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

Jewish politician files for congressional run against George Santos in New York

Anna Kaplan, a Jewish politician from Long Island, files to run against US Congressman George Santos in 2024.

Santos, a Republican, was exposed for lying about much of his background after being elected to Congress last year. He has refused to step down. His fabrications included claiming to be Jewish and saying his family survived the Holocaust. He has also filed to run for reelection.

Kaplan is a Democrat who represented New York’s 7th State Senate district between 2019 and January of this year, after losing her seat to Republican challenger Jack Martins.

A filling with the Federal Election Commission shows she has registered her candidacy to challenge Santos for Congress in New York’s 3rd Congressional district.

Shortly before leaving office, Kaplan had called for an investigation into Santos at public rallies on Long Island.

“George Santos has perpetrated a complete and total fraud on our community,” Kaplan said in December, blasting local Republicans for having supported Santos. “Our entire community has been victimized, and we demand accountability.”

“We all deserve an apology for his reprehensible lies about his nonexistent Jewish faith and his completely fake connection to the Holocaust,” Kaplan said. “We all deserve answers, and we all deserve a chance to heal from this dark chapter.”

Kaplan came to the US as a Jewish refugee from Iran in 1979, and was involved in Jewish causes as a lawmaker.

White House reiterates Netanyahu to get invite but visit not currently planned

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be invited to the White House at some point, but reiterates that no such visit is currently planned.

The comments came after US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — who is visiting Israel — said he would invite Netanyahu to the House of Representatives if President Joe Biden does not soon host the premier at the White House.

Palestinian boy killed by lion at private zoo in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian boy was mauled to death by a lion in a private zoo in the Gaza Strip today, according to the coastal territory’s police force, run by the Hamas terror group.

Police officers say 6-year-old Hamada Iqtiet had climbed the fence in the zoo in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, and reached an opening in the cage before the lion mauled him. An investigation was underway, they say.

The boy’s family disputes the account, saying Hamada — who was visiting the Asdaa Park with his mother and other family members, according to relatives — had only reached an outer fence, where the lion was standing, when he was attacked.

It was the first known fatality from animals kept at private zoos in the crowded and impoverished Palestinian territory. Gaza has several small private zoos where animals are kept in deplorable conditions.

The animals have suffered from repeated fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, neglect, starvation, and lack of medical care. International animal welfare groups have carried out several missions to evacuate animals, especially lions, to safe havens in Jordan and Africa.

Pro-Israel Senator Ben Cardin announces he won’t seek reelection

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland announces that he will not seek reelection at the end of his third term in 2024, triggering what is likely to be a highly competitive primary to replace him in the blue-leaning state.

“I am proud of all I have done for Maryland. I have given my heart and soul to our great state, and I thank Marylanders for trusting me as your representative for all these years,” the 79-year-old says in a statement.

Cardin has served in the Senate since 2006, when he won a seat to replace retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes. Before that, he was a congressman who represented a large part of Baltimore and several nearby suburbs, winning his first US House race in 1986.

During his tenure in the Senate, Cardin has been a leader in health care, retirement security, the environment, and fiscal issues. The senator has also been a leading advocate for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay, the nation’s largest estuary, which flows through his home state.

Cardin also has worked in foreign affairs, supporting the integration of anti-corruption, transparency and respect for human rights into foreign policy. He chaired the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the US Helsinki Commission.

Cardin has been one of the Democratic Party’s most ardent supporters of the US-Israel relationship during his 36 years in Congress.

Cardin was also among a small handful of Democratic senators who voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. In 2017, Cardin co-sponsored the Israel Anti-Boycott Act targeting businesses that boycott the Jewish state and its settlements in the West Bank.

The bill never passed though, due to concerns from Democrats regarding potential harm to free speech rights. That same year, Cardin co-sponsored a Senate resolution objecting to the Obama administration’s decision to abstain on a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlements.

More recently though, Cardin criticized the effort by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to radically overhaul the judiciary.

“I implore him to not turn his country away from democracy but return to the roots and values that have made his country flourish and grow,” he said in a statement. “There is still time to correct course and put the long-term health of Israeli democracy over short-term personal power. America will continue to be a friend and ally of the State of Israel. It is the strongest democracy in the Middle East.”

Palestinians hurl firebombs at Israeli military post in West Bank; no injuries

Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails at an Israeli military post near the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan, according to Palestinian media reports and footage circulated online.

There are no reports of injuries in the incident.

Israeli firefighting teams are at the scene working to extinguish the blaze.

Lapid calls on PM to shelve overhaul ‘if unity of the nation is important to you’

Responding to Netanyahu’s plenum speech, opposition leader Yair Lapid reiterates his call for the coalition to shelve its proposals to overhaul the judiciary.

“If the unity of the nation is important to you, stop, and everything will balance out,” Lapid tells the Knesset. “If you do your job as the government, there will be unity in the nation.”

“We’ll continue to argue, I’ll continue to think that this government is horrifying and a failure, but it will be a fight about issues that are really important to Israeli citizens, about economics and security,” he adds.

Netanyahu accuses opposition of saying ‘No, no, no, no’ in judicial reform talks

After insisting on his commitment to reaching broad agreement on judicial reform, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the opposition of thwarting ongoing negotiations being brokered by President Isaac Herzog.

“You only talk about dialogue but in talks say, ‘No, no, no, no.’ I would be happy to hear what you do agree to,” he claims during a so-called “40-signatures” Knesset session requiring his attendance. “I call on you to listen, come to your senses, chart a new course, and enter into real talks with us to try to reach agreements.”

IDF announces planned drill to be held near Gaza border tomorrow

The Israel Defense Forces says it will hold a planned drill near the border with the Gaza Strip tomorrow.

The exercise will begin in the morning and last through the afternoon hours, according to the IDF.

The army notifies residents that they may see increased security forces in the area during the drill.

According to the IDF, the drill is planned, meaning it did not stem from a new assessment.

Tel Aviv police chief says political considerations behind expected move to new post

Ahead of his expected appointment to a new post, Tel Aviv District Police Commander Amichai Eshed charges that the move is political, after a previous effort by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir to oust him was blocked by the High Court.

A letter sent by his lawyer to Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, who recommended to Ben Gvir that Eshed be transferred to another job, says the move “is, in effect, his de facto removal from his role.”

“Your considerations are improper, personal, political, and are not professional,” it says, arguing that the move was therefore illegal.

Ben Gvir’s previous effort to remove Eshed as Tel Aviv police commander came after the MK criticized the officer’s handling of mass protests against the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary.

McCarthy: Checks on power important to democracy, up to Israel to decide on judicial reform

US House Kevin McCarthy says that checks on power are an important part of a democratic government, but insists that judicial reform in Israel is an internal issue which should decided by the Israeli public.

“Israel is their own nation, only it can decide what it wants to do. In a democracy you want checks and balances and a separation of powers… but we leave it up to you how to decide that,” says McCarthy at a press conference following a speech he delivered to the Knesset plenum.

McCarthy says he expects US President Joe Biden to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington, but also says he’ll invite Netanyahu to Congress if no White House invitation is extended.

“I expect the White House to invite the prime minister over for a meeting especially because of Israel’s 75th anniversary,” says McCarthy following Biden’s recent comments that Netanyahu would not be receiving an invite to Washington in the near future.

Asked if he stands by earlier comments that he would invite Netanyahu absent an invite from the president, McCarthy says it would be appropriate for the prime minister to visit, adding that such a trip would include bipartisan meetings with Republicans and Democrats from the House of Representatives.

Ukrainian official says Israel-developed warning system tested in Kyiv

The civilian early warning system Israel is developing for Ukraine was tested today in Kyiv, deputy speaker of Ukraine’s parliament Olena Kondratiuk tells The Times of Israel.

Israeli diplomatic officials cannot confirm the report.

McCarthy pledges US will ‘fully fund’ security aid to Israel while he’s speaker

In an effusive and enthusiastic speech in the Knesset plenum, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy lauds US-Israel ties and pledges that America will always stand by the Jewish state and defend it.

“As long as I am speaker, Congress will continue to fully fund security assistance to Israel,” says McCarthy.

He denounces Iranian aggression in the Middle East and its funding of terror proxies in the region.

“To deter Iran our nations must continue to stand together,” he said. “We must always remain resolute in our commitment that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

McCarthy also emphasizes that “bipartisan support [in the US] is the foundation of our relationship.”

High Court rules PM not in contempt of court after breaching conflict of interest in overhaul

The High Court of Justice rules that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not in contempt of court when he declared last month that he would get involved in legislation to overhaul the judicial system, but orders him to heed Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara’s instructions.

The ruling comes in response to a petition arguing Netanyahu was violating a conflict of interest arrangement that bars him from involvement in matters that could impact his ongoing trial on graft charges. Baharav-Miara has said that the arrangement prohibits Netanyahu from involving himself in his coalition’s efforts to radically alter the judiciary, but that his announcement did not put him in contempt of court.

‘No place I’d rather be,’ McCarthy says in speech to Knesset

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy addresses the Knesset, the second House speaker to ever do so.

McCarthy notes he’s on his first overseas trip as speaker. “There’s no place I’d rather be,” he says.

“Israel’s rebirth is nothing less than a modern miracle and I thank you for it.” “Today, 75 years after declaring independence, Israel’s lights shine brighter than ever before.”

Lapid: We’ll do everything so Israel ‘remains a vibrant democracy’

In his remarks to the Knesset, opposition leader Yair Lapid also comments on the judicial overhaul, pledging to do everything so Israel “remains a vibrant democracy.”

“A place with freedom of expression and religion, protection of minorities, a free press, a strong and independent judicial system,” Lapid says. “In short, a country that the United States can continue to proudly call a friend and ally.”

Netanyahu: I’m committed to reaching as broad a consensus ‘as we can get’ on judicial reform

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Knesset as it opens the summer session, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other members of a bipartisan US House delegation in attendance.

“Israel has no better friend on the planet,” Netanyahu says in English.

“You’re in the pulsating heart of Israeli democracy… it’s a very noisy heart,” he adds.

Switching to Hebrew, Netanyahu says preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is at the top of Israel’s priorities and that he had spoken with US lawmakers about “expanding the circle of peace” with additional Arab states.

Going back to English, Netanyahu comments on the judicial overhaul and the negotiations being hosted by President Isaac Herzog.

“My friends and I are committed to trying to get a broad consensus, as broad as we can get, on the matter of judicial reform,” he says.

He also says: “Israel has no better friend than the United States and the United States has no better friend than the State of Israel.”

Trump’s lawyer seeks mistrial in case, claiming judge biased

NEW YORK — Former US president Donald Trump’s attorney requests a mistrial in his client’s rape case, saying the judge overseeing the civil proceedings in federal court has ruled in a biased manner against Trump.

Attorney Joe Tacopina cites “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings” by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan as his basis for the mistrial request, made in a letter to the judge.

Since mistrials, though sometimes frequently requested at trials, are rarely granted, Tacopina is more likely hoping the judge would grant a version of his alternative requests.

In those, Tacopina asked that Kaplan correct the record for any rulings that mischaracterized the evidence or permit Tacopina more latitude in questioning E. Jean Carroll, a columnist who sued Trump in November under a New York state law letting sexual assault victims temporarily sue others for attacks that happened even decades ago.

Carroll, 79, testified at a trial that began last week that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan, most likely in spring 1996. She said a chance encounter brought the pair together in an episode that was fun and flirtatious until Trump became violent in the dressing room.

Trump, 76, has long denied that a rape happened, that he was at the store with Carroll or that he even knew her beyond fleeting moments when pictures were taken of them in group settings in other years.

Amid a flurry of public denials and insults from Trump that prompted Carroll to add a defamation claim to the lawsuit, Trump has also insisted that Carroll was motivated by political reasons and a desire to sell copies of the 2019 memoir where she first publicly revealed her rape claims while Trump was still president.

Carroll has testified that she would have kept her accusation secret forever if not for the #MeToo movement, which gained prominence in 2017.

Carroll is expected to testify today for a third day and for a second day of cross-examination by Tacopina. Trump has not attended the trial, which is expected to last through the week.

Labor court halts high school teachers’ strike planned for Tuesday

The National Labor Court blocks a union for high school teachers from staging a planned strike tomorrow.

It’s the second time in as many days that the court has prevented the Secondary School Teachers’ Association from striking in grades 10 and 11 across Israel, as part of a wage dispute with the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu reportedly tells Haredi parties impossible for now to advance IDF draft law

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly told Haredi party leaders that he doesn’t believe it’s currently possible to advance legislation granting ultra-Orthodox men sweeping exemptions from IDF service.

“I don’t have any desire to get into new public disputes at this stage,” he is quoted as saying by the Walla news site during a meeting of coalition faction chiefs earlier today.

Meeting Netanyahu, McCarthy says ‘world is safer’ when US and Israel are close

In a joint statement alongside visiting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hails a recent measure marking Israel’s 75th anniversary that was approved by an overwhelming majority of US representatives.

“To get 95 percent agreement on anything today is no mean matter and I think it expresses the strength of that alliance and the strength of that support,” the premier says.

McCarthy says Israel-US ties have “grown each and every year” since the Jewish state’s establishment in 1948.

“I look to the next 75 years,” he tells Netanyahu.

McCarthy adds: “The world is better when America and Israel are tighter. The world is safer.”

Lapid calls Haredi exemptions from IDF service ‘an open wound,’ presents own draft law

Opposition leader Yair Lapid chastises the ultra-Orthodox community over the military service exemptions enjoyed by men from the sector, saying its use of political power to avoid serving in the IDF and to increase the stipends given to full-time yeshiva students is unacceptable.

Lapid speaks during a Yesh Atid faction meeting at the Knesset, against the background of ultra-Orthodox pressure on the government to pass a law codifying blanket exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.

“This is an open wound. It cannot be that our children serve the state, endanger their lives, and you say ‘this doesn’t interest us, we have political power and we will use it to release our children [from military service] and at the same time increase [yeshiva] stipends,’” says Lapid, addressing the ultra-Orthodox community in general.

Lapid says his party has drawn up a law largely based on one that was passed in 2014 by the Netanyahu-led government of the time at the behest of Yesh Atid, but gutted in 2015 by the ultra-Orthodox parties in a new Netanyahu-led government, to bring about universal enlistment, either in the IDF or civilian service.

A certain number of outstanding yeshiva students could get full IDF exemptions under the law, and the age of exemption from military service would be lowered to 22.

“We have a joint fate and Israeli society needs a new social contract. No one is conspiring against you [the ultra-Orthodox]. What we are offering you is exactly what we are offering our own children.”

Gantz says no progress in Herzog-mediated judicial reform talks

National Unity leader Benny Gantz says the negotiations for a compromise on judicial and legal reform being mediated by President Isaac Herzog are not bearing fruit.

“The negotiations aren’t progressing at all on any issue, especially the Judicial Selection Committee,” says Gantz during his party’s faction meeting at the Knesset.

“We will not allow politicians to control the appointment of judges because this amounts to political judges,” he says, vowing his party will not compromise on that issue.

He adds that the negotiations over the judicial reforms cannot continue indefinitely, although he declines to put a deadline on them.

Liberman: Passing IDF draft law will ‘eliminate the Zionist project’

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman says the coalition will “eliminate the Zionist project” if it passes a law granting blanket exemptions from IDF military service.

He says that the only possible model is for full enlistment of all Israeli males, with no exemptions whatsoever, either to IDF or national service.

“The protest movement [against the government’s judicial overhaul legislation] has created a one-time chance to correct problems created a long time ago,” says Liberman regarding the military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.

“The era of suckers has ended. The situation can’t continue where those who serve do reserve duty, work, pay taxes, defend us, and also pay for the idlers and draft dodgers.”

Liberman says the demographic increase of the ultra-Orthodox community will in several decades leave Israel socially splintered “like Lebanon, with different tribes who have different interests, and fight among each other.”

Liberman has long championed universal military or national service, although during his tenure as defense minister he proposed a plan for very gradual increases in ultra-Orthodox enlistment to the IDF.

Noa Kirel performs Eurovision song for first time in Liverpool rehearsals

Eurovision rehearsals are now underway in Liverpool, with Israeli representative Noa Kirel taking to the official stage for the first time to perform her song “Unicorn.”

“I was really excited to get up on the stage for the first time, I’m proud to represent my country,” Kirel says, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

The broadcaster says that Kirel’s performance begins with a special prop made up of a tunnel of lights that produces an optical illusion on stage.

Kirel is slated to compete in the first Eurovision semifinal next Tuesday, aiming to advance to the grand final of the contest on May 13.

UN envoy says Sudan’s warring generals have agreed to talks

CAIRO — Sudan’s warring generals have agreed to send representatives for negotiations, potentially in Saudi Arabia, the United Nations’ top official in the country tells The Associated Press, even as the two sides clashed in the capital despite another three-day extension of a fragile ceasefire.

The talks would initially focus on establishing a “stable and reliable” ceasefire monitored by “national and international” observers, Volker Perthes says. A string of temporary truces over the past week has de-escalated fighting only in some areas, while in others, fierce battles have continued to drive civilians from their homes and push the country into a humanitarian crisis.

Perthes cautions that logistics for talks were still being worked out. So far, only the military has announced it is prepared to join negotiations, with no public word from its opponent, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Any talks would be the first major sign of progress since fighting erupted on April 15 between the army, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the RSF, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. Around 530 people, including civilians and combatants, have been killed since, with another 4,500 wounded, the Sudanese Health Ministry says.

McCarthy holds talks with Netanyahu and Herzog, touts US-Israel ties

Visiting US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is leading a bipartisan delegation to Israel, holds meetings with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Hosting McCarthy at his official residence, Herzog hails the US as “our very close ally” and says Israel is moving toward “full integration” in the Middle East, noting the 2020 Abraham Accords and earlier peace deals with Egypt and Jordan.

“On the other hand there is a large enemy not far from here that’s threatening us,” Herzog adds, referring to Iran. “Thirty minutes from here in every direction is an enemy state and we believe the alliance with America is significant.”

McCarthy tells Herzog that the bipartisan representation on the trip is meant to underscore “that there is no greater and deeper relations between countries than between ours,” according to a Hebrew-language statement from Herzog’s office.

Netanyahu and McCarthy held talks at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel and were due to hold another meeting with the delegation of Democrats and Republicans, the Prime Minister’s Office says. There is no immediate details on what they discussed.

McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, is also due to hold a press conference later today.

In this handout photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, May 1, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
read more: