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

PA says second Palestinian dies of wounds from West Bank clashes with Israeli troops

A second Palestinian has died as a result of being shot during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Qabatiya earlier today, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says.

The dead man is named as 18-year-old Abdul Hadi Fakhri Youssef Nazzal.

Earlier, the ministry said Habib Mohammed Abdul Rahman Kamil, 25, was killed, and another man was critically hurt.

The military, Border Police, and Shin Bet in a joint statement said troops entered the city near Jenin to arrest a wanted man who was allegedly planning terror attacks.

During the raid, clashes erupted and troops shot several Palestinians, including one who opened fire at the forces, the statement said.

No Israeli soldiers were hurt in the operation, officials say.

Lapid calls on police chief not to use force against anti-government protest

Israelis protest against the Israeli government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on January 7, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis protest against the Israeli government, at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, on January 7, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid sends a letter to police chief Kobi Shabtai asking him to ensure that police don’t use force against anti-government protests set for Saturday night.

Lapid’s letter comes after police warned against potential unrest at mass rallies this weekend, prompting allegations of politicization by protest groups.

“These protesters are the biggest lovers of Israel and that’s how you should treat them,” Lapid writes. “I expect you to instruct the police to treat them with respect and to do everything to ensure that they can make their legitimate protests.”

Lapid asks Shabtai not to use water cannons and ensure no force is used against them.

Lapid says he will not attend the protest after being told that he and National Unity leader Benny Gantz would not be allowed to address the crowd.

Gantz, however, still plans to attend the demonstration.

US Attorney General Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden docs

US Attorney Robert Hur arrives at US District Court in Baltimore on November 21, 2019. Attorney General Merrick Garland on January 12, 2023, appointed Hur as a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at US President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., and at an office in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)
US Attorney Robert Hur arrives at US District Court in Baltimore on November 21, 2019. Attorney General Merrick Garland on January 12, 2023, appointed Hur as a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at US President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., and at an office in Washington. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File)

US Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a special counsel to investigate the presence of documents with classified markings found at US President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an office in Washington.

The announcement follows Biden’s acknowledgment that a document with classified markings from his time as vice president was found in his personal library, along with other documents found in his garage.

Garland says Biden’s lawyers informed the Justice Department of the discovery of a classified document at Biden’s home, after FBI agents first retrieved other documents from the garage in December. It was disclosed on Monday that sensitive documents were found at the office of his former institute in Washington.

Robert Hur, the former Trump-appointed US attorney in Maryland, will lead the investigation, taking over from the top Justice Department prosecutor in Chicago, John Lausch, who was earlier assigned by the department to investigate the matter and who recommended to Garland last week that a special counsel be appointed. Hur is to begin his work soon.

“The extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter,” Garland says, adding that Hur is authorized to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law.

Police accused of delaying visit by UK minister to Al-Aqsa mosque

Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK minister for the Middle East region, left, stands in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on January 12, 2022. (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK minister for the Middle East region, left, stands in front of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on January 12, 2022. (Twitter/used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Police were accused of holding up a visit of Lord Tariq Ahmad, the UK minister for the Middle East region, to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.

The BBC reports that Ahmad, a practicing Muslim, was blocked from entering the flashpoint holy site for 30 minutes before eventually being allowed up.

The Islamic Waqf that administers the compound calls the move “unacceptable.”

“Whether he came as a minister or as a Muslim, he shouldn’t have been blocked,” the Waqf says.

Ahmad later played down the incident, telling the BBC that the hold-up was due to “security checks, whatever they needed to do.”

In an attempt to prove his identity, Ahmad showed police a tweet from yesterday by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, showing the two meeting in Jerusalem.

Police did not respond to a request from the BBC for comment.

The Temple Mount is revered by Jews as the historic location of the two Jewish Temples, making it Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the third-holiest for Muslims, who refer to it as the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary.

It has been a frequent flashpoint in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Levin accuses Supreme Court chief of being a political voice of the opposition

Justice Minister Yariv Levin speaks during a constitution committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, on January 11, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Yariv Levin speaks during a constitution committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament in Jerusalem, on January 11, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Justice Minister Yariv Levin responds to a fiery speech from Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut, accusing her of being politically aligned with the opposition.

