Israel is bidding to be the first nation to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic by vaccinating the majority of its population in an attempt to return to normality. The country is currently leading the worldwide inoculation charge: It has administered a vaccination dose to more than 10 percent of its 9 million citizens in two weeks. Israel vaccinated more than 150,000 people on three consecutive days last week.
Israel is to hold its fourth elections in two years after the two main parties in its unity government failed to meet a deadline in a row over state budgets. Voters will return to the polls in March, just 12 months after the last round. Two previous elections were inconclusive, resulting in a rare government of national unity.
America’s top diplomat Mike Pompeo made history Thursday becoming the first secretary of state and highest-ranking U.S. official to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. Pompeo’s trip, the latest blow to Palestinian hopes, comes after the Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday it will resume cooperation with Israel in what was seen as a sign of optimism after President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Israel’s military says it launched airstrikes against Iranian and Syrian military targets in Syria overnight, after explosive devices were found in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Syrian state news agency said the country’s air defenses had “confronted an Israeli aerial aggression” and downed a number of missiles. It reported that three Syrian soldiers were killed and another was injured.
Israel’s government has voted to tighten a week-old national lockdown as figures reveal the extraordinary extent of the country’s coronavirus challenge. The country’s infection rate is by far the highest among known rates globally. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers: “Over the past two days we have heard from the experts that if we do not take tough and immediate measures, we will reach the edge of the abyss.”
Israel entered a second nationwide lockdown on Friday at the onset of the Jewish high-holiday season, forcing residents to stay mostly at home amid a resurgence in new coronavirus cases. A lockdown was imposed in late March and eased in May as new cases tapered off, reaching single-digit lows, but in the past week, new cases have reached daily highs of more than 5,000.
Israel has become the first country in the world to announce a second national coronavirus lockdown. Responding to a soaring infection and death rate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the decision in a late night TV news conference. The lockdown will last for three weeks and will come into effect at 2pm on Friday – coinciding with a major Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashana.
Top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the United Arab Emirates on a historic flight from Tel Aviv on Monday to finalize a pact marking open relations between the Gulf power and Israel. Even before discussions start in Abu Dhabi, the delegates made aviation history when the Israeli commercial airliner flew over Saudi territory on the direct flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE capital.
Israel says it will temporarily “suspend” plans to annex the West Bank, as part of a new peace deal with the United Arab Emirates. The deal was announced by US President Donald Trump, who told reporters in the Oval Office that he had a “very special call” with leaders from both countries, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and that they had agreed to a peace agreement.
Israel’s prime minister has hit out at an art exhibition of him in Tel Aviv, branding it a “shameful threat of crucifixion”. It features a life-size statue of Benjamin Netanyahu enjoying a lavish meal by himself in a mock re-enactment of The Last Supper. Artist Itay Zalait said the exhibit in the city’s Rabin Square was meant to symbolize the “last supper of Israeli democracy”.