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Israel: Netanyahu using COVID-19 updates to strengthen his political standing

Israel will face an economic crisis like no other in the coming years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the huge increase in the unemployment rate which has resulted from it, the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR) said in a new study.

Sefer Plotskar, editor of the economic appendix in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, echoed MADAR’s fears explaining that Israel will suffer the worst economic recession in its history this year, as unemployment rates will rise to 12 per cent by the end of the coronavirus crisis according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

MADAR noted that maintaining a strong economy was one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strengths, as the Israeli economy has improved over the last decade. Therefore, Netanyahu will try to provide the population with compensation in the form of financial aid or facilitations, especially since the most faithful supporters of his policies and those of extremist religious parties are those struggling the most.

Netanyahu has made good use of the coronavirus crisis politically, the centre added. In negotiations to form the next government he pushed his opponent, Benny Gantz, into a corner and strengthened his own position. This led to Gantz’s alliance, the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) Party, splitting, weakening his negotiating standpoint.

While he has used his almost daily televised speeches to increase people’s fear of the coronavirus in an effort to encourage them to back the formation of an emergency government headed by him.

On a regional level, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned that Egypt and Jordan might fall into a deep economic recession which would lead to social unrest as a result of the outbreak of the coronavirus. Political change in these countries may be to come, it added.