I like to think my father would have appreciated the irony of me reviewing a TV series called The Grave this week.
He died at the age of 89 on Thursday after a short but debilitating illness, spending his final days in an English hospital. To be honest, I'm beginning to think it was a mistake to let Armie Hammer visit him that final night.
Due to coronavirus constraints, it's going to be a while before I get to visit Dad's final resting place and talk to him once more about the horrors of Brexit, Bibi, Boris, Trumpism and the Nottingham Forest Football Club. (Like me, he was a lifelong Notts County fan, so when people offer condolences and hope he didn't suffer much at the end, I have to stop myself from saying that as a supporter of one of England's least successful soccer clubs, suffering was kind of in his DNA.)
Israel has committed to provide Pfizer with a large amount of data on its coronavirus vaccination campaign but not information that would identify individual recipients of Pfizer's vaccine, according to the contract the government signed with the pharmaceutical company and the Health Ministry made public on Sunday.
In disclosing the agreement, the ministry obscured portions of the contract relating to commercial information such as the amounts to be paid to Pfizer. The move to make the contract public is intended to increase transparency and remove any concern that Pfizer would obtain personal medical information about Israelis who have been vaccinated.
Israel has vaccinated a greater proportion of its population than any other country and most of the vaccine used has come from Pfizer.
The Israeli military struck several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday after two rockets fired from the enclave toward the maritime area of Ashdod fell into the Mediterranean Sea earlier in the morning, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said.
The Israeli Air Force attacked tunnel making facilities in the enclave, the military reported.
On Wednesday, Israel and Hamas exchanged fire on the Gaza border in two separate incidents, marking the first escalation on the border in 2021.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Sunday's cabinet meeting with an emotional statement about an issue that wasn't on the agenda provided to ministers over the weekend.
We're currently holding a discussion with the Defense Ministry about young settlements, he said. This is a humanitarian issue people who have no electricity or water. I very much hope we'll be able to reach an agreement in the next day or two, because we have to solve this. There's no justification for this, and it causes unnecessary suffering.
Behind this remark, which was aimed at the ears of settlers in the territories two months and one week before the election, hides a less heartwarming and more troubling story that the prime minister would evidently prefer to suppress the story of how Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit managed to block Netanyahu's effort to exclude Defense Minister Benny Gantz from involvement in a plan to legalize illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank (or to use the government's preferred euphemism, young settlements).
The cries at the funeral Sunday in Elad filled the air as Shmuel Yodlovich eulogized his wife, Tzipi, a 40-year-old woman with no underlying conditions who died over Shabbat after contracting the coronavirus. When we were singing A Woman of Valor' the angels were leading you to heaven, he is heard saying on a recording of the eulogy that was circulated.
Similar eulogies have been heard over the past several weeks at cemeteries in many ultra-Orthodox communities. The rate of infection in the Haredi community during the current wave of the pandemic is breaking records. The bulletin boards in Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem are seeing death notices pasted over each other daily and the mourning pages on Haredi websites are being updated at a dizzying pace. Many members of the community are hospitalized in serious condition.
Within a month the number of new cases has soared, as has the number of hospitalized patients and deaths in all the Haredi towns and neighborhoods. The Health Ministry believes the coronavirus' British mutation has been spreading in these neighborhoods, but it's clear to everyone that that's not the only reason for the speed of the outbreak. Educational institutions that were open, synagogues operating almost as normal, weddings and mass events have all contributed.
Behind the scenes, a stormy argument is taking place in the Jewish world between two camps that were aptly defined by the late Prof. Yehuda Elkana the one that, ever since the Holocaust, has been saying never again, and the one that has been saying never again to us. Recently, this issue has been the focus of the first public battle within the American Jewish community in the run-up to Joe Biden's inauguration as president.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance is an international project that seeks to define what antisemitism is for countries and organizations worldwide in order to help them fight it, legally and educationally. On the face of it, this is a worthy goal. But the definition IHRA adopted in 2016 has become the subject of a fierce political controversy, with the Israeli government orchestrating and intensifying the drama.
The reason is the definition's focus on examples of the new antisemitism against Israel as a Jewish collective. Or in other words, on whether criticism of Israel that reaches the point of anti-Zionism is necessarily antisemitic.
Nissim Meghnagi, who filed a defamation suit against Mohammed Bakri, director of the film Jenin, Jenin, told Yedioth Ahronoth, When I checked before the trial who from among our brigade had seen the film, I discovered that no one had seen it. Everyone I know wanted to disconnect, to forget about it.
That's interesting, given that Maj. (res.) Yisrael Caspi, who had been there, said, We fought like Mother Teresa, a compassionate nurse. If that was the case, one would expect that all the soldiers in the battalion would be running to visit those whom they treated like a compassionate nurse. But deep inside everyone knows that something terrible happened there, about which it's best to keep mum.
The Jenin refugee camp was opened in 1953, and most of its residents are refugees from the Carmel region in Haifa. When the Israeli army occupied the camp in 2003, some 15,000 refugees lived there in difficult conditions on 473 dunams (184 acres), dreaming of when they'd no longer be refugees. I'm asking not as a Palestinian or a Jew, but simply as a human being: What should a soldier do when he is facing a besieged camp with the world's most advanced weapons, and his aim is to subdue unfortunate people who have decided not to surrender and add another tier to the tragedy that has been unfolding since 1948?
NASA scientists and the European research organization Copernicus summed up the data last week. As expected, 2020, like all the years before it, ranked as one of the hottest years since such measurements began. It actually shares the title hottest year ever with the year 2016. Heat wave, drought, floods and storms were the lot of humanity this past year as well.
There is no reason to think that things will improve in the coming years; if anything, the opposite is true. If almost every year is warmer than the year before, what does that say about the Earth's climate in another 20 or 30 years? What will life look like in such a world?
The real meaning of the headline is that humanity is in a state of emergency. The house is burning, and that's not a metaphor. This insight is slowly penetrating the ranks of the world's decision makers. Among U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's first decisions was to appoint John Kerry, one of America's most experienced politicians, as climate czar. The new administration's economic recovery program is also based on comprehensive moves to adjust the American economy to the climate-crisis era.
Israel's top rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is getting some American help ahead of the March 23 elections.
Gideon Sa'ar, a onetime Netanyahu protege, has hired four of the founders of the Lincoln Project, which ran a relentless campaign to help defeat U.S. President Donald Trump. The hiring was first reported by Israel's Channel 12 TV and confirmed by a member of Sa'ar's campaign. The campaign official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal strategy.
Lincoln Project founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, Stuart Stevens and Reed Galen were among the leaders of the effort to draw Republicans from Trump's reelection effort centered on the president's ethics and moral leadership. The Lincoln Project's stated mission is to hold public leaders accountable.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Sunday that he had thwarted efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to interfere in the work of the Defense Ministry by trying to stop Gantz's plan to secure approval for Palestinian construction in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control.
The Prime Minster's Office has denied Gantz's claim.
The conflicting accounts relate to a committee meeting on Sunday of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank, which had several requests on its agenda from Palestinians seeking permission to carry out construction in Area C. The committee's consideration of the requests followed years in which only a small number of similar requests were approved.
Education Minister Yoav Gallant said Sunday that he has ordered his ministry's director general to bar schools from hosting organizations that treat IDF soldiers contemptuously and call Israel an apartheid state.
