News Nosh 2.12.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday February 12, 2018
 
You Must Be Kidding: 
Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev is pressuring the Foreign Ministry to withdraw its support from the Israeli Film Festival in Paris in May because it is expected to screen the Israeli film “Foxtrot," which she doesn't like.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Following the dramatic incident between Israel, Iran and Syria on Saturday, today’s Hebrew newspapers focused on the detailed interview with the navigator of the downed Israeli F-16 jet, asked whether he and the pilot could have evaded the Syrian anti-aircraft missile and saved the aircraft (another F-16 did manage to evade a missile that ‘locked onto it), reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel 'dealt heavy blows' to Iranian and Syrian forces, and that a Syrian report said at least six were killed in the Israeli strikes in Syria, examined the 12 sites in Syria that Israel struck, wiping out half of Syria’s air defense, according to Israel, and shared the Israeli security establishment’s assessment that another incident with Iran is inevitable.

The other top story was that two days before the police were supposed to publish their recommendations about whether to charge Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with corruption, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit instructed police to delay the publication due to a petition to the High Court made one and a half months ago by Yossi Fuchs, a lawyer and member of the far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party and chairman of the right-wing Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, who demanded that police not be allowed to make recommendations concerning the prime minister. The police were expected to recommend indicting Netanyahu. Yedioth noted the irony in that when Ehud Olmert was under investigation for corruption while serving as prime minister, Fuchs petitioned the High Court that he be forced to step down saying that a prime minister under investigation cannot make diplomatic decisions.

More on the border incident: US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Israel has "an absolute right to defend itself,” yet US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won’t drop by Israel during his Mideast tour, but says he’s “keeping close tabs” on the situation. Haaretz noted that the Israel-Syria border clash has triggered a battle between US Democrats and Republicans about who to blame: Trump or Obama. And Maariv reported that Channel 10 reported that interestingly, shortly before the Iranian drone penetrated into Israeli territory, Israel conveyed messages to Tehran through British, German and French leaders that Israel preferred a diplomatic solution to Iran's military buildup in Syria, but if there weren’t one, there would be a military solution. Channel 10 also reported that Iran sent a message to Hamas in Gaza, calling on it to join the struggle against Israel.

Also, yesterday hundreds of thousands of Iranians rallied to mark the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said US regional policy was a failure and that the US and Israel were conspiring to divide the region. Maariv and Israel Hayom noted that in honor of the day, the Qader F rocket, with a reach of 2000 kilometers, a length of 15.8 meters, weighing almost 17.5 tons and carrying a warhead weighing 650 kilograms, was displayed in central Tehran.


Quick Hits:
  • Settlers caught on film throwing stones at left-wing activists in West Bank - Two activists hurt by the stones, and the group left the area due to the incident. (Haaretz+ and YouTube)
  • **Culture minister working to withdraw support of Israeli Film Festival in Paris over 'Foxtrot' screening - Miri Regev has been a vocal critic of the film since its release, despite not having watched it, claiming that it hurt the reputation of Israel's military. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • Netanyahu blocks settlement annexation bill from coming to a vote - The bill would apply Israeli sovereignty to the settlements, but Netanyahu says to hold off because of the security situation in the North- and to appease the U.S. (Haaretz)
  • PMO bureau chief promises to 'do everything' to expand Har Bracha - While offering his condolences to bereaved family after murder of Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal in terror attack, PM's chief of staff Yoav Horowitz promises to promote approval of zoning plane, 800 homes in the settlement; Ben-Gal's widow asks for 'comfort in the form of construction.' (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • MADA reports 117 Israeli violations of Palestinian media freedoms since December - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) released a report on Saturday saying that between December 2017 and the end of January 2018, the group recorded 117 violations against Palestinian media freedoms at the hands of Israeli forces. (Maan)
  • Egypt refuses to permit entry to Israeli groups - Since President Trump’s declaration two months ago that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and his promise to transfer the embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, the Egyptian embassy in Tel-Aviv has rejected requests from Israeli tourist groups for visas. This comes at a time when there has been a significant rise in interest by Israelis to visit Egypt and the fact that in the past Egypt encourages such visits. The assessment from the Israeli Foreign Ministry is that Egypt does not feel comfortable with Israeli groups touring around the country at this time. (Yedioth, p. 27)
  • (Former coalition whip, MK David) Bitan recorded offering to help developer with Tel Aviv project - Investigators have recordings of the Likud MK offering to 'take care' of developer Dror Glazer, allegedly for bribes; Lobbyist serving as contact person between Glazer and Tel Aviv deputy mayor tells developer in recording: 'I'm supposed to share in the money.' (Ynet)
  • Lebanon to Begin Offshore Energy Search in Block Disputed by Israel - But energy companies say they will stay clear of area at center of controversy. (Haaretz)
  • Justice Minister Shaked: If My Candidate Isn’t Selected for Supreme Court, No One Will Be - Shaked is also seeking to ease the appointment process by added to addition justices to the 15-member Supreme Court. (Haaretz)
  • Increased security and increased punishment: the plan to combat violence against medical personnel - The committee established by the Ministry of Health published its conclusions: a security guard in every emergency room, a distress application for every employee and indictments within a short period of time. (Maariv)
  • Report: Murder rate among Israeli non-Jews far outstrips Jewish rate - Arab MK: ‘Figures show what we all knew – Arab society has become battleground, sense of security has vanished.’ (Haaretz)
  • Ultra-Orthodox City Council Members Cancel Meeting for 'Shabbat Desecration' - When pluralistic city council members sponsored a hike to pick mushrooms on Shabbat, ultra-Orthodox members canceled a meeting, citing 'no respect for us.’ (Haaretz)
  • Israeli Contractors fined NIS 19 million in January for safety violations - January is the first month a new ordinance against violating safety violations went into effect. (Haaretz)
  • Left-wing MKs spark outrage with German-funded trip to Rwanda - Rwandan officials refuse to meet Meretz MKs Rozin, Raz, say Kigali cannot be "playground for Israeli internal politics." Likud MK Anat Berko blasts lawmakers for joining up with German fund she says aspires to put an end to Israel as Jewish state. (Israel Hayom)
  • Seventeen Jewish Groups Call on White House to Fire Adviser Stephen Miller - In a letter, the Jewish leaders slammed Miller, who himself is Jewish, for 'opposing the beliefs we hold dear.’ (JTA, Haaretz)
  • US court rejects jury's verdict in civil case against Arab Bank - A 2014 jury verdict had found that Jordan-based Arab Bank was liable in Hamas suicide bombings in Israel that harmed Americans. Judge: Cannot conclude the evidence shows that the bank knew it was "playing a role in violent or life‐endangering acts." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian-Canadian environmentalist dies in Iran prison after ‘suicide’ - Family, colleagues of prominent professor reject authorities' account of Kavous Seyed Emami's death. (Times of Israel)
  • Lithuanian Official Offers Cash Prize for Research Linking Jews to War Crimes - He offered 1,000 euros for a thesis 'about individuals of the Jewish nationality who killed people, contributed to deportations or torture.’ (JTA, Haaretz)

Commentary/Analysis:
Putin's Phone Call With Netanyahu Blew Whistle on Further Israeli Strikes in Syria (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Prior to Saturday call, senior Israeli officials were still taking a militant line and it seemed Jerusalem was considering further military action.
The Iranian game of chess: More moves are on the way (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Iran and Israel have been fighting each other for years. It’s a cruel war, but one rule has been strictly observed: Avoiding an open, direct conflict. Iran has been attacking through proxies, while Israel has preferred covert activity. On Saturday, for the first time, this barrier was broken on both sides.
Iran wants Putin to intervene (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) This obligates Israel to take even greater pains to be precise in Syria and tighten its coordination with Moscow.
Learning the Limitations of Force (Haaretz Editorial) The downing of an F-16 fighter jet over the Galilee proved that there’s no war without risk, and that even after many cross-border attacks without damage or casualties, the enemy can still find a weak spot.
The important lesson from the incident in the north: We can rely on Putin and Trump as much as we can on a broken cane (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Friendship and public expressions of closeness are often a cover for promoting goals. Russia's interests are important to its president more than Israel's concerns and the American president is afraid of a confrontation.
Israel must take action (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) If Iran's conduct over the weekend is any indication, one can assume that a solution to the problem of missile manufacturing plants inside Lebanon will not be achieved through diplomatic means.
From Russia with disappointment (Yoav Fromer, Yedioth/Ynet) Our working assumption in the past few years that the Russians will protect Israel’s interests in Syria, was all wrong; as far as the Kremlin is concerned, now is the best time for a regional war, which might serve its interests on two important strategic channels—oil and arms exports.
Lieberman Is Right, There’s No Crisis in Gaza – This Is Disaster (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) A 'crisis' involves a breaking point, and Gaza got there long ago. This is beyond a break in routine. This is a humanitarian disaster.
Israel's Deterrent Policy in Lebanon Has Failed (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) With Iran trying to upgrade Hezbollah’s arsenal — which already contains more than 130,000 rockets — it’s clear that Israel must adopt a new strategy.
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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