News From Israel

o. 124, May 13, 2020

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Inside Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu gets mandate from President Rivlin to form 5th government. Rivlin officially granted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a mandate to form his fifth straight government, which would keep him in power until November 13, 2021. Talks continue between Likud and Blue and White negotiating teams to decide the final make-up of portfolios, so that the new government can be sworn in on May 13.

On the Independence Day eve Israel’s population is nearly 9.2MIsrael’s population has reached 9.19 million on the eve of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day. Israel is a young country by OECD standards with 28% of the population below the age of 14, while the OECD average is 18%.


  • Israel’s coronavirus death toll reaches 252, but the rate of new infections and the number of active cases continue to plummet.
  • Health Ministry reinstated elective procedures, surgeries and treatment at outpatient clinics. Also as a result of the reduced number of coronavirus patients, hospitals have begun closing their corona wards.
  • Students in grades 1-3 and 11-12 started returning to school and kindergartens reopened. Malls and open-air markets were permitted to reopen as well. Strict numerical conditions were established to determine if Israel needs to reinstitute restrictions.
  • Israel’s National Emergency Authority fears a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall, around the time of the Jewish New Year. It is calling on the government to use the relative lull in cases to prepare hospitals for a substantial increase in respiratory ventilation and treatment capacities.

State comptroller criticizes the state of the ultra-Orthodox school system. Most of the ultra-Orthodox school system’s half a million students don’t study core subjects that state-funded schools are required to teach, such as math, English, and civics. Only 3% of all ultra-Orthodox students finish their studies and pass their matriculation exams successfully. The report also found the quality of teachers to be very poor as most of them graduated yeshivas that only imparted them knowledge in Jewish scripture and religious studies.

Coronavirus crisis improved Jewish-Arab relations. The coronavirus crisis helped improve relations between Jews and Arabs, according to a survey released by the Israel Democracy Institute. However, relations between the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community and the rest of the Israeli society appear to have been damaged.


U.S. says it would recognize Israeli sovereignty in some areas of the West Bank. Referring to the Middle East “vision” unveiled in January by President Trump, a State Department spokesperson said that “we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty … to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel.”

Arab League blasts Israel’s plan to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. An emergency Arab League meeting called Israel’s plan to annex parts of Judea and Samaria a “war crime” and urged the U.S. to oppose it. The meeting of Arab foreign ministers was called at the request of the Palestinian Authority.

Global media changes tune on Israel amid corona crisis. When the coronavirus pandemic first hit in late January, Israel’s approach was viewed with hostility, mainly due to its decisions to cancel flights, close borders and remove foreign nationals. Once the scope of the pandemic became more apparent in the West, articles involving Israel began praising the country’s life-saving policies.

Biden promises to resume aid to Palestinians, reopen PLO mission. Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that if elected president, he would reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Mission in Washington, D.C., and restore U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Biden also pledged to keep the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

The Danish version of the Bible omits the word “Israel”. The Danish Bible Society’s translation of the New Testament refrains from using the word “Israel” and instead substitutes “Jews” and variations thereof — such as “land of the Jews” for “land of Israel.” The group claimed the move was to avoid identifying ancient Israel with today’s State of Israel, although other ancient names with modern equivalents, such as “Egypt,” are not omitted.

Culture and Lifestyle

Video: Secret of Israel’s military is revealed. We are the Israel Defense Forces. For 72 years you’ve heard our story. Tiny country, surrounded by enemies, surviving against all odds. The key to our existence is not our weapons. It is our soldiers, our spirit, our passion, our love.

Israeli comic teaches mom to use Zoom. Yonatan Gruber’s patient technology lesson with his mother pays off, as his clip gains a following for its hilarious relatability.

Delivering food to the needy in California. Volunteers with Israeli organization IsraAID are partnering with regional food banks and US veterans organizations, among others, to deliver food to Californians in need. They have been working in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Jose and Santa Barbara.

Science and Technology

Potential COVID-19 therapy. Vancouver-based company SaNOtize, co-founded by Israeli-Canadian scientist Dr. Gilly Regev, was granted approval by Health Canada to conduct a Phase II prevention and efficacy trial for its proposed antiviral early treatment for use against COVID-19. It was previously granted US and EU patents.

Israel finds antibody that neutralizes coronavirus. The Israel Institute for Biological Research has completed a groundbreaking scientific development, identifying an antibody that neutralizes the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry. The institute is also collaborating in building Israel’s first vaccine production facility. Tens of millions of vaccine units of various types will be manufactured in the facility which will ensure Israel’s self-sufficiency during both regular routine vaccinations and in case of a pandemic.

Intel acquires an Israeli company for $1B. Intel Corp. announced that it has acquired Israeli mobility- solutions company Moovit, for the total of $1B. Intel said that, “Moovit is known for its urban mobility application that offers travelers around the world the best multimodal trip planning by combining public transportation, bicycle and scooter services, ride-hailing, and car-sharing.”

In Depth

How did Israel keep its death toll so low and does it now risk a new spike? A good overview by one of the medical professionals leading the Israeli Health Ministry’s response to the coronavirus of the dilemmas faced by strategists in balancing health and the economy, overall success of Israel’s response to the pandemic, and the potential future challenges.