News Nosh 2.22.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday, February 22, 2018
Quote of the day:
״I can’t remember such a period of weakness, of lack of leadership, as we are experiencing now. People who want to be leaders and are avoiding any ethical comment which might get them in trouble with the prime minister."
--Senior Yedioth political analyst Sima Kadmon wrote in an Op-Ed about the silence of the coalition politicians.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to allocate 50 million shekels to temporarily move 15 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land located in an outpost not approved by the government.**

Breaking News:
Palestinian Dies in Military Custody After Beating by Israeli Soldiers in Jericho (Haaretz and Ynet)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • “I carried out Netanyahu’s orders” - State witness in the Bezeq affair, Shlomo Filber, told his associates about his testimony, which allegedly incriminates the Prime Minister
  • The stain that won’t wipe off // Ben Caspit
  • A destructive romance // Nadav Haetzni
  • The scenarios: Continues serving, leave of absence, resigns or elections
  • (Culture Minister) Miri Regev: “Case 7000 is the suspicion against the pre-school teacher Shoshana”
  • (Purim costumes) - Boys: (Singers) Static and Ben-El; Girls: (Singer) Noa Kirel
  • Spokes in the wheels of the train to Jerusalem - After the promise it would come quickly: The fast line from Tel-Aviv that was supposed to launch at Passover, was postponed six months
Israel Hayom
  • Netanyahu requested, I carried out, they manipulated me - The dramatic testimony (of Filber); PM denies: “It never happened”
  • Operation ‘Catch Netanyahu’ // Haim Shine
  • Boomerang of the Prime Minister’s communications portfolio // Yossi Beilin
  • Voice of the people: Yehuda Hertzig, Ashdod: “Netanyahu is a succeeder and he will continue to be a person to admire”; Rami Yashak, Rechovot: “Bibi focused on protecting himself - at the expense of the state”; Shlomi Hadad, Safed: “For years Netanyahu has been persecuted, it’s known”; Hannah Rachmani, Kalachim: “This is government corruption like there’s never been. Netanyahu must resign”; Tova Maoz, Maalot: “Prime Minister needs to deal with the media that chooses to mudsling”
  • (IDF Intel) Unit 8200’s achievement - Prevented an enormous air attack by ISIS in Australia, thwarted Iranian cyberattack against Israeli institutions
  • On the way to Jerusalem: Today two High Court Justices will be chosen
  • IDF Chief of Staff admits: Return of bodies of terrorist from Har Adar was a mistake
  • The train is late again: Launch of fast line between Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv expected to be postponed by six months
  • Purim: This is how to prepare homemade hamantaschen

News Summary:
And so, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s loyal confidant, Shlomo Filber, ‘sang’ to police, saying he was specifically instructed by Netanyahu to aid Bezeq Telecom, for which the Netanyahu family allegedly received positive coverage on the Walla news website, both owned by suspect Shaul Elovitch, making today’s top story as the papers examined what were the next possible scenarios vis-a-vis Netanyahu and if and when right-wing politicians would speak out against Netanyahu remaining in his position.

In exchange for a lighter sentence, Shlomo Filber testified against Netanyahu, saying his boss told him 'who to look out for and how.’ A spokesman for Netanyahu said ‘It never happened.’ Yedioth reported that it was hearing a recording which broke Filber's loyalty to Netanyahu. Walla news site CEO Ilan Yeshua provided the recording of Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch pressing Yeshua to slant the site’s coverage in favor of Netanyahu family. (Haaretz+ and Ynet have profiles of Filber.)

Police also confronted Bezeq Telecom main shareholder, Elovitch and ex-Netanyahu adviser, Nir Hefetz, with the alleged graft witness, Ilan Yeshua. Hefetz is also a suspect in Case 1270 along with Eli Kamir, a former Bezeq strategic advisor, of offering former District Court president Hila Gerstel a promotion to attorney general in exchange for closing the case against the prime minister's wife, Sara, for alleged forgery of receipts and misuse of public funds, also referred to as the Prime Minister's residences affair. Eli Kamir became a state witness Wednesday.

One of the details of the testimony that also made headlines was how Mrs. Sara Netanyahu screamed at Filber because he forbade Netanyahu from keeping a Bulgari watch he received from Italian Prime Minister Sylivio Berlusconi.

