Philippines confirms Duterte to visit Israel in September
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Report: Netanyahu traveled to Egypt in May to discuss Gaza with Sissi

Israeli TV says Egyptian leader stressed need for PA to return to Strip, even if Hamas unwilling to give up its weapons first

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayun)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, in New York on September 19, 2017. (Avi Ohayun)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.

Parole board cuts prison sentence of Yisrael Beytenu ex-minister

The parole board accepts the request of an imprisoned former Yisrael Beytenu minister to shorten his sentence, clearing the way for his release next month.

Stas Misezhnikov began serving a 15-month sentence in December for a breach of trust conviction stemming from his tenure as tourism minister from 2009 to 2013.

With the parole board’s decision today to shorten his sentence from 15 to 9 months, Misenzhnikov is now expected to be released in early September.

The shortening of his sentences comes despite the opposition of prosecutors and after President Reuven Rivlin rejected Misenzhnikov’s request for clemency last month.

Misezhnikov, 49, was accused of asking organizers of a student festival in Eilat in 2012 for which his ministry secured some NIS 1 million in funds to employ his romantic partner. The organizers consented and paid her tens of thousands of shekels.

Firefighters extinguish blaze in south sparked by Gaza balloon

Since this morning, firefighters have worked to extinguish a blaze caused by an incendiary balloon across that fell near the community of Re’im adjacent to the central Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Israel Fire and Rescue Services says.

— Jacob Magid

Egypt: 6 suspected jihadists killed in Cairo suburb

CAIRO — Egypt’s Interior Ministry says police killed six suspected Islamic militants in a shootout in a Cairo suburb.

The statement says the fighting erupted when police raided a suspected militant hideout in the suburban Sixth of October district.

The statement says police seized weapons during the raid. It doesn’t say when the raid took place or whether any security forces were killed or wounded.

Egypt, which has been under a state of emergency since April last year, has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. The militants have mainly targeted security forces and Christians.

In February, Egypt launched a major security operation against militants, mainly in the Sinai Peninsula but also elsewhere in the country.

— AP

Poll: Support among Israeli Jews, Palestinians for 2 state solution at new low

A new poll says support for a two-state solution among Israeli Jews and Palestinians is at a two-decade low.

The joint poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research determined that just 43 percent of Israelis and Palestinians support a vision of peace that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The survey, released Mtoday, says the reasons for this are doubts over the possibility of implementing a two-state solution and a lack of trust in the other side. It says support for the concept began to decline a decade ago.

The poll, conducted in June and July, interviewed 2,150 Palestinians and 1,600 Israelis. Its margin of error was 2.5 percentage points for the Palestinians and 3 percentage points for the Israelis.

— AP

East Jerusalem woman charged with incitement for praising Hamas

An East Jerusalem resident is indicted for incitement over social media posts allegedly praising Hamas and terror attacks against Israelis.

Suzan Abu Ghannam, a 39-year-old from the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor, is also charged at the Jerusalem District Court with identifying with a terror group.

According to the indictment, Abu Ghannam often praised Hamas, its military wing and some of its late members, among them top bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash, who was responsible for dozens of Israeli deaths before he was assassinated in 1996.

She also praised the assailants behind a number of terror attacks over the past year, most recently the Palestinian teenager who stabbed to death an Israeli man in the West Bank settlement of Adam last month.

Prosecutors request to keep Abu Ghannam in custody until the end of legal proceedings against her.

Philippines confirms Duterte to visit Israel in September

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is to make an official visit to Israel next month, his government confirms Monday, nearly two years after he sparked outrage by likening his deadly drug war to the Holocaust.

The September 2-5 trip will be the first by a Filipino leader since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1967, a foreign department statement says.

Duterte and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss how to develop ties on issues including security and counter-terrorism, according to the statement.

Duterte faced global condemnation in September 2016 when he compared his crackdown on drugs to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal drive in World War II.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said. Most mainstream historians say six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologized to the Jewish community over his remarks, which he said were aimed at critics who had likened him to the Nazi leader.

— AFP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech the 117th police anniversary celebration at the national headquarters in Manila on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ted Aljibe)

Erdogan accuses US of trying to stab Turkey ‘in the back’

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the United States of seeking to stab Turkey “in the back” over a diplomatic row sparked by the detention of an American pastor that has sent the lira into a tailspin.

“You act on one side as a strategic partner but on the other you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner,” Erdogan tells a conference today in the capital Ankara.

“We are together in NATO and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back. Can such a thing be accepted?” Erdogan asks.

