Israel: Annexation a Key Sticking Point Preventing Unity Government

  • One of the sticking points of a new government is the annexation of the Jordan Valley.
  • An opinion piece argues that Israel's war on coronavirus may help the Ultra-Orthodox integrate into Israeli society.
  • Israel's Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Israel has had three elections in the past year, and is still waiting for the final decision between Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz and Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu to form a united coalition. They are very close to finalizing the Unified government.  One of the major issues which still needs an agreement from Gantz is the annexation of parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and US President Donald Trump discussing the Deal of the Century.

The Deal of the Century, initiated by US President Donald Trump, called for annexation of parts of the West Bank. There is a question today if America, in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis, will still back up Israel if it makes this move.  Trump’s son in law, Jered Kushner, had asked Israel to wait until after the last elections to annex these territories.

In the third elections, Netanyahu again was not able to form a right-wing government, and now that Gantz has joined him from the left, the left side is less interested in annexation now.  Gantz wants a definite sign that Trump will renew their support for this action, and be willing to continue to implement the Deal of the Century. 

The implementing of the Deal of the Century is bond up with the pledge of America for funding, which after America has been faced with the economic crisis of Coronavirus, it may not be ready to make right now.  Kushner said that Israel should only make this move when they are united. 

Today, they are not united in the same way as before, when Netanyahu and Likud had the sole power over decisions. The government, which they are making with Gantz, is an emergency government to deal with the crisis of Coronavirus, and not for the purpose of annexation. The new government should be finalized before the Passover holiday next week.

Israel’s Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, has been infected by the virus and is receiving treatment. Those other ministers and Netanyahu, who had contact with him, may also need quarantine.

An opinion article from Yedidia Stern appeared in Ynet Friday which argued that Israel’s war on coronavirus may help the Ultra-Orthodox integrate into Israeli society. The Israel society is split between the traditional, religious Orthodox and secular Zionist Israelis. Before elections, the government itself was dominated by secular Zionists, represented primarily by Likud. The parties which joined with Likud were less central, either ultra-religious or modern religious Zionists.

Amidst the crisis of Coronavirus, the religious have been forced to refrain from their customs of congregational prayer, and other family religious traditions.  They have been forced to accept the decisions of the Zionist secularists, who fundamentally they consider to be their enemies. At first, they even refused some of the quarantine requests of the Ministry of Health, which was ordered by Yaakov Litzman, a Chassidic Jew, and member of United Torah Judaism, on behalf of Netanyahu.

Through their refusal, some of the major religious centers have become the most infected by the virus.  Bnei Brak, an exclusively Ultra-Orthodox city, is the biggest problem.  The city, with over 200,000 residents, has been blockaded. Movement in and out of the city is limited. Elderly residents of Bnei Brek who are 80 years and older, some 4,500 of them, are being transferred to locations out of the city to separate them from their infected children. 

Litzman, Israel’s Minister of Health, has himself been diagnosed as infected by Coronavirus. He and his wife are under treatment. This will also cause several other ministers in the government who he had contact with him, including Netanyahu, to go into quarantine.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.

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