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Arab lawmakers demand removal of Temple Mount metal detectors

Iran condemns new US sanctions, responds with its own; Likud lawmaker goes on strike over gay adoption policy

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif speaks during a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart following their meeting in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Vano Shlamov)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif speaks during a joint press conference with his Georgian counterpart following their meeting in Tbilisi on April 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Vano Shlamov)
  • Likud MK Amir Ohana attends a Knesset debate on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    Likud MK Amir Ohana attends a Knesset debate on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount, July 18, 2017. (Israel Police)
    Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount, July 18, 2017. (Israel Police)
  • Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R), and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), visit the former Stutthof Nazi concentration camp near Gdansk, Poland, on July 18, 2017. (Simon Krawczyk/AFP)
    Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R), and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge (C), visit the former Stutthof Nazi concentration camp near Gdansk, Poland, on July 18, 2017. (Simon Krawczyk/AFP)
  • Israeli security forces gather at the scene of a car-ramming attack at the entrance to the West Bank village of Beit Anoun on July 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)
    Israeli security forces gather at the scene of a car-ramming attack at the entrance to the West Bank village of Beit Anoun on July 18, 2017. (AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)

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

Two soldiers hurt in car-ramming north of Hebron

The army confirms a car-ramming north of Hebron that left two soldiers hurt.

The Palestinian attacker is neutralized, the army says.

Iran says US sanctions violate nuclear agreement

NEW YORK — Iran’s foreign minister says his government has received “contradictory signals” from the Trump administration and doesn’t know how to interpret them, but he holds open the possibility of talks and improved relations with the United States.

In a wide-ranging session at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mohammad Javad Zarif says he hasn’t communicated with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. But he says “it doesn’t mean that there can’t be (communication), because the possibilities for engagement with regard to the nuclear deal has always been open.”

Zarif says the International Atomic Energy Agency, “which is hardly a sympathizer for Iran,” has verified its compliance with the nuclear deal.

But unfortunately, he says, the US has not complied, and the six parties to the agreement will be meeting in Vienna on Friday to examine Iran’s complaints about the purported US failure to carry out its obligations.

The key issue with the United States, he says, is over sanctions against Iran that the agreement requires to be lifted and the sanctions that remain on Iran over human rights, terrorism and other issues.

— AP

Russian rabbi criticizes local court for blacklisting book by 19th century rabbi

A prominent rabbi from Russia condemns in harsh terms a ruling by a court in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi that blacklisted and labeled extremist a book penned by a 19th-century rabbi.

Rabbi Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and a key figure within Russia’s Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities, called “absurd” Monday’s ruling by a district court in the city to classify as extremist the book “Forcibly Baptized” by Rabbi Marcus Lehmann.

The novel, which deals with a Jew’s determination to retain his faith despite external pressures to renounce it, was added to the federal list of extremist materials of the Ministry of Justice of Russia.

In his scathing rebuke, Gorin, a book publisher by profession, says the decision was “a mockery of justice” that belonged in the 19th century. He also suggests it is part of a judicial policy in Sochi to limit the growth of Jewish spiritual life, and goes on to compare the move to tendencies to distort the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

Gorin’s rebuke is the latest and sharpest in a series of comments reflecting discomfort with authorities and the judiciary by a man who serves as the senior-most spokesperson for Lazar. The chief rabbi’s Federation of Jewish Communities has worked closely with the Kremlin on projects related to Jewish life in Russia, which has blossomed under President Vladimir Putin, whose government has allocated land for the construction of many synagogues.


Magen David Adom says soldiers in car-ramming are lightly hurt

The car-ramming attack that left two soldiers wounded took place on Route 60, near Beit Anoun, north of Hebron, according to the Magen David Adom rescue service.

The soldiers are lightly wounded and being taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Palestinian assailant in car-ramming shot and killed during attack

The IDF says the Palestinian driver of the vehicle involved in the car-ramming some 30 minutes ago at Beit Anoun north of Hebron was shot and killed by soldiers on the scene during the attack.

Hungary’s Orban: Collaboration with Nazis was mistake, sin

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary’s prime minister says his country’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II was a “mistake” and a “sin” as it failed to protect its Jewish community.

Viktor Orban says Tuesday that he told visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “this can never happen again,” as Hungary “will protect all its citizens.” Some 550,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to visit Hungary since 1989, when Hungary was still under communist rule.

A recent government campaign against Hungarian-American billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been criticized by Jewish organizations for its anti-Semitic overtones, which Orban’s government denies.

