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Bennett to Netanyahu: ‘Let go. Let the country move forward’

After meeting with would-be-coalition partners, Yamina chair defends formation of new government, says ‘there is a good spirit and a desire to get to work as soon as possible’

(L-R) Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and New Hope head Gideon Sa'ar at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra'anan Cohen)
(L-R) Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett and New Hope head Gideon Sa'ar at a meeting of the heads of the would-be-coalition in Tel Aviv, June 6, 2021. (Ra'anan Cohen)

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

Yamina MKs Silman and Orbach get extra security after anti-coalition harassment

The Knesset Guard decided Sunday to up the security around Yamina MKs Idit Silman and Nir Orbach as they are being targeted by activists aiming to pressure them against backing an emerging coalition deal that would bring in a new government and oust long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Right-wing activists have held protests outside the homes of Silman and Orbach. Earlier Sunday Silman asked for extra security after complaining that she was being followed by activists.

According to the Kan public broadcaster, Silman sent a voice message to the Yamina WhatsApp group while driving recently, claiming that she was being followed.

Yamina MK Idit Silman arrives for a meeting with Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and fellow Yamina MKs, at Bennett’s home in Ra’anana, on June 4, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“I don’t really feel good, there’s a car that’s chasing me on the street,” she told the group. “I’d like to know what you think I can do. They followed me out of the house and are following me everywhere I go.”

A car with a loudspeaker on the roof followed Silman’s vehicle while those inside the car called on her to not back the change government, Channel 12 News reported.

Silman has also been forced to pull her children out of school due to the backlash against her.

Following beefed-up security for Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, there are now at least four of the seven Yamina lawmakers in the Knesset who have been given additional protection due to the activism against the party joining MK Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party to form the so-called change government.

Security officials warn right-wing parade in Jerusalem could ‘set alight the area’

Former security officials are warning against allowing a planned right-wing nationalist march to be held in Jerusalem later this week, warning it could fuel a broader Israeli-Palestinian conflagration over the city.

Organizers of the Flag March rescheduled the controversial annual parade for Thursday after this year’s event for Jerusalem Day was canceled mid-event after Hamas fired rockets toward the city on May 10, setting off 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Israelis wave national flags during a Jerusalem Day march, in Jerusalem, May 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

“Especially with Jerusalem, any unusual incident can set alight the area and lead to a escalation in both [the West Bank] and the Strip and therefore responsibility, sensitivity and common sense are needed to make decisions without political interference,” an unnamed security source told the Kan public broadcaster.

The broadcaster also quoted a military source saying the Israel Defense Forces remained on high alert in the West Bank and Gaza-border area, saying those areas had “still not calmed down or fully stabilized.”

Netanyahu set to speak amid pressure to condemn incitement against emerging government

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to make a public statement at the opening of his Likud party’s faction meeting in the Knesset.

His address comes amid growing pressure for him to condemn incitement against Knesset members from the bloc of parties set to swear in a government that would replace him.

Supporters of the incoming government have faced intense protests and threats over the past week

A Knesset vote on the coalition is slated to be held on June 9 or June 14. Heavy pressure on a range of lawmakers who have indicated their support for the coalition is expected to continue until then.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin says emerging government is based on ‘abysmal hatred’

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin says at the opening of the Likud faction meeting that “a government based on abysmal hatred is about to be formed, not only toward the prime minister but toward all the values ​​we stand for. This is a government that will be helpless vis-à-vis Iran; will stop the settlement in Judea and Samaria.”

He said the government would be “the dream government of the judiciary that will continue to take the power of the Knesset and the government with increasing force.”

Commenting on rising incitement against Knesset members from the bloc of parties set to form the new government, Levin says that double standards are being applied when it comes to criticism from the right.

He said the criticism heard today of methods used by pro-Netanyahu activists is not heard against “the endless incitement” against the prime minister.

“I condemned it then and I condemn with the same sharpness all incitement and violence today,” Levin says.

“But it is also our responsibility to act in accordance with the mandate we have received from the public, to do the right thing for the benefit of the state, even when it involves discomfort,” he says of the Likud efforts to torpedo the new government.

“We will continue to fight alongside you for a right-wing government and not a left-wing government,” he says, addressing Netanyahu. “We in Likud must maintain unity and side with Netanyahu in this struggle. ”

Levin also criticizes the emerging coalition for having “failed” to publish its coalition agreements, saying that it is scared to “reveal what they are giving away in these bad agreements.”

The new coalition is only obligated to publish the agreements 24 hours before the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, for which Levin has not yet announced a date.

PM condemns incitement against new coalition, but says he suffers terribly too

Responding to incitement against Knesset members from the bloc of parties set to be sworn in as a government that would replace him, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he “condemns all incitement and violence.” He adds immediately that “incitement against us is also rampant.”

“For a long time, there have been terrible calls against us. To murder me and my family, my wife,” he says at the opening of a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset.

Continuing, he says, “In principle, it needs to be clear and consistent to all: Incitement, and violence, and incitement to violence will always be out of bounds. And yet it is important to clarify, and I do so now: Freedom of expression is not incitement. Criticism from the right cannot be treated as incitement and criticism from the left as a legitimate act of freedom of expression. That is an attempt to frame the right as something dangerous for democracy.”

Netanyahu says new government would be ‘biggest election scam, maybe in history’

Railing against the emerging coalition, Netanyahu says, “This dangerous left-wing government will prevent settlement, will not face up to the Americans in an agreement with Iran that poses a threat to our very existence and will not withstand pressure.”

Repeating his claim that most of the public wants him to be prime minister, Netanyahu says that if formed, the new government will represent “a scam against the public. The biggest election scam, maybe, in history.”

He adds, “A government with the extreme left that depends on supporters of terrorism will not be able to take systematic and consistent action against terrorist organizations in Gaza and it is doubtful that it will fight the decision in The Hague tribunal.”

Netanyahu says if new government is formed, he will ‘bring it down very quickly’

Railing against the emerging coalition of parties seeking to replace him as prime minister, Netanyahu says he will work to bring it down from the moment it is formed.

“We will strongly oppose the formation of this dangerous government of fraud and surrender, and if God forbid it is established — we will bring it down very quickly,” he says.

He also says that, “unlike Bennett and Lapid, we never agreed to grant Mansour Abbas [the Ra’am leader] Palestinian autonomy in the Negev. We never agreed to form a government with him — not with his support or his abstention.”

Abbas, whose Ra’am is one of the eight parties in the intended Bennett- and Lapid-led coalition, said on Saturday that “the possibility of establishing a government together” was discussed between him and Netanyahu.

Four Jordan policemen wounded in clashes with protesters

Four Jordanian police officers were wounded Saturday night when they clashed with supporters of a lawmaker suspended from parliament for railing against chronic power cuts, the security service sys.

“Four policemen were wounded and hospitalized when they intervened… to put an end to riots, the firing of shots into the air and the burning of cars,” says Amer al-Satrawi, the public security service’s spokesman.

They were wounded by stones, but their lives were not in danger, Satrawi says in a statement, adding that the clashes took place in Naour, a suburb in the capital’s south.

Witnesses say the protesters were supporters of lawmaker Oussama al-Ajarma.

Ajarma had demanded a debate on electricity cuts that hit Amman and other districts on May 21, accusing the government of deliberately cutting power to forestall a protest march by Jordanian tribes in support of the Palestinian cause.

But his request was turned down by the speaker and the lawmaker was suspended from parliament on May 27, before he resigned in protest on Wednesday.

Knesset Wednesday plenum agenda published with no government swearing-in scheduled

The Knesset publishes the plenum agenda for Wednesday’s legislative session without any mention of a swearing-in vote for the new government, making it clear that Speaker Yariv Levin will not be calling a vote on the emerging coalition this week.

Levin was said to have been weighing scheduling the vote to approve the new “change government” on Wednesday if there appeared to be a reasonable shot at preventing the formation of the potential government.

Levin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is now expected to call the confidence vote for Monday, June 14.

By law, Levin has up to a week to schedule the vote for the new government from the time that it is announced that a candidate has succeeded in bringing together a coalition. Lapid made that announcement on Wednesday but Levin is using a loophole that allows him to extend the deadline until the Monday Knesset session.

Knesset defense committee to debate Shin Bet warning on incitement, flag parade

The Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee will convene tomorrow to discuss “incitement and extremism in the public sphere,” following yesterday’s rare warning issued by Shin Ben chief Nadav Argaman that incitement against the emerging government could lead to political violence.

Heavy pressure on a range of lawmakers who have indicated their support for the coalition is expected to continue. The unprecedentedly diverse alliance of parties numbers 61 members in the 120-seat Knesset, the narrowest possible majority, and is thus vulnerable to any single defection.

The Knesset committee, headed by Yesh Atid MK Orna Barbivai, will also discuss a parade that may be held in Jerusalem this Thursday.

The Flag March, a controversial annual parade, was rescheduled for Thursday after it was canceled mid-event on May 10, Jerusalem Day, when Hamas fired rockets toward the city, setting off 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

 

Likud Minister Gamliel: I oppose protests outside homes of public officials

With multiple MKs being targeted by activists aiming to pressure them against backing an emerging coalition deal that would bring in a new government and oust long-serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud’s Environment Protection Minister Gila Gamliel reportedly says she opposes protests outside of lawmakers’ homes.

“I oppose demonstrations near the houses of public figures. Families should not be part of the political struggle,” she tells the Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, according to Maariv.

Supporters of the potential incoming government have faced intense protests and threats over the past week. A Knesset vote on the coalition is slated to be held on June 9 or June 14.

Likud’s Yisrael Katz: Netanyahu is our leader, even if we go to opposition

Finance Minister Israel Katz reportedly tells the Likud faction that, “Netanyahu is our candidate for prime minister, even if we go to the opposition, and he will be the chairman of the opposition.”

Rejecting reports that he is seeking the chairmanship for himself, Katz says, “I never disagreed with the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu is the chairman of the Likud and remains the chairman of the Likud, there is nothing to discuss at all,”  according to Channel 12 news.

3 Likud ministers said to push back against party-backed protests outside MKs homes

Ministers Yuval Steinitz, Gila Gamliel and Miri Regev reportedly expressed their opposition during a Likud faction meeting to demonstrations outside the homes of rival MKs in an effort to pressure them not to support the Bennett-Lapid government.

They argued that it was not appropriate to involve the politicians’ families,” Maariv reports.

On the other hand, Deputy Minister Yoav Kish, MK Mai Golan, former MK Osnat Mark and were said to have voiced support for the demonstrations.

Referring to the criticism of the protests and rising incitement against lawmakers from the “change bloc,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told his Likud MKs that “me and my family have been attacked for years and everyone is silent.”

Israel records 24-hours with 0 cases of coronavirus caught in country

The health ministry says that zero native cases of coronavirus were registered within Israel over the past 24 hours.

According to the ministry, four cases were recorded Saturday but all of them were people who contracted the virus abroad.

There are currently 230 active coronavirus cases in the country. In total, 839,566 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Israel and 6,418 people have died from it.

Police chief to meet with security officials to decide on Jerusalem flag parade

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai is set to hold a meeting with various security officials in the next hour to discuss a planned right-wing nationalist march to be held in Jerusalem later this week.

He will subsequently decide whether to recommend that Public Security Minister Amir Ohana cancel the march due to a fear that it could fuel a broader Israeli-Palestinian conflagration over the city, Channel 12 news reported.

