The Times of Israel is liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Lawmakers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party denounce the police decision not to authorize a nationalist march in Jerusalem later this week, amid concerns it could reignite Israeli-Palestinian tensions over the city.
“The cancellation of the Flag March is a surrender to terror,” Likud MK Miki Zohar tweets
Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch of Likud initially blames the proposed “change government” of Netanyahu’s political rivals, but then deletes his tweet.
“The decision to cancel the Flag March is bad and scandalous. The tweet I erased assigned responsibility to the change government that has still not been formed. I accept the criticism,” he writes on Twitter.
Kisch adds: “The decision is still in our hands. I reached out to the prime minister and public security minister to reverse the police commissioner’s decision.”
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, who oversees police, is also a Likud member.
Likud MK May Golan says she’ll use her parliamentary immunity to join far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir in marching through the Muslim Quarter with Israeli flags during the time of the planned march.
“We won’t give a prize to those Arab rioters and cowardly politicians,” tweets Golan.
President Reuven Rivlin hosts President-elect Isaac Herzog at his official residence in Jerusalem, before the end of his seven-year term next month.
“Mr. President-elect, welcome, feel at home. There are not many people who can say that the President’s Residence is their home,” Rivlin tells Herzog, according to a statement from his office.
Herzog, the chairman of the Jewish Agency and a former Labor party leader, was selected by the Knesset in a secret ballot last week as Rivlin’s successor.
Herzog taps Eyal Shviki, his chief of staff at the Jewish Agency, to work with the director-general of the President’s Residence on the presidential transition.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a Shiite cleric who as Iran’s ambassador to Syria helped found the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah and lost his right hand to a book bombing reportedly carried out by Israel, dies today of the coronavirus. He was 74.
A close ally of Iran’s late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Mohtashamipour in the 1970s formed alliances with Muslim militant groups across the Middle East. After the Islamic Revolution, he helped found the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard in Iran and as ambassador to Syria brought the force into the region to help form Hezbollah.
In his later years, he slowly joined the cause of reformists in Iran, hoping to change the Islamic Republic’s theocracy from the inside. He backed the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi in Iran’s Green Movement protests that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mohtashamipour died at a hospital in northern Tehran after contracting the virus, the state-run IRNA news agency reports. The cleric, who wore a black turban that identified him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, had been living in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq, over the last 10 years after the disputed election in Iran.
PARIS — Four men go on trial in Paris today over the Islamist murder of a police officer on the Champs-Elysees avenue on the eve of France’s 2017 presidential election.
Xavier Jugele was sitting at the wheel of a parked police bus when Karim Cheurfi pulled up in a car, got out and shot him dead through the windscreen on April 20, 2017.
Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French jihadist who became radicalized in prison while serving time for robbery and attacks on the police, was himself shot dead by police minutes later.
The brazen assault, which Cheurfi carried out on behalf of the Islamic State terrror group, caused outrage in France, which was already reeling from a wave of attacks by radical Islamists.
Shortly after Jugele’s death it emerged that he had been among the first responders at the Bataclan theatre in Paris on November 13, 2015, where IS gunmen massacred 90 concertgoers.
One of the four men put on trial today, 31-year-old Nourredine Allam, is accused of taking part in a terrorist conspiracy. He is suspected of having sold Cheurfi the assault rifle that he used in the attack, charges he denies.
The three others are accused of the lesser offenses of illegally owning or selling weapons.
The Health Ministry reports just seven new coronavirus cases yesterday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dissipate in Israel following the national vaccine drive.
The number of active infections falls to 195, with 37 patients currently listed in serious condition.
Yesterday’s positive test rate was effectively zero percent, with only seven of the 17,996 tests performed coming back positive.
There have been 839,577 infections and 6,418 deaths from COVID since the pandemic began, according to ministry figures.
Police say they have received initial reports that a parking lot at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem has collapsed.
Images from the scene show a large hole in the ground in part of the parking lot. There are no immediate reports of injuries.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) June 7, 2021
Hamas cheers the decision by Israeli police to withhold approval for a planned nationalist march in Jerusalem, after the Gaza-ruling terror group warned of “consequences” if the parade were to go through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
“The cancellation of the march constitutes a new breach of Israel’s principles and the establishment of a new equation in which Jerusalem is a red line,” Hamas says.
Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, whose ministry oversees police, suggests he’s no fan of the force’s decision to withhold permission for planned nationalist march in Jerusalem.
“I hear the complexities and the difficulties and still believe that the decision needs to come before the political leadership because of it’s importance. “‘To be a free people in our land’ shouldn’t just be a line from the national anthem,” tweets Ohana.
He adds: “I spoke with the prime minister and we intend to hold a deliberation on the matter.”
Police recommend staying away from Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem after a large sinkhole opened up in the parking lot, warning it could expand and swallow up more of the parking lot.
Video shows a parked car falling into the sinkhole as the pavement under it collapses.
There have been no reports of injuries.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) June 7, 2021
VIENNA — Iran has failed to answer questions about the discovery of uranium particles at former undeclared sites in the country, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog says, calling on Tehran to provide information “without further delay.”
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been pushing Iran for answers on three sites dating back many years where inspections had revealed traces of uranium of man-made origin, suggesting they were once connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
The issue is separate from the ongoing negotiations aimed at bringing the United States back into Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.
Grossi said in March that Iran had agreed to sit down with international technical experts investigating the discovery, and said he hoped to “come to some satisfactory outcome” by the time of the IAEA board meeting in June.
But in comments today to the IAEA’s board of governors, Grossi says “after many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the agency has conducted complementary accesses.” He says Iran also hasn’t answered questions regarding another undeclared location.
“The lack of progress in clarifying the agency’s questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Grossi says.
“For objectivity’s sake, I should say that the Iranian government has reiterated its will to engage and to cooperate and to provide answers, but they haven’t done that so far,” he tells reporters later. “So I hope this may change, but as we speak, we haven’t had any concrete progress.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid expresses confidence the proposed “change government” will endure if sworn into office, while extending a hand to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s backers.
“This government is being formed because it’s the majority. There were elections, we have a majority, we’re forming a government. That’s democracy, that’s its strength, that’s the choice Israel made,” Lapid says during a Knesset faction meeting.
Addressing supporters of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other parties in his right-wing religious bloc, Lapid says he knows many of them view the potential new government as a “crisis.”
“But you’ll discover that this government isn’t being created against you. It will work for you, it will respect you, it will be your government as well. It will also be a government of those who voted for Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism. They’ll discover that we’ll be fair toward them, that we will respect their beliefs and opinions, that we’ll listen to their needs”.
He also urges those who are in favor of the proposed government not to rub it in the faces of those who opposed it.
“I know you waited a long time and this is your success but there are a lot of people in Israel who are concerned about this government. We need to reach out to them and lower the tensions. We don’t need to celebrate in the town square and shout that we won. This is the time to unite Israeli society. They aren’t our enemies,” he says.
Lapid addresses the recent political discourse in Israel and appears to hit out at a group of rabbis who called on their followers to “do everything” to prevent the new government from being formed.
“We don’t choose the Judaism of extremist rabbis who make themselves part of the political game and enlist themselves into the incitement. We choose a Judaism that tells us to choose life,” the Yesh Atid chief says.
He also says he “failed” in limiting the number of ministers who will be in the government. “This is part of what allowed us to form a government,” he asserts.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz urges Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop seeking to prevent the formation of the “change government” that the premier’s rivals have joined forces to establish.
“If Netanyahu decides to leave scorched earth, he will harm his legacy and the country,” Gantz tells a faction meeting of his Blue and White party. “I call on him from here to accept the democratic results and respect the process.”
Gantz also says, “I could have been prime minister for the next 2 and a half years in the wink of an eye [if I’d partnered again with Netanyahu]. I chose not to do this in order to enable the establishment of the change government, and I will continue to work on that.”
New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar tells his faction meeting: “I repeatedly said in the election campaign… that anyone who wants Netanyahu to stay on, please don’t vote for me… We are doing exactly what we promised the electorate: advancing change.”
ROME — Italian police have dismantled a neo-Nazi group that allegedly spread antisemitic and racist propaganda on social media, police say.
The group, consisting of 12 people between the ages of 26 and 62, was present on Facebook and the Russian social network VK under the name “Ordine Ario Romano,” a Carabinieri police statement says.
