The Times of Israel liveblogged Wednesday’s events as they unfolded.
A senior UN official expresses concern about “inflammatory rhetoric” between Israelis and Palestinians, who in turn traded accusations of victimization before the Security Council.
“Israelis and Palestinians remain on a collision course amid escalating political and inflammatory rhetoric as well as heightened violence in the West Bank,” UN Middle East peace envoy Tor Wennesland tells the Security Council.
He called it “imperative” for both sides to refrain “from provocations and unilateral steps — including at the Holy sites in Jerusalem — that undermine… the ability to achieve a negotiated peace.”
Arsenal have revealed an investigation has been launched into “disturbing” incidents of antisemitism following their north London derby win at Tottenham.
The Premier League leaders say one incident took place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the other at a public house in Islington, north London.
“We have been made aware of two disturbing incidents over the weekend involving anti-Semitism which are now under investigation,” an Arsenal statement says.
“There was an incident at the north London derby on Sunday involving Arsenal supporters in which one of our fans overheard grossly offensive antisemitic statements made by another Arsenal fan.
“On the same afternoon, we were appalled to hear of an incident at The Cally pub in Islington, involving other antisemitic chants.
“We recognize the impact this behavior has on our many Jewish supporters and others and condemn the use of language of this nature, which has no place in our game or society.”
US President Joe Biden offers condolences to the families of the more than a dozen people killed in a helicopter crash near Kyiv today, reiterating the United States’ “unfailing partnership” with Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion.
“We grieve with all those who are mourning this heartbreaking tragedy,” Biden says in a statement, calling Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, who was killed in the crash, a “reformer and patriot.”
Shas leader Aryeh Deri issues his first response to the High Court’s decision to disqualify him from serving as a minister.
“When I heard of the decision — not that it was unexpected — I was glad,” he says in a written statement. “There is nothing so happy as the removal of doubts.
“It’s good that they said their piece and it’s good that it ended as it did, with 10 against one. Let the people see and judge.”
Deri vows not to give in. “When they close the door on us, we’ll get in through the window. When they close the window we’ll break through the ceiling, with God’s help,” he says.
He thanks Netanyahu and ministers, rabbis and other dignitaries who came to his home to offer support.
Deri promises to “continue the revolution our predecessors began, with even greater devotion and energy.”
Aryeh Deri emerged from his Jerusalem home a short while ago to the cheers of a few hundred supporters.
The Shas leader did not speak, getting into a car to head to a funeral.
Earlier, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana arrived for a visit, to boos from some Deri fans. Ohana’s appointment to the symbolic position, as an openly gay man, has incensed some Haredim.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has just wrapped up a meeting with President Isaac Herzog in Jerusalem shortly after touching down at Ben Gurion Airport for two days of meetings with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Herzog’s office says he and Sullivan discussed bilateral ties as “a cross-party and cross-government issue,” in an apparent attempt to place relations above the new Israeli government, which managed to spark the ire of the Biden administration within days, due to National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Temple Mount.
Herzog is seen to view his role as somewhat of an intermediary between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government and the Biden administration, given his relatively more dovish stances on the Palestinians and his longstanding ties with various senior US officials.
Today’s meeting was his fourth with Sullivan since the two took on their most recent positions.
A National Security Council spokesman tells reporters that Sullivan — who will be meeting with Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials tomorrow followed by a trip to Ramallah for a sit-down with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — plans to discuss the US commitment to Israel’s security, the threats posed by Iran, expanding the effort to integrate Israel into the region and the US commitment to a two-state solution.
NSC spokesman John Kirby says Sullivan will also stress US opposition to policies that harm efforts to preserve a two-state solution along with policies that undermine the status quo at the Temple Mount.
In a Facebook post, Ukraine’s Embassy to Israel blasts Sergey Lavrov’s comparison of the West’s policy toward Russia to Adolf Hitler’s Final Solution.
“Russian Foreign Minister made another absurd statement with references to Holocaust and Hitler’s crimes [in] WWII,” the embassy writes.
“The more Lavrov speaks [the] more the world sees how [Russians] distort not only current reality, but a well-known historic context.”
“Neverending rhetoric of Kremlin’s cynicism, manipulations and lies. It is Russia who is carrying genocidal war on our territory, deliberately targeting our civilians; it is Russia who isolates itself from the other democratic world by [its] own enormous aggression and awful war crimes in Ukraine.”
The Israeli Air Force has returned to service five of 11 F-35I stealth jets grounded following a crash of a similar model of the plane during a test flight in the United States in December.
The IAF says the other six jets are still undergoing tests to rule out the issue that apparently caused the F-35B to crash on a runway at a US Navy base in Texas.
Several dozen people gather outside the home of Shas leader Aryeh Deri to voice their support for him.
Demonstrators call out, “He’s innocent” and “Deri the people are with you.”
Various politicians and rabbis are coming to visit Deri at his home. The latest is Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
Shas’s rabbinical council puts out a statement saying the court has “wronged” the party leader while “erasing the identity of huge swaths of the people.” It urges him to continue to lead Shas.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid says he will be attending Saturday night’s Tel Aviv protest against the new government’s plans for radical changes to the judicial system.
“We’re stopping the madness, saving the country,” he says.
Lapid was heavily criticized by the opposition last Saturday when he decided not to show, reportedly due to the organizers declining to allow him to speak at the event.
The world is in a “sorry state” because of myriad interlinked challenges including climate change and Russia’s war in Ukraine that are “piling up like cars in a chain reaction crash,” the UN chief says at the World Economic Forum’s meeting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers his gloomy message on the second day of the elite gathering of world leaders and corporate executives in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
Guterres says the “gravest levels of geopolitical division and mistrust in generations” are undermining efforts to tackle global problems, which also include widening inequality, a cost-of-living crisis sparked by soaring inflation and an energy crunch, lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, supply-chain disruptions and more.
He singles out climate change as an “existential challenge,” and says a global commitment to limit the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius “is nearly going up in smoke.”
Guterres is also not optimistic that the conflict in Ukraine could end soon.
“There will be an end of this war. There is the end of everything. But I do not see the end of the war in the immediate future,” he says.
The European Parliament votes overwhelmingly to call on the European Union to list the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, pointing at deadly violence carried out by the force in recent months against protesters in the Islamic Republic.
The measure was backed by 598 members, while only 9 opposed it.
EU foreign policy is ultimately set by the European Council, made up of the leaders of the 27 EU member states, the Council president, and the EU Commission president.
The vote comes as thousands of Iranians living in Europe demonstrated in Strasbourg calling on the EU to designate the IRGC, which the US added to its list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2019.
The EU has already sanctioned some Iranian entities and officials over the crackdown.
Hailing the vote, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen calls it “an important step in the struggle against the Iranian regime.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issues a “call for speed” in giving aid to Ukraine, warning that “tyranny is outpacing democracies.”
“The time the Free World uses to think is used by the terrorist state to kill,” he says, amid rising pressure on Germany to greenlight exports of its heavy Leopard tank to Ukraine.
Microsoft says it will lay off 10,000 employees in the coming months as the economic downturn continues to punish US tech giants.
The job cuts will affect slightly less than five percent of employees, and follow in the wake of similar moves by Facebook-owner Meta, Amazon and Twitter, which have announced thousands of layoffs in the once-unassailable tech sector.
The cuts are “in response to macroeconomic conditions and changing customer priorities,” the maker of the Windows operating system says in a US regulatory filing.
Israel’s envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan calls the Palestinian-led push for a world court investigation into Israel a “jihad war of multilateral terror.”
The General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the investigation by the International Court of Justice last month. Israel enacted a series of retaliatory measures against the Palestinians in response. The Palestinian UN mission then issued a letter signed by over 90 countries condemning Israel’s punitive steps.
“Terror comes in many forms. At its core, terrorism is a means by which to scare people into capitulating to demands,” Erdan says. “One of the weapons they use in this jihad war is the manipulation and abuse of international bodies. They weaponize these bodies in order to force Israel into surrendering to 100% of their demands.”
He says the Palestinians exploit an automatic anti-Israel majority at the UN to push unilateral measures while avoiding negotiations.
The world court probe “was a clear unilateral step initiated by the Palestinians with the sole purpose of destroying Israel as a Jewish state,” he says. “Israel’s guilt has been predetermined.”
The Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour says Israel’s retaliatory measures “strike at the heart of multilateralism and the heart of the international law-based order.”
“Israel still believes there is a path to peace by crushing the Palestinians. If there was one to be found they would have found it by now,” Mansour says. “Peace will not come by negation of our existence, it will come from the recognition of our plight.”
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says calls for both sides to de-escalate amid regular clashes in the West Bank and for preserving the status quo at the Temple Mount.
Ending his visit to Aryeh Deri’s home, Netanyahu’s office says he told the Shas leader: “When my brother is in distress, I come to him.”
No more details are immediately provided.
Channel 12 reports that Aryeh Deri is now considering appointing Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov as health minister in his stead.
Bar Siman-Tov became well known in Israel for leading the ministry as director-general during the first months of the coronavirus crisis. He stepped down in June 2020 and was recently reappointed to the role by Deri.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has arrived at Aryeh Deri’s home in Jerusalem following the High Court’s ruling to disqualify the latter as minister.
The two will no doubt discuss their next steps, possibly including legislation to annul the court’s authority to rule on the matter.
ראש הממשלה נתניהו הגיע כעת לביתו של השר דרעי pic.twitter.com/pBBdBKnxh3
— שחר גליק (@glick_sh) January 18, 2023
Growing evidence that high inflation is finally easing shows that the Federal Reserve’s sharp interest rate hikes are working as intended, says Loretta Mester, a key Fed policymaker. But further rate hikes are still needed, she says, to decisively crush the worst inflation bout in four decades.
“We’re beginning to see the kind of actions that we need to see,” Mester, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, says in an interview with The Associated Press. “Good signs that things are moving in the right direction… That’s important input into how we’re thinking about where policy needs to go.”
Other Fed officials, too, have said recently that they were encouraged by a series of milder readings on inflation and wage growth. But Mester’s comments are notable because she is among the more consistently hawkish members of the Fed’s 19-person interest-rate-setting committee. (“Hawks” typically support higher rates to fight inflation, while “doves” tend to favor lower rates to boost employment.)
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana of Likud says the court should not have intervened in an issue that he believes is entirely under the jurisdiction of parliament.
“Now the legislative branch will have its say,” he says, in an apparent threat to take action to curtail the court’s power.
Justice Minister Yariv Levin calls the High Court’s ruling on Deri “absurd,” saying it effectively “annulled” the votes of those who elected him.
He says it “tramples over the votes not only of nearly 400,000 Shas voters, but also the will of the majority of Israeli citizens, who were aware of the relevant facts and voted for a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu in which Aryeh Deri would be a senior partner.”
Levin says he will “do everything necessary to fully repair the terrible injustice done to Rabbi Aryeh Deri, Shas and Israeli democracy.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party releases a statement saying it views minister Aryeh Deri, who was disqualified by the High Court today, as a “central and significant” part of the government and pledging to return him to office.
Written in the name of all coalition party leaders, the Likud-released statement argues that the court disqualification is an “injustice” both to Deri and to some 2 million voters who returned the coalition to power in November.
“His extraordinary abilities and vast experience are needed by the State of Israel in these complex days more than ever,” the statement continues.
Deri is a key Netanyahu ally in the prime minister’s right-wing, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox government, and Netanyahu’s coalition pushed through legislation in December to ease Deri’s appointment despite the legal complication of his recent tax fraud conviction.
The Degel HaTorah faction, part of the United Torah Judaism party, says it will support legislation to keep disqualified Shas minister Aryeh Deri in his post, and accuses the High Court of Justice of intervening in a matter where “it has no authority.”
“The High Court… is meddling in matters that do not concern it. We will support all legislative procedures required for Rabbi Aryeh Deri to serve in the government,” Degel HaTorah continues.
Heritage Minister Amihai Eliyahu of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party encourages the government “not to accede to the High Court’s ruling,” calling it “an unlawful decision.”
Eliyahu says the decision “is irresponsible and affected by narrow political interests.”
“Judges do not have the authority to ignore Basic Laws,” he says, referring to the law the coalition rewrote to allow Deri’s appointment despite his conviction, “nor to trample over this right-wing government and its decisions.”
Just before the Deri ruling was issued, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a bipartisan delegation from the US Senate to discuss ways to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords.
The meeting, which included Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Michael Herzog and US envoy to Israel Tom Nides, also talked about the Iranian nuclear program. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu offered his vision of pressuring Iran economically and diplomatically while posing a credible military threat, as a return to the 2015 JCPOA seems increasingly unlikely.
The American group is led by Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen along with Republican Senator James Lankford, and includes Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet and Mark Kelly, and Republicans Dan Sullivan and Ted Budd.
The group asked not to meet with far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir or any members of their factions.
The lawmakers are part of the Senate’s Abraham Accords Congressional Caucus, which was established last year along with a parallel panel in the House of Representatives in order to expand the legislative branch’s role in promoting the normalization agreements Israel signed with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Israel is the last stop on the delegation’s trip to all four Abraham Accords countries, which began last Thursday.
A Likud party spokesman announces a freeze on party interviews following the High Court decision to disqualify Deri.
United Torah Judaism head Yitzhak Goldknopf says the High Court of Justice’s disqualification of fellow ultra-Orthodox leader Aryeh Deri “is another tangible example of what created the crisis of trust between Israeli citizens and the judicial system.”
