News Nosh 2.15.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday February 15, 2018
Quote of the day:
“That’s how criminals talk, not public servants.”
--Leader of opposition party Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, responded to accusations from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's supporters that he was trying to make a 'coup' and that he was a 'lousy snitch' for speaking to police in the corruption cases against Netanyahu.*

You Must Be Kidding:
A panel from the Prime Minister’s Office appointed settlement leader Pinhas Wallerstein to head a team charged with legalizing unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, despite his involvement in illegal settlement construction on privately-owned Palestinian land, for which he was sharply rebuked by the High Court.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Bennett: A state leader cannot receive presents from a billionaire - The only minister to make a statement of values about the police recommendations (to indict Netanyahu)
  • Study: It is dangerous to clean the house
  • Massacre at school (in Florida)
  • Lee Korvitz, 4-time world champion, retires  - and talks about her battle with a hash blood disease
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
*Two days after the police recommendations to indict Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust, today’s Hebrew papers examined in detail how Netanyahu allegedly helped Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan, for which he received a million shekels worth of gifts. But Netanyahu's saidyesterday that the “Police recommendations have more holes than Swiss cheese,” and the papers noted that Israeli ministers Naftali Bennet and Moshe Kahlon of the other parties who hold together the coalition said they would stand beside Netanyahu and wait for the decision of the Attorney General about whether he would be put on trial (Bennet did say that the leader of the Jewish state should not get gifts from billionaires). The papers also quoted the Hadashot evening news, which reported that top prosecutors at the State Attorney’s Office said the case may not be as solid as investigators would have the public believe. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, responded to coalition members who called him a ‘snitch’ for being a key witness in the case. Lapid said that Netanyahu and his gang talk like criminals, not public servants.

Two polls revealed interesting findings: Namely that about half of the Israelis believe the police that Netanyahu acted improperly, most Israelis want Netanyahu to resign, and yet his party is still in the lead. (See Haaretz and Israel Hayom)

Maariv reported that the Zionist Camp decided to remind Netanyahu of what he said in 2008, when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert was in the same position. A billboard on the Ayalon Highway quoted Netanyahu: “A prime minister who is immersed in interrogations - has no moral mandate.”

Meanwhile, the embattled Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh was summoned to the Knesset to defend today his claim that 'powerful' elements involved in the investigations against the prime minister tried to collect information about the investigating police officers. Moreover, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to carry out an inquiry into Alsheikh claim.
Quick Hits:
  • Fearing International Ire, Netanyahu Blocks Annexation – but Promotes Applying Israeli Laws to Settlements - Israel's 'creeping annexation': While the premier bars territorial annexation bills, the government passes laws that apply specifically and immediately across the Green Line. (Haaretz+)
  • **Ignoring High Court, Netanyahu's office appoints settler leader to head outpost legalization team - The High Court has reprimanded Pinhas Wallerstein for illegal construction on private Palestinian land. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian man moderately wounded (Maan: critically) in fight with Jews (at Temple Mount) in Jerusalem's Old City - Police detains several suspects. Palestinians claim that the man, who was alone, was attacked, while the Jews say he attacked them and hit his head. Maan: The youth, whose identity remained unknown, reportedly lost consciousness and was transferred to the hospital for treatment. He was reportedly in critical condition. (Haaretz and Maan)
  • Israeli settlers raid Nablus-area village in middle of the night, attack Palestinian home - Tens of Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement reportedly attacked a Palestinian home in the village of Asira al-Shamaliya on Wednesday before dawn. (Maan)
  • Ahed Tamimi's father: “They are destroying her childhood, her trial is a show" - Bassem Tamimi was interviewed by Army Radio and attacked the Israeli military judge’s decision to hold his daughter's trial in secret (behind closed doors): "How is this decision meant to protect her when she is in prison? To destroy her childhood, her freedom and not to allow any photographer or representative of a human rights organization to defend her?" Bassem added that: "The court operates like a theater, it does not meet any criterion of humanity and blatantly ignores international law, so it is far from representing the truth.” (Maariv)
  • Israeli forces demolish 2 Palestinian homes in Hebron area - In Beit Kahil, Israeli forces demolished two three-story homes belonging to two Palestinians identified as Anwar Sonoqrot and Ahmad al-Tamimi. (Maan
  • Israeli forces seal Nablus-area village, revoke permits of several local workers - Israeli forces on Thursday closed all side roads surrounding the Beita village as “collective punishment” on the village, allegedly in response to Israeli claims that youths from the village throw rocks at Israeli settler vehicles that pass by on main roads. (Maan)
  • Three arrested with pipe bombs outside Israeli military court in West Bank - This was the third time in 24 hours that Palestinians have been arrested at that same court with pipe bombs on their persons. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli naval forces open fire at Gazan fishermen - Israeli naval boats opened fire at fishermen on Thursday morning as they were working off the coast of Gaza City. (Maan)
