The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
UK Labour councilor outed for saying Israel should be relocated ‘even now’
The anti-Semitism dispute bedeviling Britain’s Labour Party ahead of an election Thursday continues with the suspension of a city councilor.
The party says that Nottingham City councilor Ilyas Aziz has been suspended pending an investigation.
The move follows the suspension last week of two other Labour figures, including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was on the party’s executive council.
Aziz had suggested on Facebook that it might have been wiser to create Israel in America and that Israel could be relocated “even now.”
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has launched an independent review of anti-Semitism and racism within its ranks.
Ex-Labour chief prevented Livingstone publishing Hitler views in 2012
Ed Miliband, the former leader of the UK’s Labour Party, prevented Ken Livingstone from publishing “ridiculous & ignorant views on Hitler and Zionism” when he was running as the party’s candidate for London mayor in 2012, according to a former adviser.
— Tom Baldwin (@TomBaldwin66) April 30, 2016
Livingstone was suspended from the party on Thursday for declaring and continuing to insist that Adolf Hitler was initially a Zionist. He made the claim as part of a defense of Labour MP Naz Shah who had been suspended for expressing support for the “relocation” of Israel from the Middle East.
Tom Baldwin, Miliband’s former spin doctor, added in a later tweet: “Livingstone wanted it in his ‘memoirs’ before the mayoral election. Ed told him he was wrong and to take it out.”
Iran criticizes US presence in the Persian Gulf
Iran’s supreme leader has criticized the US presence in the Persian Gulf region, saying American forces should go back to the Bay of Pigs.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website quoted him as telling a group of teachers Sunday that American military drills in the region were proof of US arrogance.
“You come from another side of the world to hold drills here,” he said. “Go back to Bay of Pigs, what are you doing here?”
He also tweeted similar remarks.
They come from other side of world & hold drills; they must go to their Bay of Pigs; what are they doing in Persian Gulf?! It’s our home.2/3
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) May 2, 2016
Khamenei’s remarks apparently were a reference to the 1961 failed invasion of Cuba by 1,500 CIA-trained exiles. Muslims also view pigs as unclean animals, as the Quran prohibits followers of Islam from eating pork.
Khamenei has the final say on all state matters in Iran.
— With AP
he also tweeted
Damascus extends cease-fire by 48 hours
Syria’s state news agency says the military has extended its cease-fire around Damascus and opposition strongholds in the eastern suburbs for another 48 hours.
The report says that President Bashar Assad’s army will extend the cessation of hostilities that was declared Friday around the capital and the coastal Latakia region, following two weeks of escalating violence around the country.
The truce excludes Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a major battleground between rebels and pro-government forces.
Russia’s Tass news agency quotes Russian Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko, head of the Russian coordination center in Syria, as saying that talks are continuing about a cease-fire for Aleppo. He says the Damascus area cease-fire was brokered by the Russia and the US, “in agreement with the Syrian leadership and the moderate opposition.”
Iran urges nuclear weapon-free Korean peninsula
Iran’s official news agency reports that President Hassan Rouhani is pushing for a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.
IRNA reports that Rouhani met with visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye and said Iran seeks a world free of weapons of mass destruction, “especially nuclear” weapons.
Park said she has asked for Iran’s help in implementing UN Security Council resolutions calling for the nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula.
The remarks were aimed at North Korea, which has been hit with tough UN sanctions over its nuclear weapons program. North Korea has conducted four nuclear bomb tests and tested a long-range rocket earlier this year.
Park arrived in Tehran on Sunday for the first visit by a South Korean president to Iran since 1962.
Iran’s nuclear chief visits Prague to talk business
The sanctions lifted, the head of Iran’s nuclear program in on the way to talk business with Czech leaders.
The Czech Foreign Ministry says the two-day visit of Iran’s vice president and nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, will focus on developing a bilateral nuclear cooperation. The Czechs say that would contribute to a better international control of Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran is seeking help from European nations to better its civilian program.
Last year’s landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers lifted painful international sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities. Iran has denied ever seeking atomic weapons, insisting its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.
In Prague, Salehi is meeting the prime minister, foreign minister, industry and trade minister and the head of the nuclear watchdog.
Anti-Semitic incidents drop in the Netherlands
A watchdog on anti-Semitism in the Netherlands says there were 126 anti-Semitic incidents in the county in 2015 — a 26-percent decrease from the previous year.
Of the incidents recorded by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) in 2015, 36 were in the victims’ direct environment, meaning incidents involving neighbors or acquaintances the victims knew as opposed to anonymous threats and abuse online.
Five incidents involved physical violence against people and six were cases of vandalism. The most common category of incident was insults shouted or spoken on the street, accounting for 19 percent of the total, or 24 incidents. Online anti-Semitic harassment in the form of emails and electronic messages totaled 12 cases.
Incidents involving schools were the highest recorded in a decade, with 16 cases. Noting a steady increase in that category over the past three years, CIDI director Hanna Luden called it “a worrisome trend” in a statement.
Serial-rapist, murderer suspect denies charges in court
Fyodor Beijanri, 26, accused of having raped and murdered four women over the last several years, denies all charges against him at his first hearing in court.
Appearing in the Haifa Magistrate’s Court, Beijanri said of the charges, “I didn’t do it.”
Beijanri was arrested in early March, but police have kept the case under court-imposed gag order.
Earlier this week officials released Beijanri’s name for publication and urged the public to come forward with any information relevant to the investigation.
Syrian conflict ‘in many ways out of control,’ Kerry warns
Syria’s civil war is “in many ways out of control,” US Secretary of State John Kerry warns, vowing to work hard in the “coming hours” to salvage a tattered truce.
Speaking after talks with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura, Kerry says he will call his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov later today to press for the ceasefire to be restored.
Kerry says a ceasefire mediated by Russia and the United States in February is still holding in parts of the country, but he singled out the situation in Aleppo.
There, he says, Bashar Assad’s regime had deliberately targeted three clinics and a major hospital, killing doctors and patients and threatening the truce.
“The attack on this hospital is unconscionable,” he says. “And it has to stop.”
Car bombing kills at least 18 pilgrims in Baghdad
An explosives-laden car detonated on Monday in the Iraqi capital, killing at least 18 Shiite pilgrims who were commemorating the anniversary of the death of a revered imam, officials say.
Islamic State is claiming responsibility for the attack in an online statement. It says the assault was carried out by a suicide bomber, but Iraqi officials deny that.
According to an Iraqi police officer, the car was parked in Baghdad’s southwestern Saydiyah neighborhood and blew up shortly after midday. The explosion killed at least 18 and wounded 45 people, the officer says.
Tens of thousands of Shiite faithful have been making their way this week to the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kadhimiyah, where the 8th century Imam Moussa al-Kadhim is buried. Security forces have blocked major roads in Baghdad in anticipation of attacks against pilgrims who traditionally travel on foot from different parts of Iraq.
France calls for urgent talks to restore Syria truce
France calls on the International Syria Support Group to hold urgent ministerial-level talks to restore the country’s tattered cease-fire, condemning deadly air strikes by the Damascus regime.
Paris urged the 17-nation ISSG to “restore the ceasefire, reaffirm the need to protect civilian populations… and give a chance to negotiations towards a political settlement,” says foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal.
“France forcefully condemns the (Damascus) regime’s attacks that have caused many casualties (and) calls on the supporters of the regime (Russia and Iran)… to use their influence on Damascus to silence the weapons,” he says in a statement.
The ISSG is co-chaired by the United States and Russia, which brokered the February 27 “cessation of hostilities” deal.
But the truce has been shattered in the past week, especially in Aleppo, where more than 250 civilians, including some 50 children, have been killed since April 22, most in air raids carried out by the Syrian regime.
Jaffa stabbing-spree accomplice arrested
Police have arrested a man suspected of helping Bashar Massalha, who carried out a stabbing-spree in Jaffa in March, according to Ynet.
The detention of Muhammad Awieda was reportedly extended by a week following his arrest.
Bashar Massalha, 22, who hailed from a West Bank village near Qalqilya, stabbed three people on the Jaffa boardwalk, a popular site for shopping and leisure, before fleeing inland toward the city’s Kikar Hasha’on, where he stabbed three more people. He then went on to stab at least four more people, several hundred meters to the north, near the Dolphinarium club in Tel Aviv, before he was shot dead by police.
US tourist Taylor Force, 29, was killed, and nine Israelis were injured in the attack.
Jewish tennis player from Argentina takes first ATP title in Turkey
Jewish-Argentinean tennis player Diego Schwartzman wins his first Association of Tennis Professionals tournament.
Schwartzman won the men’s singles title at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open in Turkey on Sunday. With his first-time win, Schwartzman rose in the ATP rankings from 78 to 62, making him the current highest-ranking Jewish professional tennis player.
