News Nosh 3.29.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 29, 2020

 
You Must Be Kidding: 
“For lack of choice."
--Reasoning for Israel National Security Council decision to provide asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea with the same treatment for the coronavirus as Israelis, even though they aren't citizens and don't have health insurance.**


Breaking News:
Following Gantz, Labor Chairman to Join Netanyahu-led Unity Government
Amir Peretz and another lawmaker set to meet with Kahol Lavan and decide on allocation of portfolios, as a third lawmaker opts out of government. (Haaretz+)

By Sunday night: Israel's coronavirus count climbs to 4,247, another spike in serious cases
On Sunday morning the number was 3,619 people. (Ynet)

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “Higher production of respirators will begin in Israel soon” - Exclusive interview: Dr. Dan Gold, the father of ‘Iron Dome,’ was called to head team to locate technology for combatting coronavirus (Hebrew)
  • Enormous government - Now of all times? During an economic low, Netanyahu and Gantz’s government expected to have wasteful number (of ministers)
  • The Edelstein dilemma - the bottom red line // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • Thank you for listening // Miriam Peretz
  • 30 ministers? Be ashamed of yourselves // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Tragedy of the abandonment of the elderly at “Nofim” nursing home - where three died from corona, blame Health Ministry for delaying tests (after first and second died)
  • Fear: Corona infected people received incorrect results
  • Self-employed against the aid plan for them - too little and too late (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Harshening the lockdown
  • “On the way to unity”: Gantz and Netanyahu in meeting into the night
  • High Court exposed as instrument to bring down Netanyahu // Amnon Lord
  • Victory of the stateliness over the politics of revenge // Yaakov Berdugo
  • 80 billion shekels to the economy: Rescue package on way
  • It’s not too late to establish a war cabinet // Yoav Limor
  • On blindness: The mistakes of the private hospitals


Other Top News Summary:


Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Ultra-Orthodox Jews hit by a high rate of corona infections as Israel heads for an even tighter lockdown (see more in Corona Quickees below) and Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu meets with Benny Gantz, leader of a slimmer Kahol-Lavan faction to hammer out the details of a unity government agreement - which will include a clause to pass a law to allow Netanyahu to serve in government even after the rotation of leaders - making the top stories of today’s Hebrew newspapers.

After Gantz’s shocking decision Thursday to be elected Speaker of Knesset with the help of the right-wing bloc and to advance a unity government, moves which erupted in the explosion of Kahol-Lavan into its original parts, the latest reports are that Gantz, who stood behind the legislative initiative to prevent a man indicted of a criminal act from forming a government, will now advance a bill to allow a man indicted of a criminal act to stay in government, while a trial is conducted against him. According to Israeli law, MKs and cabinet ministers cannot serve while under indictment. According to Yedioth, Gantz agrees to promote a law to allow Netanyahu wants to pass a bill that would allow him to continue to serve in government after the two rotate and Gantz becomes prime minister. According to Yedioth Hebrew, in his post-rotational role Netanyahu wants to have the right to veto government decisions and senior public service appointments.

Gantz and Netanyahu began a meeting late Saturday night to finalize the unity government agreement. Gantz will be acting prime minister in a rotation government and Ashkenazi will be defense minister. The Likud opposes Kahol-Lavan pick MK Avi Nissenkorn from being Justice Minister and Gantz reportedly opposes Likud MK Yuli Edelstein from getting back his job as Knesset Speaker after he acted in contempt of court last week. Another problem from Gantz's viewpoint is that Netanyahu is planning on appointing no less than 30 ministers, an enormous government, which is a great cost at a time of the deepest economic crisis Israel has known. (Yedioth Hebrew)

There were some reports that Netanyahu will not give Gantz everything that was originally discussed. Maariv’s Anna Barsky reported that some believe that Netanyahu intends to withdraw from the talks with Gantz, and then close a deal with Labor party chairman Amir Peretz and Labor MK Itsik Shmuli. Contacts between Likud and Labor have not stopped in recent days. The third MK from the Labor Party, Meirav Michaeli, stated that she would not sit in the Netanyahu government.

