Breaking News -- Israel
Jerusalem: First sheep slaughtered in 2000 years
With priests blowing silver trumpets, a group of religious Jews slaughtered a sheep on Thursday in Jerusalem’s Old City to demonstrate the traditional paschal sacrifice, the first time such a reenactment has been held inside the city walls in 2,000 years.
According to The Israel Times , the event was organized by Temple Mount activists and supervised by police and the state veterinarian service. Approximately 200 men, women and children attended the event, including MK Yehuda Glick.
The sheep was butchered in the main square of the Jewish Quarter, next to the Hurva Synagogue. In accordance with the ancient rites, the blood was sprinkled on a model altar temporarily erected for the purpose. The sheep was then flayed, roasted and eaten by the participants.
Cohens, members of the priestly class, wearing specially made white garments, blew silver trumpets and sang psalms as the ritual was taking place. They also recited the biblical priestly blessing.
The group said it will conduct an actual sacrifice on Monday, the day before the Passover holiday, in order to fulfill a religious commandment requiring Jews to make an animal sacrifice for the festival. However, it is unlikely that police will allow them to do so. For over a decade the group has held a reenactment of the ritual slaughter of the Passover offering, a sheep or goat sacrifice, outside the Old City.
Each year the activists request permission to do it on or near the Temple Mount, where ritual sacrifices were carried out at the time of the temple. And each year they have been refused by police and the courts, which say it could cause unrest if it is held on or near the Temple Mount, the most hotly contested site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Times of Israel copy / TRUNEWS summary.
Hamas picks former Gaza chief Haniyeh as its leader
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has chosen its former chief in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, as its top leader, days after it released a policy document easing its stance on Israel.
"The Hamas Shura Council on Saturday elected Ismail Haniya as head of the movement's political bureau," the group's official website said Saturday.
Unlike his predecessor Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile in Doha, Haniya is expected to remain in Gaza, the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas since 2007.
Seen as a pragmatist within the movement, the 54-year-old takes charge of Hamas as it seeks to ease its international isolation without marginalising hardliners within the movement.
The militant group is trying to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt.
On Monday, it unveiled a new policy document easing its stance on Israel after having long called for its destruction.
The document notably accepts the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967.
It also says its struggle is not against Jews because of their religion but against Israel as an occupier.
However, Hamas officials said the document in no way amounts to recognition of Israel as demanded by the international community.
The change of leadership comes just days after US President Donald Trump held a first meeting with Hamas's political rival Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas, which ousted Abbas's Fatah party from Gaza in 2007, has dismissed the latter's attempts to resume peace talks with Israel as a waste of time.
Abbas has warned he will cut salaries, aid and subsidies to Gaza to pressure Hamas.
Earlier this week, his West Bank-based government announced it would stop paying for electricity Israel sends to power-starved Gaza.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
Israeli govt debates evicting UN from Jerusalem in wake of scathing UNESCO resolution
The Israeli government held a debate on Sunday, vowing to kick out UN and affiliated agencies from its longstanding offices in East Jerusalem, as proposed by a minister of culture, after UNESCO passed a strongly-worded resolution, labelling Israel “the occupying power.”
While no information on the outcome of the meeting is yet available, there is only a slight chance that such an idea could be actually translated into action with the Israeli Foreign Ministry reportedly warning of repercussions.
“The professional opinion that will be presented is that Israel is signatory to an agreement with the UN and other international conventions under which the UN headquarters is granted diplomatic immunity,” a senior Foreign ministry source said ahead of the meeting, as cited by Haaretz.
The unnamed official added that the Foreign Ministry would remind Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, who has been a driving force behind the initiative, and the like-minded ministerial officials, of the necessity to heed international treaties.
The adverse consequences can be avoided in only one case, he said, which, however, appears to be highly unlikely.
“The only way to expel the UN headquarters from the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood is if the UN decides to vacate it on its own accord," the ministry was expected to warn, according to the official.
The controversial proposal from within Israel’s power circles was triggered by an Arab-sponsored resolution passed by the UN culture body, the UNESCO, last week, provoking massive backlash in Israel.
The resolution, introduced by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan and passed by UNESCO on Tuesday saw 22 countries casting their votes for the motion versus 10 against. Three countries did not attend the vote while a majority, 23 representatives, declared their abstention.
The document chastised Israel for its rampant construction activity in East Jerusalem, in particular, calling out “Israeli occupying authorities” for their failure to “cease the persistent excavations, tunneling, works and projects in East Jerusalem, particularly in the Old City of Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law."
It went on to stress that all steps by the Israeli authorities that “have altered or purport to alter the character and status” Jerusalem should be deemed “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
The resolution and its wording immediately drew ire from the Israeli officials, with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu blasting it as a “delusional resolution” and a “harassment” which “has a price.”
Following up his menacing words with a deed, Netanyahu announced that he had tasked the Foreign Ministry to cut $1 million form the Israeli funds bound to the UN.
Israel is no stranger to such penalties in response to what it perceives as hostile actions on the part of the UN. Back in March, the Israeli government already employed a similar measure, slashing $2 million from its annual UN contribution, citing “hostile resolutions” by UN’s Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which was later the one calling for restraint, also took aim at the resolution, referring to it as an "unnecessary politicization of UNESCO.”
Regev then went even further, saying that there is no point of harboring a UN compound in East Jerusalem, claiming that Israeli authorities “have been sovereign in the city for 50 years, so there is no need for UN monitors.”
“They were given use of the compound to oversee the ceasefire agreement from the Six-Day War. It’s an agreement that is no longer relevant. This saga has to end,” the minister said last week in an interview to Israel’s Channel 2, as cited by The Jerusalem Post.
Contrary to the outrage voiced by Tel Aviv, Palestine hailed the resolution. In a statement, following the vote, Palestine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs commended the organization for not caving in to “the campaign of intimidation, political bullying, and misinformation” it said Israel was waging to undermine the discussion and deflect attention “from the real and important issues addressed in the resolution.”
The UN headquarters is in Armon Hanatzv, a neighborhood in southern East Jerusalem, hosting officers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), those of UNESCO and the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process.
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