The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
The New Right party launches its election campaign, doing so independently and leaving the remaining national religious slates — Jewish Home and National Union — on their own to decide how best to compete in the upcoming March vote.
Naftali Bennett’s party says in a statement that it will be running on the slogan, “There’s sort of right-wing, there’s sometimes right-wing and there’s New Right — a secure right-wing.”
The mantra ostensibly highlights Bennett’s new position as defense minister, which he began last month. Recent polls have indicated that the new credentials have contributed to an increase in popularity, with New Right predicted to receive roughly seven seats.
Absent from the message announcing the roll-out of the campaign — which includes a picture of a stern -looking Bennett next to the new slogan — is Ayelet Shaked, the popular former justice minister who last election headed the joint Yamina slate which comprised all three national religious parties.
— Jacob Magid
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government intends to present a bill to parliament on Friday to enable the country to leave the European Union next month, his spokesman says.
“We plan to start the process before Christmas and will do so in the proper constitutional way in discussion with the speaker (of the House of Commons),” Johnson’s spokesman tells reporters.
The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) says some 3.3 million people have made aliyah — immigrated to Israel — since the country’s creation in 1948. 43.7 percent of them having come since 1990.
In figures released for International Migrants Day which will be marked on Wednesday, the CBS says that in the first ten months of 2019, some 27,300 people made aliyah — a significant rise of about 20% over the equivalent period in 2018.
According to the data, Israel has successfully closed its southern border to migrants from Eritrea and Sudan. None entered the country in 2018, and some 2,700 left Israel at the end of 2018. Some 33,600 foreign nationals currently live in Israel without valid work permits — including 71% from Eritrea and 20% from Sudan.
Greek police have destroyed an improvised bomb found across the street from a police station in an Athens suburb, authorities say.
The bomb, which included nails, was hidden in a bag and consisted of explosives packed into a pipe and set to a timing device. It was found just inside the perimeter fence of a university campus by a police officer, who notified explosives experts.
Police cordon off the area and carry out a controlled detonation to destroy the device.
Authorities say there was no warning call and no immediate claim of responsibility. It is not immediately clear who planted the bomb or what the motive might have been.
The grave of a top Nazi who helped plan the Holocaust and was assassinated by British-trained agents during World War II has been dug up in Berlin, German police say.
The grave of Reinhard Heydrich was “dug up in the night between Wednesday and Thursday” and an investigation has been opened on charges of disturbing a burial site, a police spokeswoman tells AFP.
German media says it appears nothing was removed.
Heydrich was the powerful head of Hitler’s Reich Security Office, which included the Gestapo.
Less well known than other Nazi leaders, he was nevertheless highly influential and was marked out for his cruelty even within the Third Reich elite.
Israel becomes a major energy exporter for the first time after signing a permit to export natural gas to Egypt. The announcement comes just days before a lucrative Israeli gas field in the Mediterranean Sea is expected to go online.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz calls the permit a “historic landmark” for Israel. He says it’s the most significant economic cooperation project between the countries since they signed a peace deal in 1979.
With the expected gas boon, Israel plans to wean itself off coal and potentially revolutionize its economy. The European Union, seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, has encouraged the formation of new delivery routes, including through the eastern Mediterranean. These routes could also curtail Iranian ambitions to use Syria as a gateway to the Mediterranean.
“The natural gas revolution turns us into an energy power and affords us not just huge income for the country but also a dramatic decrease in air pollution,” Steinitz says.
US tech giant Intel Corp. announces that it has acquired Israeli startup Habana Labs, a Caesarea-based chip maker, for some $2 billion.
“The combination strengthens Intel’s artificial intelligence portfolio and accelerates its efforts in the nascent, fast-growing AI silicon market, which Intel expects to be greater than $25 billion by 2024,” the company says in a statement.
It is Intel’s second-largest acquisition in Israel, after the US firm bought Mobileye, a maker of autonomous car technologies, in 2017.
Last year, Intel Capital, the investment arm of the US firm, invested in Habana Labs, a maker of artificial intelligence-based processors and chips, as part of a $75 million series B funding round for the startup. The Israeli firm has raised some $120 million to date, according to Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks Israel’s tech industry.
Habana Labs, founded in 2016 by David Dahan and Ran Halutz, uses artificial intelligence to improve the processing performance of chips and lower their costs and power consumption. The processors are aimed at the specific needs of training deep neural networks.
— with Shoshanna Solomon
Police officers arrest four people, including a 16-year-old boy, on suspicion of involvement in a violent brawl in the Bedouin community of Hura in the Negev region.
The officers were delivering a lecture against violence at a nearby school, but stopped it when they heard nearby gunshots.
They found two local families brawling, pursued the suspects and arrested the four suspects, Hebrew-language media reports.
They also found illegal weapons at the scene.
The US House Judiciary Committee releases a sweeping report bolstering the case for impeaching President Donald Trump, laying out the rationale and charges that accuse him of betraying the nation for his own political gain.
Trump faces two articles of impeachment by House Democrats: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They point to Trump pressuring Ukraine to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden while withholding as leverage military aid the country relies on to counter Russia, as well as his efforts to block the House investigation.
The House will vote Wednesday on the impeachment articles approved last week by the House Judiciary panel. The vote is all but certain to result in Trump’s impeachment, though he’s expected to be acquitted in a Senate trial.
Detailing its case against the nation’s 45th president, the Judiciary panel releases a 650-page report. The document, which formally lays the groundwork for the vote, said Trump “betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”
The report is submitted to the House Rules Committee, which will meet tomorrow to set parameters for Wednesday’s debate.
US Senator Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump will announce an American troop drawdown this week, which could begin before the end of the year.
Speaking from the Afghan capital of Kabul, Graham said the president could reduce troop numbers to 8,600, down from the current 12,000. He said Afghanistan’s National Security Forces are up to the task of defending their country.
Still, Graham has opposed a full US troop withdrawal.
He said the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has to be “condition-based” and the Taliban have to be held to the promises they make during peace talks.
Peace negotiations between the US and Taliban resumed last week but have been “paused” following an attack Wednesday outside Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.
The attack killed two Afghans and wounded 70. Five US soldiers were slightly injured.
An Israeli man has been arrested in Romania on suspicion of stabbing two local woman whom he doesn’t know, the Ynet news site reports, citing local media.
The 29-year-old, who is known to criminal authorities in both Israel and Romania, is taken for questioning after his arrest in the capital, Bucharest.
The women are said to suffer non-life threatening injuries and have been taken to the hospital.
Iran accuses the United States of dreaming up “imaginary enemies” after Washington warned there would be a stiff response if US interests in Iraq are attacked.
“When politicians want to absolve themselves of blame they always make up an imaginary enemy,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei tells a press conference.
“This is the American tradition — creating enemies and projecting blame on an enemy. I think America should review its policies in Iraq.”
He adds Washington’s aim is “to intensify a psychological war” against Tehran, and that it is making accusations for which it has “presented no evidence.”
If Washington goes ahead with implementing its threats “it will receive a crushing … response,” Rabiei warns.
The United States has expressed mounting concern about a flurry of attacks on Iraqi bases used by US troops, several of which it has blamed on Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitary groups.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweets support for Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, who was convicted in 1998 in France after writing a book claiming the death of six million Jews by the Nazis is a “myth.”
Khamenei, whose regime regularly arrests and imprisons government critics as well as foreign journalists carrying out their duties, posts the tweet in an apparent attempt to accuse France of restricting freedom of speech.
In his book, #RogerGaraudy, the French philosopher, expressed doubts about the number of #Holocaust victims. The French govt not only banned his book, but also brought Garaudy to trial. These are the claimants of advocating #FreedomOfSpeech. pic.twitter.com/ErqmrrnC9V
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) December 16, 2019
A New Jersey man whose number was found in the back pocket of one of the perpetrators of last week’s fatal shootings at a US Jewish market is due in court today to face a weapons charge unrelated to the attack.
Ahmed A-Hady, of Keyport, is charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon. He was convicted of a drug charge in 2012. He is scheduled to appear in US District Court in Newark in the afternoon.
