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Israeli press review: Minister breaks lockdown, gets corona, then lies about it

Meanwhile, Jerusalem police let ultra-Orthodox celebrate Sukkot as normal and Israeli and UAE foreign ministers meet in Berlin
Gila Gamliel has been backed by Netanyahu (social media)

Israeli minister breaks lockdown and lies about it

An Israeli minister broke lockdown restrictions, lied about it, contracted Covid-19, then prompted tens of Israelis to protest outside her Tel Aviv residence on Monday.

Israeli police have launched an initial probe into Minister of Environmental Protection Gila Gamliel's conduct, Ynetnews reports.

She broke her government's coronavirus lockdown by travelling from Tel Aviv to the northern city of Tiberias, and then allegedly lied about the trip to the health ministry and contact tracers.

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Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will now decide if a criminal investigation into Gimliel's actions will be pursued.

Gamliel took the 130km journey amid a deadly second wave of Covid-19 on Sunday evening to celebrate the holiday of Yom Kippur with her family. She also attended a Yom Kippur service at a synagogue in Tiberias, where almost 35 people were present. The synagogue's rabbi is her father-in-law.

When contacted by the Israeli health ministry, Gamliel reportedly tried to hide her trip, and withheld information for over 24 hours.

In a statement, Gamliel said: “I acted in line with guidelines, though it is possible I erred in my judgment. I am sorry, I will pay the fine.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he has no intention of firing Gamliel and she “is not planning to resign”.

Roy Waldman, the head of police investigations division, told Army Radio that the probe will be published on Tuesday. “We are checking the materials on Gila Gamliel’s behaviour and if needed we’ll conduct an interrogation,” he said.

Israeli and UAE foreign ministers meeting in Berlin

Israel and the United Arab Emirates' foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday in the German capital Berlin, the first in-person meeting between the counterparts, Kan reports.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain signed a normalisation agreement on 15 September in the White House, bringing their diplomatic and security ties out into the public.

Both Gabi Ashkenzi and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan are planning to discuss  “strategic security matters” and other normalisation steps between the two countries.

They will also hold a ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial and visit the Holocaust museum.

The controversial normalisation agreements, known as the Abraham Accords, do not mention a Palestinian state nor a two-state solution, which was considered a cornerstone of Western diplomacy dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Since 15 September, a number of collaborations between Israel and UAE have been announced, including in music and commerce.

Israeli police allow ultra-Orthodox events

Despite implementing a strict lockdown as coronavirus cases surge during the Jewish holiday season, police are making exceptions for  Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, Haaretz daily reports.

This week, police in Jerusalem allowed a number of ultra-Orthodox communities to hold services and mass events on the condition that there would be no public documentation, an ultra-Orthodox source told the newspaper.

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The decision came a few days before the week-long Sukkot holiday that began on Friday, and after discussions between the police and the heads of ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods in the city.

Police allowed the communities to carry out their routine holiday celebrations, and hold the evening service attended by thousands, on the condition that they do not document and publicise it.

The communities have been asked to bar outsiders from entering their neighbourhoods and will issue official invitations that allow entrance to the events.

“Every Hasidic sect placed security guards at the entrances to check who enters,” an ultra-Orthodox source told Haaretz.

“The moment they see someone who is not connected to us they immediately make sure to throw them out. Of course there’s a total ban against documenting what goes on inside.”

* Israeli press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.