News Nosh 2.11.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday February 11, 2018
Quote of the day:
"(Settlements) complicate the task of making peace."
--US President Donald Trump admits in an interview with 'Israel Hayom.'*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Battle day with Iran
  • Iranian chess // Nahum Barnea
  • The success and the miss // Alex Fishman
  • It’s only a promo // Yossi Yehoshua
  • Iran goes on attack // Smadar Perry
  • Syria is in the cross hairs // Amos Yadlin
  • On the way to war // Eitan Haber
  • The asset that turned into a burden // Orly Azoulay
  • While you were having fun // Sever Plocker
  • From Russia, with disappointment // Yoav Fromer
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israeli newspapers called it a ‘milestone’ and a ‘historic first’: the covert struggle between Israel and Iran turned overt and direct Saturday morning, making the top story in today's Hebrew newspapers. It started when an Iranian drone entered Israeli territory early Saturday morning, which Israel shot down, continued with Israel’s ‘biggest attack since the first Lebanon War’ targeting 12 military sites in Syria, followed by an Israeli warplane downed by a Syrian Army anti-aircraft missile, and a seriously injured pilot, then a second wave of Israeli strikes in Syria - and finally a Russian cold shoulder to Israel’s calls to stop Iran. And meanwhile, Israelis made hikes Saturday in the north of Israel, despite it all. The Israeli analysts went into overtime (see Commentary/Analysis below).

*What would have been a big story, but was sidelined by the weekend action was the Israel Hayom interview with US President Donald Trump, who among other things said, “The Palestinians aren’t committed to making peace, but I'm not sure Israel is either.” Haaretz has key excerpts.

Israel declared that its operation in Syria was 'a complete operational success' despite the downing of the F-16, while Syrians handed out candy in celebration of ‘defeating’ the enemy. Trying to de-escalate the situation, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent messages to Moscow and Washington saying that Israel was not interested in further violence, but Israel would do what was necessary to protect itself. The White House backed Israel and called on Iran to cease 'provocative actions.’ Israel also pressed Russia to contain Iran, but Moscow simply called for restraint and said Syria’s sovereignty must be respected. Israel also demanded that the UN Security Council 'put an end to Iranian provocation.’

Iran denied sending the drone and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, "If one country thinks it can achieve the desired results by increasing terrorism, interfering in the affairs of other countries, or by bombing neighboring countries - it is mistaken.” The Chairman of Iran’s National Security Council said, "The Syrian army has proved to the Zionists that the period of hit and run has ended.” And, the Syrian regime said Syrian actions were 'clear messages to Israel.' Hezbollah called the downing of the F-16 the 'start of a new strategic phase.
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinians: 57 wounded in clashes throughout Gaza, West Bank; one in life-threatening condition - Palestinian Health Ministry: One critically wounded by live fire shot by security forces in Gaza. Israeli army: 850 protesting throughout West Bank. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli forces shut down event honoring retired Palestinian teachers in East Jerusalem - Israeli forces on Saturday prevented a celebration from taking place for retired Palestinian teachers in occupied East Jerusalem, declaring the al-Shabbat al-Muslimat school a closed zone. (Maan)
  • Israelis filmed throwing rocks at Palestinian homes in West Bank village - Human rights group filmed several dozen Israelis, some masked, hurling stones. One video shows an armed Israeli crouching next to soldiers. (Haaretz)
  • Ad campaign in Jerusalem against employment of Arabs - Petition filed to High Court of Justice against the Welfare and Labor Ministry's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after it ordered movement to take down ads it says violate employment equality opportunities law. (Ynet)
  • PM's aides mulling petition to delay police recommendations - Netanyahu's advisers consider petition to High Court preventing recommendations against him until police claims of efforts to threaten officers are investigated. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Netanyahu: Top officer investigating me should have recused himself if he thought I acted against him - In third Facebook post attack on the police in three days and days before police expected to issue recommendations on charges against prime minister, Netanyahu launches fresh attack against investigators over police commissioner's allegations private investigators were hired by Netanyahu to target police officers and over Lahav 433 commander's insinuation that the PM sent female officer to file sexual harassment complaint against him. (Haaretz and Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Police may delay recommending charges against Netanyahu - Deliberations are still under way within the police and between the police and the State Prosecutor's Office. In light of PM being occupied with security situation in north, police to convene to discuss whether to defer publication of findings in Netanyahu investigations. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Former Shin Bet agent: “(Police chief) Alsheich's appointment - a result of corruption" - In the shadow of the escalation in the north, thousands gathered for (weekly) demonstrations against corruption in Tel Aviv and Petah Tikva. Gonen Ben-Yitzhak, who operated one of the most important Shin Bet agents, said at demonstration that Alsheikh knew when Netanyahu offered him the job of Police Commissioner and promised him that he would later become Shin Bet chief, that if he didn’t take the job he would never get the job he wanted.  (Maariv)
  • (Co-Leader of weekly anti-government demonstrations) Eldad Yaniv: “When the Prime Minister is drowning in investigations, he can not handle matters of war" - One of the leaders of the protest against government corruption declared that "I do not want Netanyahu to make life-threatening decisions in such a situation," adding: "He is engaged in political survival.” (Maariv)
  • MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz): "It is to be hoped that Netanyahu will not heat-up the region in order to save himself from the (police) recommendations" - The political establishment did not leave aside the disagreements on the day of escalation in the north. MK Nava Boker (Likud): "All means are legitimate in the eyes of those who are trying to topple Netanyahu even in times of war. Shameful.” (Maariv)
