News Roundup for March 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

High Court: Edelstein undermining democracy, must hold speaker vote by Wednesday, Times of Israel
Israel’s top court on Monday night ruled unanimously that the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, must hold a vote by Wednesday to elect a successor. In a devastating ruling, it accused him of undermining democracy by refusing to do so.

Likud members urge speaker to defy Israeli high court order, AP
Israel appeared on the verge of a constitutional crisis Tuesday as top members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud urged their party colleague and parliament speaker to defy a Supreme Court order to hold an election for the prime minister’s successor.

Coronavirus cases climb to 1,656, up 214 from Monday night, Times of Israel
The number of diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the country rose to 1,656, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday morning, showing an increase of 214 from the previous night.


Likud says right-wing bloc will boycott ‘stolen, undemocratic’ Knesset, Times of Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party fumed Tuesday morning after the High Court ruled that the Knesset must be convened to choose a new speaker and after the Blue and White-led bloc used its 61-strong majority to form parliamentary oversight committees.

First Israeli coronavirus fatality, a Holocaust survivor, is buried with social distancing, JTA
Even, 88, a native of Hungary who survived the Holocaust, was a retired Israeli diplomat. He died Friday at Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem and was buried in the wee hours of Sunday in Jerusalem. As of Monday he is the only Israeli to die of the pandemic.

Netanyahu: ‘A million Israelis infected with coronavirus within a month’, The Jerusalem Post
One million Israelis could be infected with the novel coronavirus and 10,000 could die, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his ministers on Monday during a seven-hour meeting with top officials about ongoing efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

At least 65 yeshiva students returning to Israel from Crown Heights test positive for coronavirus, JTA
More than half of a group of 114 students who returned to Israel from a yeshiva near the Chabad world headquarters in New York have tested positive for coronavirus.

Palestinian prisoner’s commission calls for release of detainees, Al Jazeera
PLO’s commission for prisoners affairs called on UN to urge Israel to release detainees amid coronavirus fears.

Hamas urges Abbas to lift sanctions to help fight the coronavirus in Gaza, The Jerusalem Post
Hamas has called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip to enable the Palestinians living there to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Opinion and Analysis

American Jews Don’t Care That Israel’s Democracy Is Falling Apart, Haaretz
Charles Dunst writes, “This continued willingness to give Israeli leaders like Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt is a mistake. Our influential diaspora must learn to walk and chew gum at the same time and, in this case, address the coronavirus in our various homes while refusing to any longer stand by as Netanyahu takes every opportunity to erode Israel’s democratic norms.”

Can Gaza cope with Covid-19 after years under lockdown?, The Guardian
Hazem Balousha and Oliver Holmes write, “As countries shut borders, enforced curfews and suspended much of daily life, Gaza – under a blockade for years – was somewhat isolated from the coronavirus pandemic. But as it has with so much of the rest of the world, Covid-19 found a way.”

Coronavirus could hit the world’s most vulnerable people hardest, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “For the approximately 70 million displaced people worldwide, the pandemic poses a double threat: Crammed refugee camps are especially vulnerable to the spread of disease, and national governments, which, at the best of times, have limited resources to spare for asylum seekers and migrants, will be even less inclined to expend them amid the crisis in support of noncitizens.”

How a Palestinian shoemaker started the West Bank’s only mask factory overnight, +972 Mag
Suha Arraf writes, “What started as an experiment days after the coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank is now a factory producing thousands of masks a day.”

Coronavirus Crisis Accelerates Israel’s Slide Into Erdogan-style Authoritarianism, Haaretz
Yossi Melman writes, “Israel joins an unsavory club of states led by hard right government weaponizing coronavirus fears to target political enemies and settle old scores.”

I’m Just So Angry, The Forward
Isaac J. Bailey writes, “I’m angry that 63 million Americans decided to make a man president each of us knew had neither the qualifications nor character to be in the White House. I’m angry that they spent the past three years excusing his behavior and disgusting speech and pretending he, and he alone, was responsible for an economy that was already growing long before he was sworn in.”