search
Live updates (closed)

Biden to Rivlin: Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch

White House talks between Israeli, US presidents expected to focus on nuclear deal, Gaza Strip; meeting comes as Rivlin is set to end his seven-year term next week

US President Joe Biden and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 28, 2021. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Joe Biden and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 28, 2021. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

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

Compromise reached: Families to leave Evyatar outpost, yeshiva to be established there

Settlers seen in the Illegal Evyatar outpost, in the northern West Bank, on June 16, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)
Settlers seen in the Illegal Evyatar outpost, in the northern West Bank, on June 16, 2021. (Sraya Diamant/Flash90)

A compromise deal has been reached to prevent the razing of an illegal West Bank outpost that would see some parts of the settler site remain in place, the Samaria Regional Council announces in a statement.

The statement says residents of the Evyatar outpost overwhelmingly approved the deal reached with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, claiming it has been welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The deal will see the state reconsider the status of the outpost’s land with a view to making it legal for a future settlement, after “it was proven that Evyatar is not situated on private land.”

The Evyatar residents will leave but the structures won’t be demolished. Rather, the IDF will immediately transform the outpost into a makeshift army base, and in some six weeks, a new yeshiva will be established there.

Meanwhile, authorities will examine the legal status of the land. Should the land eventually be approved for use by the settlers, residents would be able to move back to the community.

Bennett, who leads the right-wing Yamina party, is said to be eager to avoid the spectacle of the outpost being removed, given the current political situation in which the coalition is struggling to maintain a majority in the Knesset.

Joint List MK pans Evyatar deal as ‘legitimizing settlement and crime’

Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset, June 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Arab Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman in the Knesset, June 3, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman slams the deal reached to prevent the razing of the illegal Evyatar outpost in the West Bank as “legitimizing settlement and crime.”

“Instead of homes, this hill will in several weeks house a yeshiva, meaning dozens of young settlers who will only cause more violence, abuse and theft,” the Arab opposition lawmaker charges in a statement.

“Responsibility for this settlement crime lies with all the partners in the coalition,” she says. The coalition includes the Islamist Ra’am party.

Bennett, Egypt’s Sissi speak, agree to arrange meeting soon

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the first call between the two leaders since the new Israeli government was installed earlier this month, the Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement.

Sissi congratulates Bennett on entering office, a move that ousted long-serving former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was, until the June 13 confirmation of the new government, the only serving Israeli prime minister that Sissi ever dealt with as president.

Sissi and Bennett agree to organize a meeting between them as soon as possible.

During the call, Bennett and Sissi discussed regional and international bilateral relations, the statement says.

The two praised the countries’ 1979 peace agreement as “a foundation stone for stability in the Middle East for more than 40 years,” the PMO says.

Bennett also thanks Egypt for mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, and in particular Cairo’s efforts to find a solution to the problem of Israeli civilians and the remains of IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.

Sissi emphasizes the need to establish a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip following last month’s 11-day round of fighting, with a view to improving the civil and humanitarian situation of the residents of the Strip, and notes the need to renew the diplomatic process.

They also discussed advancing cooperation on economic and trade issues, the statement says.

A statement on behalf of Sissi stresses Egypt’s support for all efforts to reach a fair and permanent solution between the Palestinians and Israelis as well as the importance of Egypt’s efforts to help rebuild Gaza after the recent violence, Reuters reports.

Herzog taps former Netanyahu spokesman Naor Ihia as his own spokesman

President-elect Isaac Herzog with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset after Herzog's election, June 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
President-elect Isaac Herzog with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset after Herzog's election, June 2, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Incoming president Isaac Herzog announces that he will appoint Naor Ihia as his spokesperson, defying some left-wing critics who have highlighted Ihia’s past work as spokesperson for former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ihia, 32, has served as Netanyahu’s political spokesman and as the Likud party spokesman for the past two years.

Herzog has faced pressure not to appoint Ihia, with some, including prominent left-wing activist Eldad Yaniv, hinting the appointment is part of a deal for Herzog to pardon Netanyahu if the latter is convicted in his ongoing corruption trial.

Herzog also says he’ll appoint his longtime chief of staff Eyal Shviki as the director-general of the President’s Residence, and Dikla Cohen Sheinfeld as his chief of staff.

Poland dismisses Israeli criticism of restitution law as ‘inappropriate’

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland, September 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński speaks to The Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland, September 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Poland’s deputy foreign minister says he hopes Israel will change its view on a bill that could cut off World War II restitution claims in an increasingly bitter diplomatic row.

The bill, which passed the lower house of parliament last week, is intended to provide greater legal certainty for current owners of prewar properties against historical claims dating back to the Nazi German occupation. But critics say it could effectively block descendants of Jewish families from claiming properties left empty during the Holocaust and Israel has condemned the legislation as “immoral.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski speaks after Israel’s charge d’affaires in Warsaw, Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, was summoned to the Polish foreign ministry to be briefed on the new law.

Jablonski says in a televised briefing after the meeting that Israeli criticism is “inappropriate” and “we hope that the approach of the Israeli side will change.”

Jablonski says critics in Israel “refer to the issue of the Holocaust, which this law does not address in any way. This demonstrates, I have the impression, a lack of knowledge of the facts.”

“This law is not aimed against anybody,” he says, adding that “the political debate in Israel is dominated by views that are either critical of Poland or are simply anti-Polish.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Poland’s ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, yesterday.

Magierowski has now attempted to explain the matter in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Despite rise in cases, Israel has seen just 1 COVID death in 2 weeks

An Israeli teenager received a coronavirus vaccine in Jerusalem, on June 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli teenager received a coronavirus vaccine in Jerusalem, on June 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Despite the widespread talk of a new COVID-19 outbreak and the number of active cases rising from 230 to 1,250 in just 10 days, it is worth emphasizing that serious illness and fatalities are continuing their downward trend, meaning the country is still doing well despite the return of some restrictions.

There has been just one COVID-19 death in Israel in the past two weeks, and serious cases are down to just 22 nationwide. The spike in cases hasn’t affected these numbers, largely due to the vaccines protecting at-risk communities and most cases being among young people who are less vulnerable to serious illness.

Additionally, over the past 2-3 days the number of daily new confirmed cases and the positivity rate have been slowly decreasing.

Lapid, Netanyahu trade barbs over extension of Palestinian immigration order

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition and opposition heads trade strong accusations over the extension of a temporary order barring Palestinian spouses of Israeli citizens from acquiring Israeli residency — a law that has been repeatedly extended by Netanyahu governments, though the former premier is now threatening to oppose it in order  to challenge the new government.

At a Yesh Atid faction meeting, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid calls on the opposition to “come to its senses.”

“Be an opposition to us, the government; don’t be an opposition to the State of Israel and to Israeli citizens,” Lapid says, accusing the opposition of spreading “lies” saying he intends to give up Israel’s right to act independently against Iran and that the US is planning to revoke the recognition of the Golan as Israeli territory.

Lapid adds that when he was in the opposition, he supported the Palestinian spouse order on grounds that it was necessary to guarantee Israel’s Jewish character and prevent terror supporters from moving to Israel.

Opposition Chief Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting with opposition parties at the Knesset, June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his Likud faction meeting, Benjamin Netanyahu says he will only back the extension if the government on the same day passes a quasi-constitutional Basic Law on immigration to Israel, claiming the temporary order — which he extended repeatedly for more than a decade — was insufficient.

“If the government cannot pass this law — it has no right to exist,” says Netanyahu, whose governments similarly didn’t pass such a law for over a decade.

Coalition party heads respond by saying in a statement that “Netanyahu cannot let go of his bad habit of trying to paralyze the country; we prefer to focus on creating solutions.”

Travelers leaving Israel must now pledge not to go to high-COVID-risk countries

Travelers exiting Israel will from tomorrow be required to sign a form declaring they won’t go to countries defined as extra-high COVID-19 risk, which are currently Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India, Mexico and Russia.

The new form announced by the Health Ministry must be filled out by anyone over the age of 16 leaving Israel by air, sea or land.

The measure comes as the government has ramped up restrictions on entry to the country in light of the renewed outbreak of the Delta variant in the country, primarily due to arrivals from abroad.

Bennett says ‘childish’ opposition harming Israel, trying to damage ties with US

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset on June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset on June 28, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attacks the opposition and his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu as “childish” during a Yamina faction meeting, saying they are trying to harm Israel-US ties just to challenge the new government.

After false reports claimed US President Joe Biden was planning to revoke his predecessor Donald Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli and after Netanyahu slammed Bennett for allegedly giving up Israel’s right to independently attack Iranian nuclear sites, Bennett says: “The opposition is trying to harm the country and ties between me and Biden. This isn’t just childish, it is irresponsible.”

“This is a conscious strategic decision as a punishment due to their frustration at being in the opposition — instead of criticizing and challenging the government, they are purposefully and systematically harming the country,” Bennett charges.

