Israel without a justice minister; Netanyahu heads to court: Israel Update

April 2, 2021

Mansour Abbas, the leader of an Arab Islamist party in Israel, delivered a prime-time address in Hebrew on Thursday, during which he called for coexistence between Arabs and Jews. Abbas’s United Arab List (UAL) won just four seats in last week’s parliamentary elections, but his tiny party could potentially decide whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains in office, following the country’s fourth inconclusive election in less than three years. In Abbas's closely watched speech, he did not take political sides, but rather spoke to “a vision of peace, mutual security, partnership, and tolerance” in the search for common ground between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—as well as between Arabs and Jews. “The time has arrived to listen to the other, to recognize the narratives and to look for what we have in common,” he said, in fluent Hebrew. Abbas broke with other Arab parties when he suggested he would be open to partnering with right-wing leaders—including Netanyahu—if by doing so he could secure gains for the Arab community. Netanyahu has tried to keep his options open, but progress with UAL could prove difficult, given his bloc’s reliance on a far-right party


Israel was left without its justice minister as of early Friday, after Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is on trial for alleged corruption, refused to enable a permanent appointment for the post. This development will impact a broad range of government functions, and indicates that Israel’s transitional government will struggle to introduce new laws—including any relating to the coronavirus pandemic—as legislation begins in the Justice Ministry and must have the approval of the justice minister. In the hours before the midnight deadline, critics castigated Netanyahu, and accused him of placing his own needs before those of the country.


Netanyahu is set to appear in court on Monday, after prosecutors told the Jerusalem District Court that he should be present for the beginning of his corruption trial. On Wednesday, Netanyahu’s legal team asked the court to waive the requirement that he be in the courtroom for the proceedings. The evidentiary phase of Netanyahu’s trial—for alleged bribery, fraud, and breach of trust—will begin with hearings scheduled for three times a week, Monday through Wednesday. A new report details “hundreds of witnesses” who will likely testify at the trial. The intensive legal proceedings will coincide with President Reuven Revlin’s Monday meetings with representatives of all political parties to hear their nominations for the next prime minister, following last week’s inconclusive election.


US President Joe Biden's administration is ramping up aid to the Palestinian's in what's being considered a "reset" from the Trump administration's policies. Additionally, Biden's US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, "it is a historical fact that Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights after the 1967 War." The issue was raised after the current US State Department published the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Tuesday. It is the first of the annual reports released since Biden took office in January. The report did affirm some of the steps taken by the Trump administration, which had both recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.


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 you stay informed about efforts to support our community during this time. Click here for detailed information about COVID-19 vaccinations.


Shabbat Shalom, 


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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Cincinnati Remembers: Yom HaShoah Day of Holocaust Remembrance: Tune into our local PBS station Sunday, April 11 at 2:30 PM EST, for this year’s Yom HaShoah commemoration to remember the six million victims of the Holocaust and honor the survivors. For a full list of programming, click here.


Cincinnati Celebrates: Yom HaAtzmaut Israel Independence Day: Join the Cincinnati community Monday, April 12 via Zoom for a day of learning and fun across Jewish Cincinnati in celebration of 73 years of Israeli independence. Click here to RSVP.


Cincinnati Honors: Yom HaZikaron Israel Memorial Day:  Join the Cincinnati community Tuesday, April 13 at 5:30 PM EST via Zoom for a memorial service to honor the fallen soldiers and victims of terror who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel. We will pay respects through poems and music as we explore our responsibility to care for each other. Click here to RSVP.


Forward Focus: This 4-part series focuses on religious diversity in Israel. In this series, we will hear from experts, religious leaders, and changemakers who will take us on a deep dive into the diversity of Jewish life in Israel. Explore Israel's fascinating landscape and what it means to be Jewish in our homeland by learning more and registering here.



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 needs help during this crisis, please reach out to our COVID-19 Hotline.


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