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Israel vows to keep Jewish Agency open in Russia, even with ‘adjustments’

Immigration minister says government is working to ‘deal with the claims’ against Jewish Agency in Russian court; former Moscow chief rabbi warns of ‘dark clouds on the horizon’

Amy Spiro is a reporter and writer with The Times of Israel.

People gather outside the Basmany district court in Moscow ahead of a hearing in the Russian government's case against the Jewish Agency on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture: TASS)
People gather outside the Basmany district court in Moscow ahead of a hearing in the Russian government's case against the Jewish Agency on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture: TASS)

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

Man arrested in case of missing teen released by police

Yeshiva student Moshe Klinerman, 16, who was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. (Courtesy)
Yeshiva student Moshe Klinerman, 16, who was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. (Courtesy)

One of the two men who was arrested recently in the case of missing Haredi teenager Moshe Klinerman is released by police with no conditions.

Police revealed earlier this week that two suspects had been arrested in the case more than four months after Klinerman, 16, was last seen at Mount Meron. Earlier today, police named one of the suspects as Solomon Abramov, 35, from Jerusalem, who remains in custody.

Klinerman, 16, was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. Despite months of searching and numerous public appeals by his parents, no trace of him has been found.

US State Department expresses hope for resolution in Israel-Russia Jewish Agency spat

People gather outside the Basmany district court in Moscow ahead of a hearing in the Russian government's case against the Jewish Agency on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture: TASS)
People gather outside the Basmany district court in Moscow ahead of a hearing in the Russian government's case against the Jewish Agency on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture: TASS)

WASHINGTON — The US hopes that Israeli and Russian authorities will be able to reach an agreement that “preserves the ability of Jews in Russia to travel to Israel,” a State Department spokesperson tells The Times of Israel.

Asked to comment on the Russian efforts to outlaw the Jewish Agency due to claims that it illicitly gathers information on Russian citizens, the spokesperson says the State Department is aware of and monitoring the issue.

Poll shows Shaked-Hendel merger pushing them over electoral threshold

Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) and Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz) merge their parties to form the Zionist Spirit party, July 27, 2022. (Ariel Zandberg)
Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) and Yoaz Hendel (Derech Eretz) merge their parties to form the Zionist Spirit party, July 27, 2022. (Ariel Zandberg)

The merger this week of Yamina’s Ayelet Shaked and New Hope MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser will push the new party over the electoral threshold, a new poll from Channel 12 news finds.

Yamina has been polling below the electoral threshold in Israel’s unreliable yet influential election polls. Earlier this week, the party joined up with Hendel and renamed the faction “Zionist Spirit.”

The poll was run by Mano Geva and iPanel today with 503 respondents and a margin of error of 4.4%.

The poll shows Likud receiving 33 seats, Yesh Atid 23, Blue and White-New Hope 11, Religious Zionism 9, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Joint List 6, Meretz 5, Labor 5, Yisrael Beytenu 5, Zionist Spirit 4 and Ra’am 4.

Neither the bloc loyal to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu nor his opponents would be able to easily form a government. Zionist Spirit has not ruled out sitting with Netanyahu, but vowed not to provide him with the final seats he needs to form a narrow right-wing coalition.

The poll also shows that if Religious Zionism splits in two, and Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich run separately, they will receive 7 and 4 seats, respectively.

Alongside Abu Akleh family, 7 Democrats call for probe of journalist’s killing

Rep. Ayana Pressley speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, calling for the US to open an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture/Facebook)
Rep. Ayana Pressley speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill, calling for the US to open an independent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, on July 28, 2022. (Screen capture/Facebook)

WASHINGTON — Ten progressive Democrats hold a press conference on Capitol Hill along with the relatives of Shireen Abu Akleh, calling on the Biden administration to launch an independent investigation into the Palestinian-American journalist’s killing.

Rep. Andre Carson, who introduced legislation compelling US authorities to launch a probe into the May 11 incident, calls the killing “an attack on the fourth estate, the freedom of the press” and says Israel was responsible.

“This is the life of Palestinians in Israel. Even after death, the dehumanization doesn’t stop,” says Rep. Rashida Tlaib, referencing Israeli police officers’ beating of Palestinian pallbearers at Abu Akleh’s funeral.

She notes that standard procedure is for the US government to investigate the killing of American citizens abroad and laments that the policy has not been maintained in the case of Abu Akleh.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls on US President Joe Biden to meet with Abu Akleh’s relatives who are in Washington at the invitation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Addressing the family during the press conference, Rep. Ilhan Omar adds: “I hope you know that you have allies in Washington who will not let her death be in vain.”

The State Department announced last month that while the IDF was indeed likely behind her killing, a ballistic analysis found the bullet was too damaged to reach a definitive conclusion. Moreover, after analyzing Israeli and Palestinian Authority investigation into the matter, US authorities found that Abu Akleh was not killed intentionally.

2 Israelis confirmed dead in crash in Sinai

New Moon Camp in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt on April 5, 2021. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)
New Moon Camp in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt on April 5, 2021. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

Two Israelis are confirmed dead following a traffic accident in the Sinai Desert earlier today, the Foreign Ministry confirms.

Five other Israelis were moderately to lightly harmed in the accident in the Nuweiba area of the Sinai, and have been brought to Israel for treatment.

3 killed in traffic accident on highway in south

First responders and Fire and Rescue at the scene of a car crash on Route 6 near Kiryat Gat on July 28, 2022. (Hatzalah)
Illustrative: A damaged car is seen after a deadly crash on Route 6 near the Lakia Junction in southern Israel, on February 11, 2022. (Magen David Adom)

Three people are killed in a traffic accident on Route 6 near Kiryat Gat, according to first responders.

Magen David Adom says a man and a woman around 40 and another man approximately 30 years old were pronounced dead at the scene following a crash between two vehicles.

Police reveal identity of man arrested in connection to case of missing teen

Yeshiva student Moshe Klinerman, 16, who was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. (Courtesy)
Yeshiva student Moshe Klinerman, 16, who was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. (Courtesy)

The Israel Police reveal the name of one of the two men arrested recently in connection with the disappearance of Haredi teenager Moshe Klinerman.

Solomon Abramov, 35, from Jerusalem, is one of the recently arrested suspects, a court reveals, although all other details of the case remain under a gag order.

Klinerman, 16, was last seen on March 25 at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai on Mount Meron. Months later, there have been few developments in the case and no trace of him has been found.

Bennett sharply denies ‘Haaretz’ claim that ex-adviser leaked classified information

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, speaks with his foreign policy adviser Shimrit Meir at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 26, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, right, speaks with his foreign policy adviser Shimrit Meir at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 26, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett issues an unusual joint statement with Mossad chief David Barnea unequivocally and sharply denying a Haaretz report claiming that his former adviser, Shimrit Meir, leaked classified information about a secret operation.

Bennett and Barnea deny that either of them ever suspected Meir of leaking information nor conducted an investigation into any such leak. Rather, they say, they all were coordinated and working together to publicize the information for “necessary operational reasons.”

They call the Haaretz article “complete nonsense” and say Meir — who sharply criticized Bennett after leaving office — only operated in a fully professional manner and in coordination with Bennett.

The statement also slams the report for being a misogynistic “collection of gossip” fueled by “two disgruntled advisers who should have devoted more of their time to the important work they were entrusted with, and not to jealousy, gossip and internal fights.”

Bennett, who is the current alternate prime minister and is not running in the upcoming election, has maintained a relatively low profile since leaving office.

MK Benny Begin, 79, says he will not run for next Knesset

New Hope MK Benny Begin leads a Knesset committee meeting on December 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
New Hope MK Benny Begin leads a Knesset committee meeting on December 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

Benny Begin, currently an MK with the New Hope party, announces that he will be retiring from politics and not running in the November 1 election.

Begin, 79, the son of former prime minister Menachem Begin, began his political career with Likud in 1988 and later served as a minister.

But last year he defected from his longtime political home in opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu, and joined Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party.

Begin tells Sa’ar that he will continue to support and campaign for the party, which recently joined forces with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White.

Lebanese man who crossed into Israel returned to Lebanon

Illustrative: An Iron Dome air defense system is seen near the Israeli border with Lebanon, on February 18, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Illustrative: An Iron Dome air defense system is seen near the Israeli border with Lebanon, on February 18, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A Lebanese man who climbed over the Israeli border near the town of Margaliot on Tuesday has been returned to Lebanon, the military says.

