News Nosh 10.18.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday, October 2, 2017
Quote of the day:
“On the other hand, the arguments that are now being claimed on the left are true: It’s not reasonable that when there is a split between Gaza and the West Bank, Israel says there is no partner because the Palestinian people are divided, and that when there is unity, Israel will claim that there is no partner because of Hamas.”
—Senior Maariv political commentator Ben Caspit looks at why Israel refuses to negotiate with a Palestinian unity government.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • #Metoo - Special project - Famous Israeli women share their stories of being sexually harassed and assaulted
  • Expose - Threatening call that Police Commissioner Alsheikh received - “Beware, you will be attacked with a frontal assault. They are angry with you at the [Prime Minister’s] office”
  • The leaks that weren’t // Amnon Abramovitz
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
News Summary:
Israel declared it won’t negotiate with a Palestinian unity government, the new Labor party chief backtracked after a barrage of criticism over his right-wing statements, and the ISIS capital in Syria fell making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, in a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel won't allow Iran into Syria, prominent Israeli women shared their stories of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the Hollywood Harvey Weinstein storm, and demonstrations by disabled demanding better stipends and by ultra-Orthodox refusing to be drafted got ugly. The disabled reached the Prime Minister’s Residence and a friend of Sara Netanyahu walked out and greeted them and made the controversial act of handing out money. Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox demonstrators in Jerusalem surrounded a car driven by a female IDF soldier blocking her path, so she got out and pushed and kicked them till she could escape. And the police are opening an investigation after a video showed one policeman pointing a gun at the head of one of the demonstrators.

Israel’s security cabinet declared it would not negotiate with a Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity government, unless Hamas fulfilled a number of conditions, (which was unlikely to happen). Israel demanded that Hamas disarm, that it declare it recognizes that Israel has a right to exist, that it cut off ties with Iran and that it return the bodies of Israeli civilians and soldiers (without a prisoner exchange). Maariv's Ben Caspit looks at the behind the scenes reason for Israel's refusal. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)

Both Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the Israeli declaration. Hamas said, “The Israeli conditions are a desperate attempt to destroy efforts for reconciliation.” (Maariv) Abbas said that “Israeli opposition will not stand in the way of the unity government” and that "what was agreed upon in Cairo under Egyptian auspices is in the right direction, the end of the split, and the Israeli comments will not change our position.” (Maariv)

The criticism of the new Israeli Labor party chief, Avi Gabbay, for his statement that settlements need not be dismantled as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians came from every direction. Gabbay reaffirmed his support for the two-state solution and tried to clarify saying, Israel needed to stop building outside the main settlement blocs.

