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Lapid urges UN chief to disband Gaza probe over investigator’s ‘antisemitic remarks’

In letter to Antonio Guterres, prime minister says Commission of Inquiry ‘fundamentally tainted’ after member says social media ‘controlled’ by ‘Jewish lobby’

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds  a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 24, 2022. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 24, 2022. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

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

Zelensky’s wife to Israeli TV: ‘Your resilience serves as an example for us’

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska is interviewed by Channel 12 news, July 31, 2022. (Screengrab: Channel 12)
Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska is interviewed by Channel 12 news, July 31, 2022. (Screengrab: Channel 12)

Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the beleaguered nation sees Israel as a source of inspiration for resilience.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Israel’s past experience inspires the citizens of Ukraine,” Zelenska tells Channel 12 news in an interview.

“We see the Israelis’ strength and power of resilience in the difficult situation Israel has been in for many years. Your resilience serves as an example for us,” she says.

Speaking on Israeli assistance to Ukraine, which has been limited to humanitarian aid only, Zelenska says her country appreciates all the help it can get.

“As you know, Ukraine’s health system is overloaded. That’s why I’m asking for help for Ukraine in any way possible,” she tells the network.

Lapid issues letter to UN secretary general calling to disband Gaza war probe over member’s ‘antisemitic remarks’

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds  a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 24, 2022. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid holds a cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on July 24, 2022. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid issues a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanding he disband the ongoing UN Commission of Inquiry into last year’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, over “antisemitic remarks” made by one of the members.

“I am writing to you to demand the immediate removal of all three members of the COI tasked with investigating Israel, and the disbanding of the Commission,” Lapid says in the letter.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres regarding the remarks made by a member of the Gaza war probe, July 31. 2022. (PMO)

“The COI has been fundamentally tainted by the publicly expressed prejudices of its leadership, who do not meet the basic standards of neutrality, independence and impartiality required by the United Nations,” he says.

Earlier this week, Miloon Kothari, a member of the commission, said on a podcast for Mondoweiss, a website highly critical of Israel, that a lot of money was being spent on efforts to “discredit” the UN Human Rights Council, which set up the commission, and that social media was “controlled largely by the Jewish lobby.”

“It’s not only governments. We are very disheartened by the social media that is controlled largely by, whether it is the Jewish lobby or specific NGOs. A lot of money is being thrown into trying to discredit us,” Kothari said.

“These antisemitic remarks are a stain on the entire United Nations and are not befitting of a person with such a position of responsibility,” Lapid says.

Lapid mentions that Navi Pillay, who chairs the COI, “chose to defend and excuse” the remarks, “instead of taking a moral stance and repudiating these comments.”

“I urge you to listen to Mr. Kothari’s interview and judge for yourself,” Lapid says.

“Excellency, I call on you today to honor your word in this egregious case, to set the record straight. This cannot stand. Slurs about a ‘Jewish lobby’ that acts to ‘control’ the media, are reminiscent of the darkest days of modern history,” the letter says.

“The fight against antisemitism cannot be waged with words alone, it requires action. This is the time for action; it is time to disband the Commission. From Mr. Kothari’s outrageous slurs to Ms. Pillay’s defense of the indefensible, this Commission does not just endorse antisemitism — it fuels it,” Lapid adds.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech during a signing ceremony at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, July 22, 2022 (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Death toll in Kentucky hits 26, with renewed flood threat

Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Kentucky, July 28, 2022. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
Home and structures are flooded near Quicksand, Kentucky, July 28, 2022. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

HINDMAN, Kentucky — The number of deaths from massive flooding in Kentucky climbs to 26 and several dozen people remain missing amid the threat of more heavy rain.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the death toll had risen by one since Saturday from last week’s storms.

Beshear has said that the number would likely rise significantly, and that it could take weeks to find all the victims. As many as 37 people are unaccounted for, according to a daily briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On top of that, more flash flooding was possible in portions of Appalachia today and tomorrow, as the latest storms roll through, the National Weather Service says.

Rainfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour were possible in some of the same areas that were inundated last week.

IAF returns four F-35 jets to service, after checking for ejector seat issue

IAF commander Tomer Bar (right) meets with technicians at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, during an evaluation of F-35 ejector seats, July 31, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
IAF commander Tomer Bar (right) meets with technicians at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, during an evaluation of F-35 ejector seats, July 31, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces says four of the Air Force’s fleet of 33 F-35 fighter jets have been returned to full service, after being examined for an ejector seat issue reported in the United States.

IAF commander Tomer Bar met with technicians today at the Nevatim Airbase, where the F-35i “Adir” fleet is housed, the military says.

No issues were found in the four aircraft, and the remaining ones will be checked in the coming days.

Bar “emphasized the importance of the tests, in order to restore the “Adir” fleet to full capacity as soon as possible, and expressed his appreciation and satisfaction to the technician teams,” the IDF says.

Yesterday, the IAF grounded the F-35 fleet for training flights. F-35 operational activity is expected to continue amid the evaluation. The IDF said such uses would be approved by Bar on a case-by-case basis.

Biden tests positive for COVID for 2nd day in a row

US President Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up after being asked by members of the media how he is feeling, as he speaks virtually during a meeting with his economic team in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, July 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Joe Biden gives a thumbs-up after being asked by members of the media how he is feeling, as he speaks virtually during a meeting with his economic team in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, July 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 for the second straight day, in what appears to be a rare case of “rebound,” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.

In a letter noting the positive test, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, says the president “continues to feel well” and will keep on working from the executive residence while he isolates.

Biden tested positive on Saturday, requiring him to cancel travel and in-person events as he isolates for at least five days, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

After initially testing positive on July 21, Biden, 79, was treated with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. He tested negative for the virus on this past Tuesday and Wednesday, clearing him to leave isolation while wearing a mask indoors.

PA said to raise salaries of Palestinians accused of 2002 Hebrew University bombing

Workers clean the inside of a cafeteria on July 31, 2002, hours after a bomb exploded at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, killing nine, four of them Americans, and wounding more than 70. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Workers clean the inside of a cafeteria on July 31, 2002, hours after a bomb exploded at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, killing nine, four of them Americans, and wounding more than 70. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Four Palestinian terrorists charged with bombing the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in July 2002 will have their monthly Palestinian Authority stipend raised, according to a watchdog.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), an Israel-based watchdog that monitors Palestinian outlets for anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric, says Wael Qassem, Wassim Abbasi, Alla Aldin Abbasi, and Muhammed Odeh will each be given a raise of 14.29 percent, from NIS 7,000 ($2,251) to NIS 8,000 ($2,572).

To date, the PA has paid the four a sum of NIS 1,034,500 ($332,637), PMW says, citing official PA documents.

No green light for Red Cross to visit bombed Ukraine prison

A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, in eastern Ukraine, July 29, 2022. (screenshot, AP Photo)
A destroyed barrack at a prison in Olenivka, in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatist forces, in eastern Ukraine, July 29, 2022. (screenshot, AP Photo)

GENEVA, Switzerland — The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has yet to receive approval to enter the Olenivka prison where dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war died in a bombing strike.

“As of yet, we have received no official confirmation granting us access to visit the site or the prisoners of war affected by the attack, and, to date, our offer of material assistance has not been accepted,” the ICRC says in a statement.

The Russian defense ministry said late Saturday that it had invited the ICRC and the United Nations to visit the area.

“The Russian Federation, in the interest of an objective inquiry into the strike on the detention center at Elenovka (Olenivka in Ukrainian), which resulted in the death of a large number of Ukrainian prisoners of war, has officially invited experts from the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the ministry said.

Kyiv and Moscow have traded blame over the strikes on the jail in Kremlin-controlled Olenivka in eastern Ukraine.

The ICRC asked for access to the site and “other places where the wounded and dead might have been transferred” as soon as it was informed of the bombing, for which both Russia and Ukraine deny responsibility.

The ICRC also offered medical equipment and help to evacuate the wounded.

“We are ready to deploy to Olenivka,” says the ICRC, which has teams in the area, having been present in Donetsk since 2014 and the start of hostilities between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists.

“It is imperative that the ICRC be granted immediate access” to the prison and victims to carry out its humanitarian mission, it adds.

The Russian army said 50 people were killed and 73 wounded, while pro-Russian separatist authorities in the Donetsk region put the death toll at 53.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called the bombing that left “more than 50 dead” a “deliberate Russian war crime.”

East Jerusalem motorcyclist killed in West Bank traffic accident

A 25-year-old East Jerusalem man is killed in a traffic accident on Route 505 near the West Bank settlement of Tapuah, medics say.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says the man, riding a motorcycle, was hit by car.

The driver of the car, 40, was taken by the Palestinian Red Crescent to a hospital in Nablus, MDA says.

The killed man is not immediately named.

