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IsraelAM News Summary

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Deaths from the coronovirus in Israel have risen to 16. There are currently over 4,300 people known to be infected with the virus, 69 of whom are on ventilators. Health Ministry officials warn of a shortage in ventilators, estimating that over 5,000 people will need them. There has been a 46% increase in severe cases needing ventilators in the past 24 hours.

An advisor to the PM has tested positive for the coronavirus. Rivka Paluch, who advises the PM on issues concerning ultra-Orthodox affairs, denies that she had any close contact with Netanyahu during their meeting at the Knesset and doubts she transmitted the disease to anyone.

The Prime Minister’s Office says they will follow Health Ministry guidelines in responding to this development. If Netanyahu spent more than 15 minutes with Paluch in the same room, he may be forced into a 14-day quarantine. Benny Gantz might also be forced to quarantine, since he met with Netanyahu over the weekend.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh accused IDF soldiers of deliberately spreading the coronavirus among the West Bank’s Palestinian population.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Gantz are working on finalizing their agreement to form a unity government by negotiating the appointments of cabinet ministers. The number of cabinet ministers could reach as a high as a whopping 36. That’s because as more parties join the coalition, from both the right and left, the more ministerial prizes need to be doled out as rewards.

Gantz will most likely become defense minister, and it is assumed that Gabi Ashkenazi, one of Gantz’s partners, will be foreign minister. Labor party leader Amir Peretz will become the economy minister. Likud will get the finance ministry and the speaker of the Knesset. The other cabinet portfolios will be divided between right, left and ultra-Orthodox ministers.

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