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As Peretz clears way for Shaked, fringe far-right parties agree on joint run

Otzma Yehudit and Noam say they’ll sign agreement in coming 36 hours as national-religious factions work to finalize deal on electoral alliance

Otzma Yehudit party members Michael Ben Ari, center, Itamar Ben Gvir, right, and Baruch Marzel, left, at a press conference in response to the Supreme Court decision to disqualify Ben Ari from running in the April 2019 elections over his record of racist incitement, in Jerusalem on March 17, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit party members Michael Ben Ari, center, Itamar Ben Gvir, right, and Baruch Marzel, left, at a press conference in response to the Supreme Court decision to disqualify Ben Ari from running in the April 2019 elections over his record of racist incitement, in Jerusalem on March 17, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they happened.

Iran says UK’s seizure of tanker a breach of nuclear deal

VIENNA — Iran says it considers Britain’s seizure of an Iranian oil tanker a breach of the ailing 2015 nuclear deal, as the remaining parties to the accord meet in Vienna in another attempt to salvage the agreement.

British authorities detained an Iranian tanker off the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar in early July on allegations it was breaching EU sanctions on Syria.

On July 19, a British-flagged tanker was impounded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards with its 23 crew aboard in the Strait of Hormuz, which was seen by the UK as a tit-for-tat move.

Arriving at the meeting in Vienna, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi links the tanker row to discussions over the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Developments have occurred, such as the seizure of the tanker carrying Iranian oil in Gibraltar, which in our view is considered a breach of the JCPOA,” Araghchi says in comments carried on Iranian state TV.

“Countries party to the JCPOA must not create any obstacles in the way of Iran exporting its oil,” he adds.

Araghchi is speaking as envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran gathered for talks in the Austrian capital, a month after a similar meeting failed to achieve a breakthrough.


Iranian Deputy Forein Minister Abbas Araghchi (Center-R) and Helga Schmid (Center-L), secretary general of the European Union’s External Action Service (EEAS), take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019, at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. (Alex Halada/AFP)

UK says British soldier who died fighting IS in Syria was killed by friendly fire

LONDON — Officials say a British special forces soldier who died fighting the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria was killed by friendly fire, rather than in a roadside bomb as previously believed.

Sgt. Matt Tonroe died in March 2018 alongside US commando Master Sergeant Jonathan J. Dunbar while on a joint operation in Manbij, northern Syria, with American special forces. The Pentagon had said they died from improvised explosive devices.

But investigators have concluded that Tonroe, 33, was killed by an explosive carried by a colleague.

Britain’s Defense Ministry says that while “it was initially believed that Sgt. Tonroe was killed by enemy action,” a subsequent investigation concluded he was killed by “the accidental detonation of explosives carried by coalition forces.”

— AP

Palestinian indicted for sexualy assaulting 13-year-old Israeli girl

An indictment is filed at the Beersheba District Court against a Palestinian man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Israeli girl.

Ashraf Karaja, 38, is charged with sodomy and committing indecent acts against the girl.

According to the indictment, Karaja invited the girl to an apartment he was fixing up in the southern city of Ashdod near her school, where he is accused of assaulting here numerous times.

Karaja, a resident of the West Bank, denies the charges.

Condition of teen stabbed outside Tel Aviv LGBT hostel improves

The condition of a teenager seriously wounded in a stabbing Friday outside a LGBT youth hostel in Tel Aviv is upgraded to moderate.

Ichilov hospital says the teenager remains in the intensive care unit but is fully conscious and breathing without the help of a respirator.

Police are still looking for the assailant, who the victim is said to have identified as his brother.

The teenager is reportedly from Tamra, an Arab city in northern Israel.

British warship arrives in Gulf to escort UK-flagged vessels

A Royal Navy warship has arrived in the Persian Gulf to accompany British-flagged ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, amid tensions after Iran seized a British tanker this month.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense says that the HMS Duncan will join the Frigate HMS Montrose in the Gulf to defend freedom of navigation.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says the Royal Navy will escort UK vessels until a diplomatic resolution is found to secure the route again.

