News Nosh 3.7.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday, March 7, 2018


You Must Be Kidding: 
"If you support Israel, you must by definition support Israel living in peace with its neighbors.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized the distinction between being "pro-Israel" and "pro-peace," saying that people in Israel who don't support peace "simply do not exist." (The ambassador seems to have failed to take into account that making peace requires more than just saying you want it.)**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Netanyahu: The draft law or elections
  • Spin follows spin // Lilach Segen
  • Netanyahu at AIPAC: “Iran is building an aggressive empire - we won’t allow that”
  • A show of unity // Shmuel Rosner
  • “State witnesses are an important tool” - Police Commissioner
  • The most shameful deal of them all // Ron Kaufman
  • N. Korea: “We are prepared to freeze the nuclear program”
Israel Hayom
  • “Government until the end of its term - or elections" - Netanyahu’s ultimatum to his coalition partners
  • Prime Minister signals: I don’t want elections // Mati Tuchfeld
  • The ultra-Orthodox poker game is getting into trouble // Yehuda Shlezinger
  • “We must stop Iran - and we will stop it” - Netanyahu excited the thousands with his speech at AIPAC - and sent a sharp message to Iran
  • Women of the top (Illit) - In Nazareth Illit they don’t need a special day to raise awareness of empowering women - 90% of the management of the municipality are women
  • N. Korea: “N. Korea is prepared to give up its nukes”
  • High Court froze the compensation to the Amona and Netiv Haavot (settler outpost) evacuees
  • The sea remains in the family: The father was a founder of the Navy - his grandson is completing captains course with honors
News Summary:
At the AIPAC conference, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was met with applause from the crowd and warned Iran, while back at home the corruption investigations continued and he warned the coalition he would go to elections if the they did not solve the crisis over the draft law - making the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also, Haaretz reported that the health of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is deteriorating and Israel fears instability in the battle to be his successor.

The papers noted the warmth and enthusiasm with which Netanyahu was received at the AIPAC conference, ‘a hero’s welcome’ (Haaretz), ‘as far as possible from the investigations’ (Yedioth headline). He vowed to “stop Iran,” touted Israeli ingenuity and blamed the lack of peace on payments the Palestinian Authority gives to Palestinians who have attacked Israeli security forces and civilians.

But the papers also reported that the information that Netanyahu’s former media advisor, Nir Hefetz, is giving to the police as a state witness is the ‘missing link’ that ties Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, and his son, Yair, to Case 4000, in which Netanyahu and family allegedly got favorable coverage on Walla news website in return for giving Bezeq telecom regulatory benefits. Police chief Roni Alsheikh told the public that state witnesses were “one of the most important tools of deterrence against criminal organizations and public corruption.”

Meanwhile, questions swirled over whether the coalition crisis was invented by Netanyahu or not. (See Lilach Segen’s Maariv Op-Ed in Commentary/Analysis below.) Yesterday Netanyahu gave an ultimatum: resolve the crisis over the draft law, giving ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students an exemption, or he would take the country to elections.
