Most Israelis say gov’t should aid Palestinians during coronavirus crisis

Almost two-thirds of Israelis (63%) think that Israel should aid the Palestinians during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a study published by the Truman Institute for Peace at the Hebrew University.

Among those surveyed were both Jews and Arabs, the religious and the secular, and people of all ages.

“A majority of Israelis, even in early post-election days after they’re left bitter and angry, believe that when the need arises, the government must enlist preventative measures with intent to help the Palestinians during the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus,” said Vered Vinitsky-Seroussi, head of the institute.

“Nevertheless, a large number of the population, including the haredi Jews, young adults and women, are less keen in assisting our neighbors [the Palestinians] during the crisis. Fifty-nine percent of women think that we should give aid, in contrast to 67% of men,” he continued.

Some 60% of haredi Jews didn’t think that the government should help, compared to 64% of the secular population who did. Overall, 57% of Jews who were asked thought aid should be given.

Younger people, aged 18-24, were also generally in favor. The data trend showed that the older someone is, the more likely they are to support helping. Some 80% of those aged 65 and older felt the government should assist, in comparison to 47% from the youngest age groups.

“I hope that this is only specific to the select group of 18-24 surveyed, and not what all citizens think,” Vinitsky-Seroussi said.

“It’s important to remember that the issue of aiding Palestinians is still not a mainstream idea,” he added.

The survey also examined the issue of the US peace plan, known as the “Deal of the Century.”

Just a little over half of the Israelis surveyed thought the peace plan would not improve the security situation; however, a similar number did think that the peace initiative would at least improve Israel’s economic situation.

Men overall appeared more optimistic than women in the survey and less reserved on the idea of aiding the Palestinians. While 58% of men believed that the peace agreement would help Israel’s economy, only 48% of women thought the same.

Meanwhile, Haredi Jews continued their negative trend, with only 37% believing that if the peace agreement is signed, the economy will improve.

The government has been giving aid to the Palestinians during this critical time.

“So far, the situation in the Palestinian territories seems to be under control,” said a senior official with the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry.

“But we are concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in Israel. Our major concern is that the disease could spread very quickly from Israel to the West Bank.”

Asked if his ministry is prepared to deal with a mass outbreak of the coronavirus in the West Bank, the official said: “I don’t want to think of such a scenario, even though we can’t rule it out. We won’t be able to deal with the crisis alone. We will need assistance from Israel and other international parties. We are already coordinating on a daily basis with Israel to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Toward the beginning of the outbreak, the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) was arranging the delivery of over 20 tons of disinfectant material. More recently, in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus to Gaza, Israel delivered  200 coronavirus test kits to the coastal enclave.

A field hospital has also been set up at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza by an American NGO, but it is not yet functional and is expected to face a shortage of medical staff.

“COGAT and the PA are cooperating closely and effectively to manage the outbreak of the virus,” said the head of the civil affairs department of COGAT, Col. Sharon Biton. “The coronavirus, like other viruses, does not recognize geographic borders.”

Khaled Abu Toameh and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.

https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Most-Israelis-say-gvt-should-aid-Palestinians-during-coronavirus-crisis-621383
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