Iranian scientist assassinated; Gantz: a budget or elections: Israel Update

December 4, 2020

Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated last Friday in a military style ambush on the outskirts of Tehran. While Israel has not taken responsibility for the attack, Iran has directly blamed Israel, and just yesterday a senior US official suggested that Israel was behind the assassination. The death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has the potential to complicate efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to relax tensions with Tehran, and could potentially lead to confrontations between Iran and its foes during the final weeks of US President Donald Trump’s administration. Iran has vowed revenge against Israel and indicated this week that there is little chance of returning to the Obama-are nuclear deal the Biden administration is hoping to renegotiate. Israel has since urged its citizens to avoid travel to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, citing threats of Iranian attacks.


Alternate Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Friday that if Likud does not agree within the next few days to pass a two-year state budget—as agreed upon in a coalition agreement between Likud and Kahol Lavan—the country will go to yet another round of elections. In a video message posted online Gantz said, "elections are not the right thing for the country, but they are much better than a paralyzed government." Gantz also noted that he will be meeting with Israel's finance minister on Sunday to negotiate a budget and that if they are unable to reach an agreement, elections will be immanent. 


Israel handed over a backlog of billions of shekels in tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, both sides said, in another sign of warming ties between the sides after the U.S. presidential election victory of Joe Biden. The 3.77 billion shekels ($1.14 billion USD) transfer is the first since June, when the Palestinian Authority rejected the handover due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's currently suspended plans to annex parts of the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority in November said they were resuming civil and security cooperation with Israel, and plans to pay full backlogged salaries to their 130,000 employees.  


Israel on Thursday reported its daily new COVID-19 case count exceeded 1,500 for the first time since the country's second major lockdown was lifted in October. The Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center, operating under the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, in cooperation with the Health Ministry, said all signs indicate “we are at the start of a third wave." The Health Ministry said there were 1,523 new cases confirmed on Wednesday after 69,000 tests were conducted—a positivity rate of 2.2 percent. Since the start of the pandemic, 2,883 people have died from the disease. Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kisch said on Thursday that he and officials in the ministry will request a meeting of the coronavirus cabinet to decide on immediate steps to slow the spread of the virus. 


The safety, health, and well-being of all community members is a priority for the Jewish Federation. Like many of you, we are closely monitoring the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed about efforts to support the community during this time. This page will be continually updated.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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