  • Thousands protest religious coercion in Ashdod - The weekly protest in Ashdod against the municipality's decision to fine businesses operating on Shabbat breaks out once more, with some 2,000 people participating. (Ynet)
  • Cabinet ministers expected to approve a bill against the State Comptroller - According to the proposal, which was first disclosed in Ma'ariv, the comptroller may submit audit reports, but he will not be able to implement his recommendations in real time or to closely monitor the correction of deficiencies in the reports. (Maariv)
  • Annexation bill kept from vote by Netanyahu - PM Netanyahu makes good on his promise to US President Trump by thwarting a contentious and volatile bill seeking to annex West Bank settlements, but is facing resistance from members of his own coalition and party who are determined to bring the legislation to vote. (Ynet)
  • UN agency for Palestinian refugees fundraises after US cuts - UNRWA planning to hold ministerial-level donors' conference to bridge gap left in aid organization's budget following President Trump's decision to abruptly cut his country's contribution by $65 million; US has not indicated which reforms it desired in order for budgeting to be reinstated, UNRWA official says. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • UAE, Qatar donate funds to stave off Gaza health crisis - $2 million from United Arab Emirates and $9 million from Qatar will pay for fuel for for generators that keep Gaza's hospitals and sanitation services operating; US envoy Greenblatt calls on Israel, Qatar to cooperate in order to 'bring real relief to the people of Gaza.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • U.S. ambassador lashes out at Haaretz after writer calls out settlement donations - Gideon Levy called David Friedman out for donating an ambulance to the settlement of Har Bracha, which was the home of an Israeli murdered this week in a terror attack. (Haaretz)
  • Rights group says Israel currently holding 19 bodies of Palestinians slain in 2016 - The latest bodies taken by Israeli forces were of 19-year-old Hamzeh Zamaareh and Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, 22, who were killed earlier this week. Director of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) Issam Arouri said Israeli forces also continue to withhold the remains of 260 slain Palestinians buried in so-called “cemetery of numbers” in Israel. (Maan)
  • Rivlin: Ariel Sharon taught us not to entrench in our positions - President speaks at memorial for late prime minister Ariel Sharon, saying Israel cannot become addicted to the feeling of security, but rather always push forward and undermine its enemies. (Ynet)
  • Foreign Ministry appoints new envoy to Jordan after diplomatic crisis - Head of Foreign Ministry's Middle East bureau Amir Weissbrod appointed ambassador to Amman seven months after Israeli guard shot and killed two Jordanians • Former Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein was expelled from Amman following the incident. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Authority envoy sees 'several options' for resuming Mideast peace talks - Ambassador Riyad Mansour says a collective Middle East peace process could be led by the U.N. Security Council, a "Quartet" expanded to include China and Arab states or an international conference. Despite crisis with Washington, all options include U.S. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Palestinian president urges India to back a multination peace mediation effort - "We count on India, with its status as a great power ... to achieve a just peace," PA president Mahmoud Abbas tells visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi • Multinational effort, which Israel rejects, would replace U.S.'s long-standing role as chief mediator. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Polish official: Israel ashamed of Jewish 'passivity' during holocaust - The official said Israel reacted so strongly to the polish bill forbidding the phrase 'polish death camps' because of this shame. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Billionaire Trump adviser donates to Israel National Library - Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of private equity firm Blackstone, says $10 million donation is his first in Israel • Donation will fund classrooms, education workshops to foster "cross-cultural relationships" between Jews, Christians and Muslims. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S.-born Aimee Buchanan to Skate for Israel at 2018 Winter Olympics - Figure skater Aimee Buchanan is from Boston via Dallas, but at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang she will be representing Israel. (Haaretz)
  • Egypt launches assault on militants weeks ahead of elections - Egyptian President launches large scale military operation against 'terrorists' in the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to raise public support ahead of nearing presidential elections. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran 'open' to discuss other issues if nuclear deal successful - West must make sure 2015 pact is a "successful experience" if it wants Iran to negotiate ballistic missile program or regional involvement, Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi says Thursday. Araghchi: Iran has always played a key role in bringing stability, peace to the region. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

The Jewish Sites That Became Sacred Overnight and Lost That Status Just as Quickly
Israel had a shortage of holy sites for people to visit after the formation of the state, so one man, Shmuel Zanvil Kahana, stepped up to create dozens of Jewish shrines. (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)
Introducing the IDF’s new ‘missile corps’
After a long-standing debate and objections from senior General Staff members, Defense Minister Lieberman has decided—in full agreement with Chief of Staff Eisenkot—to build a surface-to-surface missile arsenal in the Ground Forces; within two years, Israel Military Industries will supply missiles with a range of 150 kilometers and the ability to destroy any target within five minutes, which will later be joined by missiles covering all of Lebanon and reaching deep into Syria as well. (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet)
Moral Minority Is it OK to break the law to hide asylum seekers facing deportation from Israel?
