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Israel, Hamas at impasse in Cairo prisoner swap talks

Officials in the Israeli delegation are nevertheless reportedly optimistic that Egypt could exert pressure on Hamas to compromise

Clockwise from top left: Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu, Hadar Goldin and Hisham al-Sayed. (Flash 90/Courtesy)
Clockwise from top left: Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu, Hadar Goldin and Hisham al-Sayed. (Flash 90/Courtesy)

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

Lapid inaugurates Dubai consulate: ‘Symbolizes our ability to change the world’

DUBAI — Foreign Minister Yair Lapid officially inaugurates Israel’s consulate in Dubai, calling it a center of dialogue and cooperation.

“What we are opening today is not only a consulate, but also the center of our cooperation,” he says. “This place symbolizes our ability to think together, to develop together, to change the world together.”

Lapid emphasizes that the peace between the UAE and Israel “is not between governments and leaders, but between people and nations.”

“It is not my peace, or that of my friends standing here, but of our children.”

Lapid opened Israel’s embassy in Abu Dhabi the day before, hailing the “historic moment.”

Lapid visits Israeli pavilion at Dubai Expo grounds

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) meets the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dubai Expo 2020 Director General Reem Al Hashimi, June 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) meets the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dubai Expo 2020 Director General Reem Al Hashimi, June 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

DUBAI — Yair Lapid meets with UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation General Reem Al Hashimi, who is the director of Dubai Expo 2020.

They then head over to the Israeli pavilion on the Expo grounds.

The opening of the Expo, which was slated for October 2020, was postponed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) meets the UAE’s Minister of State for International Cooperation and Dubai Expo 2020 Director General Reem Al Hashimi, June 29, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Emirati minister says Israel, UAE creating ‘new paradigm of cooperation’

DUBAI — Emirati Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Sultan Al Olama says at the inauguration of Israel’s Dubai consulate that the ties between the countries “will foster a more stable and secure region.”

“The UAE and Israel are creating a new paradigm of cooperation in the entire region,” he adds, highlighting joint efforts on COVID-19 and technological innovation.

Olama says that the ties between the partners “are slated to grow.”

“Our two countries will usher in a next phase that will be a model for countries everywhere. ”

The ceremony is also attended by Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohammad al Khaja, Israel’s envoy to the UAE Eitan Na’eh and local Chabad Rabbi Levi Duchman.

Lapid is in the United Arab Emirates for the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state.

Russia reports record coronavirus deaths for second day in a row

Russia reports 669 coronavirus deaths over the past 24 hours, a record number of fatalities for the second day in a row, according to a government tally.

The country is grappling with a spike of infections spurred by the highly infectious Delta variant, and President Vladimir Putin is expected to address the surge in cases during a televised phone-in session with Russians set to begin later today.

Bennett meets US Embassy chargé d’affairs in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets the chargé d’affairs at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, at the Prime Minister’s Office, June 30, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets the chargé d’affairs at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, at the Prime Minister’s Office, June 30, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets at the Prime Minister’s Office with the chargé d’affairs at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney.

Ratney is also serving as the deputy ambassador to Israel.

There are no immediate details available regarding the content of the meeting.

In Norway, Syrian teen gets 5 years for planning terror

A Norwegian court has sentenced a Syrian teenager to five years in prison for planning an act of terror in Norway by using poison or explosives, and for having supported the Islamic State terror group.

The Oslo District Court suspends three of the five years because of the teenager’s young age. He was 16 years and 2 months when arrested in February by Norway’s domestic security agency in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

“The court has no doubt that the defendant had, despite his young age, made a conscious decision to carry out an act of terror although the plans had not materialized in a concrete plan,” Judge Ingvild Boe Hornburg writes in a statement.

In court, the teenager, who has not been identified, admits curiosity made him buy the ingredients to make the poison but claims he had no intention of hurting anyone and that he exaggerated his plans to be tough when chatting online. He also confesses that he donated more than 1,250 kroner ($146) to a website supporting the Islamic State group and that he posted a video on how to upload a propaganda video for the extremist group.

According to the verdict, he also downloaded material on how to make and handle explosives.