According to the IDF, the suspect was detained by civilians before being arrested by troops.

The unarmed man was questioned and returned to Lebanon near where he crossed into Israel via the United Nation’s peacekeeping force, UNIFIL.

Macron promises to raise issue of human rights in dinner with Saudi’s MBS

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2021. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)
In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2021. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)

French President Emmanuel Macron will raise human rights issues and “individual cases” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a working dinner tonight, a senior aide says.

“The president will raise the issue of human rights as he does on each occasion with Mohammed bin Salman,” the aide says on condition of anonymity. “He will talk about it in a general way, but will also take the chance to raise individual cases,” he adds.

Asked about criticism of the dinner only four years after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he repeats France’s longstanding demand that those responsible be “brought to justice.”

IDF to airlift Israelis wounded in Sinai from Egyptian border

Soldiers from the Israeli Air Force's elite Unit 669 take part in an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers from the Israeli Air Force's elite Unit 669 take part in an exercise in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says helicopters have taken off for the Egyptian border in order to evacuate several Israeli tourists who were wounded in a traffic accident in the Sinai Peninsula.

Troops from the elite helicopter search and rescue Unit 669 will assist in the efforts, the IDF says.

Hebrew-language media reports say Egypt has given Israel special approval to fly the helicopters into Egypt, but the IDF statement indicates the troops will pick up the wounded from the border.

The wounded are expected to be taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Medical Center.

Russia’s ex-chief rabbi warns of ‘dark clouds on the horizon’ for Russian Jews

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt delivers a speech in Paris, France on Oct. 10, 2018. (Conference of European Rabbis via JTA)
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt delivers a speech in Paris, France on Oct. 10, 2018. (Conference of European Rabbis via JTA)

Moscow’s former chief rabbi now living in exile in Israel warns of “dark clouds on the horizon” for Russian Jews, as ties between the two countries deteriorate over the Ukraine war.

Pinchas Goldschmidt, who left Russia in March over opposition to the conflict, tells reporters that “the Jewish community was pressured… to openly support the war. Our community did not support the war.”

“The situation is worrying” and there are “many dark clouds on the horizon” for Russian Jews, he says, adding that their “security and future… is dependent on Israel-Russia relations.”

He says Moscow’s moves against the Jewish Agency, among other incidents, has fostered “fear of rising antisemitism” causing tens of thousands to flee to Israel since the start of the war.

Immigration minister: Israel prepared to make ‘adjustments’ to keep Jewish Agency open in Russia

Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a press conference at the ministry's office at Ben Gurion Airport on April 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a press conference at the ministry's office at Ben Gurion Airport on April 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata says Israel is prepared to address the Russian government’s legal claims against the Jewish Agency and to make whatever adjustments are necessary to allow the organization to continue operating in the country, following today’s initial court hearing.

“The government of Israel is giving the necessary legal assistance to the Jewish Agency to deal with the claims that were made against it by the Russian justice ministry, and I am sure that the issue will be resolved quickly. Even if this will require some adjustments — we are prepared for it,” Tamano-Shata says.

Earlier today, a Moscow district court held its first hearing in the Russian government’s case against the Jewish Agency, which encourages Jewish immigration to Israel. Little was raised in today’s hearing, but the judge scheduled the true start of arguments in the trial for August 19.

5 killed, 25 hurt in Russian strikes on central Ukraine

Ukrainian artillery fire is directed toward Russian forces at a frontline in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian artillery fire is directed toward Russian forces at a frontline in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Russian strikes on the central Ukrainian region of Kyrovograd leave five people dead and wound more than two dozen others, the region’s governor says.

“Twenty-five people have been transferred to medical facilities and are receiving treatment. Five are dead,” governor Andriy Raikovich says in a video on his social media.

He adds that the strikes hit two hangars at around 12:20 (0920 GMT).

The Interfax-Ukraine news agency quotes Raikovich as saying that there are 12 servicemen among the wounded.

NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom lands in Israel to run basketball camp

Portland Trail Blazers' Enes Kanter Freedom plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, February 4, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Portland Trail Blazers' Enes Kanter Freedom plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, February 4, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Turkish NBA star and human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom lands in Tel Aviv to run a basketball camp for children of all backgrounds this summer.

Kanter posts a video of him landing near Tel Aviv on his Instagram story.

The basketball player, who is currently a free agent, is strongly outspoken on his beliefs, speaking out against the NBA’s cooperation with the Chinese government as well as against the behavior of his home country of Turkey.

He has said in interviews that he laments the anti-Israel rhetoric he hears regularly in Turkey and from its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Israeli tourists seriously hurt in accident in Sinai

A beach in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on June 6, 2019. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
A beach in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, on June 6, 2019. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry confirms reports that a number of Israeli tourists were hurt in an accident in the Sinai Desert in Egypt.

The ministry says that two Israelis are considered in life-threatening danger. The accident  took place in the Nuweibaa region of Sinai.

The families of those involved have yet to be notified, the ministry says, asking media outlets not to report any identifying information.

Yad Vashem chairman slams Hungary’s Orban for ‘mixed race’ comments

Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan (Alex Kolomoisky/Yad Vashem)
Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan (Alex Kolomoisky/Yad Vashem)

Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan strongly criticizes comments made earlier this week by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban saying that Hungarians “do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”

“The statement made by Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban is all too reminiscent of ideologies associated with the horrible atrocities of the Holocaust,” Dayan says in a statement. “The Holocaust teaches us that we must address such expressions swiftly and directly. Yad Vashem calls on the Government of Hungary to honor its declared commitment to genuinely remember the Holocaust and effectively combat antisemitism and racism.”

In remarks in Austria earlier today, Orban claimed his words were misunderstood and that he was speaking from a “cultural, civilizational standpoint.”

Prisons service vows to address soldier’s rape claim and act with ‘zero tolerance’

Illustrative: A prison guard is seen in a watchtower at Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (Flash90)
Illustrative: A prison guard is seen in a watchtower at Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (Flash90)

The Israel Prisons Service vows to probe claims by an IDF soldier that she was raped by a Palestinian security prisoner while serving as a guard in Gilboa Prison.

“These are serious allegations in regard to something that took place several years ago,” the prisons service says in a statement. “The information is under a gag order and we will await the police investigation and act on its findings with zero tolerance.”

Earlier today, an IDF soldier alleged in a crowdfunding campaign that she was repeatedly raped by a Palestinian security prisoner while serving as a guard in the prison, in an allegation that is reportedly already being probed by the police.

Orban defends his ‘race-mixing’ comments as a ‘cultural standpoint’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state of the nation speech in Varkert Bazaar conference hall of Budapest, Hungary, February 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state of the nation speech in Varkert Bazaar conference hall of Budapest, Hungary, February 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Anna Szilagyi)

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban defends his weekend comments against creating “peoples of mixed-race,” saying they represented a “cultural, civilizational standpoint.”

“It happens sometimes that I speak in a way that can be misunderstood… the position that I represent is a cultural, civilizational standpoint,” Orban tells reporters in a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during a one-day visit in neighboring Austria.

Nehammer says the issue has been “resolved… amicably and in all clarity,” adding that his country “strongly condemned… any form of racism or antisemitism.”

US envoys say antisemitic comments by member of UN probe are ‘unacceptable’

US special envoy to monitor and combat antsemitism Deborah Lipstadt speaks at the New Tools in Combating Contemporary Antisemitism forum at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, July 5, 2022. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
US special envoy to monitor and combat antsemitism Deborah Lipstadt speaks at the New Tools in Combating Contemporary Antisemitism forum at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, July 5, 2022. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Two US envoys express dismay at recent antisemitic comments made by a member of a UN commission of inquiry into last year’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department antisemitism envoy, tweets that recent comments by Miloon Kothari are unacceptable.

“Outrageous that an @UN_HRC appointed human rights expert on Israel and the West Bank and Gaza repeated antisemitic tropes & questioned Israel’s legitimacy as a UN member,” Lipstadt tweets. “It is wholly unacceptable that such comments would come from an appointed member of a Commission of Inquiry.

And US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council Michèle Taylor says the US is outraged by Kothari’s comments.