The British-flagged Stena Impero oil tanker was seized in the Strait of Hormuz a week ago. Some senior Iranian officials have suggested the ship was seized in retaliation for the British navy’s role in seizing an Iranian supertanker off the coast of Gibraltar for violations of EU sanctions on oil sales to Syria.

The Strait of Hormuz links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman and is a vital waterway for oil tankers.

— AP

In this photo from September 3, 2014, the British naval vessel HMS Duncan is pictured docked in Cardiff Bay in Wales on the eve of a NATO summit. (Carl Court/AFP)

Shooting in Ramle leaves man in critical condition

A man in his 30s is in critical condition after being shot at a parking lot in the central city of Ramle.

Police arrest a suspect in connection to the shooting.

Ramle shooting reportedly over parking spot

A shooting in the central city of Ramle that left a man in critical condition was reportedly over a parking spot.

Hebrew media reports say a suspect arrested over the shooting is a 74-year-old man from nearby Lod.

Forest fire that threatened Christian shrine in north extinguished

A forest fire in northern Israel that threatened a church where Christians believe the transfiguration of Jesus took place was extinguished without the shrine being damaged, firefighters say.

The fire on Mount Tabor, where the Basilica of the Transfiguration is located, broke out Thursday and had been put out late Friday, but “small fires are rekindled every so often and teams at the site are dealing with them,” fire service spokesman Dudi Peretz tells AFP.

“The church was not damaged,” he says, noting the fire had burnt nearly 500 acres of shrubs, thorns and some trees.

Smoke billows during a forest fire on Mount Tabor in northern Israel’s Galilee region on July 26, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Police say arson is not suspected.

The basilica, built in 1924 by the Roman Catholic Franciscan order, sits atop the wooded Mount Tabor at a site where the Christian gospels say that Jesus — accompanied by disciples Peter, John and James — glowed with light and spoke with the prophets Moses and Elijah.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit the church every year, according to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, which oversees Roman Catholic properties in the area.

The church does not have a proper water supply or sewage network.

Holy Land Custos Brother Francesco Patton called on the Israeli authorities “to meet their legal obligations and ensure a regular supply of water to the mountain and sewage system, even if elementary.”


Man shot over parking spot in Ramle dies

A man shot in Ramle during what police say was an argument over a parking spot has died of his wounds.

Bennett says New Right pushing for right-wing ‘technical bloc,’ not united party

New Right No. 2 Naftali Bennett says his party is looking to form a “technical bloc” of national-religious factions, not a united party.

Since Ayelet Shaked became New Right leader last week, the party has been pushing for a tie-up with the Union of Right-Wing Parties in a bid to prevent votes being split among the two factions.

In a Facebook livestream, Bennett explains an alliance with URWP would be for the elections only, with the parties striking out on their own once they enter the Knesset.

Bennett, who says he was tasked by Shaked with leading negotiations to form the bloc, says he also wants it to include Moshe Feiglin’s quasi-libertarian Zehut party and the extremist Otzma Yehudit, which ran as a part of URWP in April’s elections.

“We decided to unite everyone, all the parties on the right, including Feiglin, to bring them under one umbrella,” Bennett says.

He is scheduled to meet with URWP leader Rafi Peretz this evening for talks on the merger.

Ben Gvir: PM doing everything he can for Otzma Yehudit to be in right-wing union

Otzma Yehudit member Itamar Ben Gvir says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is doing everything possible to include the extremist party in an electoral alliance of national-religious factions.

In an interview with the Ynet news site, Ben Gvir accuses Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich of preventing Otzma Yehdit from again teaming up with the Union of Right-Wing Parties.

Otzma Yehudit party member Itamar Ben Gvir (R) speaks with National Union faction leader Betzalel Smotrich during a campaign event in Bat Yam, April 6, 2019. (Flash90)

“Bezalel’s plan was to keep us small and then in the end come and tell me to take another unrealistic spot [on the electoral slate], like they did the previous time,” he says.

“The prime minister is doing everything in his powers to create tie-ups. He is the responsible grownup on the ground, Smotrich a little less,” Ben Gvir adds.

MK David Bitan, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, also says the prime minister wants Otzma Yehudit to ally with the URWP.

“Netanyahu doesn’t want Otzma Yehudit to suddenly disappear and run alone. For this he is applying pressure,” Bitan tells Ynet.

TV: UK woman tells Cypriot police she had consensual sex with Israeli, then felt humiliated

A British woman who accused a group of Israelis of raping her in Cyprus and is now suspected of filing a false police report told investigators she reported she was raped because she felt humiliated, Channel 12 claims.

Without citing a source, the network says she told police she had consensual sex with one of the Israelis and afterwards was thrown out of their hotel room.

Feeling humiliated, she then apparently told two friends she was raped and they advised her to file charges.

Shmuli says he’s sticking with Labor: I won’t abandon my home

Labor MK Itzik Shmuli says he’s sticking with the venerable center-left party for the upcoming elections and won’t jump ship to the newly formed Democratic Camp alliance.

“The Labor Party is my home and even when there are disagreements and arguments, I remain committed and won’t abandon it during difficult moments,” Shmuli writes in a series of Twitter posts.

He says that while he would have preferred Labor join an alliance of left-wing factions, this was not the choice of party leader Amir Peretz, “who was chosen democratically” by Labor members.

Shmuli also appears to take a fresh shot at former Labor MK Stav Shaffir, who last week left to join the Democratic Camp, saying his choice was between fighting for Labor or “a promising and comfortable personal exit elsewhere.”

Labor MK Itzik Shmuli speaks during a special plenary session at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, July 15, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fentonl/Flash90)

Police arrest son of woman found stabbed to death in her home

An 83-year-old woman is found dead at her home in Umm al-Fahm with stab wounds on her body.

Police arrest the woman’s son as a suspect in the killing.

Kulanu MK Roy Folkman says he won’t run in upcoming elections

Kulanu MK Roy Folkman announces he won’t run in the upcoming Knesset elections.

Folkman says he’d been considering leaving politics since fresh elections were called and Kulanu merged with Likud.

“I haven’t fulfilled my ambition to do and contribute and I’m convinced that I’ll find my way to work on behalf of the public in the future as well,” he writes on Facebook.

Kulanu MK Roy Folkman speaks at a cultural event in the central city of Kfar Saba on February 2, 2019. (Flash90)

Likud said seeking to enlist anti-LGBT party to work against right-wing union

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has asked the newly formed national-religious Noam party to work together against the prospective union of right-wing factions, Channel 13 reports.

The network says Noam, whose platform focuses on opposing gay marriage and Reform Judaism, refused the offer.

Likud denies the report.

“We didn’t reach out to the Noam party and didn’t send messages to its people. The efforts of Likud are focused right now on one goal — a giant Likud that will win the elections,” the party says.

A number of opposition figures hit out at Netanyahu over the report.

“In other words, Likud is not only cooperating with the Kahanists,” tweets Blue and White MK Yair Lapid, referring to the ruling party’s efforts to include the extremist Otzma Yehudit in the Union of Right-Wing Parties.

The left-wing Democratic Camp alliance also criticizes Netanyahu over the report, saying “he is now cooperating with an extremist movement that promotes hatred of LGBTs.”

Man in Kiryat Shmona stabbed to death by factory coworker

An employee at a factory in the northern city of Kiryat Shmona dies after being stabbed by a coworker.

Police say the suspect has been arrested after fleeing the scene, setting off a manhunt.

Two drown at beach in Kiryat Yam

The Magen David Adom ambulance service pronounces the death of a man and a woman who drowned at a beach in the northern city of Kiryat Yam.

Accuser in Cypriot rape case expected to be indicted Monday

A British tourist who alleged she was raped by 12 Israeli teenagers in Cyprus will be charged there tomorrow for filing a false police statement, according to Hebrew media.

“Tomorrow an indictment will be filed against the complainant,” Yaniv Havari, a lawyer for some of the Israelis, tells Channel 13.

Earlier today, the seven Israelis who remained in custody were released after the British woman was questioned by police and arrested.

Rafi Peretz agrees to give Ayelet Shaked top spot on right-wing electoral list

Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz says he will give New Right leader Ayelet Shaked the top spot on a joint electoral list between the parties.

In a tweet, Peretz says he just spoke with Shaked and the two reached the agreement out of a feeling of “national unity and concern for a right-wing government and religious Zionism.”

“Unity is the shared goal of all of us,” he adds.

Peretz says they will meet later this evening to hammer out the details of the joint run.

March held in Tel Aviv to protest violence against transgender community

Some 1,000 demonstrators are marching in Tel Aviv to protest violence against Israel’s transgender community.

The march comes after a teenager was seriously wounded Friday, having been stabbed outside a LGBT youth hostel in the coastal city. His condition was upgraded to moderate today.

The demonstration is being held under the banner “fighting for life,” and is attended by a number of opposition lawmakers.

Netanyahu said pushing URWP to condition pact with New Right on recommending him to be PM

Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz to make recommending him for prime minister after the upcoming elections a condition of the electoral alliance with the New Right party, according to Hebrew media reports.

Fringe far-right parties announce they’ve agreed on joint Knesset run

The extremist Otzma Yehudit party and the fringe Noam party announce they have reached understandings to run together as a “technical bloc,” in the upcoming elections.

The parties say they will sign the agreement within 36 hours.

The announcement comes shortly after the Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz said he will give up the top spot to New Right chief Ayelet Shaked in a prospective electoral alliance between the parties.

Otzma Yehudit ran as part of URWP in April’s elections and has been in talks to again join it.

Amid flurry of activity among national-religious parties, Zehut says it’ll run alone

Former lawmaker Moshe Feiglin announces his quasi-libertarian far-right Zehut party will run alone in the upcoming elections and takes a shot at the New Right for not agreeing to an electoral alliance with him.

Both Zehut and New Right failed to clear the minimum electoral threshold in April’s elections, though the latter has seen a surge in the polls since Ayelet Shaked replaced Naftali Bennett as its sole leader last week.

“Even though in the last elections I personally brought way more votes than Ayelet and Naftali (who split the leadership of the New Right between them) and even though our hand has been extended for a merger for over a month, Shaked preferred to hold negotiations with all the parties to the right of Likud — except for Zehut,” Feiglin writes on Facebook.

He says Shaked should be blamed if the multiplicity of national-religious parties leads to lost votes.

Moshe Feiglin, head of the Zehut party, during an election campaign tour in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem on April 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shaked arrives for meeting with Peretz, hopes to seal unity deal tonight

New Right leader Ayelet Shaked arrives for a meeting with Union of Right-Wing Parties head Rafi Peretz to finalize their agreement on a joint election run.

“I hope we finish tonight, that white smoke will come out so that we can move on to the second stage — trying to include all the right-wing parties in the united right,” she tells reporters ahead of the meeting.

The talks come shortly after Peretz announced he would give Shaked the top spot in the electoral alliance between them.

New Right party leader Ayelet Shaked arrives for a meeting with Union of Right-Wing Parties chief Rafi Peretz at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem on July 28, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Iran’s Rouhani hopes for better ties with new British PM Boris Johnson

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has penned an open letter to Britain’s new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying he hopes the countries’ diplomatic ties will be stronger under Boris Johnson’s leadership.

In the letter published Sunday on Rouhani’s website, the Iranian president congratulates Johnson on becoming prime minister.

Rouhani says he hoped Johnson’s “only one visit to Tehran,” while serving as UK foreign secretary in 2017, and now his tenure as prime minister lead to a “further deepening of bilateral and multilateral relations.”

Johnson took office on Wednesday amid a spike in tensions in the Persian Gulf and a diplomatic standoff between Britain and Iran. Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz this month, after the British navy helped seize an Iranian supertanker loaded with crude oil near Gibraltar.

— AP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, greets then British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, December 10, 2017. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)

Meretz central committee approves Democratic Camp merger

Meretz’s central committee approves the left-wing party’s joining of the Democratic Camp alliance — an electoral union of Meretz, former prime minister Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party, and breakaway Labor MK Stav Shaffir.

“For the first time, we have an opportunity to lead and make history. The Israeli electorate will move the political map to the left,” Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, who is heading the Democratic Party, tells the committee.

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