Netanyahu under precautionary quarantine

Netanyahu was due on Monday to convene officials on Monday to discuss a proposed lockdown of some of the country. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 31 March 2020

Netanyahu under precautionary quarantine

  • The Health Ministry generally requires 14-day self-isolation and possible coronavirus testing for anyone deemed to have been in proximity with an infected person
  • Israel has reported 4,247 cases and 15 fatalities

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides have been placed under precautionary quarantine after a staffer within his office tested positive for COVID-19, the premier’s office said Monday.
In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said the quarantine decision was precautionary as the veteran prime minister had not been in recent proximity with the ill staffer.
“The preliminary assessment is that there is no need for the prime minister to be quarantined, as he did not come into close contact with the individual and did not personally meet with that person,” the statement said. “Over the past two weeks the two were never in the same room at the same time,” it added.
The statement further noted that the “epidemiological investigation” was ongoing and that Netanyahu and “his close staff would be in confinement until (tests) were completed.”
A statement from the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, identified the staffer as Rivka Paluch, Netanyahu’s parliamentary aide, noting three dates she had been in the building.
Members of the Knesset and employees have already been instructed to follow the Health Ministry’s orders and self-quarantine if they were in her vicinity, the statement said.
The Knesset said it was offering footage from its surveillance cameras to the ministry for them to see where and when Paluch had been in the building, for the health professionals to determine which measures need be taken.
Israel, which has more than 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, has imposed severe restrictions to contain the spread of the virus, including a total ban on non-essential movements.
Netanyahu’s office stressed that he has had limited inter-personal contact in recent weeks, conducting “most of his meetings via video conferencing from his residence.”


‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”