“We are outraged by recent antisemitic, anti-Israel comments made by a member of the Israel COI,” Taylor writes. “These unacceptable remarks sadly exacerbate our deep concerns about the open-ended nature & overly broad scope of the COI and the HRC’s disproportionate & biased treatment of Israel.”

In a recent podcast interview, Kothari accused a “Jewish lobby” of attempting to control social media discourse on the commission and questioned if Israel should be a member of the UN.

Likud MK slams UTJ leader for suggesting party could leave Netanyahu-led bloc

Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud MK Miri Regev speaking to the media after testifying to the state commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Mount Meron on May 24, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miri Regev castigates United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni, who has suggested that his party is not necessarily 100% loyal to the right-wing bloc led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

“With all due respect to what Gafni said, he will do what his rabbinic advisory board tells him,” Regev says in an interview with Ynet. “They know that only the nationalist camp is a suitable partner.”

She claims that such comments from Gafni will cost UTJ seats in the November 1 election, which will go to far-right MK Itamar Ben-Gvir instead: “Ben-Gvir is taking a bite out of the Haredi parties and taking 2-3 seats from them. The person causing this is Gafni.”

This week Gafni criticized Likud MKs for boycotting Knesset committees over the past year, and earlier this month he said that UTJ is “not left-wing and not right-wing,” but the UTJ leader has not explicitly distanced himself from Netanyahu.

After sparking outrage with ‘race-mixing’ comments, Hungary’s Orban visits Austria

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban (R) and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer review an honor guard in front of the Federal Chancellery during Orban's official visit to Austria in Vienna, July 28, 2022. (Alex HALADA / AFP)
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban (R) and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer review an honor guard in front of the Federal Chancellery during Orban's official visit to Austria in Vienna, July 28, 2022. (Alex HALADA / AFP)

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives in neighboring Austria for a one-day visit after sparking a storm of criticism with comments against creating “peoples of mixed-race.”

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer vows to discuss the row with Orban, saying the Hungarian’s comments last Saturday were “of course to be criticized.”

“Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t shy away from direct dialogue,” Nehammer said yesterday.

The International Auschwitz Committee has urged the European Union — and Nehammer specifically — to distance themselves from “Orban’s racist undertones.”

Austria is the first EU country to host Orban for talks since he won a fourth straight mandate in an April landslide.

IDF soldier says she was raped by security prisoner in jail

Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)
Illustrative: A police officer keeps watch from an observation tower at the Gilboa Prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (JALAA MAREY / AFP)

An IDF soldier says that she was raped by a Palestinian security prisoner while serving in the Gilboa Prison.

The anonymous soldier says that the army has attempted to silence her. “Since the rape my life has been hell. They are trying to silence me,” she says in comments picked up by the Ynet news site from a crowdfunding campaign set up by her lawyer. “Help me expose the truth.”

Reports of female IDF soldiers being sexually harassed and assaulted in Israeli prisons surfaced several years ago, but then were largely dropped until last year when a probe was reopened following new evidence. Earlier this week Ynet reported that a Palestinian prisoner convicted of terrorism was being investigated by police over sexual assault while behind bars.

Israel slams member of UN probe on Israel for ‘antisemitic comments’

Navanethem Pillay (center right), chair of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission. On the right is Miloon Kothari, and in the center left is Chris Sidoti. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)
Navanethem Pillay (center right), chair of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, briefs reporters on the first report of the Commission. On the right is Miloon Kothari, and in the center left is Chris Sidoti. (UN Photo/Jean Marc Ferré)

The spokeswoman for Prime Minister Yair Lapid issues a strong condemnation of antisemitic comments by a member of the ongoing UN Commission of Inquiry into the 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last year.

Miloon Kothari, a member of the commission, told a podcast earlier this week that efforts on social media to discredit the probe are “controlled largely by the Jewish lobby.”

Keren Hajioff, Lapid’s international spokeswoman, says “the international community should be outraged by Miloon Kothari’s antisemitic comments. His racist remarks about ‘the Jewish Lobby’ that controls the media and his questioning Israel’s right to exist as a member of the family of nations – echo the darkest days of antisemitism.”

Hajioff says the commission of inquiry is “the epitome of moral hypocrisy” and calls for it to be disbanded.

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