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Cop lightly hurt in clashes with Yitzhar settlers

Police say youths threw rocks, paint canisters at officers during operation in settlement aimed at snagging Israeli barred from West Bank

People block a road during a police operation in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on November 10, 2019. (Screen Capture: Ynet)
People block a road during a police operation in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on November 10, 2019. (Screen Capture: Ynet)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

King Abdullah: Jordan imposing ‘full sovereignty on every inch’ of border lands

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s king announces “full sovereignty” over two pieces of land leased by Israel, ending a 25-year arrangement spelled out in the countries’ landmark peace agreement.

King Abdullah II says in a speech to the government’s new Cabinet on Sunday that Jordan would end the “annex of the two areas, Ghumar and Al-Baqoura, in the peace treaty and impose our full sovereignty on every inch of them.”

Israel, which has controlled the lands for over 70 years, had been permitted to lease the areas, called Naharayim and Tzofar in Hebrew, under the 1994 peace agreement. One of the areas, a popular visitors’ site in northern Israel, is known as the “Isle of Peace.”

But with relations cool, Abdullah announced last October that he would end the not renew the lease when it expired today.

— with AP

Iran begins building 2nd nuclear power reactor at Bushehr

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s state TV is reporting that construction has begun on a second nuclear power reactor at its Bushehr plant amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

Authorities began pouring concrete for the base of the reactortoday in the presence of journalists in Bushehr, some 700 kilometers (440 miles) south from Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Bushehr relies on 4.5% enriched uranium, which Iran is producing in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal. That violation and others come after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord over a year ago.

Bushehr’s first reactor came online in 2011 with the help of Russia. This new reactor similarly will be built with Russian help.

— AP

Liberman to meet Rivlin Wednesday after ultimatum to Gantz, Netanyahu

Amid Israel’s ongoing political deadlock, Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman has requested a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, a statement from the President’s Residence says.

The two will meet on Wednesday at lunchtime, according to the statement.

With neither Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu nor Blue and White head Benny Gantz able to form a government without Yisrael Beytenu, Liberman called yesterday for the two to compromise on assembling a coalition, saying he would back whoever does not reject his conditions.

Liberman, who campaigned on forcing a national unity government if Blue and White or Likud couldn’t form a government without him, said Netanyahu should ditch his negotiating bloc of right-wing and religious parties and Gantz should accept a framework that would see the incumbent premier take an open-ended leave of absence to fight pending corruption charges.

Proposing the idea in September, Rivlin has implied, but did not specify, that Netanyahu would take an indefinite furlough if indicted in or more of the cases he faces charges in. Under the arrangement, Gantz, as “interim prime minister,” would enjoy all prime minister authority.

Rivlin tasked Gantz last month with forming a government, after Netanyahu was unable to do so after being tapped after the September 17 elections.

President Reuven Rivlin, left, and then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman at a ceremony for outstanding soldiers held as part of Israel’s 69th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. May 2, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Despite end of lease, IDF says it’s still guarding farmers in Jordan enclave

The Israel Defense Forces says it’s continuing to provide security to farmers at the Tzofar enclave on the Jordan border, despite the expiration of the lease granting Israelis access to the land.

“In continuation of the deliberation on the diplomatic arrangements in the Tzofar enclave, security forces are protecting the area and working together with the community,” the IDF says in a statement.

“The farmers’ work at the enclave is continuing subject to agreements and coordination,” it adds, without elaborating.

Over 80 Jewish graves desecrated at Denmark cemetery

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Vandals desecrated more than 80 graves at a Jewish cemetery in the western Danish town of Randers, police say.

“More than 80 gravestones were daubed with green graffiti and some were overturned” at the Ostre Kirkegard cemetery, a statement says.

“There are no symbols or words written on the gravestones but paint has been daubed on them,” the Ritzau news agency quotes police spokesman Bo Christensen as saying.

Police say a complaint had been made yesterday but they did not know when the vandalism had occurred.

The Randers burial ground dates back to the early 19th century when the town’s 200-strong Jewish community was Denmark’s largest outside the capital Copenhagen, which is today home to most of the country’s 6,000 Jews.

Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue was targeted in a 2015 shooting which saw one security officer killed after an earlier attack on a conference on freedom of expression also left one person dead.

Five police were injured in the twin attacks which saw police gun down 22-year-old perpetrator Omar El-Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin.

