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US insists it’s committed to reopening consulate after officials tell ToI otherwise

State Dept. spokesman does not deny issue put on backburner, but says Washington sees reopening as ‘an important way for our country to engage with Palestinians’

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price pauses while speaking during a media briefing at the State Department in Washington, on July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price pauses while speaking during a media briefing at the State Department in Washington, on July 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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

US envoy says 89-year-old French Jew’s death reminiscent of Sarah Halimi murder

US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt says the killing of an 89-year-old French Jew last week was reminiscent of the murder of another French Jew, Sarah Halimi.

Prosecutors suspect that René Hadjaj may have been pushed out of his 17th-story window by a neighbor last week because he was Jewish.

Halimi, 65, was beaten and then pushed out of the window of her Paris flat by neighbor Kobili Traore, 27, who shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) in 2017. But the French Court of Cassation’s Supreme Court of Appeals last year upheld rulings by lower tribunals that Traore could not stand trial because he was too high on marijuana to be criminally responsible for his actions.

“The role of antisemitism as a factor in Rene Hadjaj’s death in Lyon is troubling; facets of his death evoke the 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi in Paris. Both cases reflect a concern of growing antisemitism. The U.S. stands with France to combat antisemitism,” Lipstadt tweets.

US confirms ToI report that it’s urging Palestinians to share evidence from Abu Akleh probe with Israel

Also at today’s press briefing, State Department Spokesman Ned Price is asked about a separate Times of Israel report revealing that the Biden administration will not open its own investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Price does not deny the report either, reading over the readout the US issued after Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Friday call with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during which the former “urged the Israeli government to swiftly conclude their investigation into the killing.” Price says. “We expect full accountability for those responsible for her killing, and… We have urged that the sides share their evidence with each other to facilitate that investigation.”

Last week, a Biden administration official told The Times of Israel that while the US would not launch its own probe, it will continue advising the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority on their own respective investigations into the May 11 incident. “We’re helping them review how they investigate,” the official said, declining to elaborate further on the matter.

The US hopes the PA will share its “evidence” with Israel, the administration official added when asked about the bullet.

US insists it’s committed to reopening consulate after officials tell ToI otherwise

At today’s press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price is asked about The Times of Israel’s Sunday report that the Biden administration has settled on a number of steps aimed at boosting ties with the Palestinians in lieu of reopening the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

Price does not deny the report, but insists that the US is still “committed to [re]opening a consulate in Jerusalem” — a line Biden officials have reiterated dozens of times since Secretary of State Antony Blinken first made the announcement over a year ago.

The Israeli government has pushed back against the move, arguing that it is an encroachment on its sovereignty, and Washington has subsequently held off on the pledge, not wanting to pick a fight with its Israeli allies.

“We continue to believe [reopening the consulate] can be an important way for our country to engage with and provide support to the Palestinian people. We’re continuing to discuss this with our Israeli and Palestinian partners and will continue to come up to consult with members of Congress as well,” Price says, refusing once again to offer a timeline for when the campaign pledge might be fulfilled.

“Meanwhile, at this very moment, we have a dedicated team of colleagues working in Jerusalem in our Palestinian Affairs [Unit] focused on engagement with an outreach to the Palestinian people,” he adds, acknowledging that “there are some… unique sensitivities to this particular facility.”

According to two US and Palestinian officials who spoke to The Times of Israel last week, US President Joe Biden will elevate Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians. Amr will remain in Washington but will make regular trips to the region and work closely with the Palestinian Affairs Unit (PAU), which currently is a branch within the US Embassy to Israel and is housed in the old Jerusalem Consulate building.

In an additional move aimed at setting apart the diplomats serving the Palestinians from those serving the Israelis, the PAU will officially begin reporting directly to Amr in Washington, rather than to the US ambassador in Israel, the US and Palestinian officials said.

