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ADL: Abbas’s remarks ‘reminiscent’ of anti-Semitic stereotypes

Netanyahu slams ‘blood libel’ after Palestinian leader, addressing EU, cites hoax that rabbis were urging poisoning of Palestinian wells

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

  • European Parliament President Martin Schulz (R) arrives with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 23, 2016.  (AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS)
    European Parliament President Martin Schulz (R) arrives with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 23, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS)
  • Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking at a memorial for fallen Defense Ministry employees on May 9, 2016. (Dana Shragai/Defense Ministry)
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking at a memorial for fallen Defense Ministry employees on May 9, 2016. (Dana Shragai/Defense Ministry)
  • German special police stand in front of the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2015. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)
    German special police stand in front of the main train station in Munich, southern Germany, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 2015. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)
  • Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a press conference after a session of the EU Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin speaks at a press conference after a session of the EU Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)
  • European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmud Abbas (L) address the media after a meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)
    European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmud Abbas (L) address the media after a meeting at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)
  • A non-British EU citizen, unable to vote in the EU referendum, poses wearing an EU-flag themed t-shirt outside the polling station at Greenwich Heritage Centre in London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum to vote on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU).
(AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI)
    A non-British EU citizen, unable to vote in the EU referendum, poses wearing an EU-flag themed t-shirt outside the polling station at Greenwich Heritage Centre in London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum to vote on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU). (AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s developments as they unfolded.

Israel fomenting terror, Abbas tells EU

In Brussels, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeals to the European Union for help in ending Israel’s control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“You are our friends, help us,” Abbas says to EU lawmakers on Thursday. He says that “Israel has turned our country into an open-air prison.”

Abbas says Israeli control was only encouraging extremists and fomenting terrorism.

To the applause of lawmakers he says: “Why is international law not being applied in the case of Israel?”

He also backs the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, pending a full Israeli withdrawal.

“If Israel wanted peace with its Arab neighbors, it must end its control over our people and home country first by withdrawing from our lands and acknowledging the rights of our people, which also has a significant interest for Israel as it would be possible then to apply the Arab Peace Initiative in accordance with the Beirut conference of 2002,” Abbas says, according to the Ma’an News Agency.

Earlier, Abbas rejected a suggested meeting with President Reuven Rivlin in Brussels.

Later Thursday, Rivlin was meeting with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

AP, Times of Israel staff

Democrats hail sit-in on gun control as success

Democrats say their sit-in on guns succeeded even though they did not get the two votes they were seeking.

At a 3:30 a.m. news conference Thursday, Democrats say their efforts raised awareness of the issue around the world, and they vow to keep up the fight.

Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who led the protest, says Democrats “crossed one bridge,” but says, “We have other bridges to cross.”

Lewis says Democrats “made a down payment on ending gun violence” in America, while Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts says, “We had a victory for democracy. We stood up to the special interests.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Democrats “have changed the dynamic of what happens” on guns.

AP

This photo provided by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., shows Democrat members of Congress, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., left, participate in sit-down protest seeking a a vote on gun control measures, Wednesday, June 22, 2016, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Rep. John Yarmuth via AP)

This photo provided by Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., shows Democrat members of Congress, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., center, and Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., left, participate in sit-down protest seeking a a vote on gun control measures, Wednesday, June 22, 2016, on the floor of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Rep. John Yarmuth via AP)

Suspect in killing of UK lawmaker to face trial in autumn

The man charged with murdering British lawmaker Jo Cox is expected to face trial in the autumn.

Thomas Mair, 52, appears in the Old Bailey court Thursday via video-link from a high-security prison.

He is accused of murder and other crimes related to the death of Cox, 41, and serious injury caused to an elderly man.

The trial is tentatively set to start in mid-November, with the next hearing in September.

Mair has not yet entered a plea.

Murdered British Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

Murdered British Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

At his first hearing, Mair gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” A psychiatric report was ordered after that statement.

He confirms his name during the video proceedings Thursday.

Cox was stabbed and shot to death before a meeting with constituents last week.

AP

Thomas Mair (YouTube screenshot)

Thomas Mair (YouTube screenshot)

New EU referendum poll puts ‘Remain’ narrowly ahead

The campaign to keep Britain in the European Union has a narrow lead, according to a new opinion poll released Thursday as Britons vote in a tight referendum.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard newspaper puts “Remain” on 52 percent and “Leave” on 48 percent, sending the pound soaring against the dollar.

Polling was carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday.

AFP

Pro-EU supporters hold placards and banners during a 'Yes to Europe' rally in London's Trafalgar square, ahead of Thursday's EU referendum, in central London on June 21, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Niklas HALLE'N)

Pro-EU supporters hold placards and banners during a ‘Yes to Europe’ rally in London’s Trafalgar square, ahead of Thursday’s EU referendum, in central London on June 21, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / Niklas HALLE’N)

EU foreign policy chief says working ‘day and night’ on peace

In a joint press conference with Rivlin, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says the European Union is working “day and night” with the Quartet, with Arab countries, and with both the Israelis and Palestinians to kick-start peace talks.

“We are convinced that we can be friends of Israel and friends of Palestine and this allows us to be build-bridgers,” she says.

Mogherini says Europe is working “to operationalize the Arab Peace Initiative.”

She begins her meeting with Rivlin.

Netanyahu holds live Facebook Q&A

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now answering questions posted on his Facebook profile.

Netanyahu posts a live-stream (in Hebrew) video of him answering questions on everything from terrorism to whether he prefers “Friends” over “Seinfeld” (answer: the History Channel). He says there is a steep decline in terror attacks, thanks to the efforts of the Israeli authorities, but it’s a “constant challenge.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu answers questions live on his Facebook page. June 23, 2016 (screen capture: Facebook video)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu answers questions live on his Facebook page. June 23, 2016 (screen capture: Facebook video)

Erdogan suggests UK-style referendum on Turkey EU bid

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the first time suggests Turkey could hold a referendum over whether to continue its long-stalled bid to join the European Union.

Angrily lashing out at the bloc’s treatment of Ankara, Erdogan says Turkey could hold a referendum along the lines of the plebiscite in Britain, where voters are deciding Thursday whether to stay in the European Union or leave.

“We can stand up and ask the people just like the British are doing,” Erdogan says late Wednesday at a speech in Istanbul, quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We would ask ‘Do we continue the negotiations with the European Union or do we end it?’ If the people say ‘continue,’ then we would carry on,” Erdogan says.

He had previously insisted on repeated occasions that full EU membership was Turkey’s strategic aim.

AFP

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at the end of 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, Summit in Istanbul, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference at the end of 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, Summit in Istanbul, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

In Scotland, voters back EU with an eye on ‘Scoxit’

In sunny Glasgow, many voters say they want Britain to stay in the European Union Thursday but are well aware that an overall Brexit result could lead to Scottish independence.

“Being in the EU is an advantage for Scotland. It would be silly to leave,” says Gemma Rosaria, a 24-year-old office worker, arriving to vote in the EU referendum in the Broomhouse area of east Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city.

“I don’t want a Brexit but if there’s a Brexit that could be an advantage for Scotland because we can have a new referendum,” says Rosaria, adding that she had voted for independence in 2014.

Scotland’s independence bid, led by the Scottish National Party (SNP), was thwarted in that vote, which unionists won by 55 percent to 45 percent.

AFP

A non-British EU citizen, unable to vote in the EU referendum, poses wearing an EU-flag themed t-shirt outside the polling station at Greenwich Heritage Centre in London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum to vote on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU). (AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI)

A non-British EU citizen, unable to vote in the EU referendum, poses wearing an EU-flag themed t-shirt outside the polling station at Greenwich Heritage Centre in London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum to vote on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU).
(AFP PHOTO / DANIEL SORABJI)

Court exonerates 4 cops in alleged prison torture

The Beersheba District Court exonerates four Israeli policemen in a case that alleged torture of an Ethiopian Israeli prisoner.

Among the allegations, the policemen were accused of pouring boiling water on the prisoner during an interrogation.

But the court finds the prisoner’s testimony contradictory and unreliable and clears the police officers of any wrongdoing.

Israelis back police in secret dossier on MKs — poll

A Knesset Channel poll finds Israelis are largely unconcerned about a secret police document, leaked this week, that reportedly contains suspicions of criminal conduct by dozens of Knesset members.

Some 65 percent of respondents say it’s “not problematic” for police to be compiling the sensitive information on public servants (26% say it is), and 61% say police don’t need to publicize the names of the lawmakers listed in the dossier.

