The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s news as it developed.
High Court stays demolition of W. Bank houses
The High Court of Justice grants a temporary injunction against the demolishing of dozens of structures in two Palestinian villages south of Hebron.
The order, which is handed down shortly after the army began demolishing the structures, requires the state to respond within a week.
The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed the demolitions earlier in the day and said they came after a drawn-out arbitration over the fate of the buildings yielded no results.
“The buildings being demolished in Firing Zone 918 were illegally constructed,” COGAT said in a statement. “During the last two years, the [Defense Ministry] Civil Administration has been conducting a dialogue process with the population in order to legalize the structures. When the building owners showed no willingness to get the situation in order and illegal construction did not stop, measures were taken in accordance with the law.”
— Raoul Wootliff contributed.
Labor leader to join Labor Party
Avi Nissenkorn, the head of the Histadrut national federation of labor unions, announces he will join the Labor Party.
Nissenkorn meets with the head of the party, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, at the Histadrut headquarters in Tel Aviv and says he is “proud” to join the party.
“The social situation in Israel requires us today to deploy all of the political and public forces to fight ever broadening poverty in Israel and the deep gaps in Israeli society.”
Court cancels hearing on alleged Abu Khdeir killer
The Jerusalem District Court postpones a hearing in the case of Yosef Haim Ben-David, the prime suspect in the killing of the East Jerusalem Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014.
The attorneys for Ben-David, 31, say he suffers from a mental illness and was not responsible for his actions at the time.
Two Israeli minors have already been convicted in the attack and the state prosecution is demanding life sentences for them.
It isn’t immediately clear why the court postponed the hearing, which was supposed to be held today, and a new date has yet to be set for it.
Parts of astronaut Ramon’s experiment sent to Israel
Thirteen years after the death of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon in the Columbia shuttle explosion, NASA delivers to Israel the remnants of an experiment conducted by him in space.
The fragments, which consist of parts of a camera, were delivered at the request of his widow, Rona Ramon, in honor of Israel’s Space Week. She said she wanted young people in the country to be inspired by them.
The experiment dealt with the properties of dust particles above the Mediterranean.
Iran stock exchange hits 1-year high after nuke deal
The Tehran Stock Exchange has rallied to a one-year high in the wake of Iran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers last summer.
Hamid Rouhbakhsh, a spokesman for the stock exchange, says the index was at its highest peak in more than twelve months.
The volume of daily trade has increased from $40 million to $133 million since the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016.
Stockbroker Tahereh Mollaie says the rise shows that “trust is restoring to the market.”
Arab party says stop and frisk law targets Arabs
The Joint (Arab) List blasts a new law that grants police sweeping authority to stop and frisk, claiming that it is “racist” and designed to target members of minority communities in Israel.
“The essence of the law, which assumes the mantle of defending security and preventing violence, infringes on basic individual rights and gives police free rein,” the far-left party says in a statement. “This is a step that targets Arab citizens and any individual who resembles them physically.”
The statement also claims that the law, which was approved late Monday, will provide “legal protection for sexual harassment against women.” It’s a dig at an Israel Police that has seen many very senior officers step down in recent years amid revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct.
Haifa U. defends study linking child illness to pollution
Haifa University doubles down on the results of a study that attributed a high concentration of child sickness rates in the city to massive pollution in the Haifa Bay.
“We stand behind the study,” the university says in a statement. “The methods used by the study were approved in advance by the professional committee among whose members are representatives of the health and environmental protection ministries.”
Man dies after swallowing half a kilo of cocaine
An Israeli man dies in Sheba hospital outside Tel Aviv, where he was taken Sunday after swallowing 60 bags of cocaine, police say.
The man, 28, collapsed in the street in Kiryat Ono and was taken to the hospital, where doctors found about half a kilo (one pound) of cocaine in him.
EU blasts razing of European-funded structures in West Bank
Ten of the structures destroyed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank today were funded by the European Union, the EU’s spokesperson in East Jerusalem says.
