Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 25, 2020

Netanyahoo's Corona Coup

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahoo has used the corona crisis to launch a coup.

Netanyahoo has served as caretaker prime minister since December 2018. Three parliament elections have since ended in stalemate. The first two, in April and September 2019, left him and his top opponent, the former army chief Benny Gantz, without sufficient parliamentary support to establish a government. Israels parliament, the Knesset has 120 seats. Gantz' Blue and White has won fewer seats than Netanyahoo's Likud (33-36).

But following the third round, early this month, Gantz assembled a narrow majority of parliamentary supporters and on March 16 President Reuven Rivlin tasked Gantz with forming Israel’s next government.

Netanyahoo is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust and the trial against him was scheduled to open on March 19.

On Sunday March 15 at 1:50 am Netanyahoo announced that the courts would be closed for public health reasons. His trial has been moved to late May. He also ordered the internal security service to secretly track the cellphone data of those suspected of possible infections. His Health Ministry prohibited any gathering of more than 10 people and instructed the parliament to also follow that rule.

On March 16 the newly elected Knesset members were sworn in three at a time by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. But two days later the speaker, a member of Netanyahoo's Likud party, refused to convene the house quoting the new health guidelines.

Without a house session no new speaker can be elected and the parliament would be out of business until some unknown time in the future. Meanwhile Netanyahoo is using emergency regulations to run the country.

Unable to use his majority Gantz asked the Israeli high court to intervene. This Monday, March 23, the court ruled without dissent that the speaker must convene the house for a plenum vote today. But that did not happen. Speaker Edelstein refused to follow the high court order, publicly resigned and said he had no intention for calling for a vote in the next 48 hours during which he is still the formal speaker.

On Friday the most senior law maker, Labor chief Amir Peretz, will become the interim speaker of the Knesset.

Should he call for a parliament session the first vote of the new Knesset would be for a new speaker and Gantz ally Meir Cohen is likely to win that vote. The next vote would then be on the arrangement committee which plans the parliament's agenda. Only then could the parliament start with some oversight over Netanyahoo's current movements.

But for now there is no parliament speaker, no deputies and no arrangement committee to convene and formally open the parliament. The Gantz coalition asked the High Court to hold Edelstein in contempt but as a Member of the Knesset Edelstein can claim immunity. That immunity again can only be lifted by a parliament vote.

By a series of moves Netanyahoo has neutralized the courts and the parliament and has thrown the country into a constitutional crisis. Even cabinet sessions are only held by telephone and without the cabinet members receiving the written proposals Netanyahoo wants them to vote on.

Meanwhile Netanyahoo puts out new emergency regulations every day that steadily get harsher:

Anyone who leaves their place of residence for reasons not exempted by the emergency regulations is liable to be fined up to NIS 5,000. A person who has gone beyond the permitted distance [of 100 meters] could receive an NIS 500 fine or six months’ imprisonment, while one who operates public transportation in violation of the regulations can be fined NIS 5,000 or be imprisoned for six months.

The emergency regulations were approved last night by the cabinet.

In which democracy can a cabinet enact imprisonment penalties without a parliament vote on an applicable law?

Netanyahoo's current plan seems to be to go for a fourth election. Every second day he is holding a prime time TV briefing to update the population on the corona crisis. That will likely bring him additional popularity. Even Trump's approval numbers for handling the coronavirus crisis are at 60% despite his botched response.

Gantz's current majority depends on support from the Arab parties. He will have difficulties forming a stable coalitions with them. His only alternative is to ally with Likud and that would likely keep Netanyahoo at the helm. If Gantz agrees to keep Netanyahoo at the top his Blue and White party may well fall apart.

By blocking the courts and parliament Netanyahoo wins time to make that scenario more likely.

Meanwhile the novel coronavirus will indiscriminately affect the Jewish as well as the Palestinian population. But the Zionist racism against the Palestinians guarantees that they will get less help. As both populations can not be separated that behavior will likely increase the peak and the consequences of the outbreak for everyone. Additionally the Haredim cult members will protest against the government's measures of prohibiting religious services and passover festivities. The current mixture of political, racial and epidemic pressure in Israel may well blow up in everyone's face and cause serious conflagrations.

Posted by b on March 25, 2020 at 16:47 UTC | Permalink

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Speaking of coups under the guise of coronavirus, Kosovo pretty much just got one, as even the NYT admits:
It would be neat to have b's deeper take on this.