Israeli official denies Hamas claim of IDF strike on facility where soldier’s body held

An anonymous Israeli official almost immediately denies Hamas’s claim that a member of the terror group was killed in an airstrike on a facility used to hold the body of a fallen Israeli soldier.

The official tells reporters it is a lie meant to drum up interest amid a renewed push by Hamas to negotiate the release of the remains of two fallen Israeli soldiers — both killed eight years ago in the 2014 Gaza war — and two living Israeli citizens.

“This is one big lie. Hamas is under great pressure so it’s looking to raise the issue. Israel will continue with its many and myriad efforts to release the captives and the missing, and it will not stop,” the unnamed official says in a statement.

Hamas maintains that Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul are alive. Israel denies this, and the official calls the terror group’s claims “lame.”

Large fire prompts evacuations of homes in Kfar Haruv in Golan Heights

A large fire burns near Kfar Haruv in the Golan Heights, July 31, 2022. (JNF-KKL)
A large fire burns near Kfar Haruv in the Golan Heights, July 31, 2022. (JNF-KKL)

The Fire and Rescue Services says the first line of homes in the town of Kfar Haruv in the Golan Heights is being evacuated amid a large fire in the area.

Six firefighting teams, six planes, and volunteers from the Jewish National Fund are working to extinguish the blaze, officials say.

In first, female officer becomes president’s military secretary

President Isaac Herzog (left) and IDF chief Aviv Kohavi (right) award Naama Rosen the rank of brigadier general at the President's Residence, July 31, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (left) and IDF chief Aviv Kohavi (right) award Naama Rosen the rank of brigadier general at the President's Residence, July 31, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman enters the role of military secretary to the president’s office.

Brig. Gen. Naama Rosen replaces Brig. Gen. Alaa Abu Rokun, who has served in the role for the past three years, during a ceremony at the President’s Residence this evening.

“Naama, you are making history here today. The first woman in a sensitive and important security position, and you got here by merit alone,” President Isaac Herzog says in remarks provided by his office.

“Thanks to you, thanks to your skills, your abilities, your achievements, and the status you have carved out for yourself in a variety of roles in the Israel Defense Forces in general and the intelligence branch in particular,” he says.

“We are very happy to welcome you into the family of the President’s Residence,” Herzog adds.

“It is a great privilege for me to serve and work alongside the president, a man who made it his goal to unite Israeli society and works tirelessly for the future of the country and the Jewish people,” Rosen says.

Forty-year-old Rosen has served in the IDF for 22 years, serving as IDF Central Command’s chief intelligence officer for the past two, also a first for a female officer.

She has served in the Military Intelligence Directorate for many years.

Rosen, from central Israel, is married and has two children. She holds several academic degrees in Middle Eastern history.

Abu Rokun is retiring from the IDF after 32 years.

Hamas says officer guarding IDF soldier’s body was killed by Israel in Gaza airstrike last year

A composite photo of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, left, and Hadar Goldin, right.
A composite photo of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul, left, and Hadar Goldin, right.

The Hamas terror group says an officer tasked with guarding an Israeli soldier who was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2014, and whose body was seized by Hamas, was killed in an Israeli airstrike last year.

According to Hamas, during May 2021’s 11-day war Israel struck the building where the unnamed IDF soldier was held. Another three Hamas members were wounded in the strike, the terror group says.

Hamas maintains that Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul are alive. Israel denies this and says Hamas is holding their bodies.

The dead Hamas officer is not named. The terror group says it will release his identity at a later date.

Tomorrow marks eight years since Goldin was killed and his body was captured by Hamas. Shaul’s body was captured earlier in the 2014 war.

Part of Beirut port silos, damaged in 2020 blast, collapses

BEIRUT (AP) — Part of Beirut’s massive port grain silos, shredded in the 2020 explosion, collapses after a weekslong fire.

The northern block of the silos collapses in a huge cloud of dust after what sounded like an explosion. It is not immediately clear if anyone was injured.

The 50-year-old, 48-meter tall giant silos withstood the force of the explosion, effectively shielding the western part of Beirut from the explosion that killed over 200 people, wounded more than 6,000, and badly damaged entire neighborhoods.

In July, a fire broke out in the northern block of the silos due to fermenting grains. Firefighters and Lebanese Army soldiers were unable to put out the fire which continue smoldering for weeks, releasing odors into nearby cities. The environment and health ministries last week issued instructions to residents living near the port to stay indoors in well-ventilated spaces.

Emmanuel Durand, a French civil engineer who volunteered for the government-commissioned team of experts, tells the Associated Press that the northern block of the silo had already been tipping since the day of the blast, but the fire has weakened its frail structure, accelerating its collapse.

