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Knesset dispersal vote again pushed to Thursday after MKs rushed back for nothing

Bill set to be brought before plenum at 8 am after it was frantically moved up amid reported fears that new Yamina head Shaked might seek to form alternative gov’t at last minute

Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid during a discussion and a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid during a discussion and a vote on a bill to dissolve the Knesset, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

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

Liberman says party will block Knesset dispersal bill so long as Metro Law isn’t passed

Finance Minister and Israel Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Finance Minister and Israel Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 27, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman declares that his party will not remove its amendments blocking the Knesset dispersal legislation from passing as long as the Metro Law is not passed.

“From the outset, the Yisrael Beiteinu party demanded that the Metro Law be part of the agreements within the framework of the dissolution of the Knesset,” Liberman tweets. “We agreed to far-reaching compromises in order to ensure the passage of the law. Unfortunately the other parties were not willing to compromise on anything, even at the cost of giving up the Metro Law.”

Liberman urges the rest of the coalition to fall in line and not advance the Knesset dispersal bill so long as the Metro Law is left by the wayside.

Knesset dispersal vote pushed again to tomorrow morning after MKs called back for nothing

Nir Orbach and Idit Silman during a Knesset plenum vote in Jerusalem on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Nir Orbach and Idit Silman during a Knesset plenum vote in Jerusalem on June 1, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Amid “chaos we haven’t seen here for years” in the Knesset, Channel 12’s political reporter says the vote to disperse the Knesset will take place on Thursday at 8 a.m. — “as things stand.”

Daphna Liel explains that there was some concern in the coalition that newly crowned Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked might somehow try to form an alternate government with Benjamin Netanyahu without resorting to elections if the vote didn’t take place tonight. Apparently, that concern has faded or was unfounded.

Army Radio, meantime, notes that Yisrael Beytenu is unwilling to make further concessions to the opposition in order to get the so-called Metro Law passed, and speculates that the current 8 a.m. Thursday dispersal vote time may yet slide back another few hours.

Justice Minister slams ‘corrupt’ Likud proposal to revoke rebel status of ex-Yamina MK

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 12, 2022 (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/POOL)
Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 12, 2022 (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/POOL)

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar tears into Likud for the proposal it has submitted to lend its support to ensure that the Metro Law will pass.

The party will back the legislation essential to the country’s infrastructure if the coalition agrees to revoke the rebel status of ex-Yamina MK Amichai Chikli.

“Surrendering to blackmail in the Chikli case is a corrupt deal that is against the law and the decision of the Knesset committee that voted on the matter,” Sa’ar tweets.

“This ‘whitewashing’ will also be an encouragement to defect from parties the day after the election. The opposition has been campaigning for more defectors, and the coalition is unfortunately now giving it a stamp of approval. New Hope will oppose this,” he says.

Ben & Jerry’s condemns Unilever sale of Israeli shares, defends settlement boycott

Pedestrians walk on Church St., past the Ben & Jerry's shop, in Burlington, Vermont, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Pedestrians walk on Church St., past the Ben & Jerry's shop, in Burlington, Vermont, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Ben & Jerry’s issues its first response to the decision by its parent company Unilever to sell its interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of the brand.

Zinger who runs American Quality Products will continue running Ben & Jerry’s Israel but will do so independently.

“While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it. Unilever’s arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel,” Ben & Jerry’s says in a statement distancing itself from the Israeli firm with the same name.

Zinger’s company will no longer be able to use the Ben & Jerry’s English label though and will have to suffice with Hebrew and Arabic branding if it wants to keep the name.

“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s adds.

US antisemitism envoy: I am impressed with the changes in Saudi Arabia

Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt speaks at a conference arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 26, 2022, in Manhattan. (Shahar Azran via JTA)
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt speaks at a conference arranged by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on May 26, 2022, in Manhattan. (Shahar Azran via JTA)

US antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt, who is currently in Saudi Arabia on her first foreign trip, says she’s impressed with what she’s seen so far.

“Positive meetings in Riyadh with Saudi interlocutors, including the Saudi Foreign Ministry, Islamic Affairs Ministry, the Saudi Human Rights Commission and the Muslim World League and others,” Lipstadt says. “I am impressed with the changes in Saudi Arabia. I look forward to future cooperation, including in the fight against antisemitism.”

