The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s developments as they unfolded.

New ministers assume office

Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked formally enters office as justice minister, vowing to find “the right balance” between the Knesset and courts.

“The justice system is one of the founding principles of our democracy, and I will not bring it down, but I will make sure that it does not erode the powers of the legislative and executive branches,” she says. “I will work to boost the standing of the Knesset.”

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett hands over the Economy Ministry to Shas leader Aryeh Deri.

Deri says, according to the Walla news website: “When I sat at the cabinet meeting on Thursday [sic] I looked right and left and noticed that I am the most veteran [politician] there. When I was interior minister, Netanyahu was a young MK who came from the UN.”

Earlier, Kulanu’s Yoav Galant officially became housing minister.

Ex-housing minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) urged him to increase construction in order to lower housing prices, primarily in the capital.

“We have two central issues in the office: one is building units in Israel with a focus on prices, and I will emphasize Jerusalem, which deserves special mention. I wish you success in building up Jerusalem.”

Likud’s Miri Regev, entering office as culture and sports minister, addresses the ongoing FIFA dispute and says politics and sports must not mix.

PM says ‘no room for racism’ in Israel

Speaking at a memorial for Ethiopians who died en route to Israel, Netanyahu says he will form a special ministerial committee this week to address all issues of discrimination and racism.

“We will bring a comprehensive plan to the government to assist you in every way,” the prime minister says. “There is no room for racism and discrimination in our society, none.”

Netanyahu says that a meeting he had with community leaders earlier this month to discuss the issues was “emotional and moving.”

“We will turn racism into something contemptible and despicable. There are societies that have succeeded in rising above this filth.”

Following his meeting with the Ethiopian community two weeks ago, Netanyahu vowed to “fight racism and discrimination in any way possible.”

The prime minister also acknowledges the hardships the community faced making it to Israel.

“In Jerusalem we heard your cry,” Netanyahu says, “the whole nation heard it; I did as well.”

Read the full report here.

‘US raid killed 32 IS members, including 4 leaders’

A US special forces raid in eastern Syria killed 32 members of the Islamic State jihadist group, including four leaders, a monitoring group says.

“The US operation killed 32 members of IS, among them four officials, including IS oil chief Abu Sayyaf, the deputy IS defence minister, and an IS communications official,” says Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

US officials have said “about a dozen” people were killed in the operation on Friday night, which was conducted by Iraq-based US commandos in order to capture Abu Sayyaf.

Abdel Rahman says three of the four leading officials killed in the raid were from North Africa, but that the IS communications official was Syrian.


Thousands at funeral of Gush Emunim leader

Thousands of people are attending the funeral of Gush Emunim leader Rabbi Moshe Levinger in Hebron.

President Reuven Rivlin is in attendance.

Levinger died on Saturday. He was 80.

Rabbi Moshe Levinger pictured at the Hashmonaim settlement, in October 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Rabbi Moshe Levinger pictured at the Hashmonaim settlement, October 2007. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Uri Ariel barred from Temple Mount

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel is prevented by police from entering the Temple Mount, Israel Radio reports.

Police reportedly fear Ariel’s visit would spark riots at the holy site.

Minister Uri Ariel on the Temple Mount on March 16, 2014 (photo credit: Uri Ariel's spokesman's office)

Minister Uri Ariel on the Temple Mount on March 16, 2014 (Uri Ariel’s spokesman’s office)

Palestinian nuns gain sainthood

Two 19th-century nuns on Sunday become the first Palestinians to gain sainthood during an open-air mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square attended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The pontiff urges the faithful to follow the “luminous example” of the two 19th-century sisters and two others, from France and Italy, who are canonized along with them on a sunny spring morning.

Marie Alphonsine Ghattas was born in 1843 in Jerusalem during its rule by the Ottoman Empire, and died there during the British mandate period in 1927.

