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Likud says all of Netanyahu bloc has endorsed replacing Knesset speaker

Mickey Levy announces parliament will convene next Monday to vote on his replacement; presumed incoming PM’s party also cites ‘significant progress’ on forming new government

Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Knesset speaker says vote to replace him will be held next Monday

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy leads a plenum session on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy leads a plenum session on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy says he’ll convene the plenum next Monday to choose his replacement, after presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc gathered enough signatures to force a vote.

In a statement, Levy says the request to select a new speaker is meant “to advance legislation that will allow people convicted [of crimes] and sentenced to conditional prison time to serve as ministers,” in reference to ultra-Orthodox Shas leader Aryeh Deri.

“Despite the incredible pain in knowing that that this is the intention of the emerging coalition, I will act with statesmanship and respect the will of the voter,” Levy adds.

Likud says all of Netanyahu bloc has endorsed replacing Knesset speaker

Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud announces that the all the factions in presumed incoming premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc have endorsed replacing Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy with one of their own.

A statement from Likud also cites “significant progress” on forming a government over the past several hours, without elaborating.

It’s not immediately clear if Levy will convene the plenum this week to select his replacement. If not, the vote is expected to be held next Monday.

It is also remains unclear who Netanyahu and his allies will select as the new speaker, which will give them control of the Knesset even before the coalition they are working to assemble is sworn in.

PA premier calls for US to play more active role in Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh at a press conference in Ramallah, February 27, 2021 (WAFA)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh at a press conference in Ramallah, February 27, 2021 (WAFA)

WASHINGTON — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh calls on the Biden administration to play a more active role in bringing about a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a pre-recorded video address to the dovish Mideast lobby J Street, Shtayyeh thanks US President Joe Biden for renewing US aid for the Palestinians, mainly through the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

However, he then laments Biden’s failure to follow through on campaign promises to reopen diplomatic missions to the Palestinians in Jerusalem and Washington and went on to go through a list of steps Ramallah expected the US to take.

This includes doing more to prevent Israeli settlement expansion and entrenched control over the West Bank and East Jerusalem; pressuring Israel to allow Palestinian elections to take place in East Jerusalem; revoking congressional legislation deeming the Palestine Liberation Organization a terror group; and restarting direct aid to the PA, which ceased due to Ramallah’s stipends to Palestinian security prisoners and the families of slain terrorists.

Shtayyeh highlights the uptick in violence in the West Bank that is unfolding under the outgoing government and warns that the situation will likely worsen under the hardline coalition that prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to finalize in the coming days.

The PA premier claims that the next government is threatening to expropriate more Palestinian land in the West Bank, increase the number of settlers beyond the Green Line and adopt a “shoot to kill” military policy against Palestinian protesters.

Incoming national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir has pledged to loosen open-fire rules to allow soldiers to use more lethal force against Palestinians throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails. He has also backed soldiers filmed taunting and assaulting Israeli activists.

Shtayyeh says PA President Abbas remains willing to enter negotiations with Israel toward a two-state solution, arguing that a failure to reach it will mean Israel will no longer be a Jewish nor democratic.

At World Cup, England fan shocks Israeli correspondent with call to ‘free Palestine’

An Israel reporter was surprised when interviewing jubilant England fans last night after their World Cup win over Senegal.

The reporter for the Kan public broadcaster was talking to a fan identified as Harry Hatton when he shouted, “It’s coming home! But more importantly, free Palestine.”

The reporter throws his hands up in desperation, saying, “Come on, let’s talk football.”

Israeli reporters in Qatar have faced frequent instances of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian calls at the World Cup, the first held in the Middle East.

 

Kohavi said to vow to stop Smotrich interference in appointment of IDF generals

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at a conference of the Gazit Institute in Tel Aviv, November 4, 2022. (Gideon Markowicz/ Flash90)

Israel Defense Force chief of staff Aviv Kohavi is reportedly vowing to stop Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich from being able to nominate army generals for two key positions.

“I won’t allow any interference in the appointment of IDF generals. There is no possibility of this happening,” Kohavi tells confidants in closed conversations, according to Channel 13.

The Haaretz daily reports similar comments from Kohavi and says that incoming IDF chief of staff Herzi Halevi agrees with Kohavi.

According to a report yesterday, the incoming coalition parties have agreed to change the process for choosing the heads of the Civil Administration and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, also known as COGAT, two key Defense Ministry positions managing life for Palestinians and Israeli settlers in much of the West Bank.

Under the already-announced terms of a coalition deal between Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Smotrich, a junior minister embedded in the Defense Ministry by Religious Zionism will exercise control over COGAT and the Civil Administration, agencies under the ministry and the Israel Defense Forces which serve as the military liaison to the Palestinians and direct civilian life in Area C of the West Bank.

According to the report, that authority may also extend to appointing who leads the agencies, a task that currently falls to the head of the Israel Defense Forces, with the approval of the defense minister the only form of political intervention.

The Channel 13 report also quotes a senior defense official as saying that such a move “will break the chain of command and create anarchy.”

The IDF spokesperson department denies leaking the comments.

Deri said to walk out of coalition talks with Netanyahu, Smotrich

Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri seen after coalition talks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel Smotrich and Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu, outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri seen after coalition talks with Religious Zionist party head MK Bezalel Smotrich and Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu, outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Shas chief Aryeh Deri reportedly walks out of coalition talks with Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Deri was reportedly demanding that the interior and health ministries, which his party is set to get, be exempt from oversight by the Finance Ministry’s budgetary department.

Smotrich who is set to become finance minister vehemently refuses, saying such a move violates his coalition agreements with Netanyahu.

Deri, for his part, says failure to exempt his ministries violates his agreements with Likud.

This is the second time in a week that Deri has reportedly clashed with Netanyahu during talks.

Man arrested for road rage attack in Bnei Brak

A 29-year-old man is arrested after attacking another motorist with his helmet in a road rage attack in Bnei Brak.

The driver flees the scene on his scooter, but is tracked down and arrested by police after a video of the attack is posted on social media.

Israel has seen a spate of road rage incidents, including a fatal stabbing, in recent weeks.

Netanyahu said to tell Maoz to keep a low profile, stop anti-LGTB comments

Noam's sole lawmaker, Avi Maoz, speaks at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting, December 5, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Noam's sole lawmaker, Avi Maoz, speaks at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting, December 5, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

The presumed incoming prime minister has sent a message to Noam party head Avi Maoz, telling him to keep a low profile with regard to his anti-LGBT rhetoric, Channel 12 reports.

Netanyahu’s transfer of control of educational ministry projects to Maoz has caused a massive outcry, heightened by an interview Maoz gave last week, during which he vowed to cancel the Jerusalem Pride Parade.

Following the interview, Netanyahu issued a statement promising that there would be no change to LGBT rights in Israel and has now sent a message to Maoz.

The report says it is not only Netanyahu’s Likud that is uncomfortable with Maoz’s blatant homophobia, but the other far-right and ultra-Orthodox coalition partners have expressed concern that Maoz was harming the image of the whole bloc, the report says.

Croatia beat Japan on penalties to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic celebrates with teammates after their victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022. (Ina Fassbender / AFP)
Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic celebrates with teammates after their victory in the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022. (Ina Fassbender / AFP)

Croatia beat Japan on penalties to reach the World Cup quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in their last-16 clash on Monday.

Daizen Maeda gave Japan a half-time lead and Ivan Perisic headed home an equalizer for the 2018 runners-up, before goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic saved three of four penalties as Croatia won the shoot-out 3-1.

Moscow blames Ukraine drone strikes for explosions at Russian airfields

The Russian defense ministry said Ukrainian drone attacks caused explosions at two airfields in the Saratov and Ryazan regions, leaving three dead.

This morning, “the Kyiv regime attempted to strike the Dyagilevo airfield in the Ryazan region, and the Engels airfield in the Saratov region, with Soviet-made drones,” the ministry says in a statement, adding that three soldiers had been killed.

Turkish military vehicle runs over, kills woman and child in Syria

Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Binnish, in Idlib province, Syria, February 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed, File)
Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Binnish, in Idlib province, Syria, February 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed, File)

A Turkish military vehicle ran over a woman and a child in a northern Syrian town on Monday, killing them instantly and sparking protests by locals, opposition activists say.

The apparent accident happened in the town of Atareb west of the northern city of Aleppo as two armored vehicles drove through the town, the activists said. Afterward, angry residents pelted the vehicles with stones, as they drove slowly through the town located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the Turkish border, they say.

