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

Three killed in four-vehicle crash on Route 6

Three people are dead following a fiery crash involving several cars near Kiryat Gat, police and rescuers say.

Another two people are rushed to a hospital in serious condition, while two others suffer light injuries.

The wreck occurs on Route 6, and police are closing off the southbound lanes. Four cars are involved, including one which caught fire with two people inside, police and fire officials say.

It is not immediately known what caused the crash.

IDF says incident under review, after soldier hit by car in Huwara

The Israel Defense Forces says a soldier is lightly hurt in the northern West Bank town of Huwara after a car hit him, but has not classified the incident as a suspected ramming attack.

The IDF says the incident is under review.

The soldier has been taken to Israel’s Beilinson hospital for treatment.

Israeli lightly hurt in suspected car-ramming in West Bank town

One Israeli man is lightly hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack in the northern West Bank town of Huwara, medics and local authorities say.

The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says the man who was hit by a car in the town is taken to Beilinson hospital.

Local officials say the car fled the scene.

There is no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the circumstances.

In first, IDF sending troops to take part in US-led drill in Morocco

In a first, the Israel Defense Forces is sending a delegation of troops to participate in an American-led drill in Morocco.

Twelve soldiers of the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit are to join in the international drill, known as African Lion.

Last year, the IDF sent observers for the first time.

Some 18 countries and approximately 8,000 soldiers from the US military, Royal Moroccan Armed Forces, and the Ghana Armed Forces, are involved in the two-week drill.

“The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the relationship between the countries. Additionally, to create a mutual learning opportunity allowing the foreign armies to share knowledge,” the IDF says.

Haifa residents to get emergency texts during Home Front test tomorrow

The military’s Home Front Command will conduct a test of a cell broadcast system in the Haifa area tomorrow.

During a drill with other emergency services, the military will issue a text message at 12:05 p.m. to all cell phones in a designated area in the city.

The system will cause an alert to pop up on phones and include text with various simulated instructions for an emergency, the Israel Defense Forces says.

Activist Cornel West says he will run for US president in 2024 as 3rd-party candidate

Scholar and progressive activist Cornel West announces he is running for US president next year as a third-party candidate, saying he wants to empower people who have been “pushed to the margins.”

In a Twitter video, West says he will run as a member of The People’s Party. He criticized both major political parties and their standard bearers, President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump. Both Biden and Trump are running again in 2024.

“In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice, which takes the form of running for president of the United States as a candidate for the People’s Party,” West says. “I enter in the quest for truth. I enter in the quest for justice, and the presidency is just one vehicle to pursue that truth and justice, what I’ve been trying to do all of my life.”

West is a well-known Black scholar and author and a former professor at Harvard and Princeton universities. He criticized former president Barack Obama as a “war criminal,” and supported Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a democratic socialist, in his presidential bids in 2016 and 2020.

Report: Prosecution, defense in Netanyahu trial agree to further slash witness list

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the ongoing corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin have reportedly reached an agreement to further slash the list of witnesses who are slated to testify before court.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the list of witnesses has been cut from over 300 to just some 55.

The move could see the prime minister himself seeking the stand as soon as next year, the report says.

The trial has been ongoing for more than three years and the sides have already agreed to one reduction in witnesses.

Tel Aviv roads closed as Guns N’ Roses kick off world tour with Israel concert

Police close several roads in Tel Aviv due to congestion ahead of the Guns N’ Roses concert in Yarkon Park tonight.

“Due to traffic congestion, the Rokah interchange is closed to vehicular traffic,” police say. They also announce that the Ganei Yehoshua parking lot is closed.

The veteran rockers are kicking off their lengthy world tour with the Tel Aviv concert.

After heading to Europe for 15 concerts, the band — which includes Axl Rose, 61, Duff McKagan, 59, and Slash, 57 — will return to North America in August before wrapping things up in October in Vancouver.

The band last played in Israel in 2017.

Pence files paperwork launching 2024 US presidential bid

Former US vice president Mike Pence files paperwork declaring his campaign for president in 2024, setting up a challenge to his former boss, Donald Trump, just two years after their time in the White House ended with an insurrection at the US Capitol and Pence fleeing for his life.

