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Bennett to meet with ‘change bloc’ coalition leaders before swearing-in ceremony

PM-designate and heads of 7 other parties in new coalition to gather in Knesset ahead of confidence vote * 2 Joint List MKs may abstain to ensure majority

(L-R) Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and New Hope head Gideon Sa'ar at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra'anan Cohen)
(L-R) Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and New Hope head Gideon Sa'ar at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra'anan Cohen)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Saturday’s events as they happened.

‘Change government’ looking to pass series of bills in months after swearing-in

With the “change government” due to be sworn in tomorrow afternoon, the parties in the emerging coalition are planning to pass a series of bills in the coming months.

The bills include amendments to Israel’s quasi-constitutional basic laws, with the aim of shoring up the diverse coalition that ranges from the right-wing Yamina and New Hope parties to the left-wing Meretz and Islamist Ra’am.

Other legislative proposals that the prospective government seeks to pass include extending the amount of time it has to pass a state budget to 145 days, and expanding the number of ministers who can give up their Knesset seat to other members of their parties, according to Channel 12 news.

The proposed government, which is backed by a razor-thin majority of 61 MKs in the 120-member Knesset, will first see Yamina chief Naftali Bennett take over as premier from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader who has held the premiership for over 12 consecutive years. Bennett is set to be replaced as prime minister after two years by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.

Saudi Arabia to limit hajj to 60,000 vaccinated pilgrims in the kingdom

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia announces this year’s hajj pilgrimage will be limited to no more than 60,000 people, all of them from within the kingdom, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement by the kingdom comes after it ran an incredibly pared-down pilgrimage last year over the virus, but still allowed a small number of the faithful to take part in the annual ceremony.

A statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency quotes the kingdom’s Hajj and Umrah Ministry making the announcement. It says this year’s hajj, which will begin in mid-July, will be limited to those ages 18 to 65.

Those taking part must be vaccinated as well, the ministry says.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is honored to host pilgrims every year, confirms that this arrangement comes out of its constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries,” the statement says.

In last year’s hajj, as few as 1,000 people already residing in Saudi Arabia were selected to take part in the hajj. Two-thirds were foreign residents from among the 160 different nationalities that would have normally been represented at the hajj. One-third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.

IDF says it broke up arms deal in Jordan Valley, captured numerous guns

The military says Israeli troops and police foiled an arms deal in the northern Jordan Valley.

An Israel Defense Forces statement says soldiers sent to thwart the sale spotted two suspects, who were found to have nine pistols, an AK-47 and a M-16.

The suspects were arrested and taken for questioning and the guns were handed over to police, according to the IDF.

Blue and White says Orit Farkash-Hacohen will be science minister in new gov’t

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party says outgoing Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen will serve as science and technology minister in the “change government” due to be sworn in tomorrow.

Gantz will remain on as defense minister. Culture Minister Chili Troper and Immigration Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata will also remain in their posts, while Agriculture Minister Alon Schuster will become a deputy minister in the Defense Ministry.

Plurality of Israelis believe ‘change government’ will quickly collapse — poll

A new government is set to be sworn in tomorrow, but a television poll indicates many Israelis don’t believe it will last for long.

According to the Channel 12 news survey, 43 percent of respondents say the “change government” will only last for a short time before dissolving, while 30% believe it will survive for a longer period. Another 11% think the government will make it through 4 years.

Asked why Yamina chief Naftali Bennett — who is set to serve first as premier as part of the rotation deal with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid — decided to form a government with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rivals, 61% say for personal ambition. A fifth say he did so for ideological reasons, while the remaining respondents don’t know.

Just under half of respondents say Bennett will honor the rotation with Lapid, and 29% don’t think it will be relevant because the government will dissolve before then. Seven percent say he won’t honor it.

The survey, conducted by pollster Manu Geva, includes 504 respondents and has a 4.4 percent margin of error.

Labor’s Nachman Shai to be diaspora minister in new gov’t

The center-left Labor party announces MK Nachman Shai will serve as diaspora affairs minister in the “change government” set to be sworn in tomorrow.

Labor MK Gilad Kariv, a reform rabbi whose name was linked to the diaspora affairs post, will head the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

MK Nachman Shai, January 5, 2017 (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

EU talks up hope of breakthrough in Iran nuclear negotiations

VIENNA — European Union negotiators say international talks that resumed today on the Iran nuclear agreement are on track to revive the deal, which crumbled after the United States withdrew in 2018.

