The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.
An exit poll projects that Sweden’s ruling left-wing Social Democrats has won the most votes in a general election today, while a right-wing populist party had its best showing yet.
The exit poll published by Swedish public broadcaster SVT has a margin of error, and the final outcome will only be known once votes are counted.
There are eight parties running to win seats in the 349-seat parliament, or Riksdag. They belong to one of two major blocs, one with four left-wing parties and another with four conservative parties. The exit poll projected that the left had a slight edge over the right, with 176 seats to 173.
BERLIN — Prime Minister Yair Lapid walks with Holocaust survivor Shoshana Trister as he is greeted by an honor guard on the tarmac at the airport in Berlin.
— Lazar Berman (@Lazar_Berman) September 11, 2022
Trister, 87, was born in Galicia, and escaped with her family from a labor camp. She spent two years hiding with Christian families and in the woods.
She made aliyah to Kfar Saba in 1950, and now lives in Tel Aviv where she spends much of her time painting.
Lapid is slated to meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock tomorrow.
Steinmeier and Lapid are slated to meet at the House of the Wannsee Conference accompanied by Trister and other Holocaust survivors who flew with the prime minister.
Religious Zionism party chair Bezalel Smotrich says that a transgender child is simply not fit to attend a religious school, just like someone who brings a non-kosher sandwich to class.
“Whoever is enrolled in religious schools needs to act according to Jewish law,” Smotrich tells Channel 13 news. “Therefore, just like someone who brings a non-kosher sandwich for a snack can’t learn in religious schools, so too someone who violates Jewish law can’t learn in religious schools.”
Such a determination, Smotrich adds, is defined in state law, and is “separate completely from the overall conversation” about transgender Israelis.
Smotrich is asked about the issue in light of news reports over the past week that a transgender student was studying in a religious school in Givat Shmuel, without the knowledge of the other students or parents, angering some of them.
Before answering the question, Smotrich also says that he is “much more accepting and tolerant” of the LGBTQ community than Ra’am MK Walid Taha, and that the news media is “hypocritical” in not asking him similar questions.
Greece’s prime minister says that he cannot imagine that tensions with neighboring NATO ally Turkey could ever escalate into armed conflict.
Asked by The Associated Press whether a recent escalation in rhetoric from Turkey, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, could be the prelude to an armed conflict, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis replies negatively.
“I don’t believe this will ever happen. And if, God forbid, it happened, Turkey would receive an absolutely devastating response. And I think they know it very well. Turkey knows the competence of the Greek forces,” he says.
Erdogan has accused Greece of occupying supposedly demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea and has threatened that Turkey would take action.
Mitsotakis adds that, despite Erdogan’s “unacceptable” comments, he is still open to dialogue and a meeting with him.
The outgoing chief of the military’s Northern Command says the Israel Defense Forces has learned “a lot” from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “relevant” to a potential war with the Hezbollah terror group.
“We are examining the conflict, and will implement lessons learned for a future war in the north,” Maj. Gen. Amir Baram says during a ceremony marking the entry of the next chief of the Northern Command.
He says Israel will target Hezbollah’s assets “and any other terror group, should it be required to.”
“Against the axis of evil led by Iran, we are preventing and curbing this evil every day,” Baram adds.
Baram says Hezbollah has been defensive in recent years, and “most of its operations against us have been responses.”
He also says Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has been dealing with “quite a number” of dilemmas recently, which Baram says Israel doesn’t have. Hezbollah is losing control of its operatives who have become more brazen with their actions along the border, and the terror group suffers from corruption, Baram notes.
“We made great efforts to foil its attempts to exact a price from us over its deaths” in Israeli operations, Baram says.
Less than a day after parting ways, former Zionist Spirit partners Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel battle for the right-wing votes that their joint party failed to attract.
Hendel brands his bid to continue leading Zionist Spirit as the home for the “normal right.”
“I appreciate Ayelet Shaked. I understand the political choice she made. But the normal right deserves a home. And this home is Zionist Spirit,” Hendel says in a video message.
Shaked says that the end of their partnership has allowed to her to “come home” to the right.
“I believe in partnerships, but I’m not ready for these partnerships to distance me from my values – the values of the right,” Shaked says after their split.
