Shin Bet said to warn Palestinian Authority to stay out of Israel's elections | The Times of Israel

2022-08-26 20:12:50 By : Ms. Carol Wen

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

US federal judge shoots down an injunction request from Ben & Jerry’s that was filed as part of the ice cream maker’s legal battle over sales in Israeli settlements.

Ben & Jerry’s had sought to prevent its parent firm Unilever from transferring intellectual property and branding to Ben & Jerry’s Israel, which Unilever granted independence in a settlement earlier this year. Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever are locked in a rare lawsuit between a major company and its parent firm, as Ben & Jerry’s seeks to block its ice cream from being sold in Israeli settlements.

The Vermont-based company argued in the injunction request that its Israeli branch could take new flavors and change their branding to pro-settlement slogans, undermining the Ben & Jerry’s social image. Ben & Jerry’s also said conflicting labeling could confuse consumers.

In response, a judge in New York’s Southern District federal court says “neither reason suffices” to order the move. “Such purported harm is too speculative,” the judge says, agreeing with the arguments put forward by lawyers for Ben & Jerry’s Israel during a hearing earlier this month.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price says Washington is “encouraged” that Iran has dropped some “non-starter” demands in its response to the Western proposal in nuclear negotiations, among them delisting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a terror group.

However, he says that “there are still some outstanding issues that must be resolved. Some gaps that must be bridged.”

Price says the administration is working on a response to the Iranian document. He says consultations are still being held.

Russia is trying to get Ukraine into fresh talks to buy time to regroup so it can launch a fresh offensive, a Ukraine presidential adviser says.

For weeks now, the Kremlin has been “trying to convince Ukraine to enter into negotiations,” Mykhaylo Podolyak says, as the sixth month of the war draws to a close.

During such talks, Moscow wants to “freeze the conflict while preserving the status quo in the occupied Ukrainian territories,” he adds.

Russia “sends its proposals via various intermediaries,” he says, without naming them, as Kyiv currently has no political contact with Russia.

Kyiv has rejected any negotiated solution for Ukrainian territories under Russian occupation. It wants to recapture that territory, as well as territory held by Russian separatists in the east — and Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the union is “deeply concerned” by the Israeli raids on six Palestinian NGOs last week, saying it is “part of a worrying reduction of space for civil society” in Palestinian territories.

“These actions are not acceptable,” he says in a statement.

Borrell says the EU “stands firm with non-governmental organizations to uphold the right to freedom of expression and association.”

He adds that “no substantial information” has been provided by Israel to back up its allegations that the groups serve as a front for terrorist activity.

“Should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly. In the meantime, it is crucial to ensure that anti-terrorism legislation does not lead to undermining civil society and its valuable work and contributions to building fairer and more peaceful societies.”

The Shin Bet has issued “a severe warning” to the Palestinian Authority not to intervene in Israel’s upcoming elections, Channel 12 news reports.

The warning came after the PA’s General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj met with leaders of the majority-Arab Joint List party, the network says, in an effort to convince them to rejoin forces with the Islamist Ra’am party.

Channel 12 says PA officials have stressed to Israeli counterparts that they do not intend to intervene in the November election and that any meetings with Arab MKs are not for that purpose.

The network previously reported that Faraj expressed to Joint List MKs the PA’s concern over the possibility of lower Arab Israeli turnout in the upcoming November election, which could lead to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power with a hardline, right-wing government.

Tnuva CEO Eyal Melis apologizes after animal parts were found in several instances, in the company’s “Sunfrost” brand of frozen produce, leading to a recall.

“We apologize to customers and clients and take full responsibility,” Melis says.

He says the sale of all green bean products — where the parts were found — is being stopped, and that customers who have bought the products will be eligible for a refund.

The trial of a Jordanian journalist accused of criticizing the authorities and King Abdullah II on social media has opened in Jordan’s capital, Amman, according to the journalist’s lawyer.

Adnan al-Rousan, 71, is accused of “inciting conflict, sowing division… spreading false news that harms the prestige of the state, slandering an official body and humiliating a civil servant,” according to lawyer Assem al-Omari.

He appeared in court on Sunday and “denied the charges against him,” Omari adds.

With negotiations between the Treasury and teachers still stalled over salaries of veteran teachers, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says “Israeli society must celebrate” veteran educators. “They are not a burden on the system, they are its foundations.”

In an apparent response on Twitter, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman writes: “To those who were are not informed of the details — first of all, the [Treasury] proposal will see all teachers, both new and senior, get salary boosts.”

He adds that the ministry is “putting excellence at the center,” and teachers who work hard will get additional salary bumps.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the UN watchdog will “absolutely not” let up on its demands that Iran provide answers on traces of undeclared nuclear material found in several sites in the country.

“Dropping probes is not something the IAEA does or will ever do,” Raphael Grossi tells CNN. “We have an obligation — a legal obligation — which is to clarify many things that Iran has still to clarify… We have been trying for a long time.”

He adds: “So far, Iran has not given us the technically credible explanations that we need to explain the origin of many traces of uranium, the presence of equipment at places.

“So it’s very simple. Let us have an explanation: If there was nuclear material there, where is it now? If there was equipment there, where is it now? And at that moment we will be able to have a report saying ‘Yes, we have clarified this issue.'”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US’s top infectious disease expert who became a household name — and the subject of partisan attacks — during the COVID-19 pandemic, announces he will depart the federal government in December after more than five decades of service.

Fauci, who serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He was a leader in the federal response to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases even before the coronavirus hit.

“I will be leaving these positions in December of this year to pursue the next chapter of my career,” Fauci says in a statement, calling those roles “the honor of a lifetime.”

Biden praises Fauci in a statement, saying, “Whether you’ve met him personally or not, he has touched all Americans’ lives with his work. I extend my deepest thanks for his public service. The United States of America is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him..”

A group of Palestinians from the West Bank has arrived in Cyprus after flying out of an airport in Israel’s Negev desert for the first time, under a newly launched pilot plan.

“This is the first trip for us from Ramon” airport, says Sofiane, a Palestinian pharmacist who declines to provide his surname.

“We got this opportunity for the first time as Palestinians,” he says, adding that the group was made up of pharmacists from around the West Bank.

An AFP correspondent says around 25 Palestinians arrived on Israel’s Arkia airlines flight from Ramon airport, near the southern resort city of Eilat, at Larnaca airport.

Police in Sweden say a bag was found in a downtown Stockholm park during an annual cultural festival and added that the National Bomb Squad investigated. Police decline to comment on its contents but the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet says it contained a bomb.

The finding prompted police to cordon off the area while traffic was briefly re-directed. Police say that “the technical investigation has been completed” but decline to comment on what the bag contained.

Aftonbladet says it was a bomb and it was found near the Cafe Opera, a famous nightclub.

The five-day Stockholm Culture Festival ended Sunday with a concert by Iranian pop singer Ebi, whose real name is Ebrahim Hamedi and who is a known Iranian dissident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expresses his “sincere condolences” following the death in a car bombing of the daughter of hardline Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin.

“A vile, cruel crime ended the life of Daria Dugina, a bright, talented person with a real Russian heart — kind, loving, sympathetic and open,” Putin says in a message to Dugina’s family released by the Kremlin.

In a phone call, Prime Minister Yair Lapid tells French President Emanuel Macron Israel “will continue to do everything to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities.”

Lapid reiterated Israel’s opposition to a return to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and said Western powers must not make further concessions to Iran. He said a return to the deal would provide Tehran with significant funds to boost its support of terror activities in the region.

The Bank of Israel is raising its benchmark interest rate by 0.75% to a full 2.0%, in a bid to tamper rising inflation that has reached 5.2% over the past 12 months, the central bank says.

The rate jump comes a month after the bank raised the rate from 0.75% to 1.25% in July. It is the fourth rate jump in 2022, the first of which was in April when the central bank first raised the key rate from an all-time low of 0.1% — a minimal rate it had kept for several years and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The higher rates are designed to restrict the flow of money by making borrowing less attractive, eventually dampening consumer demand, and easing inflationary pressures wrought by an undersupply of goods and an oversupply of cash.

Inflation in Israel reached 5.2% over the past 12 months, well above the bank’s upper ranges of 3% predicted by the bank in January. Inflation in the US stands at 8.5% as of July, with European zone annual inflation at 8.9% also as of July.

Israel’s Consumer Price Index — a measure of inflation that tracks the average cost of household goods like food, clothing, and transportation — rose an unexpected 1.1% in July and an annual 5.2% compared to July 2021, the fastest yearly rate in 14 years.

The newest housing report by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows that housing prices were also soaring, rising at an annual rate of 17.8% as of July, the fastest in a decade.

At the same time, Israel’s economic activity “remains strong,” according to the bank, with low unemployment and better-than-expected GDP growth of by 6.8% in the second quarter of 2022.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is to host a five-nation Arab summit today with the Ukraine war-related energy and food crisis on the agenda, a government newspaper says.

Sissi, Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi and the kings of Jordan and Bahrain, Abdullah II and Hamad, respectively, are to meet in El-Alamein, northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast, Al-Ahram says.

Al-Ahram, which cites a diplomatic source, says the dispute pitting Egypt and Sudan against Ethiopia over its Renaissance Dam on the Nile will also be up for discussion, as well as the conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya, and the latest Israel-Gaza round of fighting earlier this month.

Among the mini-summit participants, Iraq is the only country not to recognize Israel.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says Iran’s response to his “final” draft proposal to renew the 2015 nuclear accord was “reasonable,” and that he is awaiting the US response to the Iranian position.

“There was a proposal from me as coordinator of the negotiations… and a response from Iran that I considered reasonable,” Borrell tells a university event in Spain, according to Reuters.

“It was transmitted to the United States which has not yet responded formally.”

US officials said over the weekend that Iran had dropped its demand that the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in exchange for Tehran returning to compliance with the nuclear agreement.

Israel warns Lebanon’s Hezbollah that any attack on its gas assets could spark war, after the group threatened to “sever” Israel’s hands if it taps a disputed offshore field.

The warning from Defense Minister Benny Gantz comes amid lengthy negotiations between the eastern Mediterranean neighbors to settle a dispute over their maritime border.

Asked during an interview if any attack by Hezbollah against an Israeli gas field could lead to war, Gantz says: “Yes, that could trigger a reaction.

“Leading to several days of fighting and to a military campaign. We are strong and prepared for this scenario, but we don’t want it,” the minister tells the 103 FM radio station.

Gantz says extraction from the gas field will begin “when it is ready to produce,” reaffirming Israel’s claim to Karish.

Nearly 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia’s invasion began, Ukraine’s commander-in-chief says, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports.

Valeriy Zaluzhny tells a forum that Ukraine’s children need particular attention “because their fathers have gone to the front and are maybe among the nearly 9,000 heroes who have been killed.”

Russia’s FSB security services say Ukraine was behind a car bombing in the outskirts of Moscow that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of hardline Russian ideologue Alexander Dugin.

“The crime was prepared and committed by Ukrainian special services,” the FSB says in a statement carried by Russian news agencies, adding that the perpetrator had since fled to EU member Estonia.

Daughter of the prominent #Russia|n Nazi ideologist Alexander Dugin, Darya Platonova (Dugina) publicly described Ukrainians as “subhumans” and called for the Russian occupation of #Ukraine and extermination of Ukrainian identity. I am sorry if I am not sorry about her death.

— Alex Kokcharov (@AlexKokcharov) August 20, 2022

The Central Intelligence Agency, after receiving information from Israel, has not been able to substantiate Israeli assertions that several Palestinian civil society groups are supporting terrorism, The Guardian reports.

Citing sources with knowledge of the CIA probe, the newspaper says a report did not find any evidence to back Israel’s claim. It notes that Washington has not publicly criticized the Israeli designation made last year.

In July the European Union said it would renew funding to Al Haq, one of the groups, after finding no evidence of irregularities.

Israel has accused the groups of serving as fronts for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Latvia will tear down a Soviet-era monument tomorrow that commemorates the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany, authorities say, coming a week after Estonia removed a similar landmark.

Police have erected a yellow fence to cordon off the area near the monument, which stands like a high-rise in downtown Riga’s Victory Park. It has an 80-meter (260-foot) concrete spire with a Soviet star on top, with two groups of statues beside the edge of a pond.

The monument, built in 1985 while Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union, will be felled using machinery, says Janis Lange, the Latvian capital’s executive director.

Latvia, which shares a 214-kilometer (133-mile) border with Russia, has a large group of ethnic Russians living in the country. On Russia’s annual Victory Day holiday on May 9, they gather in front of the monument to lay flowers with concerts also organized.

Firefighters are responding to a blaze in an apartment building in Rishon Lezion.

Officials say there are no reports of injuries in the incident.

Thousands of people are now taking part in the Jerusalem funeral of Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s spiritual leader.

Police are spread out in force along the funeral procession’s route from the Porat Yosef Yeshiva that he led in Jerusalem’s Geula neighborhood toward the Sanhedria cemetery.

Large numbers of emergency personnel are also on hand. Magen David Adom has urged attendees to bring water, avoid crowding and refrain from climbing on roofs or poles to get a better view.

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