The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they happened.
Zehava Galon clinches Meretz leadership, with challenger Yair Golan finishing in a realistic fifth spot in the left-wing party’s candidate lineup for November’s election.
Outgoing party head Nitzan Horowitz is squeezed out into the seventh spot, likely falling out of Knesset contention if the party continues to poll between 5 and 6 seats.
Returning lawmakers Mossi Raz, Michal Rozin, Ali Salaha, and Gaby Lasky fill out the second, third, fourth, and sixth realistic spots, respectively.
Turkey summons the Greek military attaché and files a complaint with NATO after Greek fighter jets allegedly harassed Turkish fighter jets that were conducting an “important mission” for the military alliance, Turkey’s state-run news agency reports.
The Anadolu Agency says F-16s belonging to Greece harassed Turkish pilots flying the same model by putting Turkey’s aircraft under a radar lock during the NATO mission over the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey “gave the necessary response” and forced the planes to leave the area, Anadolu says, without elaborating.
Anadolu says Turkey’s defense ministry notified NATO officials about the alleged harassment and summoned the Greek military official in Ankara, accusing Greece of endangering a NATO mission.
Greece rejected the Turkish version of events. The Defense Ministry said five Turkish jets appeared without prior notification to accompany a flight of US B-52 bombers — which hadn’t been due to have a fighter escort — through an area subject to Greek flight control.
It said four Greek fighters were scrambled and chased off the armed Turkish planes, adding that Athens informed NATO and US authorities of the incident.
Greece also accused Turkey of 78 violations of Greek airspace Tuesday with 23 planes, 15 of which were armed.
In response to the results of the Religious Zionism primary, Yesh Atid criticizes the party’s new electoral list.
“The list elected today is a misogynistic, homophobic, racist and dangerous list,” says the centrist Yesh Atid in a statement about the far-right Religious Zionism.
Yesh Atid suggests that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu “will fulfill their messianic dreams and in exchange they will cancel his [ongoing corruption] case.”
The Israel Defense Forces has appointed the first female battalion commander in the military’s air defense array.
Lt. Col. Revital Barzani will command the 66th Ram Battalion, which operates the David’s Sling system, used to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and missiles.
“It is a privilege for me to command the 66th Ram Battalion, a battalion with an extensive history and an important and significant role in the defense of the country’s skies,” Barzani says at a ceremony marking her entry into the role.
The battalion also operates the IDF’s early warning systems for incoming ballistic missiles, alongside the Home Front Command.
“Through the experience and knowledge I have gained over the years, I am entering a position where I have a professional, operational influence and great responsibility,” Barzani adds.
In recent years, there has also been a growing trend of women serving in combat units and in other senior roles previously held by men.
Current lawmakers lead Religious Zionism’s primary results, with MKs Ofir Sofer, Orit Strock, Simcha Rothman and Michal Waldiger, respectively, nabbing one through four on the party’s slate — the likely only realistic spots — behind party leader Bezalel Smotrich.
Hard-right newcomers Tzvi Succot and Arnon Segal place below the party’s likely expected threshold, at spots five and eight, respectively.
Although currently running separately, Smotrich is expected to try to reunify with ultra-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party in advance of the November 1 elections.
“I call to Itamar – my hand is extended in unity,” Smotrich says while announcing primary results, acknowledging that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is pressing for the merger to conserve votes on the right.
Together, Smotrich and Ben Gvir poll between 10 and 13 seats.
Smotrich is also reportedly negotiating with former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli to run on a joint list.
Either unification will peel seats off of Religious Zionism’s primary list, reducing the impact of the exercise.
Eight-one percent of the party’s 24,000 registered members voted in today’s primary.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey says that its restoration of full diplomatic relations with Israel doesn’t mean a shift in Middle Eastern allegiances as it warmly welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA leader met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks and a private dinner on his second visit to Turkey in a year.
The talks came just a week after Turkey and Israel sealed a rapprochement from a decade of rocky relations by announcing plans to reappoint ambassadors for the first time in four years.
Erdogan has been a fervent supporter of the Palestinian cause who has branded Israel a “terrorist state.”
He held the veteran Palestinian leader by the hand while gingerly walking him down a turquoise carpet to his presidential palace before a welcoming guard.
“The steps taken in our relations with Israel will in no way diminish our support for the Palestinian cause,” Erdogan later tells a joint media event.
“Turkey defends its vision of a two-state solution on every platform, and we have clearly demonstrated our response to the Israeli attacks and civilian casualties.”
Abbas doesn’t mention Turkish-Israeli relations in his comments but thanked Erdogan for his past support.