Senior diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia and Britain conclude a 90-minute meeting with Iranian representatives at a hotel in the Austrian capital.

“We are making progress, but the negotiations are intense and a number of issues (remain), including on how steps are to be implemented,” EU representative Alain Matton tells reporters in Vienna.

The United States is not formally part of meetings that launched in Vienna earlier this year. But the administration of President Joe Biden has signaled willingness to rejoin the deal under terms that would broadly see the US scale back sanctions on Tehran and Iran return to abiding by the limits on its nuclear activity contained in the 2015 agreement.

“The EU will continue with the talks with all the participants…and separately with the United States to find ways to get very close to a final agreement in the coming days,” Matton says.

Diplomats say complicating factors have included the sequence of the proposed measures, dealing with advances in Iran’s nuclear processing capability since the United States withdrew, and the presidential election in Iran next week.

Poll: Ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen leads among Likud voters as preferred succesor to Netanyahu

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen is the leading candidate among Likud voters to succeed Prime Minister Netanyahu if he steps down as leader of the party, according to a Channel 12 news poll.

Asked who they would back as Likud leader if Netanyahu retires, 27 percent of Likud respondents say Cohen, followed by former Jerusalem mayor and current MK Nir Barkat with 16%.

After Barkat, the polls say Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan enjoys the backing of 8% of respondents, followed by Finance Minister Israel Katz with 5%, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein with 5%, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin with 3% and Transportation Minister Miri Regev with 1%. Another 10% say someone else.

Cohen, whose term as head of the spy agency ended earlier this month, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he didn’t rule out seeking the premiership one day, though he wasn’t contemplating such a move at this moment. Cohen is also seen as Netanyahu’s preferred choice to succeed him as Likud leader.

Yossi Cohen speaks at a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University on June 24, 2019. (Flash90)

Denmark’s Eriksen ‘awake’ in hospital after collapsing on pitch during Euro 2020 game

Denmark's players react and form a protective screen as paramedics attend to Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP)
Denmark's players react and form a protective screen as paramedics attend to Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen after he collapsed on the pitch during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP)

Danish footballer Christian Eriksen is “awake” in hospital after collapsing on the pitch in Denmark’s Euro 2020 game, the country’s football association says.

“Christian Eriksen is awake and is undergoing further tests” at the hospital, the Danish Football Union said on Twitter, after the player was carried off the field after receiving CPR by medical personnel.

Eriksen collapsed in the first half of Denmark’s game against Finland in Copenhagen, causing the suspension of the match. (Update: The game was resumed some two hours later, after Eriksen was said by doctors to be in stable condition.)

Danish players were in tears as medical staff tried to revive the Inter Milan player, who suddenly collapsed near the touchline.

Paramedics carry Denmark’s Christian Eriksen from the pitch after he collapsed during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (Friedemann Vogel/Pool via AP)

“The UEFA EURO 2020 match in Copenhagen has been suspended due to a medical emergency,” UEFA said in a short statement.

The previously raucous crowd at the Parken Stadium in the Danish capital fell silent after the 29-year-old fell to the ground near the end of the opening period, with his teammates gathering around him.

After around 15 minutes Eriksen was stretchered off the field followed by the rest of the Denmark team, while Finland’s players also left the pitch.

The fans in the stadium, who were celebrating the chance to see their national team again live at the stadium, sat silently in their seats waiting for news of Eriksen’s condition to filter through.

Likud’s Nir Barkat: Netanyahu ‘erred in his considerations’ by not holding primaries

As he positions himself to succeed Prime Minister Netanyahu as Likud leader, MK Nir Barkat takes a shot at the premier as the ruling party is set to lose power after its chief held the premiership for over 12 straight years.

“The prime minister erred in his considerations. If the prime minister had said, ‘I’m stepping aside,’ and sought to hold primaries for the leadership of the national camp, my assessment is that the national camp would have unified behind the [winning] candidate,” Barkat tells Channel 12 news in an interview broadcast this evening.

Barkat adds: “He got his considerations wrong because if he had enabled this [primaries vote], the Likud and the national camp would have been forming the government on Sunday.”

The interview was filmed Thursday evening when Barkat hosted an event for 4,000 party activists in what was seen as a show of strength. Barkat, a former Jerusalem mayor, called during the event for leadership primaries to be delayed.

Barkat also tells Channel 12 that he will run for Likud leader when Netanyahu steps down and vows he will win the race.

Likud MK Nir Barkat speaks at a party conference in Tel Aviv on June 10, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yesh Atid confirms ministerial, Knesset positions for its MKs

Members of Yesh Atid are seen on stage at an event in Kibbutz Shefayim where the party unveiled its list of candidates for upcoming Knesset elections, on February 8, 2019. (Adrian Sebal)
Members of Yesh Atid are seen on stage at an event in Kibbutz Shefayim where the party unveiled its list of candidates for upcoming Knesset elections, on February 8, 2019. (Adrian Sebal)

Yesh Atid, the largest party in the incoming coalition, announces the positions that its 17 MKs will hold in the new government and in the Knesset following tomorrows swearing-in ceremony:

Yair Lapid – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alternate Prime Minister

Mickey Levy – Speaker of the Knesset

Orna Barbivay – Minister of Economy

Meir Cohen– Minister of Welfare and Social Services

Yoel Razvozov – Minister of Tourism

Meirav Cohen – Minister for Social Equality

Karine Elharrar – Minister of Energy

Elazar Stern – Minister of Intelligence

Yoav Segalovitz – Deputy Minister of Public Security

Ram Ben Barak– Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Merav Ben Ari – Chairperson of the Public Security Committee

Yorai Lahav Hertzanu – Interior and Environmental Protection Committee

Boaz Toporovsky – Knesset Faction Leader, Deputy Coalition Chairperson

Idan Roll– Deputy Foreign Minister

Vladimir Beliak – Coalition Whip in the Finance Committee

Nira Shpak – Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Ron Katz – Economics Committee

Bennett on Balfour Street protest: ‘I call for Netanyahu and his family to be treated with respect’

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett criticizes the current protest outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Jerusalem residence on the night before he is set to be ousted from office after 12 years.

“This is not the time for demonstrations and provocations,” Bennett says in a statement. “I call for Netanyahu and his family to be treated with respect ”

Israelis protest against Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 12, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Hundreds of people are gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in the final demonstration against the premier before a new coalition set to be sworn in.

Demonstrators have been holding regular protests for nearly a year against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. In recent weeks protestors also called upon politicians to unite against the long-serving leader and establish a new government.

6 injured in car crash near Afula

Six people are reported to have been moderately and lightly injured in a car accident at the Sargel Junction on Route 65, just outside the northern town of Afula.

Magen David Adom paramedics are evacuating the injured to the Haemek Hospital in Afula.

Tens of thousands march against far-right in France

Protestors stand with smoke flares and a banner on the statue at Place de la Republique as they take part in a 'Freedom march' in Paris, June 12, 2021. (Sameer Al-DOUMY/AFP)
Protestors stand with smoke flares and a banner on the statue at Place de la Republique as they take part in a 'Freedom march' in Paris, June 12, 2021. (Sameer Al-DOUMY/AFP)

Tens of thousands of people across France are marching against “attacks on freedoms” and what organizers say is a growing influence of far-right ideas ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

Members of more than 100 left-leaning organizations participate in the “Liberty March” in cities and towns across the country.

Organizers report 70,000 participants in Paris and 150,000 around the nation, while the Paris police and interior ministry put the numbers at 9,000 in the capital and 37,000 nationwide.

The interior ministry says 119 rallies are taking place.

Meretz MK Yair Golan to serve as chair of Knesset Immigration Committee

Meretz MK Yair Golan speaks during a plenary session in the Knesset, Jerusalem on August 24, 2020. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)
Meretz MK Yair Golan speaks during a plenary session in the Knesset, Jerusalem on August 24, 2020. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz reportedly decides that party MK and former IDF general Yair Golan will serve as chairman of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee following the swearing-in of the new government tomorrow.

According to the law establishing the panel, the committee deals with “immigration, absorption, dealing with emigrants, Jewish and Zionist education in the diaspora, and all the issues raised in the contacts between the government, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. “

Brazil’s Bolsonaro fined for not wearing mask

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, center,  takes part in a caravan of motorcycle enthusiasts who gathered in a show of support for Bolsonaro, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcelo Chello)
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, center, takes part in a caravan of motorcycle enthusiasts who gathered in a show of support for Bolsonaro, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Marcelo Chello)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro gets hit with a fine for failure to wear a mask while leading a throng of motorcyclist supporters through the streets of Sao Paulo.

Sao Paulo’s state government press office says a fine — equivalent to about $110 — will be imposed for violation of a rule that has required masks in public places since May 2020.

The conservative president waved to the crowd from his motorcycle and later spoke from atop a sound truck to helmeted but largely maskless backers. They cheered and chanted while he insisted that masks were useless for those already vaccinated — an assertion disputed by most public health experts.

Less than 12% of Brazil’s population has received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Ministry of Health.

Meretz’s Horovitz, Zandberg to resign from Knesset under Norwegian law

Meretz says that chairman Nitzan Horowitz and party No. 2 Tamar Zandberg are set to resign from the Knesset under the Norwegian law, which allows ministers to give up their seats in the Knesset for other members of their parties.

Horovitz is set to be health minister and Zandberg environmental protection minister in the new government.

Replacing them in the Knesset will be former MK Michal Rozin and party activist Gabi Lasky.

Bennett to meet with ‘change bloc’ coalition leaders before swearing-in tomorrow

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett will meet with the leaders of the ‘change bloc’ coalition parties tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m, two hours before the start of the Knesset session in which he is set to be sworn in as prime minister.

The meeting will take place in the Yamina party’s faction room in the Knesset and will be closed to the press.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, a celebratory meeting of the incoming government will be held in the Knesset’s Jerusalem hall at 9.p.m, Yamina says, adding that statements will be delivered there by both Bennett and alternate prime minister-designate Yair Lapid.

Iran candidate warns ultraconservative election win will mean more sanctions

Iranian presidential candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati speaks with state-run TV journalists upon arrival to attend the final debate of the candidates, at a TV studio in Tehran, Iran, June 12, 2021. (Ayoub Ghaderi/ Young Journalists Club, YJC via AP)
Iranian presidential candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati speaks with state-run TV journalists upon arrival to attend the final debate of the candidates, at a TV studio in Tehran, Iran, June 12, 2021. (Ayoub Ghaderi/ Young Journalists Club, YJC via AP)

Iran’s reformist candidate Abdolnasser Hemmati warns that a win for his ultraconservative rivals in the June 18 presidential election will result in the country facing more sanctions.

Iranians are to elect a successor to President Hassan Rouhani from seven candidates — five ultraconservatives and two reformists — approved to run by the election-vetting Guardian Council from a field of some 600 hopefuls.

“What will happen if power falls into the hands of hardliners? What happens if power falls into your hands?” says ex-central banker Hemmati in a final televised election debate. “Let me put this very clearly: new sanctions with a stronger global consensus.”

The campaign coincides with negotiations in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear deal, which was torpedoed by former US president Donald Trump who withdrew and reimposed sanctions on Iran three years later.

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi is widely tipped to win, after the Guardian Council disqualified many potential heavyweights, including moderate conservative Ali Larijani.

Police arrest 3 in Jerusalem for attack on car carrying ultra-Orthodox

Border Police undercover officers arrest three youths for an attack on a vehicle carrying two ultra-Orthodox passengers in Jerusalem.

The suspects attacked the passengers in the a-Tour neighborhood and sprayed pepper gas at them, police say, adding that a warning shot was fired into the air during the arrests.

2 Joint List MKs may abstain from swearing-in vote to ensure majority

The two members of the Ta’al faction in the Arab Joint List party reportedly may abstain from tomorrow’s vote of confidence for the incoming coalition, if it forecasts a majority for those voting against the new government.

MKs Ahmed Tibi and Osama Saadi are said to be waiting until the last minute to decide whether or not to vote against the so-called “change government,” Channel 12 news reports.

Knesset Members Osama Saadi and Ahmad Tibi attend a Knesset committee meeting on September 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to the report, if the Ta’al members see the opposition to the incoming coalition has a majority in the swearing-in vote, they will abstain, allowing the government to be formed.

The remaining four of the six MKs in the majority-Arab Joint List party will vote against the formation of a unity government led by Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, even though it would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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