The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
French President Emmanuel Macron says France will send aid to Ukraine “within the next few hours” after the destruction of a dam triggered flooding and fears of a humanitarian disaster.
“France condemns this atrocious act, which is endangering populations. Within the next few hours, we will send aid to meet immediate needs,” Macron writes on Twitter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tells a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh that the US is working to deepen normalization efforts between Arab nations and Israel.
“Together, we are working to achieve a… resolution to the conflict in Yemen,” and to “continue to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior,” including recent seizures of tankers in international waters, Blinken tells the GCC ministers.
“We are determined to find a political solution in Syria that maintains its unity and sovereignty and meets the aspirations of its people,” he adds.
“We are also collaborating with countries in the region to widen and deepen the normalization of relations with Israel.”
A senior Biden administration official makes a condolence visit to the family of Mohammed Tamimi, a two-year-old Palestinian who was mistakenly shot dead by Israeli forces during a raid in the West Bank last week.
US Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr “visited Nabi Saleh to express his profound condolences to the Tamimi family for the heartbreaking loss of their son Mohammed,” his office says.
Special Rep. Hady Amr visited Nabi Saleh to express his profound condolences to the Tamimi family for the heartbreaking loss of their son Muhammed. No parent should have to bury their child this way. To create a brighter future, more must be done to minimize civilian casualties. pic.twitter.com/Rsl5b6dzhB
— U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs (@USPalAffairs) June 7, 2023
“No parent should have to bury their child this way. To create a brighter future, more must be done to minimize civilian casualties,” the statement adds.
Yesterday, Amr’s US Office of Palestinian Affairs called on Israel to “evaluate all use of deadly force that involves civilian casualties” in light of Tamimi’s killing.
The Likud party hits back at National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, saying that — unlike his position today — he once supported having two coalition members on the contentious Judicial Selection Committee.
The Likud refers to the fact that during the unity government that Gantz established with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2020, he demanded that the coalition appoint both of the seats on the committee which are filled by MKs.
“What Benny Gantz demanded in a coalition agreement in 2020 has suddenly become the end of democracy in 2023,” says the Likud mockingly.
At the time, Gantz was seeking to have one of the seats filled by a Likud candidate and another by his party, which is currently in the opposition.
Pope Francis’s operation for a painful abdominal hernia has been completed without complications, the Vatican says, just hours after the 86-year-old was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital.
“The operation is over: it went without complications and lasted three hours,” the Vatican press office says in a short statement posted on Telegram.
The Israel Defense Forces says it “regrets” not giving advance notice to residents of southern Israel about a large explosion near Kiryat Gat earlier today.
Some two hours after the blast, the IDF announced that it had been a “preplanned controlled ammunition explosion.”
The IDF says the matter will be investigated.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will file a police complaint after protesters covered up a memorial to his late father Benzion Netanyahu with a sign calling the Likud leader a “dictator.”
“Vile people vandalized the memorial in honor of my father today,” says Netanyahu in a statement. “We filed a complaint with the police. The time has come for them to stop trampling on every norm of decency.”
In photos circulating on social media, activists appear to have merely placed a canvas sign on top of the memorial, which sits at a junction in Jerusalem.
The sign reads: “Junction named for the father of the dictator,” adding below it: “The father of a failed and corrupt dictator who has become boycotted in Israel and the world.”
The memorial along the Begin expressway, renaming a junction in honor of the historian, who died in 2012, was unveiled in 2013.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh.
The two countries “resolved to continue to work together to counter terrorism, to support efforts to bring about a lasting peace in Yemen, and to promote stability, security, de-escalation, and integration in the region,” the US State Department says. “The two sides pledged to continue their strong cooperation to end the fighting in Sudan,” it adds.
Blinken is also attending a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial meeting.
The secretary of state said before departing that one item on the agenda for his time in Saudi Arabia is discussing the potential normalization of relations with Israel.
The civilian aerial warning system Israel is building for Ukraine is on track to be deployed in September, a Ukrainian official tells The Times of Israel.
That timeline is weeks beyond the initial expectations of a deployment over the summer, and Ukrainian diplomats and security officials are working to speed up the process.
Ukrainian and Israeli officials are meeting this week in Poland to work on the system, as they have in recent months. The system will initially cover much of Kyiv, according to the official, then will hopefully be copied in other cities.
President Isaac Herzog thanks US Vice President Kamala Harris for attending an Israeli Embassy celebration in Washington last night — following criticism lobbed at Harris by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
“Thank you Vice President Kamala Harris @VP, for celebrating with Israel at 75! The friendship shared by the USA & Israel is ironclad, and the bond is unbreakable,” tweets Herzog.
