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Netanyahu presents new cabinet at stormy Knesset ceremony

PM lists 20 ministers, urges Likud No. 2 Gilad Erdan to reconsider joining government; Arab MKs removed from plenum during his speech

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents his new cabinet at a swearing-in ceremony in the Knesset on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (photo credit: Knesset spokesperson)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presents his new cabinet at a swearing-in ceremony in the Knesset on Thursday, May 14, 2015. (photo credit: Knesset spokesperson)
  • MK Jamal Zahalka is removed from the Knesset plenum after making repeated catcalls during a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, May 14, 2015 (Knesset spokesperson)
    MK Jamal Zahalka is removed from the Knesset plenum after making repeated catcalls during a speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday, May 14, 2015 (Knesset spokesperson)
  • The scene of a suspected car-ramming terror attack May 14, 2015 outside the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut. (Courtesy Zaka)
    The scene of a suspected car-ramming terror attack May 14, 2015 outside the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut. (Courtesy Zaka)
  • The scene of a suspected terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, in which three teenagers were wounded when a Palestinian driver slammed into a hitchhiking post, May 14, 2015. (Courtesy Zaka)
    The scene of a suspected terror attack near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, in which three teenagers were wounded when a Palestinian driver slammed into a hitchhiking post, May 14, 2015. (Courtesy Zaka)
  • Paramedics attend to three teenagers who were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack in Alon Shvut in the West Bank, May 14, 2015. Courtesy Zaka
    Paramedics attend to three teenagers who were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack in Alon Shvut in the West Bank, May 14, 2015. Courtesy Zaka
  • MDA paramedics respond to a suspected terrorist car-ramming attack outside of the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut on May 14, 2015. (Courtesy Gush Etzion local council)
    MDA paramedics respond to a suspected terrorist car-ramming attack outside of the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut on May 14, 2015. (Courtesy Gush Etzion local council)

The Times of Israel liveblogged Thursday’s events as they unfolded.

Palestinian driver in suspected hit-and-run arrested

Police arrest a Palestinian driver suspected of running over three teenagers at a hitchhiking post near the Alon Shvut settlement in the West Bank.

Hit-and-run suspect seized at IDF checkpoint

The Palestinian driver detained in the suspected car-ramming terror attack was stopped at an IDF checkpoint shortly after the incident and taken for interrogation.

He is a resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, according to police.

34th government to be sworn in at 7 p.m.

Israel’s 34th government will be sworn in at 7 p.m. The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Knesset Channel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of finalizing his ruling coalition today. According to some reports, some senior Likud lawmakers may be left without a portfolio.

Gush Etzion official calls for more security

The deputy head of the Gush Etzion Council, to which the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut belongs, calls on authorities to increase security in the area.

“I call on the military and the security establishment to restore security in Gush Etzion, to up [troops’] presence and prevent the entry of Palestinians to areas where many people gather. This is a difficult day for Gush Etzion,” Moshe Sweil tells Ynet, hours after three teenagers were hurt in a suspected car-ramming terror attack

 

Israeli man arrested after 2 Palestinians found in trunk

An Israeli man is arrested near Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel after he tried to flee from an IDF checkpoint. Troops found two Palestinian men, who had entered Israel illegally, hiding in the trunk of his car.

The man, a 30-year-old Hadera resident, is believed to have attacked an IDF soldier who tried to search his car, Israel Radio reports.

Natalie Portman to play Jackie O

Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman will star as Jackie Kennedy in a new drama about the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, according to Variety magazine.

The film will be directed by Darren Aronofsky who also directed Portman in the 2010 movie Black Swan, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Natalie Portman (Courtesy)

Natalie Portman (Courtesy)

Iranian ships open fire on Singapore-flagged vessel

Five Iranian ships open fire on a cargo vessel carrying the Singaporean flag in the Persian Gulf.

The incident occurred just off the coast of the United Arab Emirates but still in international waters, CNN reports. The vessel escaped by veering into UAE waters, according to the report.

The Iranian ships were believed to be manned by the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy.

Danon gets science, Regev gets culture & sports

The Likud’s Danny Danon is appointed head of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

Miri Regev will be the minister of culture and sports.

Netanyahu is finalizing his ruling coalition ahead of a swearing-in ceremony at 7 p.m.

Current rundown of Likud appointments

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu races against the clock to conclude negotiations with senior Likud lawmakers for a handful of ministerial posts, here is a current rundown of who will get what:

Moshe Ya’alon – Defense Ministry

Yuval Steinitz – Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water

Yisrael Katz – Transportation Ministry and Intelligence Ministry

Miri Regev – Ministry of Culture and Sports

Danny Danon – Ministry of Science, Technology and Space

Ofir Akunis – a ministerial position related to the Communications ministry, though Netanyahu himself will hold the Communications Ministry post.

Benny Begin – Strategic Affairs Ministry

Haim Katz – Ministry of Welfare and Social Services

Ze’ev Elkin – Ministry of Absorption

Yariv Levin – Ministry of Tourism

It is not clear what appointment the Likud’s no. 2, Gilad Erdan, will receive, having asked first for the Foreign Ministry, then for a merged interior and public security ministry. Both proposals are said to have been rejected by Netanyahu.