Likud offers to back Metro Law in exchange for revoking rebel status of ex-Yamina MK

MK Amichai Chikli at a Knesset House Committee meeting on the Yamina party's request to declare him a 'defector,' on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Amichai Chikli at a Knesset House Committee meeting on the Yamina party's request to declare him a 'defector,' on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Miki Zohar has submitted an amendment to the bill to dissolve parliament that would see the opposition party agree to back the Metro Law in exchange for the coalition agreeing to revoke the rebel status of ex-Yamina MK Amichai Chikli.

The Metro Law would advance Israel’s largest-ever infrastructure package, securing marked improvements to Israel’s long-ailing public transportation system. But the bill has been held up by the opposition, which has refused to give the coalition a win ahead of elections.

Chikli ran with Yamina but refused to join the coalition due to its inclusion of left-wing parties. He was eventually declared a “rebel” MK, which bars him from running on an existing slate in the next election.

If his status is revoked, he would be able to run on the Likud slate. However, it is unclear whether such a move is legally permissible.

Opposition refuses to compromise on Metro, visa bill as coalition readies to disperse Knesset

Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of right-wing opposition parties supporting him, at the Knesset, June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)
Benjamin Netanyahu leads a meeting of right-wing opposition parties supporting him, at the Knesset, June 14, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90)

The opposition is refusing to lend a hand in order to pass legislation necessary for Israel to be added to the US Visa Waiver Program along with a bill to advance Israel’s largest-ever infrastructure project.

As a result, both bills are almost certain not to pass before the Knesset votes to dissolve itself later tonight.

MKs told to hurry back in last ditch effort to disperse Knesset tonight

After it appeared that the coalition was not going to succeed in passing the bill to dissolve parliament tonight, lawmakers have now been told to head back to the Knesset for a vote on the legislation at 11:30 p.m.

92 US lawmakers urge Biden administration to address domestic antisemitism

Ninety-two US lawmakers from both parties have penned a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging additional and urgent action to combat antisemitism and prosecute antisemitic hate crimes.

“The lawmakers reiterate their concern about the antisemitic threats the American Jewish community has faced across the country in recent years — from Pittsburgh to Poway, from Monsey to Jersey City, and from Lakewood to Colleyville,” reads a statement on the letter issued by Rep. Brad Schneider’s office.

They ask Secretary Mayorkas to advocate for a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy, led by the Department of Homeland Security, to specifically address the growing problem of domestic antisemitism.

“Only by working together, across all branches and levels of government, across our country and throughout our society, can we address the many facets of antisemitism and ensure the safety and security of the American Jewish community,” the letter reads.

Minor earthquake shakes northern Israel

Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
Illustrative: A researcher shows seismograph sensor readings from an earthquake in Mexico, on July 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A minor earthquake has shaken northern Israel, with Israel’s Geological Survey tracking it at a 3.1-magnitude centered near the city of Beit She’an.

Residents throughout the north report having felt the trembling.

Knesset won’t dissolve tonight as final bills still stuck in committee

A discussion at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem on June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A discussion at the Knesset plenum in Jerusalem on June 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The coalition will not be able to dissolve the Knesset by the end of the night as it had originally planned and instead will have to wait until tomorrow morning.

The bill to disperse parliament is still stuck in the House Committee due to dozens of amendments filed by parties across the political spectrum. Yisrael Beytenu and Labor want to delay the process in order to ensure the passage of the Metro Law and the Joint List is hoping to drag it out long enough for the legislation extending Israeli law to West Bank settlers to expire at the end of the month.

Likud MKs were told they could go home for the night and come back in the morning, Channel 12 reports.

Votes on second and third readings of the bill to disperse the Knesset are now expected to take place at 8 a.m. Thursday.

If they pass, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will automatically become prime minister at midnight on Thursday night.

Bennett announces that Shaked will take over Yamina party

Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pictured at a press conference at which he announced he will not be running in the next elections. At left in white shirt is 
Ayelet Shaked, the new Yamina party leader. June 29, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett pictured at a press conference at which he announced he will not be running in the next elections. At left in white shirt is Ayelet Shaked, the new Yamina party leader. June 29, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

In his final address as prime minister, Naftali Bennett confirms reports that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will replace him as head of the Yamina party.

He thanks his “wonderful” ministerial colleagues in the coalition, and says, “I especially want to thank my partner on this path, the excellent Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who will receive the leadership of the party.

“And I am certain that Ayelet will succeed in leading to good things,” Bennett says.

He praises Matan Kahana — the “best religious affairs minister in Israeli history” — as a longtime friend, a courageous politician and an eternal optimist. He also thanks fellow Yamina MKs Abir Kara and Shirley Pinto.