Earlier, Cohen slammed Harris after she noted the need for an “independent judiciary” in her speech at the event, saying: “If we were to ask Kamala Harris what bothers her about the reform, she wouldn’t be able to name a single clause.”
National Unity leader Benny Gantz says that next week’s election to place two lawmakers on the Judicial Selection Committee is “a significant test point.”
Gantz says that if the coalition pushes through two candidates from its own camp, rather than splitting the seats with the opposition, “it will have severe consequences for the State of Israel,” and will “damage democracy, and alongside it and as a result of it, create damage to security, the economy, and society.”
In remarks directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz says that the premier “must decide whether to follow a responsible course, or to plunge us into the abyss of extremism.”
“Netanyahu, don’t gamble with the State of Israel,” he adds.
Hours earlier, Gantz threw his party’s support behind a single opposition candidate for the election, bettering his camp’s chances of securing a seat on the panel.
Authorities rush supplies of drinking water to flooded areas from a collapsed dam in southern Ukraine as officials weigh where they might have to resettle thousands of residents who relied on the breached reservoir on the Dnieper River that forms part of the front line in the 15-month war.
About 3,000 people have been evacuated from flooded areas on both the Russian and Ukrainian-controlled sides of the river, officials say, but it is not clear whether the true scale of the disaster has yet emerged in an affected area that was home to more than 60,000 people.
Russian-appointed authorities in the occupied parts of the Kherson region report 15,000 homes were flooded.
The Israel Defense Forces says the blast that occurred in southern Israel earlier was a controlled disposal of old ammunition.
The blast was “a preplanned controlled ammunition explosion; there is no risk of a security incident,” the IDF says.
The explosion occurred in an IDF firing zone. The military did not notify residents of the area in advance, leading to some initial confusion.
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi is in Rabat to meet Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.
A tweet from Morocco’s Foreign Ministry shows the two shaking hands in front of their countries’ flags, and meeting alongside aides.
— Moroccan Diplomacy ???????? (@Marocdiplo_EN) June 7, 2023
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana is also slated to land in Morocco today to meet his counterpart and other Moroccan officials.
For the first time, IDF troops are participating this week in the annual African Lion exercises organized by Morocco and the US.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is set to take off this weekend for a tour to Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, state media reports.
Raisi’s tour of “friendly countries” begins Sunday and aims to raise Iran’s “level of economic, political and scientific cooperation” with the three US-sanctioned Latin American nations, the IRNA state news agency says.
Iran and Venezuela are both major producers in the OPEC oil cartel, placing them at the center of international discussions on the energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
The last Iranian president to visit Cuba and Venezuela was Hassan Rouhani in September 2016. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the last presidential visit to Nicaragua in 2007.
A senior Palestinian official warns that the ruling Fatah party is seeing declining popularity in the West Bank because of its failure to deliver on promises.
“I can tell you there is something of a decline in Fatah’s presence among the masses,” Mahmud Aloul, deputy chairman of President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah movement which dominates the territory, tells journalists in Ramallah.
“Fatah adopted peaceful means, and made promises to the public, but it has not been able to deliver on them,” he adds. “This is an essential part of what has led to a decline in its popularity.”
At 72, Aloul is one of the most senior figures in the Palestinian movement and is often mentioned as a possible successor to 87-year-old Abbas. But he appears to rule himself out as a successor for Abbas, saying: “We will look for someone from the younger generation.”
Chris Licht is out after a year as chief executive at CNN, following a series of missteps and plunging ratings.
David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, announces the leadership change on CNN’s morning editorial call.
Zaslav appoints a four-person leadership team to lead the network in the interim.
Licht replaced Jeff Zucker as CNN’s chief executive last year, with a mandate to move the network more toward the political center.
After an official visit to the Philippines, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen flies to Seoul, where he meets his South Korean counterpart Park Jin.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the two diplomats speak about the similar security challenges their countries face, and discuss their joint interest in confronting North Korea and Iran.
“The world must learn from the negative experience against North Korea, and stop Iran’s nuclear program now,” says Cohen in a statement. He adds that the two countries share similar historical, political, defense, and economic circumstances.
Israel and South Korea’s free trade agreement went into effect in December 2022, a year in which bilateral trade had already grown 20% compared to the year before.
Cohen also presents certificates of appreciation to the local medical professionals who treated the 33 Israelis hurt in a deadly accident in South Korea in April.
A mysterious blast rocks southern Israel, according to eyewitnesses.
Footage circulating online shows a large mushroom cloud near the city of Kiryat Gat.
The cause is not immediately known and there is no comment from authorities.
There are no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday proposes, in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, creating an international commission to probe the destruction of a major dam in southern Ukraine, his office reports.
“President Erdogan said that a commission could be established with the participation of experts from the warring parties, the United Nations and the international community, including Turkey, for a detailed investigation into the explosion at Kakhovka dam,” his office says after the call.
The Knesset advances a bill that would enable an associate of Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to run for mayor of the northern city of Tiberias, five months ahead of October’s municipal elections.
The bill clears its preliminary reading, 46 to 41.
Sponsored by Likud MK Amit Halevi, the bill would repeal a required one-term cooling-off period for Interior Ministry-appointed mayoral stand-ins — appointed for mayors who leave before the end of their terms — from running for mayor in the municipality in which they serve.
The cooling period was introduced in 2008, in light of the fact that acting mayors and their convened committee colleagues are not elected by voters, and should not enjoy the structural advantage of an incumbent.
Boaz Yosef has served as Tiberias’s acting mayor since 2020.
National Unity MK Gideon Sa’ar accuses the coalition of legislating in a “blitz” and predicts the bill won’t stand up to judicial review.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin says he is still “pushing” to overhaul the judiciary because the current system discriminates against the political right and is “unsuitable” for picking judges, days away from a Knesset vote to staff the judicial appointments authority.
Speaking from the Knesset rostrum, Levin stops short of saying he will not convene the Judicial Selection Committee — the panel at the center of his judicial shakeup — but says its current makeup is “inappropriate.”
“Many, many of the problems and injustices that we deal with come from the fact that our judicial system looks the way it looks, that the process of selecting judges is done in an inappropriate and unacceptable way — a committee with an unacceptable makeup, which is unsuitable and inappropriate in a democratic country,” the justice minister says.
Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar formally submits her nomination for next week’s election of two lawmakers to join the judicial appointments panel.
Elharrar became the opposition’s frontrunner this morning, when National Unity and Labor pulled their candidates in order to throw their weight behind Elharrar as a consensus candidate.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid staked out Elharrar as his camp’s pick in mid-May, but challenges from fellow opposition created tension among the ranks, endangering the opposition’s chance to have a seat on the panel.
Glossing over the infighting, Lapid says, “In these days when democracy is under attack, the opposition stands together to defend the judicial system.”
He says he trusts Elharrar, who is also a member of Yesh Atid’s judicial negotiations team, to “protect the Judicial Selection Committee from deals and politics.”
Elharrar says that “as an opposition representative, I am committed to acting as a loyal ambassador for strengthening democratic values and the judicial system.”
The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained 13 wanted Palestinians during overnight arrest raids across the West Bank.
In the village of Kafr Dan, near Jenin, the IDF says troops located and destroyed a number of explosive devices hidden in a vehicle.
صور السيارة التي قام جيش الاحتلال بتفجيرها في بلدة كفرذان غرب جنين قبل قليل pic.twitter.com/AQi2Odk4zN
— قناة فلسطين اليوم (@Paltodaytv) June 7, 2023
An assault rifle and other weapons were also seized in the village, the IDF says.
Palestinian media outlets say four Palestinians were hurt during clashes with IDF troops in Kafr Dan.
The IDF says six suspects wee arrested in the Jenin and Tulkarem areas, five wanted Palestinians in the Qalqilya area, and another two in the Hebron area.
In Hebron, IDF troops and police also seized another assault rifle and weapon parts, the military says.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant lashes out at criticisms that have resurfaced in recent days about female combat soldiers and mixed-gender battalions.
“Female and male IDF fighters are one and the same; there is no such thing as a [difference] between men and women in my view,” Gallant says in the Knesset plenum, noting a handful of exceptions in certain units.
“We have female pilots, sailors, commanders, fighters,” he adds. “I am very proud of the female IDF fighters and what they are doing,” Gallant continues, noting that his daughter was an IDF combat soldier in the Caracal battalion.
Some comments against female soldiers and mixed battalions came in response to the death of three soldiers in an incident along the Egyptian border over the weekend — one female and two male soldiers.
As The Times of Israel’s political correspondent, I spend my days in the Knesset trenches, speaking with politicians and advisers to understand their plans, goals and motivations.
I'm proud of our coverage of this government's plans to overhaul the judiciary, including the political and social discontent that underpins the proposed changes and the intense public backlash against the shakeup.
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