He was responding to complaints from Likud Knesset members over the fact that Hagai El-Ad, the director of the human rights group B'Tselem, is slated to address students at a Haifa high school on Monday in a Zoom lecture.
El-Ad was originally scheduled to deliver the lecture at Haifa's Hebrew Reali School last month, but it was cancelled following pressure from right-wing groups. He learned about the cancelation only from reading about it in Haaretz.
Former Knesset speaker and Jewish Agency chairman Avraham Avrum' Burg joins host Simon Spungin to explain his request to have Jewish' deleted from his Israeli identity card and why the Nation-State Law was a quantum leap in Israel's march toward an illiberal democracy.
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PLUS: Amir Tibon on the trepidation and optimism ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and Very Fine People, a Haaretz.com project presenting an oral history of Jewish America during the Trump presidency.
Almost 400,000 people were mistakenly quarantined due to the Shin Bet security service's cellphone tracking, Israel's High Court of Justice said Sunday in one of several comments critical of the agency's effort to track coronavirus patients.
Taken altogether, these problems make it legally difficult to automatically extend the law enabling such tracking, the seven-justice panel said during a hearing on a petition against the law.
Justice Anat Baron termed the law draconian, while Justice Isaac Amit said the law allows Shin Bet tracking only when the danger is defined as clear and present.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport after returning from Germany on Sunday, the prison service said.
The prison service said he was detained for multiple violations of parole and terms of a suspended prison sentence and would be held in custody until a court makes a decision in his case.
Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin's most prominent and determined foe, had spent the previous five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent attack that he blamed on the Kremlin. Navalny decided to leave Berlin of his own free will and wasn't under any apparent pressure to leave from Germany.
A video from inside the Capitol published Sunday gives an inside look at the violence that took place in Washington after Trump supporters breached the premises, smashing windows, vandalizing property and pushing back against police in a shocking scene that left five dead.
The video filmed by reporter Luke Mogelson and published by The New Yorker gives perhaps the clearest sense of what happened when supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump forced their way into the U.S. Capitol as Congress convened to certify the results of the presidential election.
"There's got to be something in here we can f****** use against these scum bags," a man says as he is seen in the Senate chamber, flipping through a binder of documents with his phone camera out.
People who have received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine will be exempt from quarantine after coming into contact with a confirmed coronavirus carrier if a week has elapsed since they received the second dose of the vaccine, Israel's pandemic czar Nachman Ash said Sunday.
This is currently the only benefit available to someone who has received both doses. We're also talking about other things, once we continue with the use of the green passport' and open the economy, Ash said, referring to the certificate issued for those who have been vaccinated. In the coming days, a computerized system will go online that will enable vaccination certificates to be issued.
According to Pfizer's trials, its vaccine reaches maximum efficacy of 95 percent about a week after the second dose is administered. However, it's currently not clear whether the vaccine actually prevents infection or merely the development of the disease.
A cold case of the 2005 disappearance of an Israeli Arab woman has been solved, the police said on Sunday, estimating that her brother, who was stabbed to death shortly after, committed the crime.
According to the police, 19-year-old Nadaa Barud from Haifa, was murdered by her brother Ahmed Barud, who was stabbed to death shortly after she disappeared.
No one had looked for Nadaa Barud for years, and her remains, which were found a few months later, remained unidentified until last year. Nadaa's other relatives are also believed to have been involved in her murder.
On January 2, Ram Netzer, 53, of Tel Aviv, received two phone calls that he didn't want to get. The first was from a contact tracer and the second was from the Clalit Health Services health maintenance organization. Both calls informed Netzer that he had tested positive for the coronavirus in a test that he had taken two days earlier. The only problem was that Netzer had not taken a COVID-19 test then or for weeks prior to that.
From then on, what began as a clear case of mistaken identity developed into a story with surprising, life-complicating twists and turns. According to the Shin Bet security service's contact-tracing procedures, the moment Netzer was declared positive for COVID-19, anyone who had been in contact with him in the days prior to that was contacted and told to go into quarantine.
I know of at least four people who went into quarantine because of me, but it's very likely that there are other people who were contacted and I don't know about them, Netzer said.
Israeli settlers assailed and lightly wounded a 10 -year-old girl from the West Bank village of Madama south of Nabus on Sunday, according to her relatives.
The girl, Hala Alkut, was wounded in her head and face. She was taken to a hospital in Nablus for treatment and later released.
According to the girl's aunt, the girl had been at the aunt's home and was on her way to her own house across the street when she was attacked. One of the assailants, the aunt said, tried to pull her while the others attacked her. The girl managed to escape back into the house and the assailants threw stones into the home, the aunt said.
President Donald Trump now plans to leave Washington on the morning of Inauguration Day next Wednesday after considering a departure on Tuesday, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
A poll by the Pew Research Center said Trump is leaving the White House with the lowest job approval of his presidency (29%) and increasingly negative ratings for his post-election conduct. President-elect Joe Biden meanwhile has a 58% approval rating.
Trump, who had already said he will not attend Biden's inauguration, is planning a ceremonial farewell at Joint Base Andrews, the base outside Washington where Air Force One is headquartered, the sources said.
COVID-19 testing may have reached an unprecedented height of some 120,000 daily tests last week, but several health care sources have slammed the testing policy as out of touch with the needs of the current infection situation, claiming that they constitute an unjustified waste of public funds.
The Health Ministry set itself the ambitious goal of 100,000 tests per day, which it has managed to reach and even exceed. As COVID swiftly spreads in Israel, the tests produce a huge number of confirmed new cases, and have forced a quarter of a million people into quarantine. However, there is a growing amount of voices in the health care system claiming that testing is increasingly detached from the overall goals of the fight against the virus.
There is no doubt that testing is critical on both the individual and the wider epidemiological level, but it is also a complicated landscape. The testing system comprises of numerous components, among them establishing testing centers, supplying personal protective equipment and testing kits, sending the tests to laboratories, documentation and digitalization and reporting to health maintenance organizations. There also many entities involved: medical facilities, government ministries, local government, and the army and private companies, which must all work in concert. The complexity of these operations requires a wise use of testing that is attuned to the changing reality of the pandemic in Israel.
New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told a virtual town hall on Friday that Facebook's long-term resistance to cracking down misinformation on its platform was partly to blame for the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
I believe that this is directly connected to the complete lack of accountability that monopolies like Facebook have to democracy, Ocasio-Cortez said. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook bear partial responsibility for Wednesday's events. Period.
Ocasio-Cortez claimed that Facebook treated white supremacists with kid gloves, citing Zuckerberg's testimony before Congress in 2019, in which the congresswoman grilled the Facebook CEO.
The fall of the great city of Ugarit and rise of towns along the coasts of today's Israel and Lebanon had been thought to date after the empires around the Mediterranean collapsed 3,200 years ago. Now the discovery of a significant number of Canaanite jars in the Mycenaean city of Tiryns dating to well before the collapse indicates otherwise.
As the ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean arose, they not only warred on one another, they traded with each other too. Until the still-enigmatic large-scale collapse of civilizations around the Mediterranean in the 13th century B.C.E., Ugarit in today's Syria had been believed to be the main trading partner across the sea for the Aegean kingdoms Tiryns and Mycenae.