The court rules that juvenile punishment is not applicable in the case and that “there is a risk of recurrence and that imprisonment is required and imperative.” The court says that had he been over the age of 18, the sentence could have been up to 11 years.

US picks Amy Gutmann, daughter of Holocaust survivor, as Germany envoy – sources

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

US President Joe Biden has nominated University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann as ambassador to Germany, German government sources say, after tumultuous years with Donald Trump’s envoy.

Gutmann, 71, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, would be the first woman appointed to the post.

The German officials, who have spoken on condition of anonymity, confirm a report in Der Spiegel magazine.

Gutmann’s appointment must be confirmed by the US Senate and approved by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The sources say no date has yet been set for her accreditation.

The United States had previously been represented in Berlin by Trump ally Richard Grenell, who raised hackles in Germany with a combative approach, including vowing to empower anti-establishment right-wingers in Europe. Grenell returned to Washington to become Trump’s director of national intelligence before resigning as ambassador in June 2020. Chargee d’Affaires Robin Quinville had served as acting ambassador since then.

Gutmann has led the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, since 2016 and is an expert in democratic processes and ethics.

She served as chair of Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Gutmann told The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university newspaper, in 2013 that her Jewish father Kurt’s experiences in Nazi Germany had had a “profound influence” on her.

As a college student in 1934, he realized he, his four siblings and his parents would not be safe in the country under Adolf Hitler and convinced them to flee to India.

“It’s true that his whole family would have disappeared from the face of the earth had it not been for what he did,” Gutmann told the paper.

Interior minister to meet Ra’am chief in effort to solve Palestinian reunification law spat

This combination of photos shows Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas, right, and Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked. (Yonatan Sindel, Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
This combination of photos shows Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas, right, and Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked. (Yonatan Sindel, Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is set to meet with Ra’am party leader Mansour Abbas soon in a further effort to solve a crisis regarding the extension of the Palestinian family reunification law.

The Knesset vote on the move has been delayed several times, and yesterday it was again pushed off from today to next Monday, July 5, due to disagreements within the coalition. The law, which blocks the automatic granting of citizenship to Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens, expires on July 6.

Some members of the Islamist Ra’am have vowed to oppose the extension, with its MK Walid Taha calling it “racist and anti-democratic,” and so have members of the left-wing Meretz and Labor parties.

Members of Likud and other opposition parties support the reunification bill in principle, but have vowed to oppose it in order to embarrass the government. They have conditioned their support on the passage of a quasi-constitutional bill that would overhaul the immigration system in Israel, and ease the way for a greater number of deportations.

Shaked reportedly threatened MKs in Ra’am and Meretz yesterday that if they don’t support the legislation, the coalition will work to advance the opposition-pushed Basic Law on immigration.

Payoneer begins trading on Nasdaq

Payoneer, an Israeli-founded fintech startup, started trading on the US stock exchange Nasdaq this week. The company, which was founded in 2005 in Israel by Yuval Tal and Yaniv Chechik, closed about 1.5% lower following its market debut, with a market cap of just over $3.5 billion.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who invested in Payoneer more than a decade ago, is expected to make a profit of several million dollars from the company’s market debut, which it makes following a merger with a special purpose acquisition company run by Bancorp founder Betsy Cohen.

Gaza man gets life in prison for murder of teenager

The court hearing for Wisam Abu al-Hasana, indicted for the killing of 17-year-old Adel Khatib in the northern Israeli town of Shfaram, February 03, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/FLASH90)
The court hearing for Wisam Abu al-Hasana, indicted for the killing of 17-year-old Adel Khatib in the northern Israeli town of Shfaram, February 03, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/FLASH90)

The Haifa District court sentences Wisam Abu al-Hasana to life in prison and an additional five months for the murder of a 17-year-old boy in December 2019.

Al-Hasna, a Gaza native, was living illegally in Israel when he kidnapped Adel Khatib from Shfaram, killed him and buried his body in a pit outside a school in Shfaram’s Ein Afiya neighborhood.

Economy minister meets her UK counterpart in Jerusalem

Economy Minister Orna Barbivai meets with her British counterpart, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss, at the Economy Ministry in Jerusalem.

According to Truss, the pair were meeting to discuss the UK-Israeli free-trade agreement and boosting trade ties in the areas of tech and data.

“It was great to meet a likeminded female minister who is dedicated to the promotion of excellent relations with the UK, our biggest trade partner in Europe,” tweets Barbivai of Yesh Atid. “Looking forward to working together!”

Israeli Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely also takes part in the meeting.

Guterres urges US to lift sanctions on Iran

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Maxim Shemetov, Pool via AP)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov following the talks in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (Maxim Shemetov, Pool via AP)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asks US President Joe Biden to lift all sanctions on Iran as it was outlined in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In a biannual report to the UN Security Council on the Iran nuclear deal, Guterres urges the United States to “extend the waivers with regard to the trade in oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects,” according to Reuters.

Guterres met on Tuesday in New York with visiting President Reuven Rivlin.

PA’s Abbas meets King Abdullah in Amman

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman on June 30, 2021. (WAFA)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian King Abdullah in Amman on June 30, 2021. (WAFA)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jordanian King Abdullah II after arriving in Amman this morning.

The two parties discuss “recent political developments,” Abbas’s office says in a brief statement on the meeting, which was attended by numerous senior Palestinian and Jordanian officials.

The meeting comes “to confirm our continuing coordination to serve the interests of our nation, especially the Palestinian cause,” says senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh.

Separately, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh meets Islamic Jihad faction head Ziyad al-Nakhaleh in Beirut during a diplomatic visit by Haniyeh to Lebanon.

Haniyeh has been on a regional tour recently, including stops in Qatar, Morocco, Mauritania and Lebanon to meet with Hamas-friendly politicians. Yesterday, the Hamas chief met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

Fire rages in residential area of Haifa

The scene at a fire in Haifa on June 30, 2021. (Screenshot/Israel Firefighting Services)
The scene at a fire in Haifa on June 30, 2021. (Screenshot/Israel Firefighting Services)

Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services have begun to evacuate residents of the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood of Haifa as a fire blazes in the area during a heatwave.

Eight firefighting teams are continuing to battle the flames in the area, which broke out between two homes in the neighborhood this morning.

Separation of travelers at Ben-Gurion airport hits snag

Travellers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on June 23, 2021. (Flash90)
Travellers seen at the Ben Gurion International Airport, on June 23, 2021. (Flash90)

Despite the Health Ministry’s announcement yesterday that it would separate those arriving from “banned” countries from other travelers at Ben-Gurion Airport, the plan’s implementation is already troubled, reports Channel 12 News.

According to the network, a flight from Moscow, which is at Israel’s highest COVID travel warning and to which Israelis are banned from flying, is slated to arrive this evening at Terminal 1, where it was moved from Terminal 3 in order to avoid those arriving coming in contact with other travelers. But two flights from Eilat to Tel Aviv are also slated to arrive at Terminal 1 at the same time.

The TV report notes that there is nothing preventing those travelers from Russia — one of six countries, along with Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, India and Mexico — from where even vaccinated travelers must quarantine after landing, from boarding the train at the airport with other travelers.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is reportedly slated to visit the airport later today and assess the situation.

Tel Aviv University unveils ‘two-atom thick’ data storage unit

Researchers at Tel Aviv University unveil “the world’s tiniest technology,” aimed to store information on the thinnest unit known to science, according to the university.

The film, which is only two atoms thick, can store electric information, and the university says it “may significantly improve electronic devices in terms of speed, density, and energy consumption.”

Republican senator warns that Iran-Israel war is nearing

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 10, 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 10, 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warns that a war between Israel and Iran could be imminent, and blames US President Joe Biden for the situation.

“I’ve never been more worried than I am right now about a war between Iran and Israel,” Graham says on Fox News. “The State of Israel is in a bad spot here. How much longer do they wait before they act? I don’t think you can trust the United States with Israel’s security.”

Graham strongly opposes Biden’s stated plan to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as indirect negotiations in Vienna on the agreement have continued for months.