IDF chief ‘strongly condemns’ settler banners slamming Central Command chief

In a rare statement, military chief Aviv Kohavi “strongly condemns” banners posted by settlers which slam the commander of the military’s Central Command for ostensibly not acting against Palestinian stone-throwing attacks.

“This is an improper and immoral act that harms a public servant who acts professionally, by law, and with values and dignity,” Kohavi says in a statement.

The Israel Defense Forces brands the banners as “inciteful discourse.”

“IDF officers act in a professional way, and should not be included in any way, or hinted at, in political discourse or discourse on a personal level,” he says.

The banners, which included a picture of Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, read: “Strong against Jews in Homesh — weak in Hawara,” criticizing the general for allegedly preventing settlers from reaching an illegal outpost while not preventing recent stone-throwing attacks on a highway that traverses a Palestinian town.

“The chief of staff calls on those behind the banners to remove them immediately,” the statement adds.

Russia’s Navalny says he faces new criminal charges

MOSCOW — Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny says he is facing new criminal accusations that could extend his current nine-year prison term.

Navalny says on Instagram that an investigator visited him in prison to declare that the authorities have opened a new investigation against him on charges of “creating an extremist group to fan hatred against officials and oligarchs” and trying to stage unsanctioned rallies.

He adds that the charges could keep him in prison for another 15 years if he’s convicted.

Navalny, the most determined political foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany — where he had been recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin — and handed a two-and-a-half-year sentence for a parole violation.

In March, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison on fraud and contempt of court charges he rejected as politically motivated, a move that signaled an attempt by the authorities to keep him behind bars for as long as possible.

The new sentence followed a year-long Kremlin crackdown on Navalny’s supporters, other opposition activists and independent journalists in which authorities appear eager to stifle all dissent.

Navalny’s close associates have faced criminal charges and left the country, and his group’s political infrastructure — an anti-corruption foundation and a nationwide network of regional offices — has been destroyed after being labeled an extremist organization.

Soldier misplaces rifle during training in south

A soldier from the military’s Artillery Corps misplaced his M-16 rifle during a training exercise in a firing zone in southern Israel overnight.

Troops have been scanning the area, but have yet to find the missing gun.

The Military Police have opened an investigation into the matter, the Israel Defense Forces says.

Russian forces control ‘most’ of east Ukraine’s Severodonetsk, governor says

KYIV — Russian forces now control “most” of eastern Ukraine’s Severodonetsk, the scene of fierce battles for days as the Russian army tries to seize it, the local governor says.

“Unfortunately, today, Russian troops control most of the city,” governor of the Luhansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, says in a video.

He says “90 percent” of the city is destroyed.

Lapid speaks with Moroccan foreign minister

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks with his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

“We are working together to tighten and strengthen cooperation between our countries in many and various areas,” Lapid says on Twitter.

“Bourita and I will continue to work to deepen relations between our peoples and bring prosperity to all the countries of the region,” he adds.

Russia strikes ‘nitric acid tank’ at chemical plant in Ukraine’s Severodonetsk

KYIV — Russian forces struck a tank containing nitric acid at a chemical plant in Ukraine’s eastern city of Severodonetsk that they are trying to seize, the local governor says, calling on people to stay in shelters.

An airstrike by Moscow forces “hit a tank with nitric acid at a chemical plant,” the governor of the Lugansk region, Sergiy Gaiday, says on Telegram.

“Nitric acid is dangerous if inhaled, swallowed and in contact with skin,” he says.

Israel puts E1 housing project back on agenda weeks ahead of Biden’s trip

The Defense Ministry is planning to advance a controversial housing project in the E1 Area of the West Bank after the Israeli government withdrew the plan in January amid international pressure and assured the Biden administration that it would not be moving forward with it.

The ministry’s Civil Administration body that authorizes West Bank construction publishes its agenda for a July 18 meeting to discuss objections to projects that have received initial approval, with two E1 plans totaling 3,412 housing units the only ones on the docket.

The E1 project was first approved by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in 2012 and then put on hold for roughly eight years amid significant international pushback.