A-Hady’s number was found in the pants pocket of David Anderson, one of two attackers killed by police after an hours-long standoff at the JC Kosher Supermarket. Anderson and Francine Graham killed Jersey City Police Det. Joseph Seals before storming the store, killing three people inside. The attack is being investigated as domestic terrorism.
Anderson and Graham are also prime suspects in the slaying of a livery driver found dead in a car trunk in nearby Bayonne the previous weekend, authorities have said.
A-Hady hasn’t been charged with providing any of the weapons used in Tuesday’s shootings. The FBI said searches of his residence and a pawnshop in Keyport where he works — about 15 miles (25 kilometers) south of where the shootings occurred — yielded weapons including three AR-15-style assault rifles, three handguns and one shotgun, as well as more than 400 rounds of ammunition.
CBS2NY reports that A-Hady’s brother said the family never heard of the suspects and the pawnshop doesn’t sell firearms.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi calls a recently revealed case in which the military inflated the numbers of ultra-Orthodox recruits a deep violation of the trust between the army and Israeli society, warning that any intentional efforts to falsify the statistics would be dealt with harshly.
“Presenting things incorrectly is a violation of the contract of trust that exists between the IDF and Israeli society, who entrusts us with its sons and daughters,” Kohavi says during an award ceremony.
The case was brought to light earlier this month, leading to widespread criticism of the military. The IDF maintains that there was no concerted effort to deceive the public and that the majority of the discrepancy came from a change in criteria for who is considered ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, under the law. Kohavi ordered a full investigation of the matter, tasking recently released Maj. Gen. (res.) Roni Numa with leading the probe.
“Anywhere we find a mistake, we will learn and we will improve. Anywhere we find negligence or intention [to deceive], we will act harshly. In the areas of honesty and reliability there is no room and there never will be room for compromise. There is not and there never will be room for cutting corners or looking the other way,” Kohavi says.
The army chief also discusses the security threats facing the country, warning that Iran is expanding its military presence to Israel’s north.
“The Iranian arms are going deeper into Syria and Lebanon. The number of enemies we have is greater than the number of fronts,” he says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Harvey Weinstein’s accusers hit back at the disgraced Hollywood mogul after he complained that the world has forgotten how he “pioneered” women-led films, following dozens of sex-crime allegations.
The once powerful US producer, whose case sparked the #MeToo movement, gave a rare interview just three weeks before the start of a criminal trial that could see him jailed for life.
Weinstein, 67, told the New York Post tabloid, speaking in a hospital following a back operation, that he felt “like the forgotten man.”
“I made more movies directed by women and about women than any filmmaker and I’m talking about 30 years ago,” said the producer of “Shakespeare in Love” and “Pulp Fiction.”
“I’m not talking about now when it’s vogue. I did it first! I pioneered it! It all got eviscerated because of what happened,” he added.
Twenty-three women who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, say the comments are an attempt to “gaslight society again.”
“He says in a new interview he doesn’t want to be forgotten. Well, he won’t be,” they say in a statement posted on the Time’s Up Twitter page. “He will be remembered as a sexual predator and an unrepentant abuser who took everything and deserves nothing. He will be remembered by the collective will of countless women who stood up and said enough.”
Israel Railways says trains in Tel Aviv are delayed, after a man was hit by a passing train and seriously injured at the Tel Aviv Hahagana station.
The man, who ended up on the tracks in unclear circumstances, was treated by paramedics and taken to the hospital.
Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar is launching his campaign for the upcoming party leadership primary run against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at an event hall in Or Yehuda.
Hundreds of people in attendance welcome Sa’ar as “the next prime minister,” 10 days ahead of the December 26 vote.
The first speaker is MK Michal Shir, one of a handful of lawmakers who have declared their support for Sa’ar.
For the first time in a decade, the right-wing rule is in danger,” she says, pointing out that Netanyahu has twice failed to form a government.
“We have to look reality in the eyes,” she says, adding that polls are indicating that Likud will not win with Netanyahu at the helm.
“Sa’ar increases the strength of the right-wing. I call on everyone to whom the right-wing rule is important — wake up, it’s in your hands. The best thing for the left is preserving the current Likud leadership. They know that only Gideon Sa’ar can take Knesset seats from them. It is time for Gideon Sa’ar.”
Likud MK Sharren Haskel, in her speech at Gideon Sa’ar’s leadership primary campaign launch, accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of striking down many right-wing and liberal moves that she had tried to promote, adding that Sa’ar has been a “true partner” for her.
“I view Sa’ar as the one who can and is worthy of leading Likud and the state,” she says.
The chances of winning the March election with Netanyahu at the helm are “slim,” she claims.
She denounces criticism leveled at Sa’ar and his supporters for challenging the premier, saying it is a sign of healthy democracy within the party.
MK Gideon Sa’ar says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “no chance” of winning the next elections, speaking at his campaign launch event for the party primaries.
The veteran Likud MK says he has been fighting for Likud for decades, highlighting his role as leader of negotiations in 2009 that brought the party to power.
“Nobody has done more than me so that we [Likud] survive and return to the leadership, so that our vision leads the country. And nobody knows this better than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There is nobody I’ve done more for than Netanyahu, and I don’t regret that.”
He praises Netanyahu for his achievements, saying he stood by him “even when he harmed me. Because I always tried to act in the best interest of the country. And that is precisely what we are doing here today.”
Sa’ar expresses the “sad truth” that Netanyahu is “blocked,” adding he will not win elections again.
“Anyone understands there is no way Likud will form a government after the March 2 elections,” he says, citing polls saying the right-wing religious bloc is losing ground.
“If nothing is changed, we are very close to a left-wing government that will endanger the country and all of our achievements. It will also block us from reforming the justice system, which is needed,” he says.
He says he will be able to return voters who formerly voted for the Kulanu party and who are currently supporting Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu.
“The decision is simple: Choosing me will guarantee the continued Likud leadership and new government headed by us. Choosing Netanyahu is electing the next opposition leader. Blue and White are hoping we make no change. They want nothing more than Netanyahu heading Likud.”
Eight Israeli businessmen were detained this week at a Moscow airport for 12 hours and sent back to Israel by the Russian authorities, according to Channel 12.
The Israelis, representatives of large companies in Israel, had arrived in the country for meetings with Russian businessmen, according to the report. Upon landing in Moscow late on Saturday night, they were held by airport security.
The eight were told they cannot conduct business without a work permit, the network reports. All had previously conducted negotiations in Russia and had never previously encountered the demand. After a 12-hour detention overnight, the group was placed on plane and deported to Israel.
The Foreign Ministry is looking into the matter.
Gideon Sa’ar accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “slander” and “threats,” saying it will not dampen his spirits.
“It is particularly sad when those attacks come from home,” he says at his Likud primary campaign launch, urging his activists not to be dragged to the premier’s rhetoric and to be respectful of him.
He expresses hope that he will cooperate again with Netanyahu in the future.
He goes into great detail about the problems with the justice system he says were neglected over Netanyahu’s decade in power, and his plans to reform it.
He thanks his supporters — including Likud MK Haim Katz, who is at the event, after reports said he was about to announce his backing for him — saying: “I know what you have gone through after expressing your support.”
“I will make my best efforts not to disappoint all of you who have expressed your trust in me.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky extends his support to Ukrainian international soccer player Roman Zozulya, after the Albacete striker was called a “Nazi” by fans of Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.
Yesterday’s Segunda Division game at Rayo was suspended at half-time, after home supporters chanted “puto Nazi” (“fucking Nazi”) at Zozulya.
Rayo are based in the working class Vallecas neighborhood of Madrid, and their fans are known for their left-wing views and activism.
The Ukrainian leader, who is Jewish, says the entire country backs Zozulya, whom he calls, “not only a cool soccer player but a true patriot.”
“Roman Zozulya, not only your team supports you, the whole of Ukraine supports you,” Zelensky says on Facebook. “We are with you.”
Earlier today, the Ukrainian embassy in Spain said it strongly condemned “the new provocation” against Zozulya.
“Insults and threats against Roman Zozulya are absolutely unfair and unacceptable,” the mission said.