Schwartzman began playing tennis at the age of 7 in the Buenos Aires Jewish sports club Hacoaj.
He tells the ATP website that the fact that he and his family are proudly Jewish has brought him additional support from Jewish fans.
“I am Jewish and in Argentina, we have many Jewish [people] there, and all the people there know me… [They say], ‘Enjoy! Good luck this season. Come on, keep going!’” Schwartzman says in an interview.
India’s president wishes Israel a happy Independence Day, a week early
Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee wishes Israel a happy Independence Day, but unfortunately gets the date wrong.
In an official statement released by the president’s office, Mukherjee mistakenly identifies Israel’s “National Day” as May 3 — even though the Jewish state declared independence on May 14, 1948, and is celebrating 68 years of independence — according to the Hebrew calendar — on May 12.
Mukherjee says he sent a message to President Reuven Rivlin extending “felicitations to you and the friendly people of the State of Israel on the occasion of your National Day.
“Our common commitment to the safeguarding of our democratic institutions and our shared values of liberty, freedom and equality have helped in forging a deep friendship between our two nations,” he adds.
2nd UK Labour councilor suspended in 1 day over anti-Israel remarks
The UK Labour Party is suspending Salim Mulla, a Blackburn with Darwen city councilor for anti-Israel comments, the second Labour councilor of the day to be sanctioned by the party for such sentiments.
The Guido Fawkes political blog reported earlier that Mulla in July 2015 posted a video claiming Israel was behind the Sandy Hook massacre, writing: “Now he know [sic] what he is talking about. He is talking facts.”
Mulla also posted a photo calling for Israel’s relocation to the United States in August 2015 — the same infographic that led to the suspension of Labour MP Naz Shah last week.
In June 2015, he posted a photo of an IDF soldier with a Palestinian woman and wrote: “Apartheid at its best. Zionist Jews are a disgrace to humanity.”
Nottingham City councilor Ilyas Aziz was suspended this morning for supporting a plan to relocate Israel from the Middle East.
Man stabbed near Netanya in apparent street brawl
A 25-year-old man is in critical condition after being stabbed in Kfar Yona near Netanya.
The incident was apparently the result of a street fight, according to Ynet.
Magen David Adom paramedics who arrived on the scene reported the man was suffering from wounds to his upper body. He has been taken to the Laniado Hospital in Netanya.
Police say Kfar Yonah stabbing not terror
Police say the man critically injured in a stabbing in Kfar Yonah, near Netanya, was not a victim of a terror attack.
They describe the incident, apparently a street brawl, as “criminal” and not “nationalistically motivated.”
Israeli MK calls to summon UK envoy over Labour anti-Semitism
MK Oren Hazan of the Likud Party is calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to summon the UK ambassador over recent anti-Israel comments by members of the Labour Party.
“The members of the British parliament need to internalize that the British Mandate over the land of Israel ended with the establishment of the State of Israel,” he says. “Perhaps they should focus their energy on the real problem of Islamic terrorism — their true enemy– taking center stage in Europe.”
Four Labour members, including one serving member of parliament, have been suspended in the past weeks over comments deemed as anti-Israel.
The Labour Party currently serves as the official opposition.
World Jewish Congress slams YouTube over neo-Nazi videos
The World Jewish Congress is accusing the German unit of YouTube of failing to stop neo-Nazis from using the online video channel to distribute thousands of anti-Semitic tracks.
The WJC sent Philipp Justus, the managing director of the German unit of YouTube parent company Google, a letter demanding more decisive action to take down illegal material praising the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler.
“Why is it that Google steadfastly refuses to take action against the proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic material on its platforms?” Executive Vice President Robert Singer of the New York-based WJC writes. “Do you really believe that songs glorifying, or inciting to, the mass murder of Jews fall under freedom of speech?”
Singer highlights one song in particular, “In Belsen” by far-right group Kommando Freisler, which he said was “widely available” on YouTube despite the fact that it had been banned in Germany and the band members behind it given suspended jail terms in 2009 for inciting racial hatred.
A spokesman for YouTube’s German unit says that the company has “clear guidelines to ban hate speech against certain groups or content that incites racial hatred.”
Tzipi Livni: Strong reek of anti-Semitism calls British values into question
Former foreign minister and current opposition lawmaker Tzipi Livni writes in an op-ed for the UK daily The Telegraph that recent anti-Semitic comments from members of the UK Labour Party “represent a disturbing trend which requires urgent and comprehensive intervention.”
