TIME Israel

Palestinian Child Killed in Suspected Jewish Settler Attack

Palestinian Baby Dies In Arson Attack
Oren Ziv—Getty Images Family members and relatives of 18 month old baby, Ali Saad-Dawabsheh, view the remains of their house after a fire which was suspected to have been set by Jewish extremists on July 31, in the Palestinian village of Duma, West Bank.

Jewish extremists have for years attacked Palestinian property

(DUMA, West Bank) — Suspected Jewish assailants attacked a Palestinian village in the West Bank early Friday and torched two homes, killing a young child and critically wounding at least three people, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. The Israeli prime minister called the incident a “terror attack.”

According to the military, the suspects entered the village of Duma, near the city of Nablus, where they set the homes ablaze and scrawled graffiti, including “Long live the Messiah,” ”revenge” and “price tag.”

The attackers threw Molotov cocktails, or fire bombs, at the houses, the military said.

The slain child was identified as one-and-a-half year old Ali Dawabsheh. His four-year-old brother and parents were among the wounded, according to Gassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official from the Nablus area.

Daghlas said Jewish settlers broke the window of a house and flung a burning object inside, “causing a quick and huge fire.” He added that three people were wounded aside from the child. The Israeli military said three people were critically wounded and one was slightly injured. The critically wounded were taken to Israeli hospitals for treatment, the military said.

“Setters in the Nablus area are very aggressive. They never stop attacking Palestinians in their villages and the Israeli government needs to put an end to these aggressions,” Daghlas said.

The Israeli military said it sent troop reinforcements to the West Bank, fearing the incident could trigger unrest.

Jewish extremists have for years attacked Palestinian property, as well as mosques, churches and even Israeli military bases in opposition to what they see as the Israeli government’s favorable policies toward the Palestinians, although it is rare for anyone to be killed in such attacks.

Critics say police have been slow to apprehend the assailants and Palestinians say the military has failed to protect them from attacks by militant Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

The attacks, known as “price tag,” have been condemned across the Israeli political spectrum and condemnations came swiftly Friday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issuing a stern statement against the violence.

“I am shocked over this reprehensible and horrific act. This is an act of terrorism in every respect. The State of Israel takes a strong line against terrorism regardless of who the perpetrators are,” he said.

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner called the incident “nothing short of a barbaric act of terrorism.”

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel would not allow “Jewish terrorists” to carry out such acts.

“We will not allow Jewish terrorists to harm the lives of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria,” he said in a statement, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name. “We will fight against them firmly and with all means and tools at our disposal.”

Meanwhile, Israeli police said they would restrict entrance to Friday prayers at a Jerusalem mosque to male worshippers over the age of 50. Police said the decision was not necessarily related to the West Bank incident and comes as police received word that Palestinian youth at the mosque planned to cause disturbances.

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Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah. Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg contributed to this report from Tel Aviv, Israel.

TIME Israel

Jewish Man Stabs 6 People at Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade

Ultra Orthodox Jew Yishai Schlissel is detained by plain-clothes police officers after he stabbed people during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on July 30, 2015.
Sebastian Scheiner—AP Ultra Orthodox Jew Yishai Schlissel is detained by plain-clothes police officers after he stabbed people during a gay pride parade in Jerusalem on July 30, 2015.

The alleged attacker was jailed for stabbing people at a 2005 pride parade

(JERUSALEM) — An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man lunged into a group of revelers leading Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade and stabbed six of them Thursday evening as they marched in the holy city, Israeli police and witnesses said.

The alleged attacker, Yishai Schlissel, had recently been released from prison after serving a term for stabbing several people at a gay pride parade in 2005, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, adding that he was arrested at the scene of Thursday’s attack.

Eli Bin of Israel’s emergency service said six young people were wounded in the attack, two of them seriously.

The annual parade was proceeding as planned when the crowd’s joyful chants gave way to screams. Panic ensued, and a bloody woman fell to the ground, an Associated Press photographer at the scene said.

