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Israel’s Netanyahu dissolves war cabinet

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the end of Israel’s six-member war cabinet.

Reports on Monday said the Israeli leader had announced the decision at a meeting of the political security cabinet the previous evening. Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners have been pushing for a new war cabinet to be established after the more centrist Benny Gantz quit the emergency government.

Nationalist-religious Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have demanded Israel must continue its bombardment of Gaza despite calls for some restraint from allies including the United States, had called for a new war cabinet to be formed featuring coalition party leaders.

However, Netanyahu has reportedly turned them down.

“The cabinet was in the coalition agreement with Gantz, at his request. As soon as Gantz left – there is no need for a cabinet any more,” Netanyahu said, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.

The Israeli premier is now expected to hold consultations about the Gaza war with a small group of ministers, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, who had been in the war cabinet.

Gantz’s resignation from the government withdrew the only centrist power in the embattled leader’s far-right coalition, amid the months-long assault on Gaza.

Claiming that the Netanyahu government failed to present a post-war plan for the besieged and bombarded Palestinian territory was an obstacle to “true victory”, Gantz has called for an election, with the prime minister facing severe pressure amid calls for a deal with Hamas to secure the release of captives held in Gaza.

However, the Israeli leader is also under pressure from his hardline coalition partners.

According to Israeli media, Ben-Gvir appealed in a letter to Netanyahu last Thursday to expand the war cabinet.  The letter reportedly said the Israeli war has over the past eight months been “conducted in secret”, through “limited forums that change their names and definitions in a loop, all for the purpose of sole control over decisions and avoiding discussion of other positions that would challenge the old conception”.

A new war cabinet with a heavy influence enjoyed by Smotrich and Ben-Gvir would have further tested relations with international partners, first and foremost the US, which has called for Israel’s military to refrain from a full ground invasion of the southern city of Rafah and for increased aid shipments.

At the same time, Washington continues to supply Israel with arms and there has been little hint that Netanyahu is ready to pull back from the onslaught in Gaza.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said “in order to reach the goal of eliminating the capabilities of Hamas, he made decisions that were not always acceptable to the military echelon” during the weekly cabinet meeting.

The war cabinet included Netanyahu, Gantz, Gallant, Dermer, Gadi Eizenkot, and Shas party leader Aryeh Deri. It is possible, i24News reported, that Netanyahu will continue to consult Gallant, Dermer, and Deri privately.

While such an arrangement would not have legal weight, it would allow the prime minister to continue the exclusion of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich from sensitive security discussions.

[Aljazeera]



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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final

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Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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Top ICC official Chris Tetley and Claire Furlong resign

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There was a lot of scrutiny of the matches in the US leg of the World Cup, particularly the games held in New York

A couple of senior officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), who were closely involved in organizing the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, have resigned. On Friday, it came to light that Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, and Claire Furlong, the General Manager of Marketing and Communications, have announced their departures from the organization.

The resignations, coming as they did immediately after the conclusion of the World Cup and just about a week ahead of the ICC’s annual conference in Colombo, are believed to be related to the conduct of the championship. However, ICC insiders say the resignations are several months old.

One particular source has claimed that both Tetley and Furlong decided to leave the world body at the end of the last commercial cycle itself but stayed on in view of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US. The source went on to add that the two quit quite some time back but will continue to be with the ICC for a few more months ‘to ensure smooth transition of charge in a crowded event cycle.’ They will also attend the Annual Conference in Colombo from July 19 to 22.

The World Cup in the US, and particularly in New York, was a major project of the ICC and the two officials were closely involved in it. Many members of the ICC were priming to raise the issue of the New York games, which were low-scoring affairs due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the drop-in pitches at the NY stadium, at the Colombo conclave. A key member of the ICC board is learnt to have raised the issue through a letter to the members.

The number of fours and sixes, which are generally expected to be high in numbers in the Twenty20 games, was significantly low in the New York games. The Indian team, the eventual champions, however, did not comment on the nature of the pitches, stating that the conditions were equal for all the participating teams.

The matches in the US were conducted by an entity called T20 World Cup Inc which had built a modular stadium in the Nassau County of New York’s Long Island in record time. The stadium was dismantled immediately after the NY leg of the championship. NY hosted eight of the 16 games allotted to the US.

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US space agency NASA releases Webb telescope photos of entwined galaxies

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In this photo provided by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, two interacting galaxies are captured by the Webb Space Telescope in the infrared. Scientists say the neighnouring galaxies, nicknamed Penguin, right, and the Egg, left, have been tangled up for tens of millions of years

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released photos from the James Webb Space Telescope showing a pair of entangled galaxies.

The space agency released a photo of the two galaxies — one named Penguin and the other Egg — on Friday, marking the two-year anniversary of Webb’s activities capturing images of space.

“In just two years, Webb has transformed our view of the universe, enabling the kind of world-class science that drove NASA to make this mission a reality,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA, said in a news release.

“Webb is providing insights into longstanding mysteries about the early universe and ushering in a new era of studying distant worlds, while returning images that inspire people around the world and posing exciting new questions to answer. It has never been more possible to explore every facet of the universe.”

NASA says that the two galaxies — about 326 million light-years away — have been wrapped up with each other for tens of millions of years. One light year, a reference to distance rather than time, is about 5.8 trillion miles.

The Webb Telescope, which specialises in capturing infrared light, is considered the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope and has helped bring about a series of discoveries and ae-inspiring images from space over the last two years.

The cosmic dance between the two galaxies was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, according to a news release from NASA.

“They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now,” it reads.

[Aljazeera]

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