Pence, the nation’s 48th vice president, will formally launch his bid for the Republican nomination with a video and kickoff event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, which is his 64th birthday, according to people familiar with his plans. He made his candidacy official today with the Federal Election Commission.

While Trump is currently leading the early fight for the nomination, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis polling consistently in second, Pence supporters see a lane for a reliable conservative who espouses many of the previous administration’s policies, but without the constant tumult.

Leading German far-right politician charged over using Nazi stormtrooper slogan

A prominent figure in the far-right Alternative for Germany party has been charged over his alleged use in a 2021 speech of a slogan used by the Nazis’ SA stormtroopers, German prosecutors say.

Prosecutors in the eastern city of Halle say that Björn Höcke was charged with public use of a symbol of an unconstitutional organization. Höcke, an influential figure on the hard right of Alternative for Germany, heads his party’s branch in the neighboring eastern state of Thuringia.

Höcke is accused of ending a speech to some 250 people in Merseburg, in May 2021, with the words “Everything for Germany!”

Prosecutors charge that he was aware of the origin of the phrase as an SA slogan. In a statement, they said Höcke’s lawyers had denied that his words had any “criminal relevance.”

Hadash-Ta’al disappointed fellow Arab party Ra’am boycotting Netanyahu meeting

Hadash-Ta’al faction members enter their meeting Monday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the majority-Arab party’s demands for increasing personal security in Arab towns.

Party sources express disappointment that fellow Arab party, Ra’am, boycotted the meeting. Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al control a shared 10 Knesset seats between them, but have not overcome joint enmity to successfully collaborate on fighting crime in Arab communities, a shared priority.

Anti-government protesters ejected from NYC Jerusalem Post conference

Two protesters opposed to the Israeli government are blocked from entering a conference featuring government ministers in New York.

Shany Granot-Lubaton and her husband Omer are removed from the entrance of the Jerusalem Post Conference.

Omer had entered the building and was forcibly pulled out by security guards. His finger is bloody after the incident. Shany was prevented from getting in the door.

They say they had been approved to enter the conference but were disinvited in the past day due to their political opinions. Both are New York-based activists opposed to the Netanyahu government.

Speaking at the conference are ministers Meir Porush, Amichai Chikli, Ofir Sofer and Nir Barkat.

Israel embassy in DC raises pride flag as Foreign Ministry ends practice

As Pride Month begins, the Foreign Ministry has not raised a pride flag at its Jerusalem headquarters as it did in the two years Yair Lapid was foreign minister and Idan Roll, an openly gay man, was his deputy.

However, Ambassador Michael Herzog did raise a pride flag in front of Israel’s embassy in Washington DC.

“It will be up for the entirety of #PrideMonth as part of our dedication to inclusivity, equality and the celebration of diversity,” the embassy tweets.

Ra’am MKs boycott Netanyahu meeting on violence in Arab communities

Lawmakers from the Islamist Ra’am party boycott this evening’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Knesset’s Arab parties, amid a sharp uptick in violence in Arab society and demands for the government to step in and improve personal security.

“Ra’am will not be a part of a falsehood,” party MK Waleed Taha tells The Times of Israel after the decision.

“Netanyahu as prime minister froze plans approved by the previous government, plans which led to a decrease in the number of murders in Arab society. He is invited to announce the renewal and revitalization of the programs immediately,” Taha adds.

Protesters to target judicial overhaul talks at President’s Residence

Announcing their plans for a Friday protest outside of the President’s Residence, representatives for the protest movement against the coalition’s judicial upheaval “strongly denounce” reports of an emerging compromise and slam opposition leaders for “failing to uphold the principles and values for which we have tirelessly fought.”

“If the reports are indeed true, this so-called compromise agreement amounts to nothing more than a surrender that compromises the very essence of Israeli democracy in exchange for empty promises from [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. This is an unacceptable betrayal of the trust and aspirations of the millions who have actively voiced their concerns,” a statement from the movement reads.

“The proposed agreement reflects Netanyahu’s calculated strategy of eroding the judicial review process and undermining the role of the attorney general, thereby jeopardizing the foundations of our democracy. It is alarming that Netanyahu’s own coalition partners have openly labeled him a liar, and yet, Opposition Leader [Yair] Lapid and MK [Benny] Gantz seem willing to trust him,” the statement continues.