A man with blood seeping from his back wandered around with a dazed look before collapsing. Another man with his shirt off also had blood dripping down his back. Medics quickly surrounded them both and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.

Shocked revelers, some in tears, gathered along the sidewalk as ambulances and police on horses quickly arrived on the scene.

Schlissel was convicted of a similar attack that wounded several people at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem a decade ago. Media reports said that on Thursday he hid in a nearby supermarket and jumped out to attack the march when it passed nearby.

Jerusalem police spokesman Asi Ahroni said there was a “massive presence” of police securing the parade but “unfortunately the man managed to pull out a knife and attack.”

A medic that treated the wounded at the scene, Hanoch Zelinger, said one woman was stabbed in the back, chest and neck, and was lying unconscious on the ground.

Shaarei Tzedek hospital said it was treating a man with stab wounds who was in serious condition and a woman in critical condition, both in their 20s.

The parade continued after the wounded were taken for treatment, but in a more somber atmosphere. Media reported that thousands of Jerusalem residents who had not participated in the parade joined in after the attack in solidarity.

“I do think that homophobia is rooted in the city, but that’s the point of the parade,” said Benny Zupick, 21, shortly after the attack. “We are trying to change that. And hopefully we will change that. It takes one man to create a scene like this. Hopefully he’s a minority.”

A majority of Jerusalem’s residents are either observant Jews or Muslim or Christian Palestinians, conservative communities that oppose homosexuality. Previous parades have drawn opposition.

The heads of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and others across the Israeli political spectrum condemned the attack.

“People celebrating their freedom and expressing their identity were viciously stabbed. We must not be deluded, a lack of tolerance will lead us to disaster. We cannot allow such crimes, and we must condemn those who commit and support them,” President Reuven Rivlin said.

Jerusalem’s annual parade is smaller and more restrained than the annual gay pride march in Tel Aviv, which was attended by some 100,000 revelers last month.

Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations recently, in sharp contrast to most of the rest of the Middle East, where gays are persecuted or even killed.

Gays serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament, and many popular artists and entertainers are gay, but gays still face hostility among religious Jews.

TIME Israel

Israeli Bulldozers Begin Demolishing West Bank Settlement

Israeli military bulldozers demolish the Dreinoff buildings under an Israeli High Court ruling, in Beit El, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on July 29, 2015.
Mahmoud illean—Demotix/Corbis Israeli military bulldozers demolish the Dreinoff buildings under an Israeli High Court ruling, in Beit El, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on July 29, 2015.

The move is likely to draw international rebuke

(JERUSALEM) — Israeli bulldozers began demolishing a contested housing complex in a West Bank settlement on Wednesday as the prime minister’s office announced the “immediate construction” of some 300 new units at another location in the same settlement and advanced plans for about 500 new units in east Jerusalem.

The move, which is likely to draw international rebuke, comes amid a standoff in the Beit El settlement, to the north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

The standoff escalated sharply Wednesday, after the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a petition to overturn its initial ruling to demolish a complex in Beit El and ordered the destruction completed no later than Thursday. The complex was deemed illegal because it was under construction without prior Israeli authorization.

The military moved in and removed protesters holed up inside, but hundreds of Jewish settlers gathered at the scene and some fought with Israeli forces, who responded by firing water cannons at the protesters.

Tempers are high among some in the settler community as it marks a decade since Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, when Israel in the summer of 2005 withdrew all its civilians and soldiers from all of the settlements there and also from two in the West Bank.

Israel initially promised to build the 300 housing units in Beit El three years ago, when it ordered the removal of other buildings constructed on private Palestinian land.

The new units announced by Benjamin Netanyahu’s office are both in Beit El and elsewhere, including areas in east Jerusalem, which Israeli leaders say are inseparable neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

They say these neighborhoods will remain a part of Israel under any future peace agreement, but the Palestinians consider them settlements and say construction there is illegal, a position backed by the international community.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned by the new settlement activity and urged “the Israeli government to refrain from unhelpful actions that undercut possibility of a two-state solution.”

“The United States continues to view settlements as illegitimate and we strongly oppose steps to advance construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement.

At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the announcement of the construction of the new units, “as well as the planning and construction of nearly 500 housing units in a number of settlements in East Jerusalem,” his spokesman’s office said. Ban urged Israel’s government to halt and reverse such decisions “in the interest of peace and a just final status agreement.”

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967, and annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not recognized internationally.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of a pro-settler party, welcomed the announcement of the new units even as he criticized the top court’s decision.

“The court’s role is to judge; the government’s role is to build,” he said in a written statement. “We will build up the land of Israel, but in a legal and appropriate way.”

But Lior Amichai of Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now criticized the announcement, saying it was intended to “appease the settlers.”

Also Wednesday, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency and the Israeli police said they filed indictments against two young Israeli activists in connection with last month’s arson attack of the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish, a famous Catholic church near the Sea of Galilee. Three additional activists are under arrest in connection with the arson attack.

The Shin Bet and police said the activists were part of an extremist group of Israeli settler youth seeking to bring about religious “redemption.” The group vandalized a number of Christian religious sites in the past two years, tried to disrupt Pope Benedict XVI’s 2014 visit to the Holy Land, and in the past year committed “more significant terrorist attacks of arson” against Palestinian homes in the West Bank, according to the Shin Bet and Israeli police.

A month before the attack on the church, the head of the extremist group, Meir Ettinger, called on his blog for more attacks on Christian religious sites, Israeli authorities said. Israeli authorities have banned him from the West Bank settlements and from Jerusalem for a year.

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Associated Press writer Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.

 

TIME

Israeli PM To Meet Jonathan Pollard’s Wife and Supporters

The convicted spy will not be allowed to leave the U.S. for 5 years unless granted clemency

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to meet Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan Pollard, Wednesday along with Effi Lahav, the head of the campaign to free the convicted spy, Israeli media reported.

“Obviously she’s thrilled, and Jonathan is thrilled for her,” Eliot Lauer, one of Pollard’s lawyers, told TIME. “She has led the campaign for many, many years, to keep up the case in the public eye, and it’s a wonderful thing that they’ll be together.”

Pollard, the former U.S. Naval Intelligence officer who was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to life in prison in 1985, has been granted parole and will be released in November, according to the decision of the United States Parole Board.

The news of Pollard’s release was greeted with great joy by his various Israeli supporters, who have run a campaign both in Israel and in the US, arguing for his release and pleading his cause with various officials. Pollard will by law be required to stay in the US for five years during his parole, but his lawyers say President Barack Obama could grant him clemency, allowing him to travel abroad, and presumably, to relocate to Israel, where he was granted citizenship in 1995.

The decision to release Pollard after exactly 30 years behind bars comes at a palpable low-point in relations between Jerusalem and Washington over the Iran nuclear deal signed earlier this month. As Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have continually clashed on the merits of the deal, which the Israeli leader has decried as a “historic mistake,” the rumblings of Pollard’s release have been greeted here as one of several ways in which the Obama administration is trying to “sweeten” the bitter pill on Iran.

The week after the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program was signed in Vienna, Defense Secretary Ashton Carton visited Israel to speak about strengthening security cooperation between the two countries. The visit came amid reports that the Obama administration would offer some kind of package to soften the blow of a deal that Israel adamantly opposes, along with Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. But Israeli officials said they weren’t prepared to discuss additional aid or “compensation,” and would instead focus on lobbying Congress not to pass the deal.

Whether coincidental or conceived, the timing of Pollard’s release is being read by many here as a sort of peace offering.