However, there was great disappointment from the left. Former Labor Party official Haim Ramon criticized the current chairman who declared that he would not evacuate settlements: "This is a complete lack of understanding of the political map, he did not do his homework.” Ramon noted that "Netanyahu's goal is for the settlements to prevent separation between us and the Palestinians and that the status quo will remain the same. Anyone who agrees [with Netanyahu] prevents an alternative to the Likud policy and actually joins the view of a bi-national state." (Maariv) Raviv Drucker, political commentator of Channel 10 News, noted three recent comments by Gabbay: That there is no partner for peace, that he won’t sit in a government with the Joint List faction representing the Arab-Israelis and that settlements don’t need to be evacuated for peace. But Drucker pointed out that, in the past, Gabbay has expressed support for a two-state solution and an exchange of territory. “There is no way to do this without evacuating areas. Anyone who says such a thing understands nothing and about this story,” said Drucker. (Maariv)
Quick Hits:
  • Jews-only Work Listing Website Fined for 'Racial and Religious Discrimination' in Israel - Hebrew Labor Classified website fined $11,000 after Israeli government officials join civil rights groups in taking them to court. (Haaretzand Ynet)
  • Candidate in the Meretz primaries: “Unite Meretz party with the Hadash party"- Prof. Ilan Sade, mathematics and computer science professor, 64, is seeking to strengthen the radical non-Zionist stream in the party and hangs on to Bernie Sanders: "The Zionist left is bankrupt, so we need a radical left that is not Zionist. Therefore, we need a new Meretz.” (Maariv)
  • Policeman recorded hitting back disabled protestor - Disabled protestors block roads at 5km per hour, PM Residence entry, before one of them enters altercation with police officer, saying he is intentionally running him over with wheelchair; protestor proceeds to punch the officer, who retaliates by slapping him across the face. (Ynet)
  • Work on Israel-Cyprus-Greece electricity link to start 2018 - The 945-mile undersea electric cable with a 2,000-megawatt capacity will transmit electricity to and from all three countries. Israeli regulators expected to approve deal next month. Work to last until 2022, first phase to cost estimated $4.1 billion. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's chief pathologist: State prosecutor misled court in controversial murder trial - Roman Zadorov, convicted of 2006 murder of 13-year-old, claims he is innocent and is fighting for a retrial. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Expands Authorized Fishing Area for Gazans Until December - Increasing the range for Palestinian fishermen from six to nine nautical miles for the second consecutive year for the season, Israel hopes to repeat profits increase for Gaza. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli champion windsurfer surfs through hurricane - Tom Reuveny—who won gold in 2017 RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championship—was in Ireland during Hurricane Ophelia; despite winds, he decided to surf in midst of hurricane; 'When we saw the hurricane coming I told my dad I had to surf. This is what I live for,' he says. (Ynet)
  • WATCH Week-long Cultural Festival Aims to Revive Palestinian Traditions, Life in Jerusalem - 'Layali al-Quds' is the first cultural festival in Jerusalem launched by 'Shafaq', also known as the Jerusalem Arts Network. (Haaretz)
  • Fatah vows to thwart any attempt by Hamas to overrun its institutions - Reconciliation deal contains clauses paving way for former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to become the next Palestinian president • Fatah officials say rapprochement doomed to fail if Hamas tries to remove Fatah, PLO officials from positions of power. (Israel Hayom)
  • Trump, Zuckerberg and Larry David Get Graffiti Treatment in New West Bank Murals - Australian artist took to Twitter to urge his followers to give him ideas for new graffiti on West Bank wall, and the results are hysterical. (Haaretz)
  • Syrian army claims to find Israeli-made weapons in ISIS hideouts - Weapons found in north-western Syria included Israeli artillery pieces. (JPost and Maariv)
  • Syria propagates phony strikes on IAF on social media - Just prior to the Syrian attack on IAF planes flying over Lebanon, Assad's regime launches propaganda campaign lauding Syrian air force; just after, it claims to have hit Israeli jets. (Ynet)
  • Report: Israel launched strike in Sinai hours after rocket attack - London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper quotes Sinai tribal factions claiming Israeli jets attacked targets in peninsula hours after 2 rockets were fired at Israel. (Ynet)
  • As Iran-backed Iraqi Militias Continue to Advance, Kurdish Leader Urges to Avoid Civil War - Thousands of civilians are streaming back to Kirkuk, a day after fleeing as Iraqi troops pushed Kurdish forces out of the disputed oil-rich city. (Agencies, Haaretz)

