News Roundup for April 6, 2020

April 6, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Blue and White said willing to bend on annexation, but not on judge appointments, Times of Israel
The Blue and White party is reportedly willing to compromise on West Bank annexation in order to form a government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, which has demanded support for the move.

Gantz, Have You No Red Lines at All?, Haaretz
The Editorial Board writes, “There are several proofs of the fact that the term “national emergency government” is devoid of content. One is that Yaakov Litzman is staying on as health minister. Another is that the Kahol Lavan party didn’t demand “coronavirus portfolios” like the health and finance ministries. And here’s a third piece of evidence demonstrating that the pandemic is just a smokescreen for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: the fact that during Likud’s negotiations with Kahol Lavan over forming a government, the main dispute has been over the issue of annexation.”

Israel’s coronavirus death toll hits 53, cases climb to 8,611, The Jerusalem Post
The coronavirus death toll climbed to 53 on Monday morning, as confirmed cases of the virus increased to 8,611, including 141 patients in severe condition.


Labor and Blue and White announce planned merger, Times of Israel
Labor’s Amir Peretz and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz meet to discuss a merger of their parties. “In the first stage, rules will be set on joint and coordinated work inside the Knesset, with the aim of merging the parties,” a joint statement says. The statement suggests the two parties could run on a joint ticket in future elections, and taps MKs Avi Nissenkorn and Itzhik Shmuli to discuss these arrangements.

Eyeing Positions in Netanyahu’s Government, Labor Formally Asks to End Left-wing Alliance, Haaretz
Israel’s Labor Party submitted on Saturday a formal request to dissolve its short-lived alliance with left-wing Meretz, effectively clearing Labor’s way to join a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan.

Gaza running out of coronavirus tests, warns Hamas-run Health Ministry, Times of Israel
“What is available to us in terms of coronavirus laboratory tests is very scarce. It will be gone within days,” Ashraf al-Qidra told a press conference in Gaza. “Therefore, we turn to international organizations and relevant international and local parties to provide a sufficient amount of the laboratory tests.”

Gantz to Ask President Rivlin for Extension in Forming Government, Haaretz
Kahol Lavan chairman and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz informed President Reuven Rivlin on the progress of unity government negotiations in a phone call Sunday, saying that he plans to request a two-week extension on his mandate after the Passover holiday.

Yad Vashem to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with global name-reading from home initiative, JTA
The campaign, #RememberingFromHome #ShoahNames calls on the international public to record themselves reciting the names of Holocaust victims and share the video on social media using the campaign’s hashtags. Videos should be no longer than 15 seconds.

Spared So Far, Israel’s Arab Community Fears Ramadan Could Spark Coronavirus Outbreak, Haaretz
Israel’s Arab community has until now experienced a surprisingly low rate of coronavirus infection, but there is mounting concern that the outbreak could gain strength during Ramadan, showing the true gaps in public health between Israel’s communities.

Israeli, Chinese firms announce testing lab for Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza, Times of Israel
A Chinese and an Israeli company on Monday announced they were setting up a laboratory to process around 3,000 coronavirus tests per day for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel arrests Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, Al Jazeera
The Palestinian Authority (PA) official was arrested by Israel at least six times last year and seven times in less than 18 months.

Opinion and Analysis

Gantz Wants a Six-month Coronavirus Government, Netanyahu Wants Annexation, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “With Joe Biden possibly the U.S. president come January 20, many Likudniks think it’s now or never for a West Bank land grab.”

Will Trump administration provide COVID-19 aid to the Palestinians?, Al-Monitor
Bryant Harris writes, “The United States recently touted some $40 million in emergency humanitarian assistance throughout the Middle East and North Africa to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. The West Bank and Gaza are not on the list of beneficiaries of this US largesse.”

The pandemic will make Passover somber this year. It’s not the first time, Washington Post
Danya Ruttenberg writes, “This is hardly the first Passover the Jewish people have endured during times of affliction or pain. The fact that we might even ask how to regard this season is a testament to how fortunate we have been over the past decades, particularly in the United States. It has not always been so; other profound distresses have long impacted our reading of the Haggada — the text of the Passover Seder — and the meaning of the holiday.”

Why seders could be more meaningful this year, The Forward
Sarah Hurwitz writes, “As we scramble to organize seders over Zoom, already missing our loved ones and fretting about how to convey cherished family rituals through a screen, we may be feeling dismayed about the prospect of a holiday celebration that feels like a serious departure from Jewish tradition. But I’d like to suggest that just the opposite is true: that this year’s online seders may actually be a deeper, more powerful expression of our tradition, breathing new life into the Passover story and highlighting its relevance in our time.”

The Silence of ultra-Orthodox Politicians in Israel Betrayed and Imperiled Their Own Community, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “There is no group better prepared for confronting COVID-19 than the disciplined Haredi community. So why did it take so long?”

Israel settlements turn Palestinian house into cage, Middle East Monitor
Gharib’s house is located in the Biet Ijza neighbourhood, west of occupied Jerusalem. It was surrounded by about 100 dunams of land owned by Gharib’s father. However, the Israeli settlers stole all of this land and kept the house, which is only 500-metres square.