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Israel said concerned about West Bank security escalation during Biden’s trip

Defense establishment worried lack of major deliverable by president to Palestinians will spark unrest, passes message asking PA to increase counter-terror operations in Jenin

Illustrative: A man hangs a Palestinian flag on a lamppost in the northern West Bank town of Huwara amid clashes with Israeli troops on May 29, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Illustrative: A man hangs a Palestinian flag on a lamppost in the northern West Bank town of Huwara amid clashes with Israeli troops on May 29, 2022. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

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

Sri Lanka’s president to step down on July 13, official says

Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the national anthem of Sri Lanka during the country's Independence Day celebration in Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa sings the national anthem of Sri Lanka during the country's Independence Day celebration in Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled his official residence earlier today to escape an angry mob of protesters, has agreed to step down next week, parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana says.

“To ensure a peaceful transition, the president said he will step down on July 13,” Abeywardana says in a televised statement.

UAE president congratulates Lapid on becoming prime minister

In this file photo taken in 2021, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan looks on as he attends a signing ceremony with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (Adem Altan/AFP)
In this file photo taken in 2021, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan looks on as he attends a signing ceremony with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (Adem Altan/AFP)

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan speaks to Prime Minister Yair Lapid to congratulate him on becoming prime minister last week.

According to the prime minister’s office, bin Zayed emphasized the importance of the relationship between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem. Lapid wished the UAE president his best wishes ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which begins Saturday evening.

During the call, Lapid noted Israel’s commitment to holding up the Abraham Accords as well as the Negev Summit and continuing the two nations’ strong relations in a variety of fields.

James Caan, ‘Godfather’ and ‘Misery’ star, son of German Jews, dies at 82

James Caan attends the 2016 Summer TCA 'Hallmark Event' on July 27, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
James Caan attends the 2016 Summer TCA 'Hallmark Event' on July 27, 2016, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

James Caan, the curly-haired tough guy known to movie fans as the hotheaded Sonny Corleone of “The Godfather” and to television audiences as both the dying football player in the classic weeper “Brian’s Song” and the casino boss in “Las Vegas,” has died. He was 82.

Bronx-born Caan was the child of Jewish immigrants from Germany — Sophie Falkenstein and Arthur Caan, a butcher and meat dealer.

His manager Matt DelPiano said he died on Wednesday. No cause was given.

“Jimmy was one of the greatest. Not only was he one of the best actors our business has ever seen, he was funny, loyal, caring and beloved,” DelPiano said. “Our relationship was always friendship before business. I will miss him dearly and am proud to have worked with him all these years.”

A football player at Michigan State University and a practical joker on production sets, Caan was a grinning, handsome performer with an athlete’s swagger and muscular build. He managed a long career despite drug problems, outbursts of temper and minor brushes with the law.

Caan had been a favorite of Francis Ford Coppola since the 1960s, when Coppola cast him for the lead in “Rain People.” He was primed for a featured role in “The Godfather” as Sonny, the No. 1 enforcer and eldest son of Mafia boss Vito Corleone.

Sonny Corleone, a violent and reckless man who conducted many killings, met his own end in one of the most jarring movie scenes in history. For decades after, he once said, strangers would approach him on the street and jokingly warn him to stay clear of toll roads.

Despite Coppola’s fears he had made a flop, the 1972 release was an enormous critical and commercial success and brought supporting actor Oscar nominations for Caan, Robert Duvall and Al Pacino.

“They called me a wiseguy,” he said later. “I won Italian of the Year twice in New York, and I’m Jewish, not Italian… I was denied in a country club once.”

Caan was already a star on television, breaking through in the 1971 TV movie “Brian’s Song,” an emotional drama about Chicago Bears running back Brian Piccolo, who had died of cancer the year before at age 26.

After “Brian’s Song” and “The Godfather,” he was one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, appearing in “Hide in Plain Sight” (which he also directed), “Funny Lady” (opposite Barbra Streisand), “The Killer Elite” and Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two,” among others. He also made a brief appearance in a flashback sequence in “The Godfather: Part II.”

But by the early 1980s, he began to sour on films. He had begun to struggle with drug use and was devastated by the 1981 leukemia death of his sister, Barbara, who until then had been a guiding force in his career.

He returned to full-fledged stardom opposite Kathy Bates in “Misery” in 1990.

Once again in demand, Caan starred in “For the Boys” with Bette Midler in 1991 as part of a song-and-dance team entertaining US soldiers during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. The following year he played a tongue-in-cheek version of Sonny Corleone in the comedy “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

Other later films included “Flesh and Bone,” “Bottle Rocket” and “Mickey Blue Eyes.” He introduced himself to a new generation by playing Walter, the workaholic, stone-faced father of Buddy’s Will Ferrell in “Elf.”

James Caan and his entourage visiting in Gush Etzion, 2016. (Courtesy: Or Gefen)

On a 2016 visit to Israel, Caan toured Jewish settlements in the West Bank and urged Israel not to return to its pre-1967 lines. “The European and American demands to return to the 1967 borders — aren’t sensible, and I object strongly to those demands,” he said.

He returned to Israel to film 2019’s “Holy Lands,” in which he played a retired Jewish cardiologist who moves to Israel to raise pigs in Nazareth.

Married and divorced four times, Caan had a daughter, Tara, and sons Scott, Alexander, James and Jacob.

US planes and staff land at Ben Gurion ahead of Biden visit

A presidential helicopter along with six US Army Black Hawk choppers landed at Ben Gurion Airport earlier today along with the security delegation and other US staff of the Biden administration, ahead of the president’s visit to Israel and the West Bank next week, Channel 12 reports.

Also arriving today at Ben Gurion were a shipment of 10 Secret Service armored vehicles that will be used to transport US President Joe Biden’s entourage.

Israel said concerned about West Bank security escalation during Biden’s trip

Then-US vice president Joe Biden upon his arrival at Ben Gurion airport, March 8, 2010. (Pool/Yariv Katz, Flash90)
Then-US vice president Joe Biden upon his arrival at Ben Gurion airport, March 8, 2010. (Pool/Yariv Katz, Flash90)

The Israeli security establishment is concerned about the possibility of a security escalation in the West Bank next week during US President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel, Channel 12 reports, citing no sources.

The security establishment claims that the fact that Biden is not expected to announce a major peace initiative will spark unrest among Palestinians, according to the report.

Accordingly, it has passed along a message asking the PA to expand its operations in Jenin, which is seen as a hotbed for terror activity.

The US has sought to push Israel to limit its own operations there as the town is within Area A, which is supposed to be under full PA control. However, the IDF regularly carries out raids in such towns.

Western Wall rabbi pans violence at the holy site, but calls on ‘all sides’ to avoid demonstrations

Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz at the site's plaza in 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinowitz at the site's plaza in 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The rabbi of the Western Wall speaks out against violence at the holy site after extremists overran the egalitarian section of the Western Wall last week.

In his statement, which was issued in English, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz does not only denounce the youths who disrupted prayer services in the egalitarian section but also appears to condemn the Women of the Wall, a feminist group that holds female-led prayer services at the Western Wall.

“The verbal and occasional physical violence that erupts among those coming to pray at the Western Wall, stemming from various extremist groups, desecrates G-d’s name, creates chasms between people, and harms the holiness of the site that unites the Jewish nation and world Jewry,” Rabinowitz says.

“I call upon all sides to remove disputes and demonstrations from this sacred site and preserve the Western Wall as a holy and unifying site in the spirit of Jewish heritage and tradition,” he says.

Ultra-Orthodox extremists cause significant damage to Jerusalem light rail

Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Jews with police to protest against a national draft bill, Jerusalem, April 10, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)
Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox Jews with police to protest against a national draft bill, Jerusalem, April 10, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File)

Ultra-Orthodox extremists have caused hundreds of thousands of shekels in damages to Jerusalem’s light rail during recent protests against a new planned route for the train, Channel 12 reports.

In one of the protests, participants attacked one Arab worker with an axe and a second employee had his leg broken and was shot by an air rifle, the network says.

Spain judge to probe Israel’s NSO over Catalan bugging

A logo adorns a wall on a branch of the Israeli NSO Group company, near the southern Israeli town of Sapir, August 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)
A logo adorns a wall on a branch of the Israeli NSO Group company, near the southern Israeli town of Sapir, August 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

A Spanish judge has authorized a probe into an Israeli firm behind the Pegasus spyware over the alleged hacking of phones belonging to Catalan independence supporters, court documents show.

More than 60 phones were targeted, most of them belonging to people associated with the Catalan separatist party ERC, with the complaint filed by party lawyer Andreu Van den Eynde.

The complaint was accepted on July 1 by the examining magistrate at a Barcelona court, with the decision released on Thursday.

In a statement, Van den Eynde says it was the first such investigation into Israel’s NSO Group and the use of its Pegasus software for espionage involving Catalan separatists.

According to court documents seen by AFP, the Spanish probe will seek to establish whether NSO committed any crime “in the creation and provision of the Pegasus program to third parties.”

It will also see whether the company carried out “actions or omissions” that involved the “verification of, access to and extraction of information” on mobile phones, as alleged by the plaintiff.

The scandal broke in April when Canadian cybersecurity watchdog Citizen Lab said more than 60 mobiles of people linked to the Catalan separatist movement had been tapped using Pegasus spyware after a failed independence bid in 2017.

Although Spain acknowledged its intelligence services had spied on the phones of 18 separatist leaders — with court approval — it said the “vast majority” of numbers identified by Citizen Lab were hacked by “unknown actors.”

Unlikely that an Israeli official will join Biden in Saudi Arabia — report

In this October 27, 2011 file photo, then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, offers his condolences to Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz upon the death of on his brother Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, at Prince Sultan palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
In this October 27, 2011 file photo, then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, offers his condolences to Prince Salman bin Abdel-Aziz upon the death of on his brother Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, at Prince Sultan palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

It is unlikely that an Israeli official will join US President Joe Biden in Saudi Arabia next week, Channel 13 reports, citing an Israeli source.

There was an unsourced Yedioth Ahronoth report earlier today, claiming that such a possibility was likely as Biden seeks to convince Riyadh to take steps toward normalizing ties with Israel.

UK PM accused of clinging to power for wedding bash

In this file photo taken on October 6, 2021, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and his wife Carrie (R) arrive at the Manchester Central convention center ahead of his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, northwest England. (Ben Stansall/AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 6, 2021, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and his wife Carrie (R) arrive at the Manchester Central convention center ahead of his keynote speech on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, northwest England. (Ben Stansall/AFP)

After lavishly redecorating their Downing Street flat, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie now risk being homeless — and face calls to find a new venue for their wedding party.

The couple married in a secret ceremony in London in May 2021 and were limited to having 30 guests at a garden party in Downing Street afterward because of COVID restrictions.

They have been planning a more glamorous reception at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat northwest of London, on July 30.

In announcing his resignation, Johnson said he would stay in office until a new Conservative leader is elected in the coming months, possibly until October.

But the Daily Mirror, Guardian and others reported that the timeline has more to do with his desire not to lose the perks of Chequers ahead of the bash, explaining that invitations had already gone out.

Critics said Johnson had the 16th-century country home on his mind in his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street, when at one point he misspoke in thanking “the wonderful staff here at Chequers.”

“As much as we’d all like to have a lavish wedding at the taxpayer’s expense in Chequers, he won’t be able to do so because the British public will find it abhorrent,” London mayor Sadiq Khan tells LBC radio.

“And those decent Tories… will not accept a situation where [Johnson] is seeking to stay on as prime minister for his personal benefit, rather than the national interest,” the opposition Labour politician says.

Chequers was already the subject of recent headlines over claims that the Johnsons wanted to build a treehouse there worth £150,000 ($180,000) for their two-year-old son Wilf. The Johnsons denied the allegation.

Netanyahu thanks Johnson for ‘firm stance in confronting antisemitism’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, welcomes Israel's then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Downing Street in London, September 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, welcomes Israel's then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside Downing Street in London, September 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu thanks outgoing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “friendship” following the latter’s resignation announcement earlier today.

“Thank you, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for your friendship and for cementing the bonds between Britain and Israel. I value your firm stance in confronting antisemitism and your efforts to further enhance the ties in trade, technology and security between our two countries. Best wishes to you and your family,” Netanyahu tweets.

UK’s Johnson: ‘Major fiscal decisions’ to be left to my successor

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks at Elmau Castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 26, 2022. (Martin Meissner/AP)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks at Elmau Castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 26, 2022. (Martin Meissner/AP)

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells his rejigged cabinet that “major fiscal decisions” should be left for his successor, hours after announcing his resignation as Conservative party leader.

“He said major fiscal decisions should be left for the next prime minister,” Downing Street says in a summary of this afternoon’s meeting, attended by several new ministers after their predecessors quit in recent days.

Russian prosecutor seeks 7 years in jail for councilor over criticism of Ukraine invasion

A Russian prosecutor has requested a seven-year prison term for a Moscow city councilor accused of criticizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Alexei Gorinov, a 60-year-old lawyer by training, was arrested in late April for spreading “knowingly false information” about the Russian army and is now on trial.

Gorinov is the first elected member of the opposition to face jail for criticizing Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

The charges come under new legislation that allows prison time for discrediting the Russian military and is part of Moscow’s increasing efforts to snuff out the last vestiges of dissent.

Speaking in Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court, the prosecutor accused Gorinov of undermining the “authority of the armed forces” and being guided by “political hatred,” an AFP journalist says.

Gorinov spoke up against Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine during a work meeting in March that was recorded on video and is available on YouTube.

During his speech, he questioned plans for an art competition for children in his constituency while “every day children are dying” in Ukraine.

Herzog calls Erdogan to wish him Happy Eid

President Isaac Herzog meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the presidential complex in Ankara on March 9, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog meets Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the presidential complex in Ankara on March 9, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog calls Turkish President Recep Erdoğan in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the former’s office says.

“During their phone call, Herzog emphasized the importance of the development of the bilateral relationship over the past year, which found expression today with Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s announcement of the signing of a new aviation agreement and with the Economy Minister’s decision to reopen Israel’s economic office in Turkey,” the Israeli readout says.

“The presidents expressed their satisfaction with the ongoing security coordination between Israel and Turkey and voiced their hopes for the further strengthening and promotion of their nations’ relationship.”

