The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomes news of a joint electoral union between Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar ahead of the November 1 vote.
“I wish good luck to Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar,” Lapid tweets. “I am convinced that your intentions are good. I look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of the citizens of Israel.”
Lapid’s Yesh Atid ran together with Gantz’s Blue and White in the April 2019, September 2019, and March 2020 elections. When Gantz decided to join the government of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the parties split up and have remained separate since.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Erdogan congratulates Lapid on his new position, as well as on his recent successful trip to Ankara — which he undertook shortly before becoming prime minister.
Lapid sends his best wishes to Erdogan and to all Turkish citizens for the current Eid al-Adha holiday, which began last night. He also thanks the Turkish president for Ankara’s efforts in foiling recent attempted Iranian terror attacks against Israelis on Turkish soil.
The two leaders also both praise the recent Turkish-Israeli aviation deal and emphasize the growing rapprochement between their two nations with hopes for further developments in the future.
Erdogan, who has, over the past year, expressed a renewed interest in ties with Israel after years of harsh criticism spoke with President Isaac Herzog last week.
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, who has run in the past with both Blue and White and New Hope, was left off the joint electoral slate announced today between the two parties.
Hendel is said instead to be in talks with new Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked to potentially join forces, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Hendel originally joined politics with the Telem party of Moshe Ya’alon, which later joined with Blue and White — and then united with Yesh Atid. Two years later, Hendel joined up with New Hope.
In a Facebook post earlier today, Hendel says he has no regrets over his time in office and believes he stood by his principles. “I will work hard to ensure that votes for the statesman-like right-wing will have a respectable representation in the next Knesset,” he writes. “I promise to update you soon.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar publicly unveil the joint electoral list combining their Blue and White and New Hope parties.
“From the moment I entered into politics, I have repeatedly said that we are at an illogical and unprecedented situation,” says Gantz of the ongoing political deadlock, calling it the “biggest democratic and political crisis in history.”
For too long, says Gantz, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dragged the Likud party to positions that erode national statesmanship and harm Israel’s democratic principles.
“Israel deserves better,” Gantz says, saying that voters “shouldn’t have to pick from the extremes,” but instead deserve a sane, central option.
“We are laying the cornerstone for the next government,” says Gantz, vowing to establish a “responsible, realistic, secure and liberal” government. Such a coalition, he says, will “say no to racism, no to extremism, and yes to unity for all parts of the country and all types of citizens.”
He praises the outgoing multi-party coalition, but says a few members on its fringes pulled it off the road.
Gantz calls on other groups “who agree with our values” to join their union.
Its goal, he says, is to unify “all those who support a Jewish, democratic, safe Israel.”
He believes it can appeal to “many people on the statesmanlike right” looking for a political home.
Sa’ar says that Israel “needs a new hope and a way out of this crisis.” He says that he and Gantz have devoted their lives to the State of Israel and agreed to join forces to create a “wide, patriotic, center-right” electoral slate.
Sa’ar also says that Gantz — who will take the joint list’s top slot — is the ideal candidate to lead the next government.
Blue and White has 8 seats in the outgoing Knesset; New Hope has 6.
In recent polls, which are not necessarily reliable, Blue and White is slated to receive around 8-9 seats and New Hope 4-5.
Yamina MK Nir Orbach has reportedly inked a deal with Likud to receive a ministerial position if the party forms the next government.
According to the report in Israel Hayom, Orbach will not receive a reserved spot on the Likud list ahead of the November 1 election.
In the final days of the outgoing government, Orbach was seen as a weak link in the Yamina party, and was reportedly in talks with Likud while on the brink of defecting from the coalition — and ultimately announcing he could no longer vote with the government.
At a state memorial ceremony for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir, Prime Minister Yair Lapid lauded the late leader’s ability to compromise and work with others while maintaining his ideology.
“Shamir believed that there was one Israel, and that the role of leaders was to unite and bring its sons and daughters together, not to spur on disagreements,” Lapid says, while recalling Shamir’s rotation agreement with his ideological foe Shimon Peres. “Shamir understood that the Israeli people, and certainly the Zionist majority, has more in common than what divides us…. He refused to see his people torn apart. He refused to allow the country to stop functioning.”
