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Bennett reportedly weighs possible alternative government with Likud

Prime minister denies report he talked with adviser about cooperating with Netanyahu’s faction, as opposition steps up pressure on renegade Yamina MK Orbach

Luke Tress is an editor and a reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset during a '40 signatures debate' in the plenum hall on June 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the Knesset during a '40 signatures debate' in the plenum hall on June 13, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

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

Abu Akleh’s family asked for police assistance during funeral, report says

Israeli police confront mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Levin)
Israeli police confront mourners as they carry the casket of slain Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during her funeral in east Jerusalem, on May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Maya Levin)

The family of slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh alerted police to problems at her Jerusalem funeral and asked for help, Channel 12 reports.

A first-degree relative called police to say her coffin had been seized by extremists at the hospital against the family’s wishes. The family member asked for immediate assistance from the police, the report says.

The confrontation between police and funeral-goers sparked international condemnation after police beat pallbearers with batons.

Al Jazeera claims to show bullet that killed journalist Abu Akleh

The Al Jazeera news network releases a photo it says is the bullet that killed reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in the West Bank last month.

It is the first public image of the bullet.

Abu Akleh was killed during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen.

The Palestinians blame Israel for the killing, while Israel says it needs to examine the bullet to determine who fired the fatal shot. The Palestinians have refused to cooperate with Israel on the investigation.

Likud officials reportedly try to contact Orbach, who doesn’t respond

Yamina MK Nir Orbach attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina MK Nir Orbach attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud officials have tried getting in contact with renegade Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach in recent days to pressure him to ditch the coalition, Walla reports.

Orbach has cut off contact and has not responded to or returned any calls, the report says.

He is believed to be concerned that Likud is not interested in establishing a new government in the existing Knesset, but rather in elections, and that he has no way to ensure that if Likud promises him positions for joining the party, he will actually receive them.

Orbach has frozen his membership in the coalition. He has denied reports claiming he was nearing a deal with Likud.

Bennett reportedly discussed the possibility of setting up a government with Likud

Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-education minister Naftali Bennett (left) at the annual Bible Quiz at the Jerusalem Theatre on Independence Day, April 19, 2018. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)
Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-education minister Naftali Bennett (left) at the annual Bible Quiz at the Jerusalem Theatre on Independence Day, April 19, 2018. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

Prime Minister Bennett discussed the possibility of setting up an alternative government with opposition leader Netanyahu’s Likud party during a meeting with political advisers in Tel Aviv today, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Bennett’s Yamina party denies the report.

In the current Knesset, Yamina, Likud and the rest of the right-wing religious bloc still would not have a 61-seat majority. Bennett discussed with an adviser the possibility of roping in another party, such as Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope, Kan reported.

Bennett’s coalition has been on the ropes for weeks and lost its majority in the Knesset in April.

An alternative government could be set up within the current Knesset without new elections, if another candidate can assemble a majority.

Gaza blackmailers extorted Israeli youth on social media — report

A group of blackmailers from the Gaza Strip have extorted dozens of Israeli youth over social media, Channel 12 reports.

The young Israelis thought they were chatting with other people around their age.

The Gaza-based scammers guided the conversation into sexual matters and asked for intimate photos and videos, then blackmailed the Israelis, demanding they transfer them money.

The scammers threatened to release sensitive material if the victims did not pay money in the “sextortion” scheme, Channel 12 reports.

“I swear to you. I’ll humiliate you everywhere. I have everything on you. Take your time,” one of the messages said. “I’m going to spread all of your pictures and videos on Instagram and TikTok everywhere.”

The criminal group managed to extort hundreds of thousands of shekels, the report says.

Israeli Paralympic swimmer breaks world record

Israeli Paralympic swimmer Ami Dadaon wins a gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle and breaks a world record at the world championships in Portugal.

Dadaoun finishes the race in 36.25 seconds, breaking the previous record of 36.75 seconds.

His gold medal is Israel’s fourth in the competition, Kan reports.

Israel and Turkey said to thwart several Iranian terror attacks in past 2 weeks

Israel and Turkey have thwarted a number of attempted Iranian terror attacks in the past two weeks, Channel 12 reports.

The terror plots included plans to carry out shootings and kidnappings.

Iran maintains a terror “infrastructure” in the area, which includes recruiting locals into the schemes, the report says.

Previous reports in recent weeks have said Israeli and Turkish forces stopped attempted Iranian attacks in Istanbul.

Tensions have flared between Iran and Israel as Tehran pushes forward with its nuclear program and negotiations remain stalled. There have also been a series of mysterious deaths in Iran, some of which the regime ascribed to Israel.

