The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.
US accuses Iran of bad faith over sanctions lawsuit
The United States is accusing Iran of bad faith for challenging Washington’s renewed nuclear-linked sanctions against it at the UN’s top court.
Iran has asked the International Court of Justice to order the United States to lift the sanctions, reimposed after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a multilateral 2015 accord. It brought the case at the court in The Hague under a 1955 friendship treaty that predates the country’s Islamic Revolution.
Washington tells the court it has no jurisdiction to rule on the case, which it says is a matter of national security.
“Iran is not invoking the treaty of amity in good faith in this proceeding,” US State Department lawyer Jennifer Newstead says in her closing argument. “Iran cannot be permitted to draw this court into a political and psychological campaign” against the United States, she adds.
China slams Trump’s ‘irresponsible and absurd logic’ on N. Korea
China is deriding the “irresponsible and absurd logic” of the United States after President Donald Trump accuses Beijing of making Washington’s relationship with North Korea more difficult.
Trump doubled down on his suggestion that China is not helping to rein in its Cold War-era ally — a charge he first leveled when he cancelled a trip to North Korea by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was due to take place this week.
“A lot of people, like me, feel that the US is first in the world when it comes to twisting the truth, and irresponsible and absurd logic,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tells a regular press briefing. “This logic is not easily understood by all.”
Pope’s No. 2 says Francis ‘serene’ despite cover-up claims
The Vatican’s secretary of state says Pope Francis is “serene” despite the “bitterness and concern” in the Vatican over accusations that he covered up for an American ex-cardinal accused of sexual misconduct.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin says accusations from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano created “great pain” within the Vatican.
But he says: “Pope Francis is a grace, including with these things that obviously create such bitterness and concern, but he has the ability to maintain a serene approach.”
Liberman: International agreements on ending Syrian civil war don’t apply to us
Israel will continue to act in Syria as it deems necessary for its security, without consideration for the international agreements now being discussed to formally end the country’s brutal seven-year civil war, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says.
“From the viewpoint of Israel, with all due respect and appreciation for the agreements and the understandings — they do not apply to us,” he says during a tour of the northern border.
“The only thing that concerns us is the security interests of the State of Israel,” he says.
Liberman also comments on reports that he has made his decision as to which general will next command the Israel Defense Forces, saying that everyone will find out when a formal announcement is made “and not one second sooner.”
— Judah Ari Gross
Police issue photos of bombs captured at West Bank military court
Police publish photos of three bombs captured at the entrance to the Samaria Military court earlier today.
Two Palestinian teenagers caught with the explosive devices were detained, aged 14 and 18.
Police say guards’ alertness prevented a terror attack at the court, near the Palestinian village of Salem in the northern West Bank.
— Jacob Magid
Police arrest 6 in East Jerusalem suspected of rioting, wounding officer
Police arrest six East Jerusalem residents suspected of attacking and wounding a Border Police officer earlier this month.
Police say the arrests relate to an incident in early August in which officers entered an East Jerusalem neighborhood to extract a stolen vehicle.
“Immediately upon the force’s arrival rioters began hurling rocks,” police said. One officer was hit in the face and was rushed to hospital.
Police say the six suspects are believed to have been involved in the riot. They include four minors aged 16-17 and two men in their twenties.
— Jacob Magid
Public transportation strike expected on first day of school
A labor union of public transportation drivers plans to strike on Sunday, September 2, the first day of the new school year, potentially affecting many thousands of students, the Ynet news website reports.
The organization represents drivers in Superbus and Egged Taavura, a subsidiary of Egged.
The strike is planned between 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Drivers say the companies have failed to honor agreements to raise wages.
The cities affected will include parts of Jerusalem, Netanya, Afula, Beit Shemesh, Tiberias and the West Bank’s Etzion Bloc, among others.
German police brace for new anti-Merkel protests after racist mob attacks
German police are bracing for more far-right protests today against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies in the eastern city where a fatal stabbing has sparked outbreaks of racist mob violence.
Saxony state police say they will be backed by reinforcements from five other states and federal police, after being heavily outnumbered by thousands of neo-Nazis, football hooligans and other extremists in unrest on Sunday and Monday.
The flashpoint city of Chemnitz has seen a violent outbreak of long-simmering anger against what protesters label “criminal immigrants” since Sunday’s knife killing.
Police have arrested Iraqi Yousif Ibrahim A., 22, and the Syrian Alaa S., 23, for the stabbing of 35-year-old Daniel H., a carpenter — the crime that set off random street attacks against people whom the mob took to be foreigners.
PA says Abbas to present alternative to Trump’s ‘deal of the century’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will present an alternative to an as-yet-unannounced US-led peace plan which the PA warns will seek to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki says.
Malki says Abbas’s plan will be the same one he presented to the Security Council last February, according to the Maan news agency.
Abbas then called for a “multilateral international mechanism emanating from an international conference” that would negate Washington’s traditional role in the process.