Kahol-Lavan is a faction made up of four parts: Gantz’s party is called Hosen L’Yisrael (Israel Resilience), Yair Lapid’s party is called Yesh Atid and Moshe Yaalon’s party is called Telem. Gabi Ashkenazi did not lead a party and he went with Gantz toward a unity government. Yair Lapid and Yaalon are going to the opposition. Today a Knesset Panel okayed the break up of Kahol-Lavan (Blue and White). Gantz got to keep the name of ‘Kahol-Lavan.’

There was a lot of criticism from Gantz’s former partners. Lapid accused Gantz of stealing votes and giving them to Netanyahu. In a letter to Hosen MKs, Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben Barak wrote: "You feel nauseous to enter Netanyahu's government, it’s not too late (to regret).” Ben-Barak urged them not to join the "racist and radical government" and stated: "Your good name will be forever stained, Gantz and Ashkenazi favored surrender over long battle and they waved a white flag.” (Maariv) One member of Hosen, MK Ghadir Kamal Marih, publicly expressed anger, saying “A leader does not betray his principles.” She also said she would not sit under “the corrupt man from Balfour” in  a reference to Netanyahu. (Maariv) Join List members also condemned Gant’s move, saying he stole voters’ mandates and that he “lacks political backbone.” (Maariv) Gantz supporters also expressed their anger. But Gantz shot back at his former partners saying, “They preferred a fourth election rather than compromise.” Gantz said leaders must take responsibility and join in the fight against the coronavirus and for the future of Israel's economy. Gantz said his door remains open for his former partners to join as well. Organizers of the ‘Black flag’ protest for democracy said that police forbade them from demonstrating in front of Gantz's house, although they were allowed to protest outside the homes of various other MKs from the Hosen party. (Maariv) There was a leader who expressed his happiness with the unity government: US President Donald Trump called Netanyahu on Friday to congratulate him.


