search
Live updates (closed)

Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit on verge of deal for far-right alliance

Parties ran together in last election but have seen tensions ahead of coming vote, as rising popularity of Itamar Ben Gvir has led him to make greater demands

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022; MK Bezalel Smotrich, right, leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022; MK Bezalel Smotrich, right, leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Gantz says will reevaluate soldiers’ drafting into Prisons Service, amid rape claims

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a ceremony in memory of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the First Lebanon War, at the National Hall of Remembrance at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he will reevaluate a years-long agreement allowing soldiers to be drafted to the Israel Prisons Service, following claims made by a former soldier that she was repeatedly raped by a Palestinian security prisoner.

Gantz issues a letter to Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who oversees the IPS, demanding conscripted soldiers not be allowed in the same wings as Palestinian terror convicts until the rape allegations are investigated.

“I believe that service which involves dealing with security prisoners requires adequate and comprehensive training, and an in-depth understanding of the workings of the Prisons Service, and therefore it is necessary to consider whether this role should be performed by conscripts in mandatory service,” Gantz says.

“Also, it is necessary to examine under what conditions such service can be implemented, and what are the conditions needed to maintain their safety and physical well-being,” Gantz adds.

There have been multiple reports that female soldiers were “pimped” to a Palestinian security prisoner at Gilboa Prison in years past, and a former soldier in recent days said she was raped by the prisoner on multiple occasions with the knowledge and of her superiors.

Earlier this week, the Ynet news site reported that a prisoner convicted of terrorism, Mahmoud Atallah, was being investigated by police over sexual assault while behind bars.

Report: Tehran complains to UN after Israeli official says country acting in Iran

Eyal Hulata in an undated photograph. (courtesy)
Eyal Hulata in an undated photograph. (courtesy)

Iran has submitted a letter of complaint to the UN Security Council over statements made in a recent interview by Israel’s national security adviser, Channel 13 reports.

Speaking to the network earlier this month, Eyal Hulata said that Israel has “acted quite a lot in Iran over the past year.”

Channel 13 says that in response, Iran’s envoy to the UN complained that Hulata’s interview “constitutes a provocative statement and admission to Israeli responsibility for terrorist and destructive acts on Iranian soil.”

He says that “the Israeli regime must be held accountable and bear the consequences” for such actions, according to the report.

Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit on verge of deal for far-right alliance

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022; MK Bezalel Smotrich, right, leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, left, speaks during a press conference ahead of the upcoming elections, in Jerusalem, July 11, 2022; MK Bezalel Smotrich, right, leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties are on the verge of renewing their alliance for the coming election after weeks of tensions between the two far-right outfits.

The parties ran together under the Religious Zionism banner in the last election, but the rising popularity on the right of Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir has led him to make greater demands as the parties head into the November election.

Religious Zionism leader MK Bezalel Smotrich leaks to Channel 12 news his latest offer to Ben Gvir, and Ben Gvir issues a statement to the press immediately accepting the offer.

According to the proposed deal, Smotrich and Ben Gvir will co-chair the faction and both parties will receive equal numbers of spots in the first 10 positions on the electoral list, including a mutually agreed candidate for the number seven spot.
Smotrich will take first position on the list and Ben Gvir second.

Upon hearing the offer, Ben Gvir says in his statement that he agrees to the offer “because I have no doubt that MK Smotrich will not oppose putting Otzma’s candidate in at number seven” adding that he heard the offer for the first time through Channel 12.

A spokesperson for the Religious Zionism party issues a statement in response saying that according to “sources” in the party that the offer had been made to Ben Gvir “in recent days,” and that “now is the time to sign” the deal and begin the party’s election campaign.

Putin says ‘no winners’ in nuclear war, should ‘never’ happen

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of the country's metallurgical sector via a video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 1, 2022. (Pavel Byrkin / Sputnik / AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on the development of the country's metallurgical sector via a video conference at the Kremlin in Moscow on August 1, 2022. (Pavel Byrkin / Sputnik / AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says there could be “no winners” in a nuclear war and it should “never be unleashed.”

