Coalition reached—vote on Sunday; tourism rules loosen: Israel Update

June 11, 2021

Israel's Yesh Atid party leader, Yair Lapid, signed coalition agreements with the Ra’am and Yisrael Beytenu parties, moving closer to an eight-party coalition government that is set to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a Knesset vote on Sunday. Hours later, Yesh Atid also signed agreements with the Labor, Blue and White, and New Hope parties. Before today's deadline, Lapid closed the final agreement with Yamina's party leader, Naftali Bennett, thus paving the way for the eight-party majority collation to be sworn in on Sunday. Under Israeli law, coalition agreements must be submitted to the Knesset and made public at least 24 hours before the swearing-in vote. Under the terms of the new coalition, Yamina’s Naftali Bennett is to serve as prime minister until August, 2023. Lapid will then take over until the end of the Knesset term, in November, 2025.


Individual tourists who are fully vaccinated are going to be allowed into Israel starting July 1, said Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen. Earlier, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri issued a communication on the topic that read in part, “in consultation with the Health Minister, the Foreign Minister and professionals from different ministries, it was decided to allow vaccinated people—coming from countries determined by the Health Ministry—to enter Israel according to a shortened process that will be formulated in the coming days.” International travel to Israel has been greatly limited due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. At times, Israel’s borders were entirely shut to foreigners. Tourists cannot currently travel to the country unless visiting a first-degree relative, and then under restrictive conditions. Israel recently began accepting organized tour groups back into the country.


Clashes broke out Thursday afternoon between East Jerusalem protesters and Israeli Police as Knesset lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir marched to the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City. Ben Gvir waved an Israeli flag at the site after the High Court of Justice had earlier rejected his appeal against a decision by police to stop him from marching through the Muslim Quarter to reach the Temple Mount. Police were concerned the march could reignite violence in the city, and beyond. Ben Gvir had planned to march in protest of the postponement by authorities of a much larger annual flag march by nationalist Jewish groups through the Old City. After Ben Gvir’s visit—and amid the rioting that followed—Hamas issued a statement saying that it was watching the developments closely. U.S. officials conveyed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz they expected Israel to avoid moves that could further escalate tensions in Jerusalem. 


Our Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati has created a resource page for the recent events in Israel, Gaza, and surrounding areas, and will continue to monitor the evolving situation. Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) continues to compile the latest information and analysis. Also, your support for the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s Annual Campaign is making crisis response here and in Israel possible. Click here to help meet these urgent needs.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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