News Nosh 4.5.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday April 5, 2020

 
Quotes of the day:
“We are all fighting the same enemy, which is a global enemy...the corona.”
—IDF Col. Iyad Sarhan, the commander of the IDF’s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, sums up the reason Israel is now allowing some things in to Gaza that it banned for years.*

"A month ago, this appeared imaginary."
--A driver in a car at one of the checkpoints at the corona-hit ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak, where police prevented all people from entering or exiting, Maariv reported.

You Must Be Kidding:
"People who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months have heard lengthy speeches that seemed to be taken from one of Oliver Stone’s conspiracist screenplays. He told them that even though he has been elected repeatedly, in reality, the country is controlled by a ‘deep state.'"
--Haaretz's Gidi Weitz reported about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's conspiracy theories.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
  • Drop in number of tests due to shortages; Professional sources: We won’t make the target
  • Health Ministry discussing putting closure on additional communities that have a jump in deaths
  • Report: Most of the municipalities are not prepared for an emergency
  • Among the dead, nine lived in old age homes
  • 7,400 dead in the US and number of sick jumping; Trump: I’m not going to wear a mask
  • State to decrease by thousands of shekels the stipends to disabled who were fired due to the corona crisis (and filed for unemployment)
  • Hospitals forced to decide whether families will be able to part from their loved ones
  • The sudden silence in the world changes the way that Earth is moving
  • Thank you, grandpa Binyamin // Rogel Alpher
  • Sick society // Iris Leal
  • Whether it’s an attempt to draw more subscribers or a response to anti-Semitism, Netflix is expanding its series in Yiddish
  • Public is buying five times more than usual, but the crisis over the lack of eggs also has other sources responsible

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Closure over my city // Yedioth reporter and Bnei Brak resident Shoshana Chen
  • The tests scandal
  • Looking at the virus in the eyes - PHOTO of Lama Ibrahim, 23, from Nazareth, intern doctor at Bar-Ilan University, who volunteers at a drive-by test site in Tamra
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “The situation in Bnei Brak is severe, the city is in danger”
  • Virus of hatred against the ultra-Orthodox // Amnon Lord
  • Sheba Hospital, a war diary // Ran Reznik
  • The anti-Semitism pandemic // Limor Samimian Darash
  • The Negev: The next (corona) hotspot? // Salmeh Al-Atrash
  • Unity arm’s length away
  • The choir now sings “Just not (Health Minister) Litzman” // Yaakov Berdugo
  • My brother, the [ultra-Orthodox] Jew with the payot // poem by Uri Tzvi Greenberg

Top News Summary:
Israel closed off the corona-hit ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak (and residents feel discriminated against) and it considered closing off more ultra-Orthodox cities (Maariv), the number of corona tests is dropping instead of increasing and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz declared they made progress in their last meeting Friday, but still have not reached a unity government agreement - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also interesting was how differently the Hebrew media reported on Hamas politburo chief Yahya Sinwar's words about the respirator shortage in Gaza and his threat to Israel.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
After the meeting of Netanyahu and Gantz, the parties reported progress, mainly on the issue of who gets which ministry, but the issue of annexation is still the main obstacle, with Kahol-Lavan opposing Israel annexing any West Bank land and Netanyahu keen to implement the annexation before the US elections. (Maariv) Haaretz’s Yossi Verter writes that Kahol-Lavan wants to define the first six months as an “emergency government,” during which there will be no activity regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such an annexing territory. “For Netanyahu, Levin and their ilk, this is a death trap,” writes Verter, because if the US presidential race is close, candidate Joe Biden could tell Israel to hold its annexation horses. Meanwhile, the Labor party formally requested to end its left-wing alliance with the Meretz party, clearing the way for Labor to join the Netanyahu-led government. Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz said Labor chief Amir Peretz has "abused the trust of hundreds of thousands of voters.

Also of interest, Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz reported Friday that Netanyahu has been telling people he has met with that a ‘deep state’ controls Israel and that there is no democracy in the country. “People who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent months have heard lengthy speeches that seemed to be taken from one of Oliver Stone’s conspiracist screenplays. He told them that even though he has been elected repeatedly, in reality, the country is controlled by a ‘deep state,’” Weitz reported.
