The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Convention bumps Trump ahead of Clinton — poll
A CNN survey shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump enjoying a significant post-convention bump, leading presumptive Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton 44 percent to 39% in a four-way race.
The news, which is Trump’s strongest showing in the survey since September according to CNN.com, comes as Democrats are set to kick off their confab under a cloud of bitter infighting.
The survey shows Trump scooped up a large number of undecided independent voters, with 46 percent saying they are likely to back him, compared to 31 percent pre-Cleveland.
Clinton, who had 34 percent ahead of the RNC, now only has the support of 28 percent, with another 15 percent saying they are likely to back Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Police say area around Florida club shooting safe
Police in Fort Myers, Florida, say the area around a deadly nightclub shooting has been deemed safe.
But in an email, police Capt. Jim Mulligan says the street will remain closed as authorities investigate.
The shooting at Club Blu killed two people and as many as 17 people were shot early Monday.
Three people have been taken into custody.
Netanyahu says he’ll cede some ministries ‘soon’
Jack of all ministries Benjamin Netanyahu tells a Knesset hearing that he intends to give up “a few portfolios soon,” though without detailing which.
Netanyahu, who is prime minister, also fills the role of foreign minister, economy minister, communications minister and regional affairs minister.
He has come under criticism for allowing those ministries, especially the Foreign Ministry, to fall by the wayside as he is unable to fill all the roles simultaneously.
However, he tells the Knesset hearing on Israel advocacy efforts that since he has been foreign minister cooperation between the communications and advocacy branch and the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit has been “extraordinary,” according to Channel 10 news.
Germany probing 59 refugees for terror links
Germany’s top security official says authorities are conducting 59 investigations of refugees suspected of possible links to terrorist organizations.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says it would be wrong to put all refugees under general suspicion, “even if there are investigations in individual cases.”
The Funke newspaper group on quotes him as saying: “We are currently talking about 59 investigations for possible links to terrorist structures, and that’s with many hundreds of thousands of newly arrived people.”
He adds that in the overwhelming number of cases, reports turn out not to be true.
De Maiziere calls for Germany’s borders to be better protected without preventing refugees from coming to the country by legal and safe means — “in reasonable numbers.”
He notes that in the Munich gun attack there was no indication that the perpetrator, the German-born son of Iranian asylum-seekers, had failed to integrate in German society.
Hebron shooter: No time to think in field
IDF soldier Elor Azaria, on trial for shooting and killing a wounded Palestinian assailant in March, is continuing to be cross-examined in a Jaffa military court.
After being asked why he changed his story to investigators, Azaria blames it on the heat of battle.
“In real time, in the field, everything is different,” he tells the prosecutor, according to the Walla news site. “It’s easy today to talk about it, but in the field everything is a matter of seconds. You don’t have time to think.”
US ties with China ‘most consequential in world’ — Rice
US National Security Adviser Susan Rice tells Chinese President Xi Jinping Washington’s ties with Beijing are “the most consequential in the world today.”
“We view China’s success as being in America’s interest, given our growing interdependence,” she says.
Xi tells Rice China is “strongly committed” to building good relations with the US based upon the ideas of “no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.”
Earlier, a top Chinese official warned failure to properly handle sensitive issues between the US and China could “very likely disturb and undermine” their military-to-military relations.
“We should be honest with ourselves that deep down in this relationship we’re still faced with obstacles and challenges,” said Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, adding that military ties had been “impacted by some complicated and some sensitive factors.”
Union boss smiles on public broadcaster compromise
Histadrut labor federation head Avi Nissenkorn is praising a compromise reached between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to open a new public broadcasting corporation in April 2017.
Netanyahu announced last week that the new corporation was not ready and would only be opened in 2018, setting off vociferous protests from workers, including a brawl that nearly erupted during a Knesset panel discussion on the matter on Sunday.
“The solution that’s been presented is a balanced solution. The corporation will start broadcasting with much more of a presence and that’s for the good of the public,” he says, according to Army Radio. “At the end of the day, we all come out of this better.”
Americans and Russians to talk Syria in Geneva
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura will hold talks Tuesday with top US and Russian officials in Geneva in a bid to revive flagging peace talks, his office says.
US mission spokesman Paul Patin tells AFP that the State Department’s special envoy for Syria Michael Ratney will be at the meeting, while Russia’s Ria-Novosti news agency said Moscow will be represented by deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov.