Israeli authorities have warned citizens to stay out of Turkey due to the risk.

Russian spy posed as a Brazilian intern to infiltrate war crimes court, Dutch say

The Netherlands says it has stopped a Russian spy posing as a Brazilian intern from infiltrating the International Criminal Court, which is investigating war crimes in Ukraine.

The Russian, identified as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov, 36, flew to the Netherlands in April using an elaborate deep cover story that he had built up over the past 12 years.

But Dutch authorities said they saw through his fake identity as 33-year-old Brazilian citizen named Viktor Muller Ferreira, and unmasked him as an agent of Moscow’s GRU military intelligence.

Cherkasov was put on the next flight back to Brazil, where police say he was arrested for identity fraud.

The Dutch say Cherkasov could have accessed “highly valuable” intelligence on the ICC’s probe into war crimes in Ukraine or even influenced criminal proceedings at the Hague-based tribunal.

The head of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service, or AIVD, says it is “very rare” to catch a Russian agent “of this caliber.”

“The GRU has spent years creating this fake identity. It’s an enormous effort,” Erik Akerboom is quoted as saying by the Dutch ANP news agency.

2 airlines say Israelis can change Turkey flights after warnings

People on a boat cross the Bosporus Strait from Asia to Europe, with a view of Istanbul's skyline with the Suleymaniye Mosque, in the background, June 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
People on a boat cross the Bosporus Strait from Asia to Europe, with a view of Istanbul's skyline with the Suleymaniye Mosque, in the background, June 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish Airlines and Pegasus, a Turkish low-cost carrier, say Israelis can change their flight destination or date of flights.

The announcement comes after a series of warnings from Israeli leaders to stay out of Turkey due to a threat from Iran.

Israel’s warning against citizens traveling to Turkey is expected to remain in effect until an Iranian terror cell is caught.

Security services believe the Iranian cell is still in Turkey, and both Israeli and Turkish security forces are working to thwart any potential attack.

Tensions have flared between Israel and Iran as Tehran pushes its nuclear program forward, and amid a string of mysterious deaths in Iran.

Netanyahu prods Orbach: ‘There is a need to take action’

Yamina MK Nir Orbach seen leaving the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, after meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, June 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yamina MK Nir Orbach seen leaving the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, after meeting with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, June 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu prods renegade Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach during a memorial speech for the victims of the Altalena disaster.

“I know that Orbach’s heart is in the right place,” Netanyahu says.

“I know that Orbach is against a government that depends on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council,” he says, referring to the advisory body of the coalition’s Islamist Ra’am party.

“I know he’s against transferring control of the country and the economy to Ra’am, the Joint List and other anti-Zionist forces,” Netanyahu says.

Directing his speech at Orbach, Netanyahu says, “You were right when you said in the Knesset in a moment of truth that the experiment has failed,” referring to the inclusion of an Arab party in the coalition.

“That failure is already endangering the entire country, endangering our future. At this crucial moment, there is a need to take action,” Netanyahu says.

A report from Channel 12 news today said Orbach and Netanyahu’s Likud party have agreed on the main points of Orbach’s potential defection.

Orbach has denied reports that he is in negotiations with Likud.

On Monday Orbach announced that he was freezing his membership in the coalition, accusing  “extremist, anti-Zionist elements” such as Arab MKs Mazen Ghanaim (Ra’am) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) of pulling the coalition “in problematic directions” and “holding it hostage.”

IDF troops arrest 4 suspects carrying firearms on West Bank border

The Israel Defense Forces says troops arrested four suspects carrying two firearms in the West Bank seam zone, near the town of ‘Anin, close to the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm earlier today.

Troops operating in the area heard sounds of gunfire and began to search for the source. At the same time, soldiers operating security cameras identified that the group had crossed the West Bank security barrier into the seam zone area.

The group was arrested after a brief chase, and two pistols were found in a bag one was carrying.

The IDF does not say if the group was planning to commit an attack or was smuggling arms into Israel.

According to Army Radio, two of the suspects are Arab Israelis, including a police officer, and a fifth suspect managed to flee toward Umm al-Fahm.

IDF appoints its first-ever female brigade commander

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, left, awards Reut Rettig-Weiss the rank of colonel, July 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, left, awards Reut Rettig-Weiss the rank of colonel, July 16, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman is nominated to serve as a brigade commander in the Israel Defense Forces.

Reut Rettig-Weiss was promoted to the rank of colonel today, and she will serve as commander of the IDF’s 99th division’s artillery brigade as well as head of an artillery unit at the military’s Tze’elim urban warfare training center.

