US News Opinions | With a pandemic as cover, Netanyahu is carrying out a coup in Israel
Trump suspends all travel from Europe to the United States to fight coronavirus
Trump suspends all travel from Europe to the United States to fight coronavirusTrump said the travel restrictions do not apply to the United Kingdom.
Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.
Benjamin Netanyahu is carrying out a palace coup. Under the cover of a pandemic, he is transforming himself from lame-duck prime minister to unelected strongman. He and his henchmen have shut down parliament, enacted extreme “security” measures without legislative oversight and shelved the courts just as Netanyahu was about to go on trial for corruption.
Israel’s president gives Benny Gantz first chance at forming a government
The former military chief of staff will try to bring together unlikely partners to reach a majority.But Gantz, who was unable to form a government after the previous vote in September, still has a mammoth task ahead of him in securing support from unlikely and ideologically opposing parties who might or might not agree to serve in a coalition. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been similarly unable to form a government.
I don’t use the word “coup” lightly. But any weaker description of Netanyahu’s assault on Israeli democracy is a refusal to absorb and report the truth.
Video: Coronavirus delays Netanyahu corruption trial (Reuters)
Netanyahu has been chipping away at the country’s democracy for years: He used the Knesset majority he once had to pass legislation that reduced members of the Arab minority to second-class citizens. He barred entry to foreign critics and harassed domestic dissenters. He allegedly used his powers to buy himself flattering media coverage and undermine the fourth estate. He attacked the prosecutors who made these allegations. In the last year, he has taken the country to the polls three times, hoping to win a majority that would grant him immunity.
'Pure love': Son finds way around lockdown to talk to elderly dad
A man has beaten the coronavirus lockdown at his elderly father's care home in a touching moment that has gone viral. A picture of the two chatting on the phone while separated by the US facility's window has been shared more than 700,000 times after being posted online by a member of staff.Care worker Sandy Hamiliton was on shift when she witnessed the moment between the father who lives at the home in Minnesota and his son, who visits every day.
Now, though, Netanyahu and his Likud Party have moved from eroding democracy to dispensing with it. Three factors came together to erase their inhibitions: First, Netanyahu’s arraignment was supposed to take place this week. Second, his election-night euphoria vanished when exit polls gave way to actual results, and it turned out that the parties opposed to him had won a narrow majority. Third, the coronavirus arrived at just the right moment to provide pretexts for seizing authoritarian powers.
In the brief space between the elections and his waking up to the pandemic, Netanyahu tried to hold on to power by keeping his opposition fragmented. He insisted that the Joint List, which represents the Arab minority and which won 15 of the 120 seats in parliament, was “not part of the equation” for forming a coalition. Thus, Likud and the clerical parties allied with it still had a majority.
Police investigate shocking racist letter which blamed Chinese restaurant for coronavirus
Police are investigating after hate mail was posted to the owner of a Chinese takeaway in Denmead, Hampshire. The owner of the restaurant, who moved to the UK from Vietnam when he was 15, told local news outlets he was "stunned" by the letter. The owner of the restaurant, who moved to the UK from Vietnam when he was 15, told local news outlets he was "stunned" by the letter.
Gallery: World struggles to stop spread of coronavirus (USA Today)
The exponentially rising number of confirmed coronavirus infections gave Netanyahu new opportunities. The crisis is real, and governments indeed need to take drastic actions. (Israel’s medical response, though, would have been more effective without years of starvation budgets for the health system under Netanyahu.) But those measures must take place within the democratic system.
Love Island star Montana Brown signs up to volunteer for the NHS
The new MSN – your customisable collection of the best in news, sports, entertainment, money, weather, travel, health and lifestyle, combined with Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and more.
Instead, on Saturday night, Israel’s citizens got two startling pieces of news. Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a Netanyahu lackey, issued orders for a near shutdown of the judicial system. Restricting business as usual would have made sense. Ohana’s orders, though, froze most criminal proceedings — and inevitably led to a postponement of Netanyahu’s arraignment.
The same night, Netanyahu himself announced that the government would use electronic means to track the locations of citizens in an effort to enforce self-isolation. That quickly turned out to mean giving the Shin Bet security service the power to locate people via their cellphones. That measure, an extreme infringement on civil rights, should be vetted by a Knesset committee. Instead, Netanyahu enacted it under emergency regulations.
But the newly sworn-in Knesset does not yet have committees. The reason: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, a member of the Likud, has used his power to set the agenda to prevent formation of committees or hold a vote on electing a new speaker. Once again, the pandemic provides justifications. The purpose, though, is transparent: buying time and trying to block legislation that would prevent Netanyahu from staying in office.
When the government has told citizens not to gather in group of more than 10 because of the epidemic, protest looked impossible. Nonetheless, a protest caravan of people in cars headed up the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, each car providing a moving self-isolation cell. Police tried to stop the caravan, then arrested several protesters outside the Knesset.
The outcome is entirely uncertain. The latest reports are that Gantz has agreed to a unity government, with Netanyahu still temporarily in command. This would be a shameful surrender on Gantz’s part. The illusion of democracy would remain. In reality, Blue and White would be ratifying Netanyahu’s moves in the midst of the pandemic panic.
When the casualty toll for coronavirus in Israel is compiled, it is likely to record our democracy as one of the first victims.
Coronavirus deaths in Spain surge by 832 in 24 hours .
The number of people to have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Spain has surged by 832 to 5,690. A further 8,189 cases were detected in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 72,248.The rise in Spain came as German chancellor Angela Merkel thanked people in her country for being largely compliant during the lockdown there.The number of confirmed cases in Germany has continued to increase, with Ms Merkel's chief of staff saying the shutdown would not be eased before 20 April.