US pulling out of part of Vienna treaty to stymie Palestinian legal action
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US pulls out from part of Vienna treaty after Palestinians sue over embassy move

John Bolton says Washington will review all international treaties to make sure Iran and Palestinians can’t take it to The Hague

  • US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on October 3, 2018.                               (AFP  / Mandel NGAN)
    US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on October 3, 2018. (AFP / Mandel NGAN)
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff at Ben Gurion Airport on October 3, 2018, as Minister Tzachi Hanegbi looks on. (Avi Davidi/Foreign Ministry)
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel shakes hands with Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff at Ben Gurion Airport on October 3, 2018, as Minister Tzachi Hanegbi looks on. (Avi Davidi/Foreign Ministry)
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, meets with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, at the Department of State, on October 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, meets with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, at the Department of State, on October 3, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
  • A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister as people demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
    A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister as people demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP / SAID KHATIB)
  • Palestinian protesters demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP/Said KHATIB)
    Palestinian protesters demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP/Said KHATIB)
  • A Palestinian woman holds a flag as protesters demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Said KHATIB)
    A Palestinian woman holds a flag as protesters demonstrate at the Erez border crossing with Israel in the northern Gaza Strip on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Said KHATIB)
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Jim WATSON)
    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing at the US Department of State in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Jim WATSON)
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) takes part in a plenary session of the Russian Energy Week international forum in Moscow on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
    Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) takes part in a plenary session of the Russian Energy Week international forum in Moscow on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)
  • A Syrian child walks past the rubble of destroyed buildings in an opposition-held neighbourhood of the southern city of Daraa on October 2, 2018. (AFP/ Mohamad ABAZEED)
    A Syrian child walks past the rubble of destroyed buildings in an opposition-held neighbourhood of the southern city of Daraa on October 2, 2018. (AFP/ Mohamad ABAZEED)
  • George P. Smith talks on the phone with The Associated Press at his home in Columbia, Missouri, United States, October 3, 2018, after learning he had won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. (Marjorie Sable via AP)
    George P. Smith talks on the phone with The Associated Press at his home in Columbia, Missouri, United States, October 3, 2018, after learning he had won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. (Marjorie Sable via AP)
  • US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again" rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)
    US President Donald Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again" rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)

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

Anti-Israel professor among Nobel Prize winners

No Israelis won this year’s Nobel prize in chemistry but all three winners, Frances Arnold, George Smith and Gregory Winter, all have Israel connections.

Smith, a former professor from the University of Missouri, is a vocal critic of Israel and a member of pro-Palestinian group Jewish Voice for Peace, though he is not Jewish.

“I’m not religious or Jewish by birth. But my wife is Jewish and our sons are bar-mitzvahed, and I’m very engaged with Jewish culture and politics,” he says in a bio on the Mondoweiss website.

In 2012, he penned an op-ed in the Columbia Daily Tribune accusing Israel of “systematic oppression and dispossession of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” and called for the US to end arms sales to the IDF.

Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology, likely feels differently. In June, she visited Israel for a state-sponsored conference on chemistry in Jerusalem.

Gregory Winter of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, is on the UK-Israel science council, which brings together experts from both countries.

Arnold was awarded half the prize for conducting the first directed evolution of enzymes, leading to more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemicals, including drugs, and in the production of renewable fuels.

Smith and Winter share the other half of the prize. Smith developed a new way to evolve proteins and Winter used the method for evolving antibodies with the aim of producing new drugs.

The first drug based on this work is used against rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease, the academy said.

— with AP

 

Germany denies Merkel threatened to cancel visit if Bedouin village razes

Germany is denying reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened to cancel her visit to Israel this week if Jerusalem carried out the demolition of the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar prior to her arrival.

“There was never a doubt that the government to government consultations would take place. A cancellation was not considered at any point in time,” a spokeswoman for Germany’s embassy in Tel Aviv tells The Times of Israel.

