Virus testing ramps up; unity government formed: Israel Update

April 24, 2020

According to the latest update from the Health Ministry, there are 14,882 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, and 193 Israelis have died from the disease. As efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 continue, the Health Ministry and the Defense Ministry announced Thursday that they had come to an agreement with Israeli genealogy company MyHeritage to perform 10,000 coronavirus tests, daily. Additionally, a drug that has shown promising results on coronavirus is going to be tested in four Israeli hospitals as part of a global trial involving roughly 40 clinical centers. Due to the severe economic damage being caused by the lockdown, the government has faced increased pressure to 'reopen' the country. Officials have expressed concern that the virus could rebound during this holiday season, and warned that restrictions could once again be put in place, if needed.   


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former rival Benny Gantz announced this week that the two sides had finalized an agreement to form an ‘emergency’ unity government, as the country grapples with the pandemic, the accompanying economic havoc, and pressing security concerns. Under the agreement, Netanyahu will remain the Prime Minister for the next 18 months, then Gantz will replace him for the proceeding 18 months. Interestingly, the agreement includes a number of clauses designed to check the power of each leader, many of which are tied to the result of Netanyahu’s upcoming criminal proceedings, which begin on May 24. Crucially, the agreement states that if Israel’s Supreme Court rules that Netanyahu cannot be the prime minister while on trial for corruption, Israel will immediately go to elections, rather than simply elevate Gantz to power. This clause appears to give Netanyahu an added layer of legal protection, while Gantz’s faction gains oversight of certain aspects of Israel’s legal system.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed Wednesday that if Israel annexes land in the occupied West Bank, his administration would regard agreements with Israel and the United States as “completely canceled.” “We have informed the relevant international parties, including the American and the Israeli governments, that we will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land,” Abbas said. Abbas’s statement was made after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was an Israeli decision whether or not to annex parts of the West Bank, though he added that the United States will privately share its views on the topic with the Israeli government. Under the newly formed unity government, the Israeli cabinet can begin to enact Trump’s peace plan as early as July 1, including the annexation of West Bank settlements. The peace plan stipulates that any measures carried out by Israel would have to be executed "in full agreement of the United States.” 


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


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


virtual week of Holocaust Remembrance, Israel Memorial Day commemorations, and Israel Independence Day celebrations are coming soon and will be shared on our Virtual Community Calendar


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