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Police probing state’s payment for $15K jacuzzi at Netanyahu home – report

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu not currently suspected of wrongdoing, according to Channel 12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

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

Meretz to vote against extending Palestinian family reunification law

The coalition’s left-wing Meretz party announces it will oppose extension of the controversial Palestinian family reunification law, which blocks the automatic granting of citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens.

The law, renewed annually since 2003, is set to expire July 6. A Knesset vote is planned for July 5, but the coalition is looking increasingly unlikely to pass it. The right-wing opposition parties support the law, but plan to vote against it to embarrass the coalition.

“This is a law that discriminates against a population on the basis of race, that was born in sin. Meretz has petitioned the High Court over the law in the past and will vote against it if it is brought to a vote.”

Israeli, UAE airlines announce cooperation deal

An Etihad Airways plane carrying a delegation from the United Arab Emirates on a first official visit lands at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on October 20, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
An Etihad Airways plane carrying a delegation from the United Arab Emirates on a first official visit lands at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on October 20, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

The UAE and Israeli flag-carriers announce a codeshare cooperation deal, the latest sign of deepening ties between the two nations following September’s normalization of diplomatic relations.

The move follows Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to the UAE this week to inaugurate the country’s first Gulf embassy in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi.

The airlines say in a statement they “launched their joint codeshare network and reciprocal loyalty agreement for frequent flyers.”

“This builds on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the airlines signed in 2020 following the Abraham Accords signed by the UAE and Israel,” it adds.

Under the agreement, El Al will sell tickets and offer frequent flier points to its members for the twice-weekly Etihad service between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv from July 18.

Europe court refuses to hear case on Arafat death

File: Suha Arafat at her home in Sliema, Malta, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)
File: Suha Arafat at her home in Sliema, Malta, Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 (AP Photo/Lino Azzopardi)

The European Court of Human Rights dismisses a case brought by the widow and daughter of Yasser Arafat, who have claimed the iconic Palestinian leader’s death was the result of poisoning.

Suha Arafat and Zahwa Arafat, who are French citizens, filed their case with the Strasbourg-based European court in 2017 after French courts dismissed their claims.

Arafat died at the Percy military hospital near Paris aged 75 in November 2004 after developing stomach pains while at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Many Palestinians accuse Israel of poisoning Arafat, a charge flatly denied by the Jewish state.

But in 2012 his widow, Suha, said traces of the radioactive isotope polonium 210 had been found on his clothes, prompting a French lawsuit alleging his murder. After a series of analyses and witness interviews, a court in Nanterre, west of Paris, dismissed the case, a ruling upheld on appeal.

Lawyers for Arafat’s widow said the investigation had been “fundamentally biased” and accused the judges of closing the probe too quickly.

Iran’s supreme leader appoints new hardline judiciary chief

In this August 21, 2005 file photo, former Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi listens to a speech during a session of parliament in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
In this August 21, 2005 file photo, former Iranian Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi listens to a speech during a session of parliament in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Iran’s supreme leader appoints a hardline cleric sanctioned by the West as the country’s new judiciary chief, state media reports, replacing the president-elect, who previously held the powerful post.

The new chief, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi, 64, takes the reins from Ebrahim Raisi, who will ascend to the country’s highest civilian position after his election victory earlier this month.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, announces Ejehi’s appointment, urging him to advocate for justice and fight corruption. In a decree, he praises Ejehi’s “valuable experience, shining records and legal competence.”

Ejehi takes over a judiciary widely criticized by international rights groups for being one of the world’s top executioners, as well as conducting closed-door trials of dual nationals and individuals with Western ties. Raisi, the previous judiciary chief and a protégé of Khamenei, was sanctioned by the United States in part over his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, as well as over his tenure at the judiciary.

Border Police arrest 3 terror suspects in Jenin, exchange fire with gunmen

Border Police have arrested three terror suspects in the West Bank city of Jenin.

Police say the three were taken for questioning. As the forces exited the city, gunmen opened fire at the forces from long range.

Officers returned fire. There were no Israeli casualties and the forces did not identify hitting anyone.

Illustrative photo. Security forces during clashes with protesters at the entrance to the village of Qabatiya in Jenin, February 6, 2016. (Haytham Shtayeh/FLASH90)

Trump Organization CFO surrenders ahead of expected charges

Then US President-elect Donald Trump, left, and his chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, center, attend a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, January 11, 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)
Then US President-elect Donald Trump, left, and his chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, center, attend a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, January 11, 2017. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has surrendered to authorities ahead of expected charges against him and former US president Donald Trump’s company, according to multiple news outlets.

Weisselberg was seen walking into the courthouse in lower Manhattan around 6:20 a.m. with his lawyer.

