Israel's Netanyahu accused of exploiting virus crisis

JERUSALEM (AP) — With the Israeli government enacting a series of emergency measures to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing accusations that he is exploiting the crisis to entrench himself in power and undermining the country’s democratic foundations. Amid a wave of sweeping restrictions that have put Israel in near shutdown mode, Netanyahu has managed to postpone his own pending criminal trial, authorize unprecedented electronic surveillance of Israeli citizens and block parliament from pressing ahead with legislation aimed at pushing him from office.
Read more...

Watchdog says Israel's West Bank settlements surged in 2019

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank surged ahead in 2019, a watchdog group said in a report Tuesday, maintaining a rapid pace that has drawn strength from the friendly policies of the Trump administration. Peace Now, a monitoring group that opposes the settlements, said that Israel’s average annual construction rate has risen 25% since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. Perhaps more significantly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government last year approved plans to build thousands of new homes, laying the groundwork for a sharp spike in construction in the coming years.
Read more...