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Israel said to fear Australia could recognize Palestinian state next

Senior official says Israel reacted forcefully to Canberra’s decision to walk back recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in bid to deter further Australian steps

In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, October 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Australia Pool via AP)
In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, October 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Australia Pool via AP)

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

Iran says ready for talks with Ukraine over ‘baseless’ drone claims

The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)
The wreckage of what Kyiv has described as an Iranian Shahed drone downed near Kupiansk, Ukraine, September 13, 2022. (Ukrainian military's Strategic Communications Directorate via AP)

Tehran says it is ready for talks with Kyiv to clarify “baseless” claims that Iran is providing Russia with weapons and drones to be used in the war against Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Moscow of using Iranian-made drones in attacks on Ukraine in recent weeks. The Kremlin said Tuesday it had no knowledge of its army using such weapons.

Calling the claims “baseless” and “based on false information”, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani expresses “Iran’s readiness for negotiation and discussion with Ukraine to resolve these accusations,” a statement says.

“Claims made regarding the Islamic republic sending weapons including military drones to be used in the Ukraine war” are “untrue”, the ministry statement adds.

Earlier today, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had suggested to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Kyiv cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

Troops arrest ‘Lion’s Den’ member in northern West Bank raid

Members of Lion's Den are seen in Nablus an image published by the armed faction on September 3, 2022. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Members of Lion's Den are seen in Nablus an image published by the armed faction on September 3, 2022. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Border Police says officers arrest a member of the “Lion’s Den” armed group during a raid in a Palestinian town near Nablus.

According to a police spokesman, Suhaib Akef Jamil Shtayyeh was detained by undercover troops in a store in the town of Salem.

Police say Shtayyeh is suspected of being a member of the Lion’s Den “terror squad,” which has claimed responsibility for numerous shooting attacks in the Nablus area in recent months.

Shtayyeh has been transferred to the Shin Bet security agency for further questioning.

He is the brother of Musab Shtayyeh, a wanted Hamas man who was arrested by the Palestinian Authority last month. He had also been tied to Lion’s Den.

Russia preparing to evacuate civilians from Kherson: top commander

Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, then-Commander of the Russian forces in Syria, speaks at a briefing in the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, then-Commander of the Russian forces in Syria, speaks at a briefing in the Russian Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

Russia’s army is preparing to evacuate civilians from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, occupied by Moscow, the Russian military commander for Ukraine operations says

“The Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population” of Kherson, General Sergey Surovikin, who has been in charge of operations in Ukraine for the past 10 days, tells state television Rossiya 24 describing the situation as “very difficult.”

Second poll shows Likud losing ground to Religious Zionism

MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party visits in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar, northern Israel, October 6, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party visits in Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar, northern Israel, October 6, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A second poll published today shows Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud losing ground to the far-right Religious Zionism.

The Channel 12 poll shows Likud with just 30 seats, having slipped from 35 seats in the channel’s polling in recent months.

Over the same period, Religious Zionism, a union between Bezalel Smotrich and the Kahanist Itamar Ben Gvir, has risen from 8 to 14 seats.

The poll also foresees 25 seats for Yesh Atid; National Unity on 12; Shas, 8; UTJ, 7; Yisrael Beytenu, 6; Labor, 5, Meretz, 5; Hadash-Ta’al, 4 and Ra’am on 4.

The poll predicts Ayelet Shaked’s Jewish Home and the Arab nationalist Balad will both fail to cross the election threshold.

The results see Netanayhu’s religious-right bloc on 59 seats, short of the 61 needed for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. The current coalition is on 57, with Hadash Ta’al holding the additional seats.

Official: Israel fears Australia could recognize Palestinian state next

In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, October 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Australia Pool via AP)
In this image taken from video, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a press conference, October 18, 2022, in Canberra, Australia. (Australia Pool via AP)

A senior Israeli official tells the Walla news site that Israel reacted harshly to Australia’s decision to backtrack on recognizing West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, fearing that Canberra’s next step could be to recognize a Palestinian state.

“This is the reason we reacted so strongly and we are sure that got the message across,” the official says.

Israel summoned Australia’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry, where officials objected to Australia’s “wretched” move.”

 

Lapid slams religious Zionism legal reform plan, will ‘destroy democracy’

Prime Minister and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Prime Minister and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid slams a legal reform proposal put forward by the far-right Religious Zionism party, saying it would “destroy democracy.”

“If this gang gets into power, they’ll make every effort to destroy Israeli democracy, to cancel all the authority of the courts, to destroy the separation of powers in Israel. They don’t even bother to hide this anymore,” Lapid says.

