The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu tweets that he has succeeded in forming a government, just minutes before the midnight deadline.
Moments ago, he informed President Isaac Herzog of the news.
The tweet included a two-word Hebrew phrase that basically translates to “I have a government in hand.”
In a video of his conversation with Herzog, Netanyahu tells the president, “I wanted to inform you that, thanks to the immense public support we won in the elections, I have managed to set up a government which will take care of all the citizens of Israel. And I of course intend to establish it as quickly as possible.”
The government will likely be sworn in next week, though Netanyahu has until January 2 to do so.
Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is on the phone with President Isaac Herzog to inform him that he has succeeded in forming a coalition, with less than 30 minutes remaining before the midnight deadline, Channel 12 reports.
Netanyahu must now inform Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin that he has mustered a majority, and Levin will formally tell the Knesset on Monday, December 26, at parliament’s next legislative session.
The prime minister-designate then has another week, until January 2, to actually get his coalition sworn in.
Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich indicates that prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has succeeded in forming a coalition, with less than an hour left before the deadline.
Netanyahu’s office has yet to release a statement on the matter. He has until midnight to inform President Isaac Herzog that he has succeeded in building a government.
He alternatively can request a four-day extension, but it is not clear whether Herzog would grant one to him since he already asked for a 14-day extension and Herzog sufficed with giving him until tonight to finish the job
Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is still locked in coalition negotiations with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, as the deadline for announcing a coalition closes in.
“It’s not clear if the agreement will be implemented tonight,” Otzma Yehudit says in a statement.
Netanyahu has until midnight to inform President Isaac Herzog, who formally tasked him with forming a new ruling coalition after last month’s Knesset elections, whether he has the votes to swear in a new government.
The Likud party leader can alternatively ask for an additional four days to finalize his coalition, after already receiving a 10-day extension from Herzog.
With less than two hours to go, Netanyahu has also hit a roadblock with the United Torah Judaism party, according to Ynet.
The Likud leader is slated to swear in the next government by January 2, and has to submit the coalition agreements to the Knesset 24 hours before the swearing-in.
US President Joe Biden vows to step up support for Ukraine and hails its resistance to Russian invaders as he welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House.
“We’re going to continue to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, particularly air defense,” Biden tells Zelensky, who thanks the US leader “for your big support.”
Zelensky tells Biden of the “appreciation from my heart” for US support, and thanks the US president, Congress and the “ordinary people” of America.
A young man is shot and critically wounded in Jaffa, report police and first responders.
According to the police, the man was shot on Tsihatli Street in Jaffa, and brought to Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv in life-threatening condition. Police say the incident is criminal in nature and not linked to terrorism.
Magen David Adom first responders say they transferred the man to the hospital while he was unconscious and in serious condition with at least one gunshot wound.
Yesterday, a man and his toddler son were shot dead in an underworld mob hit in Nazareth.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives at the White House for talks with President Joe Biden as the wartime leader pays his first visit overseas since Russia’s invasion.
Zelensky, wearing brown military fatigues rather than a suit, is driven to the White House where Biden, joined by his wife Jill, puts his arm around his shoulder before escorting him past doors where guards hold the US and Ukrainian flags.
The Biden administration slaps sanctions on Iran’s chief prosecutor, four other Iranian officials and a company that supports the country’s security forces for their roles in an ongoing violent crackdown on anti-government protests.
The Treasury Department announces it is targeting the prosecutor-general of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, two senior commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, and two members of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer group that often enforces strict rules on dress and conduct.
“We denounce the Iranian regime’s intensifying use of violence against its own people who are advocating for their human rights,” the Treasury says in a statement. The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman is in “very serious condition” after requiring life-saving CPR earlier today, according to the Jerusalem hospital where he is being treated.
Druckman, who has been in the intensive care unit of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem since last week after contracting the coronavirus, is unconscious and connected to a ventilator, the medical center says.
The Likud party denies a report on the Kan public broadcaster this evening that it is laying the groundwork to appoint Shas chair Aryeh Deri as alternate prime minister if his attempt to become a minister is struck down by the court.
Deri, who previously was convicted and sentenced to prison for bribery, struck a deal last year for tax offenses that saw him resign from the Knesset and avoid a charge of “breach of trust.” That deal has thrown his ability to become a minister in the next government into legal question, and Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly concerned the High Court could attempt to bar him from doing so.
According to Kan, Netanyahu has been exploring the possibility of instead appointing Deri as alternate prime minister, since court precedent bans those convicted of breach of trust from becoming cabinet ministers, but not prime minister — or alternate prime minister, which is a largely ceremonial position.
Shots are reportedly fired by Palestinian gunmen at a military post near the northern West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says no injuries are caused.
Palestinian media also report hearing shooting in the area, close to the West Bank city of Jenin.
There is no immediate comment from the Israeli army on the suspected attack.
Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly fired at military posts, settlements and civilians on the roads in recent months.
President Isaac Herzog attends a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony at the Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Jaffa.
Herzog wishes the gathered Christian leaders, as well as Christians across Israel and the world, a happy Christmas period.
“We have had thousands of years of coexistence between different and varied faiths,” says Herzog. “We are gathered here this evening to send a message that is pure light to the whole world, a message that says: ‘We can live here together!'”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives in Washington for a summit with President Joe Biden and an address to Congress in a bid to shore up support for his country and send a defiant message to its Russian invaders.
A US official confirms that a US Air Force jet carrying the Ukrainian leader landed at Joint Base Andrews, just outside the capital. Zelensky said on his Twitter account before his arrival that the visit, his first known trip outside Ukraine since the war began in February, was “to strengthen resilience and defense capabilities” of Ukraine and to discuss cooperation with the United States.
United Torah Judaism party leader MK Yitzchak Goldknopf, who has been promised the role of housing minister in the next government, reportedly owns an apartment that has been illegally divided into multiple apartments.
According to a report in Haaretz, Goldknopf is listed as the owner of an apartment in Jerusalem that has been divided into five separate dwellings without registering it as such with the municipality, as is required by law.
Goldknopf in response claims that he did once own the apartment, but that he left it in March 2021 and that it was not divided up during the period he owned it. According to Haaretz, the official registration shows that Goldknopf still owns the apartment and that his wife is listed as the owner in the municipality’s Arnona tax registry.
The United States will provide Ukraine with the advanced Patriot air defense system to help counter Moscow’s relentless aerial attacks, the State Department announces.
“Today’s assistance for the first time includes the Patriot Air Defense System, capable of bringing down cruise missiles, short range ballistic missiles, and aircraft at a significantly higher ceiling than previously provided air defense systems,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says in a statement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is due in Washington today, his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
With just hours to go until his deadline to tell President Isaac Herzog that he has formed the next government, Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to sign a single full coalition agreement with any of his future partners.
Netanyahu is said to be expected to tell Herzog that he has succeeded to form the 37th government despite not signing any such deals.
The Likud leader is slated to swear in the next government by January 2, and has to submit the coalition agreements to the Knesset 24 hours before the swearing in, according to reports.
Sam Bankman-Fried is back in a Bahamian court for an extradition hearing that could clear the way for the one-time billionaire to be sent to the US to face criminal charges related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
In a court in Nassau, Bahamas, on Monday, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said he had agreed to be extradited to the US, but the necessary paperwork had not yet been written up. If approved, Bankman-Fried could be on a plane to the US as early as this afternoon.
The 30-year-old could potentially spend the rest of his life in jail.
Likud MK Amichai Chikli says that calling the expanded powers of expecting incoming minister Bezalel Smotrich “de facto annexation” sounds good to him.
In an interview with Army Radio, Chikli is asked about the demand by Smotrich to shift control of COGAT — the body that controls activity in the West Bank — as well as the Civil Administration, which deals with settlement issues, to his control, and whether it would constitute “de facto annexation.”
“The Civil Administration is a very problematic body and it is biased against Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria,” says Chikli. “De facto annexation is excellent. I don’t have any problem with that.”
A wanted Palestinian man is arrested by Israeli troops during a daytime raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency say in a joint statement.
According to police and the Shin Bet, Mujahid al-Talfiti, 25, is suspected of involvement in a shooting attack near the Havat Gilad outpost on Friday. Two other suspects have already been arrested over the attack.
Palestinian media say al-Talfiti was detained after Israeli forces surrounded a building he was in this afternoon.
Al-Talfiti had been formerly jailed in Israel over his affiliation with the Hamas terror group, according to the joint statement.
— فلسطين الآن (@paltimes2015) December 21, 2022
الأسير المحرر مجاهد مزيد التلفيتي الذي اعتقلته قوات الاحتلال بعد محاصرة بناية سكنية في نابلس، مساء اليوم. pic.twitter.com/nySoVXSko1
— الرسالة للإعلام (@Alresalahpress) December 21, 2022
Otzma Yehudit chief MK Itamar Ben Gvir agrees to minor changes to the legislation that is intended to pave the way to his imminent appointment as national security minister.
The changes include requiring Ben Gvir to publish his policies online as well as to report annually on his policies and activities to the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.
Ben Gvir agrees to the demands, which were pushed for by future opposition MKs.
The bill, which will make the police and its leadership subordinate to the national security minister and allow the minister to set police policy, is expected to soon go to a second and third reading.
A consortium made up of energy companies Eni of Italy and France’s Total is expediting plans to develop natural gas deposits off Cyprus following the discovery of a third field containing 2-3 trillion cubic feet of the hydrocarbon inside the same licensed exploration area, the Cypriot energy ministry says.