 
Corona News and Quickees:

In an interview Thursday night, Hamas politburo chief, Yahya Sinwar, has two main messages, but one was distorted and the other was a side note in most of the Hebrew media. Channel 13 News gave the most thorough report, explaining that Sinwar pointed his words at Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, saying that “If the respirators are not allowed in to the Gaza Strip, we will take them by force from Israel and stop the breath of six million Israelis.” It also noted the second message: That Hamas is ready to make some concessions on its demands for a prisoner swap if Israel releases elderly Palestinian prisoners, sick ones and female ones were released due to the corona virus. Channel 13 also quoted Sinwar saying that in order for negotiations to begin, Israel must first release the prisoners released in the Shalit deal whom Israel re-imprisoned.” (Also Israel Hayom) So far, Hamas has reported that there are 12 corona patients in the Gaza Strip. Ynet Hebrew’s Elior Levy reported that Sinwar said, “When we need respirators, I tell Bennett - we will make six million Israelis unable to breathe." Only Levy reported that there are only 65-60 respirators in the Gaza Strip and that they will not suffice if an outbreak occurs. Channel 13 and Ynet reported that the security establishment assessment is that if Hamas loses control over a corona outbreak, before its collapse, it will act against Israel through demonstrations and rockets. Levy wrote that if there is an outbreak in the Gaza Strip, corona patients may demonstrate at the border fence. Moreover, an outbreak of corona in Israeli prisons where Palestinian security prisoners are incarcerated could also lead to the disturbance of peace and possibly rocket fire. In the meantime, Hamas has completed setting up isolation camps and prepared the hospitals for the reception of seriously ill patients if needed. Meanwhile, ‘Israel Hayom’ twisted Sinwar’s quote: 'If Gaza faces ventilator shortage, we will take them from Zionists,’ read the title. The longer version of Sinwar’s quote was also distorted: "Let me tell [Defense Minister] Bennett, if we find that corona patients in Gaza can't breathe, we will cut off the air to six million Zionists and take what we want from you," it quoted him, omitting the part about Hamas taking action if Israel prevents respirators from entering the Gaza Strip. The Jerusalem Post’s Tovah Lazaroff interviewed an Israeli official and an Israeli expert, who both said Israel must help the Gaza Strip without creating a security threat.
 

  • Israel's number of COVID-19 cases rises to 8,430 - National coronavirus death toll up to 49; 139 patients still in serious condition. Health Ministry confirms one of the people to have died from COVID-19 is an 84-year-old woman who contracted the virus at the same 'Mishan' assisted living facility in Be'er Sheva as five other virus victims; 127 patients still in serious condition. (Ynet)
  • 'This Isn't the West Bank': Soldiers Deployed in South Tel Aviv to Enforce Coronavirus Lockdown - In Neve Shaanan, in southern Tel Aviv, many complain security forces are not doing enough to enforce Health Ministry regulations. But residents say they simply can’t afford not to go out and work. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinians Fear Coronavirus Surge as Workers Return to West Bank From Israel Over Passover - Palestinian prime minister says about 45,000 workers are expected to return, and they will not be allowed back into Israel during the coronavirus crisis. (Haaretz+)
  • As coronavirus spreads in West Bank, Palestinians also face greater settler violence - A worrying rise in violence might correlate with Israel closing down educational institutions — and if there are no legal consequences, observers fear it will only get worse. (Haaretz+)
  • Packed Palestinian refugee camps face grave threat if coronavirus spreads - Most camps across the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan are registered under UNRWA, a Palestinian aid agency that have been cash-strapped after U.S., its biggest donor, halted its annual payment of $360 million. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel drafts Military Intelligence to help wage war on coronavirus - Officers from the elite Unit 8200 are applying their own algorithms to gathering and analyzing data on how measures taken by other countries have helped to stem the outbreak, while revamping the healthcare system's outdated software. (Ynet)
  • With no government approval, top Israeli health official issues order banning protests - The order, challenged by civil rights groups, modifies regulations approved by the cabinet, which set no limitations on the size of demonstrations. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel’s coronavirus forecast plunges from tens of thousands to less than 1,000 deaths - National Security Council assessment credits drastic government action for dropping infection rate – but experts oppose easing the lockdown, advocate for very gradual return to work, over a long period of time. (Haaretz+)
  • Thanks to resistance by residents of Ramat Gan: Soldiers will stay out of high school - The Home Front Command's intention to house at a high school hundreds of soldiers dealing with the outbreak in Bnei Brak raised many protests by residents living nearby who feared being infected, following which it was decided that they would stay in two locations away from residential centers. (Maariv)
  • In Shifts, by Age or by Location: Israel’s Proposed Coronavirus Exit Strategies - Document obtained by Haaretz contains several options for ending the coronavirus lockdown, with first 'exit point' on April 19. (Haaretz+)
  • Death in the Holy Land: Coronavirus changes burial for Jews, Muslims - Health regulations to contain the pandemic have affected how the dead are interred, as well as preventing traditional funerals and mourning. (Israel Hayom)
  • Amid Deepening Coronavirus Pain, Israelis Show Unexpected Solidarity - People, businesses and nonprofits have been coming through to help friends, neighbors and strangers in distress. Not everyone is impressed. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem's Palm Sunday march scaled back due to coronavirus - Clerics and faithful go door to door to bring the Holy Week to Christians often looking on from their balconies as coronavirus keeps changing long-standing worship practices. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Limited Easter Ceremonies in Jerusalem Likely to Be Broadcast Live Across the World - Church leaders in Jerusalem complain holy sites were not exempt from emergency restrictions in the same way as the Western Wall, push for final approval. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel to Help Christians Share 'Holy Fire' Ritual Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - Due to a ban on large public gatherings because of the pandemic, Israeli officials say the ceremony will be limited to about 10 religious leaders from various Orthodox denominations. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Elections, Ties With China Shaped Iran's Coronavirus Response - After initially holding back information that the virus had entered Iran for weeks, some now accuse the regime of underestimating the number of cases. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran's deaths from coronavirus reach 3,603 - health ministry - The Islamic Republic, the Middle Eastern country worst-hit by the epidemic, now has a total of 58,226 infections and 151 people died in the past day. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran's parliament speaker tests positive for coronavirus as death toll rises to 3,160 - Thursday, in a rare acknowledgment of the severity of the outbreak, Rohani says the virus may remain through the end of the Iranian year. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey's coronavirus death toll reaches 574 with 27,069 cases - 20,065 tests for the COVID-19 disease had been performed in Turkey in the last 24 hours. (Ynet)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
The Battle Over Knesset Control Is a Test of Gantz's Power (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) For years, the right has been talking about a war of the branches. From its viewpoint, the judicial branch is subverting the executive branch and the legislative branch, which in Israel are effectively one and the same, because through its majority in the Knesset the government in practice controls legislation. But all that changed in the past year, for two reasons: Avigdor Lieberman and the Joint List. Lieberman’s defection to the “anyone but Bibi” camp, and the fact that the Joint List’s seats are valid only for the legislature, have in practice caused a separation between the legislative and executive branches. That is the political stalemate. Contrary to what Netanyahu says, the “anyone but Bibi” camp is not congruent with the “left-wing” camp. The results of the election make it possible to form an “anyone but Bibi” coalition in the legislative branch, but not a “left-wing” government. That’s because Lieberman is not left, and because the Joint List’s legitimacy ceiling is the executive branch. Edelstein’s resignation as Speaker of Knesset left that position of power exposed, and Gantz moved quickly to seize it. Despite the split in Kahol Lavan, Gantz still enjoys a majority in the legislature, certainly where “anti-Bibi” legislation is concerned. He is holding Netanyahu under the greatest threat imaginable – both in terms of actively legislating “Bibi laws” and in terms of blocking any legislation that is not consistent with the policies of Kahol Lavan. But for his reading of the situation to hold water, Gantz must retain the post of Knesset speaker at any price. This is Gantz’s litmus test: Whether he will hold on to that critical stronghold, or will allow Netanyahu to appoint someone like Yariv Levin to the position.
Gantz still holds cards that can bring him achievements (Matan Wasserman, Maariv) Between the toughening of political positions and between the future distress he will suffer as the legal process continues in his case, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already seems less keen to form his government along with the break-off part of the Kahol-Lavan faction led by Benny Gantz. In fact, the move in which Netanyahu succeeded in causing the (Kahol-Lavan leadership) cockpit to split, even before he paid any any price for, either ministerial or legislative, gives Netanyahu credit and puts in question Gantz's negotiating capabilities. However, he still has something to fight for. Even with the "good cards" in his hands, it is still hard to see how Netanyahu will form a 61-person government without Kahol-Lavan, because Yoaz Handel and Zvi Hauser continuing to march alongside Kahol-Lavan, even in their new independent faction, Derech Eretz. Netanyahu is still facing quite a few struggles. First, the identity of the next Minister of Justice will be a significant message to be sent by the government to the court. Will it be a message of defense and fortification of the judiciary, or a chill and contemptuous spirit when Netanyahu's trial is expected to resume in May? Another controversial position is the health portfolio. Gantz must come with an achievement in the face of his entry into the Netanyahu-headed emergency government for the fight against corona, and leaving Health Minister Litzman in office won’t give him extra points, to say the least. The Speaker of the Knesset, who can influence the legislative agenda and the agenda of the plenum, also constitutes a major strategic axis for Netanyahu. On the other hand, it would be hard to see a situation in which Gantz reconciled the return of Yuli Edelstein, who refused to obey the High Court decision, to the position - while he, the Kahol-Lavan chairman, is trying to position himself as the protector of the rule of law. Along the way there are a series of state appointments, and both Netanyahu and Gantz want to have an impact on their identity. This includes, among other things, the next State Attorney, the Attorney General who is due to be replaced in about a year, the appointment of judges in the various courts and the Police Commissioner and more. While it may seem that Gantz was wrong in making the decision to enter the government under Netanyahu, he still has a few cards that can bring him achievements.
Gantz Wants a Six-month Coronavirus Government, Netanyahu Wants Annexation (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) With Joe Biden possibly the U.S. president come January 20, many Likudniks think it's now or never for a West Bank land grab.
Ashkenazi, who connected between Gantz and Netanyahu, feels betrayed and an internal intifada awaits the Prime Minister at home (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Ashkenazi is angry at Gantz for not involving him in the unity government negotiations. Gantz said it was a miscommunication. I’m betting that Gantz wanted to cut things short and reach an agreement before his mandate to form a government is over. Ashkenazi feels betrayed. Suddenly, he realized that Gantz would be defense minister, even though Gantz will be the acting prime minister. Suddenly he realized that the foreign ministry was a trap. Suddenly, he realized that Netanyahu was back to being Bibi, which means he regrets and debates and zigzags and everything he decides on at night he re-opens the next morning, after Bibi hears from Balfour's board of directors [reference to his wife, Sara - OH] what he really needs to do, lest he be swallowed. One thing can be said with certainty. Gantz and Ashkenazi are not acting out of personal interests and are not looking for jobs cases or authority. Their intentions are pure, but even with such intentions one can reach hell, and where they are now making their way. They erred in failing to produce appropriate collateral for the negotiation period…The contingency plan is simple: If Netanyahu insists, Gantz and Ashkenazi return to the Knesset and barricade themselves there. Gantz is the Speaker of the Knesset, Netanyahu's laws [reference to laws that will prevent Netanyahu from forming a government - OH] will be put to the vote, chances are good they’ll pass…Ashkenazi opposed 30 ministers and strongly opposes annexation. Netanyahu needs annexation. It will end with voting freedom. That is, annexation. Ashkenazi will have to swallow it. At the last minute he decided to take the education ministry portfolio…And we haven't talked about the (right-wing) bloc yet. Bennett will break Netanyahu’s bloc if he has to settle for crumbs [i.e. minor ministry - OH]. Netanyahu knows that this bloc is his respirator. On the other hand, Netanyahu knows he is unlikely to need it in a year and a half. He won’t give up on Litzman, because Litzman is connected to MK Gafni who is connected to MK Deri. About Bennett, he probably will (give up on). When the hot-air balloon is too heavy, the extra sandbags are thrown out…
Gantz's connection to the right-wing bloc presents an opportunity for the establishment of a broad left-wing movement (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The political result hoped for by the ‘betrayal’ of Gantz & Co., who went to another woman, is the establishment of an extra-parliamentary movement aimed at making Israel a democratic, humane and liberal state…I don't know what happened to Benny Gantz. I just see that his pirouette was spectacular, dramatic, kosher but smelly. Why stink? Because what right-wing leaders are allowed to do on behalf of - their - Land of Israel is prohibited to left-wing leaders. Right-wingers will buy any trick. On the left, they will feel like a betrayed woman: all men are cheaters, and who is even thinking of a marriage commitment; or a commitment to other parties, in the case of the betrayed Left. The hopeful political outcome of Gantz & Co.'s "betrayal" for another woman is the establishment of an extra-parliamentary movement aimed at turning Israel into a democratic, humane and liberal state. Everyone. Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, Circassians, Russians whom the Interior Ministry does not recognize. Even redheads. The argument of Gantz supporters is that the entry of his Resilience for Israel party into the coalition has the effect of diluting the anti-democratic poisons produced by the bloc. The question is whether Gantz is the antidote against the political-security dictates of the bloc and the antidote in the face of the religionization trends. The answer, true to the power relations in the Knesset and the composition of the government and committees, is no, not really…This chaos creates opportunities for establishing the same wall-to-wall left-wing movement. Just not another political party. Mass movement has power that no party can trade. Especially if it comes from the same expanding niche of the same public distrust of "politicians.” In all of them. This sweeping distrust is supposed to expand with the corona's damage, and the size of the opportunity for change will be the size of the personal and economic ruins the plague will leave behind. As mentioned earlier, what has contributed greatly to the rage and sweeping distrust is Gantz's act of "betrayal.” This innocent, new, enlightened, tall, blue-eyed man of Israeli politics made a move of breaking the rules, which broke the last of the trust the leftist parties tried to build between them. The result is a crisis of confidence between the public that supported a change of leadership, which did not happen, and between the general political system. The effects of Gantz's "betrayal" are supposed to signal to the public that no politician can be trusted, and that the way to elect the people's representatives does not go under the media radar but under the sun. From here onward, alongside the establishment of a new movement - war. Gantz is just another victim who fell during an assault. There is no point in wasting energy now on that "deep disappointment" and outrage over the "betrayal." We must continue. I'm just afraid that in the near term, Israeli society will build defensive shields of material fatigue around Gantz, in the style of ‘so what if they did a kind of zig-zag. Who remembers. who cares.’ Meanwhile, there are noises of horrible rage here, in the hope that the trauma of betrayal will leave behind a sediment that will create optimal conditions for establishing the same extra-parliamentary and anti-political movement against all existing parties. Mainly against the current government, which is the cause of decay…
Israel's National Disappointment Government (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Let’s assume for a moment that Gantz and Ashkenazi truly think their participation in the government will contribute to the battle against the pandemic. Then how do they explain their appetite for unnecessary ministerial portfolios, which will only complicate and even undermine this battle? Don’t they understand that splitting up ministries and installing a plethora of novice ministers eager to do something will be divisive, increase bureaucracy and delay the battle?
Gantz's opportunity to mend the historic rift (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) The Blue and White leader can return his camp to its true centrist roots; understand the magnitude of the hour and the one-time opportunity to secure consensus between the Israeli and American governments over the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Israel's Anti-annexation Warriors Should Simply Surrender (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz faction will not give up their last stronghold. Its leaders will fight it until the last drop of blood (except, of course, by refusing to join the government): Annexation. Annexation is extreme right, and they’re not. Annexation means diplomatic disaster and they’re opposed to that. This is how the story of annexation has turned into the last obstacle on the way to forming a government. But the annexation already happened, long ago. The perpetrators were from the Zionist center and left, the very people fighting against it now.
If self-deception leads to national unity - I welcome it (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) We need national unity today as much as we need respirator machines. Unfortunately, for this we must deceive ourselves through a wonder mirror that displays us as we would like to be. A mirror that would allow Benny Gantz and his colleagues to declare that they agree to enter Netanyahu's government only because they must help by "getting under the stretcher" at this difficult time, certainly not because of their hunger to be in government. The exact same mirror, but perhaps a different stretcher, is the one facing Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon’s eyes as they lament their former partner, who they say "crawled" into the Netanyahu government instead of entering with them under the stretcher and taking the State of Israel elsewhere. And they again explain how close they were to the removal of Binyamin Netanyahu, and really, just around the corner, they were waiting for the replacement team from the Joint List, who also agreed to give a shoulder for the holy cause. The Cockpit refugees are looking in the mirror. They see a stretcher and a target, and everyone finds exactly what they want to see in the picture.
Coronavirus lessons for the coalition talks (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) By abandoning their coalition with the Joint Arab List, Gantz and Ashkenazi prevented large-scale civil unrest which would have been devastating at any time. In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, it would have been disastrous.
Setting the Worst Example (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz’s official excuse for breaking his election promise – which was not to serve in the same government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under indictment for bribery and other felonies – was the health and economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus. This could have been a reasonable explanation, had it been accompanied by suitable conditions in the coalition agreement. But the agreement being hashed out reflects the most bloated cabinet in Israel’s history. It will probably have 34 ministers, split ministries and mutual veto rights on senior appointments.
So why do they keep getting elected? (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) Arab Israeli voters have consistently sided with MKs who tout national honor and sympathize with Israel's enemies.
Surrealistic Farce of Health Minister Litzman Highlights Loopy Israeli Politics (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) But with Netanyahu delving in ‘deep state’ delusions, ultra-Orthodox politicians’ ludicrous botch of coronavirus – including contracting it - seems par for the course.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
With the world pre-occupied with coronavirus, Israel pushes a West Bank land grab (Evan Gottesman, Haaretz+)  Pushing annexation right now is playing with fire. It would likely force Israelis and Palestinians into a two-front war: an armed conflict, while fighting, without coordination, COVID-19.
Coronavirus has sealed the coffin of Israel's dying privacy (Einav Schiff, Yedioth/Ynet) Israelis are submerged by coronavirus-related cacophony emanating from their televisions and smartphones, not taking the time to worry the defense establishment is collecting data that could ultimately be used to control them.
90 Years Could Pass Before We Learn the Lessons of Israel's Coronavirus Crisis (Yaacov Lozowick, Haaretz+) How did Israel manage the coronavirus, we'll ask when it's over. But the data will be under lock and key until the next century.
Whose neglect? (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Israel can no longer afford the purposeful and self-destructive sectarianism of its minority communities. All Israelis are now paying the coronavirus price for this anarchy; for minority lawlessness and government fecklessness. I say that the "neglect" problem runs far beyond the haredi sector to include Arab, Bedouin and other minority communities in this country and that it runs in the opposite direction.
Coronavirus plus oil crash could cost Israel and Iran their key Gulf state contact (Sebastian Castelier, Haaretz+) The coronavirus crisis and oil price warfare have given Saudi Arabia and UAE critical leverage on a struggling Oman. It could be the end of Muscat’s maverick independent foreign policy, with repercussions across the Mideast.
War on coronavirus may help ultra-Orthodox integrate in society (Yedidia Stern, Yedioth/Ynet) While virus sweeps through the ultra-Orthodox population due to misinformation, consequently putting the rest of Israel's population also at great risk, it presents an opportunity to bring this public closer to the rest of the population, or, if handled the wrong way, isolate them further.
The Silence of ultra-Orthodox Politicians in Israel Betrayed and Imperiled Their Own Community (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) There is no group better prepared for confronting COVID-19 than the disciplined Haredi community. So why did it take so long?
Israel needs an exit plan for this coronavirus crisis (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth/Ynet) While the quarantine has so far proven to be effective in at least slowing down the infection rate, Israel needs a more daring, and informed plan if it is to survive the economic downfall that threatens to swallow the global economy.
Coronavirus Outbreak Gives Iran a Narrow Window of Opportunity for Better U.S. Relations (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Urgings and pressures have not produced a substantial shift in Washington’s policy, but a crack was nonetheless forged. Is Iran willing to shift its stance?
How Turkey is turning into the next Iran (Benjamin Weil, Israel Hayom) Despite Ankara facing away from the West, the US and Europe must come up with a way to address Turkish concerns, as well as President Erdogan's desire of becoming a regional superpower without posing a threat to the Middle East allies.
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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