“We have a chance to keep Iran on the ropes,” Graham says. “We have a chance to keep them in a box. But every day they get stronger because Biden doesn’t understand the nature of the threat.”

Latest Miami collapse fatality is mother of police chief

Photos of missing residents are posted at a makeshift memorial at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach,on June 26, 2021. (Andrea SARCOS / AFP)
Photos of missing residents are posted at a makeshift memorial at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach,on June 26, 2021. (Andrea SARCOS / AFP)

The 12th fatality in the collapse of a building in Surfside, Florida, has been identified as Hilda Noriega, 92, the mother of North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega.

“The family would like to thank all the hundreds of first responders, who bravely and selflessly risked their lives to locate his mother and the other innocent victims found to date,” reads a statement from the city of North Bay Village.

Meretz MK asks attorney general to probe building at Evyatar

People at the illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar on June 28, 2021. (Flash90)
People at the illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar on June 28, 2021. (Flash90)

Meretz MK Mossi Raz asks Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate alleged illegal building at the Evyatar outpost in the West Bank.

In a letter to Mandelblit, Raz calls for a full investigation of the construction at the site, following an agreement early this morning to a compromise deal at the outpost.

“Giving in to the crimes of settlers is a bankruptcy of values,” Raz says.

Lapid to UAE news site: Trade between us has reached $675 million

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan meet at the UAE Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi, on June 29, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) and his Emirati counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan meet at the UAE Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi, on June 29, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tells WAM, the official news agency of the United Arab Emirates, that bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE has reached more than NIS 2.2 billion ($675 million) after just 10 months of ties.

“We need to allow our economies to integrate and prosper. We need to preserve the open dialogue and open-mindedness,” Lapid says. “Since September 2020, a number of transactions, valued at tens of millions of dollars, have been signed between Israeli and Emirati companies in the fields of AI, cyber, renewable energy, water security, health and more,” adds the foreign minister, who is currently on a two-day trip to the UAE.

“The horizons are promising for companies from both countries operating in these and other fields, including food security and desert-tech.”

Diaspora minister to address B’nai B’rith journalism awards ceremony

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai at the site of a building collapse in Surfside, Florida, just outside Miami, on June 27, 2021. (Diaspora Affairs Ministry)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai at the site of a building collapse in Surfside, Florida, just outside Miami, on June 27, 2021. (Diaspora Affairs Ministry)

Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai will address the 29th Annual B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism ceremony tomorrow, just hours after he returns from Miami.

The annual awards ceremony recognizes excellence in Diaspora reporting.

B’nai Brith journalism awards ceremony (Courtesy)

Shai is slated to deliver a speech via video link, one of his first addresses since he entered the job earlier this month following the establishment of the government.

Shai left Saturday night for Miami to visit the site of the tragic building collapse in Surfside, Florida, and is slated to return today.

Communications Ministry to hold hearing on shutting Army Radio

A soldier-reporters for Israel's Army Radio, November 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
A soldier-reporters for Israel's Army Radio, November 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The Communications Ministry is planning to hold a hearing next week to discuss the possibility of shutting down Army Radio.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel says he is holding the discussion after requests from workers at the radio station. He says he is exploring ways to turn the station into a commercial radio network or a part of the Kan public broadcaster.

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said, “I don’t think there is any way to operate Army Radio in its current form, largely due to the political angle.”

Meeting between Shaked, Abbas ends without deal

The meeting between Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas reportedly ends without reaching a deal.

The pair are slated to meet once again later this evening to discuss the coalition crisis over the vote to extend the Palestinian family reunification law, which expires on Tuesday. A vote on the law is scheduled for Monday.

IDF official in Miami says there could still be survivors

An IDF search-and-rescue team arrives at the site of the deadly high-rise residential building collapse in Surfside, Florida, June 27, 2021. (Giorgio Viera/ AFP)
An IDF search-and-rescue team arrives at the site of the deadly high-rise residential building collapse in Surfside, Florida, June 27, 2021. (Giorgio Viera/ AFP)

IDF Home Front Command Col. Elad Edri, who is part of the delegation working at the site of a building collapse near Miami, tells reporters that his team is operating under the assumption that there may still be survivors trapped in the rubble.

“We believe there are still” people alive, Edri says. “We’re treating those trapped as still living.”

Edri says the delegation is working with 3D maps, gathering information from family members and working with the US search-and-rescue teams to narrow its search field.

Edri says the IDF delegation, which arrived on Sunday, is currently slated to depart on Sunday morning. The 12-story building in Surfside, Florida, crumbled in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing at least 12 people, with 149 still accounted for.

Foreign Ministry holds pride event in Jerusalem

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll speaks at an event marking pride month at the ministry in Jerusalem on June 30, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)
Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll speaks at an event marking pride month at the ministry in Jerusalem on June 30, 2021. (Foreign Ministry)

Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll presides over a gay pride event at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on the final day of LGBQT+ pride month.

“To create change, you need different people from all walks of life,” says Roll, who is openly gay. “Change can be made by legislators and diplomats, journalists and artists, but no less by those working in high-tech or any other job who simply ask their human resources managers to hold pride events in the office. You don’t have to be a social activist to be an important part of change.”

The event was the first time the Foreign Ministry has officially marked Pride Month, and it invited a range of foreign ambassadors to take part.

IDF gives some residents of North longer to get to bomb shelters

A man walks near an open bomb shelter in the northern Israeli city of Safed on December 4, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
A man walks near an open bomb shelter in the northern Israeli city of Safed on December 4, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The IDF updates its instructions to residents of the North on how long they have to get to shelter if an air raid siren sounds.

According to the new instructions, those in Katzrin and some areas of the Jordan Valley will now have 30 seconds, instead of just 15.

NYC to release new mayoral primary voting data after blunder

New York City Mayoral candidate Eric Adams mingles with supporters during his election night party, June 22, 2021, in New York. (Kevin Hagen/AP)
New York City Mayoral candidate Eric Adams mingles with supporters during his election night party, June 22, 2021, in New York. (Kevin Hagen/AP)

New York City elections officials will try again today to report preliminary results of the Democratic mayoral primary after a first attempt went disastrously wrong.

The mayor’s race, the first city election to use ranked choice voting, was thrown into chaos after the city’s Board of Elections posted incorrect preliminary vote counts yesterday in the Democratic primary and then withdrew them.

Critics say the mistake yesterday by the city’s Board of Elections, which released a statement saying that 135,000 ballot images that were in its computer system for testing purposes had never been cleared, proves the board is not equipped to handle the new ranked choice system.

The results released yesterday and then withdrawn appeared to show former city sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia narrowly trailing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the race to be the next mayor of New York City.

Health Ministry weighs bringing back ‘green pass’

A woman shows her 'Green Pass' as she arrives at a theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A woman shows her 'Green Pass' as she arrives at a theater in Jerusalem on February 23, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Amid a rise in COVID cases and fears over the ultra-contagious Delta variant, the Health Ministry is reportedly considering bringing back the “green pass” system that differentiates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated citizens.

The plan, which was lifted on June 1, allowed only those vaccinated to dine indoors at restaurants and attend most cultural events. A source in the ministry tells Haaretz that if further restrictions are not imposed, there could be 600 new cases per day by next week.

Death toll in Miami building collapse rises to 16

Crews from the United States and Israel work in the rubble of Champlain Towers South condo, in Surfside, Florida, June 29, 2021. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
Crews from the United States and Israel work in the rubble of Champlain Towers South condo, in Surfside, Florida, June 29, 2021. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

The death toll at the tragic condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida, just outside Miami, has risen to 16.

Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah tells family members that rescuers found four more bodies on Tuesday night, but did not identify the victims yet.

Jadallah says that in addition to those four bodies, crews also found other human remains. More than 140 people remain unaccounted for following the collapse.

German president arrives in Israel to bid farewell to Rivlin

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrives at Ben Gurion Airport on June 30, 2021. (Miri Shimonovitz)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrives at Ben Gurion Airport on June 30, 2021. (Miri Shimonovitz)

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier touches down at Ben Gurion Airport for an official state visit to Israel.