The homes would be built east of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the middle of the West Bank, breaking up contiguity between Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem.

The plan even received pushback during the Trump administration, which envisioned Israel annexing all West Bank settlements in the peace plan it presented in 2020. Weeks later — and against the backdrop of a parliamentary election — Netanyahu took the plan off the back-burner, directing that the plan be deposited.

The next stage in the planning process requires the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee to hear objections against projects, which were filed by a large group of Palestinian attorneys along with several Israeli rights groups. Those hearings were delayed amid the repeated election cycle until August of last year. Two sessions were held but a final one scheduled for January was yanked from the agenda.

US Ambassador to the US Tom Nides revealed in March that he aggressively pushed the Israeli government to withdraw the plan.

The Defense Ministry does not respond to a request for comment.

Death toll reaches 36 in Iran tower block collapse

TEHRAN — The death toll has risen to 36 from a tower block that collapsed in southwestern Iran last week, sparking angry protests, state media reports.

A large section of the 10-story Metropol building that was under construction in a busy street in the city of Abadan crashed to the ground on May 23, resulting in one of the country’s deadliest disasters in recent years.

“With the efforts of the search and rescue forces, this evening, the body of the 36th person was pulled out from under the rubble,” Abadan’s governor Ehsan Abbaspour is quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

Five students were among the dead, said Masoud Hamidinejad, the head of Khuzestan’s department of education, according to IRNA.

The latest toll leaves only two people unaccounted for from the 38 authorities had previously estimated were missing in the collapse.

Knesset stubs out ads for cigarettes in print media

The Knesset passes into law a ban on cigarette and tobacco ads in print media, nearly four years after a blanket ban on such ads in all other spaces.

The law amendment, proposed by Meretz MK Mossi Raz and Joint List MK Ofer Cassif, passed in its second and third readings, with seven in favor and no opposition.

The wide-reaching advertising ban on all mediums other than print currently extends to cigarettes, cigars, hookah products, and papers used to roll cigarettes. It also outlaws advertising for non-tobacco herbal substances used for smoking, as well as e-cigarettes and all affiliated devices.

The amendment to the law will prevent the advertisements of cigarettes in print media in several stages.

The first stage, which will last three years, will require advertisements in print media to include an even larger warning regarding the harms of smoking than currently required, so that the area of the warning will be double that of the ad itself.

In the second stage, which will last four years, the maximum advertisement size will be cut by 25% each year, and in the third stage, the advertisements will be banned entirely.

Leading Turkish opposition figure jailed for insulting Erdogan

ISTANBUL — A senior member of Turkey’s main opposition party is jailed following a conviction for having insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other public officials.

The sentence against Canan Kaftancioglu, who leads the Republican People’s Party (CHP) in Istanbul, also bans her from running in next year’s legislative and presidential elections.

On May 12, the Supreme Court of Appeals confirmed Kaftancioglu’s conviction on three counts including over an anti-Erdogan tweet.

Although her sentence was for four years, 11 months and 20 days, party officials tell AFP she may well be released far sooner, as can happen for sentences shorter than five years.

Kaftancioglu, a doctor by profession, played a key role in the surprise victory of the CHP’s Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu in 2019 — the first time Erdogan’s party had lost power in Turkey’s biggest city for 25 years.

Gantz, Kohavi visit major IDF drill in Cyprus, hail ‘strategic alliance’ between nations

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits a major Israeli military drill taking place in Cyprus, which aims to simulate fighting against the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

“This is the height of one of the largest and most extensive exercises we have conducted in years,” Gantz says. The drill in Cyprus is part of the Israel Defense Forces’ monthlong “Chariots of Fire” exercise.

“I was impressed by [the troops], and I say to everyone, to all the citizens of Israel, that we have a trained army ready for the challenges that lie ahead of us in the future,” Gantz says in a video statement.

Gantz thanks Cyprus for hosting the IDF. “This illustrates the depth of the strategic alliance between the two countries. I’m very glad I came here today, and I’m very encouraged by what I saw,” he says.

“The IDF is constantly preparing for operations and various campaigns, in various theaters, and will inflict a severe blow on anyone who seeks to threaten the citizens of the State of Israel,” Gantz says.

Earlier, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi also toured the drill in the Mediterranean island nation.

“I get the impression that the forces participating in the exercise, from all arms of the IDF, show very high levels of professionalism and readiness for action,” Kohavi says in a statement published by the military.

“Cooperation with the Cypriot military is another way of expressing the IDF’s operational and significant capabilities. This is a key part of the strategic cooperation and strengthening the connection between the IDF and the Cypriot military,” Kohavi adds.

Military chief Aviv Kohavi meets with troops during a major exercise in Cyprus, May 31, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Liberman vows funds to upgrade deadly Route 90

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman says he has agreed with Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli on funds to upgrade Route 90, days after an accident on the highway killed four.

“The budgeting will go into a multi-year plan and the work will begin as early as this year,” Liberman says in a tweet.

Liberman says the plan will address all 120 kilometers of the highway, costing hundreds of millions of shekels.

Route 90, Israel’s longest highway, runs along the eastern boundary from Metula in the north to Eilat in the south. Most of the road is decades old and currently consists of only one lane in each direction, with no divider. Its length and characteristics have made it one of the country’s deadliest routes.

A number of fatal crashes in recent years have sparked calls for significant safety upgrades on the road, which also traverses the West Bank.

Abbas tells Jordan foreign minister PA is planning ‘steps to fight Israeli escalation’

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi in Ramallah that the Palestinian leadership is planning “steps to fight Israeli escalation.”

“The continuing current situation cannot be accepted and cannot be borne,” Abbas says during a snap visit by al-Safadi.

Abbas slams “American silence” and “international impotence” in preventing “Israeli provocations and practices.”

Al-Safadi was accompanied by Jordanian intelligence director Ahmad Husni. The PA head was flanked by several of his top advisers, including spy chief Majed Faraj and Hussein al-Sheikh, who is responsible for coordination with Israel.

“Israel’s failure to respect international law will plunge the region into a cycle of violence and escalation,” al-Safadi says.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi attends the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo to discuss the simmering unrest surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem on July 27, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have seethed over the past few months. A bloody terror wave has left 19 dead in Israeli cities since late March. Israeli police clashed repeatedly with Palestinians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in April. Palestinian terror groups threatened violence over the annual Jerusalem Day Flag March, which saw some Israeli nationalists chant racist slogans and clash with Palestinians.

Over 30 Palestinians have died in the same period, most during Israeli military raids in the West Bank in pursuit of terror suspects. Many were killed during clashes with Israeli forces or while committing attacks, but at least a few were apparently unarmed civilians. They included popular Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead under disputed circumstances amid a clash between IDF soldiers and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli military raid in Jenin.

Four officers hurt as they break up brawl between Jews and Arabs in Silwan

Police say four officers are hurt as they break up a brawl between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem.

During the brawl, stones were hurled between the sides, and some participants used pepper spray, police say.

“Forces who arrived at the scene were also attacked by rioters who threw stones at them,” police say. Two of the officers required medical treatment.

The Palestinian Red Crescent says two Palestinians were also hurt in the incident. Their conditions are not immediately clear.

Two suspects were detained by officers, police say.

Rise in eye disease caused by stress seen amid COVID pandemic, hospital says

There has been a rise in cases of an eye disease, believed to be exacerbated by stress, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Assuta Hospital in Ashdod.

Channel 12 news reports that the hospital found a 200% rise in cases of central serous retinopathy amid the pandemic. The disorder, which causes visual impairment, often temporary, and usually in one eye, is believed to be caused by stress.

Hospital officials associate the rise in cases amid the pandemic with the stress it caused, rather than seeing it as a side effect of COVID itself.

Government watchdog says Bennett’s new chief of staff didn’t finish cooling-off period

The Movement for Quality Governance is opposing the appointment of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s incoming chief of staff Eden Bizman and requesting his immediate termination from Bennett’s staff, on the claim that Bizman has not completed his legal cooling-off period in between sensitive posts.

Bizman, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, has been serving as deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office for the past year and a half. Previously, he was deputy director general in the State Comptroller and Public Ombudsman’s Office.

The concern stems from the fact that Bizman audited the Prime Minister’s Office in his previous role, and despite receiving permission from the State Comptroller’s Office to join Bennett’s staff, the appointment may be inappropriate.

Generally, officials in the State Comptroller’s monitoring capacities require a two-year cooling-off period before joining any bodies over which they had oversight responsibility.

The Movement says it received a response from the state comptroller claiming that Bizman “did not deal with auditing as part of his role.” However, the Movement said that it received an opinion from the state comptroller’s legal counsel that found that Bizman “dealt with matters tied to the Prime Minister’s Office while executing his role.”

“Bizman, who according to the opinion of the legal adviser to the State Comptroller’s Office dealt with auditing matters connected to the Prime Minister’s Office and currently exercises authority in the Prime Minister’s Office without a cooling-off period, is nevertheless being promoted to a senior role within the Prime Minister’s Office – a role in which he’s expected to deal with core interests to the Prime Minister’s Office,” the Movement’s letter to Bennett and State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman reads.

Israeli woman reunites with mother she saw begging for help in Mariupol on TV

An Israeli woman from Ashdod finally reunites with her mother, months after she recognized her begging for help in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol while watching TV.

Tatiana Goldin says her mother Ludmila managed to escape the city under heavy Russian fire, but, after that, she did not know if she was still alive.

Ludmila landed in Israel this morning, Tatiana tells Channel 12 news.

“We can finally let out a sigh of relief, and let out all the stress that lasted several months,” Tatiana says.

Lapid vows to deepen partnerships with African countries: ‘Israel is back in Africa’

Emphasizing that “Israel is back in Africa,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid lays out several broad goals for the future of Israel’s partnership with African countries.

“We will cooperate to deliver food security for millions,” says Lapid, speaking by videolink to a conference organized by Israel’s embassy in Paris.

“We will coordinate in the fight against terrorism to ensure peace and stability. We will collaborate in high-tech to create opportunities for millions of Israelis and Africans alike. We will cultivate deeper diplomatic ties to cement our historic and deeply-rooted partnership.”

The Paris conference on Israel-Africa ties has attracted several French and African media outlets, and is attended by a number of African diplomats.

Israel enjoyed a golden age in its ties with African countries in the 1950s and 1960s, as it offered agricultural aid to sub-Saharan nations that were also taking their first steps after throwing off colonial rule. Relationships crumbled after the 1967 and 1973 wars, as most African countries cut off diplomatic relations.

Today, Israel has diplomatic ties with all but 9 of the 54 African countries, and new wind has been blown into the sails of Israel’s diplomacy on the continent by the efforts of the Benjamin Netanyahu governments and by the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Israel, one of only two non-African nations to share a border with Africa, became an observer to the African Union in 2021.

Now, Israel says, it is seeking a partnership between equals, not an aid relationship.

“Israel understands the power of Africa,” says Lapid. “And Africa understands that Israel is a force for good.”

“In the face of global challenges, countries that cooperative will thrive, while countries that isolate will fall behind,” he declares.

Police arrest Palestinian teen who sought to commit stabbing in Jerusalem’s Old City

A Palestinian teen from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber sought to commit a stabbing attack in the Old City yesterday, police say.

In a statement, Israel Police say officers noticed the 15-year-old acting suspiciously near the Damascus Gate entrance. The officers chased the teen through the Old City’s alleyways, eventually arresting him near an entrance to the Temple Mount.

During the chase, the suspect threw away a bag he was carrying. It was later found by officers, with a large knife in it, police say.

Police say that during the suspect’s interrogation “suspicion arose that he intended to carry out a stabbing attack.”

His remand has been extended by three days.

Three El Al flights to Europe canceled in span of 24 hours

Three El Al flights from Ben Gurion Airport to various destinations in Europe were canceled in less than 24 hours, Channel 12 news reports.

Another flight to New York was also canceled last night.

The company says the cancellations are due to manpower shortages and other malfunctions with their planes

Yesterday’s cancellations joined some 20 cancellations over the past month, nearly all of which were the result of a workers’ strike, Channel 12 says.

US suspends Abraham Accords assistance to Sudan in response to coup

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration suspends assistance to Sudan, including assistance related to its normalization deal with Israel, and wants Israel to call out the bloody coup that removed the country’s civilian government last year.

“The United States is not moving forward at this time with assistance originally committed to Sudan’s civilian led transitional government in connection with its efforts to improve Sudan’s bilateral relationship with Israel,” a US State Department spokesman says. “This includes wheat shipments and certain development and trade and investment assistance.”

The spokesman notes that the United States also suspended foreign assistance unrelated to the Abraham Accords, the normalization agreements between Israel and four Arab states, because of the coup. He says the Biden administration expects Israel to join in the call for a return to a democratically elected government.

“Any moves made in this regard by Sudan’s military leaders would not enjoy credibility with the Sudanese people,” he says. “We strongly encourage the State of Israel to join us and the broader international community in vocally pressing for Sudan’s military leaders to cede power to a credible civilian-led transitional government.”

Sudan’s military seized power last fall, arresting the country’s prime minister. Protesters turned out in force and dozens were killed by security forces in demonstrations.

Former police chief says use of clubs at Abu Akleh funeral a ‘blunder’

Former police commissioner Roni Alsheich says officers should not have used clubs against participants in the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera journalist killed while covering clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen in Jenin.

“The clubs did not need to be used at the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh,” Alsheich tells Kan public radio.

“This was definitely a blunder. There was no justification for it,” he says.

Scenes of Israeli police using force against Palestinians who were carrying Abu Akleh’s casket outside a Jerusalem hospital drew widespread condemnation, with the White House calling them “deeply disturbing,” and the European Union saying it was “appalled.”

Sa’ar warns coalition’s future depends on renewal of application of Israeli law to settlers

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar warns that the future of the coalition depends on a bill to renew the extension of Israeli criminal and some civil law to Israelis living in the West Bank.

“It will determine whether the coalition will exist or not,” Sa’ar tells the Kan public radio.

The bill was shelved yesterday after the coalition lacked a majority to pass it, with opposition parties pledging not to support any government-sponsored legislation.

The coalition’s Islamist Ra’am party is expected to vote against the bill, but has been tight-lipped about how it would vote if the coalition were pressed.

In response to Sa’ar’s interview, Ra’am MK Walid Taha tweets: “We are ready…”

Originally enacted in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the law remains an “emergency measure” that must be renewed every five years. Last passed in 2017, it is set to expire at the end of June.

Police minister renews call to outlaw far-right groups Lehava and La Familia

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev renews his calls for the far-right Lehava and La Familia groups to be outlawed.

Barlev says he had sought such action even before becoming a cabinet minister.

“There is no question that the events two days ago during the Flag March are jarring for most of Israeli society and have no place [in it],” he says.

Appeal hearing postponed for Israeli woman sentenced to death in UAE

An appeal hearing for an Israeli woman sentenced to death on drug charges in the United Arab Emirates has been delayed, her lawyer says.

Fidaa Kiwan‘s hearing is delayed because two Pakistani citizens who were tried with her did not appear at the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court, the Walla news site reports.

The hearing is expected to take place on June 7.

All bodies recovered from Nepal plane crash

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Rescuers have recovered all 22 bodies from the site where a plane crashed on a mountainside in Nepal, the airline says.

All the bodies were flown to Kathmandu and taken to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital where doctors are performing autopsies, Tara Air says in a statement. The bodies will be handed over to relatives once autopsy is done, it adds.

While 10 bodies were flown to Kathmandu yesterday, the remaining were brought by army helicopter earlier today. Relatives of the crash victims waited outside the hospital building for authorities to release the bodies.

The Tara Air turboprop Twin Otter aircraft lost contact with the airport tower Sunday while flying on a scheduled 20-minute flight in an area of deep river gorges and mountaintops.

Four Indians and two Germans were on the plane, Tara Air said. The three crew members and other passengers were Nepali nationals, it said. Local news reports said the passengers included two Nepali families, one with four members and the other with seven.

The plane crashed Sunday in Sanosware in Mustang district close to the mountain town of Jomsom, where it was heading after taking off from the resort town of Pokhara, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of the capital Kathmandu.

The plane’s destination is popular with foreign hikers who trek on its mountain trails, and with Indian and Nepalese pilgrims who visit the revered Muktinath temple.

The Twin Otter, a rugged plane originally built by Canadian aircraft manufacturer De Havilland, has been in service in Nepal for about 50 years, during which it has been involved in about 21 accidents, according to aviationnepal.com.

The plane, with its top-mounted wing and fixed landing gear, is prized for its durability and its ability to take off and land on short runways.

Russia’s Lavrov says Ukraine, West must act to resolve food crisis

MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says it is up to the West and Kyiv to resolve a growing global food crisis provoked by the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, fuelling concerns about the risk of hunger around the world.

Western countries “created a lot of artificial problems by closing their ports to Russian ships, disrupting logistics and financial chains,” Lavrov tells reporters during a visit to Bahrain.

“They need to seriously consider what is more important for them: to do PR on the issue of food security or to take concrete steps to solve this problem,” he adds.

Lavrov also callson Ukraine to de-mine its territorial waters to allow the safe passage of ships through the Black and Azov seas.

“If the problem of de-mining is resolved… Russia’s naval forces will ensure the unhindered passage of these ship into the Mediterranean and onwards to (their) destinations,” Lavrov says.

Russia and Ukraine produce around 30 percent of the global wheat supply.

President Vladimir Putin told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday that Moscow was ready to work with Ankara to free up maritime shipping from Ukraine and blamed global food shortages on “shortsighted” Western policies.

IDF says 8 Palestinians detained on suspicion of involvement in terror

The Israel Defense Forces says troops detained eight Palestinians suspected of involvement in terror activities during overnight raids across the West Bank.

Two weapons were seized in the town of Bayt Rima in the central West Bank, the IDF adds.

Near Nablus, shots were heard as troops operated in the area, the military says, adding that no injuries were caused.

IDF to hold test of earthquake alert systems in Petah Tikva Wednesday

The Israel Defense Forces announces it will hold a test of earthquake alert systems in Petah Tikva tomorrow.

A siren will sound in the central city at 10:05 a.m.

In the case of an actual earthquake, the sirens will sound twice, the military says.

The drill comes amid the IDF’s monthlong Chariots of Fire exercise, involving nearly all units of the military.

Russians control ‘half’ of Severodonetsk in east, Ukraine says

KYIV — Russian forces control half of the east Ukraine city of Severodonetsk, a Ukrainian military official says, as Moscow’s army continues an unrelenting push deeper into the Donbas region.

“Unfortunately, the front line divides the city in half. But the city is still defending itself, the city is still Ukrainian, our soldiers are defending it,” says Oleksandr Stryuk, head of the city’s military and civil administration, in a live broadcast.

After failing to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in the early stages of the war, Russia has shifted its focus to the eastern Donbas region and is attempting to consolidate areas under its control.

Severodonetsk, which had a pre-war population of around 100,000 people, is one of several important urban hubs that lie on Russia’s path to capturing the entire Luhansk region and east Ukraine’s de facto administrative center, Kramatorsk.

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