Levin launches his own unprecedented attack on Hayut and on Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

“It turns out there’s another party in Israel — a party that didn’t run in the elections two months ago, a party that places itself about the Knesset, above the public referendum,” he says.

“What we heard this evening comes straight from the ‘black flag protests,’ it’s the same political agenda,” he says referring to the anti-corruption protesters that regularly target Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “It’s the same cry to set the streets on fire.

“We didn’t hear statesmanship [from Hayut and Gali Baharav-Miara]. We didn’t hear neutrality. We didn’t hear a balanced legal stance. We heard the words of politicians, stirring up demonstrators.”

He accuses Hayut of aligning with Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and former Meretz MK Yair Golan.

“This is the best proof that the legal system has lost its way,” Levin says.

“There are no properly functioning Western democracies in which judges choose themselves and interfere with basic laws on their own accord,” Levin says.

He acknowledges that democracy is not only the rule of the majority, and that it requires protecting the rights of minorities — and says this imperative “is at the heart of the reform I presented.” He says his reforms do enable the High Court to strike down legislation — though in practice this capacity is radically circumscribed in his planned law — and do give justices “appropriate representation” on the committee that selects judges.

He then accuses Hayut and the judges of being responsible for imposing the “tyranny of the minority, imposing its values on the majority.”

“Rule by judges is the opposite of a properly functioning democracy,” he says.

His reforms, he claims, will “restore public faith” in the judicial system.

Levin says he is “committed to dialogue and wide-ranging discussion with all in order to achieve the most balanced and best result. Millions of Israelis, and me among them, are determined to restore the balance between the branches of government and restore faith in the Israeli judicial system.”

AG: Government legal overhaul will ‘push democratic values into a corner’

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks during a conference at the University of Haifa, December 15, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara speaks during a conference at the University of Haifa, December 15, 2022. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara strongly criticizes the government’s proposals to overhaul the legal system in a speech to the Israeli Association of Public Law Conference, saying they will create an “imbalanced system of checks and balances,” and that “the principle of majority rule will push other democratic values into a corner.”

Baharav-Miara joins Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut in harshly criticizing the plans to subjugate legal advisers to government ministers instead of them offering an independent and objective legal opinion on planned ministerial action.

She also says that the government has failed to present the various pieces of legislation to carry out these reforms to the Attorney General’s Office as is usual for government legislation.

“As jurists who serve the public, we must express our clear professional opinion,” says the attorney general.

She also condemned the vitriolic attacks on state legal advisers and prosecutors, saying such attacks were “irresponsible,” and were giving rise to “aggression” against such legal professionals in courts and other public places.

Hayut: Justice minister plans ‘fatal blow’ to judicial independence, wants to change Israeli democracy ‘beyond recognition’

President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut attends a conference in Haifa on January 12, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)
President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut attends a conference in Haifa on January 12, 2023. (Shir Torem/Flash90)

“Israel this year will make 75 years of independence as a Jewish and a democratic state,” Supreme Court President Esther Hayut continues. “This is an important milestone in the life of the state.” But should the new government’s plans to radically alter Israel’s legal and justice system be implemented, the 75th year “will be remembered as the year in which Israel’s democratic identity suffered a fatal blow.”

Noting that democracy isn’t solely the rule of the majority, she says: “Those who claim that the majority that elected its representatives to the Knesset gave them an open check to do whatever they wish, misrepresent democracy.”

“What does the minister’s program of change aim to achieve?” she asks. “In practice, it aims to deny the judges the legal tools they use to protect individual rights and the rule of law.”

Levin’s program talks of “an override clause that will deny the court the possibility to strike down laws that disproportionately harm basic constitutional rights,” she charges, “such as the right to life, to property, to freedom of movement and to privacy, as well as the fundamental right to dignity — and as a consequence the right to equality and the right to freedom of expression.”

She denounces Levin’s plan to deny judges’ the right to use “reasonableness” as a measure of legality, and says: “If there is no place for a judge to evaluate the reasonableness of a decision,” including by the government or Knesset, “the next stage, to follow the same logic, might be [to conclude] that a judge has no professional advantage in determining what is ‘reasonable doubt’ in order to acquit a criminal defendant.”

Among other specific points of criticism, Hayut singles out the changes to the Judicial Selection Committee which will give the government total control over judicial appointments.

“The unfounded claims raised regarding the current system for selecting judges are intended to obscure the true motives of those proposing these changes — and that is the desire to completely politicize judicial appointments in Israel, by creating a Judicial Selection Committee in which politicians will have an automatic majority.”

“Judicial independence is the living breath of the [Supreme] Court, and without it judges in Israel could not fulfill their task as public servants,” says Hayut.

“The program of the new justice minister… will deal a fatal blow to the independence of judges. The significance of this plan is therefore to change the democratic identity of the country beyond recognition.”

She concludes: “Mr. Minister, this is not the way.”

Lapid backs Supreme Court chief Hayut: We stand with her in battle for Israel’s soul

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset on January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset on January 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid throws his support behind Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut who launched a broadside against the government’s planned judicial reforms.

“I back every single word” from Hayut, Lapid says. “Democracy is not just the rule of the majority, a majority does not give anyone a blank check to do anything they want.”

“We will stand with her in this battle for the soul of the nation and against attempts to dismantle Israel’s democracy,” he says.

Supreme Court chief: Government launching ‘unrestrained attack on the justice system’

Supreme Court Chief justice Esther Hayut speaks at a conference of the Israeli Association of Public Law on January 12, 2023. (Screencapture/nevo.co.il)
Supreme Court Chief justice Esther Hayut speaks at a conference of the Israeli Association of Public Law on January 12, 2023. (Screencapture/nevo.co.il)

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut accuses Justice Minister Yariv Levin of instigating an “unrestrained attack on the justice system,” with his proposals to radically overhaul the legal and justice system.

In what is likely the harshest speech ever delivered by a serving Supreme Court president against a ruling coalition, Hayet begins her address at a conference of the Israeli Association of Public Law by noting: “A few days ago, the new justice minister presented a lightning plan for far-reaching changes in the justice system.”

“In practice,” she charges, “it amounts to an unrestrained attack on the justice system, as though it was an enemy that had to be rushed and defeated.”

She goes on: “With great cynicism, the architects of the plan call it ‘a plan to correct the judicial system.’ And I say, it is a plan to crush the judicial system. It is intended to deliver a fatal blow to the independence and autonomy of the judicial system and silence it.”

“This conclusion is clear,” Hayut says, ” both from the way in which the justice minister chose to present his plan and from its content and essence. There is no other way to understand the dramatic press conference that the minister chose to arrange just days after he took office in which he presented his plan.

“Democracy includes the defense of the individual and his freedom, and guarantees that majority rule does not become a tyranny of the majority,” the Supreme Court president continues.

Ex-Supreme Court VP Joubran: Government legal reforms a ‘revolution’

Deputy Supreme Court President Justice Salim Joubran attends a ceremony for newly appointed judges at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on July 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Supreme Court President Justice Salim Joubran attends a ceremony for newly appointed judges at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, on July 20, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former Supreme Court vice president Salim Joubran says at a conference of the Israeli Association of Public Law that the government’s radical legal reforms constitute “a revolution” in the Israeli legal system.

“The new government and Justice Minister Yariv Levin has proposed far-reaching changes to Israeli law. The proposals do not allow any doubt: the new government wants to bring about a revolution in public law in Israel,” says Joubran.

The former Supreme Court justice insists that “Democracy is not just majority rule,” and that “Democracy guarantees mutual respect for all branches of government, guarantees equality and the rights of minorities, with a particular emphasis on the Arab population in Israel.”

He adds that one of the principal reforms, an override law to countermand a High Court decision striking down legislation with only 61 MKs, “is a disturbance to the rules of the democratic game.”

First phone call between FM Cohen and Ukrainian counterpart postponed

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (L) and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 and Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (L) and Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90 and Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

The first phone call between the Israeli and Ukrainian foreign ministers – the subject of much speculation after Eli Cohen spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – has been postponed.

The conversation was originally set to take place today.

Ukrainian sources tell The Times of Israel that the delay is a result of the ongoing war, and in no way is an expression of Kyiv’s displeasure at Israel.

Cohen angered Ukraine last week by announcing he would speak to Lavrov and that Israel would speak less about the invasion. It was unclear whether Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would be willing to speak with Cohen at all, but on Monday, Israel was informed of his readiness to talk.

On Tuesday, Cohen met with top Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Azman, and pledged to increase Israel’s aid to Ukraine.

UN secretary-general says settlements drive conflict, slams ’unilateral initiatives’

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, speaks alongside Hayashi Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, during a Security Council meeting, Thursday, January 12, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, speaks alongside Hayashi Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, during a Security Council meeting, Thursday, January 12, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemns violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and says Israeli actions are fueling tensions.

“2022 was a deadly year for both Palestinians and Israelis. We condemn all unlawful killings and acts by extremists. There is no justification for terrorism,” Guterres tells the Security Council at a debate on international law.

“At the same time, the expansion of settlements by Israel, as well as home demolitions and evictions, are driving anger and despair,” Guterres says.

“I am also very concerned by the unilateral initiatives that we have seen in recent days. The rule of law is at the heart of achieving a just and comprehensive peace, based on a two-state solution, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements,” he says.

The UN and the international community have widely condemned National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount last week, describing it as a unilateral Israeli threat to the status quo.

Israel is one of only a few countries Guterres mentions in his address, along with Russia, North Korea, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Guterres highlights the International Court of Justice and its role in enforcing international law. The top UN court is set to investigate Israel after a highly contentious General Assembly vote last month.

“I note the importance of accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court and call on all Member States to do so without any reservations,” Guterres says.

Proud Boys sedition trial opens 2 years after Jan. 6 riot

Proud Boys leader Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio during a rally in Portland, Oregon, September 26, 2020. (Allison Dinner/AP)
Proud Boys leader Henry 'Enrique' Tarrio during a rally in Portland, Oregon, September 26, 2020. (Allison Dinner/AP)

A high-profile US Capitol riot trial opens for former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four lieutenants charged with seditious conspiracy for what prosecutors say was a desperate plot by far-right extremists to keep Joe Biden out of the White House.

Jurors begin hearing attorneys’ opening statements more than two years after Proud Boys members joined a pro-Donald Trump mob in attacking the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The trial comes on the heels of the seditious conspiracy convictions of two leaders of the Oath Keepers, another far-right extremist group. Several other Oath Keepers members were charged with plotting to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from Trump, a Republican, to Biden, a Democrat.

The case against Tarrio and his four associates is one of the most consequential to emerge from the January 6 riot at the Capitol. The trial will provide an in-depth look at a group that has become an influential force in mainstream Republican politics.

Defense lawyers have said there was never any plan to go into the Capitol or stop Congress’ certification of the electoral vote won by Biden. And they have accused prosecutors of trying to silence potential defense witnesses. Tarrio’s lawyers have not said whether he will take the stand in his defense.

Tarrio’s co-defendants are Ethan Nordean, of Auburn, Washington, who was a Proud Boys chapter president; Joseph Biggs, of Ormond Beach, Florida, a self-described Proud Boys organizer; Zachary Rehl, who was president of the Proud Boys chapter in Philadelphia; and Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy member from Rochester, New York.

IDF to punish several officers after large ammunition theft at base

A detained Beoduin man points to an IDF storage bunker at the Sde Teiman base in southern Israel, after he and several others allegedly broke in and stole 30,000 bullets, during a crime reenactment, in an image published by police on December 20, 2022. (Israel Police)
A detained Beoduin man points to an IDF storage bunker at the Sde Teiman base in southern Israel, after he and several others allegedly broke in and stole 30,000 bullets, during a crime reenactment, in an image published by police on December 20, 2022. (Israel Police)

The Israel Defense Forces says it will be punishing several officers over the theft of thousands of rounds of ammunition from an army base in southern Israel in October.

Some 30,000 bullets — mostly 5.56-millimeter rounds — were stolen from the Sde Teiman base on October 21.

Eight Bedouin Israeli men were arrested last month over the robbery, and some of the ammunition was recovered.

The IDF wraps up its final probe into the theft, and says the commander of the Givati Brigade, Col. Eliad Maor was formally cautioned by the commander of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano.

Meanwhile, the commander of the ammunition storage complex, an officer with the rank of major, was sentenced to five days in military jail; the chief security officer of the base, a lieutenant, was dismissed from his position; the commander of the security team during the incident, another lieutenant, is to be jailed for 18 days; and the commander of the security team when the break-in was later identified, also a lieutenant, is sentenced to remain 35 days on base.

Another soldier on the security team, a staff sergeant, is sentenced to remain on his base for 28 days over the theft.

A panel of experts who investigated the case issues a list of recommendations to prevent such thefts from recurring, the IDF adds.

White House: Classified documents found at Biden’s home

US President Joe Biden talks with reporters before he and first lady Jill Biden board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Joe Biden talks with reporters before he and first lady Jill Biden board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Documents with classified markings from US President Joe Biden’s time as vice president were found at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, the White House says, days after it was disclosed that sensitive documents were also found at the office of his former Washington institute.

Richard Sauber, a special counsel to the president, says after the initial documents were found by Biden’s personal lawyers, they examined other locations where records might have been shipped after Biden left the vice presidency in 2017.

Sauber says a “small number” of documents with classified markings were found in a storage space in Biden’s garage in Wilmington, with one document being located in an adjacent room.

Sauber says the Department of Justice was “immediately notified” after the documents were found and that department lawyers took custody of the records.

Palestinians say man shot in West Bank clash with Israeli troops has died

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says a man wounded during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Qabatiya earlier has died.

The ministry names the man as 25-year-old Habib Mohammed Abdul Rahman Kamil.

Israeli troops reportedly arrested one suspect in the city, south of Jenin, during the raid.

Man in critical condition after apparent lightning strike in central Israel

Medics treat a man who was critically wounded in an apparent lightning strike in central Israel on January 12, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
Medics treat a man who was critically wounded in an apparent lightning strike in central Israel on January 12, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

A man is in critical condition after apparently being struck by lightning in central Israel.

Magen David Adom medics say the 47-year-old man was found unconscious on a kibbutz in the Emek Hefer region and was being transported to a nearby hospital.

Medics were attempting to resuscitate him.

Palestinians report at least one injured in clash with Israeli forces in West Bank

Palestinian media is reporting clashes during a daytime Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Qabatiya, south of Jenin.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry says one Palestinian has been critically wounded by the troops’ gunfire during the clashes in the area.

A local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claims to have targeted troops in the area.

Palestinian media, citing the Prisoners’ Information Office, says troops detained Muhammad Ali Kamil, a 24-year-old man from the city.

There is no immediate comment from the military or Border Police on the raid, but initial reports suggest there are no injuries to troops.

Hundreds of lawyers protest government’s planned judicial reforms

Lawyers protest against the expected changes in the legal system, in Tel Aviv, January 12, 2023.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Lawyers protest against the expected changes in the legal system, in Tel Aviv, January 12, 2023.(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Hundreds of lawyers are protesting across the country against the government’s plans to radically overhaul the judicial system.

Lawyers are gathering in front of the courts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Nazareth, warning that the moves will undermine the country’s legal system.

They are waving Israeli flags and signs calling on Justice Minister Yariv Levin to halt his plans.

“The Supreme Court guards us all,” reads one sign, and “Politicians without restraint will be the downfall of all of us.”

Others said the moves would undermine Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Probe finds Jewish students bullied in UK student union

Britain's National Union of Students logo
Britain's National Union of Students logo

An independent probe finds that the UK’s National Union of Students failed to protect Jewish members who were submitted to “numerous instances” of antisemitism in the union over the last decade, the Guardian reports.

The investigation finds multiple examples of Jewish students having been subjected to antisemitic bullying and ostracization within the NUS because of their faith and their views on Israel.

It also says that NUS’s internal procedures to deal with complaints were either inadequate or just ignored them.

According to the report the discrimination included “the employing of ancient antisemitic tropes, from blood libels to Rothschild conspiracies,” as well as holding Jewish students responsible for Israeli actions.

FM Cohen speaks with EU foreign policy chief, with hopes for closer ties

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell arrives for the EU-ASEAN summit in Brussels, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell arrives for the EU-ASEAN summit in Brussels, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen speaks with EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell, and stresses the importance of the EU-Israel Association Council meeting that took place in October for the first time in a decade.

According to the Israeli readout, Cohen also expresses his hope that EU-Israel ties will continue to grow.

