News Roundup for March 12, 2020

March 12, 2020

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

Top News and Analysis

House votes to curtail Trump’s Iran war powers, setting up veto fight, Politico
The House on Wednesday voted to curtail military action against Iran, the latest turn in a tussle over President Donald Trump’s war powers after nearly a year of heightened tensions in the Middle East. The war powers measure passed 227 to 186, next heads to Trump’s desk. The resolution amounts to a legal slap on the wrist for Trump, who is certain to veto the resolution. The Senate passed the measure, sponsored by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), in February. But neither chamber has passed the measure with nearly enough votes to overcome a veto. The resolution calls for end to military hostilities against Iran without congressional authorization. Democrats — and a handful of Republicans wary of expansive presidential powers — have been seeking to restrict Trump’s aims on Iran since last year.

Rocket attack on Iraq base leaves two Americans and one UK soldier dead, The Guardian
Two Americans and a British soldier are reported to have been killed and 12 others injured by a rocket attack on a coalition base in Iraq, according to US defence officials. Within hours airstrikes were reported on an area of the Iraqi-Syrian border used as a base by an Iran-backed militia, raising fears of a fresh round of US-Iranian escalation that brought the countries close to war in January. Camp Taji, just north of Baghdad, was hit by between 15 and 30 Katyusha rockets on Wednesday evening. The French Press Agency said that three dead were a US soldier, a US contractor and a British soldier.

State Department now calls eastern Jerusalem Palestinians ‘Arab residents’ or ‘non-Israelis’, JTA
The State Department referred to Palestinians living in eastern Jerusalem as “Arab residents” and “non-Israeli citizens,” ditching the traditional term “Palestinian residents” in a move that continues the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.


Citing caution on coronavirus, Trump cancels trip to influential Jewish coalition event in Las Vegas, Washington Post
President Trump has canceled a three-day trip to Nevada and Colorado, including a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, due to “an abundance of caution” over the coronavirus outbreak, the White House said late Wednesday.

American tourist in Israel hospitalized with coronavirus, The Jerusalem Post
A 70-year-old American tourist who was diagnosed with coronavirus has been hospitalized in Baruch Padeh Medical Center in Poriya, according to a statement by the hospital.

As virus cases mount, Israel bans gatherings of more than 100 people, Times of Israel
Israel is limiting public events in enclosed areas to 100 people as part of increasingly strict measures to curb the spread of the new coronavirus in the country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday evening.

Preparing for ‘worst-case scenario’: US Jewish aid groups scramble amid outbreak, JTA
With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on communities, Masbia, a nonprofit that operates three kosher soup kitchens in Brooklyn and Queens, is scrambling to provide for the people who depend on the organization to feed their families — and whose need might deepen as quarantines, school closures and work cancellations become more widespread.

Defense Ministry extends Gaza, Bethlehem closures due to virus outbreak, Times of Israel
The Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that it would be extending closures imposed over the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Bethlehem as it seeks to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Thousands of Israelis in the US called home as coronavirus restrictions tighten in their homeland, JTA
Purim celebrations at Oakland Hebrew Day School on Tuesday included a surprise, un-festive addition: farewells to two young Israeli women whose work in the Northern California school was being cut short by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Independence Day torch lighting to be held without spectators amid virus threat, Times of Israel
For the first time in Israel’s 72-year history, the Independence Day torch lighting ceremony will be held without spectators, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev announced Wednesday as the government implemented a raft of restrictions aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.

Opinion and Analysis

Can Gantz Overcome a Divide Within His Party and Oust Netanyahu?, Haaretz
Jonathan Lis writes, “The divide in Kahol Lavan over the possibility of a Gantz-led minority government backed by Arab parties is ideological, but also tactical.”

Israel’s War Footing Against the Coronavirus, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “Israel has taken some of the farthest-reaching measures of any country in the world to slow the advance of the new coronavirus, but health officials believe Israelis remain vulnerable due to funding shortages and other issues.”

The ‘Leftist’ Who’s Ruining Gantz’s Chance to Form a Government, Haaretz
Iris Leal writes, “Orli Levi-Abekasis, a balloon inflated with self-importance, someone devoid of ideology, with no electoral clout, a deceiving scoundrel, robbed the center-left bloc’s voters of this rare opportunity, probably triggering a fourth election. She has buried the chance of replacing Netanyahu for many years and has destroyed his opponents’ bloc.”

West Bank lockdowns didn’t start with the coronavirus pandemic, +972 Mag
Lior Amihai writes, “The principles that have guided Israeli governments through 52 years of occupation seem to be informing the response to coronavirus in the occupied territories.”