Israelis stream into Jerusalem’s Old City through the Jaffa Gate during the annual flag march on May 10, 2021 (Sarah Tuttle-Singer/Times of Israel)

The Flag March, a controversial annual parade, was rescheduled for Thursday after it was canceled mid-event on May 10, Jerusalem Day, when Hamas fired rockets toward the city, setting off 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz signaled yesterday he will demand the cancellation of the march, which is being backed by some of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political allies. Netanyahu, who is facing the prospect of being replaced as premier if the so-called “change government” is sworn in, has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Fatah calls to ‘defend Jerusalem… confront the march of the extremist settlers’

Fatah calls its members to mobilize to confront a planned Jewish nationalist march through Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday.

The Palestinian political party tells its cadres “to stand together effectively, to defend Jerusalem and the Islamic and Christian holy sites, and to confront the march of the extremist settlers.”

Fatah has suffered criticism in Palestinian domestic circles in recent weeks. Its leadership, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, have been attacked as ineffectual in opposing Israeli policies in Jerusalem, which Palestinians hope to see as the capital of their future state.

Its main rival Hamas, meanwhile, has seen a boost in popularity following the recent mini-war between the terror group and Israel. Hamas claimed the thousands of rockets it fired at Israeli cities and towns were a response to Israeli actions in Jerusalem, especially on the Temple Mount holy site.

UK urges global commitment to vaccinate the world by end of 2022

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the Group of Seven wealthy democracies’ summit next week to urge world leaders to commit to vaccinating the global population by the end of 2022.

Johnson is expected to stress the importance of a global vaccination drive when he meets with fellow world leaders on Friday in Cornwall, on England’s southwestern coast, for the first face-to-face G-7 summit since the pandemic hit.

“The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the postwar era: defeating COVID and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values,” he says in a statement. “Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the single greatest feat in medical history.”

U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of Canada, France, Italy and Japan will arrive in Cornwall from Friday for three days of talks focusing on the global recovery from the pandemic.

Litzman aide arrested for alleged corruption involving dairy giant Tnuva

A close assistant to Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman is named as one of several suspects arrested this morning on suspicion of corruption.

The identities of those arrested were initially barred from publication, but were then released. The aide is Motti Babchik, Litzman’s senior assistant and close confidant. The others are a department head at dairy conglomerate Tnuva and top officials at a medical company and a lobbying company.

Motti Babchik seen in the Knesset on March 3, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced last month that he has decided to indict Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman of the United Torah Judaism party for obstruction of justice and breach of trust, pending a hearing.

The pending charges relate to suspicions that Litzman used his former position as deputy health minister to prevent the extradition to Australia of Malka Leifer, a former principal of an Orthodox girls school in Melbourne accused of sexually assaulting minors (Leifer was recently extradited after a years-long saga); and to prevent the closure of a deli cited for health violations.

Leaders of parties in Bennett-Lapid coalition meet for first time

The leaders of the eight parties that make up the new government hoping to be sworn in next week, are currently meeting in Tel Aviv for the first time since last week’s announcement that Yesh Atid chair Yair Lapid, has succeeded in forming a coalition.

Lapid, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett, who is set to be prime minister first in a rotation agreement with the Yesh Atid leader, New Hope chair Gideon Sa’ar, Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, Blue and White’s Benny Gantz, Labor’s Merav Michaeli and Meretz’s Nitzan Horowitz, and the conservative Islamic party Ra’am’s leader, Mansour Abbas are all taking part in the meeting.

The emerging government hopes to be sworn in as soon as possible but will likely have to wait until next Monday. In the meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet given up on the hope of persuading some members of the would-be coalition to defect and vote against the government.

Palestinian said shot, badly hurt in West Bank clashes with Israeli troops

A young Palestinian was shot by Israeli troops and seriously injured during clashes north of Ramallah, Palestinian media reports.

The military does not immediately comment on the matter. The cause of the clashes are not immediately clear.

Media reports claim the man had been shot in the head with live fire in the village of Nabi Saleh. He was taken to a Ramallah hospital.

Indoor mask requirement to be lifted next week

The health ministry announces that the requirement for masks to be worn indoors will be lifted next Tuesday, marking the end of one of the only major coronavirus restrictions remaining in Israel.

For the time being, schools will be excluded from the easing of limitations, with children still required to wear masks in lessons since the majority of those under 16 have yet to be vaccinated.

Israelis throwing face masks as they celebrate the end of the mask mandate outdoors in Jerusalem, April 18, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The ministry said that if the declining trend in morbidity continues and the campaign to vaccinate 12- to 16-year-olds, which began today, succeeds, there will be another discussion on the subject in the coming weeks.

Israel’s mass vaccination drive, which has already given both shots to over half the population, along with lockdown measures, brought down the number of new daily cases (based on a weekly average), from 8,600 at the peak of the health crisis to just four on Saturday.

Bennett to deliver prime-time address at 8 p.m.

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett will deliver a public address from the Knesset at 8 p.m. tonight.

He is expected to address the possibility of defectors from his Yamina party voting against the government.

His speech comes after heads of the would-be-coalition he is set to head met in Tel Aviv.

A joint statement put out by the parties said they discussed “the need to swear in a government as early as this Wednesday, in order to allow the country to move forward.”

The party leaders also “expressed concern about the atmosphere in the demonstrations and on social media” against MKs in their coalition.

Shots fired in air in Jordan after parliament votes out MP

Gunmen fired shots in the air in an Amman suburb on Sunday after parliament voted to expel a Jordanian lawmaker who had riled against power cuts and called for protests, a security source says.

The early evening unrest came a day after four police officers were wounded in clashes with supporters of MP Oussama al-Ajarma in the Naour suburb in southern Amman.

“Security forces are facing new riots and a group of people have opened fire in the air in Naour,” the source is quoted as saying on Al-Mamlaka state television.

Security forces deployed reinforcements in the district and set up checkpoints around Amman to “arrest those who violate the law,” the source adds.

The unrest came after parliament voted Sunday to exclude Ajarma, 40.

Ajarma had demanded a debate on electricity cuts in Amman and other districts on May 21, accusing the government of deliberately cutting power to forestall a protest march by Jordanian tribes in support of the Palestinian cause.

At least 160 killed in deadliest Burkina Faso attack since 2015

Suspected jihadists massacred at least 160 civilians, including around 20 children, in a village in Burkina Faso’s volatile north, the deadliest attack since Islamist violence erupted in the West African country in 2015, local officials says.

The slaughter in the early hours of Saturday followed the slaying of 14 people late Friday in the village of Tadaryat in the same region where jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been targeting civilians and soldiers.

“It’s the local people themselves who have started exhuming the bodies and burying them after transporting them,” one local source says.

Meghan and Harry welcome second child, Lilibet ‘Lili’ Diana

The second baby for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is officially here: Meghan gave birth to a healthy girl on Friday.

A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan says the couple welcomed their child Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. Their daughter weighed in at 7 lbs., 11 oz.

Her first name, Lilibet, is a nod to Her Majesty The Queen’s nickname. Her middle name is in honor of her grandmother and Harry’s mother. The baby is the eighth in line to the British throne.

No photos of the newborn or the Sussexes accompany the announcement.

David Dushman, last surviving Auschwitz liberator, dies aged 98

David Dushman, the last surviving soldier who took part in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in 1945, has died at the age of 98.

Dushman, a Red Army soldier who later became an international fencer, died on Saturday, the International Olympic Committee says in a brief statement.

On January 27, 1945, he used his T-34 Soviet tank to mow down the electric fence of Auschwitz in Nazi-occupied Poland, helping to set prisoners in the death camp free.

Only after the end of the war did he learn about the scale of the atrocities in the camp.

Dushman was one of 69 soldiers in his division who survived the war, but he suffered serious injuries. Nevertheless, he went on to become a top fencer in the Soviet Union and later one of the world’s greatest fencing coaches, the IOC says.

Netanyahu to be interviewed on Channel 20

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be interviewed tonight at 20:15 on the right-wing Channel 20, where he is expected to address the would-be-coalition headed by Yamina’s Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

His interview will come after Bennett is set to deliver a public address at 8 p.m.

Likud MK compares Bennett, Sa’ar to ‘suicide bombers’

Amid growing incitement against lawmakers in the would-be new coalition, Likud MK May Golan calls the right-wing leaders of the so-called change bloc “suicide bombers.”

Golan used the phrase repeatedly during an interview with the Knesset Channel, doubling down on her assertion as the two anchors urged her to retract it, while qualifying the statement by saying there was still a “world of difference” between the two politicians and jihadist terrorists.

“The most dangerous thing in public leaders is people who have no place to go back to, and Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar have no place to go back to,” Golan says, in reference to the perception that the heads of Yamina and New Hope have plummeted in popularity since allying with the center-left to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.

Likud MK May Golan on the Knesset Channel, June 6, 2021. (video screenshot)

She says that “while there is a world of difference (in Hebrew, literally, “while differentiating a thousand thousand differences”), I would compare them to suicide bombers.”

Asked by the anchor if she were not going too far, Golan answered “No, and I’ll tell you why… They’re like terrorists who don’t believe in anything anymore, who go out on their suicide mission, and even if they know it’s their death sentence, they don’t care because they’re Shiites.”

In mentioning the death sentence, Golan was apparently referring to a political death sentence, but did not clarify the matter.

Bennett to Netanyahu: ‘Let go. Let the country move forward’

In a public address from the Knesset, Yamina chair Naftali Bennett says, “In a few days, we will swear in a government.”

Hitting back at criticism of the move from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Bennett said, “A change of government is not a catastrophe, not a disaster, but an ordinary and normal event in every democratic state.”

“The regime in Israel is not a monarchy, and nobody has a monopoly,” he says, promising that “the new government will stand the test of the public… There is a good spirit and a desire to get to work as soon as possible.”

He decries the well-oiled machine “trying to break” members of the “change coalition” and prompt their defections, and protests what he says is Netanyahu’s encouragement of the no-holds-barred effort, including following MK Irit Silman in her car with megaphones, at risk to her life, and scaring her children on their way to school.

Addressing Netanyahu directly, Bennett says: “Let go. Let the country move forward. People are allowed to vote for a government even if you’re not heading it.”

Incidentally, he says, the incoming government is “10 degrees to the right” of the current one.

He urges Netanyahu, “Don’t leave scorched earth behind you” and adds: “All of us, the whole people, want to remember the considerable good you’ve done.”

Bennett apologizes to disappointed supporters

Bennett, during a public address, says, “I understand those in the public who are apprehensive and there are good people who feel betrayed.”

“I’m sorry for hurting you,” he says, explaining that, “since the election, I have acted with all my might for you, for the good of the State of Israel.”

He promises that “we will do everything so that a year from now, you will look back and find in your heart the place to understand my decisions.”

Bennett calls on Knesset speaker to set government swearing-in for Wednesday

Prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett calls on Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin to schedule a vote on the new government for Wednesday.

“That is what is appropriate and the authority is in your hands,” Bennett says during a public address from the Knesset.

“We know that Netanyahu is pressuring you to delay the vote, to postpone, to withdraw, in order to give more time to the hunt for defectors. This may be for  Netanyahu’s good, but you know, Yariv, it’s not good for the state,” Bennett says.

“Release us from long days of poison, fire, and plumes of smoke,” he adds.

Levin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, is expected to call the confidence vote for Monday, June 14.

By law, Levin has up to a week to schedule the vote for the new government from the time that it is announced that a candidate has succeeded in bringing together a coalition. Lapid made that announcement on Wednesday, but Levin is using a loophole that allows him to extend the deadline until the Knesset session on Monday.

