ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 61

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Cohen speaks to Blinken, says Israel will bring violent settlers to justice

US Secretary of State says the White House is extremely concerned about settler attacks, urges Israel to do more; FM says Iran at heart of rise in West Bank attacks

Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire set by settlers in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya, Wednesday, June 21, 2023.  (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a fire set by settlers in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

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

In stormy meeting, Netanyahu, Gallant clash with Ben Gvir over settler violence

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir after a Knesset vote in Jerusalem, February 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center, speaks to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir after a Knesset vote in Jerusalem, February 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Senior ministers and security officials clash with far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir in a stormy meeting over settler violence, Hebrew media report.

In quotes from the closed-door meeting widely leaked to the press, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and the heads of the IDF and Shin Bet are said to have chided Ben Gvir for giving tacit backing to the recent settler attacks.

Meanwhile, Ben Gvir accused the other participants of hypocrisy and blowing the issue out of proportion, calling the settler vigilantes “sweet boys.”

According to the reports, Netanyahu told Ben Gvir the raids on Palestinian villages were eroding Israel’s international legitimacy.

Gallant accused Ben Gvir and other members of his far-right Otzma Yehudit party of paying “lip service” to law and order and called on them to publicly condemn the rampages that came after four Israelis were killed in a terror attack.

Ben Gvir meanwhile slammed Gallant for a conversation today with a senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh, calling it “a conversation apologizing to a terrorist.”

“A convicted terrorist who sat for 10 years in jail and we are calling to soothe him,” Ben Gvir said.

Gallant retorted that “we can’t behave like the enemy.”

Russia summons Israeli envoy over Nazi collaborator comments

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) speaks with Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky after stepping off the train in Kyiv, February 16, 2023. (Lazar Berman /Times of Israel)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) speaks with Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky after stepping off the train in Kyiv, February 16, 2023. (Lazar Berman /Times of Israel)

Russia’s foreign ministry summons Israel’s top envoy to Moscow for a dressing down as part of an ongoing spat over comments by Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry says that it summoned Israeli chargé d’Affaires Ronen Kraus to issue a complaint about remarks made last week by Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky saying that he understood why many Ukrainians revere former Nazi accomplices as heroes for fighting against the Soviet Union.

The statement emphasizes that “whitewashing” of such figures is unacceptable and that Russia and Israel have worked together in the past to “rebuff attempts to rewrite history,” slamming those who praise Nazi collaborators in an attempt to “encourage Russophobic sentiments.”

Last week, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused Brodsky of “glorifying Nazism… If in Brodsky’s opinion Kyiv has the right to heroes like that, then it is a problem for the Israeli Foreign Ministry,” Zakharova added.

Asked for a comment on Tuesday’s meeting, Israel’s Foreign Ministry points to its statement from last week following Zakharova’s comments: “There is no change in Israel’s policy, which is absolutely opposed to and rejects the glorification of criminals who collaborated with the Nazis in murdering Jews,” ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said at the time. “No party should lecture the State of Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry, or its diplomats about the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust or about the war on historical distortion.”

Government supporters rally outside Levin’s house, call for judicial reform

Pro-government supporters stage a rally tonight outside the Modiin home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin, calling for him to push ahead with his judicial overhaul.

Several hundred supporters hold signs reading: “Yariv Levin we are with you,” and “Enough with the dictatorship of the Supreme Court.”

The rally came after hundreds of protesters against the government’s judicial overhaul staged a fiery demonstration this morning at Levin’s home, blocking roads and burning tires.

Levin’s supporters also taunted the police, chanting “Where were you this morning?”

A few dozen anti-overhaul protestors also staged a counter-demonstration.

Security Council calls to hold those behind Israel-Palestinian violence accountable

UAE Ambassador to the United Nation Lana Nusseibeh in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
UAE Ambassador to the United Nation Lana Nusseibeh in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, January 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

The UN Security Council called for those responsible for violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be held accountable in a vague press statement that appeared to have been watered down due to pushback from the United States.

“The members of the council expressed sorrow for the loss of civilian lives. They recalled the presidential statement adopted on 20th February 2023, including their call for full respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of the civilian population,” the panel said in remarks read aloud by UAE Ambassador to the UN Lana Nusseibah ahead of today’s monthly hearing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The February 20th presidential statement was issued largely to condemn a recent Israeli announcement that it would be legalizing nine illegal outposts and advancing plans for thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank.