The spokesman reiterates to The Times of Israel a statement from EU foreign ministers in January voicing “strong opposition to Israeli settlement policy including demolishing of EU-funded properties in Area C” of the West Bank, where Israel controls both security and civil aspects of Palestinians’ lives.
That statement read as follows:
Recalling that settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two state solution impossible, the EU reiterates its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation — including of EU funded projects — evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts and restrictions of movement and access. It urges Israel to end all settlement activity and to dismantle the outposts erected since March 2001, in line with prior obligations. Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States.
— Raphael Ahren
Netanyahu, ministers tour northern Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and other ministers from Netanyahu’s security cabinet tour Israel’s north.
According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the ministers are briefed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and the head of the IDF’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
Palestinian teen said wounded by IDF fire
A 14-year-old Palestinian youth is shot in the stomach and wounded in a clash with IDF soldiers in al-Bireh near Ramallah, according to Palestinian reports.
His condition isn’t immediately clear.
North Korea declares satellite launch this month
North Korea has declared plans to launch an Earth observation satellite on a rocket later this month, an official with a London-based agency says.
This would cause international outrage because such tests are seen by the United Nations and other critics as covers for banned long-range missile tests meant to further North Korea’s nuclear bomb and missile programs.
An official at the International Maritime Organization says North Korea declared that an Earth observation satellite launch would be conducted between February 8 and 25, between 7 a.m. and noon Pyongyang time. The official speaks on condition of anonymity because she hasn’t been authorized to speak publicly yet.
The declaration follows North Korea’s claim last month to have tested a hydrogen bomb, the country’s fourth nuclear test.
Fatah, Hamas officials seek detente in Doha
Representatives of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas are in Qatar to discuss the prospects of reconciliation, according to the pan-Arab news site Al-Resalah.
The site quotes Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Mohesin as saying his delegation, headed by another official, Azzam al-Ahmad, will meet with Hamas leaders in Doha, the Qatari capital.
Hamas and Fatah, which leads the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority, have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas ousted Fatah from power in the Gaza Strip a year after winning national PA elections.
Efforts at reconciliation have been ongoing for years.
Albanian convicted of killing Israeli in Berlin
An Albanian man is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 8½ years in prison for killing an Israeli whose body was found in a ruined Berlin church last year.
The state court in Berlin rules that the suspect killed 22-year-old Yosi Damari after the men met at a hostel and got into an argument for reasons that remain unclear, according to the news agency dpa.
The killer, whose name isn’t released in line with German privacy laws, was arrested days later in the Czech Republic.
The 28-year-old Albanian, who had come to Berlin because of a job offer, had told judges he was attacked by the Israeli, and then knocked him to the ground.
Damari’s body was found by passersby last April. He had suffered massive head injuries.
Trump tweets that 2nd place in Iowa is ‘nice’
Donald Trump is ending his Twitter silence with a tweet saying that second place is not, as he has said previously, “terrible.”
He says: “My experience in Iowa was a great one. I started out with all of the experts saying I couldn’t do well there and ended up in 2nd place. Nice.”
Because I was told I could not do well in Iowa, I spent very little there – a fraction of Cruz & Rubio. Came in a strong second. Great honor
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2016
Iran signs deal to buy 20 more airplanes
Iran’s national carrier has signed an agreement to buy 20 new passenger airplanes with an option for 20 more from French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, Iranian media reports.
The purchase comes a week after Iran Air signed a deal to buy 118 planes from the European consortium Airbus, signaling a major effort to develop the civilian aviation sector now that international sanctions have been lifted under a landmark nuclear deal.
ATR says the deal signed with Iran Air includes a firm order for 20 ATR 72-600 planes. Iran’s private Donya-e Eghtesad daily says the deal is worth $1.089 billion.
Hearing for prime suspect in Abu Khdeir killing set for Feb. 11
A closed-door hearing for Yosef Haim Ben-David, the prime suspect in the murder of the East Jerusalem teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, has been postponed until February 11 to allow more time for a psychiatric review of Ben-David, says Mohanned Jabara, the lawyer for the victim’s family.
Abu Khdeir, from the Shuafat area of east Jerusalem, was killed on July 2, 2014 after being kidnapped by Jewish extremists, who poured gasoline over the 16-year-old and burned him alive.
Prosecutors say Ben-David, 31, was the leader of the three-member gang and he was found responsible for carrying out the killing along with two minors by a court in November.
However, shortly before the ruling his lawyers entered a plea of insanity, which would mean he was not criminally responsible for his actions.
The two minors were convicted and prosecutors have called for life terms to be passed down at their sentencing, which is due to take place on Thursday.
Official results show Clinton won Iowa
Hillary Clinton has won a razor-thin victory over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses that kicked off the 2016 US presidential race, Democratic party results show.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton took 49.8 percent, against 49.6% for the Vermont senator, her sole remaining challenger for the Democratic nomination.
Clinton’s campaign had claimed victory over Sanders ahead of the official announcement of results from Monday’s caucuses.
State Democratic party chair Andy McGuire calls the results “the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history.”
Knesset rejects bill to fire MK Hazan as deputy speaker
The Knesset plenum votes down a coalition-sponsored bill that would have enabled the suspension of a deputy speaker of the house.
The bill was geared to target the colorful, scandal-ridden Likud MK Oren Hazan, who has been unofficially suspended from officiating at plenum sessions.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has been unable to remove Hazan from his cadre of deputies due to the fact that the current law contains no provision for such an action.
Most French Muslims on board with daughter marrying a Jew
A majority of French Muslims said they would react positively if their daughter married a Jew, a survey finds.
The results are part of a document comprising three reports published Sunday by the polling firm Ipsos based on opinion polls and interviews conducted over 2014 and 2015 with several partner organizations, including the Foundation of French Judaism.
The data on perceptions about Jews among Muslims comes from an online survey conducted among 500 French-Muslim adults between February 24 and March 9, 2015. In the survey, 55 percent of respondents said they would “react positively” if their daughter married a Jew, while 45% said they would “react negatively.”
Fifty-six percent of respondents from the general population said they would react negatively if their daughter married a Muslim.
The survey also revealed that anti-Semitic sentiment was more prevalent among French-Muslim respondents than respondents from the general population, with 18% of Muslims affirming that “there are too many Jews in France” compared to 13% in the general population.
NY food co-op votes to require supermajority for boycotts
A cooperative grocery store in New York votes to require a supermajority of 75 percent to approve future boycotts in reaction to a BDS attempt to boycott the Israeli firm SodaStream.
The vote at the general meeting last month of the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn was 294-192 to require the supermajority rather than the current 50 percent plus one, the local Indypendent reports.
Since the co-op first started discussing a possible boycott of some or all Israeli products, Congregation Beth Elohim in the Park Slope section stopped allowing the co-op’s general meetings in its building, according to the Indypendent. Last month’s meeting was held at a local Catholic school, which had its auditorium filled to capacity.
Last April, a proposal was made at a general meeting to boycott SodaStream, which produces soda-making machines for the home. The company closed its controversial West Bank facility in September and moved to a plant in the Negev Desert.
In March 2012, the membership of the Park Slope Food Coop rejected a proposal to hold a mail ballot referendum for members on whether to stop selling Israeli goods.
The co-op, founded in 1973, is well known in New York City as a bastion of socially conscious consumerism. Each member is required to do a work shift of 2 hours, 45 minutes every four weeks in order to shop at the co-op, which offers an array of organic and other goods at significant discounts.
UN aid chief ‘alarmed’ by Palestinian hunger-striker health
A top UN official says he is “alarmed” by the condition of a Palestinian journalist on hunger strike over his detention without trial.
Robert Piper, United Nations coordinator for humanitarian assistance and development aid in the Palestinian territories, raises concern for the fate of 33-year-old Mohammed al-Qiq, who the International Committee of the Red Cross says is in critical condition after 70 days refusing food.
“I am alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating health of Palestinian administrative detainee, Mohammed al-Qiq, who is on hunger strike in protest against the arbitrary nature of his detention and ill-treatment,” a statement from Piper says.