“I would like to thank you for the close attention and hospitality you have shown us,” Abbas tells Erdogan.
“I would like to reiterate my gratitude for the fact that Turkey and the Turkish government are on the side of Palestine.”
Abbas’s visit is widely seen as an attempt by Turkey to show that it stood by old allies even as it repairs relations with more recent rivals.
Senior officials in the defense establishment are warning that what appears to be an emerging Iran nuclear deal is bad for Israel’s security, according to Channel 12 news.
The report cites the funds that Iran will receive from the removal of sanctions, which Tehran could use to boost its proxies in the region.
WASHINGTON — As Russia’s war on Ukraine drags on, US security assistance is shifting to a longer-term campaign that will likely keep more American military troops in Europe into the future, including imminent plans to announce an additional roughly $3 billion in aid to train and equip Ukrainian forces to fight for years to come, US officials say.
US officials tell The Associated Press that the package is expected to be announced tomorrow, the day the war hits the six-month mark and Ukraine celebrates its independence day. The money will fund contracts for drones, weapons and other equipment that may not see the battlefront for a year or two, they say.
The total of the aid package — which is being provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative — could change overnight, but not likely by much. Several officials speak on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid before its public release.
Unlike most previous packages, the new funding is largely aimed at helping Ukraine secure its medium- to long-term defense posture, according to officials familiar with the matter. Earlier shipments, most of them done under Presidential Drawdown Authority, have focused on Ukraine’s more immediate needs for weapons and ammunition and involved materiel that the Pentagon already has in stock that can be shipped in short order.
In addition to providing longer-term assistance that Ukraine can use for potential future defense needs, the new package is intended to reassure Ukrainian officials that the United States intends to keep up its support, regardless of the day-to-day back and forth of the conflict, the officials say.
The Israel Defense Forces’ international media spokesperson says the explosion earlier today in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis was due to unsafely stored weapons in the home of a terror group member.
“Another tragedy in the Gaza Strip today,” says Lt. Col. Richard Hecht on Twitter.
“Weapons stored unsafely in the house of a member of a Palestinian terrorist group exploded and killed a young child in the vicinity,” he says.
“These are the sad consequences of militarizing civilian areas for terrorist activity,” Hecht adds.
The IDF has repeatedly accused Hamas and other terror groups of operating within civilian areas in the Gaza Strip.
Another tragedy in the Gaza Strip today.
Weapons stored unsafely in the house of a member of a Palestinian terrorist group exploded and killed a young child in the vicinity.
These are the sad consequences of militarizing civilian areas for terrorist activity. pic.twitter.com/9AUT2TwAhn
— Lt. Col. Richard Hecht (@LtColRichard) August 23, 2022
KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv accuses Moscow of having organized illegal mass adoptions of Ukrainian children after transferring them from occupied territories to Russia.
Since the beginning of the war, Kyiv has been accusing Moscow of “deporting” Ukrainians, saying Ukrainians from occupied territories have been forced to go to Russia rather than other regions of Ukraine.
“The Russian Federation continues to abduct children from the territory of Ukraine and arrange their illegal adoption by Russian citizens,” Ukraine’s foreign ministry says in a statement today.
“Over 1,000 children from Mariupol,” a southern Ukrainian city occupied by Russian troops, “were illegally transferred to outsiders in Tyumen, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, and Altai Krai” (in Siberia), the statement reads, referring to different areas of Russia.
The foreign ministry says it had based its findings on information from local authorities in Krasnodar, a southern Russian city near Ukraine.
More than 300 Ukrainian children are “held in specialized institutions” in the Krasnodar region, according to the statement.
The ministry accuses Russia of actions that “grossly violate the 1949 Geneva Convention” that establishes rules for humanitarian treatments in wartime and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It calls for “all Ukrainian children, who were illegally displaced to the territory of Russia, (to) be returned to their parents or legal guardians.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz is heading to the United States and Japan later this week, according to a schedule published by his office.
On Thursday morning, Gantz will fly to Florida and first meet with the chief of the US Central Command Michael Erik Kurilla at the command’s headquarters.
Gantz is then slated to meet with the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday, his office says.
On Saturday night Gantz will fly to Japan for an official trip, his office says, without publishing specifics.
Former prime minister Naftali Bennett, who now holds the post of alternate premier, issues what he describes as a last-minute appeal to US President Joe Biden not to sign a renewed Iran nuclear deal.
“This deal will pipe around a quarter trillion dollars to the coffers of the Iranian terror regime and its regional arms, and allow Iran to develop, affix and operate centrifuges almost without limit in about two years,” Bennett says in a statement.