Shaked and Hendel’s partnership rapidly unraveled this weekend, amid consistently low polling and differences in approach toward partnering with former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Zionist Spirit sources.
Shaked is open to partnering with Netanyahu in a somewhat-narrow government coalition, but has not committed to a specific threshold number. She accuses Hendel of belonging to the “anything but Bibi” camp, while he charges that she will deliver a narrow government to the Likud leader.
Queen Elizabeth II’s flag-draped coffin arrives at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the British monarchy’s residence in the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh.
The arrival followed a slow, somber and regal procession through the Scottish countryside today. Mourners packed city streets and lined rural roads to take part in a historic goodbye to the monarch who reigned for 70 years.
The hearse drove past piles of bouquets and other tributes as it led a seven-car cortege from Balmoral, where the queen died Thursday at age 96, for a six-hour trip through Scottish towns to the palace in Edinburgh. The late queen’s coffin is draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland and topped with a wreath made of flowers from the estate, including sweet peas, one of the queen’s favorites.
Members of the Royal Regiment of Scotland carry the coffin past the queen’s only daughter, Princess Anne, and into the throne room. It will remain there until tomorrow afternoon so residence staff can pay their last respects.
King Charles III and his Queen Consort Camilla will travel to Edinburgh tomorrow to take the coffin to St. Giles Cathedral on the city’s Royal Mile. The coffin will remain there for 24 hours before being flown to London on Tuesday.
US President Joe Biden marks the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks, taking part in a somber wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon held under a steady rain and paying tribute to “extraordinary Americans” who gave their lives on one of the nation’s darkest days.
Biden notes that even after the United States left Afghanistan, his administration continues to pursue those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Biden announced the US had killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader who helped plot the September 11 attacks, in a clandestine operation.
“We will never forget, we will never give up,” Biden says. “Our commitment to preventing another attack on the United States is without end.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid offered Labor leader Merav Michaeli a series of incentives to join her party with Meretz ahead of the upcoming election, but she rejected the offer.
A spokesman for Lapid confirms the report that was initially published by Channel 13 news. According to that report, Lapid offered for Labor to get a reserved spot on the Yesh Atid list for one of its candidates, as well as ministerial positions in any future government he forms.
Lapid is seeking for the parties to join forces since they are both skirting on the edge of the electoral threshold, and if one or both fall below, then those votes will go to waste. Michaeli turned down the offer, citing past unions between the two parties.
“A union between the parties was tried in the past and was a total failure,” Labor says in a statement. “Until now we haven’t seen any polls that show that a union will strengthen the [center-left] camp.”
Michaeli believes that a union between the two parties will result in ultimately fewer seats for a combined list than if they run separately — something seen the last time the factions ran together.
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar says the security agency has foiled more than 300 “significant” terror attacks this year, as the IDF has ramped up operations in the West Bank under its direction.
“We foiled 312 significant terrorist attacks, stabbings, shootings, suicide attacks, and have made 2,110 arrests” since the beginning of the year, Bar says at a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University.
At the same time, Bar says there has been a massive increase in shooting attacks against troops and civilians, 130 this year so far, compared to just 98 in 2021 and 19 in 2020.
Bar says Israel is required to boost its activity in the West Bank to foil further attacks. He says troops operating in the West Bank are “a protective blanket” for Israeli citizens.
But he adds that these operations come at a cost to Palestinians, with innocent people harmed and the status of the Palestinian Authority further declining among the local population.
To calm the tensions, Bar says the PA’s security services must be strengthened: “The Palestinian public wants this too, but it takes two to tango.”
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar says Iran is not just a nuclear problem, but “it is the main problem in the Middle East.”
“Iran is the cause of much of the problems we are facing now in the West Bank, and the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip,” he says.
Bar blames the Palestinian Authority for failing to govern certain areas of the West Bank, driving the Israel Defense Forces to intensify operations, mainly in Nablus and Jenin.
He says there have been more than 130 shooting attacks against Israeli troops and civilians this year, while the agency has foiled hundreds of attacks.
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar says incitement on social media is a major challenge for the security agency, as it is difficult to prevent algorithms from echoing inciteful content which reaches easily influenced youth.
