Netanyahu's new chance to form Knesset; virus fears abating; Israel Update

May 8, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has once again been tasked with forming a new coalition government. This is the third time in twelve months that President Reuven Rivlin has officially given Netanyahu the opportunity to form the Knesset. Unlike in the previous instances, Netanyahu is widely expected to succeed by forging a coalition with rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz. Over the weekend, negotiating teams from the Likud Party and Blue and White will continue talks to determine the final make-up of portfolios. If the effort succeeds, the new government could be sworn in on Wednesday. This would give Israel its first, fully-functioning government since December of 2018. On Thursday morning, the Knesset approved amendments to two basic laws, which allow Netanyahu's Likud party and Gantz's Kahol Lavan party to fulfill their coalition agreement and enshrine in law the rotation of the prime minister position between the two leaders. This comes on the heels of Israel's High Court of Justice ruling, which struck down petitions against the coalition agreement.


Israel's number of coronavirus patients who have recovered is now more than twice the number of active cases, according to the Health Ministry. There are now 11,007 patients who have recovered and just 5,302 active cases. Since the crisis began, a total of 245 people in Israel have died from the disease. The number of hospitalized patients currently stands at 237. Of those, 83 are in serious condition, including 68 who are intubated. With the number of new infections dropping, the government has begun rolling back restrictions meant to curb the outbreak. The restriction that prevented people from visiting with family has ended, and the government has now approved the reopening of malls and outdoor markets. The next stage for Israel’s 'reopening' strategy is to have preschools and daycares fully reopen this Sunday—a step that's considered essential if parents are to return to work to revive the economy.


Iranian hackers were found responsible for last month's cyber attack on Israeli water authority sites, according to reports on Thursday. The attack targeted several Water Authority facilities, and was thwarted by the authority's cyber division, according to an internal departmental report. The report stated that Iranians used American servers to launch their attack on Israeli infrastructure, although the US Department of Energy has thus far refused to comment on the matter. Israeli cyber security officials gave an immediate order for all affected sites to change passwords and take steps to stop any breach of their systems. With Iran struggling to contain the coronavirus, they have recently pushed their cyber warriors to target various healthcare-related sites around the globe.


The Palestinian Authority has officially asked the UN to halt Israel’s pending plans to annex West Bank settlements. A UN Security Council discussion on the matter is expected to be held on May 20. Riyad Mansour—the Palestinian envoy to the UN—said the Palestinians were seeking a “wide and powerful front in the UN to prevent Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank.” Earlier this week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas chaired a meeting of the Fatah Central Council, and threatened to renounce all signed agreements with Israel in response to their plan. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from settlers to quickly move forward with the plans, particularly now that the Israel's High Court of Justice has ruled in favor of his premiership. 


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 coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This page has been developed to help our community stay informed and provide the resources needed to maintain a sense of connection. As more resources are curated, this page will be continually updated. 



Shabbat Shalom,


Jackie Congedo, Director, JCRC


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Every Sunday, our Hillel at Miami University's fellow, Nevo Schpire, hosts an Israeli cooking show.


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