Israel’s extreme response to the Coronavirus:
10’s of thousands of Israelis have been ordered to self-quarantine for 14-days by the Health Ministry, including Israelis returning from China, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain, and anybody who was in contact with people who were known to have contracted the virus. Foreign travelers arriving from these countries are being denied entry unless they will be able to quarantine themselves for the first 2 weeks after arriving in Israel.
Thus far, Israel has seen 17 cases of coronavirus at the time of writing. Israel has also banned foreign travel for all active military and canceled a planned joint-drill with the US over virus fears. Netanyahu stopped shaking hands with people and urged others to do the same, telling Israelis to adopt the Indian custom of greeting with “namaste,” and without a handshake.
Likud wins the elections but the right-wing bloc falls short of a majority:
In Israel’s third-straight election in less than a year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off a dramatic upset over his Blue and White party rivals. Due to Israel’s parliamentary system, however, it is unlikely he will be able to form a government as the right-wing parties won a total of just 58 seats out of 120. A minimum of 61 Knesset members must agree on terms of government, including who will be Prime Minister, before a government can be formed. Netanyahu’s Likud party won 36 seats compared to 33 for Blue and White. The results are not yet official, but 99% of the vote has been counted and the final results are not expected to change.
Netanyahu’s victory was particularly impressive because he is facing indictment on multiple counts of bribery and breach of trust, and he has faced a year straight of opposition campaigning targeting him specifically as being unfit for office and corrupt.
Despite Netanyahu’s success in the election, the left-wing parties push a bill to try to oust him as Prime Minister:
The blocs of power following the election can be broken down into 2 or 3 blocs, depending on how one looks at it. On the one hand, you have the right-wing bloc, including Likud, which won a total of 58 seats. You have the center-left bloc which either won 40 seats or 47 if you include Yisrael Beiteinu. Yisrael Beiteinu at various times has been right-leaning or left-leaning, but they have stated that they will not join a coalition with Netanyahu. Then you have the Arab Joint List parties which won 15 seats. The center-left bloc and the Arab parties are very unlikely to form a government together since Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu have both indicated they would not do it. It is questionable whether any of the Arab lawmakers would agree to such a coalition either.
However, the parties opposed to Netanyahu do form a majority. And in this spirit Blue and White decided they will advance two bills that will both prevent Netanyahu from forming a government, if passed. One bill is to limit a Prime Minister to two consecutive terms, and the other bill is to prevent anybody who is facing an indictment from forming a government. Netanyahu and his allies claim that this is an attempt to undermine the will of the people. Depending on how one looks at it, they are either correct or incorrect. It is true that the parties supporting Netanyahu form a much bigger bloc than any other group however, the majority of the country still did vote for parties that oppose him.
There are a few ways this could play out. The bill should pass since a majority of lawmakers belong to parties opposed to Netanyahu. If it passes, and Netanyahu is prevented from forming a government, either another member of Likud could attempt to form a government with defectors from the Blue and White Party, Yisrael Beiteinu, or another party. The bill could also pass and then Blue and White could form a government with support from the Arab Joint List. Such a government is unlikely to last very long before dissolving.
It is also possible that some members of Blue and White, Yisrael Beiteinu, or other parties will oppose the bills, perhaps for political reasons. Perhaps one or more lawmakers who are less well known could jump ship from Blue and White and join Likud (as happened leading up to the recent election), and in that manner become a major political player overnight possibly winning a ministry post in exchange for joining a Netanyahu-led government.
Israel continues it’s war with Syria:
On Monday, Israeli Election Day, the IDF prevented a planned sniper attack from Syria near the border with Israel in the Golan Heights. This comes after Israel has struck targets recently in the same area near Merom Golan and Mount Bental in Israel.
No violence from Gaza:
The Gazan border was quiet this past week after the last several weeks have seen the occasional back and forth fighting involving rocket fire from Gaza, explosive balloons, and target strikes in response by the Israel Airforce.
Three Orthodox youth stabbed in Jerusalem, apparently in response to their attending a help-center run by Messianic Jews:
Three Orthodox Jewish young men were attacked in Jerusalem, and one of them stabbed after they left a home for Orthodox disenfranchised youth run by Israeli Messianic Jews. The incident follows a few weeks other violent incidents occurring against the home; including having brisks thrown at it which destroyed its windows and nearly injured the people inside. The people who run the center are hoping that the police will apprehend the perpetrators and also protect themselves and the people visiting the center against any further threats.
Yad Lachim accuses Messianic cultural center in Ramat Gan of harboring ill intentions towards Jews:
A messianic cultural center in Ramat Gan has been accused of using a “cover to convey missionary messages” in a Facebook post by Yad Lachim (an anti-assimilation group run by an extreme sect of Orthodox Jews in Israel.) Yad Lachim has engaged in many acts of accusation and incitement against Messianic and Christian events in Israel, and continues to be a thorn in the side of the Messianic community in particular since Yad Lachim’s focus is more against Christianity as it applies to Jews rather than Christianity more generally. The center does not appear to be phased by the accusation and continues to hold its events as normal.