Malki says “the Palestinian leadership will take steps to mobilize support for the president’s speech…Palestinians will provide alternatives to what the US administration is doing, which is based on force and the policy of bullying led by the US president.”
Staff at Israeli missions worldwide announce strike over pay conditions
Support staff at Israeli embassies, consulates and delegations around the world have announced a surprise strike, Ynet reports.
Employees, who make up 60 to 80 percent of the workforce at the missions, assert the state has dawdled in finding solutions to problems they say exist in pay terms enacted this year.
As a result of the strike much of Israeli missions’ work will be halted, and consular services will be unavailable.
It’s not yet clear how long the strike is expected to last.
UN watchdog: Iran still abiding by nuclear deal terms
Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, a UN atomic watchdog report says, despite ongoing uncertainty over the accord’s future.
The report from the International Atomic Energy Agency states that Iran is still complying with the key parameters of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
It comes despite the future of the deal being thrown into uncertainty after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in May and re-imposed US sanctions.
The latest report says the IAEA had had access “to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit.”
Egypt appoints first-ever Christian woman as governor
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has sworn in several new provincial governors, including the first-ever Coptic Christian woman to hold the position.
Manal Awad Mikhail has been appointed governor of Damietta province. She was previously a deputy for the Giza governor.
The reshuffle included new governors for Cairo, Giza, Luxor, Aswan and North Sinai.
Egypt appointed the first-ever female governor to the province of Beheira in a reshuffle last year.
Iran armed and trained Iraqi insurgents during Iraq War — report
Iran armed and trained Iraqi militias fighting US troops during the Iraq War, newly declassified US documents reveal.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the documents, based on interrogations of Shiite militia members, show the depth of Tehran’s involvement in efforts to push American forces out of the country during the 2003-2011 conflict.
They show that Iran provided militants with bombs used in numerous deadly attacks against US troops, and even helped plan attacks.
Fighters recieved training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps at bases near Tehrab.
“There are Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah conducting the training at these bases,” one report said. “The Iranians are experts in full scale warfare while the Lebanese are experts in urban or guerrilla warfare.”
Sara Netanyahu said suspected of bribery in Bezeq probe
Sara Netanyahu is suspected of bribery in Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq probe, Haaretz reports.
In the case, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of securing benefits for the Bezeq telecommunications company in exchange for positive coverage on the Walla news site, owned by Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch — an accusation that could lead to charges of bribery.
The newspaper says that during a court session today, a police representative confirmed that the premier’s wife is also suspected of bribery in the case.
France: Iran ‘cannot avoid’ expanded talks on nuclear issue
Iran “cannot avoid” talks on thorny issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warns, as European powers work to rescue the beleaguered nuclear deal with Tehran.
The European Union is trying to find ways to maintain oil and banking ties with Iran after the second phase of US sanctions kicks in in November, and Le Drian says it is important to find ways to keep the Islamic republic trading.
But he wars that Tehran must keep up its side of the deal, and be prepared to expand talks. “Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case,” he says.
“But Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us — the future of Iran’s nuclear commitments after 2025, the ballistic question and the fact there is a sort of ballistic proliferation on the part of Iran… and the role Iran plays to stabilize the whole region.
Some Labor MKs, unhappy with Gabbay, said considering split
Certain members of Labor are considering splitting from the party due to a lack of confidence in the leadership of chairman Avi Gabbay, the Ynet news site reports.
Gabbay’s Zionist Union — a partnership between Labor and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party — has consistently performed poorly in polls in recent months, projected to win only 11-13 seats in elections, down from its current 24.
Now rebellion may be brewing, with Ynet reporting that certain elements within the party may be seeking to bail out and install a new leader, potentially former prime minister Ehud Barak.
At least a third of sitting MKs would need to agree to split for such action to be legally possible.
Ynet does not say which MKs are considering the move.
Jordan to host fundraiser at UN for Palestinian refugee agency
Jordan will host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in New York next month to keep the agency for Palestinian refugees afloat, the kingdom’s top diplomat says.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi says the meeting, set for September 27 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, “aims to provide financial and political support to UNRWA.”
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has been struggling to balance its books since the United States announced in January it was cutting its annual funding by $300 million.
The Jordanian foreign minister says the New York event will “reaffirm that UNRWA is an organization created by the UN General Assembly, with a clear and particular role, and this role must continue.”
Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers deny bribery accusation: ‘So what if police said so’
Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers are denying the accusations against her by police officials, saying she never took part in a bribery scheme.
“It never happened,” they said in a statement. “So what if police said so.”
Earlier a police representative said Netanyahu is suspected of bribery in Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq corruption probe.
Trump sought to buy ‘dirt’ held on him by National Enquirer — NYTimes
Donald Trump sought to purchase all the “dirt” that the National Enquirer, a leading scandal sheet, had collected on him over the past decades, The New York Times reports.
The newspaper, quoting unidentified associates of Trump, says the plan was concocted with Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, who has implicated him in “hush payments” made before the 2016 election.
Cohen agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors this month that included an admission that he had made payments to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump before he ran for the White House.