From Mosquitoes to Cable Cars: Why Israel Keeps Extending Its State of Emergency
There was also the ice cream manufacturing order. (Jonathan Lis, Haaretz+)
Israeli Labor Party Leader: The New Likudnik (Haaretz Editorial) Labor party members, like their colleagues in the left-wing camp, deserve a leader who will show loyalty to their basic values, not Likud’s.
*The Palestinian reconciliation agreement: Netanyahu continues to zigzag his way through the Middle East (Ben Caspit, Maariv) It is not certain that the government's preconditions for opening negotiations with the reconciliation government of Fatah and Hamas are coordinated with the emerging peace initiative of President Trump….On the surface, the decision of the Political-Security Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday) was a great drama. The headline is echoing: After two or three days of writhing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes right and holds on to Naftali Bennett, as usual: Until Hamas disarms, recognizes Israel, disengages from Iran and returns the bodies of IDF soldiers and civilians, there won’t be any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. It is not as if such negotiations are taking place somewhere, but there is one man in the White House named Trump who continues to declare under every tree that he is very serious about presenting a political peace initiative very soon and that he is convinced that the Palestinians want to reach peace and that is possible. So either Netanyahu is coordinated with Trump that there won’t be anything because there is nothing (low probability), or Netanyahu is playing the game, as usual, one Shabbat to the next, and meanwhile he has to grip the right-wing party as hard as he can ahead of the storm of the investigations [against him] and when the person who will come with the peace initiative comes, “we will know what to do.” In the end, as Henry Kissinger's legendary statement, Israel does not have a foreign policy, it's all domestic politics. What is different in this era is the fact that the government does not have an Archimedes’ balance. Usually, a coalition government consists of right-wing, central, and slightly more left-wing elements. The prime minister, whoever he is, always tries to hold onto the center. In the current Netanyahu coalition, which is the most right wing in Israel's history, the prime minister long ago relinquished the midpoint of the right and consistently aligns with the piper's flute from Ra'anana [Habayit Hayehudi Chairman, Naftali Bennett]. Anyone who is looking for comfort can understand that it could have been worse because to Bennett's right stands [MK Bezalel] Smotrich. Bibi hasn’t gotten there yet. The demands of Hamas are justified. There is no reason to negotiate with Hamas: It is a fanatical, murderous, organization devoid of judgment or ability to be truly pragmatic. It’s a matter of religious precepts. On the other hand, the arguments that are now being claimed on the left are true: It’s not reasonable that when there is a split between Gaza and the West Bank, Israel says there is no partner because the Palestinian people are divided, and that when there is unity, Israel will claim that there is no partner because of Hamas. Even in the current coalition in Israel, there are elements who oppose a Palestinian state and don’t see the Palestinian people as a partner for peace (Habayit Hayehudi and most of the Likud MKs. True, Israel is not engaged in terror and Habayit Hayehudi is a legitimate democratic party. It is possible that here are the seeds that could sprout in a few weeks or months when President Trump arrives, if he arrives, with his political initiative: The new Palestinian government will declare that it is renouncing terrorism, Hamas will cease attacks in Judea and Samaria - Hamas hasn’t made attacks from Gaza since Operation Protective Edge - and the formula will be found to renew the negotiations, which will lead to a dead end, and once again repeat itself. In the coming days, the fog will disperse over the American response to the cabinet’s blatant step. The assessment is that already last night Netanyahu sent Washington the necessary messages, including the beginning of the descent from the tree. The Israeli army announced that the IDF had released a statement on a further expansion in the area of fishing for Gaza fishermen, as well as easing economic and humanitarian issues. His right hand holds a big stick, the left hand has a tiny carrot, dramatic cabinet decisions and invisible winks. Thus, Binyamin Netanyahu continues to zigzag his endless path along the the paths of the Middle East, always leading to the same place: the starting point.
The Right-wing Assault on Israeli Democracy (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) A plan to outlaw Breaking the Silence is part of a campaign that aims to erase the liberal democracy that Israel once aspired to be.
Go See Israel's Oscar Contender 'Foxtrot.' If Only Because Israel Is Warning You Not To (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Go see this magnificent film. If only because, whether your leader is Trump or Bibi, they may one day too soon get us all killed in a war, and you need to hold your loved ones today, now.
Netanyahu is abandoning the heart of the country to the cancerous crawling of the Palestinian Authority (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) In light of the current American strategy in the Middle East, the mistakes of the prime minister's policy are much more pronounced. Will we again be required to pay vital interests?
Palestinian Right of Return, Not Such a Complicated Issue (Uri Avnery, Haaretz+) Today, the Arab refugees number six million. Would all of them actually want to return to Israel if given the chance?
Assad flexes his muscles (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Shooting down just one Israeli plane will provide the Syrian dictator with an important public relations coup, settle an old score, and perhaps set a red line that Israel will take pains to avoid crossing in the future.
Israel is done threatening Syria (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) After realizing that both the Syrians and the Iranians were not taking its warnings seriously, Israel could no longer afford to keep threatening Syria over its anti-aircraft fire without responding. On Monday, the IDF had an opportunity to fulfill the ‘open skies’ policy, while making it clear to the Iranians as well that the Israelis are dead serious.
The incident is over, the problem remains (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Neither Syria nor Israel have an interest in escalation, but tensions are high and the threat of a war breaking out remains very real.
Gabbay May Not Want Them, but Would Arab Knesset Members Have Joined a Labor Government? (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) The party that represents the Arab public, which constitutes 21 percent of the Israeli population, has no interest in being a member of any government.
Fall of ISIS Capital: The Caliphate Is Gone, but the Franchise Will Live On (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Islamic State will continue to thrive, even without territory, as long as the anarchy and resentment that nourished it continues.
The Fall of Kirkuk Proves Trump Doesn’t Really Care About Iran (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The U.S. president could be striving to stifle the Shi’ite Crescent that's forming in the region, but all he wants to do is erase Obama’s landmark foreign policy.
WATCH Israeli-Arab Singer Nasreen Qadri Talks Performing in Settlements, Mixing Arabic and Hebrew
Qadri, a Muslim woman, famously took a stand against BDS, arguing in favor of Radiohead's show in Israel and eventually going on to open for them. We sat down with her after she performed in a Jerusalem-area settlement. (Interview on YouTube/Haaretz)

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