He says that previously, “even when things appeared close,” Israel convinced the White House “not to surrender to Iranian demands,” and expresses hope it will again do the same.
“Either way, the State of Israel isn’t a party to the deal, isn’t limited by any authority of the agreement being formed, and will act with all means to prevent progress in the Iranian nuclear program.”
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s armed forces will launch Wednesday large-scale drone drills across the country involving 150 unmanned aerial vehicles to show off its “power,” state media reports today.
“The accuracy and power of weapons… the capabilities of guidance and control systems and the combat capabilities of drones are among the things that will be tested and evaluated in this exercise,” deputy coordinator of the armed forces Admiral Habibollah Sayyari tells the state broadcaster.
“This is the first time that a joint drone exercise is conducted at the level of the four forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s army and the country’s joint air defense base,” Sayyari adds.
No details are given as to how long the exercises would last.
Iran started developing drones in the 1980s during its eight-year war with Iraq.
“This is only a part of the drone power of… Iran’s army, which is carrying out operations in various reconnaissance, surveillance and combat missions,” Sayyari adds.
The drills will take place “from the warm waters of the Gulf and the Sea of Oman in the south, to the eastern, western, northern and central parts of the country,” he says.
Iran’s army unveiled its first division of ships and submarines capable of carrying armed drones in July when US President Joe Biden was touring the Middle East.
In May, state television broadcast footage of an air base for drones under the Zagros mountain range in the west of the country.
The United States and Israel, arch-enemies of Iran, have previously accused Tehran of using drones and missiles to attack US forces and Israel-linked ships in the Gulf.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz says Israel is in touch with the US and regional countries about the talks to restore the Iran nuclear deal, amid reports of recent progress in the negotiations.
“We will do everything we can to influence the agreement,” Gantz says during a faction meeting.
Noting Israel won’t be a party to any agreement, he adds, “it will know how to maintain its freedom of action as needed.”
KYIV, Ukraine — Western leaders warn Russia against annexing other parts of Ukrainian territory after Crimea amid rumors Russia is planning to do so in various occupied areas.
The leaders sent video addresses to the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv which was attended in person by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda.
The Crimean peninsula was seized and illegally annexed by Russia in 2014, after a referendum widely deemed illegitimate.
Duda says the West’s muted reaction to the annexation constituted “appeasement” of Russia, adding there could be no more “business as usual” in the West’s relations with Moscow.
The 2014 annexation of Crimea led to a “clear deterioration of the humanitarian situation and of human rights in the peninsula,” says French President Emmanuel Macron, who vows EU support to Ukraine “for the long term.”
Since February, Moscow has been using Crimea as a staging post for attacks on Ukraine as well as “a testing ground for the brutal methods Russia is now applying across the other occupied parts of Ukraine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tells the conference.
“Putin is planning to do to parts of Ukraine, indeed, to all of Ukraine, what he’s done to Crimea,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says.
“He is planning more annexations and more sham referendums, so it has never been more important to stand together” Johnson adds.
The Kremlin has led a Russification campaign in the territories it occupies, which includes giving out passports to residents.
Kyiv also fears Moscow may try to organize referendums on territories it has seized since the beginning of the war.
In Russian-occupied parts of Zaporizhzhia, Moscow-installed officials announced in early August that they were planning a referendum.
Responding to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir blames Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich for the lack of a unity deal between their far-right parties.
“We tried every way until we understood there is no partner,” he says in a statement.
“Bezalel is interested in [Amichai] Chikli and is negotiating with him,” Ben Gvir adds, referring to the former Yamina lawmaker. “We respect his decision.”
Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich calls on Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir to hold talks on reuniting their far-right parties, after opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu urged them to do so.
“I agree with [Netanyahu] and call on my friend Itamar — let’s sit tomorrow with the real goal of advancing a joint run for the sake of a right-wing victory in the elections,” Smotrich tweets.
The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip says one Palestinian has been killed and a child is wounded following the blast in Khan Younis.
The ministry statement, carried by Palestinian media, says the cause of the explosion is still under investigation.
The identity of the person killed is not released by the ministry. Earlier, Palestinian media reports suggested at least seven people were hurt.
Damage was caused to the building in the southern Gaza city, images show.
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) August 23, 2022
Netanyahu urges Smotrich, Ben Gvir far-right parties to reunite for elections: ‘Can’t take the risk’
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu urges the far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties to reunite, after the latter declared an independent run amid jockeying between the factions over the makeup of their electoral slate.
“Run together in the elections. We can’t take the risk,” the former prime minister says in a video statement. “Only a joint run will ensure that the two parties pass the minimum vote threshold with certainty.”
Netanyahu has previously pushed for political mergers that include far-right parties in order to avoid “wasting” votes on right-wing factions that fail to enter the Knesset, including the alliance between Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit before last year’s elections.
His appeal to the parties comes as Religious Zionism holds primaries today to select its electoral list.
NEW YORK — Twitter misled users and federal regulators about glaring weaknesses in its ability to protect personal data, the platform’s former security chief claims in whistleblower testimony likely to impact the company’s bitter legal battle over Elon Musk’s takeover bid.
In a complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and published in part today by The Washington Post and CNN, Peiter Zatko also accuses Twitter of significantly underestimating the number of automated bots on the platform — a key element in Musk’s argument for withdrawing his $44 billion buyout deal.
CNN quotes the disclosure by Zatko as accusing Twitter of “negligence, willful ignorance, and threats to national security and democracy.”
Zatko, who Twitter says it fired earlier this year for poor performance, warns of obsolete servers, software vulnerable to computer attacks and executives seeking to hide the number of hacking attempts, both to US authorities and to the company’s board of directors.
The hacker-turned-executive, who goes by the nickname “Mudge,” also claims that Twitter prioritizes growing its user base over fighting spam and bots, according to the reports.
In particular, according to The Washington Post, he accuses the platform’s boss Parag Agrawal of “lying” in a tweet in May.
In the tweet, Agrawal says Twitter is “strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can.”
Twitter has dismissed the allegations.
A company spokesperson tells AFP that Zatko was fired in January this year for “ineffective leadership and poor performance.”
“What we’ve seen so far is a false narrative about Twitter and our privacy and data security practices that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies and lacks important context,” the spokesperson says in a statement.
The “opportunistic timing” of the allegations appears “designed to capture attention and inflict harm on Twitter, its customers and its shareholders,” the statement continues.
“Security and privacy have long been company-wide priorities at Twitter and will continue to be.”
Palestinian media, citing Hamas authorities, reports a large explosion in a home in the city of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
The reports say several people are hurt, with some putting the number of injuries at seven.
The cause of the explosion remains unknown. However, it is not believed to be an Israeli airstrike.
The National Unity party vows to advance several proposals that would make it more difficult to bring down a government, including raising the number of Knesset members required to dissolve the parliament to 70.
That proposal by the new political alliance, led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, is similar to Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman’s recent call to require at least 90 MKs to bring down a government within two years of its formation.
National Unity also says it would push for the Knesset not to dissolve if the coalition fails to pass a budget — an outcome Gantz has personal experience with in his short-lived unity government with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“If we don’t reform, we’ll abandon the arena to extortionists,” Gantz says at a faction meeting in Jerusalem.
KYIV, Ukraine — French President Emmanuel Macron vows that the EU’s support for Ukraine as it struggles against Russia’s invasion would continue “for the long term.”
Six months after the conflict erupted, “Our determination has not changed and we are ready to maintain this effort for the long term,” Macron says today in a video address to participants in the Crimea Platform conference in Kyiv.
“This destabilization of the international order and the disruptions that have followed, on the humanitarian level, in terms of energy and food, are the consequences of the choice made by Russia and Russia alone to attack Ukraine on February 24,” he says.
“Against this there can be no weakness, no spirit of compromise, because it’s a matter of our freedom, for everyone, and of peace everywhere around the world,” Macron adds.
Ukraine’s Western allies have supplied Kyiv with billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment and other aid that staved off a quick defeat. But they are wary of joining the fight directly against the Russian forces that now occupy large parts of Ukraine’s east and south.
The imprisoned Palestinian terror convict accused of raping a female soldier at Gilboa Prison in northern Israel has been named as Mahmoud Atallah, after a court lifts a gag order on publishing his name in relation to the case.
The Fatah-linked Atallah is at the center of a sexual assault scandal at the facility, where reports of female IDF soldiers and guards being sexually harassed and assaulted surfaced again recently, following initial allegations several years ago.
He is serving a life sentence for the 2003 killing of a Palestinian woman in Ramallah suspected of assisting Israel.
הותר לפרסום: האסיר הביטחוני מחמוד עטאללה השפוט למאסר עולם הוא החשוד באונס סוהרת בכלא גלבוע ועבירות מין בשתי סוהרות נוספות. נגד עטאללה כבר יש אישום על פגיעה מינית בשלוש סוהרות אחרות.
עטאללה מכחיש את החשדות נגדו. pic.twitter.com/ACgRcgNMw9
— Josh Breiner (@JoshBreiner) August 23, 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounces Israeli airstrikes on targets in Syria.