However, the spokeswoman declined to say whether Merkel has asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to cancel plans to demolish the West Bank hamlet or plans to do so upon landing this evening for a one-day visit.

— Raphael Ahren and Jacob Magid

Iran lauds ruling against US sanctions by ICJ

Iran’s foreign ministry is welcoming a ruling by the UN’s top court ordering Washington to suspend sanctions on humanitarian goods, as a “clear sign” that “Iran is in the right.”

The ruling by the International Court of Justice “once again shows that the US government… is day by day becoming more isolated,” the ministry says in a statement.

— AFP

West Bank olive trees found chopped down in apparent hate crime

A tree found chopped down in the West Bank in an apparent hate crime on October 3, 2018. (Awad Abu Samra)

Dozens of Palestinian olive trees have been found chopped down in an apparent hate crime

Palestinian farmers from the central West Bank town of Turmusaya say they woke up this morning to find 40 of their olive trees chopped down outside their village, the B’Tselem rights group says.

Wednesday marked the first day of the olive harvest for the village.

The trees are located adjacent to the illegal Adei Ad outpost whose residents have been accused in the past of carrying out so-called price-tag attacks.

— Jacob Magid

German reunification still ongoing, Merkel says ahead of Israel trip

Ahead of her visit to Israel tonight, Germany’s Angela Merkel is celebrating the 28th anniversary of the reunification of east and west, a process that she says still isn’t complete.

Germany was reunited on October 3, 1990, following more than four decades of Cold War division, and less than a year after communist East Germany opened its heavily fortified border. While much progress has been made since, economic and other differences between east and west still persist.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center and other German officials sit prior to an ecumenical mass at the Berlin Cathedral during the German Unification Day public festival in Berlin, Germany, on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Tobias SCHWARZ)

The country’s leaders are marking the anniversary in a ceremony Wednesday at Berlin’s Staatsoper opera house.

Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, said: “28 years later, we know that what we call German unity is a process, a long road.” She said it’s important for Germans to “listen to each other.”

— AP

Tel Aviv sues to force start of work on Yehudit bridge

The Tel Aviv municipality has petitioned the High Court for an injunction to force workers to begin building the Yehudit pedestrian bridge, according to Hebrew media reports.

Work on the bridge was halted in late August by Transportation Minister Israel Katz after ultra-Orthodox coalition partners complained about construction on the Jewish day of rest.

An artist’s impression of the Yehudit Bridge in Tel Aviv. (NCArchitects)

Planners say construction of the bridge will require the shutdown of Tel Aviv’s busy Ayalon highway for hours at a time, leaving Saturday as the only feasible day to do the work.

In the petition, the city says the ministry has been unresponsive to attempts to find out why work was halted and negotiate a solution.

 

Flake says Trump mocking of Kavanaugh accuser ‘appalling’

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake says US President Donald Trump’s mocking of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was “not right” and “kind of appalling.”

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a rally on October 2, 2018, in Southaven, Mississippi, United States. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

But Flake isn’t saying whether he’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Ford alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. He denies the accusation.

Trump mocked Ford at a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, listing what he described as holes in her account as his audience laughed.

Flake tells NBC’s “Today” show that mocking “something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right.”

Senate Judiciary Committee member Senator Jeff Flake, center, speaks with colleagues after a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 28, 2018,. (AFP/ Brendan Smialowski)

“I wish he hadn’t done it. It’s kind of appalling,” he adds.

Christine Blasey Ford, center, flanked by attorneys Debra Katz, left, and Michael Bromwich, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on September 27,2018. (Tom Williams/AFP)

Flake, who is retiring from the Senate, said last week he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, but then called for an expanded FBI investigation of the accusations, delaying the confirmation timetable.

Flake says he’d be concerned if the FBI only followed up on a few leads.

— AP

NASA to help Israeli firm launch first moon mission

The Israel Space Agency says NASA has signed a deal with the SpaceIL group to help it launch a unmanned rocket at the moon in the coming months, Israel’s first-ever moonshot.

SpaceIL, which is hoping to launch the vehicle in February, says NASA will provide a laser reflector that will help the rocket find a spot to land on the moon, as well as communications assistance.

An illustration of the SpaceIL spacecraft on the moon (Courtesy)

“We all hope our spacecraft is just the first part and there will be more space missions and technological challenges to come,” SpaceIL head Ido Anteby says in a statement.

בדרך לירח חותמים על הסכם! נאס"א וסוכנות החלל הישראלית בשיתוף עמותת SpaceIL חתמו היום על הסכם לשיתוף פעולה במשימת הירח של…

Posted by Israel Space Agency on Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The agreement comes three months after NASA head Jim Bridenstine visited Israel and said he was looking to expand the agency’s relationship with Israel.

Putin says Russia will leave Syria if war ends

President Vladimir Putin says Russian troops will leave Syria when the war is over if the Syrian government asks them to.

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 to back its longtime ally President Bashar Assad, helping the government retake most of the territory held by rebels. Russia currently operates an air base and a naval base in Syria.

The Kremlin has criticized US military involvement in Syria, saying it is not authorized by the United Nations or by the Syrian government.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) takes part in a plenary session of the Russian Energy Week international forum in Moscow on October 3, 2018. (AFP/ Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin)

Speaking at an energy conference in Moscow, Putin says that all foreign troops should leave Syria when hostilities cease.

Asked if Russia would be willing to leave as well, Putin said Russia would withdraw its troops if the Syrian government asks it to.

— AP

Putin says sanctions on Iran ‘illegal’

Russia’s Putin is also backing Iran at an energy conference, saying that proposals to sanction Tehran are “illegal,” according to state-run media.

He says US sanctions on Iran after it pulled out of the nuclear deal will harm the global economy.

The conference is being attended by senior officials from a number of Gulf oil producers who have are rivals of Iran and have sought to boost production in order to squeeze Tehran’s economy.

Two Gazans arrested after crossing into Israel

IDF troops have arrested two Palestinians who crossed into Israeli territory from the northern Gaza Strip, one of them armed with a knife, the army says.

The two men were spotted as they crossed the security fence in northern Gaza.

“The suspects were arrested close to where they crossed [into Israel],” the army says.

They were handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning.

— Judah Ari Gross

Group says North Korea hackers stealing hundreds of millions from banks

North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests have stopped, but its hacking operations to gather intelligence and raise funds for the sanction-strapped government in Pyongyang may be gathering steam.

US security firm FireEye is raising the alarm over a North Korean group that it says has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars by infiltrating the computer systems of banks around the world since 2014 through highly sophisticated and destructive attacks that have spanned at least 11 countries.

It says the group is still operating and poses “an active global threat.”

It is part of a wider pattern of malicious state-backed cyber activity that has led the Trump administration to identify North Korea — along with Russia, Iran and China — as one of the main online threats facing the United States. Last month, the Justice Department charged a North Korean hacker said to have conspired in devastating cyberattacks, including an $81 million heist of Bangladesh’s central bank and the WannaCry virus that crippled parts of Britain’s National Health Service.

— AP

Trump responds to ‘old, boring’ NY Times investigation on tax fraud

US president Donald Trump is responding to a New York Times investigation into alleged tax dodges in his past, calling it “a very old, boring and often told hit piece,” and employing some fuzzy math.

Egypt says 15 terror suspects killed in northern Sinai

Egypt says police have killed 15 suspected terrorists in a shootout in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where they are battling an Islamic State-led insurgency.

The Interior Ministry says the 15 were killed during a raid on their hideout in the city of el-Arish, where they were planning attacks on security forces in the coming days. It says security forces dismantled two explosive devices and seized weapons.

The statement did not say when the raid took place or whether any security forces were killed or wounded.

It wasn’t possible to independently confirm the report as access to the northern Sinai is heavily restricted.

— Agencies

Liberman aide steps down so his mom can help pick next IDF head

A senior aide to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has been forced to step down from his position in order to allow his mother to serve on a vetting committee responsible for approving the next IDF chief of staff and chief of police.

Yisrael Einhorn served as a senior digital media and public opinion adviser to Liberman. There were concerns that Einhorn’s ties to the defense minister could represent a conflict of interest for his mother, Prof. Talia Einhorn, who was tapped to join the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee.

“Defense Minister Liberman told Einhorn that he sadly, but understandably accepts his decision,” Liberman’s office says.

The government was forced to find new members for the vetting committee, which is meant to approve the next IDF chief of staff by year’s end, after two original members were accused of having conflicts of interest.

— Judah Ari Gross

Assad signals Arab states ready to end years of hostility

President Bashar Assad has told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria has reached a “major understanding” with other Arab states after years of hostility over the country’s civil war.

The interview in the Al-Shahed newspaper, published today, is Assad’s first with a Gulf newspaper since the war began in 2011.

He does not name the Arab countries, but says Arab and Western delegations have begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions.

A Syrian child walks past the rubble of destroyed buildings in an opposition-held neighbourhood of the southern city of Daraa on October 2, 2018. (AFP/ Mohamad ABAZEED)

Syria’s membership in the 22-member Arab League was suspended in the early days of the war, and Arab countries later imposed economic sanctions.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported opposition groups fighting to overthrow Assad.

— AP

Group reportedly tried to make fake ad with ‘Rouhani’ backing Texas Democrat

The Daily Beast reports that a conservative group tried to fund an ad that would make it sound like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was endorsing Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.

According to the report, citing an anonymous source, Secure America Now was behind the ad, which was eventually trashed before production was completed.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives to attend the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran on September 22, 2018. (AFP/ STRINGER)

“Hello, I am Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Rouhani was supposed to have said in the ad. “Today, it is my pleasure to endorse Beto O’Rourke for US Senate. As a Congressman, Beto was a strong supporter of President Obama’s Iran Deal—which gave billions of dollars to my country of Iran. This allowed us to donate money to terrorists around the globe. Please support Beto O’Rourke (and Iran) In November.”

Democrat O’Rourke is running against veteran Ted Cruz for the Senate seat and has surprised many with strong polling numbers. Cruz was an outspoken critic of the Iran deal, with O’Rourke has said he backs, with reservations.

Beto O’Rourke, who is running for the US Senate, speaks during the general session at the Texas Democratic Convention June 22, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Secure America Now in the past has run campaigns against the Iran deal, including ads in Florida in 2012 featuring Netanyahu speaking out against the agreement.

Minister reportedly to attend judo tourney in Emirates

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev will likely travel with the national judo team later this month to the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam tournament in the United Arab Emirates, a country which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, Hebrew media reports said Wednesday.

The trip would come a year after Israel was snubbed at the international judo tournament, with Israeli medal-winners not allowed to display their flag or have their national anthem play.

Organizers promised to change the policy earlier this year after an outcry.

Israeli judo chief Moshe Ponte, left, with IJC head Marius Vizer, second left, and two Emirates sports officials meeting in Abu Dhabi on October 28, 2017, (IJF)

Regev’s attendance at the event is contingent upon the necessary security arrangements being made by the Shin Bet intelligence agency and the UAE, according to the Kan public broadcaster, adding she will be joined by Yossi Sharabi, the director-general of her ministry.

In a letter dated October 2 published by the Ynet news site, the president of the International Judo Federation invited Regev to the Abu Dhabi tournament in order to sign an agreement to host the Tel Aviv Grand Prix.

“The International Judo Federation will make all the necessary arrangements for your visit,” Marius Vizer wrote in the letter.