Lapid says it’s a blatant attempt to get Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu off the hook in his corruption trial.

“It’s a deliberate campaign to cancel Netanyahu’s trial, and if they cancel Netanyahu’s trial by using political power that would mean that Israeli democracy is no longer Israeli democracy as we know it. We’re battling against this,” Lapid says.

Poll indicates Likud losing seats to far-right Religious Zionism

From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
From left to right: Otzma Yehudit leader MK Itamar Ben Gvir, opposition leader and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu, and Religious Zionism head MK Bezalel Smotrich. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A poll published today by the Kan public broadcasters indicates that Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is losing votes to the far-right Religious Zionism party.

The poll forecasts Likud with 31 seats, its lowest tally in polls in recent months, while Religious Zionism hits a high of 14 seats.

The poll puts Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party on 25 seats; National Unity on 11; Shas, 8; UTJ, 7; Yisrael Beiteynu, 7; Labor, 5; Meretz, 4; Joint List, 4; and Ra’am, 4.

Netanyahu’s religious-right bloc sits on 60, still just short of a majority in the 120-seat parliament.

Lavrov suggests Russia could downgrade diplomatic presence in West

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, July 8, 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, July 8, 2022. (Willy Kurniawan/Pool Photo via AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow could reduce its diplomatic presence in Western countries, blaming relations with Europe and the United States and Russia’s need to build ties elsewhere.

“Of course, we do not see any sense in or have any desire to maintain the same presence in Western countries… and third world countries, both in Asia and Africa, on the contrary, need additional attention,” Lavrov says in an address to new foreign ministry recruits.

Students protest at Iranian university as government official visits

Dozens of students protest at a university in Iran’s capital today as a government official visits, state media reports, amid demonstrations sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death.

Iran has been gripped by protests since the 22-year-old died on September 16, three days after she was arrested by morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

The street violence has led to dozens of deaths, mostly among protesters but also among the security forces, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested.

Today, around 90 students gathered outside the law faculty at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabai University, chanting “inappropriate and immoral slogans” while government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi was addressing a conference inside, state news agency IRNA says.

It did not elaborate on the reasons for the demonstration but says Bahadori-Jahromi later “appeared among the protesting students… and talked with them.”

Hamas delegation to make first visit to Syria in a decade on Wednesday

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on March 23, 2022, in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on March 23, 2022, in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)

A delegation from the Hamas terror group will visit Damascus on Wednesday, the first after a decade-long rupture sparked by the outbreak of Syria’s bloody civil war, Reuters reports.

The terror group last month hailed its newly warming ties with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad as “a service to the [Palestinian] nation.”

Analysts say the shift pushes Hamas deeper into the fold of the Iran-led “axis of resistance” against Israel that includes Syria, as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Olympic silver medal of German athlete who befriended Jesse Owens sells for $488,000

In this August 11, 1936, file photo, America's Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, alongside silver medalist Luz Long, right, of Germany, and bronze medalist Naoto Tajima, of Japan, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. (AP Photo/File)
In this August 11, 1936, file photo, America's Jesse Owens, center, salutes during the presentation of his gold medal for the long jump, alongside silver medalist Luz Long, right, of Germany, and bronze medalist Naoto Tajima, of Japan, during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. (AP Photo/File)

The silver medal captured by Luz Long, the German long jumper who befriended Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, sells at auction for more than $488,000, a sum the auction house says is a record price for a publicly sold second-place prize.

Long walked arm in arm through the stadium with Owens to celebrate their victories while Adolf Hitler watched from the stands. The family of the long jumper, who was killed in World War II, decided to auction the medal and other collectables. The auction house labeled the Luz collection as the “Beacon of Hope.”

Owens was Black, and his stirring success at those Olympics was said to have annoyed Hitler by puncturing the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority.

“It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me,” Owens said years later.

“You can melt down all the medals and cups I have and they wouldn’t be a plating on the 24-karat friendship I felt for Luz Long at that moment. Hitler must have gone crazy watching us embrace.”

Lebanon urges swift start to exploration in offshore gas field after Israel deal

Lebanese protesters in boats demand the cash-strapped country's right to disputed oil and gas fields on the Mediterranean Sea, near the southern marine border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, September 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)
Lebanese protesters in boats demand the cash-strapped country's right to disputed oil and gas fields on the Mediterranean Sea, near the southern marine border town of Naqoura, Lebanon, September 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

Lebanese President Michel Aoun urges a French energy company to begin exploring for natural gas in Mediterranean waters, after Lebanon and Israel reached a US-brokered agreement on a maritime border.