“We strongly condemned the dangerous practice of Israeli strikes on Syrian territory,” he says at a press conference in Moscow alongside his Syrian counterpart, according to Reuters. “We demand that Israel respect the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and, above all, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”
Earlier this month, an airstrike attributed to Israel reportedly struck Iranian targets near the main Russian naval base in Syria. Both Russia and Iran are key backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Lavrov’s comments come amid increasingly ties between Jerusalem and Russia, which many have attributed to Israel’s support for Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion of the country.
KYIV, Ukraine — The US embassy in Kyiv says that Russia is planning to increase strikes on civilian infrastructure and government buildings in Ukraine, as the nation prepares to mark its independence day.
Tomorrow will mark the six-month anniversary of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine, as well as the nation’s 1991 break from the Soviet Union.
“The Department of State has information that Russia is stepping up efforts to launch strikes against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and government facilities in the coming days,” the embassy says in a new security alert today.
The embassy urges its citizens to leave Ukraine if possible.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has already warned that “Russia could try to do something particularly disgusting, particularly cruel” in the coming days.
The capital of Kyiv has announced a ban on public gatherings, and a curfew was declared in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city.
MADRID — Iran requested “some adjustments” to a draft agreement on reviving a 2015 nuclear accord with major powers proposed by the European Union, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says.
During an interview with Spanish public television TVE, Borrell says “most” countries involved in nuclear talks with Iran agreed with the proposal, but that the United States had not yet responded.
The 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — gave the Islamic Republic sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
The deal was designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied wanting to do.
But in 2018, then US president Donald Trump, a strong critic of the deal, unilaterally pulled out and slapped heavier sanctions on Iran.
Earlier this month, after more than a year of talks coordinated by Borrell and his team, the EU submitted what it called a “final” proposed text — which has not been made public — to revive the accord.
“Iran responded by saying ‘yes but,’ that is to say they want some adjustments,” Borrell tells TVE, without providing further details.
During a press conference yesterday in Santander in northern Spain, he said Iran’s response had seemed “reasonable” to him and it was therefore submitted to the six world powers involved in the nuclear talks.
Far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir claims his decision to run alone instead of with the Religious Zionism party will “maximize” votes for right-wing factions in the upcoming elections.
His comments come as Religious Zionism, led by MK Bezalel Smotrich, holds primaries for its electoral list.
“Ideologically, the differences between Smotrich and me are minor, but I want something that is for the whole Jewish people,” Ben Gvir tells the Ynet news site, hinting at divides between Religious Zionism and his Otzma Yehudit faction over the selection of candidates for a joint slate.
BAGHDAD — Several hundred supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr launch a sit-in outside Iraq’s top judicial body today, ratcheting up tensions in a showdown with a rival Shiite alliance.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi cut short a visit to Egypt, where he had been due to take part in a five-nation summit, to return home to monitor developments.
Kadhemi “called on all political parties to calm down and to take advantage of the opportunity for national dialogue to get the country out of its current crisis,” a statement from his office says.
The standoff between rival Shiite factions has triggered an intensifying war of words, but so far no violence.
The Sadrists, who have already been camped outside parliament for the past three weeks, pitched tents outside the gates of the judicial body’s Baghdad headquarters, AFP correspondents report.
They carry placards demanding the dissolution of parliament and new elections, 10 months after an inconclusive poll failed to deliver a majority government.
Even though his political bloc has taken part in previous administrations, securing top jobs in government ministries, Sadr himself has managed to keep above the political fray and is lionized by his supporters as an outsider dedicated to the fight against a corrupt elite.
An adviser to Iran’s negotiating team denies a Reuters report that Tehran has stopped conditioning the renewal of a nuclear deal requires the UN’s atomic watchdog shuttering a probe into unexplained uranium traces at undeclared Iranian sites.
“No deal will be implemented before the IAEA Board of Directors PERMANENTLY closes the false accusations file,” Mohammad Marandi, an academic, writes on Twitter. “Iran’s nuclear program will not be dismantled.”
Reuters quoted an unnamed US official who said Iran also largely give up its demand that the State Department remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a terror blacklist.
“Very misleading. I’ve said for MONTHS, removing the Guards from the FTO is not a precondition,” Marandi adds.
Very misleading. I've said for MONTHS, removing the Guards from the FTO is not a precondition.
No deal will be implemented before the IAEA Board of Directors PERMANENTLY closes the false accusations file.
Iran's nuclear program will not be dismantled.https://t.co/J8OLsqlhwS
— Seyed Mohammad Marandi (@s_m_marandi) August 23, 2022
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