News from April 6 to April 11

Israeli election update and Israeli Coronavirus policy

Hey everyone! Chag Sameach! As always, feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns at newsofthejews@gmail.com. If you need good Jewish/Israeli shows or movies, make sure to check out last week’s newsletter.

Israeli election update:

Does Israel have a government yet? Sadly, no.

What happened? I thought they were close? They were, and now they are not. The main hangup seems to be that Likud and Blue and White cannot agree on who would have control over judicial appointments. Though a deal appeared close, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud asked to revisit the judicial appointments agreement, which led to the breakdown of the talks. 

Why won’t they budge? Some have speculated that Netanyahu may just be stalling for time since he would benefit from the expiration of Benny Gantz’s mandate or a fourth election. After all, if Israel is forced to go to a fourth election, it’s hard to see Blue and White reassembling after Gantz split the party in half by beginning coalition talks with Netanyahu. Gantz cannot afford to go to elections after breaking his most important promise to voters, so Netanyahu can “run out the clock” on Gantz to get him to fold. 

What happens now? Gantz’s mandate expires on Monday night, meaning he will no longer have the authority to form a government. If an MK receives a mandate and is close to forming a government but requires more time, they can petition the President for an additional two weeks. On Sunday, when Gantz asked for more time, President Rivlin declined Gantz’s request after Netanyahu told him they were not close to an agreement. It was the first time a president has refused a mandate extension in Israeli history. When the initial mandate expires, President Rivlin has the authority to give his mandate to another MK or refer the matter to the Knesset. Likud asked for Netanyahu to receive the mandate, but Rivlin declined and told Gantz and Netanyahu that he will send the mandate to the Knesset if they agree by Monday night. If that happens, any MK can attempt to form a government for 21 days. If nobody can assemble a viable coalition, Israel will go to a fourth election. 

Anything else? Lawyers filed a petition to Israel’s supreme court for the third time asking them to rule on Netanyahu’s eligibility to form a government. They argue that his indictment should disqualify him from serving as Prime Minister in a new government. As with the other petitions, the Israeli High Court declined to rule, saying that it remains hypothetical and that they will only rule if Netanyahu emerges as the clear victor of the recent Israeli elections. 

Also, Orly Levy-Abecassis, a Gesher MK, pivoted away from Gantz to join Netanyahu’s bloc. You may remember her as one of the MKs who prevented Gantz from forming a minority government supported by the Joint List. Netanyahu now has the support of 59 MKs.

Further reading: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-president-rivlin-denies-gantz-s-request-for-extension-to-form-government-1.8760661 (Haaretz)

President Rivlin. Olivier Fitoussi via Flash90.

Israeli leaders criticized for breaking quarantine rules:

What happened? Both President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu were criticized on social media for having their children at their homes for the Passover seder. Formal guidance from the Israeli government prohibited family gatherings for the seder unless attendants live in the same household. Rivlin apologized for having his daughter at his home and clarified that his daughter had been tested prior to her arrival. Netanyahu has not apologized, but sources said his son Avner has reportedly been living in an apartment next door to the Prime Minister’s residence. Yisrael Beiteinu head Avigdor Liberman was also panned for having family attend his seder.

Further reading:https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/rivlin-celebrated-passover-with-daughter-against-coronavirus-laws-report-624269

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