Israel news summary

Israel News for 8-14-2020

News Update

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The Health Ministry reported 1,739 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. There are currently 23,665 active cases of which 377 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 110 on ventilators. There have been 657 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic. A new general lockdown is being considered if the infection rate does not drop.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will launch full diplomatic relations. Under the agreement, brokered by US President Trump and sealed in a three way phone call between Trump, Netanyahu and the UAE Crown Prince, the countries will exchange embassies and normalize relations, and Israel will halt plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

A joint statement from the U.S., the UAE and Israel said delegations would meet in the coming weeks to sign deals on direct flights, security, telecommunications, energy, tourism and health care. The two countries also will partner on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The UAE will be the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full diplomatic relations with Israel.

UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash was quick to stress that the agreement was aimed at ending Israel’s annexation plans. But that didn’t stop the Palestinians from condemning the deal and withdrawing their diplomatic mission from the UAE.

PM Netanyahu said there was “no change” in his intention to annex parts of the West Bank, but that his plans were on “temporary hold.” Leaders of the settler movement expressed their unhappiness with that (to put it mildly). The PM also confirmed that he kept the agreement secret from Defense Minister Gantz and Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, in order to avoid potential leaks.

[Given that it has been apparent in recent months that the US would not approve of an Israeli annexation, this deal seems to be a way out that benefits everyone, except for the settlers and right wing proponents of annexation. Trump gets a big pre-election diplomacy win, Netanyahu gets a big win in the midst of his personal legal struggles and in the face of potential new elections, and Gantz gets to avoid having to either support annexation and alienate his supporters, or oppose it and risk bringing down the government and enter a new election, which he most likely would lose. Even the Palestinians should be happy, since annexation is off the table for the foreseeable future. And of course, Israel wins by having another “friendly” Arab nation on its strategic, diplomatic and economic horizon.]

Six hundred Israeli tourists a week will be allowed to visit four Greek locations without the need for mandatory quarantine upon arrival, starting next week, according to an agreement signed between the two countries on Thursday. The locations open to Israeli tourists are Athens, Thessaloniki and the islands of Crete and Carpo.

Israeli tourists will not be able to visit the rest of the country because states in the European Union are not permitted to accept tourists from countries with a high coronavirus infection rate, which in Israel now stands at 6.7%. Israeli tourists will be required to undergo a coronavirus test before boarding their flight in Israel and after landing in Greece. They will be required to self-isolate until the results are known. They will not be required to quarantine upon their return to Israel.

Croatia and Bulgaria are also countries which Israeli’s can visit without quarantining. Italy, the UK, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Estonia, Canada, Rwanda, Denmark, Slovenia, and Austria are on the list of countries from which Israeli citizens may return to Israel without going into isolation.

The head of the Shin Bet, Nadav Argaman, was secretly married 2 days ago, on his 60th birthday. It is his second marriage.