He makes the statement as a review of the keystone nuclear treaty opens at the United Nations.

In an address to the Tenth Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Putin insists that Russia remains faithful to the treaty’s “letter and spirit.”

Ties between Russia and the West have been unraveling since Putin sent troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

The United States, Britain and France have rebuked Russia for “irresponsible and dangerous” talk about possibly deploying nuclear weapons.

Since the start of Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, Putin has made thinly veiled threats hinting at a willingness to deploy Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons, which Russian military doctrine holds can be used to force an adversary to retreat.

Importer said seeking deal with supermarkets to allow price hikes to move forward

Facing a rebellion from supermarket chains for its plans to raise product prices, food importer Diplomat is negotiating and looking to reach an agreement on the matter, according to multiple reports.

Kan and Channel 13 say one option is to raise the prices as planned, but to hold temporary sales on the same items, keeping their prices low temporarily. Another is to put off the price hikes for several more weeks.

However the company appears set on the move itself, and the only issue is whether it is willing to negotiate is the timing.

Police laud phone tapping probe results as proof it ‘acted with integrity’

Illustrative: Icons of Facebook and WhatsApp are pictured on an iPhone. (AP/Martin Meissner)
Illustrative: Icons of Facebook and WhatsApp are pictured on an iPhone. (AP/Martin Meissner)

Police welcome the publication of the report clearing them of illegal wiretapping as a vindication of their activities, noting that the investigation found that “no deliberate activity was carried out in violation of the law.” The force lauds the investigation as “proof that the Israel Police acted with integrity.”

It says any errors or violations in its use of phone tapping software “will be fully addressed” by a team within the Israel Police and that “any necessary adjustments will be made.”

Moscow seeks to ban ‘unfriendly’ nations from adopting Russian children

Russian lawmakers file a bill that would ban the adoption of Russian children by citizens of “unfriendly” countries as tensions soar over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine.

If passed, the bill would expand a 2012 law that prohibited US families from adopting Russian children.

At the time the ban provoked an outcry, with Kremlin critics saying it made Russian orphans — many with physical or mental difficulties — the victims of a standoff between Washington and Moscow.

The new bill published on the website of parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, proposes extending the ban to citizens of countries “that commit unfriendly actions” against Russia.

Lapid to interview two final candidates for next Israeli military chief

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will interview the two final candidates for the next Israeli military chief on Wednesday, his office says.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has narrowed the field down to Eyal Zamir, a former IDF deputy chief of staff currently serving as a research fellow at the Washington Institute think tank, and Herzi Halevi, the current deputy chief of staff.

Gantz is expected to make his decision in the coming weeks, once Lapid has given his input on the matter.

UN chief warns humanity ‘one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation’

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio speaks during a joint press conference with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, December 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio speaks during a joint press conference with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon, December 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

UN head Antonio Guterres warns humanity is “just one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” with the world facing a threat “not seen since the height of the Cold War.”

“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict,” Guterres says at the start of a conference of countries belonging to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Wigs for cancer patients stolen from Ichilov hospital

Ichilov Medical Center says multiple wigs intended for use by female cancer patients were stolen from from storage.

It is not yet clear how many wigs were taken, but it appears the number is at least 10. Each wig can be worth tens of thousands of shekels.

The hospital says a patient who went to take a wig from the room where they were kept found that all had disappeared.

“We never imagined a situation where wigs donated for cancer patients from recovered patients would disappear,” Prof. Ido Wolf, head of the Oncological Department, tells Channel 12.

US, Israeli navies start 4-day exercise in Red Sea

The American and Israeli navies begin a four-day maritime exercise in the Red Sea, the US Navy 5th Fleet says.

“The exercise is a bilateral training event between US 5th Fleet and Israeli naval forces that focuses on mission planning, maritime interdiction and other drills at sea,” a statement says.

There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the drill.

Last November, the Israeli Navy participated in a 5th Fleet-led exercise in the Red Sea alongside the UAE and Bahrain in what Israeli officials said was meant to serve as a response to recent attacks by Iran against Israeli naval assets.

Last month, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Iran’s maritime activity in the Red Sea was the “most significant” in a decade.

Kushner: Trump fumed at Netanyahu annexation plans, weighed endorsing Gantz

US president Donald Trump (left) welcomes visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
US president Donald Trump (left) welcomes visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Former US president Donald Trump considered endorsing Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz ahead of the 2020 Knesset elections amid Trump’s growing frustration with Gantz’s rival, then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ex-White House senior adviser Jared Kushner reveals in his new book.

US President Donald Trump meets with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz in the White House in Washington on January 27, 2020. (Elad Malka)

Kushner makes the revelation upon recalling how mad he was when then-Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer came to his office and demanded that the Trump administration back Netanyahu’s plan to immediately annex large parts of the West Bank.

It was just days after the White House had hosted a ceremony to unveil its peace plan, during which Netanyahu announced that he would be moving forward with annexation. Kushner says former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had gone rogue and told Netanyahu that he would receive Trump’s backing for the move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an event with US President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, January 28, 2020, to announce the Trump administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But this wasn’t the case, and Kushner would go on to order Friedman, after the ceremony, to notify Netanyahu that the US was slamming the brakes on his plan.

“Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” by Jared Kushner

Accordingly, Kushner did not take well to the request Dermer made at his White House office several days later.

“I couldn’t believe it. Trump was still fuming over Bibi’s speech. In fact, he had asked me whether he should take the unusual step of endorsing the prime minister’s political rival, Benny Gantz,” Kushner writes in “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” set to be published on August 23.

“Had I walked twenty feet down the hall to the Oval and asked Trump to go forward with annexation, the president would have thrown me out,” Kushner says.

Final report: Police didn’t tap phones without warrants, but some misuse occurred

A final report on police’s use of spyware to tap into citizens’ phones has found no evidence of cops using the tool without judicial warrants.

A series of reports in the Calcalist newspaper earlier this year claimed such acts were widespread, particularly pointing a finger at NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The reports caused public outrage and the formation of an inquiry committee led by Deputy Attorney General Amit Marari.

However, the panel says it found no evidence to support the claims. It did find various issues with police’s use of such spyware, including police systems automatically pulling information from phones that was not covered by warrants, though this information was not used.

“No indication was found that Israel Police penetrated phones without a court warrant allowing it to do so,” the commission says in a statement. “No indication was found that Israel Police penetrated the phones of individuals whose names were publicized in the media.”

Court nixes move to force woman into protective shelter

The Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court has overturned a previous decision to force a woman into a protective shelter due to concerns for her safety.

The court accepted the woman’s position that she could not be forced into the shelter against her will.

The woman faces threats against her life from her ex-husband, but has refused any protection.

She has also refused the latest offer to be housed in an apartment provided by the Welfare Ministry with protection from a security firm.

The woman’s lawyer, Shadi Kabha, says: “The courts have ruled that a person cannot be forced to remain in a place they do not wish to if they committed no offense… In the end, her right to freedom trumps all others.”

Israeli ambassador meets Russian top diplomat over Jewish Agency spat

Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Alex Ben Zvi has met in Moscow with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to discuss ongoing tensions over Russian moves to shutter the Jewish Agency in the country, according to Hebrew media reports.

Meanwhile, Walla’s Barak Ravid reports that the Israeli legal team currently in Moscow met earlier with representatives of the Russian Justice Ministry on the same issue, with no meaningful results coming out of the session.

Ravid cites an unnamed source in the delegation saying the team gets the impression the issue can only be solved diplomatically — i.e., it appears to be up to Vladimir Putin, not the justice officials.

Egypt currency near record low

The Egyptian pound plunges to a near all-time low of more than 19 to the dollar, in the world’s number one wheat importer where prices have soared.

Egypt’s currency has not fallen so sharply since December 2016, when it hit 19.3 to the US greenback after a drastic devaluation.

The central bank is buying one dollar for 19.01 pounds, compared with a rate of 15.6 in March. That amounts to a drop of about 22 percent.

Ukraine says over 40 settlements retaken in key Kherson region

A couple walks past a graffiti on a wall depicting a Ukrainian serviceman making a shot with a US-made Javelin portable anti-tank missile system, in Kyiv, on July 29, 2022. (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)
A couple walks past a graffiti on a wall depicting a Ukrainian serviceman making a shot with a US-made Javelin portable anti-tank missile system, in Kyiv, on July 29, 2022. (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

Ukrainian forces have recaptured more than 40 settlements in the key southern region of Kherson, as Kyiv looks to drive back Russian troops in a counteroffensive, the local governor says.

Moscow seized almost all the territory of the economically and strategically important region bordering the annexed Crimea peninsula during the first days of its invasion which began on February 24.

But in recent weeks the Ukrainian army, bolstered by deliveries of Western-supplied long-range artillery, have sought to stage a counteroffensive in the area.

Kyiv’s forces have been carrying out strikes on Russian military warehouses and positions behind the front line and hit bridges acting as crucial supply routes for Moscow’s troops in the city of Kherson.

IPS district official rejects responsibiliy for Gilboa breakout, blames prison chief

Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)
Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

Israel Prisons Service Northern District Commander Arik Yaakov pins the blame for the breakout at Gilboa Prison last year on the prison commander, Freddy Ben Shitrit.

Yaakov, who is himself facing potential trouble over the scandal, tells the commission of inquiry into the escape that Ben Shitrit “failed at everything.”

“It’s not an accident that it happened there,” Yaakov says. But he argues this does not reflect on the district as a whole and refuses to accept part of the blame. He says he thought at the time that Ben Shitrit was a good commander, but has since come to believe that he lied to him.

He asserts that Ben Shitrit “managed to mislead the entire IPS command structure.”

Iran arrests members of Baha’i faith on charges of spying for Israel

A view of the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)
A view of the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa (photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)

Iran’s intelligence ministry arrests several members of the Baha’i faith on spying charges, state TV reports.

The ministry says in a statement that the suspects were linked to the Baha’i center in Israel and collected and transferred information there.

It is rare for the ministry to report the arrests of members of Baha’i. The report does not say how many were detained. The detentions raise concerns about potential crackdowns on followers of the religion.

Members of the faith in Iran complain about occasional mistreatment and prosecutions in Iran.

Iran already bans the Baha’i, a religion founded in the 1860s by a Persian nobleman considered a prophet by his followers. Muslims consider Muhammad the highest prophet.

In 2013, Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, in a fatwa, or religious decree, urged Iranians to avoid all dealings with members of the banned Baha’i sect. It supported similar fatwas in the past by other clerics. Iran allows non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews to worship but has strict laws against seeking converts to other religions.

IDF thwarts attempt to smuggle marijuana in from Egypt

Troops foiled an attempt to smuggle marijuana into Israel from Egypt this morning, the Israel Defense Forces says.

According to the IDF, soldiers seized some 33 kilograms (72 pounds) of hashish, estimated to be worth NIS 600,000 ($177,000), near the border.

No arrests were made, as the suspects fled back to Egypt. The drugs were taken by police for investigation.

Medical residents vow mass resignations if shift-shortening deal not honored

Medical interns demonstrate for better work conditions outside the Health Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 7, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Medical interns demonstrate for better work conditions outside the Health Ministry in Tel Aviv, October 7, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Outraged medical residents are threatening mass resignations by the end of this month if the government fails to honor its promise to shorten hospital shifts as per an agreement reached earlier this year.

Yesterday the government said it would again postpone the scheduled reduction of 26-hour shifts until September 2023 — a year and a half after it was originally set to start — due to manpower problems.

Dr. Ray Biton, head of the Mirsham organization of medical residents, says masses will resign if the government does not start honoring its commitments by August 25.

Biton says the postponement is “unnecessary and disproportional and in effect buries almost any ability to carry out the plan.”

She says the government “has not lived up to any obligation and any agreements with us, and continues to harmfully and dangerously employ [residents] in slavery conditions.”

“We are ready to go to the end,” she says.

At atomic agency ceremony, Lapid says: Israel’s ‘other capabilities’ keep us alive

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) shakes hands with the incoming director general of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, Moshe Edri, August 1, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) shakes hands with the incoming director general of Israel's Atomic Energy Commission, Moshe Edri, August 1, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Speaking at a ceremony for the new head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says that what he vaguely refers to as Israel’s “other capabilities” keep the country safe.

“The operational arena in the invisible [defensive] dome above us is built of defense capabilities and offensive capabilities, and what the foreign press tends to call ‘other capabilities.’ These other capabilities keep us alive and will keep us alive so long as we and our children are here,” he says.

Brig. Gen. (res.) Moshe Edri is taking over as director general of the AEC, replacing Brig. Gen. (res.) Zeev Snir.

Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says: “A year ago we made decisions intended to focus our preparations to contend with Iran’s nuclear program. We devoted enormous resources to close gaps that kept me awake at night. The Iranians are making progress, but the Israeli system has been working at full force this past year.”

He adds: “I know that you will continue to work, regardless of political tumult. Our future and security for generations depend on it.”

Russia outlines plans to rebuild Ukraine’s devastated Mariupol

A senior Russian official outlines plans to rebuild Ukraine’s southern port city of Mariupol that suffered a devastating siege and heavy shelling before being captured by Russian troops.

The move comes as part of Moscow’s wider efforts to gain support in Ukrainian regions that have come under Russian control since the start of the February military campaign.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin says in an interview with Russia’s RBC TV channel that the first buildings currently under construction will be ready by the autumn.

“The first residential buildings will be standing by September. We will already have the first hospitals, will build a center of the emergencies ministry,” he says.

Khusnullin also says there are plans to rebuild the historic center of Mariupol, renovating all buildings that were not completely destroyed by Russian shelling.

An aerial view of damaged residential buildings and the Azovstal steel plant in the background in the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 18, 2022. (Andrey BORODULIN / AFP)

US envoy hopeful on Lebanon-Israel sea border talks

Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)
Energean's floating production system (FPSO) at the Karish gas field in the Mediterranean Sea. (Energean)

An American envoy expresses optimism that Lebanon and Israel could move toward a maritime border deal to settle competing claims over offshore gas fields.

The maritime border dispute between the neighbors escalated in early June, after Israel moved a production vessel near the Karish offshore field, which is partly claimed by Lebanon.

The move prompted Beirut to call for the resumption of US-mediated negotiations on the demarcation dispute.

“I remain optimistic that we can make continuous progress as we have over the last several weeks and I look forward to coming back to the region and being able to make the final arrangements,” Amos Hochstein tells reporters after meeting Lebanon’s top leaders.

Hochstein is carrying an Israeli proposal in response to a demarcation offer made by Lebanon last June.

Iran says ‘optimistic’ after EU proposal for nuclear deal

Iran says it remains “optimistic” about a possible revival of the 2015 nuclear deal after the European Union put forth a proposal aiming for a compromise in the talks stalled since March.

“We remain optimistic that the negotiation process will lead us to a logical and reasonable outcome,” foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani says at his weekly news conference.

The comment comes after EU foreign policy chief and coordinator of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Josep Borrell, last Tuesday submitted a new draft text and urged the sides to accept it or “risk a dangerous nuclear crisis.”

Negotiations in Vienna began in April 2021 to restore the deal, but have stalled since March amid differences between Tehran and Washington on several issues.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed