of the [Jewish] agency to eradicate anti-Semitism in his party. The disregard and unreceptiveness were apparent,” Herzog writes on Twitter.
He adds: “The decision by the Labour Party today is an important milestone in eradicating the affliction of hatred and anti-Semitism in a historic and very important party in Britain. This is an important milestone for the entire world in removing anti-Semitism from the political game.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad tweets that Muslims had a right “to kill millions of French people” after a deadly attack in Nice, sparking widespread anger and prompting Twitter to delete his post.
Three people were killed at a church in the southern French city, with the attacker slitting the throat of at least one of them, in what authorities were treating as the latest jihadist assault to rock the country.
Shortly afterwards, Mahathir — who was prime minister of Muslim-majority Malaysia until his government collapsed in February — launches an extraordinary outburst in a series of tweets.
Referring to the beheading of a French teacher who showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Mahathir says he doesn’t approve of that attack but freedom of expression doesn’t include “insulting other people.”
“Irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill,” says the outspoken 95-year-old, who has in the past drawn controversy for remarks attacking Jews and the LGBT community.
“The French in the course of their history has killed millions of people. Many were Muslims. Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.”
But he adds that “by and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t.”
Mahathir, who served as Malaysian premier twice for a total of 24 years, says that French President Emmanuel Macron was “not showing that he is civilized,” adding he was “very primitive/”
“The French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings. Since you have blamed all Muslims and the Muslims’ religion for what was done by one angry person, the Muslims have a right to punish the French.
“The boycott cannot compensate the wrongs committed by the French all these years.”
He makes no direct reference to the Nice attack.
His comments sparks widespread condemnation, with social media users labeling them “outrageous” and “disgraceful.”
Twitter initially flagged his tweet about killing “millions of French people” as “glorifying violence” but didn’t remove it.
However, shortly afterwards, the tweet is deleted entirely.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz joins other Israeli leaders in condemning today’s deadly stabbing attack in Nice and sends his “deep condolences” to the French people.
“The French government has the same right and duty as every government to take a strong hand against any type of terror that harms innocent civilians. Against extremism and terrorism, cooperation between all countries that strive for peace is needed,” Gantz writes on Twitter.
PARIS — The man suspected of killing three people at a church in the southern French city of Nice is a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in Europe just a few weeks ago, sources close to the inquiry say.
The suspect, identified as Brahim Aoussaoui, landed in late September on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he was placed in virus quarantine by authorities before being released with an order to quit Italian territory.
He arrived in France in early October, the sources say.
The Gaza Strip has reached a new record high of 2,335 active coronavirus cases, the Hamas-run health ministry says.
According to Hamas health authorities, the coastal enclave has confirmed 276 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a daily record. Around 13% of coronavirus tests came back positive, indicating that further infections are likely spreading undetected.
Over 2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip. After fourteen years of a blockade by both Israel and Egypt, in addition to wars between Israel and the Hamas terror group, the Strip is poorly equipped to deal with a full-fledged outbreak.
Hamas officials set 2,000 active cases and 250 cases per day as the upper bound for control over the virus when new coronavirus cases began appearing in August outside designated quarantine centers. They warned that any infections beyond that could pose a serious threat to Gaza’s ailing health care system.
— Aaron Boxerman
Former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says he’ll contest the opposition party’s decision to suspend him, calling the move a “political intervention.”
The decision to suspend Corbyn comes after the release of a report faulting Labour for anti-Semitic discrimination in its ranks. Responding to the report, Corbyn claimed the extent of anti-Semitism in the party was exaggerated for political reasons.
“I’ve made absolutely clear that those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong,” he says in a statement on Facebook. “It’s also undeniable that a false impression has been created of the number of members accused of antisemitism, as polling shows: that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem.”
I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear that those who deny there…
WASHINGTON — The United States has agreed to sell top-of-the-line F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates in light of its recognition of Israel, potentially shifting the regional power balance, a lawmaker says.
US President Donald Trump’s administration informally gave a required notification to Congress on the sale, which could “significantly change the military balance in the Gulf and affect Israel’s military edge,” says Representative Eliot Engel, a Democrat who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
According to Reuters, the White House told Congress it plans to sell 50 F-35s to the UAE.
— with AFP
Prime Minister Netanyahu gives a televised statement before the so-called coronavirus cabinet reconvenes to discuss further easing lockdown measures.
He again defends the decision to impose a lockdown last month amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases, noting declining infection rates.
Netanyahu says the coronavirus will remain “here” until a vaccine is developed and maybe even after that.
“We’re making every effort to carefully open businesses,” he says.
The premier also claims he’ll back localized lockdowns in areas with high infection rates. He previously backed off imposing local lockdowns in ultra-Orthodox cities following pushback from Haredi politicians, who he is aligned with.
UNITED NATIONS — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemns today’s attack in the French tourist city of Nice, in which a man with a knife killed three people in a church.
Guterres “strongly condemns the heinous attack today that took place in Notre Dame’s Basilica in Nice,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric says.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is asked at a press conference about the Trump administration’s plan to sell F-35s stealth fighters to the United Arab Emirates after the White House informed Congress of the planned sale.
