News Nosh 10.23.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday October 23, 2017
Quote of the day:
"A criminal suspect maneuvers an entire country into endless twists and turns in his efforts to evade the terror of justice and create for himself a royal house in Jerusalem."
--Maariv political commentator Ben Caspit writes about the series of legislative bills meant to empower Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who faces numerous corruption investigations.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • They lost their shame // Sima Kadmon
  • Crisis in the coalition over ‘Bibi Law,’ which would prohibit interrogating a prime minister
  • “Acting with a stately manner has gone from this world” - President Rivlin will give a speech today in the Knesset
  • “We supported Netanyahu, and he stuck a knife into us” - (Shas leader Minister) Deri opposes lowering the threshold for entering Knesset
  • Staying to sleep at Daddy’s - Court: Divorced fathers don’t need to prove “parental ability” in order for children to sleep at their home
  • The presidents’ club - Five former US presidents still living met on one stage for a charity event for hurricane victims
  • The (IDF musical band) reunites: Dorit Reuveni will perform at the swearing-in of Chief Justice Esther Chayut
  • In the name of the father - Mazada Zeevi (daughter of Rehavam Zeevi) in a fighting interview
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Agreement: Budget by an unprecedented time - Netanyahu and Kahlon agreed to already transfer 2019 budget during Knesset session that opens today
  • “Agricultural terror - an oiled machine
  • Israel will prohibit trade with North Korea
  • This week: The test to identify the gifted; Test yourselves, would you pass?
  • Handicapped struggle moves up a step - Threatening: “We will block Ben-Gurion Airport”
  • Special project: 4 years since the death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
News Summary:
The Knesset begins its winter session today with a looming battle over the ‘Bibi Law,’ while Minister Arieh Dery (Shas) was furious because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also reportedly planning to lower the electoral threshold necessary to enter Knesset, (and former national security council head Uzi Arad told Yedioth that Netanyahu was not fit to run the country), and the disabled threatened to ‘shut down Ben Gurion Airport’ if their demands were not met making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

The Knesset opens today with several controversial items on its agenda, including a bill forbidding investigations into a sitting Prime Minister, a bill blocking the High Court from striking down Knesset laws and the Jewish ‘Nation-State bill’ cementing Jewish people's claim to self-determination in Israel as unique assertion.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked postponed the vote in the Ministerial Committee of Legislation of the new version of the ’Bibi Law,’ which would make it illegal to investigate a serving prime minister, because coalition parties needed more time to study the latest version of it and formulate their positions, she said. Shaked, who heads the Ministerial Legislative Committee, also decided not to allow votes in the Ministerial Legislative Committee on any other private bill proposals by coalition members. MK David Bitan (Likud) was furious and threatened to cancel all of the committee's discussions on Sunday and not put any bills to a vote in the Knesset this week, the first week of the Knesset's winter session. As a result, the Ministerial Committee did not vote on a bill that if passed would allow Israeli citizens to return to the four settlements in the northern West Bank, which were evacuated in 2005, and rebuild them.

That said, Shaked’s intervention to help settlements brought to the High Court has been controversial. Haaretz+ reported that two senior prosecutors criticized Shaked’s intervention in state responses to the High Court of Justice in cases involving illegal outposts and settlements, but their supervisors, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, sided with Shaked. Haaretz+’s Revital Hovel wrote that Shaked is “Winning the Fight for Control of Settlement Cases.” (“She retained the services of attorney Amir Fisher to read and redraft, as he deems necessary, any state position relating to settlements and outposts before it is submitted to the High Court. Fisher, who has represented the right-wing group Regavim, is not part of the prosecutors’ office but was hired as an external consultant at a cost to taxpayers of around $100,000 a year, “wrote Hovel.)

Meanwhile, the political commentators noted that Netanyahu was doing everything possible to keep himself in power and evade the corruption investigations against him. According to a report by Channel 2 News, the latest plan, was to lower the electoral threshold back down to 2% from 3.25%, in order to make sure right-wing votes don’t get lost. Internal polling showed that two right-wing parties, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu, are in danger of not reaching the current 3.25% threshold. Shas leader Arye Deri reportedly said that “Netanyahu stabbed us in the back… Shas will grow stronger in the next election and doesn’t need any favors from Netanyahu.” Deri is concerned that the lower threshold will allow his nemesis, Eli Yishai, to enter Knesset.  Maariv’s senior political commentator Ben Caspit wrote that the Bibi Law that would prohibit investigating a sitting prime minister, the bill by Likud MK David Amsalem that would prohibit police from recommending to indict a suspect, and the lowering of the electoral threshold are the the work of “a criminal suspect [Netanyahu] [who] maneuvers a whole country into endless twists and turns in his efforts to escape the terror of justice.”

