The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Israel bars entry ‘when mandate is anti-Israeli’
Israel blocked a visit to the Palestinian territories by a UN rights envoy last week, an official says Monday, just ahead of the publication of a United Nations report on last year’s Gaza war.
It was the second time Makarim Wibisono, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, had been barred entry.
“We didn’t allow this visit,” which was to take place last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon tells AFP.
“Israel cooperates with all the international commissions and all (UN) rapporteurs, except when the mandate handed to them is anti-Israeli and Israel has no chance to make itself heard.”
The UN Human Rights Council, to which Wibisono reports, has been conducting an investigation into the actions of both Israel and Palestinian militants during last year’s conflict.
While Wibisono reports to the council, his visit was for a separate, annual assessment in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Israel barred him from entering last year for a similar visit.
Obama took office seeking reconciliation with the Muslims, ex-envoy to US says
Kulanu MK Michael Oren says US President Barack Obama would have taken a tough stance against “any Israeli government.”
Speaking at the Judea and Samaria Conference of Public Diplomacy, Oren, who in the past served as ambassador to the United States, says that “there is significant tension and disagreement with the administration. We are two friendly countries where one does not recognize the capital of the other. This policy hurts Israel and is not acceptable in Jerusalem.
“President Obama came to the White House with a tough view regarding any Israeli government, whether right- or left-wing… (and) seeking reconciliation with the Muslim world and the Iranians. That this regime (in Iran) calls for the annihilation of Israel does not prevent Obama from trying to reach an understanding with them,” NRG quotes Oren as saying.
‘You have reached your destination, I’ll be back’
Starting next week, you’ll be able to hear Waze voice instructions intoned in the familiar Austrian-accented voice of the Terminator aka former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger is pushing his new movie “Terminator Genisys,” which opens July 1.
Speaking to USA Today, the Austrian muscleman touched on the irony of using his voice in an automated navigation system.
“In 1984, when we did (the first) Terminator, we talked about the world being run by machines. It was science fiction then,” Schwarzenegger told the paper. “Now you have machines telling you where to drive.”
The Israeli startup Waze was purchased by Google in June 2013 for $1.1 billion. The app competes with dozens of other navigation applications using phones’ built in internet connection and GPS receiver, but Waze has an edge in that it’s community-driven and includes, for example, real-time recalculations if a road becomes congested. The app also allows users to message each other.
Schwarzenegger worked hard before becoming a star actor and in his early years was told that he would never be a leading man because of his very noticeable accent.
“Here we are 40 years later and my accent is a big asset. It’s what people enjoy,” Schwarzenegger told the paper. “When I dreamt of a career, I had no idea that one day I would be telling 50 million drivers (where) to drive.”
PM tells Cyprus president Iran foments terror
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Cypriot President Nico Anastasiades and discusses with him the importance of cooperating in the fight against terrorism:
“I used the word security because it is very concrete. It’s not abstract. We have, we are suffering from terrorism in this region. A lot of this terrorism in the region and beyond the region is fomented by Iran that, along with its henchmen in Hezbollah, they operate a worldwide terrorism network of over 30 countries in five continents, and you and Cyprus have already suffered three terrorist plots, including the recent uncovering of an apartment with an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate, a very dangerous explosive.”
Netanyahu uses the photo-op to again call on the global community to insist on getting a better nuclear deal from Iran.
“I mention Iran because President Rouhani said the other day that Iran has had so far a great victory in the negotiations with the P5+1. If Iran wins, the world loses. And indeed, it’s not too late. It’s not too late to prevent Iran from having an agreement that paves its way to the bomb, that will give it immediately 40 to 50 billion dollars of cash for its terrorist networks and its aggression in the region, and ultimately hundreds of billions of dollars that it will use to, for its plans of aggression and conquest,” the prime minister says.
“I believe that the P5+1 can get a better deal and certainly should have no deal if it’s a bad deal, and this is a very bad deal,” Netanyahu says.
Lapid says UN report ‘born in sin’
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid criticizes a UN report expected to come out this week on Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip last summer.
“In the coming days the UN Report on Protective Edge will be published. This is a report that was born in sin, and it should be treated as such. The founding of the committee is a further example that the United Nations is an organization which has lost its mind. A quarter of a million people dead in Syria, Iraq is falling apart, beheadings in Saudi Arabia, a million dead in Sudan, Libya has ceased to exist as a functioning state and only Israel is obsessively investigated again and again and again, always with the assumption that the Jews are to blame for everything,” he says.