Lapid suggests that Shamir’s “greatest legacy, was unity…. Shamir’s words, and primarily his deeds, should serve as a beacon of truth for us all. He did not speak in terms of right or left, but in terms of mutual respect and shared fate against those who sought to divide our nation and to set brother against brother.”
“Has the season of unions began?” Golan tweets. “We should read the writing on the wall: A large and united Israeli-Zionist left-wing camp.”
Golan has said that he favors Meretz joining with the Labor party, but current Labor chief Merav Michaeli has indicated that she is opposed.
Uber lobbied Netanyahu, the PMO, ambassadors to overcome objections to legalizing its operations in Israel
Ride-hailing giant Uber sought the help of former ambassadors to Israel and the US and lobbied then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an ongoing Transportation Ministry investigation into its practices in Israel, a newly released major leak of documents shows.
The ride-sharing company also drafted its own proposed legislation for Knesset approval in its efforts to operate freely in the country amid tough regulations, according to the trove of leaked documents called The Uber Files obtained by British newspaper The Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The documents, also made available to Israel’s Shomrim non-profit news organization and its investigative reporter Uri Blau, lay out how the company reached as high up as Netanyahu, who promised to “break the resistance” of then-transportation minister Israel Katz.
Eli Groner, who was at the time the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, helped the company tailor its message to the Israeli public and to local media outlets.
The documents in question were shared with 180 journalists from 44 media outlets worldwide, including the Washington Post, Le Monde and the BBC, and detail the ride-sharing giant’s behind-the-scenes operations worldwide.
According to Shomrim, Uber drafted its own bill for the Knesset that would regulate its operations in Israel, and that legislation — with very few tweaks — was submitted to the Knesset three times by three MKs from different parties.
The company briefly operated in 2017 in Israel but was shut down after a court ruling that it could not use private drivers. It recently announced that it intends to rejoin the Israeli market sometime soon.
Globally, according to the Guardian, Uber “flouted laws, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments during its aggressive global expansion.”
Its report says the leak of over 124,000 documents “lays bare the ethically questionable practices that fuelled the company’s transformation into one of Silicon Valley’s most famous exports.”
The documents cover the 2013-17 period, when Uber was run by co-founder Travis Kalanick, who used “brute force” in his efforts to expand the cab-hailing service worldwide, the Guardian writes, “even if that meant breaching laws and taxi regulations.”
In response, Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for Uber, acknowledges “mistakes” and “missteps” that she says culminated five years ago in “one of the most infamous reckonings in the history of corporate America.”
Uber has since “completely changed how it operates,” she says, noting that Kalanick and other top executives were ousted.
She adds: “We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values.”
Rebel MK Amichai Chikli, who was officially declared a defector from the Yamina party earlier this year, will resign from the current in an effort to allow him to run with an existing party in the upcoming election.
Chikli, who refused to vote with the outgoing coalition since its inception a year ago, was officially labeled a defector in April, a move which would have prevented him from running with any existing party in the next vote.
But as part of a deal purportedly reached today after a hearing in his appeal the ruling, Chikli agrees to resign from the current Knesset and will therefore likely be freed from such restrictions. Chikli was long rumored to be in talks to join Likud, and several Likud MKs tweet messages congratulating him and calling on him to join their party immediately following the announcement of the deal.
It remains to be seen if Chikli will run in the Likud primary ahead of the November 1 national election or be given a reserved spot — as was reportedly promised to him earlier this year.
At a state ceremony commemorating the IDF soldiers who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says Israel must find a new way to end the constant war with Gaza.
“For a long time, the only two options on the table were occupying Gaza or endless rounds of fighting,” Lapid says. “Our job is to find better solutions. The IDF’s strength enables us freedom of action in Gaza, but also economic and diplomatic freedom of action.”
Lapid says that Israel must “make the civilian population in Gaza realize that they can live a different life. To pressure Hamas to stop firing at Israel. To that end, we have increased the number of permits for working in Israel that are issued to the residents of Gaza, and we continue to promote the ‘Economy for Security’ plan.”
