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Herzog’s hot mic: President heard saying ‘entire world anxious’ about Ben Gvir

Meeting with Shas members, Israel’s head of state heard warning emerging government with far right will ‘have a problem with the Temple Mount, that’s a critical issue’

Members of Shas meet with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, November 9, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Members of Shas meet with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, November 9, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

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

US to give Lebanon $80.5 million in aid amid economic crisis

USAID chief Samantha Power speaks to journalists during her visit to solar panels system in the Lebanese-Syrian border town of Majdal Anjar, eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
USAID chief Samantha Power speaks to journalists during her visit to solar panels system in the Lebanese-Syrian border town of Majdal Anjar, eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The United States announces that it will give $80.5 million in aid for food assistance and solar-powered water pumping stations in the crisis-battered country of Lebanon.

The announcement is made by USAID chief Samantha Power during a visit to Lebanon ahead of a trip to Egypt for the COP27 UN climate conference.

During the visit, Power is set to meet with Lebanese political leaders to push for a resolution to the country’s political vacuum and for leaders to carry out a slate of political and economic reforms required by the International Monetary Fund to clinch a $3 billion aid package.

Power declines to say, however, whether any US assistance would be contingent on Lebanon taking these measures.

“We are not focused on what happens if those reforms don’t happen. The reforms have to happen,” she tells The Associated Press.

The visit comes as Lebanon is in the grip of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history. On Oct. 31, the six-year term of President Michel Aoun ended with no replacement elected.

Armed military drone crashes in southern Israel, sparking a fire

The scene of the crash of an armed military drone in southern Israel, November 9, 2022 (Courtesy)
The scene of the crash of an armed military drone in southern Israel, November 9, 2022 (Courtesy)

An armed Israeli military drone has crashed in southern Israel, sparking a fire, the military says.

The drone crashed near the city of Arad in southern Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces says forces were dispatched to the scene to safely clear the debris. Fire services who initially reached the scene were ordered to stay back, over fears munitions on the drone would explode.

Chief of the Israeli Air Force, Tomer Bar, has instructed the grounding of the entire fleet of the model in question until the incident is investigated.

Ben Gvir: I don’t generalize against all Arabs, I’ll explain my positions to world

Itamar Ben Gvir responds to Herzog’s hot mic comments, saying the two have “held many fruitful conversations in recent weeks.”

He says Herzog told him “more than once that close acquaintance with my opinions and plans managed to enrapture hundreds of thousands, and that he was certain that if I speak with the world, they will realize and acknowledge that I don’t generalize against all Arabs.”

He adds that he has “started to meet with diplomats and will work to explain the positions of Otzma Yehudit around the world.”

Key US Senate race in Georgia goes to December runoff — networks

The US Senate contest in Georgia that could determine which party controls the upper chamber of Congress is headed for a December runoff, media projections show.

Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker, a former American football star backed by Donald Trump, will battle for the seat on December 6, CNN and NBC project.

Neither candidate has earned the simple majority of votes needed by law to win outright.

Herzog’s hot mic: President heard saying ‘entire world anxious’ about Ben Gvir

Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the exit polls of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Head of the Otzma Yehudit party MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks to supporters as the exit polls of the Israeli elections are announced, at the party's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, November 1, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In an apparent hot mic moment after meeting with members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, President Isaac Herzog is heard warning Haredi lawmakers that “the entire world is anxious about” Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben Gvir.

“There’s one issue I didn’t talk about because I don’t want to shame anyone,” Herzog is heard saying. “You’re going to have a problem with the Temple Mount. That’s a critical issue.”

In clear reference to the far-right Ben Gvir, Herzog goes on to say: “You have a partner that the entire world is anxious about. I told him that too, between us. It’s not for publication. I don’t want to cause a stir. But I think you have a responsibility.”

A Shas member is heard saying “but he’s moderated,” before the recording cuts off.

In response, Herzog’s office says he noted in his conversation with Shas members “appeals made to him to him with concern over MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s positions on certain matters,” while repeating that the president had raised the matter in a conversation with the MK a few days ago.

