Plea deal for sex-offender rabbi — report
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Live updatesLatest: Israeli minister in Morocco for first time since 2003

Amona bill unlikely to pass in Knesset — report

Kulanu party plans to skip the vote and the ultra-Orthodox parties also say they won’t automatically support the bill

  • US President Barack Obama and his Greek couterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) review a presidential honour guard durig the official welcoming ceremony at the presidental palace in Athens on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)
    US President Barack Obama and his Greek couterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) review a presidential honour guard durig the official welcoming ceremony at the presidental palace in Athens on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)
  • US President Barack Obama reviews a presidential honor guard during the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens on November 15, 2016.  AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)
    US President Barack Obama reviews a presidential honor guard during the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens on November 15, 2016. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Israeli defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (4-R), are seen next to soldiers doing a rescue simulation during a visit at the new training military base next to the southern city of Beer Sheva on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Dan Balilty)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Israeli defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (4-R), are seen next to soldiers doing a rescue simulation during a visit at the new training military base next to the southern city of Beer Sheva on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / POOL AND AFP PHOTO / Dan Balilty)
  • Residents sit among rubble in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, October 11, 2016. (Syrian Civil Defense- White Helmets via AP, File)
    Residents sit among rubble in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, Syria, October 11, 2016. (Syrian Civil Defense- White Helmets via AP, File)
  • Group of swimmers who attempted a seven-hour swim across the Dead Sea in from Jordan to Israel a bid to draw attention to its environmental degradation pose for a photograph on November 15, 2016. (EcoPeace Middle East)
    Group of swimmers who attempted a seven-hour swim across the Dead Sea in from Jordan to Israel a bid to draw attention to its environmental degradation pose for a photograph on November 15, 2016. (EcoPeace Middle East)
  • During his visit to New Delhi, President Reuven Rivlin sprinkles petals on the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, November 15, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
    During his visit to New Delhi, President Reuven Rivlin sprinkles petals on the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, November 15, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
  • French President Francois Hollande (C) and Qatari Emir Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) pose among other world leaders  the UN World Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)
    French President Francois Hollande (C) and Qatari Emir Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) pose among other world leaders the UN World Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)

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

Liberman: Don’t urge resistance to Amona evacuation

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is cautioning against calling for resistance in the event that the IDF has to evacuate the Amona outpost.

Liberman says that the “army must not get dragged into a political event,” Liberman says, speaking at the opening of a new military base complex in the Negev desert. “It is very important that the IDF remain in the Israeli consensus.”

“For those who don’t understand the hint, I’m talking about the regulation bill and the possibility that we will need to evacuate Amona,” Liberman says.

The High Court has ruled that the government must evacuate the West Bank settlement that is built on private Palestinian land.

Amona, an Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, May 18, 2016 (AP/Oded Balilty)

Amona, an Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, May 18, 2016 (AP/Oded Balilty)

“I can’t accept the things that I heard this morning about resisting evacuation. I expect all the Knesset members to be very clear about this,” Liberman says.

Russia announces major air offensive in Syria

Russia’s defense minister says the air force has launched a major operation on the Syrian provinces of Idlib and Homs, while Syrian activists report the resumption of airstrikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Sergei Shoigu said in a meeting with President Vladimir Putin today that the operation involves the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, which made a much-publicized trip from Russia to Syria’s shores last month.

Russian Aircraft Carrier Adm. Kuznetsov (photo courtesy US Department of Defense)

Russian Aircraft Carrier Adm. Kuznetsov (photo courtesy US Department of Defense)

He says Russian warplanes will target ammunition depots, training camps and armaments factories in both provinces

Russia is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has been carrying out airstrikes in support of his forces for more than a year.

AP

On farewell tour Obama calls for strong NATO and Europe

A strong and unified Europe is “good” for the United States and NATO is “absolutely vital” for US security and prosperity, US President Barack Obama says today as he launched his final European trip.

“We believe a strong, prosperous and unified Europe is not only good for the people of Europe but good for the world, and good for the United States,” Obama tells Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos in Athens.

He adds that the trans-Atlantic relationship is “the cornerstone of our mutual security as well as prosperity.”

AFP

US President Barack Obama and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) review a presidential honor guard during the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)

US President Barack Obama and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos (L) review a presidential honor guard during the official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Athens on November 15, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)

Railway malfunction causes massive delays across country

Israel Railways says it has fixed a signal problem in Tel Aviv that caused massive delays across the Israel rail network today.

The railways says that normal service “will gradually return.”

Israeli hurt in clash between settlers and Palestinians

One Israeli is wounded in a fracas between Israelis and Palestinians near Yattir in the southern West Bank, the army says.

During the dispute, the Palestinians threw rocks at the settlers, who responded by firing gunshots into the air.

The Israeli was taken to the hospital, the army says. It is not clear how he was injured or what his condition is.

There was initially a report that someone was stabbed in the incident, but the army denies this.

The police have opened an investigation into the incident.

Judah Ari Gross

Labor union declares general work dispute

Histradut labor union chief Avi Nissenkorn declared a general work dispute today, a first step toward launching a nationwide strike, Hebrew-language media reports.

Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the Histadrut Labor Federation, at a press conference in Jerusalem, October 7, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The labor federation is locked in a dispute with the Finance Ministry, which wants to trim welfare payments for nursing care for the elderly and handicapped, Channel 2 says.

After today’s declaration, the sides have two weeks to reach a deal before the union can shut down the whole public sector.

Finance minister will oppose Amona bill

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon says he will oppose the Amona bill as it harms the standing of the High Court

“I will not support a law that harms the High Court, I promised this,” says Kahlon.

The High Court has ruled that the government must evacuate the West Bank settlement, which is built on private Palestinian land. But a bill pushed by the Jewish Home party would regularize the outpost, bypassing the court.

Israel invites bids for new round of gas exploration

Israel formally invited bids for 24 new oil-and-gas exploration licenses off its Mediterranean coast today, the first in four years.

“We are offering for exploration half of our economic waters in 24 blocks,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz says, announcing the offer which closes on April 21.

“Estimates are that most of the natural gas in Israel’s economic waters is yet to be found,” he says at a press conference, adding that the United States Department of Energy shared that view.

AFP

An aerial view of the Israeli 'Tamar' gas processing rig 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

An aerial view of the Israeli ‘Tamar’ gas processing rig 24 km off the Israeli southern coast of Ashkelon. Noble Energy and Delek are the main partners in the oil field, October 11, 2013. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Europe concerned over returning jihadist fighters

EU countries must step up intelligence cooperation to tackle growing numbers of jihadist fighters returning home from battlefields in Syria and Iraq, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders says.

Reynders tells a press briefing in Brussels there is “concern” that “foreign fighters” were increasingly returning to Europe as US-backed coalition forces drive Islamic State fighters from territory in Syria and Iraq.

“Today, thanks to the progress that we are making with the military coalition in Iraq and in Syria, we see that cities and entire provinces are being recovered,” Reynders says, flanked by French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.

“But there is concern about the larger return of these foreign fighters to our countries,” Reynders says.

— AFP

Soldiers of the Iraqi army display on November 7, 2016, items confiscated from the Islamic State (IS) group jihadists, in the town of Qaraqosh, 30 km east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from the group. ( AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED)

Soldiers of the Iraqi army display on November 7, 2016, items confiscated from the Islamic State (IS) group jihadists, in the town of Qaraqosh, 30 km east of Mosul, after Iraqi forces recaptured it from the group. ( AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED)

Israel names new envoy to Turkey

The Foreign Ministry has named Eitan Na’eh as Israel’s new envoy to Turkey.

Appointing a new ambassador is a key component of the reconciliation agreement between Jerusalem and Ankara. Last month, Turkish media reported that Kemal Okem, a close associate of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, had been selected as Turkey’s ambassador to Israel.

Na’eh, a career diplomat, is currently serving as Israel’s deputy ambassador in London and is a former ambassador to Azerbaijan. He has also previously served in Turkey, the Foreign Ministry says.

Jewish and Arab birthrates equal for first time

The birthrates of the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel were equal for the first time in 2015, the Central Bureau of Statistics says.

The birthrate among the Arab population has traditionally been higher than among the Jewish population, but has been dropping for a number of years.

The CBS says Israeli women now have 3.13 children on average.

Illustrative photo of new born babies in a Jerusalem hospital. (Flash90)

Illustrative photo of newborn babies in a Jerusalem hospital. (Flash90)

France says US ‘must respect’ climate commitment

The US “must respect” the commitments made under President Barack Obama, his French counterpart Francois Hollande says at a UN climate summit held in the shadow of Donald Trump’s victory.

French President Francois Hollande (C) and Qatari Emir Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) pose among other world leaders the UN World Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)

French President Francois Hollande (C) and Qatari Emir Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (R) pose among other world leaders the UN World Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 15, 2016. ( AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA)

“The United States, the world’s strongest economy, must respect the commitments it has undertaken,” Hollande says in Marrakesh, Morocco. “It is not only their duty, it is in their interest as well as (the interest of) all people.”