“As far as Israel’s leaders are concerned, the timing of the announcement unavoidably gives the liberation of Pollard the feel of a consolation prize – and a poor one at that,” writes Allison Kaplan Sommer, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz news site. “The move feels like a power play rather than any kind of grand gesture—an effort to dissuade Israel and its American supporters from applying maximum political pressure on the Iran deal out of gratitude—or even fear that the release could somehow be disrupted.”

US officials denied that the two issues were related. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday there was no connection between Pollard’s release andthe agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Alistair Baskey, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said the timing had to do with the approaching end of a 30-year period during which Pollard was ineligible to be considered for parole.

“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures. There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations,” said Baskey.

It would probably be an exaggeration to say that Pollard will receive a hero’s welcome if and when he arrives in Israel, as the spy scandal is viewed by the Israeli public as an embarrassment caused by senior intelligence officers who recruited Pollard to steal top secret American material. But many Israelis believe that Pollard’s sentence was unduly harsh, and they note that no other American was ever given a life sentence for passing classified information to a US ally.

Regardless, Netanyahu will likely be given credit by Israelis for having helped win Pollard’s freedom, a goal that successive Israeli prime ministers have sworn themselves dedicated to achieving but failed. “I have consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive US administrations,” Netanyahu said late Tuesday. “We are looking forward to his release.”

Pollard’s parole hearing on July 7 raised the likelihood that he would be paroled, and last week, Department of Justice officials told reporters that they would not object to Pollard’s release. Still, says Lauer, Pollard remained guarded about getting too enthusiastic.

“Over the 15 years that I’ve represented Jonathan, there have been many expected victories and until this one, we’ve had one disappointment after the other,” he says. “There was guarded waiting. His reaction was one of elation. It’s an incredibly emotional thing for him. It’s emotional for me, and I’m a lawyer.”

Lauer said it was yet unclear whether Pollard’s main goal would be to come to Israel once released.

“He’s American, he’s a patriotic American. He violated American law, and he served 30 years for doing so. And obviously he’s very attached to Israel as well,” Lauer added. “I think the parole commission will work out what kind of travel terms are permitted.”

With reporting by Karl Vick in New York

 

TIME National Security

Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard Will Be Released in November

Pollard was sentenced to 30 years in prison for spying for Israel

(WASHINGTON) — Jonathan Pollard, a former Naval intelligence analyst convicted of spying for Israel and passing along a trove of classified documents, has been granted parole and will be released from prison in November after nearly 30 years, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The decision to free Pollard caps an extraordinary espionage case that stoked public passions. Critics condemned the American as a traitor who betrayed his country for money. Supporters argued that he was punished excessively given that he spied for a U.S. ally.

The politically charged matter also surfaced last year during Middle East negotiations and has spurred decades of legal wrangling and periodic efforts to win his release.

Pollard, 60, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, two years after he was caught trying to gain asylum in the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Under federal sentencing rules in place at the time, he became eligible for parole in November, the 30th anniversary of his arrest. A three-member panel of the U.S. Parole Commission unanimously voted to grant him parole, effective Nov. 21, according to a statement from his attorneys, and the Justice Department did not raise objections to his release.

“We are grateful and delighted that our client will be released soon,” said a statement from the lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman.

They said the decision to grant him parole, which followed a July 7 hearing, was “not connected to recent developments in the Middle East” — an apparent reference to a recent nuclear deal that the U.S. struck with Iran and that Israel had bitterly opposed.

White House and other officials have denied that Pollard’s planned release is in any way tied to the Iran nuclear deal. And Israeli officials have said while they would welcome Pollard’s release, it would not ease their opposition to the Iran agreement.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who testified before Congress on the deal on Tuesday, told reporters Pollard’sparole was “not at all” related to the nuclear deal.

The U.S. had previously dangled his release, including during Israel-Palestinian talks last year, when the Obama administration considered the possibility of releasing Pollard early as part of a package of incentives to keep Israel at the negotiating table. As it turned out, the peace effort collapsed despite the Pollard release offer and nothing came of the proposal.

Pollard, 60, has battled health problems in recent years and is being held in the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.

Had he been denied parole, his lawyers said, Pollard would have been required to serve an additional 15 years in prison. But the Justice Department earlier this month signaled that it would not oppose Pollard’s parole bid.

The attorneys said Pollard was “looking forward to being reunited with his beloved wife Esther.”

The U.S. says Pollard provided reams of sensitive and classified information to Israel, including about radar-jamming techniques and the electronic capabilities of nations hostile to Israel, including Saudi Arabia.

A court statement from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said Pollard did “irrevocable” damage to the U.S. and had provided the Israelis with more than 800 U.S. classified publications and more than 1,000 classified messages and cables. Portions of the Weinberger document that have been declassified state in part that Pollardadmitted passing to his Israeli contacts “an incredibly large quantity of classified documents” and that U.S. troops could be endangered because of the theft.

“He took an oath to support the constitution of the United States, and he failed it,” said M.E. “Spike” Bowman, the director of Naval Intelligence at the time of Pollard’s arrest. “The fact that he gave it to an ally, that makes absolutely no difference to me. I’m glad that it was an ally rather than the Russians, but what he did makes absolutely no difference.”

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Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Deb Riechmann in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME mike huckabee

President Obama Says GOP Criticism ‘Ridiculous’

President Barack Obama aggressively pushed back against Republican criticism of a deal his Administration helped negotiate to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands, telling reporters traveling with him to Ethiopia that the GOP presidential hopefuls who hope to succeed him were using “ridiculous” and “ad hominem” attacks to avoid a serious debate rooted in substance.

During a news conference in Addis Ababa, Obama was asked about remarks made a day earlier by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor who compared the deal to the Holocaust. Obama used the question to level broader criticism of the jockeying happening inside the Republican Party that is still in the early days of a search for a 2016 nominee.

“I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny,” Obama said of his GOP critics. “There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks this is a good deal. It’s because it’s a good deal.”

The Republican candidates looking to follow him into the White House do not share his analysis. For instance, Huckabee said the proposed deal gives too much trust to Iran and betrays Israel, musing to the conservative Breitbart News that Obama was ready to “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

The oven remark was a clear reference to the Holocaust, when Nazis murdered millions of European Jews in concentration camps. Iranian leaders often use strong anti-Israel rhetoric, promising “death to Israel,” though few analysts think the country is actually preparing to engage in a genocide.

Obama, whose great uncle helped to liberate part of the Buchenwald camp in Germany, took offense to Huckabee’s rhetoric and said it matched up with other statements he has heard from Republicans. Obama said it “would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”

“We’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better,” Obama said, speaking broadly about a crowded Republican field that has been marked by daily oneupmanship. “In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys. I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems that the country faces and the world faces.”

Obama has long shown an impatience with the political showmanship, especially when it comes to foreign policy. The President said his would-be-replacements should take time to more carefully study the issues before jumping forward with criticism to motivate the party’s base.

“We have robust debates. We look at the facts. There are going to be disagreements but we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn’t help inform the American people,” Obama chided.

Speaking in Des Moines, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton joined Obama in criticizing Huckabee’s rhetoric.

“Comments like these are offensive and have no place in our political dialogue,” Clinton said. “I am disappointed and I’m really offended personally.” The former Secretary of State said there is space for candidates to disagree on the details of the deal, but said Huckabee’s rhetoric “steps over the line” and deserved to be repudiated.

For his part, Huckabee was not backing off. From his campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., Huckabee released a statement that doubled-down on his earlier rhetoric after hearing Obama’s criticism.

“What’s ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take the Iran threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,’” Huckabee said. His statement to reporters included links to Iranian leaders’ comments using that rhetoric.

Huckabee pledged he would never allow that to happen. “I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added. In a follow-up email to supporters, Huckabee asked them to sign a petition urging Congress to skip its summer break and stay in Washington to “fulfill your constitutional duty and KILL the dangerous Obama-Kerry nuclear deal with the Iranians.”

There was no real downside for Huckabee to continue his line of criticism. The former Baptist pastor is a favorite among the evangelical wing of the GOP and he is a frequent guide to the region, taking paying guests on tours of Biblical sites. Republicans—especially those voters who pick the party’s nominee—overwhelmingly support Israel and are more than willing to listen to criticism of anything Obama backs.

Republicans have been almost unified in their opposition to the deal with Iran, which was negotiated by world powers China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Under the deal, Iran will get relief from sanctions and regain access to international oil markets, which will bring it a windfall of about $100 billion. In exchange, Iran must dispose of most of its low-enriched uranium, stop efforts to produce or acquire more nuclear fuel and consent to inspections. The deal is expected to block Iran from obtaining the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon for at least a decade.

With additional reporting by Sam Frizell.

TIME Election 2016

Backlash After Mike Huckabee Says Iran Deal Is Like Leading Israel to ‘Door of the Oven’

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Huckabee speaks to 42nd annual meeting of American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego
Mike Blake—Reuters U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks to the 42nd annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council on July 23, 2015

The former Arkansas Governor said trusting the Iranian government would be "naive"

Comments on the pending deal between the U.S. and Iran by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee have sparked controversy after he compared the deal to “marching [Israel] to the door of the oven.”

Huckabee’s comments to the conservative website Breitbart, an apparent reference to the Holocaust that would seem to equate U.S. President Barack Obama with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, immediately drew criticism from across the aisle, the BBC reports.

U.S. Representative for Florida and head of the Democratic National Committee Deborah Wasserman-Schultz called for an apology for what she called “cavalier analogies” to Nazi death camps. The National Jewish Democratic Council echoed that call, saying in a statement, “Republicans have fallen over themselves to speak out against Donald Trump’s outrageous rhetoric on immigration and veterans. Will they now do the same and speak out against this unacceptable attack against President Obama that smears the memory of Holocaust victims … or will they stand by in silence and implicit approval?”

Huckabee’s camp, however, chose to support his stance, highlighting the remarks in a tweet on Sunday:

Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on the deal, which would trade nuclear proliferation limits for loosened economic sanctions.

[BBC]

TIME Foreign Policy

Convicted Spy’s Ex-Wife Says Israel Should Fund His Legal Defense

Jonathan Pollard
Karl DeBlaker—AP In this May 15, 1998 file photo, Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, N.C.

Jonathan Pollard becomes eligible for parole in November

(JERUSALEM)—The former wife of Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, called on the Israeli government to pay for an attorney to facilitate his freedom on Saturday amid international speculation he could be released soon.

Jonathan Pollard was arrested in 1985 as he tried unsuccessfully to gain asylum in Israel’s Washington embassy. Since then, the case has stoked passions and divided opinions in both countries.

Supporters argue that he was punished excessively given that he spied for a country that’s a U.S. ally and point to other cases where spies from less-friendly countries were treated more leniently.

Critics, including prosecutors and government officials, call him a traitor who they say damaged U.S. national security by disclosing a trove of sensitive documents.

He becomes eligible for parole in November, on the 30th anniversary of his arrest on charges of selling classified information to Israel.

This week, there was widespread media speculation that Pollard could be released sooner.

Anne Pollard told Israel’s Channel 2 TV Saturday night that “that there is no official word that Jonathan is being released on any date.”

She said that the Israeli government should fund a budget “so that Jonathan can hire a top, top-notch attorney” for his upcoming parole hearing.

Once he is released he will want to move to Israel “100 percent,” she said, “otherwise nothing would make sense to him.”

“I just want to see him out, I can’t bear it anymore, that he sat and lost all of his life in jail, it’s a crime, it’s such a crime,” she said.

Pollard’s attorney, Eliot Lauer, told The Associated Press on Friday that he hoped his client would be released, but said he had received no commitment from the Obama administration.

Pollard’s release now could be seen as a concession to Israel, which strongly opposed the just-concluded U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. The U.S. has previously dangled his release, including during Israel-Palestinian talks last year.

Pollard’s supporters maintain the information he relayed was material that the U.S. had traditionally shared with the Israelis as part of an intelligence agreement but was being held back.

Advocates throughout the years of his incarceration asserted that he had either been used as a scapegoat or was victim of anti-Semitism.

The affair damaged relations between Israel and the U.S and has been a lingering sore point between the two allies.

Pollard, 60, has battled health problems in recent years and is being held in a North Carolina prison. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website lists his expected release date as November 21.

TIME cybersecurity

Arrests Made in Connection With JPMorgan Hack, Report Says

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Headquarters Ahead of Earnings
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Law enforcement officials have apprehended four out of five suspects tied to the bank's massive hack last summer

Law enforcement authorities have arrested four people in connection with last summer’s hacking of JPMorgan Chase, Bloomberg reports.

Law enforcement officials have apprehended four people—including two college friends who are graduates of Florida State University—involved in “a complex securities fraud scheme” that has been connected to the data breach, Bloomberg said. A fifth person remains at large.

Two Israeli men, Gery Shalon and Ziv Orenstein, as well as a U.S. citizen Joshua S. Aaron are among those charged with participating in a pump-and-dump plot, the report said. They allegedly used bulk emails and pre-planned trading to boost certain stock prices to their benefit.

The grand jury indictment, unsealed in Manhattan on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg, revealed that at least five stocks were manipulated in years past.

The JPMorgan data breach last summer compromised the personal information of 83 million individuals and small businesses. Following the breach, JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon said he would increase the bank’s investment in cybersecurity. A March New York Times story had hinted that investigators were getting close to making arrests.

For more information, read the developing story on Bloomberg.

TIME Israel

Israel’s Netanyahu Struggles to Govern with Narrow Majority

Benjamin Netanyahu israel iran nuclear
Ahikam Seri—AP Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference with Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on July 14, 2015.

The Israeli Prime Minister finds himself depending on a narrow majority, susceptible to the extortion of practically any lawmaker

JERUSALEM — When Benjamin Netanyahu called early elections last year, he said his unwieldy coalition was untenable and that Israel needed a more stable government to carry out vital reforms.

But two months into his new term in office, Netanyahu finds himself depending on an even narrower majority, susceptible to the extortion of practically any lawmaker.

His political footing is so tenuous that he had to keep his defense minister from attending an international security conference in June because he couldn’t spare the minister’s vote. Another time, an ailing Cabinet minister was forced out of bed to save the government from the humiliation of losing a crucial late-night budget vote.

Unruly backbenchers in Netanyahu’s own Likud party have embarrassed him with their antics, and now he is facing growing criticism at home for failing to stop the international community’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Insiders say Netanyahu is in no danger of being toppled anytime soon, despite calls by opposition politicians that he step down over the Iran issue. However, it remains to be seen whether he will actually be able to get anything done in his fourth term in office.

“He can survive. The question is what quality of life he will have,” said Amit Segal, a political commentator for Channel 2 TV. “It’s hard to see him pushing forward with anything big.”

Some would say that is just how Netanyahu likes it. On course to become the longest serving prime minister in Israeli history, his legacy thus far is one of longevity rather than bold measures of war and peace that defined his predecessors. His lobbying against the Iran nuclear deal — which he insists will not keep Tehran from attaining an atomic weapon — took a big hit with last week’s U.S.-led agreement. The Iran issue has been a hallmark of his political career.

The fact that Netanyahu is still standing is an impressive feat itself given his situation in the days leading up to the March 17 election. Trailing in opinion polls and facing a potential uprising within the Likud, Netanyahu rebounded and surged to victory, in part through fiery election-day rhetoric that shunned Palestinian statehood and railed against Israel’s own Arab minority. By warning that Arabs were heading to the polls “in droves,” Netanyahu scared passive right-wing voters into voting.

But his victory came with a price. The votes Netanyahu earned in the final hours were largely sapped from his traditional nationalistic allies, leaving him with fewer coalition options.

Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist party then abruptly chose to join the opposition, leaving Netanyahu’s government with the smallest of majorities, just 61 out of parliament’s 120 members.

To ensure the votes of his shaky majority, Netanyahu barred coalition members from traveling abroad without his approval. In the closest call yet, a Cabinet minister had to filibuster aimlessly in parliament while the coalition whip scrambled to gather supporters for a vote that could have technically toppled the government. Eventually, Netanyahu’s closest ally, Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz, was awoken from his sick bed and rushed in wearing slippers at 1:30 a.m. to save the day.

Ironically, Netanyahu’s defeat over the Iran nuclear deal could work in his favor. He has stated hopes of expanding his coalition and has been urging opposition politicians to join him in a show of unity as the country confronts the Iranian threat. Netanyahu has argued that the deal, by easing sanctions, will allow the Iranians to funnel newfound cash to hostile militant groups and continue to develop its nuclear infrastructure in the coming years.

Netanyahu has already met with opposition leader Isaac Herzog following the nuclear deal, raising speculation that a unity government could be in the works. But Herzog threw cold water on that idea this week, rejecting a partnership with Netanyahu, despite their shared opposition to the Iran deal.

Regardless, Netanyahu says he is confident he can govern effectively — and his associates point to precedents in which previous narrow Israeli majority governments managed to thrive.

Political analyst Nehama Dueck said there is “strength in the weakness” of Netanyahu’s narrow coalition and that once he passes the state budget this summer, he should be able to breathe easy the next two years.

“They are all dependent on each other and know that if they don’t stick together, they are finished,” she said. “It’s a zero-sum game and everyone in the coalition has an interest to stay there so they won’t tug the rope too hard.”

Even so, no one is expecting major changes during Netanyahu’s new term in office.

The ultra-Orthodox religious parties have already scrapped a bill on Jewish conversions the previous government had promoted to help include more liberal streams of Judaism. They are also scaling back a law that would force their young men to serve in the military, which is compulsory for other Jews.

Hawkish partners have no interest in promoting a peace process with the Palestinians, though Netanyahu — much to their chagrin — has also quietly put the brakes on further settlement expansion, at least in the short term, to stave off international criticism. International pressure on Israel to restart peace efforts is expected to increase this fall, setting the stage at home for a delicate balancing act by Netanyahu.

The biggest move his new government has pushed for has been a deal to split revenues with gas developers that would inject billions of dollars into the economy. The opposition fiercely rejected the deal, saying it would create a gas monopoly controlled by business interests.

Because three of Netanyahu’s ministers have stated conflicts of interests in the matter due of their close ties to the gas companies, he was forced to shelve the vote.

In another setback, Israel’s attorney general ordered a criminal investigation Monday into excessive spending at the prime minister’s residences.

Netanyahu has also had to deal with scandals involving Likud backbenchers.

The biggest mess has involved Oren Hazan, the lowest ranking Likud lawmaker, who faced allegations in a TV investigative piece that he pimped prostitutes and provided crystal meth to Israeli tourists while running a Bulgarian casino before he entered politics.

Another Likud lawmaker, Yaron Mazuz, called for revoking the citizenship of Arab lawmakers during a parliamentary debate. “We are doing you a favor by letting you sit here,” he pointedly told the Arab lawmakers.

Netanyahu distanced himself from the comments but could do little more. Without Mazuz or Hazan, he would lose his parliamentary majority.

The incident sparked Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi to mock Netanyahu by saying that this is what he gets when Likud voters head to the polls “in droves.”

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