The media, including even the pro-Netanyahu tabloid, Israel Hayom, looked at the possible scenarios: Netanyahu hangs on, Netanyahu takes a leave of absence (maximum 100 days), Netanyahu resigns and Likud remains, Netanyahu calls elections. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)

A number of polls in recent days show the Likud stays strong despite dropping support for Netanyahu: 50% say Netanyahu should leave office, according to a Channel 10 poll.
Channel 10 poll: Likud led by Netanyahu receives 27 seats; Yesh Atid - 23; Zionist Camp - 15; Joint List - 12; Habayit Hayehudi - 10;  Kulanu - 9; Meretz - 7; Yisrael Beiteinu - 7; United Torah Judaism - 6; and Shas - 5. (Maariv)
Meanwhile, a poll conducted on behalf of Israel Hayom Monday indicated that if a general election were held now, Likud would win 34 Knesset seats, an increase over the 30 it won in the 2015 election. Yesh Atid under Yair Lapid would secure 20 seats, compared to its current 11. Habayit Hayehudi would win 14 seats, compared to 8 in the current Knesset.  Zionist Union, which currently has 24 seats, would drop to 12. Joint Arab List, with 13 seats in the current Knesset, would likewise drop to 12. United Torah Judaism would increase from its current six seats to nine. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu Party would get 7 and Yisrael Beytenu, headed by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, would win six seats, as would Meretz.  According to the poll, Shas would not pass the electoral threshold necessary to be part of the Knesset.

Netanyahu loyalist, Culture Minister Miri Regev was the only Likud minister to speak in support of Netanyahu. Regev said the polls show the public doesn’t buy the ‘lies’ against Netanyahu. Regev attacked the police and the media directly, claiming their actions point to an obvious intent to topple Netanyahu. She also joked: “I have to update you, just now Case 7000 has been published with serious allegations against teacher Shoshana, a kindergarten teacher who apparently gave Netanyahu an extra cookie at the end of the kindergarten,” she said. “At this moment, researchers are investigating if that is the reason that she is still a kindergarten teacher to this day. Tomorrow, a photograph of Netanyahu with the cookie will be published in all the newspapers.” (Maariv)
Ehud Barak: "When someone is too long in power there is an element of corruption" (Maariv)
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud): "The feeling is embarrassing. I strengthen the elements of the law” "I have not seen a sign of improper conduct by the prime minister, but it is not my job to examine this" (Maariv)
MK Yoav Kish (Likud) said that if the allegations were true, Netanyahu could not continue.
MK Oren Hazan (Likud): “Netanyahu should take temporary leave of absence” because “the Likud movement is paying and is going to pay a very heavy price in light of all of the affairs converging around it.”