The Aegean kingdoms were known to have also traded with the cities further south of Ugarit, but not much, it was thought.
Herod the Great, as his posthumous title suggests, was a go-big-or-go-home kind of king. The first century B.C.E. ruler of Judea is remembered not only for his ruthlessness but for his megalomaniac building projects: the spectacular renovation of the Temple in Jerusalem; the construction of the port city of Caesarea; and his extravagant palaces, often built on remote sites that doubled up as nearly impregnable fortresses.
Now it seems that Herod's architectural prowess manifested itself also in smaller-scale and more refined planning. The study of one of the gardens in the king's winter palace in Jericho, near the Dead Sea, has shown that what grew there were miniaturized forms of large ornamental plants. In the middle of the desert, King Herod apparently raised lush bonsai versions of pines, cypresses, cedars, olives and other trees, says the study published Tuesday in Strata, the journal of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society.
The research is based on the analysis of fossilized pollen found in soil samples from the garden and on archaeological discoveries at the site, report Dafna Langgut, head of the archaeobotanical lab at Tel Aviv University and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and Kathryn Gleason, an archaeologist and professor of landscape architecture at Cornell University.
The case against the police officers involved in a car chase that resulted in the death of settler teen Ahuvia Sandak last month is expected to be closed, according to sources involved in the investigation/
Sandak, 16, fled from police with four friends after they allegedly threw stones at Palestinian vehicles. The car in which Sandak was traveling collided with the patrol car pursuing them, and Sandak was killed when the car flipped.
Police are reportedly closing the case on the grounds that it is impossible to determine what caused the crash between the patrol vehicle and the suspects' car.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will cap a busy day of inauguration pageantry by using the powers of his new office to push policy changes on housing, student loans, climate change and immigration, a top aide said on Saturday.
Biden, who campaigned on a raft of promises to undo President Donald Trump's legacy even before the novel coronavirus pandemic walloped the nation, will unveil roughly a dozen previously promised executive actions on Wednesday, incoming Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said in a memo distributed to reporters.
The actions to be taken on Wednesday include rejoining the Paris climate accords, reversing a travel ban on several majority Muslim countries, extending a pause on federal student loan payments, halting evictions and foreclosures, as well as mandating masks in inter-state travel and on federal property.
Just after Israel entered its third lockdown in less than a year, dozens of new immigrants at a Jewish Agency absorption center in northern Israel were asked last week to relocate, setting off what one newcomer described as a rush to find alternative accommodations.
The request was made in order to create room at Kiryat Yam's Sapir Absorption Center for a group of immigrants from Ethiopia, Haaretz has learned. However, the Agency did not explain that explicitly to the current residents, generating intense confusion and uncertainty. Many of them have only been in the country after making aliyah for a matter of months and are still far from fully integrating into mainstream Israeli life.
Last Thursday, I and all the olim from Latin America and Russia were informed that we have to leave this building as soon as possible, one resident, a recent immigrant from Brazil who asked to remain anonymous, told Haaretz.
Israeli courts have banned the showing of films in movie theaters before, but the ruling last week in the defamation suit against Jenin, Jenin and its creator Mohammad Bakri seems particularly severe. Judge Halit Silash banned screenings of the documentary, ordered the confiscation of all copies of it, and required the director to pay the plaintiff, army reservist Nissim Meganji, 175,000 shekels ($55,840), on top of 50,000 shekels for the trial's expenses.
With this ruling the court is sending a threatening message to local filmmakers: They should be careful about how they ply their freedom of expression and artistic freedom. But, surprisingly, despite the ban and the judge's harsh comments about Bakri, she didn't block the option of watching the film on Israeli YouTube.
Bakri and his lawyers, Michael Sfard and Hussein Abu Hussein, say they are inclined to appeal the decision at the Supreme Court, though they have not made a final decision. Sfard told Haaretz on Tuesday that the ruling reveals much more about Israeli society than about Bakri and his film. It shows who we are in 2021, what kind of society we are, and how we deal with criticism even if we think that it's false. And the picture that it portrays is ugly and problematic, he says.
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday.
The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
The hundreds who stormed the Capitol quickly overwhelmed police guarding the building, calling security preparations into question, and showed a level of detailed knowledge about the location of lawmakers' offices by some rioters that raised suspicions.
As a columnist for The New York Times, Timothy Egan's voice is influential. Here's his explanation for the reasons that President Donald Trump's followers are so enraged that they invaded Congress and threatened to lynch Trump's enemies, as well as those who wouldn't do his bidding.
He says: "I understand the tribalism, the urge to push back against condescending libs and the suffocating ubiquity of political correctness, the sense that only Trump can save a certain way of life."
No serious study says that these haters voted for Trump because of the reasons Egan gives. As for "suffocating political correctness," it's actually his kind of apologetics, not least in the overwhelmingly white media, that is really "ubiquitous."
How many parents really know what their children are exposed to on the internet? We're familiar with the many dangers lurking there: exposure to harmful content, bullying, communication with strangers, sexual exploitation, pornography, identity theft and fraud.
Most parents don't want to go snooping through their kids' phones and computers, but even if they did, they can't supervise their children all the time, and the dangers are too sophisticated for ordinary people to deal with. The usual solution for parents is to rely on parental control technologies various kinds of software that filters and blocks content or follows kids' internet habits without their knowledge.
But if you ask Israeli tech incubator manager and investor Dr. Uri Weinheber, whose book Techno.human was recently published in Israel by Resling Books, parents depend on technology to do much more than it's really intended to do, and making them actually neglect an important part of their children's upbringing.
On January 18, 1991, Israelis were awakened at 2 A.M. to the familiar wail of emergency sirens. Within seconds, this sound was replaced by another, unfamiliar one in the Tel Aviv region and the Haifa Bay area: the landing of eight surface-to-surface Soviet Scud missiles. They were launched from west Iraq and landed at four sites in Israel: on Haifa's outskirts, and in northern and southern Tel Aviv.
The residents, who were sheltering in their homes' 'safe rooms' with gas masks covering their faces, were alarmed. The months that had led up to that moment were fraught with confusion, and the public's lack of confidence in the political and military leadership had deepened following a series of contradictory assessments issued by the government, the defense establishment and pundits.
The assessments were on important matters like whether to issue gas masks to the public, whether missiles would be fired at Israel and whether they would be fitted with chemical warheads. Panic and hysteria spread. Hundreds of thousands of people fled from the country's center to areas they believed wouldn't be targeted, like Jerusalem. Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat called them deserters.
Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse took aim at the antisemitic, right-wing conspiracy theory known as QAnon in a blistering editorial in The Atlantic published Saturday.
The op-ed titled "QAnon is Destroying the GOP From Within" argues that the deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was not the result of a "few bad apples" but the result of a "seed" planted inside the Republican Party that allowed disinformation and conspiracy to take root.
Read more: The six lowest points of Trump's corrupt, racist, impeached, ignorant, incompetent clusterfuck of a presidency | Trump Jr., right-wing Twitter claim Orthodox Jewish rioter was a left-wing agitator despite lack of evidence
On January 17, 1945, probably the most inspiring rescuer of Jews targeted for extermination in the Holocaust, disappeared from the face of the earth.
Millions of words have been written about the feats of Raoul Wallenberg. Devoid of any diplomatic experience, he arrived in Budapest on July 9, 1944 and within six months he managed to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis and their local henchmen.
In January 1945, sensing the war in Hungary was nearing its end, he set up a meeting with Marshal Rodyon Malinovsky, Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Front, at the Red Army's Debrecen headquarters. Refusing to heed his colleagues' warnings, Wallenberg instructed his loyal aide and chauffer, Vilmos Langfelder, to drive him there. On January 17, the two men drove the 195 kilometers that separated Budapest from Debrecen, a journey full of danger.
Unidentified gunmen killed two female judges from Afghanistan's Supreme Court on Sunday morning, police said, adding to a wave of assassinations in Kabul and other cities while government and Taliban representatives have been holding peace talks in Qatar.
The two judges, who have not yet been named, were killed and their driver wounded, in an attack at around 8:30 am, police said, adding the case was being investigated by security forces.
A spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters were not involved.
War-like imagery has begun spreading in Republican circles after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters, with some elected officials and party leaders rejecting pleas to tone down rhetoric calling for a second civil war.
In northwestern Wisconsin, the chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party was forced to resign Friday after refusing for a week after the siege to remove an online post urging followers to prepare for war. The incoming chairwoman of the Michigan GOP and her husband, a state lawmaker, have joined a conservative social media site created after the Capitol riot where the possibility of civil war is a topic.
Read more: The six lowest points of Trump's corrupt, racist, impeached, ignorant, incompetent clusterfuck of a presidency | Trump Jr., right-wing Twitter claim Orthodox Jewish rioter was a left-wing agitator despite lack of evidence
Far-right media personality and notorious white supremacist Tim Gionet, who calls himself Baked Alaska, has been arrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
Gionet was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Read more: The six lowest points of Trump's corrupt, racist, impeached, ignorant, incompetent clusterfuck of a presidency | Trump Jr., right-wing Twitter claim Orthodox Jewish rioter was a left-wing agitator despite lack of evidence
Right-wing figures on Twitter, including Donald Trump Jr., are promoting the idea that Aaron Mostofsky, the Orthodox Jewish man who joined the Capitol mob last week wearing fur pelts and a bulletproof vest, was a left-wing agitator.
The accounts cite Mostofsky's registration as a Democrat in making the case that he is associated with Antifa, the loosely organized leftist anti-fascist group that right-wing media has sought to blame for the Capitol violence.
The FBI has found no evidence of Antifa involvement in the mob, but the idea has taken root in many right-wing circles.
Iran urged the United Nations' nuclear watchdog to avoid publishing unnecessary details on Tehran's nuclear program, state TV reported Sunday, a day after Germany, France and Britain said Tehran has no credible civilian use for its development of uranium metal.
The report quoted a statement from Iran's nuclear department that asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid publishing details on Iran's nuclear program that may cause confusion.
It is expected the international atomic energy agency avoid providing unnecessary details and prevent paving ground for misunderstanding in the international community, the statement said. It did not elaborate.
Iran is in the process of building up its nuclear weapons capacity and it is urgent that Tehran and Washington return to a 2015 nuclear agreement, France's foreign minister was quoted as saying in an interview published on Saturday.
Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the nuclear deal and earlier this month started pressing ahead with plans to enrich uranium to 20% fissile strength at its underground Fordow nuclear plant. That is the level Tehran achieved before striking the deal with world powers to contain its disputed nuclear ambitions.
Read more: A massive Syria strike, and an Israeli message to Biden | How Israel built a nuclear program right under the Americans' noses
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Fox News reported, citing U.S. officials, that some of those long-range missiles hit the ocean close to a commercial ship in the Indian Ocean and 100 miles from the Nimitz U.S. aircraft carrier strike group.
Missiles landed twenty miles near an unspecified commercial vessel, a U.S. official told Fox, adding that "is more concerning" but neither test is "seen as a threat by the U.S. military."
Protesters are expected to descend on statehouses across the United States on Sunday in support of baseless claims that electoral fraud robbed President Donald Trump of a second term, as law enforcement officials girded for possible violence.
More than a dozen states have activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed protests, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
There were scattered demonstrations on Saturday, but statehouses remained mostly quiet. Security officials have eyed Sunday as the first major flashpoint as that is when the anti-government "boogaloo" movement made plans weeks ago to hold rallies in all 50 states.
Tuesday's extensive airstrike in eastern Syria, which struck multiple Iranian targets, was the fourth strike attributed to Israel in the last two weeks. Other attacks over the last two years on targets closer and farther away have been attributed to Israel, but this one was different, mainly due to the number of targets, their distance and the number of fatalities they caused.
Even though Israel prefers to keep silent regarding these strikes, defense establishment sources say that the attack occurred against the backdrop of Iranian entrenchment on the Syria-Iraq border, and rising tensions in the region ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden taking office.
Intelligence assessments in early 2019 suggested that Iran would have difficulties establishing a presence west of Damascus due to Israeli airstrikes and the sanctions imposed on it. Iran did move its forces to the Syria-Iraq border, to areas under total Iranian control. It set up infrastructure for moving forces and smuggling operations between Iraq and Lebanon.
As I reported at the beginning of the week, Israel appears to be taking advantage of the twilight period between the two U.S. administrations to step up the pressure on Iran in Syria. Before dawn Wednesday, an airstrike attributed to Israel took place, the fourth in less than three weeks, this time in eastern Syria.
The targets were in the Deir el-Zour region and to a lesser extent near the Abu Kamal border crossing with Iraq. More than 10 targets were hit, including headquarters and Iranian weapons depots. The Deir el-Zour strike took place in a relatively densely populated urban area.
The move looks like a renewed Israeli effort to disrupt Iran's efforts to send weapons and Shi'ite militiamen via Iraq into eastern Syria. The raids also send a message to the whole region: Israel will continue to attack based on its operational needs, regardless of the transfer of power in the United States and the Biden administration's intention to renew talks with Iran on the nuclear deal from which Trump's team withdrew in May 2018.
In a recent op-ed piece in this newspaper, we revealed that Henry Kissinger, then a professor of government at Harvard University, at the conclusion of a private visit in Israel in January 1965, shared with U.S. diplomats in Tel Aviv his conviction that Israel is already embarked on a nuclear weapons construction program.
While the record of the discussion does not tell us what impact that observation had on Kissinger's audience, much less how he had reached that conclusion, as contemporary historians, we know that the statement was in sharp contrast with the U.S. government's uncertain state of knowledge of the Israeli nuclear program. While suspicions abounded, during this period the U.S. government never had definitive evidence, let alone conclusive proof, that Israel was seeking a nuclear military capability.
Other declassified U.S. documents from the period reveal that senior U.S. officials were puzzled about the state and future direction of the Israeli nuclear complex at Dimona. Suspicions notwithstanding, the most recent prior U.S. inspection at Dimona, on January 30, 1965 only two days prior to Kissinger's briefing at the embassy reported that it found no weapons-related activities at the site, and also suggested that the Dimona complex was in a state of institutional slowdown and budget cuts, with morale among staff low.
We'll always have next week. And next week, we'll know the impact of the big vaccination push to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. As of Thursday, more than 75 percent of Israelis 60 and older had received the first dose, and a minority had received the second.
These high numbers are meant to help lower the grim infection rate, as most of the people seriously ill with COVID-19 are elderly. According to the initial findings by the Clalit and Maccabi health maintenance organizations, the high inoculation numbers will indeed help curb the infection rate. (Based on its clinical trials, Pfizer has promised that the vaccination dramatically reduces serious illness, but the company hasn't reported clear conclusions on preventing infection.)
Since the middle of the week we've apparently seen a limited effect of the lockdown that was imposed three weeks ago and was tightened around a week ago. The rise in daily new infections has been curbed for now, along with the number of new patients in serious condition. The hospitals are under a heavy load; even if the number of seriously ill about 1,000 isn't making them collapse, it's very likely affecting the quality of care both in the coronavirus wards and elsewhere.
Beset by political infighting, split between three territories and distrustful of their institutions, many Palestinians are skeptical that their first national elections in 15 years will bring change or even happen at all.
President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that parliamentary and presidential elections would be held later this year in a bid to heal long-standing divisions. His main rival, the militant Islamist group Hamas, welcomed the move.
The announcement is widely seen as a gesture aimed at pleasing U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with whom the Palestinians want to reset relations after they reached a low under Donald Trump.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed pleased with himself this week when he addressed the National Press Club in Washington D.C. and revealed his big secret Iran has become a haven for Al-Qaida. He even disclosed another open secret by saying that senior Al-Qaida official Abu Mohammed al-Masri was assassinated in Tehran last August.
It's just a pity that the New York Times scooped him, having reported this back in November. The paper added that Israeli agents carried out the hit at America's request. And Arab media outlets had reported the assassination even earlier.
Iran initially denied that al-Masri was killed on its soil, to distance itself from any connection with Al-Qaida. But even it eventually confirmed the report.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quietly moving ahead with his plan to rescue himself from his corruption trial, striving to stall the proceedings and eventually receive immunity from the Knesset, perhaps after a good showing by his Likud party in the March 23 election, political sources say.
At the Jerusalem District Court, his lawyers are drawing up a long list of arguments and advancing at a snail's pace toward the trial's evidentiary stage. The prime minister has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
A year ago, Netanyahu waived his parliamentary immunity after he realized that in the Knesset elected in September 2019, he had no chance of receiving immunity. But the prime minister's lawyers recently claimed in court that he never waived his right to parliamentary immunity, saying that the Knesset's immunity proceedings were flawed.
The soon-to-be-former U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, gave a wide-ranging interview this week to The New York Times bureau chief in Israel, David Halbfinger. Friedman, who will be out of a job on Thursday, elaborated on his pivotal role in moving the pendulum of American policy on Israel and Palestine.
He was a key player spearheading the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and Washington's recognition of the city as Israel's capital, as well as the State Department's dropping of the adjective illegal when referring to the West Bank settlements. Friedman as the U.S. representative routinely visited them, as the United States cut off nearly all its aid to the Palestinians and booted their diplomats out of Washington.
There's no going back on what we've been able to do, Friedman boasted to Halbfinger. We've changed the narrative dramatically.
For just six months of its 73 years was Israel a democracy. Six months, and not one day more. This shocking fact, which most Israelis and the wider world repress and truth-seekers have no way of denying, must resound in every civics lesson and every debate in Israel.
All the nonsense about Bibi is destroying democracy ignores this eternal fact: Only for six months did the state treat all the people under its rule in a democratic way, at least for the sake of appearances. Throughout all its decades of existence, Israel has treated part of its subjects tyrannically. That's why it has no connection at all with democracy.
On October 21, 1948, Israel put its Arab citizens under a military government. On December 1, 1966, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol lifted this disgrace. Six months later, in June 1967, military tyranny returned to define Israel when its newly occupied territories were placed under military rule.
The illegal directive from Public Security Minister Amir Ohana not to vaccinate prisoners was an outrage even for Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
As if disobeying a blatantly illegal military order, Mendelblit instructed the prison service to immediately begin vaccinating prisoners 60 and over, and to ignore the shameful instructions from Ohana a directive that Mendelblit says was issued without any authority. In other words, the attorney general ordered the prison service to refuse to carry out the instructions of the minister in charge of it.
In a letter Friday, Mendelblit wrote that, to start giving the vaccinations, the prison service must not wait for the hearings on petitions against Ohana's criminal decision to begin at the High Court of Justice. I would like to stress that the obligation to act according to the law exists at all times and does not depend on a petition under consideration, Mendelblit wrote, acting so that the government does not violate the law because of a dubious directive from a minister intoxicated with power.
It's hard to believe that anyone takes anything Benjamin Netanyahu says or does at face value. And regarding his change of attitude toward the Arab community, it's clear to everyone that he's not acting in good faith.
His self-serving electioneering ... was so obvious and unsophisticated that it was embarrassing, my Haaretz colleague Amira Hass wrote last week. She's right. And so are MKs Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Heba Yazbak, who raised an outcry over his cynicism and hypocrisy, his self-serving use of Arab voters and contempt for their intelligence.
What does he think that Arabs will vote for him after the incitement campaigns he has led against them? After the Arabs are going to the polls in droves, Bibi or Tibi and a state within a state, how is he not embarrassed to solicit their votes? After the nation-state law, how does he dare look them in the eye and say, Arab citizens should be a full part of Israeli society?
A 47-year-old coronavirus patient died on Saturday after his ventilator disconnected and medical staff failed to notice for several minutes., with the hospital saying intensive care unit workers had been handling several emergency situations at once.
Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital said that in light of the high number of simultaneous alerts in the intensive care unit, medical staff busy responding to emergency alerts regarding other patients were able to free up and detect the disconnection only after a few minutes, with the patient dying a few hours later. The patient was admitted to the hospital last week in serious condition.
Following the incident, the hospital said that its wards are facing a "heavy workload that is challenging to the staff," and that it will increase the number of staff in the coronavirus wards and reduce the number of beds.
The decree by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announcing parliamentary and presidential elections for the Palestinian Authority in May and July, respectively 14 and 15 years after the previous ones, which were both supposed to be four-year terms was welcomed across the spectrum. And for good reason: Despite the division and segregation dictated by Israel, the Palestinian political forces and professional bodies such as the Palestinian Central Elections Commission continue to address the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as a single entity with common interests that must be expressed including at the polls.
For years Hamas and Fatah preferred not to hold a general election, each for its own reasons, while officially saying the opposite. Representatives of the donor states hid their embarrassment at the paralysis of the formal democratic process of their protege, the Palestinian Authority, but the Palestinians never reconciled with the no-elections reality. In a survey conducted in December, about 75 percent of respondents said they should be held. The position of the Palestinian public, human rights organizations and small political parties won out over the convenience of the perpetual and divided rule of the two governing organizations. That too must be welcomed.
Soon, however, the congratulations will give way to doubts: Some of the reasons that attempts to hold elections have failed in the past 10 years have not been eliminated, and the coronavirus pandemic has added new obstacles.
A Libyan political dialogue arranged by the United Nations has made progress towards agreeing a new transitional government to oversee the run-up to elections in December, the UN said on Saturday.
Participants at talks in Geneva agreed on a mechanism for choosing the new government, whose formation has been the subject of wrangling among the main factions in a country that is a major oil producer.
Acting UN Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said the agreement represented the "best possible compromise" on the issue and could lead to the selection of a transitional government "in several weeks".
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said he is ready to form a government with external support from the Joint List, following the upcoming election on March 23.
In an interview with Israeli Channel 12 News, Lapid said he led the discussions between Kahol Lavan and the Joint List, an alliance of predominantly Arab parties, after the previous election in September 2020.
"During the third election campaign, I publicly said that we need to form a government with external support from the Joint List, it's a shame if we don't," he said.
Thousands demonstrated against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and at traffic junctions, bridges and intersections nationwide for the 30th week in a row on Saturday.
In Jerusalem, several thousands gathered near the Chords Bridge and headed to Paris Square, the central site of the demonstrations in the capital, adjacent to the prime minister's official residence on Balfour Street.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the police set up roadblocks on the streets leading to the premier's Balfour residence a response to protesters' arrival at demonstrations earlier in the afternoon over the past several weeks in anticipation of police deployment.
Benjamin de Rothschild has passed away following a heart attack, according to a statement released by the Edmond De Rothschild group. He was 57.
"It is with deep regret and great sadness that Edmond de Rothschild Group announces the passing of Benjamin de Rothschild following a heart attack at his home in Pregny (Switzerland) in the afternoon of 15 January 2021," the statement read.
The statement praised de Rothschild's success at the helm of Edmond de Rothschild Holdings SA, established by his father, Edmond de Rothschild, in 1953. The group, known for its private banking and asset management business, manages $175 billion in assets.
Arab council heads are calling to boycott a meeting by video conference slated for Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to address the rising violence in Israel's Arab communities.
The meeting sparked a disagreement between members of the committee of Arab council heads and the Joint List, who said they refuse to be taken advantage of by Netanyahu, and to play a part in his propaganda campaign in the March 23 elections.
The meeting was orchestrated by the chairman of the Local Government Center Haim Bibas a member of Netanyahu's Likud party in coordination with Mudar Younes, the chairman of the local Arab councils committee.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran's nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as hypothetical hostile enemy ships at a distance of 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles). The report did not specify the type of missiles used.
In the first phase of the drill Friday, the Guard's aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against hypothetical enemy bases." Iranian state television described the drill as taking place in the country's vast central desert, the latest in a series of snap exercises called amid the escalating tensions over its nuclear program. Footage also showed four unmanned, triangle-shaped drones flying in a tight formation, smashing into targets and exploding.
Saudi Arabia expects to re-open its embassy in Qatar in the coming days, Saudi's foreign minister said on Saturday, following a U.S.-backed detente last week in a three-year-old dispute between Arab states.
It is just a matter of logistics, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan told journalists in Riyadh when asked about embassy reopenings.
The final half hour of the movie is especially action-packed and surreal. Minutes before the grand finale, as the tension peaks, National Guard battalions raid Capitol Hill. In a long shot, the camera pans over dozens of these soldiers sprawled on the floor asleep in the corridors of the U.S. Congress.
The contrast between the heavy, opulent furniture and architecture and the young troops conveys the message: The great empire suddenly resembles a banana republic. In fact, in the previous scene, thousands of far-right adherents, some dressed in costumes out of Mad Max, stormed into the Capitol in an attempted coup, shouting that the election had been stolen.
The images begin to flood social media while, inside the hall, a dramatic second vote is underway to impeach the president a real estate mogul and reality TV star who often appears to be steadily losing his marbles. The night before the vote in Congress, the world's biggest digital information monopoly, Boogle, decides to block the U.S. president from publishing videos on its platform, which controls most of the videos made around the world.
I cast my eyes up at the high wooden ceiling and see a painting of an upside-down paradise. A green field crisscrossed by canals of golden water, a golden fountain in the center and around it depictions of flowerbeds and fruits. Below the ceiling, around the perimeter, is a latticed gallery, and below that panels decorated with paintings of imaginary dream cities, and a strip with the 99 names of Allah encircling the entire space. Under that come wooden doors painted with flowers in the colors of joy, which open into cells of seclusion. Everything is bathed in a soft light which enters through large stained-glass windows, between the decorated ceiling and the strip, in all the splendid colors of the rainbow.
I am in the city of Berat on the banks of the River Osum in south-central Albania. The building I'm visiting, and whose ceiling I am straining to see, is a tekke, or gathering place, of the Bektashi Sufi order, a mystical Muslim sect whose world center is in Albania. But what brought me here is not necessarily what's on the ceiling of the building but what's hidden beneath the floor. It's here according to one local tradition, although it is a matter of dispute that the body of Sabbatai Zevi, the self-styled Jewish messiah who converted to Islam, was interred, after his death in 1676. That was a decade after he chose conversion over decapitation the two choices supposedly given him by the Turkish sultan and was sent to what was then a remote province of the Ottoman Empire.
I had long wanted to visit this city, in whose lanes Sabbatai Zevi may well have walked, in whose mosques he prayed and in whose Bektashi tekke he would surely have joined the local community of mystics. And now that I'm here, I understand him completely. I have no doubt that had I lived in his generation I would have converted to Islam along with him and followed him into Albanian exile. Of an evening, over a glass of raki on the banks of the foaming river, we would have sighed and agreed that it had all been worth it just to finally arrive in this blessed region, whose tolerant residents accept with a shrug of the shoulders every religion and creed, and don't care if you uphold two or three religions simultaneously.
For her 15th birthday, in 1951, Amalia Tolchinsky received a not so exciting present from her father: a certificate affirming that 10 trees had been planted in her honor by the Jewish National Fund in Israel. So disappointed was she that completely forgot about the gift. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, she was very far, physically, from the JNF pine saplings in the young Jewish state, and the truth is they didn't really interest her very much. In fact, in the 70 years since that donation was made even after she immigrated to Israel, where she has lived since the 1970s she never looked for the trees that were planted in her honor. But for her son, photographer Miki Kratsman, the very existence of those trees constitutes something akin to a seminal event. They are the point of departure for a project that is related to a larger theme that has engaged him for most of his professional life: the dispossession, erasure and repression of the Palestinian past and present in Israel and the territories.
They went to the most basic subjects that could create a feeling of identification, he says. So they brought in the liberator of Argentina. But until the monument was erected here, no one even knew where the San Martin Grove was. I called the JNF three years ago, and they couldn't tell me where it is. So my grandfather's trees are here. Now all we have to do is find them.
The enormous overcrowding in Lebanon's hospitals and the shortage of beds, especially in intensive care units, has created a new problem.
Coronavirus patients who need urgent care call ambulances that take them to the hospital's door. They are then left there in wheelchairs, on the assumption that the hospital won't just let them sit there. That's because when people try to call in advance to say they're coming, they are told that there's no space and they have to find someplace else.
But the assumption that the hospital will eventually admit the patient is already outdated. According to reports from Lebanon, patients are waiting outside hospitals for hours, until their families finally take them back home.
The United States called Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates major security partners" early Saturday, a previously unheard of designation for the two countries home to major American military operations.
A White House statement tied the designation to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalizing ties to Israel, saying it reflects their extraordinary courage, determination and leadership. It also noted the two countries long have taken part in U.S. military exercises.
It's unclear what the designation means for Bahrain, an island kingdom off Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, and the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Ever since the 2000 election, about 20 years ago, the word peace, the dominant term of the previous decade, was a no-no in political campaigns. Not anymore. The left blathers, Netanyahu makes peace, proudly declares one of the first Likud campaign videos. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Labor Party's defensive campaign in the 1990s Rabin makes history, the right is hysterical.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is extolling and praising the agreements he has signed with Arab countries far from our borders, depicting a new Middle East and speaking, his eyes sparkling, about the glorious future anticipated for the region. The man who said ,we will forever live by our sword" has become a Shimon Peres clone.
And it doesn't end there. Netanyahu is an individual well-endowed with paranoia, a quality that has helped him shape his political identity as a prophet of doom, an engineer of dismal consciousness in campaigns focused on scare-mongering, scare-mongering and scare-mongering. In the current phase of his umpteenth campaign, he makes the appearance of having suddenly changed. The grimness has turned to glowing. The alarmist has become an optimist.
President-elect Joe Biden announced Friday that he has chosen Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome the so-called book of life to be his chief science adviser and is elevating the top science job to a Cabinet position.
Biden nominated Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, who was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome, as director of Office of Science and Technology Policy and adviser on science. He is the first life scientist to have that job. His predecessor is a meteorologist.
Saying science will always be at the forefront of my administration, Biden said he is boosting the science advisor post to Cabinet level, a first in White House history.
Benjamin Netanyahu has taken over the debate with his bold moves in the Arab community. Now we're in the stage of reactions and arguments. (Forget about past insults, this is politics, there's no room for humanism. Instead it's who's the sucker Arab, Jew or Bedouin? Who believes Netanyahu's lies?)
The hottest party in the market is that of Gideon Sa'ar, who's teaching poor Naftali Bennett how it's done. Even further to the right, Bennett finds himself in a struggle with Bezalel Smotrich.
One way or another, all the libido is on the right. Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid and left-wing Meretz both have their promised portion of pottage that will probably maintain their limited strength and keep them alive.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday received Morocco's highest award for his work in advancing a normalization deal between Israel and Morocco, a senior administration official told Reuters.
In a private Oval Office ceremony, Princess Lalla Joumala Alaoui, who is Morocco's ambassador to the United States, gave Trump the Order of Muhammad, an award given only to heads of state. It was a gift from Morocco's King Mohammed VI.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz received other awards for their work on the Israel-Morocco deal, which was reached in December.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a presidential decree Friday night setting dates for upcoming Palestinian Authority elections for the first time since 2006.
Abbas sent the order to the head of the Palestinian Central Elections Committee, Dr. Hanna Nassar. According to the agreement, the elections for the parliament will be held on May 22 and the election for the president will be held on July 31. Abbas last announced that he would set a date for the election in 2019, but no date had been set.
This marks the first time that Abbas has set a date for the elections since 2006, when the Palestinian Authority held its last parliamentary election, which was won by Hamas. The previous Palestinian Authority presidential election was held in 2005; Abbas has been serving in the position since his win 16 years ago, even though his term lapsed in January 2009.
Sheldon Adelson wasn't just the man who changed the face of print journalism in Israel, he was also an important prosecution witness in the cases against his former friend, Benjamin Netanyahu. The Las Vegas billionaire, who died Tuesday at 87, launched the free daily Israel Hayom in 2007 for two reasons: to get Netanyahu reelected prime minister and weaken the power of Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes, at the time Israel's most influential media magnate.
Mozes is the strongest man in Israel, Adelson once said. All he wants is to preserve his power. He's also playing with the government and will cut a deal with anyone to advance his personal interests.
Just before the casino magnate entered the market, Mozes sought to meet with him. It was the first and only time I ever spoke to him, Adelson told the police when he gave evidence. He came to me with tears in his eyes. Trust me, with tears in his eyes. He said, Please, don't start with this newspaper' ¦. He said, Look, this is the only thing I have in my life. I get up in the morning and I eat, drink and dream Yedioth.'
WASHINGTON U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cited on Friday the open display of antisemitic symbols at the Capitol riots as part of the motivation for launching a formal review into last week's violence.
"So many disgusting images, but one figure of a man and a shirt with Auschwitz on it: 'Work equals freedom,'" Pelosi said in a press conference from the Capitol.
"In January one year ago, I had the privilege of bringing a delegation to Yad Vashem in Israel to join heads of state I came as the head of this Congress to observe the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau," Pelosi continued.
The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the central town of Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal must reconsider its policy to limit its country club membership to local residents alone, saying that the reasoning behind the policy has "no factual basis."
In its ruling, the justices partially accepted an appeal filed against a Central District Court ruling made three years ago, which approved selling 90 percent of the memberships to Kochav Yair residents only.
The district court ruling was issued by Judge Ofer Grosskopf, who has since been elevated to the Supreme Court. Thursday's ruling prizes the value of social equality over the considerations of local community solidarity, and reinforces the principle in which public resources need to be accessible to the general public, without any intrinsic preference for local residents. The Supreme Court ruling also states that any attempt by the local authority to limit such access must undergo thorough examination.
Washington D.C. Metro Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges recalled in chilling interviews their experiences while being attacked by a pro-Trump mob at the the U.S. Capitol last week.
Officer Hodges who was seen in viral video bleeding and being crushed between a door told local media, "If it wasn't my job, I would have done it for free. It was my privilege to help stop a white nationalist insurrection."
Officer Fanone recalled his terrifying experience while being surrounded by the deadly mob, I was just, you know, trying to fight as best I could.
The tender for the construction of a new neighborhood in Jerusalem was frozen by a court on Friday following a petition by Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who claimed that the regulations would render them unable to purchase homes in a large part of the neighborhood.
Judge Einat Avman-Muller of the Jerusalem District Court froze the closing of the tender until another hearing is held on the objections to it.
The Israel Lands Authority issued a call for tenders in November for construction of the new neighborhood in Jerusalem beyond the pre-1967 border after the plans were suspended for years, with the deadline for the bids being December 18.
Al-Quds Sweets is sealed shut. Pasted on the store's iron door is a small memorial poster for its proprietor, Ahad Kokas, who opened the establishment less than a month ago, on December 24. Only 10 days passed from the modest launch celebration for the baklava and knafeh place on the main street of Beit Ummar, a town north of Hebron, before its 25-year-old owner was killed shot in the head by a settler in the presence of soldiers. It was a shocking end to 10 days of happiness, to the fulfilment of a dream.
The bereaved father, Abdel Rahman a chief superintendent in the Palestinian police who serves as commander of the western sector of the Ramallah District, and has a Ph.D. in human resource management and security from Tunis University says he is contemplating retirement from the police in order to devote himself to tending the small shop his son opened, as an act of commemoration and to keep Ahad's dream alive.
Ahad spent four years as an apprentice at Aker Sweets, a well-known shop in Ramallah, before he opened his own store in Beit Ummar. Now Al-Quds Sweets is shuttered. Israeli authorities are not even returning Ahad's body to the family for burial.
In 1998, I interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel for the Moroccan weekly Le Journal. Back then, it was nothing short of a revolution the first time a journalist from an Arab-Muslim state had met with such a high-level official of what we call the Zionist entity.
The idea for the interview had come rather randomly, and the decision to pursue it was not taken in the spirit of provocation or propaganda in a country known for its indefectible solidarity with the Palestinians. It came during a heated debate with a diplomat in the Israeli liaison office in Rabat, Amir Weissbrod, who would later become Israel's ambassador to Jordan.
Hundreds protested in Israel's north on Friday against the spike in violence in the Arab community in recent months and called on the police to step up law enforcement.
Hundreds of demonstrators blocked the Wadi Ara highway leading to the entrance of the Arab city of Umm al-Fahm. Among the protesters were local political activists, including a large turnout by the Islamic Movement.
Sheikh Raed Fathi delivered a sermon outside of the Umm al-Fahm municipality, blaming both a lax police response to the recurring acts of violence and those who participate in perpetuating it, including gun owners who view themselves as heroes.
Attorney General Avichai Mendeblit said on Friday that vaccination against the coronavirus should immediately be provided to prisoners, after asserting that Public Security Minister Amir Ohana's order not to vaccinate them in tandem with the general population had no standing.
The attorney general also rejected Ohana's request to have someone other than Mendelblit represent his case when the High Court of Justice hears petitions against the minister's decision next week.
Some 2 million vaccines have been administered throught the country since the vaccine drive began in late December.
Israeli health officials are concerned over a relatively small number of the country's Arab community that has so far received a coronavirus vaccine, but they struggle to identify any one reason for the lower inoculation rate compared to the general population.
As of Monday, according to Health Ministry figures, only 45 percent of people 60 and older from Arab towns and cities went to get the first dose of the vaccine. Among the general population, this figure was at 74 percent.
According to figures from Thursday, between 125,000 and 130,000 residents of Arab cities have been vaccinated. Only 45,000 of them are 60 or older, and the rest are people with preexisting medical conditions or health workers, who are also among the first priority groups in Israel's vaccination drive.
Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson was laid to rest on Friday on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, in the presence of his Israeli-born wife Miriam and son Matan.
Praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a "huge Jewish patriot", Adelson died on Monday from cancer at the age of 87, said Las Vegas Sands Corp., which he turned into the world's largest casino company.
Netanyahu was present on Thursday when Adelson's body arrived at Israel's Ben Gurion International airport, in a coffin draped in U.S. and Israeli flags.
Any group that helped fund or organize an insurrection would be disqualified from receiving funds from the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation, the group said a reflection of the startling new political landscape after deadly rioting last week in Washington, D.C.
We have no intention of funding extremist groups anywhere on the political spectrum and we have funding guidelines in place that we follow for all of our grantmaking, including donor-advised funds and supporting foundations, Kerry Philp, the San Francisco federation's senior director for strategic marketing and communications, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Thursday.
Philp's comment came in response to a query about a story in The Intercept that identified the federation as directing donor-advised funds in 2017 to a group that organizers of last week's pro-Trump siege of the US Capitol building said helped fund the event.
New hopeless parties are appearing like mushrooms, old centrist parties are collapsing, and the chances are that the fourth election in a row won't solve anything. On the third episode of Haaretz's Election Overdose podcast, Anshel Pfeffer and Dahlia Scheindlin ask whether the system is broken or will everything go back to normal once Netanyahu is gone. Special guest Tzipi Livni thinks the problem is that Israeli politicians are simply too afraid to talk about matters of substance anymore.
Want to get an email every time a new episode is available? Click "Follow" on top of this article, or "Subscribe" on the podcast embed - and you'll never miss out.
Also on the show, we ask also what legacy did Sheldon Adelson leave Israeli politics and who was the last Israeli politician whose campaign promise was to bring us peace? The answer will surprise you.
Russia announced on Friday it was pulling out of the Open Skies treaty, saying that the pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, had been seriously compromised by the withdrawal of the United States.
The move, announced by Russia's foreign ministry, comes days before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration amid fears of a burgeoning arms race. Moscow's last major nuclear arms pact with Washington is set to expire next month.
The United States left the Open Skies arms control and verification treaty in November, accusing Russia of violating it, something Moscow denied.
The FBI is tracking an extensive amount of concerning online chatter, including calls for armed protests leading up to next week's presidential inauguration, Director Chris Wray said Thursday.
Wray, in his first public appearance since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, said in a security briefing for Vice President Mike Pence that the FBI remains concerned about the potential for violence at protests and rallies in Washington and in state capitols around the country.
Those events could bring armed individuals near government buildings and elected officials, Wray warned, while also noting, One of the real challenges in this space is trying to distinguish what's aspirational versus what's intentional.
Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week's siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump's supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended "to capture and assassinate elected officials."
Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was famously photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence in the chamber of the U.S. Senate.
The detention memo, written by Justice Department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI's investigation into Chansley, revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that "it's only a matter of time, justice is coming."
Extensive airstrikes in Syria this week targeted warehouses storing spare parts for missiles, including medium-range warheads, according to a report in a Kuwaiti newspaper on Friday. The warehouses also housed parts for drones that had yet to be assembled and fuel for missiles, according to the reports.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida quoted a source in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force as saying that the warehouses were totally destroyed in the strikes, which were attributed to Israel by foreign media. The report said the spare parts had been brought to the warehouses a few days before the strikes.
The equipment was brought to the site following a visit by Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani in Syria and Iraq, according to the report. The newspaper's source denied reports in Israel that the strikes targeted equipment that could be used by the Iranians to develop nuclear weapons.
Longtime CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer said Thursday that he was happy that his late parents, survivors of the Holocaust, did not live to witness the resurgence of antisemitism in the United States particularly in the wake of anti-Semitic symbology appearing at last week's deadly Capitol riot.
I'm happy that they're not seeing what's going on now in the United States, Blitzer said after his cable news station screened video of his 2014 visit to Auschwitz, where his grandparents perished.
It's always hard for me to believe that in this country which gave my parents freedom has witnessed such a resurgence, he said, naming events that occurred during the Trump presidency but not mentioning President Donald Trump.
Kristen Clarke, President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to head the civil rights division at the Justice Department, said it was a mistake to have invited the author of an antisemitic screed to speak at Harvard when she headed a black student group there.
In 1994, Clarke as the leader of a Black Student Association invited Tony Martin, author of a book called The Jewish Onslaught, to speak and defended him afterward. Jews on campus at the time were appalled by the invitation.
Giving someone like him a platform, it's not something I would do again, she told the Forward on Thursday.
An Egyptian judge overturned an acquittal verdict of two young women who were jailed last year for posting indecent videos on the social media video app TikTok, ordering their pretrial detention for 15 days over fresh charges of human trafficking," a judicial source said.
A Cairo court has accused 20-year-old student Haneen Hossam and 22-year-old Mawada Eladhm of recruiting young women for indecent jobs that violate the principles and values of the Egyptian society," the judicial official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
Thursday's motion came just two days after an appeals court had acquitted the two women and ordered their release.
The Israeli Health Ministry has recognized that transgender people do not suffer from a psychological disorder, two and a half years after the World Health Organization did so.
The ministry published this week new guidelines to codify the way the public health system relates to the transgender community, which all hospitals and health maintenance organizations must follow.
According to the guidelines, there is no ethical or professional justification for so-called conversion therapy for the purpose of altering someone's sexual or gender identity, and they require medical professionals to use the pronouns of the gender with which the patient identifies while addressing them, regardless of their identity documents or physical appearance.
Large number of US citizens demonstrated against the war in Iraq (and the possible war in Iran) during this October weekend. Massive turnout in Boston and San Fransisco, and also in Chicago, LA and DC people took to the streets. The message was: NO more war in Iraq! NO to a war with Iran!