Turkey and the US, two NATO allies, have been locked in bitter disputes over a string of issues from a pastor’s detention on terror charges to the war in Syria.

The dispute has severely hit the Turkish currency which has been in free fall since Friday.

But Erdogan advises Turks not to worry.

“It is not at all like we sank and we are finished. The dynamics of the Turkish economy are solid, strong and sound and will continue to be so.”

Erdogan also blasts the “economic terror” on social media, vowing that the judiciary had taken necessary measures to punish so-called speculators.

— AFP

In this file photo taken on July 15, 2018, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a speech at a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey. (AFP Photo/Adem Altan)

Jordan says jihadists killed in deadly raid were IS supporters

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan says that a terror cell targeted in a deadly weekend raid by security forces were supporters of the Islamic State jihadist group and shared its extremist views.

Saturday’s raid, during which three jihadists were killed and five arrested, revealed that the militants were preparing a series of terrorist attacks in Jordan, Interior Minister Samir Mubaideen says.

A joint unit of special forces, police and army troops raided a house in Salt, a town northwest of Amman, a day after an officer was killed and six were wounded in a bomb blast in a nearby town during a music festival.

Four members of Jordan’s security forces were also killed in the operation.

The suspects “were not part of an organisation but followed its takfiri (Sunni Muslim extremist) ideology and supported Daesh,” Mubaideen tells a news conference, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

All of them were Jordanians, he says.

“The raid also foiled other plots to carry out a series of terrorist operations against security installations and public gatherings,” he says.

Speaking alongside the minister, government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat says “a horrific amount of explosives” was found in the jihadists’ hideout.

“The explosives were primed to be used and linked to timers,” she says.

— AFP

Jordan’s Interior Minister Samir Mubaideen (L) speaks during a press conference in the capital Amman on August 13, 2018, alongside Public Security Director Major General Fadel Mohamed al-Hamoud. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Rights groups petition court to end restrictions on Gaza imports

Six human rights groups file a petition to the Supreme Court calling for the immediate lifting of restrictions on the entry of goods to the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier this month ordered a freeze on the shipment of gas and fuel into Gaza, following an initial clampdown in July on the flow of goods through the Kerem Shalom border crossing. The restrictions were ordered due to ongoing violence on the Gaza border, particularly the launching of incendiary airborne devices toward Israel.

In a statement, the rights groups say the restrictions have led to shortages of basic goods in Gaza and are “inflicting immeasurable damage” to the Strip’s already struggling economy.

“Even before the closing of Kerem Shalom was announced, the crossing failed to supply the population’s minimal needs. And so, rather than take measures to prevent the demise of a population of two million people, the respondents are acting to further deteriorate the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip… with complete disregard for the destructive implications of their decision for the civilian population,” they write in the petition.

The groups that filed the petition are Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Adalah, and Physicians for Human Rights Israel.

The Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip is seen from the Gaza side of the border on June 7, 2015. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Army backs embattled contender for next IDF chief

In an irregular move, the Israel Defense Forces comes out in support of Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, a candidate to take over as IDF chief of staff, amid a campaign by a right-wing group to have him removed from consideration for the position over controversial remarks he made in the past.

“Maj. Gen. Yair Golan has served in the IDF for 38 years in every field of battle, and his contribution to the security of Israel is great,” the army writes in a tweet.

“Presenting Maj. Gen. Golan as though he didn’t take action or won’t take action against terrorists does not match reality. Any attempt to sully the good name of an IDF commander and his operational contributions is unacceptable,” the IDF says.

On Sunday night, a group of over 100 familes of fallen soldiers sent a letter to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calling for him to dismiss Golan from the list of candidates over statements he made in 2016, which were seen as comparing Israel to pre-World War II Germany, and in 2006, which called for soldiers to risk their lives in order to save Palestinian civilians.

— Judah Ari Gross

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan in August 2015. (Gefen Reznik/IDF Spokesperson)

Palestinian shot during Gaza clashes in May said to die

A Palestinian shot three months ago in clashes along the Israel-Gaza border has died while being treated in Egypt, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says Monday.

Wissam Hijazi, 30, was shot on May 14 during a day of mass violent protests coinciding with the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra tells AFP.

The body has not yet been returned to Gaza, he says.

Hijazi’s death brings the Palestinian death toll from the May 14 clashes to 63. Hamas and fellow terror group Islamic Jihad acknowledged most of those killed were its members.

The clashes were part of the weekly “March of Return” protests that began March 30. Israel has accused Hamas of using the clashes to attempt to breach the border and carry out attacks.