US envoy Hochstein wraps up meeting with Lebanon energy minister

Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (R) meets with US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)
Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (R) meets with US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)

US envoy Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut earlier today to push talks to resolve a maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel over Mediterranean waters with offshore gas fields.

“Reaching a resolution is both necessary and possible, but can only be done through negotiations and diplomacy,” the US State Department said in a statement ahead of Hochstein’s visit.

Washington’s envoy for global infrastructure and investment is “facilitating negotiations between Lebanon and Israel on the maritime boundary,” the statement added.

Hochstein met with Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayyad, and is scheduled to meet with President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Najib Mikati the following day.

“Hochstein brings a new proposal to the Lebanese officials, and he told me that it was positive and denied any rumors about joint excavations between Lebanon and Israel,” Fayyad says following the meeting according to the Lebanese Akhbar al-Yawm.

Top PA official al-Sheikh slams Israel’s move to withhold NIS 600 million

Senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh slams Israel’s move to withhold some NIS 600 million ($176 million) to offset funds that the PA paid to terrorists and their families in the past year.

“The occupation government continues with its money piracy over the Palestinians’ funds and decides to deduct hundreds of millions of shekels to further embed the policy of financial blockade,” al-Sheikh says on Twitter.

Israel regularly holds back some tax funds it collects for the PA to penalize it for stipends it pays to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead attackers.

Yair Netanyahu ordered to pay additional $8,800 to ex-Walla editor in libel case

Yair Netanyahu, son of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court hearing on a defamation suit, in Tel Aviv, November 29, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court hearing on a defamation suit, in Tel Aviv, November 29, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court has ordered Yair Netanyahu, the son of the former prime minister, to pay an additional NIS 30,000 ($8,800) after an appeal to overturn a libel decision against him was rejected last year.

Netanyahu had claimed the original ruling against him was in bad faith as he never received court notification about the libel lawsuit filed by former Walla news site editor Avi Alkalay.

Because Netanyahu never filed a statement of defense, the court had automatically ruled in favor of Alkalay.

Last year former premier’s son was ordered to compensate Alkalay NIS 250,000 (approximately $73,000), and pay an additional NIS 29,250 (approximately $8,500) in court fees.

The court rules today that he owes an additional NIS 30,000 ($8,800) to Alkalay, the Ynet news site reports.

Iran border guards clash with Afghanistan’s Taliban

TEHRAN, Iran — Clashes break out between Iranian border guards and Taliban forces, officials say, with the Afghan side confirming one of their border officers was killed and another wounded.

Both sides accused the other of opening fire first.

“There was a clash between the border guards of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Taliban forces,” Meysam Barazandeh, governor of Iran’s Hirmand county, is quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

He adds that “the conflict was brief and has ended.”

Fars reports that clashes took place on the Iranian side of the border, in the Shaghalak area of Hirmand country, in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

“A border violation by the Taliban took place today,” Barazandeh says, adding that “our forces gave the necessary response,” and that there “were no casualties” on the Iranian side.

Iran’s Tasnim news agency says Taliban forces shot at some houses in the town of Dust Mohammad, which was followed by an exchange of fire “for several minutes.”

A statement issued by Afghanistan’s Nimroz provincial information center blamed Iranian border guards for the incident.

“Iranian border forces fired at a patrol of our border forces in Kang district of Nimroz province,” the statement says.

“After that they (Iranian forces) fired in the area with light and heavy weapons. In this shooting, one of our border force personnel was martyred and another injured,” it adds.

Iran, like many other nations, has so far not recognized the new government formed by the Taliban after it took power amid a hasty withdrawal by US-led foreign forces in August 2021.

Meretz leadership contender Golan says climate change not among top priorities

MK Yair Golan speaks during a conference hosted by Democrat TV in Jaffa, June 7, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
MK Yair Golan speaks during a conference hosted by Democrat TV in Jaffa, June 7, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Retired major general Yair Golan, who is competing against veteran lawmaker Zehava Galon for the leadership of the left-wing Meretz Party, tells the Kan public broadcaster that climate change is not among his top priorities.

Speaking to Kalman Liebeskind and Assaf Lieberman, he says that Galon – a former Meretz leader — is occupied with “esoteric” issues, while he will put ideology into practice.

