COVID-19 Cases in Israel Spike: IAI Uses New Tech to Predict Patient Recovery; People With Type-O Blood May be Less Susceptible to Coronavirus; PA Refuses UAE COVID-19 Aid

COVID-19 infections continue to spike last week in Israel as the death toll from the virus there topped 300. More than 100 new cases were confirmed overnight on June 11. The Israeli health ministry was reporting the number of total cases in Israel was 18,461, an increase of 106 since the previous night. The number of active cases, which dipped below 2,000 last month, was back up to 2,947. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…Later, Israel reported more than 200 new cases for the first time since April, when restrictions began to ease. During a press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that they must find a way to stop the increases now. “If this continues, we’ll have to bring back the restrictions,” Netanyahu warned. He urged Israelis to wear face masks, engage in social distancing, and to wash hands. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Israel Aerospace Industries has turned its technical know-how to fighting the coronavirus. The IAI has developed a new tool that accurately predicts in four out of five cases whether a patient’s outlook will improve or deteriorate based on various medical factors. Einat Klein, the IAI’s chief innovation officer, told the Times of Israel that “Our model is inside a software system, and you input blood measurements, heart performance, and other factors, and it gives you probability of a patient improving, deteriorating, and staying the same.” Klein added that the model’s accuracy rate is between 90 and 92 percent. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Meanwhile, a genetics firm, 23andMe, Inc., has reportedly found that people with O-type blood may be less susceptible to contracting the virus. In a blog post last week, the firm said that initial data from a sturdy suggests those with O-type blood are nine to 18 percent less likely to have tested positive for the coronavirus. The same data showed those with type AB blood were more likely to contract the virus. Reported by Bloomberg.Read more… Reported by Fox News. Read more… See the 23andMe blog post here.

The Palestinian Authority again refused a planeload of medical supplies from the United Arab Emirates. The supplies, to help the PA combat COVID-19, were the result of cooperation between Israel and the UAE. It was for this reason the PA refused the supplies, the second time it has done so in a month. “We refuse to receive it because it was coordinated directly between Israel and them (the UAE),” Hussein al-Sheikh, the PA minister for civil affairs told AFP, continuing, “We were not part of the coordination.” Reported by Israel National News. Read more…

Iran Releases Michael White; Tehran Still Exceeding Allowable Enriched Uranium Levels Under 2015 Deal; Israel Urges World Community to Toughen Sanctions on Iran; U.N. Report Points to Iran As Source of Material Used in Saudi Oilfield Drone Attacks

Two weeks ago, Iran released Michael White, an American detained there for more than a year. The U.S. struck a deal for White’s release by releasing Matteo Taerri—also known as Majid Taheri—an Iranian doctor accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. Reported by CNN. Read more…

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. atomic watchdog, says that Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Iran also remains in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. As of May 20, Iran’s stockpile stands at 1.73 tons, up from about 1.1 tons as of February 19. According to the IAEA, Iran has also been enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent higher that the 3.67 percent allowed under the nuclear deal. Reported by Defense News. Read more…

Meanwhile, on June 6, Israel conducted another air strike at suspected pro-Iranian targets in Syria. Twelve people were believed to be killed in the strike, which was against pro-Iranian militia in the Deir Ezzor region in eastern Syria. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… After the strike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on world powers to reimpose tough sanctions against Iran to curb Tehran’s regional aggression. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The U.N. has determined that Iran was the source of debris left by attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields in September 2019. Iran was also the source for several items in two arms shipments seized by the United States in November 2019 and February 2020. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says some of the items in the seized shipment “were identical or similar” to those found after the cruise missiles and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. Reported by U.S. News and World Report. Read more…

Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Asks Israel For Aide

Abdul Salam al-Badri, a senior member of the rebel government backed by Libyan strongman General Khalifa Haftar, gave an interview to the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, calling on Israel to support Haftar’s government. It is the latest sign that the taboo on Israeli-Arab politics is flagging. Although Israel has no official ties with Libya, it is widely speculated that Israel clandestinely provides support to Haftar. The country is currently split between eastern and western blocs, each backed by different national groups. Reported by The Jerusalem Post. Read more…

Palestinian Authority to Begin Issuing Personal Documents Without Israeli Approval; Israeli Soldier Helps Palestinian Man Fleeing Mob

The Palestinian Authority has announced that it will begin issuing personal documents to Palestinians without having them validated first by Israel. The move follows PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement last month that the PA was ending all agreements with Israel. “We are now registering our citizens in our own databases, without sending them to Israel as we did before, according to instructions not to work with Israel on this subject,” said a Palestinian interior ministry spokesman. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… In other news, an Israeli soldier helped a Palestinian man fleeing a group of young Jewish men who were assaulting him. The incident occurred in Hebron in the West Bank. It occurred during a violent confrontation between Palestinians and Jews. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Trump Sanctions ICC Personnel, Draws Sharp Rebuke

U.S. President Donald Trump has slapped sanctions on International Criminal Court employees directly involved in investigating American troops and intelligence officials for possible war crimes in Afghanistan. Trump’s executive order imposes economic sanctions and travel restrictions on the employees. “The International Criminal Court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to infringe upon our national sovereignty,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. Reported by CNN. Read more… Reported by The Guardian. Read more…The ICC pushed back, saying the move was an “unprecedented” strike against the world’s ability to prosecute wrongdoing by state actors. O-Gon Kwon, president of the Assembly of States Parties, which manages and oversees the ICC, said “These measures are unprecedented. They undermine our common endeavor to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. I deeply regret measures targeting Court officials, staff and their families.” America’s allies also pushed back. E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrel said that court “must be respected and supported by all nations,” while Dutch Foreign Minster Stef Blok said he was “very disturbed” and that “The ICC is crucial in the fight against impunity and upholding international rule of law.” Human Rights Watch weighed in as well, saying Trump’s actions “demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law.” Reported by UPI. Read more… Reported by The Hill. Read more… Reported by Reuters. Read more…

U.N.: Maintaining Al-Qaida Ties Despite U.S. Peace Plan

A U.N. report says that the Taliban has assured Al-Qaida it will maintain their close ties despite a “peace deal” with the United States. This despite claims by the Trump administration that the peace deal signified a break between the Taliban and the terror group. The reports says, “The senior leadership of Al-Qaida remains present in Afghanistan, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban.” The report also says that between 400 and 600 armed Al-Qaida operatives remain active in the country. Reported by CNN. Read more…

 

Netanyahu’s Corruption Trial Begins With Verbal Broadside To Legal System; Benny Gantz Vows to Protect Rule of Law; Yair Lapid Rails Against PM, Likud

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial opened with a bang. Nine senior members of Likud’s leadership escorted Netanyahu to the courthouse. They included Finance Minister Israel Katz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Transportation Minister Miri Regev, Minister without Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi, Education Minister Yoav Gallant, Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, and Minister for Liaison between the Government and the Knesset David Amsalem. Outside the courtroom, Netanyahu blasted Israel’s law enforcement agencies for “fabricating” the charges against him. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Netanyahu addressed the media when he arrived, characterizing the indictment against him as an attempted political coup orchestrated by figures in the justice system, law enforcement, the media and the political left. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more… Netanyahu said that “Elements in the police and State Attorney’s Office banded together with left-wing journalists… to fabricate baseless cases against me.” He also claimed that the goal was to “oust a strong right-wing prime minister and to banish the right-wing camp from leadership of the country for many years.” Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, categorically rejected Netanyahu’s claims that his indictment was an attempted “coup.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Reported by Fox News. Read more… Netanyahu is the first serving Israeli prime minster to stand trial. He answered “yes” to the court’s inquiry as to whether he had read the charges against him. The prime minster will not have to return to the courtroom until July 19, when the court begins to take evidence. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Netanyahu revealed that he had rejected a plea bargain, saying that “for the first time, Israel’s citizens heard the truth. What I said outside the courtroom was the truth. It’s time to tell the truth.” He also claimed that he wanted his trial to be televised because “I have nothing to hide, I want it all to be revealed.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Opposition leader Yair Lapid castigated the lawmakers who joined Netanyahu, calling it a “national disgrace” and likening it to the “true coup attempt”—a reference to Netanyahu’s earlier comparison of his prosecution to an attempted coup. However, the Knesset’s new speaker, Yariv Levin, said “The day of the opening of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial will be remembered as one of the low points of the Israeli legal system.” Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…

Several days prior to Netanyahu’s court appearance, David Ansalem, a Likud minister, attacked Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, saying that there was “no dispute among the Israeli people” that Mandelblit was “allegedly a criminal.” He was referring to accusations that Mandelblit had helped the military in 2010 cover up smear campaign. Known as the Harpaz affair, Mandelblit was not charged despite an alleged police recommendation to the contrary. Likud members and Netanyahu supporters have been assailing Israel’s legal system as the prime minister’s trial drew near. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Israel’s current defense minister (and deputy prime minister) Benny Gantz stated that Netanyahu is entitled to a presumption of innocence and is assured a fair trial. “Just like every citizen, the prime minister too has the presumption of innocence, and I am sure that the justice system will give him a fair trial,” Gantz tweeted. Gantz also said that “I again emphasize that my colleagues and I have full faith in the justice system and law enforcement. At this time, perhaps more than ever, as a state and a society, we must seek unity and reconciliation, for the sake of the country and all of its citizens.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Opposition leader Yair Lapid derided the speech made by Netanyahu prior to entering the courtroom, calling it a “horror show.” Lapid accused Netanyahu of telling people they “can’t trust police, the prosecution or the court.”  Building on his theme, Lapid said, “What happens to an Israeli citizen who hears him and thinks he’s right? Are we supposed to close the country and throw away the key?” He added, “I have been saying for more than 18 months that someone who sits on the defendant’s bench cannot also be the prime minister. Today we got a demonstration why that principle is correct. It was a horror show by a frightened man who is telling Israel’s citizens that they cannot trust anything here, with followers standing behind him and saying amen.” Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more… Lapid also accused Netanyahu of trying to start a civil war and carry out a coup. Speaking to his Yesh Atid-Telem faction at the Knesset, Lapid said, “Israel changed yesterday. It won’t be the same. A serving prime minister was put on trial. His trial didn’t start with a presentation of the evidence, it started with wild incitement against the rule of law, against the courts… He knows it will end in violence but he doesn’t care.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Defense Minister Benny Gantz appeared to mildly rebuke Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party, saying that his party, Blue and White, would protect the rule of law and ensure that Israel retains “a strong and independent judiciary.” Speaking to his party’s Knesset members, Gantz told them, “Much has been said this week about the legal system … Just as the State of Israel requires a functioning government, it also requires a strong and independent judiciary. Protecting the rule of law is not a personal matter, it’s a national interest.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Israeli law does not bar Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government while under indictment. The Court also, however, sharply criticized the government, saying “The reality in which a criminal suspect forms a government and leads it reflects a social crisis and moral failure of society and of Israel’s political system.” Several petitions to the Court had challenged Netanyahu’s ability to form a government while under indictment. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

PA Ends Security Coordination; Jordan Says If Annexation Proceeds It Will Reexamine Its Relationship With Israel; Netanyhu Says Israel to Exercise Sovereignty Over West Bank In July; Israeli Annexation Plans Drawing International Fire; Russia Ready To Host Meeting Between Netanyahu, Abbas

The Palestinian Authority is carrying out its threat to end security coordination with Israel because of plans to annex parts of the West Bank. Confirmation comes from Israeli sources, according to a report in The Times of Israel. Israeli defense officials believe cessation of security coordination could lead to increased violence and more clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Though the Palestinians are formally cutting security coordination with Israel, secret coordination is likely to continue. The PA reportedly told Israel that it would not allow an outbreak of violence against Israel. Defense officials fear Hamas will use the lack of security coordination however to expand. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

If Israel proceeds with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Jordan say it will review it relationship with the Jewish State. “We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel,” Jordanian Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz told Jordan’s official news agency, Petra. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The U.S. Democratic leadership also opposes annexation and told Israel so in a letter signed by 18 Democratic senators. The senators voiced “grave concern” over Israel’s plans to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley and said it “would have a clear impact on both Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.” The letter was addressed to both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Russia is ready to organize a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas in the hope of diffusing rising tension over Israel’s annexation plans. According to a statement issued by Russia’s foreign ministry, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, in a telephone conversation with PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh emphasized Russia’s “support of the lawful rights of the Palestinian people for self-determination, including creation of its own independent state within the 1967 borders with the capital in Eastern Jerusalem that would live in peace and good neighborhood with Israel.” He also told al-Sheikh that Russia was ready to help in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims he has set a date in July for Israel to extend its sovereignty over areas of the West. Bank. Netanyahu also reportedly told Likud party lawmakers that he has no intention of changing that date. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Despite his proclamation, however, Ze’ev Elkin, a top member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said the timing could be delayed by days or weeks. This is because, under the terms of the proposed U.S. peace plan, Israel must complete mapping the exact territory to be annexed and the status of each. According to Elkin, the work may not be complete by July 1. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Additionally, Netanyahu says the Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the annexed Jordan Valley will not receive Israeli citizenship. He stated that Palestinian towns and villages in the area will be “Palestinian enclaves” under Palestinian rule but Israeli security control. Netanyahu cited the Palestinian city of Jericho as an example, which has a population of about 20,000. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

According to a report in the Times of Israel, the Israeli government may have missed a prime opportunity to implement annexation immediately. The report says that in January 2020 U.S. President Donald Trump was prepared to allow Israel to annex portions of the West Bank immediately if the Palestinians rejected his peace plan. A delegation of five settler leaders met with U.S. President Donald Trump on January 26, along with then interim Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the settlement leaders, however, released a press statement shortly thereafter blasting the plan. This, according to one mayor, left Trump and his advisors livid and led to a change that imposed additional requirements on Israel before annexation could proceed. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, has warned top U.S. and U.K. diplomats that Israel’s planned annexation poses an “unprecedented threat” to the region. Safadi spoke with the U.K.’s foreign minister, Dominic Raab, purportedly urging him to protect the peace and prevent Israel from annexing West Bank settlements. In a conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Safadi he warned that Jordan was strongly opposed to the move, which he said endangered the prospects for peace. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… And, although Austria voted down an EU declaration against Israel’s annexation plans, the European nation nonetheless warned Israel annexation plan contravened international law. In a statement to the German daily newspaper Die Presse, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said, “The unilateral expansion of territory is against international law and numerous resolutions of the United Nations Security Council since 1967.” Schallenberg also said “There are no doubts about the Austrian position regarding annexation.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…Several European leaders have also reportedly sent private letters to Netanyahu urging him to not move ahead with plans to annex portions of the West Bank. French President Emmanuel Macron, for example, reportedly told the Israeli prime minister that, “I ask you, in a spirit of friendship, that your new government not take unilateral action. Such a move would destabilize the Middle East. Only dialogue with the Palestinians and a just and balanced solution will provide Israel with peace, security and stability.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The U.S. has issued a security alert for citizens visiting the West Bank, advising them to exercise extra caution when traveling there or the Gaza Strip. The U.S. embassy in Jerusalem has advised U.S. citizens to “maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Meanwhile the International Criminal Court, which is probing alleged war crimes violations, has asked the Palestinian Authority to clarify whether statements made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that the PA was terminating all agreements with Israel applied to the Oslo Accords. The request places the PA in an unusual position. If the PA takes the position that the Accords have been terminated, then it cannot claim to be a sovereign state; the ICC would have no jurisdiction to hear its complaint against Israel. On the other hand, if the PA re-affirms its commitment to the Accords, it will have to abide by them, Abbas’ statements notwithstanding. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Israel’s military liaison with the Palestinian Authority, Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, has reportedly told the Israeli army chief, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz that annexation would “likely to lead to a wave of terror attacks and a breaking of security cooperation” with the Palestinian Authority. Both the IDS and Defense Ministry have refused to comment on the report, which aired on Army Radio. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Israeli Cabinet Holds First Meeting; Knesset Approves Formation of Defense, Coronavirus Cabinets

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new cabinet has held its first meeting. Israel’s new cabinet consists of 36 ministers, the largest in its history, and because it was so large, the meeting was held at the Knesset’s Chagall Hall. That venue is usually only used for large ceremonies. At the beginning of the meeting Netanyahu said that the new unity government “represents all of the people of Israel.” He also said that the government would continue to work against the threat posed by the coronavirus. And, in response to earlier threats from Iran, Netanyahu said, the Iranians “will put themselves in a great danger” if they harm Israel. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The Knesset also approved the formation of Israel’s new security cabinet, which will have 16 members, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Finance Minister Israel Katz, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, and Minister in the Defense Ministry Michael Biton. Additionally, the Knesset approved the formation of a 14-member cabinet to address the coronavirus. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Israel Reports Sharp Uptick in Coronavirus Infections; Students at Six Israeli Schools Test Positive; PA Easing Coronavirus Infections; Pfizer Offers Vaccine Hope

Israel has reported a sharp jump in coronavirus infections with 115 in 24-hours. Health Ministry officials are blaming the spike on the public’s waning adherence to social distancing guidelines. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Yuli Edelstein, Israel’s new health minister, warned of a possible new lockdown, saying the daily rate of new positive test results for coronavirus is now five time higher than several days ago. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The spread of the virus resulted in all teachers, staff, and students of a Jerusalem high school entering quarantine. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Six other Israel schools have also found coronavirus cases among their students. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The Palestinian Authority began easing coronavirus restrictions across the West Bank. The PA made the announcement on May 25, 2020. Government offices, courts, shops, schools and public transportation were to resume normal operations. Businesses were permitted to resume operations the following day, with government employees returning to work after the Eid al-Fitr holiday (Wednesday, May 27). Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Palestinians celebrated the Muslim al-Fitr holiday. Unlike Ramadan, observed during a period of partial lockdown due to coronavirus, most restrictions had been lifted. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Despite easing coronavirus restrictions, the PA refused to accept medical aid from the United Arab Emirates. The aid arrived via the first direct commercial flight from the UAE to Israel. The PA says it rejected the aid because it refused to be used as a “tool for normalization” of relations between Israel and the UAE. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Pfizer labs extended an offer of hope this week, saying a coronavirus vaccine could be ready as early as the fall of 2020. Pfizer warned, however, that the challenge of getting the vaccine to the public would be “daunting” as it estimates that 15 million doses would be necessary to halt the pandemic. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…