Chief of Police Roni Alsheich at the welcoming ceremony held in his honor, at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, on December 03, 2015. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Chief of Police Roni Alsheich at the welcoming ceremony held in his honor, at the National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem, on December 03, 2015. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

Rivlin ‘sorry’ about ‘strange’ Abbas snub

In Brussels, Rivlin says “Israel’s relationship with the EU is strong and vibrant.”

“Israel and the EU are bound together by many, many ties,” he says.

The president urges direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

“Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians is a great tragedy and it is our responsibility, and our will, to build bridges of trust between the two peoples,” he says. “Even if we cannot reach a lasting agreement at this moment, we must be active and build more trust between all sides.”

“Direct talks is the only possible way to build trust” and “there are no shortcuts, nor detours in the Middle East,” he adds.

“On a personal level, I must say that I find it strange that President Mahmoud Abbas, my friend Abu Mazen, refused again and again to meet with Israeli leaders and turns again and again to the support of the international community. We can talk. We can talk directly in a way to build confidence,” Rivlin says.

President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

President Reuven Rivlin delivers a speech at the European Union Parliament in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP Photo/John Thys)

He hails the initiative to organize a meeting between him and Abbas in Brussels.

“I was very sorry to learn he rejected such a meeting,” adds Rivlin.

The president says “there is a lot to be done” to advance peace.

He also urges the EU to “respect Israeli considerations” in advancing the peace initiatives “even when it is different from your own.”

Belgian judge orders 6 IS suspects held for another month

A Belgian judge orders six people detained for another month in the investigation into the November attacks in Paris.

This undated file photo taken on November 24, 2015 by Belgian federal police shows Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini. Abrini was arrested on April 8, 2016, according to police sources. (AFP Photo/Belgian Federal Police/STR)

Paris attacks suspect Mohamed Abrini. (AFP Photo/Belgian Federal Police/STR)

The Thursday ruling is announced in a communique from the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

One of the detainees affected is Mohamed Abrini, 31, who also is being investigated for suspected links to the March 22 suicide bombings that killed 32 victims in Brussels.

In separate judicial proceedings, a Brussels appeals court panel is hearing Abrini’s appeal of a June 9 ruling that he can legally be extradited to France in connection with the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.

Both the Paris and Brussels attacks were claimed by the Islamic State.

AP

Peres slams Israeli ‘ingratitude’ over US F-35s

Former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres slams Israeli attitudes toward the US, which he says border on “ingratitude.”

As Israel receives the F-35 fighter jets from the US, Peres says he’s occasionally “stunned by the lack of a favorable attitude, not to mention unfairness toward the Obama administration, which borders on ingratitude, and it hurts me,” the Ynet news website reports.

Lockheed Martin unveils Israel's first F-35 fighter jet in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 22, 2016. (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin unveils Israel’s first F-35 fighter jet in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 22, 2016. (Lockheed Martin)

“Israel received a gift that no other country received,” continues Peres. “I still recall that in 1960, America refused to give us guns. Now it’s giving us something that no other country is receiving… As an Israeli citizen, I want to extend my deepest thanks to the US government, led by President Obama, for this incredible and exceptional gift. We very much appreciate it and thank you for your constant support for Israel’s needs. I think I say thank you on behalf of most of Israel’s citizens.”

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres in The Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres in The Peres Center for Peace in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2015. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Toddler brothers left in sweltering car laid to rest

Two children, aged 3 and 4, who died of heatstroke after they were left in a sweltering car in the Negev Desert on Wednesday are laid to rest in southern Israel on Thursday.

At the funeral, the toddler brothers’ father, Kassem Asaadi, recalled in chilling detail how he drove the car, unaware of the two bodies in the backseat, to pick them up from daycare.

“I took my wife to work. The two children were with me in the car, sleeping. I continued on to the school where I work, and I forgot them,” he says, according to Ynet.

“After a day of work I entered the car, didn’t sense the children. I went to the daycare where I leave them, and when I got there I asked the daycare teacher where they were. She said ‘They didn’t come today.’ I thought she was joking. Because whenever I come pick up the kids, they jump on me. But this time they didn’t. I went straight back to the car, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw my two children lifeless.”

