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Short on votes, government makes last-ditch push for deal on reunification law

As crunch time arrives, Ra’am chief says talks on compromise ongoing but nothing yet agreed; proposal would upgrade status of 1,500 Palestinian families

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on July 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Planeload of Israel’s Pfizer vaccines heads to South Korea

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine are pictured at a Magen David Adom mobile vaccination in Tel Aviv on July 5, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine are pictured at a Magen David Adom mobile vaccination in Tel Aviv on July 5, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)

After a deal between Israel and South Korea was inked in the early hours of the morning, a plane carrying 700,000 vaccine doses is on its way to Seoul, says Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. The doses being shipped are set to expire on July 31.

The prime minister says that, in return, “they will give us back 700,000 vaccine doses” at a future date.

Knesset begins debate on Palestinian family reunification law

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked of Yamina is presenting the Palestinian family reunification law to the Knesset.

The debate on the law is expected to last at least 2 hours, with 45 lawmakers signing up to talk.

Compromise on reunification law proposes upgrading status of 1.5K Palestinian families

The Times of Israel has obtained the latest compromise proposal on extending the 2003 Palestinian family reunification ban.

The coalition, including Meretz, Labor and Ra’am, will vote to extend the law by six months.

In exchange, the Interior Ministry will upgrade the status of around 1,500 Palestinian families.

At the same time, the Knesset will establish a supervisory committee with representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority, and a parliamentarian to be named later.

The committee’s aim is to help provide social benefits to around 9,700 Palestinians residing in Israel on military-issued stay permits that are equal to those of residents.

The committee will report to the Knesset’s Interior Committee. That body has yet to be established, but Ra’am is reportedly going to lead it as part of the coalition deals.

Every month, the committee will provide the Knesset with a report. And within 90 days, the committee will provide policy alternatives to the current ban.

Ra’am chief: Still no agreement on Palestinian family reunification ban

A meeting between Ra’am and other coalition factions did not produce a compromise agreement on extending a 2003 ban on Palestinian family unification.

“We’ve made advances in the talks, but there’s still no agreement,” says Ra’am party chief Mansour Abbas in the hallways of the Knesset.

At least one of Abbas’s party members has said he will not vote in favor of the law under any circumstances.

Abbas tells The Times of Israel in response: “Look, we’ll all sit down together and decide soon enough.”

Tayseer Khatib, an activist married to a Palestinian from the West Bank, says the thousands impacted by the law will not accept any compromise.

Amazon begins new chapter as Bezos hands over CEO role

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the the Amazon re:MARS convention in Las Vegas, June 6, 2019. (John Locher/AP/File)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaks at the the Amazon re:MARS convention in Las Vegas, June 6, 2019. (John Locher/AP/File)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO today, handing over the reins as the company navigates the challenges of a world fighting to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

Andy Jassy, who ran Amazon’s cloud-computing business, replaces Bezos, a change the company announced in February.

Bezos, Amazon’s biggest shareholder with a stake worth about $180 billion, will still hold sway over the company he started out of his Seattle garage in 1995. He takes over the role of executive chair, with plans to focus on new products and initiatives.

Jassy takes the helm of a $1.7 trillion company that benefited greatly from the pandemic, more than tripling its profits in the first quarter of 2021 and posting record revenue as customers grew ever more dependent on online shopping.

Israeli-born Denis Shapovalov reaches Wimbledon quarter-finals

Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates after defeating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during the men's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates after defeating Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut during the men's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Denis Shapovalov’s impressive run at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships sees him reach the quarter-finals after he dismissed Spain’s 2019 semi-finalist and eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 today.

The 22-year-old was born in Israel and spent the first years of his life here, but the family moved to Canada when he was young.

Shapovalov — who beat Britain’s two-time champion Andy Murray in the previous round — will next face 25th seeded Karen Khachanov of Russia for a place in the last four.

A US Open quarter-finalist in 2020, Shapovalov’s best showing at Wimbledon in three previous visits was reaching the second round in 2018.

Reports of large blast at government warehouse in Tehran

There are preliminary reports in Iran of a blast at a government warehouse in Tehran that has caused a large fire.

The facility is said to belong to the Organization for Collection and Sale of State-owned Properties.

There is no immediate word on what was in the facility, what may have caused the explosion, or whether there are any casualties.

