The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
Israel has decided to bar US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country, following fierce debates on the matter, Channel 12 reports.
The report, which does not cite a source, says the final decision is being drafted and passed around for comments before the move is publicly announced.
The reason cited for the move is reportedly “suspected provocations and promotion of BDS.”
An asset management firm in Russia removes an billboard featuring a depiction of an ultra-Orthodox Jew extending one hand and the words: “Goodbye rent!”
The boards that the Novoselye firm, which offers mortgage plans and housing packages, installed in St. Petersburg earlier this month have prompted dismay and allegations of anti-Semitism.
“Definitely anti-Semitic: An exploitation of the theme that all Jews are usurers,” one critic of the billboard, Natalya Zonova, wrote on the page of the Choral Synagogue Jewish community of St. Petersburg on V Kontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. That community also called for the billboard’s removal.
Amid criticism, Novoselye agreed to remove the billboards if a majority of respondents to a poll it published on V Kontakte vote for its removal. But out of 967 voters, only 46 percent did so.
Still, the firm agrees to have the billboard removed so as not offend people who found it anti-Semitic.
Border Police officers say a busload of Palestinian men, women and children illegally sought to enter Israel from the West Bank without permits, apparently en route to the beach.
Guards at the A’zaim checkpoint east of Jerusalem say they flagged down the private bus for a security check, after deeming it suspicious. The bus driver and passengers, including numerous children, were held for questioning at the crossing.
“The troops who stopped the bus for a check were surprised to find that all of its passengers, 56 children, women and men, aren’t permitted at all to enter Israeli territory,” a statement from the Border Police says, adding that the Palestinians are residents of the West Bank city of Ramallah and its surrounding villages.
“In a search of the bus, items of clothing and other items were located that strengthen the suspicion that it was a group making its way to one of the beaches in Israel,” police say.
The driver of the bus, a resident of East Jerusalem, and the 56 passengers were detained at the crossing for questioning, police say.
The border police force applauds its officers for a job well done, though the group does not appear to have posed a security threat.
“The Border Police have witnessed numerous attempts by Palestinians to infiltrate into Israeli territory for various goals,” it says. “The officers situated at the crossings in the Jerusalem envelope will continue to work professionally and with initiative to prevent the infiltration of those who aren’t permitted to enter the country, illegals who are liable to be involved in criminal activities, and occasionally even terrorism in Israeli territory.”
MK Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Democratic Camp party slams the government’s reported decision to bar entry to US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their BDS support, saying the move is “both fundamentally wrong and diplomatically foolish.”
“A democratic country can’t deny entry to elected officials of a friendly democracy, let alone the immense damage already caused — not only image-wise, but also to the important relations with the Democratic party,” Zandberg says in a statement.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Germany has agreed to increase its regular payments to thousands of Holocaust survivors by hundreds of euros per month.
“We have been in talks with the government of Germany to give extra aid to Holocaust survivors, in addition to the aid we have been giving,” Netanyahu says in a statement.
“This is important, these people deserve it, and I thank the government of Germany.”
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi denounces Israel’s reported decision to bar entry to US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
“A lot of times it is hard for Palestinians to explain to the American public why Netanyahu’s policy is so disastrous,” Tibi writes on Twitter.
“Now, that task is easier.”
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassim reacts to threats made last week by Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz that if he is made prime minister, the next war will see the IDF enter Gaza, defeat Hamas and kill all its commanders.
“Gantz’s threats to assassinate [Hamas leader] Yahya Sinwar and the top Hamas commanders are meant to attract the votes of extremists within the Zionist society in the upcoming elections,” Qassim says on Facebook.
“Gantz should remember how the resistance reacted when he was chief of staff,” he adds, referring to the 2014 Gaza War, during which Gantz was the army chief.
The leader of the Joint List alliance of Arab and Arab-majority parties, Ayman Odeh, says the reported denial of entry to US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their BDS support is a continuation of other alleged Israeli wrongdoings toward Palestinians.
“Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a US congresswoman,” Odeh tweets.
“Rashida Tlaib didn’t even have to land to expose the true face of Israel’s occupation.”
Stav Shaffir, No. 2 in the left-wing Democratic Camp party, criticizes the government for reportedly deciding to bar US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country over their BDS support.
“A country with a wise foreign policy would have invited the congresswomen whose opinions we don’t like for a visit, and made sure that it exposes the complexity of the conflict, connects them also to our narrative and shows to the world that we are strong and open,” Shaffir writes in a tweet.
