News Nosh 10.16.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday, October 16, 2017
Quote of the day:
"His remarks also emit a strong whiff of nationalism. Gabbay didn’t promise not to sit in the same government with representatives of the far right. So why was it important to him to rule out, in advance and under any circumstances, only the Joint List – the authentic representative of most of the country’s Arab citizens?"
--Haaretz Editorial questions Labor party chief, Avi Gabbay, for saying he would not form a coalition government with the mostly-Arab Joint List faction.*

Breaking News:
Israel Strikes Deep in Syria After Missile Targets Israeli Air Force Planes Over Lebanon (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Likud advancing bill against investigating Netanyahu
  • Last night: Rockets shot from Sinai at Israel
  • Horrific documentation: This is how they wheedle 16-year-olds to prostitution “There’s so much work for you, maybe 50-60 clients”
  • Lower, faster and more dangerous - warning, hovercarts are new and illegal hit of youth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Stop the leaks // Haim Shine
  • (Public Security) Minister Erdan to Attorney General: Investigate who is the source leaking about the investigations into the prime minister
  • The next storm: Investigations Law will be discussed already next week
  • Exclusive: This is how the Gur Hasids took over a building in Rishon L’Tzion
  • How do you say ‘soldier’ in Japanese?
  • Young, conservative, winner: 31-year-old will lead Austria
  • Scoop - Unbelievable: A family doctor in Haifa earns 400,000 shekels a month
  • Again, not quiet in the south: 2 rockets launched from Sinai towards Eshkol Regional Council
  • Singer Kobi Peretz enters jail (for tax evasion)
News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his efforts at shutting down criticism of him were today's top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, two rockets launched by ISIS affiliates in Sinai landed in the Eshkol Regional Council, outside the Gaza Strip, and questions arose regarding what Israel’s attitude will be toward the election of the radical right-wing into Austria’s parliament.

Also, today Israel's security cabinet will discuss what is its policy toward Palestinian reconciliation. Far right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett has called for Israel to put sanctions on the Palestinian Authority following the Hamas-Fatah deal, though it remains unclear whether Netanyahu wants to promote such a move, Haaretz+ reported. And, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that the Palestinian reconciliation agreement required that important decisions, such as going to war against Israel or signing a peace agreement, be made by both Fatah and Hamas.

Even lawmakers in Netanyahu’s coalition government blasted him for attacking the police chief over the ‘leak’ that he would be summoned for questioning again soon over the corruption investigations into him. Political commentators wrote that Netanyahu was harming democracy and Maariv’s Ben Caspit wrote that it was a planned attack in order to incite his political base when he is likely indicted. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) The former Jerusalem district police commander, Arieh Amit, told Maariv that Netanyahu’s attack was “extremely anti-leadership” and that he was “acting like a neighborhood criminal.” Only Israel Hayom gave support to Netanyahu's attack on its front page with an Op-Ed by Netanyahu supporter, Haim Shine, calling for an end to leaks and the headline that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) calling on the Attorney General to investigate the leak.

Meanwhile, Likud politicians are renewing their effort to legislate a law making a serving prime minister, i.e. Netanyahu, immune from corruption investigations, also known as the ‘French Law.’ Maariv reported that people around Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu party) said that Kahlon would agree to the bill if it included limiting Netanyahu’s to serving two consecutive terms as prime minister.

At the same time, Netanyahu is trying again to shut down the public broadcaster and told coalition leaders about the plan, Yedioth/Ynet reported. Haaretz+ reported that it was Interior Minister Arye Deri who is pushing the plan because of several critical stories on him in recent months.

And if that weren’t enough work to stop criticism, Haaretz+ reported that the heads of Israel's coalition parties agreed on Sunday to establish a parliamentary committee to probe foreign government funding of left-wing nonprofit organizations and activities meant to hurt Israeli soldiers.” Later in the day, Netanyahu confirmed the report when he told journalists at the first-ever Christian Media Summit in Jerusalem that he intended to form a parliamentary committee to investigate 'organizations that operate against' IDF soldiers. Netanyahu said that the world's Christian communities were Israel's best friend.

The question over Israeli support or rejection of the far-right-wing Austrian Freedom Party, which won a quarter of the seats in the Austrian Parliament, was raised by Yedioth’s diplomatic affairs correspondent Itamar Eichner and by Likud MK Yehuda Glick. Maarivreported that MK Glick called on Netanyahu to change his position on the Austrian Freedom Party, because it was supportive of Israel and its leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said has pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem. However, President Reuven Rivlin said at Holocaust Remembrance Day that he was “amazed at what seems to be our own eccentric connection to the voices of the extreme right in Europe,” and expressed disdain toward Israeli politicians “who are trying to forge alliances and connections with parties and groups who hate foreigners and with anti-Semites who appear to support Israel.” And in September, Netanyahu told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Israel was concerned by the rise in anti-Semitism after a right-wing nationalist party won seats in Berlin's parliament.
 
Quick Hits:
  • Israel to create database of all U.S. Jewish college students for outreach efforts - The company that was to run the project tells Haaretz that the tender is now on hold. (Haaretz+)
  • Under Pressure, Israeli Government Suspends Controversial Plan to Set Up Database of Jewish Students in U.S. - Several hours after Haaretz revealed the plan, Jewish student organization says it didn't believe the project was 'in the best interest of engaging American Jewish college students.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Authority funds seized as restitution for Israel’s moles - Palestinians who collaborated with Israel before being detained, tortured by PA sue to receive restitution for damages; after receiving verdict in their favor, plaintiffs contact Execution Office to seize PA funds held by finance minister in order to receive money. (Ynet)
  • U.S. Exit From UNESCO Took Israel by Surprise, Was Uncoordinated - Despite close relations between Israel and Trump administration, incident exposes a grave lack of coordination between the two countries. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli envoy: UNESCO's Jewish leader not enough for Israel - Victory of Jewish-French Audrey Azoulay as new UNESCO director-general over her Qatari rival fails to assuage US and Israeli animus toward organization, which has become 'platform for anti-Semitic decisions.' (Ynet)
  • Joint List leader condones attacks against IDF soldiers - “A people under occupation has the right to struggle. The red line for me is harming civilians,” Ayman Odeh said in an interview on Israel radio. [NOTE: According to Geneva Conventions, he is right. - OH] (Ynet)
  • Government approves [controversial] 'job law' - Fortnight after rancorous debate and deferred decision, cabinet votes to enact 'job law,' enabling directors-general to appoint their deputies without tender. (Ynet)
  • Israeli murdered in Kafr Qasim recognized as terror victim - Shin Bet investigation finds evidence that points to the murder of Reuven Shmerling being nationalistically motivated, leading Defense Ministry to recognize him as a victim of terrorism. (Ynet)
  • Har Adar residents protest checkpoint reopening following attack - In wake of terror attack, settlement residents urge IDF not to allow Palestinian workers back until full investigation is carried out, and necessary changes made to security arrangements; 'My children's safety is more important to me than their livelihood,' says one resident. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • West Bank Israeli university faculty threaten strike, demand conditions equal to peers inside Green Line - Senior faculty declares they will not begin the academic year without benefits and pay equal to other Israeli universities. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian arrested attempting to sneak (pipe) bomb into military court - Security guards discover bomb concealed in 17-year-old Palestinian's underwear during security check into Samaria Military Court; sappers rushed to scene to neutralize pipe bomb in controlled explosions; suspect from Jenin investigated. (Ynet)
  • For the ultra-Orthodox: the age of the stalactites cave was deleted from sign and educational video - Travelers who came to the stalactite cave discovered that someone had deleted from the narration of the educational film the age of the geological discovery of the cave and someone scribbled over the date on the sign in order to prevent offending the religious public [because the age of the cave, millions of years, contradicts Jewish beliefs that the world exists less than 5,800 years - OH]. The Nature and Parks Authority confirmed that it doesn’t want to offend religious visitors so that they keep coming. (Maariv)
  • Haley says US to stay in Iran nuclear deal 'right now' - Speaking in an interview with NBC's 'Meet the Press', President Trump's UN envoy says US still hopes to 'improve situation' but says Iran ‘can't be continuing’ on aggressive path. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Kurds square off with Iraq in Kirkuk, block access to airbase and oil fields - Peshmerga fighters rejected a warning from an Iraqi paramilitary force to withdraw from a strategic junction south of Kirkuk. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Facing Imminent Defeat, ISIS Fighters Flee Syria's Raqqa Under Evacuation Deal - Only 200 to 300 mostly foreign ISIS fighters are left in the militant group's de facto capital as U.S.-backed militias launch their final assault. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • WATCH This Egyptian Sportscaster's Reaction to His Team Making the World Cup Is Priceless - From screams of 'Allah Akbar' after Egypt's first goal, to a heartbreaking 'haram' after its rival scores, to pandemonium after Mohamed Salah nails a penalty to send Egypt to the World Cup for the first time in decades. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Leaks: Meet the Israeli Political Consultants Shaking Up the Austrian Election