Bennett says he won’t compete in next elections, hints he hopes to come back later

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the public on June 29, 2022, announcing he will not compete in the coming elections. (Screen capture/Channel 12)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the public on June 29, 2022, announcing he will not compete in the coming elections. (Screen capture/Channel 12)

In a brief address from a Knesset meeting room, outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announces that he will not compete in the next elections, but hints he’ll hope to come back later, saying that his “calling” is to serve the state.

Speaking as his remaining Yamina party loyalists MKs Ayelet Shaked, Matan Kahana, Abir Kara and Shirley Pinto look on, Bennett says he’ll soon be handing over the prime ministership to Yair Lapid, and “I’ll continue to help him as much as I can. His success is the success of the state.”

Then he declares: “I don’t intend to compete in the coming elections, but I will remain a loyal soldier in the service of this country.”

“The state of Israel is the love of my life, along with my family,” he says. “To serve the state is my calling.”

“I today end over a year as prime minister,” he says. “There is no harder task and no greater privilege.”

Bennett says his government has done in a year what previous governments failed to do in full terms. It has, he says, restored quiet and security to the south; got hundreds of thousands of people back to work; tackled two waves of COVID without a resort to lockdown; fought a wave of terror; raised soldiers’ pay, “and made clear to our enemies that those who send terrorists to Tel Aviv will pay the price in their own homes.”

“Soon,” he says cryptically, “there will be additional important news in fields that relate to our future” — a possible reference to advances in Israel’s ties with countries in the region. President Joe Biden is due in Israel and Saudi Arabia next month, and there has been much speculation about a breakthrough in this regard, and about widening defense alliances against Iran.

Bennett says he is sorry that some of those who supported opposition parties felt that their world had fallen in over the past year. “It cannot be that half the country feels itself in mourning when the other half runs the country,” he laments. “Both halves [of the political spectrum] need together to build a large and good government,” he urges.

He says he sought to work on behalf of all Israeli citizens

“We proved this year that people with very different positions can work together, without abandoning their positions,” temporarily putting aside their ideologies.

“Only together can we win. If we are divided, we simply won’t be. If we are united nobody can overcome us,” he concludes. “Let’s learn to understand and respect each other instead of to hate.”

Shaked-led Yamina would give Netanyahu majority needed to form coalition — poll

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset, December 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then-justice minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset, December 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Channel 12 releases a survey conducted earlier today, which indicates that Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu would have enough support after the upcoming elections to form a right-wing coalition if Ayelet Shaked leads the Yamina party following Naftali Bennett’s decision not to run again.

The poll predicted Yamina under Shaked would win five seats if elections were held today.

Shaked has indicated that she is willing to sit in a right-wing government led by Netanyahu, unlike Bennett who argued last week that a solely right-wing government would be disastrous for Israel.

Channel 12 has the parties receiving the following number of seats if Shaked leads Yamina:

Likud: 34
Yesh Atid: 20
Blue and White: 9
Religious Zionism: 9
Shas: 8
UTJ: 7
Joint List: 6
Labor: 5
Yisrael Beytenu: 5
Yamina: 5
Ra’am: 4
Meretz: 4
New Hope: 4

In the current bloc breakdown, the Netanyahu bloc would be made up of 58 MKs while the coalition would have 56 MKs. However, if Shaked joins Netanyahu with Yamina’s five MKs, it would enable a homogenous, right-wing government of 63 MKs.

The survey also tests how many seats a joint Blue and White-New Hope list would receive, and the result is encouraging for the two factions — 15 seats, a better showing than they have seen recently in polls when running separately.

‘He was a good PM’: Ministers thank Bennett for his service after he decides not to run again

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on December 5, 2021. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on December 5, 2021. (Emil Salman/Pool/Flash90)

Several government ministers are taking the opportunity to praise Prime Minister Naftali Bennett following the latter’s decision not to run in the upcoming election following one year in office.

“”Naftali Bennett is an Israeli patriot,” tweets Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. “He was a good prime minister who filled the position in a statesmanly fashion. We worked in full cooperation on behalf of Israel and its citizens. I am convinced that he will return to serve the country in the future. Naftali, thank you and good luck!”

“For the past year, I have worked very closely with Prime Minister Bennett. There were disagreements and political matters, but I discovered a hard-working and matter-of-fact person who really cares about the public. His positions are not my positions and that is clear, but I have great appreciation for him. Israel has earned a year of good government, much to its credit,” says Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz

UNRWA places 6 teachers on leave following watchdog report exposing posts calling for violence against Jews

Palestinian students receive new studying books inside their classroom, during the first day of a new school year, at one of the UNRWA schools, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 3, 2018. (Hussein Malla/AP)
Palestinian students receive new studying books inside their classroom, during the first day of a new school year, at one of the UNRWA schools, in Beirut, Lebanon, September 3, 2018. (Hussein Malla/AP)

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees announces that it has placed six staff members on administrative leave after a report from a pro-Israel watchdog revealed that the employees published posts on social media calling for violence against Jews.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) says the report’s release was timed to disrupt the annual donor conference earlier this week in New York but nonetheless has taken action against the staff members who violated company protocol.

Other actions taken by UNRWA included “written censures, significant fines, deferment of eligibility for promotion, and in the case of daily paid staff, up to two-year prohibitions on working for the Agency — all measures exceeding the standards set by other UN agencies,” the agency says in a statement.

The report by UN Watch that led to the sanctions revealed that one UNRWA teacher in Jordan called on Muslims to “fight against the Jews and kill them,” another in Lebanon repeatedly called to “slaughter Zionists” and another in the West Bank hailed Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Report: Shaked slated to take over Yamina, Kahana to join Blue and White

Matan Kahana in the Knesset alongside Yamina colleagues Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (Danny Shem-Tov)
Matan Kahana in the Knesset alongside Yamina colleagues Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (Danny Shem-Tov)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will take over the Yamina party once Prime Minister Naftali Bennett steps down from the post, Channel 12’s Amit Segal reports without citing any sources.

The network says Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana will try and run on the Blue and White slate in the upcoming election in a further indication of where Shaked hopes to take the party — further to the right and into the hands of Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu.

US envoy spotted in Knesset in apparent last-ditch attempt to salvage visa waiver effort

US Ambassador Tom Nides is interviewed by The Times of Israel at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on January 7, 2022. (David Azagury/US Embassy)
US Ambassador Tom Nides is interviewed by The Times of Israel at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, on January 7, 2022. (David Azagury/US Embassy)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides has been spotted in the Knesset in what is ostensibly part of his last-ditch attempt to lobby members of the opposition to support the coalition’s efforts to advance legislation required for Israel to enter the US Visa Waiver Program.

The Likud-led opposition has refused to cooperate due to its unwillingness to give the coalition a victory ahead of the election campaign, despite the initiative’s overwhelming popularity among Israelis.

A Likud source told The Times of Israel earlier today that the party opposes the legislation because it will ease pressure on Palestinian travelers at Ben Gurion Airport who are routinely subject to invasive searches.

Bennett decides to bow out from politics after year in Prime Minister’s Office

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, June 28, 2022. (Cyber Week, Tel Aviv University)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at the annual Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv, June 28, 2022. (Cyber Week, Tel Aviv University)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has decided not to run in the upcoming elections.

He notified the members of his Yamina party earlier today, a statement from his spokesman says.

Bennett will stay on as alternate prime minister once Foreign Minister Yair Lapid replaces him as premier, which could take place as soon as tomorrow, if the Knesset finishes passing legislation to disperse itself.

Bennett will address the public at 8 p.m. local time, his spokesman adds.

Court extends remand of settler accused of stabbing Palestinian to death in West Bank altercation

Right-wing Israelis protest the detention of an Israeli settler suspected of stabbing a Palestinian to death near Ariel, at a protest on Saturday, June 25, 2022 (Credit: Honenu)
Right-wing Israelis protest the detention of an Israeli settler suspected of stabbing a Palestinian to death near Ariel, at a protest on Saturday, June 25, 2022 (Credit: Honenu)

An Ashkelon court extends the detention of an Israeli settler suspected of killing a Palestinian during a confrontation in the northern West Bank until next Tuesday.

The settler, whose identity is barred from publication under a gag order, was arrested last Wednesday. Israeli law enforcement suspects him of stabbing Ali Hassan Harb, 27, in the heart on the outskirts of the Palestinian village of Iskaka.

The suspect arrived in the area alongside 15 and 20 Israelis in an apparent attempt to examine whether an illegal outpost could be constructed on the site. Harb and several Palestinians confronted them. After a disputed chain of events, the settler stabbed Harb in the chest, according to Palestinian witnesses.

Palestinian witnesses say Israeli police and soldiers were present when the suspect stabbed Harb. The army denies soldiers were on the scene, while police have declined to comment, citing the gag order.

The suspect’s attorney says he was attacked by a mob of Arabs and acted in self-defense.

“This was an event in which Jews were miraculously saved. This was a grave incident of Arabs attacking Jews,” said Adi Kedar, an attorney at Honenu, a right-wing legal aid organization that often represents Jews accused of hate crimes.

Human Rights Watch blasts Unilever for undermining Ben & Jerry’s boycott

Pro-Israel demonstrators protest in New York City against Ben & Jerry's, over its settlement boycott on August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)
Pro-Israel demonstrators protest in New York City against Ben & Jerry's, over its settlement boycott on August 12, 2021. (Luke Tress/Flash90)

Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director Omar Shakir lambasts UK conglomerate Unilever for “undermin[ing] the principled decision of Ben & Jerry’s to boycott Israeli settlements.

Unilever has sold its Ben & Jerry’s business interests in Israel to Avi Zinger, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of the brand, who will now be independent.

“Ben & Jerry’s won’t be doing business in illegal settlements. What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” Shakir says in a statement.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel will be allowed to sell its products on both sides of the Green Line, but it will be barred from using the Ben & Jerry’s English label.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel manufacturer hails ‘wonderful’ new deal that thwarts settlement boycott

Avi Zinger, Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (YouTube screenshot)
Avi Zinger, Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (YouTube screenshot)

Avi Zinger, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, hails the new deal under which the products will continue to be sold at Israeli settlements and throughout Israel.

Zinger tells Army Radio that Unilever realized “it had to find a way out of the mess it was in” and “found a way to bypass Ben & Jerry’s.”

He says he was overwhelmed by support during the battle to prevent the implementation of a decision announced by Ben & Jerry’s last year to no longer allow its ice cream to be sold in Israeli settlements. “Literally thousands of people” contacted him to offer support, he says.

Without asking to, he said, he had “long since stopped being an ice-cream maker in Be’er Tuvia” — where his factory is located in southern Israel — and instead become the face of the struggle against BDS. Now, though, he says, “We get to go back to what we love doing — making and selling good ice cream.”

The new arrangement is “wonderful,” he says.

“I gathered the workers today to tell them the news,” he adds, and the delight on their faces “made it all worthwhile.”

Former UN envoy Danon announces return to politics

Israel's then ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in the central Israeli city of Ra'anana, July 28, 2020. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
Israel's then ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in the central Israeli city of Ra'anana, July 28, 2020. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

Former Likud MK Danny Danon announces that he will run in the upcoming Likud primaries after a seven-plus year hiatus during which he served as Israeli ambassador to the UN.

“After years of working for the State of Israel in the international arena, it is time to return to working in the national arena,” Danon says.

The hardline Likud lawmaker was sent to New York by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu in what was largely seen as a move meant to neutralize opposition from within the party.

“The State of Israel is in a constant political turmoil, and it is time to bring it to an end. In the next Knesset, I will be your ambassador in Likud and in the Knesset,” Danon tweets.

Israel to delay implementing restrictions on foreigners entering the West Bank amid pushback

Illustrative: Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint, outside of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 15, 2022. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint, outside of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 15, 2022. (Flash90)

The Israeli government will delay implementing new restrictions on foreigners’ entry into Palestinian areas of the West Bank until September 5 so that authorities can reconsider their position, according to court filings.

The restrictions sparked outcry among rights groups and European diplomats, who slammed the new policy’s tightened quotas for lecturers at Palestinian universities and strict rules on foreign spouses receiving visas.

In court filings, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians argued that the new policy expanded the “range of permitted purposes for entering the area.” But it added that parts were already being re-examined in response to concerns raised by rights groups in their petition.

“The policy regularized, for the first time, a whole range of issues which had been left out of prior procedures,” government attorneys told the court.

The HaMoked rights group, which petitioned the High Court to strike down the procedure, hailed the delay as a step forward.

“But it’s not enough to postpone. The whole procedure has to be abandoned. Israel can deny individuals visas on specific security grounds, but it should not be micromanaging Palestinian society,” Montell says.

Lapid: I’m working with Liberman to pass Metro Law; Michaeli: Better late than never

Sitting from left to right: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, as Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin walk past after a special Knesset plenum session to approve the new government, June 13, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)
Sitting from left to right: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, as Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin walk past after a special Knesset plenum session to approve the new government, June 13, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP)

Amid speculation that his party was prepared to forgo passing the Metro Law in order to quickly disperse the Knesset, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tweets that he is working with Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman to pass the legislation.

Liberman warned earlier that his party would block the dispersal of the Knesset tonight if the law wasn’t passed.

“Better late than never,” tweets Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli in response to Lapid’s post.

