The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
Defense minister announces resignation, calls for new elections
In a political drama, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced his resignation and calls for the government to be dismantled and for new elections to be called.
The announcement comes after a Yisrael Beytenu party meeting in which he told MKs of his decision.
A day earlier, Liberman and other ministers severely criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a ceasefire reportedly agreed with Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.
Jewish Home expected to demand Bennett replace Liberman as defense minister
The Jewish Home party is expected to demand the position of defense minister for its leader following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation, according to Hebrew-language media reports before the dramatic announcement.
Many news outlets quote senior members of the religious right-wing party as saying it will demand the appointment of Education Minister Naftali Bennett as Liberman’s replacement.
Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi, however, tells public broadcaster Kan that such a scenario is “unrealistic,” adding that he would be willing to be defense minister himself if offered the job.
Likud says Netanyahu to replace Liberman as defense minister
A Likud source says in response to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation that there is “no need to go to elections at this time of sensitive security,” despite the coalition possibly losing five seats with Yisrael Beytenu’s expected exit.
Without Yisrael Beytenu, the coalition would hold a paper-thin majority in the 120 seat Knesset.
“The government can complete its term,” the source says in a statement. “In any case, in the meanwhile, the defense portfolio will go to Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu.”
— Raoul Wootliff
Liberman says Israel ‘capitulated to terror’ with ceasefire
Resigning defense minister Avigdor Liberman says he quit his position because of the government’s “weak” response to Gaza rockets, as well as allowing Qatari fuel and cash into the Strip and the postponement of the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar.
“I am here to announce my resignation as defense minister of Israel,” he tells a press conference.
“What happened yesterday with the ceasefire with Hamas was a capitulation to terror. There is no other word for it. We are buying short-term calm for long-term harm to security.”
Liberman says he never agreed to allow Qatari fuel and $15 million in cash into the Gaza Strip, insisting there is no way to ensure it isn’t diverted to terror purposes.
He also says he supported the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar and that Netanyahu issued a “written order” to postpone it.
“Our response was weak and lacking, to say the least,” he says of the intense rocket barrage from Gaza, adding that the first priority should have been restoring security to residents of the south.
Liberman demands elections be called ‘as soon as possible’
Resigning defense minister Avigdor Liberman calls for early elections “as soon as possible” and for a date to be agreed on soon.
“I hope that in talks between party heads on Sunday we will reach an agreement on a date for elections,” he tells a press conference in Jerusalem.
Hamas hails Liberman’s resignation as recognition of Israeli ‘defeat’
The Hamas terror group calls Liberman’s resignation an Israeli “recognition of its defeat at the hands of the Palestinian resistance.”
Today’s announcement constitutes a “victory for Gaza” after it managed to “stand up to the occupation,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri says in a statement.
Opposition leaders slam Netanyahu government following Liberman’s resignation
Opposition leaders use Avigdor Liberman’s stepping down as defense minister to slam the Netanyahu government and to call on the prime minister to resign as well.
Zionist Union chair Avi Gabbay welcomes Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister, saying, “That’s how it should be. You failed at the job — you resigned,” and adding that Netanyahu should follow suit.
“There is no security for the residents of the south, and therefore the prime minister must also resign. He is responsible for security just like the defense minister,” Gabbay charges in a statement released immediately after Liberman’s announcement.
“Let’s go to elections,” he says, promising that he will be able to “restore security.”
MK Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, says Liberman’s resignation “reinforces the fact that the prime minister caved to terror at the expense of the residents of the south.”
— with Raoul Wootliff and Raphael Ahren
Likud official slams Liberman as ‘cynical,’ says nobody regrets his resignation
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is the first senior Likud official to speak out on Liberman’s resignation, slamming him as a “cynical” politician.
“There is not one citizen in Israel who regrets the resignation,” she says in a statement. “The right-wing government can function without him.”