De Mistura’s spokeswoman Jessy Chahine, who confirmed the meeting, gives no details about its agenda, but the UN envoy has been trying to save a peace process which some feared was facing total collapse.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov earlier this month announced an agreement on “concrete steps” to salvage a failing ceasefire in Syria, a key step before negotiations can resume.
Germany bomber had been told to leave country twice
A spokesman for Germany’s interior ministry says the man who detonated a bomb near a music festival last night, killing himself and wounding 12 others, had received two deportation notices.
Tobias Plate says the 27-year-old Syrian man was most recently told July 13 that he would be deported to Bulgaria
Plate tells reporters that the first deportation notice was issued on December 22, 2014.
He says the man was to be deported to Bulgaria because he had submitted his first asylum request in the southeastern European country.
Military aid deal with US likely inked next week — Netanyahu
Quizzed by opposition lawmakers in the Knesset’s State Control Committee, Netanyahu says he hopes to conclude negotiations over US military aid under the current administration.
He reveals that his acting national security adviser, Yakov Nagel, will travel to Washington next week to close the multi-billion dollar deal. He does not give any details of the 10-year aid package.
While saying that he’ll give up the Foreign Ministry post, he defends his work in the role.
“I didn’t say there is no need for a full-time foreign minister,” he says. “I am the full time foreign minister.”
He also rebuffs criticism of his policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.
“Our policy is simple: the future belongs to the strong. The weak won’t survive,” he says.
He reiterates his stance of accepting a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, though he says he is not sure whether the Palestinians are a partner for peace currently.
Netanyahu calls the BDS movement an “anti-Semitic movement par excellence,” though he argues that Israel in recent months successfully rebuffed several efforts to boycott Israel.
He cites the failed bid to oust Israel from soccer’s governing body FIFA and a number of American states passing anti-BDS legislation.
— Raphael Ahren
Iraqi arrested in Poland with ‘trace’ explosives
An Iraqi man has been charged with possessing trace amounts of explosive material in Poland, officials say, days ahead of the pope’s visit for a huge Catholic youth festival.
Poland has upped security ahead of the World Youth Day event that will draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world to the southern city of Krakow this week.
The Iraqi man was charged in the central city of Lodz and remanded in custody for two months, local court spokesman Pawel Urbaniak tells reporters.
“National prosecutors have launched an investigation,” he adds.
Prosecutor Beata Marczak adds that the man was detained last week and charged Sunday with “possessing trace amounts of explosive material,” which could result in up to eight years in jail.
UN, Palestinians condemn East Jerusalem building plans
The United Nations has joined the Palestinian Authority in condemning Israeli plans to build 770 new units in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, presented to a district planning committee last week.
“I strongly condemn the recent decision by Israeli authorities to advance plans to build some 770 housing units in the settlement of Gilo, built on the lands of occupied Palestinian towns and villages between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov says in a statement.
“Continuing on the current trajectory entrenches a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.”
Mladenov also decries reported plans for a new illegal outpost near Hebron.
“Such moves raise legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions. They come against the backdrop of statements by some Israeli ministers that there should never be a Palestinian state or calls for the full annexation of the West Bank,” he says.
Israel effectively annexed East Jerusalem and maintains the right to build in all parts of the capital.
Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has also condemned the Gilo housing plans and calls on the international community to take action.
“This is yet another opportunity for the international community to show its real commitment to the two-state solution and take all needed action in order to have Israel fully cease settlement construction in the Occupied State of Palestine,” Erekat says, according to official PA mouthpiece WAFA. “We have asked the State of Egypt and the leaders of Arab countries during our recent visit to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab Quartet in order to submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council to halt settlement expansion.”
Israel not seeking more US military aid in 2017, as new deal nears
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office confirms that acting national security adviser Yaakov Nagel will leave for Washington on July 31 to wrap up a deal to renew US military aid to Israel for the next 10 years “as soon as possible.”
Israel has been in negotiations with the US for months to sign a new deal to replace the current $3.1 billion annual aid package, which expires in 2018.
“Israel places great value on the predictability and certainty of the military assistance it receives from the United States and on honoring bilateral agreements,” the statement reads.
The statement notes Israel will not seek to up the amount of money it receives in 2017, under the current deal, without US support for the move, saying it’s not “in Israel’s interest.”
A diplomatic official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that means that Jerusalem is rejecting a proposal by Senator Lindsey Graham to increase funding to Israel for 2017.
Israel has reportedly been seeking up to $5 billion a year in the new deal, though the Obama administration has been offering a more modest increase.
Germany: Suicide bomber pledged allegiance to IS
German authorities say they found a video on the mobile phone of a Syrian suicide bomber who blew himself up in Germany in which he “pledged allegiance” to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann says the 27-year-old man, who has not been named, also “announced an act of revenge against Germans because they were standing in the way of Islam.”
Herrmann says the video strongly suggests the bombing was a “terrorist attack”
Turkish Airlines fires 211 over alleged ties to cleric
Turkish Airlines says it fired 211 employees over suspected links to US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and behavior “conflicting with the interest of our country” in the wake of last week’s coup.
Turkey’s flag carrier says their contracts were terminated due to “the non-fulfillment of performance criteria and in line with the necessary actions we are taking against the FETO structure, attitudes and behavior conflicting with the interest of our country and company.”
The authorities accuse 75-year-old Gulen of running a group it labels the Fethullah Terror Organization (FETO) that was behind the coup, accusations he strongly denies.
Liberman faces grilling from lawmakers
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is having his turn in the hot seat as part of ministers’ question time, and while the session lacks some of the excitement of last week’s special guest Netanyahu, it sees some drama as Yisrael Beytenu mutineer Orly Levy-Abekasis gets up to question her former boss.
Levy-Abekasis asks Liberman about injured veterans not receiving money and other benefits they are owed.
Liberman answers that he is for giving them everything and blames any holdup on bureaucracy, saying he relies on professionals for issues like this.
Earlier, Liberman admitted that overcrowding at crossing points between the West Bank and Israel was an issue from a “security and humanitarian standpoint.”
The minister, who years ago called for the bombing of Egypt’s Aswan Dam, also calls Cairo “our most important and most serious partner in the Middle East and among Arab states.”
Police say Florida shooting not terror
Fort Myers police say the shooting at a nightclub that left two dead was not an act of terrorism.
Police Capt. Jim Mulligan says in a statement that the investigation is active and investigators are working to determine a motive into the shooting at Club Blu.
Authorities also identify the two victims who died as 14-year-old Sean Archilles and 18-year-old Ste’fan Strawder.
Liberman: Darwish will only be taught on radio to ‘know enemy’
Liberman is asked by MK Masoud Ghanaim about Liberman’s crackdown on Army Radio over the station broadcasting a piece on Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.
Ghanaim angrily takes Liberman to task for comparing Darwish to Hitler.
Liberman answers by quoting from one of Darwish’s less Israel-friendly passages, and says as long as Army Radio is under his control it will only talk about Darwish as part of “knowing your enemy.”
2 arrested in India over gang rape of Israeli tourist
Indian police have arrested two men suspected of raping a 25-year-old Israeli tourist in the popular northern Himalayan resort town of Manali, local officers say.
The arrests were made following a complaint by the woman that she was attacked early Sunday after flagging down what she thought was a taxi and asking for a lift to a nearby town.
“Two of the six accused of raping an Israeli national have been arrested. Both the men are locals,” says Sanjay Kumar, the police chief of Himachal Pradesh state.
“A search operation is on to arrest the remaining four accused. The vehicle involved in the crime has also been recovered,” Kumar adds.
Islamic State claims German bombing
The Islamic State terror group has claimed the suicide bombing in Ansbach Germany, saying it was carried out by one of its “soldiers,” according to the IS-linked Amaaq news agency.
The statement from Amaaq says the attack, which injured 15, was carried out “in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State.”
The statement closely mirrors an IS claim of responsibility after an Afghan teen axed a family on a train in Germany last week.
Amaq News claims individual responsible for suicide operation in Germany is one of the soldiers of the ISIS pic.twitter.com/RtPuVS4iBm
— roi kais (@kaisos1987) July 25, 2016
Earlier, a Bavarian official said a video had been found on the bomber’s phone in which he pledged allegiance to IS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Israel begins search for Turkey envoy, won’t be political appointment
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has published an internal notice seeking a new Israeli ambassador to Turkey, a ministry spokesman confirms.
The publication of the tender indicates that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, has decided to send a professional diplomat to Ankara and not to make a political appointment.
The position is to be filled “immediately,” according to the tender. However, before Jerusalem and Ankara exchange ambassadors, the Turkish parliament is required by the Israeli-Turkish normalization agreement to pass legislation protecting Israeli IDF officers and soldiers from legal prosecution. It is unclear when this is going to happen.
— Raphael Ahren
Pressured to avoid confab, DNC head Wasserman Schultz booed on stage
After announcing she will quit her role as head of the Democratic National Committee over leaked emails showing the party favored Clinton over also-ran Bernie Sanders, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is being pressured to avoid the party’s confab altogether.
Trying to give a morning speech, Wasserman Schultz, who said she would step down after the convention, is booed by Florida delegates in Philadelphia as she strains to be heard over jeers and cries of “shame.”
Protesters hold signs reading “E-mails,” “No!” and “Thanks for the ‘help,’ Debbie.”
A number of the calls for her to stay away from the Philadelphia convention that kicks off later Monday come from Clinton backers, who fear her presence will have a toxic effect on the event, according to political news website The Hill.
“I wouldn’t [appear], number one, for her own good because it’s going to get messy when she gets up there,” former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a known face from the Clinton camp, tells MSNBC.
“At this point the whole thing is just embarrassing,” an unnamed Democratic operative tells The Hill. “The general consensus is that she needs to remove herself from the process. She needs to do it. The sooner the better — by 3 p.m. is what many people want to see.”
FBI says it will investigate Democrat email leak
The FBI has confirmed that it’s investigating a hack involving internal Democratic National Committee emails that indicate the party backed Hillary Clinton and tried to torpedo Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, among other things.
The leak has cracked a deep fissure within the party ahead of its convention and has led to DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz announcing she will step down.
— with AP
Errant Syrian mortar strikes central Golan — IDF
A mortar shell has struck the central Golan Heights, apparently errant fire from Syria, the IDF says.
The shell hits “an open area near the security fence,” the army says, likely referring to Israel’s border fence. There are no reports of injuries.
The strike comes amid reports of increased fighting between the Syrian regime and rebels in the area around Quneitra, in the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria.
The IDF often responds to errant fire by striking Syrian army posts.
Abbas says UK to be sued over Balfour Declaration
PA President Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinian officials are preparing a lawsuit against the British government over the issuing of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of Israel.
WAFA reports that Abbas told the Arab League that London is responsible for all “Israeli crimes” committed since the end of the British mandate in 1948.
The Balfour Declaration was a document by then-foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declaring British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
There is no immediate reaction from Britain.
The report does not note if Abbas detailed what court the lawsuit would be filed in.
Last year, a group calling itself the Popular Palestinian Campaign to Sue the United Kingdom sued the UK in an Egyptian court.
In 2008, a Palestinian youth group said it would attempt to sue the UK over the Balfour Declaration in Britain or in the ICC.
It’s not clear if either effort bore fruit.
Errant mortar fired by rebels — reports
Syrian opposition reports say mortars are reportedly being fired by armed groups at the village of Medinat al-Ba’ath, near the border with Israel.
Clashes between Nusra Front and Assad forces in that area last week generated an apparently false report of an Israeli airstrike in the vicinity.
Some opposition reports indicate that the mortars are being fired by Nusra, which is al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate.
— Ilan Ben Zion
Teen friend of Munich attacker released
Munich authorities say a 16-year-old Afghan friend of the Munich attacker who was detained Sunday has been released, but police still are investigating him for not reporting possible advance knowledge of the gun rampage that killed nine people.
German news agency DPA reports that the 16-year-old was freed from custody Monday.
Investigators retrieved a deleted WhatsApp instant-messaging chat between him and the attacker. Police say it suggests that the 16-year-old met the attacker at the scene of the attack — a Munich shopping mall — before the shooting, and knew that the attacker owned a handgun.
Investigators say the two teenagers met last year as patients in a psychiatric ward. Both were being treated for online game addiction and other problems.
The Munich gunman, an 18-year-old German-Iranian high school student, killed himself after his Friday night attack.
Israeli jets bomb Syria after errant mortar fire.
The IDF says fighter jets have struck back at Syria following mortar fire that struck on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.
“The IAF has successfully targeted the source of the fire in Syria. The Syrian government is responsible for all fire from Syria and the IDF will continue to act in order to preserve Israeli sovereignty and safeguard Israel,” the army says in a statement.
It’s not immediately clear if there are any casualties from the Israeli strike.
The army does not detail what installation they hit or how many.
The move comes about an hour after a mortar shell hit near the border fence in the central Golan in what the army said was likely errant fire.
Opposition reports indicated the mortar was fired by rebels amid heavy fighting around Quneitra.
Netanyahu on Hebron shooter: Maybe we don’t know everything
Benjamin Netanyahu has defended his decision to call the father of soldier Elor Azaria, on trial for killing a wounded Palestinian assailant, and offer him support.
Speaking to military reporters, Netanyahu hints it’s possible Azaria, who took the stand for the first time Sunday and was cross-examined by the prosecution Monday, could emerge from the manslaughter trial over the March 24 Hebron shooting.
“I asked the father to put his faith in the army because I trust in the soldiers, the commanders, the military justice system and the chief of staff. We’re finding out now what happened and maybe we’ll find out something new. This isn’t hermetically sealed.”
He adds that he “stands behind every word.”
Bernie backers storm Philly as Sanders calls to support Clinton
Bernie Sanders supporters, who marched across a bridge from New Jersey into Philadelphia in the sweltering heat, have arrived in the City of Brotherly Love ahead of the Democratic convention.
About 100 marchers chanting, “We are the 99 percent,” have made their way across the Ben Franklin Bridge and spilled onto the Philadelphia side.
They plan to meet up with a rally at Philadelphia’s City Hall. The group will then march down Broad Street toward a park across the street from where the convention begins late Monday.
The heat wave hasn’t keep protesters away from Monday’s rallies, but Police Commissioner Richard Ross is urging marchers to be careful and not overestimate their abilities. Temperatures are in the high 90s but feel more like 105 degrees.
Organizer Gary Frazier had said if the crowd is big enough, they’d try to shut down traffic on the bridge.
Frazier says the goal is to get the convention to nominate Sanders for president. He says if that doesn’t happen, there will be a push to withdraw Sanders supporters from the Democratic Party.
But inside the convention hall, Bernie Sanders calls on delegates to back Hillary Clinton, and calls Donald Trump a demagogue.
Sanders says that Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s departure from the Democratic National Committee will “open the doors of the party to people who want real change.”
To roaring cheers from delegates in Philadelphia, Sanders also touted progressive wins in the Democratic party platform and over future nominating rules. Many of his supporters — frustrated by the primary process and the recent leaked emails from Democratic party officials — have been threatening protests at the DNC.
Sanders says his supporters should continue to push for the “transformation of American society.”
Israel upbraids UN panel for blaming woes on occupation
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon is calling foul over a resolution lambasting Israel over “economic and social” hardships imposed on Palestinians and Syrian Druze living under Israeli rule.
Danon’s main issue with the statement by the United Nations Economic and Social Council is that Syria isn’t also mentioned for suffering caused by the civil war there.
“This is a completely biased and baseless resolution,” Danon says in a statement. “Countries that vote for such a resolution that singles out Israel and condemns the economic situation in the Golan while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Syrians butchered on the other side of the border, only encourage future disgraceful initiatives.”
The UN panel condemned Israel for the “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan,” according to the Israeli statement.
Danon also raises hackles over the fact that the PA is not similarly raked over the coals for its supposed part in impeding Palestinian economic growth.
PM says he’s on top of Hamas tunnel threat, as he was in 2014
Netanyahu tells military reporters that he is on top of any tunnel threat from Gaza, rejecting criticism that he was caught off guard by subterranean attack passages used by Hamas in the 2014 war with Gaza.
The prime minister says two months before the war broke out, he demanded that the army beef up its operational planning to thwart the tunnels, rebuffing talk of a state probe to look into failures in the lead-up to the war.
“Defense Edge is not the Second Lebanon War,” he says, referring to the 2006 fight with Hezbollah that spawned a damning state inquiry. “The claim that we didn’t know and didn’t plan for the tunnels is the opposite of the truth.”
Netanyahu says he is continuing to stay on the ball on the issue, noting that he’s held eight meetings on security, some with the cabinet, in the last year and a half. In a number of those discussions, the tunnel threat was addressed, he says, including instructions to the army to find and destroy them.