The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield met today with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh and other senior officials in Ramallah as the Biden administration continues its efforts to restore ties with the Palestinians.
“Thomas-Greenfield conveyed the Biden administration’s strong support for a two-state solution and its belief that Israelis and Palestinians alike deserve equal measures of freedom, prosperity, security and dignity,” her office says, regurgitating a talking point it has used about the conflict dozens of times this year.
The ambassador highlights “ongoing US efforts to support Palestinian refugees through a more efficient UNRWA that respects humanitarian principles such as neutrality,” her office says after visiting a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Ramallah.
Thomas-Greenfield also met with Palestinian civil society leaders, her office says. They did not include any of the six human rights organizations blacklisted by Israel.
The envoy “also emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and avoiding actions that undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, such as settlement activity, evictions, incitement to violence and payments to individuals imprisoned for terrorism,” the US readout adds.
Police release security camera footage of a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City today, in which two border officers were wounded.
In the video, the suspect can be seen passing by two cops walking in the opposite direction, before turning and stabbing one of them.
The officer then grapples with the assailant. After a brief pause in the tape, the suspect can be seen falling to the ground as a civilian security guard and the officer who he first stabbed aim their guns at him.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) November 17, 2021
An Israeli woman detained in Turkey with her husband for photographing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace in Istanbul speaks by phone with her family for the first time.
In a recording of the call played by Israeli television, Natali Oknin’s children and sister can be heard telling her about the conversations with Israeli leaders about the case.
“I’m strong. If you’re strong, I’m strong,” she told her family.
One of her daughters responded: “Mom, we are strong, I swear to you… We are all waiting for you… We are never alone.”
Oknin said on the call that there has been a young woman accompanying her all the time in custody.
“If I need to go to the bathroom, the young woman comes with me and escorts me,” she said. “They didn’t harm me. It’s hard for me, but I’m getting along. They brought me clothes and chocolate spread. They bring me fresh bread every day.”
She also asked one of her daughters to sing her the song “Only for Mom” by Eti Bitton.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan floated to his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata the prospect of an interim agreement with Iran to allow more time for nuclear talks, the Axios news site reports.
A pair of American sources cited in the report say Sullivan and Hulata were just “brainstorming,” and that the proposal was suggested by an unspecified European ally of the US.
The US sources say that proposal was for Iran to suspend a barred nuclear activity such as enriching uranium to 60 percent, in exchange for the US and allied countries releasing some frozen Iranian money, or issuing sanctions waivers on humanitarian goods.
An unnamed Israeli official cited in the report says Hulata told Sullivan he didn’t think it was a good idea and that Israel’s concern is that any interim agreement could become permanent, allowing Iran to maintain the nuclear infrastructure and supply of uranium it has built up.
In a separate call with Sullivan yesterday, Hulata said the US and its European allies must push to censure Iran at next week’s meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, according to the report.
NEW YORK — Two men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X are set to be cleared after more than half a century, with prosecutors now saying authorities withheld evidence in the civil rights leader’s killing, according to a news report.
The New York Times reports today that Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam, who spent decades in prison for the crime, are being exonerated after a nearly two-year investigation by their lawyers and the Manhattan district attorney’s office. A court date is expected tomorrow.
“These men did not get the justice that they deserved,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. tells the newspaper.
Malcolm X was gunned down as he began a speech in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965.
The two men were then known as Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson. Aziz, 83, was released in 1985. Islam was released two years later and died in 2009.
The Hamas terror group praises the perpetrator of an alleged stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City that left two Border Police officers injured, calling it “a heroic commando operation.”
“This is the latest confirmation that our people’s revolution against the occupation will continue until the occupier is swept away,” terror group spokesperson Hazim Qasim says in a statement.
The alleged stabber, 16-year-old Amr Abu Asab from East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood, was shot and killed by officers on the scene during the terror attack, according to police.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield visits an UNRWA girls school in Ramallah as she continues her first regional tour as a Biden envoy into the West Bank.
“I spoke to UNRWA officials about how to make their work stronger, more efficient and more accountable,” she tweets.
The Biden administration has restored millions of dollars in funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, but has also called on UNRWA to institute reforms amid allegations of corruption and incitement against Israel.
