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Exclusive: Lapid calls US boy who had Western Wall bar mitzvah disrupted by zealots

Prime Minister tells Seth Mann, of Las Vegas, that protests ‘did not represent the State of Israel, the people of Israel, or the government of Israel’

Ultra-Orthodox youths interrupt a bar mitzvah ceremony at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Laura Ben-David)
Ultra-Orthodox youths interrupt a bar mitzvah ceremony at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Laura Ben-David)

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

Exclusive: Lapid calls US boy who had Western Wall bar mitzvah disrupted by zealots

Prime Minister Yair Lapid calls one of the American boys whose bar mitzvah was overrun by religious zealots last month, a source familiar with the matter tells The Times of Israel.

In the phone call, which took place earlier this evening, Lapid calls the violent protests at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall “outrageous” and says that every Jew should be able to pray as they see fit, the source says, speaking to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

The prime minister tells the boy, Seth Mann, of Las Vegas, that the protests “did not represent the State of Israel, the people of Israel, or the government of Israel,” says the source, who was on the line.

FULL STORY: Lapid calls American boy whose Western Wall bar mitzvah was overrun by zealots

Though the conversation was between the premier and Seth Mann, his parents Joel and Sari Mann, the latter the Nevada state director of the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby, were also on the line.

Lapid wished Mann a mazal tov on his bar mitzvah.

Though several other families were also at the Western Wall that day, the Manns have been the most public in voicing their disappointment at the violent disruptions of the bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies, as well as at the near total lack of intervention by police at the scene.

A police officer stands between a group of ultra-Orthodox youths and a bar mitzvah ceremony at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Laura Ben-David)

Earlier today, Lapid also met with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev to discuss the police officers’ actions at the Western Wall, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel, also on condition of anonymity.

Fauci expects to retire by end of Biden’s current term

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, says he plans to retire by the end of President Joe Biden’s term in January 2025.

Fauci, 81, was appointed director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984, and has led research in HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, Ebola, Zika, and the coronavirus. He has advised seven presidents and is Biden’s chief medical adviser.

In an interview with Politico, Fauci says he hopes to “leave behind an institution where I have picked the best people in the country, if not the world, who will continue my vision.”

In first, Israeli reporter visits Muslim holy city of Mecca

An Israeli reporter visits the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

Channel 13’s Gil Tamari broadcasts film of him driving into the city, even though the Saudi government bans all non-Muslims from entering.

Tamari shows himself driving under the iconic gates of the city and past the Grand Mosque that houses the cube-shaped Kaaba, the holiest shrine in Islam.

The face of his driver is blurred.

Several Israeli journalists traveled to Saudi Arabia this week to cover the visit of US President Joe Biden, amid speculation that Israel and Saudi Arabia are taking steps toward normalization.

Amid European heatwave, several French towns record highest-ever temperatures

A host of towns and cities across France record their highest-ever temperatures as the country swelters in a heatwave, the national weather office says.

The mercury hit 39.3 Celsius (102.7 Fahrenheit) in Brest on the Atlantic coast in the far northwest of the country, compared with a previous record of 35.1 C from 2002.

Saint-Brieuc on the Channel coast sizzled in 39.5 C compared with a previous record of 38.1 C, while western Nantes recorded 42 C, beating a previous high of 40.3 C set in 1949.

The all-time high temperature recorded in mainland France dates to 2019 when the southern village of Verargues, north-east of Montpellier, experienced 46 C.

Drought-like conditions and intense heat since the start of the summer have left large parts of France tinder-dry, causing problems for farmers and leading to forest fires.

Firefighters are struggling to contain a fire on the Atlantic coast west of Bordeaux, in the vicinity of the famous Dune de Pilat, Europe’s highest sand dune.

EU-Israel council to resume after a decade

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council decides to resume the Association Council meetings with Israel, announces EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The position of the European Union “has not changed with respect to the Middle East peace process,” says Borrell in a press conference after the 27 EU foreign ministers meet. “We continue with the same council conclusion of 2016 supporting the two-state solution.”

“We know that situation on the ground in the Palestinian Territories is deteriorating, and I think that the ministers agreed that this Association Council would be a good occasion to engage with Israel about these issues,” he says.

The date will be agreed upon by the EU and Israel. The Association Council is a meeting that is meant to occur annually between Israel and the EU to cover matters of mutual concern.

The last time the two sides met was in 2012, and, as foreign minister, Yair Lapid made it a goal to reconvene the forum.

A senior European official told The Times of Israel recently that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held up the forum between Israel and the EU because of the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May.