Poland suggests takeover, upgrade of Treblinka museum

Poland’s government offers to take over from a local authority the responsibility for preserving the grounds of the former Nazi death camp Treblinka, where 870,000 people were murdered.

The Ministry of Culture and National Heritage makes the offer in a letter it sent last week to the regional government of Mazovia, the Rzeczpospolita daily reports Sunday.

From the Depths, an organization which works on Holocaust commemoration in Eastern Europe, welcomes the move, which comes amid a government-led campaign that is widely seen as designed to highlight Polish victimhood during World War II and counter claims that Poles were complicit in the Holocaust.

The Holocaust memorial constructed at Treblinka, the former Nazi death camps in eastern Poland (photo credit: Caroline Sturdy Colls)

The Holocaust memorial constructed at Treblinka, the former Nazi death camps in eastern Poland (photo credit: Caroline Sturdy Colls)

“It is very promising to see that the Polish government, along with the public international campaign against calling the death camps ‘Polish Death camps,’ have also stood to take further responsibility for those sites on current-day Polish soil,” From the Depths Founder Jonny Daniels tells JTA. He has criticized Polish authorities for perceived neglect of some Holocaust sites.

Treblinka, Daniels said, “has been mismanaged by regional authorities, with little funds going into security or upkeep of the site and visitors were unable to get a true understanding of what happened there.”

JTA

Deputy minister says Israel-Turkey détente imminent

Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara says reconciliation between Israel and Turkey is expected within days and hints at future normalization with other Arab countries.

Kara says, “In the coming days, the good relations between Israel will be restored, and perhaps we will be surprised by the normalization of our ties with several other countries in the region.”

Deputy Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Ayoub Kara (photo credit: screen grab from YouTube)

Ayoub Kara (screen grab from YouTube)

Defense Ministry resumes security fence construction

The Defense Ministry begins work to complete the security barrier between Israel and the West Bank, fulfilling a promise made by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman earlier this month.

Workers are filmed placing concrete slabs along the border near Kibbutz Shomria in the northern Negev desert.

“I am happy that [work is being completed] after so many years, during which we repeatedly requested that they close the fence that was breached in our region,” Sigal Moran, head of the local regional council, says.

“I hope that the fence will continue to be built along the entire border and will be done so that it cannot be crossed,” Moran adds.

— Judah Ari Gross

Berlin library returns 384 Nazi-looted books to Freemasons

The Berlin State Library is returning 384 books, magazines and other publications dating back to the 18th century to a Freemason Lodge after determining they were stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s.

Matthias Bohn, the head of the Johannis Lodge “Teutonia zur Weisheit” in Potsdam, says Thursday the books are important for the history of his organization, and contain “the stamps and traces of their previous owners.”

The Potsdam lodge, which held one of the biggest Freemason’s libraries in Germany, closed when Freemasonry was banned by the Nazis. It didn’t reopen until 1991.

Hermann Parzinger, president of the foundation overseeing Berlin’s museums and state library, says it is committed to researching the provenance of its works and returning items stolen during the Nazi era.

AP

Egypt hijacker claims he saw murdered Italian student in prison

An Egyptian hijacker who’s fighting his extradition accuses Egypt’s military-backed government of torturing and killing an Italian doctoral student, claiming he saw Giulio Regeni being interrogated in a Cairo prison.

In a surprising twist to lengthy extradition proceedings, Seif Eddin Mustafa tells a Cypriot court that he hijacked the domestic EgyptAir flight in March intending to seek asylum in Italy in order to “point the finger” at the Egyptian military regime.

Mustafa says he caught a glimpse from behind a blindfold of a “foreign-looking” person in Lazogli prison during his nearly two-month detention there in December and January after being arrested for using a false Ukrainian passport. He says he recognized Regeni from photos he came across after his release.

Briton Benjamin Innes, 26, seen with EgyptAir hijacker Seif Eldin Mustafa (left). (Twitter screen capture)

Briton Benjamin Innes, 26, seen with EgyptAir hijacker Seif Eldin Mustafa (left). (Twitter screen capture)

Regeni disappeared in Cairo on January 25 and his body — which bore signs of severe torture — was found nine days later on a suburban Cairo road.

“Regeni was in reality held by security forces and was interrogated at the same prison as I was in Lazogli Cairo,” Mustafa says in a lengthy statement in Arabic that he reads out in court.

“Upon getting released and seeing his pictures, I connected all these facts together and I realized that the person found dead in the street was the same person I saw when I was detained,” he says.

Mustafa says he committed the March 29 hijacking to “expose (Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s) fascist regime to the world.”

The six-hour ordeal ended peacefully on the tarmac of Cyprus’ Larnaca airport where the plane was diverted after all 72 passengers and crew were released and Mustafa was arrested.

AP

Gunman said to open fire at Germany movie theater

Several people are injured in Germany as a gunman opens fire in a movie theater in the western village of Viernheim, according to German media reports.

The shooter has reportedly barricaded himself in the complex.

German police say ‘threat situation’ in theater

Police say there is a “threat situation” at a movie theater in a town in southwestern Germany which probably involves a weapon.

Police spokeswoman Christiane Kobus says she can’t give further details of what was happening at the Kinopolis movie theater in the town of Viernheim.

She would not confirm unsourced German media reports that an armed man had entered the movie theater and fired at least one shot.

AP

Local media say as many as 50 hurt in Germany shooting

Local German media is reporting that as many as 50 people are injured as a gunman opens fire in a movie theater, according to Sky News.

Gunman was masked, carrying gun and ammo — reports

The gunman entered the Viernheim theater masked and was carrying a gun and ammunition, according to local reports.

Police are en route to the scene, which is near Frankfurt.

Viernheim gunman reportedly shot dead

The Viernheim shooter has been shot and killed, local media is saying.

A German online magazine earlier reported his arrest.

Unclear if wounded hurt by gunfire or tear gas

Some reports are suggesting that many of the injured — according to local media between 20 to 50 people — are hurt as a result of tear gas fired by police, rather than gunfire.

There has been no official comment on the number of wounded.

Police say no one injured by gunman at German cinema

In the first official comment, police say no one was injured by the gunman in Viernheim.

The dozens of reported injuries are the result of tear gas inhalation, according to German reports.

AP contributed

German authorities confirm gunman killed by police

An armed man who allegedly barricaded himself in a German cinema with several people inside Thursday is dead, Hesse state interior minister Peter Beuth says.

Beuth says the assailant died in a struggle with police, without giving further details.

AFP

Turkey acquits British academic of ‘terror propaganda’ charges

A Turkish court on Thursday acquits an Istanbul-based British academic who faced up to five years in prison on charges of distributing “terror propaganda” on behalf outlawed Kurdish militants.

The Istanbul court acquits Chris Stephenson, who teaches computer science at Bilgi University in Istanbul, at the first hearing, Turkish television reports say. Stephenson confirms on his Twitter feed that he had been found not guilty, writing simply “And acquittal.”

Stephenson was briefly arrested in mid March while protesting outside the city’s main courthouse over the detention of four Turkish academics who had been tried on similar charges.

Prosecutors had asked for Stephenson to be given a jail sentence of between one and five years on charges of “making propaganda for a terror organization,” in reference to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The academic, who has been based in the country for 25 years, has ridiculed the charges, saying he was only carrying invitation leaflets for the Kurdish New Year celebrations later in the month.

AFP

German minister says unclear assailant’s weapon was real

Hesse’s interior minister, Peter Beuth, says it isn’t clear whether the weapon held by the movie theater assailant is real.

Hochstaedter says that the police deployment lasted around three hours.

He says: “We believe that there were no injured people, and that the people who were in the cinema with the perpetrator could be freed uninjured.”

AP

Ya’alon slams Abbas over ‘malicious blood libels’

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon slams PA President Mahmoud Abbas for citing him in his EU speech as evidence of Israel’s descent into “facism.”

Ya’alon, who was ousted from the ministry as part of Netanyahu’s coalition deal with Avigdor Liberman, left office warning that “extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants.”

Abbas, in Brussels on Thursday, pointed to Ya’alon’s statement as well as recent criticism by former defense minister Ehud Barak and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog as proof of Israel’s downward spiral. He also mentioned — as if it were real — a hoax story about rabbis urging the poisoning of Palestinian water sources.