Thousands at Ben Gurion Airport wait for COVID-19 test

Thousands are said to be waiting in long lines at Ben Gurion Airport waiting for coronavirus tests after several flights landed in a row.

The scenes highlight criticism of the inadequate testing facility at the airport that has caused thousands to enter the country recently without a test or quarantine. There has been a new outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 brought in by travelers.

Palestinian woman suspected of planning attack arrested at West Bank checkpoint

Hebrew media says a Palestinian woman has been arrested after she arrived at a West Bank checkpoint holding a nail file.

Border Police officers and civilian guards arrested the woman at Qalandiya checkpoint near Jerusalem and have taken her for questioning.

Blinken hopes US strikes on pro-Iran groups are ‘strong’ deterrent

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says strikes on pro-Iran fighters in Iraq and Syria should send a “strong” message of deterrence not to keep attacking US forces.

“I would hope that the message sent by the strikes last night will be heard and deter future action,” Blinken tells reporters on a visit to Rome. “This action in self-defense to do what’s necessary to prevent further attacks sends a very important and strong message.”

The Pentagon has announced that three military facilities used by Iran-backed militia were hit overnight Sunday to Monday — two in Syria and one in Iraq.

It says the targets were used by “Iran-backed militias that are engaged in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq.”

Asked in Rome if the United States is holding Iran responsible for the attacks, Blinken says: “A number of the groups involved in recent attacks are militia that are backed by Iran.”

The airstrikes on the Iraq-Syria border area were the second attacks ordered by US President Joe Biden in response to strikes on US forces in Iraq.

The attacks were condemned by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who called them a violation of his country’s sovereignty.

Explosion causes big fire near London’s Elephant & Castle station

A big fire has broken out near the central London train station of Elephant and Castle, sending huge plumes of black smoke over the capital, in an incident the Metropolitan Police has said is not terror-related.

Responding to videos posted on Twitter, the London Fire Brigade says 10 fire engines and 70 firefighters are battling the blaze at railway arches near the station, which is just south of the River Thames and near some major London landmarks, including the London Eye.

The fire brigade says three commercial units below the railway arches are completely on fire and four cars and a telephone box near the station are also alight.

It also urges people to avoid the area and to close all doors and windows.

Elephant and Castle is a busy traffic intersection. It also is a major rail hub, home to a busy subway station on the Northern Line as well as overground trains that connects south London and north London.

No further details are immediately available.

Yeshiva teacher suspected of sexually blackmailing his teenage students

Police say they have arrested a teacher at a Chabad yeshiva in central Israel on suspicion that he sexually blackmailed male students aged 14-15 using the Hangouts messaging app.

The teacher allegedly contacted the boys, presented himself as a fellow teenager, and after a while asked them for nude photos and sexually explicit videos, sometimes in exchange for money. He then threatened to publish the footage if they didn’t send him more material.

The suspect was arrested on June 16 and has been in custody ever since. He is accused of molesting a minor, blackmail and possession of obscene material.

Family of Palestinian Authority critic vows to reject commission result on his death

Nizar Banat, an outspoken of the Palestinian Authority, speaks to journalists at the family house, in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 4, 2021. (AP/Nasser Nasser)
Nizar Banat, an outspoken of the Palestinian Authority, speaks to journalists at the family house, in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 4, 2021. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

The family of Palestinian Authority critic Nizar Banat, who died in PA custody on Thursday, says it will not accept the results of a PA commission on Banat’s death.

Banat, a prominent critic of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, was allegedly beaten by PA officers during his arrest. His death sparked rare protests in Hebron and Ramallah calling for an end to Abbas’s 16-year rule.

The committee is composed of Justice Minister Mohammad Shalaldeh and a representative from the PA’s intelligence services. A representative from the Banat family and from the Independent Commission on Human Rights, a leading Palestinian civil society group, both withdrew from an investigation they deemed slanted.

The government’s committee is expected to deliver its conclusions to Abbas tomorrow, the official PA WAFA news agency said last night.

Rivlin takes off from Newark to Washington DC to meet with Biden

President Reuven Rivlin is wheels up from Newark International Airport to Washington where he will meet with US President Joe Biden later today at the White House.

He will then meet with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senior congressional leadership on Capitol Hill before returning to New York for meetings tomorrow at the UN.

Report: Israel, US trying to arrange Bennett-Biden meeting in July

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and US President Joe Biden. (composite image: AP, Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and US President Joe Biden. (composite image: AP, Flash90)

The Prime Minister’s Office and the White House have been holding advanced talks on arranging a trip to Washington by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in July during which he will meet US President Joe Biden, the Walla news site reports, citing three senior Israeli sources and two US sources involved in the matter.

It would be the first meeting between Bennett and Biden, and the premier’s first official international trip since taking office earlier this month.

The report says the talks are being led by Bennett’s diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir and the US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk. Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan is also reportedly involved.

According to the report, sources at the Prime Minister’s Office have said they want the meeting to be held as soon as possible and that the dates will be decided soon.

2 new lawmakers sworn in as cabinet okays 4 new deputy ministers

Two new lawmakers are sworn into the Knesset following the resignation of Yamina and Yesh Atid party ministers through the so-called “Norwegian Law,” and the cabinet approves four new deputy ministers.

The Norwegian Law allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to step down temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s slate to enter parliament in their stead.

Yamina’s Yomtob Kalfon enters parliament after Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked resigned from the Knesset, while Yesh Atid’s Inbar Bezek will replace Energy Minister Karine Elharrar.

At the same time, the cabinet informs the Knesset of four new political appointments: Yamina’s Abir Kara is appointed deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office; Yesh Atid’s Idan Roll is appointed deputy foreign minister; Blue and White’s Alon Schuster is appointed deputy defense minister; and Yesh Atid’s Yoav Segelavich is appointed deputy public security minister.

Death toll rises to 10 at site of collapsed Florida building

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks during a press conference after a building partially collapsed in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida, on June 24, 2021 (Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP)
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks during a press conference after a building partially collapsed in Surfside north of Miami Beach, Florida, on June 24, 2021 (Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP)

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says another body was recovered overnight from the site of a collapsed building, bringing the death toll to 10.

A further 151 people who may have been in the building remain unaccounted for, she says.

“The search and rescue operation continues,” she tells a news conference Monday.

Rivlin lands near Washington DC ahead of meeting with Biden

President Reuven Rivlin (R) lands at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland and is greeted by the US State Department’s Chief of Protocol Asel Roberts, June 28, 2021. (Tal Schneider/Times of Israel)
President Reuven Rivlin (R) lands at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland and is greeted by the US State Department’s Chief of Protocol Asel Roberts, June 28, 2021. (Tal Schneider/Times of Israel)

President Reuven Rivlin has landed at Joint Base Andrews near Washington DC and is greeted by the US State Department’s Chief of Protocol Asel Roberts.

Rivlin’s convoy is heading to the Willard Hotel in Washington where he’ll prepare for his meeting with US President Joe Biden later today.

Palestinian journalists rally, urge UN to protect them after activist’s death

Journalists protest outside the United Nations office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 28, 2021, demanding protection following attacks by Palestinian Authority security forces on their colleagues. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Journalists protest outside the United Nations office in the West Bank city of Ramallah on June 28, 2021, demanding protection following attacks by Palestinian Authority security forces on their colleagues. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

Dozens of Palestinian journalists rally outside a UN building in Ramallah to demand press freedom following violent clashes with the Palestinian Authority police sparked by an activist’s death in custody.

Nizar Banat, a 43-year-old from Hebron known for social media videos deploring alleged corruption within the Palestinian Authority, died last week shortly after security forces stormed his home and violently arrested him, according to his family.

Days of clashes between protesters and police have left several journalists injured.

Reporters Without Borders says that during weekend unrest in the West Bank, 12 Palestinian journalists, including five women, have been assaulted by Palestinian Authority police.

Naila Khalil, a reporter with The New Arab media outlet, says Palestinian reporters have submitted a letter to the UN urging the world body “to take necessary and immediate measures” to protect media freedom.

Mohammed Gharafi of the Ultra Palestine news site says he has been harassed by PA security forces who have threatened to confiscate his phone if he does not stop filming the protests.

Nizar Banat, an outspoken of the Palestinian Authority, speaks to journalists at the family house, in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 4, 2021. (AP/Nasser Nasser)

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh has said that those responsible for Banat’s death “will be held accountable,” according to the official WAFA news agency.

According to an autopsy, Banat was beaten on the head, chest, neck, legs and hands, with less than an hour elapsing between his arrest and his death.

Banat had registered as a candidate in Palestinian parliamentary elections, which had been set for May until PA President Mahmoud Abbas postponed them indefinitely.

US to open Olympic baseball against Israel on July 30

Host Japan will open the Olympic baseball tournament against the Dominican Republic at Fukushima on July 28, and Mike Scioscia’s US team will start two days later against Israel at Yokohama.