“The policy of Netanyahu, the coward, slams the door and hands a gift to BDS, which gives back a gift to Bibi: fear and division,” she says, using Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname.
The United States has been arranging secret talks between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the common threat posed by Iran, the Wall Street Journal reports.
During the clandestine meetings, convened twice in recent months by Washington’s top official on Iran, Brian Hook, officials from both countries shared information and coordinated efforts to counter the threat, the WSJ report says, citing US officials familiar with the matter.
The meetings went further than several recent symbolic moves strengthening Israel-UAE ties, such as Israeli journalists visiting on several occasions, and the ties are now said to also be focused on deepening diplomatic, military and intelligence relations.
Democratic Camp party chairman Nitzan Horowitz says the reported decision to bar US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering Israel is a “grave mistake.”
“This isn’t just a confrontation with the Democratic Party which has always supported Israel, it’s also a more basic issue: Israel is a free and democratic country, and in such a country you don’t deal with criticism by entry or exit bans,” he writes on Twitter.
Swedish prosecutors say a man arrested in northern Sweden who initially was suspected of planning a murder is now suspected of conspiracy to commit terrorism.
In a statement, the Swedish Prosecution Authority says no further details are available pending the investigation but adds the man, who has not been identified, is to face a pre-trial custody hearing later today or tomorrow.
He was arrested yesterday in downtown Ostersund, a town of 50,000 some 475 kilometers (295 miles), northwest of Stockholm. Swedish broadcaster SVT said the man was arrested when he drove into a large flower pot and items found in his car made police suspicious.
A man has been stabbed outside Britain’s Home Office interior ministry in London, police say.
“One man has been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and taken to a police station,” the city’s Metropolitan Police says.
The police initially report the injuries are life-threatening but later say his injuries are not life threatening.
John Hickenlooper will drop out of the US Democratic presidential primary today, according to a Democrat close to him.
The former two-term Colorado governor, who ran as a moderate warning of the perils of extreme partisanship, struggled with fundraising and low polling numbers. His planned departure from the 2020 race was confirmed last night by a Democrat who isn’t authorized to speak publicly before the announcement and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
Hickenlooper, 67, is not expected to announce a decision today on whether he will run for Senate in Colorado, though he has been discussing the possibility with advisers. Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, up for reelection in 2020, is considered one of the most vulnerable senators in the country because of Colorado’s shift to the left.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked members of his Likud party not to participate in a political conference organized by Channel 12 on September 5, less than two weeks before the September 17 elections, Haaretz reports.
Netanyahu and his associates have waged war against what they call “propaganda networks” over negative reports on Channel 12 and other TV networks and coverage of the corruption cases against him.
According to the report, Netanyahu met this week with Likud ministers and MKs and asked them to refuse invites by the channels “to not give them legitimacy.”
He specifically mentioned the September 5 event, in which three Likud MKs are currently expected to take part, along with the leaders of most major parties. None of them have canceled their participation, Haaretz says. Netanyahu himself turned down a request by the organizers.
Likud members give daily TV interviews, including to Channel 12.
A fire breaks out near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, prompting authorities to evacuate some of its residents, police and the Fire and Rescue Service say.
Firefighting teams and helicopters are trying to contain the blaze, which is just dozens of meters from buildings.
Hebrew-language media says authorities are checking a suspicion of arson.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) August 15, 2019
US President Donald Trump says if Israel admits US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar into the country it would be showing “great weakness,” amid reports Jerusalem is going to bar the pair.
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely confirms that Israel has made a decision to deny entry to US congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib over their BDS support.
“Israel has decided — we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” she tells the Kan public broadcaster.
“We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle this is a very justified decision.”
US Democratic lawmaker and 2020 White House hopeful Elizabeth Warren slams Israel’s decision to ban congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel, calling it “a shameful, unprecedented move.”
Israel doesn't advance its case as a tolerant democracy or unwavering US ally by barring elected members of Congress from visiting because of their political views. This would be a shameful, unprecedented move. I urge Israel’s government to allow @IlhanMN and @RashidaTlaib entry.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 15, 2019
Gibraltar’s Supreme Court rules to release an Iranian supertanker seized last month on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions, despite a last-minute US request to detain the vessel.
Chief Justice Anthony Dudley says that since Iran guaranteed in writing that the Grace 1 “was never destined to an EU sanctioned entity… there are no longer reasonable grounds to suspect that the detention of the Vessel is required.”
He adds that the court did not receive a written detention request from the United States.
Jewish US groups condemn Israel’s decision to prevent US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting the country, which reversed earlier indications that it would let the tour go as planned.
