News Roundup for April 8, 2020

April 8, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu gets cold feet on unity government for Israel, Al-Monitor
Four copies of the coalition agreement for a new unity government were printed on the afternoon of April 6. But suddenly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retracted his agreement on who would sit on the Committee for the Appointment of Judges, signaling that negotiations had broken down. Netanyahu changed his mind while the various news channels were busy reporting on the creation of a “coronavirus government,” in which Netanyahu would end his term in office in another 18 months, and be replaced by Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz.

75% of Jerusalem Coronavirus Cases Are Haredi, Arab Hospitals on Verge of Collapse, Haaretz
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon warned on Tuesday that the Palestinian hospitals in the eastern side of the city are on the verge of collapse, and accused the Health Ministry of ignoring their needs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus in Israel: 9,404 infected, 72 dead, The Jerusalem Post
The country’s youngest virus victim, a 37-year-old with extensive preexisting conditions, died on Tuesday.


Intel: US comes out against emergency COVID-19 IMF loan for Iran, Al-Monitor
The United States opposes Iran’s request for a $5 billion emergency loan request from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it cope with the coronavirus pandemic, Al-Monitor has learned.

Blue and White, Likud trade blame over stalled coalition talks, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud says it was Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz who backed away from the agreements between the parties to form a government, and not vice versa as Gantz maintains. A statement from Likud asserts that the basis of the “equal unity government” it is in talks on forming with Blue and White is “joint decision-making” and advancing Israel’s annexation of areas in the West Bank.

Outbreak poses dilemma for Palestinians working in Israel, AP
The coronavirus outbreak poses a dilemma for tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers working inside Israel who are now barred from traveling back and forth. They can stay in Israel, where wages are much higher but the outbreak is more severe, or they can return home to quarantine and unemployment in the West Bank.

Bnei Brak hospital says it is at full capacity for patients needing ventilation, Times of Israel
The Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center on Tuesday announced it has reached capacity for patients requiring a ventilator due to a lack of the monitors required to operate the machines.

Older Israelis Home Alone for Passover: ‘I’ve Lived Through Worse’, Haaretz
“In the past, we sat wherever we felt like, and anyone who wanted to would come down here,” says Asher Cailingold, 90. “Now it’s more restricted and done only in accordance with the rules.” The cafeteria has also made some adjustments. “We’ve started offering coffee to go,” he explains. “You come and place an order. They put it in a closed cup and you leave.”

IDF lets 20 hilltop youth quarantine together against government guidelines, Times of Israel
The army on Monday night quarantined a group of 20 far-right activists together in a tent on a deserted West Bank hilltop, in violation of the government’s coronavirus guidelines, which require those who come in contact with confirmed carriers to isolate on their own.

Netanyahu: I’m willing to negotiate captives’ release with Hamas, The Jerusalem Post
Israel is willing to negotiate with Hamas through intermediaries to secure the release of soldiers’ bodies and civilians in Hamas captivity in Gaza, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Tuesday.

Hamas affirms readiness for prisoner swap with Israel, Anadolu Agency
“We will deal responsibly with any real response for the initiative of the movement’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Al-Sinwar, regarding [Israeli] soldiers captured by al-Qassam Brigades, to release a number of [Palestinian] elderly, women, ill and children prisoners,” the group’s spokesman Hazem Qassim said on Twitter.

Passover closure comes into effect, with all intercity travel banned, Times of Israel
A three-day national closure approved by the government to curb the coronavirus outbreak during the Passover holiday entered into effect on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Post poll shows Labor dead, Netanyahu soar, The Jerusalem Post
With a nearly 70% approval rating, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party would soar to 42 seats if an election were held this week, according to a poll taken for The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli man charged with spying for Iran, BBC
Shin Bet, the country’s internal security service, said the man had been in discussions with Iranian intelligence to recruit Israeli Arabs to carry out attacks.

Opinion and Analysis

Fretting and making do, Israelis prepare to celebrate the Exodus in isolation, Times of Israel
Sam Sokol writes, “Ahead of a very different night, social distancing rules and travel restrictions make cleaning, cooking and planning for the holiday difficult; many will spend Seder night alone”

‘Arab students will pay the price’: Pandemic widens Israel’s education gaps, +972 Mag
Oren Ziv writes, “Lacking basic services due to state discrimination, Bedouin students in the Naqab/Negev must be equipped for online schooling, rights groups demand.”

Passover Under Lockdown: Israeli Jews Revise the Rituals, New York Times
Isabel Kershner writes, “Israeli Jews are seeking novel ways of celebrating this week’s Passover holiday, traditionally a festival of freedom and community, after the government announced strict curfews to limit social gatherings.”