The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.
Netanyahu slams West for Iran concessions
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the world powers are caving in to Iran’s demands, even as Tehran rails against the US and Israel.
“The ruler of Iran, Khameini, is quoted as saying that Iran needs to plan to fight the US regardless of whether there is an agreement,” Netanyahu says at the weekly cabinet meeting. “The president of Iran, Rouhani, stands at the head of the march of hatred in the streets of Tehran, in which US and Israeli flags were burned, and in which many chanted ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel.'”
Netanyahu is referring to Friday’s annual al-Quds day, which drew millions of protesters in Iran.
“All of this is happening as the parade of concessions to Iran continues in Vienna, concessions even on issues that had been marked as red lines in the Lausanne package, which is a bad deal in its own right. It paves Iran’s way to many nuclear bombs and gives it hundreds of billions of dollars for its terrorism and conquest machine, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world.
“Iran does not hide its intention to continue its murderous aggression even against those with whom it is negotiating. Perhaps there is someone among the great powers who is prepared to capitulate to this reality that Iran is dictating, which includes its unending calls for the destruction of Israel – we will not pay the price for this,” Netanyahu says.
Kerry ‘hopeful’ deal can be reached
After days of saying Iranian nuclear talks can go either way, US Secretary of State John Kerry is expressing optimism that a deal can be reached.
Kerry says he is “hopeful” after his last meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He says a “few tough things” remain in the way of agreement but “we’re getting to some real decisions.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to join Iran nuclear talks in Vienna later Sunday, Russian news agencies report, citing a ministry source.
“Today, Minister Lavrov plans to take part in talks on the Iran nuclear program in Vienna,” the source is quoted as saying by RIA Novosti state news agency.
— AP, AFP
Turkish ex-president urges ‘more realistic’ foreign policy
Turkey’s former president Abdullah Gul has called for the country to pursue a “more realistic” foreign policy, in one of his most significant political interventions since leaving office, reports say.
Gul, president from 2007 to 2014, made the thinly veiled attack on the government’s foreign policy late Saturday at a fast-breaking dinner for the holy month of Ramadan also attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Gul co-founded the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with Erdogan. But tensions between the two men have been an open secret since Gul handed over the presidency to Erdogan in August 2014.
“To be frank, I think it would be beneficial to review our policies in the Middle East and the Arab world with a more realistic approach,” the Dogan news agency quotes Gul as saying at the post-dinner speech in Istanbul.
“Another big development is promised in the region and if a great chaos emerges we could be faced with surprises that we never considered before,” he adds.
Gul says Turkey needed to go back to being an “inspiration” in the region and develop its relations with all the countries, including current foes like Egypt.
Iran tightens divorce laws
Iran has changed a law to make divorce by mutual consent invalid unless couples have first undergone state-run counseling, the country’s latest move to tackle a rise in broken marriages.
The measures, reported by media at the weekend, are contained in a new family law that a top official said would be implemented by Iran’s judiciary.
“A decree of divorce by mutual consent, without counseling, is forbidden,” Parnian Ghavam, head of the judiciary’s social work and counseling office, is quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
All Iranians filing for divorce would be obliged to go to a counselor, she says. “From now on, without this it will not be possible to register divorces of mutual consent.”
Iran’s average divorce rate peaked at 21 percent last year, with big cities showing far higher rates.
One in three marriages fails in Tehran.
Cafe fined for refusing to hire Arab
A Tel Aviv labor court orders Cafe Al-Hayam, a branch of Cafe Cafe, to pay NIS 30,000 ($8,000) to plaintiff Omri Kis for refusing to hire him as a waiter because he is an Arab.
According to the Economy Ministry, Kis was accepted for training but ultimately turned away after a manager asked him about his ethnicity. The manager told him that as a kosher restaurant, it could not employ him.
“This is an extremely important verdict, both in theory and practice. Even though the severe phenomenon of discrimination against the Arab population exists in the labor market, it does not feature sufficiently in the verdicts of the labor courts. This shows the great importance of a verdict carrying a clear message to employees who are discriminated against – that the doors of the labor courts are open to every one of them,” says Equal Employment Opportunity National Commissioner Adv. Tziona Koenig-Yair.
Iranian official says deal could be signed today
An Iranian official says the nuclear deal is “within reach” and could be signed as soon as today, Reuters reports.
“The deal is within reach today … but some issues remain that need to be resolved by foreign ministers,” the official says.
Jewish Home MK offers to be executioner
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich tells the Knesset Channel he is willing to be an executioner should Israel pass the death penalty for terrorists, a Knesset Channel reporter says.
Iranian cops gear up for deal celebrations
The Iranian police are gearing up for mass celebrations in the streets of the Islamic Republic in the event a deal is signed, Iranian reporters write on Twitter.
Police in @Iran: We are prepared to stand alongside people in the event of "nuclear street celebrations."
— Kasra Naji (@BBCKasraNaji) July 12, 2015
Iran police ready for celebration of possible nuclear deal, spokesman says #IranTalksVienna
— Sobhan Hassanvand (@Hassanvand) July 12, 2015
Kosovo arrests 5 terror suspects in alleged water plot
Kosovo authorities say they have cut off the water supply to tens of thousands of people in the capital after police arrested five suspects linked to the Islamic State group who allegedly were planning to poison a reservoir.
Pristina’s water authority says the water supply was stopped early Saturday “because of security issues” and that water samples are being tested for any suspicious substances.
Police say officers patrolling the Badovac reservoir saw three of the men, whose identities haven’t been revealed, behaving suspiciously. The reservoir supplies almost half of Pristina, a city of more than 200,000 people. Another two suspects were arrested elsewhere in Kosovo.
Police have been on alert in recent weeks after Kosovo-born volunteers appeared on IS propaganda videos warning of imminent attacks against targets including water supplies.
Jedwabne pogrom commemorated
The 1941 pogrom in Jedwabne is commemorated by representatives of the Jewish community and local residents, at the site of the atrocity in Poland.
“I’m lucky to meet in Poland very good people, the righteous and those who do a lot for Jewish history and culture,” Israeli Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari says at Friday’s ceremony. “We need to look in the mirror of history and remember what is good and what is bad. Some say that the book by Jan Tomasz Gross, ‘Neighbors,’ or movies such as ‘Ida’ and ‘Aftermath’ are bad for the image of Poland. I think that it is not true. Authors like them are an honor for good and democratic Poland.”
During the ceremony Yitzhak Levin, an Israeli whose roots are from Jedwabne, said the Jewish mourner’s prayer Kaddish, and Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich read Psalm 23 and the El Malei Rachamim prayer.
Car-ramming attacker gets 25 years
A Palestinian man who rammed a car into four cops and a civilian on the Purim holiday is sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Mohammad Salima, 21, from East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud injured four policewomen and one cyclist in the attack on March 6, which took place near a Jerusalem Light Rail station in the north of the city.
Fabius believes talks in ‘final phase’
France’s foreign minister says as he returned to nuclear talks between Iran and major powers that he believes the negotiations are now in the final phase.
“I hope we are finally entering the final phase of these marathon negotiations. I believe it,” Laurent Fabius tells reporters in Vienna.
Iran diplomat says talks need ‘political will’
A historic nuclear deal between Iran and major powers is “within reach” but still requires “political will,” an Iranian diplomat warns Sunday amid signs talks in Vienna were nearing a conclusion.
“A deal is in reach. It only requires political will at this point,” the diplomat, Alireza Miryousefi, says on Twitter on a 16th day of negotiations.
Russian FM en route to Vienna
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is flying out to Vienna to take part in talks on Iran’s nuclear program, the foreign ministry says Sunday on Twitter.
“Sergei Lavrov is flying out to Vienna to take part in the talks of the ‘six’ international mediators and Iran on the Iranian nuclear program,” the ministry says in a tweet.
All Iran sanctions to be lifted, report claims
A report on the semi-official Fars News Agency claims all sanctions against Iran will be lifted as part of a final deal with world powers — most of which will be eased “on day one,” while a number of restrictions will remain in place for “a limited and logical period of time.”
“In case the opposite side shows political will and the final agreement is signed, the text of the agreement will include the following points,” a source says.
“According to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, all sanctions against Iran are terminated and Iran will no more be recognized as a sanctioned nation. The JCPA only envisages a set of temporary restrictions that will be removed after a limited and logical period of time, as stated earlier by the Iranian Supreme Leader.”
“All economic, financial and banking sanctions against Iran will be terminated for good on day one after the endorsement of the deal, again as the Iranian Supreme Leader has demanded.”
The deal also eases the arms embargo, the source says.
“Iran will no more be under any arms embargo, and according to a UN Security Council resolution that will be issued on the day when the deal is signed by the seven states, all arms embargos against Iran will be terminated, while its annex keeps some temporary restrictions on Iran for a limited period.”
Deal to be announced Monday — diplomats
Diplomats say negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks are expected to reach a provisional agreement Sunday on a historic deal that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief.
Two diplomats at the talks tell The Associated Press the envisioned accord will be sent to capitals for review and, barring last-minute objections, be announced on Monday.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly.
‘Major issues’ remain in talks — US official
“Major issues” must still be resolved in talks between world powers and Iran on a nuclear deal, a US official says following signs that an agreement may be close.
“We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we’re certainly not going to start now — especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks,” the senior State Department official says.
Sirens sound in northern Israel
Rocket sirens sound in Safed and Tiberias.
IDF investigating after sirens triggered
The IDF is investigating whether rockets were fired at Israel, after sirens are triggered throughout northern Israel.
Sirens a false alarm
The rocket sirens in the Galilee were triggered in a false alarm, the Home Front Command says.
Iran official says deal today ‘impossible’
An Iranian official casts doubt on reports a deal will be finalized by tonight.
“We are working hard, but a deal tonight is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official says, noting that the agreement will run roughly 100 pages.
— AP contributed
Top PLO official says he was illegally fired
A top PLO official recently fired by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says he was dismissed illegally in a move that bodes ill for Palestinian institutions.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, who has criticized Abbas’s policies and leadership, was removed as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s No. 2 two weeks ago. He was replaced with Abbas confidant Saeb Erekat.
Abed Rabbo tells reporters Sunday he was fired without a vote, and that this “harms not only me” but the organization.
Abbas’s office had no comment.
Abbas has alleged in closed-door meetings that Abed Rabbo is part of a group of Palestinian politicians trying to undermine him with financial support from the United Arab Emirates.
Abed Rabbo says such “painful” allegations hurt ties with the UAE which he described as a supporter of the Palestinians.
Senate majority leader says Iran deal will be ‘hard sell’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other congressional leaders express doubts Sunday about a historic agreement with Iran to address that country’s nuclear program, predicting US President Barack Obama could face hurdles in Congress if negotiators reach a final deal.
“This is going to be a very hard sell for the administration,” McConnell says on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the likelihood of Congress signing off on a deal.
Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says lawmakers would review any agreement carefully to ensure the Iranians are held accountable and that any violations can be enforced.
“At the end of the day I think people understand that if this is a bad deal that is going to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, they would own this deal if they voted for it, and so they’ll want to disapprove it,” says Corker, R-Tenn. “On the other hand, if we feel like we’re better off with it, people will look to approve it.”
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says the pending deal made him anxious because the US has gone from making sure Iran does not have nuclear capability to managing it.
Menendez says he would judge the agreement when he has all the elements but says Obama needs to make very clear to Iran that there’s a longer term deterrence, “because in 12 to 13 years we will be exactly back to where we are today except that Iran will have $100 (billion) to $150 billion more in its pocket and promoting terrorism throughout the Middle East.”
Germany to help Tel Aviv preserve Bauhaus buildings
Germany is committed to help Israel preserve an architectural legacy that recalls Jewish design pioneers who fled the Nazi regime in the 1930s.
Germany will invest $3.2 million over the coming nine years to help save Bauhaus-style buildings in the historic “White City” district of Tel Aviv, Barbara Hendricks, German minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, announced recently.
The funds – the first installment of which was presented to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai in May – will also go towards creating a Bauhaus Center in the city’s Max-Liebling House, which is due to open in 2017. Reportedly, the center will serve as a hub for experts involved in planning and overseeing restoration work.
Tunnel blast lightly damages Aleppo citadel
A tunnel explosion in the northern city of Aleppo lightly damaged the wall of its famous citadel Sunday, the latest archaeological site to be ravaged in Syria’s civil war, activists and state media say.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the tunnel was dug by rebels before it was discovered by troops who detonated it. The Observatory says part of the sprawling citadel’s wall collapsed.
Aleppo-based activist Nazeer al-Khatib says about 2 meters (yards) of the wall collapsed. He says government forces control the citadel and that he had no information who caused Sunday’s blast.
Syria’s state-run news agency SANA says “terrorists” blew up a tunnel, causing a wall of the citadel to collapse.
After bombing, Italian PM hails Egypt’s Sissi
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi hails Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as the only leader who can “save” Egypt, after a deadly car bomb attack on Rome’s consulate in Cairo.
He also vows that Italy would not be “intimidated” after Saturday’s attack claimed by the Islamic State group that killed one civilian and injured nine more people.
“I think el-Sissi is a great leader,” Renzi says in an interview with Al-Jazeera television broadcast Sunday.
“Let me be very frank. In this moment Egypt will be saved only with the leadership of el-Sissi,” Renzi says in English.
“This is my personal position and I am proud of my friendship with him and I will support him in the direction of peace because the Mediterranean without Egypt will be absolutely a place without peace.”
Iranian source denies deal imminent
An Iranian source denies that a provisional agreement will be reached Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
AP had reported earlier, quoting two unnamed diplomats, that the agreement will be drafted by Sunday and announced on Monday.
The Iranian source stresses that the Iranian parliament will have to approve the deal, but says the negotiators have “sufficient authority” to accept an agreement with the world powers in Vienna.
Italy suspends consular services in Cairo after blast
Italy’s embassy in Egypt says it is suspending all consular services in Cairo, a day after its consulate was hit by a car bomb that killed a passerby and blasted a gaping hole in the historic building.
In a statement Sunday, Italy says diplomats were working to restore services at the consulate, which issues some 2,200 visas annually.
It says the blast early Saturday completely destroyed some consular offices, including the building’s visa office.
The bombing was purportedly claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Christian Poles who rescued Jews in WWII honored
Jewish officials have gathered with nearly 50 elderly Christian Poles who saved Jews during World War II, praising them as heroes during an event organized as an expression of gratitude.
The rescuers, one of whom is 100 years old and several of whom arrived in wheelchairs or on crutches, gathered for a luncheon at a Warsaw hotel, where Poland’s chief rabbi, an Israeli diplomat and the head of a Jewish organization paid tribute to them.
The organization, the US-based Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, also provides financial support to Poles and others across Europe who have been recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem for rescuing Jews.
Standing before the rescuers, the group’s executive vice president, Stanlee Stahl, told them they are heroes and that they “saved the honor of humanity.”
‘Bad’ Iran deal would be ‘historic mistake’ — Ya’alon
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says the West is likely to sign a “bad deal, with unprecedented concessions” with a “bloody, ruthless regime that spreads terror around the world, and undermines the very foundations of the free world.
“It would be a historic mistake,” Ya’alon adds.
Mikveh-peeping rabbi appeals sentence
Rabbi Barry Freundel is appealing the length of his prison sentence for filming women nude at a ritual bath.
Freundel, who was sentenced in May to 6½ years for videotaping dozens of women at a Washington, DC, mikveh, is arguing that he should have been sentenced to no more than one year in prison, The Washington Post reported Friday.
A hearing on the appeal will be held in Washington Superior Court on July 31.
Freundel is being held in isolation in a Washington jail after prison officials received threats against him.
Rouhani says he kept promise to resolve nuke issue
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says he kept his promise to resolve the country’s nuclear issue, Iranian reporters write on Twitter.
Rouhani says additional ‘steps’ needed for deal
Rouhani says there is still work to be done.
“It might seem we have reached the top of the mountain. But no, there are still steps needed to be taken,” Reuters quotes him as saying. “Even if we fail… we have performed our duty.”