The US has not yet announced its roster, Israel’s team is expected to include former major leaguers Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia.

The US-Israel game is the nightcap of a doubleheader that opens with Mexico-Dominican Republic.

The group stage determines seeding for the double-elimination knockout stage, which starts August 1. The gold medal and bronze medal games are August 7.

Baseball was dropped from the Olympics after 2008, was restored for this year and is being dropped again for the 2024 Paris Games. It is expected to be added for 2028 in Los Angeles.

White House confirms Biden looking forward to host Bennett ‘soon’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirms during a press briefing that US President Joe Biden is looking forward to hosting Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Washington “soon,” confirming an earlier report by Israeli news website, Walla.

The date for the meeting is yet to be decided, Psaki says.

3,000 people haven’t received COVID test results 10 days after returning from abroad: report

In an ongoing failure to prevent COVID-19 carriers from entering Israel, Channel 12 news reports that some 3,000 people who returned from abroad have not yet received their PCR test results after over 10 days.

The network says that even as the test facility at the airport has been struggling to keep up with the stream of travelers, the test samples are being processed not at a lab set up at the airport, but at other labs around the country, adding yet more time to the process.

Outgoing Health Ministry Director General Chezy Levy tells the network that the situation at the airport “seems absurd,” saying results should ideally be given within 24 hours.

Israel to destroy 800,000 vaccines if no country agrees to buy them soon: report

The Health Ministry will destroy 800,000 vaccines worth hundreds of millions of dollars if no country agrees to purchase them in the next two weeks, the Kan public broadcaster reports.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during a meeting today with mayors and local council leaders that “it is simply a crime not to get vaccinated” before many vaccines expire on July 30, meaning people should take the first dose by July 9 to get both shots, according to Channel 12 news.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry data shows a renewed rise in daily cases, with 213 infections confirmed so far today — up from 145 yesterday.

There are now 1,425 active cases after the number was just 230 10 days ago. However, serious cases have continued to drop and are down to just 21.

One new death — the second in two weeks — takes the total toll to 6,430.

Assistant to Pakistani PM denies report he secretly traveled to Israel

Sayed Bukhari, an assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, has denied an Israeli report claiming that he traveled to the Jewish state last November and held secret meetings with several officials, including then-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

The Israel Hayom daily and the UK Jewish News have both reported on the alleged trip, citing a source close to Bukhari.

Middle East Monitor last year reported similar details, and subsequently apologized, according to Pakistani news outlets.

Ultra-Orthodox say they’ll boycott new Knesset committee over Reform chairman

Labor MK Gilad Kariv attends a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on April 6, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Labor MK Gilad Kariv attends a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on April 6, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The Knesset plenum approves the formation of a Constitution, Law and Justice Committee with 60 MKs supporting the motion and 52 opposing.

The new committee head is Labor MK Gilad Kariv, which has drawn intense criticism from ultra-Orthodox lawmakers over the fact that he is a Reform rabbi.

Haredi leaders have said they will boycott the new committee and will not send representatives to it.

“We can’t be part of such an injustice,” says United Torah Judaism’s Uri Maklev. “The intended chairman represents the Reform movement, which is trying to destroy the Jewish people with malicious intent.”

Rivlin set to meet Biden in Washington

Then-US vice president Joe Biden and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO/File)
Then-US vice president Joe Biden and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO/File)

President Reuven Rivlin and US President Joe Biden are set to meet in Washington shortly.

It is the first formal meeting between a senior Israeli official and the American commander-in-chief since Biden entered the White House in January.

The largely ceremonial meeting, which will take place in the Oval Office of the White House, is scheduled for around 11 p.m. Israel time, 4 p.m. EST — after prime time in Israel, although upon its conclusion, Rivlin will brief the press.

Rivlin’s seven-year term as president is due to end on July 7, and the White House said the visit “will honor the dedication he has shown to strengthening the friendship between the two countries over the course of many years.” But beyond rituals and handshakes, Rivlin intends to raise a range of substantive issues, such as Iran and Israel’s objection to a potential US return to the 2015 nuclear deal, as well as the Gaza Strip and Syria.

The new Israeli government’s position against the Iran nuclear deal is the same as the one taken by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has pledged to handle disagreements behind closed doors, as opposed to Netanyahu who was more willing to publicize his disapproval with the American administration.