There was no immediate confirmation from Regev on whether she would attend the tournament in Abu Dhabi, which will take place on October 27-29.

 — Alexander Fulbright

Three border blazes sparked by devices launched from Gaza

Since this morning, firefighters have worked to extinguish three blazes near Israeli towns close to the Gaza border, sparked by suspected devices launched from the Strip, a spokesman for the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services says.

Two of the fires are started by arson balloons and one from a kite with an incendiary device attached, the spokesman says.

— Jacob Magid

Main highway to shut as Merkel makes way to Jerusalem

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to arrive in Israel in the next two hours.

Route 1, the main highway linking Ben-Gurion Airport to Jerusalem, will be shut down intermittently as she makes her way to the capital, starting at about 7:30 p.m. Some roads in Jerusalem will also be shut for short periods for her motorcade.

Merkel will be greeted at the airport by minister Tzachi Hanegbi. She is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence for dinner tonight.  Both events will be closed to the press.

France ends West Bank labeling requirement after lawsuit — report

French authorities reportedly have suspended their insistence on special labeling for West Bank products following a lawsuit alleging that the practice is discriminatory.

The France office of Amnesty International complained about the suspension in a statement Wednesday.

“Instead of complying with the request to end imports [from the West Bank], the government has chosen to roll back and suspend the demand for labeling,” the human rights group writes.

Rows of Shiraz grapevines at the Psagot Winery. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

In 2016, the French Economy Ministry’s General Directorate for Competition, Consumption and Fraud Prevention published an advisory circular requiring retailers to use the word “colonies,” French for “settlements,” to specify goods originating in Israeli towns in the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967.

Earlier this year The Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel think tank, initiated a legal action challenging the labeling requirements on behalf of Psagot Winery LTD, an Israeli vineyard whose European distributors are subject to the labeling rules.

In France, the legal action in May prompted the Council of State, which is the government’s legal adviser, to ask the European Court of Justice for its opinion on the legal status of labeling.

— JTA

Gaza says 15-year-old killed during border riot

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says a 15-year-old boy has been killed by Israeli fire during a protest near the Strip’s fence.

According to Gazan media reports, the teen was killed during a protest near the Erez border crossing

There is no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

US ends 1955 ‘amity’ treaty with Iran

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is canceling a 1955 treaty with Iran establishing economic relations and consular rights between the two nations.

The move follows a ruling by the United Nations’ highest court ordering the United States to lift sanctions on Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods.

Iran alleges that the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran violated the so-called Treaty of Amity.

Pompeo tells reporters that the termination of the treaty was decades overdue. He said that Iran was abusing the International Court of Justice for political and propaganda purposes.

He says Iran’s claims under the treaty were “absurd.”

— AP

Pompeo: S-300 delivery to Syria a ‘very serious escalation’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the Russian delivery of the S-300 air defense system is a “very serious escalation,” but refuses to say if the US will respond to the move.

“Having the Russians deliver the S-300 into Syria presents greater risk to all of those in the affected areas, and to stability in the Middle East,” he tells reporters. “We consider this a very serious escalation.”

Two more fires started by arson balloons

Israel’s fire service says two more blazes near the Gaza border have been started by balloons with incendiary devices launched from the Palestinian enclave.

There have been a total of five fires since Wednesday morning, the service says.

— Jacob Magid

Italian jailed for 6 years for racist attack on Africans

A far-right sympathizer who injured six Africans during a violent attack in the central Italian town of Macerata has been sentenced to 12 years in jail, media reports say.

A picture showing a man identified by the Italian police as Luca Traini, who is accused of having shot several people in Macerata, Italy, February 3, 2018. (ANSA via AP)

Luca Traini embarked on his shooting spree on February 4, following the sordid murder of a young Italian woman allegedly at the hands of Nigerian drug dealers.