Lapid meets with visiting bipartisan Congressional delegation

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (center) meets with a visiting delegation of US lawmakers from both parties at the Knesset on June 28, 2022. (Yair Lapid/Twitter)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (center) meets with a visiting delegation of US lawmakers from both parties at the Knesset on June 28, 2022. (Yair Lapid/Twitter)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets with a visiting delegation of US lawmakers from both parties at the Knesset.

Iran ‘torturing’ prize-winning rights activist — Amnesty International

In this Monday, June 9, 2008 file photo, Iranian Narges Mohammadi, delegate of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, listens to a question during a press conference on the Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in Iran, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP, File)
In this Monday, June 9, 2008 file photo, Iranian Narges Mohammadi, delegate of the Center for Human Rights Defenders, listens to a question during a press conference on the Assessment of the Human Rights Situation in Iran, at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Magali Girardin/Keystone via AP, File)

Iran is subjecting the prize-winning rights activist Narges Mohammadi to torture by denying her proper healthcare in a reprisal for her campaigning, Amnesty International says.

Mohammadi is being held in the notorious Qarchak women’s prison southeast of Tehran, whose conditions have long alarmed rights campaigners.

Her husband Taghi Rahmani, who is based in Paris, had on social media this week accused the prison authorities of deliberately withholding medication sent by her family to treat a lung condition.

“Iran’s authorities are torturing human rights defender Narges Mohammadi in prison, including by intentionally denying her adequate healthcare and refusing to provide her with medication in reprisal for her human rights work,” the Amnesty International rights group says.

Mohammadi is currently serving a prison sentence of 10 years and eight months on charges from two separate cases including spreading propaganda against the regime, according to Amnesty.

Police raid factory, arrest 39 Palestinian workers who crossed into Israel illegally

Police say they raided a factory belonging to the Pri Chen food manufacturer in the northern town of Kafr Qara and arrested 39 Palestinian workers who had crossed into Israel illegally.

They were transferred for questioning en route for deportation.

Kyiv says 144 Ukrainian soldiers freed in prisoner swap

Ukrainian intelligence says that 144 Ukrainian soldiers, including scores of defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in the southern port city of Mariupol, had been freed in a prisoner swap with Moscow.

“This is the largest exchange since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion. Of the 144 freed, 95 are Azovstal defenders,” the main intelligence directorate of Ukraine’s defense ministry says on Telegram without specifying when and where the swap took place.

Ukraine welcomes NATO’s ‘clear-eyed stance’ on Russia

Ukraine on Wednesday welcomes decisions by NATO to pledge more support to Kyiv as it faces an invasion of Russian troops and to invite Finland and Sweden to join the US-led alliance.

“Today in Madrid, NATO proved it can take difficult but essential decisions. We welcome a clear-eyed stance on Russia, as well as the accession for Finland and Sweden. An equally strong and active position on Ukraine will help protect the Euro-Atlantic security and stability,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says on Twitter.

Joint List says it hasn’t decided whether it’ll back visa waiver bills

Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh of the Arab Joint List during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh of the Arab Joint List during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The majority-Arab Joint List party hasn’t decided whether to backstop coalition parties should they try to force legislation designed to facilitate visa-free travel to the US through the Knesset despite Likud opposition.

“We haven’t decided [how to vote],” says a spokesperson for faction leader Ayman Odeh.

Party sources say the bill to help advance Israel’s progress towards joining the US’s Visa Waiver Program is not a Joint List priority.

As the bill would only be coming up for its first reading, it would likely spill into a post-dispersal period during which legislation can only be passed through agreement among the Knesset’s parties, and unlikely to move forward with Likud opposition.

Court extends remand of Palestinian accused to attempting to stab cops in Old City

The closed off Damscus gate Gate, following an attempted stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2022. (Jamal Awad/FLASH90)
The closed off Damscus gate Gate, following an attempted stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on June 28, 2022. (Jamal Awad/FLASH90)

A Jerusalem court has extended, until Monday, the remand of a Palestinian man who allegedly attempted to stab officers in Jerusalem’s Old City last night.

According to police, the suspect in his 20s from the Bethlehem area tried to attack cops near an entrance to the Temple Mount, then fled. He was arrested a short while later at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, which sits atop the mount.

Ousted Yamina MK to reveal new party in coming weeks, says associate

MK Amichai Chikli at a Knesset House Committee meeting on the Yamina party's request to declare him a 'defector,' on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Amichai Chikli at a Knesset House Committee meeting on the Yamina party's request to declare him a 'defector,' on April 25, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On the eve of elections being declared, a source close to former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli says the rebel lawmaker will announce details about his much-speculated new party in about two weeks.

