News Nosh 4.7.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday April 07, 2020

NOTE: News Nosh will be on Passover holiday from Tuesday 4/8/2020 and will return Sunday, 4/12/2020. May we all be liberated.

Quote of the day:
"I don't understand why I'm good enough to work in Israel, but not good enough for the Israelis to test me."
--A Palestinian worker at an Israeli chicken factory, which Palestinians point to as the source of West Bank coronavirus outbreak.*

Corona Craziness:
A lengthy unity government negotiation meeting between Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz and israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took place this week between the Prime Minister's study and his patio. Gantz stood in the patio of the official residence, while Netanyahu remained in his study and the two leaders shouted to each other because Netanyahu is in quarantine.**

Double irony: On the holiday celebrating the Jewish people's liberation from slavery in Egypt and in a reverse of situations dating back to Israel's military rule over its Arab citizens, Jewish Israelis will be under curfew in their homes on Passover, while the country's Arab citizens will be free to move.***

Front Page:
  • Netanyahu announced general closure from today till Friday: “We will enforce it determinedly”
  • Ahead of the formation of a government: Netanyahu and Gantz agreed that prime minister will advance annexation of settlements in the summer
  • Ohana requested to extend by three months the term of acting State Prosecutor Dan Eldad
  • British Prime Minister, who got sick with corona, was transferred to intensive care
  • Following Haaretz report: (Likud MK) Akunis advancing bill against cutting budgets of the needy who were fired due to the crisis
  • At old age homes they are waiting for guidelines from the Health Ministry
  • Chaosyahu // Haaretz Editorial
  • After everything // Chemi Shalev
  • Bank of Israel tries to soften the blow: Lowered the interest rate to 0.1% and loaned banks billions
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Closure Eve - Don’t leave the house from today at 4PM
  • The eggs panic - Will the airlift of eggs land in Israel make it to the holiday table?
  • Almost a government
  • Saluting from above - Israel Air Force’s aerobatics show on Independence Day will fly over hospitals in appreciation of the medical staff
  • Boris Johnson is in intensive care
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Jewish Israelis will be under curfew over the Passover holiday and negotiations for a unity government got stuck again, however, the West Bank annexation dispute was resolved - to the satisfaction of the right-wing bloc.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
**Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kahol-Lavan leader MK Benny Gantz met and negotiated (from a distance) on Monday and Gantz finally gave in to the Likud demands and agreed to annexation of parts of the West Bank, without Kahol-Lavan having veto power over it (Yedioth Hebrew reported), thus paving the way for a unity agreement. But then Likud demanded to renegotiate changes to the committee for the appointment of judges, even though Gantz already reportedly agreed that Likud could have veto power over the committee’s decisions. MaarivOnline reported today that Kahol-Lavan sources said that talks with the Likud broke off and now “the ball in their field.” Meanwhile, Kahol-Lavan and the Labor party are planning to merge. Earlier this week, the Labor party dissolved its union with the Meretz party this week. (Also Maariv)

In an interview with Maariv’s Ben Caspit, Yisrael Beiteinu chairman, MK Avigdor Lieberman, said that he will do everything to bring down Netanyahu. “This man, Binyamin Netanyahu, has nothing to do with the right,” Lieberman said. “He represents the absolute, purest, most basic opportunism. The right must be released from his grip. This is my historical mission. How to free the right-wing and return it to its core…The man is a false messiah. he is the Shabtai Zvi of the right-wing. Instead of revisionism, he brought opportunism.”

Corona News and Quickees:

***In the strictest measures taken until now, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that from 7PM Tuesday until 7AM Friday no one can leave their village, town or city and starting at 3PM Wednesday until Thursday morning, the Jews in the country will be under curfew, confined to their homes, so as to prevent them from spending the Passover feast outside their homes. The government approved the emergency measures Tuesday morning. The restrictions don't apply to non-Jewish majority communities. And if the drop in the rate of infection continues, Netanyahu said Israelis "will be able to gradually go out after Passover."

