Israel parliament scraps sessions after lawmaker gets coronavirus

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

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.


Pentagon includes Israel in Middle East command area

Pentagon includes Israel in Middle East command area
Updated 37 min 33 sec ago

Pentagon includes Israel in Middle East command area

Pentagon includes Israel in Middle East command area
  • Moving Israel under the Central Command potentially makes security cooperation with the US on regional matters easier
  • The move could bring Israeli military officials in closer proximity to those of Gulf neighbors

WASHINGTON: The US Defense Department announced Friday that it would include close ally Israel in the area covered by its Middle East-focused Central Command.
In another sign of the rapprochement brokered by President Donald Trump between Israel and Arab countries, the Pentagon said US military dealings with Israel would no longer be handled by its European Command.
“We structure boundaries to best mitigate risk and protect US interests and partners,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“The easing of tensions between Israel and its Arab neighbors subsequent to the Abraham Accords has provided a strategic opportunity for the United States to align key partners against shared threats in the Middle East.”
That was mainly a reference to Iran, which the United States, Israel and Arab countries view as the leading security threat to the region.
For decades at odds with its Arab neighbors over its treatment of Palestinians, Israel has over the past year broken barriers on open cooperation and communications with Gulf countries under the Trump-fostered Abraham Accords.
Moving it under the Central Command potentially makes security cooperation with the United States on regional matters easier, and could bring Israeli military officials in closer proximity to those of Gulf neighbors.
But it could also complicate CentCom cooperation with Iran allies like Iraq, where the US retains 2,500 troops.
“Israel is a leading strategic partner for the United States, and this will open up additional opportunities for cooperation with our US Central Command partners, while maintaining strong cooperation between Israel and our European allies,” the Pentagon said.