“All of us stand against a common threat and we understand this well,” Netanyahu says.
He touts the agreement signed last week, reiterating the US commitment to guaranteeing Israel’s military superiority in the region. Following the agreement, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said they would not oppose the proposed sale to UAE, after previously vowing to oppose it.
US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to express his support for France after a knife-wielding man killed three people in an attack at a church in the southern French city of Nice.
Trump tweets: “Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight. These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!”
Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight. These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 29, 2020
The US Treasury Department announces sanctions on eight entities linked to sale and purchase of Iranian petrochemical products.
The sanction companies — based in Iran, China and Singapore — are accused of facilitating transactions by Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd., which was sanctioned by the Treasury Department earlier this year.
“The Iranian regime benefits from a global network of entities facilitating the Iranian petrochemical sector,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says in a statement. “The United States remains committed to targeting any revenue source the Iranian regime uses to fund terrorist groups and oppress the Iranian people.”
According to Treasury, Triliance has provided funding and support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, which is designated by the US as a terror group.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran condemns the knife attack in the French city of Nice that left three dead in a church as part of a “cycle of provocations and violence” that must stop.
“We strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in #Nice,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets in English.
“This escalating vicious cycle-hate speech, provocations & violence-must be replaced by reason & sanity. We should recognize that radicalism breads more radicalism, and peace cannot be achieved with ugly provocation.”
Zarif includes a verse from the Koran: “And We have not sent you, (O Mohammad), except as a mercy to the worlds.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly defended secular values and the right to mock religion following the murder of a French schoolteacher who had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
Yesterday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned that insulting the Prophet Mohammed may encourage “violence and bloodshed.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz releases a statement appearing to address this evening’s news that the White House has informed Congress it will sell F-35 stealth fighters to the United Arab Emirates.
“The US continues to be committed to Israel’s security and its qualitative and technological advantage in the Middle East,” Gantz writes on his Twitter account.
He adds: “In my meetings with senior officials in the American administration and Defense Secretary Esper, we took care to ensure Israel’s security for dozens of years ahead and to continue strengthening it.”
The Health Ministry reports 384 new coronavirus cases since midnight, raising the number of infections since the pandemic began to 313,114.
The ministry says there have been seven deaths since midnight, bringing the national toll to 2,508.
The number of active cases further drops to 11,164. There are 440 people in serious condition, 191 of them on ventilators. Another 113 Israelis are in moderate condition and the rest have mild or no symptoms.
According to the ministry, 22,465 tests have been performed so far today, 1.7 percent of which came back positive.
Memorial events are being held to mark 25 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
At Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where Rabin was murdered by a Jewish extremist after attending a peace rally, 25,000 candles are lit to commemorate the late premier.
The chief rabbi of Nice says all synagogues in the southern French city will be closed after today’s deadly stabbing attack.
“Terrorism doesn’t differ between religions and all of us feel threatened,” Daniel Teboul tells Channel 13 news. “We made a decision to close all schools tomorrow. Synagogues will be closed and kosher shops will be alert.”
The Palestinian Authority condemns the decision to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on their passports, a spokesperson for PA President Mahmoud Abbas says.
“East Jerusalem is occupied land, [US Secretary of State Michael] Pompeo’s statements are unacceptable and constitute a flagrant violation of international law,” longtime Abbas spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh says.
— Aaron Boxerman
The coronavirus cabinet is expected to push off the reopening of a shops for another week rather than allowing them to reopen on Sunday, according to Hebrew media reports.
Guesthouses, however, will likely be allowed to open next week, the Ynet news site says.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden puts out a tweet marking 25 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
“I join Israelis in honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l, 25 years after his assassination,” Biden says. “He led a life of service to his country and its security — and bravely gave his life pursuing peace. I was honored to call him a friend.”
I join Israelis in honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z"l, 25 years after his assassination. He led a life of service to his country and its security — and bravely gave his life pursuing peace. I was honored to call him a friend.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 29, 2020
A man in his 40s dies after being serious injured in a stabbing in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood.
Police are searching for the assailant.
The stabbing is not believed to be terror related.
The Trump administration plans to use proceeds from the sale of fuel confiscated from Iranian tankers to benefit victims of terrorism, officials announced Thursday.
The US military in August seized 1.1 million barrels of fuel from four Iranian tankers bound for Venezuela. The fuel has since been sold, and officials say the proceeds will go to a special fund for victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
The money “will now go to a far better use than either regime, Iran or Venezuela, could have envisioned because it will provide relief for victims of terrorism rather than the perpetrators of such acts,” says Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special representative for Iran and Venezuela.
“So that is both poetic and tangible justice,” he adds.
The US estimates that it will be able to recoup some $40 million from the sale, says Michael Sherwin, acting US attorney for the District of Columbia.
A separate forfeiture complaint from the Justice Department centers on Iranian missiles that were seized from flagless vessels in November and February. Officials say the cargo was intended for militant groups in Yemen.
In addition to the forfeiture complaints, the administration also announced sanctions against multiple petroleum companies in Iran.
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