Lapid makes a point of noting that the mandate of the report begins on June 13th. “For those who don’t remember that’s one day after the kidnapping of Gilad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, may their memories be blessed. They decided not to investigate that sickening act by Palestinian terrorists. If that isn’t hypocrisy then I don’t know what is,” Lapid says.
Shaer, Fraenkel and Yifrah are three West Bank teens whose kidnapping and subsequent murder by Hamas terrorists is widely seen as the cassus belli that made Israel launch its 50-day campaign in Gaza.
It’s unusual for only one side to violate rules of war, says Schabas
William Schabas, former head of a UN commission established to investigate whether war crimes were conducted in the war between Israel and Hamas over the summer, speaks to Channel 2 about the upcoming report. Schabas was interviewed even though he stepped down as head of the commission after it was revealed that he had once worked for the PLO.
“When it suits Israel, it cooperates with the commission of inquiry, but in the case of the commission of inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council, it hasn’t cooperated and I think that’s unfortunate,” Schabas tells Channel 2.
“I think it’s not in Israel’s best interests to boycott the commission of inquiry. It’s not a question of an alternative, it should be both. It should cooperate with the international commission of inquiry and it should also conduct the investigation itself.
“It would actually be a very unusual war if only one side had committed violations of the laws of war and the other side behaved perfectly. That would be an unusual situation and an unusual conclusion,” he adds. The greater likelihood is that both sides actually violated the laws of war during the conflict, Schabas says.
— Marissa Newman
Many casualties in twin Chad suicide attacks
Many people were reported killed when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in attacks targeting police in the capital of Chad, a country on the frontline of the fight against Boko Haram.
The government swiftly convened an emergency meeting following the simultaneous bombings outside the police headquarters and police academy in N’Djamena, an official says on condition of anonymity.
They were the first such attacks in the capital of the north-central African nation, where security has been beefed up since Chad joined the fight against Boko Haram earlier this year.
An official with the capital’s police force tells AFP that many people were dead and wounded in the twin attacks although there was no precise casualty toll.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, which came as police cadets were attending a training course at the academy.
Netanyahu, Herzog weigh in on Kotler speech
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins the critics who slammed Israeli actor Oded Kotler for his speech on Sunday where he called right-wing voters “cud-chewing cattle.”
Speaking at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu says: “We are a democracy that cares about human rights as well as freedom of expression. The law clearly defends the freedom of expression, and anyone has the right to say what they feel and create as they feel. But there is no preordained right to receive public funding, and I suggest we maintain the distinction betyween these two things. We must preserve our unity and this also by dialogue between opinions which are contradictory.”
Zionist Union leader and opposition head Isaac Herzog also addresses the issue during a faction meeting of his party, saying: “We will never be able to convince anyone that the path we walk is the right one, if we do not rejoice in the multicultural nature of this country, an Israel with many colors, opinions, customs and systems of belief.”
Herzog adds that he “boos the ugly words, and boos every person who clapped to the sound of these ugly words.”
Likud’s Gamliel to Regev: You’re a populist!
Several recent statements by Culture Minister Regev which have made headlines hit home, as the Likud faction meeting ends in an unusual argument between Regev and Likud colleague Minister of Gender Equality Gila Gamliel.
After Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to the speech by Oded Kotler at the opening of the meeting, Gamliel attacked Regev for her statements. According to Ynet, Regev tells Gamliel: “OK, we heard you. You deal with your ministry and I’ll deal with mine. You don’t know the details.”
Gamliel then replies: “Don’t threaten me,” later calling out to Regev: “You’re a populist!”
Chad says 23 killed in suicide attack
Twin suicide bombings targeting police in the capital of Chad on Monday killed 23 people and wounded another 101, the government said.
Four “terrorists” were also killed in the attacks in N’Djamena, according to a government statement read on national radio which also said “the situation is under control.”
El-Sissi orders extension of Rafah crossing opening
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi orders that the Rafah crossing in and out of the Gaza Strip stay open for an additional two days, Reuters reports.
Egypt reopened the crossing on Sunday for the first time in months, initially for a three-day period.
