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PM Netanyahu warned Israelis to follow the Health Ministry regulations and guidelines regarding the coronavirus in the face of a steepening curve of new cases. The PM said, “The rise in cases is steep and if it continues, we will be back to where we were at the height of contagion and that would mean people being gravely ill and even dying and we must stop this now.” He warned that if the increase in the number of cases continues there would be a need to impose restrictions on the economy again.
Meanwhile, the second highest official in the Health Ministry, Prof. Itamar Grotto, has been waiving the 14 day quarantine requirement for those returning to Israel from overseas for a select group of VIPs including billionaires and celebrities. The Director General of the ministry is investigating.
Israeli officials are reportedly creating an alternate annexation plan that would only include extending Israeli sovereignty to Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria and not to territory outside of the towns. This would leave the status of the other territory open, as opposed to designating some of it as part of a Palestinian state.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) said that the alternative plan could obviate some of the challenges created by the original version of the plan. He said, “There are advantages to applying sovereignty just to the towns themselves and not to entire areas, since in this case it allows us to dispense with the need for drawing up maps and borders.”
He added, “It also provides an answer to the real fears in Israel that the drawing up of maps could pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state. This way, we could both normalize life in these towns and continue to develop them, while also avoiding the dangers of drawing up fixed borders and a de facto agreement to Palestinian statehood.”
In a first for an Arab diplomat, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, published an op-ed in Israel’s Yediot Aharonot today, urging Israel to abandon plans to extend Israeli sovereignty over roughly 30% of Judea and Samaria as part of the larger Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.
He warned, “It will ignite violence and rouse extremists. It will send shock waves around the region, especially in Jordan whose stability – often taken for granted — benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.”
He also said, “Annexation will certainly and immediately upend Israeli aspirations for improved security, economic and cultural ties with the Arab world and with UAE. With the region’s two most capable militaries, common concerns about terrorism and aggression, and a deep and long relationship with the United States, the UAE and Israel could form closer and more effective security cooperation.”
The Palestinian Authority cannot pay the salaries of their government employees for May after refusing to accept tax revenues collected for it by Israel. The tax revenue comprises 60% of the PA’s budget.