The Times of Israel liveblogged Tuesday’s events as they unfolded.
A UN official in Lebanon is criticized by an Israeli official for expressing gratitude to Hezbollah after a UN peacekeeper was murdered in an area controlled by the terror group.
Joanna Wronecka, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, thanks a Hezbollah official “for a tour d’horizon on issues of priority for Lebanon.”
She writes on Twitter that the tour covered topics including “the election of a new president, the functioning of state institutions and the impact of regional and international developments on the country.”
I thank Mr. Ammar Moussawi of Hizbullah for a tour d’horizon on issues of priority for #Lebanon, including the election of a new President, the functioning of state institutions and the impact of regional and international developments on the country.
— Joanna Wronecka (@JWronecka) January 16, 2023
A UN peacekeeper was shot to death while driving in a UN vehicle in a Hezbollah-controlled area of South Lebanon last month.
The terror group handed over a suspect in the killing to Lebanese investigators, but it is not clear whether the suspect is a Hezbollah member.
Joshua Zarka, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, mocks Wronecka’s statement and blames Hezbollah for the killing.
“Is this real? An official Senior UN Representative thanks the terrorist organization responsible for the murder of a UN peacekeeper,” he says.
Hezbollah is designated a terror group by the US and its military wing is considered a terrorist organization by the EU.
Morocco’s army says it has agreed with Israel to strengthen military cooperation, including in intelligence and cybersecurity, following defense meetings in Rabat.
The two countries “agreed to further strengthen cooperation and expand it to other areas, including in intelligence, air defense and electronic warfare,” the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces says in a statement.
The announcement follows the first meeting of the monitoring committee for Moroccan-Israeli defense cooperation in the Moroccan capital.
The two-day meeting examined military cooperation, including in the fields of “logistics, training and the acquisition and modernization of equipment.”
The two countries formalized ties in 2020, following similar agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
It followed the United States’ recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region, in a quid pro quo for reestablishing ties with Israel. That sparked concern in neighboring Algeria, long-time backers of the Polisario movement, which seeks an independence referendum for Western Sahara.
In November 2021, Israel’s then-defense minister Benny Gantz signed a memorandum of understanding in Rabat outlining security relations with Morocco.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says it has sent a letter to prominent leaders of international bodies, asking them to “urgently” act for the release of Israeli civilians and the remains of IDF soldiers held captive by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
The letter has been sent to Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Red Cross President Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and other senior UN officials.
It comes a day after Hamas released a video purportedly showing captive Avera Mengistu. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated Israel views the clip as authentic.
The ministry urges the international leaders to condemn Hamas, noting that Mengistu has been held for over eight years “in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, without providing information about his health condition and without providing any way for him to contact his family or receive visits by the Red Cross.”
Apart from Mengistu, civilian Hisham al-Sayed is being held by Hamas — the Palestinian terror group has also released footage of him in captivity — alongside the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
The Foreign Ministry statement notes that Pope Francis met last month with the families of the four captives and promised to help return them.
Describing their return as a “moral obligation” of the government, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen says: “We will continue to act on the international stage to reveal the cruel face of terror group Hamas until they are returned home.”
The new government is planning to cut hundreds of millions of shekels from the budget meant for the Kan public broadcaster, its productions and its television series, and to direct them instead toward the rival commercial networks, according to a report by Channel 13 news — which is one of those latter networks.
The report, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter, says the plan — spearheaded by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi — is aimed at strengthening and providing financial backing to Channel 14, a right-wing network whose news content often aligns with the opinions and interests of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The government reportedly intends to introduce a fund aimed at creating competition between the various channels over government funding. The sources claimed that such a situation could curb the commercial networks’ objection to closing Kan, since its current budget could be redirected to them.
Karhi has repeatedly threatened to close the publicly funded Kan over its purported slant against Netanyahu’s right-religious political bloc.
Hamas has significantly stepped up its plans to kidnap Israeli soldiers with the aim of using them as additional bargaining chips in a potential prisoner swap deal, the Kan public broadcaster reports.
The report, which comes a day after the Palestinian terror group published footage of Israeli civilian captive Avera Mengistu, says that Hamas is growing increasingly desperate as it realizes it has few bargaining chips in the long-held indirect talks on freeing Mengistu, fellow civilian Hisham al-Sayed and the remains of two IDF soldiers held in Gaza.
Negotiations have reportedly been frozen as Israel deems Hamas’s demand regarding the release of Palestinian terror convicts in Israeli jails as a non-starter.
Kan says Hamas is willing to accept the consequences of a kidnapping attempt — which would likely draw a devastating response from Israel — and could gamble on getting extra bargaining chips that will yield greater concessions from Israel, boosting its beleaguered status among the Gazan public.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been hauled away and detained during a protest at a German village being razed to make way for a coal mine expansion, police say.
“The group is in the custody of the police,” a police spokeswoman says when asked about the arrest of Thunberg and other activists.
Police say they have arrested a man in his 20s from the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon on suspicion of severe sex offenses committed online against a 16-year-old girl from Finland.
The investigation began after Helsinki filed an extradition request, according to police.
The probe yielded suspicions that the man committed many sexual offenses, including indecent acts, rape and violation of privacy.
The suspect’s remand has been extended until Sunday. Prosecutors have filed an extradition petition and a request to keep him in detention until a decision is made on whether to extradite him.
The Israel Defense Forces says that yesterday, troops detained five suspects who crossed into Israeli territory from Syria.
The military says soldiers monitoring surveillance cameras first spotted three suspects close to the border fence, which is built in Israeli territory in the Golan Heights.
Troops dispatched to the scene arrested the trio, before another pair crossed the so-called Alpha Line, a UN buffer zone separating Israel from Syria.
The other two suspects were also detained. The five suspects were taken to be questioned, before being returned to Syria earlier today, the IDF adds.
“The IDF will continue to prevent any attempt to cross the border or to violate Israeli sovereignty,” the military says in a statement.
International tourist arrivals doubled in 2022 over the previous year and should reach near pre-pandemic levels in 2023, the UN’s tourism body says.
There were 917 million global tourist arrivals last year, up from 455 million in 2021, due to the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions, the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization says in a report.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces Valery Zaluzhny says he has met Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the first time in person in Poland.
“I outlined the urgent needs of the armed forces of Ukraine,” Zaluzhny says on Telegram after meeting one of the key figures of US military support for Kyiv.
Former attorney general Yehuda Weinstein castigates the government’s radical judicial makeover plan, saying: “It is not a reform, it’s a pogrom.”
At a conference at Tel Aviv University, Weinstein, who served under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for six years between 2010 and 2016, says the hardline new government “is trying to change the justice system we know, and it is all being done hastily and with no consideration. I oppose everything it includes.”
Weinstein lays out his objection to changing the current method of selecting High Court justices and its president, to allowing ministers to appoint their own legal advisers, and to “everything the justice minister has suggested.”
However, he also says he could agree to limits on the court’s ability to strike down laws and even for an override clause to be passed, enabling 64 lawmakers in the 120-member Knesset to nullify rulings.
The UN Human Rights Council remains mum after the Hamas terror group released a video yesterday of captive Israeli Avera Mengistu for propaganda purposes.
The UNHRC and its special rapporteur tasked with investigating the conflict, Francesca Albanese, do not respond to Times of Israel requests for comment on the incident. The special rapporteur, who has a history of antisemitism, has publicly commented on Israeli evictions since the Hamas video was released.
UN officials regularly criticize Israel for its actions against Palestinians. Israel and the US accuse the world body in New York, and the UNHRC in Geneva, of bias against the Jewish state.
International law forbids taking civilians captive, and bars using any prisoners for propaganda purposes.
Mengistu has been held in Gaza for eight years after he entered the Strip of his own volition. His family says he suffers from mental health issues.
Hamas is also holding captive Israeli Hisham al-Sayed and has also released footage of him in captivity. The terror group refers to both as soldiers despite neither of them having served in the Israeli military or security services.