19th century Catholic nuns Miriam Bawardy (L) and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas (R) are to be canonized by Pope Francis May 17, 2015. (Screen capture: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

19th century Catholic nuns Miriam Bawardy (L) and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas (R) are to be canonized by Pope Francis May 17, 2015. (Screen capture: Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem)

She was beatified — the final step before canonization — in 2009.

Mariam Bawardy was born in Galilee, now in northern Israel, in 1846. She became a nun in France and died in Bethlehem in 1878 and was beatified by pope John Paul II in 1983.

Around 2,000 pilgrims from the Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan, some waving Palestinian flags, attend the mass as well as Abbas, who had a private audience with the pope on Saturday.


Egypt hangs 6 IS-aligned jihadists

Egyptian authorities hanged six men convicted of killing soldiers, police say, ignoring appeals to spare them amid allegations two of them had been in custody at the time of their alleged crimes.

A military court upheld the death sentences last March, following a trial in which the six were convicted of carrying out the attacks in the months after the army’s overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Prosecutors said they were members of the Sinai Peninsular-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis jihadist group, which late last year pledged allegiance to the Islamic State organisation.

The sentence was carried out by hanging in a Cairo jail, according to officials.


‘No secret’ I wanted to stay in Interior, Erdan says

Outgoing interior minister Gilad Erdan, who received no ministerial portfolio, says “it’s no secret” he wanted to stay in office.

“It’s no secret that I wanted to stay in the Interior Ministry, and I asked to merge it with the Public Security Ministry which is suffering from a huge crisis, much like the police,” Erdan says. “I studied the issue and I thought it right to house them under one authority, but my position was not accepted.”

He says he will weigh his next move in the coming days.

Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Gilad Erdan (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Vancouver gay film festival bans nationalistic symbols

A gay film festival in Vancouver bans “overt expressions of nationalism” after organizers came under fire over an advertisement featuring an Israeli flag.

The advertisement in last year’s guidebook for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, placed by the local gay Jewish group Yad b’Yad, features a gay pride flag alongside an Israeli flag. That led to accusations of “pink washing,” the supposed tactic of using Israel’s support for gay rights to divert attention from its treatment of the Palestinians.

Following the ad’s publication, two directors withdrew their films from the festival and the festival donated the ad revenue to a third party, the Canadian Jewish News reported.

“We now have stronger policies that will enable us to make sure all our partnerships reflect our values and allow us to focus on bringing people together through film,” Shana Myara, the festival’s director of programming, tells the newspaper.


Bombs target 2 Egypt courts, injuring 2

Egyptian security officials say bombs have targeted courthouses in two cities, wounding two people in what could be retaliation for the sentencing to death of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi the day before.

They say one bomb targeted the main courthouse in the southern city of Assiut late Saturday, seriously injuring a policeman. Early Sunday, a small girl was injured when a bomb went off near a courthouse in Port Said, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The attacks came after suspected Islamic militants gunned down three judges in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, just hours after a Cairo court sentenced Morsi to death over his role in a mass prison break in 2011.


Multiple suicide bombings kill 10 Iraqi troops

Authorities say multiple suicide car bomb attacks have killed 10 members of Iraqi security forces in Ramadi, which now is largely held by the Islamic State group.

Police and army officials say four near-simultaneous bombings Sunday targeted police officers defending the Malaab district in southern Ramadi, killing five and wounding 15.

Later on, police say three suicide bombers drove their explosive-laden cars into the gate of the Anbar Operation Command, the military headquarters for the province, killing five soldiers and wounding 12.

Fierce clashes erupted between security forces and Islamic State militants following the attacks. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to talk to journalists.


Jewish-backed Argentine rugby club takes national title

An Argentinian rugby team with a Jewish history and Jewish fans wins the national league championship.

The Buenos Aires-based Hindu Club team won the Argentinian national title after beating Club Newman, in a vibrant 27 to 25 final.

This title means that Hindu is the best team in the country, winning the 20th edition of the National Tournament, organized by the Argentinian Rugby Union, or UAR. In November 2014, Hindu won the Buenos Aires Rugby League title.