  • TUESDAY: Coronavirus death toll hits 60, confirmed cases exceed 9,000 - Health Ministry: 153 people are in critical condition, among them 113 on ventilators. Across the country, 181 patients are in moderate condition and 7,930 are experiencing mild symptoms. 30% increase in number of patients in serious condition over the past 24 hours. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • *Coronavirus 'Disaster' at Israeli Factory Prompts Policy Revamp on Palestinian Workers - A total of 41 Palestinian workers who had worked in the factory and returned to PA territory had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Israel rejected demand by Palestinian Authority to test all laborers from the West Bank before they return there. Palestinian workers are not covered by Israeli health insurance, except in cases of work accidents. (Haaretz+)
  • Fear of Coronavirus Outbreak Grows in West Bank Ahead of Workers’ Return From Israel - Palestinian health minister says height of COVID-19 threat expected to begin Tuesday night and last until April 23, after the Passover holiday, when workers return to jobs in Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Americans send help to PA to fight COVID-19 - The American Federation of Ramallah Human Services Network (AFRHSN), based in Redwood City, California, launched Palestine COVID-19 Relief Fund and dispatched much-needed test kits, protective equipment to West Bank; Palestinian officials worry that they won't be able to keep up, especially with tens of thousands of workers returning from Israel. (Ynet)
  • Six new coronavirus cases in PA - Six new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Palestinian Authority, bringing the number up to 247. (Ynet)
  • Gaza's number of confirmed coronavirus cases rises to 13 - Earlier in the day, officials announced test kits for coronavirus will run out late Monday night asking for more kits to be delivered. The Palestinian Authority, the WHO and several countries have been supplying thousands of testing kits to the enclave. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian Minister Says Israeli Police Abused Him During 'Nightmare' Arrest in Jerusalem - Forces apprehended Jerusalem affairs minister at home for his work with Palestinian Authority. Minister Fadi al-Hadami said officers hit him and forced him to wear a dirty, bloody mask. Police even brought dogs into his five-year-old son's room while he was sleeping and conducted a search without his parents present, the lawyers claimed. This was the fourth time he was detained since he took office and in all four cases, al-Hadami was briefly questioned and then released without any charges made against him. (Haaretz+)
  • Controversial phone tracking 'identifies 1,500 coronavirus cases' - More and more government bodies and private groups are tracking where Israelis are and what they're doing. Data included in regular oversight reports made by Shin Bet to lawmakers; method involves following movements of confirmed patients through their mobile device in order to locate people they came into contact with. (Yedioth/Ynet and Haaretz+)
  • Israeli defense companies turning radars into coronavirus symptom detectors - "Thanks to the creative thinking of using technology that is normally used against enemies, I hope we will be able to win in the fight against COVID-19," says Dr. Yossi Shaya, of the Rabin Medical Center. (Israel Hayom)
  • 'It's a World War, Competition Is Mad': Israel Fails in Its Hunt for Ventilators Abroad - Suppliers of ventilators from the U.S., Germany and China backed out from providing equipment, leaving medical authorities with narrow options to avoid shortages in battle against the coronavirus. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel to partake clinical study for coronavirus drug - Israel is one of eight countries in the world selected to host clinical research trials on the rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara. The study will span a period of around two months and comprise 40 coronavirus patients in the country and around 300 across the globe. (Israel Hayom)
  • Not wearing a mask in public? Gov't may punish you - Children under the age of six, the mentally disabled or those alone in vehicles or workplaces are exempted. The government said masks could be homemade. (Israel Hayom)
  • Protective of religious beards, Israel to produce fitted face masks during coronavirus crisis - Many of the country's Jews and Muslims, and some Christian clergymen, wear beards as a mark of faith. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Ultra-Orthodox extremists urge neighbors to ignore virus rules - Members of the radical ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem Faction demonstrate in Haredi settlement of Modi'in Illit against new government measures, enraging some locals who clashed with the protesters. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Litzman slams discrimination against Haredim amid Bnei Brak fence row - Health minister, speaking for first time since being diagnosed with COVID-19, says decision by Ramat Gan Municipality to put up barricade along its border with the Haredi city creates friction between ultra-Orthodox and the rest of the population. (Ynet)
  • Israelis swarm food stores ahead of Passover lockdown - Shoppers all across the country wait hours in line to get into supermarkets, stockpiling groceries ahead of the Jewish holiday as government set to approve new emergency measures meant to combat coronavirus; 'Some people have been waiting in line since 6am,' says one shopper. (Ynet)
  • Director General of the Ministry of Education: After Passover, a gradual return to schools and kindergartens will be made -Shmuel Abuhav announced that in a discussion today, it was decided that after the holiday break, special education students will be returned to the school bench, then pupils and youth at risk and finally kindergartens. (Maariv)
  • 'Do People Care?' Jewish-American Activism on Israel Struggles to Survive Coronavirus - Pro-Israel and Jewish groups on both sides of the political divide are rushing to connect with supporters online as coronavirus crisis threatens to cut off vital funds, posing what could be the greatest challenge to Jewish peoplehood in our lifetimes. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Nursing Homes Beg for Help as More Residents Die of Coronavirus - 'We’re basically sending them to their deaths and no one is taking responsibility.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Israel’s banks accused of ‘piggish’ behavior as businesses suffer credit squeeze - Experts, MKs outraged as interest rates raised on loans and mortgages; banks say Israel not giving them enough cover as pandemic crisis adds to risk. (Times of Israel)
  • Prospect of COVID-19 flare-up strikes fear ahead of Ramadan - As the most important Muslim holiday approaches, Arab Israeli official warns that barring government action, "What we're seeing in Bnei Brak is nothing compared to what can happen in the Arab sector during Ramadan." (Israel Hayom)
  • Coronavirus epidemic turns Gaza script into reality - Many years before the COVID-19 epidemic, a British-Palestinian filmmaker imagined a world where Israelis will escape to the Gaza Strip for safety from a horrible disease; 38 year old Basil Khalil says despite grim subject matter, film is set to be a satirical comedy. (Ynet)
  • WATCH: Clowns Bring Cheer to West Bank, Gaza Children Amid the Coronavirus Lockdown - 'We wanted to come and visit the children, who are staying at home, and motivate them to remain at home,' says one of the clowns. (Haaretz+)
  • On an empty Via Dolorosa before Easter, praying for the world's sick -Christian denominations that share custody of the Holy Sepluchre face closures unprecedented in living memory, as do Jewish and Muslim leaders in a city that has sites sacred to all three faiths. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Jerusalem's Palm Sunday procession scaled back due to virus - While thousands of pilgrims usually participate in the march, this year was limited to a handful of participants. Clerics and faithful went door to door often throwing the branches to Christians looking on from their balconies. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran records 133 new coronavirus deaths, toll at 3,872 - The total number of cases climbed to 62,589, with 2,089 new infections, while 3,987 infected people were in a critical condition, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Coronavirus Crisis Spells Trouble for Many Egyptian Breadwinners - President Sissi approves $6-billion plan to stem the economic fallout. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Jailbreaks, shattered dreams (and bones) and coronavirus: Inside the world’s largest ISIS prison - Some 5,000 ISIS militants are being held in a school-turned-jailhouse in northeastern Syria. A riot there on Sunday has raised new fears about the facility, where social distancing is definitely not a priority. (Haaretz+)
Other Quick Hits:
  • Netanyahu: “Prepared to act to restore the missing persons and the fallen“ - PM Netanyahu referred to reports that Hamas wants to reach a deal with Israel regarding prisoners and missing persons and he said that the liaison for POWs and missing persons, Yaron Blum, and his team, in collaboration with the National Security Council and the security establishment are prepared for that. (Maariv and Ynet)
  • Hamas says Israel must make move if seeks prisoner swap - According to a Arab Media report Israel linked any future coronavirus aid to Gaza on progress in efforts to recover two soldiers who went missing in the 2014 war and two civilians believed held by Hamas. Israel called on Tuesday for the immediate resumption of talks. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Allowed for publication: An Israeli citizen was arrested on suspicion of ties to Iranian intelligence - An Israeli was arrested on suspicion of being in secret contact with Iranian intelligence sources and with Khaled Yamani, an activist of the Lebanese Popular Front terrorist organization, who acted on their behalf. (Maariv and Ynet)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's Annexation Ploy Sacrifices Israel's War on Coronavirus to the Idol of Settlements (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Just when it will need U.S. and world's goodwill more than ever, Jerusalem is set to spit in their faces.
Gantz needs to remember: unity is the necessity of the hour - and imposing sovereignty is even more so (Eli Vered Cantor, Maariv) According to reports, the delays in coalition negotiations are over the Kahol-Lavan chairman's opposition to the issue of sovereignty [over the West Bank -OH]. If he put the matter to a vote in the Knesset - he would find that he would receive votes from the right and also from within his party.
Israel's Right-wing Annexationists: Beware the Wrath of Trump (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) Israel's right-wingers and religious nationalists are hurrying to change West Bank facts on the ground because they're betting Trump is distracted by coronavirus now and loses in the fall. They're playing with fire.
Netanyahu's one-time cash grant doesn’t really address coronavirus crisis (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) It’s a populist measure when Israel should be thinking about giving regular basic income to the neediest.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Is Handling the Coronavirus Crisis Like a Sole Ruler (Haaretz Editorial) But common sense isn’t relevant when decisions are made by Netanyahu over the head of the Finance Ministry, and without consulting with any ministry officials. The prime minister simply decided that he felt like handing out a 2 billion shekel Passover grant to be paid to every child and elderly person, presumably believing that the hollow and populist gesture would improve his image, or score him points with voters in the ultra-Orthodox community.
Anything but a state commission of inquiry (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) Professional bodies should examine the performance of the government, health, and financial systems. But jurists tend to look at procedural issues or market their worldviews – overlooking the national costs of preparing for the majority of extreme scenarios, which would paralyze the country.
Passover Curfew Is a Sign It’s All Political in Israel, Even the Coronavirus Pandemic (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Netanyahu and his health minister ignore experts' view, while a rather helpful army won't be assuming responsibility for coronavirus fight, not as long as Bennett remains defense minister.
Cry for the people of Bnei Brak, whose leaders let them down (Sari Makover-Belikov, Yedioth/Ynet) The officials running the ultra-Orthodox city betrayed their community by blocking them from vital information, ignoring practical problems of maintaining quarantine and themselves violating Health Ministry restrictions.
Virus, shmirus, let's focus on the Palestinians (Stephen M. Flatow, Israel Hayom) Talk about tone-deaf! Completely oblivious to the suffering of American citizens, J Street's top priority is to give American money to two of the most vicious America-hating regimes in the world.
The threatening corona and turbulent politics lead us to a holiday without freedom (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) On this sad and strange Passover holiday, where life is like being put under arrest, we wish for the next year to be free, healthy, and blessed with a stable government and that we enjoy a spring without corona.
Pro-Palestinian, Without the Corbynist Kneejerk anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism: Meet Labour’s Intriguing New Foreign Secretary (Colin Shindler, Haaretz+) Lisa Nandy disentangles pro-Palestinian views from disdain for Jews. That may seem unremarkable in other contexts, but not for UK Labour, emerging from its hyperfactional, toxic and electorally disastrous Corbyn era.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.