News Nosh 2.14.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Quote of the Day #1:
"Unlike what part of the public may think, this wasn’t a happy evening. There is no malicious joy when it concerns your prime minister, and in my case and my colleagues’ case, our publisher too. It’s a difficult moment for Israel’s citizens, and a difficult moment for us, Yedioth Ahronoth journalists. Bribery is a serious offense, and no one likes to hear that such serious suspicions are threatening the integrity of their home. I believe that even those who have been writing against the Netanyahu government for years and warning of corruption would rather see him step down in a dignified and quiet manner. But there will be no dignity and definitely no calm here."
--Senior Yedioth political commentator Sima Kadmon writes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is on his way out.*

Quote of the Day #2:
"A forest of clouds will escort Netanyahu at every step...At every place, in every diplomatic move and military campaign in which he will need to contend, there will be a doubt as to whether Netanyahu is doing it out of substantive reasons, as he says, or because of the police suspicions. That is the main problem with which Netanyahu will need to deal - the moral clarity of his continued role."
--Maariv commentator and Channel 2 political analyst, Udi Segal, writes about the effect of the suspicions against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
  • Police: There is evidence that Netanyahu took bribes in two affairs and acted in return in opposition of the interests of the state. In Case 1000, the Prime Minister received benefits worth a million shekels. In Case 2000, he held clear give-and-take relations with (Yedioth publisher) Mozes
  • The count down began // Aluf Benn
  • Decision and quick // Gidi Weitz
  • In the footsteps of Olmert // Yossi Verter
  • It’s him vs. Lapid // Ravit Hecht
  • The victory of the law // Dan Margalit
  • War of attrition // Chemi Shalev
  • The Netanyahu precedent // Ido Baum
  • Ahed Tamimi’s trial being held secretly
  • Ruta Vanagieta reminded the Lithuanians their part in the killing of Jews, and then needed a bodyguard
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Bribery - Police: Indict Netanyahu in Case 1000 and Case 2000
  • You sullied (Who here is the king?) // Nahum Barnea
  • The beginning of the end // Sima Kadmon
  • There is no way back // Yoaz Hendel
  • (Attorney General) Mendelblit time // Tovah Tzimuki
  • The days of crisis // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Sadness and rotting // Einav Schiff
  • A harmful festival // Shlomo Pyotrakovsky
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Recommendations: Bribery; Netanyahu: There is nothing - Judicial and political drama in Netanyahu cases
  • Biased and hostile towards Netanyahu // Amnon Lord
  • Netanyahu needs to resign // Yossi Beilin
  • Yair Lapid won’t necessarily profit // Mati Tuchfeld
  • The police finished - now it should back off // Haim Shine
  • Difficult and complicated legal ruling // Aviad Hacohen
  • A joke called “the rule of law” // Akiva Bigman
  • At the last minute: The discussion with Police Commissioner Alsheikh at the Knesset Interior Committee was cancelled

News Summary:
The Israeli Police recommendation to charge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with bribery in two cases splashed all over the front pages of the Hebrew newspapers this morning, as political commentators predicted this was the ‘beginning of the end’ of Netanyahu’s political career (See Commentary/Analysis below). 'Case 1000' alleged that Netanyahu received a million shekels of gifts from Arnon Milchan and another wealthy businessman in return for political favors, while ‘Case 2000' alleged a quid-pro-quo relationship with publisher of Yedioth newspaper, Arnon Mozes. The police also recommended the indictment of Milchan for giving bribes and Mozes for offering bribes. (Haaretz+ has an explainer about the suspicions here.)

In response, Netanyahu slammed the police, accusing it of acting ‘against the public interest’ and declaring that he will continue to lead the country - in other words, he won’t step down. His party said it was a ‘coup’ attempt and slammed MK Yair Lapid for being a key witness, while the opposition hailed the 'end of Netanyahu.’ Now everyone awaits the decision of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit about whether to indict Netanyahu or not. And that could take time.

Meanwhile, a study found that a campaign of online incitement and violence against Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh has worsened in the past five months. The study found that 81% of the violent posts were by right-wingers, while only 19% were from left-wingers. "The increase in the volume of hate speech against the police commissioner was a direct result of the commander's spirit coming from Jerusalem, which has marked Alsheikh as someone who wants to topple the prime minister due to non-professional motives.” said the Director of Public Outreach for the Berl Katznelson Foundation Anat Rosilio.  "This is a very slippery slope for a country priding itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East," she concluded.