— AP

Saudi authorities investigate Snapchat model in miniskirt

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi authorities are investigating footage of a woman in a miniskirt and crop top walking through a historic site in the ultraconservative kingdom posted to social media over the weekend.

A series of videos, initially posted to the Snapchat account of “Model Khulood,” show a young woman in a high-waisted miniskirt walking through a fort in Ushaiqer, outside the capital Riyadh, playing with sand in the dunes and turning towards the camera for a close-up, her long hair uncovered.

The videos have since been uploaded to YouTube and tweeted by different users.

The local government of Riyadh has issued a memo saying authorities were taking the “necessary measures” to find the woman, who it accused of “walking around… in indecent clothing.”

The Commission of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — Saudi Arabia’s “morality police” — on Sunday confirmed it was investigating the case in coordination with “relevant authorities” via Twitter.

The snaps have sparked heated debate, with social media users in the region and beyond weighing in on questions of gender and rights in the kingdom, where women are required to wear long black abaya robes and cover their hair in public.


Dutch railway resists restitution to Holocaust survivor

Responding to a restitution claim by a Holocaust survivor, the Dutch national railway company referred him to its customer service department — which told him they cannot find his paperwork.

Salo Muller, who was a boy when he was separated from his parents 75 years ago in Amsterdam before their murder in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, based his claim last year on the 2015 discovery of documents in which the Nederlandse Spoorwegen national railway company, or NS, billed German authorities for the transportation of Jews to transit camps.

The company earned the equivalent of at least $2.7 million from these transports, on a per capita payment system, the NOS public broadcaster reported Monday, the 75th anniversary of the first shipments of Jews to the Westerbork transit camp in the northern Netherlands.

NS apologized for its role in the murder of 75 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of the Netherlands, which comprised approximately 140,000 people. It also funds various commemoration projects, including at the Westerbork memorial museum with over $1 million. But NS has resisted calls to offer compensation to victims and their descendants, as the French railway system did in 2015, paying $60 million.


Upset with US, Iranian lawmakers to draft anti-American bill

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian lawmakers agree to fast-track an anti-American bill meant to confront allegedly “adventurist and terrorist” US actions in the region.

Iranian state TV reported that 211 lawmakers in the 290-seat assembly back an outline for the legislation at a session Tuesday.

The details of the bill will be worked out in parliament over the next few weeks, after which it will go to the Guardian Council for ratification, like all laws in Iran.

The development comes a day after the Trump administration tells Congress that Iran would face consequences for breaching “the spirit” of the nuclear deal with world powers.

Congress has been pushing for a new set of sanctions against Iran and its Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force responsible for recent ballistic missile tests that angered Washington.

— AP

Likud lawmaker goes on strike over gay adoption policy

Likud MK Amir Ohana, a well-known gay rights activist, says he will no longer vote with the coalition until the welfare and justice ministries rescind their recommendation against allowing gay couples to adopt under Israeli law.

In a hearing over a petition to the High Court of Justice on Sunday, attorneys for the state said the government opposes gay adoption, mainly on the grounds that it could cause the children of same-sex families to be ostracized by their social group.

The argument caused widespread anger, including public castigation of the claim by the state attorney’s office, the psychologists’ union and social work professors. On Monday, Welfare Minister Haim Katz himself said he opposed the policy described to the court and asked the High Court to delay the next hearing in order to allow the ministry to reassess its policy.

In a letter to Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan, Ohana wrote that the Sunday hearing was a “watershed moment” for him, and meant that he could not support the ruling coalition of which he was a member until it changed its view on gay adoption.

Likud MK Amir Ohana attends a Knesset debate on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Likud MK Amir Ohana attends a Knesset debate on December 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

UK’s William and Kate visit former Nazi concentration camp

William and Kate, the UK’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visit the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Stutthof in Poland where they meet with two survivors of the facility where 28,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

Manfred Goldber, and Zigi Shipper, both 87 and from north London, show the royal couple the camp that was operated in Nazi-occupied Poland.

William and Kate see displays of discarded shoes, clothing and other personal items that belonged to prisoners who were sent to the camp. They are also shown a gas chamber where prisoners too sick to work were murdered.

The royal couple places stones at the camp’s Jewish memorial, an old Jewish custom dating back to medieval times. Shipper and Goldber recite the El Maleh Rachamim (Merciful God) memorial prayer.

The royals are on a five-day visit to Germany and Poland.

— Stuart Winer

Lebanon preparing for military operation near Syria border

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says the army is preparing for a security operation along a lawless section of the border with Syria.

An operation has been expected since the head of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group said last week it was time to restore security in the Arsal region.

Hundreds of Islamic State and al-Qaeda-linked fighters are believed to be hiding in mountains around Arsal, a Lebanese border town that has been overwhelmed by refugees from the war in neighboring Syria.

They seized Arsal briefly in 2014, abducting several Lebanese servicemen, before retreating back to the mountains. The Army and Hezbollah have kept the town under restrictive guard since then.

Hariri’s comments to parliament are carried by the state-run National News Agency on Tuesday.

— AP

German shipbuilder says no ‘concrete’ corruption found in sub deal

The German shipbuilder at the center of a criminal investigation into suspected fraud in the multi-billion-shekel sale of naval vessels to Israel says an internal probe unearthed no “concrete indications of corruption.”

“Based on the investigative measures we were able to carry out, we found no concrete indications of corruption – neither with regard to submarine projects, nor in connection with the procurement of corvettes,” ThyssenKrupp says in a statement, according to Reuters.

“However, these investigation results are explicitly provisional,” the German steel giant adds, saying that its probe was limited by its inability to conduct an investigation in Israel and lack of investigatory powers that legal authorities have.

Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu touring the INS Tanin submarine, built by the German firm ThyssenKrupp, as it arrived in Israel on September 23, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

The police investigation centers on suspicions that ThyssenKrupp’s representative in Israel, Micki Ganor, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef, paid out bribes in connection with a decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to buy three submarines from ThyssenKrupp despite opposition from the Defense Ministry.

— Alexander Fulbright

Trump blames Democrats for failure to replace Obamacare

US President Donald Trump blames Democrats and a few holdouts in his own party Tuesday for the collapse of the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare — one of Trump’s key campaign pledges.

A Republican drive in the Senate to come up with a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act fell apart Monday when two more Republican senators came out against their party’s legislation.

That made for a total of four holdouts — the party has 52 seats in the 100-member legislature — and effectively doomed the legislation.

The collapse is a stinging blow to Trump and Republicans who have vowed for seven years that they would quickly dump former president Barack Obama’s signature health care reform as soon as they could.

“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” Trump says in a tweet.

“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!” he adds.


Olmert briefly detained at airport over 2014 no-fly order

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert is briefly prevented from boarding a plane at Ben Gurion Airport over a no-fly order left over from the Holyland real estate graft investigation in 2014.

Olmert’s attorneys intervene with airport authorities and he is allowed to board the plane, reportedly his first flight out of the country since his release from prison earlier this month.

Police say Muslim worshipers returning to pray at Al-Aqsa

Muslim worshipers are continuing to enter the Temple Mount through metal detector gates placed at its entrance, the Israel Police says.

The statement is a response to calls by Wakf leaders at the holy site for Palestinians to refuse to pass through the detectors on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque. The detectors were set up after Friday’s deadly shooting attack that left two Israeli cops dead.

“Since the reopening of the Temple Mount on Sunday, Muslim worshipers continue to arrive and enter the area of the Temple Mount during all hours of the day,” the police statement says.

“Visits by tourists and Jews are also taking place during the hours set aside for them,” the statement adds.

“The Israel Police continues to act to enable a return to a safe routine in the Temple Mount area, its entrances and the wider area.”

Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount, July 18, 2017. (Israel Police)
Muslim worshipers on the Temple Mount, July 18, 2017. (Israel Police)

Two Jews detained after ‘violating rules’ on Temple Mount

A statement by the Israel Police says “two Jews who violated the rules of the [Temple Mount] were removed from the area of the Mount by officers and detained for questioning.”

There are no further details.

IDF raids home of car-rammer, question family members

IDF forces raid the Hebron-area home of the Palestinian man who carried out the car-ramming attack earlier today at Beit Einoun.

The man’s family members are questioned by security officials.

The driver was shot and killed by soldiers after hitting three of them, all of whom were lightly hurt.

China looks to host peace conference with Israelis, Palestinians

China will host a symposium between the Palestinians and Israelis later this year, an official says, as president Xi Jinping vows to “ceaselessly” contribute towards peace in the region.

Despite depending on the volatile Middle East for oil supplies, Beijing has long taken a backseat in Middle East disputes.

But it has stepped up its diplomatic engagement in the region in the past year, including offering to host talks on the Syrian conflict.

In a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, Xi reaffirms China’s support for a two-state solution along the 1967 border and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

During closed door talks, Xi says China will set up a trilateral dialogue mechanism with the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and later this year will host a peace symposium to help resolve the dispute, vice minister of foreign affairs Zhang Ming tells reporters.


Jean-Marie Le Pen faces trial for ‘oven’ swipe at Jewish singer

The co-founder of France’s far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, faces trial for inciting racial hatred over a swipe at a Jewish singer that was seen as anti-Semitic, judicial sources say.

Le Pen, 89, has a long history of lashing out at minorities. He already has several convictions for inciting racial hatred and Holocaust denial.

He made the remark about pop singer Patrick Bruel in a video interview posted on the FN’s website in 2014.

Asked about criticism from Bruel and other singers, he chuckled and said: “Listen, we will make an oven load next time.”

The remark was widely seen as a veiled reference to the crematoria used by the Nazis to incinerate Holocaust victims.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the French far-right National Front (FN) party, at the party's headquarters on August 20, 2015 (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP)
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the French far-right National Front (FN) party, at the party’s headquarters on August 20, 2015 (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP)


Comptroller says possible criminal missteps in Haifa ammonia relocation

In a report given to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the State Comptroller’s Office says government officials handling the search for an alternative to the ammonia processing plant in Haifa may have illegally helped Haifa Chemicals, the company that owns the plant.

The report says the decisionmaking process and the way in which various options for relocating the site were weighed could have been structured to favor Haifa Chemicals’ interests over those of the public.

It specifically names Environmental Protection Ministry Director General Israel Danziger as a key figure involved in the case, who the comptroller’s office claims may have acted in violation of conflict of interest rules.

Saudi woman in miniskirt video arrested after public outcry

A Saudi woman is arrested for defying the kingdom’s strict dress code by walking around in a miniskirt and crop top in a video that sparked public outrage.

The woman, whose name is not given, is detained by police in the capital, Riyadh, for wearing “immodest clothes” that contradict the country’s conservative Islamic dress code, state media report Tuesday. Police refer her case to the public prosecutor, according to the official Twitter account of state-run TV channel al-Ekhbariya.

In the video, which has gone viral since first emerging on Snapchat over the weekend, the woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video, shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families are from, is followed by other shots of her sitting in the desert.

— AP

Iran condemns new US sanctions, responds with its own

Iran condemns new American sanctions on its ballistic missile program that were imposed on Tuesday and responded with its own sanctions against Americans, official news agency IRNA reports.

The foreign ministry condemns “the United States’ worthless act of imposing illegal sanctions” against people linked to the program, IRNA reports.

Tehran “will in turn apply new sanctions against American people and entities that have acted against the Iranian people and other Muslim peoples of the region,” it says.


Court gives government 2 months to reassess gay adoption policy

The High Court of Justice grants the government two months to reassess its policy toward adoption by same-sex couples.

The next hearing in an appeal on the issue is pushed off from this coming Thursday to September 19.

The delay was requested by Welfare Minister Haim Katz after state attorneys representing his ministry revealed to the High Court on Sunday that welfare agencies prioritized heterosexual couples over homosexual ones when deciding to allow adoptions — in order to save the adopted children the social stigma of growing up in a same-sex home.

The argument caused a public outcry, with activists, lawmakers and Katz himself coming out against the policy.

Katz requested the delay “so that the professional services can reexamine the issue and bring all the relevant factors to bear,” he said in a letter to the court.

Arab lawmakers demand removal of Temple Mount metal detectors

Arab MKs Ahmad Tibi and Osama Sa’adi visit the Lions Gate at the Temple Mount and call to remove the metal detectors placed at the site after Friday’s deadly shooting attack against police officers there.

“The metal detectors must be removed immediately to avoid more discontent and deterioration,” the two Joint List lawmakers say in a statement.

“We who seek peace and not war call on [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to immediately cancel the decision [to install the detectors] and return the situation to what it was before, to allow freedom of worship without any limits.”

The statement adds: “The [Al-Aqsa] Mosque is a holy place of prayer, a symbol of life, not death. Netanyahu bears responsibility for the agitation that has resulted from the new steps.”

Two more soldiers taken to hospital after Hebron car-ramming

Another two soldiers are brought to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment after a Palestinian man rammed his car into a group of servicemen near the village of Beit Einun, north of Hebron, earlier today.

Two soldiers were taken to the capital’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment immediately after the attack, while two others hit by the car were initially only treated on the scene.

According to a military spokesperson, over time army medical officials realized the other two soldiers required more advanced care.

All four soldiers were lightly wounded in the attack. The first soldiers who were brought to Shaare Zedek have already been released, a hospital spokesperson says.

— Judah Ari Gross

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