The ministry announces the discovery at the Zeus-1 well some 162 kilometers (100 miles) inside Block 6 off Cyprus southern coastline, at a depth of 2,300 meters (1.42 miles). The field, containing a 105-meter (344-foot) column of gas, is located just 5 kilometers (3 miles) west of the Cronos-1 well where the consortium announced in August an estimated 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The ministry says the newest discovery “reaffirms the promising potential of the area” as Cyprus looks to export the hydrocarbon amid an energy crisis compounded by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Religious leader Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s condition deteriorated significantly this afternoon, his family says.
Druckman, 90, has been in serious condition for several days after contracting the coronavirus earlier this month. After initially receiving care at home, Druckman was brought to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for treatment.
His condition had stabilized in recent days, but his family says that he took a sudden turn for the worse today.
Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll says that the anti-LGBT sentiments espoused by Noam party chief MK Avi Maoz have only boosted support for Israel’s LGBT community.
“I want to thank MK Avi Maoz, because due to him and his efforts, the Open House in Jerusalem has already raised NIS 100,000 ($29,000) toward the Jerusalem Pride Parade,” says Roll, one of a handful of openly gay lawmakers, in a video posted to social media.
Thanks to Maoz, adds Roll, “more people know that there is a large, strong [LGBT] community and they’re not alone and have nothing to be afraid of.”
Roll, a member of Yesh Atid, also issues an invitation to Maoz to attend next year’s Jerusalem Pride Parade — an event the far-right lawmaker has long sought to have shut down.
A wounded Irish UN peacekeeper in Lebanon is transferred from a hospital to Beirut’s international airport to be medically evacuated to Ireland.
Unidentified attackers opened fire on 22-year-old Pvt. Shane Kearney and three other Irish soldiers with UNIFIL, the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, last week as their convoy passed near the southern town of Al-Aqbiya. The area is a stronghold of the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group.
Kearney suffered from blunt force trauma to the head in the attack, and is in serious but stable condition.
Pvt. Seán Rooney, 24, was killed, while the two other soldiers were lightly wounded. Rooney’s body was returned to Ireland on Sunday after Lebanon and the UN held a memorial for him.
The Irish military says Kearney will be evacuated in a “specially equipped medical aircraft” to Casement Aerodrome, a military base southwest of Dublin, and will continue his treatment at Beaumont Hospital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia will continue developing its military potential and the combat readiness of nuclear forces against the backdrop of Moscow’s offensive in Western-backed Ukraine.
“The armed forces and combat capabilities of our armed forces are increasing constantly and every day. And this process, of course, we will build up on,” Putin says during a televised defense meeting, adding that Russia will also “improve the combat readiness of our nuclear triad.”
Iran’s Supreme Court has ordered a retrial for a young Iranian sentenced to death for his part in protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, says the judiciary.
Mahan Sadrat is one of nearly a dozen Iranians sentenced to death after being convicted of capital offenses during the protests that erupted following Amini’s death in custody on September 16.
“The accused’s request for a retrial was found to be in accordance with the law… and so the case was referred to the court for retrial,” the judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reports.
Sadrat, who is in his early 20s, had been found guilty of “moharebeh” — or “enmity against God” — an Islamic Sharia law offense that can carry the death penalty in Iran. His conviction was based on allegations he had drawn a knife, causing fear and insecurity, state news agency IRNA said earlier this month.
Iranian authorities say that two suspects have been killed and two more arrested in connection with a shooting that left seven people dead at a bazaar last month in the country’s southwest.
IRNA, Iran’s official state news agency, says the two suspects killed were among the perpetrators of the market shooting in the Iranian city of Izeh last month. The report says two others accused of being involved in the attack have been arrested in the same operation, led by the Revolutionary Guard and the Country’s Intelligence Ministry.
Iranian authorities provide no further details about when the operation took place. They offer no evidence that the four men were involved in the attack. News of the security operation was first announced by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in a statement published yesterday.
Former IDF chief of staff and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon criticizes a decision by outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz — his former political partner — to hold on to the body of a Palestinian prisoner who died of cancer in custody this week.
“Trafficking in bodies is unnecessary — there are other methods to apply pressure,” Ya’alon tells Army Radio. “If there are fears that the funeral will provoke incitement, then order them to bury him at night with only family in attendance.”
Gantz said earlier today that the decision not to release the body of Nasser Abu Hmeid, 51, a founding member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades terror group, was made following a security assessment.
Pope Francis commits to help bring home the two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two slain IDF soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza.
According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the pope made the pledge during a 45-minute meeting with the families of the captives in the Vatican.
“The pope promised to work with governments and religious leaders, including Muslim ones, to bring back the sons,” according to the Foreign Ministry readout of the meeting.
Hamas currently holds two living Israelis — Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu — along with the bodies of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge: Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
Francis speaks with each of the families, and offers particular solidarity with the suffering of the captives’ mothers.
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