Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan attacked the defense establishment decision to approve the transfer of armored vehicles to the Palestinian Authority by the European Union.
The vehicles, which were transferred to the Palestinian Authority security services as a gift from the EU, were reportedly sent to Judea and Samaria through Jordan.
Dagan said the armored vehicles transfer is "total abandonment of human life and taking an unacceptable risk both of the lives of IDF soldiers and of the lives of the residents of Judea and Samaria."
"Any reasonable person understands that the supply of armored vehicles with machine guns for terrorists in uniform is a decision that could cost a lot of blood," Dagan says. "Many terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, in which Jewish soldiers and civilians were murdered, were carried out by or with the help of Fatah soldiers or policemen of the Palestinian Authority, Ido Zoldan, Rabbi Meir Hai, Ben Yosef Livnat, Eviatar Borovsky, and many others were murdered by Palestinian policemen or by the Palestinian GSS," he said.
"It's amazing that those people who participated in the 'Don't give them guns' demonstrations during the Oslo days are now giving them armored cars. I've called on those who made this unfortunate decision to regain their wits. They also give the enemy armored cars. Unbelievable," said Dagan.
The last time PA armored vehicles aroused controversy was in 2000 when a paper published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research identified the PA armored threat to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, saying "Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything to stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles, and many yishuvim lack even this 'obstacle' – such that the only thing separating between the attacker and the yishuv is a moving aluminum arm painted red and white."
The report went on to say that "The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.
"Although it is possible to gain sudden entry into yishuvim by using commandos or even less prepared troops - as the examples of Ariel and Ofra show - armored vehicles provide a rapid capability to do so that ground troops cannot match." The report can be seen in the original Hebrew here.
At that time, the IDF justified PA armored vehicles according to Oslo saying Arafat needed them to protect his government from Arab extremist elements, while at the same time trying to deny their existence.
Coalition negotiations between the Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties have stalled as talks to form a new government enter the final week.
Last week, President Reuven Rivlin granted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an extra two weeks to secure agreements with coalition partners giving him a 61-seat majority in the 120-member Knesset. Netanyahu now has until May 29th to reach coalition deals with the five parties expected to form the next government with the Likud: Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Beytenu, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties.
While the Likud’s negotiating team is focusing its efforts to reach a compromise which would enable both the haredi factions – Shas and UTJ – and Yisrael Beytenu to join the coalition together, officials in the Union of Right-Wing Parties say Netanyahu is ignoring the party, apparently leaving it for the end of the negotiating period.
Over the past week, the Likud negotiating team has met with UTJ officials three times over the past week, but has not met once with representatives of the Union of Right-Wing Parties once since last Wednesday – nor have any new meetings been scheduled.
According to a report by Israel Hayom on Wednesday, United Right officials accused Netanyahu of abandoning the National-Religious sector after last month’s elections.
“As usual, Netanyahu embraced the Religious Zionist movement during the elections, but leaves it for the end of the negotiations.”
During earlier negotiations with the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Netanyahu refused to commit in the coalition agreement not to undertake any withdrawals from Judea and Samaria. The Prime Minister has also thus far refused United Right demands for coalition agreements requiring the government to combat Palestinian Authority efforts to effectively seize control of territory in Area C – which is under Israeli administration – as well as plans for a new Regulation Law to normalize the legal status of additional Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.
“People got angry at us for going public with our demands,” the United Right officials said, “but what are the other [coalition] partners talking about? Liberman held a press briefing, and [the Likud] is still taking with him like normal. Yisrael Eichler [an MK from UTJ] said that he has no problem with new elections. Did anyone cut off contact with him? Do the Likud people want to wait until the very last minute?”
“We won’t give in. We have reasonable requests. Liberman, with his five mandates, is getting the Defense Ministry, and Kahlon who lost most of his mandates is keeping the Finance Ministry. Why do we have to be the unwanted stepchildren who get cheated?”
A meeting planned between the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and representatives of the United Torah Judaism party was cancelled Wednesday, after a meeting between Netanyahu and Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri failed to achieve a breakthrough a week before the deadline for forming a new coalition government.
Facing a May 29th deadline for securing support from 61 MKs for a new governing coalition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s negotiating team has met repeatedly with representatives of the two haredi factions – Shas and United Torah Judaism – and the Yisrael Beytenu party over the past week in a bid to reach a compromise over core issues of religion and state which will enable both sides to enter the next government.
Netanyahu’s haredi partners have pushed for the Likud to agree to pursue legislation which would protect the existing system of open-ended army draft deferments for full-time yeshiva students from Supreme Court rulings. A 2015 draft law passed at the behest of the UTJ and Shas parties was struck down in 2017 by the Supreme Court, forcing the government to consider new legislation to either bypass the court’s decision or to limit the draft deferment system.
Yisrael Beytenu has pushed for added measures in the draft deferment program to encourage haredi enlistment, including monetary sanctions for yeshivas which fail to reach draft quotas. That demand has set the largerly secular right-wing party at odds with the two haredi factions.
All three parties are needed if Netanyahu is form a majority coalition in the Knesset, forcing the Likud to pressure both sides to accept some kind of compromise deal.
At Wednesday’s meeting between Netanyahu and Shas leader Aryeh Deri, however, talks failed to achieve any kind of breakthrough, Shas officials told Kikar HaShabbat, leaving negotiations effectively stalled.
“We’re at the beginning of the process, there hasn’t been any significant progress,” one Shas official said. “Only after we solve the draft law issue can we get on to the matter of cabinet positions.”
After the talks with Shas failed to yield progress, a meeting slated for Wednesday between Netanyahu with UTJ leaders was cancelled, while talks with Yisrael Beytenu are still expected to take place.
A Likud official accused the UTJ of not taking the negotiations seriously, telling Kikar HaShabbat that the talks with UTJ “aren’t professional.”
“They’re wearing us out with these clauses and subsections that don’t need to be in a coalition agreement. Just their demands regarding the housing crisis would take two weeks to deal with.”
Likud MK Miki Zohar on Wednesday morning spoke to Radio 103FM about why he is working to advance the Immunity Law, which would protect Knesset members and ministers from being prosecuted.
"I've been working to advance this for a very long time, since the previous Knesset, and I renewed the bill during this Knesset, already on April 30. The legislative approval for the law placed the law [on the table] two days ago," Zohar said.
"This is an important law, that we as Knesset members need, first of all in order to protect ourselves and certainly in light of the revolution we want to make in the courts, where it's clear that all of us will become targets."
Zohar explained that he believes the attempts to pass the Override Clause, which would allow the Knesset to reenact a law that was rejected by the Supreme Court, will be met by attempts to open investigations on involved MKs.
"I am very very concerned for the right-wing individuals who want to advance the Override Clause, myself included," he said. "I have no doubt that they will try to harm right-wing people and to make up all sorts of stories about all sorts of people, the main thing is to try to stop the Override Clause from passing. And so the Immunity Law is a lot more important and a lot more relevant, certainly in light of the reforms we intend to pass."
Zohar also tossed out the reports that the Immunity Law's primary function is to protect Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from possible indictment.
"That's what they say in the media, but it's clear that that's not true," he said. "We promised our voters that we would change things in the legal system, especially after we saw the decision to leave Ofer Cassif, who plants evil and really really ugly things against the State of Israel, but on the other hand because there's a right-wing person who's a little more extreme than others, Michael Ben-Ari - him the Supreme Court did invalidate."
He also said that the reason such laws had not been passed previously was because "we did not have the coalition ability to do it, we didn't have the necessary majority." In the 20th Knesset, then-Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) opposed it, and previously Blue and White leader MK Yair Lapid blocked it, he added.
"It's comfortable for people to think" that the Immunity Law is connected to the suspicions against Netanyahu, he explained.
Two lawsuits filed against several NYC Starbucks branches claim customers were exposed to a toxic chemical.
In one class action suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan, ten customers claimed to have been exposed to DDVP (Dichlorvos) after purchasing products in multiple stores in the past three years.
The chemical was emitted into the air via Spectrum Brand Holdings' Hot Shot No-Pest Strips, which the Manhattan stores allegedly use to avoid infestations. Though the chemicals aim to harm insects only, the lawsuit claims they are also harmful to humans.
According to the lawsuit, CDC guidelines mandated that DDVP-containing pesticides should be used in enclosed spaces only when people are either not present or are provided with a respirator or other breathing equipment. And Hot Shot's site warns not to use the product in "kitchens, restaurants, or areas where food is prepared or served."
"Starbucks stores throughout Manhattan have for many years been permeated with a toxic pesticide called Dichlorvos, which is highly poisonous and completely unfit for use in proximity to food, beverages and people," it emphasized. "On numerous occasions over the last several years, Starbucks’ employees and third-party exterminators have informed regional and district management – both verbally and in writing – about the improper and dangerous use of No-Pest Strips throughout stores in Manhattan."
"Needless to say, Starbucks has closely held this information and has not disclosed to the public that DDVP has poisoned the environment in its stores."
DVP can cause difficulty breathing, nausea, paralysis, muscle tremors and weakness, and loss of bladder control. In severe cases, exposure may result in coma or death.
