The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they occurred.
A Palestinian woman has been detained after attempting to stab an officer in Jerusalem’s Old City, police say.
The incident occurred near the Lion’s Gate entrance.
According to police, the female suspect was subdued without gunfire, and there are no other injuries.
الاحتلال يعتقل فتاة فلسطينية عند باب حطة أحد أبواب المسجد الأقصى بزعم محاولتها تنفيذ عملية طعن. pic.twitter.com/FUmtzEit92
— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) September 4, 2023
The Israel Defense Forces will begin a two-day military drill in the Jordan Valley tomorrow morning.
The military says the exercise — which is pre-planned — will end in the afternoon hours of Wednesday.
Explosions and gunfire are expected to be heard in nearby towns, the military says.
The IDF says the drill is aimed at maintaining troops’ “alertness and competence.”
Religious Zionism also issues a statement saying it is “committed to repairing the justice system in order to keep Israel Jewish and democratic. We’ve always sought agreements and agreed to compromise.
“But a surrender by the majority to an extreme minority willing to burn everything down because it lost the election is not on the table.”
Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu chief Avigdor Liberman says the opposition “must not fall into this trap again. The only thing we should do is fight to bring down this failing messianic government.”
A lineup of Barca Legends, former FC Barcelona soccer greats, arrived in Israel today, ahead of two matches this week against veteran Israeli players from Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa.
Tomorrow evening, at Bloomfield Stadium, the stars will go up against Maccabi Tel Aviv, whose team will feature former captains Avi Nimni and Tal Ben-Haim.
The Barca Legends team includes Brazilian ace Rivaldo Ferreira, one of the top goal-scorers in the team’s history, and former forward for the team Javier Saviola.
“My expectations are high, but I have to lower them because what everyone wants and expects from us is not what will happen,” Nimni said at the team’s press conference in Tel Aviv’s Carlton Hotel, where the athletes are staying ahead of their first match.
When asked whether he is the “Israeli Rivaldo,” Nimni quipped that such a statement is “flattering for me, but sad for him.”
“All of us retired years ago, but we don’t like to lose any game, just like Maccabi Tel Aviv doesn’t like to lose. We will go on the field to win,” said Rivaldo.
After playing Tel Aviv, the handful of stars will move up the coast to face off against Maccabi Haifa on Thursday and close out their stay in Israel.
Barcelona legend Thierry Henry, who helped win the club its historic treble in 2010, was initially expected to participate in the two games, but has since dropped the visit to focus on coaching the French U21 team.
Members of the coalition and opposition are quick to douse cold water on the prospect of an imminent compromise deal regarding the judicial overhaul.
MK Ram Ben-Barak of Yesh Atid says, “There is no compromise,” while an unnamed senior opposition source tells Maariv, “There will be no talks before the hearings at the High Court.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir tweets: “The six votes of Otzma Yehudit will be against surrender, if it comes to a vote.”
In Bahrain, a member of Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s entourage refers to last week’s Libya episode, stressing that “the minister has many secret meetings that were not publicized.”
“The meeting with Libya’s foreign minister was planned and coordinated with the understanding that it would be publicized after.”
National Security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi issues a denial of quotes attributed to him earlier, according to which the anti-overhaul protest movement prevented Israel from sliding toward dictatorship.
Hanegbi says, “The comments aired in the interview… were completely and deliberately distorted.”
“I made it very clear during the interview that the ‘fear of dictatorship’ was in the minds of the protesters, with no connection to reality, and the [supposed statements] do not at all represent my position or the position of the prime minister.”
Notably the interview itself has not yet aired — only a promotion for it.
Also of note: Hanegbi’s acknowledgement in the promotion that the protest movement was key to eliminating the original overhaul plans were unedited, and he does not appear to deny them.
Israel believes that the second Negev Forum will take place in October, after the Jewish holidays, says Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.
There will likely be two additional Muslim countries who join as observers, Cohen says, without elaborating.
The Foreign Ministry is weighing several options for a new name for the forum that is less Israel-centric.
Israeli authorities have foiled an attempt by Palestinians to smuggle several kilograms of explosive material from the Gaza Strip to terror operatives in the West Bank, the Defense Ministry says.
According to the ministry, security guards at the Kerem Shalom Crossing found the “high-quality” explosive material hidden in a shipment of clothes being exported from the Gaza Strip.
Following the incident, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has instructed to halt all exports of goods from the Gaza Strip until further notice. The move has been approved by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
The High Court of Justice agrees to Justice Minister Yariv Levin request to postpone a hearing on petitions demanding he convene the country’s Judicial Selection Committee, which had been scheduled for this coming Thursday.
