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

Haredi protesters against Jerusalem Light Rail block road in capital

A group of Haredi protesters rallying against the construction of a new light rail line in Jerusalem are blocking roads and causing damage to the construction site, say police.

Police say they are working to reopen the road, and prevent any damage while allowing a peaceful protest to continue.

For several years, extremist ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to the construction of a new rail line through the Haredi neighborhood have staged often violent protests at the construction site, leading to many arrests and significant setbacks in the building process.

Israel facing South Korea in fight for third place in U-20 World Cup

Israel is facing off now against South Korea in the fight to capture third place in the Under-20 World Cup tournament in Argentina.

Israel’s fairytale run for the championship ended last week when it lost 1-0 to Uruguay in the semifinal.

Uruguay will face Italy for the final later tonight.

Report: US informs UNESCO it will rejoin agency six years after Trump withdrawal

The US has informed UNESCO that it plans to rejoin the UN agency six years after the Trump administration quit the body over its purported anti-Israel bias, according to the Axios news site.

Israel and the United States suspended their funding to UNESCO in 2011 after the Palestinians were admitted as members. Both countries lost their voting rights as a result. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it planned to leave UNESCO entirely, and Israel later followed suit.

Israel indicated last year that it was not opposed to the US rejoining the international body.

Brot replaces vocal Netanyahu critic Bibas as head of Likud Municipal Committee

Likud’s core group of party members elects representatives for its Municipal Committee, four months out from Israel’s country-wide municipal elections.

In line with recommendations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, members of Likud’s Central Committee voted in Bat Yam Mayor Tzvika Brot to chair the panel responsible for Likud branch elections, and for divvying up budgets to candidates in October’s municipal contest.

Brot replaces Modiin Mayor Haim Bibas, who ran the committee in Israel’s prior two rounds of municipal contests, in 2018 and 2013. Bibas came out strongly against Netanyahu’s handling of his coalition’s plan to overhaul the judiciary, rallying fellow mayors to publicly call for Netanyahu to hit the skids, shortly before the premier actually did pause the legislation.

In May, reports circulated that Netanyahu planned to exact revenge on Bibas by not placing him atop of this year’s Municipal Committee.

Bibas, who also leads the association of Israel’s mayors, later clashed with the coalition by fighting against a budgetary provision to transfer municipal tax money from commercially successful cities to less industrial ones.

Netanyahu instructs Shin Bet to join fight against Arab mob violence ‘despite the difficulties’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubles down on his call to involve the Shin Bet in the fight against the wave of violent crime in the Arab community.

At the conclusion of a meeting this evening with top police and Shin Bet officials, Netanyahu’s office says he has instructed authorities to prepare for the security agency to become involved — despite voices of opposition.

“Despite the difficulties, the abilities of the Shin Bet must be harnessed in the war against the mob families in the Arab community,” Netanyahu says.

More than 100 Arab Israelis have been murdered in violent crimes since the start of 2023, well ahead of the figure at the same time last year.

The meeting was attended by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai, and other officials.

IDF soldier seriously wounded during training accident in south

An Israeli cadet in a Combat Engineering Corps officers’ training course was seriously wounded in an apparent training accident in southern Israel earlier today, the Israel Defense Forces says.

According to the IDF’s initial probe, the cadet was crushed by the door of an armored personnel carrier (APC) at the Tzeelim training base. He was struck in the head and chest by the heavy door.

The IDF says the soldier was taken to the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for treatment, and his family has been notified of his injury.

The incident is being investigated, the IDF adds.

UN postpones conference on antisemitism that was slated for next week

A UN conference on antisemitism that was scheduled to take place next week in Cordoba, Spain has been postponed.

The confab was supposed to feature the rollout of the United Nations Action Plan of Monitoring Antisemitism, but the Israeli mission to the UN and several Jewish organizations have been pushing back in recent weeks upon reportedly learning that the draft dropped the assertion that anti-Zionism is equivalent to antisemitism.

“We look forward to continuing to work with United Nations Undersecretary and High Representative Moratinos to ensure that the UN Action Plan on Antisemitism is credible and useful,” said conference of presidents CEO William Daroff.

“American Jewish organizations work closely with our international partners, foreign governments, and the US State Department in dialogue with the United Nations to emphasize our priorities, including continuing recognition by the UN of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which was adopted by 41 UN member states. The IHRA definition remains the gold standard, as highlighted by the fact that no other definition of antisemitism has been adopted by any country in the world,” he said.

Conference participants received a letter on Friday from the UN office organizing the gathering, saying that “after very careful consideration and aiming to ensure the Action Plan is inclusive and benefits from the inputs of all stakeholders, I would like to allow more time for further work and finalization of the Plan during Summer 2023.”

The conference has been pushed to September, organizers say in a letter shared with The Times of Israel. No exact date has been set yet.

Ex military chief says IDF ‘was asked’ to carry out ‘broad attack’ against IS in 2015

Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot reveals that the Israeli military was asked by a third party to carry out operational attacks against the Islamic State in 2015.

Speaking at the INSS conference, Eisenkot — a current MK with the National Unity party — says that “ISIS knows best how much the IDF operated in the Middle East — they paid a price of hundreds of killed and injured.”

Eisenkot says that “during 2015, there was an event in a certain place where we were asked to carry out an attack.” The IDF carried out “a relatively broad attack and harmed a great number of ISIS fighters.”

The former IDF chief does not elaborate on who made such a request and where the activity took place, although he says the IDF operated against the terror group “in many more than one country.” He adds that some of the IDF activity “went under the radar” at the time.

“There are not many countries in the world who know how to locate targets the size of a podium and get a missile on a target within a 1,000-kilometer radius around Israel,” Eisenkot adds. “Our enemies saw it, the Russians saw it, the Americans saw it.”

Herzog says he hopes judicial talks will ‘find the boundaries’ between branches of government

President Isaac Herzog says the fight over the judicial overhaul is a long-overdue constitutional discussion, calling it “a potentially healthy process where we air out our differences and talk to each other.”

Speaking at the AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv, Herzog expresses his hope that the parties talking at his official residence will find “solutions which preserve our democracy, protect our democracy, protect the independence of our judiciary… while finding the boundaries between our arms of government.”

Herzog also says the Abraham Accords “created a real opening of Jewish-Muslim interactions” which is “immensely important and I truly believe the effort for the next chapter will be with Saudi Arabia.”

The event, the first headed by Ted Deutch, a former Democrat congressman who last year assumed the role of CEO of American Jewish Committee, is attended by the prime minister of Lithuania, Ingrida Šimonytė, and several other European dignitaries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in April canceled an appearance at the Jewish Federations of North America conference in Israel amid mass protests outside that event’s Tel Aviv venue, addresses the AJC event in a video message, thanking the organization’s efforts to make Israel a successful nation.

Lapid: Opposition and coalition are united against return to ‘bad deal’ with Iran

Speaking to AJC CEO Ted Deutch in Tel Aviv, opposition leader Yair Lapid says that Israel is united against a return to the JCPOA nuclear deal or a similar agreement.

“The easiest way to get the Iran issue off the table for the current [US] administration is by signing a deal,” he says. “This will be very wrong. On this there is no coalition and opposition in Israel, everyone is on the same note, saying do not sign a bad deal.”

He adds that stopping Iran “needs to be part of a global mission” orchestrated by the US.

“A new version of the JCPOA is not enough to stop Iran from going nuclear,” he adds.

Police arrest 3 armed men in parking lot of Nazareth hospital ahead of suspected mob hit

Police officers arrest three individuals just outside the Holy Family Hospital in Nazareth on suspicion of planning a deadly attack inside the medical facility.

The three masked men were caught in a stolen car with stolen plates in the parking lot of the hospital with two loaded guns and a bottle of lighter fluid that police believe was intended to set the car alight following the attack. In bodycam video of the incident shared by police, officers can be seen ordering the suspects out of the car at gunpoint before arresting them.

“We see once again that the war among criminal organizations has no boundaries,” says Northern District Commander Shuki Tahauko. “Were it not for the brave actions of the police officers, we could have found ourselves in a very different outcome to this incident, including loss of life and even harm to uninvolved innocents inside the hospital.”

