The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they happened.
British lawyer Karim Khan is sworn in as the new chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, pledging to reach out to nations that are not members of the court and to try to hold trials in countries where crimes are committed.
Khan, a 51-year-old English lawyer, has years of experience in international lawyer as a prosecutor, investigator and defense attorney. He takes over from Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, whose nine-year term ended Tuesday.
“My conviction is that we can find common ground in the quest and in the imperative to ensure we eradicate genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” Khan said in his first speech after taking his oath of office.
Before leaving office, Bensouda announced on March 3 that she was opening an investigation into actions committed by Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since June 13, 2014. The announcement of the investigation came less than a month after the court ruled it had the jurisdiction to open a probe. A preliminary investigation to settle the justiciable question took more than five years.
Israel has fiercely condemned the investigation, accusing the ICC of bias, asserting that it is capable of investigating any alleged Israel Defense Forces crimes through its own legal hierarchies, and saying the ICC has no jurisdiction, since the Palestinians do not have a state. Israel is not a member of the ICC, but its citizens could be subject to arrest abroad if warrants are issued.
Energy Minister Karine Elharrar meets with US Ambassador John Desrocher, who is serving as the American mediator in the indirect talks between Israel and Lebanon on their disputed maritime border.
“Despite Israel’s strong legal case, we are ready to consider creative solutions to bring this issue to an end,” Elharrar, who took office this week, tells Desrocher of the ongoing indirect negotiations between Lebanon and Israel.
Israel and Lebanon have no diplomatic relations and are technically in a state of war. They each claim about 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of the Mediterranean Sea as being within their own exclusive economic zones.
The US has been mediating the issue for about a decade, but only late last year was a breakthrough reached on an agreement for a framework for US-mediated talks. The talks began in October but stopped a few weeks later.
Likud faction chair MK Miki Zohar submits a Knesset no-confidence motion against the new government, which was sworn in three days ago.
The bill, which Likud says is presented on behalf of other opposition parties, says the government was “established on lies and the fraud” and “does not have a mandate from the public.”
The motion will likely be voted on during next Monday’s Knesset session.
US President Joe Biden arrives at the 18th century Villa La Grange in Geneva for his high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Putin arrived at the summit venue, located in the Swiss city’s largest park, earlier this afternoon.
The two leaders are set to start their meeting accompanied by their top diplomats and a pair of translators. Other senior officials plan to join them for two successive rounds of talks that are expected to last for several hours.
Topics on the summit agenda include strategic stability, cyber security, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and the Arctic. Putin and Biden also are expected to cover regional crises in Ukraine, Syria and Libya, as well as the Iranian nuclear program and Afghanistan.
US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shake hands in Geneva at the start of their first summit, with tensions at their highest in years.
The two meet after standing with their host, Swiss President Guy Parmelin, outside the La Grange villa overlooking Lake Geneva, where they are set to meet for up to five hours, with cyberattacks, election meddling and rights abuses among the many contentious issues on the agenda.
Opening the summit between the two in Geneva, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes for a “productive” meeting, as US counterpart Joe Biden says “it is always better to meet face to face.”
Newly released graphic CCTV footage of a cable car disaster in Italy, in which an Israeli family was killed, shows the moment that the cables broke, sending the cabin down the mountain at deadly speed.
Fourteen people, including Amit Biran, 30, Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, their 2-year-old son Tom, and great-grandparents Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen of Tel Aviv, 71 and 81 respectively, were killed in the May 24 accident, after a cable snapped on the aerial tram bringing weekend visitors to the top of the Piedmont region’s Mottarone mountain.
All five were buried in Israel a few days later.
Five-year-old Eitan Biran was the only survivor of the crash.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry makes his first reference to the new government headed by Natali Bennett, saying, “The new government is the choice of the Israelis.”
Shoukry tells reporters, “Egypt will strive to work with it to advance the peace process with the Palestinians, and to bring about the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on a two-state solution.”
Shukri calls on the Israeli government to make “courageous decisions” regarding a peace agreement, saying that “Egypt strives to bring an end to the conflict, which will lead to stability and peace in the region.”
The Jerusalem District Court rules to delay hearings in the corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for three weeks.
Lawyers for Netanyahu and ex-Bezeq telecom firm owner Shaul Elovitch had asked for proceedings in their clients’ high-profile trial to be halted until late September to allow more time to examine additional evidence set to be handed to them.
Judges instead decided to halt proceedings until July 5.
The court last week ordered prosecutors to fully look through the phone of key witness former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua. That came in response to a request from defense attorneys, who argued they were not given the texts from all relevant conversations on Yeshua’s phone. The search will focus on any conservations Yeshua had with politicians, businessmen, or other relevant individuals, concerning his involvement in news coverage at Walla.
Prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh agreed that the proceedings should be delayed to allow time to search Yeshua’s phone and hand over the findings to the defense lawyers, but argued that a two-week postponement was sufficient.
Four fires have broken out in the Eshkol Regional Council on the Israeli side of the Gaza border.
The Fire Service says they were caused by incendiary balloons sent from the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Defense Forces carried out a series of airstrikes throughout the Strip early Wednesday morning in response to the over two dozen fires in southern Israel yesterday, caused by incendiary devices launched from the coastal enclave.
It represented the first exchange between terror groups in Gaza and the IDF since last month’s 11-day conflict in the Strip.
Experts warn that swarms of jellyfish could make landfall along Israel’s Mediterranean coast within a week, as Israelis increasingly hit the beaches during the early days of summer.
Dor Edelist, a marine biologist at the University of Haifa, tells Channel 12 news that jellyfish have been spotted a couple of kilometers off the coast, estimating it would take a week or two before they begin appearing on beaches.
The jellyfishes usually stick around for about a month to a month and a half, according to Edelist, who predicted the swarms would be smaller and around for less time than last year, but nevertheless intense.
The wife of new Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin calls to end protests outside politicians’s homes after pro-Netanyahu demonstrators were dispersed by police outside their Jerusalem residence at midnight last night.
“Freedom of expression is a sacred value that I am pleased we have in this country but there is a limit,” Maria Elkin tells Channel 12 news.
“Go a protest outside every ministry, outside the Knesset, outside the Prime Minister’s Office, but leave us alone,” she says. “Let us live, let us sleep.”
Elkin, a former Likud cabinet minister who was considered a close confidant of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left to join Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party ahead of the March 2021 elections, blasting the prime minister for his conduct and accusing him of putting his personal considerations above the country’s best interests.
New Hope is now a member of the new coalition that ousted Netanyahu from power after 12 years in office.
Likud supporters have been regularly gathering outside the Elkins’s residence to demonstrate. Last month The Jerusalem District Court issued a temporary restraining order against a supporter of Netanyahu who has verbally harassed Maria Elkin and her children.
The Health Ministry adds the United Arab Emirates to the list of countries with a severe travel warning due to rising coronavirus cases in the Gulf country.
Peru, on the other hand, is removed from the list.
In addition to the UAE, the list of countries with a severe travel warning currently includes: Uganda, Uruguay, Seychelles, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Maldives, Namibia, Nepal, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Tunisia.
Some 2,000 cases were diagnosed in the UAE in the past 24 hours.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat is warning that the bloc’s testy relations with Russia will probably get worse and that EU member countries must not let Moscow divide them.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says ties with Russia are “at the lowest level” and the likelihood they will improve soon remains “a distant prospect.”
His remarks come as President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin were meeting in Geneva for a high-stakes summit amid tensions between the West and the Kremlin.
A Palestinian woman is arrested after nearing a group of Border Police officers with a knife at the entrance to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
No one was injured in the incident.
The new government approves the composition of the security cabinet, the high-level ministerial forum responsible for approving military operations, in a telephone vote.
The cabinet will be made up of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds his first working meeting today with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi.
In the meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, the two discussed “the operational situation and the security challenges on the agenda” as well as “the process of drawing lessons” from the recent Gaza conflict, a statement from the PMO says.
US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin end their first summit after around three and a half hours of talks in Geneva.
The two men concluded their last round of meetings during the summit at 5:05 pm local time, the White House says, and Biden himself emerged from the elegant villa where the summit was held shortly after it ended.
Both leaders are set to hold separate press conferences.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he and US President Joe Biden have agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in a bid to lower tensions.
Putin makes the announcement at a news conference following a summit on Wednesday with Biden in Geneva.
The return of ambassadors follows a diplomatic tug-of-war that saw deep cuts in diplomatic personnel.
Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, was recalled from Washington about three months ago after Biden described Putin as a killer.
US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan left Moscow almost two months ago after Russia suggested he return to Washington for consultations.
A Palestinian was critically injured by live bullets in the West Bank town of Beita near Nablus, the Palestinian Authority health ministry says.
An Israeli military spokesperson says the army is looking into the incident.
Beita has seen repeated clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in recent weeks following the establishment of a new West Bank outpost known as Evyatar on land close to the town. Palestinians have hurled stones at troops and ignited swathes of terrain, while Israeli soldiers have responded with riot dispersal means and live bullets.
Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during different clashes between Beita residents and Israeli forces in recent days.
Russian President Vladimir Putin describes the tone of the talks with US President Joe Biden as “constructive” and says there was no hostility during the meeting.
His remarks come at a news conference after he and Biden met in Geneva for a high-stakes summit amid tensions between the West and the Kremlin.
“Our assessment of many issues differ, but in my view both sides demonstrated the desire to understand each other and look for ways to get closer,” Putin says.
“The conversation was rather constructive,” he adds.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz asks Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to change government regulations in order to publish the minutes of the coronavirus cabinet meetings that remain confidential.
In a letter to Bennett, Gantz writes that “throughout the months of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, public confidence in government decisions was eroded. At that time, partial publications from the discussions based on repeated leaks were exposed to the public.”
Gantz says the disclosure of the protocols will lead to the public being better exposed to cabinet decisions and the conduct of government ministers.
Two days before Iran’s presidential election, which is expected to be won by ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, three of the six other men in the race withdraw their candidacies.
Ultraconservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani withdrew this morning, hours after reformist Mohsen Mehralizadeh had also thrown in the towel ahead of Friday’s vote, Iranian media reports.
In the afternoon another ultraconservative, Saeed Jalili, also pulled out. “A significant part of society has favored my dear brother” Raisi, Jalili says, and urges his backers to vote for the cleric.
That leaves four hopefuls in the race, out of whom the ultraconservative judiciary chief Raisi, 60, is seen as the clear favorite after other prominent politicians were barred from running.
The IDF says a Palestinian man who was shot earlier by troops near Nablus had thrown an explosive device at soldiers while running toward them.
The army says a group of dozens of Palestinians was making its way toward troops at the Evyatar illegal outpost when one charged at them and threw a suspicious object which exploded.
A soldier fired first in the air and then toward the suspect, who was hit and critically injured.
There were no Israeli casualties, the army says.
A known member of the extreme-right Lehava organization is suspected of having sexually harassed a teenage activist in the group, Israeli television reports.
The suspect, who was not named, was questioned by police yesterday, the television reports say.
The girl was 17-years-old at the time, according to the Kan public broadcaster. Channel 12 news says the incident occurred 10 months ago.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid hold their first working meeting since the new government was sworn in on Sunday.
According to the coalition deal between the two, Bennett will serve as prime minister until August 2023 when he will be replaced by Lapid.
GENEVA — US President Joe Biden says he stressed human rights issues in his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That includes the cases of two Americans who Biden says are “wrongfully imprisoned” in Russia.
Biden also says he’ll continue to raise concerns about cases like Alexei Navalny, the jailed leader of the Russian opposition to Putin.
Biden adds that he’ll keep on airing concerns about issues of “fundamental human rights because that’s what we are.”
Biden is speaking after a nearly four-hour meeting with Putin in Geneva.
GENEVA — US President Joe Biden says he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed in detail the “next steps our countries should take on arms control measures” to reduce the risk of war.
At a news conference, Biden said this means that diplomats and military experts from both countries will meet for what he called a “strategic stability dialogue” to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.
He did not say when the talks would begin. The idea is to work out a way to set the stage for negotiations on an arms control deal to succeed the New START treaty that is set to expire in 2026.
US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “ridiculous” comparisons on human rights, following their summit in Geneva.
Responding to comments from Putin about the January storming of the US Capitol, Biden tells reporters: “That’s a ridiculous comparison. It’s one thing for literally criminals to break through a cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer and be held accountable, than it is for people objecting, marching on the Capitol and saying you are not allowing me to speak freely.”
Twitter unveils a new version that allows Arabic language users to be addressed as female rather than male, in efforts to use “inclusive language” on the platform, popular in the Arab world.
Arabic verbs and adjectives have both masculine and feminine forms, including imperative verbs such as “tweet” and “explore” found on social media apps.
“In some languages, such as Arabic, words can be feminine or masculine, but we’ve missed a way for people to tell us how they want to be addressed,” Twitter says. “So today, we’re introducing a new language setting that acknowledges and better supports the Arabic feminine form.”
“We know there’s more work to be done for our service to reflect the variety of voices around the world,” the social media giant says.
In a region where most traditional media carry little to no criticism of political elites, many young people have taken to social media platforms to speak more freely — a phenomenon that played a key role in the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.
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