‘Nuclear Blackmail’: Bennett Urges US to Cease Iran Talks; Antisemitism Burns Bright With Hannukah Assaults in Ramallah, London

   

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called on the United States on Thursday to immediately halt the ongoing negotiations in Vienna over Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Bennett spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a conversation that largely focused on the Iranian talks, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. Israel’s premier told Blinken that Tehran was utilizing “nuclear blackmail” as a tactic and therefore the United States should initiate “an immediate cessation of negotiations.”

In the phone conversation, Bennett referenced a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency revealing that the Islamic Republic has recently begun enriching uranium to 20 percent purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordo facility.

Bennett told Blinken that instead of a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — which the United States pulled out of in 2018 — “concrete steps” against Iran should be “taken by the major powers.” The United States is participating indirectly in the negotiations with Tehran in Vienna, which restarted on Monday.

The Biden Administration has repeatedly reiterated its desire to return to the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which former president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of. Following its exit, Washington began reinstating sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran began to openly breach the deal’s terms.

Jerusalem has long maintained its opposition to Washington’s plans to rejoin the JCPOA.

   

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Palestinians on Wednesday night attacked two Israeli civilians and set their vehicle on fire after the pair had inadvertently entered the West Bank city of Ramallah, the Israel Defense Forces said.

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Palestinian security forces intervened after they sustained minor injuries and turned the two over to Israeli authorities.

Footage of the incident shared online shows crowds of residents surrounding and looting the vehicle before setting it ablaze.

Local media reported that the two men had mistakenly driven into Ramallah, which is a Palestinian Authority-controlled city officially off-limits to Israelis. According to one report, the men were ultra-Orthodox and told the Israel Police that they had been attempting to reach the West Bank Jewish community of Hashmonaim.

   

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British police are investigating a video that appears to show a group of men spitting at a bus full of Jewish people in central London.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitic incidents, said that the open-top bus was full of people celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on Oxford Street, one of the British capital’s busiest shopping districts. It said the party was “interrupted by an extremely hostile, threatening and abusive group of men.”

Video taken from the bus appears to show people shouting and making obscene hand gestures and Nazi salutes at those on the privately hired bus.

Chabad Rabbi Shneor Glitsenstein, who was on the bus, told the Jewish Chronicle that a member of the crowd yelled “Free Palestine” at them.

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“Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted.

The Metropolitan Police said that the incident is being treated as a hate crime. No arrests have yet been made.

In the first half of 2021, Community Security Trust recorded the highest-ever number of antisemitic incidents in any six-month period since it began monitoring the issue in the 1980s.

The spike in incidents was partially connected to the military conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups in May, the group said. More than 600 of the 1,308 incidents recorded in the first half of 2021 occurred in May.

   

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The United Nations General Assembly approved by a vote of 129-11 a resolution that disavows Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and refers to the site solely by its Islamic name of al-Haram al-Sharif.

The text, referred to as the “Jerusalem resolution,” is part of a push by the Palestinian Authority and Arab states to rebrand Judaism’s holiest place as an exclusively Muslim one.

The United States, which opposed the text, said that the omission of inclusive terminology for the site sacred to three faiths was of “real and serious concern,” adding: “It is morally, historically and politically wrong for members of this body to support language that denies” both the Jewish and Christian connections to the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif.

   

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Tel Aviv is the world’s most expensive city to live in, according to a study published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

According to the data, soaring price increases contributed to the fastest cost of living rise in five years for Tel Aviv residents. The Israeli coastal city rose from a previous ranking of fifth place to first in the EIU’s 2021 survey, which tracked the cost of living of 173 cities around the world.

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The climb was largely attributed to the strength of the Israeli shekel against the US dollar, along with increasing transportation and grocery prices.

Paris and Singapore tied for second, followed by Zurich and Hong Kong. Damascus was ranked the world’s cheapest city to live in, whereas Iran’s capital Tehran saw the biggest jump from 79th to 29th place.

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