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Netanyahu takes workplace in deal that might see West Financial institution...

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Rival Benny Gantz to take over as PM of Israeli unity government after 18 months

Benjamin Netanyahu has been sworn in as Israel’s prime minister, heading a unity government in which he will rotate the leadership with his former rival, Benny Gantz, in a deal that could see the annexation of large parts of the West Bank.

The coalition agreement ends a deadlock that has dragged on for more than 500 days. In that time, the country has held three back-to-back elections with neither side clinching an outright victory.

Related: Under cover of coronavirus, the world's bad guys are wreaking havoc | Jonathan Freedland

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Beneath cowl of coronavirus, the world’s unhealthy guys are wreaking havoc...

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The pandemic has allowed strongmen and tyrants to get away with murder and mayhem while we look the other way

Under the cover of coronavirus, all kinds of wickedness are happening. Where you and I see a global health crisis, the world’s leading authoritarians, fearmongers and populist strongmen have spotted an opportunity – and they are seizing it.

Of course, neither left nor right has a monopoly on the truism that one should never let a good crisis go to waste. Plenty of progressives share that conviction, firm that the pandemic offers a rare chance to reset the way we organise our unequal societies, our clogged cities, our warped relationship to the natural world. But there are others – and they tend to be in power – who see this opening very differently. For them, the virus suddenly makes possible action that in normal times would exact a heavy cost. Now they can strike while the world looks the other way.

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Israel to swear in Netanyahu-Gantz unity authorities on Sunday

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Ceremony will end political deadlock that has dragged on for more than 500 days

Israel’s new unity government is due to be sworn in on Sunday, following a deal made by rivals Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to end a political deadlock that has dragged on for more than 500 days.

The ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday evening, was postponed hours before it was due to take place after Netanyahu asked for extra time to allocate ministerial portfolios. Gantz agreed to the request, the two sides said.

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Mike Pompeo breaks journey hiatus for hours-long go to to Israel

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US secretary of state to discuss Israeli plans to annex swathes of the Palestinian territories

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, visited Israel amid the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to gauge the new government’s commitment to a US-backed plan to annex large parts of the Palestinian territories.

The single-stop trip – Pompeo’s first in nearly two months – lasted just a few hours, with a small US team afforded exemptions from strict Israeli coronavirus restrictions that require any arrivals to self-isolate for two weeks.

Glad to be in Israel to coordinate with @IsraeliPM @Netanyahu and @Gantzbe on countering two critical threats: COVID-19 and Iran. Israel and the United States will take on these challenges side-by-side. pic.twitter.com/aSrzD8MhkS

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‘Cat and mouse sport’: how Citizen Lab shone a highlight on...

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Ron Deibert’s research unit has helped expose how NSO Group allegedly facilitated the hacking of activists’ phones

A 55-year-old political science professor based in Toronto might seem like an unlikely adversary for one of the world’s most controversial cyber-defence companies.

But as one of the foremost experts on surveillance techniques used by authoritarian regimes and head of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, Ron Deibert has been engaged in a stealthy cat and mouse game with NSO Group, the Israeli spyware company, for years.

Related: WhatsApp 'hack' is serious rights violation, say alleged victims

Related: Jamal Khashoggi: murder in the consulate

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Israel threatens to tug evangelical Christian TV station aimed toward Jews

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State forbids preaching to under-18s without parents’ permission

The Israeli government is threatening to take off air a Christian television channel that launched in the country to preach to Jews, warning that it will be barred if it breaks strict rules around proselytising.

GOD TV, an evangelical media network that broadcasts across the world, signed a seven-year deal with a major Israeli cable television provider, HOT, to host its new Hebrew-language channel that began airing last month.

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Australian authorities tells ICC it mustn’t examine alleged struggle crimes in...

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Prosecutor rejects Australia’s argument International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction because Palestine is ‘not a state’

The Australian government has told the International Criminal Court it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine because Palestine is “not a state”, arguing the court prosecutor’s investigation into alleged attacks on civilians, torture, attacks on hospitals, and the use of human shields, should be halted on jurisdictional grounds.

Australia was lobbied to make the submission to the court by Israel, which is not a party to the court. But the office of the prosecutor has rejected Australia’s argument, saying it had not formally challenged Palestine’s right to be a party to the court before.

Related: Netanyahu calls for sanctions over ICC war crimes investigation

Related: ICC to investigate alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes

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Israeli courtroom guidelines Netanyahu can type authorities beneath felony indictment

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Decision removes last barrier to country’s longest serving leader forming unity government with former rival Benny Gantz

Israel’s top court has ruled Benjamin Netanyahu can legally form a government while under criminal indictment for corruption, paving the way for him to be sworn in as prime minister next week.

The unanimous decision, released overnight, swatted down last-ditch attempts to end the career of the country’s longest-serving leader, who has fought for the past year to keep his seat in high office.

Related: Top Israeli court hears challenge to Netanyahu forming government

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WHO seeks early coronavirus circumstances as Merkel warns over German lockdown

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US and Sweden raise questions over how virus spread in China, while Austria declares outbreak under control

The World Health Organization has urged countries to look for more early cases of Covid-19 and urged a full exploration of the pandemic’s origins and early path, as Germany took preventive action to head off any future rise in infections.

Related: Coronavirus map of the US: latest cases state by state

Russia cemented its place as the European country reporting the highest number of new infections, with total cases soaring past 155,000, although at 1,451 its fatality rate has remained low compared to other countries.

Hong Kong announced plans to ease major social distancing measures, including reopening schools, cinemas, bars and beauty parlours, from Friday.

Overcrowded, unhygienic prisons in Latin America and the spread of the coronavirus in regional prisons in the US are a source of “major concern”, the UN human rights office said.

India embarked on a “massive” operation using passenger jets and naval ships to bring back some of the hundreds of thousands of nationals stranded abroad.

Virgin Atlantic airline said it was cutting 3,000 jobs.

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Israel and Netherlands research declare progress in Covid-19 antibody trials

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Scientists welcome ‘initial step’ towards developing antibody to treat or prevent coronavirus

Separate studies in Israel and the Netherlands claim to have created antibodies that can block the coronavirus infection, a potential future treatment touted as a game-changer until a vaccine becomes available.

A Dutch-led team of scientists said they had managed to halt infection in a lab setting. At the same time, the Israeli defence minister announced a state-run research centre had developed an antibody that he claimed could “neutralise [the coronavirus] inside carriers’ bodies”. The Guardian understands the antibody has not yet been trialled on humans, however.

Contact tracing is one of the most basic planks of public health responses to a pandemic like the coronavirus. It means literally tracking down anyone that somebody with an infection may have had contact with in the days before they became ill. It was – and always will be – central to the fight against Ebola, for instance. In west Africa in 2014/15, there were large teams of people who would trace relatives and knock on the doors of neighbours and friends to find anyone who might have become infected by touching the sick person.

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