“It is a new battlefield for security agencies. It brings more people into terrorism and challenges the tools we have to combat terrorism. Terror groups have identified this, and they know how to cause copycat attacks, and influence others,” Bar says at a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University.
Bar says combating online incitement is especially difficult as the agency needs to safeguard Israel’s democracy and not harm freedom of speech.
Speaking at a conference at the Reichman University in Herzliya, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides says he believes escalating tensions in the West Bank are as big of a threat to Israel as Iran and its terror proxies.
“Obviously Iran and its proxies are a fundamental [threat], and [US President Joe] Biden has said we will not stand by and allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Nides says.
“But equally as important, is what is going on in the West Bank. I try to keep the vision of the two-state solution alive. I fundamentally believe that to keep Israel a democratic state, we need a two-state solution. I want to change the situation on the ground to make that possible, to keep that vision alive,” he says.
“It is important for us not to lose sight of what could happen if the Palestinian situation gets worse, especially in the West Bank,” Nides adds.
The Likud party distances itself from comments by the party’s MK Nir Barkat that party leader Benjamin Netanyahu would seek to remove Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara if the party returns to power.
Earlier today Barkat told the 103FM radio station that “I think Netanyahu will replace her. I think he will do it because he will want someone whose worldview is a right-wing one.”
The party however issues a statement clarifying that Barkat’s statement “was his own opinion only and is in opposition to the position of Likud and to former prime minister Netanyahu.” The party says it has “no intention of firing the attorney general.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid issues a statement commemorating the 21st anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
“Today, we remember 2,977 souls,” Lapid writes. “Sons and daughters, moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters — all taken from us too soon. The people of Israel will always stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in the face of terror.”
Today, we remember 2,977 souls.
Sons and daughters, moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters — all taken from us too soon.
— יאיר לפיד – Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) September 11, 2022
Prime Minister Yair Lapid takes off from Ben Gurion Airport for Berlin, where he will meet tomorrow with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.
Steinmeier and Lapid will also meet at the House of the Wannsee Conference with Holocaust survivors who are flying with the prime minister.
Iran’s nuclear program will head the agenda, but the two sides will discuss bilateral ties, Israel- EU relations, energy security, and the war in Ukraine. An agreement on a youth student exchange will also be announced during the trip.
Israel does not believe that a nuclear deal between the P5+1 powers and Iran will be signed before the November midterm elections in the United States, a senior Israeli official says.
“If the US doesn’t give into Iran’s demands, and Iran doesn’t give into US demands and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] doesn’t close the probes, there will be no return to the agreement,” the official adds.
The official stresses that Iran does not have any intention of returning to the nuclear agreement without additional concessions by the West. At the same time, Israel “doesn’t have any expectation that Iran will agree [to a new deal].”
“Iran must be pressured by the West before it accepts a new deal,” the official continues, emphasizing that “there are many things that can be done to cause Iran to understand that time is not on its side.”
The government approves a plan to establish regional authorities for transportation that will serve as a link between local authorities and the national government.
The move is seen by many as a step toward enabling more public transportation on Shabbat on a regional basis, an effort supported by Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli but opposed by most religious politicians, including the Haredi parties.
According to the government, the plan will roll out across several stages, with the local authorities initially having limited powers that will grow over time. The Transportation Ministry says that within a month it will publish draft regulations for the establishment of such an authority in the Jerusalem area, and will be able to establish one in the Tel Aviv district by April 2023.
“A program to reduce congestion on the roads has been delayed for 25 years,” says Michaeli. “Today, we put an end to that and approved a model of metropolitan authorities that will empower authority heads to manage transportation for the benefit of the residents.”
Shas MK Michael Malkieli calls the move “a dangerous step that will cause serious harm to Shabbat.”
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman defends comments he made earlier today comparing former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, but apologizes if any offense was caused.
“Netanyahu has indeed forgotten that the people closest to him chose to call the Israel Police ‘the Gestapo’ but he still remembers very well how to use propaganda methods to harm me,” Liberman writes on Twitter, a reference to comments reportedly made by Yair Netanyahu several years ago.
