The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
The White House says it is “confident” that Iran is behind a drone attack earlier today on an oil tanker off the coast of Oman owned by an Israeli billionaire.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says the White House is “confident that Iran likely conducted this attack using a UAV.”
The Bahrain-based United States Fifth Fleet says it is “aware of the incident.”
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides reportedly warned Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu not to make Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich the next defense minister.
According to a Channel 12 TV report, Nides met with Netanyahu yesterday — along with former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — and asked him, without naming Smotrich, to select a candidate for the sensitive position “in a way that will take into account the intimate relationship between Israel and the US.”
Smotrich has asked for either the post of finance minister — which Shas chief Aryeh Deri is demanding — or defense minister — which Netanyahu reportedly told him he cannot have.
In a meeting earlier today, Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu and Otzma Yehudit head Itamar Ben Gvir agreed to a series of legislative initiatives that Ben Gvir has been pushing for, Likud says.
Those bills include retroactively legalizing a swath of illegal West Bank outposts within 60 days of the government being sworn in; changing the 2005 Disengagement Law in a way that would allow the legalization of the controversial Homesh outpost and yeshiva; a minimum sentence for agricultural crimes; and others.
Likud says they also agreed to expand an existing law that says no criminal charges can be brought against someone using force to protect their home to also apply to anyone defending an IDF army base.
After the Netanyahu-Ben Gvir meeting, Likud said that the pair made “significant advancements,” without elaborating. Even if such promises are ultimately entered into the coalition agreements, there is no guarantee they would manage to pass in the Knesset.
Ben Gvir has publicly demanded that he be given the position of public security minister, a post that has worried several Western allies, considering his incendiary background. It is unclear if Netanyahu is willing to hand him the job.
Gunmen open fire in a bazaar in the southwestern Iranian city of Izeh, killing at least five people and wounding civilians and security forces, state TV reports.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the attack or if it was linked to the nationwide protests that have convulsed Iran over the past two months. Another 10 people, including security forces, are wounded in the shooting, according to state TV.
State TV says that groups of several dozens of protesters had gathered in different parts of Izeh today, chanting anti-government slogans and hurling rocks at police, who fired tear gas to disperse them.
Violent clashes have erupted around some of the protests as security forces have clamped down on dissent. Iran has also seen a number of recent attacks blamed on separatists and Islamic extremists, including a shooting at a major Shiite shrine last month that killed more than a dozen people.
Israel has revoked the entry permits from hundreds of relatives of the terrorist who killed three and wounded others near the settlement of Ariel yesterday, the military’s liaison to the Palestinians says.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry body known as COGAT, says the decision to revoke the permits for some 500 Palestinians to enter Israel for work was made by Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
In the past year, more than 3,000 work permits belonging to family members of Palestinian terrorists have been revoked, COGAT adds.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that a missile that hit Poland, killing two, was Russian.
“I have no doubt that this is not our missile,” Zelensky says in televised remarks. “I believe that this was a Russian missile, based on our military reports.”
Zelensky’s comments contradict those of Poland and NATO, which both said the explosion was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile launched to intercept a Russian barrage.
Zelensky says Kyiv has not seen proof that the missile was Ukrainian, and says it is imperative Ukraine become part of an investigation.
Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir hold another meeting in Jerusalem as coalition talks continue.
Following the meeting, Likud says that there were “significant advances” made during the sit-down.
Ben Gvir and Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich — who ran on a joint platform — vowed that they would conduct joint negotiations to enter the coalition.
Netanyahu and Smotrich have been at odds over the latter’s ministerial demands. Smotrich wants the job of defense minister, which Netanyahu reportedly told him he cannot have, and said he would also take the job of finance minister — which Shas chair Aryeh Deri reportedly refuses to relinquish.
Israel is urging its citizens traveling to the FIFA World Cup this week to be less visibly Israeli.
The warning is part of a Foreign Ministry campaign, launched Wednesday, to educate the nation’s soccer fans about laws and customs in the conservative Muslim country.
The campaign website, in Hebrew and Arabic, outlines a potential minefield awaiting Israeli tourists — who don’t have a reputation for being discreet — in Qatar, a country that criminalizes homosexuality, bans drugs and restricts alcohol consumption.
The campaign asks Israelis to hide any Israeli symbols — presumably a reference to Israeli flags and Stars of David.
“The Iranian team will be in the World Cup and we estimate that tens of thousands fans will follow it, and there will be other fans from Gulf countries that we don’t have diplomatic relations with,” says Lior Haiat, a senior Israeli diplomat.
“Downplay your Israeli presence and Israeli identity for the sake of your personal security,” Haiat says, addressing the Israeli fans.
Israel’s Defense Ministry says it is reviewing a report by The Wall Street Journal that found Iranian drones were built using Western-made parts, and possibly with Israeli lenses.
The report said that an infrared lens on a Mohajer-6 UAV that was hijacked in Ukraine “appears to be identical to a model made by an Israeli firm, Ophir Optronics Solutions.”
“A preliminary review of the relevant international export control regimes indicates that the lens is neither a controlled defense item nor a dual-use item, according to Israeli law based on international arrangements,” the ministry says.
The Israeli Embassy in the US is sponsoring Jewish Heritage Night at the Washington Wizards game tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The team says it will celebrate Jewish culture throughout the game and an Israeli dance team will perform during the halftime show.
Wizards forward Deni Avdija, an Israeli native, will also address fans at the end of the game.
Avdija will also meet with Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog and sign Wizards hats that will be donated to a children’s charitable organization.
“This is the first time the Embassy is sponsoring a Washington Wizards game, and I’m confident it won’t be the last,” Herzog says in a statement.
“This night is extremely important given the rise in racism in general and antisemitic rhetoric and incidents in particular, including in the world of entertainment and sports. Tonight we celebrate the contributions of the Jewish community to the United States, which are a great answer to antisemitic hate in this country.”
Join us on Wednesday for Jewish Heritage Night, presented by the @IsraelinUSA!
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) November 15, 2022
Multiple Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recruits were struck by a vehicle early this morning, authorities say.
TV news helicopter broadcasts show a large response of firefighters and ambulances in Whittier, a vehicle on a sidewalk as well as numerous individuals nearby in uniform workout clothes.
County fire senior dispatcher Martin Rangel confirms that the incident involved sheriff’s recruits but says there is no immediate patient count.
Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Deputy Grace Medrano says the incident involves a sheriff’s academy class.
Medrano says there are injuries but she does not have a confirmed number or information about the severity of the injuries.
Labor party chair Merav Michaeli calls for unity in the anti-Netanyahu bloc after earlier infighting.
“I call on my friends in Yesh Atid and National Unity to stop publicly bickering and join us in the struggle,” says Michaeli in a statement.
The Labor head says the parties should unite against the “dangerous and anti-democratic” legislative initiatives being pushed for by “Netanyahu and his extremist partners.”
Michaeli issues a public call: “Lapid and Gantz — don’t let your ego rule you. Our democracy is at stake. We can’t let them destroy it. Show leadership and responsibility.”
Iran has released two Greek tankers seized in May in retaliation after an Iranian crude oil cargo was held in Greece, says the Greek merchant marine ministry.
“After months-long talks with Iran, the Greek-flagged ships Prudent Warrior and Delta Poseidon seized since May 27 left today,” the ministry says in a statement.
Greece’s deputy merchant marine minister was in Tehran today to broker the agreement, the ministry says. Most of the 50 sailors on board the two vessels had already been replaced weeks earlier.
Two IDF soldiers are hurt after a vehicle they were in crashed into a bus near a military base in southern Israel.
The crash occurred on the Route 40 highway, near the Ein Avdat national park.
According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, a 20-year-old male soldier is seriously hurt, and a 19-year-old female soldier is moderately hurt.
Eight other people on the bus are lightly hurt. Five of them are also soldiers, the IDF says.
The IDF says the two soldiers were wrapping up a routine patrol near their base.
Heading out of a meeting with Shas head Aryeh Deri, prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu calls for patience as coalition talks drag on.
“A little patience, and with God’s help we’ll establish a right-wing government,” Netanyahu tells reporters after the meeting.
Netanyahu is set to lead a 64-seat coalition of his Likud party with Shas, United Torah Judaism and Religious Zionism, but battles over ministerial positions are ongoing.
Deri has demanded the post of finance minister, but so has Smotrich, who sees it as his second-choice behind being defense minister — a job Netanyahu has told him he can’t have.
Likud says that Netanyahu does not have any further meetings scheduled for the day.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggests that Russia is ultimately responsible for a deadly blast in Poland, saying it occurred as Moscow’s forces target Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure.
Initial reports blamed Russian missiles for the explosion, which killed two people and raised fears of a major escalation of the Ukraine conflict, but Poland later said it was likely caused by a stray surface-to-air missile fired by Kyiv’s forces.
“We’ll continue to work closely with our ally Poland and others to gather more information, and we’ll continue to consult closely with our NATO allies and our valued partners,” Austin says as he opens a virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is made up of dozens of countries that back Kyiv.
“What we do know is the context in which this is unfolding. Russia is facing setback after setback on the battlefield, and Russia is putting Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure in its gunsights,” he adds.
Michael Ladygin, who was killed in yesterday’s terror attack in Ariel, is laid to rest at a cemetery in Holon.
Ladygin, 36, a married father of two, lived in Bat Yam and worked as a truck driver. He moved to Israel five years ago from Russia.
“My husband loved Israel, he wanted to live here,” his wife, Evgeniya, says at his funeral, remembering him as a man who always stopped to help others. “I hope no other family ever enters this circle of bereavement.”
Britain faces major security threats from the trio of Russia, China and Iran, which all use coercion, intimidation and violence to pursue their interests, the UK’s domestic intelligence spy chief says.
Ken McCallum, director-general of MI5, adds to mounting warnings from British authorities about Russia’s aggression and China’s growing assertiveness. He also singles out Iran as a mounting concern, saying UK authorities have uncovered at least 10 “potential threats” this year to “kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime.”
He says Iran’s intelligence services “are prepared to take reckless action” against opponents, both on Western soil and by luring people to Iran.
In a speech outlining the major threats to the UK from both hostile states and terror groups, McCallum says there is a risk Russia, China and Iran could help one another, “amplifying their strengths.”
Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir sits down for “a work meeting” with United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, says Ben Gvir’s office.
Ben Gvir is the head of the Otzma Yehudit faction within his party, and Gafni is the head of UTJ’s Degel HaTorah faction.
Both are expected to join the future government of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, though coalition negotiations are still underway.
Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Shas head Aryeh Deri, according to a spokesman from Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The two are reportedly working on a solution to the Finance Ministry portfolio, desired by both Deri and Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich.
Smotrich has also said he would like the position of defense minister, something Netanyahu has reportedly ruled out.
Deri and Netanyahu reportedly end their meeting without any agreement.
Shots are reportedly fired at the settlement of Shaked in the northern West Bank.
The Rescuers Without Borders emergency service says there are no injuries in the attack, but damage is caused to homes.
There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the incident.
The settlement has come under several shooting attacks in recent months.
Motti Ashkenazi, 59, who was killed in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Ariel, is laid to rest in Yavne.
His family requested that the funeral be closed to media coverage.
Ashkenazi worked as a supplier for the Amisragas gas distributor in the West Bank area. He is survived by his wife, three children and two grandchildren.
“Motti was a loving person, full of joy, an exemplary husband, and a family man with a huge soul who always loved to help everyone,” his family said in remarks provided by the Yavne municipality.
Another victim, Tamir Avihai, was laid to rest last night, and the funeral of the third man who was killed, Michael Ladygin, is pending the arrival of his family members from abroad.
The National Unity party lobs criticism at Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid’s control over the opposition parties he is slated to represent as leader of the opposition.
An unnamed source from the National Unity party tells journalists that the party will “continue to do what is good for the country in a matter-of-fact way and not in a way that serves Lapid’s needs, which we have already seen where they lead.”
Lapid’s ideologically broad bloc lost to prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s 64 seats in the November 1 election.
“Lapid has proven that he has no ability to lead either the opposition or the coalition — we still haven’t heard him take responsibility for his failures,” says a source in National Unity. “He and his people are doing what they do best — slandering others,” the source says in a statement issued to several Hebrew media outlets.
Shortly after the Knesset was sworn in yesterday, Lapid gathered National Unity head Gantz, Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman, Labor leader Merav Michaeli and Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas for what his office dubbed a meeting of the head of opposition parties.
Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi met separately with Yesh Atid faction director Boaz Toporovsky. Hadash-Ta’al is not aligned with the Lapid-led bloc, but is a committed opposition party.
Tibi says today that “with all due respect to Yesh Atid, I don’t owe you anything.”
“You held a meeting of opposition leaders and someone forced you not to invite us at all, so do I owe you something? I don’t want to sit down with you for a coordination meeting at all,” Tibi says, referring to yesterday’s meeting.
The Supreme Court throws out an appeal filed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair against a lower court ruling that had upheld a libel ruling against him, meaning he will have to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels in compensation to a journalist and cover the court fees.
Yair Netanyahu claimed the original ruling against him was in bad faith as he never received court notification about the libel lawsuit filed by former Walla news site editor Avi Alkalay.
Netanyahu was at the time living with his parents at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem rather than in the family apartment in the capital or their Caesarea home. Though the letter was sent to the official residence, it was not ultimately delivered to Netanyahu, allegedly due to protocols against staff accepting registered letters at the site.
Because Netanyahu never filed a statement of defense, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court automatically ruled in favor of Alkalay in March 2020.
Netanyahu appealed that decision to the Tel Aviv District Court, which rejected the appeal in July 2021, saying the registered letter was sent to the correct location under the circumstances and told the former premier’s son to compensate Alkalay NIS 250,000 (approximately $73,000), and pay an additional NIS 29,250 (approximately $8,500) in court fees.
Prosecutors file an indictment against an Arab teen from northern Israel over his alleged affiliation with the Islamic State terror group, the Justice Ministry says.
According to the charge sheet, over the past two years, the 16-year-old was in contact with several members of the jihadist group.
The indictment says in 2020 he was interested in swearing allegiance to IS and potentially joining its ranks abroad.
In 2021, the teen swore allegiance to the group, and continued being in contact with members, who provided him with instructions to build explosive devices and makeshift weapons, the indictment says.
The teen also attempted to convince several of his friends to join IS as well, however, they declined, according to the indictment.
As he is a minor, the suspect’s name is barred from publication.
The Arrangements Committee is expected to approve its lawmaker membership today, which will include 10 expected coalition members and nine expected opposition members.
According to law, the committee chairmanship must go to a member of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, and will be held by Likud MK Yoav Kisch.
While awaiting finalization, the committee spokesperson confirms that it is expected to be composed of the following MKs:
Likud: Yoav Kisch, Shlomo Karhi, Amichai Chikli, Galit Distal Atbaryan, Ophir Katz
Yesh Atid: Merav Ben Ari, Boaz Toporovsky, Ron Katz
Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit: Yitzhak Wasserlauf, Simcha Rothman
National Unity: Michael Biton, Sharren Haskel
Shas: Michael Malkieli, Moshe Arbel
United Torah Judaism: Yaakov Asher
Yisrael Beytenu: Evgeny Sova
Ra’am: Walid Taha
Hadash-Ta’al: Ahmad Tibi
Labor: Efrat Rayten
Tensions between the winning and losing blocs run high during the first meeting of the Knesset’s influential Arrangements Committee, chaired by Likud MK Yoav Kisch.
“Politics is like a wheel, sometimes you’re at the bottom and sometimes at the top. During the last year and a half, we were at the bottom. Everyone remembers how they treated us in the past year and a half… since then, the wheel has turned,” says Kisch.
Welcoming the 18 fellow lawmakers joining him on the committee, Kisch says: “Hello to fellow MKs, some of them friends, some not.”
Kisch’s opening remarks are constantly interrupted by MKs heading into the opposition, including Yesh Atid lawmaker Michal Shir.
“Good morning, welcome to a committee, which for a year and a half you didn’t agree to come to,” shouts Shir — who joined Yesh Atid after being elected with the New Hope party — at Likud MKs.
“Which party are you from again?” responds Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan.
Entering the meeting, Yesh Atid faction director and outgoing coalition whip Boaz Toporovsky says he hopes the Likud bloc will not seek to push committee changes upon the losing bloc.
“We want this Knesset to be respectful and we’ll be part of it,” says Yesh Atid faction director Boaz Toporovsky.
“Good that you’re joking around,” says Kisch, who separately agreed to changes made “in agreement.”
The Arrangements Committee is responsible for setting the 25th Knesset’s committee structures. The committee’s party allocation was approved by the Knesset plenum earlier today in a 47 to 1 vote.
I joined The Times of Israel after many years covering US and Israeli politics for Hebrew news outlets.
I believe responsible coverage of Israeli politicians means presenting a 360 degree view of their words and deeds – not only conveying what occurs, but also what that means in the broader context of Israeli society and the region.
That’s hard to do because you can rarely take politicians at face value – you must go the extra mile to present full context and try to overcome your own biases.
I’m proud of our work that tells the story of Israeli politics straight and comprehensively. I believe Israel is stronger and more democratic when professional journalists do that tough job well.
Your support for our work by joining The Times of Israel Community helps ensure we can continue to do so.
Tal Schneider, Political Correspondent
We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.
That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel