Coronavirus deaths drop; Knesset passes power-sharing deal: Israel Update
May 1, 2020
The Israeli Health Ministry raised the national coronavirus death toll to 223, as data showed a sustained slowdown of daily infection rates. The number of new coronavirus cases in Israel has been declining in recent days, while the number of recovered patients surpassed the number of active cases for the second day in a row. The total number of patients who have recovered from the virus rose to 8,758, which is more than half of Israel's confirmed cases: 16,004. With Israel’s infection rate appearing to be in decline, the government has eased a number of restrictions. Starting Thursday, a restraint limiting the distance from home Israelis could venture for exercise (500 meters) was lifted. While group exercise is still banned, there are no additional restrictions on physical activity. Most stores can now be open to the public, though certain less essential venues must stay closed. Mall shops, with the exception of supermarkets and pharmacies, will also remain closed. Restaurants and eateries can open for takeaway and deliveries, but no seating is permitted. Social distancing regulations and mask requirements will still be enforced.
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit gave the green light for Prime Minister Netanyahu to form the next government—despite his significant misgivings that stem from the bribery indictment pending against Netanyahu. An expanded, 11-panel bench of the High Court of Justice will make the final decision next week, following hearings on the issue set for Sunday and Monday. Netanyahu is set to go on trial in May for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust—though he denies the allegations. The court procedures come as a May 7 deadline looms for the formation of a new government, and could bring all-new elections if the results stall the coalition deal. If that happened, it would lead to the fourth vote in a 16-month period.
International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reaffirmed her view that Palestine is a state, and can therefore transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague. The move would potentially allow for war-crime probes against Israel and Palestinian groups for suspected acts committed in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. It is unclear if the ICC Pretrial Chamber has the power to retroactively kick Palestine out of the Assembly of State Parties after a full five years of participation. Since ICC cases begin only when a 'state' refers them, the case likely won't proceed if Palestine is not recognized as such. Responding on behalf of an intergovernmental committee on the ICC, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said: “The legal brief of the ICC Prosecutor continues to adopt her clearly anti-Israel policy based on being influenced from the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the BDS movement.”Now that Bensouda has filed her position, the decision will be determined by three ICC Pretrial Chamber judges, who are expected to hand down their consequential decision in the next 120 days.