The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
A bill to increase penalties for illegal weapons possession and purchase has passed its first reading.
Promoted by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, the bill is intended to help fight crime in Arab society, in which improvised weapons targeted by the measure are prevalent.
The bill would extend jail time from three to five years in offenses involving a weapon containing substantial parts from a conventional weapon.
It would also raise the punishment for an offense involving purchasing a weapon from seven to 10 years.
“One of the characteristics and causes of the crime phenomenon in Arab society is the availability of weapons of various kinds on a large scale,” says Sa’ar.
“The bill is intended to increase deterrence,” the justice minister adds.
In preparation for its second and third readings, the bill will be moved to the Knesset’s constitutional committee.
Prince Charles will replace his 96-year-old mother Queen Elizabeth II at Tuesday’s ceremonial opening of the UK parliament, Buckingham Palace says, citing the monarch’s ongoing mobility issues.
“The queen continues to experience episodic mobility problems, and in consultation with her doctors has reluctantly decided that she will not attend the State Opening of Parliament,” the palace says in a statement on the eve of the pomp-filled event.
“At Her Majesty’s request, and with the agreement of the relevant authorities, The prince of Wales will read the queen’s speech on Her Majesty’s behalf,” it adds, referring to her eldest son and heir to the throne, Charles.
As head of state, the queen usually presides over the annual event, reading out her government’s legislative program in an address from a gilded throne in the House of Lords.
Israelis were arrested in Sinai on Friday, after filming themselves waving Israeli flags for a video on social media, Channel 12 reports.
The network says Egyptian security saw the action as a provocation and arrested them. It did not say how many people were arrested.
The group was detained for two days and eventually released and returned to Israel.
A new Channel 13 poll predicts the Knesset seat map if elections were held today.
The survey found Likud would win 36 seats; Yesh Atid 18; Religious Zionism 9; Yamina 8; Joint List 8; Blue and White 7; Shas 7; UTJ 7; Labor 6; Yisrael Beytenu 5; Meretz 5; New Hope 4; Ra’am would not pass the electoral threshold.
The pro-Netanyahu opposition bloc would then have 59 seats, while parties that make up the current coalition would have 53.
The Knesset has passed in its first reading legislation aimed at helping businesses financially impacted by the past winter’s coronavirus wave, brought on by the Omicron variant.
In particular, the proposal would give a financial grant to businesses that suffered a 35 percent drop in income in January and February of this year, in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Thirty-four MKs voted in favor with no opposition, and the measure will move to the Knesset’s Finance Committee for further discussion.
The bill has been pushed by Yamina MK Abir Kara, who has demanded initiatives in support of small businesses and self-employed persons as a condition of his staying in the coalition.
Channel 12 news reports on “significant differences” between Prime Minister Bennett and security officials during consultations on the terror wave yesterday.
According to the network, the IDF and Shin Bet urged leaders to maintain a separation between the various fronts, and not escalate the situation in the Gaza Strip due to attacks in Israel and the West Bank.
The organizations suggested focusing mainly on reducing the religious extremism at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi reportedly stressed that Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar is not the one leading the wave of attacks, while the Shin Bet acknowledged that he has a certain amount of influence on it, though he is not driving it.
Meanwhile, the report says, Bennett disagreed with this strategy — he believes Sinwar must pay a price for the incitement and for his encouragement of terror attacks. Bennett told the security chiefs to give him a range of options for the West Bank and Jerusalem, but also for Gaza, according to the network.
Channel 12 says the Prime Minister’s Office and security organizations refused to comment.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid meets virtually with his counterparts from the United States, Greece, and Cyprus — a forum also known as the “3+1” — to discuss the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to the joint statement released after the meeting, the diplomats decided to “intensify their cooperation in the areas of energy, economy, climate action, emergency preparedness, and counterterrorism, contributing to resilience, energy security, and interconnectivity in the region.”
The statement also expresses the countries’ support for the Negev Summit and other projects that promote regional cooperation in the region. The ministers condemn recent terror attacks in Israel, including last week’s lethal attack in Elad.
The 3+1 will hold another meeting before the end of the year.
Two Russian journalists who work at a pro-Kremlin outlet flooded the website with articles denouncing the war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin on the day the country celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany.
The dozens of articles published on Lenta.ru said Putin was a “pitiful paranoid dictator” and alleged he was responsible for “the bloodiest war of the 21st century,” according to The Guardian.
“We had to do it today. We wanted to remind everyone what our grandfathers really fought for on this beautiful Victory Day: for peace,” journalist Egor Polyakov tells the paper.
The articles have since been taken down.
“Ordinary people are dying, peaceful women and children are dying in Ukraine. Given the rhetoric that we have seen, this isn’t going to stop. We couldn’t accept this any longer. This was the only right thing we could do,” Polyakov says.
He tells The Guardian he fears for his safety after his and Alexandra Miroshnikova’s actions.
“But I knew what I was doing, what the consequences could be.”
The Israel Defense Forces says it has arrested three suspects during an alleged attempt to smuggle weapons into Israel from Lebanon.
The military says troops operating security cameras identified the three approaching the border near the town of Ghajar.
The suspects left a bag in the area with five MP5 sub-machine guns and ammunition, according to the military.
Troops and police officers were dispatched to the scene and the men were arrested.
Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid celebrate their win at the plenum after two no-confidence motions were voted down.
“We are starting this session on the right foot,” Bennett tells Ynet. “The silent majority wants the government and country to succeed and continued economic prosperity and stability. It should speak up more.”
Lapid tweets: “After all the spins and nonsense, we began [the session] with a victory!”
Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine until last week, has been awarded the Order of the Star of Jerusalem by the Palestinian Authority.
Lynk was given the award in Dublin by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al Malki.
The NGO UN Watch protests the move, saying Lynk is violating UN neutrality rules.
President Mahmoud Abbas has awarded the Order of the Star of Jerusalem to Professor Michael Lynk, presented by Foreign Minister Dr Riad Al Malki in Dublin pic.twitter.com/HCtGqXoNJ7
— Mission of the State of Palestine in Ireland (@IrePalestine) May 8, 2022
“For the past six years, we documented how Lynk was acting not like an impartial UN investigator, but rather like an agent for the PLO,” says Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “He turned a blind eye to Hamas and Fatah terrorism, and demonized Israel. Lynk insisted he was impartial, but now he isn’t even pretending any more.
“It is repulsive that Lynk accepted this award from [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas at a time when his Fatah group participated in and praised the latest spate of Palestinian terrorist attacks that have killed 19 people in Israel.”
Pope Francis has postponed a trip to Lebanon initially planned for June over health concerns, Lebanon’s tourism minister Walid Nassar says.
Nassar does not elaborate on the “health reasons” behind the postponement, but the pope, who has suffered from pain in his knee, was seen using a wheelchair for the first time at a public event on Thursday.
PM Bennett earlier attempted to open a door for Haredi parties to join the coalition, saying he hoped to broaden its ranks in the coming months to ensure its stability.
Shas and UTJ quickly shoot that prospect down, saying in a joint statement: “The current government does not enjoy the confidence of a majority of the people or the Knesset and repeatedly harms the Haredi and traditional public.
“We will continue to do everything to replace it.”
Two opposition-led no-confidence measures against the government have failed at the start of the Knesset’s summer session.
A Likud-led motion was voted down with 52 votes in favor and 61 against. A Shas-led measure was voted down with 52 votes in favor to 56 against.
The coalition’s Islamist Arab party, Ra’am, was absent from the votes, in line with its ongoing freeze from coalition activities.
Some members of the opposition’s majority-Arab Joint List party voted against the measures and others missed the votes.
Yamina MK Idit Silman, who plunged the coalition into a tailspin when she resigned from it last month, was absent from the votes. Renegade MK Amichai Chikli, who was ousted from Yamina two weeks ago, was similarly absent.
An opposition win would have been largely symbolic, as by law an alternative government needs to be presented in order to pass such a motion (and no such alternative is currently on offer).
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut issues a statement against UTJ MK Yitzhak Pindrus, who was filmed last week saying he wanted to “blow up” the court.
“It is regrettable and upsetting that a member of the Knesset chose Independence Day, a celebration of Jewish democratic Israel, to express dangerous ambitions toward the Supreme Court using violent and callous language,” she says.
“It is even more galling and unfortunate that the MK chose to fan internal hatred during a conversation with youth in an educational framework.”
The so-called Tinder Swindler, fraudster Shimon Hayut, tells Israel’s Channel 12 he is currently making a film that will serve as an answer to the Netflix documentary about his fraudulent exploits and their victims.
“It’s a documentary from my point of view,” says Hayut, who presents himself as Simon Leviev. “There will be things that haven’t been seen — otherwise there’d no point in the film.”
Asked if there will be a happy ending, he says: “For me there’ll be a happy ending — no doubt.”
So he won’t be jailed? “No, no, no,” he says, speaking from Tel Aviv, where he is said to be currently filming. “That’s the script for a horror movie, and we’re making a documentary.”
He adds, paraphrasing former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refrain on his own criminal allegations: “The reality might sound familiar: There’ll be nothing [proven against me], because there is nothing.”
Notably, Yamina MK Idit Silman attended the faction’s meeting at the Knesset today, despite quitting the coalition last month and calling for the government’s end.
Silman can be seen here entering the faction’s meeting room earlier.