Residents in northern Syria frequently complain about the aggressive way in which Turkish convoys drive through their towns and villages.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said members of a rebel group in Atareb protected the Turkish soldiers from the protesters and took them to a nearby police station.

There is no immediate comment from Turkish officials.

World Cup gets first extra time as Japan-Croatia tie 1-1

Croatia's Ivan Perisic, left, scores his side's opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Japan and Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, December 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Croatia's Ivan Perisic, left, scores his side's opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Japan and Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, December 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The World Cup match between Japan and Croatia in the round of 16 goes to extra time, with the teams tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Daizen Maeda fired Japan ahead on 43 minutes before 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia leveled through Ivan Perisic in the 55th minute.

If neither side can win in the extra 30 minutes, the game goes to a penalty shoot-out.

Putin drives across Crimea bridge reopened after October blast

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, listens to Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, left, as he visits the Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait, which was damaged by a truck bomb attack in October, after restoration works, not far from Kerch, Crimea, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, listens to Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, left, as he visits the Crimean Bridge connecting Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait, which was damaged by a truck bomb attack in October, after restoration works, not far from Kerch, Crimea, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a bridge that links Moscow-annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland weeks after the vital link was hit by a blast, images on state television showed.

It is the closest the 70-year-old Russian leader has come to the frontline in Ukraine, after sending troops to the pro-Western country on February 24.

Putin dives a Mercedes across the bridge as Russia re-opened it to traffic following an October blast Moscow blamed on Ukraine.

The Kremlin chief also hears a report from Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin about repair work on the bridge and spoke to construction workers.

In October, the Kerch bridge was partially destroyed in an attack attributed to Ukraine by Moscow.

Two Border Police hurt in West Bank as Palestinians throw explosive device, rocks

Border Police troops clash with Palestinians in the Aida Refugee Camp, near Rachel's Tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Israel Police)
Border Police troops clash with Palestinians in the Aida Refugee Camp, near Rachel's Tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Israel Police)

Police say two Border Police officers were lightly hurt after Palestinians hurled an explosive device and rocks at troops in the West Bank’s Aida Refugee Camp, near Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

One of the officers, who was hit by the explosion, is taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek medical center. The other officer is treated at the scene, police say.

A Border Police spokesman says the group of some 40 Palestinians also hurled stones and marbles at troops.

“Border Police troops responded with riot dispersal means,” the spokesman says.

 

Sacha Baron Cohen brings back Borat to tackle Ye: ‘Too antisemitic, even for us’

This image released shows Sacha Baron Cohen in a scene from "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm."  (Amazon Studios)
This image released shows Sacha Baron Cohen in a scene from "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm." (Amazon Studios)

Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen brings back his Borat character to take on Kanye West’s antisemitic tirades, the Guardian reports.

Appearing at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC to pay tribute to U2 singer Bono, Borat addressed West, who now goes by Ye.

“Before I proceed, I will say I am very upset about the antisemitism in US and A,” he says. “It not fair. Kazakhstan is No. 1 Jew-crushing nation. Stop stealing our hobby. Stop the steal! Stop the steal!”

“Your Kanye, he tried to move to Kazakhstan and even changed his name to Kazakhstanye West. But we said: No, he too antisemitic, even for us,” Borat says.

Borat then sings his version of U2’s  “With or Without You.”

“With or without Jews,” he sings, before adding “What’s the problem? They loved this at Mar-a-Lago. They chose ‘without Jews.’”

Australia offers $1 million for info on 1982 bombings of Israeli mission, Jewish club

A composite of three suspects in the 1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney Australia, released in 2012 by Australian Police. (Australian Federal Police)
A composite of three suspects in the 1982 bombing of the Israeli consulate in Sydney Australia, released in 2012 by Australian Police. (Australian Federal Police)

Australia is offering a $1 million (about USD $680,000) reward for information on the 1982 bombings of the Israeli consulate in Sydney and the Jewish Hokoah club, the Guardian newspaper reports.

The incident, in which two people were injured outside the consulate and in which the second bomb failed to detonate properly, is regarded as the first international terrorist attack in Australia.

It has been blamed on Palestinian terrorists, but the culprits have never been found.

Police Minister Paul Toole says he hopes the $1 million reward would “be the final push members of the public need to offer up information – no matter how big or small it may seem – to help police in their unwavering quest for answers and provide closure for all those involved.”

The reward is an increase on the $100,000 offered a decade ago when Australian police also released composite drawings of three suspects.

New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive, Darren Bark, says the Jewish community remains hopeful that someone with information would come forward.

“For four long decades, our community has searched for answers about this heinous terrorist attack targeting innocent Australians on our own soil,” Bark says.

 

Netanyahu dismisses criticism of coalition deals as ‘lies and scare-mongering’

Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud head MK Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks outside a hotel in Jerusalem, December 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses criticism aimed at him by his political opponents over the appointment of a far-right MK to oversee parts of the education system and transferring Defense Ministry responsibilities to his allies as “lies and scaremongering.”

“Lapid and Gantz don’t recognize the results of the elections and are spraying around lies and scaremongering against the government elected by the majority,” Netanyahu says.

Netanyahu accuses Lapid of waging a campaign to “delegitimize the choice of the people.”

Netanyahu vows to rule according to the will of the voters who elected his far-right religious bloc, but says he will do so “responsibly.”

Netanyahu says the security responsibility being transferred is “less than a thousandth of the Defense Ministry,” while the far-right anti-LGBT misogynistic Noam party will only control “a thousandth of the education budget.”

Gantz to likely successor: You will be a second-class defense minister

MK Yoav Galant attends the inauguration ceremony of a new neighborhood in Beit El, in the West Bank, July 12, 2022. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
MK Yoav Galant attends the inauguration ceremony of a new neighborhood in Beit El, in the West Bank, July 12, 2022. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns his successor — likely Likud MK Yoav Gallant — that if he takes the job, he will end up being a second-class defense chief.

Gantz refers to coalition agreements that agree to strip away key Defense Ministry powers and hand them over to the responsibilities of Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir.

“I would like to say to my replacement — if you take the position as it is presented to you — your task will be to become the contractor for the dismantling of the security apparatus and the IDF,” Gantz says.

“You will be a second-class defense minister,” he says, adding  that “the mark of Cain will be upon you.”

“On your shift, the use of force will be taken away from the [military’s] chief of staff and given to Ben Gvir. On your shift, the people’s army will disintegrate,” Gantz says at the outset of his National Unity party’s faction meeting.

“Smotrich will appoint a major general and brigadier-general in the army according to how he perceives the size of their kippa and the fervor of their faith,” he says.

 

Lapid to Netanyahu: If you think this is rebellion, you ain’t seen nothing yet

Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 5, 2022.(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 5, 2022.(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid slams his likely successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for criticizing his call against giving the anti-LGBT Knesset member Avi Maoz control over parts of the education system.

“Netanyahu said this week that the fact that I am calling on the heads of the authorities not to cooperate with Maoz is sedition. There is no limit to this man’s shamelessness,” Lapid says at a faction meeting of his Yesh Atid party.

“If you think what I’ve been saying the last few days is rebellious, I have news for you, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I have just started,” Lapid says.

“We are not your suckers. We are not here just to pay taxes and send our children to the army. Most of the people are against this conduct, including the Likudniks,” he says.

Amid Kanye controversy, White House to host antisemitism talks with Jewish leaders

Against the backdrop of Kanye West’s pro-Nazi tirade on Infowars and his dinner with former US president Donald Trump and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes, US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will convene a roundtable with Jewish leaders on Wednesday to discuss the rise of antisemitism and efforts to combat hate in the country, the White House announces.

Also participating in the event will be antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt, White House domestic policy advisor Susan Rice and senior Biden aide on public engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Ben Gvir accuses Likud of ‘stuttering,’ trying to backtrack on coalition agreements

Head of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a suspected terror attack near the entrance to Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Head of the Otzma Yehudit party Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a suspected terror attack near the entrance to Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir appears to confirm reports Likud is trying to walk back some deals signed with his far-right party, accusing it of “stuttering.”

“In the past days, I hear stuttering about agreements that were already signed and agreed upon,” Ben Gvir says at the outset of his party’s faction meeting.

Ben Gvir points to his demand to loosen open-fire rules and legislate immunity for security forces.

Adding a fresh demand, Ben Gvir says he wants an influential role in the powerful Ministerial Committee on Legislation, the government’s filter for coalition-supported bills.

Presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to want the top spot chairing the committee for himself, and Ben Gvir’s spokesman confirms that the Otzma leader will push to be his stand-in.

“In order to make sure the agreements will happen, we stand by our request to receive tools” the party needs to carry out its security policy, Ben Gvir says.

US says ‘nothing suggests’ Iran improving treatment of women

In this file photo taken on October 15, 202, demonstrators chant slogans while marching during the 'March of Solidarity for Iran' in Washington, DC.  (Stefani Reynolds / AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 15, 202, demonstrators chant slogans while marching during the 'March of Solidarity for Iran' in Washington, DC. (Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

The United States says “nothing suggests” Iran is improving the treatment of women following reports Tehran was scrapping its notorious morality police after months-long protests.

“We have seen the reports but will not comment on ambiguous or vague claims by Iranian officials,” a State Department spokesperson says. “Sadly, nothing we have seen suggests Iran’s leadership is improving its treatment of women and girls or ceasing the violence it inflicts on peaceful protesters.”

UTJ set to end efforts to obstruct change of Knesset speaker, MK says

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) lawmaker Moshe Gafni arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem, on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
United Torah Judaism (UTJ) lawmaker Moshe Gafni arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem, on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Asked by reporters whether United Torah Judaism would finally lend its support to to a Likud-backed request to swap the current Knesset speaker with an incoming coalition politician, Moshe Gafni says it might be as early as today.

UTJ has held back its seven seats from the 61 signatures required to press for the swap, in a negotiation tactic meant to better its hand in seeking roles in the next government.

UTJ is the only party in the expected coalition that has not yet finalized its portfolios with Likud, although Shas has also yet to ink its deal.

Top IDF intel officer: Protests a real challenge to Iran but regime will survive

Iranians protest the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (This photo was taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran)
Iranians protest the death of Mahsa Amini in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (This photo was taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran)

The head of the Military Intelligence research department says he believes the Iranian regime will survive ongoing protests that have been swept the country.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Gazit, a military think tank, Brig. Gen. Amit Saar says the protests sparked over the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran in September, are different from previous protests against the regime.

He says the protests have lasted longer than expected, now nearly three months, and have been exceptionally violent, especially by protestors against Iranian security forces.

“The 2009 protests were because of politics, the 2019 protests were over the economy, but in 2022 they are over the very essence of the regime,” Saar says.

“The protesters aren’t shouting ‘Change the hijab law,’ they are shouting ‘Down with the regime,”

“The oppressive Iranian regime will likely manage to survive these protests. It has built very very strong tools for dealing with such protests,” he says.

“But I think that even if these protests wane, the reasons [for them] will remain and the Iranian regime will have a problem for years to come,” Saar adds.

Ben Gvir claims Druze teen was still alive when taken by Palestinian gunmen

Mourners hold up a picture of Druze teenager Tiran Fero at his funeral in Daliyat al-Karmel, northern Israel, November 24, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
Mourners hold up a picture of Druze teenager Tiran Fero at his funeral in Daliyat al-Karmel, northern Israel, November 24, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Otzma Yehudit chief Itamar Ben Gvir claims Israeli Druze teenager Tiran Fero, was “still alive” when he was snatched by Palestinian gunmen from a Jenin hospital in November.

The Israeli government and military have refuted the Fero family’s claims that Tiran was still alive and hooked up to life support following a car crash, when removed from the Jenin hospital at gunpoint by Palestinian terrorists.

Fero’s body was returned several days later, after pressure from the Israeli government and the Druze community.

Fero’s father and uncle flanked Ben Gvir at the Otzma faction meeting, and several members of Fero’s family were in attendance.

A man identifying himself as Fero’s cousin confirms that the family supports this claim, speaking to The Times of Israel at the Otzma Yehudit faction meeting.

Top military intel officer: West Bank violence only going to get worse

Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, head of the Military Intelligence research department, speaks at a Gazit conference in Tel Aviv, December 5, 2022. (Screenshot/Youtube)
Brig. Gen. Amit Saar, head of the Military Intelligence research department, speaks at a Gazit conference in Tel Aviv, December 5, 2022. (Screenshot/Youtube)

The head of the Military Intelligence research department says he believes the escalating situation in the West Bank will only get worse in the coming year and is not a “wave of terror” as many officials have described it.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Gazit, a military think tank, Brig. Gen. Amit Saar says the rising violence in the West Bank will be Israel’s second most challenging issue in 2023, after Iran.

“People can say nothing has changed… the terror is seasonal, every few years we have a wave and afterward it calms down and comes back. There are people in the security establishment who believe this to be the case, but I think otherwise,” Saar says.

“I think we need to examine what we have seen in recent months — not through the number of attacks, but the causes,” he says.

“We are seeing the beginning of the weakening of the foundations that allowed us to manage the conflict. We are far from being able to solve the conflict, but there were foundations allowing us to manage the conflict,” Saar says.

Saar says the Palestinian Authority has lost its legitimacy with young Palestinians, and there is easy access to firearms in the West Bank, enabling repeated shooting attacks.

“They lash out at everything, the PA, Hamas, the organized groups. They are angry and exposed to weapons and incitement. They want to make their own story, and put it on TikTok,” he says, referring to the Lion’s Den terror group and other local groups of armed Palestinians in the West Bank.

“It’s much more complicated to deal with,” Saar adds.

Maoz says attacks against him are ‘a wild political campaign from the left’

Noam's sole lawmaker, Avi Maoz, speaks at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting, December 5, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Noam's sole lawmaker, Avi Maoz, speaks at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting, December 5, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Responding to an outpouring of criticism against his promised appointment to head a Jewish identity office, Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBT, misogynistic Noam party, says attacks against him are the political campaign of a bitter minority.

Speaking at his one-man party’s faction meeting, Maoz says the criticism is “a wild political campaign by the left, headed by Yair Lapid and the media, against the elected prime minister and his attempt to form a government.”

“This is a campaign of the minority that lost the elections — against the majority of the people who spoke decisively at the ballot box,” he says.

“This campaign is nothing short of a rebellion and an attempt to prevent a prime minister from forming the only legitimate elected government after the elections,” Maoz continues.

Herzog meets UAE president, reassures him all Israelis support Abraham Accords

President Isaac Herzog meets with UAE President Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on December 5, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog meets with UAE President Mohammed Bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi on December 5, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog meets with UAE’s President Mohammed Bin Zayed, seeking to reassure him that “the Abraham Accords are a national consensus in Israel on all sides of the political spectrum.”

“Now we have to reach cruising altitude,” he continues, “that is, to upgrade ties between us even more, to strengthen them and to bring more nations into the Abraham Accords.”

The two meet in Bin Zayed’s private home in Abu Dhabi.

Bin Zayed tells Herzog “that we built a very strong bridge between the countries that we both can be proud of.”

He also tells his Israeli counterpart that the UAE is Herzog’s “second home.”

Herzog now heads to the airport to head back to his first home, Israel.

In Gulf, Herzog says Israeli leaders must push to expand Abraham Accords

President Isaac Herzog lands in Abu Dhabi, where he is greeted by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, December 5, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog lands in Abu Dhabi, where he is greeted by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, December 5, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Israeli leaders must continue to work to expand the Abraham Accords, President Isaac Herzog says as he prepared to meet his Emirati counterpart in Abu Dhabi.

“This visit was an opportunity to take stock after two years of the Abraham Accords,” Herzog tells Israeli journalists who joined him for his two-day trip to Bahrain and the UAE.

“It started as an agreement, turned into ties between states, and now the two countries want to upgrade the agreements and are working to add more countries,” he says.

“This requires Israel’s leadership to understand that this challenge continues,” he says, as polls show declining support for the accords in all three of Israel’s new Arab partners.

In a message likely meant to allay concerns in Manama and Abu Dhabi, Herzog stresses that “there is great importance to the Abraham Accords.”

Turning to the Bahrainis, he says that their approach is “to work toward peace and not conflict. The Bahrainis believe deeply in ties with the Jewish community.”

“This shows the massive change in the paradigm in the dialogue between the states and the peoples,” he says.

Labor’s Michaeli: Netanyahu selling our country piece by piece

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks at her Labor party's faction meeting at the Knesset, November 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks at her Labor party's faction meeting at the Knesset, November 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Labor leader Merav Michaeli says that presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “selling our country piece by piece.”

Michaeli charges that passing the override clause and Netanyahu’s “personal interests” are what motivates him.

“The State of Israel isn’t for sale,” she adds.