Identified as the Jewish rugby team among the national clubs, Hindu fans display Israeli flags during some matches, such as during the Buenos Aires final in November.


Qatar-based cleric slams Egypt death sentence

A prominent Qatar-based Muslim cleric says that death sentences handed down by an Egyptian court against himself and deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi violated Islam.

Egyptian-born preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi says the death sentences handed down on Saturday against more than 100 defendants, who also included Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, ran contrary to Islamic law.

“I distance myself from these rulings,” he says in a statement relayed by Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

“They have no value and cannot be implemented because they are against the rule of God and people’s laws and customs.”


PM sends condolences to Levinger family

Netanyahu sends condolences to the family of Rabbi Moshe Levinger.

He writes: “Rabbi Levinger’s name will be forever linked with the movement for renewed Jewish settlement in Hebron and other areas of the country where our patriarchs walked thousands of years ago. He was an outstanding example of a generation that sought to realize the Zionist dream, in deed and in spirit, after the Six Day War.

“There is great symbolism that Rabbi Levinger passed away on the eve of Jerusalem Day; he leaves behind him a well-established legacy and many students who are dedicated to taking root in our Land.”

Egypt restricts women traveling to Turkey

Egypt has imposed restrictions on female citizens traveling to Turkey, police say, months after introducing similar measures for men to stop them joining the Islamic State jihadist group.

Women aged 18 to 40 are now required to obtain security clearance before going to Turkey, a senior police officer tells AFP, without specifying why.

“A security clearance can be acquired within 72 hours, and it is now mandatory for women traveling to this country (Turkey),” the officer says.

The restriction took effect on Thursday, a Cairo airport official says.

In March Egypt’s state-sponsored Islamic authority, Dar al-Ifta, warned women against marrying IS fighters over the Internet who woo them to travel to jihadist-controlled territory.

The compulsory security clearance for men, introduced in December, applies to war-torn Libya as well as Turkey.


Yemen talks commence, without Houthis

Around 400 Yemeni politicians and tribal leaders launch talks in Saudi Arabia on Sunday on the future of their war-torn country, but the Shiite Houthi rebels who control the capital and much of northern Yemen are not participating.

The meeting came as a five-day cease-fire that has been repeatedly violated was set to expire. The Saudi-led coalition and the rebels have blamed each other for the violations, as fighting on the ground has continued throughout the pause.

The Houthis have rejected the main aim of the three-day talks — the restoration of Yemen’s exiled president — and the location of the negotiations in Saudi Arabia. The absence of the Houthis means the national dialogue is unlikely to end the violence.

The UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, opens the meeting by calling on all parties to ensure that the shaky cease-fire leads to a lasting truce.

“I call on all parties to refrain from any action that disturbs the peace of airports, main areas and the infrastructure of transport,” says Ahmed, who delivered the speech on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Palestinians stone Jews at Damascus Gate

As the Jerusalem Day march begins, Palestinians hurl rocks at Jews near the Old City’s Damascus Gate, Ynet reports, sparking clashes.

No one is hurt, according to the report.

Police disperse the riots, arresting one Palestinian.

US must view Israel as true ally, Walker says

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely candidate for the GOP nomination for president, says his recent visit to Israel strengthened his belief that the United States must view Israel as a true ally.

Walker spoke about his recent trip to Israel Saturday night during the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner.

“It is time to send a message around the world that we stand with our allies,” he says.

Walker says his helicopter tour of the area, from Israel’s border with Syria to the Sea of Galilee and then south to the border with the Gaza Strip, made him realize the fear Israelis live with on a daily basis, the Washington Post reported.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on April 18, 2015 (Photo credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/AFP)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on April 18, 2015 (Photo credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/AFP)

“Remember for a moment how many of us—the young people don’t remember this probably so well—but those of us as adults remember what we felt like on the day after Sept. 11,” Walker says. “That’s how they feel almost every day. That’s what they feel like because of what they’re dealing with.”


‘Nearly 300 die in battle for Syria’s Palmyra’

Nearly 300 people have been killed in several days of fighting since the Islamic State group launched an attack against Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, a monitor says.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, says the toll comprised 123 soldiers and loyalist militiamen, 115 IS fighters and 57 civilians.


Cop lightly injured by rock in capital

A policeman is lightly injured after a Palestinian hurls a rock at his head near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, Ynet reports.

Thousands of cops deployed in Jerusalem

Thousands of police officers are deployed in the capital, as Jerusalem Day celebrations enter high gear.

Photos of Jerusalem Day march, clashes

Israeli youths hold their national flag as they take part in the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Israeli youths hold their national flag as they take part in the “flag march” through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli police during the Israeli's "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli police during the Israeli’s “flag march” through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Palestinian women hold a scarf bearing the Palestine name as Israeli youths hold their national flag as they take part in the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Palestinian women hold a scarf bearing the Palestine name as Israeli youths hold their national flag as they take part in the “flag march” through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

A Palestinian demonstrator is detained by Israeli police as Israeli's mark the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

A Palestinian demonstrator is detained by Israeli police as Israelis mark the “flag march” through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

Palestinian olive trees uprooted

Some 750 olive trees on lands belonging to Palestinian farmers are uprooted in a possible hate crime, Rabbis for Human Rights say.

The incident takes place in the Gush Etzion bloc, near the settlement of Meitzad.

2 cops injured, 2 protesters arrested

Two cops are injured in clashes between “dozens” of Palestinians and police at Damascus gate, police say. Two Palestinian protesters have been detained.

Anti-racism group holds counterprotest

Anti-racism group Tag Meir is holding a counterdemonstration outside city hall to protest against what it called the “march of hate.”

It says the annual march had become “a focus for extremist groups” and was routinely accompanied by “racist slurs and insults, destruction of property and physical violence against the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.”

“This year we say a loud and clear ‘No to the violence, the hatred and the incitement’ which threaten the delicate fabric of daily life in Jerusalem,” it says.

The group says its supporters would walk through the Muslim Quarter handing out flowers to residents as a gesture of peace and coexistence.

The group was one of the two NGOs which unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to change the route of the march.


IS fighters take over Ramadi command center

Islamic State group fighters took over the provincial operations command center in Ramadi, putting the jihadists on the brink of capturing the Iraqi city, officials say.

“Anbar operations command has been cleared,” Muhannad Haimour, spokesman and adviser to the province’s governor, tells AFP. Several security officials confirm the retreat.


2 mortars fall in Golan Heights

Two mortar shells fall in the Golan Heights, causing no injuries or damage, the Ynet news website reports.

The mortars are likely a result of spillover from the Syrian side of the border, where fierce fighting is taking place, it reports.

Nepal PM seeks $2b for reconstruction

Nepal’s prime minister appeals for $2 billion to rebuild his country, shattered by two massive earthquakes in three weeks that have killed thousands and devastated the impoverished nation’s infrastructure.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, whose year-old government has faced criticism over the speed of its response to the quakes, says that the administration has set up a national rehabilitation and reconstruction fund, and urged donors to help.

“Our target is to raise $2 billion. Government has earmarked $200 million as a seed money for the fund with a request to donors communities and private sector to make necessary contribution,” Koirala says.

“Rehabilitation and reconstruction is very important for us and we hope our friends will come with a large heart to assist.”


Israeli teens, Palestinians clash at Damascus Gate

Israeli teenagers clash with Palestinians, including Palestinian journalists, at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

The teenagers were singing nationalistic slogans, throwing cardboard boxes at the Palestinians, a Times of Israel reporter says.

