MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) called Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman “the Jewish Islamic State” Monday. Tibi was responding to comments by Liberman, who said that Israel needs to “raise an axe and take off the head” of Israeli Arabs who oppose the state.
Earlier, Zionist Union co-leader Tzipi Livni said her party’s worldview diverged significantly from that of Likud and that the chances for a unity government were thus slim.
Earlier Monday, experts from the UN nuclear watchdog held talks in Tehran in their investigation into decade-old allegations of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
The Times of Israel blogged events as they unfolded.
IAEA concern focuses on bomb-related issues
While Iran is negotiating limits on its program with world powers, the IAEA has been pressing leaders in Tehran for years to address allegations that prior to 2003, and possibly since, they conducted research into the technology required to build a nuclear weapon.
The IAEA delegation is in Tehran mainly to receive answers on two issues: “Exploding bridge wire detonators,” which can be used in nuclear explosive devices, and the “modeling and calculations” on neutrons, the sub-atomic particles which trigger the fission of uranium, according to a report by Iranian news agency ISNA.
In its latest report on February 19, the IAEA says Iran has not provided “any explanation regarding the two outstanding practical issues.” But a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency told state television on Sunday that “these two issues can be finalized during the visit of the IAEA delegation.”
4 settler teens turn themselves in to police
Four teens turn themselves in to the police after they were “wanted for questioning” following altercations between police and settlers in Bat Ayin, a West Bank settlement.
Earlier, two youths, aged 15 and 17, from Bat Ayin were arrested on allegations that they confronted police officers and threw rocks at them. The two denied the allegations, Israel Radio reports.
Two other Bat Ayin youths were arrested yesterday on allegations that they were involved in acts of violence against Palestinians.
IS group beheads eight oil guards in Libya
Libya’s military spokesman says terrorists from the country’s Islamic State affiliate beheaded eight guards after an assault on an oil field last week during which nine foreigners were abducted.
The spokesman, Ahmed al-Mesmari, also says that an employee of the al-Ghani oil field watched the beheadings and subsequently died of a heart attack.
Al-Mesmari did not elaborate on how the army knows about the beheadings but the force serving as oil guards is closely allied to the Libyan military, which answers to the eastern-based government, one of Libya’s two rival governments.
Authorities in the Philippines and Austria confirmed that nine of their citizens were abducted during the attack Friday on al-Ghani, part of IS attacks on Libya’s oil infrastructure.
Kahlon says Kulanu may win 15 seats
In order to have significant power Kulanu needs a minimum of 15 Knesset seats, says party leader Moshe Kahlon in a Q&A with Haaretz online readers.
Asked whether he believes 15 seats is a realistic goal, Kahlon, whose party is polling at eight, says he believes so.
Kahlon says he wants to be finance minister in order to effect the social and economic change he believes in. Asked whether he sees himself as prime minister one day he avoids the direct question: “For now, we will deal with the Finance Ministry; there is no need for the prime minister’s job. All we need is for the prime minister not to interfere.”
Nemtsov ally dismisses Islamist motive in murder
A friend of slain Russian opposition activist Boris Nemtsov dismisses as “absurd” and politically motivated theories that radical Islamists were responsible for gunning him down.
Investigators have said they were looking into the possibility that the former deputy prime minister was killed over his support for French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which published images of the Prophet Mohammed.
The theory appeared to gain ground after a suspect from Russia’s Muslim North Caucasus region of Chechnya — which held a massive rally against the publication in January — confessed to his involvement in the assassination.
USD tops NIS 4 for 1st time since Sept. ’12
The US dollar climbs 0.8 percent and hits NIS 4. 017, passing the four shekel threshold for the first time since September 2012.
A positive American employment report published last week, indicating 295,000 new jobs and a drop in the American unemployment rate, is seen as the main reason for the US currency’s hike.
The dollar’s rise may be bad news for importers or even addicts of eBay and other eCommerce sites; but it is good news for Israeli exporters, since a stronger dollar means Israeli-made products become cheaper for US importers.
The euro, on the other hand, drops 13% and is traded at 4.373 shekels.
50 olive trees uprooted from Palestinian field
Nearly 50 olive trees were uprooted from a Palestinian field near the Givat Ronen outpost in Samaria, Israel Radio reports.
Palestinian farmers and representatives of the Civil Administration in Nablus who came to the scene to examine the damage were accosted by settlers who threw rocks at them.
According to Ynet, the incident was filmed and the Palestinians are planning to file a complaint with police.
‘Lebanon can’t bear another war with Israel’
Lebanon’s minister of the interior, Nihad Mashnouk, says his country will not be able to bear another war with Israel. Mashnouk assesses that Israel may try to inflame its Syrian front – which extends to south Lebanon – if talks between world powers and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program fail to yield a deal.
According to Mashnouk, who made the comments during an interview with pan-Arab paper Asharq Al-awsat, the citizens of southern Lebanon have still not gotten over the shock of the Second Lebanon War, and the country only recently finished the construction of homes destroyed during that conflict more than eight years ago.
Mashnouk is pessimistic regarding an agreement between Iran and world powers, and believes this will lead to escalation in the region, especially in the Syrian arena.
Saudi nixes Swedish FM’s Arab League address
Saudi Arabia blocks the Swedish foreign minister from addressing the Arab League because of Sweden’s criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Reuters reports.
“Last night, we were told that Saudi Arabia had blocked Margot’s participation,” the foreign minister’s press spokesman Erik Boman says.
Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister, had been invited to give a speech to a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in a trip aimed at building cooperation to promote democracy, human rights and economic integration, Reuters reports.
4 held over ties to terrorist Coulibaly
Four people have been detained over their connections to one of the jihadists who carried out the Paris attacks in January, a judicial source says.
The four are said to be friends with Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four people at a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman during the January 7-9 attacks.
Europe 1 radio reports that one of those detained was a policewoman posted at Rosny-sous-Bois just outside Paris who converted to Islam two years ago. She was suspended from her duties in early February.
She was detained along with her boyfriend, a man said to have been close to Coulibaly and who is also wanted on separate drug charges.
Phone records indicate he was in close proximity to Coulibaly shortly before the attack on the supermarket. Le Canard Enchaine, a weekly paper, said the man may have had access to his girlfriend’s police barracks at Rosny.
Israeli writer says ‘mezuzah kissers are fools’
Israeli playwright Joshua Sobol says on Israel Radio that “all mezuzah and stone kissers are fools,” using the word “stone” as a reference to the Western Wall.
Sobol is interviewed two days after Israeli painter and political pundit Yair Garbuz spoke at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and caused a furor over his comments that “lucky charm kissers and pagan worshipers” are controlling the country.
Garboz’s comments have awakened the decades-old charge that the Israeli left is secular, elitist and white.
Likud officials were quick to capitalize on the comments, with MK Ofir Akunis saying his speech was “a sequel to Dudu Topaz’s speech” from June 1971, an address by the late entertainer who said at the time he was “happy to see no browns in the crowd.” Former prime minister Menachem Begin, a day later, accused Topaz of racism and swept the crowd with his words “Ashkenazi? Iraqi? Jews! Brothers!”
Film found with unseen photos of John and Yoko
A Canadian man looking for an old photo of a snow sculpture found something he wasn’t expecting: never-before-seen pictures of John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their “bed-in” in Montreal in 1969.
— CBC Newfoundland (@CBCNL) March 8, 2015
More details can be found here.
Kahlon evokes Begin, says Likud lost its heart
Moshe Kahlon posts a picture of former Likud prime minister Menachem Begin, in memory of the 23rd anniversary of his death, and uses the opportunity to criticize the Likud of 2105:
“Today, on March 9, 1992, 23 years ago, Menachem Begin passed away. If he’d be alive he’d be ashamed – ashamed at the loss of direction, at giving up on the social way of looking at people, of the cynical use of employees and the loss of a sense of national dignity.
“A real Likudnik is first and foremost social. A real Likudnik votes Kulanu.
“On security, the public counts on the IDF to defend it. But who do the public trust to safegyard its pockets? To protect its bank account? To fight tycoons? The cost of living? How many more times can one lose the battle of life? I charge forward first, and call on you to come with me. I call on the public to charge forward in the battle over the cost of living, to charge forward and to win.”