Pledging his UTJ party will “support all legislative procedures required” to return Deri to power, Goldknopf says that “hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens clearly expressed their trust in Rabbi Deri” by voting for Shas in the recent elections “and their desire to see him serve as a minister in the government.”
Moments after the High Court of Justice disqualified its leader from holding ministerial office, the Shas party released a statement accusing the court of making a “political” decision that undermined the will of Shas’s 400,000 voters.
“Today, the court effectively ruled that elections are meaningless. The court’s decision is political and tainted with extreme unreasonability,” reads the statement.
A recidivist financial offender, Shas leader Aryeh Deri was most recently convicted of tax offenses last January, and left the Knesset as part of a plea deal in which he vowed to retire from political life. Instead, he reentered the Knesset on top of Shas’s 11 seats in November, and in December, the coalition fast-tracked legislation to smooth his way into holding the interior and health ministry posts.
“The entire Shas movement is appalled by the arbitrary and unprecedented decision of the High Court of Justice, in contravention of law and justice, and sees it as a serious violation of the right to vote and to be elected, which is the lifeblood of democracy,” the Shas statement continues. The party also pledges to weigh its next steps, promising to consult with its guiding rabbis as to how to address the court decision.
Earlier this month, Justice Minister Yariv Levin proposed legislation to cancel the reasonability test under which the court has nixed Deri’s appointments, and the ruling will likely pressure the coalition to accelerate this, or another solution, to restore Deri’s status as a minister.
The decision also comes in the context of a broader Shas-backed judicial reform fight, a culmination of decades of the Mizrahi Haredi party lamenting overreach by a court that does not reflect its way of life.
“Broad sections of Israeli society today feel excluded by the court,” Shas’s statement reads.
Opposition party leaders join the call for Netanyahu to respect the High Court’s ruling.
“If Aryeh Deri isn’t fired, the government will be breaking the law,” says opposition leader Yair Lapid. Such a government would lose the right to demand that citizens obey the law, he adds, and Israel “will be thrust into an unprecedented constitutional crisis and will no longer be a democracy.”
Labor chief Merav Michaeli says, “Certainly the court’s decision is difficult for many citizens. But in a democracy, a court’s ruling is respected by the right and the left.
“Netanyahu and Deri must show responsibility and respect the ruling.”
Following the High Court’s ruling against Deri, the petitioner in the case, the Movement for Quality Government, says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should “respect the ruling and dismiss Deri.”
The government “is not a rehabilitation facility for criminals,” it says.
The NGO says the decision is “an important step toward maintaining the rule of law, and a victory for the entire Israeli public.”
In a dramatic ruling, the High Court of Justice has struck down Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s appointment to the roles of interior minister and health minister in the new government, with 10 judges supporting the decision and one dissenting.
The judges say Deri’s appointment is “unreasonable in the extreme” due to his multiple convictions for corruption charges. They also cite “the position Deri presented to the Magistrate’s Court that convicted him of these charges, in which he said he was quitting politics, and his conduct thereafter.”
As a consequence, in accordance with the court ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is required to dismiss Deri, who was sworn in with the rest of the government on December 29.
Court President Esther Hayut votes to strike down Deri’s appointment, joined by Uzi Vogelman, Anat Baron, Daphne Barak-Erez, Yael Willner and others.
The sole dissenter is Judge Yosef Elron, who says Deri should be forced to appeal to the Central Election Committee to have it determine the matter.
It remains to be seen how the new government will react, following veiled threats that a court decision to disqualify Deri could lead the coalition to expedite its efforts to severely limit the court’s power.
A senior member of Shas warned earlier today that if Deri is disqualified, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands that the continued existence of his government will be in jeopardy.
Orian Banian, an 18-year-old soldier who was assaulted by a group of teens in a public park Sunday has been questioned by police under caution, with investigators suspecting he attacked one of the teens before being assaulted. He is suspected of dropping the youth to the ground and kicking him several times.
Media reports say this new assessment is based on a video seen by police.
The soldier, who was off duty at the time, had previously claimed he had been trying to break up a brawl when he was assaulted.
The teens tased and slashed Banian with a knife, moderately wounding him.
Lebanon’s caretaker government approves opening credit lines totaling $116 million to help fix its crippled state electricity grid.
The cash-strapped country has struggled for over two years with rampant power cuts that have crippled much of public life, worsening a broader economic crisis that has pulled over three-quarters of the country’s population into poverty. Today, households only receive about an hour of state electricity per day, with millions now relying on expensive private generator suppliers to power their homes.