Meanwhile, Maariv and Haaretz noted that in a speech in Jerusalem to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, Netanyahu spoke of Israel’s new alliances in the Middle East, and slammed but stayed mum about the investigations and his confidant who turned against him.
Quick Hits:
  • **Evacuating illegal West Bank outpost built on private Palestinian land will cost Israeli taxpayer $15 million - The state has asked the High Court to delay the demolition of Netiv Ha'avot by three months, reasoning that settlers should have temporary homes in the interim. The outpost was illegally built in 2001, but in response to a Peace Now petition, the High Court ruled that 15 of the 41 homes must be relocated because they are on privately-owned Palestinian land. (Haaretz+ and JPost)
  • Israeli forces dismantle illegal West Bank outpost set up after deadly stabbing attack - According to security sources, settlers burned tires, threw rocks, and poured oil on access routes during the evacuation. The outpost, located adjacent to Tapuah, included a few caravans and was named Avitar by its residents. (Haaretz+)
  • West Bank shepherd says masked Israelis attacked him, killed his sheep - Israeli police are investigating claims that a number of right-wing extremists from Yitzhar settlement attacked a Palestinian and his flock of 70 sheep, killing five, near the Nablus-area village of Einabus.  (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • 4 Palestinians detained during protest in support of imprisoned non-violent activist Munther Amira - Israeli forces detained journalist Mohammed Alwan, and three Palestinian teenagers who were demonstrating in solidarity with Palestinian activist Munther Amira, head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in the West Bank, who was arrested during peaceful protests in late December against Trump’s Jerusalem declaration. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces demolish 3 structures in East Jerusalem, leaving family of 6 homeless - Forces raided the Shufat neighborhood, where they demolished a house belonging to Saleh Abu Khdeir. Earlier in the day, they demolished a cosmetic salon in Beit Hanina that belonged to Daoud Muheisen. (Maan)
  • Palestinian youth in Nablus: 'Unite and stop with the division' - Palestinian youth demonstrate in Nablus, demanding peace and calling for non-violent opposition to the occupation. (+972mag)
  • Israeli forces raze Palestinian lands in Jenin, reportedly for construction of separation wall - Palestinian residents of Thahr al-Malehto village have been “left with no road to lead to their lands from the northern side of the village,” adding that once the sections of the wall is completed, it will “eat up” more than 1000 dunams (247 acres) of lands belonging to residents from Jenin-area towns such as Yaabad and Nazlat al-Sheikh Zaid. (Maan)
  • Israel's elite intelligence unit helped foil ISIS plane bombing in Australia, army reveals - The success last year follows reports in May that Israel helped stymie an attempt by the group to put a bomb on a passenger plane. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Rare Syrian-Israeli heated debate on Al Jazeera - IDF spokesman for Arabic media debates former Syrian officer, Assad supporter, who challenged Israel ‘to fly over Syrian skies again’; ‘One jet in 30 years is not such a big deal,’ says host. (Ynet)
  • No charges against soldier who accidentally killed commander - Advocate general follows investigation committee recommendation not to prosecute sgt. who reacted instinctively and accidentally killed his officer during an operational training incident in Hebron. (Ynet)
  • Israeli army chief: Returning bodies of terrorists to their families is a mistake - The Supreme Court is due to revisit a ruling made last year that forbade the state from keeping the bodies of terrorists for negotiation purposes. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Netanyahu: Abbas running away from peace, UN speech is ‘nothing new’ - Ministers accuse PA leader of distorting history, being duplicitous; from opposition, Lapid attacks inflated figure of Palestinian refugees. (Times of Israel)
  • MK Ayman Odeh against Saudi Arabia: "It has an alliance with the Israeli right-wing” - The chairman of the Joint List faction was interviewed by Lebanese Al-Miyadin and attacked Riyadh for its treatment of the Palestinians. About the Americans he said: “Their intelligence is based on the Israeli occupation in order to preserve their interests.” (Maariv)
  • Israel Film Fund head warns against curtailing artistic freedom - "We are fighting to protect our freedom. This is a sad reality," says Katriel Schory, after receiving Berlin International Film Festival's Berlinale Camera award • However, he says Israeli movies "prove that basic freedom of expression exists in Israel." (Israel Hayom)
  • Asylum seekers finish second day of hunger strike over jailing of Eritreans who refuse deportation - Protesters will demand the release of asylum seekers who were imprisoned for refusing to leave Israel and that no more be imprisoned. (Haaretz+ and +972mag)
  • Israelis Fight Against the Deportation of African Asylum Seekers in the Least Likely of Places– on the Dance Floor - During the last weekend of February, several clubs in Tel Aviv will be redirecting their profits to benefit the migrants facing forceful expulsion. (Haaretz+)
  • Migrant deported by Israel to Africa recounts ordeal - After growing to love Israel, Yohannes Tesfagabr, an Eritrean asylum seeker, accepted an Israeli offer of $3,500, one-way ticket to Uganda where he was denied official status and had his passport confiscated. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • US Jewish group pulls provocative Holocaust video offensive to Poles - Polish law criminalizes attributing Holocaust atrocities to Polish state or nation, testing ties with Israel. Over 600,000 sign petition calling for U.S. to cut ties with Poland. Polish journalist says video "spits in the face of every Pole." (Israel Hayom)
  • Intel to invest $4.5 billion in its Israeli operations in 2018 - Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon confirms tech giant has decided to invest billions of dollars in Israel in 2018. Company to receive 20% to 30% of investment back in government grants. Move pending approval by Finance and Economy ministries, Tax Authority. (Israel Hayom)
  • Family of Northern Irish biker who disappeared in Israel rule out Jerusalem syndrome - Uncle and brother of Oliver McAfee, 29, who went missing last November, suspect he may have been the victim of foul play. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • '7 Days in Entebbe' fails to grab critics in Berlin - The latest movie recreation of the most famous rescue mission in Israeli history is curiously unthrilling, according to early reviews. (Haaretz+)
  • After 346 Civilian Deaths in Syria This Month, UN Calls to End 'Monstrous Annihilation Campaign' - World leaders demand humanitarian access to Syria's eastern Ghouta, where an escalating battle has left almost 350 civilians dead. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Egypt's Sissi: We 'Scored a Goal' With $15 Billion Israeli Gas Deal - The 10-year natural gas deal is expected to turn Egypt into a regional energy hub. (Agencies, Haaretz)