Likud MK Miri Regev shot back at Kahlon: “Kahlon is spitting into the cup from which he drank. He speaks against Likud and uses Begin’s name, while I have not seen him once raise the social flag, apart from the cellular phone reform, during all his years as a Likud member and minister. I call on Likudniks who left their home for Kahlon and other parties to return home.”
Meanwhile a Kulanu official tells Ynet that Likud “threatened us: either announce you are going to recommend Benjamin Netanyahu to establish the government, or we will make the campaign against Kahlon personal.” The Kulanu official says the party was “unimpressed” and said it will not publicly announce its candidate for prime minister unless one of the parties announces its acceptance of Kulanu’s social platform.
German mayor quits over neo-Nazi protest
An honorary mayor of a German village resigns after neo-Nazis were given permission to demonstrate outside his house, the Guardian reports.
Markus Nierth, who became the target of the protest over his support for asylum seekers, says his children are “too precious” to be exposed to the slogans of the National Democratic Party.
Nierth says he did not resign under pressure from rightwing protesters but because authorities failed to offer him and his family protection during the demonstration. Ironically, the demonstration was canceled following his resignation.
Read the full story here.
‘What’s wrong with mezuzah-kissing?’ PM asks
Prime Minister Netanyahu asks, “Since when is it a crime to kiss a mezuzah?” referring to comments by Israeli painter Yair Garbuz who mocked religious Israelis, during a speech at Rabin Square on Saturday night.
“I heard someone speak of people who kiss mezuzot with disdain. Since when is it a crime to kiss a mezuzah? We know where we came from and we know what country we came back to. We know what we are fighting to keep. We know about our tradition and about our heritage,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister was speaking at a conference of Likud women, according to NRG.
PM apologizes to airport workers for campaign clip
Netanyahu meets with the chairman of the Israeli Airport Authority worker’s association, Pinhas Idan, and apologizes for a Likud campaign video that drew comparisons between state employees and Hamas terrorists. The offending clip was quickly withdrawn but copies of it are still circulating on YouTube and other websites. Its bad taste marks one of the lowest points in Likud’s campaign, so far.
Idan says “Netanyahu took responsibility for the inappropriate content of the clip,” Idan is quoted by Globes as saying. “He apologizes to workers in Israel and to anyone who was offended by the clip. Bibi told me he had no intention for it to be interpreted this way. Still, he is not refusing to take responsibility and offers his apology and regret to anyone who was hurt.”
On Sunday Idan, who is also No. 36 on the Likud list, published a letter sent to Netanyahu where he demanded that the PM apologize and threatened that if he did not, Likud would lose many voters among IAA employees.
Livni says fat chance of joining unity gov’t
Tzipi Livni hints on a Channel 2 interview that the Zionist Union will not join a unity government with Likud.
“We are not partners to the vision of Bibi-Bennett, certainly not after the last few days when Netanyahu announced he will be blocking any path to an agreement,” she says.
“As a rule, we all need to wait for the day after the election for the results and I believe the largest party should be given the task of establishing a coalition,” Livni says.
When the Kadima party headed by Livni won with the most seats, she did not succeed in building a coalition, and then president Shimon Peres appointed Netanyahu to establish a government.
Asked whether the idea of a rotating prime minister (Isaac Herzog to serve as PM for two years, then Tzipi Livni would take over for the remaining two years) distances voters, Livni says “giving up on rotation will not help us win but the opposite.”
She adds that during campaign tours of Israel she and Isaac Herzog both separately hear from voters ‘I’d vote for you if not for the other one’ and adds that this is why forgoing the rotation would not lure more voters but push voters away.
Journalist sorry for insulting Gaza war widow
Right-wing journalist Hagai Huberman apologizes for the phrasing of several sentences in an op-ed published online two days ago but says, “I stand by the content of what I said.”
In his piece, Huberman lashed out at Michal Kastan Kedar, whose husband died during Operation Protective Edge.
Interviewed in the Channel 2 studio by a completely antagonistic anchor (“Have you gone off the rails? What you wrote is rude, mean and lowly”), Huberman says, “I will examine the opportunity to apologize to her.” He explains that he paraphrased a known saying and people failed to see the connection and understood his words literally.
The saying he refers to is “The definition of hutzpah is a man who kills his parents and then asks for mercy because he is an orphan.” The closing words of Huberman’s op-ed accuse Kastan Kedar of “killing her husband and crying that she is now a widow.” His line of thinking was that the left is pulling Israel on a path that will lead to more wars and more widows.
“The gist of what I said is circumstances equal casualties. She spoke of returning to the diplomatic process. Diplomatic process equals ceding land. Ceding land equals casualties. History proves it.”
Netanyahu says Likud made J’lem secure again
Netanyahu arrives for the almost mandatory tour of the Jerusalem market (well, mandatory for right-wing party leaders). He is heavily guarded and accompanied by MK Miri Regev, No. 5 on his list.
Netanyahu reminisces: “I remember the Mahane Yehuda market. In my childhood I loved the market and I love it today. It has transformed immensely. Only a few years ago there were terrible terror attacks here and I am happy our forceful policy returned security to Jerusalem. In order for this to continue, Likud and myself need your votes.”
Congresswoman dropped from event after boycotting PM’s speech
A Democratic congresswoman was apparently disinvited from a Jewish charity event last night after she boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s controversial speech in Congress last week.
Jan Schakowsky, from Illinois, was slated to receive the Community Service Award from Keshet, a developmental disabilities charity.
But shortly after Netanyahu’s speech ended, Keshet said on its Facebook page that “due to unanticipated circumstances beyond Keshet’s control, the congresswoman will not be able to attend this year’s banquet on Sunday, March 8.”
Schakowsky has a solid pro-Israel voting record, but faced criticism in the past for toeing the party line even when the administration made comments perceived as being unsupportive of the Jewish state.
Her communications director refused to comment.
Cafe manager ‘privately protests’ against PM
A cafe manager who served Prime Minister Netanyahu a latte during his tour of the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem had her own private protest against the prime minister.
“Of course, anyone can come here and enjoy a cup of coffee; I don’t choose the customers,” she tells Channel 2.
“But I personally do not want him to be prime minister again, and when he paid me with a NIS 100 bill, I gave him 87 shekels in single coins,” the woman says.
“I don’t think he even noticed it, but it was my own private way of voicing my protest,” she adds.
UN panel’s Gaza war report delayed
The UN commission assigned with the investigation of Operation Protective Edge has postponed the publication of its findings. Initially, the commission was expected to publish its report on March 23.
The report will be published sometime in June, Ynet reports.
Grenade hurled into Haifa store, 2 hurt
A grenade is hurled into a store in Haifa; two people are wounded. One woman is moderately hurt, and one is lightly wounded.
More details to follow.
White House decries lawmakers’ effort to derail Iran talks
The White House on Monday denounces efforts by Republican lawmakers to “throw sand in the gears” of sensitive talks over Iran’s nuclear program as “partisan.”
Spokesman Josh Earnest said a letter by 47 Republicans, including Senate leaders and several potential 2016 presidential candidates, to discourage Iran’s leaders was not the role US founding fathers envisaged for the legislative branch.
Tibi calls Liberman ‘the Jewish Islamic State’
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) says Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman is “the Jewish IS.”
Tibi is responding to comments by Liberman, who said that Israel needs to “raise an axe and take off the head” of Israeli Arabs who oppose the state.
“Minister Liberman’s talk of ‘beheading’ Arab Israelis necessitates the opening of an investigation,” Tibi said during a speech to Arab Israeli students at the Arab American University — Jenin.
Explosion in Haifa likely a gas leak, not grenade
A seven-year-old girl was badly wounded in an explosion in a store on Hehalutz Street in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa.
In addition, a woman was lightly wounded. Ynet reports the explosion was the result of a gas canister leak, while Channel 2 earlier reported a grenade was thrown into the store.
An initial investigation ruled out foul play, but police have yet to reach a final conclusion.
The girl was taken to the Rambam Hospital in the city.
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