That presidential statement was largely symbolic, but it was the first time one had been issued regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in nine years. At the same time, it lacked the binding nature of a resolution akin to the one adopted in 2016, which more forcefully condemned Israeli settlements.

Today’s “press elements” read by Nusseibah carry even less weight than a presidential statement and are not even recorded on the UN’s website. However, they still require the approval of all 15 Security Council members in order to be shared.

Accordingly, the statement was watered down from the original draft that was prepared on Friday following a private consultation that the Security Council held on Friday with the UN’s Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland, a diplomat for a country on the top panel tells The Times of Israel, noting that the US pushed back against language more critical of Israel.

The press elements read aloud by Nusseibah also stated that Security Council members “emphasize the obligations and commitments of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to fight and condemn terrorism in all its forms in a manner consistent with international law. They further emphasize the importance of holding accountable those responsible for such acts of violence.”

“The members of the Security Council encouraged additional steps to restore a durable calm and de-escalate tensions and called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that further inflame tensions. They further urged for restraint to reduce tension and prevent further escalation,” Nusseibah added.

Cohen speaks to Blinken, says Israel will bring violent settlers to justice

File: Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (right) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hold a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Miriam Shimonovich/Foreign Minstry)
File: Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (right) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hold a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, January 30, 2023. (Miriam Shimonovich/Foreign Minstry)

During his conversation with Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the White House is extremely concerned about settler violence, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

He also says Washington appreciates the condemnations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Cohen and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, but more must be done.

A readout from the Foreign Ministry says that Cohen “completely condemned the incidents where [Israeli] citizens took the law into their own hands and said the government would employ all means necessary.”

Cohen also blamed the rise in West Bank terror attacks on Iran.

The two also discussed efforts to get the Negev Forum back on track and expand it. The latest meeting of the forum of Israel, the US, the Abraham Accord nations and Egypt, was postponed by Morocco over Israeli settlement activity.

Blinken and Cohen also agree to work together to ensure that by next year’s Hajj, there will be an agreement in place with the Saudis to allow direct flights from Israel to Jeddah.

There was no immediate US readout of the conversation.

Task force to probe former PM Barak, ex-MK Golan for incitement after uprising calls

Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial overhaul, February 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)
Former prime minister Ehud Barak speaks at a protest in Tel Aviv against the government's planned judicial overhaul, February 25, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/ Flash90)

A “special task force” will investigate former prime minister Ehud Barak and ex-Meretz MK Yair Golan on suspicion of incitement, Hebrew media reports.

Both men have called for a non-violent uprising to stop the government from passing its judicial overhaul, which they say will destroy democracy.

Golan today said it would be necessary to “break the law” to resist the government, but stressed violence was not a tool.

The Ynet website said the two would be investigated by a “special task force” set up by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, consisting of representatives of the police, the Shin Bet security agency, the military and the National Cyber Directorate.

The task force was announced in February with the stated aim of combatting Palestinian incitement to terror.

Italy bans number 88 from soccer shirts in drive against antisemitism

Lazio's fans shout slogans during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa at Rome's Olympic stadium, Monday, February 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Lazio's fans shout slogans during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Genoa at Rome's Olympic stadium, Monday, February 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Soccer players in Italy are banned from wearing the number 88 on their shirts as part of an antisemitism initiative coordinated by Italy’s government and football federation (FIGC).

The country’s Interior and Sport Ministers, as well as the coordinator in combating antisemitism, sign an agreement with FIGC chief Gabriele Gravina to battle the phenomenon in Italian stadiums.

The agreement also provides for matches being interrupted “in the event of antisemitism chanting or behavior.”

The number 88 is a reference to the Nazi Germany slogan “Heil Hitler” as the letter ‘h’ is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

One Lazio fan was pictured wearing a replica top with the name “Hitlerson” and the number 88 on the back during March’s local derby with Roma.

He was a German supporter and one of three people banned for life from attending matches by Lazio.

That match was also marred by mass antisemitic chants by Lazio fans, an offense that led to a suspended one-match stand closure.

A fortnight before, a group of around 100 Lazio fans were filmed proudly calling themselves racist in a chant that insulted Roma supporters by saying their fathers were deported to Nazi concentration camps.

The incident was one of a litany involving Lazio’s hardcore fans, some of the most right-wing in a country where fascist fan groups are a widespread phenomenon.

German police probe video of neo-Nazi handing balloons to kindergarten kids

German authorities are investigating a video showing a man in neo-Nazi clothing handing balloons to kindergartners a day after the country’s main far-right party won control of a county administration.

