The Times of Israel liveblogged Monday’s events as they unfolded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office says that he has agreed with Druze leaders to push a multi-year plan to budget money for the Druze and Circassian communities.
“The PMO, the treasury and regional cooperation ministry will immediately begin to put together a five-year plan to bolster and develop Druze and Circassian towns,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office says.
It does not say how much money will go toward the plan.
On Sunday, hundreds of Druze and Circassian activists and community leaders protested outside Netanyahu’s home and a cabinet meeting, demanding a multi-year budget.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz announces that the targets for renewable energy by 2030 are officially being raised from 17 percent to 30%.
This means that over the coming decade, solar installations will be built to produce the equivalent of all the electricity produced today, he says on Facebook.
Steinitz, who is beginning his second stint as energy minister, says, without explaining how the figures are reached, that “the environmental significance is the replacement of coal and pollutants with solar energy and natural gas, which will lead to a 93% reduction in air pollution, and a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per capita.”
Israel has recently become an exporter in natural gas, though it pumps out the un-renewable kind found in the deep sea bed, and not renewable biomethane gas.
The minister has come under heavy pressure to increase the 17% renewable energy target set within the framework of the Paris Accords, as well as criticism for portraying natural gas — something for which he advocates strongly as well — as clean, given that it is also a fossil fuel which is polluting, although to a lesser extent than coal.
— Sue Surkes
Fearful of conflict, organizers have canceled a peaceful protest planned for Sydney over the death of George Floyd in the United States.
A rally planned at Sydney’s downtown Hyde Park for tomorrow was canceled after people threatened to create “havoc and protest against the event,” an organizer says on social media.
The rally was presented as a peaceful protest against the overrepresentation of indigenous Australians in Australia’s criminal justice system as well as in solidarity for Floyd who was “brutally and inhumanly murdered.”
Organizers posted that “although Australia is far from where the murder took place, we have a voice.”
Thousands of protesters are expected at similar rallies planned for the Australian cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide on Saturday.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison tells Sydney Radio 2GB “there’s no need to import things… happening in other countries here to Australia,” referring to US riots.
The families of Palestinians in Israeli jails will continue to receive salaries despite Israeli measures aimed at cracking down on the policy, Palestinian Authority Prisoners Affairs Commission chairman Qadri Abu Bakr says.
After an Israeli military edict that criminalized Palestinian Authority funding for convicted terrorists, several banks closed or froze prisoners’ accounts in the West Bank and Jordan in early May.
Efforts are also being made to create a financial institution directly controlled by the Palestine Liberation Organization to handle the prisoners’ accounts, rather than placing them in private banks, Abu Bakr says. This measure, Abu Bakr indicates, would allow them to avoid Israeli sanctions.
The Israeli government has long opposed the hundreds of millions of dollars which the PLO pays to Palestinians convicted of terrorism and their families every year, which Israel says encourages terror.
— Aaron Boxerman
The World Health Organization says that about half of countries surveyed in a new analysis have had partial or complete disruption of services for people with high blood pressure and diabetes treatment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a survey of 155 countries last month, the UN health agency found worrying problems in the provision of health care for people with non-communicable diseases, many of whom are at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
“Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” says WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. “It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services…continue even as they fight COVID-19.”
The survey also finds that 42% of countries had interrupted services for cancer patients and 31% for heart emergencies. In more than 90% of countries, health care staff had been partially or fully reassigned to pandemic duties.
Opening his Yesh Atid faction meeting, opposition leader Yair Lapid slams the government for what he describes as unprecedented waste, referring to a decision Sunday to cut funding from existing ministries to create six new offices for the minister-rich government.
“There’s never been a government that was more spiteful toward its citizens, that so disparaged good Israelis who are working, serving, paying taxes. And when? It’s doing it at our most difficult hour. People are sitting at home, freelancers are collapsing and this government of the detached and the deserters are continuing to set up jobs for their buddies … total apathy toward the crisis,” he says.
Moscow residents are venturing out to exercise, stroll and shop on Monday as the city eases a strict nine-week lockdown.