  • Truck driver who [crashed and] killed 2 soldiers had 115 traffic convictions - Anour Abu Zina, the truck driver who veered onto military vehicles on Highway 6, killing 2 soldiers and wounding 10, was remanded for another day; Abu Zina, an east Jerusalem resident, protested he was being treated like a terrorist, said soldiers' vehicles were stopped in the middle of the road. (Ynet)
  • Despite Official Boycott, Over Half of East Jerusalem's Palestinians Want to Vote in City Elections - As despair over the chances of a two-state solution grows, calls within the community increase to participate in municipal elections to reduce the inequality between the city's western and eastern parts. (Haaretz+)
  • 13 years after Gaza evacuation, 160 families still without housing - Knesset committee told that all but 28 of the families are expected to move into new homes within the next year. The remaining families, who have used up their grants and cannot afford homes, will be given prefabricated homes for just $425 rent monthly. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jerusalem churches to boycott mayor's event in protest of tax policy - The churches say the municipal tax undermines Jerusalem’s sacred character. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli judge blocks sex-segregated training program for ultra-Orthodox tour guides - The judge not only rejected the state’s position but also suggested that other segregated frameworks are discriminatory. (Haaretz)
  • Religious leaders ask PM to expedite 'Basic Law: Torah Study' - If ratified, bill will protect Torah study as a fundamental state value. Haredi parties hope bill will constitutionally protect military exemption for yeshiva students in future conscription bill, while religious Zionists advocate deferral. (Israel Hayom)
  • Mixed-gender Pool Is as Bad as Incest, Residents of West Bank Settlement Say - High Court petition claims the current ban on mixed swimming at Kiryat Arba’s pool constitutes extreme religious coercion. (Haaretz+)
  • Seven Israeli soldiers wounded after running over land mine near Dead Sea - The military reported that the soldiers arrived at the area to fix a fence surrounding the minefield where their vehicle hit an old M15 anti-tank mine. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Book on Israel's covert assassinations becomes bestseller - A book detailing Israel's history of covert assassinations has been at the top of bestseller lists for the past two weeks, receiving critical acclaim from some of the world's most renowned critics. (Ynet)
  • EBay: Israelis are world's second-biggest online shoppers - Only China beats Israel in e-commerce per capita, says online commerce giant eBay. Israelis bought 17 million items totaling $425 billion last year, 6% more than in 2016. Among youth, only U.K. outranks Israel in number of items purchased per capita. (Israel Hayom)
  •  A firewall for your face: Israeli startup helps block online facial recognition - In a world where online hackers are getting smarter, D-ID has created a firewall that protects people's facial identity on the internet. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Likud lawmaker defends meeting with leader of Austrian party with Nazi roots - 'We’re not an anti-Semitic party,' a Freedom Party member told Yehuda Glick ahead of his slated meeting with Austrian Vice Chancellor Strache. (Haaretz+)
  • 50 parliamentary officials to attend international forum at Knesset
     - Largest ever forum on parliamentary collaboration to be attended by directors, secretaries general from Canada, Russia, Mexico, among others. Knesset speaker: Massive attendance indicative of world's parliaments' "great appreciation" for Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. boosts aid to Jordan to $6.4 billion despite threat to cut support over UN vote - Not only did Jordan vote against the U.S. at the General Assembly on Jerusalem, but it was also one of the loudest critics of Trump's declaration. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • State department compares Netanyahu to 'My best friend Julie': 'I don’t see her every time I'm in the Midwest' - Spokeswoman Heather Nauert offers an original explanation for why Tillerson's Mideast tour doesn't include a short stop in Israel. (Haaretz)
  • Tunisian legislator rips up Israeli flag to protest formal ties - Opposition lawmaker tears the flag to protest indefinite delay of debate over bill making it a crime to normalize relations with Israel • Moderate Islamist party Ennahdha, part of government coalition, warns bill could hurt Tunisia's relations with West. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran's ex-military chief: Israel sent lizards to spy on nuclear program - Mossad and CIA used lizards whose "skin attracts atomic waves" to find uranium mines and atomic activity, says Hassan Firuzabadi. Iranian-Canadian professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, accused of spying for U.S. and Israel, reportedly commits suicide in custody. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Syria intercepted 13 Israeli missiles during the day of battle in the north - The Russian newspaper Izvestia reports that a Syrian military official said the army's achievements were greater than the downing of the F-16. (Maariv)
  • Hundreds of pro-Assad Mercenaries and Russian Troops Killed by U.S. Strikes in Syria This Month - Putin's years-long incursion into Syria is deeply unpopular in Russia and it has been documented that the Russian government under reports the official death toll of Russians in Syria for political reasons. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • UN calls for Syria cease-fire, says it is 'very possible' - Besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta outside Damascus is at "breaking point" and Idlib province is "a catastrophe in every single sense," says U.N. official. Patients needing medical evacuation are "dying unnecessarily when they could be saved," he says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

IN PHOTOS Winter Olympics 2018: A look at Israel's best moments so far
Israel has never won a medal in the winter Olympics, but this games, with its largest contingent ever, this year may be the year. (Haaretz)
Netanyahu, Take Your Own Advice and Go Home (Haaretz Editorial) If Netanyahu genuinely cared about the country, rather than himself, he would resign immediately.
When you are a king (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) In his first two terms, Netanyahu was prime minister. Towards the end of his third term, he became king, in his own mind and in the eyes of his voters. And a king can do whatever he wants, including initiate a series of aggressive moves which have nothing to do with the state’s best interest.
This Time, Netanyahu Can’t Hide From the Allegations Against Him (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) The price of admission to the center of power was steep enough – and the requests brazen enough – that the prime minister may not get off so easy this time.
Netanyahu's big problem: Evidence has rules of its own (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) No speech, as good as it may be, can rescue the prime minister from the legal imbroglio he has gotten himself into; even if the two cases against him are combined into one, and even if Case 2000 is closed and Case 1000 is reduced from bribery suspicions to fraud and breach of trust, he won’t be able to escape an indictment.
Could Israel's next war be connected to the bribery recommendations? (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Well, we tell ourselves, even cynical Netanyahu wouldn't risk our lives just to stop some investigation – even one that could put him in prison.
He’s selling us lies: When Netanyahu began fooling his lawyers too (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Attorney Dan Avi-Yitzhak, who was sent to defend the prime minister on Army Radio, claimed that the Balfour resident did not know Milchan's connections to a joint project with Jordan. But he knew very well.
Netanyahu Has to Leave (Dan Margalit, Haaretz+) The fact that a prime minister is willing to exploit the law to stay in power without any benefit to the people condemns him.
What will the returning residents who were supposed to benefit from the Milchan Law do now? (Yehuda Sharoni, Maariv) The foreign tax authorities were powerless because they could not get any information about the owners of the companies in their jurisdiction. Attempts by professionals to minimize the damage were unsuccessful.
The law that's plaguing Netanyahu – and driving the tax office crazy (Efrat Neuman, Haaretz+) Tax breaks for new immigrants and returning Israelis may have been crafted to benefit Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan, a key figure in 'case 1000.’
The spoiled son who stretched the patience of the United States - the story of Arnon Milchan (Yossi Melman, Maariv) …In the 1960s he traveled as a playboy in a race car in Tel Aviv and was like a member of the family at the homes of Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres. Due to his family ties with international chemical companies, he was recruited to serve as a collaborator of the secret unit in the Ministry of Defense, the “Office of Foreign Relations“ (‘LAKAM’ in Hebrew). His job was, inter alia, to obtain materials for the Dimona nuclear program. Milchan did it efficiently. With the help of his companies, he established a system of purchasing bodies that supplied materials and equipment for a reactor, which enabled Israel, according to foreign publications, to develop nuclear weapons…Milchan worked on a voluntary basis, free of charge, but due to his contribution and connections in the top echelon of the government he made quite a few profits, which increased his fortune. The security and government systems in Israel rewarded him for his contribution by enabling him to serve as an agent and contact person for American and Israeli companies who did security and other business with Iran during the Shah and with Taiwan and South Africa. Later, from the height of his fortune, Milchan moved to Hollywood to fulfill his dream of producing films. In 1985, the US law enforcement authorities caught on to Milchan's activities. They discovered that the Milco Company he founded was involved in the smuggling of sensitive and essential equipment for the development of nuclear weapons. At the start of the investigation, the FBI stopped his partner and corporate director, Colonel Richard Kelly Smyth, who was released on bail, fled the US to Europe and was declared a fugitive. For more than a decade, Smyth lived hand-to-mouth, supported by the Israeli defense establishment, which gave him a monthly stipend of several thousand dollars through Milchan's office in Israel. At the end of the 1990s, Smyth was fed up with his situation and he turned himself in to the legal authorities in his homeland and reached a plea bargain with them. After serving his sentence, he found himself with nothing to his name and felt deceived by his partner and friend Milchan, who was never brought to trial. Milchan should have lowered his profile and enjoyed his fortune and his status as a producer in Hollywood. But no, someone like him, full of charm, who wants to be in the center of things and always knows how to connect with politicians in the center of power, would not do that. He was interviewed for a book (about him) written by journalists Meir Doron and Joe (Joseph) Gelman, and recounted his exploits as an agent of LAKAM. But the book had no direct quotes. The authors agreed to present his words as facts without revealing him as their source. Fortunately for him, the publication aroused much interest, but it did not wake up the law enforcement agencies in the United States. But again, the element of bravado and the desire to impress and charm stood in his way. He was interviewed for the "Uvda" Israeli TV investigative program, in which he publicly confirmed in his own voice and for the first time his actions on behalf of Israel's nuclear program. This time it irritated the US law enforcement agencies. They decided to punish him and renew his residence permit for only one year rather than ten years, as they had in the past and as is customary with most Israeli citizens. Against this background, Netanyahu intervened for him - and the rest will be decided by the attorney general.