Lapid urges Netanyahu: End deal giving anti-LGBT MK control over education programs

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid attacks his expected replacement Benjamin Netanyahu for signing over the Education Ministry’s unit responsible for educational vendors to a far-right, anti-LGBT hardliner politician.

“You made a mistake, you know you made a mistake,” Lapid says, calling on Netanyahu to cancel the deal with Noam’s Avi Maoz.

Referring to the dozens of local authorities who have said they would either separately fund their own programming or oppose Maoz’s appointment, Lapid says “we’ll help them because they’re totally correct.”

Yesh Atid opened a hotline last week to assist citizens concerned by the move.

Liberman: Netanyahu’s ‘state of darkness’ is trying destroy Zionist liberal Israel

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu at the Knesset on November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu at the Knesset on November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman warns that presumed incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands at the head of a “state of darkness” that is trying to destroy “Zionist, liberal Israel.”

Speaking at his party’s faction meeting at the Knesset, Liberman decries the agenda of the far-right religious parties joining with Likud in the next coalition.

“In recent weeks we have seen some disturbing phenomena — starting with an attempt to establish two states for one people and ending with an attempt to enact the override law,” Liberman says.

“Netanyahu is at the head of the state of darkness that is trying to destroy Zionist, liberal Israel,”  he says.

Israeli woman hurt when car stoned in West Bank

Damage is seen to an Israeli car that was attacked with stones in the West Bank, December 5, 2022. (Magen David Adom).
Damage is seen to an Israeli car that was attacked with stones in the West Bank, December 5, 2022. (Magen David Adom).

An Israeli woman is lightly hurt when her car is stoned by Palestinians on Route 505 in the West Bank, medics say.

The Magen David Adom ambulance says the 29-year-old continued driving after the attack and met up with medics at Tapuah Junction.

She is taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva with injuries to her face from shrapnel, MDA says.

Sudan’s military, civilian factions sign deal seeking to end crisis

Sudanese demonstrators attend a rally to demand the return to civilian rule a year after a military coup, in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali, File)
Sudanese demonstrators attend a rally to demand the return to civilian rule a year after a military coup, in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali, File)

Sudan’s military and civilian leaders sign Monday an initial deal aimed at ending a deep crisis that has gripped the northeast African country since a coup a year ago.

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power in October 2021, derailing a rocky transition to civilian rule that had started after the 2019 ouster of veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

The past year has seen near-weekly protests and a crackdown that pro-democracy medics say has killed at least 121, a spiraling economic crisis and a rise in ethnic violence in several remote regions.

Divisions among civilian groups have deepened since the coup, with some urging a deal with the military while others insist on “no partnership, no negotiation.”

Monday’s deal was signed by Burhan, paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and multiple civilian groups, most notably the Forces for Freedom and Change — the main civilian faction that was ousted in the coup.

The deal — based on a proposal by the Sudanese Bar Association — was negotiated in the presence of officials from the United Nations, Western diplomats as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the FFC.

A normalization deal signed between Sudan and Israel has largely been on hold since the coup.

Activists dismiss claim Iran morality police abolished

In this July 3, 2019 photo, a woman inspects a headscarf at a market in downtown Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
In this July 3, 2019 photo, a woman inspects a headscarf at a market in downtown Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Campaigners backing Iran’s protest movement dismiss a claim that the Islamic Republic is disbanding its notorious morality police, insisting there was no change to its restrictive dress rules for women.

There are also calls on social media for a three-day strike, more than two months into the wave of civil unrest sparked by the death of Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran.

Amini was accused of flouting Iran’s strict dress code demanding women wear modest clothing and the hijab headscarf, and her death sparked protests that have spiraled into the biggest challenge to the regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Iran’s Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, in a surprise move over the weekend, was quoted as saying that the morality police units –- known as gasht-e ershad (guidance patrol) — had been closed down.

But activists are skeptical about his comments, which appeared to be an impromptu response to a question at a conference rather than a clearly signposted announcement on the morality police, which is run by the interior ministry.

Moreover, they say, the abolition would mark no change to Iran’s headscarf policy — a key ideological pillar for its clerical leadership — but rather a switch in tactics on enforcing it.

Scrapping the units would be “probably too little too late” for the protesters who now demand outright regime change, Roya Boroumand, co-founder of the US-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Center rights group, tells AFP.

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