— Raoul Wootliff
Jewish Home threatens to quit coalition if Bennett isn’t defense minister
The Jewish Home party is demanding the defense portfolio following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as a condition for staying in Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
“Now is the time to entrust Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home with the defense portfolio,” Shuli Mualem, head of the Jewish Home Knesset faction, says.
If party chief Naftali Bennett isn’t appointed defense minister, the party “won’t continue being part of the government.”
Families of soldiers held in Gaza praise Liberman for his ‘determined stand’
The family of an IDF soldier whose remains are being held in Gaza by the Hamas terror group praises outgoing Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s comments explaining his decision to resign.
In his remarks, the defense minister specifically cited the importance of bringing back the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and the living Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are being held in Gaza.
“We thank Minister Liberman for his strong and determined stand with us during his tenure and especially recently,” Goldin’s family says in a statement.
“There can be no agreement [with Hamas] without the return of the [fallen] soldiers and the civilians. The responsible for this lies solely on the shoulders of Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu,” the family adds.
— Judah Ari Gross
Yisrael Beytenu party quits coalition, leaving it with razor-thin Knesset majority
Avigdor Liberman tells a press conference in Jerusalem that his five-seat Yisrael Beytenu party is leaving the coalition effective immediately.
The move leaves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition with a razor-thin majority of just 61 lawmakers in the 120-member Knesset, plunging the legislature into turmoil that could lead to early elections.
Islamic Jihad says Gaza groups dealt ‘political slaughter’ to Israeli leaders
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group hails Avigdor Liberman’s resignation, saying Gaza terror groups managed to disrupt Israeli politics in addition to “deterring” it militarily.
“Behold the political slaughter dealt to leaders of the occupation who aren’t capable of dealing with Gaza,” the organization’s spokesperson says in a statement.
Israeli backpacker, 22, is killed during trek in Bolivia
A 22-year-old Israeli backpacker is killed during a trek in Bolivia, the Foreign Ministry says.
The female tourist was killed when she was hit on the head by a falling rock, Hebrew-language media reports.
Authorities have notified her family, the ministry adds.
Efforts are being made by the ministry and the Israeli consulate in Peru to return her body to Israel.
PM holds talks in attempt to prevent early elections, decision due within hours
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes his close associates for political discussions at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister.
Netanyahu will evaluate the situation and make decisions in the coming hours, the Walla news site reports, citing a source close to the premier.
“The first goal is to see if we can stabilize the coalition and go forward, and the prime minister will hold meetings over the next hours with coalition chiefs and political partners to see if early elections are avoidable,” the source is quoted as saying.
Netanyahu is yet to respond to an ultimatum by the Jewish Home party that it receive the defense portfolio as a condition for staying in the government.
Gaza fisherman seriously injured by IDF fire — reports
Palestinian media reports that a Gazan fisherman has been wounded by Israeli fire in the northern Strip.
The shots fired from an IDF navy vessel near Zikim hit the fisherman in the stomach, causing severe injuries, according to the reports.
The IDF doesn’t immediately comment.
Bus hits, seriously injures 8-year-old girl in West Bank settlement
A girl is seriously injured when she is hit by a bus in the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh.
The eight-year-old girl is taken to the Schneider children’s hospital in Petah Tikva.
The bus driver is detained for questioning by police.
Donald Trump mulling a wide-ranging shakeup in US administration — sources
US President Donald Trump is weighing an administration-wide shakeup as he looks to prepare his White House for divided government, but it is unclear who is going and who is staying.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was thought to be out as soon as this week, according to two people with knowledge of the issue, but she is now likely to remain in the post for a longer period because there is no obvious successor in place.
Trump has soured on Nielsen and White House chief of staff John Kelly, in part over frustration that his administration is not doing more to address what he has called a crisis at the US-Mexico border, according to the people. But the scope of the contemplated changes is far broader, as Trump gears up for a wave of Democratic oversight requests and to devote more effort to his own reelection campaign.
According to people familiar with the situation, Trump is also discussing replacing Kelly with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers. Kelly, a retired Marine general, has been credited with bringing order and process to a chaotic West Wing, but he has fallen out of favor with the president as well as presidential daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Ayers, a seasoned campaign operative, would restore a political mindset to the role, but he faces stiff opposition from some corners of the West Wing, with some aides lobbying Trump directly against the move.
Other changes are afoot, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are being discussed for replacement. And in an extraordinary move yesterday, first lady Melania Trump’s office called publicly for the firing of Trump’s deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel.
Britain’s Prince Charles turns 70 with party, new family photos
Britain’s Prince Charles is turning 70 with a family birthday party, and a firm commitment to his environmentalist views.
Charles is due to have tea today with a group of people who are also turning 70 this year, before a Buckingham Palace party thrown by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.
The prince’s Clarence House office releases two family portraits to mark the birthday. The photos by Chris Jackson show Charles with his wife Camilla, sons Prince William and Prince Harry, their wives Kate and Meghan and his grandchildren: 6-year-old Prince George, 3-year-old Princess Charlotte and 6-month-old Prince Louis.
The environmentalist prince writes in the latest edition of Country Life magazine, urging people not to take the natural world for granted but to “think ahead to what our grandchildren will want and need.”
Gazans hand out treats in celebration of Liberman’s resignation
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip celebrate Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister by handing out treats.
Demonstrators also wave Palestinian flags and signs with Liberman’s head crossed out with the writing “Gaza toppled Liberman.”
— وكالة الرأي (@alrayps) November 14, 2018
After ultimatum to Netanyahu, Jewish Home party calls closed faction meeting
The Jewish Home party says its faction will convene at 6:30 p.m. (Israel time) for a closed meeting at the Knesset following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister, the Ynet website reports.
The religious right-wing party has issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it will quit the coalition and topple the government if party chief Naftali Bennett isn’t appointed as Liberman’s successor.
Likud offers Haredi party possible dates for early Knesset elections
The ruling Likud party has reportedly presented ultra-Orthodox coalition partners with several possible dates for the next Knesset elections, the Walla news site reports.
According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier today spoke on the matter with Moshe Gafni, leader of the Degel Hatorah faction in the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party.
UTJ is said to assess that Netanyahu wants to pass a law on ultra-Orthodox draft to the IDF before the current Knesset is dissolved.
Likus denies the report, saying Netanyahu and Gafni arranged a meeting but “haven’t discussed a date for elections.”
Netanyahu kicks off discussions with party chiefs in effort to salvage coalition
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says the premier has begun discussions with leaders of coalition parties and with senior Likud members.
The talks are aimed at stabilizing the coalition and preventing early elections following Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister and his Yisrael Beytenu party pulling out of the coalition.
IDF says Gazan said killed by troops had approached border fence
The Israeli military responds to Palestinian claims that troops killed a Gazan fisherman by saying soldiers opened fire as a group of Palestinian men were spotted walking toward the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip, near the Israeli community of Kibbutz Zikim.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry earlier said a Palestinian man approached the Gaza security fence and was shot dead by Israeli troops.
An army spokesperson says the soldiers “operated in accordance with the rules of engagement.”
The Palestinian man has been identified by the health ministry as 20-year-old Nawaf Ahmad al-Attar, a fisherman.
— Judah Ari Gross
Ilhan Omar says she supports BDS, after telling Jewish audience it isn’t effective
Ilhan Omar, the newly elected US congresswoman from Minnesota, says after being elected that she supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, after saying during her campaign that it was “counteractive” and prevents dialogue.
Omar’s comment come in response to a website called Muslim Girl, which pressed her on her appearance during the campaign at a Minneapolis area synagogue. During that candidates’ forum, she had said that BDS “stops the dialogue” and is “counteractive” to achieving a two-state outcome.
Like many other Democrats, she noted her opposition to anti-BDS legislation but framed it as a free-speech issue.
“Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized,” her campaign told Muslim Girl after the election. “She does, however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution.”
TC Jewfolk, the local Jewish news website which originally reported her ostensible rejection of BDS, presses her on the issue, asking Omar why she didn’t simply answer “yes or no” when asked about the issue at the synagogue forum for candidates.
“It was a bigger issue and she didn’t ask for a ‘yes or no’ answer,” Omar replies, referring to the person who posed the question. Omar says her position during the campaign was not “politically expedient.”
Omar is the first Somali and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. The other Muslim woman elected last week, Rashida Tlaib of the Detroit area, also backs BDS.
Israeli ‘super-agent’ Zahavi in spotlight as police raid Belgian soccer club
Three people are arrested following a series of raids in Belgium that intensify the spotlight on Israeli “super-agent” Pini Zahavi amid reports of an illegally held role at the Mouscron soccer club.
Zahavi, who played a key role in Neymar’s record €222-million move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, is not among those questioned by police today.
But the 75-year-old Israeli is suspected of using “fraud, forgery” and “foreign companies” to obscure the extent of his role with Mouscron, who in turn are suspected of filing “false documents” via offshore companies in a bid to maintain their status in Belgium’s top flight.
“Searches were carried out at the offices of Mouscron football club, at the homes of the club’s management and at the headquarters of two sports associations,” a statement by federal prosecutors says.
Following a first investigation in April into suspicions of “fraud and forgery” at the club, federal prosecutors claim “foreign companies helped a player’s agent, P.Z., to mask his control of” Mouscron. The initials PZ refer to Pini Zahavi.
It is illegal for players’ agents to own soccer clubs in Belgium and police suspect Mouscron of filing false documents with sporting authorities to obtain the licence required to compete in the top flight.
Belgian media reports claim Zahavi took over Mouscron in 2015 thanks to a Malta-based financial fund, before selling the club a year later to a company run by his nephew.
UN lifts sanctions on Eritrea after landmark peace deal
The UN Security Council lifts sanctions on Eritrea following a landmark peace deal with Ethiopia and a thaw with Djibouti that have buoyed hopes for positive change in the Horn of Africa.
The council unanimously adopts a British-drafted resolution lifting the arms embargo, all travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.
Man tied to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect arrested
The FBI says a self-described white nationalist with a social media connection to the suspect in last month’s Pittsburgh synagogue massacre has been arrested on gun-related charges after his relatives reported concerns about his behavior.
Thirty-year-old Jeffrey Clark Jr., of Washington DC, made his initial court appearance yesterday following his arrest last Friday.
The FBI says Clark posted social media messages describing synagogue shooting suspect Robert Bowers as a “hero” and warning the massacre is a “dry run for things to come.”
An agent’s affidavit says Clark’s relatives contacted the FBI after his younger brother killed himself within hours of the Pittsburgh attack. The FBI says Clark stated he and his brother fantasized about killing “Jews and blacks.”
Clark’s attorney doesn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Hamas leader boasts of ‘victory’ over Israel achieved ‘in less then a week’
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh says that “the resistance has achieved a military victory over the despicable occupier in less then a week.”
Haniyeh speaks following a ceasefire between Gazan terror groups and Israel widely praised by Palestinians and criticized in Israel. Avigdor Liberman stepped down as defense minister in protest.
Deputy defense minister to step down along with Liberman, office confirms
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan will also leave his position later this week following Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s sudden resignation, as required by Israeli law, his office confirms.
Once a minister resigns, their deputy must follow suit. This can be overridden by the prime minister, who can opt to reinstate the deputy minister.
Ben-Dahan, of the Jewish Home party, is slated to end his tenure on Friday afternoon unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intervenes, his office says.
— Judah Ari Gross
Hamas leader says Liberman’s resignation acknowledges ‘defeat and helplessness’
Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, welcomes Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister as a “defeat” for Israel.
“His resignation announcement is an acknowledgement of defeat and helplessness versus the Palestinian resistance,” Haniyeh is quoted as saying by Hebrew-language media.
IDF troops to remain in position near Gaza despite ceasefire
IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot orders reinforcements to stay in position near the Gaza Strip and for troops to remain on high alert, following a security assessment with senior officers from the Gaza Division, as a shaky ceasefire appears to hold, the army says.
Eisenkot met with Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Gaza Division commander Brig Gen. Eliezer Toledano, and the head of the 162nd Armored Division, Brig. Gen. Oded Basiuk.
“As part of the situational assessment, it was decided to maintain the readiness of the troops and the heightened amount of troops in the [Gaza] Division’s region,” the army says.
The chief of staff also discussed “different ways of using force in the future,” the military says, without elaborating.
— Judah Ari Gross
Fox News says it will back CNN in court battle with White House
Fox News says it will join rival CNN in its legal battle to restore the access of White House reporter Jim Acosta, maintaining that press credentials “should never be weaponized.”
Fox, which has often been praised by US President Donald Trump, says the revoking of the CNN reporter’s press pass raises concerns over freedom of the press.
“Fox News supports CNN in its legal effort to regain its White House reporter’s press credential,” the news channel’s president Jay Wallace says in a statement.
“We intend to file an amicus brief with the US District Court. Secret Service passes for working White House journalists should never be weaponized. While we don’t condone the growing antagonistic tone by both the president and the press at recent media avails, we do support a free press, access and open exchanges for the American people.”
The announcement comes a day after CNN — part of the WarnerMedia division of AT&T — said it was suing to restore the press pass of Acosta, barred after a testy exchange with Trump at a White House news conference.
The White House dismissed CNN’s complaint as “grandstanding” and vowed to “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit.
Demonstrators burn tires, block road near Sderot in protest of Gaza ceasefire
About 20 people demonstrate at the entrance to the southern city of Sderot in protest of the ceasefire with terror groups in the Gaza Strip, police says.
The demonstrators, residents of communities near Gaza that have been most affected by Hamas’s barrage of rockets this week, burn tires and block the Route 34 road between the junctions of Sha’ar Hanegev and Nir Am.
Police urge driver to use alternative routes.
There has been widespread criticism of the truce in Israel, and Avigdor Liberman earlier today stepped down as defense minister in protest.
White House says it has ‘broad discretion’ on press access
US President Donald Trump’s administration contends it has “broad discretion” to regulate press access to the White House as it fends off a legal challenge from CNN and other outlets over the revocation of journalist Jim Acosta’s “hard pass.”
In a legal filing ahead of today’s hearing on CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order to restore Acosta’s access, the government argues it “was lawful” to punish Acosta for his behavior during a contentious Trump press conference last week.
The White House’s explanations for why it seized Acosta’s “hard pass,” which grants reporters as-needed access to the 18-acre complex, have shifted over the last week. Acosta has repeatedly clashed with Trump and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in briefings over the last two years.
Jerusalem rabbi charged of molesting children in synagogue
Prosecutors file a court indictment against a rabbi who leads a community and a synagogue in Jerusalem, charging him of molesting at least four children between the years 2014 and 2018.
According to the charge sheet, the rabbi met minors aged 6-12 who would come to the synagogue to study with him or help with building’s maintenance.
During those meetings, the rabbi — who hasn’t been identified — allegedly molested them and then paid them sums of money.
The boys and girls said to have been attacked by the rabbi are today aged 13, 12, 9, and 8, the indictment says.
Prosecutors request that the Jerusalem District Court order the suspect arrested until the end of proceedings against him, or alternatively release him to house arrest under restrictive conditions.
Zionist Union bars its MKs from skipping Knesset votes after coalition shrinks
The Zionist Union opposition party orders all its lawmakers to participate in all Knesset plenum discussions and votes, citing a “new balance of power” after Avigdor Liberman’s resignation as defense minister.
The resignation, along with Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party leaving the coalition, left it with a razor-thin majority of 61 lawmakers in the 120-seat parliament and more vulnerable in votes.
“The Zionist Union is preparing for the new situation,” faction head MK Yoel Hasson says in a message sent to the party’s lawmakers. “We won’t approve any deductions, absence or trips abroad on days when the plenum convenes.”
Jewish Home formally affirms demand for Bennett to become defense minister
Jewish Home MKs vote unanimously in favor leaving the coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not make party leader Naftali Bennett defense minister.
They also vote to give Bennett full authority to carry out negotiations based on that ultimatum directly with the prime minister.
“The Jewish Home must be given the defense portfolio in order to have an impact on changing Israel’s deterrence and military initiative,” a party source tells The Times of Israel.
“A government without deterrence is not a right-wing government,” they add.
A party spokesman declines to say how long Netanyahu has to make Bennett defense minister before they will pull out of the coalition and bring the government down.
— Raoul Wootliff
Residents of south block entrance to Ashkelon in protest of Gaza ceasefire
About 80 residents of communities near the Gaza Strip demonstrate at the entrance to the city of Ashkelon in protest of the Israeli approval of the ceasefire with Palestinian terror groups.
The protesters block the entrance to the city from Route 4, shouting slogans against the government.
Elsewhere, demonstrators also block Route 34 at the entrance to Sderot and Route 232 in the Sha’ar Hanegev region.
Channel 10 reports that the residents intend to take their protest tomorrow to Tel Aviv, where they will demonstrate near the Defense Ministry headquarters.
Road at entrance to Sderot reopens as anti-government demonstration ends
A demonstration at the entrance to the city of Sderot against the Israeli approval of a ceasefire with Gaza terror groups ends as demonstrators leave the area.
Route 34 reopens to traffic after it was blocked during the protest with burning tires.
Amnesty condemns Iran’s ‘abhorrent’ executions of trader, accomplice
Rights group Amnesty International condemns Iran’s execution of a gold trader and his accomplice as “abhorrent” and says it follows a “grossly unfair show trial.”
Vahid Mazloomin and accomplice Mohammad Esmail Ghasemi were executed today after being found guilty of “corruption on earth,” Iran’s most serious capital offence, the judiciary’s Mizan website says.
Mazloomin had been dubbed the “Sultan of Coins” for allegedly exploiting a surge in gold demand from savers spooked by this year’s currency crisis in Iran.
“With these abhorrent executions the Iranian authorities have flagrantly violated international law,” says Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa research director, Philip Luther.
“These men were convicted after a grossly unfair show trial that was broadcast on state television,” he says, adding that international law forbids the death penalty for non-lethal crimes.
Mazloomin and Ghasemi were found guilty in September and had their death sentences upheld by Iran’s supreme court on October 21.
All roads blocked by anti-ceasefire demonstrators in south reopen
All the roads blocked by residents of southern communities protesting the government approval of a Gaza ceasefire are now open, police says.
Route 4 at the entrance to the city of Ashkelon reopens after some 80 demonstrators blocked the roads and chanted anti-government slogans.
Earlier, Route 34 at the entrance to Sderot was also reopened.
PM leaning toward rejecting Bennett’s demand to be defense minister — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s demand to be appointed defense minister, but is leaning toward rejecting it, Haaretz reports.
Netanyahu doesn’t categorically reject the Jewish Home party’s demand, but following consultations with his associates he reportedly prefers keeping the position for himself — a step expected to bring about early elections.
The leader of the United Torah Judaism party, Yaakov Litzman, is said to have talked several times today with Netanyahu, attempting to persuade him to approve Bennett’s request and preserve the coalition.
Moshe Lion confirmed as Jerusalem mayor as votes by soldiers, prisoners tallied
Results from the counting of votes by IDF soldiers, prisoners, and hospital patients in the second round of the Jerusalem mayoral races are tallied, confirming ultra-Orthodox-backed Moshe Lion as the next mayor of the capital.
After almost all of the additional ballots are counted, Lion’s previous advantage of some 6,500 votes over secular rival Ofer Berkovitch slightly shrinks, but remains wide enough for an upset to be mathematically impossible barring irregularities causing a recount.