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Bahrain, UAE welcome new Israeli gov’t, signaling Abraham Accords continuity

US in talks to hold September ceremony marking 1 year since signing of normalization agreements, though location and possibility of adding new country to mix still up in the air

  • US President Donald Trump, center, with, from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)
    US President Donald Trump, center, with, from left, Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, September 15, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)
  • Israeli students wear protective face masks as they return to school on May 3, 2020, in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
    Israeli students wear protective face masks as they return to school on May 3, 2020, in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Prime Minister's Office on the first day of the job in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Prime Minister's Office on the first day of the job in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
  • Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of opposition MKs in the Knesset on June 14, 2021, a day after losing power (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of opposition MKs in the Knesset on June 14, 2021, a day after losing power (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Ministers in the newly sworn in Israeli government pose for a group photo at the president's residence in Jerusalem. June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Ministers in the newly sworn in Israeli government pose for a group photo at the president's residence in Jerusalem. June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrives for a group photo of the new Israeli government at the president's residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett arrives for a group photo of the new Israeli government at the president's residence in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • The word "Together" written largely on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, a day after Naftali Bennett was sworn in as the new prime minister, June 14, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
    The word "Together" written largely on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, a day after Naftali Bennett was sworn in as the new prime minister, June 14, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/FLASH90)
  • Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrives at the president's residence in Jerusalem for a group photo of the new government, June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid arrives at the president's residence in Jerusalem for a group photo of the new government, June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
  • Newly appointed Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) with outgoing minister Gabi Ashkenazi, at handover ceremony held at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)
    Newly appointed Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) with outgoing minister Gabi Ashkenazi, at handover ceremony held at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)
  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, then-US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan react on the Blue Room Balcony after signing the Abraham Accords during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, then-US President Donald Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan react on the Blue Room Balcony after signing the Abraham Accords during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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

Government kicks off as new ministers announce appointments, hold first meetings

After yesterday’s swearing-in, the new “change government” is starting its work, with several appointments announced and new ministers holding initial work meetings with ministry officials.

Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid has appointed a director general of his office, as has Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has held a work meeting with his staff.

Additionally, many ministries will hold ceremonies marking the passing of the baton to new ministers today.

Later this morning, the heads of the new coalition will arrive at the President’s Residence for a traditional photo op with President Reuven Rivlin.

Gantz moves forward with setting up committee of inquiry on Meron

Defense Minister Benny Gantz sends a proposal to establish a governmental committee of inquiry into the Meron disaster in April that left 45 people dead. Gantz has sent a letter and the request to the cabinet secretary, in alignment with the coalition deals that were signed by the new government mandating such an inquiry.

“This is a moral and ethical debt to the families [of the victims], and no less so, a need to investigation and to prevent tragic events like these in the future,” Gantz writes in the letter.

New health minister wants to remove restrictions on gay men donating blood

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who was sworn in yesterday, reportedly says that he plans to change the guidelines for donating blood in Israel.

Horowitz, the head of the Meretz party, who is openly gay, expects to work to remove the restrictions on gay men donating blood to Magen David Adom, according to Ynet.

Hamas reportedly warns that flag march will lead to escalation

The Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon reports that Hamas is threatening an escalation if the flag march scheduled for tomorrow takes place as planned.

According to Hebrew media outlets, the newspaper reports that Hamas has informed Egypt that the flag march, slated for tomorrow in the Old City of Jerusalem, will bring about a response “no different from that of last month,” during which Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war dubbed by Israel Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Netanyahu bloc to meet at Knesset at 3 p.m.

The heads of parties in Benjamin Netanyahu’s Knesset bloc, aka the opposition, will meet at the Knesset today at 3 p.m., according to Hebrew media.

Netanyahu will hold the meeting with Shas leader Aryeh Deri, United Torah Judaism leader Moshe Gafni and Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich.

Iran suggests Israel’s policies will not change with new government

The Iranian government suggests that its approach toward the State of Israel will not change with the installation of the new government last night.

“Iran’s enemies are gone and powerful Iran is still here. I don’t think Israel’s policies will change with the new government,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, a foreign ministry spokesman, was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying, according to Reuters.

Likud MK says Smotrich, not Bennett, responsible for Netanyahu’s ouster

After Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party spent the last few weeks lambasting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party and accusing it of thwarting a right-wing government, Likud MK David Bitan shifts the blame to Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich, who vetoed any coalition propped up by outside support the Islamist Ra’am party.

“Smotrich got 5 seats from Likud and should have let us form a minority government,” Bitan tells the Kan public broadcaster. “We asked him to be patient and told him we would bring in two more later. We wanted [Ra’am chief Mansour] Abbas to walk out during the vote [of confidence].

“Religious Zionism is the party that ousted Likud.”

Netanyahu to meet Bennett at PM’s office for work meeting

Benjamin Netanyahu will meet his replacement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, at 1:30 p.m. for a work meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

The meeting is set to last for about an hour.

6 Arab residents of Jaffa nabbed for attack on IDF soldier during Gaza conflict

Six Arab residents of Jaffa have been arrested for their participation in an attack on an IDF soldier last month during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Israel Police and the Shin Bet announce that the six individuals have been arrested and are expected to be indicted today at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for their role in the attack on the soldier, who was hospitalized in serious condition and is still undergoing rehabilitation.

Officials deny US report of potential leak at China nuclear power plant

A French nuclear firm says it is working to resolve a “performance issue” at a plant it part-owns in China’s southern Guangdong province following a US media report of a potential leak there.

CNN has reported that the US government is assessing a report of a leak at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant after the French company, Framatome, warned of an “imminent radiological threat.”

Framatome says in a statement to AFP that it is “supporting resolution of a performance issue” at the plant.

“According to the data available, the plant is operating within the safety parameters,” the company says. “Our team is working with relevant experts to assess the situation and propose solutions to address any potential issue.”

Citing a letter from Framatome to the US energy department, CNN has said the warning included an accusation that the Chinese safety authority was raising the acceptable limits for radiation outside the facility in order to avoid having to shut it down.

The operator of the power station, state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, said in a statement last night that “the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal.”

It did not reference any leak or incident at the power station, which it said meets “the requirements of nuclear safety regulations and power plant technical specifications.”

WATCH: Ministers at president’s residence for traditional government photo

The new ministers of Israel’s 36th government have arrived at the Jerusalem residence of President Reuven Rivlin for a traditional group photo.

Most ministers have already arrived, but Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is still on his way and is set to arrive shortly.

The event is livestreamed here:

Ministers pose for traditional photo with President Rivlin

The ministers of the new government gather together for the traditional photo with President Rivlin at his official residence in Jerusalem.

Putin expresses hope for ‘constructive’ cooperation with new government

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulates new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and expresses hope for “constructive” cooperation with the new government.

“I expect that your work at the helm of the government will facilitate a further development of constructive bilateral cooperation along all directions,” Putin says in a message released by the Kremlin.

“No doubt it is in the vital interests of our people,” Putin said, adding that Russia-Israeli cooperation would help strengthen “peace, security and stability in the Middle East.”

Outgoing FM Ashkenazi hails past year’s ‘historic’ diplomatic achievements

Israel’s international standing improved over the last year, says outgoing Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi at a farewell ceremony with ministry staff and diplomats before Yair Lapid takes over the post.

He says the ministry gave Israel a “diplomatic Iron Dome” during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas last month.

“We enjoyed broad international support, which provided us freedom of action and prevented every anti-Israel resolution during the operation and immediately afterward,” he says, with the exception of the UN Human Rights Council.

He says that normalization with Arab states over the past years “is a historic paradigm shift that is expected to change the Middle East for future generations.”

Ashkenazi adds that billions of shekels have been invested in Israel in the wake of the deals, including in natural gas, infrastructure, and more.

He also stresses the fundamental importance of the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and strengthening ties with the two neighboring countries.

‘We’re all together’: Black Flag protest group welcomes gov’t with giant Tel Aviv display

The Black Flag movement, which has led protests against Benjamin Netanyahu over the past year, puts up a giant display at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square welcoming the new “change government.”

The group writes “Together” alongside an Israel flag.

“The State of Israel has suffered collective trauma over the past two years,” the movement says. “The elections, incitement and threat to democracy left us very fractured. The state is facing immense challenges on the economy and health, welfare and reducing social gaps. These are challenges we can only face if we are together.”

“Only together will we be able to reinstate the social cohesion that had characterized Israel. From now on, we are all together.”

Ministers resign from Knesset to make way for new MKs

A series of newly sworn-in ministers are resigning their positions in the Knesset under the Norwegian law, allowing new MKs to take their place.

The Norwegian law allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s list to enter parliament in his or her stead.

So far, 13 ministers have reportedly resigned their Knesset seats or say they intend to: Avigdor Liberman, Oded Forer and Hamad Amar of Yisrael Beytenu; Pnina Tamano, Chili Tropper and Orit Farkash-Hacohen of Blue and White, Orna Barbivai and Yoel Razvozov of Yesh Atid, Ze’ev Elkin and Yoaz Hendel of New Hope, Tamar Zandberg and Issawi Frej of Meretz and Matan Kahana of Yamina.

The new Yisrael Beytenu MKs will be Yossi Shein, Limor Magen Telem and Elina Bardach-Yalov. The new MKs from Blue and White are Mufid Mari’e, former MK Ruth Wasserman Lande and Alon Tal. Yamina’s newest MK is Shirley Pinto, the first deaf member of Knesset. Meretz will now get former MK Michal Rozin back as well as Gaby Lasky. New Hope will be joined by Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi and former MK Zvi Hauser. In Yesh Atid, the newest MKs are Tania Mazarsky and Yasmin Sax Fridman.

UAE congratulates Bennett and incoming government

The United Arab Emirates congratulates Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid for forming a new government.

The UAE Ministry for Foreign Affairs says it looks forward to “working together to advance regional peace, strengthen tolerance and coexistence, and embark upon a new era of cooperation in technology, trade, and investment.”

Liberman hopes ultra-Orthodox parties will languish in opposition for many years

Taking office, Israel’s new Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman takes a dig at his predecessor, Likud’s Israel Katz, by vowing that under him there will be no “wild economic behavior.”

Liberman says taxes won’t be raised, and says the Finance Ministry professional staff shouldn’t be treated as “bureaucrats,” after Katz repeatedly clashed with ministry officials over the issue of a state budget, which Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly blocked from passing to avoid handing the premiership to Benny Gantz.

Liberman says his Yisrael Beytenu party has fulfilled its three main goals: replacing the government, forming a coalition without the ultra-Orthodox and getting the finance portfolio.

He says he hopes the Haredi parties remain in the opposition for “many years.”

Liberman mends rift with party MK who threatened rebellion

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman praises MK Eli Avidar of his Yisrael Beytenu party, after a public tiff that saw the latter threaten to vote against the new government and to break away from the party in protest of not receiving a ministerial portfolio.

Liberman says Avidar “did a good job” in weekly protests over the past year against Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule near the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence on Balfour Street.

Avidar sits alongside Liberman, indicating the two have made amends.

“We conquered Balfour like the Bastille” in France, Liberman boasts.

Outgoing Haredi ministers wish luck to successors, vow to fight to topple government

Outgoing ultra-Orthodox ministers vow to work in full force to topple the new government during ceremonies marking their departures from their ministerial posts.

Welcoming his successor as housing minister, United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman wishes New Hope’s Ze’ev Elkin luck “as a personal friend,” but adds that “this government should be dismantled and we will work to that end in full force.”

“The housing crisis is hard on all communities and especially for the ultra-Orthodox community, and much work is needed to do that but unfortunately I don’t expect anything from this government,” he says.

“All the curses that appewar in the Torah are valid for the government.”

Outgoing interior minister Aryeh Deri, the head of the Shas party, welcomes new minister Ayelet Shaked of Yamina and says that power changes are a natural part of democracy.

But he adds that he will also “do everything so that this government falls very fast so that we can form a new government that includes Ayelet.”

New interior minister vows to deport migrants in Israel

Ayelet Shaked, the new interior minister, says she will work to return migrants living in Israel to their home countries.

At a ceremony marking her entry into the ministry and her replacement of former interior minister Aryeh Deri, Shaked says that the “State of Israel is Jewish and democratic and I will work to promote a responsible policy while meeting humanitarian needs.”

Shaked, the first female interior minister in Israel’s history, adds that she will “work to return infiltrators to their countries. We must defend the borders and the country.”

Ramallah says Netanyahu departure ends ‘one of worst periods’ of conflict

Benjamin Netanyahu’s ousting as prime minister closes the chapter on one of the “worst periods” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh says.

“The departure of the Israeli prime minister after 12 years in power marks the end of one of the worst periods in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Shtayyeh says ahead of the Palestinian Authority’s weekly cabinet meeting.

But Shtayyeh also says he is under no illusions about the new government or its likelihood of advancing a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“We do not see this new government as any less bad than the previous one, and we condemn the announcements of the new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in support of Israeli settlements,” the Palestinian premier says.

“The new government has no future if it does not take into consideration the future of the Palestinian people and their legitimate rights,” Shtayyeh adds.

Suspicion mounts for nationalistic motive in Lod killing of Jewish man

Indications have strengthened that last month’s killing of Yigal Yehoshua in Lod during a period of Jewish-Arab violence was committed by an Arab mob with a nationalistic motive, Hebrew media reports.

The Haaretz daily cites unnamed law enforcement officials saying there have been several significant developments over the past two weeks in the police investigation into the incident.

The sources add, however, that the murder charge is difficult to prove at this point.

Bennett, Netanyahu meet at Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are meeting now at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem for an official handover between the two leaders.

The meeting is expected to last about an hour.

German president announces upcoming visit to Israel

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier says he will travel to Israel later this month to hold talks with its new government.

The state visit, which has been scheduled for June 30 to July 2, will allow Steinmeier to “bid farewell to departing state President [Reuven] Rivlin and to meet with his elected successor in office, Isaac Herzog.”

Steinmeier, who served two terms as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s foreign minister, aims to “honor and strengthen the friendship and special partnership between Germany and Israel.”

The trip will also “offer the opportunity to intensify the political exchange of views on the current situation in the region with the new Israeli government.”

Steinmeier, whose office is largely ceremonial, says he will discuss “the future of Israeli society” and “shared challenges” during his visit.

Lapid vows to rebuild ties with Democratic Party after ‘reckless’ behavior of last government

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vows to rebuild ties with the Democratic Party in the United States, blaming the outgoing government for damaging Israel’s relationship with the party that currently controls the US presidency, Senate and House of Representatives.

“The management of the relationship with the Democratic Party in the United States was careless and dangerous,” Lapid says in a handover ceremony at the Foreign Ministry. “The outgoing government took a terrible gamble, reckless and dangerous, to focus exclusively on the Republican Party and abandon Israel’s bipartisan standing… We find ourselves with a Democratic White House, Senate and House and they are angry. We need to change the way we work with them.

Lapid also says that Israel must repair ties with Diaspora Jewry: “Jews from all streams, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, are our family. And family is always the most important relationship, and the one that needs to be worked on more than any other.”

The new foreign minister and alternative prime minister vows to strengthen Israel’s ties with its regional neighbors, including new allies in the Gulf — the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — as well as older allies Jordan and Egypt.

“We need to continue the development that started with the Abraham Accords. To work to strengthen the peace with the Gulf States, with Egypt and with Jordan,” he says. “We will work to sign agreements with more countries in the region and beyond. It’s a process, it won’t happen in a day, but the Foreign Ministry will coordinate those efforts.”

Mandelblit hails Gantz but tells new justice minister Sa’ar many challenges remain

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit heaps praise on outgoing justice minister Benny Gantz during a ceremony welcoming new minister Gideon Sa’ar.

“You stood as a brick wall to thwart the attempts to undermine the status of the attorney general,” Mandelblit tells Gantz.

It is a not-so-subtle hint aimed at Sa’ar, who has said he is in favor of splitting the attorney general position from that of legal adviser to the government due to the alleged inherent conflict of interest in the same person holding both roles.

Speaking to Sa’ar, Mandelblit says: “It is no secret that the Justice Ministry has undergone a period of instability. This isn’t right. You face many challenges. We are here at your disposal.”

Netanyahu formally hands power to Bennett at PM’s office in brief meeting; no photo op

Benjamin Netanyahu’s work meeting with his successor Naftali Bennett at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem has wrapped up. First reports say the session lasted barely 30 minutes; later reports say it was a little longer but less than an hour.

The formal transfer of power meeting ends without the traditional ceremony and public good wishes, without a handshake and with no photo-op.

Netanyahu had scheduled in advance a political meeting with opposition party chiefs for 2:30 p.m., apparently to make sure he didn’t give Bennett more than an hour.

Incoming justice minister says there is room ‘to fix’ the legal system

New Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar says he hopes to fix Israel’s legal system — but not to destroy it.

“There is room to fix the legal system, which hasn’t had any changes for many years,” Sa’ar says during an official handover ceremony at the Justice Ministry. “I came to fix, not to destroy.”

Sa’ar, the leader of New Hope, adds that Israel’s legal system “is in desperate need of responsible changes today that will be made in a nonpartisan manner.”

Public security minister says flag march will go on tomorrow as scheduled

New Public Security Minister Omer Barlev says that the flag march in Jerusalem slated for tomorrow “will proceed as scheduled.”

“In a democracy it is allowed and important to demonstrate within the confines of the law,” Barlev says. “We will hold a police assessment about the events and we will operate according to the recommendations of the police.”

Herzog to replace Rivlin as president on July 7

The President’s Residence announces that the presidency will be formally handed from Reuven Rivlin to Isaac Herzog on July 7.

Herzog will be sworn in at the Knesset plenum.

Rivlin will end his seven-year term after a farewell tour in the United States during which he will meet US President Joe Biden and Congress members.

French FM says ready to work with new government to restart peace talks

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian says that France is ready to work to restart direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks now that a new Israeli government has been installed.

“France is ready to support any effort allowing a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians with a view to a just and lasting settlement of the conflict, within the framework of a two-state solution,” says Le Drian.

The French foreign minister adds, “France reaffirms its determination to work with the new government,” and will maintain its “unwavering attachment to the security of the State of Israel, and its determination to work alongside it to preserve the regional security and stability.”

Netanyahu meets opposition party heads at Knesset; Joint List not invited

After skipping a photo op with his successor as prime minister, Naftali Bennett, Benjamin Netanyahu takes one as he kicks off a meeting with the heads of parties that support him and have ended up in the opposition.

The majority-Arab Joint List does not receive an invite.

Netanyahu demands ‘iron discipline’ from opposition, urges no internal fights

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the new government will not last long during a meeting of party heads supporting him and now in the opposition, repeating his message that it is based on “fraud, hate and power-seeking” and too fractured to succeed.

Without mentioning Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu demands “iron discipline” and cohesion from the opposition in order to make life harder on the coalition and “bring redemption to the people and State of Israel.”

He says similar meetings to today’s will be held every Monday at 1:30 p.m., before the weekly faction meetings.

“If we work towards that goal we will succeed, but if we clash with each other we won’t,” he says, in possible implicit criticism aimed at Likud MK David Bitan who earlier today blamed Religious Zionism party chief Bezalel Smotrich for Netanyahu’s ouster.

Netanyahu is introduced by Likud MK Miki Zohar as prime minister. He then said: “For me, you’ll always be prime minister.”

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri also starts his address by mistakenly calling Netanyahu “Mr. prime minister.”

When he apologizes and tries to correct himself, Netanyahu jokes: “You can call me ‘Your highness.'”

Israeli singer apologizes for calling Netanyahu ‘Haman’

Israeli singer Achinoam Nini apologizes for referring to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Haman,” the villain of the Purim story.

“I’d like to remove that word from the protocol that came out of my mouth,” Nini writes in a lengthy Facebook post in Hebrew explaining why she originally made the comment. “I apologize before the wider public that was offended. This is not our way.”

Nini, also known professionally as Noa, drew condemnation from across the political spectrum after she improvised one of her songs during a performance in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last night, celebrating the new government, to include the words “We got rid of Haman.”

Egypt upholds death penalty for 12 Brotherhood members: judicial sources

An Egyptian court has upheld death sentences for 12 Muslim Brotherhood members, including two senior leaders of the outlawed Islamist movement, judicial sources say.

The court of cassation has also reduced sentences for 31 others to life in prison, the sources tell AFP, adding that the rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held power briefly for a year before their military ouster in 2013.

Stanley Fischer to resign from Bank Hapoalim board after just 8 months

Stanley Fischer is resigning from his position on the board of directors of Bank Hapoalim, according to Hebrew media reports.

Fischer, who previously served as the governor of the Bank of Israel and the former vice chairman of the US Federal Reserve, was only elected to the Bank Hapoalim board in October 2020. Reports indicate that Fischer, 77, is resigning in order to spend more time with his family in the United States.

Joint List urges Bennett to nix Jerusalem flag march, warning of escalation

The Joint List opposition party urges Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to cancel the Jerusalem flag march planned for tomorrow, which is set to pass through the Old City’s Muslim quarter.

“We warn ahead of time that the event is highly likely to reignite tensions and lead to dangerous violence and escalation,” the party says.

Earlier today, Palestinian terror group Hamas warned that the event could spark another war similar to last month’s, which followed a similar event on Jerusalem Day.

Regev tells Michaeli she is glad a woman is replacing her as transportation minister

Former Transportation Minister Miri Regev tells her replacement, Merav Michaeli, that she is glad a woman is replacing her in the ministry, long considered a male domain.

“I’m glad that another woman is entering what was once considered the male kingdom,” Regev says in a handover ceremony at the Transportation Ministry.

Regev also says that she hopes the reports that Michaeli plans “to cut budgets for [transportation in] Judea and Samaria are not correct.”

ICEJ delivers portable bomb shelter to site near Gaza crossing

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem delivers a portable bomb shelter to the site near the Erez Crossing where an IDF soldier was killed last month during the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

ICEJ also hands over 120 fire-fighting suits, hats and boots for local first responders and volunteers and visits the Ashkelon factory where the portable bomb shelters are manufactured.

Rivlin bids farewell to the Shin Bet: ‘We owe you a huge debt’

Outgoing President Reuven Rivlin holds a farewell meeting with the leaders of the Shin Bet prior to leaving office next month.