Chikli was ousted from Yamina two months ago in retaliation for functionally operating as an opposition MK since the government’s instantiation last June, and as an ultimately failed warning to other MKs to stay in line.

As part of the personal sanctions emanating from his ouster, Chikli cannot run in the next elections with an existing Knesset party slate.

Leaders from the opposition’s religious-right bloc have reportedly been wary of an independent Chikli run, fearing that he could not garner the 3.25% of votes necessary to cross the electoral threshold and instead will draw wasted votes away from Likud and Religious Zionism.

Chikli is currently appealing his ouster at the High Court of Justice.

Mitzpe Ramon Pride March to be held in city center after police withdraw opposition

Marchers in last year's Mitzpe Ramon LGBT pride march, July 2, 2021. (Flash90)
Marchers in last year's Mitzpe Ramon LGBT pride march, July 2, 2021. (Flash90)

The Mitzpe Ramon Pride March will be held on its originally scheduled route after police withdrew their opposition amid a petition to the High Court of Justice.

The march, which will take place on Friday, will pass the Midbara K’Eden Hesder Yeshiva and religious high school, located in the city center, as originally authorized by police.

Last week though, police notified organizers that the march would be moved to the outskirts of the city out of concern for “severe and serious harm to public safety and public order.” Midbara K’Eden, which had filed for permission to hold a counter-protest, was approved to march in the original pride route.

In the High Court petition, rights groups wrote that the decision to change the pride march route due to the counter-demonstration was “inconsistent with common sense or the law.”

Likud source: Party won’t back US visa bill because it eases pressure on Palestinian travelers

A Muslim couple poses for a picture at the Duty Free at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 30, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
A Muslim couple poses for a picture at the Duty Free at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on April 30, 2016. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Despite entreaties from the US’s top diplomat in Israel to enable the passage of legislation deemed critical for advancing Israel’s ability to get on the United States’ visa-free list, the opposition-leading Likud party indicates it’s not ready to bend.

A source close to Likud MK Yoav Kisch tells The Times of Israel that his party will not assist in passing the legislation. Kisch and fellow party MK Yariv Levin are leading the opposition’s negotiations with the coalition on how to wrap up Israel’s 24th Knesset. The source adds that the Likud-led opposition won’t support the bill, even if agreement is reached on the current burning issue between opposition and coalition parties: the election date.

The source claims that the law, drafted with input from Ayelet Shaked’s interior ministry, is problematic because it reduces pressure on Palestinian Americans who wish to transit through Israel.

The US requires certain administrative changes in order to consider Israel for entry into the Visa Waiver Program, including creating a database for airlines to record passenger information, in line with standard practice in the United States and Europe.

The United States has also asked Israel to ease entry restrictions for Americans of Palestinian descent who want to fly through Israel on their way to the West Bank.

“We’re for [the Visa Waiver Program],” says the source, “but the law they want to bring, it’s just not a good law.”

Report: Iran arrests IRGC general accused of spying for Israel as climate of mistrust grows in Tehran

A sandstorm engulfs a mosque in Iran's capital Tehran on May 17, 2022. (AFP)
A sandstorm engulfs a mosque in Iran's capital Tehran on May 17, 2022. (AFP)

Iranian authorities reportedly arrested a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps earlier this month on suspicion that he was spying for Israel in the latest demonstration of the climate of mistrust that is clouding Tehran following several attacks on military and nuclear targets attributed to Israel.

Brig. Gen. Ali Nasiri’s arrest came two months after several dozen employees of the Iranian Defense Ministry’s missile defense program were arrested for leaking classified military intelligence, including blueprints of missiles to Israel, an Iranian official tells The New York Times.

Nasiri served as a senior commander in the IRGC Protection of Information Unit, NYT reports.

His arrest rattled leadership in Tehran, Iranian officials tell The Times, with some calling for the removal of IRGC intelligence chief Hossein Taeb. Taeb asked for another year to improve his standing, but was replaced several days later.

Ben & Jerry’s Israel, Unilever reach deal to end settlement boycott

Ben & Jerry's ice cream pictured on sale in Jerusalem on July 20, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Ben & Jerry's ice cream pictured on sale in Jerusalem on July 20, 2021. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The Foreign and Economy ministries issue a joint statement welcoming an agreement reached between Ben & Jerry’s Israel and its parent company Unilever under which the former will be able to sell its ice cream in the West Bank.