Hebrew media reports that coalition and opposition negotiators are inching closer to signing understandings about principles undergirding their continued talks, as well as coming to agreements on curtailing judicial review over the “reasonableness” of government decisions and enabling ministers to choose their own legal representatives in court.

Opposition sources continue to deny a looming agreement, saying instead that they would not sign on to any deal that does not provide guarantees for ending the rest of the coalition’s plan to weaken judicial checks on political power.

Israel’s envoy to return to Morocco after recall over sexual abuse allegations

The head of Israel’s diplomatic mission in Morocco, David Govrin, will be returning to his post in the coming weeks now that an investigation into his conduct has concluded, an Israeli diplomatic official tells The Times of Israel.

Govrin was recalled in September after being accused of a slew of sexual and financial improprieties at the newly opened Israeli mission in Rabat.

He argued that the claims were fabricated by the mission’s chief security officer amid a bitter feud between the two.

Officials declined to comment on the outcome of the probe.

Russian radio stations hacked, play fake Putin message announcing Ukraine invasion

Several Russian radio stations are hacked and played a fake President Vladimir Putin speech announcing an invasion from Kyiv’s troops and emergency measures in three regions bordering Ukraine, the Kremlin says.

The hacking comes amid several reported incursion attempts and intense shelling in southwestern Belgorod, and as Kyiv says it is preparing a long-expected counteroffensive.

The fake message, still circulating on social media, say that “Ukrainian troops armed to the teeth by NATO and with Washington’s consent and support have invaded the Kursk, Belgorod and Bryansk” territories.

The voice, very similar to Putin’s, also announces martial law, general mobilization and the evacuation of civilians in those three regions.

“This was indeed a hack,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is cited as saying by state-run agency RIA Novosti. “Control has already been restored.”

The Belgorod region administrative center says the message was a “deep fake” aiming to “sow panic among peaceful Belgorod residents.”

The Voronezh region neighboring Belgorod also warns its residents of a “hacking of radio broadcasting frequencies” and says “there is no cause for concern.”

The MIR radio station says the hacking, which it called “an absolute fake and a provocation,” had lasted around 40 minutes.

Blinken slams settlements, says ties with Arab world can’t replace peace with Palestinians

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that the expansion of Israeli settlements and ongoing demolitions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank are taking Israel further away from peace with the Palestinians.

Yet, he stressed that the US-Israel relationship remains “ironclad,” lauded American security commitments to the Jewish state and said the Biden administration will continue to promote normalization between Israel and its Arab neighbors, particularly with Saudi Arabia.

At the same time, he made clear the administration’s displeasure with actions that  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has taken in expanding Jewish settlements and increasing Palestinian home demolitions.

“Settlement expansion clearly presents an obstacle to the horizon of hope we seek,” Blinken says in a speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.

“Likewise, any move toward annexation of the West Bank, de facto or de jure, disruption of the historic status quo at the holy sites, the continuing demolitions of homes and the evictions of families that have lived in their homes for generations damage prospects for two states,” he says.

Improving Israeli-Arab relations cannot replace a two-state solution with the Palestinians, he says.

“Integration and normalization efforts are not a substitute for progress between Israelis and Palestinians, and they should not come at its expense,” Blinken says.

“Israel’s deepened relationships with its partners can and should advance the well-being of the Palestinian people and the prospects of a two-state solution,” he adds.

UN nuclear chief rebuffs Israeli criticism on Iran, says agency ‘very fair but firm’

The International Atomic Energy Agency will “never politicize” its work in Iran, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog says , insisting after Israel’s prime minister accused it of capitulating to Iranian pressure that his agency has been “very fair but firm.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments came after a confidential report from the IAEA last week said that its investigators had closed their investigation of traces of man-made uranium found at Marivan, near the city of Abadeh, about 525 kilometers (325 miles) southeast of Tehran.

Analysts had repeatedly linked Marivan to a possible secret Iranian military nuclear program and accused Iran of conducting high-explosives tests there in the early 2000s.

“Iran is continuing to lie to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency’s capitulation to Iranian pressure is a black stain on its record,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks yesterday.

“If the IAEA becomes a political organization, then its oversight activity in Iran is without significance, as will be its reports on Iran’s nuclear activity,” Netanyahu said.