Anti-Israel discrimination suspected in Louvre
The prefect of Ile-de-France, the region of greater Paris, sent a letter to the municipal attorney’s office over the weekend over suspicions that the management of the Louvre Museum discriminated against Israeli students from Tel Aviv University who wanted to coordinate a visit to the museum and to the Sainte-Chapelle cathedral.
According to a report in French paper Liberation, Prof. Sefy Hendler, an expert in Italian Renaissance art, wanted to book a group tour of Paris at the end of June for 12 History of Art students from Tel Aviv University.
On May 11, Hendler wrote to the reservations department of both institutions. He received prompt responses from the two venues, and they were negative. “Unfortunately, we have no possibility [of accepting you] on that date, the management of Sainte-Chapelle wrote back. The answer from the Louvre arrived only three hours later. “We have no availability on the requested date.”
“This seemed bizarre,” Hendler told the French paper, and decided to conduct his own test. After a few days, he again sent the two institutions requests for a group visit, one coming from the bogus Florence Institute of Art and the other from the just-as-fake Abu Dhabi Art History College. Both institutions received responses just as rapidly as did Tel Aviv University; both were answered in the affirmative.
The Louvre said that the refusal was the result of an overflow of reservations. “In a way, we are victims of our success. We receive on average 400 reservation requests per day and offer 15-minute-long visits. But demand is twice as large as supply.”
At Sainte-Chapelle however, the system is not automated. Philippe Beleval, president of National Monuments, told Liberation that an internal investigation found “repeated malfunctions” and that “disciplinary measures” will be taken. He emphasized that “it cannot be established that discrimination took place” and pledged that the person responsible for reservations “never expressed hostility to Israel.”
Oren recounts GOP lawmakers’ Bible-based support of Israel
Member of Knesset Michael Oren speaks of the deep, Bible-based ties between Israel and the US, at the Judea and Samaria Conference today.
He notes John Adams’s dream of seeing Hebrew soldiers liberating the Holy Land and Woodrow Wilson’s pivotal role in birthing the Balfour Declaration. The former ambassador to the US champions Congress’s role in supporting Israel.
“American public opinion is best expressed in Congress, where 70-75 percent of the members consider themselves pro-Israel,” says Oren, an MK from the Kulanu party.
He describes meetings that he had “every week,” where he would come into the office of a west Texas congressman who would have the Bible open on his desk, generally to Genesis, and say, “How much money do you want for Iron Dome?”
He adds that Hillary Clinton, a presidential hopeful, who thought that insisting on a settlement freeze was a tactical mistake, could yet, as president, go from being “the solution to a problem.”
— Mitch Ginsburg
General who headed Gaza disengagement comes out against 2-state solution
The Israeli general who served as the commander of the withdrawal from Gaza comes out strongly against the notion of a two-state solution. He says that the removal of Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005 would have been far more difficult had he not led the mission.
“You have no idea how much worse it would have been if I weren’t there,” Maj. Gen. Gershon Hacohen (res.) says to a settler from Hebron, who charged that he should have retired from service upon receiving the order to head the withdrawal.
The son of a famous rabbi, Hacohen tells the crowd after an hour-long address at the annual Yesha Council conference that “my heart was with you” and that “I didn’t want it to happen” and that the “whole direction” of withdrawal was misguided.
Hacohen adds that settlement “is the response” to the new asymmetric wars and says that the lack of settlement was what required so many soldiers in Lebanon and what led Israel to lose control over the roads there. In the West Bank, he says, settlers save the army enormous amounts of time and manpower.
And no one should even consider a withdrawal from that patch of land, he says to cheers from the crowds. “Friends, I will conclude with a simple statement,” he says. For 22 years, since the Oslo Accords, people have tried to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The starting point is the problem. The problem is that the land cannot be divided… There can be no division of the land. All the rest, all the arrangements, are an open discussion.”
Those who speak of a two-state solution, he says, “belong to the 20th century.” Whoever is “part of the 21st century understands — one state. What is done in that space? God is great.”
He adds that “there will come a day” when Israel returns to the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza, where 8,000 Jews lived amid more than 1.3 million Palestinians.
— Mitch Ginsburg
Israeli vets off to Tbilisi to treat injured zoo animals
Two Israeli veterinarians leave for Georgia to treat zoo animals injured by floods that hit the Tbilisi zoo, Ynet reports. The doctors, Dr. Nili Magen and Dr. Yigal Horovitz, will stay in the Georgian capital until the end of the week.
Russian prosecutors raid second Jewish educational institution
For the second time in a month, Russian prosecutors conducted a surprise inspection at a Jewish educational institution.
The latest inspection occurred earlier this month in Novgorod, a city located 335 miles northwest of Moscow, according to Russian Jewish Congress President Yuri Kanner, who spoke of the incident in an interview published last week on the Russian-language online edition of the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The Novgorod incident, according to the report, involved a Hebrew class given by the local office of Hesed, a charity with ties to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
According to asianews.it, the inspection occurred on June 1, four days after prosecutors raided a Jewish school in Yekaterinburg, 900 miles east of Moscow, and confiscated some textbooks following complaints that the faculty had incited against members of other faiths.
Students were forced to present identifying documents to representatives of the public prosecutor’s office, who arrived unannounced and without explaining the purpose of the inspection.
Sudan’s al-Bashir returns home from South Africa
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrives in Khartoum to cheers of supporters after leaving South Africa, where a court ordered his arrest based on an international warrant for war crimes charges.
Bashir raises a stick in the air as he steps out of the plane, waving to a few hundred supporters who greet him at the airport. Some chant “God is great,” while others cry with joy.
A South African court ruled that Bashir, who was attending an African Union summit, should be arrested. The ruling came after he left.
Bashir, in office since a 1989 military coup, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes allegations linked to the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
At the Khartoum airport, supporters of the president raise posters reading “Lion of Africa” scribbled next to a picture of Bashir in military uniform and carry a coffin with a white sheet wrapped around it, which reads. “The ICC to its last resting place.”
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour says that “the president will continue his participation (in international events) as usual and the attempts to distract us will not sway us.”
In Geneva, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the International Criminal Court’s authority must be respected.
Foreign Ministry puts out clip on ‘reality of life under Hamas rule’
A new Foreign Ministry cartoon (yup) aims to preempt the fallout from an expected UN report into the proceedings of Operation Protective Edge and allegations that war crimes were committed by both Israel and Hamas, the warring sides in the conflict.
In a 2-dimensional, “Southpark”-style animation, the 50-second clip shows a blond news anchor speaking of the rebuilding of Gaza as, behind him, Hamas gunmen can be seen carrying rockets and guns.
At the end of the clip, the journalist is given a pair of glasses. The woman who hands them to him says: “Here, maybe now you’ll be able to see the reality of life under Hamas rule.”
The clip follows hot on the heels of a more serious effort — an almost 300-page report on the war — that was released yesterday as a preemptive attack on the report by the special UN commission established at the end of the war.
Israel refused to cooperate with the commission, on the grounds that its head, William Schabas, is known for his anti-Israel bias and has in the past worked as a legal adviser to the PLO. Even after Schabas’s resignation, Jerusalem refused to cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry.
UN says Yemen Houthi rebels flying to Geneva on UN plane
The United Nations says a delegation of Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels has left Djibouti and is flying to Geneva on a UN-chartered plane to take part in talks aimed at ending the Yemen conflict.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the plane left Djibouti at 7:10 p.m. local time Monday evening and is scheduled to arrive in Geneva in the early hours Tuesday morning.
Houthi leader Zif al-Shami said earlier the delegation might return to Yemen’s capital Sana’a after Egypt refused to allow it to land at Cairo airport, a charge Cairo denied.
Dujarric said there were “aviation issues” beyond the UN’s control.
“We’re just glad they’re on their way,” he said.
The Houthis missed a meeting Monday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was returning to New York.
IDF to establish new cyber arm
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot appoints a team dedicated to improving the effectiveness of the army’s cyber operations. The team is headed by Col. Hertzi Levy, a senior officer in Military Intelligence.
Eisenkot decided to establish the military’s new cyber arm as a unified body that would be able to lead all operative activity in the field of cyber defense. The new branch will be established in two years’ time and will initially operate alongside the Signal Intelligence (Sigint) division of Military Intelligence.
“The IDF must act in all theaters of war and this includes the cyber theater, which is becoming more significant by the day. Establishing the cyber branch will enable the IDF to act in the best way possible in these theaters and to express the human and technological prowess already available in the State of Israel,” adds Eisenkot.