 
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi's trial begins; reporters barred from covering it - Judge decides to close the proceedings for 'Tamimi’s good' – despite her attorney's request. (Haaretz and Ynet and +972mag)
  • Palestinian diplomat: We'll continue teaching our kids to throw stones - Abdallah Abushawesh, member of the Palestinian delegation to the UN, tells visiting Canadian students 'We're experts at throwing stones, we are very proud to do that,' adding he 'never missed an opportunity to throw stones' during the first intifada. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Bennett: 'Right-wing government that doesn't annex West Bank under Trump has failed' - Education Minister Bennett says that, 'If a Right-wing government completed its term with half a million Israelis as second class citizens, it will be considered a failure'; previously White House denied having talks with PM Netanyahu regarding annexation; Elkin: 'Former PM Begin also faced opposition from Reagan on Golan Heights annexation.' (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Terrorist who critically wounded policewoman convicted of attempted murder - Ayman Kurd, who stabbed two police officers, leaving one of them paralyzed, found guilty of attempted murder; he wanted to 'die a martyr's death' and wrote wills to family and friends, urging them to celebrate his death. (Ynet)
  • Gabbay slams religious Zionist moderates for ‘silence’ over corruption, incitement - 'For God’s sake, when will they stop being silent? When did they give up on the Jewish people?' Labor leader Avi Gabbay wonders. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Rabbi backtracks on apology after deprecating comments about women - After issuing apology for discussing the 'spiritual limitation of women' during lesson at pre-military academy, Rabbi Yosef Kelner seems to backtrack, saying his words were edited foolishly and he does not regret what he said. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Netanyahu pushes hosting Visegrad Group in Israel in talks with senior Hungarian official - If the Central European countries take the prime minister up on his offer, it will mark a new level in relations between them and Israel. (Haaretz)
  • UNIFIL spokesperson: New wall is on Israeli side of Lebanese border - The new fence, which will replace an existing barrier, is being built in two sections along the border with Lebanon. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli defense chief on Syria: It's not the time to bark, but to bite hard - During a visit in the north, Lieberman says Israel will respond to 'any provocation' and continue to defend its interests. (Haaretz)
  • Syria says Israel will face 'more surprises' in future attacks - After escalation in Israel-Syria-Iran tensions following the incursion of an Iranian drone into Israeli territory and the downing of an Israeli F-16. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Annual Report: Israeli attacks on Gaza fishermen cause death, injuries, and property damage - The annual report states that Israeli forces carried out shooting operations and chased down the fishermen hundreds of times, even while inside the designated fishing zone, “causing dozens of casualties as well as destroying and confiscating boats and fishing gears.” In 2017, two Palestinian fishermen were killed as a result of Israeli attacks. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces demolish Palestinian shop in East Jerusalem neighborhood - Bulldozers of the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality, along with municipality staff and armed Israeli forces, raided the Issawiya neighborhood and demolished the shop under the pretext that it was built without an Israeli-issued permit. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces detain 13 Palestinians, 4 former prisoners, in West Bank raids - The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces detained four former prisoners in the northern West Bank district of Tulkarem, one who served 13 years in prison, one who served 12 years, one who served six years and the fourth who spent five years in Israeli prison. (Maan)
  • 2 Golani soldiers killed in Highway 6 car crash - Staff Sergeant Bar Yakubian, 19, and Staff Sergeant Eshto Tespo, 21, killed when a truck driven by east Jerusalem resident crashed into their jeep along Highway 6; driver apparently lost control of vehicle, veered onto soldiers' jeep convoy; 10 other soldiers injured—one seriously, one moderately and rest lightly. (Ynet)
  • Anti-draft Extremists Besiege Ultra-orthodox MK at Home - Police extricate Uri Maklev and wife from dozens of protesters shouting 'murderer' at them. (Haaretz)
  • IDF Personnel Directorate head: No need for women in combat roles - Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz says despite reported decrease in youth motivation, IDF ranks full • After chief of staff says women will not lead charge in vanguard combat units, Almoz cites operational needs: "I need women in many other places in the IDF." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli ultra-Orthodox lawmaker to Reform Jews: Go ‘bar-mitzvah your dogs’ - At a contentious Knesset hearing called to address the lack of transparency in his decisions, Western Wall rabbi is a last-minute no-show. (Haaretz+)
  • (Arab) MK removed from Knesset meeting for calling IDF troops 'murderers' - At heated Knesset debate on bill that would ban groups that are critical of the IDF from addressing high schools, Arab MK Hanin Zoabi lashes out at Israeli military • Likud MK Anat Berko calls Zoabi a "terrorist," ensuing melee ends in Zoabi's removal. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Arab) MK Suleiman accuses Israel of buying oil from IS - During an argument with Zionist Union MK Revital Swid, Joint List MK Touma-Suleiman scathingly attacks Israel and its government, alleging it collaborated with the Islamic State and purchased oil from the terrorist group, as 'documented by the UN'; MK Swid countered by accusing Suleiman of supporting Hezbollah. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Arab woman MK attacked by Hebrew media for criticizing army policy - MK Aida Touma-Suleiman, a female legislator from the Arab-Jewish socialist party, criticized the Israeli army’s policy toward Syria, warning that it could escalate to a war that would endanger civilians. In response, one veteran male television news analyst ordered her to ‘sit down and be quiet.’ (+972mag)
  • PA official: Trump interview with Israel Hayom shows his bias - After several days of silence, senior Palestinian official comments on U.S. President Donald Trump's exclusive interview with Israel Hayom. "Trump's pro-Israel views are well known," he laments, noting that U.S. role as mediator cannot be restored. (Israel Hayom)
  • Did Obama's team warn Israel that Trump would share intel with Russia? - Days before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, an Israeli journalist reported that US intelligence officials, on an undisclosed date, had issued a warning to their Israeli counterparts. (JPost/Maariv)
  • Revealed: Israeli Order to Shoot Down Arafat's Plane Over the Saudi Desert - 'If it is confirmed Arafat is on board, the plane is to be shot down,' handwritten note from Israel Defense Force chief said in 1981. (Haaretz)
  • McCartney named winner of Israel’s Wolf Prize for Music - Five Wolf Prizes are to be awarded in Jerusalem in May. They will be shared among nine winners from the U.S., Canada, Japan, Hungary and Britain. (Haaretz)
  • Sisters who accuse Australian principal of sexual assault herald her arrest in Israel as ‘important breakthrough’ - After investigation, Israel Police alleges the ultra-orthodox school principal has pretended to be mentally ill to avoid extradition. (Haaretz+)
  • Trump not following through on threat to cut aid over Jerusalem vote - After warnings from US Ambassador Haley and President Trump himself ahead of the UN vote against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, proposed 2019 budget shows not a single country is set to lose funding as a result of voting in favor of opposing the recognition. (Ynet)


Features:
Conscientious Objector Puts Himself in an Israeli Soldier’s Boots in New Book
Debut novel by anti-occupation activist Moriel Rothman-Zecher reflects life in a 'broken place' and charts the fragile relationship between an IDF soldier and Palestinian twins. (Andrew Esensten, Haaretz+)
Explained: Syria's Four-front War and the Unprecedented Chaos It Has Created
Within a week, al-Qaida-affiliated rebels shot down a Russian jet, Kurdish fighters downed a Turkish helicopter, Israel downed an Iranian drone and the Syrian army shot down an Israeli F-16. (Haaretz and The Associated Press)
The Iranian Film That Breaks the Taboo on Sexuality
Ali Soozandeh’s animated work ‘Tehran Taboo,’ now debuting in the United States, harshly criticizes the oppression of women in the Islamic Republic and the hypocrisy that pervades society. (Shira Makin, Haaretz+)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
The countdown to Netanyahu’s departure begins (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) He seems willing to lie, coerce others to lie and undermine the foundations of democracy, but the suspicions will break him.
*Police recommendations are beginning of Netanyahu's political demise (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) As of Tuesday evening, it’s clear the prime minister’s investigations weren’t about a few cigars provided by friends, but about a bribe totaling about NIS 1 million; it’s unlikely the State Attorney’s Office will turn the tide, and it’s hard to believe the attorney general will be able to evade the bomb waiting on his doorstep.
Mendelblit, Don’t Delay (Haaretz Editorial) The corruption cases centered on the Israeli prime minister have aroused fierce legal, public and political storms, but they basically tell a very simple story. He cannot continue as prime minister of Israel.
If this is how "there will nothing because there is nothing" looks, what does it look like when there is something? (Ben Caspit, Maariv) This is the third time that Netanyahu has been faced with a recommendation to indict him, and there is still no tremor in his voice as he blames the police commissioner and his officers, and undermines the public's trust in law enforcement officials.
The Personality Cult Around Netanyahu (Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz+) For a few years now, Israelis have been subjected to a slow brainwashing whose purpose is to instill the idea that the government in Israel is personal rather than collective.
Legally, the prime minister can remain in office. And from a public standpoint? (Dr. Yechiel Gutman, Maariv) Netanyahu is right that the police conclusions do not require the end of his term and will not necessarily lead to the formulation of an indictment. This is true even if an indictment is filed and a legal proceeding is initiated.
Netanyahu’s all-out war of self-preservation heralds bedlam and mayhem for Israel (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Even if he is innocent, a true patriot wouldn’t tear down the Israeli police just to escape their recommendations.
In the footsteps of his predecessor, Ehud Olmert (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The police sewed up Netanyahu from head to toe – a hermetic seal, at least in the eyes of a layman - which won't suffice with a public reprimand.
Netanyahu’s media obsession has brought about his downfall (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The prime minister's obsession with getting the respect he believed he was due from all of the Israeli media led him to pursue Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes.
The cloud forest will now accompany Netanyahu at every turn (Udi Segal, Maariv) The prime minister is trying to grab a stick at both and even at three ends: stateliness, victimhood and continued undermining of the legitimacy of the police recommendations. Even for him it is difficult to connect this strange triangle.
The Real Bombshell of Netanyahu's Bribery Affair: Challenger Yair Lapid (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The politician who revealed to be central in police investigations of Netanyahu stands as the prime minister's strongest competition.
Exploiting the grief of bereaved families to promote (settlement) construction is beyond basic decency (Ran Adelist, Maariv)  There is a national struggle between Israel and Palestine. It includes a clash of narratives, a media struggle, a diplomatic struggle and the cherry of the secondary struggles are beatings, shootings, hit-and-runs, stabbings, house demolitions - from all the human arsenal tools. The main struggle, around which all the rest turns, is the territorial struggle. On the Palestinian side, the struggle for their land is the realization of the state expression of personal and national freedom in its historical and constitutional sense. And if that doesn’t work, then they rebel with what they have, including terror. The Israeli side also uses violence and other tools, including religious struggle. God commanded us to do so. The Palestinians have not yet introduced Muhammad as the one who gave them the country, and permitted them to act violently, and they justify violence as a response to Israeli violence, and yes, settling on private Palestinian land is considered in their view as violence. And they rely, exactly as Israelis do, on historical precedents that are proof that they have lived here. The Palestinians also add to history the decisions of a variety of international institutions that Israel ignores. In Israel we add the word of God. So far, this was a shortened history of the conflict until the entry of the religious dimension, or in the leftist-language, messianism. God, as we know, if you take him really seriously, he is the real supreme commander, and one of the most problematic signs in recent days are his orders or his commandments regarding the treatment of bereavement as a media lever to continue holding on to the Territories.…There is no point in arguing with a widow who has just lost her husband, and indeed it was a touching sight to see Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan next to Itamar Ben Gal's widow, who held texts that dealt with the fact that the answer to her husband's death was the establishment of a city on Har Bracha settlement, the place where they lived…
U.S. slap on settlements highlights risk of Netanyahu’s beautiful friendship with Trump (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Harsh White House statement provides early warning of fate awaiting those who dare embarrass or confront the self-centered president.
Take a look around. This is what annexation looks like (Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man, +972mag) The annexation of Palestine will not come one day, it is happening every day, and this is what it looks like: legislating mundane changes about higher education councils.
Hamas' Sinwar Has the Approach Israel Should Back (Ronit Marzan, Haaretz+) He’s offering a conciliatory model, but if he has nothing to lose he’ll link the Gaza-based leaders with the militant leaders in exile and return to the path of military action.
Israel will no longer allow Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi to make the occupation look bad (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The military judge at the teen's hearing seeks to do everything possible to prevent the courtroom from becoming a media circus.
Behind the extravagant hype of an Israeli-Saudi 'courtship', Israel is setting the price for Riyadh to go nuclear (Victor Kattan, Haaretz+) The exaggerated reports and rumours about ever-closer ties are trial balloons: Jerusalem is signalling its reluctant assent to Riyadh obtaining a nuclear deterrent – but at a high price
On Israel's Right, a Call to Deport Hundreds of Thousands. What Then? Nakba?(Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) What're we supposed to think? That there are problems that we can just deport away? Well, why not? For some, frustrated with a lack of clear policies, it’s a tempting thought. But this is why not.
Security coordination saves lives (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) When two Israeli soldiers accidentally entered the West Bank and were attacked by an angry mob, it was Palestinian security officers who risked their lives and rescued them. Their cooperation is a valuable asset.
A downed Israeli jet and the U.S. budget: Two sides of a failing Trump (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The Trump administration is growing increasingly irrelevant because it has neither a coherent set of policies nor people competent to implement them. In Syria, Israel is going to share the price.
Trump's narrow strategic prism (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) Trump's domestic politics have very much shaped his action, or inaction, in Syria. This is largely due to ongoing the Russia probe in Washington, which has tied his hands, but also because of his neo-isolationist worldview.
Worst U.S. - Palestinian relations ever? Blame Trump - but blame Congress too(Aaron Magid, Haaretz+) It's legitimate to blast the U.S. president for alienating the Palestinians and distancing peace. But stopping there is a cop-out: Congress has consistently widened the power disparity between Israelis and Palestinians in almost every way
Power, Not Purity, for the Israeli Left (Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, Haaretz+) If centrists Yair Lapid or Avi Gabbay is the next PM, the Meretz party can make their government left-wing - but only from inside the coalition.
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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