Tal Silberstein and his team, whose previous clients include Netanyahu, Barak and Olmert, waged a smear campaign against the front runner. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's Targeting of Israel's Police Chief Means Criminal Probes Are Heating Up (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has been careful to choose gatekeepers who would treat him with endless understanding, and his wrath will be directed at those who dare to display signs of independence.
Burning down the clubhouse: Netanyahu’s mad attack on the police commissioner was planned in advance (Ben Caspit, Maariv) In the era of Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, the leaks from the police have been greatly reduced, and everyone who does works in the profession knows it. The only conclusion is that Netanyahu is planning to incite his (political support) base ahead of an indictment.
For Netanyahu, Now Even Israel's Right-wing Police Chief Is 'Leftist' (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) With police about to complete several investigations into PM and transfer material to prosecution for decision on whether to indict, Israel's serial suspect launched unbridled attack Saturday night.
Netanyahu chose the wrong target: The police commissioner fought the leaks (Attorney Yehiel Gutman, Maariv) The very fact that we do not know anything about the content of the testimonies of Ari Harow, Arnon Milchan, Len Blavatnik and Miki Ganor proves that Police Commissioner Alsheikh is succeeding in bringing in the successful organizational culture of the Shin Bet [from where he came - OH] to the Israel Police.
Heating up tensions with police chief, PM playing with fire (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu has launched a dangerous, delusional campaign aimed at undermining the public’s trust in two of his personal appointments: Police Commissioner Alsheikh and Attorney General Mandelblit. Regardless of the police’s conclusions and the AG’s decision, the delegitimization is already underway.
The Closure of the West Bank and Gaza Has Lasted 26 Years (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) When Israel announces a lockdown of the occupied territories, it creates a false impression that the Palestinians normally have freedom of movement – that hasn't existed since January 1991.
Trump’s Iran strategy presents new kind of challenge for Israel (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Israeli defense officials believe nuclear agreement shouldn’t be nixed and American pressure should be used to curb missile threat and moderate Iran’s regional expansion. This allegedly contradicts government’s policy, but even Netanyahu realizes it’s impossible to cancel an international agreement without real cause and without other parties’ consent.
*A Left for Jews Only (Haaretz Editorial) A Labor Party leader's declaration he wouldn't include Arab parties in a potential government was an attempt to find favor in eyes of right-wing groups and Arab-haters.
As Bethlehem's mayor, I ask: Why are U.S. Christians celebrating Israeli policies strangling Jesus' birthplace? (Anton Salman, Haaretz+) The language of Netanyahu and his cabinet increasingly references a Bible-citing and religious, rather than political, war against the Palestinians. And American evangelicals are his enthusiastic foot-soldiers.
Saudi armament, from East to West (Dr. Shaul Shay, Israel Hayom) Israel's need to retain its military advantage becomes increasingly apparent as Saudi Arabia diversifies its weapons imports, buying from Russia.
The Road to Becoming Israeli Prime Minister Runs Through Arab Towns (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay says he won't sit in a coalition government with the Arab Joint List – he'd better rethink if he wants to lead the country.
Hamas' step-by-step plan (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) For Hamas, the reconciliation deal with Fatah is but a means to an end: the destruction of the State of Israel.
Why Israeli Athletes Hardly if Ever Take a Knee (Ran Shimoni, Haaretz+) Country's soccer teams, which dominate local sports, reflect society and its tensions with stunning accuracy.
John Kerry, Bono and Breaking the Silence: the candidates worthy of the Nobel Prize (Uri Savir, Maariv) The awarding of the esteemed prize to an organization supporting nuclear disarmament was a clear signal to Trump, who is playing with great fire in North Korea and Iran. But there are others that the prize could have been given to.
How We’re Distancing American Jews (Zohar Segev, Haaretz+) The very Jews who were crucial to Israel's founding would be condemned in today's American Jewish community; the attempt to oust Prof. David Myers must be stopped.
Trump’s Iran deal speech: A recipe for a regional explosion (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The fragile structure of the nuclear agreement, which is based on conflicting interests, has already been undermined. Encouraged by the US president’s inability to deal with North Korea, Iran will step up its provocations in a bid to deter him from taking further hostile steps. All this has the potential of leading to instability, security tensions and a military escalation.
Austria Election: Far-right's Success May Lead to Escalating anti-Muslim Rhetoric (Michael Colborne, Haaretz+) Yet another far-right party is about to take up a seat at a European cabinet table, though observers caution that fear of Putin's influence is probably exaggerated.
Not Iran: The danger to Israel stems from Netanyahu's conduct (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) The prime minister's attack on the police and government institutions, and his turning of them into a tool for political battering, could lead to the destruction of trust in them and chaos in society. This behavior must be stopped.
Reconciliation in Gaza Provides Israel With an Opportunity (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) The primary Israeli interest is the dismantling of Hamas’ military capability in Gaza. The question is whether Egypt is strong enough to help make that happen.
 
Interviews: 
Former Prisoner of Zion: "Today's Israel is not the country I hoped to get to“
Exactly 30 years ago, Ida Nudel landed in this country for which she fought so hard. Today, at the age of 86, she claims that she was forgotten too quickly and she is disappointed by the leadership. An uncompromising idealist identified with the right-wing, she once supported transfer [of Palestinians - OH] ("I made a transfer when I no longer wanted to live in Russia, and like another million people I came to Israel"), and she now supports Netanyahu. "He's the best," she says. "I do not care what character he has as a person, I care what he does for the country." At the same time, she says: "He is a man with a higher education, writes books, speaks well, but makes a lot of mistakes. Who gave the Palestinians Hebron if not he? Since Ben-Gurion there hasn’t been a true leader for Israel." When asked if she ever wanted to stay in the US during one of her many visits there, she said: "Not even for a moment. After all, that's not what I was fighting to get out of Russia for. On the other hand, if you ask me if today's Israel is the country I so hoped to reach, I will tell you the truth: No. They do not call me Zidovka here, but I know there are those who would be happy if I left." (Interviewed by Yaakov Bar-On in Maariv)

Israeli Startup Develops 'Ultimate Truth Machine' - Claims Assad Wasn't Behind Chemical Attack
Who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17? Does Donald Trump wear a wig? Israeli entrepreneur Saar Wilf says his company Rootclaim knows the answers to these and many more questions – with a probability of close to 100%. (Interviewed by Rotem Starkman in Haaretz+)

 

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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