Steinmeier is slated to meet Thursday morning with his counterpart President Reuven Rivlin, who is on his way back from a visit to Washington. Rivlin’s term in office ends next week.

Steinmeier also has plans to visit Yad Vashem and meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Shaked warns that flights could be halted if COVID cases rise

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked gives a statement to the press at the Knesset on May 26, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked gives a statement to the press at the Knesset on May 26, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says that flights in and out of Israel could be halted once again if the rate of new COVID cases continues to rise.

“The situation at Ben Gurion Airport is the central concern,” Shaked tells reporters at Israel’s main airport after touring the terminal. “The simple solution is to close the airport. But the situation today is different than it was, and we’re trying to keep the airport open. But if the morbidity rises, then the flights will stop.”

Bennett: Israel will strike enemies near and far if necessary

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a memorial ceremony honoring Theodor Herzl on June 30, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a memorial ceremony honoring Theodor Herzl on June 30, 2021. (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says Israel will never hold itself back from striking its enemies in self-defense if necessary.

“The State of Israel will always defend itself against any external threat, and will not hold itself back from ensuring our security,” Bennett says at a ceremony in honor of the anniversary of the death of Theodor Herzl. “We will act firmly against threats both near and far.”

Romania commemorates Jewish victims of 1941 pogrom

A child wearing a kippa and holding a Romanian flag walks past tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in the city of Iasi, Romania, on June 29, 2021. (Liviu Chirica/AFP)
A child wearing a kippa and holding a Romanian flag walks past tombstones at the Jewish cemetery in the city of Iasi, Romania, on June 29, 2021. (Liviu Chirica/AFP)

Romania, which has long denied taking part in the Holocaust, pays tribute to thousands of Jews killed during a 1941 pogrom in the northeastern city of Iasi.

“We, as a nation, must openly admit that our past was not always glorious,” says Prime Minister Florin Citu at an unprecedented meeting of parliament in the presence of the massacre’s last survivors. Citu recalls the “unimaginable suffering, cruelty and savagery” inflicted on the orders of pro-Nazi marshal Ion Antonescu.

“By commemorating this massacre, the worst in modern Romanian history, the parliament is laying the foundations for a truth-based reconciliation,” says Alexandru Muraru, the government’s top representative for fighting antisemitism and xenophobia.

Thousands of students in quarantine as summer break begins

Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israeli students going to school in Tel Aviv on April 18, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

More than 13,000 students and teachers are in quarantine due to the COVID outbreak in schools across the country, as the academic year comes to an end.

According to new Health Ministry figures, 122 students and instructors have tested positive for COVID-19 in the 24 hours, and more than 900 currently have the virus.

As of this Wednesday afternoon, there are 1,882 cases of people with COVID, with 292 testing positive yesterday and at least 224 so far today.

Today marks the final day of school for most students across Israel as summer break begins, and summer camp and other activities begin.

Turkey pushing Russia to allow Syria crossing to stay open

Turkey says it wants the sole border crossing for aid into Syria to remain open, adding that it is holding talks at the UN Security Council to address Russia’s reluctance.

The Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey into Syria is slated to close July 10 unless it receives authorization to stay open for another year by the United Nations Security Council, where Russia wields veto power.

Russia, a major ally of President Bashar al-Assad, prefers to see the aid delivered from Damascus, arguing that the existing crossing is used to supply rebel fighters with arms.

Turkey has supported rebel fighters against Assad throughout the decade-long conflict and has a military presence in northern Syria.

Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction overturned by court

Pennsylvania’s highest court overturns Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction after finding that an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.

Cosby has served more than two years of a three- to 10-year sentence at a state prison near Philadelphia. The 83-year-old Cosby, who was once beloved as “America’s Dad,” was convicted of drugging and molesting a woman at his suburban estate.

He was charged in late 2015, when a prosecutor armed with newly unsealed evidence arrested him days before the 12-year statute of limitations expired.

Prosecutors did not immediately say if they would appeal or seek to try Cosby for a third time. His first trial ended in a jury deadlock.