The agreement is the result of a settlement reached in a federal US lawsuit filed on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s Israel owner Avi Zinger by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

As a result of the deal, Unilever has sold all of its business interests in Israel to Zinger, who will now be allowed to sell the ice cream on both sides of the Green Line, though no longer under the auspices of Unilever and the original Ben & Jerry’s, which made the decision to boycott.

The Israeli branch will also sell its ice cream using Hebrew and Arabic labeling, as it no longer will be allowed to use Ben & Jerry’s original English branding.

“Antisemitism will not defeat us, not even when it comes to ice cream,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says in a statement celebrating the decision.

France taps Jewish lawyer to serve as first-ever female speaker

President of the Laws Commision at the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet holds a paper flower offered by a man at the 'Centre de Retention Administrative' (CRA), a migrant detention center in Vincennes, eastern Paris, on September 18, 2019. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)
President of the Laws Commision at the French National Assembly Yael Braun-Pivet holds a paper flower offered by a man at the 'Centre de Retention Administrative' (CRA), a migrant detention center in Vincennes, eastern Paris, on September 18, 2019. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

France’s lower house of parliament has chosen Yael Braun-Privet, a lawyer who went to Jewish school in Strasbourg, to serve as its speaker.

Braun-Privet, whose Jewish grandparents fled to France in the 1930s, is the first woman to hold the post of National Assembly speaker. She is a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition, despite the ruling alliance losing its majority in recent legislative elections.

Braun-Privet, 51, has been a member of the Assembly’s France-Israel friendship group since 2017, and has visited Israel several times.

Elected in 2017 after living in Asia for several years, the mother of five served as the president of the National Assembly Law commission, and briefly as minister of the Overseas Territories.

The lawmaker received antisemitic hate mail last year. In addition to referencing death camps, the message said, “This time, it’s the Muslims who will deal with you.” Also, “Jews can no longer come into some neighborhoods. Within two generations it will be whole cities. Demography determines laws.”

She is now the fourth-most highly ranked official in France after the president, prime minister, and Senate speaker.

Liberman says party will delay Knesset dispersal in order to pass Metro Law

A new train line between Jerusalem and Modiin opened on Thursday, March 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A new train line between Jerusalem and Modiin opened on Thursday, March 31, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu head Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman says his party will delay Wednesday’s scheduled Knesset dispersal if the Metro Law does not pass.

“We intend to submit hundreds of reservations about the Knesset Dispersal Bill and the absurdity called ‘increasing party funding,'” Liberman writes on Twitter.

A spokesman for the finance minister confirms that the protest is tied to the Metro Law, currently held up as part of coalition-opposition negotiations over a final election date.

“[We will] make every effort to pass the Metro Law, which will deal most significantly with traffic jams and at the same time address housing and employment challenges in Israel,” Liberman writes.

Earlier this morning, Yisrael Beytenu MKs voted against a proposed clause of the dispersal law that would increase campaign financing allocations to parties. The party has been outspoken in the past against increasing campaign allowances to parties.

Party MK Yulia Milanovsky tells The Times of Israel that she blames the Likud party for the hold-up, saying that it is focused only on “politics and primaries.”

A Likud lawmaker tells The Times of Israel that the Metro Law will continue to be held up until elections are set for the party’s preferred date, October 25.

Herzog covertly meets with Jordan’s Abdullah ahead of ‘important developments in the region’

President Isaac Herzog (L) and Jordanian King Abdullah II at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, March 30, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog (L) and Jordanian King Abdullah II at the Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, March 30, 2022. (Haim Zach/GPO)

President Isaac Herzog covertly traveled to Jordan earlier this week where he met with King Abdullah, his office reveals in a statement.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of US President Joe Biden’s July visit to the Middle East and “as part of diplomatic developments in the region,” his office says.

“During the warm meeting, held at King Abdullah’s invitation, the president and the king discussed deep strategic issues, at both bilateral and regional levels,” the statement adds, providing little detail regarding the substance of their discussion. “The visit also addressed the protection of stable Israeli-Jordanian relations and the need for dialogue with all actors in the region.”

The visit was carried out in coordination with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Herzog’s office says.

A Jordanian official tells Channel 12 that the visit came ahead of “important developments in the region.”

Relations between Israel and Jordan, which enjoyed a marked improvement over most of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s term, took a sharp downturn amid unrest at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in April and May.

Herzog’s visit is the highestlevel meeting to have taken place since then, though National Security Council chairman Eyal Hulata traveled to Jordan last week as well.

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