News Roundup for April 22, 2020

April 22, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Israelis Find Little to Love in Their New Government, Except No More Elections, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger and Adam Rasgon write, “Right-wingers felt betrayed by Mr. Netanyahu’s surrender of half the government to Mr. Gantz and his small band of centrists. Netanyahu haters felt betrayed by almost everything else about the pact, which keeps Mr. Netanyahu in office as prime minister. But not having to wait around for another noxious campaign? That, nearly everyone could get behind.”

How the Coronavirus Saved Netanyahu’s Political Career, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “For leaders around the world, the coronavirus has been a colossal challenge, testing their ability to manage a crisis on an unparalleled scale. But for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the pandemic has also been a political salve, allowing him to put off his corruption trial, smash the country’s main opposition party, and now forge a governing majority that had eluded him since late 2018.”

Israel’s Netanyahu notches key wins in a deal with his rival, AP
Israel’s embattled prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has notched two critical victories in this week’s power-sharing agreement with his chief rival: He can stay in office throughout his upcoming corruption trial, and he can press forward with a potentially explosive plan to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank […] Commentator Sima Kadmon said the coronavirus crisis served as the pretext for the unlikely alliance. “The real goal was Netanyahu’s effort to buy time,” she wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily.


Unity deal allows PM to begin advancing West Bank annexation from July 1, Times of Israel
According to clause 29 of the deal, Netanyahu “will be able to bring the agreement reached with the US on the application of sovereignty [in the West Bank]… for the approval of the cabinet and/or the Knesset starting July 1, 2020.”

Pro-Trump Jewish Group Rages After HIAS Chair Tapped for Top U.S. Jewish Role, Haaretz
In another era, the nomination of Dianne Lob as incoming chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations would have likely gone smoothly and unopposed, viewed as a standard changing of the guard in the world of Jewish organizations. But as the pitched battle over the Trump administration’s immigration policies rages, Lob – the past chair of the immigrant and refugee charity HIAS – has been slammed as “unqualified” and “hostile” to Israel by a far-right group within the membership of the Conference that is allied with White House.

Palestinian shot and killed after stabbing Israeli policeman, Al Jazeera
A Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces after he stabbed an Israeli police officer at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.

Abbas orders easing of virus lockdown for Palestinians in West Bank, Times of Israel
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday ordered an easing of some of the lockdown measures that have been applied in the West Bank as part of efforts to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus among the Palestinian population.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu-Gantz Deal Ensures Accused Premier Will Have the Last Word, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “The coalition agreement that was reached by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz Monday evening gives Likud de facto veto power over the Supreme Court justices. The same justices will presumably have to rule on Netanyahu’s likely future appeal of the verdict in his trial. “

5 key takeaways about the Gantz-Netanyahu deal and Israel’s new government, JTA
Ben Sales writes, “Their deal is multifaceted and involves an agreement that Gantz would become prime minister in 18 months — but Netanyahu got his competitor to accede to many political demands. Here are five main takeaways from the new government…”

The left and the right are both wrong: Biden and Sanders agree on Israel, The Forward
Abe Silberstein writes, “Biden himself espoused a remarkably similar view to Sanders at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last March. ‘Israel, I think, has to stop the threats of annexation and settlement activity, like the recent announcement to build thousands of settlements,’ Biden said in a video address. ‘that’s going to choke off any hope for peace. And to be frank, those moves are taking Israel further from its democratic values, undermining support for Israel in the United States especially among young people in both political parties.’”

How Israel’s Netanyahu secured his political survival, Financial Times
Mehul Srivastava writes, “In the end, it took Mr Netanyahu just under 13 months to wear down his opponent. For three back-to-back elections, Mr Gantz, a retired army chief who had made his stamina a mainstay of the campaign, held together a fledgling electoral alliance united in one goal — unseating Mr Netanyahu by capitalising on his pending trial on corruption charges. Mr Netanyahu was unfit for public office, Mr Gantz said over and over again, as election after unprecedented election finished deadlocked, with neither leader able to form a governing coalition of 61 parliamentary seats.”

Israel’s emergency government betrays voters, The Forward
Etan Nechin writes, “The coronavirus has been Netanyahu’s lucky strike. Without it, Gantz would not have felt pressured to join forces to form a government — any government. Netanyahu’s corruption trial has also been postponed to May 24 — for now. For Netanyahu, the coronavirus is his political and legal immunity.”

Has Netanyahu outfoxed Gantz? Will judges block the deal? Why so many ministers?, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “If the emergency unity government is indeed sworn in, Israel will have been spared its fourth elections in 16 months. But what does the coalition stand for? And will it hold?”

Netanyahu finally gets the annexation government he’s been waiting for, +972 Mag
Meron Rapoport writes, “After a year of political deadlock, Netanyahu forms a new governing coalition that prioritizes annexing of the West Bank above all else — including the fight against the coronavirus.”