New York prosecutors are expected to announce the first criminal indictment today in a two-year investigation into Trump’s business practices, accusing his namesake company and Weisselberg of tax crimes related to fringe benefits for employees.

Shaked to local leaders: Prepare for new illness wave, don’t wait

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tells local authority leaders to prepare for a new wave of infection.

She says she and Prime Minister Bennett “intend to give you as much authority and freedom as possible,” she says. “Don’t wait for the illness to come to you. Open up your operations centers in all towns, even green ones, so that you are ready.”

Netanyahu hosts French MP at Balfour despite promises to Bennett

Former PM Netanyahu met French Jewish parliamentarian Meyer Habib yesterday at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem’s Balfour Street.

He did so despite the fact that Netanyahu had pledged to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that he wouldn’t conduct any official meetings in the residence until his scheduled departure on July 11.

Habib published a Facebook post summing up the meeting, writing it was a “private meeting.”

VISITE PRIVÉE CHEZ L’ANCIEN PREMIER MINISTRE BENYAMIN NETANYAHU Vous êtes très nombreux ces dernières semaines à me…

Posted by Meyer Habib on Thursday, July 1, 2021

New Nahal Brigade commander dies after collapsing during fitness training

Colonel Sharon Asman, left, upon his appointment to commander of the Nahal Brigade on June 28, 2021, three days before his sudden death (IDF)
Colonel Sharon Asman, left, upon his appointment to commander of the Nahal Brigade on June 28, 2021, three days before his sudden death (IDF)

A senior Israel Defense Forces officer died this morning after collapsing during fitness training in a military base in central Israel.

Colonel Sharon Asman, 42, the commander of the Nahal infantry brigade, received immediate medical attention after collapsing, but shortly afterwards was pronounced dead.

The military says Asman’s family was notified, and the incident is under investigation. He had two daughters.

Asman had only entered the role of brigade commander on Monday. He had served in the military for 25 years and fought in Lebanon and Gaza.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett sends his condolences to Asman’s family.

“Asman was one of our best. He gave the majority of his life for the protection of Israel’s security.”

President Reuven Rivlin says he is “heartbroken by the terrible disaster” and calls Asman “a hero, a commander and a man of action with a big heart.”

Report: Iran restricting UN inspectors’ access to Natanz after attack

Iran has restricted the access of UN inspectors to its uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, citing security concerns after what it alleges was an Israeli attack in April, Reuters reports.

Diplomats tell the news agency the situation has been going on for weeks but a resolution may be near.

“They are provoking us,” a Western diplomat says.

Another insists that this has “had very little impact on the agency’s ability to carry out verification.”

Biden heads to Florida condo collapse site, death toll at 18

Flowers and other items fill a memorial put up for those lost in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 01, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
Flowers and other items fill a memorial put up for those lost in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 01, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

US President Joe Biden heads to Florida to meet with families heartbroken by the collapse of a beachfront condo building a week ago, as hopes of finding survivors in the rubble all but vanish.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden held hands as they left the White House early for the flight to Miami and a trip to nearby Surfside, where the toll in the tragedy now stands at 18 dead, with more than 140 still unaccounted for.

The dead include two children, aged four and 10, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said late yesterday.

Any loss of life “is a tragedy,” she said, “but the loss of our children is too great to bear.”

Several fires break out near the Tomb of Samuel in the West Bank

The archaeological ruins atop the peak of Nebi Samuil (Abir Sultan/ Flash 90)
The archaeological ruins atop the peak of Nebi Samuil (Abir Sultan/ Flash 90)

Several fires break out near the Tomb of Samuel, located north of Jerusalem.

Worshipers at the site have been told to leave for their safety.

Firefighters are working to douse the flames. There are suspicions of arson.

The site is holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Beverly Hills rabbi celebrates son’s graduation in Haredi paratrooper unit

The son of a Beverly Hills rabbi, Meir Dunner, completes his training in a Haredi paratrooper unit.

Rabbi Pini Dunner comes to Israel to participate in the ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem.

“I was very excited to march with my son at the end of this journey in the land of Eretz Israel and see dozens of Haredi paratroopers finish their training and become fighters. It is very exciting. It is literally the fulfillment of the Jewish dream, a powerful experience which was extremely exciting,” the rabbi says.

Jeff Bezos picks female aerospace pioneer, 82, to launch with him

Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos has chosen a female aerospace pioneer — an 82-year-old pilot denied astronaut wings decades ago because of her gender — to rocket into space with him in just three weeks.

The company announces that Wally Funk will be aboard the July 20 launch from West Texas, flying in the capsule for the 10-minute hop as an “honored guest.” She’ll join Bezos, his brother, and the winner of a charity auction, as the first people to ride a New Shepard rocket.