The call comes amid an expectation that while Jerusalem’s relationship with Europe will blossom in trade, research, and energy, the two will clash over diplomatic issues like the Temple Mount, East Jerusalem, and settlement construction in the West Bank.

Cohen also speaks with Croatian FM Gordan Grlić-Radman, and thanks Zagreb for voting against the UN General Assembly resolution to refer the Israel-Palestinian conflict to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Cohen also congratulates his counterpart on Croatia becoming the 27th nation to join the Schengen Area, the biggest visa-free area in the world. It also became the 20th country to join the eurozone on January 1.

The Foreign Ministry also announces that Cohen spoke yesterday with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and Guatemala’s top diplomat Mario Bucaro.
Mario Bucaro was Guatemala’s ambassador to Israel in 2018-2020, weeks after the Central American country opened its embassy in Jerusalem

US inflation eases again to 6.5% over the past 12 months

File - Cars pass a gas station sign displaying the price of regular unleaded gasoline Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Benton, Mo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on U.S. consumer prices for December. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
File - Cars pass a gas station sign displaying the price of regular unleaded gasoline Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022, in Benton, Mo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on U.S. consumer prices for December. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

Rising consumer prices in the United States moderated again last month, bolstering hopes that inflation’s grip on the economy will continue to ease this year and possibly require less drastic action by the Federal Reserve to control it.

Inflation eased to 6.5% in December compared with 12 months earlier, the government says. It was the sixth straight year-over-year slowdown. On a monthly basis, prices actually slipped 0.1% from November to December, the first such drop since May 2020.

The softer readings add to growing signs that the worst inflation bout in four decades is gradually waning. Still, the Fed doesn’t expect inflation to slow enough to get close to its 2% target until well into 2024. The central bank is expected to raise its benchmark rate by at least a quarter-point when it next meets at the end of this month.

Even as it gradually slows, inflation remains a painful reality for many Americans, especially with such necessities as food, energy and rents having soared over the past 18 months.

Thessaloniki Holocaust memorial vandalized in second such incident in weeks

Greece’s top Jewish body says a memorial to thousands of Jews killed in the Holocaust has been vandalized in Thessaloniki, the second such incident in as many weeks.

A mural commemorating the deportation of the Jews of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, to the Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau had been daubed with swastikas and fascist symbols, it says.

“Vandal antisemites roam freely and stain undisturbed any attempt to preserve Holocaust memory in Thessaloniki,” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) says in a statement.

Last month, a swastika and a fascist symbol were also sprayed on a monument dedicated to the Jewish cemetery of Thessaloniki, one of the oldest in Europe, which was destroyed in 1942 when Nazi Germany occupied Greece.

There have been no arrests.

“Once again we call upon the authorities to take all necessary measures in order to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” KIS says.

Israeli teen charged with buying stolen IDF explosives

Illustrative: Military Police soldiers escort an arrested soldier at the Jaffa Military Court, on August 18, 2009. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Military Police soldiers escort an arrested soldier at the Jaffa Military Court, on August 18, 2009. (Flash90)

Prosecutors file an indictment against an Israeli teenager for allegedly purchasing explosive materials from a soldier who stole the equipment during his military service.

According to the indictment, a soldier serving in the Combat Engineering Corps stole around half a kilogram of explosives and other materials used to make a bomb from a military bombing range.

The soldier — identified only by his Hebrew initials, “Bet Bet” — told his comrade “Aleph Aleph” about the stolen goods and asked him to find out how much they were worth.

Aleph Aleph later told Bet Bet that his “partner” Shalev Shaul, 19, from the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, was interested in purchasing the explosives, the indictment read.

The trio met up in December in Tel Aviv, and the explosives were sold to Shaul for NIS 2,000 ($580).

Bet Bet and Shaul then drove toward Ashkelon with the explosives in the trunk of the car, but were stopped on the Route 4 highway by police who were tipped off about the sale.

Shaul is charged with various weapons offenses, and the two Combat Engineering soldiers are to face charges in the military.

Iran puts out video of ex-top official admitting to role in killing of nuclear chief

The scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, in Tehran, Iran, on November 27, 2020. (Fars News Agency via AP); Inset: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo. (Courtesy)
The scene where Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, in Tehran, Iran, on November 27, 2020. (Fars News Agency via AP); Inset: Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photo. (Courtesy)

Iran state media publishes a video in which a former senior defense official who was sentenced to death for spying for the UK also appears to confess to playing a role in the 2020 killing of the country’s nuclear chief, Reuters reports.

Yesterday the judiciary said Ali Reza Akbari, who was deputy defense minister until 2001, was a “key spy” for British intelligence.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed when his car was ambushed on a highway outside Tehran in November 2020, in an attack Iran blames on Israel.

“They wanted to know about high-ranking officials depending on the major developments… for example he (the British agent) asked me whether Fakhrizadeh could be involved in such and such projects and I said why not,” Akbari said in one of the video clips.

Akbari has not been seen in public since 2019, when he was apparently arrested.

In a separate audio recording broadcast by BBC Persian on Wednesday, Akbari said he was tortured in detention over months to confess to crimes he had not committed, Reuters says.

Police said bracing for unrest at anti-government protests planned for Saturday

Israelis protest against the current government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis protest against the current government at Habima Square in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Police are bracing for unrest at planned anti-government protests on Saturday night in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the Walla news site reports.

The report says police held a meeting to prepare for the protests together with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

Protests are expected over the government’s plans to dramatically reform the judicial system, a move critics say would undermine democracy.

Gallant, Smotrich meet to coordinate dividing responsibilities in Defense Ministry

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (center), Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right), and COGAT head Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian (left) hold a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, January 12, 2023. (Courtesy)
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (center), Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (right), and COGAT head Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian (left) hold a meeting at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, January 12, 2023. (Courtesy)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and the head of the Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories hold a joint meeting to coordinate the responsibilities each minister will have over the hybrid civil-military unit.

In addition to being the finance minister, Smotrich, the far-right Religious Zionism leader, was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a sort of junior minister in the Defense Ministry.

Coalition agreements allow him to appoint the generals leading COGAT and its office overseeing many settlement issues, the Civil Administration, subject to Netanyahu’s approval.

During the meeting this morning at the Defense Ministry, Gallant and COGAT head Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian “began coordinating work procedures and transferring civil responsibility to Smotrich,” the ministry says in a statement.

“The ministers agreed to continue their full cooperation,” the statement adds.

IDF officer arrested for nepotism

The Kirya, IDF Headquarters, buildings seen from the Sarona Market in central Tel Aviv, on march 21, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The Kirya, IDF Headquarters, buildings seen from the Sarona Market in central Tel Aviv, on march 21, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A military officer is arrested for allegedly securing a relative a position in a unit within the IDF general staff, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

The officer, with the rank of major, was arrested at the end of December and later released to house arrest after being questioned by military police.

The military prosecutor has yet to decide whether to file charges, the report said.

ADL: Number of Americans who believe antisemitic stereotypes doubles since 2019

A sign for an anti-antisemitism campaign, New York City, August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)
A sign for an anti-antisemitism campaign, New York City, August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)

The number of Americans who believe antisemitic stereotypes has doubled since 2019, the Anti-Defamation League says, calling the findings “stunning and sobering” and adding that they point to the reemergence of antisemitism “in its classical fascist form” in the US.

A new survey asked the extent to which Americans agreed with various statements about anti-Jewish tropes and found that 20 percent of Americans – as many as 52 million people – agreed with six or more of the 11 anti-Jewish statements used since 1964, the ADL says.

“Those of us on the front lines have expected such results for a while now – and yet the data are still stunning and sobering: there is an alarming increase in antisemitic views and hatred across nearly every metric — at levels unseen for decades,” says ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.

“From Pittsburgh to Charlottesville to the near-daily harassment of Jews in our greatest cities, antisemitic beliefs lead to violence. I hope this survey is a wake-up call to the entire country,” he says.

The survey shows “antisemitism in its classical fascist form is emerging again in American society, where Jews are too secretive and powerful, working against interests of others, not sharing values, exploiting — the classic conspiratorial tropes,” Matt Williams, vice president of the ADL’s year-old Center for Antisemitism Research, told The Washington Post.

Among the findings: 39% of respondents believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the United States; 20% say Jews have “too much power” in the United States; 21% agree that Jews “don’t care about anyone other than themselves;” and 53 percent say that Jews will go out of their way to hire other Jews.

The survey was conducted among a representative sample of more than 4,000 US adults.

 

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