Israel signed an Association Agreement that defined its relationship with the EU in 1995 and ratified it in 2000. Israel canceled the Council in 2013, when the EU angered Israel by issuing new regulations according to which no Israeli body that operates or has links beyond the Green Line can receive EU funding or have any cooperation with the EU.

Merav Michaeli reelected Labor party chief

Merav Michaeli wins a second term as the Labor party leader, making her the first Labor chief in the party’s history to hold her seat in back-to-back leadership contests since the party began holding primaries in 1992.

Michaeli clinches the party’s top seat with 82 percent of the vote, with her challenger Labor Secretary General Eran Hermoni gaining 16% of the vote.

The remaining votes were abstentions.

About half of Labor’s 36,000 eligible registered party members voted in the election.

Labor’s primary for the remainder of its list will be held on August 9, in anticipation of the November 1 Knesset election

Lapid praises marathon runner Salpeter for ‘historic medal’ at World Championships

Prime Minister Yair Lapid praises Israeli marathon runner Lonah Chemtai Salpeter after she wins a bronze medal at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

“Congratulations to Lonah Chemtai Salpeter on the historic medal she won today at the World Championships! Lonah’s willpower and determination are a source of pride for Israeli athletics and for the entire State of Israel,” Lapid tweets.

“Lonah, you are a champion,” he says.

 

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins marathon bronze at World Athletics Championship

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter wins a bronze medal in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Chemtai Salpeter came in behind Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase and Kenya’s Judith Jeptum Korir.

Gebreslase, who won the 2021 Berlin Marathon on her debut and finished third in this year’s Tokyo Marathon, kicked with two kilometers to go, winning in a championships record of 2hr 18min 11sec.

Jeptum Korir claimed silver in a personal best of 2:18.20, while Salpeter claimed bronze in 2:20.18.

Lonah Chemtai Salpeter of Team Israel reacts as she wins bronze in the Women’s Marathon on day four of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 18, 2022, in Eugene, Oregon. (Carmen Mandato/ Getty Images via AFP)

Born in Kenya, Salpeter moved to Israel in 2011 and fought for citizenship for years. She eventually received Israeli citizenship in March of 2016, after winning the Tel Aviv marathon, allowing her to compete for Israel in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

British air force halts flights at largest base because ‘runway has melted’

The UK’s Royal Air Force is halting flights in and out of its largest base because the “runway has melted,” Sky News reports.

The decision to shut the runway at RAF Brize Norton was taken as the country experiences its first-ever extreme heat warning.

The red heat alert covers a big chunk of England and is due to last through Tuesday, when temperatures may reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first time, posing a risk of serious illness and even death among healthy people, according to the Met Office, Britain’s weather service.

In interview with Moroccan TV, Michaeli hails king’s involvement in border talks

Minister of Transport and Road Safety Merav Michaeli MK is interviewed on Morocco’s Medi1TV channel and speaks about the role played by Morocco and King Mohammed VI in reaching an agreement on opening the Allenby border crossing between Israel and Jordan on a 24/7 basis.

“His Majesty King Mohammed VI played an important role in the opening [of the Allenby crossing]. His willingness to become personally involved contributed to all parties. He made it possible,” says Michaeli. “I know the extent of his deep commitment to the region and peace here, and I am sure it will continue to be a very helpful factor in the future.”

“We have been working on opening [the Allenby crossing] for a long time, because it is so important to improve links between the Palestinian Authority to Jordan. This is something that should be remembered,” she says.

“I strongly believe in what peace and cooperation can achieve in the region. For a long time, we focused on common threats. It’s now time to get to know each other and take advantage of the opportunities we share, and act on them to make our region better,” she says. “There is hope and opportunity for a better future.”

Israel and Morocco normalized relations in 2020 as part of the Abraham Accords. Her comments come as IDF chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi arrives in the north African country for a first official visit by an Israeli military chief.

IDF downs drone that enters Israel airspace from Lebanon

The IDF says troops downed a drone likely belonging to the Hezbollah terror group after it entered Israeli territory from Lebanon.

“The craft was monitored by air control units throughout the incident,” the IDF says.

In an image shared by the army, the drone appears to be a commercially available quadcopter manufactured by Chinese company DJI.

The IDF does not say how it was shot down, but it is believed to have been using electronic warfare means.

 

IDF chief Kohavi arrives in Morocco for first official visit

Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi lands in Morocco, as he begins a first official visit.

Kohavi is the first Israeli army head to visit the North African nation.

He is slated to meet tomorrow with Morocco’s Defense Minister Abdellatif Loudiyi, Inspector General of the Royal Armed Forces Belkhir El Farouk, and additional senior defense officials, the IDF says.

“The aim of the visit is to learn from each other and share knowledge, and is part of the IDF’s overall efforts to broaden military cooperation with other countries,” the military says.

Israel to get additional 8,000 monkeypox vaccines

Israel will receive an additional 8,000 monkeypox vaccines, in addition to the 2,000 it has already ordered, Hebrew media reports.

Reports say Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz personally appealed to Danish company Bavarian Nordic, which makes the shots, to get an additional allocation.

Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa, where people have been infected through bites from rodents or small animals. It does not usually spread easily among people.

But this year more than 12,000 cases have been reported in countries that historically don’t see the disease. The infections emerged in men who had sex with men at gatherings in Europe, though health officials have stressed that anyone can catch the virus.

Hezbollah demands return of Rosh Hanikra rail tunnel in bid to torpedo border talks

Lebanon’s Hezbollah-allied Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh is demanding that Israel give Lebanon sovereignty over a long-shuttered rail tunnel in Israel’s northern border town of Rosh Hanikra.

“Our sovereign rights lie in our decision to restore every inch of the occupied tunnel, without compromising our decision to restore our land and sea borders as well,” he says during a visit to the Lebanese side of the border.

The tunnel, part of a rail system that once linked Egypt to Turkey, through British Mandate Palestine and Lebanon, has been closed since Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

His comments are seen as an effort to torpedo talks between Israel and Lebanon aimed at resolving a disputed maritime border.

 

EU-Israel council likely to reconvene for first time in a decade

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council is meeting in Brussels, with “a possible EU-Israel association council” on the published agenda.

The Association Council is a meeting that is meant to occur annually between Israel and the EU to cover matters of mutual concern. The last time the two sides met was in 2012, and, as foreign minister, Yair Lapid made it a goal to reconvene the forum.

A senior European official told The Times of Israel recently that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held up the forum between Israel and the EU because of the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May.

Israel signed an Association Agreement that defined its relationship with the EU in 1995 and ratified it in 2000. Israel canceled the Council in 2013, when the EU angered Israel by issuing new regulations according to which no Israeli body that operates or has links beyond the Green Line can receive EU funding or have any cooperation with the EU.

UN chief warns humanity choosing ‘collective suicide’ through climate change inaction

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns humanity is choosing “collective suicide” with its failure to act on climate change.

He warns that the global warming limit of 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord was slipping further out of reach even as more people are being hit by extreme floods, droughts, storms and wildfires.

“Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires. No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction,” he says.

“We have a choice. Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands,” he says addressing officials from 40 countries meeting on climate change in Berlin.

Guterres, appearing by video, criticizes countries for continuing “to play the blame game instead of taking responsibility for our collective future,” and urges rich nations to keep the promises they have made to the poor.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. (AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

Developing countries are still waiting for rich nations to provide $100 billion in climate aid each year, a target they were meant to reach by 2020.

“At the minimum, stop paying lip service to the $100 billion a year pledge,” Guterres says. “Give clarity through deadlines and timelines and get concrete on its delivery.”

His warnings come as a heat wave broiling Europe spilled northward today to Britain, where authorities warned of possible record temperatures, and fueled ferocious wildfires in France, which scrambled water-bombing planes and hundreds of firefighters to battle flames spreading through tinder-dry forests.

Serial sex offender Alon Kastiel released from jail as court rejects appeal

Serial sex offender Alon Kastiel is released from jail after a court rejects a petition from state prosecutors against his early release.

Last month, a prison parole board decided to grant Kastiel early release.

Kastiel, 40, a nightclub owner, was sentenced to four years and nine months in 2018 in a plea bargain that saw him confess to sexual offenses against four women.

Over a dozen women had filed police complaints against Kastiel, including for rape. He was eventually convicted of one charge of attempted rape, forced indecent acts, indecent acts and sexual harassment.

Worker killed as wall collapses at Herzliya building site

A 25-year-old construction worker is killed as a wall collapses on him at a building site in the central city of Herzliya.

Rescue workers try to free the man from under the debris but are forced to declare him dead.

Police say they are investigating the incident.

Gantz consults ex-generals ahead of new IDF chief of staff pick

Defense Minister Benny Gantz meets with several former military chiefs and defense ministers, ahead of appointing the next chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.

Yesterday, Gantz met with Finance Minister and former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, and today with former army chiefs Gabi Ashkenazi and Shaul Mofaz, his office says.

Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s tenure ends in January 2023, and Gantz has named Major Generals Eyal Zamir and Herzi Halevi as the final candidates to succeed him.

The meetings are aimed at helping Gantz decide between the candidates for the next IDF chief.

Putin vows to overcome ‘colossal’ high-tech problems caused by sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin vows to overcome the “colossal” high-tech problems the country is facing due to the onset of unprecedented Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The Kremlin chief says the West had deployed sanctions to cut off Russia from high-tech products to contain the country’s development.

“This is a huge challenge for our country,” he told a meeting.

“Realizing the colossal amount of difficulties we are facing, we will look for new solutions in an energetic and competent manner.”

He says Russia would also use “sovereign” technology and products of innovative domestic companies.

Putin also says that many fast-growing Russian companies such as online retailer Ozon or technology company Yandex have been cut off from Western financing because of the sanctions.

He says Russia must quickly create alternatives so that such companies can attract the necessary financing at home and continue their development.

“I very much look forward to detailed proposals from both the finance ministry and the Bank of Russia,” Putin adds.

Many top tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Intel, suspended their operations in Russia, or left the country altogether, after Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, leaving Russia without any domestic alternatives.

Health Ministry submits DNA evidence in retrial of man convicted of killing girl, 13

The Health Ministry announces that the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute has examined a piece of hair found at the site of the murder of a 13-year-old girl 16 years ago, and submitted the findings to a court that is conducting a retrial of the convicted killer.

The ministry says the tests were conducted with advanced technology at the request of the defense and with the approval of the former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

The ministry says it cannot divulge the results of the tests due to the ongoing legal proceedings.

However, Hebrew media say it matched the DNA of a man named Adir Habani and not defendant Roman Zadorov, who has always maintained he is not guilty of killing Tair Rada in 2006.

Rada’s murder case has long gripped the country, due both to the brutal way in which she was killed and continuing claims by some that it was not Zadorov who committed the murder.

Rada was found dead in a bathroom stall in her school in Katzrin in the Golan Heights in 2006, with slashes to her neck, stab wounds across her body and severe blows to her head.

His lawyers, along with thousands of vocal members of the public, insist that Zadorov was framed for an act he didn’t commit and that the real murderer was Olga Kravchenko, whose identity was initially gagged by a court order and was referred to as “O.K.”

Habani is the former boyfriend of Kravchenko.

As Europe swelters, researchers say nearly half of EU territory ‘at risk’ of drought

Researchers at the European Commission warn that nearly half of the EU’s territory is currently at risk of drought, as southwest Europe wilts under a punishing heatwave.

In a report for July, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre says that 46 percent of the EU’s territory was exposed to warning-level drought, with 11 percent at an alert level, with crops already suffering from the lack of water.

Witness: Netanyahu vetoed $3 million donation to Peres Center

A key witness in the corruption trial of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu testifies that the former prime minister vetoed a $3 million donation to the Peres Center by Australian billionaire James Packer.

Hadas Klein, the personal assistant of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and an aide to Packer, tells the court that Packer proudly announced to Milchan that he intended to make the donation.

Milchan then called Netanyahu.

Netanayhu “said he was very angry and that he would have provided a different list to donate to,” she says.

“One million we managed to donate, the other two million we did not,” she says.

Peres was a longtime political rival of Netanyahu.

Michaeli votes in Labor primaries, expected to retain party leadership

Labor leader Merav Michaeli votes in her party’s leadership primaries, demonstrating the party’s cellphone voting technology in order to cast a vote for herself to continue in the role.

Michaeli is highly favored in today’s contest, competing only against Labor Secretary General Eran Hermoni.

After voting, Michaeli tells The Times of Israel that her party will look for new voting audiences, to bump up the center-left before the upcoming general election.

“Now that we have time” in the 106 days remaining until Israelis go to the polls on November 1, Michaeli says Labor will pursue new avenues for support.

Currently, Michaeli has been spending airtime to differentiate her party from its erstwhile left-wing partner, Meretz, and trying to move into the center dominated by Yesh Atid and Blue and White.

Netanyahu lawyer seeks to discredit key witness in corruption trial

Lawyers for opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu are seeking to discredit the testimony of a key prosecution witness in his corruption case.

Lawyer Amit Hadad continues the cross-examination of Hadas Klein, the personal assistant of Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and an aide to Australian billionaire James Packer.

Klein has testified that she supplied Netanyahu with thousands of dollars worth of cigars and champagne at their request.

Hadad asks the court to exclude receipts for the cigars from evidence, claiming that police did not obtain them legally.

He also challenges Klein’s assertion that all the cigars bought were for Netanyahu, reading from Milchan’s testimony that he would offer his guests cigars.

“I’m telling you Milchan bought tons of cigars and champagne, with no connection to Netanyahu,” Hadad says.

“And I say differently,” Klein retorts. “That’s what I know.”

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