“Not only is Abu Mazen [Abbas] blatantly lying as usual, and continuing his malicious blood libels against the State of Israel, he’s also taking advantage of the real, healthy, and democratic discourse that exists in Israeli society (and which does not exist in his), and puts words in my mouth that I did not say,” Ya’alon responds.

Abbas’s comments are “further proof that he never intended to reach a [peace] agreement that includes our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people,” the former defense minister continues. “We must not delude ourselves and follow the illusion blindly.”

Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announces his resignation from the Knesset on May 20, 2016, at army headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Outgoing defense minister Moshe Ya’alon announces his resignation from the Knesset on May 20, 2016, at army headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Netanyahu’s office says Abbas ‘showed true face in Brussels’

The Prime Minister’s Office says Abbas “showed his true face in Brussels.”

“Someone who refuses to meet with the president and Prime Minister Netanyahu for direct talks, who propagates a blood libel in the European parliament, is lying when he says his hand is outstretched in peace,” the office says in a statement.

“Israel awaits the day when Abu Mazen stops spreading lies and dealing in incitement. Until then, Israel will continue to defend itself against Palestinian incitement, which motivates terror attacks.”

Earlier, Abbas had refused to meet with Rivlin. In his speech at the EU, he quoted a hoax story about rabbis urging the poisoning of Palestinian wells and blamed Israel for fomenting terrorism.

Parents of suspected UK jihadist to stand trial

The parents of a British Muslim convert who is believed to have joined the Islamic State group are set to stand trial in January for terrorism-related charges.

John Letts and Sally Lane are charged with funding terrorism for allegedly sending money to their 20-year-old son Jack Letts.

Jack Letts left his home in Oxford and traveled to Syria in 2014. He has been dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by some British media.

His parents are accused of transferring payments of roughly 1,750 pounds ($2,600) in 2015 and 2016. They are released on bail.

The trial date is set Thursday during a hearing at the Old Bailey court.

AP

Supreme Court tie blocks Obama’s immigration plan

Barack Obama’s efforts to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation suffers a major setback at the US Supreme Court on Thursday — one the president said was “heartbreaking” for those affected.

Justices in the under-strength court are split 4-4 over Obama’s bid to change immigration policy by executive action, thus leaving lower court rulings blocking the effort in place.

The court normally has nine members, but Justice Antonin Scalia died in February and the Senate has refused to vote on Obama’s nominee to replace him.

The deadlock leaves Obama’s immigration policy in limbo, like the four million undocumented immigrants who stood to be awarded US work permits under the politically controversial plan.

“The fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back further — it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama says shortly after the ruling was issued.

AFP

Thousands attend funeral of slain Palestinian teen

Several thousand Palestinians attend the funeral Thursday of a 15-year-old shot dead by Israeli troops who apparently mistook him for a stone-thrower, while new details of the incident emerge.

As the procession of mourners left the home of the teenager’s family in Beit Ur near Ramallah in the West Bank, his mother demands justice.

“It was not a mistake,” Amal Badran says. “They have to be held accountable. Justice must be carried out.”

She says her son had suffered an injustice “like all of the Palestinian people.”

Relatives of 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran who was killed by Israeli troops on June 21, mourn during his funeral in the village of Beit Ur-Tahta near the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 23, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Relatives of 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran who was killed by Israeli troops on June 21, mourn during his funeral in the village of Beit Ur-Tahta near the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 23, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Her son, Mahmoud Rafat Badran, was returning from a visit to a water park early Tuesday when police opened fire on the car in which he was travelling, killing him and wounding four of his teenage cousins.

The incident sparked outrage and renewed debate over when Israeli forces should open fire.

AFP

Mourners carry the body of 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran who was killed by Israeli troops on June 21, during his funeral in the village of Beit Ur-Tahta near the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 23, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

Mourners carry the body of 15-year-old Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Badran who was killed by Israeli troops on June 21, during his funeral in the village of Beit Ur-Tahta near the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 23, 2016.(AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI)

UK minister compares Brexit opponents to Nazi campaign against Einstein

Britain’s justice minister likens some opponents of the campaign to have Britain leave the European Union to Nazis behind the smear campaign against Albert Einstein in 1930s Germany.

Michael Gove, who co-chairs the Vote Leave campaign working for Britain’s exit from the EU in the national referendum being held Thursday, made the comparison the previous evening in an interview with LBC radio.

“We have to be careful about historical comparisons, but Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced, and one of the reasons of course he was denounced was because he was Jewish,” says Gove.

Gove was speaking about economists who in the buildup to the vote warned that an exit would have dire consequences for the British financial establishment and market. Prime Minister David Cameron and many of the ruling party’s lawmakers also oppose leaving the European Union.

Elaborating on the Einstein comparison, Gove adds: “They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong and Einstein said: ‘Look, if I was wrong, one would have been enough.’” Gove urges listeners to “interrogate the assumptions that are made.”

Noting low growth rates in continental Europe and high unemployment, he says that “freeing ourselves from that project can only strengthen our economy.”

JTA

Turkey reconciliation deal to be approved Wednesday — report

Channel 2 reports the cabinet will convene on Wednesday to approve the reconciliation deal with Turkey.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, a fierce critic of Turkey, won’t oppose it, the TV report says.

As part of the deal, the blockade on the Gaza Strip will continue, but Turkey will be allowed to import whatever it chooses into the coastal enclave. Ankara will also be allowed to build a power plant in Gaza, it says.

IDF deputy chief urges cadets to bravely defend opinions

IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan stresses the importance of courage “in the face of different opinions” in his speech to a graduating class of Ground Forces officers.

Golan, who sparked controversy earlier this year when he seemingly compared Israel to pre-Nazi Germany, speaks at the graduation ceremony for the 45th Ground Forces’ officers training course at the IDF’s Bahad 1 base in the Negev desert.

“Be courageous in the face of enemy fire, in the face of different opinions, in the face of the majority view,” he says.

“For a military person, courage is not an issue of choice, but one of supreme obligation. Create in your environment an air of fairness, in which clear rules and uniform norms reign,” Golan says.

Judah Ari Gross

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan arrives at a farewell ceremony for former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan arrives at a farewell ceremony for former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

ADL says Abbas comment ‘reminiscent of’ anti-Semitic tropes

The Anti-Defamation League condemns Abbas for falsely claiming Israeli rabbis had urged the poisoning of Palestinian water sources. Such comments make Abbas’s peace proclamations “disingenuous,” the watchdog says.

“President Abbas reportedly came to Europe to talk peace. Instead, he interspersed claims of an interest in reconciliation with Israel with base allegations against the Jewish state, which are reminiscent of age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes. Unfortunately, conspiratorial incitement by the Palestinian Authority is not new. His charges of an Israeli effort to poison Palestinian water, and claims of Israel serving as the root of terrorism worldwide, are particularly disturbing and significant,” says Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL CEO in a statement.

President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas addresses the media at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)

President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas addresses the media at the European Union Commission headquarters in Brussels on June 22, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / THIERRY CHARLIER)

“We note that President Abbas’ speech was met with a standing ovation by the parliamentarians present. As the international community, particularly European leadership, grows increasingly active in trying to promote an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, they must forcefully and publicly reject such offensive and dangerous incitement. How can Israel see Europe as an honest broker when its elected officials applaud a speech laden with lies and mischaracterizations?”

Democrats end 25-hour House floor protest over guns

Weary but jubilant House Democrats end their extraordinary sit-in on the chamber’s floor Thursday more than 24 hours after it began, a protest that let them broadcast their demands around the world for gun-control votes in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida nightclub.

There were no indications that Republicans who run the House had granted Democrats’ insistence for votes on bills strengthening background checks and barring firearms sales to people on the government’s no-fly list.

Even so, 25½ hours after they commandeered the chamber and blasted images of themselves on social media, Democrats file out and declare victory.

“We are going to win this struggle,” says Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights icon who helped lead the sit-in.

AP

US jury finds Led Zeppelin did not steal intro to ‘Stairway’

A US jury on Thursday finds that the British rock group Led Zeppelin did not steal the intro to their signature track “Stairway to Heaven” from a long-defunct Los Angeles rock band.

The jury says although songwriting duo Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had access to the material from the band Spirit, there is no proof they had committed plagiarism.

AFP

In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, left, and singer Robert Plant appear at a press conference ahead of the worldwide theatrical release of "Celebration Day," a concert film of their 2007 London O2 arena reunion show, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

In this Oct. 9, 2012 file photo, Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, left, and singer Robert Plant appear at a press conference ahead of the worldwide theatrical release of “Celebration Day,” a concert film of their 2007 London O2 arena reunion show, in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Fiat waiting to investigate car in death of ‘Star Trek’ star

A Fiat Chrysler executive says the automaker plans its own investigation into the role of a Jeep Grand Cherokee in the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin.

Yelchin, who was Jewish, died instantly on Sunday after his 2015 Grand Cherokee rolled backwards and pinned him against a concrete mail box outside his Los Angeles home, according to police.

Fiat Chrysler had announced a recall of the car and others in April after the US auto safety regulator said 117 crashes and 28 injuries had been linked to the vehicles rolling off freely when drivers thought they had locked them in “park.”

Mike Manley, president and chief executive of the Jeep brand at FCA US, the US arm of Fiat Chrysler, says the automaker has not yet been able to examine the vehicle and the circumstances around Yelchin’s death.

“We’re waiting to be able to start our own investigation,” Manley tells reporters. “Obviously, we would like our own people to go over the vehicle.”

AFP

In this June 11, 2015, file photo, Anton Yelchin arrives at a special screening of "Burying the Ex" held at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

In this June 11, 2015, file photo, Anton Yelchin arrives at a special screening of “Burying the Ex” held at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

German authorities rule out terror link in cinema shooting

German authorities rule out terrorism in the attempted shooting at a movie theater near Frankfurt. The assailant was shot dead by police at the scene, and police were still working to identify him.

Security sources quoted by DPA news agency say there was “no link to terrorism,” after deadly attacks in cities including Paris, Brussels and Istanbul have left European authorities on edge.

The Darmstadt police spokeswoman says they were investigating what type of weapon the assailant used, adding that it was possible it fired blanks.

Hesse state’s interior minister, Peter Beuth, says it wasn’t clear whether the weapon was functional, and police say they are still checking that. Beuth tells the regional legislature in Wiesbaden that the man was masked and that apparently four shots were fired.

Beuth says the man had given a confused impression, news agency dpa reported.

Agencies

Heavy rains hit London, could hurt vote turnout

Rain and thunderstorms are causing canceled trains and slow journeys in the London area as people travel home from work.

Southeast England was hammered by up to 1.75 inches (4.6 centimeters) of rain overnight — roughly the average for all of June — and another band of rain swept through on Thursday afternoon.

Signal failures caused by flooding shut down sections of the London Underground subway system and several train lines into the capital. The Rail Delivery Group says train services will be severely disrupted Thursday evening and people should head home early if they can.

The disruption could hit the turnout for Britain’s referendum on whether to stay in the 28-nation European Union as many people go to polling booths after work. The polls close at 10 p.m. (2100GMT).

People cycle with "Vote Remain" billboards urging people to vote in north London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU). (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

People cycle with “Vote Remain” billboards urging people to vote in north London on June 23, 2016, as Britain holds a referendum on whether to remain in, or to leave the European Union (EU).
(AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

AP

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Ya’alon slams Abbas over ‘malicious blood libels’

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon slams PA President Mahmoud Abbas for citing him in his EU speech as evidence of Israel’s descent into “facism.”

Ya’alon, who was ousted from the ministry as part of Netanyahu’s coalition deal with Avigdor Liberman, left office warning that “extremist and dangerous forces have taken over Israel and the Likud movement and are destabilizing our home and threatening to harm its inhabitants.”

Abbas, in Brussels on Thursday, pointed to Ya’alon’s statement as well as recent criticism by former defense minister Ehud Barak and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog as proof of Israel’s downward spiral. He also mentioned — as if it were real — a hoax story about rabbis urging the poisoning of Palestinian water sources.

“Not only is Abu Mazen [Abbas] blatantly lying as usual, and continuing his malicious blood libels against the State of Israel, he’s also taking advantage of the real, healthy, and democratic discourse that exists in Israeli society (and which does not exist in his), and puts words in my mouth that I did not say,” Ya’alon responds.

Abbas’s comments are “further proof that he never intended to reach a [peace] agreement that includes our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people,” the former defense minister continues. “We must not delude ourselves and follow the illusion blindly.”

Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announces his resignation from the Knesset on May 20, 2016, at army headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Outgoing defense minister Moshe Ya’alon announces his resignation from the Knesset on May 20, 2016, at army headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)