The terror group is also holding the remains of soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.
Shas MK Avraham Bezalel says his remark earlier today — asserting that High Court justices would be “shooting themselves in the head” if they disqualify party leader Aryeh Deri from serving as a minister — was “misunderstood,” after his words drew widespread condemnation.
“The words said in the interview with the Knesset Channel were misunderstood and I regret that,” he says in a statement.
“As someone to whom public trust in the justice system is important, I meant to say that if the High Court decision nullifies the pick of more than 400,000 citizens, it would significantly harm public trust in the court.”
Bezalel does not elaborate on what exactly in his original remark was misunderstood.
The US condemns a group of Israeli settlers who were filmed last week assaulting a group of West Bank hikers made up of Palestinians and foreign nationals.
“The video showing Friday’s brazen assault on hikers, among them American citizens, north of Jericho is shocking. Those who incite violence + exacerbate tensions must stop,” tweets the US Embassy in Jerusalem’s Office of Palestinian Affairs.
In the footage, a young Jewish man can be seen swinging a club at the hikers, who back away and scream as he attacks them. Two women were injured by at least one of the youths, who assaulted them with a wooden club, and subsequently received medical treatment in Ramallah for their injuries. According to two eyewitnesses, the Israeli youths also fired pepper spray at some of the hikers.
As rights groups have lamented has long been the case in such incidents of settler violence, no arrests have been made yet of the Israeli suspects.
ארוע אלימות מתנחלים אתמול בבקעת הירדן: הפלסטינים תיעדו 3 מתנחלים תוקפים במקלות מטיילים פלסטינים ותיירים מחו״ל באזור יריחו. עד כה ללא עצורים. pic.twitter.com/W4s2aKZ5Ly
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) January 14, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Avera Mengistu, a captive Israeli civilian held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas for more than eight years, “is alive,” after the terror group aired apparent recent footage of him yesterday.
“Israel does not stop its efforts to return Avera Mengistu and the rest of our captives and missing persons. Yesterday we received another confirmation of what we knew all along — that Avera is alive,” Netanyahu says after receiving a briefing from Shin Bet officials in the northern West Bank.
“This is a young man, not in good health, and responsibility for his fate rests entirely on Hamas,” Netanyahu adds.
Netanyahu and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar visited the agency’s northern West Bank offices today, the Prime Minister’s Office says.
He received a security briefing on the agency’s activities in the area, before visiting a nearby military post, the PMO adds.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant holds a meeting with mayors and leaders of communities in southern Israel that are close to the border with the Gaza Strip, his office says.
“The meeting dealt with ways to strengthen settlement in the south and maintain the security of the residents,” the Defense Ministry says in a statement.
The mayors and regional council leaders presented Gallant with the future challenges and needs of the residents, the statement adds.
Participating in the meeting were Netivot Mayor Yehiel Zohar, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Ofakim Mayor Itzik Danino, Sdot Negev regional council head Tamir Idan, Merhavim regional council head Shai Hagigi, Hof Ashkelon regional council head Itamar Ravivo, and Lachish regional council head Dani Moravia.
Gallant orders Defense Ministry officials to examine the issues raised by the mayors and regional council leaders during the meeting, the ministry says.
Israel’s entry for the upcoming 2023 Eurovision Song Contest has been selected and will be called “Unicorn,” the Kan public broadcaster announces.
The song, which will likely be revealed in full in late February, will be performed in the Liverpool contest in May by local pop star Noa Kirel, who was also involved in writing it and says she’s “moved by it everytime I sing or hear it.”
“Unicorn” was also created by Yinon Yahel, who produced recent Israeli entries “Golden Boy” and “Feker Libi”; singer and musiciam May Sfadia; and Doron Medalie, who co-wrote Netta Barzilai’s 2018 Eurovision winner “Toy.”
It was selected by Kan out of three songs Kirel and her team submitted.
A Palestinian man armed with two knives is arrested by a settlement security guard near Nablus in the northern West Bank, local officials say.
According to the Samaria Regional Council, the security team for Elon Moreh spotted the suspect on surveillance cameras nearing the settlement from the direction of the Palestinian village of Deir al-Hatab.
He is detained by the settlement’s chief security coordinator near an entrance to Elon Moreh, and found to be carrying two knives.
There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces or police on the incident.
Iran says it is “very pleased” by the start in December of the first direct talks between Ankara and Damascus since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war 11 years ago.
“We are very pleased by the fact that relations between Damascus and Ankara are undergoing change,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian tells reporters after talks in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Following an incident earlier today in which Jordan’s envoy to Israel left in protest after being held up by police at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Ghassan Majali enters the holy site, and prays at Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Footage shows Majali walking around the flashpoint site, after Amman summoned Jerusalem’s envoy over the incident.
Israel Police has decried as “fake news” initial reports that the envoy had been refused entry, saying he had arrived without coordinating his visit with Israeli authorities at the site and would have been allowed in on the first attempt had he “waited a few more seconds.”
אחרי התקרית עם שגריר ירדן בישראל ע'סאן אלמג'אלי וזימון שגריר ישראל בירדן לשיחת נזיפה אלמג'אלי נכנס למתחם מסגד אלאקסא וערך סיור במקום pic.twitter.com/cQlIxIKiF6
— sami abdulhamid سامي عبد الحميد (@samiaah10) January 17, 2023
Justice Minister Yariv Levin is meeting Chief Justice Esther Hayut, in their first sit-down since they made fiery remarks against each other late last week over the government’s sweeping judicial reform plan, Hebrew media reports.
Levin and Hayut met shortly after the former unveiled the far-reaching plan, which has sparked major protests by critics who view it as neutering the justice system.
After the plan was revealed, Hayut held an extraordinary speech last Thursday, delivered with indignation and fiery rhetoric, denouncing the plan and saying it would deal a “fatal blow” to the country’s democratic identity.
Hayut declared that the sweeping changes to the legal system would fatally undermine judicial independence, give the Knesset a “blank check” to pass any legislation it pleases — even in violation of basic civil rights — and deny the courts the tools needed to serve as a check on executive power.
Levin, who is spearheading the reforms, lambasted Hayut’s speech, saying it underlined his arguments that the justice system has been politicized, and chastised her for violating ethics rules for serving judges.
Ahead of an expected High Court of Justice ruling on whether Aryeh Deri is fit to serve as a minister, a member of Deri’s Shas party says any decision to disqualify him would mean the justices are “shooting themselves in the head.”
The court is widely expected to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointing Deri as interior and health minister in the new government is “extremely unreasonable” in light of Deri’s three past convictions, including one last year for tax offenses that landed him a suspended sentence.
Hebrew media have reported that in a faction meeting yesterday, Deri asked Shas MKs to escalate their rhetoric against that possibility and to highlight that such a ruling would “harm the [Shas] voters, not me.” He reportedly added: “The public elected me, not the Supreme Court justices.”
Shas MK Avraham Bezalel tells the Knesset Channel: “I think that in the end, if [the judges] rule to disqualify him they are shooting themselves, even in the head I’d say. They are aware of the current sensitivity, they understand what the public thinks. We know the protests and see the things happening in the streets over the past few weeks in light of the whole situation.”
When asked if his remarks were intended as a threat to the High Court judges, Bezalel said: “I don’t think this is threatening at all. I understand they need to take this and I have no doubt this is on the table.” He didn’t clarify those remarks.
The interview comes amid plans by the hardline government to overhaul the judiciary, cancel the “unreasonableness” argument expected to be used against Deri, and allow the coalition to appoint justices, strike down High Court rulings and appoint ministries’ legal advisers.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir holds an assessment with police commissioner Kobi Shabtai and other law enforcement officials ahead of the imminent release of a prisoner who served decades in jail for murdering a soldier.
Cousins Maher and Karim Younis, from the Arab town of ‘Ara in northern Israel, murdered Cpl. Avraham Bromberg in 1980. The pair were given life sentences but these were commuted in 2012 by then-president Shimon Peres to 40 years.
When Karim Younis was released earlier this month, public celebrations were held in his hometown despite a directive from Ben Gvir to prevent that.
During the meeting, Ben Gvir again instructs police to prevent celebrations upon Maher Younis’s release in the coming days, police say in a statement.
“The Israel Police will do everything according to the provisions of the law and will not allow the violation of the law during the release of the terrorist,” Shabtai says.
“We are prepared for the release, and at the same time I spoke a few days ago with a relative of the late Avraham Bromberg and assured him that the Israel Police will not allow any support or sympathy for the terrorist,” the commissioner adds.
Ben Gvir had summoned Shabtai for a dressing down following the celebrations in ‘Ara, the first implicit rebuke of police by the new far-right minister, who demanded and received extensive powers over police policy during recent coalition negotiations.
“I trust you to do your best and I am hopeful that the incident will end with complete success and without support and incitement to terrorism, and we will bring good results for the State of Israel and our sovereignty,” Ben Gvir says in the statement.
A house located next to the private residence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Caesarea is now for sale.
The property, covering an area of 1.2 dunams (0.3 acres), has been rented to the State of Israel for years as a place for Shin Bet security service agents to rest and sleep while guarding the Netanyahu family’s home.
The Lapidot family, the owners of the house, rented it to the Shin Bet for an undisclosed amount. It is unclear how the property was managed in terms of rent during the year and a half in which Netanyahu didn’t serve as prime minister.
Realtor Rena Roberman tells The Times of Israel that the property is an old house that can be demolished and replaced with a new one with a sea view. The house has no neighbors on one side, since there is a park in that area, and from the other side — the front of the house — there is a path to the beach.
“Currently, the tenants of the house are Bibi’s guards, but they will vacate it with a three-month notice,” says Roberman, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
The asking price for the property is NIS 9.75 million ($2.8 million). As for accessibility for guests visiting the new owners, the realtor says that won’t be a problem. “There is a small part of the street where there are guards, but access to the house is unrestricted,” she says about the security arrangement around the Netanyahu family residence.
Netanyahu and his wife Sara have been recently said to be interested in moving into the family’s apartment on Azza Street in Jerusalem, which may serve as their official residence while the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Road undergoes renovations.
An Israeli woman is sentenced to life behind bars over the gruesome murder of her husband five years ago.
According to the indictment, the 58-year-old stabbed her 66-year-old husband, who had movement disabilities, by stabbing him 65 times all over his body while he was preparing to go to work.
“She stabbed him in the face, neck, abdomen, chest and back with the intention of causing his death,” says the indictment, which has been accepted by the Haifa District Court. “She first stabbed him with a vegetable knife she took from the kitchen, and when she saw the blade had become bent due to the stabbings — she went to the kitchen, took a meat knife, went back to him and continued stabbing him.”
The woman will also pay the couple’s five children and other relatives a total of NIS 258,000 ($75,000).
Jordan has summoned Israel’s envoy Eitan Surkis over the incident earlier today in which Amman’s ambassador to Jerusalem Ghassan Majali was allegedly “refused entry” to the Temple Mount, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry says.
Israeli police — and also Jordanian reports — have indicated that rather than being refused entry, cops had briefly held him up since he hadn’t coordinated the visit, whereupon the envoy chose to leave.
Incidents surrounding the flashpoint holy site frequently cause tensions in the countries’ relations.
Jordanian and Palestinian media are reporting that Israeli police forces have turned down an attempt by Jordanian Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, requiring him to obtain prior permission for the visit from Israeli authorities.
Majali leaves the area of the Old City’s Lion’s Gate after refusing to request such permission.
The Israel Police decries as “fake news” reports that Israel refused to allow Majali to visit the site, saying the ambassador had arrived without any prior coordination and that a cop hadn’t immediately recognized him, causing a “very small” delay while he asked his commander.
Majali then decided to leave, police say, adding that “had he waited a few more seconds he would have entered.”
شرطة الاحتلال تمنع السفير الأردني في فلسطين غسان المجالي من الدخول إلى المسجد الأقصى المبارك قبل قليل. pic.twitter.com/nnhK6kd22K
— Hisham Abu Shaqrah | هشام أبو شقرة (@HShaqrah) January 17, 2023
The incident comes amid tensions over the flashpoint holy site, which is the holiest in Judaism and the third-holiest to Muslims, who refer to it as the Al Aqsa Mosque compound or the Noble Sanctuary. Far-right minister Itamar Ben Gvir briefly visited the site earlier this month, drawing fury from the Arab world.
The site is governed by an unwritten status quo that allows Muslims to visit relatively freely and pray, while others, including Jews, are allowed to visit under numerous restrictions but not to pray. Many Palestinians and Jordanians deny the site is holy to Jews and refuse to acknowledge Israeli control over it.
The 1994 peace deal with Jordan specified Jordan has a “special role” in Muslim holy site in Jerusalem. Amman views itself as the custodian of the Temple Mount.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant holds a meeting with US Central Command chief Michael Kurilla, who was in town for the handover ceremony of the Israeli military chief yesterday.
The meeting between the pair, along with US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, IDF defense attaché to Washington Hidai Zilberman, and Tal Kelman, who holds the military’s Iran file, takes place at the defense minister’s office in Tel Aviv.
According to the ministry, the meeting focused on “strengthening and expanding” the Abraham Accords — the normalization agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan in 2020 — “in order to improve stability in the Middle East,” as well as Israel’s move to CENTCOM from EUCOM in 2021.
“Gallant thanked General Kurilla for his commitment to Israel’s security and his actions to strengthen ties between the armies,” the ministry says in a statement.
It adds that Gallant presented Kurilla with “his perception regarding the Iranian threat as a global threat, which must be dealt with decisiveness while taking actions in the various dimensions.”
Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba will strike tomorrow for three hours in protest of an incident yesterday in which parents attacked and threatened a doctor in the hospital over his refusal to expedite treatment for their 15-month-old son.
The doctor was injured in his face and was treated at the hospital’s emergency department. Their toddler is expected to be handed to relatives or welfare authorities.
אירוע חמור מאוד: זוג התנפלו על רופא ילדים בסורוקה בגלל שלא הסכים להקדים להם את התור. הרופא נפצע ואושפז pic.twitter.com/8U42UwjFfM
— אריאל עידן (@Arielidan20) January 16, 2023
The Israel Medical Association announces the strike, with its chairman Prof. Zion Hagay vowing to counter the “epidemic of violence in the health system” with all means available. He warns tomorrow will just be a “warning strike,” adding that “if the government doesn’t act immediately to strengthen security and expedite legislation for increasing enforcement and punishment — the whole [health] system will strike.
Earlier today, the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of one of the suspects, the 28-year-old father, while the 24-year-old mother was released under restrictive conditions. Police have appealed the latter decision.
The mother’s lawyer has said she is five months pregnant, suffers from complex PTSD and other illnesses and is recognized by the state as 100% handicapped.
A bipartisan delegation of US senators starting a visit to Israel today has informed the government that it isn’t interested in meeting representatives of the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, the Walla news site reports.
The outlet cites two Israeli officials and an American source, adding that the delegation is part of the Senate lobby for promoting the Abraham Accords and is traveling to Israel as the last leg of a Middle East tour with stops in Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
The delegation is headed by Senator Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, and James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican. It includes four Democrats and three Republicans.
They are expected to meet tomorrow with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and later with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid and members of the Knesset’s Abraham Accords lobby.
Senator Rosen made the request not to meet ministers such as Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, according to a source in her office.
Senior Foreign Ministry sources are quoted as saying such a meeting will not happen.
Lapid responds to the report by tweeting: “It is time to accept the facts: With a government of racists and extremists, the US is no longer Israel’s closest ally.”
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