“It is time to state the obvious: Israel today is a Jewish and democratic state, the nation state of the Jewish people in which all citizens, Jews and Arabs, have equal rights… However, the strong reek of anti-Semitism that arises from recent acts concerns Britain above all. When anti-Semitism rears its ugly head it puts British values under scrutiny,” she writes.
Five Labour members have been suspended from the party in recent days over posts to social media or public comments that have been deemed anti-Israel and in some cases anti-Semitic.
“Will the Britain that rightly took pride in the fight for justice and morality against the Nazis, and that has for centuries protected civil rights and values, today allow anti-Semitism to stand? Will its leadership step up and stop it? Britain must take steps to uproot these phenomena, first and foremost for the sake of its own core values,” Livni concludes.
Third Labour councilor suspended for anti-Semitic comments
The UK Labour Party is suspending a third councilor for anti-Semitic comments following two other suspensions earlier in the day.
Shah Hussein, who sits on the Burnley local council in Lancashire, will be suspended pending an investigation into a number tweets he posted from his Twitter account.
“Councilor Shah Hussain has been suspended from the Labour Party pending the outcome of an investigation,” a Labour spokesperson says.
In a tweet from 2014, Hussein wrote to Israeli football player Yosi Benayoun: “you and your country doing the same thing that hitler did to ur race in ww2.”
Hussain tells the right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes that he has not been “formally informed” of his suspension but, according to the site, he says he believes he will be suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
Holocaust survivors finally get coming-of-age blessing
Fifty holocaust survivors who were prevented from getting a traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony finally receive it during an emotional event at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
The septuagenarians and octogenarians were given bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah ceremonies, which are normally staged for male and female Jews at age 12 or 13, in an event held ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day.
The 13 men and 37 women had mostly missed their ceremonies due to the war and its after effects, so Israel’s government organized a joint one at the Western Wall — Judaism’s holiest site for prayer.
Gal Moshe, an 80-year-old who came to Israel from Poland after World War II, said it was an emotional day.
“The memorial prayer moved me particularly as I thought of my family, and especially of my mother. I literally cried.”
Swimsuit commercial starring Bar Refaeli censored in Israel
Israel’s commercial television authority is censoring a swimsuit commercial featuring Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
The censored ad for Hoodies swimwear, in which Refaeli is frolicking on the beach, can only be shown after 10 p.m. Close-ups of Refaeli’s backside and a section in which she appears to be completely nude must be deleted, the Second Broadcasting Authority for Television and Radio said over the weekend.
The commercial has been shown in its entirety on social media and on the Hoodies YouTube page.
It is the second Hoodies commercial starring Refaeli that has been censored by Israeli authorities.
In April 2014, an ad featuring Bar Refaeli in bed with a purple, mustachioed Muppet was banned from running before 10 p.m. after the authority determined it had “too many sexual insinuations” to be seen during prime time.
Herzog considering breaking ties with UK Labour Party
Israeli Labor leader and chair of the opposition Isaac Herzog says he is considering breaking ties with the UK Labour Party following a string of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments from members in recent days.
“These are disgraceful statements worthy of contempt,” he says. “I am considering suspending ties and it seems that there will be no other option.”
Labour UK is a sister party of the Israeli Labor Party.
Three local councilors were suspended by the Labour Party today for past comments. Last week former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that Hitler was a Zionist in his defense of MP Naz Shah who promoted a plan to transfer Israel from the Middle East.
Herzog, however, adds, “despite this, it is clear that the majority of the party are friends of Israel and these comments represent only a small minority within it.”
Israel reopens Erez crossing to Gaza
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon announces the reopening of one of the main crossing points into the Palestinian Gaza Strip, which has been closed for at least eight years.
“It is in our interests that a significant amount of truckloads of food continues to go to Gaza,” he says in a statement. “It is our interest that Gazans live in dignity. Both from a humanitarian point of view and because this is a way to protect the peace, in addition to existing security deterrents.”
Ya’alon also says there is a need to ease congestion at the Kerem Shalom crossing in the south, currently the only conduit for goods between Israel and the Gaza Strip. He says that “at least half of what currently goes via Kerem Shalom” will be redirected to Erez.
The Erez crossing was closed to the passage of goods in 2008.
‘Herzog agreed to join coalition, but colleagues thwarted deal’
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog agreed terms weeks ago with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his 24-seat party to join the coalition, but the deal was torpedoed by Herzog’s colleagues Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yachimovich, Israel’s Channel 10 news claims.
The report says that, despite Herzog’s consistent denials that he was considering bringing his party into the coalition, he and Netanyahu wrapped up the deal weeks ago — before Herzog’s was named as a suspect in a graft probe in late March.
The Zionist Union was to get seven ministerial posts, including foreign for Herzog and economics for Yachimovich. Livni was to get a more marginal position. The coalition guidelines were not to have changed, and the Orthodox-nationalist Jewish Home party was to have remained in the coalition, the TV report says.
The move, which would have stabilized Netanyahu’s coalition — which currently has just 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset — was primarily thwarted by Livni and Yachimovich, Channel 10 says.
When Herzog put the deal to the two of them, Yachimovich said while there were terms on which she would join the government, these terms were not acceptable. She also said she wanted to be justice minister. Livni, for her part, said she would not accept a marginal ministry.
The report says Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett was prepared to go along with the agreement. Bennett’s party colleague, Ayelet Shaked, is the current justice minister.
Other factors helped destroy the deal, the report says, including Herzog’s legal problems and Zionist Union’s opposition to the government on the natural gas deal. But it was the opposition of Livni and Yachimovich that was chiefly to blame for the idea foundering.
Military court orders Palestinian journalist detained 4 more months
A military court orders a Palestinian journalist to be detained for four months without trial or charges, under what is known as “administrative detention.”
Omar Nazzal was arrested on April 23 at the border between the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jordan, where he had been due to fly to a European Federation of Journalists gathering in Bosnia.
The military court met on Sunday before announcing its decision to put him in administrative detention for four months, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency.
The Shin Bet security service said Nazzal, a member of the general secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS), was detained because of “his involvement in terror group activities”.
It said the journalist, 54, was recently appointed to a top position at Falestine al-Youm television which Israel’s army forcibly closed in Ramallah on accusations of incitement to violence.
— With AFP
Turkey and US-led coalition pound IS group in Syria
The Turkish military says artillery shelling and drone attacks by the US-led coalition have struck Islamic State positions in Syria and killed a total of 63 militants.
The state-owned Anadolu Agency says the strikes took out multiple rocket launchers and gun positions.
Four drones deployed from the Incirlik air base, a launching point for US-led coalition forces in southern Turkey, took part in the operation and killed 29 militants.
The airstrikes were informed by intelligence gathered by the Turkish army, the private Dogan news agency reports.
The remaining 34 IS fighters were “neutralized” by rocket fire and artillery shelling from Turkey, according to Anadolu Agency.
Israel opens new crossing to ease Qalandiya congestion
Israel opens a new crossing from Jerusalem to A-Ram and Qalandiya in order to ease the heavy congestion, both by cars and pedestrians, at the Qalandiya West Bank checkpoint.
The new crossing, located at Dahiat el-Barid, will be open daily from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. from Jerusalem to Qalandiya only. The army says it will consider increasing hours in the future.
The difficult conditions at the checkpoints has long been an issue criticized in mainstream Israeli media, but far-right Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel gave the issue new life on April 15 when he criticized Palestinian suffering at the crossings as “shameful and a disgrace to the State of Israel and to the security establishment.”
A few days after Ariel’s statement, Channel 2 aired a feature story about Palestinian hardship at the Qalandiya checkpoint, which sees more traffic than any other crossing due to its location between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Israeli stabbed outside Jerusalem’s Lion’s Gate
Police say an Israeli man was attacked outside Jerusalem’s Lion’s Gate. He is suffering from a stab wound and is lightly hurt.
A police spokeswoman says a knife is found.
Security forces are reportedly in pursuit of a suspect who fled the scene.
Police said to catch suspect in Jerusalem stabbing
Police have reportedly caught the suspected attacker who stabbed a 60-year-old Jewish man outside the Lions’ Gate in Jerusalem.
The victim is in moderate to serious condition en route to the hospital with a stab wound to the upper torso.
Police still searching for Old City stabber
Conflicting reports are swirling about whether or not the suspect in a stabbing in the Old City of Jerusalem was caught by police or whether a manhunt is ongoing.
Earlier reports suggested the suspect was apprehended, but a police spokeswoman says security forces are still searching.
Video from scene of Old City attack
A video from the scene of the stabbing in Jerusalem shows emergency services outside the Austrian Hospice, where the injured man reported the attack to police.