Netanyahu accuses left-wing, media of trying to oust him
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Live updates (closed)Latest: Likud official: Those seeking Netanyahu ouster ‘inventing lies’

Opposition leader slams PM for ‘horror show’ solidarity rally

Netanyahu accuses left-wing, media of trying to oust him; Trump warns N. Korea that US nuclear arsenal is ‘more powerful than ever’; knife-carrying Palestinian arrested in Hebron

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, blows a kiss to the crowd as he's surrounded by activists during a gathering to show support for him as he face corruption investigations, held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, August 9, 2017. (AFP/Jack GUEZ)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, blows a kiss to the crowd as he's surrounded by activists during a gathering to show support for him as he face corruption investigations, held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, August 9, 2017. (AFP/Jack GUEZ)
  • Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 17, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)
    Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, July 17, 2016. (AP/Matt Rourke)
  • A man watches a news program at a railway station in Seoul showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) on August 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
    A man watches a news program at a railway station in Seoul showing US President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) on August 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)
  • The North Korean Military Parade Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
    The North Korean Military Parade Pyongyang on April 15, 2017. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
  • US President Donald Trump looks on before a meeting with administration officials on the opioid addiction crisis at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP_
    US President Donald Trump looks on before a meeting with administration officials on the opioid addiction crisis at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2017. (NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP_
  • Journalists (back) gather behind a cordon as police work at the site where a car slammed into soldiers in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, on August 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)
    Journalists (back) gather behind a cordon as police work at the site where a car slammed into soldiers in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, on August 9, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN)
  • A Wizz airlines plane. (photo credit: Courtesy)
    A Wizz airlines plane. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.

Five journalists arrested by Palestinian security services

Palestinian security forces have arrested five journalists from local media outlets, including one affiliated with Hamas, according to a journalists’ union and official media.

Security forces detained the journalists from various Palestinian media in the West Bank in recent days, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate says.

Official Palestinian news agency Wafa confirms one Gaza-based journalist, Amer Abu Shabab, was arrested by Hamas militias, saying he was accused of “leaking sensitive information to enemy groups.”

The Palestinian Authority run by president Mahmoud Abbas is based in the West Bank, while its rival, the Hamas terrorist organization, controls the Gaza Strip. The two factions have been unable to reconcile in a decade and are often at loggerheads.

— AFP

Manhunt after Paris car ramming of anti-terror soldiers

French security forces launch a manhunt after a car rammed into anti-terrorism soldiers outside their barracks in a Paris suburb, injuring six.

The car sped off after the incident described by local mayor Patrick Balkany as “without doubt a deliberate act.”

The Paris prosecutors’ office said its anti-terrorism unit has launched a probe into “attempted killings… in relation to a terrorist undertaking.”

Defense Minister Florence Parly condemns the car ramming as a “cowardly act, “saying it did “nothing to dent soldiers’ determination to work for the security of the French people.”

“Security forces are actively seeking the perpetrator who is on the run. The ongoing probe will determine his motives and the circumstances in which he acted,” Parly says.

France, which has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 attacks in Paris, has seen a string of assaults on security forces, including those guarding key tourist sites.

— AFP

Egyptian officials say 4 policemen killed in northern Sinai

Egyptian security officials say four policemen have been killed in an ambush in restive northern Sinai peninsula where Islamic militants are active.

They say the policemen were heading to the town of el-Arish early this morning when gunmen attacked the car they were riding in and opened fire, killing one police officer, a low-ranking policeman and two conscripts.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

Egypt in recent years has been battling a stepped-up insurgency in northern Sinai, mainly by militants from an Islamic State group affiliate. The campaign accelerated after the military ousted elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

— AP

Soldier who shot Halamish terrorist to receive IDF medal

The off-duty soldier who shot and wounded the Palestinian terrorist as he carried out a deadly stabbing in the West Bank settlement of Halamish last month will be awarded a medal by the IDF for stopping the attack.

Sgt. A., who shot and injured a terrorist who killed three Israelis at the Halamish settlement on July 21 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Sgt. A., who shot and injured a terrorist who killed three Israelis at the Halamish settlement on July 21 (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The soldier from the IDF’s elite canine special forces unit, identified only as Sgt. A., heard the screams of his neighbors as Omar al-Abed attacked members of the Salomon family in their home.

Sgt. A. ran to the window of the house and shot the 19-year-old killer, moderately wounding him.

China warns against stoking Korea tensions after Trump ‘fire and fury’ threat

China responds to US President Donald Trump’s apocalyptic “fire and fury” threat against North Korea by pointedly warning against any rhetoric that could inflame tensions over Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

Calling the situation on the Korean Peninsula “complicated and sensitive,” China’s foreign ministry issued a statement warning that parties involved in the impasse should avoid “words and actions that escalate the situation.”

The ministry had been asked to respond to Trump’s comment yesterday that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it did not refrain from further bellicose threats against the United States.

— AFP

France praises Trump’s ‘determination’ against North Korea

France praises the “determination” of Donald Trump after the US president ramped up his rhetoric against North Korea over its weapons programs.

“The determination of the American president… (is) the same determination as any American president would have because they cannot accept that part of their territory could be the target of ballistic missile attacks,” French government spokesman Christophe Castaner says after a cabinet meeting.

— AFP

US nuclear arsenal ‘more powerful than ever,’ Trump warns N. Korea

US President Donald Trump says his country’s nuclear arsenal is now “more powerful than ever before” in a fresh warning to North Korea over its missile tests.

“My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Trump writes on Twitter before adding that “hopefully we will never have to use this power.”

French police arrest man over soldier car ramming attack

French officials say police have arrested a man on a highway north of Paris in the search for a driver who rammed his car into soldiers.

Two officials say it is too early to say for certain that the man was the driver who rammed a car into soldiers in the Paris suburb of Levallois earlier today. Six soldiers were injured in the attack.

One of the officials said the arrest was violent, and police opened fire on the suspect. The other official said the arrest took place on the A16 highway when the man was stopped as police hunted for cars suspected of involvement in the attack.

The officials weren’t authorized to be publicly named.

— AP

Wizz Air announces four new Israel routes

Wizz Air, the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, announces four new low-fare routes to the southern city of Eilat.

The new routes will fly from Riga, Latvia; Katowice, Poland; Prague, Czech Republic; and Bucharest, Romania. They will begin in late October and early November.

Ticket prices for one-way fares will range from NIS 89 ($25) to 154 ($43).

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin welcomes the development, calling the new routes “a great vote of confidence in Israeli tourism.”

Woman who collapsed at outdoor rave dies of heatstroke

The 20-year-old woman who collapsed at an outdoor rave last week has died, according to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.

The woman was found unconscious early Saturday morning in a wooded area near the Goral Junction and was hospitalized in critical condition.

The hospital says the woman suffered irreversible brain damage due to heatstroke.

Doctors add that no alcohol or drugs were found in her system.

Police have arrested several organizers of the event and are investigating the incident.

Tens of thousands of N. Koreans rally against UN sanctions

North Korean authorities organize a giant rally as a show of support for their rejection of the latest round of UN sanctions.

Tens of thousands of people pack Kim Il Sung Square in downtown Pyongyang for the event, which followed a familiar format of speeches from a balcony, with the crowd listening below, standing in organized rows interspersed with placards and slogans.

Kim Ki Nam, member of the Political Bureau and vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, tells the crowd that “the US and its allies have fabricated a sanctions resolution again, taking over the United Nations while picking on our ICBM test launch.”

— AP

Likud urging members to rally behind Netanyahu

The ruling Likud Party is organizing a rally in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in what it hopes will be a show of force by the beleaguered leader as he battles a slew of corruption allegations.

Likud leaders are putting heavy pressure on party activists to attend the rally this evening in Tel Aviv.

They say it’s meant to counter a vicious campaign by leftist media and overzealous police and state prosecution. But the gathering will also provide a test of Netanyahu’s popularity and control over his party.

Police suspect Netanyahu of being involved in bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Last week, former top aide Ari Harow agreed to testify against Netanyahu, raising speculation that an indictment could come soon.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

— with AP

Condition of co-pilot injured in deadly helicopter crash said to improve

The IAF co-pilot who was critically injured in the deadly helicopter crash on Monday, has reportedly regained conciseness, according to Channel 2 News.

The TV station says the unnamed pilot has woken up from a medically induced coma earlier today, and is moving his arms and legs.

The improvement in the pilot’s condition indicates the spinal cord injury he sustained is not irreversible as initially feared, it says.

On Monday night, an Apache attack helicopter crashed at the Ramon Air Base in the Negev desert during a training mission.

The pilot, an air force major in reserves, was killed. His co-pilot, a lieutenant, was rushed to Soroka unconscious and in critical condition.