Corona Quickees:
  • Israel's number of coronavirus fatalities up to 15, confirm health officials - Elderly Jerusalem woman succumbs to complications related to COVID-19; 'She was a dedicated mother and grandmother who always put the good of her children before her own,' says family. (Ynet)
  • Live Updates Coronavirus in Israel: Suspected Patients Get Wrong Test Results Due to Typing Error - Test results to be delayed after error ■ Twelve Israelis have died from COVID-19 out of a total of 3,619 confirmed cases ■ In West Bank, 95 test positive. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Blind Spot: The Arab Community - Just 1% of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel are found in Arab cities and towns. Reasons may include lack of access to tests, fear of stigma and the fact that infection is more common in upper classes. (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus Cases Spike in Israeli ultra-Orthodox Neighborhoods - In Bnei Brak, an eightfold increase in coronavirus cases reported in three days. (Haaretz+)
  • In Jerusalem's Haredi neighborhood, some rage against coronavirus rules - Despite the new regulations meant to halt the spread of the virus, the ultra-Orthodox area of Mea Shearim is still seeing worryingly large number of gatherings as well as protests against synagogue closures. (Ynet)
  • Inside Israel's ultra-Orthodox Coronavirus Hot Spots – Where Even the Mayor Is Sick - In Bnei Brak, the Hebrew sign says the synagogue is closed – but in Yiddish, worshippers are invited to ‘come in to learn and pray.' (Haaretz+)
  • Hundreds of Israeli ultra-Orthodox attend funeral, defying virus orders - Eyewitnesses say police forces that were present at the funeral late Saturday in Bnei Brak, attended by some 400 people, not only failed to enforce the new restrictions meant to fight COVID-19 but even allowed for the event to continue with no interruptions. (Ynet)
  • Ministry of Health: Eight errors detected in corona testing, reporting from all laboratories stopped - The incorrect data, which diagnosed negative results for Corona infection as positive, was transmitted due to errors in manual typing in the laboratories. Health Ministry said that the incorrect results were not transmitted to the subjects, nevertheless, the ministry asked the laboratories for all results of tests from the last week. The corona testing in Israel now at about 6,000 tests per day. (Haaretz Hebrew)
  • Tragedy of the State's abandonment of the elderly of “Nofim” home for the elderly - The State of Israel has reached the edge of the world to bring back its citizens following the spread of corona, but seems to have forgotten some of its elderly. Following the deaths of three residents of the Jerusalem nursing home, residents of the place and their families said that the Ministry of Health did not carry out on-time examinations and did not evacuate the infected persons. (See also Haaretz+) Now the occupants, who are in solitary confinement, await the results to come from the laboratories. We're scared we’re next.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • With 205 Respirators, Palestinian Authority Fears Collapse Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - In an ironic twist, Palestinians have wired the West Bank with roadblocks in a desperate bid to keep the pandemic from spreading beyond 95 current cases and one woman who has died. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian groups cancel Gaza rallies over virus concerns - “We call upon our people not to go to the Return encampments on March 30 and to stay home in order to maintain the safety of our people in the face of this lethal pandemic,” senior member of Islamic Jihad terrorist group says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Gaza medics switching focus from border protests to coronavirus - With coronavirus spreading, organizers of protests on Gaza's border with Israel eyeing cancellation as virus victims now focus of territory's healthcare system. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza offer perspective amid pandemic - As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to rage across the world, the survivors of the battles between militants and Israeli forces over the years, say they used to stay away from IDF troops to avoid trouble but now, they can't hide from coronavirus. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli military confiscates Palestinian field clinic for virus victims — B’Tselem’s ‘shocking’ report - On Thursday, officials from Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank arrived with a military jeep escort, a bulldozer and two flatbed trucks with cranes at the Palestinian community of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley and confiscated poles and sheeting that were meant to form eight tents, two for a field clinic, and four for emergency housing for residents evacuated from their homes. The force also confiscated a tin shack, a power generator and sacks of sand and cement. (Mondoweiss and B’Tselem and PHOTOS)
  • Israel accuses NGO B'Tselem of 'exploiting coronavirus' epidemic - Office of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories says NGO disseminating fake news suggesting the IDF is preventing treatment from COVID-19 patients. (Israel Hayom)
  • Armed IDF troops to help enforce coronavirus lockdown - Some 500 soldiers will join police squads from Sunday to help 'in patrolling, isolating and securing certain areas, blocking routes and additional similar assignments,' the military says in statement. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • 200 Lone Soldiers in Israel Confined to Quarantine Amid Coronavirus Fears - Though none have tested positive for COVID-19, they are in self-isolation for 14 days after either being exposed to someone who is infected or returning from overseas. (Haaretz+)
  • **'For Lack of Choice,' Israel to Treat Seekers as Citizens in Coronavirus Crisis - Summary of meeting between Netanyahu and officials on coronavirus methods also says Palestinians to be forbidden from remaining in Israel unless employed in certain industries. (Haaretz+)
  • Leaders open up nuclear bunker in war on coronavirus - As confirmed cases jump to 2,666, government officials open up an old nuclear bunker as worst case scenario for safe cabinet work; ministers joke that bunker is better against missiles than virus. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Shin Bet says it found 500 coronavirus carriers with its mass surveillance - Security service defends contentious tracking program, citing Health Ministry official who credited it with locating potential carriers who otherwise wouldn’t have been found. (Haaretz and Times of Israel)
  • Israel increases coronavirus testing, but more needed - One lab manager says Health Ministry in chaos with right hand not aware of what left is doing, while technicians are begging to be allowed to work longer hours to meet urgent demand. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda Breaks Up Twitter Debate Among Quarantined Israeli Journalists — in Hebrew - Moana or In The Heights? Miranda makes fabulous entrance, fails to settle score. (JTA, Haaretz+)
  • Israel's welfare aid during crisis is among lowest in the West, report shows - Israel spends less than the average of other Western countries on social welfare, the survey finds. 'In countries with generous welfare systems it will be easier to support virus victims compared to the less generous.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Iran's Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 2,640 With Over 38,000 Reported Cases - The government has banned intercity travel after warning of a potential surge in cases after many Iranians defied calls to cancel travel plans for the Persian New Year. (Haaretz)
  • U.S. imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions despite coronavirus - Humanitarian supplies are exempt from sanctions Washington reimposed on Tehran after President Donald Trump abandoned Iran's 2015 multilateral deal to limit its nuclear program. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israeli envoy urges Iran to halt nuclear efforts in exchange for pandemic relief - With over 2,000 dead from coronavirus and the sixth-highest infection rate in the world, the Islamic republic must understand it's ability to properly treat virus victims is compromised by the sanctions stifling its economy, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • In Iran, false belief a poison fights coronavirus kills hundreds - Iranian media reports nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened so far by ingesting methanol across the Islamic Republic. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Syria, UAE leaders discuss coronavirus, a thaw in relations - Friday's phone call is the first publicized contact between an Arab leader and Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • In coronavirus-stricken Middle East, cherished traditions come to an abrupt halt - Government rules now ban more weddings, coffee shop gatherings and public shisha smoking, but following directives is easier said than done. (Agencies, Haaretz)

 
Other Quick Hits:
  • Gaza rocket hits open field in southern Israel; Israeli Army Strikes Hamas Post - No casualties or property damage in Israel was reported. IDF tanks and aircraft attack three Hamas sites in response; incident comes after month-long lull in cross border violence, after Islamic Jihad terror group launched more than 100 rockets at Israeli communities (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli army decries ‘terrorist incident’ after settlers throw firebombs at troops - Forces searching for perpetrators in incident in Yitzhar, which took place after Border Police acted to enforce a closed-off military zone in the nearby outpost of Kumi Ori. IDF Chief of Staff calls it a “serious terrorist incident.” PM condemns 'criminal' settler attack on security forces. (Haaretz, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Prince Harry under fire for inviting IDF soldiers to Invictus Games - The Daily Mail reports the Duke of Sussex, who organizes the multi-sport event for wounded armed services personnel, has agreed in principle with the Israeli delegation on participation in 2022 games and drawn ire of UK's Muslims; teams from Jordan and Iraq also set to participate. (Ynet)
  • Saudi Forces Destroy Missile Fired Over Capital Riyadh - With the escalation in fighting in Yemen, more than 40,000 people have been displaced since January, adding to the roughly 3.6 million who have fled their homes since the war began five years ago. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iranian Diplomats Instigated Killing of Dissident in Istanbul, Turkish Officials Say - Iranian sources say Revolutionary Guards warned the victim before the deadly shooting. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Gantz Made the Right and Brave Choice, the Lesser Evil (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) This week, what is apparently the most reasonable government for Israel will be formed, within the boundaries of the possible. Of the two possibilities before him – a continuation of the deadlock and another election, or joining a Netanyahu government – MK Benny Gantz made the right and the brave choice, the lesser evil. The dream government of Jews and Arabs, or just a center-left government, was not possible. Continued clashes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lead to no better a place. The removal of a few right-wing ministers from their key posts, and the appointment of a few more reasonable center-right ministers, is the most that can be expected now. Any other alternative would be worse.
Did the Gantz-Netanyahu deal save Israel? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Gantz's erstwhile supporters are damning Netanyahu's new partner. However, his decision to sacrifice his political interests during a crisis makes him a hero, not a coward.
Gantz Has Awarded Netanyahu Immunity, and There's No Going Back (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) New opposition leader Yair Lapid won't make things easy for the guy who left him in the lurch.
The bottom red line (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) In the genius skit of the (satirist program) ”Chamber Quintet,”,sport businessman Menashe Noy demands that the German runner in a running competition advance Dov Navon, a losing runner from Israel, by several dozens of meters. As the German runner gets infuriated, Noy asks him in English: "Isn't the Jewish people suffering enough?" This is, more or less, the essence of the nighttime meeting between Netanyahu and Gantz. There are some retroactive improvements: Gantz got quite a bit of criticism for his decision to join Netanyahu's government, and despite the fact that the Kahol-Lavan schism leaves him with less than half a party, not a partner with equal power in the Likud government, but an adjunct to it. Now he hopes that Netanyahu will take into account his predicament and give him something extra. Did Kahol-Lavan, excuse me, Hosen L’Yisrael, voters not suffer enough, he asks. According to reports, Gantz requests  to change two and a half clauses: the Edelstein clause, the Leitzman clause and half of the clause about the size of the government cabinet. Gantz asks not to bring back Yuli Edelstein as Knesset Speaker, just days after he degraded the High Court. He also wants to remove Leitzman from the Ministry of Health in view of the failures in dealing with the Corona crisis. He also does not feel comfortable with the another expansion of the government cabinet at a time when the country is facing the worst economic crisis in its history. We'll get to Edelstein later. I can imagine how Netanyahu might respond to the other two requests. He would lower his voice as a secret sweetener, adopt a paternal, patronizing tone, and slowly say: Benny, you have to understand. I can't throw Leitzman out and break my alliance with the ultra-Orthodox. Don't underestimate Leitzman's value: he has a pretty big ego under his hat. As for the ministers, I would be happy to reduce their numbers, too, I also don’t like to blow-up the size of the government, but the Likud won’t allow it. You will also learn how difficult it is to separate a minister in government from his chair. We are left with Edelstein. The story is pretty crazy: On Wednesday night, a Kahol-Lavan representative demanded that the top judges convict Edelstein of contempt of court. The party turned the honor of the judges the highlight of its campaigning, it’s platform. One night passed, and the same party adopted an agreement that was supposed to return the disgrace to the chair of the Speaker. That did not stop Gantz from posting a statement saying he was joining the government to save the justice system. Save, degrade, save, degrade. One might understand why Gantz decided to break his promise to voters and serve under Netanyahu. But to accept Edelstein’s move? Gantz must remember the difficult things the president said about Edelstein's behavior, about the dangerous example he gives to everyone who scorns the corona' instructions, every law-abuser. Gantz is not Netanyahu; He also is not Gonen Segev: If he wants to survive in the political system, he must set himself red lines. One of the ministers in the Gantz group told me over the weekend that this is a battle that must not be lost, a game changing move: If Bibi insists on the appointment, the agreement must not be signed. "I am getting hints,” he added, "that the Likud only wants to make a show that it is fighting for Edelstein. Netanyahu will throw him out without hesitation.” What's more, the removal of Edelstein will allow Netanyahu to find a comfortable, respectable role for one of the ministers. Yariv Levin, for example, or, better, Zeev Elkin. It’s very crowded now in the Likud's upper echelons, so crowded that there is a fear of being infected with corona.