Reports: Health Ministry to recommend quick testing at mass events

The Health Ministry is planning to suggest to the cabinet to mandate quick COVID testing at the entrance to mass events, according to unsourced reports in Ynet and Walla.

Health officials will also recommend further upping enforcement of quarantines.

German foreign minister believes deal with Iran within reach

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks in Berlin, Germany on November 17, 2020. (HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/ POOL / AFP)
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks in Berlin, Germany on November 17, 2020. (HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/ POOL / AFP)

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says he believes a deal to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran can be reached “in the coming weeks.”

“We think [the talks] can reach their goal,” he tells reporters in Madrid, after a gathering of the Stockholm Initiative, a group of 16 states working toward nuclear disarmament.

“I think we’ll get there in the coming weeks,” Maas adds, on the Iran talks that resumed in April in Vienna.

The negotiations aim to save the deal — known to diplomats as the JCPOA — between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council member states plus Germany.

Some experts express doubt in Health Ministry’s data on vaccine effectiveness

Some experts speaking to Haaretz express doubt the Health Ministry’s data, noting that it contradicts data from the UK, that showed the Pfizer vaccine was 88% effective.

One unnamed expert says: “From my experience, when there are such differences the truth is somewhere in the middle.

“There are huge methodological challenges in correctly assessing vaccine effectiveness from local outbreaks,” he adds.

Political official to TV: Health officials may be trying to pressure leaders

People. some with face masks. in Jerusalem on June 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
People. some with face masks. in Jerusalem on June 29, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

An unnamed political source tells Channel 13 that the Health Ministry’s announcement on the drop in vaccine effectiveness may not have been coordinated with the political level.

The source adds that the statement could be an attempt by professionals in the ministry to create pressure on politicians to set new restrictions on the public.

Ra’am MK says will vote against renewing family unification law no matter what

Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim tells The Times of Israel that he will vote against renewing the 2003 ban on Palestinian family unification no matter what.

“A solution for 1,000, 2,000 families, that’s not a solution. We’re talking about tens of thousands, and this is first and foremost a humanitarian issue,” Ghanaim says.

The Ra’am MK emphasizes that there is no acceptable compromise to him on the issue.

Senior Islamic Movement official Masoud Ghanaim agrees, telling The Times of Israel: “This law must be voted against, come what may.”

Ra’am party chair Mansour Abbas has publicly sought middle ground with his right-wing partners on the law, which has become a test of the new government.

Body of missing 18-year-old found of Hadera coast

The body of an 18-year-old who went missing on Sunday has been pulled out of the water, off the coast of Hadera.

The teen arrived at a city beach with two friends and entered the water. The three were pulled in by currents. Two of the three managed to get back to shore.

Volunteers, boats, divers, and a chopper participated in searches.

PA forces detain people in Ramallah ahead of planned rally over dead activist

Palestinian Authority security forces detain several men in Ramallah’s al-Manara Square, in advance of a planned rally condemning the death of activist Nizar Banat in PA custody, according to Palestinian media.

In videos published by Palestinian websites, PA police can be seen checking identity papers and ushering detainees into white police vans. It is not immediately clear why the men were being detained.

Banat, a prominent critic of the PA leadership, died while in the custody of PA forces in late June. His death sparked scattered protests in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Ramallah calling for an end to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s 16-year rule.

Shaked said seeking compromise on reunification law with Ra’am, Meretz

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and the Ra’am and Meretz parties are discussing a compromise on the reunification law that will see a six-month extension on the measure banning automatic citizenship for Palestinians who marry Israelis, while several hundred families will get improved status, Channel 12 reports.

A committee will then be formed to submit recommendations within three months, it says.

Health Ministry: Vaccine down to 64% effectiveness in averting symptomatic COVID

The Health Ministry says that in the past month, the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 has dropped by some 30% to 64%.

It notes the drop in effectiveness has come amid the spread of the Delta variant.

The ministry adds that the vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing serious illness is at 93%.

Lapid said pushing to sell ‘Israel’s Air Force One’; defense officials object

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is pushing to nix ‘Israel’s Air Force One’ and sell the ‘Wing of Zion,’ having for years opposed the project, the Ynet news site reports.

However, the defense establishment strongly opposes selling the aircraft.

The report says Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will need to rule on the matter.

The ‘Wing of Zion,’ the Israeli version of Air Force One, is seen above Ben Gurion Airport, on its first test flight, November 3, 2019. (Yoav Weiss/Israel Aerospace Industries)

France, Germany, China push to revive Iran nuclear talks

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree there is “a window of opportunity” now for talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the French presidency says.

The three leaders, who spoke via videoconference earlier, agreed on the need to move negotiations forward in order to get a deal “as soon as possible” and avoid the risk of nuclear proliferation, a French top official says.

“We must do it now” in order to avoid further threats to regional stability, the official says, adding the message aims at giving a boost to negotiators after months of inconclusive talks.

During six rounds of talks in Vienna, the six countries that remain parties to the agreement — Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and Iran — have been trying to resolve issues on how the United States can rejoin and how Iran can return to compliance.

UK Foreign Office sorry for historic ban on homosexuals

Britain’s foreign office apologizes for the department’s “misguided” ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people working in the diplomatic service, which was lifted in 1991.

“The ban was in place because there was a perception that LGBT people were more susceptible than their straight counterparts to blackmail and, therefore, that they posed a security risk,” says Philip Barton, the department’s chief civil servant.

“Because of this misguided view, people’s careers were ended, cut short, or stopped before they could even begin,” he adds.

“I want to apologize publicly for the ban and the impact it had on our LGBT staff and their loved ones, both here in the UK and abroad.”

Search back on in Surfside, Florida, as death toll rises to 27

Rescue workers continue working on a pile of debris after the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo was taken down with a controlled demolition on July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Saul MARTINEZ / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
Rescue workers continue working on a pile of debris after the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo was taken down with a controlled demolition on July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Saul MARTINEZ / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Rescuers search for victims of a collapsed South Florida condo building through fresh rubble today after crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the structure, allowing search efforts to resume.

Three more victims were discovered in the newly accessible pile, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members, raising the death toll to 27 people. More than 115 people remain unaccounted for.

The demolition opened up a previously unreachable area for rescuers, though the chances of finding any survivors there waned, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says on NBC’s “Today.”

“We understand that families realize the fact that time has gone by, they realize that the chances are growing all dimmer,” she said. “They are with us, they know what we’ve been doing every step of the way.”

Ex-MK Heba Yazbak questioned on suspicion of incitement, identifying with terror

Then Balad MK Heba Yazbak speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 23, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Then Balad MK Heba Yazbak speaks during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 23, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former Joint List MK Heba Yazbak was questioned by police this morning on suspicion of incitement and identification with terrorist acts.

The suspicions are related to Facebook posts made by Yazbak between 2013 and 2017, before she was an MK.

In one post, Yazbak uploaded a photo of terrorist Samir Kuntar and called him a martyr. In another, she praised the actions of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi.

Bennett orders two studies on COVID vaccine’s effectiveness over time

Prime Minister Bennett has instructed the Health Ministry to promote two medical studies on vaccines, which he says will provide decision-makers with “crucial information.”

One study will examine the effectiveness of the vaccine over time in various age groups and in various states of health.

The other will examine cellular immunity (an immune response not involving antibodies) over time.

The head of public health services in the Health Ministry, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, will oversee the research.

Israeli delegation to honor Hannah Szenes with recreation of WWII jump

Hannah Szenes dressed as a Hungarian soldier on Purim (Wikimedia Commons)
Hannah Szenes dressed as a Hungarian soldier on Purim (Wikimedia Commons)

Some 150 Israeli soldiers will travel to central Europe later this month as part of a weeklong educational trip in honor of the 100th birthday of the Hungarian-born soldier and poet Hannah Szenes, who was captured and killed by the Nazis after she parachuted into Hungary during World War II.

The commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, Col. Yuval Gaz, tells reporters that the purpose of the program, which will include a recreation of the parachute jump by Szenes and 31 other Jewish fighters, is to “deepen the connection between the participants and the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel.”

The delegation will be led by the head of the IDF’s Depth Corps, Maj. Gen. Itay Virov, along with Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter, who commands the IDF’s 98th Division, which contains the Paratroopers Brigade, and a number of other senior Paratroopers officers, including Gaz.

According to Gaz, the idea for the delegation was raised 16 months ago, after last year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is meant to teach soldiers about the role of Jewish partisans during World War II, he said.

Rivlin’s bust installed at President’s Residence before he leaves office

A bust of President Reuven Rivlin by artist Sigalit Landau seen in the Avenue of the Presidents, at the President's Residence, on July 5, 2021. (Haim Zach/ GPO)
A bust of President Reuven Rivlin by artist Sigalit Landau seen in the Avenue of the Presidents, at the President's Residence, on July 5, 2021. (Haim Zach/ GPO)

A bust of outgoing President Reuven Rivlin has been installed in the Avenue of the Presidents at the President’s Residence.

The bust was created by artist Sigalit Landau out of brass.

On a plaque beneath it appears a quote from the president: “Without the ability to listen – there is no ability to learn. Without the ability to learn – there is no ability to repair.”

Rivlin thanks Landau, saying: “I can only express my pride that I have had the privilege of having my face made by her hands. Thank you, Sigalit, for being so gentle, kind and good-humored during the creative process.”

Bennett accidentally calls Netanyahu ‘prime minister,’ quickly corrects himself

During a press conference at the Knesset earlier, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accidentally referred to his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu as “the prime minister” while discussing the upcoming vote on the Palestinian reunification law.

After one of the listeners commented on his slip, Bennett quickly amended: “The former prime minister of course — Bibi.”

Posting a clip of the gaffe on Twitter, Likud MK David Amsalem comments: “A completely understandable mistake. God willing, we’re coming back soon.”

80-million-year-old shark teeth found in Solomon-era site in Jerusalem

Archaeologists have uncovered a mysterious stash of 80-million-year-old fossilized shark teeth at a 2,900-year-old site in Jerusalem’s City of David.

The 29 teeth are from animals that lived during the late dinosaur period. Researchers do not know how they came to Jerusalem, but say it is clear they were transported there by people, and may have been part of a collection.

The site where they were found dates to the time of King Solomon.

“They were probably valuable to someone, we just don’t know why,” says lead researcher Dr. Thomas Tuetken of the University of Mainz in Germany.

“They were not simply weathered out of the bedrock beneath the site, but were probably transported from afar, possibly from the Negev, at least 80 kilometers away, where similar fossils are found.”

Netanyahu to faction: 5 of my vaccinated friends were infected, wear masks

During his Likud faction meeting, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu asks all faction members to wear masks.

“Five of my friends who were vaccinated were infected anyway,” he says.

TV: 40% of seriously ill patients fully vaccinated; most are over age 60

With the number of serious COVID-19 cases slowly rising again — currently at 35 — Channel 12 reports that most (70% of cases in the past month) are over 60 and with various previous health issues.

However, there are also three patients who are under 18.

And some 40% of seriously ill patients were fully vaccinated against coronavirus, raising questions about the Delta variant’s ability to bypass the vaccine.

Organs of IDF cadet who collapsed and died donated to 5 people

The family of a young military cadet who collapsed and died suddenly agreed to donate her organs.

Twenty-two-year-old Shylee Westland’s heart, liver, lungs and kidneys have since been transplanted into five people.

Shylee Westland (Courtesy)

Arad man found guilty of reckless homicide in shooting, killing car thief

A man from the southern city of Arad has been found guilty of reckless homicide for shooting and killing an individual he said was trying to steal his car in November 2020.

Aryeh Schiff, 70, told police he saw a suspicious person trying to break into his vehicle and fired shots toward him using a gun he had in his possession.

Footage from the incident appeared to show Schiff firing directly at the suspect.

Smotrich says government should back opposition’s immigration bill

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Knesset on May 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a press conference at the Knesset on May 26, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Religious Zionism party chief Bezalel Smotrich claims the current law the coalition wishes to extend “has been punched full of holes by the High Court of Justice and legal advisers and provides only a partial solution.”

He calls on the coalition to work on the opposition’s proposed immigration law that he asserts will impose much tougher restrictions on those seeking citizenship through marriage.

He claims it is the coalition that is playing petty politics by refusing to discuss that proposal.

Shaked, Bennett to opposition: ‘Show responsibility’ on reunification law

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at the new government's first weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 20, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunan / AFP)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked arrives at the new government's first weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on June 20, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunan / AFP)

At the start of Yamina’s faction meeting at the Knesset, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says ahead of the Knesset vote on the family reunification law that “national security is a red line.”

“We are seeing childish games [by the opposition]… but what’s needed is national responsibility. There are some things you don’t play with… The nation needs control over who comes in,” he says.

Prime Minister and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett addresses a party meeting at the Knesset, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says that currently the bill “does not have a majority” to pass the vote but adds that she hopes it will have one by the end of the day.

“Most terror attacks carried out by Arab Israelis were ones that came from family reunifications or their descendants… I call on the heads of the opposition: Show responsibility for the security of Israeli citizens.”

Lapid: Not a disaster if Palestinian reunification law doesn’t pass

Foreign Minister and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Foreign Minister and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, on July 5, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Ahead of the Knesset plenum’s vote on the Palestinian family reunification law, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says the vote is not about the government but about “behaving in a manner responsible for the country.”

If the opposition votes against it — despite being for the bill in principle — “it will prove it is more concerned with being against the government than being for the country.”

He adds that “it’s not a huge disaster even if it doesn’t pass… Government do not rise and fall on the issue.”

Lapid says he understands the opposition of the Meretz and Ra’am parties to the law, over “more than a few cases in which the law needlessly caused humanitarian harm… people who fell in love and got married and built families who were hurt without doing anything wrong.”

He says the government “will form a mechanism to try and cut such cases down to a minimum, and form a team that will review how to prevent such harm in the future.”

Zuckerberg’s flag-toting hydroboard video makes waves

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surfs on an electric hydroboard while waving an American flag in a July 4 video (Screenshot)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surfs on an electric hydroboard while waving an American flag in a July 4 video (Screenshot)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has posted a somewhat over-the-top video of himself for the Fourth of July, surfing on an electric hydroboard while waving an American flag.

The video has been viewed nearly two million times so far, with some responses enthusiastic and others less so.

“…annnnd you just raised the bar,” one wrote.

Another said: “This is the stuff meme dreams are made of.”

And another: “On his way to spy on user’s privacy and lie to Congress.”

Norwegian pension fund divests from companies linked to Israeli settlements

Norway’s largest pension fund announces it has divested assets in 16 companies for their links to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including telecom equipment giant Motorola.

“Motorola and other companies risk complicity in international law violations in occupied Palestine,” KLP, which manages some 95 billion dollars (80 billion euros) worth of assets, says in a statement.

The divestment follows the February 2020 UN publication of a list of 112 companies with activities linked to Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law.

Israel’s government has denounced the publication of the list — which included companies like Airbnb, Expedia, Motorola and Tripadvisor — as a “contemptible effort.”

The West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, with the Palestinian village of Wadi Fukin in the valley below, June 17, 2015. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

“Divesting from Motorola Solutions was a very straightforward decision over its surveillance role in the occupied territories,” KLP says, arguing the company provides software used in border surveillance.

KLP also divests telecom operators offering services within the West Bank as they contribute to making “the settlements attractive residential areas.” These include Bezeq, Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications, and Altice Europe — which was delisted from the Amsterdam stock exchange in January.

Israeli data suggests vaccine less effective against Delta variant — expert

Professor Ran Balicer, head of innovation at Clalit, Israel's biggest health services provider, in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2020 (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
Professor Ran Balicer, head of innovation at Clalit, Israel's biggest health services provider, in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2020 (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

Rising coronavirus cases in Israel offer “a preliminary signal” that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine may be less effective in preventing mild illness from the Delta variant, a top expert says.

But Ran Balicer, chairman of Israel’s national expert panel on COVID-19, stresses it is “too early to precisely assess vaccine effectiveness against the variant” first identified in India in April that is surging across the globe.

That is partly due to the overall low number of cases among fully vaccinated Israelis and because those cases are not evenly distributed across the population, further complicating efforts to reach conclusions about the data.

Rising transmissions suggest “some decrease in vaccine effectiveness against mild illness — but not severe illness — is likely.”

But, he adds, experts “remain hopeful that the vaccine effectiveness against serious illness will remain as high as it was for the Alpha strain” identified for the first time in Britain in December.

 

Deputy foreign minister meets German ambassador, parliamentarians

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll meets Germany's Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer in Jerusalem on July 5, 2021 (Courtesy)
Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll meets Germany's Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer in Jerusalem on July 5, 2021 (Courtesy)

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll meets Germany’s envoy to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer and German parliamentarians at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Roll thanks his guests for German support during the Gaza conflict in May, and stresses the importance of cooperation between Germany and Israel in international forums.

Egypt issues video of military drill in message to regional rival Turkey

Egypt’s military releases a slick video of its Qader 2 exercise, taking place at the newly inaugurated 3 July Naval Base near the border with Libya.

The video, posted yesterday, shows air, land, and naval forces participating in live-fire maneuvers. The first Qader exercise took place in January 2020.

The 3 July Base was inaugurated yesterday by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, accompanied by Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.

The video stresses that the base was established to help Egypt protect its maritime resources in the Mediterranean, a clear reference to Turkey.

Turkey has been aggressive in its assertion of gas exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean, while Egypt hosts the EastMed Gas Forum that includes Turkish rivals Israel, Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey and Egypt back opposing sides in the Libya civil war, and have been holding talks designed to forge a political solution. In addition, Turkey has been putting forth a more conciliatory line toward Egypt.

The two latest military moves by Cairo — the opening of the base and the military exercise — are messages to Ankara that while Sissi is open to exploring a new relationship, Egypt will protect its red lines in Libya and in the Mediterranean.

In Britain, Johnson says ‘learn to live with’ COVID as curbs to be lifted

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today unveil a plan to lift most if not all of England’s pandemic restrictions starting July 19, as he urges the public to “learn to live with” the coronavirus.

Johnson had initially aimed for a full reopening on June 21, but was forced to push back the date because of a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant.

That variant now accounts for nearly all new COVID-19 cases in Britain, and infection rates have soared — but mass vaccinations have stopped a resultant surge in hospitalizations or deaths.

The prime minister is set to outline the planned easing for England at an afternoon news conference. The UK’s other nations — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are moving at a slower pace.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves at the media as he leaves 10 Downing Street in London, May 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE)

“Thanks to the successful rollout of our vaccination program, we are progressing cautiously through our roadmap,” Johnson says, vowing to “restore people’s freedoms.”

“But I must stress that the pandemic is not over and that cases will continue to rise over the coming weeks,” he added.

“As we begin to learn to live with this virus, we must all continue to carefully manage the risks from COVID and exercise judgment when going about our lives.”

Pope in ‘good’ condition after surgery, faces week in hospital

Pope Francis arrives at Irbil airport, Iraq, Sunday, March 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Pope Francis arrives at Irbil airport, Iraq, Sunday, March 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Pope Francis is doing well after surgery for an inflamed large colon, but the 84-year-old is expected to spend around seven days recovering in hospital, the Vatican says.

The pontiff was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital yesterday for a scheduled operation under general anaesthetic for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon.

Francis “is in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously,” spokesman Matteo Bruni says in a statement, adding that the surgery “lasted about three hours.”

A week earlier, on the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Francis seemed to hint at the upcoming operation, saying: “I ask you to pray for the pope, pray in a special way. The pope needs your prayers.”

Bennett, Putin, speak for first time

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after his meeting with US President Joe Biden at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference after his meeting with US President Joe Biden at the 'Villa la Grange' in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time since Bennett took office earlier this month.

The two leaders spoke about a number of diplomatic and security issues, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, including Russian assistance in helping to free Israeli captives and those missing. Bennett and Putin have agreed to meet face-to-face soon.

Former Meretz leader: Don’t vote for reunification law

Zahava Gal-on, leader of the left-wing Meretz party seen at party headquarters as the exit polls in the Israeli general elections for the 20th parliament are announced on March 17, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)
Zahava Gal-on, leader of the left-wing Meretz party seen at party headquarters as the exit polls in the Israeli general elections for the 20th parliament are announced on March 17, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)

Former Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On calls on the faction’s current lawmakers to oppose extending the Palestinian family reunification law.

“Meretz petitioned [the Supreme Court] twice against this racist law,” Gal-On tells Army Radio. “There cannot be a compromise here. Any compromise is a capitulation. The coalition partners need to take into account that Meretz also has an ideological view.”

Herzog bids farewell to Jewish Agency ahead of swearing-in as president

Isaac Herzog raises a toast at the Knesset after he was elected by lawmakers as Israel's 11th president, June 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Isaac Herzog raises a toast at the Knesset after he was elected by lawmakers as Israel's 11th president, June 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Outgoing Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog bids farewell to the organization two days before he is set to be sworn in as Israel’s next president.

“I promise a true partnership with you that is entirely about serving the Jewish people,” he says, “to take care of their needs and preserve their unity and future. We are a small nation of 14.5 million Jews among 7 billion people in the world.”

State comptroller to publish broad report on climate change

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman attends a press conference in Jerusalem announcing an investigation into the Mount Meron tragedy on May 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman attends a press conference in Jerusalem announcing an investigation into the Mount Meron tragedy on May 3, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman says he will be publishing a broad report assessing Israel’s preparedness for and approach to climate change.

“The climate crisis is a matter of global importance that every country should be placing on its agenda and preparing itself for the effects of climate change,” Englman says at a conference in Eilat, where he announces that the report will arrive in the coming months. “The State of Israel must put the issue at the top of its agenda.”

Palestinian reunification law fails to move to Foreign Affairs Committee, still set for Knesset vote tonight

MKs David Amsalem and David Bitan of Likud at the Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MKs David Amsalem and David Bitan of Likud at the Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on July 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition fails to garner enough votes in the Knesset Arrangements Committee to send the controversial Palestinian family reunification legislation to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Amid a fiery hearing, the transfer of the legislation to the FADC has been voted down in the Arrangements Committee 17-14, with Likud and other opposition lawmakers voting against the government despite coalition hopes that some Likud MKs would side with the coalition on the vote.

The coalition had failed in an earlier attempt to move the bill to the FADC, where it presumably believes it has a better chance to control the process. Last month, Arrangements Committee chair Idit Silman (Yamina) postponed a vote on advancing the legislation to the FADC when it became clear that there was no majority to do so.

Despite all this, the contentious bill is still slated to come up for a full Knesset vote later in the day, where the coalition again hopes it will be able to muster a majority.

The law, which blocks the automatic granting of Israeli citizenship or residency for Palestinians on the basis of marriage to an Israeli, was first enacted in 2003, and must be extended annually.

It was passed after some 130,000 Palestinians entered Israel under family reunification between 1993 and 2003, Channel 12 says, including during the Second Intifada onslaught of Palestinian terrorism. While the prime concern was that some Palestinians gaining Israeli status would engage in terrorism, there was also a demographic concern: The security establishment’s assessment is that some 200,000 Palestinians would gain Israeli citizenship or residency each decade were it not for this legislation, Channel 12 says.

Luxembourg PM hospitalized with COVID

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel gives a speech on June 3, 2015, during talks as part of the two-day European Development Days event, held on June 3-4 in Brussels. (AFP photo/John Thys)
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel gives a speech on June 3, 2015, during talks as part of the two-day European Development Days event, held on June 3-4 in Brussels. (AFP photo/John Thys)

Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has been hospitalized and is under observation “as a precautionary measure” after testing positive for COVID-19 a week earlier.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says there is no update early this morning after Bettel had been taken in for 24 hours of testing and medical analysis yesterday.

The 48-year-old Bettel announced his positive test just after he had attended an European Union summit with 26 other leaders from the bloc for two days. At first he experienced only mild symptoms. But on Sunday, he had to be hospitalized.

Bennett, Horowitz hold meeting on COVID vaccines

Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz attend a press conference at a Maccabi vaccine center in Holon on June 29 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL via Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennet and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz attend a press conference at a Maccabi vaccine center in Holon on June 29 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL via Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz are holding a meeting to discuss Israel’s stash of COVID vaccines.

Israel’s stockpile of Pfizer vaccines is set to expire at the end of the month, and it has been working — so far unsuccessfully — to secure a vaccine swap deal with another country in exchange for its future doses.

Bennett has held several conversations in recent days with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, and has reportedly been granted an extension by the company on a decision whether to order another million Pfizer doses for delivery in September.

Ben-Gvir taunts Arab MK in Knesset committee hearing

Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir argues during an event titled "After 54 years: Between occupation and Apartheid" in the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir argues during an event titled "After 54 years: Between occupation and Apartheid" in the Knesset on June 22, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir taunts Joint List MK Osama Saadi during a heated discussion in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Ben-Gvir says to the committee’s head, Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben-Barak: “Check what the Shin Bet and the Mossad have on [Saadi].”

Ben-Barak replies: “I know what they have on him and I know what they have on you.”

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