 
Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Soldiers Filmed Doing Nothing as Settlers Attack Palestinians - Settlers threw rocks at a Palestinian driving a tractor and later kicked him, sparking 'friction' between settlers and Palestinians in the area. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli Army Erects West Bank Checkpoints to Collect Palestinians' Personal Details - Palestinian drivers required to provide copy of ID, origin and destination of their trip. Many soldiers are questioning the new policy, which the army says is needed for security reasons. (Haaretz+)
  • Video: Palestinian worker suffocates while waiting at crowded Israeli military checkpoint - Video footage of the incident shows the crowd of workers passing the man’s body over their heads towards the exit, where he was taken to hospital for treatment. The identity of the man remained unknown. (MaanVIDEO)
  • Israeli forces demolish Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem - Israeli bulldozers demolished a cement wall and a carwash (for the second time) belonging to a Palestinian in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on Tuesday morning. Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in East Jerusalem. (Maan)
  • Knesset Panel Allows Police to Hold on to Bodies of Terrorists - Proposed amendment would bypass a High Court ruling allowing bodies to be returned to families for burial, and would set limits on funerals, (Haaretz+)
  • Moving West Bank Checkpoint to Block Palestinians From Spring Is Illegal, State Admits in Court - Jerusalem District planner Shira Talmi signed the permit to move the military checkpoint near the West Bank village of Walaja, south of Jerusalem as chairman of a committee she is not even a member of. The aim is to be able to open the Ein Hinye recreation site, which is built around a spring that had been used by Palestinians until the work began. The court was told the checkpoint was being moved to block Palestinians from Walaja and the surrounding area from accessing the spring. The change will also make it difficult for the farmers in Walaja to reach their lands. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli naval forces open fire on Gaza fishermen - Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the northern Gaza Strip on Monday. No injuries were reported. Last month, Israeli forces shot and killed 18-year-old fisherman, Ismail Saleh Abu Reyala. (Maan)
  • Jewish, Arab residents of Acre show solidarity after attack - 'We Jews and Arabs live like brothers here. As far as we're concerned, nothing happened,' insists Acre residents, adamant that peaceful coexistence in the city will not be ruined by 'outsiders.' (Ynet)
  • Civilians portray Hezbollah terrorists for 1st time in IDF drill - Some 50 ex-combat soldiers learn Hezbollah's combat doctrine to portray fighters from Lebanese Shiite group in IDF exercise; in last Paratroopers brigade exercise, they succeeded in kidnapping two IDF soldiers without alerting the rest of the force. (Ynet)
  • Israel to Offer Military Personnel a Two-Year “Tech Leave” - The Israeli military is hoping the new plan will allow highly-trained career soldiers to “taste” the opportunities offered in the free market, encouraging them to later return to full military service. (Calcalist)
  • **U.S. Ambassador to Israel at AIPAC: It's 'blasphemous' to suggest Israel against peace - David Friedman speaks to AIPAC for first time as ambassador, says U.S.-Israel relationship is 'better than ever.' (Haaretz)
  • Abbas advisor: 'We did not run away from negotiations' - Responding to Trump's remarks that he thinks Palestinians want to return to the table, Mohammed Ishtayeh insists Trump administration pushed them away through a series of pro-Israel steps. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Saudi Arabia wants to develop nuclear weapons, minister warns - At annual AIPAC conference, Diplomatic-Security Cabinet member Naftali Bennett warns Saudi Arabia "must not have nuclear capability." Bennett: Today it is a convenient regime for the West, but in the Middle East there is a structural instability. (Israel Hayom)
  • PM: Saudis gives Air India overflight rights for Israel routes - PM Netanyahu announces new route during U.S. visit • Air India flights over Saudi Arabia will cut travel time to Israel down to six hours. Indian flag carrier received $750,000 grant, plans to operate three weekly flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. (Israel Hayom)
  • Biblical Tomb Raiders in Galilee Sentenced to Jail - Sentences of thieves filmed from the air breaking into the Mishkana graves ranged from four to nine months; Nazareth court also confiscated their excavator. (Haaretz+)
  • Orly Levy-Abekasis announces new political party - The MK, who quit Bayit Yehudi and has been operating as a one-person party over the past year, announces intentions to start a new party under her leadership; 'I'll represent the public without prejudice,' she vows. (Ynet and Haaretz)
  • IDC Herzliya Is on the Road to Becoming Israel’s First Private University - Previously only the country's universities could decide which fields to grant master's degrees in, but now IDC has been given the authority to do just that. (Haaretz)
  • Revealed: Ben-Gurion demanded that women be included in his first government - In a letter written exactly 70 years ago, the first prime minister clarified his views: "I think that the appointment of a woman to the government is a great privilege (and that is also a duty).” (Maariv)