— AFP

Dutch, Turks look to patch relations after ‘Nazi remnants’ jibe

Turkey’s foreign minister says the country is working with the Netherlands to end diplomatic tensions and that the days when Ankara described Dutch policies as “Nazi remnants” are behind them.

Turkey and the Netherlands reinstated ambassadors last month following a dispute triggered by a Dutch decision to bar Turkish officials from campaigning on Dutch soil for a 2017 referendum on increasing the powers of the president.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the term “Nazi remnants” to criticize the Netherlands.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok says at a joint news conference on Wednesday with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu: “Today is a positive day in relations.”

Cavusoglu insists that Turkey never accused the Dutch people of being “Nazis.”

“As we agreed, we left those days behind,” he says.

— AP

Netanyahu expected to order secret papers be sealed until 2038 — report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign an order extending the classification period for top-secret documents from 70 years to 90 years, Haaretz reports.

The move comes after Israeli security agencies lobbied the prime minister out of fears revelations from the documents could harm security interests, according to the report.

The first documents of the most secretive nature are set to be released this year, 70 years after the country’s founding. Less secretive documents are generally released after 15 to 30 years.

Some of the info that will now not be released includes documents about secret military programs currently in the hands of the Shin Bet and the Mossad, according to the report.

Of particular interest to historians is information on Deir Yassin, where Israeli soldiers are alleged to have massacred Palestinian villagers in 1948. If Netanyahu signs the order, documents pertaining to military operations in the Jerusalem area village would remain sealed until 2038.

Merkel lands, on way to Jerusalem

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has landed at Ben Gurion Airport and is making her way to Jerusalem, with Route 1 closed to traffic.

There is tight security around the King David Hotel, where world leaders stay on visits to the city, with streets closed off, police manning barricades and a helicopter circling overhead.

Merkel is scheduled to have dinner with Netanyahu later tonight to kick off her one-day trip.

Talks are expected to center around the Iran nuclear deal, talks with the Palestinians and the fate of West Bank village Khan al-Ahmar, which Israel is expected to evacuate and raze after Merkel’s visit.

US to pull out of convention to block Iran, Palestinians from suing them at ICJ

Officials tell The Associated Press that the Trump administration will withdraw from an amendment to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that Iran or others, notably the Palestinians, could use to sue the US at The Hague-based International Court of Justice.

A White House announcement is expected.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier that the US was withdrawing from the 1955 Treaty of Amity after Iran “groundlessly” brought a complaint with the ICJ challenging US sanctions on the basis that they were a violation of the treaty.

The ICJ accepted Iran’s argument earlier in the day, though Washington has insisted it will continue with sanctions.

— AP

Germany speaks out against Iran missile program

German foreign minister Heiko Maas is speaking out against Iran’s ballistic missile program after meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“We agree, that the ballistics programme in #Iran cannot be continued. The role of Iran in the region is a problematic one,” he writes on Twitter.

The statement comes as German leader Angela Merkel arrives in Israel for a one-day visit.

On Tuesday, France’s defense minister also spoke out against Iran’s missile program during a joint press conference with US defense chief Jim Mattis.

US pulling out of part of Vienna treaty to stymie Palestinian legal action

US national security adviser John Bolton says Washington is withdrawing from an amendment to the Vienna Convention in order to keep the Palestinians from suing them in the Hague.

The decision “is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the US as a defendant challenging the move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he says at a White House press conference

He says the US will remain party to the underlying Vienna treaty.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on October 3, 2018. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

He also says the US will review all international agreements that could still expose the US to ICJ resolutions.

“The US will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” he says.

Bolton calls Israeli intel on secret Tehran nuke site ‘extremely impressive’

Bolton defends using “so-called Palestinian state,” saying that Palestine does not meet the test of statehood, but backing the idea of a Palestinian state.

“It’s accurate, it’s not a state,” he says.

“It could become a state, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others,” he adds.

He also backs Netanyahu’s revelation of an alleged secret Iranian nuclear facility in Tehran, saying the US has been reviewing the intel.