‘We are solely committed to speaking the truth,’ says new IDF spokesman

The former head of Israel’s air defenses Brig. Gen. Ran Kochav takes over as military spokesperson, replacing Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, who will soon travel to Washington, DC, to become the next defense attache to the United States.

The switch took place at the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit headquarters in north Tel Aviv, at a ceremony overseen by the outgoing head of IDF Operations, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, who is himself due to be replaced in his position later this evening.

In their speeches, Haliva, Zilberman, and Kochav all touted the importance of truthfulness for military spokespeople, as well as the achievements of the military during last month’s 11-day battle between the IDF and terror groups in the Gaza Strip, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls. This comes as the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit faces ongoing allegations that it misled journalists during the conflict by telling reporters the military was launching a ground invasion when it was not, as part of an elaborate ruse meant to trick Hamas into sending its fighters into harm’s way.

“The basis of our actions is and will always be the truth. The IDF is a reliable, responsible, honest, and straightforward source with no replacement. We are solely committed to speaking the truth,” Kochav says in his remarks.

In his remarks, Haliva, who oversaw many aspects of the fighting in Gaza last month, defends the IDF’s actions in the enclave, saying it strived to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties.

“I can tell you now: the IDF during Operation Guardian of the Walls fired five costly missiles, of the most advanced variety we have. While they were in the air, new, up-to-date intelligence came in and it became unclear if uninvolved people were at the target. We decided to divert the munitions from their target, into the sea. We called off the strike at the last second. This was one case. There were many others like it,” Haliva says.

Ex-head of Israel space program dies weeks after injured in Acre hotel attack

Avi Har-Even, a former leader of Israel’s space program and a winner of the prestigious Israel Prize, dies of serious injuries incurred during an arson attack on an Acre hotel during recent violence between Jewish and Arab communities.

Har-Even, 84, had been in critical condition since suffering from smoke inhalation when the hotel he was staying at in the port city of Acre was torched last month. Several more guests were injured when the Efendi Hotel was set on fire during rioting by Arab residents of the city.

During his long military career, Har-Even held various research and development positions that saw advanced weaponry brought into the military’s arsenal and during which he headed a group that was awarded the Israel Prize for security.

After leaving the army Har-Even began working for the Israel Aerospace Industries in 1982, leading a team that developed Israel’s Shavit satellite rocket launcher. Between 1995 and 2004, Har-Even directed the Israel Space Agency.

Since 2008, he has been a research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Bar-Ilan University.

Germany: Merkel’s party fends off far-right challenge in state vote

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives handily bat away a challenge from the far right in a state election that is seen as the last big test for Germany’s political parties before a national vote in September.

Projections by public broadcaster ARD put Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union at 36.2%, a gain of more than six percentage points, compared to the last election five years ago in the sparsely populated state of 2.2 million inhabitants.

The far-right Alternative for Germany, or AfD, is projected to get 22.5% of the vote, a slight drop compared to 2016. The party has moved steadily further to the right in recent years and its chapter in Saxony-Anhalt has come under increased scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence service for its ties to extremist groups.

While elections in Germany’s 16 states are often influenced by local issues and voting sentiments, they are also seen as important bellwethers for the national mood.

A strong win for the CDU would be seen as a sign that the party’s new leader, Armin Laschet, can hope for support from both conservatives and centrists on September 26, when it aims to hold onto power at the federal level despite four-term chancellor Merkel not running again.

Police said to approve Jerusalem flag march in principle

Israel Police approves in principle the Jerusalem flag parade scheduled for Thursday, Walla news reports.

The force will now present the recommendation to the political echelon, the report says.

The Flag March, a controversial annual parade, was rescheduled for Thursday, after it was canceled mid-event on May 10, Jerusalem Day, when Hamas fired rockets toward the city, setting off 11 days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz signaled yesterday that he will demand the cancellation of the march, which is being backed by some of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political allies. Netanyahu, who is facing the prospect of being replaced as premier if the so-called “change government” is sworn in, has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

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