Danish journalists call on Israel to keep Al Jazeera bureau open

Danish journalists are urging Israel not to shutter the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera satellite network’s Jerusalem office.

The Danish Union of Journalists appeal to Israel’s ambassador “to do whatever is in your power to keep open the lines from Al Jazeera to Israel.”

Lars Werge, head of the union, says in a letter to Ambassador Baruch Binah that “it is not in the interests of your fellow Israeli citizens to reduce the freedom of the press.”

Israel said this week it would close the TV station’s bureau, revoke its journalists’ press credentials and block its transmission.

Saudi Arabia and Jordan have shut the network’s offices. Its websites and channels were also blocked in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Egypt banned Al Jazeera when the military came to power in 2013.

— AP

FBI agents search home of former Trump campaign chair

A spokesman for US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, says that FBI agents served a search warrant at one of his homes.

Spokesman Jason Maloni says that Manafort cooperated with the agents as he has “consistently” done.

Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating Manafort as part of his probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with Trump associates.

Manafort has denied any wrongdoing. He has also cooperated with congressional committees investigating the election interference. Manafort has turned over documents to the intelligence and judiciary committees in the Senate. Manafort led the Trump campaign for several months.

— AP

Palestinian Authority slashes permits for sick Gazans, WHO says

The Palestinian Authority has dramatically reduced financial support for Gazans seeking medical care outside the blockaded Gaza Strip, new World Health Organization figures reveal, as President Mahmoud Abbas seeks to squeeze the Hamas-run enclave.

The number of financial approvals from June, the most recent number available, was 80 percent lower than the monthly average for 2016, the WHO said in a statement.

Just 477 Gazans were given financial approval to travel for treatment during the month, down from 1,883 in June the previous year.

Gazans seeking medical care outside of the Strip must first apply to the PA for permission and financial aid, before seeking Israeli permits.

The PA has officially denied any change in policy, but Abbas has been seeking to squeeze Gaza’s rulers Hamas through a series of measures including reducing electricity payments.

— AFP

Knife-carrying Palestinian arrested at Hebron checkpoint

A Palestinian man who approached Border Police officers in the West Bank city of Hebron armed with a knife has been arrested, police say.

Officers guarding a checkpoint near the Tomb of the Patriarchs pointed their weapons at the suspect, as he threw the knife to the ground.

He was arrested and taken for questioning.

Rocket sirens to sound in northern West Bank tomorrow as part of drill

Rocket sirens will sound in several West Bank settlements tomorrow morning as part of an emergency drill, the IDF says.

In a statement, the army says sirens will be heard in the settlements of Einav, Ravava, Shaked, Barkan and Tapuach.

The drill is set to conclude in the afternoon.

French police searching building believed linked to car attacker

Officials say French police are searching a building in a suburb west of Paris believed to be linked to the chief suspect in a car attack that injured six soldiers.

Two officials say the search underway in Sartrouville is part of the investigation into Wednesday’s attack in nearby Levallois. The officials say information about the suspect’s identity is being verified, and it’s unclear whether the suspect lived in the building.

Heavily armed police in masks could be seen entering and leaving the building.

Police shot and wounded the suspect on a highway in northern France after he fled the scene of the attack on the soldiers.

— AP

Thousands attend pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv

Some 2,000 Israelis are attending a rally in support of Netanyahu in Tel Aviv amid developments in the ongoing corruption investigations against the prime minister.

Likud leaders are putting heavy pressure on party activists to attend the rally at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds to counter what they claim is a vicious campaign by leftist media and overzealous police and state prosecution.

As participants wait for the speakers to begin, Likud MKs, ministers and party activists cheer “Netanyahu is the king of Israel,” and “there will be nothing because there is nothing,” a phrase the prime minister has repeated in reference to the corruption allegations against him.

Other rally-goers are seen carrying signs reading, “we love Netanyahu” as well those decrying “fake news.”

Netanyahu along with Likud MK David Bitan are expected to deliver speeches at the rally. Singer David D’or will perform at the event.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, controversial MK Oren Hazan says that the rally is “to show support for Netanyahu and not to attack anyone specific, but we need to understand that there are serious problems with the state prosecution.”

Counter demonstrators are being held outside the fairgrounds.

Police suspect Netanyahu of being involved in bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Last week, former top aide Ari Harow agreed to testify against Netanyahu, raising speculation that an indictment could come soon.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

— with Raoul Wootliff

Pentagon chief warns N. Korea against actions leading to ‘destruction of its people’

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Wednesday warned North Korea to stop pursuing nuclear weapons and stop considering actions that would lead to the “destruction of its people.”

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” Mattis says in a statement. “The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

He added that: “The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”

— AFP

Netanyahu supporters decry media coverage of prime minister

At a pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv, several Likud supporters express their dissatisfaction at the media’s coverage of the prime minister and the ongoing police investigations against him.

At the entrance to the fairgrounds where the event is being held, one activist holds a sign reading “Fake news is fucking news.”

Several journalists have been verbally abused by participants.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, Rivka, a Likud activist from Rishon Lezion, says the event is “pro-Bibi and not anti-media” but that news outlets must take responsibility for their role in “the terrible sins done against Netanyahu.”

“He is innocent, we all know it and you know it too,” she says, referring to the media. “You have hated him for years and now you are doing all you can to perpetuate the lies about him being corrupt. He is not.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Jerusalem mayor claims ‘conspiracy’ against Netanyahu

At a Likud rally in support of Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says the ongoing investigations leave “no other explanation” than a conspiracy against the prime minister.

“We are here to say that we support our prime minister, he is doing a good job and he has the support of the people of Israel, of me as mayor, and we should let him do his job properly,” Barkat tells The Times of Israel.

“Nobody is above the law but everyone, including the prime minister, is innocent until proven guilty. They want to investigate him fine, but don’t do it over the news. The media is right in the interrogation room and someone is leaking them every detail. This is totally unacceptable,” he adds.

Asked if he thought there was a conspiracy against Netanyahu involving the state prosecution, Barkat said “there is no other explanation.

— Raoul Wootliff

Netanyahu accuses left-wing, media of trying to oust him

Netanyahu, addressing a solidarity rally, tells his supporters the investigations into his alleged corruption are an effort by the left-wing and the media to topple his right-wing government.

It’s “an obsessive witch-hunt against me and my family” designed to achieve a political “coup” and force the “national camp” out of power.

“They don’t want to just take me down, they want to take us all down,” he says at a rally in Tel Aviv. “They know that they can’t beat us at the ballots, so they are trying to circumvent democracy and topple us in other ways.”

“But we keep winning in the ballots because we’ve brought Israel to the best place it has ever been in Israel’s history.”

“We know that the left and the media — and we know that it’s the same thing — is on an unprecedented hunt against me and my family to bring down the government. They are putting unrelenting pressure of the legal system in order for them to present an indictment without any proof.”

“The fake news is warning us that if we don’t withdraw from our historical homeland we will be weak and defeated,” he says.

“This is not the first time that the media has brought these fake accusations against the right,” he says. “They brought down [Yitzhak] Shamir in 1992 and brought us Oslo and bus bombings and dead people in restaurants,” he adds.

And in 1999, he says, he himself was ousted when Ehud Barak promised a new dawn. But that “dawn” brought the second intifada and more than 1,000 Israeli deaths, he says.

“Yesterday there was an article [in Haaretz] and I quote: ‘The Palestinians hope the investigations will bring down the Prime Minister.’ It’s no surprise that the media and the Palestinians want to bring me down — they both want us to pull out to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu says.

The crowd responds with boos and chants of “down with the media.”

— Raoul Wootliff

At pro-Netanyahu rally, supporters chant ‘Bibi, King of Israel’

After Netanyahu’s speech, Likud MK and coalition chairman David Bitan calls on ministers in attendance to come on stage as the crowd chants “Bibi, King of Israel.”

Controversial right-wing singer Amir Benayoun also entertains the audience with the song “We have been waiting for you so many years.”

— Raoul Wootliff

After pro-Netanyahu rally, opposition MKs slam PM as ‘corrupt’

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni slams Netanyahu as corrupt, following his remarks at a rally held in support of the prime minister amid developments in the ongoing corruption investigations against him.

“Likud members are not corrupt, but Netanyahu is corrupting Israel,” she says. “I am sure that many, many Likud voters — honest people and good citizens — are feeling uncomfortable tonight,” she adds.

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid says the pro-Netanyahu rally “crossed all lines.”

“What we saw this evening was not a show of support for Netanyahu, but a show of support for corruption,” he adds.

Ex-PM Barak slams Netanyahu’s ‘whining’ at solidarity rally

Former prime minister Ehud Barak slams Netanyahu for the speech he delivered at solidarity rally in Tel Aviv in which he accused the media and the left-wing of trying to topple his right-wing government.

“The suspect from Balfour Street continues to whine,” Barak writes on Twitter.

“Likud members are proud and honest citizens, not puppets,” he says. “There is no persecution, but there is corruption, there is no leadership, only panic.”

Netanyahu in his remarks called Barak “an old man with a new beard.”

Minister insists ‘king’ Netanyahu won’t be toppled by graft probes

At the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv, Communications Minister Ayoub Kara insists the prime minister won’t be toppled by the corruption investigations against him.

“We are saying here that there is one king who has been crowned by the public. Anyone who wants to get rid of him should go to the ballot box, you won’t get rid of him with bottles, or ice cream and definitely not champagne,” Kara tells The Times of Israel.

I am not complaining about the legal authorities, I trust them, and support them. But there are those who are trying to pressure them and we won’t allow it,” he says.

— Raoul Wootliff

Herzog slams pro-Netanyahu rally as a ‘horror show’

Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog slams Netanyahu for his “shameful, degrading and dangerous” remarks at his of solidarity rally in Tel Aviv that he calls a “horror show.”

“Netanyahu’s horror show in Tel Aviv this evening expresses a moment of truth for the rule of law and democracy in Israel,” Herzog writes on Twitter. “The prime minister’s tirades were shameful, degrading and dangerous.

“The right, the center and the left know that the time has come to replace him,” Herzog adds. “The public is fed up of single rule and is disgusted from the prime minister’s threats to the free and enlightened democracy in Israel.”

Likud’s Oren Hazan claims state, ‘radical leftists’ trying to unseat PM

Likud MK Oren Hazan claims Netanyahu is the target of state-sponsored persecution and a “radical leftist” agenda.

The Likud is a family and we come together to support each other,” Hazan tells The Times of Israel after the pro-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv.

“We have had enough of attack on us. Radical leftists are trying to bring us down. We respect the rule of law but we have had enough of the state prosecution that has lost its way,” he charges.

“People with leftist agendas are whispering in [Attorney General] Mendelblit’s ears and trying to influence him. That is not the rule of law that we respect,” Hazan says. “The people of Israel are the ones who suffer.”

— Raoul Wootliff

Likud official: Those seeking Netanyahu ouster ‘inventing lies’

Eli Hazan, the Likud party’s director of international relations, says people who want to see Netanyahu removed from power in light of the mounting corruption allegations against him are “inventing lies.”

“We are here to support not only Netanyahu but Israeli democracy. Netanyahu was elected in 2009 and has been prime minister ever since. If the electorate wants to change the government so let’s go to new elections, not investigations,” he tells The Times of Israel.

“I know that it sounds irrational to talk about a conspiracy but there is no doubt that there are some people in high places who don’t like that Netanyahu is in power,” Hazan says. “We believe in democracy. Those who believe in democracy should be here too.”

— Raoul Wootliff

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Live updates (closed) Latest: Likud official: Those seeking Netanyahu ouster ‘inventing lies’

Netanyahu accuses left-wing, media of trying to oust him

Netanyahu, addressing a solidarity rally, tells his supporters the investigations into his alleged corruption are an effort by the left-wing and the media to topple his right-wing government.

It’s “an obsessive witch-hunt against me and my family” designed to achieve a political “coup” and force the “national camp” out of power.

“They don’t want to just take me down, they want to take us all down,” he says at a rally in Tel Aviv. “They know that they can’t beat us at the ballots, so they are trying to circumvent democracy and topple us in other ways.”

“But we keep winning in the ballots because we’ve brought Israel to the best place it has ever been in Israel’s history.”

“We know that the left and the media — and we know that it’s the same thing — is on an unprecedented hunt against me and my family to bring down the government. They are putting unrelenting pressure of the legal system in order for them to present an indictment without any proof.”

“The fake news is warning us that if we don’t withdraw from our historical homeland we will be weak and defeated,” he says.

“This is not the first time that the media has brought these fake accusations against the right,” he says. “They brought down [Yitzhak] Shamir in 1992 and brought us Oslo and bus bombings and dead people in restaurants,” he adds.

And in 1999, he says, he himself was ousted when Ehud Barak promised a new dawn. But that “dawn” brought the second intifada and more than 1,000 Israeli deaths, he says.

“Yesterday there was an article [in Haaretz] and I quote: ‘The Palestinians hope the investigations will bring down the Prime Minister.’ It’s no surprise that the media and the Palestinians want to bring me down — they both want us to pull out to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu says.

The crowd responds with boos and chants of “down with the media.”

— Raoul Wootliff