— AFP

Jordan letting Israelis harvest crop in Tzofar before taking it back: state-funded TV

Jordan will allow Israeli farmers to harvest what they have planted in Tzofar “before the handing over of the Tzofar annex”, an unnamed source in the Jordanian Foreign Ministry tells Al Mamlaka TV, a state-funded channel.

Jordan will permit the farmers to do so “in accordance with Jordanian laws and by way of visas from the Jordanian Embassy in Tel Aviv.”

— Adam Rasgon

Blue and White MK requests emergency Knesset meeting on Jordan border lands

Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser has filed a request for the Knesset to hold an emergency meeting on the return of two border enclaves leased by Israel to Jordan.

“Something incomprehensible is happening here on the watch of the ‘so-called right-wing’ government,” Hauser says in a video statement. “This day, in which Israel is leaving Naharayim and Tzofar, will be remembered as a stain in the history of this government.”

Hauser, a former cabinet minister under Netanyahu and member of the hawkish Telem faction of Blue and White, accuses the government of not having fought sufficiently to retain access to the lands.

“The strategic interests of Israel are dissipating before our eyes,” he says. “Even the farmers who work the land… no one spoke with them.”

Telem chief Moshe Ya’alon also weighs in on the expiration of the leases, writing on Twitter that is a “low point” in Israel-Jordan ties.

Zvi Hauser of the Blue and White party at the Knesset on May 6, 2019 (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

On anniversary of Rabin’s murder, Rivlin warns of ‘violent’ political climate

State memorial events are being held to commemorate the Hebrew-calendar anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin 24 years ago, with President Reuven Rivlin warning that the current political discourse was getting too similar to the climate that preceded the murder.

“The days before Rabin’s murder were days of intense and legitimate public debate, that descended in some cases to criminal incitement and defamation that motivated the murderer to try and assassinate Israeli democracy,” Rivlin says at an event at his official residence.

“Can a political murder happen today as well? I don’t know,” the president adds. “The political culture from left and right is full of alienation, with rifts replacing discussion and debate. Political discourse can’t be done with violence.”

Dalia Rabin, the former leader’s daughter, decries a professor’s recent claim that Yigal Amir wasn’t the real murderer, highlighting a phenomenon in which many Israelis don’t believe that the actual culprit was the Jewish extremist, who was filmed shooting Rabin, confessed to the act and has never recanted his testimony.

“We, who were left to fight the battle of preserving [Rabin’s] legacy, stand before a complex reality that makes it very difficult,” Dalia Rabin says. “A third of the country believe a conspiracy, a fifth say out loud that the murderer’s conviction is flawed. Something is definitely flawed.”

— Michael Bachner

President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a memorial ceremony commemorating the anniversary of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, at his official residence in Jerusalem, October 21, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At Rabin memorial, Netanyahu denies being silent when late PM was called traitor

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes out on the defensive at the state memorial ceremony for prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, pushing back on allegations he did not speak out forcibly enough against right-wing criticism ahead of the late premier’s assassination.

“In the years since the murder I’ve heard the false claim that when a fanatical member of the [national] camp who opposed Oslo called Rabin a traitor, I stood on the side, was silent and even supportive. I’ve heard this at almost every memorial but this lie which has been repeated many times doesn’t become the truth,” Netanyahu says at the ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery.

Speaking before Netanyahu, President Rivlin warned of the potential for renewed political violence.

“The fear of another political murder, and the hope this murder won’t happen, does not belong to one camp or another. This is a shared fear by all of us,” the president says.

Rabin grandson contrasts Netanyahu’s refusal to step down with late PM’s resignation in 1970s

Yitzhak Rabin’s grandson issues strong criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu at a ceremony marking the Hebrew anniversary of the late premier’s assassination.

Yonatan Ben-Artzi contrasts Netanyahu’s refusal to step down ahead of his expected indictment on corruption charges to Rabin’s resignation as prime minister in 1977 after it emerged he and his wife had foreign bank accounts, something illegal under Israeli law at the time.

“Despite the historic opportunity to continue to lead Israel forward and despite [Rabin] believing with all his heart he was the right man to lead, he decided to take personal responsibility and give up his spot… for the sake of Israeli democracy,” Ben-Artzi says.

“This is the time to take responsibility, to give a personal example. Many years of governing have caused you to forget what it is to be human — take responsibility for your actions. If there is a stain attached to you, move aside, leave your position.”

State witness shouts at judge, storms out of hearing on removing gag order

State witness Nir Hefetz angrily storms out of a court hearing on whether to remove a gag order on details from police’s investigation of him.

“You’re spilling my blood,” Hefetz shouts at the Tel Aviv District Court judge for permitting an open hearing. “This is a scandal.”

Hefetz, a former aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, is a key suspect in Case 4000, which involves suspicions the premier pushed regulations benefiting Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in exchange for positive coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site.

At the Knesset last week, Likud Justice Minister Amir Ohana violated the gag order in a speech railing against what he was police misconduct in leaning on Hefetz to testify against Netanyahu, revealing details of alleged illegitimate pressure tactics used by investigators that had been sealed by a court.

Ohana described how investigators called in a woman who was not directly connected to Case 4000 for questioning, asked her “invasive and intrusive” questions about her relationship with Hefetz, then engineered an “accidental” meeting between the woman and Hefetz in the hallway.

Hefetz is reportedly threatening to sue Ohana and Netanyahu’s son Yair, who tweeted further details shortly after the speech.

Nir Hefetz arrives for a hearing at the Tel Aviv District on November 10, 2019. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Shas leader: With ultimatum, Liberman edged closer to ‘abyss’

The head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party says Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman has inched closer to the “abyss” after his ultimatum to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz last night.

“Yesterday something significant happened in Israel. Avigdor Liberman took another step toward toward his political and moral abyss and clearly declared he would prefer to sit with the members of the Joint List led by Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi — whom he has called a ‘fifth column’ and ‘terrorists’ — and not with us, his brothers and sisters, the traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox public,” Aryeh Deri writes on Facebook.

Aryeh Deri (left), leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, seen with head of the Yisrael Beytenu political party Avigdor Liberman at the “Sheva Brachot” of Deri’s daughter, December 23, 2015. (Yaacov Cohen/Flash90)

Deri says Liberman is being driven by a “personal hatred” of Netanyahu, “causing him to completely stray from his path and to cooperate with those who for years he worked against.”

He adds: “We won’t be silent and won’t accept the ruling out and boycotting of a humongous community in the country just because of its faith and way of life.”

Liberman and Deri were previously considered close but have since had a falling out over issues of religion and state.

In a TV interview, Liberman called on Netanyahu and Gantz to compromise on their negotiating positions and form a unity government, saying he would clear the way for whichever of them doesn’t reject his conditions to assemble a “narrow” coalition, without spelling out what this means.

IDF chief phones new defense minister, says will work together against ‘shared challenges’

IDF Chief Aviv Kohavi speaks with newly named Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, wishing him luck in combating the security challenges facing the country, the army says.

“I will do all I can so that we succeed together in advancing the security goals of the State of Israel and so that we will together overcome the shared challenges facing us,” Kohavi tells Bennett in a phone call.

According to the IDF, Bennett tells the army chief that he has “faith in the IDF and its commanders, with [Kohavi] at its head.”

“We must be prepared [to respond] immediately to every scenario in the region. I am here to assist, to serve and to help,” Bennett says.

— Judah Ari Gross

Liberman questions leadership skills of Netanyahu, Gantz

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman is calling into question the leadership qualities of Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chief Benny Gantz, after serving them an ultimatum to form a unity government.

“Netanyahu’s slander and accusations against me and others, as well as his inability to make one simple decision to part from the ultra-Orthodox-messianic bloc, raise a giant question mark concerning his leadership skills and the considerations that guide him,” Liberman writes on Facebook.

He adds: “The continued evasion of a decision on accepting the president’s proposal by Benny Ganz also raises tough questions concerning [his] leadership and decision-making ability in a critical period.”

Liberman says he remains committed to the establishment of a liberal unity government and warns that most Israelis are opposed to third elections.

“My expectation, from both Likud and Blue and White, is a clear answer as quickly as possible,” he says.

Netanyahu denounces ‘political attack’ on him at Rabin memorial, blames Blue and White

Prime Minister Netanyahu denounces the “political attack” against him at the official memorial marking the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which he accuses the rival Blue and White party of setting the stage for.

“Unfortunately this year too there were those who decided to take advantage of the official state memorial to carry out a callous and shameful political attack that more than anything harms the memory of Yitzhak Rabin. This happened after the rally at Rabin Square [in Tel Aviv] this year turned into a Blue and White rally,” he says.

Turning to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, Netanyahu says, “I would expect to speak there not only about hate, hate, hate but also unity, unity, unity.”

Netanyahu does not specify who he felt took advantage of the ceremony, but his remarks appeared aimed at Rabin’s grandson Yonatan Ben-Artzi, who said that the PM, facing legal problems, should step aside.

Foreign Ministry ‘regrets’ return of border lands to Jordan

The Foreign Ministry expresses regret over the return of the Naharayim and Tzofar border enclaves to Jordan after the expiration of Israel’s 25-year lease to the lands.

“Israel regrets the Jordanian decision to bring these special arrangements to an end,” it says in a statement.

At Naharayim in the Jordan Valley, the ministry says Jordan will continue to respect Israeli private property rights there, “as stipulated in the peace agreement between the countries.

“Concerning Tzofar, the Jordanian government will allow Israeli farmers to harvest what they planted in the enclave, before the expiration of the special arrangements.”

A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border shows Jordanian soldiers raising the national flag ahead of a ceremony at the Jordan Valley site of Naharayim, November 10, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

State witness in Netanyahu graft cases: ‘My entire testimony was true’

State witness Nir Hefetz defends his testimony in graft cases implicating Prime Minister Netanyahu amid allegations of police misconduct in investigating him and claims of inconsistencies in his testimony.

“My entire testimony was true,” Hefetz tells reporters at the court. “I’m convinced that if we go to court, my testimony will be determined to be true.”

He also says he’s not in anyway opposed to Netanyahu.

“I’m not against anyone, the opposite, definitely not against the prime minister who I worked with many years. With this, I signed an agreement with the State of Israel in 2018, that tells the truth,” he says.

Nir Hefetz speaks with reporters at the Tel Aviv District Court on November 10, 2019. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Top US general says 500-600 American troops to stay in Syria

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says about 500 or 600 US troops will remain in Syria to counter Islamic State fighters.

US President Donald Trump recently approved an expanded military mission to secure oil fields across eastern Syria. His decision locked hundreds of US troops into a more complicated presence in Syria despite his pledge to bring them home.

Gen. Mark Milley tells ABC’s “This Week” that pressure must be maintained on IS fighters still in the region.

It’s unclear whether Milley’s prediction of keeping 500 to 600 American troops there includes the roughly 200 who are at the al-Tanf garrison in southern Syria.

— AP

In this photo from October 26. 2019, a US military vehicle drives south of the northeastern city of Qamishli, likely heading to the oil-rich Deir el-Zour area where there are oil fields, or possibly to another base nearby, as it passes by a poster showing Syrain President Bashar Assad. (AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

Policeman lightly injured in clashes with Yitzhar settlers

A policeman is lightly injured as officers clash with residents of the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank.

Police say during an operation in the settlement, a number of youths threw rocks and paint bottles at the officers. The injured officer was hit in the leg by a rock, while police and firefighting vehicles were damaged.

“Security forces are operating there to restore order,” police say.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, officers were surrounding a home in which Neria Zarog, who under an administrative order is currently barred from entering the West Bank, is located.

Yitzhar, considered one of the most hardline settlements, has been linked to numerous recent cases of suspected settler violence against security forces.

5 Italian soldiers wounded by roadside explosion in Iraq

ROME — A roadside blast wounded five Italian Special Forces soldiers in northern Iraq today as they were on a training mission to assist Iraqi troops, Italian military officials say.

The Italian Defense Ministry says three of the wounded were in “grave condition” in the explosion. An Iraqi security official says the bomb exploded next to their vehicle as they were traveling just outside Kirkuk, wounding six Italian soldiers.

The discrepancy in the number of wounded isn’t immediately explained. The wounded were evacuated by US military helicopters to hospital in Baghdad.

One Italian soldier lost a leg to amputation due to injuries from the bomb and another suffered serious internal injuries, Italian Gen. Nicola Lanza de Cristoforis tells state TV.

The defense ministry says the soldiers are part of a special forces team who are carrying out the “mentoring and training” of Iraqi armed forces involved in the fight against Islamic State group.

Iraq declared victory against IS two years ago, but the group continues to stage insurgent-type attacks across the country, particularly in northern Iraq.