  • Ahead of International Women's Day: Women's wages are 35% lower than that of men - WIZO's "glass ceiling index" again exposes gender inequalities in workplaces, academia, the army, and society, despite the openness in the IDF, only 8% of the fighting force are women. (Maariv)
  • U.S. Lawmakers Ask Justice Dept. to Declare Al Jazeera a Foreign Agent Amid 'Israel Lobby' Film Tensions - The legislators accuse the Qatar-owned network of airing anti-Semitic and anti-American content while giving 'favorable coverage' to terror groups. (Haaretz+)
  • Polish lawmakers slam 1968 purge of Jews, praise protest - 50 years after ruling communist factions purged thousands of Jews following anti-government protests, Poland approves resolution marking the occasion—praising mass protests and condemning anti-Semitism. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Polish PM: 'No Jew could have been saved without Poles' - In personal correspondence between Polish PM Morawiecki and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach obtained by Ynet, PM decries fact that 'sacrifice millions of Poles made during World War Two, they are still being mistaken with the accomplices of Germans.' (Ynet)
  • Syria lets aid reach Ghouta but blocks medical supplies, presses assault - After more than 700 casualties within two weeks, a first humanitarian convoy arrives in eastern Ghouta, the last bastion of rebels in the Damascus region; the Syrian government refuses to stop bombing and confiscates 70% of the medical aid. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Russian Military Cargo Plane Crashes in Syria, Killing 39 on Board - The Russian military is calling the crash of an An-26 Russian transport plane into Syria a 'technical error' while Russia's Investigative Committee opens a criminal investigation into the crash. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Why Did You Move to Israel? 'I Went to a Zionist School. I Bought Into the Dream'
This week at the Tel Aviv airport: An American-Israeli marketing exec describes selling the Israeli dream to investors ■ A scientist travels from France to Israel to be alone in the desert. (Liat Elkayam, Haaretz+)
Explained: The Possible Implications of Cutting Off Payments to Families of Palestinian Terrorists
Opposing the funding by the Palestinian Authority may seem simple enough, but it could sting the PA's prestige, boost Hamas and harm security cooperation with Israel. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)
On the Border Between Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian Cuisine
Attending a Hubeiza Festival and dining in Sufra, an Amman restaurant, and sampling the food at Rutenberg in northern Israel, proves the artificiality of political borders. (Ronit Vered, Haaretz+)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Bids AIPAC Farewell With His 'Terminator' Speech (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The prime minister was so unwilling to accept that this could be his last, legacy-defining speech to a U.S. audience, he refused to say anything new.
A lot of rotten eggs in one basket (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The willingness to sign more and more state’s witness deals, to forgive more and more criminals, indicates the AG is convinced that at least one case against the PM will end in a bribery trial. But what did these people give the investigators in exchange for their new status, and why should we believe them?
The Israeli Army Committed at Least 4 War Crimes in Recent Weeks. But Who Cares? (Daniel Blatman, Haaretz+) The real problem isn't the fact that the army evades dealing with crimes against the Palestinians, but rather that such acts have become the norm.
Trump and Netanyahu are cooperating to trample any chance of advancing peace (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Israeli prime ministers have not always liked the American mediation efforts, but they have always maintained a serious attitude and responded with restraint to the failures. Until Binyamin Netanyahu arrived…It is true that relations between the US and Israel have never been so good and so close. The problem is that the two friends, Trump and Netanyahu, are exploiting their cooperation to trample, stifle, and suppress any chance of advancing peace. And they do it with pleasure, full of pleasure and pride. In his speech at AIPAC, Netanyahu did not mention, even indirectly, the advancement of a diplomatic solution, and it was proven again, to those who needed more proof, that the prime minister was not interested in the subject. As expected, the prime minister was received at the AIPAC conference with enthusiastic enthusiasm and applause, but there is no need to be blinded, and it should be remembered that this is a right-wing organization whose leaders and a large majority of its members and activists have conservative right-wing views. This is an organization which by nature is close to the Likud Central Committee, so it's no wonder that Netanyahu feels at home in both these arenas.
Master Brainwasher Netanyahu Builds World of Lies in Which He Is the Innocent Victim (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister and his useful idiots despise the truth because they can’t control it.
The citizen has to choose who he believes in - Netanyahu has the sphinx or the blackmailing ultra-Orthodox parties (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) Those around Netanyahu say he doesn’t want elections, but will go to elections if the ultra-Orthodox parties continue extortion. The ultra-Orthodox parties say they don’t want elections, and that Netanyahu could have solved the crisis already, but for some reason he did not. Now the ordinary citizen has to choose who he believes less - Netanyahu, the spin doctor who is sinking in interrogations, or the extortionist ultra-Orthodox parties. As a secular Jew, the Haredi extortion and the attempt to exploit the situation to pass an exemption from conscription law certainly outrages me. The time has come to put a limit to the parties that have settled comfortably in the coalition glue box - you only have to pay them, each time a little more, and they will vote with you happily and say yes. On the one hand, there is a desire to praise Netanyahu, not only for his ability to function within his personal crisis and to address the Americans about Iran and about terrorism, but also about setting limits to the ultra-Orthodox parties. On the other hand, who really knows what really is going on behind the news headlines and declarations. It is no longer clear what leads to what - Netanyahu's personal crisis and his weakness at home that leads to pressure from the coalition and the coalition crisis, or whether the coalition crisis is merely a spin that is meant to distract from an early start to elections that will in fact constitute an escape from the personal crisis. Any conspiracy theory will be acceptable, and this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of Israel 2018 - a reality in which as a citizen you have no idea what the truth is. Everyone accuses everyone of extortion, of advancing personal interests over the national interests, of spins that have become a daily norm and long ago replaced strategy and policy. Who is right? Apparently everyone. One thing is certain - the tighter the ring closes around him, the more the elections become Netanyahu's option to try to prove public support, despite the growing investigations and despite the state's witnesses, who soon will be more in number than the members of the Likud faction. Last time, Netanyahu brought down a government after less than two years because of a "putsch attempt," which turned out to be more an attempt to prevent the passing of the "Israel Hayom” law. This time, at least, he could argue that it was because of the draft law, in order to try to remove some of the sting of Yair Lapid's election promise, even though in this term he has already sacrificed on the ultra-Orthodox altar the Western Wall rules and the Supermarket Law. It's all one big spin, you never know where it ends and where it starts.
Netanyahu Is Bragging About His Diplomatic Failures Again (Haaretz Editorial) True friends don't let friends prolong 50 years of occupation.
Time for Oslo to exit the stage (Brigadier-General (res.) Amir Avivi, Yedioth/Ynet) What is currently being offered to the Palestinians falls far short of a state and will not diminish claims that they continue to live under occupation, but Israel cannot relinquish security control over Judea and Samaria. New solutions are needed.
State's Witness: Despite Domestic Woes Bibi Turns on the Charm at AIPAC (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz) Israel's prime minister showed off 'Netanyahu unplugged' at the AIPAC confab on Tuesday, avoiding any real news and playing up his showmanship skills.
The news from Israel overshadowed the prime minister's speech at AIPAC(Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) The annual conference was the quietest ever and presented a show of unity. The question is whether this will enable the organization to be more effective in pushing a policy that will improve Israel's situation.
History in Washington, hysteria at home (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) While PM Netanyahu is witnessing a historic shift in U.S. policy toward Israel, the local media are busy muckraking about a new state's witness in yet another scandal designed to bring him down.
'Moscow Rules': Why Russian Defectors Are Fair Game in Britain - and Not in Israel (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Britain’s excellent intelligence services are rarely backed up by their politicians, so Russians on the run continue to die mysteriously.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Most Evil of Them All? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The way Israel is treating asylum seekers - without compassion, empathy, humanity - is the definition of evil.
If the Meretz party wants to reach 10 seats, Avi Buskila seems like the right person (Ran Adelist, Maariv) I hear that he is a kind of populist and that he’s superficial and that his messages are vague, except that all of that, with the package of his image, are exactly the virtues of a politician in the midst of an internal-political mud war.
What It's Like Being a Cancer Patient in Gaza (Manal Massalha, Haaretz+) Treatment is unavailable locally, and the disease makes those diagnosed feel 'sentenced to a slow death.’
Nothing less than a revolution (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) U.S. President Donald Trump has anchored his policy vis-à-vis Jerusalem not on threats but on an array of incentives meant to encourage Netanyahu's government to take risks in future negotiations.
Jordan's Calm Could Be Broken by Discontent Brewing Under the Surface (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The country is considered stable but tax woes and a system overloaded by refugees is creating a dangerously explosive stockpile that could erupt.
Global pressure must target Iran (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Otherwise, Tehran might emerge from the war in Syria as the big winner, not just militarily but economically.
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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