President-elect Trump has previously called climate change a “hoax” perpetrated by China, and has threatened to “cancel” the climate rescue agreement concluded in Paris last year.

AFP

Rabid fox found in northern Israel

The Health Ministry says a fox infected with rabies has been found in northern Israel.

The ministry says there are no reports of human infection with the deadly disease, but urges residents of the northern town of Safed to exercise caution.

“We call on anyone in the area who came into contact, or who has animals that came into contact, to urgently report to the health ministry in Safed,” the ministry says.

Obama warns of risks from ‘crude’ nationalism

US President Barack Obama warns against succumbing to “crude” nationalism in the aftermath of populist shocks in the Brexit referendum and the American vote, and with a wave of European elections looming.

US President Barack Obama stands during a press conference with the Greek prime minister after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on November 15, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / POOL / Yorgos Karahalis)

US President Barack Obama during a press conference with the Greek prime minister after their meeting at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on November 15, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / POOL / Yorgos Karahalis)

“We are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an ‘us’ and a ‘them,'” Obama says in Athens as he embarks on a farewell trip to Europe.

Obama was speaking after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

 

Body found in car at foot of cliffs near Dead Sea

Rescue workers have discovered a body in a car at the foot of the Darga Cliffs near the Dead Sea, Channel 2 reports.

The car apparently went off the road in southern Israel and fell some 30 meters (100 feet), the report says.

Rescue workers are trying to retrieve the body, the report says.

Bush family announces adoption of rescue puppy named Freddy

There’s a new member of the Bush family: a rescue puppy.

George W. Bush says he and his wife, Laura Bush, visited the Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas last week just to thank employees for their work, but they ended up leaving with a puppy. The former president wrote on Facebook that they named the puppy Freddy, adding that “even our cats Bob and Bernadette are finding Freddy’s charm futile to resist.”

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford tells the Dallas Morning News that the puppy is an Australian Shepherd mix. Ford says the puppy is about 12 weeks old and was among several dogs that were abandoned in southern Dallas last month.

The family’s most famous pet, a Scottish Terrier named Barney, died in 2013.

AP

Fire breaks out in tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ben Baba

A fire broke out in the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Ben Baba in the town of Shfaram, rescue workers say.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze in the tomb of the second century holy man, which was apparently caused by candles that had been lit.

Ben Baba was killed by the Romans for defying their ban on ordaining rabbis.

Netanyahu says he’s going to Fiji

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he’s going to the Pacific island of Fiji in 2017.

Netanyahu tells a Jewish Federations of North America meeting that he will also visit Singapore and Australia.

This will be the first ever visit of an Israeli leader to Fiji.

Fiji routinely contributes soldiers to the international peacekeeping forces on Israel’s southern and northern borders.

— Raphael Ahren

Aerial view of the islands in Fiji. Fiji, an archipelago of more than 300 islands, is located in the South Pacific Ocean, famous for its rugged landscape of blue lagoons and palm-lined beaches. October 10, 2014. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Aerial view of the islands in Fiji. Fiji, an archipelago of more than 300 islands, is located in the South Pacific Ocean, famous for its rugged landscape of blue lagoons and palm-lined beaches. October 10, 2014. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Peres’ son urges Trump to be a great president

Chemi Peres, the son of late president Shimon Peres is urging Donald Trump to be a great president.

Peres, speaking at the closing of the Jewish Federations of North America convention, wished the president-elect “the best of luck.”

“When President Kennedy was elected, he asked David Ben Gurion for advice: ‘What should I do to be a good President for Israel?’ Ben Gurion replied without hesitation: ’Be a great President for the United States’,” Peres tells the gathering.

US President Barack Obama hands a tissue to a weeping Chemi Peres, at the funeral of his father, former President Shimon Peres, September 30, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

US President Barack Obama hands a tissue to a weeping Chemi Peres, at the funeral of his father, former President Shimon Peres, September 30, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

“I am sure President-elect Trump will maintain the unbreakable link between Israel and the US, at the core of which are the unwavering support of Israel’s security, and the forever extended hand for peace.”

Shimon Peres died in September aged 93.

Pilot sanctions cause further El Al delays

El Al says it has been forced to delay several flights, including two flights to New York, because pilots are not showing up to work.

Pilots are engaged in a labor dispute with the airline.

Flights to London and Bangkok have also been affected.

Comptroller looking into Netanyahu allegations after investigative report

The state comptroller is ordering a probe into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and his office following an investigative report into Netanyahu’s inner circle, Channel 2 reports.

Comptroller Yosef Shapira is looking into allegations made by Vered Swid, the former director of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, that she faced abuse during her time working in Netanyahu’s office and was forced to use members of her organization to take part in protests in favor of Sara Netanyahu, the report says.

The allegations were part of a profile story by Ilana Dayan of Channel 2’s long-running “Uvda” program, which included exclusive interviews with various officials who have been in Netanyahu’s inner circle, and inside information on the internal operation of his office.

Journalist Ilana Dayan (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Journalist Ilana Dayan (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The report depicted a shrewd and calculating politician who appears to be chiefly concerned with safeguarding his own rule, often valuing personal loyalty in his appointments above all other traits.

It also portrayed Sara as a problematic presence in the prime minister’s decision-making process, a power broker who is intimately involved in her husband’s work and decisions and who often has final say on government appointments.

The interview, however, made the most news for Netanyahu’s harsh reaction, after he assailed Dayan, a respected investigative journalist, and called her “a left-wing extremist.”

Plea deal for sex-offender rabbi — report

A rabbi who has been accused of sexually abusing several women, including a minor, is likely to sign a plea deal that would see him serve only 18 months in prison, Chanel 2 reports.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, founder of the Shuvu Bonim religious group, was extradited to Israel earlier in the year after three years on the run that took him between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families.

Channel 2 says that under the deal Berland will admit to only two of the cases.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Berland, 79, considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the Bratslav Hasidic sect, was on the run for years in an attempt to evade extradition to Israel.

He fought his extradition from the Netherlands in 2015 on the grounds that the alleged assaults happened in the West Bank and Israel does not have jurisdiction there. He later fled the Netherlands to avoid extradition.

He also twice escaped arrest by South African authorities, but was finally nabbed in April after entering a hospital for treatment.

Hollande to extend French state of emergency

President Francois Hollande today proposed extending France’s year-old state of emergency until May, to cover the next presidential election.

Speaking to French media in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh where he is attending UN climate talks, Hollande says he wants to prolong the emergency measures in place since the November 2015 Paris attacks, which had been due to expire in January.

France’s two-round presidential election takes place on April 23 and May 7

Amona bill unlikely to pass in Knesset — report

The controversial bill that would recognize the Amona West Bank outpost is unlikely to pass in the Knesset when it comes up for a vote, Hebrew language media reports, citing unnamed coalition officials.

The so-called Regulation Bill was designed to avert the court-ordered demolition of the outpost and was brought to a vote despite efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau to delay it and repeated statements from the Attorney General that the legislation runs contrary to international law and would be indefensible in the High Court of Justice.

Ynet says that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party intends to not attend the vote and the ultra-Orthodox parties also said they would not automatically support the bill.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2016. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the weekly cabinet meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on July 31, 2016. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool/Flash90)

The vote is scheduled to be held Wednesday.

The bill was pushed by the Jewish Home party even though Netanyahu has warned that advancing the bill would likely lead the High Court to reject the government’s appeal to further stall the demolition of the outpost.

Israeli minister in Morocco for first time since 2003

Israeli Environment Minister Zeev Elkin is in Morocco, the first visit there by an Israeli minister since 2003.

Elkin is there to attend the UN climate talks in the city of Marakesh, he says.

Israel radio quoted Moroccan officials as saying that this does not represent a warming of relations between the two countries and that Elkin is there only because it is a UN event.

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Live updates Latest: Israeli minister in Morocco for first time since 2003

Plea deal for sex-offender rabbi — report

A rabbi who has been accused of sexually abusing several women, including a minor, is likely to sign a plea deal that would see him serve only 18 months in prison, Chanel 2 reports.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, founder of the Shuvu Bonim religious group, was extradited to Israel earlier in the year after three years on the run that took him between Zimbabwe, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and South Africa, accompanied by a group of devout followers numbering around 40 families.

Channel 2 says that under the deal Berland will admit to only two of the cases.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Rabbi Eliezer Berland covers himself with his prayer shawl at the Jerusalem District Court in Jerusalem on August 1, 2016.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Berland, 79, considered a cult-like leader to thousands of his followers from the Bratslav Hasidic sect, was on the run for years in an attempt to evade extradition to Israel.

He fought his extradition from the Netherlands in 2015 on the grounds that the alleged assaults happened in the West Bank and Israel does not have jurisdiction there. He later fled the Netherlands to avoid extradition.

He also twice escaped arrest by South African authorities, but was finally nabbed in April after entering a hospital for treatment.