News Roundup for March 9, 2020

March 9, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Kahol Lavan Confirms Coalition Talks With Yisrael Beiteinu, Joint List, Haaretz
Kahol Lavan confirmed Sunday night that party representatives were in contact with Yisrael Beiteinu and the Joint List over efforts to form a minority government with their support. According to inside sources, Kahol Lavan officials believe that their own MKs, Yoaz Handel and Zvi Hauser, members of the right-leaning Telem party, one of Kahol Lavan’s components will thwart the creation of a minority government supported by the Joint List. It is believed that the two will work to promote a unity government with Likud immediately following the approval of the proposed law preventing Netanyahu from forming the next government, were it to pass.

Blue and White brass said to fume at its rightist MKs for foiling minority gov’t, Times of Israel
Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, along with other senior members of the centrist alliance, is reportedly livid over the opposition of two MKs from his party’s right-wing flank to the formation of a minority government that will rely on the outside support of the majority-Arab Joint List.

Annexation Would Threaten U.S. Military Support for Israel, Foreign Policy
Daniel B. Shapiro, Shira Efron and Evan Gottesman write, “Netanyahu’s planned land grab in the West Bank will undermine bipartisan support for U.S.-Israel defense ties—endangering the special relationship and Israelis’ security.”


Birthright Stops All Trips to Israel Over Coronavirus Outbreak, Haaretz
In wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Taglit-Birthright is canceling all its upcoming trips to Israel that are still scheduled for the winter season.

Israel: increased security for Benny Gantz after ‘credible’ death threats, AP
Israel’s parliament on Sunday beefed up the security detail protecting Benny Gantz, the main electoral challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after deeming various death threats against Gantz to be credible.

Gantz accuses PM of incitement: ‘The next political murder is around the corner’, Times of Israel
“The incitement to violence crosses every line. If we don’t wake up, the next political murder is around the corner,” Gantz wrote on Facebook hours after an anti-Netanyahu protester was assaulted.

Arab Party Holds Gantz Endorsement, Will Decide Only After Formal Request, Haaretz
The Arab-majority Joint list admitted that their preferred option to end Israel’s political deadlock is a fourth election rather than the cycle of recommending, or not, a candidate to form a government. The party’s leader Ayman Odeh told Haaretz Sunday “I won’t let myself sit and wait for Gantz… We’re 15-seats strong, and they should treat us accordingly.”

Israel weighing quarantine requirement for anyone entering the country, JTA
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel could soon require anyone arriving in the country to self-quarantine, as the number of Israelis affected by the virus climbed to 39.

Costumes or coronavirus? Synagogues cancel Purim celebrations as masks take on new meaning., Washington Post
“It feels very hysterical almost with the panic,” Rabbi Motti Seligson said. “We’ve been sharing the recommendations and the caution that health officials are suggesting while also trying to avoid anything that may feed into panic.”

Health Ministry in Gaza calls on Palestinians to avoid travel abroad over virus, Times of Israel
The Hamas-run Health Ministry has urged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to avoid travel abroad as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world.

‘Democracy Is in Trouble’: As Israel’s Left Implodes, a Giant of the Camp Bids Farewell, Haaretz
After around 15 years in the Knesset, Meretz’s Ilan Gilon has to say goodbye – the Labor-Gesher-Meretz slate has won seven seats in parliament and Gilon was No. 8 on the ticket. “I don’t think I’ll ever return to the Knesset; that’s not the plan,” he says. “The fun I had in that role was to see the next generation, which can fix what’s broken – and what’s broken in Israeli society is the solidarity.”

Opinion and Analysis

Fear and Loathing of Netanyahu Breaking Down the Wall Separating Israeli Jews and Arabs, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “It still seems like pie in the sky today, but dramatically less so. The mutual hostility between Lieberman, a fierce and arguably racist foe of Israel’s Arab minority, and the mainly Arab Joint List may still prove an impassable obstacle to actually forming a government. Nonetheless, a fateful confluence of political circumstances and personal interests is forging an ad-hoc alliance between the components of the anti-Netanyahu front – Lieberman, the Joint List, Kahol Lavan and Labor – that could suffice to eject the prime minister from the seat that he has been occupying for over a decade. That would start a whole new ball game.”

Annexation will doom the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Agreement, Times of Israel
John L. Rosove writes, “The only true way Israel can secure its borders over the long-term is by entering into good-faith negotiations with Palestinian leadership leading to two states for two peoples.”

What should Israel do about Gaza?, The Jerusalem Post
Nadav Tamir writes, “A strategic approach to Gaza must relate to the overall Palestinian issue, not just to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

Netanyahu Is Playing a Numbers Game, but He’s Closer Than Ever to His Ouster, Haaretz
Yossi Verter writes, “Against the pitiful backdrop of Likud’s Petah Tikva office, Netanyahu tried to broadcast full control over the country’s future, but in the national referendum for his leadership, he already lost.”