The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they happened.
Police are investigating a suspected murder after a man is killed in the southern Bedouin-majority town of Hura.
The man was found with signs of violence on his body.
First responders brought him to a Beersheba hospital, where he was declared dead, police say.
Police have arrived on the scene and begun collecting evidence and searching for suspects.
President Isaac Herzog speaks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and congratulates him on his electoral victory Sunday.
According to the President’s Office, the two speak about “the importance of working together to protect stability, advancing regional peace, and deepening the fruitful cooperation between the two countries.”
Herzog and Erdogan also express their hope that they will meet soon.
The Health Ministry rebukes Twitter chief Elon Musk for fake news about COVID-19.
Musk tweets “zero…” in response to an article saying Israeli data found that “zero young healthy individuals died of COVID-19,”
The Health Ministry responds with an English statement.
“Elon, unfortunately this is not what the whole data shows. Fake news is dangerous,” the Health Ministry says. “Israel Ministry of Health was asked on chronic disease data and explained that we don’t have access to clinical records.”
“We provided the limited data available if something was shared during epidemiological investigation — this data was available for only 27 people –7.5% of the 356 young people who died of COVID In Israel.”
“We know from clinicians that young healthy people did die from COVID and hopefully data on that will be available on the near future from our HMOs.”
Elon, unfortunately this is not what the whole data shows.
fake news is dangerous.
Israel Ministry of Health was asked on chronic disease data and explained that we don’t have access to clinical records >>>
— משרד הבריאות (@IsraelMOH) May 29, 2023
The exchange is the latest in several between Musk and Israel’s government on Twitter.
Earlier this month, the Foreign Ministry accused Musk of stoking antisemitism after he compared George Soros to a comic book villain.
Diaspora Minister Amichai Chikli then came to Musk’s defense, saying Israelis saw him as a role model.
Late last year, Musk complimented Israel’s Twitter prowess, after the country’s official channel responded to a Kanye West post with a Taylor Swift joke.
Henry Kissinger, a giant of US diplomacy, tells Channel 12 that he did not put Israel in danger during 1973’s Yom Kippur War, despite reports that claimed he had deliberately delayed airlifts of supplies to the Jewish state.
“Nothing happened that could be interpreted in that way,” Kissinger says.
He says airlifting supplies to a country during a war is almost never done.
“This was a huge step we took. It saved Israel,” he says.
Kissinger says the airlift had been held up because the US initially thought Israel was winning the war. Logistics then took some time to work out, he says.
A harness-wearing Beluga whale that turned up in Norway in 2019, sparking speculation it was a spy trained by the Russian navy, has appeared off Sweden’s coast, an organization following him said Monday.
First discovered in Norway’s far northern region of Finnmark, the whale spent more than three years slowly moving down the top half of the Norwegian coastline, before suddenly speeding up in recent months to cover the second half and on to Sweden.
On Sunday, he was observed in Hunnebostrand, off Sweden’s southwestern coast.
“We don’t know why he has sped up so fast right now,” especially since he is moving “very quickly away from his natural environment,” Sebastian Strand, a marine biologist with the OneWhale organization, told AFP.
“It could be hormones driving him to find a mate. Or it could be loneliness as Belugas are a very social species — it could be that he’s searching for other Beluga whales.”
Believed to be 13-14 years old, Strand said the whale is “at an age where his hormones are very high.”
The closest population of Belugas is however located in the Svalbard archipelago, in Norway’s far north.
The whale is not believed to have seen a single Beluga since arriving in Norway in April 2019.
Norwegians nicknamed it “Hvaldimir” — a pun on the word “whale” in Norwegian, hval, and a nod to its alleged association to Russia.
When he first appeared in Norway’s Arctic, marine biologists from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries removed an attached man-made harness.
The harness had a mount suited for an action camera and the words “Equipment St. Petersburg” printed on the plastic clasps.
Directorate officials said Hvaldimir may have escaped an enclosure, and may have been trained by the Russian navy as it appeared to be accustomed to humans.
Moscow never issued any official reaction to Norwegian speculation that the whale could be a “Russian spy.”
The US State Department rebukes Israel for the government’s move to legalize the Homesh settlement in the West Bank.
“We are deeply troubled by the Israeli government’s recent order that allows its citizens to establish a permanent presence in the Homesh outpost in the northern West Bank,” the State Department says in a statement. “It is inconsistent with both former prime minister Sharon’s written commitment to the Bush administration in 2004 and the current Israeli government’s commitments to the Biden administration.”