To answer that question, it’s a good idea to consider the Nuremberg trials and the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau. (Moral Minority, Haaretz)

Seven Comments on the Escalating Israeli-Iranian Game of Chicken in Syria (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Israel may be decimating Syrian air defenses, but the searing image of a downed F-16I fighter gives Damascus a clear propaganda victory.
Iran made it clear to Israel that the bar for attacks on its targets in Syria had risen (Tal Lev Ram, Maariv) On a collision course: Tehran's choice to penetrate Israeli territory by means of a UAV reflects a change in its struggle against Jerusalem, which is determined to continue to act against the Islamic Republic. It is reasonable to assume that the Iranians, who are well aware of Israel's capabilities, know that the IDF will notice a UAV when it penetrates our territory. Perhaps they even wanted Israel to notice, as part of the struggle over the red lines. If the Iranians were interested only in operational effectiveness and not in planned provocation, they could obscure the tracks by indirect activation of the Syrian army or Hezbollah, which can and have carried out such operations in the past.
Israel-Syria-Iran Flare-up: With Newfound Confidence, Assad Moves From Threats to Action (Amos Harel, Haaretz) If it turns out Iranian soldiers or 'advisers' were killed in the Israeli strike, the situation may go from bad to worse.
Iranians pushing for a new northern status quo (Ron Ben Yishai, Ynet) Saturday's escalation and provocation by Iran in Syria was meant to show the latter regional power was perfectly capable of filtrating Israel; the Syrian airfield from which the drone was launched contains a Russian presence, in both personnel and aircraft, and so retaliation needed to be surgically precise; Israel also sent a message with its retaliation to Russia, the US, signaling the Iranian presence will not be tolerated.
Despite the downing of the Israeli plajetne, the IDF made a knockout in the first military confrontation with Iran (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Putin and Assad need to be convinced that the Iranians have become a burden to them. The day of battle yesterday can be analyzed from two different perspectives. It was a good day for the IDF, for the air force, for Israeli intelligence. You do not have to panic from the crash of an F-16. Beyond the heavy financial cost and serious injury of one of the pilots, one must understand that fighter planes also fall from time to time. Now the second point of view: Imagine that Benjamin Netanyahu was not the prime minister today, but the head of the opposition. He would have said that the Iranians are already on the fences and that the prime minister is not letting the IDF win…
Israeli Strikes in Syria Risk Forcing Russia to Adopt pro-Iranian Stance (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Following Iran's drone infiltration into Israel, cracks could be found in the working assumption that Moscow controls all of the moves in Syria.
Raising the stakes: Launching the drone reflects Iran's growing daring (Yossi Kuperwasser, Maariv) If Tehran recognizes that Israeli power prevents it from shaping the reality in the region at will, it may give up its escalating moves that it is taking. In the meantime, they will continue to examine how they can overcome the Israeli constraint.
As Syria and Iran Threaten Israel, America Signals Its Ally Is on Its Own (Daniel B. Shapiro, Haaretz+) Rex Tillerson’s Middle East tour includes Amman, Ankara, Cairo, Kuwait City, and Beirut, but not Jerusalem. That made little sense before the Iranian incursion yesterday: It would be malpractice now. He needs to come to Israel.
With his army battered, Assad bolsters Anti-aircraft capabilities (Yoav Zitun, Yedioth/Ynet) Although his army suffered heavy losses after 7 years of war against mostly ground forces, the Syrian president decides use his Russian connection to acquire advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
The masks were removed: events in the north made two problematic precedents (Alon Ben David, Maariv) For the first time in 36 years, a Syrian missile battery succeeded in intercepting an Israeli Air Force plane - a precedent that already excites the imagination of the Middle Eastern neighborhood. And after years of secret struggle, the war with Iran has become overt.
Israel Struggles to Draw New Red Lines in Russia’s Syria Playground (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Putin will let Israel continue attacking Syria, but will not stop Assad's military from trying to shoot down its planes.
IAF must now modify its offensive tactics (Ron Ben Yishai, Ynet) Saturday’s incidents, which signal dawn of new state of affairs with Iranians and Syrians coordinating offensive actions against Israel, require IAF to modify its tactics even in Israeli airspace; however, while the Iranians aimed for propaganda victory, they shot themselves in foot, as Iranian adventures endanger Russian interests and regional stability.
A Slight Bump to Israeli Arrogance (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Decades of air supremacy led Israel to act as if were alone in the skies of the Middle East. This ended when Syria shot down an Israeli fighter jet.
Scoundrel or Statesman? Netanyahu Wages Two-front War Against Iran and Israeli Police (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister pits his experience and expertise in national security affairs against the impending report of his corruption.
Bombing nonstop and hiking for Israel (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Israeli Jews are and always have been tribal and separatist, and war is the tribal bonfire that unites all.
Step Back From the Brink of War (Haaretz Editorial) Israel's need to respond forcefully to an attack on its territory is understandable, but when such a response becomes an automatic move it starts to pose a threat and a danger in itself.
It's Every Israeli's Moral Duty to Resist the Occupation (Michael Sfard, Haaretz) As Israelis, we are all responsible for the injustice of our occupation of the Palestinians, even if we do not man the checkpoints, live in settlements, or hand out permits: it is an Israeli project.
Netanyahu's big and small troubles (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) If the prime minister’s name is eventually linked to the submarine affair, he is set to suffer huge political damage; meanwhile, the tensions between the prime minister and the Knesset speaker reveal the silent battle taking place in Likud over who will replace Netanyahu if he is suddenly forced to resign.
Unfit to Be Prime Minister (Friday Haaretz Editorial) When the pressure cooker is bubbling, Netanyahu has decided to shatter the remains of the rule of law with his own hands.
(Police chief) Alsehich's unsuccessful timing allowed Netanyahu to continue his assault on gatekeepers (Ben Caspit, Maariv) In his conduct in the Pery affair, Yair Lapid turned himself into Bibi-compatible. Also: Gaza, and what the Israeli left refuses to internalize.
Israel Will Prosper by Building, Not by Revenge (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Attacks did not start with our 1967 takeover of Samaria or the Jordan Valley. They began 120 years ago, at the start of the return of Jews to the Land of Israel.
Israel must rule generously in Jerusalem (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Investment in east Jerusalem is the core of sovereign political action that will keep Jerusalem whole and make it prosperous for all.
Israeli army chief sounds all the alarms on Gaza, but his boss isn’t listening (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is sitting atop a volcano, but refusing to acknowledge the warning signs that an eruption is imminent.
Weapons factories are the real Israel-Lebanon flashpoint – not the border wall (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) If the Israeli army uses force to thwart Iran's plans in Syria, Hezbollah's response could be violent.
New evidence reveals: Favorable coverage for the Netanyahus, huge benefits for media tycoon (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Next week, police will publish their recommendations on the two cases regarding Netanayhu. New details show how news site was pressured to give Netanyahu better coverage. Investigation may prove to be prelude to case involving Israel's telecom giant Bezeq.
We must tell the world: we will not continue to deal with the "humanitarian disaster" that has become a weapon against us (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) If the world wants to continue to support the parasitic (Palestinian) refugees who refuse to rebuild for another thousand years, let them. Let them continue to feed them and finance their education to hate Israel.
It's not anti-Semitism if you just hate the bad Jews (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) A blaring headline in a U.K. paper about George Soros' 'secret plot' is another sign of how anti-Semitic tropes of sinister globalist conspiracies are invading the West. And Jews aren't immune from its charms.
Is the next wave of terrorism here? (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The IDF is trying to prevent the steady uptick in violence across Judea and Samaria from gaining momentum, but increased deployment on the ground spells more friction and with it potential Palestinian casualties, which is a known catalyst for violence.
The High Court allowed the bulldozers to return to Susya (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Palestinians in the West Bank village have been in a state of 'certain uncertainty' for the past week – but then again, it's been like that for decades.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel's Ambulance (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Friedman has the right to donate as he wishes, but it’s clear that his choice speaks not only to his political outlook, but also to his moral makeup.
Other Than Slander, What Do You Know About George Soros? (Mickey Gitzin, Haaretz+) Soros' philanthropic activity turned him into the sworn enemy of nationalists and populists around the world.
On the line with Israel's 'deporter-in-chief': 'As a doctor, I can look at it from the human side'
Shlomo Mor-Yosef of the population authority talks to Haaretz about the country's deportation of asylum seekers back to Africa. (Interviewed by Nir Gontarz in Haaretz+)

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