Rivlin is in Washington as part of a farewell tour in the US at the invitation of Biden. He will meet with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senior congressional leadership on Capitol Hill later in the afternoon. Rivlin completes his term as president next week and will be replaced by Isaac Herzog.

Iran-backed militias said to fire mortars at US base in Syria

Pro-Iranian militias fire several shells at a US base in eastern Syria’s Al-Omar oil field on Monday night, causing damage but no casualties, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

The development comes after the US launched airstrikes the previous night against three targets it said were used by pro-Iran groups in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

In retaliation for the shelling, “heavy artillery has been fired by the (US-led) international coalition” on the town of Al-Mayadeen, controlled by Iranian militias, says the observatory, a UK-based pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding which has had its credibility questioned in the past.

Syrian state news agency SANA meanwhile says that “missiles… targeted a military base of the US occupation forces in the Al-Omar oil field,” without citing who was responsible.

Rivlin meets with UAE ambassador, thanks him for aiding Abraham Accords

Before heading to the White House, President Reuven Rivlin meets the UAE ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, in his hotel.

Rivlin wanted to personally thank him for his significant role in bringing the Abraham Accords — which saw Israel and the Emirates normalize ties last year — to fruition.

Rivlin arrives at White House for meeting with Biden

Then US vice-president Joe Biden, left, walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner/ FILE)
Then US vice-president Joe Biden, left, walks with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner/ FILE)

President Reuven Rivlin has arrived at the White House for his meeting with US President Joe Biden.

Rivlin, during his closed-door meeting with Biden, is slated to present Israel’s position against US efforts to return to the Iran nuclear deal that former president Donald Trump bolted in 2018.

Rivlin to Biden: Israel has no greater friend than the US

Then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, poses for a photo with President Reuven Rivlin, left, during a meeting at the president's official residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)
Then-US vice president Joe Biden, right, poses for a photo with President Reuven Rivlin, left, during a meeting at the president's official residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)

Speaking alongside US President Joe Biden in the White House Oval Office, President Reuven Rivlin assures his American counterpart that, no matter the disagreements between them, ties between the US and Israel will always endure.

“I’m delighted, really delighted to be here once again in the White House visiting you, the president of the United States. Of course, I have to repeat what we know really well, Israel has no greater friend… than the United States of America,” says Rivlin.

He underlines the values shared by Israel and the US: “Values of democracy and values of liberalism.”

Rivlin says that disagreements between the two close allies are inevitable, “but we count on you and your declaration just now really brought Israelis to understand that we have a great friend in the White House.”

Rivlin during his closed-door meeting with Biden was slated to present Israel’s position against US efforts to return to the Iran nuclear deal that former president Donald Trump bolted in 2018.

The new Israeli government’s position against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA is the same as the one taken by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. However, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has pledged to handle disagreements behind closed doors, as opposed to Netanyahu who was more willing to publicize his disapproval with the American administration.

Rivlin and Biden are joined at the White House meeting by Israeli Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan and senior staff at the president’s office along with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, and NSC Director for Israeli-Palestinian Affairs Julie Sawyer.

Rivlin is in Washington as part of a farewell tour in the US at the invitation of Biden. He will meet with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senior congressional leadership on Capitol Hill later in the afternoon. Rivlin completes his term as president next week and will be replaced by Isaac Herzog.

Biden to Rivlin: Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch

US President Joe Biden and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 28, 2021. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)
US President Joe Biden and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, June 28, 2021. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

US President Joe Biden tells Israeli President Reuven Rivlin: “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch.”

Speaking in the Oval Office, Biden says the two leaders will discuss various issues, including Iran, during the closed-door portion of their meeting.

“As American president, my commitment to Israel is… ironclad. It’s something that I often say, ‘If there wasn’t an Israel, we’d have to make one.’ This includes… an unwavering commitment to Israel’s self defense,” says Biden.

“Today, we’re going to be discussing a broad range of topics including Iran. I can say that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch. I directed last night’s airstrikes targeting sites used by Iranian-backed militia groups responsible for recent attacks on US personnel in Iraq,” adds the American president.

Biden says his administration is working closely with the new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

“I look forward to hosting Prime Minister Bennett in the White House very soon.”

He also says the US backs the recent normalization deals between Israel and Arab countries.

“The US fully supports the normalization of relations between Israel and Middle Eastern countries and that we’re making headway on, and [in] Africa as well. We’re really looking forward to building back a wider bloc of peace and stability,” he says.

“Going forward, the US and Israel will continue to work together to advance peace in the region, and stability,” says Biden.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed