The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
PM says non-Orthodox protests at Western Wall self-defeating
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chastises the non-Orthodox Jewish movements and pluralistic prayer advocates who held a protest in the women’s section at the Western Wall in Jerusalem this morning over the ongoing restrictions on non-Orthodox worship at the foot of Judaism’s holiest site.
“The unfortunate incident this morning at the Western Wall does not help advance a solution for prayer arrangements there,” Netanyahu says in a statement released by his office in Hebrew and English.
“The prime minister and the Speaker of the Knesset said yesterday to the leaders of the non-Orthodox movements [during a meeting of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors] that now is the time for dialogue and not for unnecessary friction. The unilateral violation of the status quo at the Western Wall this morning undermines our ongoing efforts to reach a compromise.”
Iraqi forces retake villages in push on Mosul from south
Iraqi forces say they are advancing on the southern approach to the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, a front where they have been making slower progress than to the east.
The Commandeer of the Mosul Operation, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Raheed Yar Allah, says in a statement that Federal Police Forces have retaken four villages near Hamam al-Alil area.
A spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, confirms that the operation happened this morning.
Iraqi special forces are also going house-to-house in Mosul’s easternmost neighborhood of Gogjali, where sappers are searching roads for explosives and booby traps Islamic State militants could have left behind before they were driven out yesterday.
Fox News’s Hannity apologizes for fake Obama, Clinton story
Sean Hannity apologizes for reading a fake news story on air that claimed First Lady Michelle Obama had scrubbed her Twitter account of mentions of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The conservative radio talker and Fox News host also said one of his radio listeners called in to say President Barack Obama and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren did the same. But writing on Twitter, Hannity says: “Fact is they didn’t. I humbly apologize. Live radio.”
Hannity is one of Donald Trump’s biggest allies in the media and has acknowledged giving the GOP nominee campaign advice in private.
Correction. Live on radio I read a gateway pundit report that @MichelleObama had deleted mentions of HRC. And a listener said BHO and…
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 1, 2016
Elizabeth Warren did same. Fact is they didn't. I humbly apologize. Live radio
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 1, 2016
State Comptroller to probe reform of public broadcaster
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira instructs auditors to begin collecting materials regarding the reform of the public broadcaster, due to significant criticism on the way it’s been handled.
According to Channel 10, Shapira says he made the decision in line with policy “to conduct real-time auditing, given the volume of money involved, the fate of hundreds of workers and the matter’s public importance.”
His comments come in the wake of a heated discussion in the Knesset Finance Committee over the proposed legislation to overhaul the public broadcaster.
Rivlin hosts first official visit by Canadian governor general
President Reuven Rivlin hosts an official welcoming ceremony for Governor General of Canada David Johnston, on the first-ever official visit to Israel by a governor general.
“It is a great honor to welcome you to Israel and to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people,” says Rivlin, according to a statement from his office.
Rivlin praises “the close friendship between the people of Israel and the people of Canada,” adding that Israel is “proud of the partnerships between us in trade, in academia, in culture, in technology, in medicine, and much more.”
Speaking to the media in Jerusalem, the two leaders raise the issue of the peace process with the Palestinians.
“I believe that we can find an end to this conflict, and build trust between us,” Rivlin says. “But there must be an end to incitement, and an end to terrorism. We are not doomed to live together, we are destined to live together.”
Johnston, who arrives in Israel after talks with King Abdullah of Jordan, says: “I would like to reaffirm Canada’s commitment to work with Israelis, Palestinians and other partners to uphold the prospects of a two-state solution, and achieve a just and lasting peace.”
Hamas chief calls for terror group to join the PLO
Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal makes an unprecedented call for uniting his Islamist movement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The move would for the first time bring Hamas into the umbrella group recognized by Israel and the world as the representative of the Palestinians.
Mashaal calls for a “united authority for inside and outside of Palestine, under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
“It is time we reconsider that organization,” Mashaal says during a televised speech from Qatar broadcast live at the Fourth Palestinian National Security Conference, held in Gaza City.
Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, tells The Times of Israel that, “We want that all of the Palestinian factions, which includes Hamas, will be within the framework of the PLO.”
The PLO, which was founded in 1964, is dominated by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement. Fatah and Hamas have been at loggerheads since the Islamic group seized control of the Gaza Strip in a bloody 2007 coup. Various subsequent attempts at reconciliation have been unsuccessful.
— Dov Lieber
Report: Israel demolishes Bedouin village for 105th time
Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports that Israel has bulldozed an unrecognized Bedouin in the Negev Desert for the 105th time since June 2010.
Ma’an says al-Araqib village was demolished by officers from the Yoav Unit of the Israel Police. According to the Public Security Ministry’s website, the unit was created in 2012 on the instruction of the Coordination Directorate of Land Law Enforcement in the Negev “to aid in enforcing land laws and building laws.”
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld tells Ma’an that officers were dispatched to the village to carry out demolitions on a “number of buildings,” in accordance with a court order.
2 Iowa cops killed in twin ambush-style attacks
Two police officers in the Des Moines area of Iowa are shot to death in separate ambush-style attacks while they were sitting in their patrol cars, and police say they are searching for a known suspect.
The shootings happen less than 2 miles apart, both along main streets that cut through residential areas.
“There’s somebody out there shooting police officers. We hope to find him before somebody else gets hurt,” Des Moines Sgt. Paul Parizek tells a news conference, stopping briefly to control his emotions.
Police name 46-year-old Scott Michael Greene as a suspect in the killings, describing him as armed and dangerous and urging members of the public to not approach him.
“There is a clear and present danger to police officers,” Parizek says, adding that officers are now conducting patrols in pairs for protection.
Christian Zionist group hits back at UNESCO with Bible campaign
A Christian Zionist organization based in Jerusalem is urging Christians around the world to send Bibles to the Paris offices of UNESCO, in response to two recent resolutions that stress Muslim ties to the holy city and effectively ignore any Jewish and Christian connection.
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem says in a statement released to the media that hundreds of Bibles have already been sent to UNESCO, highlighting “many of its references to ‘Jerusalem’ and the ‘Temple.'” The group says it expected thousands more Bibles to arrive in the coming weeks.
“We were very shocked and disappointed that UNESCO would adopt such a flawed resolution,” ICEJ Executive Director Jürgen Bühler says in the statement.
“Most of us view these diplomats as being principled and well-educated. But apparently, some of them forgot their history lessons and we are sending them Bibles to refresh their memory. Even worse, some of these representatives are deliberately trying to erase the Jewish and Christian bonds to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and other revered sites in the Land of Israel.”
Major quake in Israel would kill thousands, MKs told
The National Emergency Management Authority warns lawmakers that a major earthquake in Israel would cause massive damage and kill thousands.
The head of the Authority tells the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that such a scenario would cause some 7,000 deaths, make 170,000 people homeless and inflict damage totaling more than NIS 90 million, Channel 2 reports.
Transportation Ministry: Light rail beyond Green Line for everyone
The Transportation Ministry says the two new light rail lines leading to West Bank settlements will be used by both Israelis and Palestinians.
“The lines are designed for all residents alike,” the ministry says, according to Channel 2.
The statement comes a day after Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said the capital’s light rail system would expand to several communities around the city, including the West Bank settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim, Adam and Givat Ze’ev, and the Qalandiya crossing between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Women of the Wall head slams PM response to Western Wall protest
The head of the Women of the Wall, a group campaigning for pluralistic prayer services at the Western Wall on Jerusalem, hits back at Netanyahu for his criticism of this morning’s protest over the government failure to construct a permanent mixed worship platform at the holy site.
Anat Hoffman says that the prime minister’s statement “alluding to dialogue and to compromise makes a mockery of our three years of negotiations with a government that has failed to enact an agreement signed almost a year ago.”
Netanyahu said earlier today that the protest “does not help advance a solution for prayer arrangements” at the Wall. Scuffles broke out between the marchers and some ultra-Orthodox onlookers and Western Wall officials who lunged for the Torah scrolls carried by the protesters and attempted to physically bar them from entering the the women’s section of the Wall.
“For the very first time — this morning — we were able to pray with not one, not two, but fourteen (14!) Torah scrolls in the women’s section of the Western Wall. The first day of the new month of Heshvan was transformed into Simhat Torah,” Hoffman says.
“It felt like a miracle, but this should be our reality every day,” she says. “We hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu heard us loud and clear.”
Iowa police nab suspect in twin cop murders
Iowa police say they have captured the man suspected in the ambush killings of 2 Des Moines area officers in separate shootings in the early hours of the morning.
The two officers were shot dead while they were sitting in their patrol cars, less than 2 miles apart and both along main streets that cut through residential areas.
Police earlier named the suspect as 46-year-old Scott Michael Greene, describing him as armed and dangerous and urging members of the public to not approach him.
1.8 million tourists visit Israel so far this year
Israel has welcomed more than 1.8 million tourists since the start of the year, the Population, Immigration and Border Authority says.
Data shows that more than half of the visitors were from the US, Russia, France, Germany and Britain, Ynet news reports.
Panel to probe cost of public broadcaster overhaul
Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon agree to set up a committee to investigate the cost of reforming the existing public broadcaster.
The panel will submit its recommendations within three weeks, and a decision on the future of the broadcaster will be delayed until then.
The committee will include the directors of the finance and communication ministries, as well as Netanyahu’s chief of staff and and the head of the Treasury’s budgets department.
Trump would boost US aid to Israel, adviser says
Donald Trump’s adviser on intelligence and national security says if elected president, the Republican would increase the amount of aid given to Israel by the US.
Former CIA chief James Woolsey tells Army Radio that the amount of aid needs to be increased, and says that a Trump administration would be far better for Israel.
Washington and Jerusalem in September signed the largest aid package to any country in history, which will see Israel receive $3.8 billion annually — up from $3 billion — from 2018-2028.
Lavrov: Next US president will have to work with Moscow
Russia’s foreign minister says the next US administration will have to work with Moscow to solve world crises, and argued that the peace process in Syria had been “sabotaged” by other countries involved in talks.
Sergey Lavrov makes the remarks days before the US presidential election during a visit to Greece, a NATO and European Union member that has maintained close ties with Russia.
“If you remember a few months ago Obama said just that: ‘We are the ones who should lay down the rules.’ It may have been arrogant but at least he was honest,” Lavrov says.
“If this is the way our American partners think, it means we will have to go through a painful period of realization that no one can do anything on their own.”
Obama raps FBI on Clinton probe: We don’t operate on innuendo
Barack Obama admonishes the head of the FBI over his decision to inform Congress members of possible new emails relating to an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server during her term as secretary of state. The timing of the letter, less than two weeks before the presidential elections, and its lack of details about the emails sparked outrage in the Clinton campaign.
“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made,” Obama says, according to CNN.
The president’s comments, recorded yesterday, are his first public remarks on the issue since the FBI chief wrote to Congress members on Friday, informing them of the new discovery of the emails.
Dozens of former federal prosecutors signed a letter critical of James Comey’s letter, which they note did not include details of who had sent or received the emails, whether they include duplicates of messages that have already been reviewed or whether they contain any classified information.
UK town to burn Trump effigy at bonfire display
A British town is burning a giant effigy of Donald Trump, holding the head of Hillary Clinton, at its annual bonfire celebrations.
Britons light bonfires and set off fireworks on or near November 5 to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ failed plot to blow up Parliament in 1605.
Organizers of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society say the US presidential candidate was the overwhelming choice for this year’s celebrity effigy, which will go up in flames on Saturday to open the annual fireworks display.
The model stands 36 feet (11 meters) high.
The group, based in Edenbridge, south of London, is known for burning a huge celebrity effigy, stuffed with fireworks and newspapers, alongside the traditional figure of Fawkes.
Last year’s effigy was of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
PA slams Israeli plans for trains to West Bank, Western Wall
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry says plans for Israel to extend a still unbuilt Jerusalem-Tel Aviv train line to the Western Wall “threatens to explode” the conflict, and called on the international community to halt the scheme
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz revealed the plans yesterday, saying the upcoming high-speed line would link to the holy site via an underground tunnel skirting the Old City.
The Palestinians also slam plans for four new stops on Jerusalem’s light rail service, which aims to reach the West Bank settlements of Ma’aleh Adumim, Adam, Atarot and Givat Ze’ev.
In a statement to the media, the Palestinian ministry “condemns in the strongest terms” the “colonial and Judaiazation” plans outlined by Katz, claiming they are intended to annex the settlements and link them to Jerusalem.
The statement warns of “disastrous consequences for this expansion project,” which is it said would “undermine any chance for peace.”
— Dov Lieber
NJ man convicted of terrorism in attacks on synagogues
A 24-year-old New Jersey man is convicted of terrorism for vandalizing and firebombing synagogues and a rabbi’s home in Bergen County in 2012.
Aakash Dalal is also convicted by the court in Bergen County on 16 other counts, including conspiracy to commit arson, attempted arson, bias intimidation, possession of a weapon and possession of a destructive device.
Dalal, a former student at Rutgers University, has been jailed since he was arrested in March 2012. He will be sentenced on December 21.
His former high school classmate Anthony Graziano also was found guilty of terrorism and 19 other counts in May for the anti-Semitic attacks in December 2011 and January 2012. Graziano also awaits sentencing.
— North Jersey News (@NorthJerseybrk) November 1, 2016
Black church burned in Mississippi, ‘Vote Trump’ daubed on wall
Authorities say a fire has partially damaged a black church in Mississippi, and television images show “Vote Trump” spray-painted on an outside wall.
Fire Chief Ruben Brown tells the Associated Press that firefighters found flames and smoke pouring from the sanctuary of the Hopewell M.B Church just after 9 p.m. last night.
He says the sanctuary sustained heavy damage, while the kitchen and pastor’s office received water and smoke damage. He says investigators don’t know yet if it is a case of arson.
Brown says there was also a political message spray-painted on the side of the church, but declines to state what the message said.
“Vote Trump” is clearly visible in images of the church showed in the media.
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) November 2, 2016
Top Trump advisers release detailed Israel plan
Less than a week before the presidential election, Donald Trump’s two top Israel advisers release a detailed plan that pledges assistance to Israel beyond current levels, but stops short of pledging to kill the Iran nuclear deal.
The 16-point plan, which was released today by David Friedman and Jason Dov Greenblatt, reflects stated pledges by Trump. In some cases, however, the proposal goes beyond them — most notably on defense aid above current levels.
The Republican nominee has been unable to generate enthusiasm among his party’s Jewish givers, in part because of his past equivocations on Israel, but also because of his broadsides against women, Hispanics and Muslims, as well as the support he has garnered from openly anti-Semitic elements on the alt-right.
The introduction to the statement by Greenblatt and Friedman does not make clear whether Trump has blessed the plan. It says instead that “each of these positions have been discussed with Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign, and most have been stated, in one form or another, by Mr. Trump in various interviews or speeches given by him or on his social media accounts.”
Mississippi mayor calls fire at black church ‘cowardly act’
The mayor of a small Mississippi town is describing a fire at a black church that was also spraypainted with a “Vote Trump” message as a “hateful and cowardly act.”
The fire last night heavily damaged the Hopewell M.B. Church in Greenville, Mississippi.
Mayor Errick Simmons tells a news conference that local officials consider the fire a hate crime because of the political message he believes was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.
Neither Simmons nor Fire Chief Ruben Brown has labeled the fire a case of arson, although Brown said arson investigators are at the scene.
Pastor Caroline Hudson says the 111-year-old church congregation will rebuild on the same site.
Palestinian teen jailed for life for murdering Israeli woman
An IDF court sentences a Palestinian teen to life on jail for the January 2016 murder of an Israeli mother of six.
Morad Bader Abdullah Adais, who was 16 when he stabbed Dafna Meir to death in front of her children at their home in the settlement of Otniel, is also ordered to pay NIS 750,000 in compensation, the Walla news website reports.
The court says life in jail is an appropriate punishment for what it calls an act of unusual cruelty carried out in cold blood, and recommends that the authorities prevent Adais’s early release in the future.
Medvedev: Russia cannot influence result of US elections
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tells Channel 2 that Moscow is not trying to win the US elections for Donald Trump and that it would be impossible to influence the outcome of the vote.
“It seems to the outside observer that you are making a keen attempt at assisting Donald Trump in his campaign for the White House,” Channel 2’s Yonit Levy asks the prime minister in an interview in Moscow, days before he is due to arrive in Israel.
The question elicits laughter from Medvedev, who says in response: “I think it is impossible to sway the results of the US elections. A few days ago, President Putin said, and rightly so, that that the US is not a banana republic that you can pressure and determine who will be president.”
Russian PM: Moscow not giving DNC emails to WikiLeaks
Medvedev denies that Russian state-sponsored hackers are behind the breach of Democratic Party officials’ emails that are being released by WikiLeaks.
“I don’t know what is driving the people who are publishing this material,”: Medvedev tells Israeli TV.
“The world has become so transparent, no one can hide,” he says. Anyone using electronic communication devices must understand this. That’s all.”
Medvedev: US meddles however it wants in other nations
Medvedev accuses the US of a double standard for its outrage over the leaked DNC emails, saying that it meddles however it chooses in other countries.
“The US political machine is powerful and actively intervenes in political processes taking place around the world,” the Russian PM tells Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “They apparently have right to do almost everything, and other countries aren’t allowed to do anything.”
Channel 2 says the full interview, in which Medvedev discusses the war in Syria and Moscow’s relations with both Israel and Iran, will be aired at the weekend.
US, Europe at odds over Revolutionary Guard-backed airline
A US Treasury official says Washington has been trying to get European countries to cooperate with its efforts to block the financial network of an Iranian airline backed by the country’s notorious Revolutionary Guard, but has met with stiff resistance.
Mahan Air, the country’s second-largest carrier, is used to ferry weapons and fighters to support Syria’s government. It has acquired rights to fly commercial routes in more than a dozen European and Asian countries in spite of US terror-related sanctions.
The US accuses the company of providing “transportation, funds transfers and personnel travel services” to the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Forces, flying them and weapons to Syria to train Hezbollah militants, Syrian army troops and others.
Many countries honored the US terror sanctions and blocked Mahan Air. But weeks before the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015, the airline announced it was launching a route to Munich — its second German destination. A wave of new routes to 15 countries followed, including France, Russia, China and Italy. France and Denmark were added in June 2016, and talks continue to add more routes in Europe.
Washington doesn’t want to restrict travel to and from Iran, the Treasury official says, noting that the country’s main carrier, Iran Air, can fly around the world since the nuclear deal was implemented in January.
A spokeswoman for the EU says Mahan Air is not under its sanctions and the US has no jurisdiction.
Romania approves state pension for Holocaust survivors
The Romanian parliament approves benefits for Holocaust survivors, and hears legislation designed to repeal a clause demanding proof of Romanian citizenship to receive the benefits.
Ynet quotes Israel’s Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel as saying that the cancellation of the clause will go into effect in the near future, paving the way for thousands of survivors in Israel to exercise their right to a Romanian state pension.
Woman who says Trump raped her as a child to go public
The woman who says she was raped by Donald Trump when she was just 13-years-old is to appear in public today for the first time.
The accuser, who is listed in legal documents as “Jane Doe,” will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. PST in California, her lawyer Lisa Bloom says.
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) November 2, 2016
Trump vehemently denies the claim, saying it has “absolutely no merit.”