News Roundup for May 1, 2020

May 1, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

West Bank annexation not contingent on Palestinian state, US officials emphasize, Times of Israel
Amid reports intimating that the White House is conditioning its support for Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank on Palestinian statehood, US officials said Friday that this is emphatically not the case. Rather, the administration continues to back Israel’s plans to apply sovereignty over all settlements and the Jordan Valley, as long as it’s done in the framework of the peace plan President Donald Trump presented on January 28, the officials said. “Our position has not changed,” a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Jerusalem told The Times of Israel on Friday. “As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the [Trump peace plan] foresees as being part of the State of Israel.”

He Indicted Netanyahu, but Sees No Reason to Bar Him From Office, New York Times
Israel’s attorney general said Thursday that neither the criminal charges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing nor the unusual terms of the coalition deal he struck with a former rival should disqualify him from forming a new government. The opinion by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who oversaw the investigation of Mr. Netanyahu and personally issued the indictment against him, could wind up strengthening his defenses against removal. It comes as Israel’s Supreme Court is to hear legal challenges on Sunday to Mr. Netanyahu’s power-sharing agreement with Benny Gantz, who fought him to a draw in three elections before giving up and joining him.

11 European ambassadors warn Israel against West Bank annexation, Times of Israel
The envoys from the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and the EU issued a formal objection to the Foreign Ministry against the move, Channel 13 reported.


Benny Gantz’s former running mate Yair Lapid makes it clear, in English: He does not support Benjamin Netanyahu, JTA
“For anyone who didn’t understand – we will do everything to bring down Netanyahu’s government and of course we won’t support him,” read the statement posted on his Yesh Atid party’s English-language Facebook page. Lapid is the founder and head of the centrist political party.

Arab League slams West Bank annexation plans as ‘war crime’, Al-Monitor
“The implementation of plans to annex any part of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 … and the lands on which Israeli settlements are standing represents a new war crime added to the Israeli record full of brutal crimes against the Palestinian people,” the pan-Arab organization said in a statement.

Legislation enabling unity government coalition in Israel moves a step closer to passage, JTA
Legislation to enshrine into law the rotation of prime minister under the new unity government in Israel is two parliament votes away from passage. On Thursday, the Knesset’s first reading to amend the quasi-constitutional Basic Law passed in a 72-40 vote. The bill must go through two more readings after a special Knesset committee discusses and revises certain sections.

Top PLO official urges world action, not words, to block West Bank annexation, Times of Israel
“What we’re telling them is that Netanyahu can survive statements of condemnation, but he needs to hear that there will be backlash and consequences as well,” said Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee.

Palestinian driver rams his car into West Bank checkpoint, JTA
A Palestinian man drove his car into a West Bank checkpoint a day after a Palestinian teen stabbed an Israeli woman in central Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Arab Moment, The Atlantic
Yossi Klein Halevi writes, “The convergence of the coronavirus crisis with Israeli political convulsions has created an unprecedented opportunity for expanding a truly Israeli civic space shared by Arabs and Jews. To exploit this moment will require deep changes on both sides.”

What the Coronavirus Can Teach Us About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Haaretz
Micha Goodman writes, “If there is a sphere where our thinking has been put to sleep by hypnotizing ideologies and recycled claims, it is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The coronavirus crisis invites us to open our minds and reawaken our thinking from its coma. This is not just because of the liberating effect that characterizes large crises, but also because in coping with the present outbreak, we are practicing with a different way of thinking.”

It’s not over, and uncertainty abounds, but Israel’s COVID-19 stats are stunning, Times of Israel
David Horovitz writes, “As of this writing, Israel, population 9.2 million people, has suffered 219 fatalities in the coronavirus pandemic. Of the nearly 16,000 confirmed cases, more than half have now recovered. Fewer than 100 Israelis are currently on ventilators.”

Jews Control Chinese Labs That Created Coronavirus’: White Supremacists’ Dangerous New Conspiracy Theory, Haaretz
Flora Cassen writes, “As COVID-19 has swept around the globe, causing unprecedented levels of suffering and national shutdowns, the boards and websites of the dark web – that part of the internet intentionally hidden from mainstream search engines, maximized for anonymity and often a sanctuary for hate groups and criminal activity – have kept pace, filled up with conspiracy theories accusing the Jews of triggering the pandemic. “

Portrait of a crisis: Asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv facing coronavirus, +972 Mag
Oren Ziv writes, “The spread of COVID-19 has left asylum seekers in Israel out of work, crammed into uninhabitable apartments with exorbitant rents, and desperate for government assistance.”