WNBA star Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russia

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

US basketball star Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug smuggling charges in a Russian court but denied intending to break the law in a case that has further inflamed tensions between Moscow and Washington.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, detained days before Russia sent troops to Ukraine, faces up to a decade behind bars for bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil into the country.

The star tells a court in the town of Khimki outside Moscow that she “would like to plead guilty” to all the charges and stressed she had “no intention” of breaking any Russian law.

“I was in a rush packing. And the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag.”

The athlete, who is six-foot-nine, wore a red T-shirt and matching trousers. She walked into the courtroom with her tattooed arms handcuffed to a Russian guard.

Her lawyer Alexander Boykov calls for “as soft a sentence as possible.”

He says Griner had “appreciated” receiving a letter from US President Joe Biden, who said on Wednesday that he would make bringing her home a “priority.”

Moscow hit back, saying that US “hype” over Griner would not help her case.

“The hype and working on the public, with all the love for this genre among modern politicians, currently only disturbs [the court process],” Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said.

“It does not just distract from the case but creates interference in the core sense of the word. Silence is needed here.”

Lapid tells graduating IDF officers Israel’s power is in its ‘togetherness’

In a speech to new IDF officers during their graduation ceremony, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says Israel is “stronger, more sophisticated, and tougher” than its enemies.

“Israel is stronger than all its enemies, and we will not hesitate to use force to maintain peace for our citizens. Our enemies need to know that at any given moment we are stronger, more sophisticated, and tougher than them,” Lapid says.

“And our enemies need to know one more thing: that we will stand up to them, together. That Israeli society is stronger than any argument. That Israeli power is the power of togetherness,” he says.

Lapid says “our mission as a society is to restore trust. The trust in our democracy, the trust in the IDF, in the police, in the court, and most importantly in restoring our trust in each other.”

“In order for our enemies to know that we are not worth messing with, a condition must exist. The condition is that the best young people in Israel, the most determined in Israel, come here, to Bahad 1,” he says, referring to the IDF officers’ school in southern Israel.

“I look at you — this condition is met,” he tells the officers.

Gantz warns Lebanon following Hezbollah attempts to launch drones at offshore gas field

An Israeli Sa'ar Class 5 Corvette guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
An Israeli Sa'ar Class 5 Corvette guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Speaking at an IDF officer graduation ceremony Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns Lebanon following attempts by the Hezbollah terror group to launch drones at an offshore gas field.

In the past week, there have been failed attempts by Hezbollah to launch UAVs near the Karish gas rig, which have been foiled,” Gantz says.

“The State of Israel knows how to protect its assets well, and Hezbollah needs to understand that the mission it is carrying out on behalf of Iran could become a deadly mission that will first and foremost harm the interests of the Lebanese citizens,” he says.

“It is the state of Lebanon that is responsible for stopping Iranian aggression from its territory carried out by Hezbollah,” Gantz adds.

Top health official declares polio vaccine drive a success

A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child as part of a UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign at the Abou Dhar Al Ghifari Primary Health Care Center in Damascus, Syria. (AP/UNICEF, Omar Sanadiki)
A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child as part of a UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign at the Abou Dhar Al Ghifari Primary Health Care Center in Damascus, Syria. (AP/UNICEF, Omar Sanadiki)

Israel’s public health chief Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis has declared Israel’s polio vaccine campaign a success.

The national campaign started in March, after the first clinical polio case in 34 years was found in an unvaccinated 4-year-old girl, followed by several asymptomatic cases.

Then, uptake of the most important polio shots, namely the killed vaccine administered between six and 18 months, stood at 81 percent. Now it is 96%.

Alroy-Preis told a press briefing on Thursday that the national vaccination campaign will now be reduced, and efforts will focus on Jerusalem. This was the location of the reported cases, and is seen by health officials as the main risk area.

Ukraine warns Haredi Israelis against flying to country for annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage

Ukraine warns ultra-Orthodox Israelis against flying to the country for the annual pilgrimage to the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov during the Rosh Hashanah holiday, due to dangers posed by the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian Embassy notes on social media that due to the ongoing war, all visitors are banned from the country and that celebrations over the Jewish new year were “uncertain.”

Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk tells ultra-Orthodox media that the country “cannot guarantee the security of pilgrims” due to the Russian offensive, and asked the ultra-Orthodox community to “pray for the victory of Ukraine.”

“We hope that the prayers will be fulfilled and that Ukraine will once again be a country that generously receives visitors from Israel, and especially Jews who come to Ukraine to visit the graves of the righteous,” he adds.

The city of Uman, the site of the Rabbi’s grave, normally sees some 30,000 visitors, most of them from Israel, for the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Conservative Friends of Israel thanks Johnson for ‘unwavering support

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a Conservative Friends of Israel event in London, Britain, November 29, 2021. (Stuart Mitchell)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a Conservative Friends of Israel event in London, Britain, November 29, 2021. (Stuart Mitchell)

The UK-based Conservative Friends of Israel thanks outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his “unwavering support” in a statement released immediately after the scandal-ridden premier announced his resignation.

“Boris Johnson has been resolute in his support of the State of Israel and the UK’s Jewish community. From announcing legislation to tackle pernicious boycotts of Israel to proscribing the Hamas terror group in its entirety, Boris Johnson has stood up for Israel at every turn. The UK-Israel relationship is stronger than ever before and, under his leadership, the UK Government has opposed antisemitism in all its forms and wherever it occurs. His resounding victory over Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 was a pivotal moment in our country’s history and for the UK’s Jewish community,” CFI says.

UAE court gives Israeli woman life imprisonment for drug offense after death sentence struck down

Fidaa Kiwan. (Courtesy)
Fidaa Kiwan. (Courtesy)

An Israeli woman has been sentenced to life in prison in Dubai, her defense team announces after her death penalty sentence for possession of an illegal substance was overturned by an appeals court last week.

Fidaa Kiwan was sentenced to death in April after she was convicted of the drug charge but the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court canceled the punishment, a decision her lawyers Shadi Saruji and Tami Ullman called “a humane decision, and a right one.”

Kiwan, a 43-year-old Haifa resident who owns a photography studio, reportedly came to Dubai for work at the invitation of a Palestinian acquaintance a year ago. She was arrested a short while later, on March 17, 2021, after a search of her apartment turned up the drugs. She has claimed that the cocaine was not hers.

Blinken told Lapid US still wants to see accountability for killing of Abu Akleh — report

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid walk together after a news conference, March 27, 2022, at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, and Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid walk together after a news conference, March 27, 2022, at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in a phone call yesterday that while the State Department found the IDF did not intentionally kill Shireen Abu Akleh, it still wants to see accountability for the incident, Axios reports

A forensic examination of the bullet used to kill Abu Akleh by the US Security Coordinator in Jerusalem found that it was too damaged to make a definitive determination. However, after reviewing both Israeli and PA probes, the USSC said Monday that the lethal gunfire likely originated from an IDF position.

While Israel was not pleased with the latter conclusion, it had assumed the issue was done with, Israeli officials told Axios.

But that appeared not to be the case as Blinken still raised the matter in his call with Lapid, during which he also congratulated him on becoming prime minister.

2 cops stabbed while responding to a domestic violence incident in Baqa al-Gharbiya

Screen capture from video of a car in which three men were shot, one of them fatally, in the northern Arab Israeli town of Baqa al-Gharbiya, June 23, 2020. (Ynet)
Screen capture from video of a car in which three men were shot, one of them fatally, in the northern Arab Israeli town of Baqa al-Gharbiya, June 23, 2020. (Ynet)

Two police officers are stabbed while responding to a domestic violence incident in the city of Baqa al-Gharbiya in the Haifa district.

A 27-year old man allegedly stabs his partner, moderately wounding her, then  stabs both police officers as they attempt to subdue and arrest him, lightly injuring one and moderately wounding the other.

The police officers manage to arrest the man despite their wounds.

The attacker’s 26-year old partner, who is also moderately injured, and the two police officers are taken to Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera for treatment.

Reform, Conservative movements call on PM to shore up security at Western Wall egalitarian section

An ultra-Orthodox youth wipes his nose with a page torn from a siddur at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Screen capture: Masorti movement on Twitter)
An ultra-Orthodox youth wipes his nose with a page torn from a siddur at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall on June 30, 2022. (Screen capture: Masorti movement on Twitter)

The heads of the American Reform and Conservative Movements appeal to Prime Minister Yair Lapid after ultra-Orthodox zealots overran bar and bat mitzvah services being held at the egalitarian section of the Western Wall last week, imploring him to shore up security at the site and ensure its future existence for progressive Jews.

“Mr. prime minister, we turn to you because this situation cannot go on. We represent millions of Jews who cannot tolerate such behavior, who are tired of being treated as second-class citizens at the Wall,” write Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

The two rabbis call for Lapid to implement the long-stalled Western Wall compromise, an agreement that would give non-Orthodox representation and official status in the management of the holy site.

“We are aware of the complex political situation. But we believe this time presents an opportunity for Tikkun (repair). It is time to begin a new era, which will start to repair the grave injustice which has been occurring on a daily basis at the Wall towards liberal Jews,” they write.

They call for Lapid to instruct police to intervene to prevent violent disruptions at the egalitarian section; to ensure that the area remains open to mixed-gender prayer; to fix the facilities at the site to allow worshipers to reach the stones of the Wall; and to make representatives of the movements the official managers of the site.

“All these steps can be taken tomorrow. We know there are many challenges for the prime minister of Israel. But this is one challenge which should be and can be addressed immediately,” they say.

Gantz: Security officials have had 150 meetings with new Gulf allies since normalization

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) and Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding at the Bahraini defense headquarters, on February 3, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (right) and Bahraini Minister of Defense Affairs Abdullah Bin Hassan Al Nuaimi shake hands after signing a memorandum of understanding at the Bahraini defense headquarters, on February 3, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

In a briefing to reporters this morning, Defense Minister Benny Gantz says since diplomatic ties were normalized between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain two years ago, Israeli defense and military officials have conducted some 150 meetings with their counterparts in the Gulf states.

Gantz adds that more than $3 billion \worth of arms sales to Israel’s new Arab allies were signed during the same period.

According to Defense Ministry figures published earlier this year, the UAE and Bahrain account for 7% of the total arms purchases from Israel in 2021.

The briefing is given ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia next week.

During his July 13-17 visit, Biden is slated to be shown Israeli defense systems, including an in-development high-powered laser interception system, the ministry says.

The ministry has been testing the laser-based defense system for several years, shooting down drones, unguided rockets and anti-tank guided missiles in a series of tests in March.

The Walla news site reports that Jerusalem hopes to partner with Washington on the project, including American investment in further development and deployment of the system.

Other reports suggest Israel intends to ask Biden to approve the delivery of the system to Arab countries aligned against Iran, including Saudi Arabia.

The move would be part of a US-led effort to establish regional cooperation against the threat of Iranian attack drones and missiles.

Gantz has said Israel was building a regional air defense alliance against Iran, and spoke last week of a possible “breakthrough” during Biden’s visit to the region.

Kyiv thanks Johnson for ‘always being at the forefront of supporting Ukraine’

In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pose for a photo during their meeting in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, June 17, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right, and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, pose for a photo during their meeting in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, June 17, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

Kyiv on Thursday thanked Britain’s Boris Johnson for supporting Ukraine in “the hardest times” following Russia’s invasion, after the politician stepped down as Conservative leader, clearing the way for his departure as prime minister.

“Thanks @BorisJohnson for… always being at the forefront of supporting Ukraine,” presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak writes on Twitter.

UK’s Truss calls for ‘calmness, unity’ after Johnson resignation

Britain's Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss delivers a speech during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, on March 1, 2022. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI / various sources / AFP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss delivers a speech during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, on March 1, 2022. (SALVATORE DI NOLFI / various sources / AFP)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calls for “calmness and unity” after Boris Johnson quit as Conservative Party leader following a series of scandals and an exodus of cabinet ministers.

“The PM has made the right decision. The Government under Boris’s leadership had many achievements — delivering Brexit, vaccines and backing Ukraine. We need calmness and unity now and to keep governing while a new leader is found,” she tweets from Bali where she is scheduled to attend a G20 ministerial meeting on Friday.

Herzog to award Biden Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor during next week’s visit

Then-US Vice President Joe Biden (left) with then Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog. in 2015 (Isaac Herzog/Twitter)
Then-US Vice President Joe Biden (left) with then Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog. in 2015 (Isaac Herzog/Twitter)

President Isaac Herzog will award US President Joe Biden the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor during his visit to Israel next week, Herzog’s office announces.

The medal, given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to Israel or humanity, will be granted in a ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

The president will be giving the decoration to recognize Biden’s “true friendship with the State of Israel, the people of Israel, and the Jewish People; his uncompromising decades-long commitment to Israel’s security; his contributions to deepening, strengthening, and enhancing the strong and unwavering alliance between Israel and the United States of America; and his struggle against anti-Israeli and antisemitic hatred around the world.”

The award, bestowed on 26 people thus far, was initiated by then-president Shimon Peres in 2012. The medal, based on the French Legion of Honor, was last given in 2014. Herzog’s predecessor, Reuven Rivlin, did not grant it at all. Herzog reconstituted the Medal of Honor advisory committee upon taking office, under retired Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger.

“Since the start of President Biden’s rich career in public service in the 1970s, he has established himself as a person who loves Israel and is a true friend of the whole Jewish People,” says the committee in its recommendation that Biden receive the medal.

UK warship seizes advanced Iranian missiles bound for Yemen

A US Navy Seahawk helicopter flies over a stateless dhow later found to be carrying a hidden arms shipment in the Arabian Sea, May 6, 2021. (US Navy via AP)
A US Navy Seahawk helicopter flies over a stateless dhow later found to be carrying a hidden arms shipment in the Arabian Sea, May 6, 2021. (US Navy via AP)

A British Royal Navy vessel has seized a sophisticated shipment of Iranian missiles in the Gulf of Oman earlier this year, officials say, pointing to the interdiction as proof of Tehran’s support for Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the embattled country.

The British government statement is striking in that it provided some of the strongest findings to date that Tehran is arming the Houthis against the Saudi-led military coalition with advanced weapons smuggled through the Persian Gulf.

The UK Embassy in the United Arab Emirates described the seizure of surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles as “the first time a British naval warship has interdicted a vessel carrying such sophisticated weapons from Iran.”

“The UK will continue to work in support of an enduring peace in Yemen and is committed to international maritime security so that commercial shipping can transit safely without threat of disruption,” says James Heappey, minister for the Armed Forces.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations does not respond to a request for comment.

The announcement signals an escalation as Western officials have in the past shied away from public statements that definitively blame Iran for arming Yemen’s Houthis with military contraband. The route of the smuggled shipments through the Arabian Sea or Gulf of Aden, however, has strongly suggested their destination.

Who could take over as UK prime minister?

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks back into 10 Downing Street in central London on July 7, 2022 after making a statement (Daniel LEAL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks back into 10 Downing Street in central London on July 7, 2022 after making a statement (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

Britain’s Boris Johnson announced his resignation as Conservative leader, paving the way for an internal party contest to replace him and become prime minister.

While several possible successors have been suggested, there is no clear favorite.

Rishi Sunak

The UK’s first Hindu chancellor of the exchequer, who quit on Tuesday, was until recently the bookmakers’ favorite.

But his prospects were dented by questions over his private wealth and family’s tax arrangements.

His resignation has seen him return as one of the bookies’ frontrunners for the top job.

Sunak, 42, has a high profile on social media, and won plaudits for shoring up the economy during the pandemic.

But his refusal initially to authorize more support over a surging cost-of-living crisis has hurt his popularity.

Jeremy Hunt

Former foreign and health secretary Jeremy Hunt, 55, lost to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest, when he branded himself as the “serious” alternative.

Hunt sent a thinly veiled campaign message for a new leadership bid last month, arguing that under Johnson “we are no longer trusted by the electorate” and “we are set to lose the next general election”.

But the fluent Japanese speaker lacks Johnson’s charisma. His pre-pandemic record as health secretary was recently savaged by a Johnson ally.

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, 46, is popular among Conservative party members, liked for her outspokenness and willingness to go on the political attack.

But that has also stoked questions about her judgement, for instance when in February she encouraged Britons to fight in Ukraine. Critics say her leadership posturing is too overt.

When she headed the Department for International Trade, some MPs dubbed it the “Department for Instagramming Truss” because of her prolific output on the social media site.

Away this week at a G20 meeting, she has reportedly cut her trip short to return to Westminster and make a statement later Thursday.

Sajid Javid

Javid, who also quit as health secretary on Tuesday, had previously resigned as finance minister in 2020.

The 52-year-old is the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who went on to become a high-flying banker.

Like Sunak, he also faces questions about his personal wealth and tax affairs.

Ben Wallace

The defense secretary, 52, has narrowly topped some recent polls of Tory grassroots’ preferred next leader due to his role in the Ukraine crisis.

The former army officer and Johnson ally has downplayed wanting to lead the party but is seen as a straight-talking and competent.

Nadhim Zahawi

Newly appointed as finance minister, Nadhim Zahawi, 55, was praised for overseeing Britain’s pandemic vaccines rollout, before helming the education department.

Zahawi is a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child speaking no English. Before entering politics, he co-founded the prominent polling company YouGov.

But his private wealth has also drawn adverse attention, including when he claimed parliamentary expenses for heating his horse stables.

Tom Tugendhat

The former army officer, 49, is a prominent backbencher who chairs parliament’s influential Foreign Affairs Committee.

Tugendhat has indicated he will stand in any leadership contest but there is no love lost between him and Johnson loyalists.

A hawk on China, he has been critical of the government’s handling of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Penny Mordaunt

Mordaunt, 49, is the first woman to have been UK defense secretary and is currently a junior trade minister.

The Royal navy reservist is seen as likely to run but considered a long shot.

A strong Brexit supporter and key figure in the 2016 “Leave” campaign, she has been tipped as a potential unity candidate who could draw support from the Conservative party’s warring factions.

Dominic Raab

Deputy prime minister and justice secretary Dominic Raab, 48, led the country when Johnson was in intensive care in hospital with COVID-19 in 2020.

The former lawyer and karate black belt is seen as a reliable ally.

But his move to justice from the post of foreign secretary was seen as a demotion after he initially failed to cut short a holiday as the Afghan capital Kabul fell to the Taliban.

Suella Braverman

Attorney General Suella Braverman has revealed she intends to stand in a party leadership contest during media interviews since Wednesday in which she urged Johnson to go.

The arch-Brexiteer, 42, is another long-shot candidate, popular within the party for her Euroscepticism.

She is one of 28 so-called “Spartan” Tory MPs, who refused to back ex-Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal on all three occasions it was voted on in parliament

Israel, Turkey sign deal to update aviation agreement

Israel and Turkey sign an outline civilian aviation agreement on July 7, 2022. (Boaz Oppenheim, GPO)
Israel and Turkey sign an outline civilian aviation agreement on July 7, 2022. (Boaz Oppenheim, GPO)

Israel and Turkey sign an outline civilian aviation agreement, set to replace the current accord dating back to 1951.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed last month to work toward the new agreement in their recent meetings in Jerusalem and in Ankara, as the two countries continue to move steadily toward restoring full diplomatic relations.

Irit Lillian, charge d’affaires in Ankara, tells The Times of Israel that this is a “first step” in the signing of the full aviation agreement.

“We have finished the round of talks between the two countries and between the two aviation authorities,” she says. “The two governments now have to finish the process according to their own procedures, then the document will be ready for the signature of the ministers and will go into effect.”

The outline agreement is signed by Joel Feldschuh, the Civil Aviation Authority director general, during a ceremony conducted by video conference.

Lillian stresses that today’s signing was still an important step, “because it means that the agreement, in our eyes, is set.”

The final agreement is expected to reflect changes in the aviation procedures, laws, and technology, and also updates the number of flights allowed between the countries.

The finer details of the agreement now must pass through both countries’ internal approval processes, which could well be held up in Israel because of the current political situation.

The agreement does not solve the disagreements keeping Israeli carriers from flying to Turkey.

Israeli airlines have been unable to fly to any destination in Turkey since 2007, because Turkish authorities refused to cooperate with Israel’s special security requirements.

“It’s an important step, but there are additional professional details that must be closed,” Lillian explains. The aviation authorities must meet again to work out those details, and Israel’s security agencies will have to review them as well.

The aviation agreement signed today is not a precondition for the return of Israeli carriers to Turkey, but makes the work on finding a security agreement much easier, says Lillian.

The last time the two sides discussed a new civilian aviation agreement was in 2013, but those efforts failed.

In the past year and a half, Jerusalem and Ankara have been working to move beyond the years-long crisis in relations between the two sides. President Isaac Herzog and Lapid visited Turkey this year, and Israel’s senior leaders have spoken several times with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The two sides are focused on signing a range of agreements as part of the upturn in bilateral ties.

“This is an important milestone in the deepening and broadening of the relation between the countries,” says Lillian.

Resigning Johnson on lost support: ‘When the herd moves, it moves’

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on July 6, 2022 (Daniel LEAL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on July 6, 2022 (Daniel LEAL / AFP)

“As we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves,” Boris Johnson says in his resignation speech, noting how quickly he lost the support of his colleagues.

‘In politics, no one is indispensable’: Scandal-ridden Johnson announces resignation

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers resignation speech at Downing Street, London, July 7, 2022 (Screen grab/Sky News)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers resignation speech at Downing Street, London, July 7, 2022 (Screen grab/Sky News)

UK Prime Minister announces that he is resigning amid repeated scandals that drew his credibility into question.

“In politics, no one is remotely indispensable,” he says in a speech in front of 10 Downing Street.

Johnson is defiant in his remarks and spends most of the speech hailing what he says were his accomplishments as premier.

He does not give a timetable for when he’ll resign but says he’ll do so next week.

Johnson says he’ll appoints a new cabinet, amid the flood of resignations in recent days.

He insists his Tory party is capable of choosing a new leader and says that he’ll give that person as much support as he can.

“I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world,” he says.

At least one killed, several wounded in bombing in Ukraine’s Kramatorsk

Ukrainian service men check for signs of life among casualties lying on the platform in the aftermath of a rocket attack on the railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, in the Donbass region on April 8, 2022. (Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)
Ukrainian service men check for signs of life among casualties lying on the platform in the aftermath of a rocket attack on the railway station in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, in the Donbass region on April 8, 2022. (Anatolii STEPANOV / AFP)

At least one person was killed and several others injured in a strike on Kramatorsk, an administrative center of Ukraine’s eastern region under Russian attack, AFP journalists say.

The explosion leaves a large crater in a courtyard located between a hotel and residential buildings, the journalists at the scene say, adding they saw the body of one person killed and several injured, as well as two cars on fire.

Johnsons’s impending resignation triggers frenzied speculation regarding successor

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations (Leon Neal / POOL / AFP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during the Platinum Pageant in London on June 5, 2022 as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations (Leon Neal / POOL / AFP)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is slated to announce his resignation in the coming minutes, though it is not yet clear when it will go into effect.

Regardless, the news has triggered speculation regarding who might replace him.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson “will make a statement to the country today,” and multiple reports said he would be stepping down after three tumultuous years in office.

A Tory leadership race will take place over the summer and the victor will replace Johnson by the party’s annual conference in early October, the BBC and others report.

Defense minister Ben Wallace and Rishi Sunak, whose departure as finance minister on Tuesday sparked the exodus, are among the early frontrunners, according to a YouGov survey of Conservative party members.

Those members will decide the new leader once Tory MPs have whittled down the contenders to a final two.

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