Tzipi Hotovely appointed deputy FM

Likud lawmaker Tzipi Hotovely will be Israel’s incoming deputy foreign minister, with no minister above her (effectively meaning she will run the show).

This is a blow to the Likud’s no. 2, Gilad Erdan, and to MK Silvan Shalom, both of whom vied for the foreign affairs portfolio.

This could mean that either Erdan or Shalom will not be in the government

Palestinian cars stoned near Yitzhar

Several Palestinian cars are pelted with rocks near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, according to a police spokesperson.

At least one car sustains damage. No injuries are reported.

 

Algerian jihadist group vows fealty to IS

The jihadist group of notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar pledges allegiance to the Islamic State, according to an audio recording broadcast by private Mauritanian agency Al-Akhbar.

The Al-Murabitoun group was linked to al-Qaeda, but one of its leading members, Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, says in the recording that it was now aligning itself with the IS.

“The Al-Murabitoun movement pledges its allegiance to the caliph of Muslims Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thereby banishing divisions and dissent within the nation,” says Sahraoui.

— AFP

Obama convenes summit with Gulf leaders

CAMP DAVID, Maryland — US President Barack Obama and leaders from six Gulf nations were gathering at Camp David to work through tensions sparked by the US bid for a nuclear deal with Iran, a pursuit that has put regional partners on edge.

Obama is seeking to reassure the Gulf leaders that US overtures to Iran will not come at the expense of commitments to their security. He is expected to offer them more military assistance, including increased joint exercises and coordination on ballistic missile systems.

— AP

Israel invites bids for 85 West Bank units

The Ministry of Housing and Construction issues tenders for the building of 85 new housing units in Givat Zeev, Peace Now says.

The tenders for the settlement, which lies immediately south of the West Bank city of Ramallah, had been issued last year but received no bids from contractors so were issued again, Peace Now and the construction ministry say.

Last minute changes in Shas appointments

Less than an hour before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to swear in Israel’s 34th government, there were some last-minute changes in the series of appointments given to ultra-Orthodox party Shas.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri is set to give up the Ministry of Religious Services, which will go to Shas MK David Azoulay.

Deri is to retain the leadership of the Economy Ministry and the Ministry of Development of the Negev and the Galilee

Shas lawmaker Yitzhak Cohen will be appointed deputy economy minister and deputy minister of the development of the Negev and the Galilee portfolio, according to Israel Radio.

Suspect in West Bank car-ramming attack named

The Palestinian driver suspected of carrying out a car-ramming attack near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut earlier, injuring 4 teenagers, is identified as Muhammad a-Rafyah, 22, from Hebron.

According to the Shin Bet, a-Rafyah was released a year and a half ago from Israeli prison after serving time for throwing stones and for weapons charges.

The Shin Bet also says in a statement from its initial investigation, the attack was nationalistically motivated.

Government swearing-in pushed back to 9 p.m.

The swearing-in ceremony for Israel’s 34th government is delayed until 9 p.m.

The event was originally due to start at 7 p.m as Prime Minister Netanyahu was scrambling throughout the day to put the finishing touches on his ruling coalition with a host of ministerial appointments for senior Likud members.

US House to vote on Iran nuclear bill

The US House is poised to overwhelmingly approve a bill that would allow Congress to review and potentially reject a nuclear deal with Iran that’s still being negotiated by the US and its partners.

If approved and signed by President Barack Obama, the legislation would give Congress a say on what could be a significant international accord aimed at getting Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Obama initially threatened to veto the bill, but then said he’d sign it if it was not changed from the bipartisan version that the Senate backed 98-1.

The legislation would bar Obama from waiving congressional sanctions for at least 30 days while lawmakers examine any final deal. The bill would stipulate that if senators disapprove of the deal, Obama would lose his current power to waive certain economic penalties Congress has imposed on Iran.

The bill would require Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval to reject the deal, an action that Obama almost certainly would veto. Congress then would have to muster votes from two-thirds of each chamber to override the veto.

— AP

Ayoub Kara named deputy minister of regional cooperation

Druze Likud MK Ayoub Kara says he will be the incoming deputy minister of regional cooperation, with Netanyahu himself as minister of the portfolio.

Kara says he will also be in charge of development and infrastructure in Druze and Circassian communities.

Ayoub Kara (photo credit: Flash90)

Ayoub Kara (photo credit: Flash90)

The post was previously held by Silvan Shalom whose future within the emerging government is still uncertain.

At least 15 injured in Gaza explosion

At least 15 people are reported injured in an explosion in northern Gaza.

The cause of the blast is not yet clear.

Three senior Likud members still without posts

Three senior members of the ruling Likud party are still without ministerial posts, an hour before the government is due to be sworn in.

Appointments for Gilad Erdan, the Likud’s no.2, Silvan Shalom and Tzahi Hanegbi have yet to be announced, and it is not yet clear if they are forthcoming.

Akunis appointment to communications ministry in question

The appointment of Ofir Akunis to a “ministerial post” in the Communications Ministry is in question as Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has made clear that there was no such position in a given ministry.

The only two valid posts are minister and deputy minister. Akunis was named neither.

Netanyahu will himself hold the leadership of the Communications Ministry.

Likud parliament member Ofir Akunis seen at a press conference of the Likud political party in Tel Aviv on February 01, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

Likud parliament member Ofir Akunis seen at a press conference of the Likud political party in Tel Aviv on February 1, 2015. (photo credit: Tomer Neuberg/FLASH90)

 

Likud’s Gila Gamliel given two ministries

Likud lawmaker Gila Gamliel is appointed head of a brand new ministry called the Ministry of Gender Equality, and minister of senior citizens, a post previously held by the late Uri Orbach from the Jewish Home party.

Likud parliament member Gila Gamliel. (Photo credit: Flash 90)

Likud parliament member Gila Gamliel. (Photo credit: Flash 90)

Security footage shows car-ramming attack

Surveillance cameras captured the car-ramming attack earlier today near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut in which four teenagers were injured.

The footage shows a black car speeding by as several persons are seen being thrown to the ground in the far right corner.

Netanyahu, Rivlin arrive at Knesset for swearing-in ceremony

The swearing-in ceremony of Israel’s 34th government is underway in the Knesset.

There is still no word on what appointments — if any — senior Likud lawmakers Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom and Benny Begin are to receive.

Earlier, it was reported that Begin would get the Ministry of Strategic Affairs but a new Likud announcement indicates that that office is going to Ze’ev Elkin, who was also appointed minister of immigration and absorption.

A minister of interior and a minister of public security have yet to be named.

Swearing-in ceremony begins

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein opens Knesset ceremony to swear in Israel’s 34th government.

Netanyahu will present his cabinet.

Arab MKs kicked out of plenum during PM’s speech

At least three MKs from the Joint (Arab) List are removed from the Knesset plenum after repeated catcalls during Netanyahu’s speech at the swearing-in ceremony. The rest of the party’s MKs walk out after them.

PM: Reform to electoral system urgently needed

Netanyahu begins his Knesset speech by saying the electoral system is not working and that urgent reform is needed.

He turns to opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, and urges his cooperation to change the system.

PM urges Erdan to reconsider decision not to join government

Netanyahu urges Likud no.2 Gilad Erdan to reconsider his decision not to join the government.

It seems the two were unable to come to an agreement on what position Erdan would hold in the incoming government.

Erdan has yet to release a statement.

Herzog to PM: You have a circus, not a government

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog tells Netanyahu that his coalition partners “pickpocketed” him, extracting wide-spread concessions from the prime minister.

“You did not form a government, you formed a circus,” Herzog says.

“This is a government without vision, without a working plan, without hope,” he adds.

Herzog makes clear he will not join coalition

Amid reports that Netanyahu was holding on to the foreign affairs portfolio in hopes of possibly enticing the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog into the coalition, Herzog makes clear in his Knesset speech that he will under no circumstances join Netanyahu’s “circus.”

“I advise you Mr. Prime Minister not to hold onto the Foreign Ministry, give it tonight to a member of your party,” he says.

“No fair leader would join the Netanyahu circus you have formed at the last moment, at any price, just to stay in power,” he adds.

List of cabinet members as presented by PM

Netanyahu listed his cabinet members in his Knesset speech.

The PM himself will hold the foreign, health, communications and regional cooperation portfolios.

David Azoulay (Shas) – minister of religious services

Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) – minister of immigration and absorption, and strategic affairs

Ofir Akunis (Likud) – minister (no specific office)

Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) – minister of agriculture and rural development

Benny Begin (Likud) – minister (no specific office)

Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) – minister of education, minister of Jerusalem and diaspora affairs. (Netanyahu notes that any issues related to Jerusalem will be transferred to the Prime Minister’s Office)

Avi Gabbay (Kulanu) – minister of environmental protection

Yoav Galant (Kulanu) – minister of housing and construction

Gila Gamliel (Likud) – minister of senior citizens and minister of gender equality

Danny Danon (Likud) – minister of science, technology and space

Aryeh Deri (Shas) – economy minister

Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) – defense minister

Yisrael Katz (Likud) – minister of transportation and road safety, and minister of intelligence

Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) – minister of finance

Haim Katz (Likud) – minister of welfare and social services

Yariv Levin (Likud) – minister of tourism and minister of public security

Miri Regev (Likud) – minister of culture and sports

Yuval Steinitz (Likud) – minister of national infrastructure, energy and water

Silvan Shalom (Likud) – deputy prime minister and interior minister

Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) – justice minister

Hanegbi denies agreeing to posts listed by PM

Likud lawmaker Tzahi Hanegbi says he did not agree to the positions given to him, as presented by Netanyahu during his Knesset speech listing his cabinet members.

Netanyahu said that Hanegbi would serve as chairman of the coalition and chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

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