But he adds that, despite that, “I did not intend to harm anyone and certainly not on an issue so close to my heart: the Holocaust and World War II, in which some of my family were victims.”
Liberman says that “nobody will preach morality at me, and my actions speak for themselves,” noting efforts to boost welfare payments for Holocaust survivors in Israel.
Meretz MK Mossi Raz raises eyebrows after telling a high school student to “shut your mouth” during an address at the school.
Raz was speaking at the famed Blich high school in Ramat Gan, which regularly hosts politicians and is known for holding a mock election ahead of each national election. The MK was speaking about voters from both the Joint List and from the Religious Zionist party when a student interrupts from the audience.
Raz shouts over him “Shut up,” to the shock of some in the crowd, before repeating: “Shut your mouth.”
Raz’s speech is halted amid an uproar from the audience following his comment and as the student appears to be removed from the hall.
Raz later defends his actions on Twitter, writing: “Anywhere that Kahanists disrupt, Meretz will be there to stop them. Get used to it.”
— וואלה! (@WallaNews) September 11, 2022
The cabinet approves a new governmental plan to boost Israel’s tech workforce, with an emphasis on recruitment in the underrepresented Haredi and Arab sectors.
The plan includes new programming in schools around the country focusing on technical and digital proficiency, a goal of adding 4,500 tech workers from the Arab sector and 2,500 from the ultra-Orthodox, recruiting tech workers from overseas — including both those eligible under the Law of Return and foreign experts, and working to boost the number of university students studying tech.
“We are committed to dramatically strengthening the Israeli high-tech market,” says Prime Minister Yair Lapid. “High-tech education from a young age, as well as expanding representation and roles, are essential steps. This is right morally and it is right economically.”
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton says that “exposing kindergarten-age children to innovation, technology and spoken English, alongside a new plan for middle schools, is important in making the field more accessible to all Israeli children, and will assist in reducing gaps and creating equal opportunities.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is reportedly already close to a new political partnership hours after she split with Yoaz Hendel.
Shaked, who inherited the reins of Yamina from Naftali Bennett after he decided to take a break from politics, joined with Hendel’s Derech Eretz faction in July to form the new Zionist Spirit party.
According to the Kan public broadcaster, Shaked — who started her political journey with Bennett in Jewish Home — is in talks to return to the party and lead it in the next election.
Kan reports that Shaked would take first spot in the traditional religious-Zionist party and its current head, Yossi Brodny, would take the second.
It remains in question if such a partnership would succeed in crossing the electoral threshold on November 1.
Mourners are quietly paying tribute as a hearse carrying Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin passes through the Scottish countryside on a final journey back to London.
Crowds are lining the streets and some toss flowers as the hearse passes through villages and towns on a six-hour road journey to Edinburgh. The queen died Thursday at her beloved summer estate Balmoral Castle.
The late queen’s coffin is draped in the Royal Standard for Scotland and topped with a wreath made of flowers from Balmoral, including sweet peas, one of the queen’s favorites.
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, tweets that “as she makes her journey to Edinburgh, Scotland will pay tribute to an extraordinary woman.”
Ukraine says its forces have recaptured more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) this month from Russian troops in a counteroffensive centered on the country’s northeast.
“Since the beginning of September, more than 3,000 square kilometers have been returned to Ukrainian control. Around Kharkiv, we have begun to advance not only in the south and east, but also to the north. We are 50 kilometers [31 miles] from the border,” Ukrainian general Valeriy Zaluzhny says in a statement on social media.
Politicians across the political spectrum criticize Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman for his comments earlier today comparing opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to Joseph Goebbels.
Entering this morning’s cabinet meeting, Liberman said that Netanyahu’s campaign methods are “the exact methods of Goebbels and Stalin.”
The comments draw an immediate condemnation from Likud, which says Liberman is “degrading the Holocaust.”
And Liberman’s coalition partners Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz also condemn his comments.
“Even in the face of a never-ending machine of poison and incitement… the Holocaust must be left out of the conversation,” says Lapid, saying such comparisons “only harm the memory of the Holocaust.”
Gantz says while he supports Liberman, he “denounces the unacceptable comparison to those who committed the worst atrocities in the history of mankind.”
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