What It's Like to Be Gay in Gaza: Meeting Israelis on Dating Apps, Evading Hamas and Plotting Escape
In a society where homosexuality could be publishable by death, gay Gazans keep their identity secret. (Liza Rozovsky, Haaretz+)
My Secret Meeting With Netanyahu Associates Is Why I Don’t Believe Him (Dan Margalit, Haaretz+) Acting as if the attorney general’s job can be bargained over isn’t foreign to Netanyahu. That was clear in my long talk with Nir Hefetz and Avichai Mendelblit.
Netanyahu is desperately trying to get positive press and most of his claims against the media are justified (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) The Prime Minister's enemies are crying out that he tried to control the media without brakes, even at the cost of paying bribes, but the truth is that he had a good reason to do so in order to achieve fair balance and coverage that his camp never received…But anyone who thinks that Netanyahu has fallen in his quest for fair and balanced journalism should explain what has been revealed in the recent investigations. Especially his clear agreement, in conversations with (Yedioth publisher) Noni Mozes, to destroy the newspaper that changed the map of Israeli print media for the better, and which played an important role in its establishment: “Israel Hayom.” "Israel Hayom” has recently undergone a fundamental change and is much less a “Bibi moutpiece” than it was before the exposure of the Mozes tapes. But even in its previous incarnation it was a newspaper that changed the scene of the exchange of views in the State of Israel. Even while it still provided immunity and automatic sympathy for Netanyahu, it was the only widely distributed media that reflected the worldview of most Israelis. They finally found a place where they could get unbiased information and ideas. Netanyahu offered to destroy this, according to transcripts of the talks (with Mozes), in return for a permanent media caress from Mozes’ media industry. In other words, he was willing to give away the worldview of his (right-wing) camp for his personal benefit. In any event, as of now, Netanyahu's obsessive affair with the media appears to be a destructive romance.
Netanyahu's Long Goodbye (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The next few months will be the damaging twilight of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiership. If only he was capable of cutting it short.
*The day Netanyahu’s walls of denial broke down (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) If the prime minister had any good advisors left, they would have urged him to try to strike a deal with the attorney general before it became too late; but then his fate was sealed by his confidant, the man who up until Tuesday seemed to be willing to spend his entire life in jail as long as his master remained unharmed.
Defending Israel from afar: The problem of being a light unto the nations (Daphne Merkin, Haaretz+) Listening to liberal New York Jews bad-mouth Israel has become an increasingly common and disheartening occurrence in recent years.
Yair Lapid’s trial of fire (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu's attack on Lapid over his police testimony wasn’t just a spin for investigation purposes; the prime minister sees the Yesh Atid leader as a real threat to his rule. Lapid is one of the only players in the political system who knows how to speak and physically looks like a prime minister.
In Israeli Ethnic Politics, This Is What Revenge Looks Like (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) ‘We’ are what you once called ‘the second Israel’ and today the ‘periphery.’ We understand exactly what bribery is, but we’re punishing you and ignoring it.
It is doubtful that Netanyahu has enough time to escape the amount of evidence gathered against him (Ran Kaufman, Maariv) Even a wonderful prime minister has only 24 hours a day and during this time the prime minister has no time to run the State of Israel. And also: Did Lieberman, Bennett, Kahlon and Deri not know about the ties with Elovitch?
The Shameful Silence of Netanyahu’s Coalition Partners (Haaretz Editorial) Moshe Kahlon and Naftali Bennett, who purport to stand for the rule of law, have no excuse for standing behind the beleaguered prime minister.
New case or police ploy? (Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Israel Hayom) The reports on fresh accusations against Netanyahu and his associates will likely amount to another capricious witch hunt against the prime minister.
Case 4000, This is not the end: Shlomo Filber has much more to tell (Yanir Kuzin, Maariv) The new state witness has many answers regarding the laws about the Israeli Public Broadcast Corporation and the splitting of Channel 2. The State Attorney's Office has a primary public debt to probe and to investigate other cases where there is still no name or number.
President of Israel's Supreme Court Should Resign (Uri Misgav, Haaretz+) It’s hard to imagine Esther Hayut continuing to serve in her post. If she clings to it, the country's entire judicial system will be operating under a constant cloud.
Driven mad by Israel Hayom's success (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) The leftist media cannot make peace with the fact that it is losing its grip on public opinion, and is serving viewers and listeners self-serving propaganda in the guise of objective reporting.
Forget indictments. There is only one reason AIPAC will ever stop standing by Netanyahu and Trump (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) Even if many Israelis are sick of Netanyahu, and most U.S. Jews despise Trump, AIPAC will back them unquestioningly. There is only one conceivable cloud on the horizon - and it’s not Mueller or the Israeli police.
As far as the appointing committee is concerned, there are clear advantages and disadvantages to the appointment of a High Court judge like Khaled Kabub (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) The resignation of Judge Khaled Kabub from the race to the High Court does not stem from racial circumstances, as all sorts of commentators have tried to suggest, but from social-national circumstances. That's how it is in a complex reality…I spoke to two lawyers who told me that Khaled Kabub was an excellent judge. One of the best. I also read two or three articles that cried out against his decision to withdraw his candidacy to the High Court. Some of them, as is our custom, did not spare words like "ghetto." And, of course, also made baseless comparisons to other countries. Especially the US Supreme Court, where only one black judge sits on the bench. They discriminate against the blacks - we against Arabs - this is probably the claim. It has no real basis in both cases. The case of Kabub is, of course, unfortunate. He is a worthy professional, who will not occupy the top of his profession because of an inappropriate timing. He is neither the first nor the last for this to happen to him. It was not for reasons of race, as all sorts of commentators have tried to suggest, but social-national circumstances are the ones that hold him back. What can you do, Kabub is an Arab. And the court is required to decide on quite a few issues that have to do with the Israeli-Arab conflict. And legal history proves that Arab judges tend to rule differently than Jewish judges in such cases. What can you do, but the committee that appoints judges favors the decisions of the Jewish judges (not all of course) in these cases.
My father was jailed for believing Palestine must be free ( Ghaida Amirah, +972mag) The Israeli occupation thinks that my father, non-violent organizer Munther Amirah, is a threat to its apartheid system because he radiates hope to our community.
Stop sign (Gideon Reicher, Maariv) The claims by Arab taxi drivers of discrimination at Ben-Gurion Airport are reason for concern. Imagine for yourselves a Jewish man landing in Paris, London or New York and demanding that the driver not be black, Muslim or Christian. (In Israel,) the unacceptable ease with which the Ports Authority taxi usher accepted the request of a Jewish tourist not to have an Arab taxi driver is worrying and even shocking. What do we do? Get shocked. What else? We must fight by the skin of our teeth against this disgusting phenomenon, which will end with those who act correctly. We must immediately put an end to the race theory, which is developing in the country, in which one-third of the people were decimated according to those rules. Woe to us that we have reached this point. It will be interesting to see how the High Court of Justice rules in this issue. Will it disqualify an Arab judge from sitting on the panel of judges? We will wait and see.
The crumbling consensus that Jews were the ultimate Holocaust victims (Ofri Ilany, Haaretz+) The liberal world order is falling apart with Trump and Netanyahu's help, heralding bizarre new Holocaust narratives.
A message to Washington (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) The Abbas speech on Tuesday aimed to capture the attention of the White House, not the U.N. Security Council. But is he ready to listen to the imminent American peace proposal?
To Know Israelis, Watch Them Drive (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) All the Israeli aggression and violence and total lack of consideration for the other, any other, the bitterness and maybe even the hatred are reflected on the asphalt of Israel’s roads.
A peace plan without peace (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) PA President Abbas continues to hope that someone else will do the Palestinians' job for them, negotiate with Israel on their behalf and force it to accept their conditions.

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