The High Court sets a new date for the hearing — September 19. It gives Levin until September 10 to file his response to the petitions.
Levin made the request yesterday following the attorney general’s approval of his request for independent counsel, in light of the fact that she does not support his position.
The justice minister said he needed more time to find a legal team and for it to formulate its response to the petitions.
The coalition and opposition have recently been holding intensive talks under the auspices of President Isaac Herzog on the government’s judicial overhaul, Channel 12 reports.
The report, citing sources in the President’s Residence, claims the prime minister has already agreed to the proposal for his part.
It would ostensibly include:
– A “softening” through re-legislation of the recently passed law voiding the reasonableness standard regarding cabinet and ministerial decisions.
– An 18-month freeze on efforts to reshape the Judicial Selection Committee and to limit the power of ministry legal counsels, which will be anchored in legislation.
– A majority of 7 of 9 members of the Judicial Selection Committee will be needed for all appointments, including the Supreme Court President. This willl necessitate agreement between the sides on the identity of the next court president.
Officials at the President’s Residence reportedly told the opposition: “If you agree, the crisis will end.” The report adds that it is not clear whether a deal will be reached.
Channel 12 correspondents note that opposition leaders are likely to suspect the prime minister is seeking to cause a delay to next week’s High Court hearing on the reasonableness law, rather than truly being interested in a deal.
In response to the report, the President’s Residence says in a statement that “the president has in recent weeks led a special effort to prevent a constitutional crisis and bring about a solution that maintains democracy and unity in Israel” and was holding talks with both sides.
“It should be stressed that no agreements have been reached.”
Likud offers a laconic statement saying “there has been no agreement” on any compromise, without closing the door on one being reached.
Protest leaders say opposition politicians “do not have a mandate for a bad compromise on democracy.”
They say “the talks will only achieve one thing: saving Netanyahu, legitimizing his destructive government and promoting his vision for a dictatorship under the cover of ‘agreements.’ The notion of agreeing on one or two laws while leaving aside the others will end with Israel becoming a Middle East version of Hungary, Turkey and Poland.”
They add: “Intensive talks on the eve of the [reasonableness] hearing at the High Court of Justice are a transparent and dirty ploy by Netanyahu and his partners.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin says that a landmark deal that allowed Ukraine to export grain safely through the Black Sea during the war will not be restored until the West meets Moscow’s demands on its own agricultural exports.
Putin’s remarks dashes hopes that his talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could revive the agreement, seen as vital for global food supplies, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Russia refused to extend the deal in July, complaining that a parallel agreement promising to remove obstacles to Russian exports of food and fertilizer had not been honored. It said restrictions on shipping and insurance hampered its agricultural trade, though it has shipped record amounts of wheat since last year.
Putin reiterates those complaints today, while saying that if those commitments are honored, Russia could return to the deal “within days.”
National Unity party head Benny Gantz says coalition attacks on Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara “are akin to terrorism, intended to intimidate her and prevent her from doing her job.”
At a conference of the Jewish People Policy Institute, Gantz says: “I back her and her decisions all along the way” and “condemn the unbridled attacks on her.”
Also speaking at the Bar Association’s conference, former justice minister Gideon Sa’ar says the lengthy trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “unjust for the entire people of Israel and the entire country.”
“A prime minister’s case should be conducted at a different pace,” he says.
“I voiced my opinion a few months ago and I say it again — I support trying to end the saga of the Netanyahu trial with a plea deal. I believe this is in the public interest.
“I say this disconnected from political considerations. It is unreasonable that after three years [of an ongoing trial] we are still only at the stage of the prosecution’s case.”
At a conference of the Israel Bar Association, MK Simcha Rothman, chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, says Justice Minister Yariv Levin is justified in refusing to convene the nation’s Judicial Selection Committee.
“What justifies delaying convening the committee is a term we’ve nearly forgotten — the will of the public,” Rothman says as some members of the audience boo and shout him down. “The Knesset… voted in a first reading by a large majority that it wants to change the appointment method [to the panel].
“Do we need a new appointment method? Yes. What is the specific method? One that is different from the current one, and more balanced. Even the basic will of the Knesset to reach a more agreed-upon model is not being respected.”
In an interview set to air later today, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi appears to say Israel’s anti-overhaul protest movement prevented Israel from sliding toward dictatorship.
In a promo for the Channel 12 interview, Hanegbi says “I was very surprised” by the public response to the government’s judicial shakeup plan.
“That’s why I was very glad when I understood that the protesters’ bleak forecasts simply weren’t going to come true. Which I’m sure they are happy about.”
Asked by the interviewer what forecasts he’s referring to, Hanegbi answers: “That we’re headed to a dictatorship.”
When the interviewer says this was due to the protests, Hanegbi seems to respond: “Exactly so. The protest movement was the most effective factor in stopping the original plans for judicial reform. That’s a fact.”
It is not immediately clear whether the promo’s editing accurately reflects Hanegbi’s position, which would be highly surprising for a longtime Likud stalwart and ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hanegbi has so far not commented on the matter.
צפיתי בזה 3 פעמים, כדי להיות בטוח. צחי הנגבי מרים למחאה ואומר שהיא עצרה את הדיקטטורה.
צחי, תמצמץ פעמיים אם נחטפת. pic.twitter.com/e1bLFLp9Al
— Ben Caspit בן כספית (@BenCaspit) September 4, 2023
Submitting an economic report to the Knesset, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says, “Israel’s economic data is strong and thank God, the Israeli economy is strong and stable within the global sea of instability amid the international economic crisis.”
He says “growth is high and the job market is sound.” While he also says the rate of inflation and the state of the national interest rate are better than in most countries, he admits that “it is not as good as we expected when we submitted the state budget” and could remain high going forward.
Smotrich also attacks the national protest movement against the government’s efforts to overhaul the judicial system, saying the resilience of the local economy “is doubly clear in light of the campaign waged in recent months by irresponsible figures, who are trying to intentionally harm the economy as part of their political fight against the right-wing government and the important changes it wishes to pass in the Israeli judicial system.”
He goes on: “Huge forces with gargantuan budgets and unprecedented media backing are slandering Israel throughout the economic world with bold lies and false scaremongering, doing everything they can to create panic and negative economic sentiment.
“So far it seems their influence on the economy is minuscule.”
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov submits a letter of resignation after President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would be replaced and named his successor.
Oleksii Reznikov’s removal follows a scandal around the defense ministry’s procurement of military jackets. It was not the first similar case during the ongoing war.
Zelensky made the announcement on his official Telegram account, writing that new leadership was needed after Reznikov went through “more than 550 days of full-scale war.” He named Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar lawmaker, as the new defense minister.
“Reznikov was a good and prominent international negotiator, but it appears that there is chaos and disorder within the Ministry of Defense, which many deputies have taken advantage of, resulting in corruption scandals during the war,” says analyst Volodymyr Fesenko from the Kyiv-based Penta Center.
“All actions of the Ukrainian authorities are geared toward the interests of the war, and scandals and statements about Ukraine’s slow counteroffensive in the face of very limited military resources compel Zelensky to be flexible and seek new personnel solutions.”
Reznikov was appointed in November 2021, several months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In his resignation letter, Reznikov points out that it was “not an easy journey” from his appointment until today, but that he had been part of the process of persuading international donors to give Ukraine sophisticated weaponry, from “the categorical refusal to provide Ukraine with Stingers in November 2021 to the creation of an ‘aviation coalition.'”
Greece is working with Israel on developing artificial intelligence technology that would help in early detection of dangerous wildfires, the Greek prime minister says.
After talks with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia, Kyriakos Mitsotakis also says that Israel could be brought into the European Union fold when it comes to civil protection initiatives to better coordinate firefighting efforts.
Israel and Cyprus are among several countries that have dispatched firefighting aircraft and crews to help battle wildfires in Greece that consumed vast tracts of forest last month and are believed to have killed 20 people.
Mitsotakis says Greece could act as a proving ground for Israeli AI technology in early detection of wildfires.
“We are already talking to Israel about AI-based solutions that will offer us early detection capabilities,” says Mitsotakis.
Netanyahu says the three leaders discussed “going well beyond” dispatching firefighting aircraft and crews by deploying AI systems for early detection.
“This is really one of those areas where when we say we’ll do it better together, there’s no question that that’s the case,” Netanyahu said.
The Bank of Israel decides to leave the benchmark interest rate steady for the second month in a row as inflation shows signs of easing, but warns of a “real possibility” of higher borrowing costs in coming months as the shekel continues to weaken.
The central bank holds interest rates at 4.75 percent, as it did in its last decision on July 10, in line with forecasts by a majority of economists. Steady rate hikes over the past year lifted borrowing costs from a record low of 0.1% in April 2022, as the Bank of Israel sought to bring down soaring inflation.
The aggressive interest rate increases have been rapidly fueling the costs of mortgage and loan holders, who are struggling to meet monthly payments.
“In recent months inflation appears to be slowing,” the central bank says in a statement.
“Therefore, the Monetary Committee decided to leave the interest rate unchanged, but sees a real possibility of having to raise the interest rate in future decisions, if the inflation environment does not continue to moderate as expected.”
“The shekel’s depreciation in recent months is contributing to the increase in the inflation rate and the direction of the exchange rate in the coming months will have an impact on the dynamics of inflation,” the statement reads.
President Isaac Herzog is received at the presidential palace in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, on an official state visit.
Meeting President Zuzana Caputova, the two discuss bilateral relations and broadening cooperation.
“The Jewish people have deep roots in this beautiful country,” he says, noting “prosperity and cultural growth” but also “the most terrible horrors” during the Holocaust.
He thanks Caputova for “your deep commitment to the issue and the manner by which Slovakia contends with its difficult past.”
Iran has shuttered a water park for allowing women entry without the mandatory headscarf, local media reports.
The closure is part of stepped-up measures by authorities over the past few months against women and businesses who fail to observe the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
“The Mojhaye Khoroushan water park has been closed” since Sunday evening, Fars news agency quotes the complex manager Mohammad Babaei as saying.
کوتاه: پارک آبی ‘موجهای خروشان’ مشهد پلمب شد. روزنامه صبح امروز مشهد نوشته دلیل این پلمب «عدم رعایت حجاب» بوده است. pic.twitter.com/Yv2itOX4IP
— Arash Hashemi • آرش هاشمی (@iaaraash) September 3, 2023
Babaei says authorities have declared the park’s closure due to people’s “ignoring chastity and hjiab” rules.
Covering the head and the neck has been compulsory for women in Iran since 1983, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Babaei insists that the park has “adhered to the law” and regularly warns female visitors to respect the hijab rules.
Around 1,000 people working at the park are worried about losing their jobs, Babaei tells Fars.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara says Justice Minister Yariv Levin is obligated to convene the Judicial Selection Committee owing to the large number of empty seats on court benches around the country.
Baharav-Miara states her position in the response her office files to the High Court of Justice regarding petitions against Levin that demand he convene the committee, which he has so far refused to do.
Levin’s refusal ostensibly stems from his desire to first change the composition of the key panel in order to give the government greater control over judicial appointments.
In her response, the attorney general notes that there are currently numerous judicial appointments that need to be filled. She says that by the end of the year, there will be 53 open positions if appointments are not made by the Judicial Selection Committee.
“The burden on Israeli judges is heavy and extraordinary by international standards and other parameters,” she writes.
“In light of the objective need to appoint judges, there is an obligation to convene the Judicial Selection Committee. Especially due to the fact that no timeframe at all has been presented for convening the committee.”
Four Palestinians from the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem are to be charged with attacking security forces and shooting at a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of the capital earlier this year, police and the Shin Bet security agency say.
According to the joint statement, the four suspects, aged 19 to 21, were allegedly involved in 12 separate incidents of rioting in the Shuafat camp, which included one case of gunfire and numerous cases of hurling improvised explosive devices, Molotov cocktails, and stones at police officers.
One Border Police officer was lightly hurt by an IED hurled by the suspects in one of the incidents, police say, adding that they “operated as a cell.”
Two of the suspects allegedly opened fire from the Shuafat camp at the nearby Pisgat Zeev neighborhood in March, the statement adds.
An indictment against the four charging them with various security offenses is expected to be filed later today at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.
French authorities are imposing a newly announced ban on the Muslim abaya dress for women in schools, with over 500 establishments under scrutiny as children across the country return to class.
The government announced last month it was banning the abaya in schools, saying it broke the rules on secularism in education that have already seen Muslim headscarves banned on the grounds they constitute a display of religious affiliation.
The move gladdened the political right but the hard-left argued it represented an affront to civil liberties.
“Things are going well this morning. There is no incident for the moment, we will continue all day to be vigilant so that the students understand the meaning of this rule,” says Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne as she visits a school in northern France.
But she adds that there is a “certain number” of schools where girls arrived wearing an abaya.
“Some young girls agreed to remove it. For the others, we will have discussions with them, and use educational approaches to explain that there is a law that is being applied,” she adds.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tweets a pirate-style picture of himself with a black eye patch and dark-red bruises on the right side of his face — the result of a jogging accident on the weekend.
“Am excited to see the memes,” the chancellor writes in the caption.
To deflect any possible worries about his health, on the photo, which appears to have been taken at the chancellery, Scholz smiles slightly and also writes: “Thanks for the well wishes, it looks worse than it is!”
Scholz fell while jogging on Saturday and sustained bruises to his face, prompting him to cancel some appointments over the weekend, the government said.
Wer den Schaden hat…
Bin gespannt auf die Memes. Danke für die guten Wünsche, sieht schlimmer aus, als es ist! pic.twitter.com/bB5INX8HnM
— Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz (@Bundeskanzler) September 4, 2023
An El Al flight from Venice carried out an emergency landing at Ben Gurion Airport after pilots declared a malfunction.
The plane, with 180 passengers on board, landed safely, with rescue vehicles on hand to secure the scene.
Finishing his meeting with his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the countries will come to a decision on how to transport Israel’s gas to Europe within the next three to six months.
Cyprus has pressed Israel to come to a deal, and has proposed building a liquefaction terminal for piped-in Israeli gas, as an alternative to an American-backed Eastern Mediterranean pipeline idea that would flow from Israel to Cyprus and onwards to Greece.
Israel has also considered a pipeline offer to Turkey, as well as building its own floating liquefaction facility.
Netanyahu also says that infrastructure projects could be further expanded to create a Mediterranean-Asian corridor, should ongoing normalization efforts with Saudi Arabia succeed. That “may lead to a connection between India, the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, Cyprus and Greece,” he says. “I think we all see eye to eye on that.”
Netanyahu also touched on opening the tightly controlled Israeli domestic food market to imports.
“We are going to soon open our dairy products market, which is long overdue,” Netanyahu says, noting that Greek and Cypriot products are often cheaper than their Israeli substitutes.
“May the best yogurt win.”
After State Attorney Amit Aisman said earlier that comments made at “the ministerial level” will not influence decision-making on prosecuting police officers, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir — the implicit target of Aisman’s comments — lashes out at him.
“Indeed, nothing can shake the leftist agenda that has taken over the prosecution for years. You certainly do whatever you want, turning a deaf ear to the government and the people’s choice at the polls,” Ben Gvir says.
Israel’s prime ministerial plane may become operational as early as November, in time for the Israeli delegation to travel to Dubai for the United Nation’s annual climate conference, according to a source in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The flight crew for the controversial Wing of Zion jet is with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Cyprus, learning delegation procedure for future flights.
The plane, which took its first test flight in 2019 but has been grounded operationally, will be available for state visits by the prime minister and president.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting in Cyprus with his Cypriot and Greek counterparts, as part of a trilateral forum established in 2016.
The central issue between the three leaders is how Israel will transport natural gas to Europe, with the leading options being a resurrection of Eastern Mediterranean pipeline plans to connect Israel, Cyprus, and Greece, and a shorter pipeline to run from Israel to a liquefaction terminal in Cyprus, in order to ship it onwards from there.
Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu met separately with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at Nicosia’s Presidential Palace.
A statement from Netanyahu’s office says the prime minister “raised the possibility of expanding the Abraham Accords, which would enable energy and infrastructure connection between Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, Israel, Cyprus, Greece and [on to mainland] Europe.”
Netanyahu raised a similar idea, including fiber optic cable infrastructure, during his bilateral meeting yesterday with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.
In addition to the international power and infrastructure links, the Prime Minister’s Office says Netanyahu and the Greek prime minister discussed cooperation in the fields of security, energy, artificial intelligence, and food.
Netanyahu also thanked Mitsotakis for Greece’s help in thwarting an Iranian terror attack on Cypriot soil, and proposed expanding cooperation in fighting regional fires.
Outside the Presidential Palace, dozens of Israelis are gathered to protest against Israeli domestic policy, railing against the Netanyahu government’s efforts to make fundamental changes to Israel’s judicial architecture.
The UN nuclear watchdog says it regrets that “no progress” has been made by Iran on outstanding issues, including installing more cameras to monitor Tehran’s nuclear program.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Grossi “requests Iran to work with the agency in earnest and in a sustained way towards the fulfillment of the commitments,” the agency says in a confidential report seen by AFP.
Tehran in March vowed to reactivate surveillance devices that were disconnected in June 2022 amid deteriorating relations with the West.
In a separate report, also seen by AFP, the IAEA says Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium was lower than in May but still more than 18 times the limit set in a 2015 accord between Tehran and world powers.
Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was estimated at 3,795.5 kilograms (8,367.7 pounds) as of August 19, down by 949 kilograms from May, the agency says.
The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 202.8 kilograms.
The stockpile of uranium enriched up to 60 percent is now at 121.6 kilos, up from 114.1 kilos in May. Iran also has 535.8 kilos of uranium enriched up to 20 percent, up from 470.9 kilos in the last May report.
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