Posting content “inspired by Nazi, anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial ideologies, as well as by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories,” the group called for violence against Jews and foreigners, the statement adds.
They were also in the early stages of planning an attack against an unnamed NATO site using homemade explosives, with the help of fellow far-righters from Portugal, police say.
They have been charged with criminal association aimed at spreading propaganda, and incitement with ethnic and racial discrimination motives, and are ordered to regularly report to police while the investigation against them continues.
Israeli troops arrest two men who illegally crossed into the country from Lebanon last night, the military says.
The suspects, who appear to be Turkish migrants looking for work, are caught in an area near the security fence that is densely covered with brush and trees, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The arrests come after more than 12 hours of searches in the area, including roadblocks and helicopter flyovers.
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin formally informs the Knesset of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s announcement last week that he is able to form a government.
But Levin, a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party, doesn’t specify what day the swearing-in vote will be held. The latest possible date is June 14.
“An announcement on when the swearing-in vote will be held will be issued later,” he says.
Levin’s move appears aimed at giving more time to Netanyahu and his right-wing religious bloc to try to thwart the “change government,” whose prospective members have called for a vote to swiftly be held. The new, eight-party coalition, in which Yamina leader Naftali Bennett is set to serve as prime minister for the first two years, appears to have the support of 61 of the 120 members of Knesset.
Yamina MK Nir Orbach has told associates he intends to back the “change government,” Channel 12 news reports.
Orbach, who has yet to publicly announce his position on the proposed government his party chief Naftali Bennett agreed to form with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, has been facing intense pressure to oppose the proposed coalition.
The network also publishes a screenshot of a message that Orbach received today inviting him to his own funeral. The message says the funeral will be held tonight and accuses Orbach of having “supported a government that harmed Shabbat and Torah study and brought Reform [Jews] and assimilation to the Holy Land,” according to a screenshot from the network.
Another message included an invitation for mourners to sit shiva.
Associates of Orbach say in response: “The time has come to snap out of it.”
VIENNA — The UN nuclear watchdog’s head says it is “becoming increasingly difficult” to extend a temporary inspections arrangement with Iran, as Tehran and world powers try to salvage a nuclear deal.
In February, Tehran suspended some IAEA inspections, leading the agency to strike a temporary three-month deal allowing it to continue its activities despite the reduced level of access.
“I can see this space narrowing down,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi tells journalists in Vienna at the beginning of the quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.
In late May the ad hoc arrangement was extended until June 24, with Grossi describing the remaining time as “very short.”
Referring to negotiations underway in central Vienna between world powers and Tehran on the possible revival of the international 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Grossi says he hopes that by “wider general agreement that’s being worked on downtown or by some other means, we are not going to see our… inspection capacities curtailed any more.”
“We cannot limit and continue to curtail the ability of the inspectors to inspect and at the same time pretend that there is trust,” he says.
Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett is expected to make a cool $5 million from his investment in American fintech firm Payoneer, Forbes Israel reports.
Bennett, a former tech executive, invested several hundred thousand dollars in the company before entering politics, according to Forbes.
Payoneer, which facilitates cross-border payments, is set to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange with a $3.3 billion valuation after reaching a SPAC merger with FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp in February.
Likud MK David Bitan says Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted that he and Likud are heading into opposition.
“Netanyahu knows that he will be in the opposition. Netanyahu has already begun his fight as chair of the opposition, in order to switch the government [and regain power],” Bitan tells Channel 12 news.
Asked if Netanyahu is the right man to lead that fight, Bitan says the incumbent premier “is our leader, and the fact is that he always wins 30 or more seats [for Likud]. That’s not easy.”
But Bitan says Netanyahu was dealt a more difficult hand this time.
“He was facing people from left and right, in such a way that he wasn’t able to beat them,” the Likud MK says.
Dr. Ofer Marin, the director of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, says a large sinkhole that swallowed up several cars in the hospital’s parking lot appears to have been caused by the nearby digging of a highway tunnel.
He also says the hospital itself is safe and that it is operating as usual.
A magistrate’s court has found a sheep trader and the manager of a sheep farm at Kibbutz Geva in northern Israel guilty of animal abuse.
Despite the prosecution’s request that they be sent to prison, the two are given suspended sentences and fines as part of a plea bargain.
The court in Beit She’an sentences the manager to a three-month suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 40,000 ($12,300). The trader is given a one-month suspended sentence and a fine of NIS 30,000 ($9,200).
The case, which came to light following an investigation by the animal rights organization Animals Now that was broadcast by the Kan public broadcaster, was the first to see charges leveled against the owners of a commercial farm, as well as the farm’s workers. The charge against the kibbutz was subsequently dropped as part of the plea bargain.
The abuses included throwing live one-day old lambs into the trash, failing to treat sick and injured animals, violent and aggressive behavior and unsanitary slaughter.
According to Animals Now, the farm manager has retained his job.
The intelligence officer who died in a military prison last month was suspected of committing offenses that caused “severe damage to national security,” the Israel Defense Forces says after removing a portion of the gag order surrounding the case.
Key details about the case, including the officer’s identity and the exact nature of his alleged crimes, remain barred from publication under a court-issued gag order. This decision was made despite the fact that the serviceman’s name and photograph have been widely shared online in recent days.
However, the military permits for publication that the officer served in a technological unit in Military Intelligence.
According to the IDF, the officer, who was found in serious condition in his cell last month and pronounced dead in the hospital a short time later, had been accused of “knowingly committing a number of actions that seriously harmed national security.”
“The officer cooperated in his interrogation and admitted to most of the acts he was accused of,” the military says.
The IDF maintains, however, that the soldier acted alone and did not commit the actions on behalf of a foreign government, for financial reasons or out of a specific ideology, but rather for “personal motivations.”
The officer was indicted on a number of security-related offenses and additional weight was given to the charges against him in light of the “significant damage that was caused by his alleged crimes,” the military says.
Israel’s Gefen Primo takes the bronze medal in the women’s under 52-kilogram category at the World Judo Championships in Hungary.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warns the amount of “breakout time” that Iran needs to assemble an atomic bomb could be reduced to just weeks if Tehran keeps violating the 2015 accord limiting its nuclear program.
Speaking with members of Congress, Blinken says its unclear if Iran is “willing and prepared” to come back into compliance with the agreement, as talks continue for the United States to rejoin the deal.
“Meanwhile, its program is galloping forward…. The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down… it’s now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks,” Blinken is quoted saying by Reuters.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will confer later this evening with top security officials, after police withheld permission for a planned right-wing nationalist march in Jerusalem, according to Hebrew media reports.
Among those expected to take part in the meeting are Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, and officials from the various security branches.
The parties that make up the proposed “change government” reached an agreement today on the coalition’s guiding principles, Channel 12 news reports.
Among the reported principles are agreements for the government to focus on civil and economic matters; to work to soon pass a state budget; and to seek to “unite the rifts between the various components of Israeli society, strengthen Israel’s foundations as a Jewish and democratic state, and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speculates that fears of Hamas gains in the Palestinian parliamentary elections scheduled for last month played a role in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to delay the vote indefinitely.
Pressed on the matter during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Blinken begins by recognizing the reason Abbas gave for cancelling the vote — Israel’s refusal to allow for the elections to take place in East Jerusalem.
Israel has purposefully maintained a policy of ambiguity on the matter. While it has avoided a public stance, Ramallah claims Israeli officials have passed along messages against allowing Palestinian elections to take place in Jerusalem.
Regardless, Blinken says, he would “certainly suspect that part of [Abbas’s] calculation is concern that Hamas would do well in elections.”
The remarks appeared to be the most detailed comments the Biden administration has given on the issue of Palestinian elections.
When US officials have been asked to comment on the matter before now, they have stated that the elections are an internal Palestinian issue and have declined to comment further.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Biden administration is working “expeditiously” to appoint a US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.
“We’re moving expeditiously with the envoy to combat antisemitism. I hope that’s before the Senate very, very soon,” he says, when pressed on the appointment during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
According to Hebrew media reports, the coalition agreement that parties in the “change government” have agreed to includes expanding the so-called Norwegian Law, allowing ministers to give up their seats in the Knesset for other members of their parties, and giving both Yamina chief Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid mutual veto power.
Yamina will reportedly only sign a coalition agreement with Yesh Atid, which in turn will ink separate coalition deals with the other six factions slated to be in the proposed government.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns that Israel will use overwhelming force in any future war in Lebanon against the Hezbollah terror group.
The Israel Defense Forces’ recent strikes in Gaza against the Hamas terror group are “only the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the military’s capabilities, Gantz says.
“Whoever hides weapons in their house endangers their children,” the defense minister adds.
In an apparent message to Hamas, which is holding captive the remains of two soldiers and two live Israeli civilians in Gaza, Gantz adds that Israel will not pay the prices that it once did to retrieve its captive soldiers from terror groups.
Gantz makes his remarks at an event marking Israel’s recognition of its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon as an official military campaign.
The US Secretary of State pushes back against assertions made by both Democrats and Republican lawmakers during an ongoing House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
Blinken dismisses a claim made by several Republican lawmakers that the rockets used by Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups in Gaza in last month’s fighting with Israel were produced by Iran.
“The best assessment we have” from the 11-day conflict is that “most of the rockets were indigenously produced in Gaza by Hamas,” he says, clarifying that that does not excuse Iran’s support for Hamas, particularly at the rhetorical level during the recent violence.
Also in the hearing, Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota urges Blinken to explain where victims of alleged war crimes in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Afghanistan should turn, given the Biden administration’s opposition to International Criminal Court probes in those areas.
Blinken says he was “profoundly moved” by the loss of life in the recent Gaza war. However, he says, the US will continue to oppose ICC war crimes probes absent a UN Security Council referral or a request by the country itself.
“I continue to believe that whether it’s United States or Israel, we both have the mechanisms to make sure that there’s accountability in any situation where there’s concern about use of force, human rights, or other issues,” he says. “We believe that both of our democracies have that capacity, we’ve demonstrated it and we need to demonstrate it going forward.”
Blinken also denies reports that State Department officials have been ordered not to use the term Abraham Accords. He says he has no problem calling them that and stresses that he plans to work to expand the normalization agreements between Israel and Arab and Muslim countries.
The far-right Religious Zionism party tears into Yamina chief Naftali Bennett after details of the reported coalition agreements between parties in the “change government” are reported by Hebrew media.
“Naftali Bennett has completely lost his moral sense, doesn’t stop at red on his way to be an illegitimate prime minister with six [Knesset] seats,” Religious Zionism says in a statement.
The party also urges a right-wing MK in the prospective coalition to vote against the government, thwarting its establishment.
The Likud secretariat approves a motion to reserve three open spots on the party’s electoral list, in another bid to entice members of the right-wing Yamina and New Hope factions to oppose the proposed “change government.”
A relative of an IDF officer who died in military prison after being accused of grave security offenses has reportedly sent a strongly-worded letter to President Reuven Rivlin saying that even if the officer technically committed suicide, in essence, the incident was “murder” and reminiscent of “the darkest regimes.”
According to Channel 12 news, the relative wrote days after the officer’s death: “Even if the boy harmed himself despite the security and cameras in the prison, the president must know that things are happening in our country that resemble the darkest regimes.
“The trial was delayed, his liberty was taken away and the soldier fell from the highest high to the lowest low. We sent a healthy and brilliant boy, and what did we get back? This is a contemptible murder.”
The report says the family does not know whether the president received the letter, which was sent via regular mail.
The Yamina party denies a report by Channel 12 news that the emerging government’s guidelines or coalition deals will prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from running in Knesset elections in the future.
“This is not and won’t be any agreement on the matter of preventing running for the Knesset,” Yamina says. “This is a proposal that was made, wasn’t agreed on, and won’t happen. The only thing that was agreed is capping a prime minister’s tenure at eight years or two terms.”
The party says other parts of the network’s report are inaccurate and some are only relevant to earlier drafts. It says the coalition deals are still undergoing constant changes and will be published once their content is finalized.
A family of five who were struck by a vehicle on Sunday were targeted because they were Muslims, Canadian police say.
Four members of the family were killed in the incident and one remains in hospital.
The incident occurred last night, when a truck plowed into the group of pedestrians.
Police in London, Ontario say the victims are a 74-year-old woman, a 46-year-old man, a 44-year-old woman, and a 15-year-old girl.
A 9-year-old boy remains in hospital in serious condition.
A man is under arrest and faces four counts of first-degree murder.
Police say the 20-year-old suspect — a resident of London, Ontario — did not know his victims.
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