The American Jewish Council says in a statement that it believes that “out of two less-than-ideal options, neither of which was risk-free, Israel did not choose wisely by reversing its original decision.
“While we fully respect Israel’s sovereign right to control entry into the country, a right that every nation employs, and while we are under no illusions about the implacably hostile views of Reps. Omar and Tlaib on Israel-related issues, we nonetheless believe that the costs in the US of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative.”
The liberal J Street organization calls the move “dangerous, unacceptable and wrong,” adding: “As sitting Members of Congress representing hundreds of thousands of Americans in their districts, Reps. Omar and Tlaib have the same right as every one of their colleagues to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
“We may disagree with the views that the Members hold on such questions as BDS or with Rep. Tlaib on the two-state solution, but the right approach for a state that values democracy is to welcome criticism and debate, not to shut it down.”
The group also assails US President Donald Trump for tweeting his support for the entry ban.
“The fact that President Trump has already tweeted out his own call for these representatives to be denied entry illustrates that this decision is motivated purely by politics and ideology – not by the interests of the State of Israel. It is an affront to Congress and the American people and does severe damage to the US-Israel relationship – and it must be reversed immediately,” it says in a statement.
Iran’s foreign minister says a US attempt at “piracy” failed after a Gibraltar court ordered the release of a tanker carrying Iranian oil despite a US detention request.
“Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism — including depriving cancer patients of medicine — the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweets.
“This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law.”
Police say a stabbing attack has taken place in Jerusalem’s Old City.
At least one person is reported to be injured.
— Judah Ari Gross
A police officer has been stabbed and lightly wounded in an apparent terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, medics say.
The assailant was shot and killed, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.
The officer is in his 30s. He is being taken to the hospital for further treatment, medics say.
— Judah Ari Gross
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri says in an official statement that Israel will deny entry to US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.
“The decision was made with the agreement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Israel Katz and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan,” his office says. “The decision was made after Minister Deri saw they were boycott advocates whose entry should be refused according to the law.
“These are people who use the most central stage for supporting BDS organizations calling for boycotts of Israel,” the statement continues.
“The State of Israel respects the US Congress, as part of the tight alliance between the countries, but it is inconceivable that entry would be granted to those who seek to harm the State of Israel even during their visit.
“Minister Deri stressed that if a request is filed on behalf of Mrs. Tlaib to meet her family members for humanitarian reasons, subject to necessary commitments, he would consider that.”
Two assailants stabbed a police officer, lightly injuring him, in an apparent terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, police say.
The assailants were shot dead by security forces at the scene, according to police.
The injured officer is approximately 30 years old. He sustained stab wounds to the upper body, medics say.
“We gave him medical care, including stopping the bleeding and bandaging him, and we took him to the hospital,” one of the medics on the scene says.
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) August 15, 2019
— Judah Ari Gross
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explains his decision to bar US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel.
“There is no country on Earth that respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel,” the premier says in a statement.
He adds: “Israel is open to all critics and any criticism, with one exception: The law in Israel that prohibits entry to people calling and advocating for boycotting the country, just like in other democracies that bar entry to those who they believe will do harm to their nation.
“The US has behaved this way toward an Israeli member of Knesset and other public figures from around the world,” Netanyahu notes.
“Several days ago, we received their trip itinerary, which clarified that they planned a visit whose sole purpose was to support boycotts and deny Israel’s legitimacy.
“For example, they called their destination ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Israel,’ and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress in the past, they did not seek any meeting with any Israeli official, whether government or opposition.”
חברון, בית לחם, ועוד pic.twitter.com/eUaBbfb4u3
— Gili Cohen (@gilicohen10) August 15, 2019
Iraq is ordering all military camps and munitions warehouses to be moved outside its cities following a massive explosion at an ammunition depot — blamed on Israel by multiple Iraqi officials — that killed one civilian and wounded 13.
In a statement following a national security meeting, Iraq’s prime minister also orders the cancellation of all aviation approvals for flights throughout the country, including reconnaissance, drones, jets and helicopters — unless authorized by the commander of the armed forces.
Monday night’s explosion at a military base southwest of Baghdad shook the Iraqi capital and sent explosives and mortar shooting up the sky, damaging nearby homes and killing one person.
The federal police base houses a weapons depot belonging to a militia group under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.
— with AP
Israel’s decision to bar two US congresswomen who support a boycott of the country from visiting is “an outrageous act of hostility,” a senior Palestinian Authority official says.
“The Israeli decision to ban Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine is an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives,” Hanan Ashrawi says in a statement.
“This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to engage with the rest of the world.”
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman releases a statement saying he “supports and respects” Israel’s decision to deny entry to US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar over their BDS support.
“The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement against Israel is not free speech,” Friedman says. “Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State. Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons.”
Like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Friedman criticizes Omar and Tlaib for “limiting [their] exposure to tours organized by the most strident of BDS activists. This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support.”
Please read my attached statement with regard to the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to BDS activists, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, in accordance with its national laws. pic.twitter.com/q9M2N1uRkr
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) August 15, 2019
US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pans Israel’s decision to deny entry to Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as a “sign of weakness, not strength.”
He says the move will harm Israel-US ties and reduce Americans’ support for the Jewish state.
Denying entry to members of the United States Congress is a sign of weakness, not strength. It will only hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship and support for Israel in America.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 15, 2019
Influential US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC opposes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to bar two Muslim US members of Congress from visiting the Jewish state.
“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee tweets, referring to House Democrats Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who support a boycott of Israel.
“We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand,” the group adds.
A Channel 13 election poll continues to predict a political deadlock, which neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Benny Gantz able to form a government with their preferred partners.
The poll shows the Joint List alliance of Arab and Arab-majority parties losing some of its support, while Jewish voters are increasing their backing for the two main parties, Likud and Blue and White.
The survey also asks whether Yamina party’s firebrand MK Bezalel Smotrich, the current transportation minister, is fit to serve as a minister and member of the high-level security cabinet.
Only 24 percent say he is fit for that role, while 55% contend that he is not.
State Prosecutor Shay Nitzan has reportedly recommended a series of corruption charges against Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, leader of ultra-Orthodox party Shas.
Nitzan has informed Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit of his opinion that Deri should face charges of fraud, breach of trust, tax offenses, money laundering and obstruction of justice, Channel 13 reports.
Mandelblit will now make his decision after consultations, with sources close to him cited as saying the case is complex and the decision will be made after the September 17 elections.
Deri was previously convicted of corruption while serving as interior minister in the 1990s and has served jail time.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is slamming Israel’s decision to deny admission to two Muslim-American congresswomen, calling the snub “beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel.”
The California Democrat, long a supporter of Israel, also said US President Donald Trump’s statements attacking liberal Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and encouraging Israel to block their planned visit is “a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”
Tlaib, of Michigan, and Minnesota Democrat Omar are critics of Israel and supporters of boycotts of the Jewish state, and many Republicans say Omar’s past rhetoric is anti-Semitic.
Pelosi notes that Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, recently said that Israel would not deny any members of Congress from entering the country. She calls the reversal “sad” and “deeply disappointing.”
Welfare Minister Haim Katz will resign tomorrow after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit recommended graft charges against him, the Ynet website reports, without citing a source.
The move comes after members of his party, the ruling Likud, urged him not to resign.
Katz will remain Knesset member and run for the next parliament, and is reportedly weighing asking MKs to grant him immunity.
US House Democrat Ilhan Omar calls Israel’s decision to ban her from visiting the country “chilling,” saying denying entry to sitting members of the US Congress is an “insult to democratic values.”
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, under pressure from President [Donald] Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the US government,” Omar says in a sharply worded statement that highlights her role of conducting oversight of how US foreign aid is spent abroad.
“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,” she adds.
Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper drops out of the race for the US Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nomination, the second victim of poor polling in a hugely crowded race.
But the centrist 67-year-old leaves open the possibility that he could take on Republican Cory Gardner next year for one of the state’s two seats in the US Senate.
Hickenlooper pitched his long experience leading a state with a sizable Republican minority, warning Democrats against straying too far leftward in the fight to dethrone President Donald Trump next year.
But he failed to make a mark nationally after two televised debates in June and July.
He could not bring his polling support above one percent, and was struggling to meet the new donor and polling thresholds to qualify for the next Democratic debate, in September.
This morning, I’m announcing that I’m no longer running for President. While this campaign didn’t have the outcome we were hoping for, every moment has been worthwhile & I’m thankful to everyone who supported this campaign and our entire team.https://t.co/1ijSjkbzzd
— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) August 15, 2019
“This morning, I’m announcing that I’m no longer running for President,” he says via Twitter and video messages.
“While this campaign didn’t have the outcome we were hoping for, every moment has been worthwhile & I’m thankful to everyone who supported this campaign and our entire team.”
“I ran for president because this country is being ripped apart by politics and partisan games while our biggest problems go unsolved.”
“Change is possible when we work together,” he says.