My broader take is that at this point, Kosova has become a joint colony of the US, which disfigured the landscape to create a gigantic base from which to threaten Russia and the Middle East even if Turkey turns, and Saudi Arabia which runs roughshod with wahhabist mosques and madrassas to spread towards Europe. The last thing either will spread is democracy.

Posted by: fx | Mar 26 2020 15:52 utc | 101

Ashino @94:

Scott Ritter

The Staggering Collapse Of U.S. Intelligence On The Coronavirus

See my post:

The Empire Games Covid-19?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 26 2020 15:57 utc | 102

Ashino @94:

Scott Ritter

The Staggering Collapse Of U.S. Intelligence On The Coronavirus

See my post:

The Empire Games Covid-19?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 26 2020 15:57 utc | 103

I can't pretend to understand the arcana of Israeli politics better than anyone else here, but I do know one thing for sure: this is not just Netanyahoo operating on his own.

Israel, like every other planet on the face of the Earth throughout history, is an oligarchy (one way or the other). If Netanyahoo were just a single crazy power-mad person, he would soon be removed. "Absolute" monarchs still require some base of people - clergy, other nobles, generals - to support them, because these people see that their own power and prestige depends on it. Even tyrants like Hitler had a power base, had industrialists etc. that were backing him because they saw some advantage to themselves. There must be powerful people in Israeli society who find whatever Netanyahoo is doing to be in their own selfish interests. No, I don't know who they are. But they must be there.

Posted by: TG | Mar 26 2020 16:08 utc | 104

Extremely important article by Pepe Escobar here that must be--demands to be--read. Do it NOW. It's very serious!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 26 2020 16:11 utc | 105

This is just another stealth bail out for wall street, even scarier is head of CDC said this can be a "seasonal virus" meaning they can shut down life as we know it every year, also spreading the virus is considered a terrorist act. Holy shit

Posted by: Bob burger | Mar 26 2020 16:54 utc | 106

It seems that Netanyahoo will be booted out in time, sooner than he hoped. Knesset is ordered by Supreme Court to work, and it started by electing committee heads, including 2 from Joint List (Arab parties). Tame, but it broke vehement protests of the Netanyahoo block and internal protests within non-Netanyahoo block (3 members of Blue and White plus 6 members of Lieberman party).

The current circus could probably be avoided if Gantz, the head of Blue and White, accepted Arab support after previous elections.

Concerning the "power base", TG | Mar 26 2020 16:08 utc, oligarchy, military and financial, is to a large extend tired on Netanyahoo. The block in the opposition and, hopefully, the government has a bevy of generals and some very rich friends too, I presume. A peculiarity of Israel is a large role of foreign oligarchs, Adelson being but one example -- although a huge one.

Concerning the corruption issue, Netanyahoo couple was notorious for decades for nickel-and-dime schemes. For example, Mrs. Netanyahoo ordered government paid stuff to return beverage bottles from Prime Minister official parties and collected the bottle deposits. Funny and illegal, but not serious. Currently, there is something more solid, probably. Ironically, Mr. Clean Hands Lieberman who started his carrier as Netanyahoo aide, had some very curious non-proven accusations in the past, and now he swallowed the hatred to Arabs and joined the opposition. A curious aspect of Lieberman found "not proven" was that he used a bank account in Belorus, and Belorus refused to violate banking secrecy. Currently, he represent immigrants from former Soviet Union who are not particularly religious and who hate privileges bestowed upon ultra Orthodox and various religious restrictions. This is one of the major issues in Israel: should all Jewish citizens have equal rights?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 26 2020 16:56 utc | 107

Time for an update b. Gantz folds, gives Netanyahu every thing he wants. Blows up his own career and party. Netanyahu will now never stand trial. The only thing still happening in Israel is mapping for the annexation of the rest of Palestine. Never let a pandemic get in the way of ethnic cleansing. This is likely why Gantz blew his brains out. If Trump loses in November the Israeli's will have lost their window for the "Final Solution to the Palestinian Question" offered by Her Trump.

Netanyahu and Gantz said forming unity government; Blue and White collapses

This week, Israeli and American officials responded to Times of Israel queries about the committee’s work by indicating that the implementation of Trump’s peace plan has not been frozen, but refused to provide more detail.

“The committee continues to function and continues with its internal work,” according to an official in Netanyahu’s office, who insisted on anonymity.


With the world’s attention focused on an unprecedented global public health crisis, some Israeli right-wingers have urged their government to quietly apply Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, hoping that the timing would dramatically soften the international opprobrium — including possible sanctions — it would otherwise have to expect."

Posted by: BraveNewWorld | Mar 26 2020 17:06 utc | 108

@karlof1 #105 good article indeed. makes you want to puke... on the head of them, that is.

Posted by: albagen | Mar 26 2020 17:19 utc | 109

Deaths in every age range remain the same across Europe-- regardless whether they test positive for Covid-19 or not. This is a virus too weak to infect children, whose immune systems aren't fully developed and who are always prone to respiratory illness.

No link has even been established between the virus and the deaths of the aged, as they die at the same rate as ever. There has been no spike in pneumonia.

[You have to remove the spaces I've inserted in the link so as not to mess up our current site] Has links documenting everything.

Posted by: Penelope | Mar 26 2020 18:07 utc | 110

Penelope | Mar 26 2020 18:07 utc

The problem with the article is that it lacks any numbers. Was there a surplus of deaths in Italy over the background distribution from the previous years or not. It seems that at least locally, in parts of Lombardy, there was, because hospitals were reported to be "overwhelmed". The number of deaths did not seem normal, given that they occurred in a short time in one region. Concerning "pre-existing conditions", it always reminds me the case of David Silva: "At 6 feet tall and nearly 260 pounds, Silva’s obesity may have placed him at risk for a heart condition ending in sudden death, according to the Kern County coroner’s office. His death was deemed an accident." He was clobbered by several policemen with batons for at least five minutes, then he was brought to the hospital (the whole event took place close to a hospital entrance" and there he died. He was overweight and had hypertension, conditions shared with a large percentage of his compatriots (30%?), but the death was deemed an accident as a healthy individual would survive the savage beating.

On the other hand, it seems very probable that draconian measures introduced in India will kill more people that they will save.

Notably, hypertension was on the list of "co-morbidity" conditions.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 26 2020 19:47 utc | 111

[You have to remove the spaces I've inserted in the link so as not to mess up our current site]
Posted by: Penelope | Mar 26 2020 18:07 utc | 110


you could just have followed the very clear and simple instructions for creating a link which are written right next to the comment box you used to post that comment

But nooooooo . . Cos that would be an intelligent thing to do, and clearly that's not how you roll

Posted by: Realist | Mar 26 2020 23:23 utc | 112

Penelope @110:

Too weak to infect children ... No link has even been established between the virus and the deaths of the aged ...

This virus is not a hoax.

People die from pneumonia but their lungs are also 'scarred' (aka 'pulmonary fibrosis'). Pulmonary fibrosis is otherwise quite rare.

There have been a number of doctor talking about how difficult it is to treat this virus. Not only is a ventilator needed, but it is often required to use it on the highest setting.

FYI: Dr. Raoult in France has criticize how public health authorities are addressing the virus. He disagrees with lock-downs and wants mass testing instead so that the infected can be treated. He has developed an inexpensive treatment using Chloroquine that he claims will work if given early.

Western governments and big Pharma are fighting against Chloroquine because certain global drug companies can make a bundle on expensive antiviral meds that are necessary in later stages of the disease.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 27 2020 0:41 utc | 113

Jackrabbit | Mar 27 2020 0:41 utc | 113

No. Chloroquin is a pain in the ass. It brings severe collateral damages. Among others each evenign your liver aches. After 2-4 days one gets troubles with the eyes. Have used it long ago. Such a thing one wants to take only if necessary, and for a very short time. Like in this case. Better than letal complications with Corona in case one is a member of these risk groups.
„Western governments and big Pharma“ - its producer is big Pharma. Bayer-Leverkusen, that has moved its own very old machines (very dirty technology!) to Pakistan. The philosophy in the Middle East is: we have enough people.
Taking into account that the very modern Anti-RNA-medicaments are extreme expensive and risky (many complications, not yet thoroughly researched) and will be pushed to let the guys earn their money. Chloroquin may function in this case as a recommendable transient solution to the problem that we need now a medicine that works.
But it is not the David vs. Goliath game. I hope there will be an alternative without Chloroquin. One should not forget, though, that most of the people including (!) those of the risk groups will not suffer from any symptoms of Corona, so light it is in relation to other flus. Just in case there is a problem one needs space for proper treatment. That is the reason for these lock-downs. They do not prevent that step by step the whole population will get this Corona virus.

Posted by: Hausmeister | Mar 27 2020 6:37 utc | 114

All one really needs to know about the State of Israel is that it's named after a swindler who enjoyed the favor of a genocidalist god.

Posted by: corvom | Mar 28 2020 2:02 utc | 115

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