Also, Channel 2 News reported that US President Donald Trump is formulating a comprehensive regional peace agreement that will allow normalization between Israel and all the Arab states. According to the report, Trump sees Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a serious partner in the plan and the Trump administration "is very attentive to the security needs raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu told his ministers: I will not quarrel with him. (Maariv)

And, there’s an interesting Op-Ed by Yossi Beilin in Israel Hayom about the side effects of trying to help Israel abroad. Beilin shares a personal experience of how he tried to get the Americans to push something diplomatically - and why he changed his mind.
Quick Hits:
  • Jerusalem Municipality set to approve 176 new homes for Jews in East Jerusalem - Planning committee to meet Wednesday to okay tripling size of Nof Zion, Jewish settlement located inside Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. Peace Now: “The construction of a large settlement in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood will be a severe blow to Jerusalem and to the chance to achieve the two-states solution." (Times of Israel, JPost and Maariv)
  • Six settler families lose appeal to save Netiv Ha’avot homes - Peace Now, which had initially petitioned against the outpost, said the ruling was a victory for justice and for the Palestinian property owners on whose land the structures were partially erected in the West Bank. (JPost)
  • Peace Now, settlers clash in Hebron over demand to evacuate [settler-occupied Palestinian home] - Dozens of Peace Now members and Meretz party MKs marched Friday to demand the evacuation of the disputed Beit HaMachpela. (JPost)
  • Activists demand settlers leave Palestinian home in Hebron following Israeli court order - A Palestinian committee in the city of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank has reportedly received an order by the Israeli Supreme Court to evacuate a group of 15 Israeli settler families illegally occupying a Palestinian home belonging to the Abu Rajab family.  During a sit-in protest in front of the home on Friday, Israeli forces detained coordinator of the Youth against Settlement group Issa Amro. (Maan)
  • Leader of Jewish extremist group and 15 others arrested on suspicion of threatening Arabs - Lehava has been known to target Arabs for dating Jewish women. Leader, Benzi Gopstein, detained for questioning along with 14 others in overnight raid, suspected of threatening Arab men dating Jewish women; Gopstein's lawyer: 'It's possible that under the radical left-wing's pressure, the police are at their command, toeing the line and arresting Lehava members.'  (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Judge released to house arrest the Lehava leader arrested for allegedly threatening Jews and Arabs - Police source stated "there is evidence that anyone who dates a Jewish woman is harassed and threatened. They have a team of 'hunters,' as they call them, who as soon as they get information on an Arab man who is dating a Jewish woman, they would transfer the information on him via Telegram and threaten him." Judge Eitan Cohen said evidence was ‘flimsy’ and released Gopstein to house arrest. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • Highlighting Rift Between Israel and U.S. Jews, Netanyahu Won't Address Annual Jewish Federation Confab - Senior Federation sources believe the prime minister is unwilling to share limelight with President Reuven Rivlin, who is scheduled to speak at the conference. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Sold High-tech Weapons to Myanmar During Its anti-Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing Campaign - Israeli-made navy patrol boats custom-fitted with remote weapon stations are part of arms deals estimated to be worth tens of millions. (Haaretz+)
  • New coordinator supports accepting Shamgar report recommendations on captives, while PM delays - Newly appointed chief POW, MIA release negotiator Bloom has repeatedly pushed to accept Shamgar Commission's recommendations: issue of POWs, MIAs be moved from PMO to Defense Ministry; Israel only exchange a handful of prisoners;  only remains be exchanged for Israeli remains; Unclear if PM Netanyahu will finally accept Bloom's stance. (Ynet)
  • Senior Israeli General Accused of Hoarding Container Full of Weapons - Military Police are looking into how the IDF brigadier- obtained Kalashnikov rifles and other arms – and why he didn't report them. 'Officer's record immaculate, he's convinced investigation will conclude without charges,' say attorneys. (Ynet and Haaretz)
  • Avi Gabbay: "There is a price that those who come out and make interviews against me will pay” - The chairman of the Labor Party spoke with members of the faction during a get-together at a restaurant in Tel Aviv and also criticized MK Merav Michaeli's remarks about the nuclear family: "I would like not to express extreme positions, it distances people.” (Maariv)
  • In First, Yad Vashem to Bestow 'Righteous Gentile' Honor to an Arab - Dr. Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian-born physician, hid four Jews in Berlin for the duration of World War II. (Haaretz+)
  • Police brand arms of arrested Haredi protesters with numbers - Police mark Haredi protesters arrested in violent clash last week with numbers, drawing furious comparisons to Jews marked by Nazis during Holocaust; 'Protesters refused to identify themselves as per law, court necessitates marking with serial numbers,' explains police. (Ynet)
  • Policewoman filmed kicking Haredi protester questioned - Police Investigation Unit questions under caution policewoman caught on camera kicking ultra-Orthodox man during anti-draft demonstrations in Jerusalem last week. (Ynet)
  • Dramatic Expansion Plans Threaten Israeli Arab Town's Unique Character - Adding 2,400 units would triple size of Abu Ghosh; local opponents, both Arab and Jewish, note government would never do the same to a Jewish community. (Haaretz+)
  • Victory of the Palmach fighters - Government approved giving a 10 million shekel budget to establish a commemoration monument for the fighters who fought in the battle at Shaar Hagai. Deceased former minister Rehavam Zeevi will not be commemorated at the site, at the fighters' request. (Maariv, p. 15)
  • Israel's VAT Increases Inequality, Finance Ministry Report Finds - Value added tax rate is more costly for bottom deciles because they spend a higher percentage of their salaries on immediate needs. (Haaretz)
  • College lecturers' strike ends as main terms are met - After senior lecturers from 17 colleges throughout the country went on strike over poor working conditions compared to university lecturers, talks with Finance Ministry and PBC representatives brings the issue to a temporary, but stable, close. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • New at Haifa University: Course in Fake News - New course opens, "Revolution of the social media and cyber networks," meant for security forces learning at the university and foreign students studying national security. Dr. Yaniv Leviatan teaches the course. (Maariv, p. 13 and Kolbo Hebrew)
  • Report Says Rooftop Solar Panels Are Sufficient to Meet Israel's Energy Goals - Building mass solar fields as the government intends, the report argues, would diminish reserves of open space and cause unnecessary environmental damage. (Haaretz)
  • High schoolers launch week-long campaign of love and appreciation - Social media campaign aims to create a unifying, accepting atmosphere in the country and counter the acts of hatred that have poisoned public feeling in Israel. It asks participants to use social media to thank three important people in their lives and tell about the good they bring to the world. (Israel Hayom)
  • Cambridge Bars Arabic Students From West Bank Amid Fears of Israeli Airport Security - The decision regarding Arabic-language students by the British university comes after five were interrogated or deported by security officials at Ben-Gurion International Airport. (Haaretz)
  • Settler violence on the rise as olive harvest begins in West Bank - Since the beginning of the olive harvest two weeks ago, Israeli human rights organizations have documented 10 cases of settler violence and theft against Palestinians and their property. For now, it seems like the police are doing their job. (+972mag)
  • Jordan’s king endorses Palestinian reconciliation deal - “Important step for peace” - Abdullah II 'affirms Jordan's full support' for agreement to end decade-old split between Fatah and Hamas terror group. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • Lebanon issues death sentences in 1982 killing of president - More than 30 years after President-elect Bachir Gemayel was killed in a bombing along with 23 supporters, Habib Tanious Shartouni and Nabil Faraj al-Alam, both members of the pro-Syrian Syrian Social Nationalist Party, sentenced to death in absentia. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • U.S-allied Forces in Syria Retake Country's Largest Oil Field From ISIS - Another in a long string of setbacks for ISIS in recent months. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Presses Saudi Arabia and Iraq to Come Together in Bid to Contain Iran - Tillerson told reporters that an independent and prosperous Iraq would be a foil to Iran’s 'malign behavior.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)

Dayan’s widow, Arafat’s mother-in-law talk peace
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians may have been suspended, but every Tuesday 100-year-old Ruth Dayan sits down for a Skype chat with her best friend, Palestinian poet and activist Raymonda Tawil, mother of Suha Arafat. Fifty years after they first met, both women agree there will be no solution to the conflict without an end to the occupation. (Nechama Duek, Yedioth)
Israel Must Not Grant the Prime Minister Immunity From Corruption Investigations (Haaretz Editorial) If passed, the bill would undermine the rule of law and foundations of government, and turn the Prime Minister’s Office into a haven for suspected criminals.
Netanyahu sowing seeds of delegitimization against police (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister’s attacks on the police chief are part of a planned move. The timing is planned too: A moment before witnesses start marching back into the fraud investigation unit’s offices and before investigators return to the PM’s residence, it’s time to convince the public that not only are the investigators suspected of leaks, but that the investigation itself is illegitimate.
Palestinian reconciliation could work this time. Israel must support it (Former Palestinian minister Ashraf al-Ajrami, +972mag) The current Palestinian reconciliation agreement looks like it could actually hold, largely due to regional and internal changes over the past few years. What does this bode for the peace process? A former minister in the Palestinian government explains.
The abomination of the Investigations (Bibi) Law: In Netanyahu's survival game, all the vermin are kosher (Ben Caspit, Maariv) From the French law, through the prohibition on recommendations of indictments and to the lowering of the electoral threshold. A criminal suspect [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] maneuvers a whole country into endless twists and turns in his efforts to escape the terror of justice.
Dear Europe, Take Note: If You Want To, Israel Can Be Pressured (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) A recent case involving Dutch solar panels shows how friendly states can make Israel back down when it violates international humanitarian law.
In the crosshairs: Israel's war of attrition on political dissent (Edo Konrad, +972mag) The attempt to outlaw Israeli human rights organizations means the Jewish state may soon be forced to shed its image of a liberal democratic state. Are Israelis ready for that?
That’s what she’s there for: Ayelet Shaked does what all her predecessors did not do (Kalman Liebeskind, Maariv) If government ministers have no ability to advance their policies, why do we have any elections? So that a lawyer who the public does not know, and has not chosen, and never heard of, will determine where the state will go?
And Israel's leftist camp remained pure (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) Purists don’t see the big picture and don’t understand that in order to win, you have to soften edges and blur messages.
A bear hug from friends (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) Those who worked to convince Texas lawmakers to adopt the anti-BDS law think they are doing Israel a favor, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Have a Little Intellectual Integrity, MK Benny Begin (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Instead of looking for every reason not to make peace, intellectual decency requires that you first rummage among the misdeeds of your own side.
Why do the U.S. and EU still let Israel sell arms to Burma? (Eitay Mack, +972mag) Economic sanctions were lifted but an arms embargo remains. What good is an arms embargo if Washington and Brussels allow their ally Israel, along with world powers like China, to keep selling arms to Burma?
Moscow's game (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The blows being traded by Israel and Syria might be convenient for Russia, which has assumed the U.S.'s former role of the "grown-up" in the Middle East.
A response to attorney Nadav Haetzni: Herzl's true will (Attorney Ira Hardy, Maariv) The State of Israel is indeed a miracle. But a seven-headed leadership that tells its citizens to say thank you for what there is and “to concentrate on life itself" will never be able to realize the tremendous potential that lies here.
Eye of the Beholder: Why Israel Is a Light Unto Nations for Some, a Pariah for Others (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) Concern for Palestinians keep the privileged few up at night, while millions who have benefited from life in Israel are more concerned about danger Palestinians pose to it.
We are now becoming a bi-national apartheid state (Uri Savir, Maariv) Hebron and Israeli democracy are still at the center of Israel's public and identity dilemma. Building dozens of housing units for Jews in this city is like throwing a match into a barrel of explosives.
Iran Whets Israeli Defense Officials' Appetite for Budget Increase of $1.3 Billion (Sami Peretz, Haaretz) Despite his ministry's pledge two years ago not to ask for extra funds, Avigdor Lieberman wants a bigger budget to cope with the Islamic regime's presence in Syria.
Intentional Syrian fire aimed at deterring Israel without waging war (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Seeking international and regional legitimization for the Iranian presence in Syria and trying to discourage Israel from carrying out further strikes in Syria, the Iranians and Syrians have launched a diplomatic and military offensive with no intention of escalating the situation on the northern border. Israel is waging its own diplomatic offensive, but Netanyahu and Lieberman’s unnecessary threats are counterproductive.
Buoyed by Iran and Russia, Assad Gains Confidence to Float Trial Balloons Against Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Circumstances in Syria have changed; Assad's government and its allies may dictate new rules of the game with Israel in the north.
So why is Israel so dirty, noisy, loud, neglected and messy? (Esther Zandberg, Haaretz+) It’s always been dirty and noisy in Israel and the world; perhaps it is the number of offenders, or just more awareness.
It's Not Islamophobic to Call Out Muslim anti-Semitism (Shimon Koffler Fogel, Haaretz+) As Canada's parliament debates definitions of Islamophobia, we Canadian Jews must beware equally the shrill voices who dismiss anti-Muslim bigotry - and also those who whitewash Islamic extremism.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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