Pressed to define esoteric issues, he refers the interviewers to today’s cartoon in the Haaretz newspaper, which lampoons the party for its occupation with “the climate crisis, transgender rights and LGBT surrogacy,” issues of concern to the two Meretz ministers in the outgoing government, Tamar Zandberg, the environmental protection minister, and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz a gay rights advocate.

“We cannot be labeled in this way, even if the issues are important,” he says. Asked whether climate change is important, he says, that anyone can list 220 important issues, but that his top priorities are separating from the Palestinians and ensuring Israel’s security, turning Israel into a welfare state, dealing with religion and state issues and promoting more equality, with an emphasis on the Arab minority in Israel.

Ukrainian grain tycoon and wife killed in Russian strikes in southern Mykolaiv

An aerial picture taken on July 21, 2022 shows a combine harvester in a wheat field near Mykolaiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Ionut Iordachescu / AFP)
An aerial picture taken on July 21, 2022 shows a combine harvester in a wheat field near Mykolaiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Ionut Iordachescu / AFP)

KYIV — Ukraine says the “strongest” shelling by Moscow so far of the southern city Mykolaiv has killed a grain tycoon and his wife.

“Mykolaiv was subjected to mass shelling today. Probably the strongest so far,” the city’s mayor Oleksandr Senkevych writes on Telegram.

Authorities say leading Ukrainian agricultural magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, 74, and his wife Raisa were killed when a missile struck their house.

Vadatursky, who was ranked Ukraine’s 24th richest man with a fortune worth $430 million by Forbes, owned major grain exporter Nibulon and was previously decorated with the prestigious “Hero of Ukraine” award.

Mykolaiv — which has been attacked frequently — is the closest Ukrainian city to the southern front where Kyiv’s forces are looking to launch a major counter-offensive to recapture territory lost after Russia’s February invasion.

Israeli lightly hurt in alleged violent carjacking attempt in West Bank

An Israeli man is lightly wounded after he was allegedly assaulted by a group of Palestinians who attempted to steal his car near the West Bank town of Azzun.

According to Kan news, the man says he sought to make a U-turn at the entrance of the town, but three Palestinians began to hurl stones at him, use pepper spray, and drag him out of the car by force.

He is taken by other Palestinians to a nearby health clinic for medical treatment.

According to Kan, the group that attacked him did not manage to steal his car.

New Hope MK Michal Shir, formerly of Likud, defects to Yesh Atid

New Hope MK Michal Shir speaks during a discussion and vote on 'Bereaved Siblings' bill at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
New Hope MK Michal Shir speaks during a discussion and vote on 'Bereaved Siblings' bill at the Knesset, in Jerusalem on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

New Hope MK Michal Shir, who formerly was a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, has announced she is joining Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s party.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party announced a merger with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White earlier this month.

“Today I am finishing a fascinating period with my friend Gideon Sa’ar,” Shir says in a statement.

“I had the privilege of being part of the dramatic political process that led to the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule,” she says. In December 2020 she left Likud to join New Hope.

“Today I join Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid party, which is the main political force that stands as a wall against those who try to break us up from within,” she adds.

Israel will hold elections on November 1.

US mediator lands in Lebanon for renewed talks to resolve maritime dispute with Israel

Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (R) meets with US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)
Lebanon's caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayad (R) meets with US Senior Adviser for Energy Security Amos Hochstein in Beirut on July 31, 2022. (Anwar AMRO / AFP)

US energy envoy Amos Hochstein has landed in Beirut to hold talks with Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayyad over the disputed maritime border with Israel, the Lebanese Akhbar al-Yawm reports.

A video circulated on social media shows Fayyad — who also flew in — meeting Hochstein at the airport.

Israel and Lebanon, which do not have diplomatic relations, have been engaged in indirect talks mediated by the US over the rights to the Karish offshore gas field and to demarcate a contested maritime border between the two countries.

Israel maintains sovereignty over the Karish gas field and has been seeking to develop it as it tries to position itself as a natural gas supplier to Europe.

On Friday, Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said he was more optimistic than ever about the negotiations.

The Lebanese Hezbollah terror group has threatened the field, releasing a video this morning saying the gas extraction infrastructure was “within range” of its weapons.

Another video circulated online purports to show Fayyad watching the Hezbollah video on his flight.

Israel to withhold NIS 600 million from PA over terror payments

The security cabinet votes to withhold some NIS 600 million ($176 million) from the Palestinian Authority to offset funds that it paid to terrorists and their families in the past year.

According to Kan news, the payments would be deducted in 12 installments.

Israel regularly holds back some tax funds it collects for the PA to penalize it for payments to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead attackers.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, of the dovish Meretz party, abstained from this morning’s vote, according to Kan.