Retail shops and shopping malls have been okayed to reopen and residents are able to exercise outdoors before 9 a.m., but with masks required at all times and gloves needed in shops and on public transportation.
“We opened two hours ago but we already have a few clients. I’m pretty optimistic, I think people will come back little by little,” says Olga, who sells handbags and jewelry in central Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to begin easing restrictions despite Russia having the world’s third-highest number of confirmed infections, and is due to be presented with an ambitious economic recovery plan later today.
Russia continues to record a significant number of coronavirus cases — with 9,035 new infections on Monday bringing its total to 414,878, behind only the United States and Brazil in the global tally.
Officials say the high numbers are the result of large-scale testing and that a steady decline in new infections and a low reported death toll of 4,855 mean Russia can ease restrictions.
Firefighters are battling a wildfire in the Lower Galilee on the eastern slope of the Carmel mountain range.
Parts of Route 6, Route 75 and Route 70 have been shut as the blaze threatens the area.
Firefighters are working to keep the flames from moving toward a natural gas processing facility outside of Kiryat Tivon, according to Channel 12 news.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defending a piece of controversial legislation meant to give the government emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
Among the powers is a clause allowing police to enter homes without a warrant. Netanyahu says that “we won’t allow cops to break into people’s homes without a warrant.”
“We’ll find the appropriate balance between the need to enforce guidelines and the need to protect privacy rights of Israeli citizens. We are aware that the public thinks we will unravel this balance — we haven’t done that so far and will not do it,” he says at a Likud faction meeting.
Derech Eretz MK Zvi Hauser has been named the new head of the Knesset’s powerful Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which oversees the military and other aspects of national security and diplomacy.
Hauser is taking over for Gabi Ashkenazi, who left the role upon becoming foreign minister, as part of a coalition agreement.
“I am glad to be here. I asked to be made chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. This wasn’t a default choice, and I am proud of it,” Hauser says upon being voted into the position by the committee.
“We are in the end of the third quarter of the first century of Israel’s independence. We are still the ‘founding generation’ and we find ourselves building the machinery for the factory of ‘renewing the Jewish people’s sovereignty in the land of Israel,’” he says.
The committee, one of the most influential in the Knesset, oversees Israel’s national security and foreign affairs through legislation, budget approval and parliamentary supervision over the relevant government ministries.
— Judah Ari Gross
Defense Minister Benny Gantz is also using his Blue and White faction meeting to try and lower the flames of protest against the proposed coronavirus emergency bill.
“We’ll make sure there are no draconian measures, cops won’t be able to arbitrarily do searches. The use of the directives will be timely and under appropriate parliamentary oversight,” he says.
The Health Ministry is warning it could shut down high schools if there are more outbreaks, Channel 12 news reports.
Twenty-one schools around the country have already sent some or all students and staff into quarantine because of confirmed cases being discovered in the school.
Though there have been a sprinkling of cases in lower grades as well, shutting elementary and middle schools is not currently being considered.
Health authorities have confirmed a teacher at a Rahat high school is sick with the coronavirus, the Arab Israeli news site Panet reports.
Hamad al-Ibra, a teacher at the al-Nur School in Rahat, was confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus.
Al-Ibra says he does not know how he was infected, as he says he was following all the proper health procedures. Everyone who was in contact with al-Ibra has been ordered into quarantine, Rahat mayor Talal Alkernawi tells Arab48 News.
Twenty-one new infections have been reported in Arab Israeli communities since the week of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, according to the Arab Council for Emergencies.
— Aaron Boxerman
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman says arrests and assaults on journalists covering protests in the United States are “very concerning.”
James Slack says that “journalists all around the world must be free to do their job and to hold authorities to account without fear of arrest or violence.”
He says the violence of the past few nights was “very alarming. People must be allowed to protest peacefully.”
Slack says “the footage of George Floyd’s death was deeply distressing and our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.”
Noting that a police officer has been charged with murder, he said “we would hope and expect justice to be done.”
A four-year old Palestinian girl who was shot in East Jerusalem a week and a half ago has died from her wounds, Hadassah Ein Karem hospital says.
Rafif Qura’in was hit by an apparently stray bullet fired by unknown assailants on May 21, according to police.
A relative told the Ynet website at the time that the family had sat down to eat the traditional iftar meal held each night during the month of Ramadan fasts, when a bullet suddenly hit her in the head.
The hospital says she was unconscious and in life-threatening danger when she was brought in and put on a respirator.
Despite being operated on, her “brain injury was extremely severe,” a spokesperson says.
The US Supreme Court is leaving in place a ruling that allows the trustee recovering money for investors in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme to pursue more than $4 billion that went to overseas investors.
The high court on Monday declined to get involved in the case. As is usual, the justices did not comment in turning away the case.
An appeals court said the trustee, Irving Picard, could go after money that went through foreign investment funds back to foreign investors. A lower court had said those transactions were beyond the reach of US law.
Picard has sought nearly $100 million from Israeli institutions, including the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Sheba Medical Center. He says they received money from the Israel-based Yeshaya Horowitz Association, which knew at the time that Madoff’s New York investment firm was perpetrating a fraud.
Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history. He admitted swindling thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over decades. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
The court-appointed trustee has recovered approximately $14 billion of about $18 billion that investors put into Madoff’s business.
— with AP
Protests against the death of George Floyd are continuing for a third day in Berlin, though the gathering outside the US embassy Monday is significantly smaller than earlier rallies, which drew up to 2,000 people.
Paul Schreiner, 69 and originally from Wisconsin, is among a dozen people holding a vigil outside the embassy Monday. “It’s my duty, I feel, to be here,” he said. “There’s a very interesting phrase that ‘white silence is violence,’ and that moved me to make sure I came today.”
Holding a sign with the names of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and others, American citizen Carmen Osorio Rodrigues says she is concerned about the direction the United States is heading. “We have to confront these social injustices,” she says, adding: “We need clear leadership on how to act.”
In Paris, family and friends of a French black man who died shortly after he was arrested by police in 2016 have called for a protest on Tuesday which will also pay homage to George Floyd.
The circumstances of the death of Adama Traore, a French 24-year-old man of Malian origin, are still under investigation by justice authorities.
Calls for Tuesday’s protest in front of the Paris court come after some medical experts last week attributed the death to a cardiac problem, the latest in a series of conflicting medical assessments.
French police claimed Traore died of a heart attack due to preexisting medical condition. His family said he died from asphyxiation from police tactics.
In a video message published on social media, Traore’s sister Assa Traore calls for protesters to express their indignation “at a time when the world, when France is outraged by the death of George Floyd.”
Les ecologistes rejoignent l'appel contre le déni de justice! Youth For Climate IDF Mardi 2 juin 19h00 devant le…
She says “they had the same words, their last words: ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.’”
She denounces the latest medical experts’ report as “racist” and “untrue.”
The family wants the officers in charge of Traore’s arrest to go on trial.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz orders IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi to “step up preparations for the IDF,” his office says, ahead of the potential annexation of portions of the West Bank.
“Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, to step up preparations for the IDF ahead of diplomatic efforts on the agenda in the Palestinian arena,” the statement reads.
Gantz says he also plans to appoint a point-person to coordinate between the different government bodies involved in the process.
“In addition, a joint team will be formed that will bring together recommendations — on an operational level — for the efforts that are on the agenda for the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” his office says.
The defense minister does not specify the nature of these diplomatic efforts, but the clear reference is to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared intention to annex Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley from July 1, as provided for in the Netanyahu-Gantz unity government agreement.
Defense officials have reportedly warned that the annexation move could be followed by widespread violence.
— Judah Ari Gross
US President Donald Trump derides the nation’s governors as “weak” and demands tougher crackdowns on protesters in the aftermath of another night of violent protests in dozens of American cities.
Trump speaks to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.
“Most of you are weak,” Trump says. “You have to arrest people.”
Attorney General Bill Barr, also on the call, tells governors they have to “dominate” the streets and control, not react to, crowds, and urges them to “go after troublemakers.”
Gaza’s Hamas rulers are fully reopening mosques in the Palestinian enclave after nearly two months of closure to contain the coronavirus.
The announcement adds to a series of easing measures the Islamic group has taken after succeeding so far in keeping the virus at bay. Mosques are set to reopen Wednesday after Hamas allowed for a partial reopening last month for one weekly prayer.
It has already lifted a ban on restaurants, cafes and markets. The Gaza Strip, blockaded by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took power in 2007, has 61 confirmed cases and one death — all inside quarantine centers where people from outside the territory must remain upon arrival.
Experts fear an outbreak in the impoverished territory could overwhelm its already under-resourced health care system.
The California biotech company, Gilead Sciences, says its experimental drug, Remdesivir, improved symptoms when administered to moderately ill, hospitalized patients with COVID-19, for five days .
Gilead gave few details on Monday but said full results would soon be published in a medical journal.
Remdesivir is the only treatment that has been shown, in a rigorous experiment, to help fight the coronavirus. A large study led by the National Institutes of Health recently found that it could shorten average recovery time from 15 days to 11 days, in hospitalized patients with severe cases of the disease.
The drug is administered through an IV and is designed to interfere with an enzyme that the virus uses to copy its genetic material. Remdesivir is approved for treating COVID-19 in Japan and is authorized for emergency use in the United States for certain patients. It has also been given to patients in Israel.
The company-led study involved nearly 600 patients who had moderate pneumonia, but did not need oxygen support. All were randomly assigned to get five or 10 days of the drug plus standard care, or standard care alone. Both patients and their doctors knew who was getting what, which limits the objectivity of the results.
Amid an internal dispute over virus testing policy, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has ordered ministry officials to no longer give on-the-record interviews, Channel 12 news reports.
On Sunday, Edelstein expanded testing to make it available to asymptomatic people who were in prolonged contact with a confirmed case, potentially opening up schools and elderly care centers to more widespread sampling.
In doing so, Edelstein went around two of the ministry’s top officials, who have advised against testing patients who do not show symptoms.
Earlier Monday, Edelstien said he would expand testing at a reopened Jerusalem drive-thru center, after seeing traffic jams there.
Spain says it is reporting no deaths from the new coronavirus in a 24-hour period for the first time since March, while the UK says it is reporting its lowest death toll since late March — 111 fatalities.
Spain emergency health response chief Fernando Simón says the development is “very, very encouraging.”
He tells a news conference there were only 71 new infections over the past 24 hours.
“We are in a very good place in the evolution of the pandemic,” Simón says. “The statistics are following a trend. They are going the right direction.”
Spain reported its first two deaths on March 3. On April 2, it recorded 950 deaths in 24 hours — the peak death toll.
The official death toll now stands at 27,127, with 240,000 cases.
Britain reports 111 more coronavirus deaths — the lowest daily toll since the start of the nationwide lockdown on March 23.
Reporting is often lower after a weekend, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock tells a news conference that it was a sign of “significant progress” in tackling the outbreak.
Two years after being forced to become Israel’s richest citizen, Roman Abramovich has reportedly become Israel’s richest homeowner, laying out a record NIS 226 million for a 2.3 acre spread in Herzliya.
The compound in the ritzy seaside town includes a main residence that maxes out at 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet) and a guest house half that size, according to Globes.
The home was formerly owned by British hedge fund manager Alan Howard, who last year tried to unload it for a cool $100 million, but found no takers. Instead he rented it out with an option to buy to Abramovich, who owns Premier League club Chelsea.
Abramovich moved to Israel in May 2018 after being caught in a diplomatic row between the UK, where he lived, and Russia, where he had citizenship.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has held talks with top US officials about West Bank annexation plans, according to Hebrew media reports.
Netanyahu holds talks with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, and Avi Berkowitz, the White House envoy on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Also in the talks were US Ambassador David Friedman and his Israeli counterpart Ron Dermer.
