News Roundup for March 25, 2020

March 25, 2020

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J Street in the News

The results are in: World Zionist Congress election update, J Street
“It appears that we’ll now have at least ten passionate delegates at the next Congress, working alongside our allies in the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Movements to advance a pro-Israel, pro-peace, pluralistic agenda. With our slate gaining strength and the ARZA slate remaining by far the largest overall, we’ll have a strong bloc to counter the efforts of the Likud-aligned right-wing delegates.”

Top News and Analysis

In bombshell, Yuli Edelstein resigns to avoid calling vote on new speaker, Times of Israel
In a bombshell announcement, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Wednesday announced that he was resigning rather than calling a parliament vote on his own replacement, as required earlier this week by the High Court of Justice. “As someone who has paid a personal price of years in a labor camp for the right to live in the State of Israel, as a Zionist and as the speaker of this house, I won’t allow Israel to descend into anarchy, I won’t lend a hand to civil war,” Edelstein, who spent three years in a Soviet gulag, said in a statement.

Gantz Backs Off of Unity With Netanyahu, Eyes Control of Parliament Instead, Haaretz
Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz has stepped back from the possibility of joining a unity government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with his party now considering a plan letting the current government serve another six months while Kahol Lavan takes control of the Knesset.

In the age of coronavirus, Israel’s blockade of Gaza is a death sentence, The Forward
Muhammad Shehada writes, “Due to the blockade, health workers, cleaners and policemen working in quarantine zones lack protective clothing and N95 masks. They also have a shortage of the chemicals necessary to make disinfectants, including hydrogen peroxide and chlorine. Israel bans both from entering Gaza under the pretext of “dual-use” items — items they say can also be used for building weapons. Gaza also has a severe shortage of testing kits — Israel only allowed 200 through the blockade. As a result, the Health Ministry here has already begun rationing the tests. It has only tested 92 people so far, when it is likely that far more have been exposed.”


Israel announces 4th, 5th deaths in pandemic; 2,170 diagnosed with coronavirus, Times of Israel
The Health Ministry on Wednesday morning said that five people have now died in Israel in the coronavirus pandemic.

Israel Abandons Suspected Palestinian Coronavirus Patient at West Bank Checkpoint, Haaretz
A Palestinian man who was working in Israel without a permit and displaying symptoms of the coronavirus was abandoned by police at a West Bank checkpoint with a fever on Monday, without any Palestinian authorities being notified.

Israel unemployment rate nears 20% with some 800,000 registered as out of work, Times of Israel
Unemployment continued to rise on Wednesday, reaching 19.6 percent with a total of 657,876 new registrants since the start of the month.

Orthodox Leaders Urge U.S. Jews to Limit Passover Preparations in Light of Coronavirus, Haaretz
Major Orthodox Jewish organizations in the United States are asking community members to limit preparations for Passover to essentials only, in light of government health guidelines.

Critics warn rabbinate’s call for day of public prayer puts thousands at risk, Times of Israel
The Chief Rabbinate on Monday issued a call on Israelis to gather in synagogues across the country Wednesday for a day of fasting and prayer in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, which as of Tuesday night had infected more than 1,650 people in Israel, with three fatalities.

On the Brink of Its Own Coronavirus Crisis, Gaza Appeals to Israel and the World for Help, Haaretz
“We are asking the UN and the international community to give us immediate support, including ventilators and intensive care equipment to deal with the epidemic,” Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra told a press briefing on Tuesday.

Blue and White may pass a law freezing coalition-building for 6 months, Times of Israel
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz is considering passing a law that would freeze the political situation in Israel for six months to deal with the coronavirus crisis, a report said Tuesday, after the party was said to be left without a path to a coalition.

An Israeli Coronavirus Epicenter Finds Community in a Time of Crisis, Haaretz
At a time when many here have had to hunker down in full home quarantine, a spirit of connection and community has helped them get through, residents say. It’s also helpful that this is a place where people already knew their neighbors, they add.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel is going through a constitutional crisis, JTA
Ben Sales writes, “Besides the coronavirus epidemic, Israel has another crisis on its hands. It’s inside the government and only tangentially related to COVID-19.”

Israel’s Double Curse—Politics and the Pandemic, Foreign Policy
Neri Zilber writes, “Two formidable crises Israel is facing, a pandemic and a political standoff, have intersected in recent days to create one of the most challenging—and bewildering—moments in the country’s history.”

‘The moment a worker is sick, they throw him to the checkpoint like a dog’, +972 Mag
Suha Arraf writes, “Palestinian laborers suspected of having coronavirus are being dropped off at a West Bank checkpoint with no regard for their health or safety.”