Palestinian TV journalist is harassed by Israeli teenagers near Damascus Gate on May 17, 2015 (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

Palestinian TV journalist is harassed by Israeli teenagers near Damascus Gate on May 17, 2015. (Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel)

Elhanan Miller contributed

Estimated 500 people killed in Ramadi in two days

An estimated 500 people, civilians and security forces, were killed in the jihadist offensive on Ramadi, a spokesman for the governor of the Iraqi province of Anbar says.

“We don’t have an accurate count of casualties yet but we believe at least 500 people, both civilian and military, have been killed over the past two days,” Muhannad Haimour tells AFP.


Another 2 cops lightly injured

Another two policemen are hurt in clashes with Palestinians in Jerusalem’s Old City, the Walla news website reports, bringing the number of injured cops to four.

Four Palestinians are detained for throwing rocks, and two others for assaulting policemen, the report says.

At least 2 Palestinian hurt in Jerusalem clashes

Onlookers say that at least two Palestinians were wounded in various clashes in Jerusalem and video footage shows a man being taken away on a stretcher by Red Crescent ambulance staff.


Don’t abandon Anbar to IS, Iraq PM says

Iraq’s prime minister orders his country’s security forces not to abandon their positions in Anbar province Sunday to the Islamic State group, as some troops left their weapons and vehicles behind to flee the militants in the embattled city of Ramadi.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also orders Shiite militias to prepare to go into the Sunni-dominated region, ignoring worries their presence could spark sectarian bloodshed apparently over fears the extremists could seize the province.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Iraq still maintained any control of Ramadi, which the Islamic State group seized much of in recent days.


PM fires director of Communications Ministry

Netanyahu fires the director-general of the Communications Ministry, Avi Berger, over the phone, the Globes business daily reports.

The prime minister has kept the Communications Ministry portfolio.

Berger was hired by ex-communications minister Gilad Erdan.

Flag march ends, most streets reopen

The flag march ends at the Western Wall, after passing through the Muslim Quarter.

Apart from several skirmishes at Damascus Gate, there are no major incidents of violence.

Tens of thousands of people were at the march, according to Hebrew media sources.

Six Palestinian protesters were arrested, and four cops were lightly hurt.

Likud MK Gilad Erdan, Jewish Home MK Naftali Bennett, and ex-Likud MK Gideon Saar were sitting on stage by the Western Wall.

Most streets in the capital have reopened to traffic, and the light rail is back on track, according to Army Radio.

Sa’ar urges PM to ‘stop talking, start building’

Gideon Sa’ar urges Netanyahu to considerably boost construction in Jerusalem, saying “talk about building is not sufficient.

“In the past few years, the demographic balance in the capital has been changing, and it isn’t good. The construction rates are insufficient [to cover] its development needs. Today is the day to state clearly: We must build in Jerusalem, in all of its areas, in a significant and wide-ranging way, and the time is now,” he says.

“I call on the prime minister — talk about construction is not enough. Stop talking, start building.”

Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar holds a press conference on September 17, 2014.. (photo credit: Flash90)

Former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar holds a press conference on September 17, 2014. (Flash90)

Rivlin urges development of East Jerusalem

In his Jerusalem Day address, President Reuven Rivlin urges development of East Jerusalem.

“We are confronting rightly, justly, and without hesitation, criticism over our right to be sovereign in a united Jerusalem. I fear that we ourselves have not yet looked frankly at the meaning of our sovereignty in the city. When we look today at the huge disparities between the East of the city and the West, we have to tell ourselves honestly — we completed the physical unification of the city, but the task of unifying the city’s social and economic aspects have barely begun,” the president says.

“While the West of Jerusalem is enjoying the momentum of development and impressive growth, the Eastern part of the city is in disrepair and neglect. It needs to be said that today, after years of viewing East Jerusalem and its people as transparent, groundbreaking steps are currently being taken in the fields of education, housing and infrastructure, and for that we need to congratulate the mayor. However, there is much more to be done.”

The president continues that “narrowing the pressing gap between its East and West is a task that all lovers of Jerusalem, from the right and left alike, have to agree upon and strive to achieve.”

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