עידית סילמן נכנסת לישיבת סיעת ימינה בלשכת רה״מ בכנסת – לאחר שאיילת שקד אספה אותה מלשכתה pic.twitter.com/lG6Q434S7I
— נדב אלימלך Nadav Elimelech (@NadavElimelech) May 9, 2022
Following Silman’s departure, Yamina ousted a second rebel MK, Amichai Chikli, bringing heavy sanctions to bear on him — in a move seen as a warning to her not to burn her bridges with the party.
Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi says that his party plans to support the coalition’s legislation on economics and crimefighting in Arab society, slated for a vote today.
“Our opinion of the coalition is negative, very negative recently,” Tibi says, alluding to frustration with the conflict in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, referred to by Muslims as the Al Aqsa Mosque compound..
However, he acknowledges that issues like cost of living and the Negev are at the heart of the Joint List’s interests, along with Al-Aqsa.
The Joint List has vacillated in recent weeks on whether or not the faction — itself comprising three separate parties — would cooperate with the flagging coalition to support specific pieces of legislation.
In a briefing to Hebrew media, unnamed IDF officials say the military believes the Hamas terror group is not behind recent deadly terror attacks, but rather is “riding the wave” to encourage further violence.
This assessment has been presented to political leaders. The military says it believes the recent attacks were not directed by organizations but were so-called lone-wolf attacks.
Officials also tell outlets they believe there is deterrence against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the group is unlikely to seek a major escalation.
The Israel Defense Forces begins a major exercise that will run for four weeks.
The drill, dubbed “Chariots of Fire,” is the military’s largest exercise in decades, involving effectively all units of the IDF.
It was postponed last May amid the 11-day war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tells his Yamina faction: “Political instability is not a healthy thing for the country. We all must stabilize the ship and show responsibility. We are in the midst of a serious terror wave, and we must stand united before our enemies.”
Bennett says coalition collapse would mean a return to elections chaos, which would be “terrible.”
He says the levels of hatred between groups within the country “are awful.”
Judge Khaled Kabub has become the first Muslim appointed to Israel’s Supreme Court.
Kabub enters the post alongside some 80 other judges who are being sworn in to various court positions today.
The 64-year-old Kabub takes the place of retiring justice Neal Hendel.
In 2018 Kabub sought the post but eventually withdrew his candidacy, reportedly after realizing he had no realistic chance of being appointed.
Speaking at the Knesset, Benjamin Netanyahu says: “It’s over, Naftali. Your government has finished its short and feeble term.”
He adds: “This government does not have public legitimacy.”
Police have started to evacuate people from some homes in Ness Ziona as firefighters struggle to contain a wildfire in the area.
The public is asked to stay away from the area.
נס ציונה פינוי שכונת האירוס בעקבות שריפה ???????? pic.twitter.com/8hDo9w3Puc
— ישראלה מימון (@1s5aZtqoB6j3dH0) May 9, 2022
The Knesset is now opening its summer session, with the coalition in dire straits after losing its parliamentary majority.
A no-confidence vote is expected today, and the coalition could feasibly lose it. This would not mean the government’s collapse, as by law an alternative government needs to be presented in order to pass such a motion (and no such alternative is currently on offer), but it would be a symbolic defeat and could further destabilize the coalition.
Police say they have detained 501 Palestinians who were in Israel illegally over the past day.
Authorities have stepped up actions against illegals, as some have been involved in a recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.
The police say forces are operating “openly and clandestinely at all times” against illegal entry.
It also says 51 people have been arrested for helping people to enter illegally, employing them or housing them.
Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg announces that Raya Shourky, acting director of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, will become the organization’s permanent director, and the first woman in the post.
Shourky began working for the INPA in 1990, as head of the Ein Afek Nature Reserve near Kiryat Bialik in northern Israel.
Her previous post was director of the visitor and community department.
Opposition leader and Likud party chair Benjamin Netanyahu renews his party’s commitment to toppling the current government.
At Likud’s faction meeting, the former premier attacks the government as unable to stand up to security threats posed by Iran and Hamas.
“Iran is rushing to arm itself with nuclear weapons against Israel thanks to an international agreement promoted by the current American administration — and the Israeli government is not opening its mouth,” says Netanyahu.
“This weak and fraudulent government is incapable of standing even for a moment against the submissive policies of the American administration against Iran, just as it is incapable of fighting Hamas terrorism,” the Likud leader continues.
Netanyahu ties what he calls the current government’s failures to its cooperation with the Islamist Arab Ra’am party. Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas — who is guided by the broader religious Islamic Movement to which his party belongs — is currently not voting with the coalition, as his party froze support in the wake of prolonged violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
“Bennett and Lapid depend on what comes out of the mouth of Mansour Abbas and his friends who are waiting for instructions from Hamas leaders and the Shura Council,” Netanyahu says.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar lambastes United Torah Judaism MK Yitzhak Pindrus for saying his dream is to “blow up” the Supreme Court, in comments caught on camera.
Sa’ar says Pindrus’s comments were “beyond grievous” and “express a desire — a ‘dream’ in his view, a nightmare in mine — for a nation without an independent judicial system.”
Pindrus, meanwhile, tells Walla news he does not regret his comments.
“The Supreme Court should be brought down,” he says. “It’s an institution that gets in the way.”
Addressing reporters at his Blue and White party’s faction meeting, Gantz says that the political situation, in which the government is teetering on the brink of collapse, will not interfere with Israel’s ability to defend itself.
“Our security considerations and security strength will continue, in any situation, regardless of the political situation. Decisions will continue to be made,” he says.
“We will cut off the hand holding the knife, lay our hands on those who spread incitement and blood libels in the name of religion. We will eradicate the terror wave, as long as it takes, at whatever price. There are no restrictions, and there will be no restraints. We operate in villages, cities, and networks. We are working with every means possible,” the defense minister declares.
European Council President Charles Michel, on a surprise visit to Odesa, was forced to break off a meeting and take cover when missiles again struck the southern Ukrainian city, an EU official says.
The strike took place as he held talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal. “During the meeting with the PM, the participants needed to interrupt the meeting to take shelter as missiles struck again the region of Odesa,” the official says.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid tells his Yesh Atid faction that the new situation in the Knesset, with the coalition lacking a majority, “creates difficulties” and will hold up legislation, “but there have been such governments in Israel that lasted a long time.”
He adds: “I watched Itamar Ben Gvir this week cynically using the blood of those murdered [in the terror attack] in Elad and I was reminded of how important it is to maintain this government, how dangerous the alternative is.”
Palestinians hurl several Molotov cocktails at an Israeli bus on Route 55 in the West Bank.
No injuries are caused in the incident between Azzun and Ma’ale Shomron, according to the Rescuers Without Border emergency service.
The firebombs caused a small brush fire in the area that was extinguished by firefighters.
Palestinians hurled molotov cocktails at an Israel bus on Route 55 between Azzun and Ma'ale Shomron. No injuries, but it caused a small brush fire. pic.twitter.com/DhlcRuGo1u
— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) May 9, 2022
At the start of his Blue and White Knesset faction meeting, Defense Minister Benny Gantz says he’ll “do everything to prevent elections,” adding that he hopes to bring in support from Haredi parties.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman tells his Yisrael Beytenu faction that he sees a likeness between former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.
“Those acting against the government are the Sinwar-Netanyahu coalition — messianic, outlandish people.”
The Israel Defense Forces announces it will be conducting an emergency preparedness exercise in the central city of Ramat Hasharon tomorrow.
When the sirens sound at 10:05 a.m., residents and workers in the area are expected to find their nearest bomb shelters to prepare them for a possible real rocket attack, the IDF says.
In case of a real emergency during the test, the sirens will sound a second time, the army says.
Residents of the Gaza Strip and of southern Israel report hearing several loud explosions in the past hour.
The explosions are believed to have been sonic booms from Israeli jets exceeding the speed of sound.
Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim says he will recommend that his party officially quit the coalition, ahead of a planned no-confidence vote at the Knesset this week.
Ghanaim tells Kan Bet Radio: “We are being sent a clear message that [the coalition] wants us out.”
Ra’am froze its membership in the coalition last month over rioting at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, and has been considering its next steps.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hosts his Kosovar counterpart, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. The officials sign a series of agreements on education, science, and culture, as well as a framework agreement for cooperation between the countries.
According to a statement from Lapid’s office, they spoke about strengthening bilateral ties, the war in Ukraine, and “regional issues.”
Gërvalla-Schwarz is the most senior official from Kosovo — a Muslim-majority country — to visit Israel. The two countries agreed to establish formal diplomatic ties in September 2020, and Kosovo opened its embassy in central Jerusalem on March 14, 2021.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “mirroring fascism,” as the country holds an annual Victory Day parade on Moscow’s Red Square.
Wallace, himself a former army officer, says in a speech that Putin’s bemedaled generals should face a court martial for their handling of the war in Ukraine.
He speaks after Putin defended Russia’s offensive in Ukraine in an address to ranks of troops on Red Square for the May 9 holiday celebrating the Soviet victory in World War II.
Wallace says in an address at the National Army Museum in London that “through the invasion of Ukraine, Putin, his inner circle, his generals, are now mirroring fascism and tyranny 77 years ago.”
He accuses them of “repeating the errors of the last century’s totalitarian regimes… For them, and for Putin, there can be no Victory Day, only dishonor and surely defeat in Ukraine.”
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