“The expansion of settlements undermines the geographic viability of a two-state solution, exacerbates tensions, and further harms trust between the parties,” the statement says. “This is consistent with the views of previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. We regularly engage with Israeli officials on this issue and will continue to do so.”
A new building for a yeshiva at the illegal outpost was constructed overnight at a new site, a long-term goal of the settlement movement and a fresh step in the government’s efforts to legalize the settlement.
Settler leaders and government ministers warmly praised the construction of the yeshiva, describing it as a rectification of an old injustice. Homesh had been evacuated in 2005 under the terms of the Disengagement Law.
A makeshift yeshiva has been located on private Palestinian land in Homesh for several years, but the new building was constructed on what Israel considers to be public land, as part of efforts to legalize the outpost.
The IDF announces an order to demolish the home of a terrorist who killed two Israelis in the West Bank town of Huwara in February.
The victims were brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19.
The IDF names the shooter whose house will be destroyed as Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha.
He was killed in an IDF operation in Jenin in March.
The terror shooting spiraled into a major international incident when settlers rampaged through Huwara after the attack, drawing widespread condemnation.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks to the newly re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and invites him to visit Berlin, the Germany government says.
Islamic-rooted conservative Erdogan — Turkey’s longest-serving leader — won a historic run-off election on Sunday, extending his two-decade rule.
“The chancellor emphasized the close ties between Germany and Turkey, not least as joint allies in NATO,” the German government says in a statement, adding that “both agreed to approach the cooperation between the two governments with fresh impetus and to agree on common priorities.”
It adds that Scholz invited Erdogan for “an inaugural visit.”
“Among other things, they want to work together on a good development in the Eastern Mediterranean, on the decisions currently pending in NATO, and on Turkey’s relationship with the European Union,” the statement says.
Observers expect Erdogan to continue playing a bridging role between Russia and Western partners for Turkey’s benefit.
Erdogan’s personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has survived the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.
And NATO partners are anxiously waiting for Ankara to approve Sweden’s stalled bid to join the US-led defense alliance.
Erdogan has blocked the application, accusing Stockholm of sheltering Turkish opposition figures with alleged links to outlawed Kurdish militants.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asks Arab parties to join the government in fighting crime.
Arab communities have been rocked in recent years by an epidemic of violent crime and dozens have been killed since the start of 2023.
“I want your help and your cooperation,” Netanyahu tells Arab party members at the Knesset. “This is not a ploy, and it’s coming from the bottom of my heart. We have to act on many fronts and I want your help.”
Arab party leader Ayman Odeh says on Twitter, “Netanyahu and the racism and supremacy of the establishment use the lie of Shabtai that we are a violent society.” Police chief Kobi Shabtai had said that it was Arabs’ “nature” to murder in a phone call leaked last month.
“The reality is that this violence is a result of policies over the past 20 years. The establishment is a partner in these murders,” he says.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rips into protesters opposed to his government’s efforts to overhaul the judicial system.
“In the name of freedom of expression, they’re hitting people and expelling ministers,” Netanyahu says at the Knesset.
“Is it legal to take a public representative, and chase him, threaten him, and restrict his freedom of movement in a public space? This is very serious,” Netanyahu says.
He makes the comments a day after anti-government protesters hassled Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman at an event in Tel Aviv, forcing Rothman to leave.
Today, lawmakers from Netanyahu’s Likud party requested extra security to deal with protesters, saying the demonstrators were blocking them from attending events.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara says she opposes a mediation process for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criminal trial.
Baharav-Miara announces her opinion to Netanyahu’s legal defense team, according to Hebrew media reports.
Mediation would have brought Netanyahu’s defense team and state prosecutors together to resolve the legal dispute, outside of the courtroom.
The procedure would have had a judge work toward what amounts to a plea bargain, ending the legal proceedings more quickly.
The trial began three years ago and, as things stand, the proceedings, including potential appeals, are seen as unlikely to end before 2028-2029.
One of the three judges in the trial had reportedly asked the state prosecution and defense teams to consider mediation.
Netanyahu’s lawyers reportedly met with Baharav-Miara earlier this month to discuss potential mediation.
Netanyahu’s attorneys sought to convince Baharav-Miara to back such a process, Hebrew media reports said.
Lawmakers in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud party request additional security because of protests against the government’s judicial overhaul.