“We owe you a huge debt — most Israelis don’t know how large,” the president says in his address to the security agency’s officials. “I am astounded anew each time by your activity, your daring, your courage, your creativity and your sophistication, but no less by your preparedness, caution and sensitivity.”

Conservative Jewish movement welcomes new Israeli government

The Conservative Jewish movement issues a statement welcoming the new Israeli government on its first day

“After weeks of violence across the region and months of uncertainty in the Knesset, this historic coalition…have a unique opportunity to cultivate tolerance and cooperation among Israel and its neighbors,” says the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ).

“We look forward to forging a new relationship with Israel’s new prime minister as he steps into his leadership role. The RA and USCJ also extend a hearty mazal tov to its former Labor leader, Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, on his election as Israel’s 11th president,” the movement adds.

The movement’s CEO Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal adds, “We pray for continued strength and solidarity of the Jewish people, across movements and continents, and celebrate the pluralism that drives the new Israeli government. We have faith that elected leaders will strive to forge bonds of common ground, not stoke the flames of division.”

Hamas warns controversial Jerusalem flag march will reignite region

The Hamas terror group on Monday warned the contentious march by Jewish right-wing nationalists scheduled to be held through parts of Jerusalem’s Old City Tuesday would reignite the region.

“The flags march is like an explosive that will cause a new campaign to protect Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque to ignite,” Hamas spokesperson Abd al-Latif Qanou said in a statement.

The group also called for Palestinians to “confront Israeli settlers” on Tuesday when the march is supposedly set to take place. “The nation and the resistance are behind you in the effort to thwart the plans of occupation,” Qanou added.

Orthodox Union congratulates Bennett and Lapid, urges them to preserve Israel’s Jewish character

The Orthodox Union congratulates new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and the formation of their new government.

“Their leadership will also be essential in demonstrating their commitment to all sectors of Israel’s population and to the preservation of the essential Jewish character of the State as it has been since its founding, including public Shabbat observance, Kashrut and conversion standards,” the Orthodox Jewish movement says in a statement.

“We also offer a heartfelt thank you to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-tenured prime minister. For the past 12 years, and during his previous time as premier from 1996 to 1999, Mr. Netanyahu led Israel with courage and dedication both through tremendously perilous times and awe-inspiring moments, including reaching historic accords with former enemies across the region,” the OU adds.

“Finally, we call upon the leaders of other democratic nations not only to congratulate Israel, but to recognize the Jewish state’s value as the only democracy in the region.”

Report: In brief transitional meeting, Netanyahu doesn’t sit down, only discusses Iran

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t even sit down upon walking into his transitional meeting with his replacement Naftali Bennett, according to Channel 12.

The network says the meeting was very brief, not particularly cordial and only focused on the issue of Iran.

Channel 12 notes that when former prime minister Shimon Peres was replaced by Netanyahu in 1996, the former spent two weeks meeting every day with the latter to ensure he had all the information necessary for the new job.

Likud MK: Bennett an ‘illegitimate’ PM

Likud MK David Amsalem lashes out at new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, claiming he is an “illegitimate premier” because he only won six mandates in the last election.

“It’s legal but it stinks,” he says in a Channel 12 interview.

Asked why then former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Bennett the same position in a rotational agreement just weeks ago, Amsalem says he disagreed with the move.

The Likud MK acknowledges that Bennett is now the prime minister of Israel, but claims Bennett has “ruined the entire political system” and that the media was part of the effort.

NATO calls on Iran to cease all ballistic missile activities

NATO leaders agree to a 41-page communique at their summit outlining the alliance’s approach to old threats — and new.

Included in the document is a call on Iran to stop all of its ballistic missile activities.

— with AFP

IDF readies for possibility of renewed Gaza violence ahead of tomorrow’s flag march

The IDF has briefed reporters that it is preparing for the possibility of renewed fighting in Gaza, against the backdrop of warnings made by Hamas against the holding of the controversial Jerusalem flag march scheduled for tomorrow.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has approved a series of targets for the IDF to attack in the Strip and additional Iron Dome batteries have been deployed at various sites. However, the military sources briefing reporters emphasize that the possibility of violence is not particularly likely.

Republican representative: ‘Bibi hatred the sole organizing principle of Bennett coalition’

Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for an alleged sexual relationship with a minor, tweets that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s new coalition “uses Bibi hatred as it’s (sic) sole organizing principle.”

“Bibi is not done. He will lead the opposition & be back leading the Gover[n]ment after the next election,” he writes.

“This is why they will accelerate criminal process against Bibi in the short term.”

“Sound familiar?” he adds, in an apparent comparison to former president Donald Trump.

Bennett meets with PMO staff, receives security briefing during 1st day as PM

New Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tours the Prime Minister’s Office and meets with Military Secretary Avi Blot and National Security Council chair Meir Ben Shabbat for a security briefing, during his first day in office, the PMO says in a statement.

Both Blot and Ben Shabbat served under former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and have agreed to stay on to allow for a smooth transition off power.

As expected, Haredi news site blurs faces of female ministers in gov’t photo

Several ultra-Orthodox news outlets, including B’hadrei Hadarim, have published edited versions of the traditional photo of the new government with the bodies of all nine female ministers blurred out.

Hamas ‘balloon launching’ unit announces return to activity tomorrow

The Hamas terror group’s incendiary balloon unit announces that it will return to activity on Tuesday, against the backdrop of the controversial Jerusalem flag march slated for that day.

Israel has warned that it will respond to breaches of its sovereignty, be it rocket fire or the launching of incendiary devices that have torched hundreds of acres of land near the Gaza border.

Bennett said set to tap Arab affairs analyst as adviser

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will reportedly appoint Arab affairs analyst and Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Shimrit Meir as his adviser for international affairs, Channel 12 reports.

Netanyahu family reportedly won’t vacate Balfour residence for several weeks

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not leave the official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street for another several weeks at least, Channel 12 reports.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s family plans to remain in their private home in Ra’anana for the time being.

Bennett said considering Amos Yadlin for position of NSC chairman

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is reportedly considering tapping Institute for National Security Studies director as the next chairman of the National Security Council, Channel 13 reports.

Yadlin served as head of the IDF Military Intelligence Unit and Israel’s military attaché to Washington. He was the center-left’s Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister ahead of the 2015 election, and is seen as more moderate than the hawkish Bennett.

Israel, US, Gulf states holding talks for ceremony marking 1 year since normalization agreements

Talks have been underway between Israel, the US, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain aimed at holding a ceremony in September to mark the one year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords normalizatioin agreements, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

It is not yet clear where the event will be held, whether in Israel, the US, the UAE, or Bahrain, or whether the ceremony might be used to announce the addition of another country to the normalization circle.

Report: IDF had wanted to raze illegal outpost 10 days ago, but police lacked manpower

The security establishment had planned to demolish the illegal Evyatar outpost in the northern West Bank 10 days ago, but Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai told military officials that he could not carry out the order because many of his troops were dispatched to Jerusalem ahead of the controversial flag march, which was ultimately pushed off until tomorrow, Channel 12 reports.

The fate of the illegal outpost will prove to be another test for the new government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a longtime ally of the settlement movement.

Soldier moderately wounded while thwarting weapon smuggling attempt at Jordanian border

An IDF soldier was moderately wounded while thwarting a weapon smuggling attempt at the Jordanian border, according to the army.

“During the activity, the troops confiscated a number of weapons and apprehended a number of suspects,” the IDF says.

The troops, who were operating to thwart the smuggling attempt, spotted a suspect attempting to cross into Jordan from Israeli territory and fired towards him. An IDF reservist was moderately injured during the activity, along with one of the suspects,” the army says.

“The circumstances of the officer’s injury are under review. The officer and the suspect were evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment.”

Senior PA official: Ramallah not looking for better living conditions, rather end to occupation

Palestinian Authority Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh gives what appears to be Ramallah’s first response to the new Israeli government.

“Palestinian[s] are not looking for better living conditions nor for civil dialogues!! Our people are seeking their salvation from occupation, freedom and independence in their state, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he tweets.

In an interview earlier this month before taking office, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told Channel 12 that while he did not think Israel would be able to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, it would do its best to “shrink” it through steps that improve Palestinian lives.

“Changing the government in Israel is an internal affair, but the new government MUST understand that the context of history will not be with the occupation,” al-Sheikh writes.

Bahrain crown prince congratulates Bennett, Lapid on formation of new gov’t

Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has issued a statement congratulating Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on the formation of a new government.

The crown prince expresses his sincere wishes that the newly formed government will enhance development, stability, and peace in the region and the world.

PA PM warns of ‘dangerous repercussions’ if Israel goes through with flag march

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Shtayyeh warns Israel against going forward with plans to hold the controversial flag march through the Old City of Jerusalem.

“We warn of the dangerous repercussions that may result from the occupying Power’s intention to allow extremist Israeli settlers to carry out the Flag March in occupied Jerusalem tomorrow, a provocation and aggression against our people/ Jerusalem and its sanctities that must end,” Shtayyeh tweets.

Ex-MK Dov Lipman axed from post at Zionist organization amid harassment allegations

Former MK Dov Lipman has been removed from his post as secretary-general of the World Confederation of United Zionists following a Haaretz report revealing that he has been sued for sexual harassment.

The harassment case moved forward after he filed libel suits against a pair of women who made allegations against him in a private Facebook group.

Against the backdrop of the Haaretz report, the chairman of confederation which has membership in the World Zionist Congress notified the latter group’s leader Yaakov Hagoel of the decision to relieve Lipman from his duties immediately.

“The World Confederation of United Zionists honors and respects the privacy of others. Given the grave allegations against former MK Dov Lipman, it was decided to part ways in order to focus on CUZ’s vital work within the global Zionist forum,” says confederation chairman David Yaari in a statement.

Lipman tells Haaretz that he was not fired, claiming the confederation post “was a part-time role which I could not continue because I am spending day and night guiding olim and their families who reach out to me for help entering Israel and for assistance in other areas.”

Health Ministry lifts indoor mask requirement

The Health Ministry announces that starting tomorrow it will lift its directive requiring Israelis to wear masks indoors.

The only exceptions to the rule will be unvaccinated individuals visiting or working at welfare institutions, individuals en route to quarantine, and travelers on a flight.

Joint List rails against decision ‘allowing Kahanists to march through Jerusalem’

The Joint List issues a statement lambasting the government’s decision to authorize tomorrow’s flag march through Jerusalem’s Old City.

“Too many people have paid with their lives for the previous provocation of the Kahanist right. Kahanists should not be allowed to march in East Jerusalem and shout, ‘Death to the Arabs.’ This is not [legitimate] protest, rather incitement.”

“Bloodshed is bad for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and only good for the far right, which wants to perpetuate hatred and violence.”

Settler groups plan marches against Palestinian ‘land grabs’ throughout West Bank

Over a dozen settler municipal councils, far-right organizations, and national religious groups are co-sponsoring a series of marches to 16 locations in the West Bank, where they claim Palestinians have been building illegally on land Israel deems belongs to the state.

“The Arabs are taking over the area and squeezing the settlement movement in a strategic effort of mass construction. We cannot be indifferent. We must wake up and take responsibility,” the groups say in a flier distributed on social media ahead of the Monday planned event.

Lapid meets with visiting Nikki Haley, CUFI founder

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with former Trump ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and the founder of Christians United for Israel, Pastor John Hagee, who are both visiting from the US.

Lapid vowed earlier today to continue engagement with Israel’s evangelical supporters, while also doubling down on efforts to reach out to Diaspora Jewry. The strategy veers away from that taken by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, who suggested investing greater efforts in the former group.

Lapid, in turn, has vowed to improve relations with US Democrats which have faced blips hurdles during the Netanyahu era.

Gantz meets top US diplomat in Israel, discussing Gaza and security issues

Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he met earlier today with the chargé d’affairs at the US Embassy in Jerusalem Michael Ratney to discuss “a host of issues on our agenda, including shifting the basic [security situation] in Gaza so as to foster long-term stability and recover our captives & MIAs.”

“I further told the chargé d’affairs that Israel will continue to work with the US to prevent a nuclear Iran and emphasized that ours is a dialogue between strategic allies and friends, who share a concern for the stability and best interest of the region and the world,” Gantz tweets.

UAE foreign minister phones Lapid to congratulate him on new government

UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed discussed mutual cooperation and the Abraham Accords during a phone call with his new Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid, the UAE foreign ministry says in a statement.

“His Highness congratulated @yairlapid on his new term as Israel’s new FM,” the ministry tweets.

Israel to reopen border crossing with Jordan that’s been closed since start of pandemic

One of Israel’s border crossing to Jordan that had been closed since March 2020 is set to reopen next month, as the pandemic fades in both countries.

The Wadi Araba Crossing, known as the Yitzhak Rabin terminal on the Israeli side closed during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and remained shuttered since.

Israelis may now enter and leave the Hashemite kingdom through the crossing, from July 4, the Foreign Ministry announces.

The crossing in the south of both nations connects the resort cities of Aqaba and Eilat.

Travelers will need to present a negative PCR test result from up to 72 hours prior to crossing in addition to a vaccination certificate or proof of recovery from COVID-19.

Despite no longer being premier, Netanyahu hosts Nikki Haley at official PM residence

Despite no longer being prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu hosted former Trump ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Haley tweets a photo from their meeting taken from inside the residence.

“Time with Prime Minister @netanyahu is always invaluable. His contributions to Israeli security and prosperity are historic. We have not heard the last from him,” she writes.

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