Israel parliament scraps sessions after lawmaker gets coronavirus

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks before the Israeli parliament during a swearing-in ceremony of the new government in Jerusalem on May 17, 2020. (Knesset Spokesperson Office via AFP)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Israel parliament scraps sessions after lawmaker gets coronavirus

  • ‘... all Knesset workers have been instructed to not arrive at parliament, if their work is not essential’

JERUSALEM: Israel’s parliament told employees to remain home and canceled lawmaker meetings on Thursday, after a member of the Arab-led Joint List tested positive for coronavirus.
“In light of MP Sami Abu Shahadeh contracting the coronavirus, all Knesset workers have been instructed to not arrive at parliament, if their work is not essential,” a statement from parliament said.
“In addition, until all the ramifications are examined, all committee meetings scheduled for today have been postponed,” it added.
Abu Shahadeh, a resident of Jaffa, told public radio that over the past 10 days he had met “thousands” of people, including at demonstrations, as well as in all parts of the Knesset.
He and other members of the Joint List had also visited the east Jerusalem mourning tent for Iyad Hallak, a 32-year-old Palestinian with autism who was shot dead by Israeli police on Saturday when they mistakenly thought he was armed with a pistol.
Abu Shahadeh said he was feeling well after receiving the positive test result on Wednesday evening.
The partial shutdown of parliament comes as Israeli authorities are dealing with a resurgence in the numbers of people testing positive for the coronavirus, after the reopening of schools and businesses in late May.
Israel has recorded more than 17,300 infections and more than 290 deaths in a population of nine million.
In recent days, 51 schools have closed their doors again after more than 260 pupils and staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
Nearly 8,000 have been placed in isolation after being exposed to the virus, according to the education ministry.


Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

Updated 1 min 18 sec ago

Saudis warn UN of oil spot in shipping lane near decaying Yemen tanker

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia warned the UN Security Council on Wednesday that an “oil spot” had been seen in a shipping transit area 31 miles (50 km) west of a decaying tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the coast of Yemen.
The Safer tanker has been stranded off Yemen’s Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years. The United Nations has warned that the Safer could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska.
In a letter to the 15-member body, reviewed by Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi wrote that experts had observed that “a pipeline attached to the vessel is suspected to have been separated from the stabilizers holding it to the bottom and is now floating on the surface of the sea.”
The United Nations has been waiting for formal authorization from Yemen’s Houthi movement to send a mission to the Safer tanker to conduct a technical assessment and whatever initial repairs might be feasible.
The Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have both called on the Houthis to grant access.
Al-Mouallimi wrote that the tanker “has reached a critical state of degradation, and that the situation is a serious threat to all Red Sea countries, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” adding “this dangerous situation must not be left unaddressed.”
Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Iran-allied Houthi group ousted the government from the capital Sanaa in 2014. A Saudi-led military coalition in 2015 intervened in a bid to restore the government.