Qiq, a 33-year-old father of two and a correspondent for Saudi Arabia’s Almajd television network, was arrested on November 21 at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
He has been refusing food since November 25 in protest his detention under Israel’s disputed administrative detention law, which allows the state to hold suspects for renewable six-month periods without trial.
Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic security service, says Qiq was arrested for “terror activity” as part of the Islamist group Hamas. His family denies the claims and say he was only a journalist covering the West Bank.
Throw Women of the Wall ‘to the dogs’ — Haredi MK
Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush steps up the tone of recent attacks in Israel against the feminist prayer group Women of the Wall, saying it should be “thrown to the dogs.”
In a plenum speech addressing a government decision to set aside an area near Jerusalem’s Western Wall for non-Orthodox prayer, Porush also lashes out at the Reform movement.
“The Reform are responsible for the terrible intermarriage that we’ve been witnessing in the United States,” he says.
Referring to the location of the new prayer area, near the Old City’s Dung Gate, he says the place of the Women of the Wall is in an “out-of-the-way corner. That’s where you belong. [They] should be thrown to the dogs.”
Yizhar Hess, director of Israel’s Masorti movement – which is similar to the Conservative movement in the US – says Porush’s comments are redolent of Jew-hatred.
“Meir Porush – the deputy education minister, no less – expressing himself like a typical anti-Semite,” he is quoted by the NRG news site as saying. “Only in Israel can a deputy minister give voice to invective against other Jews and remain in office.
“If it were anywhere else in the world, we, the State of Israel, would have demanded his dismissal. I call on the prime minister to fire Porush and expect that the education minister renounce these despicable statements,” he adds.
At least 1 said killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
Palestinian reports say a tunnel has collapsed in the southern Gaza Strip.
At least one person was killed in the collapse, reports say.
Fears of terrorist infiltration in Ma’ale Adumim
The Israel Police says it is investigating reports that a terrorist has broken into the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, just east of Jerusalem.
— Judah Ari Gross
Ma’ale Adumim woman says she was attacked in her home
A spokeswoman says the Israel Police has received reports from a woman in Ma’ale Adumim who said that a man had entered her home and tried to put a rag over her face.
The woman said she succeeded in driving him off and was unharmed.
“Police forces are scanning the area to locate the suspect,” the spokeswoman says.
8 said missing or wounded in Gaza tunnel collapse
Recent Palestinian reports are saying as many as eight people are missing or have been injured in the tunnel collapse in the southern Gaza Strip.
A man who has been confirmed killed in the collapse was a member of Hamas, reports say.
Police say no fear of terrorist on loose in Ma’ale Adumim
Police are now assessing that the incident in Ma’ale Adumim was not a terrorist infiltration.
“After an initial investigation there is no suspicion of hostile terrorist action,” an Israel Police spokeswoman says.
“It was likely a criminal incident — a burglar who fled after he was surprised by the house owner. Large forces are searching for the suspect,” she adds.
Up to 4 said killed in Gaza tunnel collapse
Some reports are now saying as many as eight Palestinians were killed in the collapse of the tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.
Hamas has yet to confirm the news.
Herzog, Kerry meet in Rome
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome.
During their meeting, Herzog reiterates his commitment to “separation” from the Palestinians, what he says will lay the groundwork for the two-state solution.
“The security situation cannot continue,” he says, referring to the four months of near-daily attacks. “Israelis are being murdered in the streets and the world is focusing on ludicrous initiatives and boycotts.”
“The separation plan is the only way forward in the region, for progress, toward the vision of the two-state solution in the future,” he says. “It won’t happen tomorrow morning.”
Israel must take “drastic steps,” move forward, and “stop all the talk,” he says.
“Israel can’t wait for long negotiations,” Herzog says. “Our citizens are being murdered, and we must take steps to separate, creating a realistic basis for the two-state solution, which I believe with all my heart, is the only solution to the conflict.”
He urges Kerry to convene a summit with the moderate Arab states in the region.
Wednesday’s meeting is the fourth between Herzog and Kerry in the last six months.