According to the IDF, she is the first woman at this rank to serve as a combat officer in the Artillery Corps.

Rettig-Weiss previously commanded the Artillery Corps’ elite Sky Riders Unit, which gathers intelligence before and during missions using small, relatively low-cost drones.

President Herzog says he trusts Almog’s ability to replace him at Jewish Agency

Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog welcomes members of the Ethiopian community on February 4, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Chairman of the Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog welcomes members of the Ethiopian community on February 4, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog, the previous chairman of the Jewish Agency, lauds the nomination of Doron Almog as his replacement, saying he has trust in Almog’s “talents, experiences and abilities” to lead the semi-governmental organization.

“This is a very important position in the Jewish world, which works to connect the State of Israel with the Jews of the Diaspora, to connect the Jewish world to our country; it influences Israeli society and immigration and absorption. I am confident and sure in [Almog’s] talents, experiences and abilities to lead this important organization forward,” Herzog says in a statement.

Bennett ‘very happy’ at nomination of Almog as Jewish Agency chief

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says he’s “very happy” at the nomination of Doron Almog as the next chairman of the Jewish Agency, wishing him luck in his new position.

“Doron Almog represents everything that’s beautiful about Israel,” Bennett says. “Doron embodies military and civilian prowess, deep love for the nation of Israel, for the land and for all humans. This is why I was glad to hand him the Israel Prize for his life’s work.”

Iran arrests suspect allegedly plotting with French spy ring

Iranian authorities have arrested a person accused of having a link to two French citizens being held on espionage charges, state television reports.

The report says the suspect is a Marxist who visited the two alleged French spies before the May 1 International Workers’ Day, as part of a plot to “create unrest among workers.”

It does not disclose the suspect’s gender, but says the person was arrested by intelligence services while trying to leave the country through the province of West Azerbaijan. The TV also says the accused was tasked with rallying workers and teachers for street protests.

In May, Iran confirmed it had detained two French citizens, Cecile Kohler, 37, and Jacques Paris, 69, saying they met with protesting teachers, took part in an anti-government rally, and were organizing a protest to create unrest in Iran.

France identified the two as a teachers’ union official and her partner who were on vacation in Iran.

Teachers have held several strikes and protests in cities across Iran in recent weeks, walking out of their classrooms to press for better pay and working conditions.

Zelensky: Ukraine ‘ready to work to become a full EU member’

Ukraine is ready to work to become a full European Union member, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says after four visiting EU leaders publicly backed Kyiv’s bid to join the bloc.

“We are ready to work for our state to become a full member of the EU,” Zelensky says ahead of an EU leaders summit next week at which Kyiv’s application to become a candidate for membership is likely to be given a green light.

“Ukrainians have already earned the right to go down this road and obtain this candidate status.”

Tel Aviv University chief: Abramovich’s donation justifies urging the US not to sanction him

Ariel Porat. (Courtesy: Yonatan Tzur Duvdevani)
Ariel Porat. (Courtesy: Yonatan Tzur Duvdevani)

The president of Tel Aviv University has reportedly justified signing a letter urging the United States not to sanction Russian-Israeli oligarch Roman Abramovich over Moskow’s invasion of Ukraine, citing donations Abramovich has made to the university.

Haaretz reports that in a closed meeting last week, Prof. Ariel Porat said: “When a person donates $50 million to an institution and asks you, together with others, to sign a letter, I can’t see a decent person who doesn’t do that.”

Board members reportedly slammed Porat’s stance, with one saying the university should be serving as a moral compass, not acting “like a private company.”

Ministers welcome nomination of new Jewish Agency chairman

Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a press conference at the ministry's office at Ben Gurion Airport on April 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata attends a press conference at the ministry's office at Ben Gurion Airport on April 4, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Immigrant Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata hails the nomination of Doron Almog for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a semi-governmental body that encourages and oversees immigration to Israel.

“We are in an important period with a jump in the numbers of new immigrants from around the world, and I am confident that Doron will contribute greatly to the Jewish world and to fulfilling this government’s immigration and absorption policies,” Tamano-Shata says.

Tamana-Shata, who works closely with the Jewish Agency, is referring to the major immigration from Ukraine and Russia in recent months, following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Over 25,000 people have immigrated to Israel from the two countries since then in the largest wave of migration in some 30 years.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also lauds Almog’s nomination, saying he “sets an example for love of the land.”

“I am confident you will fill this position with dedication and pride,” Lapid says.

Russian basketball teams suspended from upcoming EuroLeague season

Russian basketball clubs have been suspended from the next season of the EuroLeague.