— with AFP

Netanyahu convenes committee on enshrining status of Druze into law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes for a second time a ministerial committee tasked with passing legislation enshrining the status of the Druze and Circassian minorities into law.

The committee was set up following backlash from the Druze community over a law passed last month recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

According to a statement from Netanyahu’s office, the ministers discussed barriers to a government plan for the development of Druze and Circassian villages. Netanyahu instructed his chief of staff to meet with the heads of regional council and relevant government ministers on practical steps toward removing these barriers, in particular in housing and employment.

The Prime Minister’s Office does not say which ministers attended the meeting. Only five of 11 member ministers attended the committee’s first meeting, angering Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, tens of thousands of Druze and Israelis took part in a Tel Aviv rally against the nation-state law. The legislation has particularly angered the Druze, who say the law effectively renders them second class citizens. Unlike Arab Israelis, members of both the Druze and Circassian minorities are subject to Israel’s mandatory draft and many serve in top combat units.

Tunisian president vows to advance equal inheritance rights for women

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s president promises Monday to submit a bill to parliament soon that aims to give women equal inheritance rights with men, as debate over the topic of inheritance reverberated around the Muslim world.

In a speech marking Women’s Day in Tunisia, President Beji Caid Essebsi says he wants to submit the proposal “as soon as possible,” probably when parliament resumes in October.

The current system, which is based on Islamic Shariah law, generally grants daughters only half the inheritance given to sons, and is standard practice in most Muslim countries.

Many Muslim clerics see the inheritance rules as enshrined in the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

Since independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has been a standard-bearer in the Muslim world for women’s rights. Last month, a woman from Tunisia’s moderate Islamic party was elected mayor of Tunis, the capital, the first time a woman has held the post.

The president’s decision is based on the recommendations of a 300-page government report known as the Colibe report. It recommended the change in inheritance rights as well as proposals to end the death penalty and legalize homosexuality, which now in Tunisia is outlawed and punished with three years in prison.

Essebsi says his decision is based on Article 2 of the country’s Constitution, which he says “stipulates that Tunisia is a state based on citizenship, the will of the people and the supremacy of law” rather than religion.

— AP

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi casts his vote for city and town councils at a polling station in La Soukra, outskirts of Tunis, Tunisia, on May 6, 2018. (Slim Abid/Tunisian Presidency via AP)

Uncle of Trump adviser Stephen Miller slams nephew as ‘immigration hypocrite’

The uncle of Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, accuses his nephew of being an “immigration hypocrite” who supports policies that would have condemned his own Jewish family to death if they had been enacted a century ago.

Writing in Politico, Miller’s maternal uncle David Glosser describes how Miller’s great-great-grandfather Wolf-Leib Glosser fled the Belarusian shtetl of Antopol, arriving in the United States in 1903 “with $8 to his name.”

“In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens,” writes Glosser, a longtime volunteer with the Jewish-run refugee agency HIAS.

Miller, an immigration hardliner, has been instrumental in the administration’s crackdown on immigrants, including last year’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority nations and the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border. Earlier this month, he was said to be behind a Trump administration proposal that would make it more difficult for legal immigrants to obtain a green card or become citizens if they have used public welfare programs.

— JTA

Stephen Miller talks to reporters at the White House on August 2, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via JTA)

3 laborers die in work site accidents

A worker at a construction site in central Israel moshav of Ahisamakh dies after falling from the fourth floor of the building, the Magen David Adom rescue service says.

Earlier today, two construction workers died after falling from a building in Rosh Ha’Ayin.

According to a Facebook page that documents accidents at construction sites, 27 workers have died in accidents since the start of the year.

Netanyahu condemns Corbyn for attending ceremony for Munich terrorists

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemns UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for attending a ceremony honoring the Palestinian terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre.

Netanyahu also criticizes Corbyn for appearing to compare Israeli military rule in the West Bank to the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II.

“The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorist who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone – left, right and everything in between,” Netanyahu’s office writes in a tweet.

Netanyahu describes questioning of author at airport as ‘administrative mistake’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he was informed the questioning of a Jewish-American author and columnist at Ben Gurion Airport was “an administrative mistake.”

Earlier, Peter Beinart wrote that he was detained and questioned when he arrived in Israel over his political views.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu heard of Mr. Beinart’s questioning at Ben Gurion airport and immediately spoke with Israel’s security forces to inquire how this happened. He was told it was an administrative mistake,” his office says in a statement.

“Israel is an open society which welcomes all – critics and supporters alike. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where people voice their opinions freely and robustly,” the statement adds.

Livni calls for Knesset meeting on questioning of left-wing Jews at airport

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) calls on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to convene an urgent meeting of its Subcomittee for the Intelligence Services on the recent questioning and detainment of left-wing American Jews at Ben Gurion Airport, the Haaretz daily reports.

“The increase in incidents at Ben Gurion Airport is intolerable and this time Netanyahu’s state of the Jewish people stops for questioning at the airport a Jew on a bar mitzvah trip,” tweets Livni. “There is no limit.”

Livni is referring to questioning of Jewish-American author Peter Beinart at the airport. Beinart said earlier today that he was detained and questioned over his political views, when he landed in Israel to attend his niece’s bat mitzvah.

Report: Netanyahu traveled to Egypt in May to discuss Gaza with Sissi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly traveled to Egypt in May to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Channel 10 news reports.

Quoting unnamed American officials, the reports says the focus of the trip was to discuss an arrangement in the Gaza Strip that would see the return of the Palestinian Authority to the coastal enclave, a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, the easing of the Israeli and Egyptian blockades on the Strip and steps to advance humanitarian projects there.

They also discussed the Israeli citizens and bodies of two soldiers being held by Hamas, Channel 10 reports, as well as the Trump administration’s peace plan.

During the meeting, Sissi stressed the need for the return of the PA to Gaza, even if this done gradually and doesn’t include Hamas giving up its heavy weaponry as a precondition, and said Israel, Arab states and the international community must press PA President Mahmoud Abbas to do so, according to the report.

The report says the trip took place on May 22 and that most ministers in the security cabinet were not aware of the meeting between the leaders.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in New York on September 19, 2017 (Avi Ohayun)

Liberman to discuss easing restrictions on Gaza with defense chiefs

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will meet with top members of the Israeli security forces tomorrow to discuss easing Israeli restrictions on the Gaza Strip, a senior official says.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says reopening the Kerem Shalom crossing will be considered during the meeting, as well as returning the permitted fishing zone to six nautical miles, if the calm continues on the border.

Additionally, further economic incentives will be considered in the coming days if if there is no renewal of violence, namely the launching of incendiary airborne devices from Gaza toward Israeli territory.

— Judah Ari Gross

Labor MK threatens to sue fellow lawmaker over harassment allegation

Labor MK Eitan Broshi sends a letter to fellow party lawmaker Shelly Yachimovich warning he’ll sue her for defamation if she doesn’t remove a Facebook post accusing him of sexual harassment when he was an army officer.

On Sunday, Yachimovich published the account of a former female soldier who said she was assaulted by Broshi when he was a battalion commander on her Facebook page.

The allegation was the latest against Broshi, who earlier this month sued Labor leader Avi Gabbay for referring to him as a “sex offender.”

Broshi has resisted calls to step down over the recent sexual harassment allegations, which came after he was forced to apologize for touching another Labor MK’s buttocks.

Labor Party MK Eitan Broshi, of the Zionist Union faction, is seen during a Knesset Finance Committee meeting on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

New Israel Fund head slams Netanyahu over Peter Beinart’s airport detention

The head of the left-leaning New Israel Fund slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government after Jewish-American activist Peter Beinart was questioned and detained at Ben Gurion Airport.

“The Netanyahu government has shown once again that it is now a matter of policy to use border crossings as interrogation chambers. The government is demonstrating that the test for entering the country is a political one — either you agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ultra-right wing coalition or you’re subject to questioning, intimidation, or refusal,” CEO Daniel Sokatch says in a statement.

“This may be legal, but it’s morally unacceptable and anti-democratic,” he adds.

Sokatch calls Beinart’s detention a “clarion call” on the state of Israeli democracy. “The time to speak up is now,” he says.

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Philippines confirms Duterte to visit Israel in September

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is to make an official visit to Israel next month, his government confirms Monday, nearly two years after he sparked outrage by likening his deadly drug war to the Holocaust.

The September 2-5 trip will be the first by a Filipino leader since diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1967, a foreign department statement says.

Duterte and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss how to develop ties on issues including security and counter-terrorism, according to the statement.

Duterte faced global condemnation in September 2016 when he compared his crackdown on drugs to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal drive in World War II.

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said. Most mainstream historians say six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

Duterte later apologized to the Jewish community over his remarks, which he said were aimed at critics who had likened him to the Nazi leader.

— AFP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gives a speech the 117th police anniversary celebration at the national headquarters in Manila on August 8, 2018. (AFP Photo/Ted Aljibe)