The Times said there was a plan to go even further — purchasing all of the information collected on Trump since the 1980s by the National Enquirer and its parent company American Media. American Media is owned by David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally who has reportedly been granted partial immunity to talk with prosecutors.
IDF troops arrest three Palestinians with pipe bombs in northern West Bank
IDF troops arrest three Palestinian suspects who were found in possession of “a number” of pipe bombs outside the West Bank village of Deir al-Hatab, the army says.
The suspects were spotted near the village, located east of Nablus, by soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras, and the troops were dispatched to arrest them.
The three suspects were handed over to the Shin Bet for questioning.
— Judah Ari Gross
Abbas spokesman: Greenblatt interfering in ‘internal Palestinian affairs’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman accuses a senior White House official of interfering in “internal Palestinian affairs.”
In a statement earlier, Jason Greenblatt, the White House special representative for international negotiations, said the PA should take responsibility for the Gaza Strip, but added that if the Ramallah-based government does not take action to make that a reality, other parties will “fill the void.”
“We consider these statements completely unacceptable intervention by the American administration in internal Palestinian affairs,” Nabil Abu Rudeinah says in comments published on the official PA news site Wafa. “We will fight them just as we have fought [Washington’s proposed peace plan].”
— Adam Rasgon
Court rules Jerusalem municipality can evict gallery that hosted left-wing group
A Jerusalem judge has ruled in favor of the municipality as it seeks to evict a gallery that hosted the left-wing Breaking the Silence group.
The Barbour gallery had fought the eviction from the city-owned premises, where it has been located for the past 13 years. Culture Minister Miri Regev had pushed for the eviction.
Judge Amir Dahan of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court noted that the municipality’s decision was political in nature. Still, he ruled that the city has the right to reclaim its property.
Barbour must vacate the premises by February 1, 2019, he ruled.
Israelis selling bulletproof backpacks in US after shooting
An Israeli firm says it has sold US customers hundreds of its bulletproof schoolbags, introduced in the wake of the Parkland school massacre.
“We designed a bullet-proof backpack at the request of our distributors in the United States after the huge trauma caused by the February shooting in Florida,” Snir Koren, CEO of Masada Armor, tells AFP.
In a matter of months protective gear manufacturer Masada Armor, based in the northern Israeli town of Julis, developed its bulletproof backpack and got it certified by the Israeli army and police.
“Since then, orders from the United States have been coming in,” Koren says. “In two months we have sold hundreds and are gearing up to increase production rates to 500 units per month.”
PM’s son Yair also a suspect in Bezeq case — TV report
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is also a suspect in the Bezeq corruption probe, Hadashot TV news reports.
Citing anonymous police sources, the station says Yair, like his mother Sara, is suspected of aiding Benjamin Netanyahu in a bribery scheme.
They are alleged to be involved in providing financial benefits to the Bezeq Telecommunications company in exchange for positive coverage from the Walla news site, owned by Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch.
Veteran MP quits Labour’s parliament faction, citing ‘anti-Semitism, nastiness’
British Labour MP Frank Field, who has served in parliament for the party since 1979, has resigned from the parliamentary party, saying its leaders have become “a force for anti-Semitism in British politics.”
Field writes in a resignation letter to chief party whip Nick Brown:”It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party.”
He also speaks of a growing “culture of nastiness, bullying, and intimidation.”
Field says he will remain in parliament as an independent, though it is not immediately clear whether he can do so.
Report: IDF officer to be jailed for breaking civilian’s cameras in Hebron
An IDF officer will be jailed for 22 days after he confessed to breaking an Italian civilian’s cameras in Hebron, Haaretz reports, citing an agreement between the officer and prosecutors.
The officer, a lieutenant, was heading a force last February that broke up a demonstration in the city, during which rocks were hurled at soldiers. The civilian took part in the rally but did not throw rocks. He was detained and his two cameras were broken by the officer.
Haaretz notes that an indictment for such an incident is uncommon.
Israeli intel firm: Iran building new missile facility in northern Syria
Iran is constructing a new surface-to-surface missile (SSM) facility in northwestern Syria, an Israeli satellite intelligence company says.
ImageSat International has released images it captured of the alleged facility in Wadi Jahannam.
It says the site’s layout is reminiscent of SSM facilities in Iran. It also notes an apparent surge in construction work at the site.
Channel 10 notes that a Russia S-400 air defense system located nearby could complicate any Israeli effort to strike the base.
Netanyahu family rejects as ‘absurd’ claim PM’s son suspected of bribery
The Netanyahu family is rejecting as “absurd” a TV report that the prime minister’s son Yair is a suspect in a corruption probe against Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We found a positive story about the dog Kaya on Walla,” the family says in a statement, referring to the family dog that died earlier this year, as well as suspicions that the premier provided financial benefits to the Bezeq Telecommunications company in exchange for positive coverage from the Walla news site.
“Luckily for Kaya, she left this world before she too could be accused of bribery.”