Jordan’s King Abdullah raised the issue of the Temple Mount and Ben Gvir during his meeting with Herzog earlier this week, warning Israel against making unilateral changes to the status quo at the holy site, a Middle East diplomat has told The Times of Israel.

Shas recommends Netanyahu form next government

Members of Shas meet with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, November 9, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Members of Shas meet with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem, November 9, 2022 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Shas recommends Benjamin Netanyahu be tasked with forming a government, in consultations at the President’s Residence.

The Shas delegation is comprised of Michael Malkieli, Yoav Ben Tzur, Haim Biton and Yaakov Margi.

Wall Street Journal says Israel behind overnight strikes on Syria-Iraq border

Israel is behind a series of overnight airstrikes on a convoy near the Syria-Iraq border that left at least 10 people dead, including a number of Iranian fighters, according to The Wall Street Journal.

WSJ cites unidentified people familiar with the attack.

Russia sends American basketball star Brittney Griner to a penal colony

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a court room prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 26, 2022 (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

American basketball star Brittney Griner has been sent to a penal colony in Russia to serve her sentence for drug possession, her legal team says.

A Russian court rejected an appeal of her nine-year sentence last month. The eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

Her arrest came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, and the politically charged case could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.

Griner’s legal team says she left a detention center outside Moscow on Nov. 4 for a penal colony — as prisons in Russia are commonly known. The move was expected since she lost her appeal.

Such transfers can take days or even weeks, during which time lawyers and loved ones usually don’t have contact with the prisoner. Even after she arrives, access to Griner may be difficult since many penal colonies are in remote parts of Russia.

Kyiv sees ‘no signs’ of Russian pullout from Kherson

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak says Kyiv sees “no signs” that Russian forces are withdrawing from the southern city of Kherson, shortly after Moscow ordered the pullout.

“We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight,” Podolyak writes on Twitter, suggesting the announcement could be a ploy and calling the order from Russia’s defense minister a “staged TV statement.”

Gantz’s National Unity declines to recommend PM candidate to president

President Isaac Herzog asks the National Unity party why it won’t consider joining the emerging coalition in order to serve as a moderating force among its right-wing and religious parties.

He does so after the centrist party declines to recommend any candidate to form the next government.

“Citizens in the past hour have written to me and asked why the National Unity party won’t join the government,” says Herzog, elaborating that if that were to happen the government “will be broader and more stable, and it won’t turn to places that part of the public fears it will turn to.”

National Unity lawmaker Eitan Ginsburg says that in addition to his party’s lack of trust in Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu after a previous unity government went south, the party does not believe that “it can be influential over the policies they want to advance.”

Ginsburg is an openly gay lawmaker, and a number of lawmakers from the far-right Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudi — including its leader — have spoken out against gay rights, pushed to ban pride parades and are in favor of reinstating currently banned conversion therapy.

Hezbollah-affiliated paper blames Israel for Syria-Iraq border strike on Iranians

Israel is being blamed for three late-night airstrikes in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq that targeted Iran-backed militiamen, according to a report in the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Mayadeen.

The report cites unnamed sources on the ground, who say “the Israeli occupation is behind the drone attack on the al-Qa’im border crossing [between Iraq and Syria],” adding that “the drones targeted two fuel tankers and no human losses were confirmed.”

The Israeli army refuses to comment on the incident, telling the AFP: “We do not comment on foreign press reports.”

Russia says it’s withdrawing from Kherson; Ukraine has been skeptical

Russia’s military announces that it is withdrawing from Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson and nearby areas, in what would be another humiliating setback for Moscow’s forces in the eight-month-old war.

Ukrainian authorities do not immediately confirm the move — and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has suggested in recent days that the Russians were feigning a pullout from Kherson in order to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle. Zelenskyy called attempts to convince civilians to move deeper into Russian-controlled territory “theater.”

The top Russian military commander in Ukraine, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, has reported to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that it is impossible to deliver supplies to the city of Kherson and other areas on the western bank of the Dnieper River that it lies on. Shoigu agreed with his proposal to retreat and set up defenses on the eastern bank.

The city, with a prewar population of 280,000, is the only regional capital to be captured by Russian forces since the Feb. 24 invasion began.

KFC Germany sorry after customers invited to mark Kristallnacht with fried chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken’s German branch has apologized after inviting people in the country to enjoy some tasty chicken to commemorate Kristallnacht.

Kristallnacht is the name for the Nazi-led anti-Jewish riots on November 9-10, 1938, that swept through town across Nazi Germany and served as a harbinger of the horrors to come. Over several days, rioters destroyed hundreds of synagogues, looted thousands of businesses and killed at least 91 Jews; 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.

Understandably, many Germans were taken aback to receive a push message from the fast food chain declaring: “Memorial day of the Reich pogrom night: Treat yourself to more tender cheese with the crispy chicken.”

The message caused outrage on social media. A few minutes later, KFC sent a second push: “Sorry, an error occurred. Due to a bug in our system, we sent an incorrect and inappropriate message through our app.”

It said internal processes would be checked immediately “so that this does not happen again.”

Security forces foil attempt to smuggle handguns from Jordan into Israel

Weapons seized by security forces after a gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on November 9, 2022. (Israel Police)
Weapons seized by security forces after a gun-smuggling attempt over the border with Jordan on November 9, 2022. (Israel Police)

Israeli security forces foiled an attempt to smuggle five handguns from Jordan into Israel this morning, officials say.

According to the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, troops and officers chased a suspicious vehicle on the Route 90 highway near Bet Shean, after receiving intelligence about smuggling over the border.

Three suspects, two men from the southern Bedouin city of Rahat and a West Bank Palestinian, were detained along with the weapons in their possession.

Police say the trio is to be brought before a court tomorrow to extend their arrest.

Yesh Atid talks to Herzog, digs at Likud: ‘One shouldn’t change values just to be in power’

MK Boaz Toporovsky attends a Knesset Constitutional Committee meeting to discuss the so-called Criminal Defendant Bill and the Knesset dispersal bill, June 26, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
MK Boaz Toporovsky attends a Knesset Constitutional Committee meeting to discuss the so-called Criminal Defendant Bill and the Knesset dispersal bill, June 26, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Yesh Atid recommends party leader and outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid as the candidate to form the next government, a symbolic move after his bloc failed to clinch the requisite number of seats in last week’s election.

The Labor party is the only other party expected to recommend Lapid to President Herzog.

Yesh Atid reaffirms its intention to head into the opposition after its short stint leading the coalition, throwing a barb at Likud for what it says is a flexible ideology by the party to regain control.

“One shouldn’t change values just to be in power,” Energy Minister Karine Elharrar tells Herzog.

Likud has been heavily criticized by the center-left for embracing far-right parties in the latest election round.

“We need to be an alternative, to keep democratic and liberal values,” says party faction director MK Boaz Toporovsky.

Levin says right will seek dialogue on judicial reform, but not ‘paralysis’

At the meeting with Herzog, Levin and the president spoke of the right’s stated intention to reform the country’s judicial system, update security protocols and roll back religious reforms.

When asked by Herzog if Likud planned to employ “dialogue” with existing authorities to advance changes, Levin said that communication should not be a euphemism for stalling.

“Dialogue isn’t a whitewashed word for paralysis,” Levin says, adding that Likud is “of course in favor of a dialogue.”

Levin has pushed for reforms that would transfer power from the courts to politicians, in particular creating a legislative override when the Supreme Court  invalidates laws as unconstitutional and giving politicians greater control over the appointment of judges.

Echoing Likud MK Miri Regev, who was also present in the meeting and pushed for “sovereignty of the public” — via its representatives in the Knesset — over the rule of the courts, Levin said that the Knesset is not the party shutting down dialogue with the country’s public authorities.

“Unfortunately in the past years, this dialogue was missing — and not on part of the legislative authority,” he said.

Yariv Levin says Likud seeks to rapidly form new government

Yariv Levin, confidant to Likud’s leader and party faction chief, says that his party will endeavor to rapidly form Israel’s next government, amid reports that party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing parties to form a government as early as next week.

“We will make an effort to form the government as quickly as possible,” Levin says at the president’s Jerusalem residence, shortly after delivering his party’s recommendation that Netanyahu be tapped to form the next government.

Likud lawmaker Eli Cohen, in the party’s delegation to President Isaac Herzog, says that the government will be formed “in the coming weeks,” in remarks following Levin’s.

In preparation, Netanyahu has spent Wednesday in a series of meetings with party leaders from his right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc, in order to hammer out government positions, policy and budgetary promises.

Home of Palestinian who killed Israeli soldier at checkpoint slated for demolition

Udai Tamimi, 22, of the Shuafat refugee camp, is the suspected shooter behind a deadly attack on Saturday October 8, 2022 in which a female soldier was shot and killed at close range at a checkpoint near the camp in East Jerusalem. (Photo used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Udai Tamimi, 22, of the Shuafat refugee camp, is the suspected shooter behind a deadly attack on Saturday October 8, 2022 in which a female soldier was shot and killed at close range at a checkpoint near the camp in East Jerusalem. (Photo used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israel Defense Forces announces that the home of a Palestinian gunman who killed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Jerusalem last month is slated for demolition.

The gunman, Udai Tamimi, is accused of killing Sgt. Noa Lazar, 18, and seriously wounding a civilian guard on October 8 at a checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem.

He fled the scene and was killed attempting another attack 11 days later, during which another security guard was hurt.

Israel regularly demolishes the homes of Palestinians accused of carrying out deadly terror attacks as a matter of policy.

An appeal can be submitted on his behalf, but such attempts rarely succeed.

Likud formally recommends Netanyahu receive mandate to form government

Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and faction chair Yariv Levin (R) lead their party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and faction chair Yariv Levin (R) lead their party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud party formally recommends its leader Benjamin Netanyahu receive the mandate to form Israel’s 37th government, in its post-election consultation with President Isaac Herzog.

“Israel has gone through a long period of uncertainty with elections” and wants stability, says Likud faction director MK Yariv Levin at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.

Likud won 32 seats, and with its right-wing and ultra-Orthodox partners would hold a 64-lawmaker majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Herzog will meet with the Yesh Atid, National Unity, and Shas parties today, and finish meeting all parties on Thursday and Friday. He is expected to give the mandate to Netanyahu on Sunday.

Iran calls for Ukraine dialogue on war as it hosts Russia security chief

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani sits in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, on June 12, 2021. (Vahid Salemi/AP)
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani sits in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, on June 12, 2021. (Vahid Salemi/AP)

Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani calls for dialogue to end the war in Ukraine during a meeting in Tehran with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev.

“Iran supports any initiative leading to a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue,” Shamkhani is quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

The Islamic Republic is “ready to play a role in ending the war,” the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council adds.

The statement comes after Kyiv and its Western allies accused Russia in recent weeks of using Iranian-made drones to carry out attacks in Ukraine.

Russia’s Security Council says the two officials “discussed in detail bilateral cooperation in the field of law enforcement, including public security and the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

“In addition, they discussed measures to counter the interference of Western special services in the internal affairs of the two countries,” it says.

Palestinians say man shot dead by IDF troops near Jenin; circumstances unclear

Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers in the village of Al-Sila Al-Harithi, near the West Bank city of Jenin, May 7, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians clash with Israeli soldiers in the village of Al-Sila Al-Harithi, near the West Bank city of Jenin, May 7, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry reports that a man has been killed by Israeli troops’ gunfire near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

The ministry identifies the man as 29-year-old Raafat Issa.

Some Palestinian reports say the incident occurred near the village of ‘Anin, close to the West Bank security barrier.

There is no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces on the circumstances of the shooting.

13-year-old girl who was shot in the head in Kiryat Arba released from hospital

A 13-year-old Israeli girl who was shot in the head and critically wounded under unclear circumstances in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba last week has been released from a hospital in good condition.

Tamar Aharon fully regained consciousness on Saturday, the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital says.

Aharon had been rushed to the hospital by Magen David Adom paramedics while unconscious after being hit by gunfire while walking down a street in Kiryat Arba on November 3.

The military believes errant gunfire from the adjacent Palestinian city of Hebron was likely responsible.

Smotrich meets Netanyahu, cites ‘significant progress’ in coalition talks

In this June 24, 2019, file photo, Bezalel Smotrich, the then Israeli transportation minister, arrives to attend a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP, File)
In this June 24, 2019, file photo, Bezalel Smotrich, the then Israeli transportation minister, arrives to attend a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP, File)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich conclude a session of coalition talks.

According to Smotrich, “significant progress was made toward forming a national government.”

 

Police detain man after eggs thrown at King Charles III

A protester has been arrested after apparently hurling eggs at King Charles III and Camilla, the queen consort, as they walked in the northern England city of York.

The incident happened as the king and his wife were entering York through Micklegate Bar, a medieval gateway where monarchs are traditionally welcomed to the city.

Video footage showed several eggs in motion and smashed on the ground. None appeared to hit the royal couple, who continued to greet crowds.

Several police officers could be seen grappling with a man at a crowd barrier. Britain’s PA news agency reported that he booed and shouted “This country was built on the blood of slaves” as he was being detained.

Other members of the crowd tried to drown him out by chanting “Shame on you” and “God save the King.”

Iran detains ‘unprecedented’ number of women journalists — media watchdog

Iran is systematically trying to silence women by arresting an unprecedented number of female journalists in its crackdown on protests over Mahsa Amini’s death, a media watchdog says.

“As the Iranian regime continues its crackdown on the protests initiated by Mahsa Amini’s death, almost half of all newly arrested journalists are women, including two who are facing the death penalty,” according to Reporters Without Borders.

“The increasing detention of female journalists symbolically reveals the Iranian regime’s intention to systematically silence women’s voices,” it says.

The Islamic Republic has been gripped by protests that erupted when Amini, 22, died in custody on September 16 after her arrest for an alleged breach of Iran’s strict dress code for women.

This week, it indicted Niloufar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, two newspaper journalists who first drew public attention to Amini’s death, for “propaganda against the system and conspiracy to act against national security” — charges that can carry the death penalty.

Facebook parent Meta cuts 11,000 jobs, 13% of workforce

Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, October 28, 2021. (AP/Tony Avelar)
Facebook's Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, October 28, 2021. (AP/Tony Avelar)

Facebook parent Meta is laying off 11,000 people, about 13% of its workforce, as it contends with faltering revenue and broader tech industry woes, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says in a letter to employees.

The job cuts come just a week after widespread layoffs at Twitter under its new owner, billionaire Elon Musk. There have been numerous job cuts at other tech companies that hired rapidly during the pandemic.

Zuckerberg says he had made a decision to hire aggressively, anticipating rapid growth even after the pandemic ended.

“Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected,” Zuckerberg says. “Not only has online commerce returned to prior trends, but the macroeconomic downturn, increased competition, and ads signal loss have caused our revenue to be much lower than I’d expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

Receiving official election results, Herzog to hand out mandate to form government Sunday

President Isaac Herzog receives the official results of the November 1, 2022 elections from Central Elections Committee chair Justice Yitzhak Amit, November 9, 2022 (President's Residence)
President Isaac Herzog receives the official results of the November 1, 2022 elections from Central Elections Committee chair Justice Yitzhak Amit, November 9, 2022 (President's Residence)

President Isaac Herzog has officially been given the results of last week’s national election and will confer with party leaders in the coming days, his office says.

“I plan to conclude the advisory process by Friday and task [an MK] with forming a government this coming Sunday,” Herzog says.

The president is all but certain to give the job to Netanyahu, whose bloc won a decisive victory at the polls.

“Alongside a lively and necessary political debate,” Herzog says, “we must not under any circumstances give up our togetherness. The responsibility belongs to all of us, but in the political realm it is first and foremost that of all sides of parliament and its factions.”

Herzog adds that he believes in a unity government but is not pushing for one, and will leave the matter “to the political system alone.”

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