EuroLeague organizers cite “air travel restrictions and prohibitions or other limitations to issuing visas to Russian residents” during the country’s war with Ukraine.

The 18-team league had three Russian entrants last season — CSKA Moscow on a long-term license and one-year entries for UNICS Kazan and Zenit St. Petersburg. Their results were annulled after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The EuroLeague suspension aligns with many other sports bodies that have removed Russian teams and athletes from their competitions. Several appeal cases are pending at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The International Olympic Committee has said Russian teams and athletes are being protected from hostility, not punished for their nationality.

“Executive Board members also considered that protecting the integrity and regularity of the competition and the safety of all stakeholders is the ultimate priority,” the EuroLeague says, “and should not be put at risk.”

In ‘error of judgment,’ IDF patrol leaves Hebron market at demand of PA forces

The Israeli military has opened a probe after a video was shared on social media showing Palestinian police officers ejecting an IDF patrol from a Hebron market.

The army says in a statement that the commanding officer of the force made an “error of judgment.”

In the video, widely circulated on Palestinian social media, a group of armed men from the Palestinian Authority security forces is seen approaching an IDF patrol, with an officer saying in Hebrew: “What are you doing here?”

He then vigorously urges the soldiers to leave. The soldiers briefly appear to resist his demand but then the force commander indicates that they should leave. The Palestinian security officers follow the soldiers to ensure they leave the area, while locals jeer at the Israeli force.

The IDF says in a statement that the soldiers were patrolling in the area of the market and that the Palestinian officers arrived without prior coordination.

“The force commander made an error of judgment when he decided to leave the point. The incident is being investigated,” the army says.

France, Germany, Italy and Romania back ‘immediate’ EU candidate status for Ukraine

France, Germany, Italy and Romania are all in favor of Ukraine receiving “immediate” official candidate status to join the European Union, French President Emmanuel Macron says in Kyiv.

“All four of us support the status of immediate candidate for accession,” he says at a joint press conference with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian premier Mario Draghi and Romanian leader Klaus Iohannis who all arrived by train in the Ukrainian capital earlier today.

Ex-IDF general Doron Almog picked as new Jewish Agency chairman

Doron Almog, then the head of the Prime Minister's Office directorate for economic and community development of the Negev Bedouin, during a discussion in the Knesset on December 23, 2013. (Flash90)
Doron Almog, then the head of the Prime Minister's Office directorate for economic and community development of the Negev Bedouin, during a discussion in the Knesset on December 23, 2013. (Flash90)

Doron Almog has been nominated as the next chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, ending a more than year-long stalemate in which the semi-governmental body has been run by an interim head, after previous chairman Isaac Herzog was named president last year.

Numerous attempts to find a replacement for Herzog had failed as no candidate was able to get the nine out of 10 votes necessary to secure the nomination from the selection committee.

Almog, a former Israel Defense Forces general who now runs a widely lauded rehabilitation village in the Negev desert, is widely seen as a consensus candidate. He was chosen unanimously by the nominating committee, according to a Jewish Agency spokesperson.

Almog’s nomination will now need to be approved by the Jewish Agency board of governors at its plenary hearing next month, though this is largely a formality.

UN rights chief: Mariupol ‘horrors’ will leave ‘indelible mark’

Damage is seen on apartment buildings after shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, in territory under control of the separatist government of the Donetsk People's Republic, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)
Damage is seen on apartment buildings after shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, in territory under control of the separatist government of the Donetsk People's Republic, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexei Alexandrov, File)

The extent of death and destruction in Ukraine’s devastated port city of Mariupol suggests serious international law violations, the UN rights chief says, warning the horrors there will mark future generations.

“The horrors inflicted on the civilian population will leave their indelible mark, including on generations to come,” Michelle Bachelet tells the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She points to the “parents who had to bury their own children, on people who witnessed their friends commit suicide, on families ripped apart, on all those who had to leave a much-loved city with uncertain prospects of ever seeing it again.”

Palestinian indicted for stabbing Jewish soup kitchen volunteer who was hosting him

A 21-year-old Palestinian man has been indicted at the Tel Aviv District Court for the attempted terrorist murder of a soup kitchen volunteer during a wave of lone-wolf attacks that began in March.

The indictment charges that Hamam Suleiman, from the northern West Bank, befriended the 50-year-old Jewish volunteer and even stayed at the latter’s home, and planned to kill him for nationalistic and religious reasons.

While staying at the man’s home, Suleiman is accused of taking a sharp knife from the kitchen and stabbing his victim in the back in the bathroom.

The volunteer managed to push the attacker out and locked the door, calling for help while the knife was still in his back. After Suleiman fled, the victim was hospitalized and underwent surgery.

Suleiman is accused of attempted murder, an attempted terror act of causing bodily harm, and being in Israel illegally.

He has seven prior convictions for security-related offenses, fraud, violence and staying in Israel illegally. He has served five years in jail.

Netherlands says Russian spy prevented from accessing ICC

The Dutch intelligence service says it has stopped a Russian spy posing as an intern from accessing the International Criminal Court, which is investigating war crimes in Ukraine.

“The AIVD prevented a Russian intelligence officer from gaining access as an intern to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague,” the AIVD (General Intelligence and Security Service) says in a statement, adding that he works for Russia’s GRU military intelligence and has been using a Brazilian cover identity.

Two Hezbollah members sentenced to life for Hariri murder: UN court

A UN-backed court sentences two Hezbollah members in absentia to life imprisonment after they were convicted on appeal for the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s ex-premier Rafik Hariri.

“The appeals chamber unanimously decides to sentence Mr. (Habib) Merhi and Mr. (Hussein) Oneissi to life imprisonment, the heaviest sentence under the statute and the rules,” presiding judge Ivana Hrdlickova says at the Dutch-based court.

Germany’s Scholz says Zelensky will take part in G7 summit this month

(L-R) Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022 (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)
(L-R) Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in Mariinsky Palace, in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022 (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says during a visit to Kyiv that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will take part in this month’s Group of Seven summit.

In a tweet, Scholz thanks Zelensky for “accepting my invitation to participate in the G7 summit” being held June 26-28 in the German Alpine resort of Schloss Elmau.

Zelensky, who is not believed to have left Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24, is expected to join the leaders by video link.

Russian Church: UK sanctions on Patriarch Kirill ‘absurd’

The Russian Orthodox Church dismisses sanctions against its leader, Patriarch Kirill, imposed by Britain for his support of Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.

“Attempts to intimidate the primate of the Russian Church with something or to force him to renounce his views are senseless, absurd and unpromising,” church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda says on Telegram.

Bus drivers announce 2-hour strike tomorrow in protest of low salaries

Bus drivers announce a strike tomorrow in much of the country between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., in an escalating protest of their low salaries and against Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, who is allegedly refusing to meet their representatives.

The strike, announced by the National Workers’ Union, is expected to cause significant traffic at the time parents head out to take their children from school and kindergarten.

The strike will stop all intracity bus lines in Netanya, Ashdod, Petah Tikva, Rosh Ha’ayin, Yavne, Gan Yavne, Beersheba, Ariel and the Samaria Regional Council. It will also halt many inter-city buses, including between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak, Modiin Illit and Ben Gurion Airport.

Russia blacklists 121 Australians, including journalists, in response to sanctions

Russia announces it is blacklisting 121 Australian citizens, including defense officials and businessmen, as well as reporters and editors from media outlets including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

The blacklist has been put together in response to “the growing sanctions of the Australian government, which apply to an increasing number of Russian citizens,” the Russian foreign ministry says.

The people on the list, including Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell, AI researcher Toby Walsh and The Australian’s editor-in-chief Christopher Dore, are barred from entering Russia “indefinitely,” the ministry says in a statement.

Russia has accused the sanctioned figures of promoting a “Russophobic agenda” and says the blacklist will be expanded in the future.

In April, Moscow announced entry bans on the leaders of Australia and New Zealand in tit-for-tat measures after Canberra and Wellington imposed sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

UK sanctions Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill over support for Ukraine invasion

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, left, walk to lay flowers at the monument of Minin and Pozharsky at Red Square in Moscow, during National Unity Day in Moscow, Russia, November 4, 2018. (Alexander Nemenov/Pool/AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, left, walk to lay flowers at the monument of Minin and Pozharsky at Red Square in Moscow, during National Unity Day in Moscow, Russia, November 4, 2018. (Alexander Nemenov/Pool/AP)

Britain sanctions the leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, “for his support and endorsement” of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The foreign ministry’s announcement comes two weeks after EU nations dropped the powerful cleric from their own latest sanctions list, after opposition from Hungary.

Israel confirms country’s 6th monkeypox case

A sixth case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Israel, the Health Ministry says.

In a statement, the ministry says a 46-year-old tourist came to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital with symptoms indicating he had the disease, which was confirmed in a lab test at the Israel Institute for Biological Research.

As the disease spreads across Europe, the World Health Organization is slated to convene a meeting next week to decide whether to declare the outbreak an international health emergency.

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