Israel negotiating COVID vaccine swap deal with UK

An Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection at a vaccination center in Jerusalem on June 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
An Israeli receives a COVID-19 vaccine injection at a vaccination center in Jerusalem on June 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel is negotiating with the United Kingdom to broker a COVID-19 vaccine swap deal, reports Channel 12 news.

According to the report, Israel is seeking to ship some of its Pfizer vaccines that are due to expire at the end of July to the UK. In exchange, it is hoping to receive an equivalent number of vaccines that the UK is slated to receive from Pfizer in September.

Israel is also reportedly seeking answers from Pfizer if it can use the vaccines it already has past their expiration date. But without a clear answer, it is warning that it will not offer the first COVID shot to Israelis after July 9, since there will not be unexpired vaccines for their second dose three weeks later.

Earlier this month, Israel attempted a similar vaccine deal with the Palestinian Authority, but it fell through after the PA backtracked from receiving soon-to-be-expired doses.

Bennett’s decision to remain in Ra’anana to cost state millions

The Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street. (Yaakov Saar/GPO)
The Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street. (Yaakov Saar/GPO)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to remain at his home in Ra’anana and not move to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem will cost the state NIS 12-15 million, reports Channel 13 news.

That one-time cost, the network claims, will go toward building security stations, roadblocks, cameras and other infrastructure necessary to protect the prime minister. Further costs are expected to go toward renting nearby apartments for security officials.

Bennett has indicated that he intends to remain at his home to allow his young children to stay in their schools, and only use the official residences for meetings and state visits. Ra’anana residents who live nearby have been irritated by the high security and the ongoing protests.

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to vacate the residence in Jerusalem; he and Bennett agreed that he will leave by July 10.

Israel, Hamas fail to make progress in Cairo on prisoner swap deal

An Israeli delegation returns from Cairo without making progress on brokering a deal with Hamas that would allow for the return of Israeli civilians being held in Gaza, as well as the remains of two IDF soldiers.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the head of Israel’s delegation has made it clear that Israel and Hamas cannot reach any settlement without dealing with the return of those being held there.

A Kan reporter says that the Hamas demands in Cairo were dramatic and unrealistic, but that the Israeli delegation is still hopeful that Egypt can exert enough pressure on Hamas to allow a settlement to be reached.

Prosecutors allege ‘terrorist intent’ in attack on Netherlands kosher restaurant

An Israeli flag sticks out of the window of HaCarmel kosher restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 8, 2020, after a man smashed the window. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
An Israeli flag sticks out of the window of HaCarmel kosher restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 8, 2020, after a man smashed the window. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A man who allegedly vandalized a kosher restaurant in Amsterdam last year, smashing a window and ramming an Israeli flag through the hole, acted with terrorist intent, prosecutors allege.

The prosecutors have asked a court in Amsterdam to order the man to undergo psychiatric treatment at a secure facility and impose a sentence of 418 days — the length of time he has been jailed since his arrest.

The 32-year-old suspect is accused of the vandalism at the HaCarmel restaurant in May last year, the sixth attack targeting the restaurant in recent years.

A bureau that analyzed the suspect conclude that he is “radicalized, holds extremist ideas and acted based on that ideology,” prosecutors said, adding that his actions are based on a pro-Palestinian sentiment. A verdict is expected on July 14.

Defense attorneys want Jordanian prince to testify in coup trial

Jordan's Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, in 2015. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI / AFP)
Jordan's Prince Hamzah Bin Al-Hussein, in 2015. (KHALIL MAZRAAWI / AFP)

Defense attorneys in the trial surrounding an alleged plot to destabilize Jordan’s monarchy ask to call Prince Hamzah and other royals to testify in a state security court.

Two former Jordanian officials are accused of conspiring with Hamzah, a half-brother of King Abdullah II, and soliciting foreign help in the alleged plot. They have been charged with sedition and incitement.

Lawyers representing Bassem Awadallah, a former head of the royal court, and Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a member of the royal family, have submitted a list of witnesses that includes Hamzah as well as two other half-brothers to the king, Prince Ali and Prince Hashem.

They also want to call Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh and Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi to the stand.

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