Currently, Italy has about 800 regular soldiers and 80 special forces in Iraq.

— AP

UAE official says diplomatic efforts needed for deal with Iran

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A top UAE official says Arab Gulf states should take part in “collective diplomacy” to reach an agreement with Iran amid increased tensions between Washington and Tehran.

UAE State Minister of Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash’s comments today come following a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Tehran. Iran denies the allegations.

Animosity between the Islamic Republic and the United States has soared since President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

“When it comes to dealing with Iran, we should not fall for the false choice between war on the one hand or a flawed [nuclear deal] on the other,” Gargash says.

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs talks to the media during a press conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, June 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

“This moment requires a renewed, robust and realistic diplomatic effort to reach a more sustainable agreement,” Gargash tells a political conference in Abu Dhabi.

Gargash says escalation serves no one.

“We strongly believe that there is room for collective diplomacy to succeed,” he says, adding that talks with Iran should involve the international community as well as Arab Gulf states.

“Gulf states would need to be at the negotiating table,” he says.

A “meaningful political process” was needed, he says.

“For such a process to work, it is essential that the international community is on the same page, especially the US and the EU, as well as the Arab Gulf states.”

A US-led naval coalition officially launched operations in Bahrain Thursday to protect shipping in the troubled waters of the Gulf after a string of attacks that Washington and its allies blamed on Iran.

— AFP

Amid Yitzhar clashes, Netanyahu says security forces mustn’t be interfered with

Amid clashes between police and residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for an end to violence against security forces.

“The IDF soldiers and Border Police forces, who protect all of us, must be allowed to do their jobs,” Netanyahu says in a statement, without mentioning who is interfering with security forces. “We won’t tolerate violations of the law.”

3rd round of elections would only prolong political stasis — poll

With the ongoing coalition deadlock increasingly raising the possibility of fresh elections, a television poll forecasts another round of voting would only further prolong Israel’s political stalemate.

If elections were held today, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party would win 35 seats, up two from its current tally, while Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud would pick up 34 seats, two more than it now has, according to a Channel 13 survey.

The Joint List, a slate of four predominantly Arab parties, would receive 13 seats, the same as it now has, while coalition kingmaker Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu would grow by a seat to nine.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties would get six seats a piece, down from the nine and seven seats, respectively. Both parties have finished ahead of final poll results in the recent elections.

The center-left Labor-Gesher would drop a seat to five, while the left-wing Democratic Camp would fall from five to four seats.

New Right and Jewish Home-National Union, which ran in the last elections on the joint Yamina slate, would get four seats each. Together, that would be one more seat Yamina received in the September 17 elections.

Asked who they would blame if a third round of elections in less than a year is held, 41 percent of respondents say Netanyahu, 31% Liberman, 7% Gantz, 6% say none of the above and 15% don’t know.

The survey, conducted by pollster Camil Fuchs, included 704 respondents. It has a 4.1% margin of error

Video shows cops trying to cut loose settler who chained himself to home

Video on social media appears to show police trying to cut loose an Israeli who chained himself to a home in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.

Police entered Yitzhar this evening to nab Neria Zarog, a resident of a nearby outpost who is currently barred from entering the West Bank, prompting clashes with locals.

In memoir, Nikki Haley alleges disloyalty among some on Trump team

NEW YORK — US President Donald Trump’s former UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, alleges in her upcoming memoir that two top administration officials tried to enlist her in opposing some of Trump’s policies.

Haley writes that then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson and then-White House chief of staff John Kelly were following a “dangerous path.”

In her book, “With All Due Respect,” Haley describes a meeting with Tillerson and Kelly, both of whom had differed with Trump on pulling out of the Paris climate accords and other decisions.

Haley writes that Tillerson and Kelly believed they were trying to “save the country,” but she remembers thinking they were only trying to impose their own beliefs.

“I was shocked,” she writes.

Haley’s book comes out Tuesday. The Associated Press purchased an early copy.

— AP

Then-US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meets with President Reuven Rivlin, not seen, at his official residence in Jerusalem on June 7, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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Live updates (closed)

Video shows cops trying to cut loose settler who chained himself to home

Video on social media appears to show police trying to cut loose an Israeli who chained himself to a home in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.

Police entered Yitzhar this evening to nab Neria Zarog, a resident of a nearby outpost who is currently barred from entering the West Bank, prompting clashes with locals.