According to the Lebanese presidency, Aoun tells a delegation from TotalEnergies that he wants drilling to swiftly begin in “Block 9,” which is near the border with Israel and contains the Qana gas field.

Aoun calls for the work to begin quickly to make up for the time that the indirect negotiations took to yield a deal, a statement from his office said.

Lapid to talk to Ukraine FM over request for Israeli arms — report

A local resident sits outside a building destroyed by Russian, Iranian-made, drones after an airstrike on Bila Tserkva, southwest of Kyiv, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)
A local resident sits outside a building destroyed by Russian, Iranian-made, drones after an airstrike on Bila Tserkva, southwest of Kyiv, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid will speak to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday over Ukraine’s request for Israel to supply it with air defense systems, Hebrew media reports.

Earlier, Kuleba said he would submit a formal request for Israeli aid following a Russian onslaught on Ukraine with Iranian-made drones.

A senior security official tells the Ynet news site that he was doubtful the conversation would change Jerusalem’s stance.

Israel has resisted providing Kyiv with defensive or offensive weaponry, as it tries to protect its sensitive relationship with Moscow.

French cement giant Lafarge to pay $778 million for support of Syria terror groups

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) marching in Syria (photo credit: AP)
This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) marching in Syria (photo credit: AP)

French cement giant Lafarge SA will pay a $778 million fine to the US Justice Department for supporting terror groups in Syria during the Syrian civil war, Lafarge and its parent Holcim Group announce.

Lafarge SA and its defunct subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria “have agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations in Syria from August 2013 to October 2014,” the companies say in a statement.

Tel Aviv woman, 77, seriously hurt after falling 3 stories down elevator shaft

An open elevator shaft in a building in Tel Aviv into which a woman, 77, fell on  October 18, 2022 (Magen David Adom)
An open elevator shaft in a building in Tel Aviv into which a woman, 77, fell on October 18, 2022 (Magen David Adom)

A 77-year-old woman is seriously injured after falling three stories down an elevator shaft in Tel Aviv, medics say.

Magen David Adom medics say they found the woman at the bottom of the shaft suffering from multiple injuries. After being treated at the site she was taken to the city’s Ichilov hospital in serious condition.

Medics say she was likely saved by packages and cardboard boxes at the bottom of the shaft.

The building is undergoing a renovation.

 

Iran inks deal to supply Russia with ballistic missiles, more drones

A cleric walks past Zolfaghar, top, and Dezful missiles displayed by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
A cleric walks past Zolfaghar, top, and Dezful missiles displayed by the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, at Imam Khomeini grand mosque, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran has signed a deal to supply Russia with surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and additional drones, Reuters reports, citing four Iranian officials.

The deal was forged on October 6 when Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber led a senior security delegation to Mocow, Reuters says.

“The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family,” an Iranian diplomat tells Reuters.

The report comes after Russia launched a wave of attacks on Ukraine using Iranian drones.

National Unity party presents its ‘Eisenkot’ plan to restore internal security

Former IDF chief of staff and Knesset candidate Gadi Eisenkot unveils the National Unity party's plan for improving Israel's internal security, October 18, 2022. (Elad Malka)
Former IDF chief of staff and Knesset candidate Gadi Eisenkot unveils the National Unity party's plan for improving Israel's internal security, October 18, 2022. (Elad Malka)

The National Unity party presents its plan to enhance safety in Israel ahead of the November 1 elections.

The plan is named for former IDF chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who recently joined the alliance between Benny Gantz’s Blue and White and Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party.

The plan focuses on reducing crime, strengthening security and restoring governance in all parts of the country, the party says.

Malaysia shows suspected local Mossad agents behind alleged kidnapping of Hamas man

Malaysia parades several suspects arrested amid reports that a Hamas operative had been freed after he was kidnapped by local agents working for Israel’s Mossad.

Footage broadcast on Malaysian news channels show several men walking in a line, their hands manacled and eyes covered.

The reports say they are among 18 people arrested on suspicion of being involved in the kidnapping.

Authorities in Malaysia reportedly recently freed a Palestinian man who had allegedly been captured late last month by local operatives of the Mossad and was being interrogated in Kuala Lumpur for his alleged affiliation with the Hamas terror group and its armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

According to reports yesterday, Malaysian operatives recruited by the Israeli spy agency and trained in Europe had abducted a Palestinian man from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in the Malaysian capital on September 28 as he was getting into a vehicle with another Gazan man. Both were said to be computer programming experts.

