Israel sounds warning bells on Iran; virus halts all flights: Israel Update

January 29, 2021

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu halted all passenger flights in and out of the country last Sunday in an effort to prevent the entry of new coronavirus variants. The move also intended to ensure continued progress for Israel’s national vaccination campaign. The ban on flights is expected to expire Monday, just one day after the coronavirus cabinet is scheduled to meet on extending the nation's lockdown. The cabinet will also decide whether fines should be raised on those who violate restrictions. The country has been under a third national lockdown since December 27. Many have blamed the Ultra-Orthodox community, which has openly disregarded the country’s COVID-19 guidelines—with schools remaining open; synagogues filled to capacity; and large weddings and funerals continuing to take place. The Haredi community has been hit particularly hard,  accounting for 40 percent of new COVID-19 cases in Israel, despite making up only 12 percent of Israel’s population. 


Israel’s top general said on Tuesday that its military was revising its operational plans against Iran and that any US return to a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran would be “wrong.” The remarks were an apparent signal to US President Joe Biden that he should exercise caution in his diplomatic engagements with Iran. Critical comments on US policymaking by Israel’s military chief of staff are rare and likely would have been pre-approved by the Israeli government. Antony Blinken—just confirmed on Tuesday as Biden’s secretary of state—said last week that the United States was “a long way” from deciding on whether it will rejoin the deal and would need to see what Iran has actually done to resume complying with the pact. Since Washington pulled out of the deal, Iran has gradually breached its key limits: building up its stockpile of low enriched uranium, enriching uranium to higher levels of purity, and installing centrifuges in ways barred by the accord.


U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration supports a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and will overturn several Trump administration decisions, Richard Mills, the acting U.S. envoy to the United Nations assured the Security Council on Tuesday. Mills told the Security Council Washington would urge Israel and the Palestinians “to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolition, incitement to violence and providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism”.


The Joint List alliance of Arab majority parties will split ahead of the upcoming election, the parties announced Wednesday after talks between its four constituent parties collapsed. This development comes at a time when Prime Minister Netanyahu has been publicly seeking inroads with the Arab community ahead of the upcoming election. United Arab List Chairman Mansour Abbas accused the other parties of wanting to stay on the political sidelines at Wednesday’s meeting. Other members of the Joint List have criticized Abbas in recent months for appearing overly cooperative with Israel's leader after he was interviewed by a Netanyahu-friendly news channel, and after he voted to retroactively cancel an official inquiry into a potentially corrupt deal involving the prime minister. 


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 is consistently updated to help our community stay informed about efforts to support the community during this time. For detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccination, please see this page.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


P.S. If you or a friend would like to get our own, up-to-the-minute Israel Update, you can sign up here; when asked for "interests" click "weekly Israel Update."

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In partnership with Ohio Jewish Communities, we'd like to invite you to join us for a briefing on Monday, February 1 from 10:00 to 11:30 (EST) on the topic of the vaccination campaign in Israel. The briefing will be presented by Dr. Asher Salmon, Head of the International Relations Department at the Ministry of Health. 


Our JCRC is curating a diverse schedule of webinars, hosted by our local and national partners, on Israel and other issues related to our work. Click here to view this calendar.


Together, we can do virtually anything. If you or a loved one need help during this crisis, please reach out to our COVID-19 Hotline.


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