Asked today about that criticism, IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi says that his agency’s work is “neutral, it is impartial, it is technical.”

“We will always say things as they are,” Grossi tells reporters on the first day of a regular meeting in Vienna of the IAEA board of governors.

Grossi adds that he would “never enter into a polemic” with the head of government of a member of the IAEA. “We never politicize. We have our standards and apply them always,” he said.

“The politicization is in the eye of the beholder,” Grossi added.

Three charged with West Bank arms smuggling ring

Two Bedouin Israelis and a Palestinian from the West Bank have been indicted over an arms smuggling plot, the Shin Bet security agency and Justice Ministry say in a joint statement.

According to the indictments, Imad and Abdullah Abu Kaf — an uncle and nephew — residents of the southern village of Umm Batin, sold and purchased dozens of firearms and weapon parts over the past year and a half with Adham Atrash, an arms dealer in Hebron.

The trio, arrested in recent months, are charged with various weapons offenses.

The joint statement says security forces “view with severity the involvement of Israeli citizens in the criminal activity of illegal arms trade [with the West Bank], an activity which has real potential to cause serious harm to the security of the state.

“The prosecution has requested the three men be held until the end of legal proceedings.

Biden administration to set up new post focused on Abraham Accords

The Biden administration will soon establish a new post focused on expanding the Abraham Accords, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces.

“We will soon create a position to further our diplomacy and engagement with governments and private sector, non-governmental organizations — all working toward a more peaceful and connected region,” Blinken says during an address to an AIPAC conference in Washington.

The Abraham Accords saw Israel sign normalization deals with the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

After speaking to Musk and Altman, Netanyahu to set up team on national AI policy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will set up a team to formulate Israel’s policy on artificial intelligence.

Netanyahu makes the statement after speaking to both Elon Musk and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman over the last 24 hours. Altma is visiting Israel.

“I intend to convene think tanks in the coming days to discuss a national policy in artificial intelligence, both in the civil and security fields. Like we made Israel a national power in the field of cybertech, we will do the same in the field of artificial intelligence,” Netanyahu says.

The prime minister says he had a long conversation last night with Musk, who he described as “a person whose intelligence and contribution to humanity I greatly appreciate.”

“He spoke at length about two things; One — on the need for governments to understand both the opportunities and the dangers in artificial intelligence. Second — he expressed his assessment that Israel can become a significant actor in this matter in the world,” Netanyahu says.

“I’m sure this is true and we will do so,” he says.

“We are at the beginning of a new era for humanity, the era of artificial intelligence. Things are changing at a dizzying pace and Israel must formulate a national policy on this issue,” he says.

In NYC, Gantz says internal challenges just as pressing as Iran threat

Speaking in New York, National Union party chief Benny Gantz says Israel’s internal challenges are just as pressing as the Iranian nuclear threat.

“These days Israel is transforming from a melting pot to a Nation of Tribes,”says the former Defense Minister at the annual Jerusalem Post conference.

“This is not necessarily a bad thing. Our mission is to ensure that our tribes live side by side, serve the needs of the country, and continue building Israel together.”

He says that in order for that to occur, Israel must “ codify new norms that allow for all of Israel’s communities to respectfully live together – a new Zionist Alliance expressing our shared commitment to make Israel a better home for all its citizens.”

In a possible dig at the Haredi parties, he also calls for “national decency,” what he describes as a civil agreement to distribute resources fairly according to need, not according to “ sheer political power.”

“We need all parts of society to contribute to our economy and support its development,” he says.

Gantz also calls for shifting power “from the extremes to the center” and for proper treatment of minorities.

Regarding external threats, Gantz says that coordination with the international community is key to stopping Iran. “Now is the time to do everything possible to reinforce our security cooperation with our most important ally – the United States of America,” he says.

“We cannot let tactical actions or internal politics hinder our security.”

Israel starts trials of drone taxis, could be operating in 2 years

Israel begins a two-year trial of drone taxis and delivery systems.

The trials are being conducted by the Israel National Drone Initiative, a collaboration of several government entities.

A statement from the initiative says that over the last week “11 drone operating companies and supporting companies operated in the airspace, conducting complex experiments to promote operational capabilities.

“This is the first initiative of its kind in the world for an extensive and multidisciplinary examination of new technologies, including the transportation of cargo and later, people,” says Transportation Minister Miri Regev.

Channel 12 reports that the drones could be licensed to operate at the end of the two-year trial.

Protesters denounce Israeli ministers outside NYC JPost conference; some say they had their tickets canceled

NEW YORK — Several dozen protesters denounce coalition lawmakers outside a Jerusalem Post conference in New York City attended by government ministers.

The demonstrators hold flags and signs with the crossed-out faces of Israeli ministers.

“US Jews want a democratic Israel,” the signs say.

Other placards read “No democracy with occupation,” and “Without the Supreme Court there is no equality.”

Participants chant “shame” and “democracy” in Hebrew and English.

Shany Granot, one of the leaders of anti-overhaul protests in New York, tells The Times of Israel that she and others had tickets they purchased for the JPost conference canceled. She shows an email she received yesterday saying that her ticket has been canceled, and her money will be refunded, “in accordance with the terms of the conference as they appear on the ticket.” The Jerusalem Post was contacted for a response.

Granot tells Channel 12 that some others were barred from entering the conference today even though their tickets were not canceled. “They were told at the entrance that their names ‘are on a list that we received from Israel’,” Granot says.

The crowd outside the event is led by progressive US Jewish groups and includes some Israeli activists. Most rallies throughout the week against coalition lawmakers have been led by the Israelis.

In line with the US groups’ agenda, there is more of a focus on Palestinian rights than at the Israeli-led protests. They sing songs led by a guitar player and tell conference participants they’re “on the wrong side of history.”

The head of the rabbinic rights group T’ruah, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, tells the crowd that at the conference “there will be speeches by a number of ministers who support the destruction of Israeli democracy.”

“We’re here today, American Jews and Israelis, protesting for democracy because we care about the future of Israel, we care about everyone in that piece of land, both Jews and Palestinian,” Jacobs says.

Other speakers include leaders of New York Jewish groups.

They lash MK Simcha Rothman for seizing a protester’s megaphone on Friday, and Minister Amchai Chikli for mocking US Jews at the Celebrate Israel Parade yesterday. The activists say Chikli was giving them the finger; he says he was telling them to smile.

A separate protest is taking place outside the offices of the Conference of Presidents, also in Manhattan, where coalition lawmakers made an appearance.

OpenAI chief Sam Altman says Israel will have ‘huge role’ to play in AI revolution

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says that he is impressed with the talent pool in Israel and expresses confidence that the local tech ecosystem will play a “huge role” in the artificial intelligence revolution transforming the world in the coming years.

“There are two things I have observed that are particular about Israel: the first is talent density and the second is the relentlessness, drive and ambition of Israeli entrepreneurs,” Altman says, speaking at Tel Aviv University. “Those two things together are optimal to lead to incredible prosperity both in terms of AI research and AI applications.”

Calling the near term the golden age of AI, Altman and Ilya Sutskever, the co-creator of ChatGPT, encouraged Israeli developers and entrepreneurs to delve into the uncharted territory of AI, which they predict has a huge number of opportunities and positive applications.

“I will just say, Go for it, just do it,” Sutskever enthused.

Earlier in the day, Altman met with President Isaac Herzog and told him that his visit to Israel is “very special” to him.

“The rate at which the tech and startup community in Israel is embracing AI is incredible to watch,” Altman says. “The energy on making use of the technology and its positive benefits is fantastic to see, and I am sure Israel will play a huge role – its tech community is truly amazing.”

The two discussed the risks and benefits of AI and the fast pace the technology is developing. Herzog expressed personal interest in leading a discussion within Israel and worldwide on the ethics and other aspects of AI technology.

“Clearly side by side with the great opportunities of this incredible technology, there are also many risks to humanity and to the independence of human beings in the future,” Herzog says. “Medicine will be dramatically improved by AI. However, issues of ethics and morality, questions of fake news — show the risks.”

Ra’am’s Abbas says no answer from Netanyahu on demands to fight crime in Arab community

Making a rare statement at the start of his Ra’am party’s Knesset faction meeting, Mansour Abbas — who leads the Islamist Arab party — says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given “no answer” to demands to fight crime in the Arab community, which claimed its 89th and 90th murder victims of 2023 only last night.

Abbas says that a week ago, the majority-Arab Hadash-Ta’al faction gave Netanyahu a letter outlining steps to improve security in Arab towns, a key concern for Arab citizens and their representatives.

“We have no answer,” Abbas says, adding that Ra’am has thrown its weight behind what Hadash-Ta’al describes as 12 “urgent demands” to fight crime and increase security.

The two parties are set to meet with Netanyahu this evening to discuss how to tackle Arab sector crime, during which Abbas says “we expect the prime minister to adopt the letter.”

In 2021, Abbas made history by bringing his Islamist faction into an Israeli coalition, a step he took in the name of building Arab-Jewish partnership and improving quality of life for Israel’s Arabs.

“We want to advance shared efforts,” he says, but on the other hand, “the goal isn’t sitting down itself, it’s to answer the requests of Arab society” and to get “results.”

Michaeli slams right-wing, Haredi media for treatment of slain female soldier

Labor party head Merav Michaeli attacks right-wing and religious news media for their treatment of Sgt. Lia Ben Nun, a female soldier killed alongside two male colleagues during a Saturday terror attack.

“On the coalition’s media channels, they see a young man and woman alone at night on guard duty, and all they can think about is sex. Not responsibility, not service, not courage, not comradeship. Just sex,” Michaeli says, opening Labor’s Knesset faction meeting.

A commentator on the right-wing Channel 14 insinuated without any proof that the soldiers from the mixed-gender battalion were behaving inappropriately during guard duty when they were killed.

She also singles out ultra-Orthodox media outlets that showed pictures of Staff Sgt. Ohad Dahan and Staff Sgt. Ori Yitzhak Iluz, but either blurred Ben Nun’s image or featured a photo of an inanimate object, in line with the practice of some Haredi media to not broadcast or display women’s faces.

“As far as Netanyahu’s people are concerned, women are good only to be a womb, on their terms, certainly not to be combat soldiers, members of the Knesset, leaders, or just women in their own right,” Michaeli fumed.

“That is why will not give up until we win the fight for democracy and our country,” she adds, tying her criticism to the larger debate on the coalition’s plans to constrain judicial power.

Netanyahu speaks to visiting OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, discusses cooperation

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the phone with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

The two discuss “opportunities and challenges facing the world and the State of Israel in connection to artificial intelligence,” according to a short statement from Netanyahu’s office, which also says the two are discussing cooperation in the field of AI development.

The conversation comes after reports, denied by both Netanyahu and Altman, that the AI celebrity declined to meet the prime minister.

Both said Netanyahu had not formally requested a meeting.

Iran to reopen Saudi embassy tommorow

Iran is set to reopen its embassy in Saudi Arabia tomorrow following a seven-year closure, Tehran says, sealing a Chinese-brokered rapprochement deal announced in March.

Saudi Arabia severed relations with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran and consulate in the northwestern city of Mashhad were attacked during protests over Riyadh’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Iran’s diplomatic mission, which was expelled by Saudi authorities, will return under the leadership of Alireza Enayati, who previously served as Iran’s ambassador to Kuwait.

Tehran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani announces the reopening in a statement, confirming earlier comments by a diplomatic source in Riyadh.

Lapid lambastes new cost of living committee, six months after last one was set up

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid lambastes the government’s creation of a new committee to counter the rising cost of living, claiming that it is a duplicate of another cabinet task force created six months earlier.

“There is one thing worth noting: There is already such a committee, it was established six months ago, it is called the socioeconomic cabinet and its role is to deal with the cost of living,” Lapid says at the start of Yesh Atid’s Knesset faction meeting.

Lapid says the two panels are similar in composition and division of authorities.

“I could go on, because it’s great material for a skit on ‘Eretz Nehederet,'” he says, referencing Israel’s premier sketch comedy show. “Only it’s not funny, it’s sad.”

Saying that Israelis are “collapsing under the cost of living,” Lapid calls on the government to close superfluous ministries, open the food and toiletry markets to competition, and direct NIS 8 billion away from political promises to enable lowering the VAT rate by 2 percent.

“And above all, and most importantly, instead of committees, all they have to do is announce that they are backing away from their governance coup,” the Yesh Atid chief says, tying current economic troubles to the government’s plan to decrease judicial checks on its own power.

In Israel, OpenAI boss Altman ‘heartened’ by world leaders’ desire to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman says he is encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

Altman visited Tel Aviv, a tech powerhouse, as part of a world tour that has so far taken him to several European capitals. Altman’s tour is meant to promote his company, the maker of ChatGPT — the popular AI chatbox — which has unleashed a frenzy around the globe.

“I am very heartened as I’ve been doing this trip around the world, getting to meet world leaders,” Altman says during a visit with President Isaac Herzog.

Altman says his discussions showed “the thoughtfulness” and “urgency” among world leaders over how to figure out how to “mitigate these very huge risks.”

The world tour comes after hundreds of scientists and tech industry leaders, including high-level executives at Microsoft and Google, issued a warning about the perils that artificial intelligence poses to humankind. Altman was also a signatory.

As deadline nears, still no consensus opposition candidate for Judicial Selection Committee

Two days out from the deadline to submit candidates, opposition parties have yet reach an agreement on a single name, endangering their ability to place a lawmaker from their camp on the Judicial Selection Committee.

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says that “efforts are being made with [fellow opposition party leader Benny] Gantz to come to an agreed-upon candidate,” but declines to say whether his Yesh Atid party would run their pick — MK Karine Elharrar — if the matter is not settled.

Gantz is currently in New York and is only expected to return to Israel mid-week.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman confirms that his party will not field its own candidate and urges the opposition to unify, or else hand their one seat on the appointments panel to the coalition.

Labor MK Efrat Rayten, who is being put forward by her four-seat party, told Army Radio earlier today that she still considers herself a viable choice.

Ukraine parliament bill calls for designating Iran’s Guard Corps as terror group

A bill sponsored by dozens of Ukrainian parliamentarians calling for Kyiv to recognize the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization is submitted to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

One of the sponsors is the head of the Rada’s foreign affairs committee.

Israel has been urging Kyiv to list the IRGC as a terrorist group, among other largely symbolic anti-Iran measures that will resonate across Europe.

“I think it’s a clear message to Iran,” an Israel official tells The Times of Israel. “This is definitely a step in the right direction.

University of Haifa rises in global sustainability ranking

The University of Haifa ranks high — in the 101-200 cluster — in the most recent edition of the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Report, which assessed 1,600 universities around the world against the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Israeli university’s ranking rose by over 100 places since last year, placing it alongside some of the world’s leading universities, including MIT and New York University.

The impact rankings calibrate 17 indicators against four broad areas: research, stewardship, outreach, and teaching. The goals relate to real influence on the main challenges facing the global community, such as the war on poverty and inequality, ensuring equality in education, climate change, development and access to new energies, maintaining biodiversity, and marine research. The scores and rankings reflect the quality of research in areas connected to the 17 SDGs, as well as on curricula and student activities, public involvement, and the institution’s internal behavior

“In the 21st century, universities must be part of the fabric of local and global society. We must be influential and involved and we must play a part in finding solutions to the major challenges facing humanity,” says Prof. Gur Alroey, rector of the University of Haifa.

The university’s rise in the rankings reflects its adoption last year of a new vision based on a commitment to social and environmental sustainability, in keeping with the 17 UN-defined SDGs. Actions taken include research grants for impact studies; sustainability studies courses open to all students; establishment of the School of Environmental Studies; completion of a comprehensive report on the university’s carbon footprint and preparing a plan to reduce it; and establishment of research focus groups on key global issues, including inequality and environmental sustainability

FM Cohen makes rare visit to Philippines to boost ties

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen meets in Manila with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Cohen stressed the opportunities offered by the Abraham Accords, and by the Saudis opening their skies to Israeli commercial flights, shortening the travel time to Asia.

Cohen pushes the idea of a land-sea network between the Far East and Europe that passes through the Middle East.

Manalo tweets that they discussed expanding cooperation in “trade, defense, agriculture and people-to-people exchange, to further deepen our strong and historic ties.”

Cohen also meets members of the local Jewish community and Philippine business leaders. He is the first top Israeli diplomat to fly to Manila since 1967, when Abba Eban visited the Philippine capital.

Palestinian reports say toddler accidently shot by IDF last week has died

Palestinian media outlets are reporting the death of a Palestinian toddler who was accidentally shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank last week.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Mohammed Tamimi and his father were hit by gunfire as Israeli soldiers returned fire at Palestinian gunmen who had opened fire at the settlement of Neve Tzuf on Thursday.

The father was taken by Palestinian medics to a hospital in the West Bank, and the toddler was rushed to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan by military helicopter, in critical condition.

The Israeli hospital refuses to confirm the reports that the toddler has died.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement after the shooting that it “regrets the harm” to noncombatants.

Knesset committee discusses high rate of eating disorders

The Knesset Health Committee discusses today the high number of youth and adults suffering from eating disorders.

According to Health Ministry statistics presented to the committee, 1,500 children and youth are diagnosed with eating disorders per year, with 30,000-40,000 women and children dealing with an eating disorder at any given time. Fifteen to 20 percent will develop a chronic disorder, and five percent will die from the disease.

To address the lack of resources for acute response and rehabilitation services, the government allocated an additional NIS 25 million in 2022 for treatment in the community and for beds for in-patient and out-patient hospital treatment.

Mentioning former model Karin Bauman, who died on May 23 at age 35 after fighting anorexia nervosa for a decade, Health Committee chair MK Uriel Busso says there is no time to waste.

“The numbers are catastrophic, and the subject must be high on the agenda of the Health Ministry. I will turn to the health minister and discuss this without delay,” Busso said.

Busso further said he would demand that the government advance a national plan to address eating disorders that would include data gathering, public education and prevention, better planning for care in the community and hospitals, improvement of waiting times for treatment, and multidisciplinary staff training.

Those who have been fighting for such a plan for years complained that little has been done.

“We are behind by a generation. Mothers are passing on this disorder to their daughters,” said Adi Barkan, founder of Simply You, an organization that monitors body perception.

“Until when will we continue to come to these committee meetings and ask the same questions over and over?” asked the mother of a child with an eating disorder.

Another mother said her daughter had been suffering for four years and weighs only 28 kilograms (62 pounds).

“We went to the hospital but they discharged her. If she had cancer, would she have been sent home like this? What are we waiting for — another case like Karin Bauman?” she asked.

Gallant warns of ‘challenges we’ve never known before’ in future war with Iran-backed groups

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warns that Israel will face “challenges the likes we have never known” during the next potential war with Iran-backed terror groups, like the Lebanese Hezbollah.

“If, God forbid, a war occurs, the Israeli home front is expected to face challenges the likes of which we have never known in our 75 years of existence. This requires us to be prepared in advance, with optimal preparation,” says Gallant in remarks provided by his office.

The remarks are made as Gallant visits the IDF Home Front Command headquarters in the central city of Ramle, as the military conducts a large-scale, two-week drill simulating a multi-front war.

The drill, dubbed Firm Hand, is mostly focused on Israel’s northern frontiers with Lebanon and Syria, as well as Iran.

“The function of the home front, at all its levels, has great importance and a decisive role. As in any arena, even on the home front, we are committed to thorough and early preparations, for optimal performance in an emergency,” Gallant says.

“We must prepare for the most severe scenarios, in which we will have to face many challenges. Only the successful functioning of the home front… will allow the IDF and the defense establishment to fulfill the tasks on the frontier,” he adds.

Ben Gvir to appoint czar to oversee fight against violence in Arab community

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir announces his intention to appoint a czar to oversee the fight against crime and murder in the Arab community.

Ben Gvir makes the announcement after a situational assessment with police chiefs, hours after two men were shot dead in separate incidents in Arab communities.

They were the 89th and 90th Arabs killed in homicides this year, according to the Abraham Initiatives, which has tracked the slayings in the community as they have multiplied in recent years.

Ben Gvir said he would complete the search for a candidate for the job and appoint them within two weeks.

“I intend to put the fight against crime and murders in Arab society at the top of the priorities of the Ministry of National Security. Furthermore, I intend to allocate enormous resources for this purpose by bringing police officers to the area, raising police salaries and establishing the National Guard,” Ben Gvir said.

However, many in the Arab community view Ben Gvir and his plans for National Guard with suspicion and have refused to cooperate with the far-right firebrand who has in the past called for deporting “disloyal” Arabs.

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