News Nosh: May 8, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday May 8, 2018
 
Quote of the day:
"Israel cannot rely on the apathy of Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, or emulate the policy embraced by Egypt, to justify its conduct in Gaza. The problem is on Israel’s border and the unrest will continue as long as there is no significant improvement."
--Haaretz Editorial today calls on Israel to manage the crisis in Gaza together with Hamas.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
More than one-third of the mobile homes the World Zionist Organization rents out are in the West Bank and many are in areas not legally authorized for buildings, according to information obtained by Peace Now.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Tonight: The decision - To withdraw or not to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran (Photo of Trump)
  • Exclusive: Waiting time for an appointment with a specialty doctor has doubled
  • Good luck, Netta! (at the Eurovision singing contest)
  • Cleaning lady at bank: “The Deputy CEO yelled at me, ‘Go to Russia’”
  • Would you eat from this shoe? - New details on the funny-embarrassing affair of the dessert served to the Prime Minister of Japan
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Today: Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal
  • Enormous exit: Israeli ‘Frutarom’ company sold for $7 billion to American flavors company IFF
  • Song of songs (Photo of Israeli competitor Netta Barzilai for Eurovision contest)
  • Balloons terror - Terrorists from Gaza Strip sending helium balloons with burning materials attached over the fence which causes enormous fires in fields in the south
  • High Court Chief Justice warns: Court is under attack
  • Likely: ‘Shooting Soldier’ Elor Azaria will be released from military jail in the next 48 hours
Israel Hayom
  • Nuclear deal: Moment of truth - World is tense; Trump: “I’ll give my decision tonight”
  • Netta’s stage (Eurovision contest)
  • Exclusive - Next to the embassy: “Trump square”
  • $7,100,000,000 - Smell of success: Frutarom company sold to American company
  • Prime Minister: “Habayit Hayehudi is burying the Overriding Bill; Bennett: “There is a limit to how much you pull one over, we will advance the bill”
  • Complaint: Illegal relations of a pregnant patient at the psychiatric department at Hadassah Hospital
  • Agreement with the Bedouin: Hwy 6 will be extended, the trip to Eilat will be shorter

News Summary:
Israel awaits two big decisions tonight: Will US President Donald Trump withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and will Israeli singer Netta Barzilai pass the semi-finals in the Eurovision singing contest (Hebrew), making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with multi-billion-dollar exit of an Israeli aroma and flavor company and the unprecedented declaration by the High Court Chief Justice. Meanwhile, neither Trump nor his VP will be coming to the inauguration of the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, but guess who will.

President Trump is expected to announce tonight that the US will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Fearing the Iranian response, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Iran without naming it that Israel will harm those who seek to harm it, and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel will 'eliminate' Syrian President Bashar alAssad if he continues to let Iran operate from Syria. At the same time, IDF officers have discussed the need to cause unnecessary panic among the public. (That comes a day after Israel announced that Iran will attack it in a few days. Hah!) Because of the announcement that Trump will give his decision tonight, Netanyahu will come back to Israel from a gas summit in Cyprus before going to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow tomorrow.

At a swearing-in ceremony for new judges, High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut said the bill curtailing the court's power threatens the human rights of 'every individual in Israeli society’ and is an ‘unprecedented attack’ on the court. President Reuven Rivlin was also critical: “In the absence of defense of minority rights, the ruling majority is nothing more than domineering.” But Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked from the far-right Habayit Hayehudi party defended the bill saying that “Israeli democracy is stronger than all of its eulogizers.”

So Trump won’t be coming for next weeks ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem - a day before Nakba Day. Neither will most of Israel's opposition - they weren’t invited. The top US representatives will be US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, as well as Christian and Jewish American leaders. The US move will be followed by Paraguay at the end of the month. Trying to stem the tide, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Latin America, urging its leaders not to move their embassies to Jerusalem.
 