Government advances Jordan Gateway joint industrial park plan

Government ministers approve advancing plans to establish a joint Israeli-Jordanian industrial park on the two sides of the border, connected by an existing bridge.

The plan, dubbed Jordan Gateway, will enable Israelis and Jordanians to “conveniently” cross between the sides to work on joint projects.

An existing bridge, the Jordan River Crossing, already connects the two sides of the zone, near the Israeli city of Beit She’an.

A facility to accommodate businesspeople and guests will be built on the Israeli side, according to the plan.

On Twitter, Prime Minister Yair Lapid hails the plan as “one of the largest-ever joint business ventures” between Israel and Jordan.

Lapid vows action in alleged prison rape case

Prime Minister Yair Lapid addresses the weekly cabinet meeting, July 31, 2022. (GPO)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid addresses the weekly cabinet meeting, July 31, 2022. (GPO)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid during this morning’s cabinet meeting says he spoke to Israel Prisons Service Commissioner Katy Perry yesterday about resurfaced allegations of female soldiers being pimped out to Palestinian prisoners with their commanders’ knowledge.

“I was presented with the steps that have been taken by the IPS to ensure that such an incident never happens again,” Lapid says.

Last week, a former IDF soldier said she was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by a Palestinian security prisoner while she served at Gilboa Prison.

“The incident, which is under review, which took place during the term of the previous government, is under a gag order but it must – and will be – investigated. We will make certain that the soldier receives assistance. We will deal with the accused to the fullest extent of the law,” Lapid adds.

Thousands attend funeral of prominent ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss

Thousands of people are attending the funeral of Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, who died yesterday at the age of 95.

Weiss will be buried at Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives cemetery.

Weiss was a leader among extremist anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox factions and the head of the Eda Haredit group. He was known for his uncompromising efforts to enforce Shabbat restrictions and prevent the conscription of yeshiva students into the military.

TV report: Bennett says Netanyahu harmed relations with Jordan for Instagram post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard 'Ziv,' who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2017 meets with security guard 'Ziv,' who shot dead two Jordanians as he was being stabbed by one of them at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman on July 23. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett during this morning’s government cabinet meeting blames opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for strained relations with Jordan when the latter was prime minister.

“There was a severe rift with Jordan for years because my predecessor uploaded a tweet to Instagram with a picture [of Netanyahu] with a security guard who accidentally killed a Jordanian,” Bennett is quoted as saying by Channel 12 news.

Bennett is referring to Ziv Moyal, a guard at the Israeli embassy in Amman who was stabbed by a Jordanian on July 23, 2017, whereupon he shot and killed the attacker along with a bystander, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Amman.

Netanyahu later met with Moyal, and his office published pictures of the two embracing.

“For a post on Instagram, we damaged the relationship with Jordan for years,” Bennett is quoted as saying.

Relations with Jordan have improved significantly since Bennett and now Prime Minister Yair Lapid established a new government. The two, as well as other senior Israeli leaders, have met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II over the past year.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (left) meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II at the Royal Palace in Amman, July 27, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Russia says US, NATO ‘main threats’ to national security

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russia's space agency Roscosmos head Yury Borisov at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 26, 2022. (Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russia's space agency Roscosmos head Yury Borisov at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 26, 2022. (Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia — The United States’ quest to dominate the oceans and NATO’s expansion are the biggest threats facing Russia, according to a new Russian naval doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin.

The 55-page document says the “main challenges and threats” to national security and development are Washington’s “strategic objective to dominate the world’s oceans” and NATO military infrastructure moving towards Russia’s borders.

“Russia’s independent internal and external policy faces countermeasures from the United States and its allies, who aim to preserve their dominance in the world, including its oceans,” says the doctrine, signed on Russian Navy Day.

Moscow views the Western military alliance — the Soviet Union’s enemy during the Cold War — as an existential threat, and used Ukraine’s membership hopes to justify its offensive on February 24.

The doctrine says Moscow will seek to strengthen its leading position in exploring the Arctic and its mineral resources and maintain “strategic stability” thereby bolstering the potential of the northern and Pacific fleets.

It also mentions Russia’s desire to develop a “safe and competitive” sea route from Europe to Asia, known as the Northeast Passage, via the country’s Arctic coastline and ensure it worked throughout the year.

“Today’s Russia cannot exist without a strong fleet… and will defend its interests in the world’s oceans firmly and with resolution,” the doctrine adds.

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