Gantz-Netanyahu Gov't May Be Stable, but Will Struggle to Keep Election Promises (Jonathan Lis, Haaretz+) Gantz has to neglect law barring an indicted lawmaker from assembling a coalition, but his veto privileges as deputy PM will probably hold back a wave of right-wing legislation.
Defeating the epidemic of hatred (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Now that Israel has avoided a catastrophic minority government that would have been dependent on anti-Zionists, we must begin a process of reconciliation with the Arabs of Israel, and PM Netanyahu must start training Benny Gantz as his successor.
Gantz, exhausted, has given in to Netanyahu’s relentless campaigning (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Unlike his fellow Kahol Lavan leaders, the former general doesn't hate Netanyahu enough to stand against the premier's endless electioneering in the time of the coronavirus.
Netanyahu en Route to Presidency (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) One thing has been troubling me since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s TV interviews last Saturday, when he shared with the public the agreement that seemed to be developing between Likud and Kahol Lavan – Netanyahu would remain in his position for a year and a half and then Benny Ganz would replace him for the same amount of time: Why were they talking about three years all of a sudden? When did three become the new four?…He promised to evacuate his place on a date that would be agreed upon in 2021 and even “fell into the trap” anchorwoman Dana Weiss laid for him on TV, stating for posterity in front of the camera: “I will leave exactly on the date we said – there won’t be any tricks or shticks.” What a coincidence, a real fluke, that just so happens to be exactly when President Reuven Rivlin’s term in office ends.
Benny Gantz didn’t come out as a hero, but certainly not a loser either (Anna Barsky, Maariv) If his meeting with Binyamin Netanyahu does not lead to the breakup of a unity government, Gantz will have proof of experience to bring voters at the next election. And just for the fact that they won't be arriving at elections in two months time is already deserving of real thanks.
Benny Gantz Never Wanted to Lead, and That Makes All the Difference (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Netanyahu's new junior partner, whom the center-left camp tried almost by force to dress in Yitzhak Rabin's bloodstained uniform, was staring down two awful possibilities.
Lieberman is no longer relevant (Uri Cohen, Israel Hayom) Has Avigdor Lieberman, who made his name opposing Israel's Arab population and who chose to join forces with its extremist leaders for the sake of ousting Benjamin Netanyahu, finally run out of political credit?
Gantz ends up as ‘Erdogan’s’ deputy (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) Benny Gantz got a great deal: Steal a million votes from Netanyahu opponents, who saw him as an alternative, and end his career as second-in-command to the one he called a dictator.
Lapid's day of atonement (Dr. Eithan Orkibi, Israel Hayom) Ofer Shelah, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon almost took Israel down the path of destruction. Their unhinged behavior showed Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi the correct path, and they veered at the last second.
Gantz abandoned the camp (Friday Haaretz Editorial) It’s hard to think of a more humiliating scenario for a party that began as an alternative to the corrupt and corrupting regime of Netanyahu and for its leader, a former military chief of staff, who was the first person in more than a decade to successfully challenge Netanyahu’s rule.
Of all the scary things that lurk at Gantz - Lieberman is the most dangerous (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu expects that the Gantz-Netanyahu government will collapse as a card tower within six months to a year, both politically and publicly, and in the meantime, in the shadow of corona, we have never been so close to anarchy.
Does Netanyahu Really Believe in Democracy? Global Freedom Experts Aren't Sure (Anders Persson, Haaretz+) Tunisia speeds past Israel’s ailing democracy, even before COVID-19. Netanyahu has ‘anti-democratic tendencies.’ Hungary and Poland protect civil liberties better: How the big three democracy indexes assess Israel.
The politicians are folding up the flags they carried because "circumstances have changed" (Arik Bender, Maariv) It is true that corona is a crisis that we have never known anything like it and large parts of the people want unity, but it is amazing to see how people who have gained the confidence of the voter over issue X, change their skin and do Y.
We Closely Examined Netanyahu's Coronavirus Briefings. Here's What They Reveal (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Fear-mongering and jingoism have always been part and parcel of Netanyahu’s politics, but his response to coronavirus shows how desperate he is to hold on to power – and it may cost him.
Gantz's personal Independence Day (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Benny Gantz is not a risk-taker, so for him to bind his political fate with that of Netanyahu's has to be the toughest decision he has ever made.
As List of Coronavirus Failures Grows, Netanyahu Returns to His Element: Fear (Amos Harel, Haaretz+)  Netanyahu is behaving differently from Trump. But that’s about all that can be said on the positive side of the Israeli response

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Coronavirus Will Make Israel Pay for Neglecting Its Minorities (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Israel’s policy of no-man’s lands is not new. The coronavirus crisis is only another example of the way this policy might blow up in all of our faces at any time now. From the ultra-Orthodox, to the Arab community, hilltop outposts in the territories to communities of asylum seekers in Tel Aviv – Israel has abandoned entire groups until it is too late. Health, welfare and law enforcement authorities are almost non-existent until suddenly, intervention is needed and the only response that remains is always to use violence. That’s the way it is with the hilltop youth going wild in the outposts; it’s the way things are with crime in the Arab community and the same goes for the ultra-Orthodox community. Israel’s faulty treatment of its ultra-Orthodox population has already emerged as one of its most serious failures in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
Coronavirus in Gaza is both a threat and an opportunity for Israel (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Although the northern border appears to pose no threat right now, in the Hamas-controlled enclave a massive COVID-19 outbreak might result in another cross-border flare-up, as the militants who rule the Strip grow wrathful at the lack of medical assistance
The Danger of an Economic Collapse in Israel (Haaretz Editorial) The price of full quarantine is enormous. The GDP would plunge by 9 percent if it continued for five weeks, and by 18 percent if it persisted for 12 weeks. It would mean economic damage of 140–250 billion shekels ($39.3–70.1 billion), hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs and joining the ranks of the poor, and a real danger to Israel’s economic stability. Israel’s financial collapse would be a disaster, whose cost in terms of human life would be no less severe than the price the epidemic is now exacting, and an even greater cost in terms of quality of life.
Israel is coronavirus light unto Arab nations (Smadar Perry, Yedioth/Ynet) Middle East countries are not looking towards Europe, which is failing to stem the virus, or the U.S., which seems to have missed the boat on efficient measures entirely - they only look to their long-time enemy.
The Shin Bet Will Do Whatever Netanyahu Says (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) You wouldn’t believe how quickly our Shin Bet could turn into the Stasi. The speed at which this happens is on a par with the speed at which a democracy turns into a dictatorship. Not all at once. More like the way you lick an ice cream cone. Around the edges at first and then you gradually reach the main part.
It's not too late for a coronavirus war cabinet (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Without an organized administrative apparatus to facilitate the best and most informed decisions – unnecessary mistakes will be made. Every commission of inquiry ever established here has reached this conclusion.
Rocket Exchange With Gaza Signals Israel Won't Hesitate to Act Despite Coronavirus Crisis (Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz+)  Hamas for its part has deployed its forces along the Gaza Strip border and has raised its level of preparedness in the area.
Internalize this: When you don't respect the rules, you lose (Dr. Orit Miller-Kattab, Maariv) From Yuli Edelstein (the Knesset Speaker who disobeyed a High Court ruling) to the young people who were rescued from Peru (and refused to promise to quarantine upon arrival in Israel) to the state that decided to evacuate seniors from a nursing home for the benefit of corona patients: when someone got the right to his chair, you don't push him off of it and aggressively put yourself there instead.
With a Curfew and Unreliable Coronavirus Toll, Egyptians Face a Cruel Ramadan (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Egyptian editors are warned not to stray from the official line on coronavirus numbers, while rumors run wild on social media. Economic threats loom as tourism dries up.
Israel and the demise of the global village (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) Israel's ability to protect itself and adapt its economy to the new post-global village reality will in large part determine how it survives and prospers in the post-global village world now taking shape.
As armies reassess risk, coronavirus is making peace in the Middle East (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The virus could hasten the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, while Turkish-Syrian clashes in Idlib subside. But some refugees have no means to tackle pandemic, not even running water.
Commitment, combat and corona (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Sending off your son to serve in the Israeli military is a raw test of Zionist commitment, especially during a a time of global pandemic.
Not the High Court’s Place (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) The High Court of Justice’s aid in ousting Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will bring the Netanyahu haters temporary gains, such as a speaker of their choosing, but it won’t bring about the ouster of the one they truly despise. If their real concern were the country’s future, as they profess, particularly at this time of emergency, they would be ready to join a government of national salvation. This is what the situation calls for.

 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
comments powered by Disqus