Lebanon’s state electricity company has bled state coffers dry for decades, costing the government over $40 billion with annual losses of up to $1.5 billion. The country’s two main power plants have occasionally broken down and require heavy maintenance. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund say restructuring the country’s energy sector is a key reform for the country to pull itself from the mire. Lebanon has instead relied on renewing a fuel barter deal with Iraq.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government agreed to open a credit line of $62 million for a shipment of fuel at the port, and an additional $54 million to provide maintenance for the country’s rundown Zahrani and Deir Ammar power plants.
National Unity party leader Benny Gantz says on Twitter he’s certain that judges overseeing the Aryeh Deri case “will rule only according to the law, whatever their decision is, and not according to public discourse.”
He urges “everyone to respect the High Court’s decision and not drag the country into a constitutional crisis.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov likens Western policies on Russia to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” plan of genocide against Jewish people.
Moscow’s top diplomat — whose previous comments claiming Hitler had Jewish ancestry led to President Vladimir Putin to issue a rare apology on his behalf last year — made the comparison at his annual press conference.
Israel demanded an apology after those statements. Lavrov’s latest diatribe comes days after Jerusalem’s new foreign minister broke with the policy of the previous government since the Ukraine invasion and held a phone call with the top Russian diplomat, also reportedly angering Kyiv in the process.
“Just as Napoleon mobilized practically all of Europe against the Russian Empire, just as Hitler mobilized and captured… the majority of European countries and sent them against the Soviet Union, now the United States has organized a coalition,” Lavrov says.
Western countries, he says, are “by proxy through Ukraine waging war against our country.”
“The task is the same: the final solution of the ‘Russian question.’ Just as Hitler wanted to finally solve the Jewish question.”
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is urging US President Joe Biden to “wade in” to Israel’s simmering internal crisis over the future of the judicial system to “save” Israel from its current leadership.
Friedman says “an ultranationalist, ultra-Orthodox government, formed after the Netanyahu camp won election by the tiniest sliver of votes… is driving a power grab that the other half of voters view not only as corrupt but also as threatening their own civil rights.”
Friedman argues that “the Israel Joe Biden knew is vanishing” under a government “hostile to American values.”
He adds that the outcome of the current situation “has direct implications for US national security interests.”
“I have no illusions that Biden can reverse the most extreme trends emerging in Israel today, but he can nudge things onto a healthier path, and maybe prevent the worst, with some tough love in a way that no other outsider can.”
German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser offers assistance in investigating a helicopter crash near Kyiv that killed her Ukrainian counterpart along with 15 other people.
Faeser says in a statement that she sent her condolences to the Ukrainian government “and offered Germany’s support in identifying the causes of the helicopter crash.”
An Iranian man has been sentenced to jail for more than eight years after decapitating his wife and displaying her head in public, in a case that shocked the country, the judiciary says.
Mona Heidari, 17, was killed in February 2022 by her husband and brother-in-law in Ahvaz, capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Video that emerged later of her smiling husband parading her decapitated head in the street sparked an outpouring of grief and outrage in the Islamic Republic.
Sajjad Heidarnava was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for murder and eight months for assault, judiciary spokesman Massoud Setayeshi tells reporters.
Heidari’s family had pardoned the killer rather than demanding qesas — Iran’s Islamic law of retribution.
متاسفانه اسلام و ادیان،جوری مغز های اجداد مارا شست و شو دادن که بیرون اومدن ازش زمان و مطالعه ی دقیق میخواد.
ولی اگه نسلش لجباز باشه و خلاقیت بخرج بده می تونه بچههای خودش و نسلش رو به سمت درست زندگی و صلح هدایت کنه.#MahsaAmini #IranRevolution #MonaHeidari pic.twitter.com/N9D8HiNefM
— Arshin????????❤️ (@watrzm200414) January 18, 2023
The High Court of Justice will announce at 4 p.m. its decision on the petitions against Shas leader Aryeh Deri’s appointment as a cabinet minister in the new government.
According to reports, the court is expected to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Deri as interior and health minister is “extremely unreasonable” in light of Deri’s three past convictions, including one last year for tax offenses that landed him a suspended sentence.
Political observers expect the court to strike down Deri’s appointment.
Yesterday, Shas MK Avraham Bezalel warned that any decision to disqualify Deri would mean the court’s justices were “shooting themselves in the head,” a threat apparently alluding to plans by the hardline government to overhaul the judiciary — including by canceling the court’s right to invoke the legal “reasonableness” measure expected to be used against Deri, as well as giving the coalition the power to appoint justices, radically limit the court’s power to strike down legislation, and appoint ministries’ legal advisers.
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