The MKs say they have trouble getting to public events because protesters are in the way.
They make the request during a closed portion of the party’s weekly meeting.
“We can’t move around freely. The protests have become over the top,” one MK said, according to Ynet.
Netanyahu promises the party members he will look into the issue.
The Israel Defense Forces launches a major two-week long drill focused on a multi-front war.
A military source says the drill will include the Air Force conducting simulated “strategic” strikes deep in enemy territory, and the Navy carrying out mock offensive and defensive actions.
The IDF says thousands of troops from the standing and reserve army will participate in the exercise over the next two weeks.
“The forces will practice handling challenges and sudden events on multiple fronts simultaneously,” the IDF says.
The IDF says the drill will also include rescue activities on the home front.
According to the military, the drill is pre-planned, meaning it did not stem from any recent security assessments.
There will be a noted increase of security forces and aircraft across the country during the drill, the IDF adds.
Police in Tel Aviv arrest a man suspected of playing a part in the death of a teenager in a car accident eight months ago.
Shalev Afflalo, 16, was hit by a car and killed in what was believed to have been an accident.
Police are now probing whether the incident was deliberate, however, and are investigating the death as a possible murder.
Investigators believe the suspect arrested today had a confrontation with Afflalo before his death, Hebrew media reports say.
There is no additional information about the suspect.
National and local politicians in New York blast the City University of New York (CUNY) and its law school for a commencement ceremony that featured a keynote speech attacking the Jewish state and “Zionists.”
US Congressman Ritchie Torres calls the speech “anti-Israel derangement syndrome at work.”
“Imagine being so crazed by hatred for Israel as a Jewish State that you make it the subject of your commencement speech at a law school graduation,” Torres says.
US Congressman Mike Lawler says, “CUNY should be ashamed of itself — and should lose any federal funds it currently receives.”
New York State Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein says, “This hate-filled and dangerous speech has been brought to you by CUNY and paid for by New York taxpayers.”
Imagine being so crazed by hatred for Israel as a Jewish State that you make it the subject of your commencement speech at a law school graduation.
Anti-Israel derangement syndrome at work. pic.twitter.com/15iACGJUVn
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) May 29, 2023
New York City council members Ari Kagan, Kalman Yeger and Inna Vernikov also blast the city college system over the speech.
“CUNY Law continues to be a bastion of antisemitism, encouraging another generation to hate Jews. This vile blood libel is yet another example of how dangerous it is to be Jewish on a CUNY campus,” Yeger says.
Lee Zeldin, a former congressman and gubernatorial candidate, says, “Until the administration is overhauled and all Jewish students and faculty are welcome again, taxpayer funding must be immediately halted.”
The law school’s commencement speaker, pro-Palestinian activist Fatima Mohammed, dedicated much of her speech to criticism of Israel.
She accused the Jewish state of “indiscriminate” murder, encouraging “lynch mobs” and lauded resistance to “Zionism around the world.”
She said “investors” at the college had stifled criticism of the Jewish state.
She also lauded opposition to “Zionism around the world… by any means necessary.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which partners with CUNY to boost Jewish life on campus, called the speech antisemitic.
CUNY Law released a video of the speech on Thursday, after refusing to make the clip public after the May 12 commencement address.
The law school made the video available after the Council on American-Islamic Relations and pro-Palestinian media and activists accused the university of stifling activists.
The speech marked the second consecutive year that the law school’s commencement speaker dedicated much of their address to anti-Israel rhetoric, and comes amid a years-long running battle over alleged widespread antisemitism in the city college system.
The CUNY system has 25 colleges around New York’s five boroughs, with around 260,000 students and close to 20,000 faculty. It has long been part of the city’s social fabric.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that his government’s plan to reform the judiciary is “not dead,” but emphasizes his desire to continue engaging in dialogue, according to leaked details from Likud’s internal faction meeting.
A Likud spokesperson shares the details, in which Netanyahu also tells his fellow party members that Likud must make every effort in its ongoing negotiations in order to reach broad agreements.
The premier’s message comes only hours after Hebrew media reported a potential coalition offer to freeze the legislation for a year, provided agreements could be reached to limit the judicial reasonableness test and to curb government legal adviser authority.
National Unity party leader MK Benny Gantz says that he will only support an agreement on reforming the judiciary if it is clear that the government will end its plans for “regime change,” amid reports that a potential deal is on the table.
“I am telling the public clearly and directly: There will be no agreements without a clear and guaranteed commitment that there would be no continuation of legislation touching upon Israel’s governance,” he says at the outset of his Knesset faction meeting, “unless we reach broad agreement and there is a mechanism to ensure that [the promises] are indeed implemented.”
Gantz adds that he refuses to hand a “blank check” to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, which would “allow Netanyahu to become stronger and make decisions at a time and place convenient for him.”
The opposition party head says that National Unity will continue attending talks at the President’s Residence, the next of which is scheduled for tomorrow, provided that “progress is made” and the opposition nets one of the two seats for lawmakers on the Judicial Selection Committee, as is convention.
“If this does not happen and the coalition elects two candidates or does not bring the representatives to a vote, it will mean changing the rules of the game,” Gantz says.
He also slams the government’s expected resolution to enshrine Zionism as a strategic value, which would allow the government to give preference Jews in the allocation of resources.
“This government, which is going to destroy the model of the people’s army, which prevents core studies and incentivizes [Jewish] streams that distance themselves from Zionism, wants to bring about a decision on assimilating Zionist values? It should study practical Zionism instead of institutionalizing racism,” says Gantz.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Office confirms that the government has yet to agree upon the text for the resolution, and the vote, expected as early as this afternoon, is yet to be scheduled.
Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich lashes the opposition after one of his faction’s leading lawmakers, MK Simcha Rothman, was evacuated from an event at Tel Aviv University yesterday due to aggressively rowdy protesters.
Rothman is the chair of the Knesset Constitution Committee and one of the key figures in the coalition’s push to overhaul the judiciary.
“The violence toward Rothman was unimaginable. For many years already, the left has not tried to win arguments, but to prevent arguments,” Smotrich says at a faction meeting.
He urges opposition party leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz to take action.
“I call on Gantz and Lapid to come around and stop normalizing violence,” Smotrich says.
Iran claims to have arrested 14 members of a “terrorist team” with alleged ties to Israel that planned on carrying out assassinations in the country.
A judicial official announces the group was detained in northwestern Iran “as they were seeking to identify and assassinate various individuals,” the semiofficial Tasnim news agency reports, without providing any evidence.
Iran occasionally announces the detention of people it says are spying for foreign countries, including the United States and Israel, without providing proof to back up such claims.
The Islamic Republic has been engaged in a shadow war with the Jewish state for years, with Tehran accusing Jerusalem of being behind a series of sabotage attacks and assassinations targeting its nuclear program, carried out alongside the US.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir attacks opposition leader Yair Lapid as “ignorant and a liar” for slamming the far-right party’s proposal to elevate Zionism as a consideration for eligibility for state benefits.
“The proposal not only does not prioritize Jews, but is valid on behalf of soldiers and IDF veterans from any demographic,” Ben Gvir says, after Lapid lambasted the proposal for benefiting non-veteran Jews over veterans from other communities, for example.
Ben Gvir calls Lapid “an extreme leftist who opposes Zionism.”
The proposal is expected to come up for a cabinet vote today, after adding Torah study as a factor for preferential treatment. Ultra-Orthodox politicians had refused to support the measure without a guarantee that their communities, which include non-Zionist groups, could benefit alongside IDF veterans.
Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi tells The Times of Israel that his party is “for an agreed-upon candidate” presented by the opposition for the Judicial Selection Committee, but has its own “considerations.”
Tibi confirmed that other opposition parties have approached Hadash-Ta’al to discuss next week’s vote for Knesset member representation on the panel responsible for picking judges.
When asked if the majority-Arab party would run its own candidate, Tibi says, “We are discussing within the faction.”
Foreign Ministry staffers resume their labor strike, after freezing the protest for several months to allow for negotiations with the government.
Representatives announce “sanctions,” meaning some services will likely be halted.
Foreign Ministry representatives blame the Finance Ministry for “procrastinating.”
“We thought this was all behind us, but the Finance Ministry is interpreting our good will as weakness,” officials at the Foreign Ministry say.
The Foreign Ministry employees have been battling for better working conditions.
The sanctions have caused major disruptions to services such as renewing passports and acquiring other travel documents.
The Labor party is putting forward MK Efrat Rayten as its candidate for the Knesset’s Judicial Selection Committee election, according to party leader Merav Michaeli.
But Michaeli, speaking at her party’s Knesset faction meeting, says that Labor will get behind a decision made by the entire opposition, and calls on all opposition parties — including Arab parties — to convene to choose a candidate.
“We completely agree” that the opposition parties can’t split the vote in next week’s election, which would jeopardize the opposition’s ability to place a representative of its own on the panel.
Michaeli declines to answer whether she will run in the Labor party’s next primary, amid her party’s crashing support in public polls.
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid declines to confirm reports about closed-door negotiations at the President’s Residence, instead saying that his first priority is placing an opposition lawmaker on the panel that picks Israel’s judges.
“The order of things is backward,” Lapid says in response to reporter questions at the opening of his Yesh Atid party’s Knesset faction meeting.
Lapid says he first wants to place an opposition MK to the Judicial Selection Committee in an election expected next week, “then we’ll see what happens” about coming to agreements with the coalition on its plan to remake judicial power.
Earlier today, Hebrew-language media reported that the coalition is offering the opposition a one-year freeze on the judicial legislation in exchange for changing the authority of government legal advisers and judges’ powers to rule on reasonableness.
For over five months, the debate over overhauling the judiciary has consumed the country, and on Sunday, one of the coalition’s pro-reform champions, MK Simcha Rothman, was driven from an event at Tel Aviv University by anti-shakeup protesters. Rothman has denounced their behavior.
“Rothman was not attacked. They protested against him,” Lapid says.
“He should stop whining,” the opposition leader adds, saying that Rothman was treated better than how the coalition treated Lapid’s government last year, before the Netanyahu government took power.
Lapid also attacks the government’s plan to approve a resolution instantiating Zionism and Torah study as strategic values, as it would allow the government to preferentially distribute resources to Jewish citizens.
“According to this law, a Jew that shirks army services gets more” than a Druze veteran, Lapid says.
The head of the opposition’s Yisrael Beytenu party, Avigdor Liberman, says negotiations over the judicial overhaul are a mistake and harmful to the economy because they stoke uncertainty.
“This is a serious mistake. Every delay is also a hit to the economy. The most important factor for economic stability is certainty, and a delay of a half year or some unacceptable amount of time is a hit to certainty and the economy,” Liberman says at a weekly faction meeting.
The Yesh Atid and National Unity parties have been negotiating with the coalition at talks hosted by President Isaac Herzog. The talks have not made any significant progress.
“I call on all opposition parties to acknowledge that there is nothing to talk about,” Liberman says.
Former Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel dies at the age of 88.
Turkel served on the Supreme Court from 1995 until 2005.
While on the court, he led an inquiry into the Gaza flotilla incident, in which Israeli troops killed nine activists after being attacked on a Turkish ship.
After stepping down from the court, Turkel served as the head of a public committee in charge of approving major public appointments.
First responders say they are treating six injured people after a truck collided with a bus carrying a group of youths in southern Israel.
The injured are the bus driver and five of the teenagers on the bus, according to initial reports.
The rest of the bus passengers do not appear to be injured, says a spokesperson for the Magen David Adom emergency service.
The accident occurred near the southern community of Yad Mordechai.
Police say traffic will be disrupted in the area.
The Defense Ministry and Navy say they recently carried out a new series of tests of a ship-mounted version of the Iron Dome air defense system.
The test earlier this month comes after the system, known as C-Dome, was declared operational on the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Oz.
During the recent test, the C-Dome mounted on the Sa’ar 6-class corvette INS Magen intercepted projectiles simulating threats the system is likely to face at sea.
The navy’s Sa’ar-6 corvettes are tasked with guarding the natural gas platforms off Israel’s coast as well as its shipping lanes.
“The C-Dome system constitutes a significant leap forward in our defense capabilities, and ensures the Israeli defense establishment’s superiority and operational capabilities in the face of growing threats in the maritime arena,” says Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in remarks provided by his office.
The C-Dome, much like the ground version of the Iron Dome, is capable of downing rockets, cruise missiles, and drones, the ministry says.
Defense Ministry says it has conducted another series of successful tests with the ship-mounted Iron Dome system, known as C-Dome, now aboard the Sa'ar 6-class corvette INS Magen. pic.twitter.com/RL22ZI2DAM
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) May 29, 2023
Transportation Minister Miri Regev, on a visit to Morocco, signs three transportation deals to facilitate exchanges between Israel and the North African country.
The agreements will allow Israeli drivers’ licenses to be used on the roads in Morocco, encourage direct shipping between the two countries, and facilitate exchanges related to road safety and transportation innovation.
Regev makes the deals with her Moroccan counterpart, Mohamed Abdeljalil.
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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