The talks come after Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Friedman, and later ordered the army to step up preparations related to annexation.
Hundreds of people have gathered at a Tel Aviv seaside park for a rally to end violence against women.
The protest begins with the reading of the names of 12 women who were killed by their partners since the start of the year, including a rash of murders last month.
“Enough of this dialogue of problems and victims, of a Band-Aid on the mouth and the woman cowering in the corner. This is the time to speak about solutions. She is strong, and he is the despicable weakling who cannot control himself,” says Lili Ben-Ami, whose sister Michal Sela was killed, allegedly by her husband.
A worker at the Prime Minister’s Office has been confirmed as a coronavirus carrier, Channel 13 news reports.
The channel reports that the unnamed worker, on the technical staff, was in a room with Netanyahu on Saturday, and officials are checking if the prime minister was in close contact with him.
The condition of the worker is not immediately known.
Netanyahu held a press conference Saturday, at which he warned of a new lockdown following an uptick in the number of virus cases. Several other top officials were also there, including Finance Minister Israel Katz and Education Minister Yoav Gallant.
Netanyahu has already had to enter quarantine twice, after an aide came down with the virus, as well as when Health Minister Yaakov Litzman became sick.
The number of coronavirus cases has jumped to 17,169, representing 98 new cases over the last day.
The tally comes after numbers had dipped, following two days over the weekend with triple digit numbers. The number of active cases is up to 2,006 after dropping below 2,000 last week.
No new deaths are recorded, and the number of people on ventilators drops to 29. The number of serious cases is down to 31.
Testing numbers are only slightly up according to an initial tally, which shows the infection rate down slightly to 1.2 percent of the approximately 5,600 tested cases.
The head of the Minneapolis police union is speaking out about what he says is a lack of city leadership during a week of protests that turned violent after the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white officer pressed a knee against his neck.
Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter and is in custody in a state prison. He and the three other officers on the scene were fired. Floyd’s May 25 death sparked days of protests in Minneapolis and other cities, some of which turned violent.
Union president Lt. Bob Kroll says in a letter to union members that they have lacked support at the top, and that the “terrorist movement” occurring in Minneapolis was years in the making, starting with a minimized police force.
Messages seeking comment from the police department and mayor are not immediately returned.
Kroll also said that Floyd’s criminal history is not being told. The AP has reported last week that Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.
Kroll said all four officers are represented by defense attorneys, and labor attorneys are fighting for their jobs. He said the officers were fired without due process.
Terrence Floyd arrives at the scene in Minneapolis where his brother George Floyd was killed by police last week, urging protesters gathered there to not devolve into violence.
“That’s not going to bring my brother back. It may feel good for the moment, just like when you drink, but when they come down, you’re going to wonder what you did,” Terrence Floyd says into a megaphone.
“Let’s do this another way. Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter, and let’s vote,” he says, to applause.
“Let’s switch it up, do this peacefully, please,” he adds.
He says his brother would not want to see fighting, violence and looting.
For a man like Terrence Floyd, George Floyd's brother, to be going through the pain and anger he is experiencing right now and still have the courage to be a voice for PEACE and JUSTICE speaks so highly to his character.
Legitimately, this man is my heropic.twitter.com/dGY6VPn9tA
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) June 1, 2020
Health Minister deputy head Itamar Grotto tells a Knesset Committee that Israel could be headed back toward lockdown restrictions, after an uptick in the number of new daily virus cases.
“If we get 100 sick people in a day that are not connected to the same outbreak epicenter, we’ll need to step back, restrictions-wise. For now there is one outbreak center, we have a plan to contain it that does not involve the whole population.”
A large number of the recent cases have been traced to a single Jerusalem high school, though other schools across the country have also seen isolated cases.
While noting that Israel has the capacity to test 40,000 people a day, he says what worries him is not the number of cases, but the rise in the number of test samples coming back positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We’ve gone from half a percent to 1.5%,” he says.
He adds that Israel is still on track to rescind any remaining restrictions on businesses and other institutions on June 14, though the date may change slightly.