News Roundup for March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Gantz sees ‘opportunity’ in deal with Netanyahu. Ex-allies fume that he’ll regret it, Times of Israel
Under the terms of the reportedly near-finalized deal the emergency government will see Benjamin Netanyahu — the leader with whom Gantz vowed endlessly never to partner in government — retain the premiership for the next 18 months. Gantz, it is widely reported, will vacate the speaker’s chair as soon as the unity deal is done and become Israel’s foreign or defense minister, and is then supposed to take over from Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021.

As List of Coronavirus Failures Grows, Netanyahu Returns to His Element: Fear, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “Netanyahu’s alarmism is well known to those who spent hundreds of hours with him in meetings about the Iranian nuclear project, concerning which he always chose the most extreme scenario but at the same time refrained from making any sort of practical decision. Now Israel’s citizens are getting a taste of this, with the prime minister’s nightly addresses laced with evocations of the Black Death, Holocaust images and apocalyptic forecasts.”

This Coronavirus Crisis Is the Time to Ease Sanctions on Iran, New York Times
The Editorial Board writes, “The choice seems obvious. Demonstrating compassion in times of crisis is good foreign policy, and in this case it may actually help achieve the goals the Trump administration is pursuing.”


Two more Israelis die of virus, bringing COVID-19 death toll to 10, Times of Israel
A 93-year-old man and a 76-year-old woman have died of the coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 10, as the number of infections nationwide climbed to 3,035.

Benny Gantz, Breaking Vows, Says He Would Serve Under Netanyahu, New York Times
Citing the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Gantz, who nearly defeated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in three straight elections, said he would explore forming a “national emergency government.”

Lapid: I trusted Gantz, but he stole our votes and handed them to Netanyahu, Times of Israel
Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, leaders of the Yesh Atid and Telem factions in Blue and White, slammed Benny Gantz’s decision to enter a government with longtime foe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night, saying the Blue and White leader had abandoned his principles by “crawling” into a coalition of “extremists and extortionists.

Gantz supporters angry over Netanyahu deal, AAP
“It makes me feel terrible. It’s exactly what I did not want to happen, to see Gantz actually partner with Netanyahu,” said Tami Golan, 46, who voted for Gantz in all three elections.

From foes to best buds: Right embraces Gantz after swerve toward Netanyahu, Times of Israel
After suffering perhaps the most drawn out and intense political savaging in Israeli political history, in a year that saw three election campaigns and seemingly endless mudslinging, Benny Gantz, in the space of a few hours Thursday, appeared to become the darling of the Israeli right.

US announces new sanctions against Iran despite coronavirus crisis, Middle East Eye
The United States imposed a new set of sanctions against Iran on Thursday, targeting individuals and companies allegedly linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Hundreds die of poisoning in Iran as fake news suggests methanol cure for virus, AP
Standing over the still body of an intubated 5-year-old boy wearing nothing but a plastic diaper, an Iranian health care worker in a hazmat suit and mask begged the public for just one thing: Stop drinking industrial alcohol over fears about the new coronavirus.

500 armed soldiers to join police in enforcing coronavirus restrictions, Times of Israel
Some 500 soldiers will be deployed across the country beginning Sunday to assist police in enforcing the government’s latest restrictions on movement to stem the coronavirus pandemic, the Israel Defense Forces said Friday.

Amid massive unemployment, the worst is likely yet to come at Jewish nonprofits, The Forward
As the federal government announced that an unprecedented 3.2 million people have requested unemployment assistance, the Jewish community is feeling its share of the pain. Some nonprofits, like Bryan Leib’s employer, Americans Against Antisemitism, have laid people off. Many kosher restaurants and other Jewish-owned businesses shuttered for the foreseeable future.

Anxious Israelis count ventilators, or try to build their own, Times of Israel
A new statistic is dominating coronavirus conversations in Israel. It’s not the number of fatalities or people infected, but how many machines there are to save the lives of the worst-stricken patients.

Opinion and Analysis

Palestinians Brace for an Outbreak in One of the World’s Most Densely Populated Territories, Foreign Policy
Joshua Mitnick writes, “For years, international organizations, Palestinian officials, and even some Israelis have warned that the Gaza Strip was verging on a humanitarian meltdown. The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic to Gaza this week might well trigger that nightmare scenario, leaving untold dead and unleashing the kind of civil unrest that could threaten Hamas’s rule in Gaza and sow chaos at the border with Israel.”

Trump’s refusal to relax Iran sanctions during the coronavirus threatens everyone, NBC News
Hadi Ghaemi, founder and executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran writes, “In my 15 years as an advocate for the rights of the people of Iran, I have never been more concerned for the lives of so many people. Iran’s 85 million people are dying from the coronavirus at a rate some officials say is as often as 1 every 10 minutes. In the worst-case scenario, 3.5 million people could die, according to a study from Iran’s prestigious Sharif University.”

Gantz In, His Political Partners Out: This Is What Netanyahu’s New Government Would Look Like, Haaretz
Chaim Levinson writes, “Under the current agreement, Gantz would become prime minister in a year and a half. Gabi Ashkenazi, also a former IDF chief-of-staff will take over the Defense Ministry. It’s not clear whether Gantz will serve as foreign minister or deputy prime minister until the time comes to swap with Netanyahu. The date of the swap is expected to be fixed by legislation ahead of swearing in the new government.”

Defying ruthless, deadlocked politics, Gantz sacrifices everything for stability, Times of Israel
Haviv Rettig Gur writes, “He surrendered his most valuable cards just as the fight was reaching its climax, with Blue and White finally in control of the Knesset and a new speaker set to be voted in, and just as Netanyahu, fearful of a Knesset set against him, was for the first time begging for serious unity talks.”

Gantz chooses Netanyahu’s incitement over Arab-Jewish partnership, +972 Mag
Haggai Matar writes, “Benny Gantz could have made history by forming a minority government with the support of the Palestinian parties. Instead he dismantled his own political camp and joined his rival.”

The Shin Bet Will Do Whatever Netanyahu Says, Haaretz
Yossi Klein writes, “You wouldn’t believe how quickly our Shin Bet could turn into the Stasi. The speed at which this happens is on a par with the speed at which a democracy turns into a dictatorship. Not all at once. More like the way you lick an ice cream cone. Around the edges at first and then you gradually reach the main part.”