Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-24-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 436 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There have been 1,013 new cases since the beginning of the week, almost as many as in the entire month of May. Out of the 5,460 patients currently infected, 45 are in serious condition and 28 are on ventilators. The cabinet today will discuss the reintroduction of a controversial method of tracking patients using Shin Bet technology.

A partial lockdown of the city of Elad and several neighborhoods in Tiberias went into effect today due to the steep rise of coronavirus cases in those areas. The lockdowns will last a week.

Yesterday, a 27 year old Palestinian man tried to ram his vehicle into Border Police officers at a checkpoint near the village of Abu Dis. Troops shot and killed the attacker. A female officer was lightly wounded in the attack.

International donors pledged over $130 million this week to UNRWA, the United Nations agency created to help Palestinian refugees. The organization’s head said that the amount was encouraging, but not enough to keep operations running through the end of the year.

The U.S., once UNRWA’s largest donor, pulled support in 2018 triggering a financial crisis and forcing other donors to plug an approximately $211 million hole in the agency’s $1.2 billion budget. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was imperative that the international community “continue in the effort to make UNRWA funding sustainable, predictable and sufficient.”

Senior White House officials began discussions this week on whether to give Israel the “green light” to proceed with annexation of parts of the West Bank. The White House meeting included Jared Kushner, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz and the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Among the main options reportedly under U.S. consideration is a step-by-step process in which Israel would initially declare sovereignty over several settlements close to Jerusalem instead of the 30% of the West Bank envisaged in PM Netanyahu’s original plan.

Two bills to legalize cannabis use passed their preliminary readings in the Knesset on Wednesday ahead of the three votes required for them to become law. A bill to decriminalize consumption passed 61-11, and a bill regulating how cannabis may be bought and sold was approved 53-12. If the bills become law, selling and purchasing marijuana in authorized shops for personal use will be legal for those above 21, but growing marijuana at home will still be illegal.