The Israeli James Bond? Arnon Milchan and his ties to the secret services (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+) The movie mogul at the center of a corruption case involving Prime Minister Netanyahu has led the kind of life he often shows on the big screen.
The cheap Indian cars that could drive Netanyahu to jail (Josh Breiner, Haaretz+) How a Hollywood producer, an Indian carmaker and the Israeli PM pushed a plan to produce vehicles for the Arab world, according to police.
The police recommend, the AG decides (Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Under Israeli law, while police findings should be considered, the attorney general alone decides on an indictment. A government's fate must not be determined by just one entity.
The Woman Who Could Decide Netanyahu’s Fate (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The PM is regretting naming Roni Alsheich as police chief and hoping he doesn’t regret picking Avichai Mendelblit as attorney general. But it's another public servant, virtually unknown outside of judicial circles, on whom his premiership may rest.
For Netanyahu's cabinet it's about political survival now (Zvi Zrahiya, Haaretz+) With distracted ministers, 2018 may turn out to be a wasted year regarding economic achievements.
No reasonable right-wing Jew can now say Trump is keeping Israel safe (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) As the White House goes AWOL on the threat from Syria and Iran, Jewish Republicans’ attempt to justify their 'Trump is Israel’s best friend' mantra is just defensive and desperate nonsense.
The closing of the ranks in the Likud, the hypocrisy on the left and the celebrations in the media: we deserve more (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) The actions attributed to Netanyahu are grave and numerous, and there is nothing connecting them to gifts or cigars. Even those actions which the prime minister admits to oblige him to draw conclusions, and yet the people in his party remain silent.
Netanyahu is now weak and vulnerable and his political partners in Israel know it (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The police sewed up Netanyahu from head to toe – a hermetic seal, at least in the eyes of a layman - which won't suffice with a public reprimand
The demagogue’s defense that Netanyahu and Trump share: It’s a witch-hunt, and God will vindicate us (Don Futterman, Haaretz+) Netanyahu, the avowed atheist, now calls on God to help and defend him. But until that divine sign of favor is revealed, he’s going to use his bully pulpit to attack the rule of law – and the basic intelligence of every Israeli
We May Miss Netanyahu Yet (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) A moment before the party ends, we should start thinking about the morning after.
Let the Poles be (Dr. Efraim Podoksik, Israel Hayom) While some Poles collaborated with the Nazis, millions of Poles were also killed. Irresponsible, politically opportunistic attacks on Poland harm the friendship between our countries
Why Do Arabs Always Win the Wars Against Israel? (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The one who wins doesn’t seek out further confrontation; after all, he won. The only problem is with the one who’s continuing to threaten and won’t let it go.
Israel working to prevent a war while upholding its red lines (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The growing enthusiasm in the Shiite axis over the downing of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet could prompt Syria or Iran to launch wide-scale responses to any Israeli strike in Syria or Lebanon; senior defense officials are making it clear, however, that Israel won’t hesitate to act in full force—even at the cost of an all-out war in the north.
The Link Between Jews and Money Is No Longer Taboo (Ofri Ilany, Haaretz+) After years of focusing on anti-Semitism, more and more historians are daring to deal with a subject long considered untouchable.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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