Quick Hits:
  • Incendiary balloons from Gaza cause damage to Israeli fields - Helium-filled balloons flown from the strip land in wheat field near Kibbutz Mefalsim and in Be'eri Forest; with harvest time fast approaching, the damages to the fields are estimated at hundreds of thousands of shekels. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Fires break out in Israel near Gaza border, suspected by kites from Gaza - Although the state refers to burning fields by kites as terrorism, it has not collected data on fires in the area. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli forces expel Palestinian families from homes in Jordan Valley for army training - The Israeli army forcefully expelled five Palestinian families from their homes on Tuesday in order to carry out military training in the small Tubas-area village of Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa, whose residents live in tents. (Maan)
  • **World Zionist Organization rents out homes in West Bank settlements for less than in Israel proper - Data obtained by Haaretz shows that 37 percent of the WZO's mobile homes are in the West Bank. According to Peace Now, some of those were placed there illegally. (Haaretz+)
  • Egg throwing and beatings: Heated confrontation at a lecture by 'Breaking the Silence' organization at Tel Hai College - A Kiryat Shmona resident said, "I could not take the amount of slander against the IDF. An Arab student cursed the crowd. That's how the violence began." Lecture organizer, Tamir Zada: "Already at the beginning of the lecture, there were negative shouts, even though we divided the lecture equally among the speakers, but unfortunately there were racist calls, they called me a Nazi and insulted me throughout the evening. All this incitement came as a product of the public atmosphere that our leaders produce every day." When the event was over, female Arab students were escorted by police to the entrance to the student dormitories while people threw eggs at them. (103FM/Maariv)
  • Netanyahu: Bayit Yehudi pushing override power bill down the drain - Prime Minister Netanyahu maintains legislation to bypass High Court can only pass by reaching agreements within coalition, while Bennett, Shaked are trying to advance it without consensus; Bayit Yehudi: 'bill is being dragged out for three years now under different and strange excuses.' (Ynet)
  • Spying on Obama officials: Source says Israeli Black Cube hired by business entity, not Trump - Source refutes allegations that Trump associates hired the intelligence agency to snoop on aides who worked on the Iran nuclear deal. (Haaretz+)
  • Parents of flash flood disaster victim blame academy staff - Uriel and Rotem Bar-Shalom, Parents of Ilan Bar-Shalom who was killed in the Zafit Stream disaster, lament that 'it seems the 10 teen who were killed in the disaster are not enough for the lesson to be learned.' (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Knesset legal advisers: Bill subjecting Diaspora Jews to Israeli rabbinical courts' power is unjustified - Government pushing bill that would punish foreign Jewish men who refuse to grant a divorce and would also apply to some Israelis married outside of the rabbinate. (Haaretz+)
  • Nasrallah: No way of knowing how Israel-Iran tensions develop - Hezbollah celebrates gains in parliamentary elections, as the group and its allies secured over half the seats; 'This is a new political victory for the resistance bloc,' Nasrallah says; on Israel, he says there is 'no times to waste.' (Ynet)
  • WATCH: Key Republican Says U.S. Should Salvage Iran Nuclear Deal 'Though Bad' - 'I thought it was a bad deal, but the key question is what happens next if the U.S. pulls out? Does Iran kick out those inspectors so we lose the visibility we have?' asked Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry on Fox News. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi-led Airstrikes Hit Presidential Palace in Yemen's Capital, Witnesses Claim - The residents spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their own safety. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia Hopes to Jump-start Domestic Leisure Industry Through New Entertainment Center Network - The government hopes to develop public entertainment, partly because it wants to create jobs and diversify the economy beyond oil exports. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
Top Brass vs. Netanyahu's Government: Where Israel Stands on Nixing Nuke Iran Deal
Right-wing party heads have consistently backed PM Netanyahu’s hard-line stance, but opposition figures and army brass seem keener to fix rather than nix the agreement. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)
Israel's PR/hasbara people: "I was excited by the people, then by the country, and I became a Zionist"
The transformation of Tom Franz - from a German Catholic lawyer to a proud Zionist Jew and winner of "Master Chef" reality show - turned him into a cultural bridge between the two countries. As a guest on talk shows in Germany, he allows the audience a glimpse into the Israeli experience. (Ilana Stutland, Maariv)
A Billionaire’s Startup and a Gaza Water Project
Michael Mirilashvili’s Watergen firm was given access by Netanyahu to UN Secretary General Guterres. (Gur Megiddo, Haaretz)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
*An Alternative to Armed Struggle With Hamas (Haaretz Editorial) Now is the time for Israel to initiate steps that relieve Gaza’s residents of their status as despairing hostages.
A warning against a war with Iran is dubious alibi for a commission of inquiry (Ran Adelist, Maariv) The goal of headlines such as “The Iranians are planning“ is to signal to the Israeli public that the Iranians are about to attack, while we are really not involved. After all, we did not do anything, we just tried to conduct our lives peacefully - and suddenly they plan to attack. The idea is to conduct a dialogue with the Israeli public to prove that the Iranians are bastards and that Israeli intelligence is cautious. And if the Iranians do attack and we attack back, they too have a Plan B and they will attack again - and the wheel will start to turn wildly. The numbers of victims will increase rapidly, but the victims on the other side will not dampen the public's anger. Nor will the psychological preparation of "they started" and "bastards.” The panic is so great that (Minister) Yuval Steinitz was dispatched to warn that if missiles fly, “We will kill Assad." Al Capone's people would not have put it any better. No, this is not speculation, because that's exactly what politicians think. Especially when they are called Binyamin Netanyahu and they are dying of fear and seek an escape route in case their gamble (in this case, taking things to the threshold against the Iranians) won’t work. That is, it will end in smoke. This is also an alibi fabricated for a commission of inquiry that will undoubtedly be established, if we go deteriorate to war and a forced cease-fire - as in all Israel's wars.
Israel's reluctance to discuss Hamas' truce offer could blow up on Nakba Day (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Without indirect negotiations or a willingness to consider significant relief for the Strip, it will be hard to prevent potential deaths on May 15.
Helpless in the face of primitive kites (Boaz Haetzni, Israel Hayom) Rather than focusing on developing technology to combat the kite firebombs being sent into Israel from the Gaza Strip, Israel should strike a blow to the ruling entity in Gaza and shut down the supply of electricity and water.
Donald Trump Is About to Put Israel in Immediate Danger (Michael J. Koplow, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has convinced Trump that leaving the Iran deal protects Israel. But the U.S. walking out means a full-on Israel-Iran war in Syria becomes far more likely.
Hezbollah's hoops: According to assessments, the organization will not heat-up the Israel-Lebanon border (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The attempt of the Lebanese terrorist organization to renounce the Israeli-Iranian conflict is limited. If it received the order from Tehran, it would have to act.
Iran seeks revenge on Israel without claiming responsibility – taking a page from Israel’s playbook (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Despite Iran's retaliation plans, Israel is determined to keep up the pressure to uproot any Iranian presence from Syria, believing Tehran will blink first.
Don't threaten us with war (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Iran is incapable of destroying Israel, but its hollow threats against us are exposing it to an existential threat it cannot counter.
Israel and Iran Are Just Playing War Games (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) As each side calls the other a Satan, Iran can continue to entrench its influence in the Arab world and Israel can continue to occupy Palestine unhampered.
Trump’s Iran strategy: Telling fibs and sowing fear (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet) The US president has hinted that if missiles hit Israeli cities or American targets in the region, he will launch a fire and fury operation against Tehran. He can prevent this nightmare if he stops lying to himself and to us.
The Override Spirit (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) In Israel the leitmotif is clear: When we can we’ll destroy you and get you the hell out of our sight. Even the High Court of Justice is in on the act.
The sparse response to Trump's price tag and the concession of land in Jerusalem is dangerous (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) The transfer of four Arab neighborhoods in the capital to the Palestinian Authority, as leaked from the Trump plan, is like handing over Jaffa, the Central Bus Station and Hatikva neighborhood. There are things that must not let be passed in silence.
Hezbollah Should Be Pleased With Lebanon Election Results – and So Should Israel (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Israel has a major interest in Lebanon’s stability – even with Hezbollah in the government. The more Lebanon flourishes, the more the Israeli threat serves as a deterrent.
Stepping on the gas to bilateral relations in the Middle East (Amir Foster, Maariv) Within a short period of time, Israel's economic waters alone showed natural gas reserves equivalent to 200 years of natural gas consumption by Israel. Now Egypt is on our side as well - and relations are in accordance.
The Netanyahu Doctrine: Bibi’s Fix It or Nix It Moment on Iran Is Finally Here (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) After nearly a decade of trying, Netanyahu is finally about to see the U.S. administration adopt his doctrine toward Iran. But can it work?
The depth of Iran's deception (Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom) Many criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's unveiling of a secret Iranian nuclear archive as "nothing new" and "a performance." But there was plenty new in his presentation, and it will have far-reaching implications.
From Doomsday to Delay: 5 Scenarios Ahead of Trump’s Decision on the Iran Nuclear Deal (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) From the U.S. president signing another sanctions waiver to Tehran resuming its uranium enrichment, here are five potential outcomes – all the way up to war in the Middle East.
Can the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis prevent all-out war between Israel and Iran? (Steven Klein, Haaretz+) Unlike JFK and McNamara, Israel sees Iran as solely a military problem, not a political one. Netanyahu is backing Tehran into a corner that leaves them with no way out except striking back.
 
Interviews:
Can the world cope with half a billion refugees? Philosopher Jonathan Glover talks death and decency
Dan David Prize winner and bioethics expert Jonathan Glover explains why we shouldn’t kill even if life is not ‘sacred,’ how to overcome tribalism, and his mental exercise for Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers. (Interviewed by Ruth Schuster in Haaretz)

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