Israel Roundup— Life Returning to Normal, New Government Formed

  • U.S. prosecutors have agreed not to prosecute the bank for three years, in return for cooperation of the bank in future remedial efforts.
  • Israel is beginning to go back to normalcy after complete lockdown.
  • IAF attacked Iranian bases in Syria from the air.

Bank Hapaolim, a major Israeli bank, agreed to pay $30 million in fines over its involvement in a scandal involving soccer’s world governing body, FIFA. Bank employees agreed to lauder kickbacks and bribes from December 2010-February 2015, which were given in exchange for broadcasting rights for sports marketing executives.

Bank HaPaolim in Israel a major bank which was convicted of money laundering.

The US Department of Justice said Thursday the Israeli bank and its Swiss subsidiary agreed to pay the fine for its role in money laundering conspiracies to soccer officials of FIFA and other soccer federations. Through their employees, they were able to lauder over $20 million.

Bank executives admitted that they had allowed the illicit activity to continue even after the employees reported it. The investigation was made by the FBI, also in the US.  As party of the settlement, U.S. prosecutors have agreed not to prosecute the bank for three years, in return for cooperation of the bank in future remedial efforts.

Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the danger of the spread of Coronavirus, and closed their borders before other nations.  As a result, the death toll of 223, and total infections of 16,004, is way below the numbers in many other nations. They began with a complete lockdown, closing all stores except for supermarkets and pharmacies. Transportation was limited throughout the country.  The railroad will be closed until the middle of May.

The Ministry of Health concentrated on various cities in Israel, mostly from the religious population, like Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, Betar, Elad, and Beit Shemesh. Here, the percentages and numbers of sick were drastically higher than in other parts of the country. They removed the sick from these cities to hotels, which were set up for quarantine.

Slowly, they are opening the country, allowing stores to be open, including barber shops and clothing stores. These trouble spots are still being isolated from the rest of the country. There is no bus transportation between the cities of Bnei Brak and Jerusalem to the city of Sfat, in northern Israel, where the infection is from the 33 lowest levels in the country. This week, some schools will be allowed limited attendance.

Pro-Netanyahu supporters demonstrating outside the Supreme Court. The Supreme court has agreed not to interfere with the future government of Netanyahu and Gantz because of indictment charges.

The regulations of quarantine continues while the country is heading toward normalcy. Masks are required to be worn in the streets. Buses do not accept money, only bus passes. Gloves are provided in supermarkets for shoppers. In many stores, people’s temperature is taken.

At first, people were allowed to wander from their homes 100 meters. Today, the distance has been extended to 500 meters, and exercise is allowed, even for couples. People in the streets should stay two meters apart. Synagogues, prayers, and other group indoor activities are cancelled. Malls have still not been opened.

Next week should see an official announcement in the Knesset of the formation of the new government, including former opposition leader Benny Gantz. The two leaders of Israel, Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are still in the process of choosing ministerial positions.

The Minister of Health, Yaakov Litzman, resigned from his position this week. Litzman leads the Ultra-Orthodox party Agudat Yisrael, part of United Torah Judaism. There are negotiations with right-wing alliance Yamina to possibly fill the position with its leader, Naftali Bennett. He is currently Minister of Defense.

During the week, Israel again attacked Iranian positions in Syria from the air. Also, Germany has classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Israel praised this move, and encouraged other European states to follow in this way.

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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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