Funk is among the so-called Mercury 13 women who went through astronaut training in the 1960s, but never made it to space — or even NASA’s astronaut corps — because they were female. Back then, all of the NASA astronauts were military test pilots and male.

In a video posted by Bezos, Funk says she feels “fabulous” about being asked to launch.

Four fires sparked by arson balloons near Gaza

Four fires have broken out in the Gaza periphery, as a result of arson balloons from the Gaza Strip, firefighters say.

Most of the fires were small and not dangerous, officials add. No significant damage was caused.

OECD says 130 countries agree to global taxation deal

Some 130 countries and jurisdictions have signed up to a global tax reform ensuring that multinationals pay their fair share wherever they operate, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says.

The OECD says in a statement that global companies, including US behemoths Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple would be taxed at a rate of at least 15 percent.

The formal agreement follows an endorsement by the G7 group — consisting of several of the world’s wealthy nations — last month at a meeting in Britain, when US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said a global minimum tax “would end the race to the bottom in corporate taxation.”

Germany hails the deal as a “colossal step towards tax justice.”

UN official urges Palestinian security forces to allow protests

Palestinian security officers in plainclothes detain a demonstrator during clashes that erupted following a rally protesting the death of outspoken PA critic Nizar Banat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinian security officers in plainclothes detain a demonstrator during clashes that erupted following a rally protesting the death of outspoken PA critic Nizar Banat, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

The UN human rights chief urges the Palestinian Authority to ensure the safety of protesters, after security forces and supporters of PA President Mahmoud Abbas attacked demonstrators over the weekend.

The protests erupted after an outspoken critic of the PA died shortly after his family says he was severely beaten by security forces who arrested him.

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says Palestinian security forces used force against initially peaceful protesters, “including beating them with batons and firing teargas and stun grenades.”

The statement says she was concerned about “the presence of large numbers of non-uniformed people acting in a seemingly organized and coordinated manner” with the Palestinian forces.

“During one of these protests, one of our staff members monitoring it was punched and pepper-sprayed by a person in civilian clothing,” Bachelet says. “Many people, including journalists and human rights defenders, were similarly assaulted.”

Netanyahu to health minister: Start giving 3rd doses in August

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu petitions Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz to start giving Israelis a third coronavirus vaccine dose in August.

Netanyahu says that “from conversations I’ve had with some of the best experts in the world, I believe the third vaccine [dose] should be given to the over-50 population starting in August, in order to finish the task until the end of September.”

He says no one currently knows when a drop in immunity will leave the population susceptible to infection once again.

“The price of being late… could be deadly and cost many lives.”

Police probing state’s payment for $15K jacuzzi at Netanyahu home – report

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Police have opened an investigation into suspicions that a jacuzzi was installed at the Caesarea home of Benjamin Netanyahu for NIS 50,000 ($15,000) at the expense of the state, Channel 12 reports.

The installation was allegedly done under the cover of a security upgrade for the property.

The report says the Netanyahus themselves are not suspected of wrongdoing at this point, though it is not clear how.

Report: Delta variant is said to cause fewer serious COVID cases in Israel

Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, tells Channel 12 that statistics show that the Delta variant of coronavirus is causing far fewer serious cases in Israel than previous infection waves.

Numbers show that 2.5% of all people confirmed with COVID-19 became seriously sick during previous waves (20-30 people per 1,000 cases). In this wave, no more than 0.5% (3-5 per 1,000) have fallen seriously ill.

The network is also reporting that some 90% of current infections in Israel are of the Delta variant.

Pfizer said to reject Israeli request to extend expiration date on vaccines

In this Jan. 7, 2021, photo, an Israeli military paramedic prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at a medical center in Ashdod, southern Israel. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
In this Jan. 7, 2021, photo, an Israeli military paramedic prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered at a medical center in Ashdod, southern Israel. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Pfizer has rejected an Israeli request to extend the expiration date on its vaccines, Channel 12 reports.

The company tells Israel that it does not currently have enough information to ensure that the doses would still be safe beyond their current expiration dates, according to the network.

COVID has created ‘ideal environment’ for human trafficking, US says

The United States says that the coronavirus pandemic has created an “ideal environment” for human trafficking to thrive, as governments divert resources to the health crisis and traffickers take advantage of vulnerable people.

The State Department’s “2021 Trafficking in Persons Report” downgrades several countries and upgrades others for their efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking.

Releasing the annual report, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says nearly 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of human trafficking.

“Many are compelled into commercial sex work,” Blinken says. “Many are forced to work in factories or fields or to join armed groups.”

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