Former Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon arrested in party finance probe

Former Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon is arrested as part of an investigation into financial irregularities, according to police and UK media.

“A 52-year-old woman has today… been arrested as a suspect in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the Scottish National Party,” Police Scotland say in a statement, with British media confirming her identity as Sturgeon.

Nides: ‘Wouldn’t it be grand if we wake up’ to news of Saudi-Israeli normalization?

Speaking at start of the AJC Global Forum in Tel Aviv, US Ambassador Tom Nides offers rare praise for the Donald Trump administration, calling the Abraham Accords “one of the most significant foreign policy achievements in the Middle East for a long time.”

“Wouldn’t it be grand if we wake up someday and there’s a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and the State of Israel,” he says, amid White House efforts to broker a pact between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

He reiterates US support for Israel against Gaza-based terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. “PIJ is so bad that even Hamas doesn’t want to hang around with them” he says. “No country anywhere in the world would tolerate” hundreds of rockets being fire at them, Nides continues, referring to rockets fired by PIJ in May.

Turning to the Palestinians, Nides stresses that “we cannot lose the vision of a two-state solution.”

The US ambassador, who is returning to the US next month following two years on the job, offers an optimistic read on the ongoing internal fight over the judicial overhaul.

“Israel is going through an unusual period in its history,” he says, adding that “democracy is alive and well in Israel and we should appreciate that.”

Senior IDF officers meet Egyptian counterparts in Cairo to discuss deadly border shooting

Three senior Israel Defense Forces officers traveled to Cairo this morning to meet with Egyptian army officials as part of the investigation into a deadly attack on the border earlier this month.

The IDF says the chief of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, the head of the military’s international cooperation unit, Brig. Gen. Effie Defrin, and the head of Military Intelligence operations, Brig. Gen. “Gimmel” — who can only be identified by his first initial in Hebrew — met with the Egyptian army officers to continue the investigation.

In the attack on June 3, an Egyptian border policeman infiltrated into Israel and killed three soldiers — two at a guard post and one in an armed clash several hours later. The attacker was then shot dead.

The joint investigation between the IDF and the Egyptian army began several hours after the attack, after Egyptian defense officials toured the scene and met with Israeli officers.

“Both sides expressed their commitment to an in-depth investigation and reaching the truth,” the IDF says.

Ministers again delay climate bill discussion, vote

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation again delays a debate and vote on a climate bill, as the finance and energy ministries persist in their demands for emission reduction targets to be non-binding and the Environmental Protection Ministry insists they must be to have any value.

The government pledged in its coalition agreement to pass a climate law that would commit it to cutting global warming emissions by 50% by 2030. That raised the bar from 27% included in a climate bill that passed its Knesset first reading in July last year under the previous government’s Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg.

This stated desire for an improved goal was given as the reason — or excuse — not to vote to continue the Zandberg bill, but to submit a new one from scratch. But interministerial wrangling has meant that no progress is being made.

Likud MK Vaturi pulls out of race for spot on Judicial Selection Committee

Likud MK Nissim Vaturi pulls out of Wednesday’s race in which the Knesset will elect two lawmakers to the panel that appoints judges.

Vaturi tweets that he has “decided to remove my candidacy for the Judicial Selection Committee, for the benefit of two representatives from the coalition.”

Traditionally, one coalition MK takes a spot and one opposition MK takes a spot. But government officials have threatened that the coalition will take both unless there is progress in ongoing talks on a negotiated reform of the judiciary, while opposition leaders have threatened to ditch the discussions if they don’t get control over one of the seats.

Usually, only two nominees remain on the ballot by the time of the closed-door election in the Knesset.

However, Likud lawmaker Tally Gotliv has pledged to run until the end. Speaking to Army Radio this morning, Gotliv dodged a question on what she would do if Netanyahu asked her directly to quit the race, saying only that she did not believe he would ask her and that she would not be pulling her nomination.

Ministers approve bill that would criminalize incitement against Haredim

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation votes to back a bill that would criminalize incitement against ultra-Orthodox Jews, as part of Israel’s anti-racism law.

United Torah Judaism lawmaker MK Yaakov Asher, who sponsored the bill, says “the time has come to draw a red line against dangerous and rampant incitement against the Haredi public.”

“The bill will enable extracting a price from instigators and will clarify that Haredi citizens’ blood is not cheap,” Asher adds.

19 soldiers hurt in crash between bus and truck in southern Israel

One soldier is moderately hurt and 18 others are lightly hurt in a bus crash in southern Israel, along with the bus driver, the military and medics say.

The crash between the bus and a truck occurred at the Tlalim junction on the Route 40 highway. The 39 soldiers on the bus were being taken to an army base further south.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service says a female soldier in her 20s is moderately hurt, and 18 other soldiers and the bus driver are lightly hurt.

They are all taken to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for treatment.

The IDF says their families have been notified.

Yacht bursts into flames in Egypt’s Red Sea

Three British tourists are missing after a motor yacht catches fire in Egypt’s Red Sea, authorities say.

The Red Sea governorate says in a statement that “15 English passengers, 10 members of the crew, and two tour guides” have been rescued, and that the search for the missing three is ongoing.

Video circulating on media and online shows a white motor yacht named “Hurricane” with flames erupting from it.

Initial reports blame the fire on an electrical fault in the engine room, officials say.

Ukraine’s first lady expected to visit Israel next week

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska is expected next week in Israel, where she will be hosted by her Israeli counterpart Michal Herzog.

Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, is slated to land in Israel early next week, according to diplomatic officials, who also note that the dates are not yet finalized. The visit will focus on post-trauma care.

Ukraine’s embassy in Israel will not confirm the dates.

Zelenska is expected to visit Ukrainian soldiers undergoing rehabilitation in Israel, among other plans.

Man seriously injured in motorcycle bombing in Ramat Gan

A man is seriously injured as a motorcycle explodes in Ramat Gan in what was apparently an organized crime bombing.

The blast happened on Rashi Street in the Tel Aviv suburb.

The motorcycle rider, 28, suffers injuries to his limbs and is taken to the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv. He is not immediately identified by police, who opened an investigation into the incident.

Five other people are lightly injured, with some requiring hospital treatment.

Police chief spending several days in Germany for personal reasons

Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai says that he will be leaving the country for a few days to accompany a family member to Germany where they will undergo a medical procedure.

Shabtai says that he pushed off his trip in order to take part in a discussion led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today to tackle the sharp rise in violent crime in the Arab community.

The police chief is slated to depart tomorrow and return on Thursday.

Shin Bet: 5 Bedouin Israelis charged with throwing rocks at Jewish drivers

Five Bedouin Israeli men have been arrested and indicted for hurling stones at vehicles in southern Israel, injuring two, law enforcement authorities say.

In a joint statement, Israel Police and the Shin Bet security agency say the five youths, of the Abu Madi clan near the southern city of Beersheba, threw stones at vehicles on Route 25 on a number of occasions.

Officials say the men carried out the highway attacks “with a racist and nationalistic motive… with the aim of harming Jews.”

According to the police and Shin Bet investigation, the five would observe cars driving toward Beersheba near the Abu Talul junction, and attack those they identified being driven by Jewish Israelis.

As a result of their attacks, two people were wounded, including a pregnant woman, and a number of cars were damaged, police say.

The five, arrested in May, are charged with intentionally causing damage under aggravated and racially motivated circumstances, as well as obstruction of justice. Three of the suspects are additionally hit with terror charges and racially motivated aggravated assault.

Iran’s Khamenei: West wouldn’t be able to stop us getting nuclear weapon if we wanted one

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that the West would not be able to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons if it were to pursue such a goal, but said the possibility of returning to a nuclear deal is not off the table.

“There is nothing wrong with the agreement [with the West], but the infrastructure of our nuclear industry should not be touched,” Khamenei says, according to state media cited by Reuters.

The Iranian supreme leader says claims “about Tehran’s nuclear weapons is a lie and they [the West] know it. We do not want nuclear arms based on our religious beliefs. Otherwise they would not have been able to stop it.”

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful, while Israel has repeatedly displayed evidence that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons.

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