“I must say it’s extremely impressive.”

“We’ve been very supportive of the Israeli effort,” he says.

Suspected pipe bomb thrown at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethelehem

Police say there are no injuries after a suspected pipe bomb was thrown at the Bethlehem compound housing Rachel’s Tomb.

Police say sappers were called to deal with the device, which was thrown from the Palestinian side of a fence separating the heavily guarded Jewish shrine from the rest of the West Bank city.

Israeli aid sent to help quake-hit Indonesia — report

A day after The Times of Israel reported that Israel had not offered aid to quake and tsunami-hit Indonesia, despite regularly sending help to countries with which it has no relations, the Kan state broadcaster reports that Israel is sending help to the disaster-struck area.

According to the report, Israel has sent water purification devices to Sulawesi, the hard-hit island where over a thousand people have been killed and where the UN says hundreds of thousands more are in desperate need of aid.

Much aid has been slow to reach the area, with much of it only arriving now, five days after the quake hit.

The Israeli help was sent via the Red Cross, since Jerusalem does not have formal ties with Jakarta, according to the report.

It also says an Israeli aid team is set to be dispatched there.

There is no official confirmation from Israeli officials. The Israeli Foreign Ministry refuses to comment on the report.

— With Raphael Ahren and AP

 

Army says it used live fire on Gazans protesting on border

The IDF is declining to comment on the reported killing of a 15-year-old Gazan by Israeli fire during border unrest.

However, an army spokesperson says soldiers had “fired live rounds in accordance with the rules of engagement” as protesters massed along the border.

— AFP

Iran calls US ‘outlaw regime’ for pulling out of amity treaty

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed the United States as an “outlaw regime,” after Washington said it was withdrawing from a 1955 accord with Tehran following a court ruling.

“Today US withdrew from an actual US-Iran treaty after the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ordered it to stop violating that treaty in sanctioning Iranian people. Outlaw regime,” Zarif writes on Twitter.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is terminating a 1955 treaty between the two countries after the UN’s top court ruled against Washington’s sanctions policy towards Tehran, in a case which referred to the decades-old accord.

— AFP

Guards shoot at intruder near US home of wanted Turkish cleric

A security guard at the Pennsylvania compound of a Turkish-born Muslim cleric has fired a shot near an “unwanted person” outside the gate, state police say.

The suspected intruder fled the scene, and troopers were unable to find him.

Police were called to Fethullah Gulen’s longtime home in the Pocono Mountains after a security guard fired a “warning shot in the air” around 8:30 a.m., according to a statement from the New York-based Alliance for Shared Values, a group that promotes Gulen’s philosophies.

The man, “who appeared to be armed, attempted to enter the retreat center,” and the guard responded by firing the shot, the statement says. No injuries were reported.

State police say they are continuing to investigate.

–AP

Presidential alert tests get US buzzing

Millions of US phones have just gotten a “Presidential Alert” as the Federal Emergency Management Agency conducts a test.

It is the first test of the national wireless emergency system by FEMA. The message is being broadcast by cell towers for 30 minutes, so it’s possible some people may get it at a different time.

The alerts are set to sound as long as the device is turned on — even if it’s on mute or do not disturb, and it may also appear on smart watches, officials said.

The use of the name “Presidential Alert,” would be used only in a nationwide emergency, has many on social media using it to poke fun at Trump.

 

— with AP

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US pulling out of part of Vienna treaty to stymie Palestinian legal action

US national security adviser John Bolton says Washington is withdrawing from an amendment to the Vienna Convention in order to keep the Palestinians from suing them in the Hague.

The decision “is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the US as a defendant challenging the move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he says at a White House press conference

He says the US will remain party to the underlying Vienna treaty.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during a briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on October 3, 2018. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

He also says the US will review all international agreements that could still expose the US to ICJ resolutions.

“The US will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” he says.