CBS News quoted Paul D'Auria, a licensed pest control technician for AVP Termite & Pest Control, who said the strips were hidden under stacks of bagels and near pastry displays "within virtually each of the more than 100 stores that he serviced" between 2013 and June 2018.
A Starbucks spokesperson said the company does not serve the food from its display cases, CBS noted.
"The lawsuits filed by the plaintiffs and their attorneys we believe lacks merit and is an attempt to incite public fear for their own financial gain," the spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch.
"We go to great things to ensure the safety of our partners and customers and we are confident they have not been put at risk." He also denied claims that anyone had been fired for voicing concerns.
The customers, who experienced distress and anxiety regarding whether "they would develop serious health issues," are seeking damages.
The second lawsuit was filed by a former Starbucks employee who claims he was fired in February last year after he complained about the strips' misuse. Both he, a technician, and a supervisor, are seeking unspecified damages.
Starbucks ended its contract with the pesticide company in June 2018.
A Starbucks spokesperson said the pesticide strips were used "in violation" of company policy and that the company ceased using them when it became aware of the issue, NBC News reported. The spokesperson also emphasized that an expert hired to assess the risks had concluded that neither the company's employees nor their customers were at risk of health issues.
Spectrum Brand Holdings did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan Tuesday credited the deployment of US military weaponry with preventing potential attacks by Iran or its proxies in the Middle East.
“We have put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans” by Iran or its allies, he told reporters at the Pentagon, according to Politico.
"I just hope Iran is listening,” Shanahan added. “We're in the region to address many things but it is not to go to a war with Iran.”
He later added that the threats from Iran and its proxies haven't been eliminated.
"There haven't been any attacks on Americans. I would consider that a hold," he said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
Shanahan’s comments follow the US military’s deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East. US officials said the move was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
While President Donald Trump has urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program, he has also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
On Monday, Trump said that Iran would be met with "great force" if it attempted anything against US interests in the Middle East, though he stressed he was willing to have talks with Iran "when they're ready."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later said that he favors talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions.
"Today's situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only," said Rouhani.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre and UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) called for Eurovision to disqualify Iceland’s Eurovision entry.
"Icelandic Hatari (Hate) singers did not keep their commitment. Reykjavik must be disqualified from 2020 contest," they said in a statement.
On 17 April, the Wiesenthal Centre had joined with UKLFI in writing to Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) executive supervisor, Jon Ola Sand, to demand depoliticization of this year's contest in Tel Aviv, which concluded this week-end.
This request specifically applied to Iceland’s Hatari band, which had been proclaiming its anti-Israeli prejudices and threats "in contravention of both the spirit and the rules of Eurovision."
The Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that “the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) umbrella body for Eurovision had responded that Iceland’s Broadcaster would keep its commitments under Eurovision Song Contest Rule 2.6... "No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC."
"This commitment was offensively violated by Hatari (meaning 'Hate' in English), which lived up to its name in inciting to anti-Israel hatred by unfurling Palestinian banners during the vote for winner of the event," the Centre said.
Samuels added that "responsibility be addressed to the Icelandic Broadcaster, which must accordingly be disqualified by the EBU from the 2020 Eurovision Contest in Amsterdam."
"We will be monitoring the situation in the context of campaign against BDS, the anti-Semitic Boycott,Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel."
In a statement, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said, "In the live broadcast of the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final, Hatari, the Icelandic act, briefly displayed small Palestinian banners whilst [they] sat in the Green Room."
"The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and this directly contradicts the contest’s rules. The banners were quickly removed and the consequences of this action will be discussed by the Reference Group (the contest’s executive board) after the contest."
Jonathan Pollard criticized the Israeli government for failing to do enough to secure his release.
Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for spying for Israel, said in an interview with News 12 on Tuesday, that he is disappointed with the state and its handling of the case of himself and his wife.
"If you don't care about someone like myself who spent 30 years in prison on behalf of the land and people of Israel, then how much concern can you actually show, exhibit or feel towards anybody in the country ... from our soldiers to our civilians?" Pollard asked.
In March, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said she was working behind the scenes so that Jonathan Pollard could immigrate from the United States to Israel.
"I as the justice minister and Netanyahu as prime minister, have been making great efforts in recent years to allow him to immigrate to Israel," Shaked told an election panel of the religious kibbutz movement.
"We actually tried to shorten the term of his imprisonment under which he is obligated to pay all his debts in the United States. If it ever ends, it will certainly be joyous and desirable.
Shaked refused to specify exactly what actions she took behind the scenes to help Pollard. "I'm not detailing at the moment, but we've been working on this issue and I hope we will succeed one day. We've been trying to make it happen for a few years."