Today, I met with educators and students at Jalazone @UNRWA Girls School in Ramallah. I was inspired by their stories and dreams for the future, and I spoke to UNRWA officials about how to make their work stronger, more efficient, and more accountable. pic.twitter.com/MREcnTnSzb
— Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@USAmbUN) November 17, 2021
WASHINGTON — The self-proclaimed “shaman” whose bare chest and horned fur headgear made him the face of the January 6 assault on the US Capitol is sentenced today to 41 months in prison.
Jacob Chansley had pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding after taking part in the storming of the US Senate chamber and leaving behind a message on vice president Mike Pence’s desk saying: “It’s only a matter of time. Justice is coming.”
Palestinian media identifies the alleged Old City stabber as 16-year-old Amr Abu Asab, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood.
There is no immediate confirmation from Israeli authorities.
WASHINGTON — Hackers linked to the Iranian government have been targeting a “broad range of victims” inside the United States, including by deploying ransomware, according to an advisory issued today by American, British and Australian officials.
The advisory says that in recent months, Iran has exploited computer vulnerabilities exposed by hackers before they can be fixed and targeted entities in the transportation, health care and public health sectors. The attackers leveraged the initial hack for additional operations, such as data exfiltration, ransomware and extortion, according to the advisory. The group has used the same Microsoft Exchange vulnerability in Australia, officials say.
The warning is notable because even though ransomware attacks remain prevalent in the US, most of the significant ones in the past year have been attributed to Russia-based criminal hacker gangs rather than Iranian hackers.
Government officials aren’t the only ones noticing the Iranian activity: Tech giant Microsoft announced yesterday that it had seen six different groups in Iran deploying ransomware since last year.
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese security forces have killed 10 people and wounded dozens today in a crackdown on anti-coup protests, medics say, including seven in northern Khartoum where hundreds of demonstrators are still marching.
Most of the casualties were shot “in the head, neck or torso,” says the pro-democracy union of doctors, while the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded 2019 protests, accuses the police of “premeditated killings.”
Police identify the assailant in a suspected stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City as a 16-year-old resident of East Jerusalem. He is not named.
The suspect was shot dead by a security guard and police after stabbing two border cops.
The Supreme Court orders that the court-ordered return to Italy of a boy whose parents died in an Italian cable car crash be delayed.
The justices rule that 6-year-old Eitan Biran will remain in Israel until at least November 23.
The ruling comes after his maternal grandparents filed an appeal with the Supreme Court against the lower court order to return him to other relatives in Italy.
CAIRO — An Egyptian court sentences a prominent human rights lawyer to five years in prison for his conviction on charges that rights advocates have decried as baseless and politically motivated.
The Misdemeanors State Security Emergency Court in Cairo finds Zyad el-Elaimy, a former lawmaker, guilty of conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group. That’s a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organization.
The court also sentences journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad to four years in prison on the same charges. Two other defendants get three-year sentences. All are fined 500 Egyptian pounds (around $32).
Defense lawyer Khalid Ali says today’s verdict is not subject to appeal before civilian courts because it was issued by an emergency court. He says the defense will file an appeal to a military court.
The global rights watchdog Amnesty International condemns the charges against the defendants, saying they stemmed from “their peaceful political activities.” It calls for President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to quash the sentences and release them.
“These politicians and activists should never have been arrested in the first place and yet they have been convicted and sentenced to prison on charges related to their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian authorities,” says Philip Luther, Amnesty’s regional research and advocacy director.
The convicted men were arrested in June 2019 after they met with political parties and opposition lawmakers to hash out how to run in the 2020 parliamentary elections.
The Egyptian government has in recent years waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people, mainly Islamists, but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The maternal grandparents of a 6-year-old Israeli boy whose parents were killed in an Italian cable car crash files an appeal to the Supreme Court against returning him to Italy.
The appeal comes after a lower court ruled last week that Eitan Biran must be returned to his paternal relatives in Italy.
“We hope that the Supreme Court judges will consider the unprecedented case before them and order that Eitan remain in Israel, as his parents wanted,” the Peleg family says in a statement on the appeal.
The boy has been at the center of a custody battle between his grandparents in Israel and relatives in Italy since surviving a cable car crash this May, in which his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents were among 14 killed.
Days before last week’s ruling, Italy issued an international arrest warrant for Shmulik Peleg, Biran’s grandfather, alleging he kidnapped the boy from his aunt’s home in Italy when Peleg brought the boy to Israel in September.
Two Border Police officers have been wounded in a suspected stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City, police say.
The assailant was shot and “neutralized” by a security guard and other Israeli forces at the scene, according to a police statement.
Police say one of the officers was moderately wounded and the other was lightly hurt. The two are taken to Hadassah Hospital to be treated.
Police say they have recovered a stolen Torah scroll that is hundreds of years old and originally from Baghdad.
Police say they arrested a man from Umm al-Fahm, alleging he planned to sell the Torah for hundreds of thousands of shekels.
Cops have also arrested four other suspects in the case.
A Palestinian man was killed and six other people injured in a collision between two vehicles in the northern West Bank.
The Magen David Adom ambulance service says the crash involved an Israeli bus and a Palestinian taxi.
Among those injured, a Palestinian man is in critical condition, according to MDA, which says an Israeli woman who was lightly hurt was taken to Sheba Medical Center.
MDA adds that the rest of those injured in the accident were taken for treatment by the Red Crescent.
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Two Sudanese anti-coup protesters were shot dead at a Khartoum rally today and dozens more suffered bullet wounds, a pro-democracy doctors’ union says.
One of those killed was shot in the head and the other in the neck, the union says, also reporting “dozens of gunshot wounds,” some of them serious.
Sudanese security forces have denied firing live rounds at protesters.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is acquiring a new drilling ship to search for natural gas in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the country’s president announces today, amid unresolved tensions with Greece and Cyprus over Ankara’s offshore energy exploration.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tells legislators from his ruling party that Turkey is expanding its fleet of drilling vessels to four, describing the new ship as a high-tech vessel.
Energy Minister Fatih Donmez says on Twitter that the ship will be capable of drilling at a depth of some 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).
Last year, Turkey’s offshore energy exploration efforts raised tensions with Greece and Cyprus. Warships from Greece and Turkey shadowed each other in the Aegean Sea after Turkish search vessels and drill ships prospected for hydrocarbons in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights.
Ankara rejects those claims, saying they infringe on the rights of Turkey and of Turkish Cypriots on the divided island of Cyprus.
Turkey has announced that it has found around 540 billion cubic meters (130 cubic miles) of natural gas in the Black Sea. The government says it plans to extract and use the gas by 2023, reducing its dependence on energy imports.
LONDON — The World Health Organization says coronavirus deaths in Europe rose 5 percent in the last week, making it the only region in the world where COVID-19 deaths increased.
The UN health agency says confirmed cases jumped 6% globally, driven by increases in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
In its weekly report on the pandemic, WHO says COVID-19 deaths in all regions other than Europe remained stable or declined, and totaled 50,000 worldwide last week. Of the 3.3 million new infections reported, 2.1 million came from Europe.
It’s the seventh consecutive week that COVID-19 cases have continued to mount across the 61 countries that WHO counts in its European region, which stretches through Russia to Central Asia.
While about 60% of people in Western Europe are fully immunized against COVID-19, only about half as many are vaccinated in the eastern part of the continent, where officials are struggling to overcome widespread vaccine hesitancy.
WHO says infections have been falling in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia since July.
Within Europe, WHO said the highest numbers of new cases were in Russia, Germany and Britain. It notes that deaths jumped by 67% in Norway and by 38% in Slovakia.
The health agency previously described Europe as the epicenter of the ongoing pandemic and warned that there could be 500,000 more deaths by February if urgent actions aren’t taken on the continent.
Lawmakers in Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party have penned a letter to the Foreign Ministry complaining that meetings weren’t scheduled for the former prime minister with US Congress members who visited Israel.
Responding to the letter, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s office acknowledges the “long-standard practice” of opposition leaders meeting with visiting diplomatic delegations, including during his recent stint as head of the opposition.
“After checking, the delegations did not express any interest in meeting with Opposition Leader Netanyahu, and therefore it was not necessary to coordinate such a meeting,” Lapid’s office is quoted as saying by Channel 12 news. “If such requests arrive, we will definitely deal with them.”
In response to the Foreign Ministry response, Likud puts out a statement saying “Netanyahu routinely holds diplomatic conversations and meetings, that aren’t through the Foreign Ministry.”
The reigning Miss Universe says the long-running beauty pageant shouldn’t be politicized, even though its next edition is being held in Israel amid pressure on contestants to drop out in solidarity with the Palestinians.
The 70th Miss Universe pageant is being staged in the southern resort city of Eilat in December. Dozens of contestants from around the world will arrive there in the coming weeks to compete in national costumes, evening gowns and swimwear. They’ll also have their public speaking prowess tested with a series of interview questions.
But the pageant is in the spotlight for being held in Israel amid boycott calls against the country over its treatment of the Palestinians. At least one country has already called off their participation.
“Everyone with different beliefs, with different backgrounds, with different cultures, they all come together and when you are in there, you forget about politics, about your religion,” Andrea Meza, the current Miss Universe, tells The Associated Press ahead of a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City. “It’s just about embracing other women.”
Meza, 27, represents Mexico and was crowned in May, during a COVID-delayed ceremony in Florida, where contestants accessorized their sparkling gowns with face masks. She hands over the crown in Eilat on December 12.
KABUL — At least two people were killed and five wounded in a bomb blast that hit a minibus in Kabul today, officials says, the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital.
The blast destroyed the vehicle in Dasht-e-Barchi, a Taliban official tells AFP, in a suburb dominated by minority Hazara Shiites.
“Our initial information shows the bomb was attached to a minibus. We have launched an investigation,” he says.
Different Taliban officials give varying accounts of the casualties.
An AFP staffer was near the scene when the bomb detonated.
“I heard a huge explosion… when I looked around a minibus and a taxi were on fire,” he says.
“I also saw ambulances rush to the area to take wounded and dead people to the hospital.”
Last week, a journalist was killed and at least four other people injured when a bomb destroyed another minibus in the same area.
The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group claimed responsibility for the attack, boasting it had killed or injured “20 Shiite apostates” in the incident.
They have stepped up operations since the Taliban’s return to power in August, and earlier this month raided the city’s National Military Hospital, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 50 others.
The group has also claimed several attacks in the city of Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province and a hotbed of IS-K activity.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken with relatives of Mordy and Natali Oknin, a couple who are being held in Turkey for photographing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s palace in Istanbul, his office says.
“The prime minister wanted to again strengthen members of the family, who are dealing with a very complex situation right now, and to express he stands with them,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.
The PMO says Bennett also thanked the family for their “responsible and restrained conduct,” and updated them on the efforts to resolve the matter.
VIENNA — The UN nuclear watchdog “categorically” denies its cameras played a part in an alleged Israeli attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, after Tehran said it was investigating the possibility.
The IAEA “Director General categorically rejects the idea that Agency cameras played a role in assisting any third party to launch an attack on the TESA Karaj complex,” says a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seen by AFP.
Iran has told the IAEA that “its ‘security and judicial authorities’ were ‘investigating whether the terrorists have used the Agency cameras to launch an attack on the complex,'” the report says, referring to a building near Karaj about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Tehran that was targeted in June.
VIENNA — Iran has increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, defying commitments made under the 2015 nuclear deal, the UN nuclear watchdog says in its latest report, seen today by AFP.
Its estimate of Iran’s stockpile, as of November 6, was 2,489.7 kg (5,489 lbs), many times in excess of the limit laid down in the 2015 agreement with world powers, says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report seen by AFP.
The total amount now includes 113.8 kg (251 lbs) enriched to 20 percent, up from 84.3 (186 lbs) in September, and 17.7 kg (39 lbs) enriched up to 60%, up from 10 kg (22 lbs), the report says.
New Hope MK Sharren Haskel is threatening to stop voting for coalition measures until a so-called cannabis committee is formed in the Knesset, according to Hebrew media reports.
The reports say Haskel is accusing the left-wing Meretz party for holding up the establishment of the committee — which will discuss medical marijuana, legalization and other cannabis-related matters — in violation of the coalition deal. The leader of Meretz is Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.
“If they break the coalition agreements, then I will also break them,” Haskel is quoted as saying by Channel 12 news.
The network says Haskel’s threat is also backed by unspecified senior members of Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s right-wing New Hope party.
TEHRAN, Iran — The head of the UN nuclear watchdog will visit Tehran on Monday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency says, as several key dates approach.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi had expressed concern on November 12 over lack of contact with the Iranian government, describing it as “astonishing.”
He said he had hoped to meet Iranian officials ahead of the next meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors, which is scheduled for November 22.
Iran responded three days later by inviting the UN nuclear chief to Tehran.
The head of the agency “will arrive on the evening of Monday, November 22 in Tehran,” Iran’s atomic agency spokesman tells Fars news agency today.
Grossi will meet Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and the head of Iran’s atomic agency, Mohammad Eslami, the spokesman adds.
Grossi’s last visit to Tehran was in September, when he said he had “technical discussions” with Eslami.
He clinched a deal on access to surveillance equipment at Iran’s nuclear facilities but had hoped to return to the country soon for more detailed discussions.
Grossi’s visit comes ahead of the resumption on November 29 of nuclear talks in Vienna, stalled since June. The talks aim to restore a 2015 deal that offered Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for major curbs on its nuclear activities.
The US unilaterally pulled out of the deal in 2018 under the administration of then-president Donald Trump, but talks to revive it began earlier this year.
The Vienna talks will be attended by the remaining parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — while the US will participate in negotiations indirectly.
An Israeli military court sentences a Spanish-Palestinian to 13 months in prison after convicting her of illegally funding a Palestinian terrorist organization.
Juana Rishmawi’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, tells AFP that the military court had confirmed the sentence requested by prosecutors as part of plea agreement last week and ordered her to pay a 50,000 shekel ($16,000) fine.
The Israel Defense Forces has said Rishmawi confessed to her role as a fund raiser for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a description Feldman rejected.
Rishmawi had been working for the Union of Health Work Committees, which Israel banned from the West Bank in 2020, saying it was a civilian arm of the PFLP, a Marxist terrorist group blamed for previous attacks on Israelis.
“The defendant Rishmawi was not involved in passing money to the PFLP. She was working with the health organization, she brought the money to the health organization, she had no idea this money was brought to the PFLP,” Feldman tells reporters.
Rishmawi was first detained in April. Her daughter Maria Rishmawi tells reporters today’s sentencing is “important because the uncertainty of the last months led to a lot of anguish and it was very hard to bear.”
Rishmawi’s sentencing comes weeks after Israel outlawed six prominent Palestinian civil society groups, alleging they were also fronts for the PFLP.
LONDON — The suspect who was killed in a Liverpool taxi explosion spent at least six months buying components for a bomb and appears to have acted alone, British police say today.
Emad Al Swealmeen, 32, died when a blast ripped through the cab in which he was a passenger as it pulled up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday morning. The taxi driver was injured.
Russ Jackson, the head of counterterrorism policing for northwest England, says Al Swealmeen had rented a property in the city in April and been making “relevant purchases” for a device at least since then.
Jackson says investigators so far had not found any other people “of concern.”
Detectives are also piecing together details of Al Swealmeen’s life and say a relative told them he was born in Iraq. He applied for asylum in Britain in 2014, but was rejected, authorities say. It’s unclear what his legal status was at the time of the bombing.
Police have also confirmed that Al Swealmeen was treated in the past for mental illness.
Clergy at two Liverpool churches say Al Swealmeen had converted from Islam to Christianity and appeared to be sincere in his faith.
Investigators are still trying to determine the motive for the attack, and whether the Liverpool Women’s Hospital was the intended target.
The taxi driver, David Perry, escaped from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames. He was treated in a hospital and released.
Britain’s official threat level was raised from substantial to severe — meaning an attack is highly likely — following the blast.
Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates will reportedly sign a deal next week under which a solar plant in the Jordanian desert will generate power for Israel, in exchange for a desalination plant in Israel that will provide Jordan with water.
According to the report on the Walla news site, the deal is slated to be signed in Dubai next week after months of secret negotiations between the three nations. It was purportedly supposed to be signed two weeks ago at the international climate conference in Glasgow, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett requested it be delayed until after Israel’s contentious budget votes.
The report, which cites five Israeli officials familiar with the negotiations, claims that the Biden administration was also aware of and involved in the massive project. US special envoy on climate John Kerry reportedly spoke multiple times with both Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
Kerry, Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, Jordanian Water Minister Mohammed Al-Najjar and UAE special envoy on climate change Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber are expected to take part in the signing of the deal.
Under the terms of the deal, a UAE company will construct the solar plant in Jordan from which Israel will purchase electricity. The deal was reportedly first raised in meeting in September between Elharrar and UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja, during discussions on how the UAE can help broker future regional deals following the Abraham Accords.
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