The video was taken yesterday in front of a kindergarten in Sonneberg county, according to regional lawmaker Katharina Koenig-Preuss of the Left party.

The video, which was posted on social media today and could not immediately be independently verified, shows a man in a T-shirt depicting a Nazi-era soldier and the words “Wehrmacht wieder mit?” on the back. The phrase is a play on words that roughly translates as “Who’s going to join again?”

The man is also wearing red, white and black shorts — colors that are usually associated with the German Reich — as he takes blue balloons from his car and hands them to excited children on the other side of a fence.

The car bears the words “volunteer deportation helper” on the back, and one of the balloons in the car appears to have the swoosh logo of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party. Blue is the party’s signature color.

The party’s candidate won a run-off election Sunday for Sonneberg county commissioner. It was the first time Alternative for Germany, or AfD, has taken charge of the executive at a county level, prompting concerns about a rise in voter support for far-right ideology in a country still grappling with its Nazi past.

Eight hurt, one seriously, in Jerusalem bus smash

A bus crash in Jerusalem on June 27, 2023. (Magen David Adom)
A bus crash in Jerusalem on June 27, 2023. (Magen David Adom)

Eight people are injured, including one in serious condition, when a bus smashes into a barricade in Jerusalem, police and medics say.

“A woman in her 70s is seriously hurt and evacuated to hospital. Seven others lightly to moderately hurt,” the Magen David Adom rescue service says.

Police say they are investigating the cause of the accident that took place near the Dung Gate of the Old City.

 

Bank of Israel chief slams interest rate law: A ‘serious blow’ to bank’s independence

Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron arrives at a cabinet meeting on the state budget at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 23, 2023. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)
Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron arrives at a cabinet meeting on the state budget at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, February 23, 2023. (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)

Bank of Israel governor Amir Yaron warns that the advancement of a proposed bill that gives the finance minister authority in influencing minimum interest rates on consumer bank accounts is a “very serious blow” to the independence of the central bank.

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yaron expresses his strong opposition against the proposed legislation asking him to intervene and remove it from the agenda.

The bill proposes that interest rates paid by the country’s lenders on checking accounts will be determined by the Bank of Israel governor but with approval from the finance minister. The proposed legislation, which was approved by a ministerial committee on Sunday, is expected to be voted on in the Knesset on Wednesday.

Yaron says such legislation will infringe on the central bank’s ability to manage monetary policy, as it would give the finance minister the authority to actually influence the interest rate in the economy.

“I am strongly opposed to intervention in the pricing of banking products and to setting a uniform price,” writes Yaron.

“Setting a price harms the activity of the market mechanisms, causes all the players to gather around the set price and thus suppresses competition and efficiency.”

US envoy says government won’t advance entire overhaul, reaction would be dramatic

United States Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
United States Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

US Ambassador Tom Nides says he does not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government will unilaterally advance all of the judicial overhaul legislation.

“I do not believe they’re going to wake up and do all of this legislation unilaterally. I do not believe that will happen… I think the reaction here would be quite dramatic,” Nides says during an event organized by the Jewish Democratic Council of America, referencing the magnitude of anti-overhaul protests of recent months.

Netanyahu’s coalition began unilaterally advancing a relatively smaller part of the overhaul package this week in legislation to restrict judicial review, but some critics fear that the government is merely seeking to advance each piece of the plan, rather than all of it at once, recognizing that the blowback from the latter strategy would be much more fierce.

Nides goes on to maintain that the overhaul “was never the prime minister’s major objective when he became prime minister. Now, his coalition partners have a different objective,” but Netanyahu is more interested in combating Iran and securing a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

Reform synagogue in Jerusalem vandalized, Pride flag ripped down

Security camera footage of two youths suspected of vandalizing a reform synagogue in Jerusalem in June 2023. (Screencapture/Channel 12)
Security camera footage of two youths suspected of vandalizing a reform synagogue in Jerusalem in June 2023. (Screencapture/Channel 12)

A Reform synagogue in Jerusalem has been vandalized twice recently and a Pride flag ripped down.

We saw that “two youths who are unfamiliar to us broke into the synagogue through one of the windows in the kitchen, tore down the flag, walked around the building, and kicked things. They did not behave with respect due to a holy place,” Rabbi Oded Mazor, of the “Kol HaNeshama” synagogue in the Baka neighborhood, tells Channel 12.

In a message to congregants, the synagogue said: “Over the last few weeks, there have been two break-ins at the Kol HaNeshama complex. On both occasions the pride flag we hung in the yard in honor of Pride Month was torn down. In the first break-in, the burglars also entered the synagogue sanctuary, though nothing was stolen.”

“In both cases we filed complaints with the police. We are pleased to report that the police are investigating the attacks seriously and keeping us informed.”

Lukashenko says he told Putin not to ‘waste’ rebel Wagner chief

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talk during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the resort city of Sochi, Russia, Friday, June 9, 2023. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko talk during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the resort city of Sochi, Russia, Friday, June 9, 2023. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko says he had urged his ally Russian President Vladimir Putin not to kill the head of the mercenary Wagner group, which last week attempted to topple Russia’s top brass.

Lukashenko, a long-time ally of Putin, claimed to have negotiated an end to the armed insurrection and has said he will take in exiled rebels and Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“I said to Putin: we could waste [Prigozhin], no problem. If not on the first try, then on the second. I told him: don’t do this,” Lukashenko says during a meeting with security officials, according to state media.

Lukashenko earlier confirmed Prigozhin, who led the deadly march on Moscow last week, will be in Belarus on Tuesday, under a deal that ended his revolt.

The 68-year-old authoritarian leader has been hit with Western sanctions for cracking down on opposition figures and allowing Russia to attack Ukraine last year from Belarusian territory.

Kremlin critics have accused Putin of orchestrating the killings of several prominent government opposition figures and the near-fatal poisoning of politician Alexei Navalny.

Knesset to pick 2nd lawmaker for key Judicial Selection Committee on July 12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes to nominate lawmakers to sit on the Judicial Selection Committee, June 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes to nominate lawmakers to sit on the Judicial Selection Committee, June 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset will elect its second and final representative to sit on the Judicial Selection Committee on July 12, according to a letter sent today from the Knesset Secretary to lawmakers.

The coalition is utilizing almost its full thirty-day allocation to delay the vote, following a botched June 14 elections that only appointed one out of two required MKs to the judicial appointments panel.

The secret ballot saw coalition lawmakers break ranks and support an opposition candidate, while the coalition failed to agree on its own nominee amid rogue candidacies by government lawmakers.

The timeline seemingly spites opposition demands to fully staff and convene the committee immediately.

Alongside a coalition lawmaker to staff the Judicial Selection Committee, the Knesset will also appoint MKs to sit on panels to appoint religious judges for the country’s various confessional authorities.

Belarusian president says Prigozhin is in his country

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speak during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the resort city of Sochi, Russia, June 9, 2023. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko speak during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the resort city of Sochi, Russia, June 9, 2023. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the private army of inmate recruits and other mercenaries that has fought some of the deadliest battles in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is in Belarus after his abortive armed rebellion against the Kremlin, Belarus’s president says.

The exile in Belarus of the 62-year-old owner of the Wagner Group had earlier been announced by the Kremlin as part of the deal that ended the short-lived armed mutiny in Russia.

Prigozhin and some of his troops would be welcome to stay in Belarus “for some time” at their own expense, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says.

Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron hand for 29 years, relentlessly stifling dissent and relying on Russian subsidies and political support, portrayed the uprising as the latest development in a clash between Prigozhin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Their long-simmering personal feud has at times boiled over, and Prigozhin has said the revolt aimed to unseat Shoigu, not Putin.

Lukashenko frames the insurrection as a significant menace, saying he put Belarus’ armed forces on a combat footing as the mutiny unfolded.

Lukashenko says he had urged Putin not to be hasty in his response, adding that a conflict with Wagner could have spiraled out of control.

Like Putin, Lukashenko couched the Ukraine war in terms of an existential threat to Russia, saying: “If Russia collapses, we all will perish under the debris.”

Netanyahu defense tries to portray Milchan as an old man with a ‘fading’ memory

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the District Court in Jerusalem to as he arrives to listen to the testimony of businessman Arnon Milchan's in his corruption trial, on June 27, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the District Court in Jerusalem to as he arrives to listen to the testimony of businessman Arnon Milchan's in his corruption trial, on June 27, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

Defense lawyers for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempt to cast doubt upon the credibility of prosecution witness Arnon Milchan, saying the 78-year-old Hollywood mogul’s memory must be fading.

Discussing a free trade zone that Milchan and Indian businessman Ratan Tata tried to promote between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan, defense attorney Amit Hadad charges that Milchan could not clearly remember events that happened “more than a decade ago.”

“Certify to me that in all of your interrogations, in your witness testimony,” which Milchan delivered yesterday on the subject, “they didn’t present you real-time documents connected to Tata,” but rather “they let you speak from an old memory that was faded and broken.”

Milchan responds that his memory “is neither faded nor broken.”

Milchan had approached Netanyahu to help advance the project, and later brokered a meeting with Tata, which Milchan says was meant to facilitate introductions to India’s prime minister.

Hadad also emphasized Milchan’s closeness to Netanyahu as a basis for Milchan’s extensive gift-giving.

The defense attorney points to a letter that Netanyahu sent Milchan upon entering office in 2009, saying it “shows deep friendship.”

Similarly, Hadad says that the Netanyahu and Milchans mutually engaged in gift giving, pointing to tokens that Sara Netanyahu gave to Milchan’s wife, Amanda.

“The mutual gifts Sara gave to Amanda and the children and the gifts you gave — this is part of that friendship,” Hadad says.

The proceedings are in recess until tomorrow.

Probe: Jeffrey Epstein suicide blamed on jail guard negligence and misconduct

Jeffrey Epstein, on March 28, 2017. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
Jeffrey Epstein, on March 28, 2017. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)

The US Justice Department’s watchdog says that a “combination of negligence and misconduct” enabled financier Jeffrey Epstein to take his own life at a federal jail in New York City while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz cites the federal Bureau of Prisons’ failure to assign Epstein a cellmate after his previous one left and problems with surveillance cameras as factors in Epstein’s death.

Horowitz also says that Epstein was left in his cell with too many bed linens, which are a security issue and were used in his suicide.

The inspector general issues a report detailing findings of his investigation into Epstein’s August 2019 death, the last of several official inquiries into the matter. He reiterates the findings of other investigations that there was no indication of foul play, rebutting conspiracy theories surrounding the high-profile death.

Horowitz echoes previous findings that some members of the jail staff involved in guarding Epstein were overworked. He identified 13 employees with poor performance and recommended charges against six workers. Only the two workers tasked with guarding Epstein were charged, avoiding jail time in a plea deal after admitting to falsifying logs.

The report comes more than four years after Epstein took his own life at the Metropolitan Correctional Center while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

6 detained at protest outside Levin’s home released to house arrest

Opponents of the government's judicial overhaul plans protest outside Justice Minister Yariv Levin's home in Modiin, June 27, 2023. (Jonathan Shaul/Flash90)
Opponents of the government's judicial overhaul plans protest outside Justice Minister Yariv Levin's home in Modiin, June 27, 2023. (Jonathan Shaul/Flash90)

The Rishon Lezion Magistrates Court orders six demonstrators detained at a protest this morning outside the house of Justice Minister Yariv Levin released to house arrest until Thursday.

In addition, they are barred from Levin’s hometown of Modiin for 15 days and banned from taking part in any protests for 10 days.

Police had accused them of disturbing the peace by blocking roads and burning tires.

Netanyahu’s China visit likely to only take place in the fall

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a business / economic in Beijing, China, March 20, 2017 (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a business / economic in Beijing, China, March 20, 2017 (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to China is likely to only take place in the fall, after the Jewish High Holidays, officials in his office tell Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site.

The officials say the trip was set for next month, but will now likely be delayed by some four months.

No reasons were given for the delay.

Hundreds of air force reservists say they’ll refuse to serve if overhaul goes ahead

IDF reservists and activists protest against the government's judicial overhaul, outside the Prime Ministers Office in Jerusalem, March 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
IDF reservists and activists protest against the government's judicial overhaul, outside the Prime Ministers Office in Jerusalem, March 2, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Hundreds of reservists in an Air Force operations unity sign a letter warning that they will refuse to volunteer for duty if the judicial overhaul goes ahead.

Reservists have begun reissuing their threats since the government began unilaterally pushing the controversial legislation again this week.

“As long as the unilateral steps to eliminate the democratic regime continue — we will immediately stop volunteering for active service,” the letter says.

 

Anti-overhaul protesters to step up fight, will blockade airport on Monday

Shikma Bressler attends a rally against Israeli Goverment's judicial overhaul bills outside of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023.(Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Shikma Bressler attends a rally against Israeli Goverment's judicial overhaul bills outside of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023.(Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Organizers of the anti-government protest announce that they will step up their struggle after the coalition resumed legislating the controversial judicial overhaul.

At a press conference, they announce plans to blockade the Ben Gurion airport on Monday.

Shikma Bressler, one of the organizers, says that mass disruptions previously held once a week could now become a daily event.

“We promise those who are destroying the state — [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and [Justice Minister Yariv] Levin — there will be surprises. All those groups participating in the struggle will carry out resistance actions according to their judgment,” she says.

Russia drops charges against Prigozhin and others who took part in brief rebellion

In this handout photo taken from video released by Prigozhin Press Service, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group military company, records a video addresses in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 24, 2023. (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)
In this handout photo taken from video released by Prigozhin Press Service, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group military company, records a video addresses in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 24, 2023. (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)

Russian authorities say they have closed a criminal investigation into the aborted armed rebellion led by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and are pressing no charges against him or his troops.

The Federal Security Service, or FSB, says its investigation found that those involved in the mutiny, which lasted less than 24 hours after Prigozhin declared it Friday, “ceased activities directed at committing the crime,” so the case would not be pursued.

It was the latest twist in a series of stunning events that have brought the gravest threat so far to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power amid the 16-month-old war in Ukraine.

Over the weekend, the Kremlin pledged not to prosecute Prigozhin and his fighters after he stopped the revolt on Saturday, even though Putin had branded them as traitors and authorities rushed to fortify Moscow’s defenses as the mutineers approached the capital.

The charge of mounting an armed mutiny is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Prigozhin escaping prosecution poses a stark contrast to how the Kremlin has treated those staging anti-government protests in Russia, where many opposition figures have gotten long sentences in notoriously harsh penal colonies.

The whereabouts of Prigozhin remains a mystery. The Kremlin has said he would be exiled to neighboring Belarus, but neither he nor the Belarusian authorities have confirmed that.

IDF says it has identified Palestinian behind West Bank rocket launch attempt

A clip published by the so-called Al-Ayyash Battalion purports to show a rocket launched from a northern West Bank village at a nearby Israeli settlement, June 26, 2023. (Screengrab: Telegram)
A clip published by the so-called Al-Ayyash Battalion purports to show a rocket launched from a northern West Bank village at a nearby Israeli settlement, June 26, 2023. (Screengrab: Telegram)

The military says it knows the identity of a Palestinian behind an attempt to fire rockets on Israel from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank.

Yesterday, a video was published by a group calling itself the Al-Ayyash Battalion, showing two crude rockets being launched. Last month, the same group published a similar clip.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the homemade projectiles did not contain an explosive payload, and they landed within Palestinian-controlled territory, causing no damage.

Sources in the IDF tell reporters that the attempt yesterday was largely to garner media attention and present an ostensible new threat against Israel.

The IDF sources say there is a known suspect behind the attempt, and it is not linked to any known terror group.

IDF to discipline reservists who refuse to serve amid anti-government protests

IDF reservists protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Ramat Aviv, March 1, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
IDF reservists protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Ramat Aviv, March 1, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The military says it will discipline reservist soldiers who refuse to show up for duty amid renewed protests against the government’s judicial overhaul plans, but stresses that no action would be taken against those who at this stage are only threatening not to show up.

Sources in the Israel Defense Forces tell reporters that there is a difference between actual refusal and signing a petition threatening to refuse.

Calls among IDF reservists to refuse to serve due to the government’s legislative efforts roiled the military earlier this year as the overhaul was first announced and advanced, growing in number even as they were condemned by senior politicians in both the opposition and the coalition.

Call by former Meretz MK for nonviolent uprising draws fire

Former MK Yair Golan attends a protest against the government organized by the Movement for Quality Government, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Former MK Yair Golan attends a protest against the government organized by the Movement for Quality Government, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Former Meretz MK Yair Golan calls for a nonviolent uprising against the government, drawing criticism from the ruling coalition.

Golan, a former IDF major general, tells the Kan public broadcaster that the public has to resist the government’s judicial overhaul, including by illegal means.

“In the face of the attempts to destroy democracy, we will mount an unequivocal civil resistance, and if we have to have a large-scale and nonviolent uprising, that is what we will do,” Golan says.

“My call here is reasonable and nonviolent,” he says, but he notes that protesters will have “no choice but to break the law.”

The ruling Likud party slams Golan’s comments as “incitement to rebellion” and calls for him to be investigated.

“Those who violate the law and call to break the law must pay a price. Otherwise the rule of law has no meaning,” Likud says.

Court briefly cleared as Netanyahu arrives in court for trial

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen leaving the Jerusalem District Court, where he listened to the testimony, via video from Brighton, England, of businessman Arnon Milchan in the prime minister's corruption trial, June 26, 2023 (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen leaving the Jerusalem District Court, where he listened to the testimony, via video from Brighton, England, of businessman Arnon Milchan in the prime minister's corruption trial, June 26, 2023 (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives at Jerusalem’s District Court to participate in a closed-session hearing in his ongoing corruption trial.

This is the third day in a row that Netanyahu is attending the court hearing, in which Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan is testifying that he provided lavish gifts to the prime minister and his wife, and requested Netanyahu’s help with tax and visa issues.

Defense lawyers ask to clear the courtroom shortly before Netanyahu’s arrival at the Jerusalem District Court, claiming that they wanted to question Milchan about sensitive security events.

Anticipating Netanyahu at the courthouse, police had asked local Palestinian businesses to temporarily shutter.

Moe Tahhan, owner of East Jerusalem’s Sawra Street Cafe, says that his restaurant — sitting across the street from the District Court — was also asked by police to close when the prime minister arrived yesterday.

Tahhan confirms that he was not offered compensation for the closure.

Germany saw 2,480 antisemitic incidents in 2022, monitoring group says

The Star of David on top of the 'New Synagogue' in central Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
The Star of David on top of the 'New Synagogue' in central Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

A group tracking antisemitism in Germany says that it documented 2,480 incidents in the country last year — just under seven incidents per day on average.

In its annual report, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, says that while it registered a slight decrease in antisemitic incidents in 2022, compared to the year before, there were nine incidents of extreme violence — the highest number of such cases since nationwide record keeping began in 2017.

Those extremely violent crimes include a shooting at a former rabbi’s house next to an old synagogue in the western city of Essen last November. Germany’s federal prosecutor is now investigating the case along with two other violent antisemitic crimes on suspicion that they may have been carried out in cooperation with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

More often, however, “it is everyday situations in which Jews are confronted with antisemitism,” Benjamin Steinitz, the head of RIAS, tells reporters in Berlin.

Netanyahu’s defense starts Milchan cross-examination: A chance to clear your name

Arnon Milchan poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Widows,' showing as part of the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival in London, on October 10, 2018. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Arnon Milchan poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Widows,' showing as part of the opening gala of the BFI London Film Festival in London, on October 10, 2018. (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Opening cross-examination of Arnon Milchan, a lawyer for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells the media mogul that his goal is to “correct this injustice done to you and that was done to Netanyahu.”

“You are a wonderful person, everyone in this room owes a huge debt for what you did for the benefit of the country’s security,” says defense lawyer Amit Hadad, in reference to Milchan’s past of dealing arms and working for Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

“Unfortunately, they turned you into a person who gave cigars and champagne. They dragged you into a thing in which you don’t belong. You are an honest person and you never thought you were doing anything improper,” Hadad adds.

“A significant part of the cross-examination will be devoted to correcting this injustice that was done to you and that was done to Netanyahu,” he continues.

Milchan yesterday confirmed that he supplied the prime minister and his wife with lavish gifts. The state’s indictment against Netanyahu places this figure at NIS 462,000 ($127,000), with an additional NIS 229,000 ($62,000) attributed to Australian billionaire James Packer.

The prosecution closed its direct examination of star witness Milchan shortly before Hadad began his remarks.

Audio emerges of Trump’s 2021 conversation about classified Iran attack plan

Former US President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, in Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Former US President Donald Trump listens as he speaks with reporters while in flight on his plane after a campaign rally at Waco Regional Airport, in Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

An audio recording that includes new details from a 2021 meeting at which former US President Donald Trump discusses holding secret documents he did not declassify has been released.

The recording, from a July 2021 interview Trump gave at his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort for people working on the memoir of his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, is a critical piece of evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump over the mishandling of classified information. The recording first aired on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

The special counsel’s indictment alleges that those in attendance at the meeting with Trump — a writer, a publisher and two of Trump’s staff members — were shown classified information about a Pentagon plan of attack on an unspecified foreign country.

“These are the papers,” Trump says in a moment that seems to indicate he was holding a secret Pentagon document with plans to attack Iran. “This was done by the military, given to me.”

Trump’s reference to something he says is “highly confidential” and his apparent showing of documents to other people at the meeting could undercut his later claims in a Fox News Channel interview that he didn’t have any documents with him.

Trump pleaded not guilty earlier this month to 37 counts related to the alleged mishandling of classified documents kept at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

A Trump campaign spokesman said the audio recording “provides context proving, once again, that President Trump did nothing wrong at all.”

Herzog speaks to Abbas, calls for stepping up fight against terror

President Isaac Herzog attends the President's Award for volunteering at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 14, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
President Isaac Herzog attends the President's Award for volunteering at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 14, 2023. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog calls Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ahead of this week’s Eid al-Adha holiday, his office says.

Herzog stresses the need to fight terrorism and incitement, after a string of deadly attacks on Israelis in the West Bank.

Herzog also condemns vigilante attacks by Israelis on innocent Palestinians in the wake of several attacks on Palestinian villages over the last week.

FM Cohen to visit Serbia, Italy and Vatican

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen at the Knesset on June 12, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen at the Knesset on June 12, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen is planning to visit Serbia, Italy, and the Vatican in the coming weeks, The Times of Israel learns.

Though details are still not finalized, Cohen will fly to Belgrade on July 12, then will continue on to Rome.

It remains unclear whether Cohen will receive an audience with Pope Francis. He is planning to meet with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, whom he met in Israel in March, as well as with leaders of the Jewish community.

Israeli officials say that they do not know whether he will meet with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni.

Relations with Serbia have been at a low point since Israel recognized Kosovo in February 2021. However, Israel supported Belgrade’s successful bid to host Expo 2027.

Gallant tells senior PA official Israel views settler attacks ‘with severity’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant delivers a video message at an Israel Air Force base on May 23, 2023. (The Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant delivers a video message at an Israel Air Force base on May 23, 2023. (The Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh regarding recent incidents in the West Bank, including settler attacks on Palestinians, his office says.

In the wake of a deadly terror attack on June 20, in which four Israelis were killed by Hamas-affiliated gunmen, hundreds of settlers rampaged in Palestinian towns and villages for five days straight, setting fire to homes, cars, and even opening fire in some cases. One Palestinian was killed Wednesday in unclear circumstances.

According to a readout from the Defense Ministry, Gallant tells al-Sheikh — who holds the Civil Affairs portfolio — that Israel “views the violence used by extremist elements against Palestinian citizens in recent days with severity, and emphasized that Israel will work to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Milchan tells Netanyahu trial he mediated for him between warring newspapers

Sara Netanyahu and businessman Arnon Milchan seen on a screen before his testimony in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial, in Brighton, UK, on June 27, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)
Sara Netanyahu and businessman Arnon Milchan seen on a screen before his testimony in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption trial, in Brighton, UK, on June 27, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

Tuesday marks the third day of businessman Arnon Milchan’s testimony in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial.

Taking the witness stand remotely in Brighton, UK, Milchan confirms that he acted at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to facilitate an agreement between warring newspapers, in the hopes of improving coverage in one them of the prime minister and his wife.

Milchan tells prosecutors that “the prime minister and the prime minister’s wife,” Sara, asked him to leverage his personal relationships with Yedioth Ahronoth proprietor Arnon Mozes and late Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson to find a deal.

“Part of the deal was not to hurt the prime minister and his wife,” Milchan says of the 2009 effort. He adds that Mozes believed at the time that if Yedioth Ahronoth sufficiently attacked Netanyahu, that the premier would push Adelson to come to a deal to limit the circulation of his free daily, which ate into Mozes’s profits.

“Every time that I got a negative answer in negotiations I informed Netanyahu,” he says, of the prime minister’s involvement.

The never-finalized deal forms the basis of the prosecution’s Case 2000 against Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust.

When asked by the prosecutor as to why he was involved, he answered: “I was involved because I was close to the prime minister and his wife. It was important to me that they not go through the suffering they claim they are going through from Noni [Arnon Mozes], and the only way to do so was through Israel Hayom, to reverse the balance of threats,” he said.

The Hollywood producer is on the stand primarily to testify, in Case 1000, that he provided expensive gifts to the Netanyahu family, which the state alleges was in exchange for several requests Milchan made related to help with his expiring US visa and extending tax breaks for Israeli citizens who return from abroad.

Netanyahu confirms China trip, says US kept in the loop

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 20, 2017. (AFP Photo/Wang Zhao)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks with China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 20, 2017. (AFP Photo/Wang Zhao)

Prime Minister Benjamin confirms he will travel to China and say that the US has been kept updated with his plans.

The statement comes after the planned trip was revealed last night by Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site, and amid speculation that the visit signals Netanyahu’s growing impatience with Washington.

Netanyahu met today with a delegation of US Congress members and briefed them on his upcoming trip, a statement from Netanyahu’s office says.

“The upcoming visit will be Prime Minister Netanyahu’s fourth to China. The US administration was updated on it a month ago,” the statement says.

Netanyahu also told the delegation that military and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the US was at an all-time high and that the US would always be Israel’s principal ally.

The Biden administration has so far refused to invite him for a visit.

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