The second man, who according to Malaysian reports tried to help his friend, was warned to stay away as the operatives dragged their target to a waiting car. He hurried to alert authorities of the incident.

German cybersecurity chief fired amid reports of ties to Russian intel

Arne Schoenbohm, President of the Federal Office for Information Security, attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 14, 2021 on the 'security of the federal elections 2021'. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)
Arne Schoenbohm, President of the Federal Office for Information Security, attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 14, 2021 on the 'security of the federal elections 2021'. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)

The head of Germany’s national cybersecurity agency has been dismissed following reports of possible ties to Russian intelligence, the Interior Ministry says.

The ministry says that Interior Minister Nancy Faeser dismissed Arne Schoenbohm as head of the BSI agency following the allegations, which “damaged the necessary confidence of the public in the neutrality and impartiality” of his management, German news agency dpa reports.

Schoenbohm co-founded a cybersecurity group a decade ago that brings together experts from public institutions and the private sector. German media reported that one of its members is a company founded by a former Russian intelligence agent.

The German government said over a week ago that it was investigating the reports comprehensively.

Schoenbohm, 53, had been the head of the BSI since February 2016. There was no immediate word on who would succeed him.

The ministry says the decision to replace him was also in the interest of the agency’s 1,500 employees and their ability to work without speculation about the personnel issue, dpa reports.

There is growing concern in Germany that the country’s critical infrastructure might be targeted by Russia because of Berlin’s support for Ukraine.

Two killed in stabbing in southern Germany, attacker shot

Police gather near the crime scene following a shooting attack on the campus of the University in Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, January 24, 2022. (Daniel ROLAND / AFP)
Police gather near the crime scene following a shooting attack on the campus of the University in Heidelberg, southwestern Germany, January 24, 2022. (Daniel ROLAND / AFP)

Two people are killed in a stabbing assault in western Germany, police say, adding that the perpetrator was in custody.

The motive was unclear, say police of the incident in the city of Ludwigshafen.

Officers had fired shots at the suspect before arresting him, a police spokeswoman says.

First accounts indicated that “an individual had attacked another with a knife,” said police in a statement.

The crime scene has been cordoned off and there is no danger for the public, they add.

Germany has been hit in recent years by deadly knife attacks, some carried out by extremists and others by people suffering from serious psychological problems.

Ukraine FM: We will formally ask Israel for air defense assistance

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is seen following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 7, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is seen following a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, on April 7, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tells a news conference that his country will formally ask Israel for air defense assistance following a wave of attacks by Iranian-made drones.

Reuters quotes Kuleba as saying that he has also submitted a proposal to President Volodymyr Zelensky, asking that Kyiv to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran for supplying weapons to Russia.

Zelensky says he has repeatedly asked Israel to provide air defense systems, listing the Jewish state as one of five countries possessing the technology to help the Ukrainians against aerial attack during a September CNN interview.

But Jerusalem has resisted providing Kyiv with significant defensive or offensive weaponry, as it tries to protect its sensitive relationship with Moscow.

 

Poland refuses to lift ban on armed guards for Israeli school trips

Participants of the yearly March of the Living walk in the former German Nazi Death Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Brzezinka, Poland, May 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
Participants of the yearly March of the Living walk in the former German Nazi Death Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Brzezinka, Poland, May 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

Poland has banned Israeli school groups from using armed guards during visits to the country, including to former Nazi concentration camps.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina is quoted by PAP news agency as saying: “We are ready to receive Israeli excursions in Poland if they are not accompanied by armed security guards.”

Jasina spoke after Israeli ambassador Yacov Livne last week said Israeli school visits had been banned “because of the decisions taken by the Polish foreign ministry.”

The issue is over visits organized by Israel’s Education Ministry for high school children, which have been suspended since June.

Interviewed on a regional radio station in Lublin in eastern Poland, Jasina said there were no armed guards for Israeli schoolchildren on visits to France and Germany, which could create the impression they were more in danger in Poland than in those countries.

Vetting committee approves Herzi Halevi as next IDF chief of staff

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R) speaks to members of the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee during a meeting to approve the nomination of Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi as the next IDF chief, October 18, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (R) speaks to members of the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee during a meeting to approve the nomination of Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi as the next IDF chief, October 18, 2022. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

A vetting committee approves the candidacy of Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi for the position of military chief, paving the way for him to step into the role at the beginning of next year.

A final vote to approve Halevi to take over as the 23rd commander of the Israel Defense Forces will need to be brought before the government.

The Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, led by former attorney general and Supreme Court judge Elyakim Rubenstein, approves Halevi, the current IDF deputy chief of staff, to take over for outgoing army commander Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, who is due to end his tenure in January 2023.

Israel castigates Australian envoy over ‘wretched’ Jerusalem decision

Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel's Foreign Ministry building in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After summoning Australia’s ambassador to the Foreign Ministry,  political director Aliza Bin Noun expresses to him Israel’s “deep disappointment” over Canberra’s decision to reverse its recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and emphasizes that the government is weighing additional steps.

Today’s announcement by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong surprised and angered Israeli officials.

Bin Noun tells Paul Griffiths that it is a “wretched decision that ignores the deep and eternal connection between Israel and its historical capital, and runs counter to the positive ties between Israel and Australia.”

She adds that it encourages extremist elements in the West Bank to continue stoking violence, and risks destabilizing the region.

The senior Israeli diplomat stresses that the timing of the Australian announcement is also objectionable, coming as Israelis and Jews around the world celebrate Sukkot and the “special bond with Jerusalem.”

UK regulator orders Meta to sell Giphy after failed appeal

In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021, a pedestrian walks in front of a new logo and the name 'Meta' on the sign in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP)
In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021, a pedestrian walks in front of a new logo and the name 'Meta' on the sign in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/AFP)

A British competition regulator orders Facebook owner Meta to sell animated graphics startup Giphy in a final decision after a failed appeal by the US tech giant.

The Competition and Markets Authority says in a statement that Giphy must be “sold off in its entirety,” after ruling last year that the acquisition would hit competition and advertising.

Meron disaster probe sends preliminary findings to PM Lapid

Former Justice Dvora Berliner, head of the state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster, at a hearing in Jerusalem on July 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Justice Dvora Berliner, head of the state commission of inquiry into the Meron disaster, at a hearing in Jerusalem on July 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The government’s taskforce probing the 2021 disaster at Mount Meron — which left 45 people dead and over 150 injured — presents its interim findings to Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Former justice Dvora Berliner says she decided to preempt the full findings to give the government time to implement recommendations ahead of next year’s event.

The three-member panel was established to investigate the deadly disaster that took place at Mount Meron on April 30, 2021. The tragedy, sparked by a crush of people along a narrow pathway at the site, was the worst civilian disaster in Israeli history.

Among the proposals were new traffic regulations for the site; expanding the areas where the festivities can take place and the need for ultra-Orthodox ushers at the event.

Lapid thanks the commission for the recommendations and appoints a team to implement the findings.

 

Russia confirms it carried out new strikes on power facilities in Ukraine

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from around twenty kilometers away in an area in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from around twenty kilometers away in an area in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Russia confirms new strikes on power facilities in Ukraine, after Kyiv said the energy situation was critical across the country following renewed attacks.

“In the past day, the Russian armed forces have continued to strike Ukrainian military commands and energy systems with long-range air and sea-based high precision weapons,” the Russian defense ministry says in its daily update.

IDF to hold major drill across southern Israel

Illustrative image of infantry soldiers  during an open field combat exercise, June 2011 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Illustrative image of infantry soldiers during an open field combat exercise, June 2011 (photo credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces says it will launch a major military exercise across southern Israel tomorrow morning.

The drill, which will last until Thursday evening, will span across the Negev desert, the Arava valley region, and the southernmost city of Eilat.

The IDF says that a high presence of troops, military vehicles, aircraft, and sea vessels will be noted in the area, but there will be no restrictions on civilian movement.

Religious Zionism party presents plan for overhaul of legal system

Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks to the press in Ramat Gan, August 23, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks to the press in Ramat Gan, August 23, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich presents his plans to overhaul the justice system.

Leading the plan is the abolition of the criminal charge of fraud and breach of trust, currently faced by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his current trial.

Smotrich is expected to be a senior partner if Netanyahu can form a government after the November 1 elections.

Smotrich argues that the current fraud and breach of trust laws are too ambiguous and lead to cases being “trumped up” for many politicians.

“We will insist that these amendments be carried out. There will be a democracy in which the authorities work in a balanced way with each other,” Smotrich says, also arguing that the State’s Attorney office needs “a restart and to be rebuilt.”

The plan also calls for an overhaul of the Judicial Selection Committee.

Right-wing politicians have long attacked the legal system, with particular emphasis on the Supreme Court over its composition and its rulings, claiming it overreaches to impose a liberal agenda, and have called for drastically limiting its powers of judicial oversight.

The Judicial Selection Committee is made up of nine members — currently five judges from the Supreme Court and representatives of the Bar Association, and four MKs.

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