The new prime minister also says that Israel has “a sacred obligation to bring home our fallen soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, for burial.”
He reiterates comments made last week about the need for unity among Israelis: “On the battlefield and in cemeteries, there is no right or left. It is not important who is secular or religious, Druze or Jewish.”
“The fallen soldiers of Operation Protective Edge did not die only for Israeli society to break apart from within,” he says. “If we can die for each other, we must know how to live for each other. If we can fight the enemy together, we should be able to fight together for a common good.”
Lapid concludes: “On this day, in these times, when domestic divisions and rifts threaten Israeli society, I look around this cemetery and remind us all — that the things that bind us together are greater than those that pull us apart. Our strength is in our unity.”
A professor at a well-known university in the center of Israel was arrested on charges of selling drugs to his students, according to a statement from the Israel Police.
After weeks of investigation, police arrested the suspect this morning and searched his house, finding a range of suspect materials, different types of drugs and methods to create them. Police believe the professor — a man in his 60s who heads a lab at the unnamed university — produced the drugs at his home and sold them at the school.
The suspect is slated to appear before a court tomorrow in Rishon Lezion.
A business district that had been blocked since a July 4 parade mass shooting that left seven people dead reopens in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.
The 2-block by 3-block area consists largely of small shops and restaurants. It had been blocked off with crime scene tape, barricades and uniformed officers since Monday as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies processed evidence.
The street was generally quiet shortly after police removed the barricades, except for news media vehicles, a few other vehicles and people walking.
The reopening comes two days after funerals started for the seven people who were killed in the shooting. Authorities said the attacker fired more than 80 rounds into the parade crowd with semi-automatic rifle. Four of those who were killed in the shooting were members of the Jewish community, in a town with a heavy concentration of Jewish residents.
US President Joe Biden will not visit the Palmachim air force base after landing in Israel as originally planned, but will instead view the range of defense technology he was scheduled to see there at a special display site to be erected at the airport.
The show-and-tell will include an Iron Dome missile defense battery, in a nod to US moves to grant Israel an additional $500 million in replacement batteries for the system after last year’s Gaza war. Biden’s tour will include the Iron Beam laser rocket defense system, which is designed to work in tandem with systems like Iron Dome and shoot down smaller projectiles.
David Elhayani, chairman of the Yesha Council umbrella organization representing local authorities in the West Bank settlements, resigns following a tempestuous three-year tenure.
In his letter of resignation, Elhayani cites “differences of opinion” that arose around his leadership, referring to his direct affiliation with Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party, which is a coalition partner in the outgoing government.
He refers to his three years in office and “political developments and new elections” as reasons for his departure, although it remains unclear if he is seeking to run for Knesset.
Elhayani’s association with the current government generated harsh opposition to his leadership of the Yesha Council, which is strongly supportive of the right-wing, religious parties in the current opposition.
Just last month, dozens of settlement local council members signed a letter calling for him to resign after he backed a government position on the settlements at odds with the opposition’s stance, which was backed by many settler leaders.
The process of selecting a new chairman of the Yesha Council will begin at the upcoming general assembly of the organization.
A new study by Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University and the Health Ministry finds that a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is effective in protecting senior citizens living in care homes from the effects of COVID.
The study among approximately 40,000 Israelis living in Health Ministry-supervised institutions shows that elderly people who received a 4th dose have a 34% reduced risk of contracting the Omicron variant, a 64-67% reduced risk of being hospitalized due to COVID, and a 72% reduced risk of death from the virus.
According to the professors who oversaw the study, it compared 24,088 residents of care facilities who received four doses of the Pfizer vaccine with 19,687 residents who received just three shots of the vaccination to determine its conclusions.
Japan’s ruling coalition is projected to have won the most votes in an election held just two days after the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, national broadcaster NHK says.
The ex-premier’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito are expected to claim between 69 and 83 of the 125 upper house seats up for grabs.
Even before Abe’s murder, the LDP and Komeito were expected to cement their majority, though the final number of seats will be scrutinized for signs of whether the attack bolstered support for them.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had insisted the election proceed despite the assassination, saying “we must never allow violence to suppress speech.”
El Al signs a deal with pilots to end months of a labor dispute that saw pilots calling in sick and flights canceled last minute.
Under the terms of the deal, which will be in effect through 2025, pilots’ salaries will return to their pre-COVID levels by the end of the year.
Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court rejects former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s request to revisit portions of Sara Netanyahu’s testimony about her drinking habits in an ongoing libel trial — in light of testimony that has been given in former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial.
The Netanyahus filed a libel case against Olmert after the latter publicly called the Netanyahu family mentally ill and “in need of psychiatric treatment.” In her testimony in the case last month, Sara Netanyahu told the court that she never drinks alcohol.
But in testimony in the unrelated Netanyahu corruption trial last week, Hadas Klein, a top aide to movie mogul Arnon Milchan, described being ordered to purchase an ongoing supply of champagne and cigars for the Netanyahu family.
In light of that testimony, Olmert requested that the court order Sara Netanyahu to appear again to testify about the issue, and that Klein also appear before the court — but both requests are rejected by the judge.
The one millionth tourist to Israel so far this year lands at Ben Gurion Airport.
Belinda Desoyo Lee Marcelo, 53, a resident of the United Arab Emirates, was welcomed to the country by Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov.
“At first, we thought and hoped that the President of the United States Joe Biden would be the millionth tourist to arrive in Israel in 2022, but once again, we have beaten the forecast,” says Razvozov in a statement from his ministry. “Here we are, welcoming the millionth tourist to enter Israel this year. Last year, our skies were closed, there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism. Despite the situation, we did not give up, at any stage. We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges.”
In January, Israel reopened its borders to fully vaccinated foreigners after shutting during the Omicron variant, in March it allowed unvaccinated tourists to enter, and in May it ended all COVID testing for arriving passengers.
The Israeli Air Force is holding a drill over central Israel today as part of preparations for US President Joe Biden’s visit.
The military says the drill will end tonight.
Biden is slated to arrive in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, and depart on Friday.
Israel Police are also gearing up for the presidential visit, with more than 16,000 cops slated to work on protecting the elements of the trip and ensuring public order during Biden’s visit.
Many roads — including major highways — are slated to be shut at times during the visit, including Route 1, the main highway connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, as well as portions of Route 6 near the airport on Wednesday.
Within Jerusalem, many main roads will be shut to traffic, in particular around the King David Hotel, where Biden will be staying, and near the Prime Minister’s Residence and the President’s Residence.
Russian rockets hit the eastern Ukraine town of Chasiv Yar, destroying a five-story apartment building and killing at least 15 people, officials say.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, governor of the Donetsk region, says about three dozen people could be trapped in the rubble. Rescuers have made contact with two people who are under the wreckage, he writes on the Telegram messaging app.
The Ukrainian emergency services initially gave a death toll of six, but later said it has risen to 10, and now 15. They did not say how many people may still be in the rubble.
Iran announces that it has begun enriching uranium up to 20% using sophisticated centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear plant, state TV reports, an escalation that comes amid a standoff with the West over its tattered atomic deal.
That Tehran is enriching uranium up to 20% purity — a technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% — with a new set of its most advanced centrifuges at a facility deep inside a mountain deals yet another blow to the already slim chances of reviving the accord.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, says uranium enriched to 20% was being collected for the first time from advanced IR-6 centrifuges. He says Iran informed the UN nuclear watchdog about the development two weeks ago.
Iran had previously told the IAEA that it was preparing to enrich uranium through a new cascade of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordo facility. But it hadn’t revealed the level at which the cascade would be enriching.
Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party and Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party are in advanced negotiations to run as a joint slate in the upcoming election, according to several Hebrew media reports.
Members of the two parties are reportedly meeting at the moment to agree on the terms of a joint run ahead of the November 1 election. According to the reports, Gantz would sit at the head of the list, Sa’ar would be in second place, and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel would not be a part of the slate.
In the current Knesset, Blue and White has 8 seats and New Hope 6. In recent polls, which are not necessarily reliable, Sa’ar’s party has been seen as teetering on the edge of the electoral threshold.
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