News Roundup for April 17, 2020

April 17, 2020

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J Street in the News

Biden Embraces Endorsement of Liberal Jewish Group J Street, Daily Beast
“‘I’m honored to have earned J Street’s first-ever presidential endorsement,’ Biden said in a statement sent to The Daily Beast. ‘J Street has been a powerful voice to advance social justice here at home, and to advocate for a two-state solution that advances Middle East Peace. I share with J Street’s membership an unyielding dedication to the survival and security of Israel, and an equal commitment to creating a future of peace and opportunity for Israeli and Palestinian children alike. That’s what we have to keep working toward—and what I’ll do as President with J Street’s support.’”

J Street Endorses Joe Biden for President of the United States, J Street
“‘At a time when the threats to our core values both at home and abroad have never been more serious, all of us in the pro-Israel, pro-peace community know that the path to a better future begins with defeating Donald Trump at the polls,’ said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami. ‘To help achieve that pivotal goal, we’re thrilled to endorse Vice President Biden — a long-time friend of J Street who truly understands the need for a bold new era of American foreign policy rooted in principled, proactive diplomacy.’”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Edges Closer to 4th Election as Unity Talks Falter, New York Times
The Israeli president on Thursday handed the task of forming a government to Parliament, starting a 21-day countdown that could lead to new elections, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, missed another midnight deadline to reach a power-sharing agreement. The step, which was mainly technical, on its own does little to find a way through Israel’s yearlong political impasse. Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Gantz can currently muster a majority without joining forces, and their parties issued a joint statement on Thursday saying that negotiations for a unity government would continue. But the step taken by the president, Reuven Rivlin, set a timer: By law, lawmakers have 21 days to come up with a viable government, whether a unity coalition or some other configuration. Failing that, Parliament will automatically disperse on May 7 and, for the fourth time in little over a year, send Israelis back to the ballot box.

Gaza is an open-air prison. As covid-19 spreads, it’s time to lift the siege., Washington Post
Tarek Loubani writes, “Since I left Gaza a few weeks ago, there have been 13 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Gaza, nearly 300 confirmed cases and two deaths in the West Bank. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth, and the poor conditions in its refugee camps and cities mean that the novel coronavirus could spread quickly and devastatingly. Gaza’s health-care system has long been past its breaking point. Last month, the head of the World Health Organization’s sub-office in Gaza warned that the territory’s health infrastructure would not be able to deal with hundreds or thousands of covid-19 cases, let alone tens or hundreds of thousands of cases.”


Netanyahu: Masses Will Take to the Streets if Court Ousts Me, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced the Supreme Court is part of a judicial “deep state” out to finish him politically and send him to prison. He is threatening to sink the coalition talks with Kahol Lavan if Benny Gantz doesn’t offer him a safety net to sidestep the High Court of Justice which, the premier is saying in private conversations, will try to get rid of him.

Coronavirus in Israel: 149 dead, 129 intubated, The Jerusalem Post
The number of coronavirus cases in Israel showed additional signs of beginning to level on Friday morning, as the Health Ministry confirmed 12,855 people have been diagnosed with the virus, including 9,740 active cases.

Netanyahu, rival, miss coalition deadline but continue talks, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival missed a midnight deadline Wednesday to form an emergency government to tackle the coronavirus threat and prevent another costly and divisive election. But the sides agreed to continue the discussions.

Concerns grow COVID-19 is spreading undetected in Palestine, Al Jazeera
In occupied East Jerusalem, concerns are growing the coronavirus is spreading through Palestinian neighbourhoods undetected.

Lapid proposes 6-month political freeze as Ya’alon says Gantz isn’t fit to be PM, Times of Israel
Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid on Thursday proposed a six-month “political freeze” to prevent fourth elections as Israel battles the coronavirus pandemic, as his ally Moshe Ya’alon said their former party chief Benny Gantz was unfit to serve as prime minister over his willingness to sit in a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu.

In ironic twist, Palestinians count on Israel’s separation barrier to keep out coronavirus, +972 Mag
Palestinians, some of whom have been protesting against the separation barrier for years, are reporting breaches and fixing gaps to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Coronavirus Brings Israel and Hamas Closer to a Long-delayed Prisoner Swap, Haaretz
Reports concerning the renewal of negotiations between Israel and Hamas over the fate of Israel’s prisoners and the remains of missing soldiers are slowly leaking out. The coronavirus crisis has changed the priorities of the Hamas regime in Gaza, which now needs Israeli and international aid to contend with a possible outbreak of the pandemic inside its territory.

Netanyahu okays plan to gradually reopen parts of economy, ease restrictions, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu green-lighted a general plan to ease restrictions on economic activity and “stay home” orders, potentially allowing some businesses to open as soon as next week.

Settler Youths Flee Military-run Coronavirus Quarantine After Attack on Palestinian Campers, Haaretz
A group of radical settler youths who had been put in a coronavirus quarantine facility in the West Bank on Thursday abandoned the camp, which was set up for them by the military.

Opinion and Analysis

Angry at ultra-Orthodox Jews for ‘Defying’ Coronavirus Rules? It’s More Complicated Than That, Haaretz
Ben Kasstan writes, “Researching the Haredi community’s relations with the public health system, it’s clear both the state and religious leaders bear responsibility for the tragic breakdown in preparing ultra-Orthodox Jews for a pandemic like COVID-19.”