News Nosh: 7.11.18

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
Number of the day:
Israel's ranking in terms of powerful countries, according to an annual poll compiled by U.S. News and World Report.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"Has the current coalition really reached such a low point that it has no way and no democratic right to enact an anti-democratic law?"
--On the subject of the controversial Jewish nation-state bill that the government is trying to pass, Maariv reporter Avishai Greenzweig writes in today's paper that it is wrong that a democratic country cannot enact an anti-democratic law.*

Front Page:
  • Attorney General warns Netanyahu against international implications of (Jewish) Nation-State law
  • Black flag law // Yossi Verter
  • The ugly face of nationalist Israel // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • 6-year-old child with disabilities abandoned by his transportation near central bus station in Tel-Aviv
  • “Shelters won’t help”: In Tiberias, they fear the next earthquake
  • Corpse of missing woman from Tel-Monde found in her backyard; Suspicion she was murdered over money dispute
  • In contradiction to the State Prosecutor’s position, abused woman who killed her partner was released from jail
  • 12 youth and their coach were rescued from the flooded cave in Thailand
  • The first Israeli spacecraft to the moon will be launched at the end of the year
  • France defeated Belgium and goes to the Mundial finals
  • From jail to solitary confinement // Haaretz Editorial on policy towards Gaza
  • Netanyahu, the battalion commander // Zvi Bar’el
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Vive la France - France is in finals: Macron is thrilled
  • Police suspect relatives murdered Ofira, whose body was found after 20 days in her backyard
  • (Jewish) Nation-State law storm: “Remove the racist clause”
  • Senior people in film against Miri Regev: “She is coming to fix, she’s coming to destroy”
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Massive criticism and a stormy Knesset debate over a racist clause in the Jewish nation-state law, a five-hour police grilling of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Case 4000, the Bezeq Telecom-Walla affair, and the question over who murdered the woman in Tel-Monde, whose body was finally found in her own backyard, were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. And, the latest on the Gaza Strip.

Also in the news, Netanyahu set off today to Moscow today to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin that upon regaining control in southern Syria after snuffing out the ‘cradle’ of the Syrian revolt, Bashar al-Assad must comply with a post-war Golan treaty. And Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel won’t tolerate a single Syrian soldier in the buffer zone along the Golan Heights border, nor will it allow a single refugee into Israel. According to a New Yorker report, quoted in the Hebrew papers, Netanyahu may also offer Putin that in exchange for removing Iranian forces from Syria, the US will lift US sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine. (Also Maariv.) However, the Iranians will be pushing their own agenda as well. Maarivreported that a senior advisor to Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei will meet with Putin on the same day, said an Iranian state television report.

In a conversation yesterday, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit warned Netanyahu of the international implications of the passing of the Jewish Nation-state law, whose clause 7b, paves the way for Jews-only cities, towns and communities. Israel’sPresident Reuven Rivlin took a rare political stance, slamming the clause in a letter he sent to the Knesset, and writing that ‘it could harm Jews by serving as a weapon for our enemies,’ for which he was excoriated by Likud officials and praised by the Opposition. Yedioth called Rivlin's initiative “an unusual and defying move against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” who wants to pass the legislation into law next week. In the Knesset debate on the bill, Deputy Attorney General Raz Nizri and Knesset legal advisor Attorney Eyal Yinon also warned of the international repercussions to the legislation, which allows the exclusion of citizens from cities and towns based on their ‘leum’ (people - i.e., Jewish people or Arab people - OH) or based on their religion. [NOTE: Worth reading the Op-Ed by Maariv reporter Avishai Greenzweig translated in Commentary/Analysis below, which exposes a politically-correct version of the law that was passed and illuminates how some intelligent right-wingers see no problem with passing anti-democratic laws. - OH]

Police investigators questioned Netanyahu for the 10th time Tuesday, for between four to five hours, regarding Case 4000, which alleges that Netanyahu gave Bezeq telecom company millions of dollars in benefits in exchange for favorable coverage on the Bezeq-owned news site Walla. Netanyahu claimed he and his family never receivedfavorable coverage from Walla, although Walla employees have said otherwise. At the same time, police questioned Bezeq's controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch, who claimed that he slanted coverage on Walla in favor of Netanyahu, ‘because he didn’t want to annoy him,’ but that he received nothing in exchange.  Also, the Netanyahu family’s attorneys told the Attorney General that former deputy police commissioner Roni Ritman, who presided over corruption probes against Netanyahu and his wife, had waged a personal vendetta against the couple believing that they were behind the sexual harassment complaint filed against him that led to his professional ruin. (But which came first? The probes or the sexual harassment complaint?) Earlier this week, Ritman indeed had suggested that they were behind the sexual harassment complaint filed against him, but he said it was because he was presiding over the corruption probes against them and they wanted him off the case, which is what happened.

Israel’s punitive closure of the only commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, in response to the burning kites, did not stop the kites: 36 more fires that broke out from them yesterday. Moreover, the closure earned Israel criticism from the European Union and from the UN Envoy for the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov, who expressed concern over the consequences of the action, saying there was no “no substitute for commerce and trade. I urge the authorities to reverse this decision.” Haaretz+ interviewed Gazan traders, who said that “Israel's closure of the Gaza crossing is like shooting a dying man…it is the final nail in the coffin.” Meanwhile, the Israeli navy stopped a Gaza boat that was carrying wounded Palestinians and attempting to reach Cyprus, by breaching the Israeli-imposed naval blockade.

And Maariv’s Yami Rot quoted from an insightful article from the ‘Al-Arabi Al-Jadid’ newspaper, which gave details of Egypt’s preparation in Sinai for fulfilling part of Trump's ‘Deal of the Century’ plan. Here’s what the article said: "Political sources in Egypt said that Cairo had begun operations towards the implementation of economic projects as part of American-Egyptian understandings to solve the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Gaza Strip...The Egyptian army has recently begun fencing an area near the airport and near the old industrial zone in El Arish where the projects are to be built. The army also evacuated the residents of the area, destroyed buildings and agricultural areas, and began to prepare the area for the new projects. According to various reports over the past six months, the US peace initiative includes a basis for a three-fold exchange of territory, that is, compensation to Palestinians for land annexed by Israel in the West Bank by transferring territory in northern Sinai to the Palestinians as a continuation of the Gaza Strip. According to the report, however, US administration envoys, Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, recently discussed with Egyptian President al-Sisi and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the transformation of the area in northern Sinai into an industrial and commercial zone where economic projects will be established to help the economic development of the Strip. This idea was discussed as the first stage of the broader plan, which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the West Bank where there are no Israeli settlements, and some of the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. According to the report, which coincides with other recent reports, the first phase of the economic projects in northern Sinai will include the construction of a power station in El Arish, a seaport in the area adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip, and the allocation of the airport in El Arish to serve the residents of the Gaza Strip or the Palestinian state as a whole. The investment at this initial stage is estimated at $3 billion and will be financed by one of the Gulf states. At the same time, Hamas signals willingness to reach an agreement that will ease the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, while emphasizing their opposition to the ‘Deal of the Century.’ The organization's political bureau announced yesterday that it was accepting to the Egyptian proposal and would send a delegation to Cairo to discuss developments on the Palestinian issue, the issues of the Arab world and the relations between Egypt and Hamas. In the announcement, Hamas declared that it would act “an open mind and heart towards all serious initiatives" on improving the situation in the Gaza Strip, and rejected Mahmoud Abbas’ claims that these moves were part of the ‘Deal of the Century.’ The delegation is headed by Saleh al-'Aruri, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, and the talks are also expected to discuss the resumption of internal Palestinian reconciliation. Earlier this week, senior Hamas official Taher al-Nunu said that the delegation would "hold extensive contacts with internationals, Israelis and Americans on the implementation of projects to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip."
Quick Hits:
  • One backpack for every Bedouin: Protests against West Bank village (Khan al-Ahmar) school's demolition continues - Anti-occupation group protest to stop demolition of famous school at Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village in the West Bank. (Haaretz+)
  • British activist on being assaulted, detained at Khan al-Ahmar village - "There were terrible scenes online of violence from the Israeli forces against defenseless Palestinian women and children that were protesting,” said Steven Dhiman, a British solidarity activist, who was detained with other international solidarity activists, during protest against the demolition of Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, last Thursday. (Maan)
  • In VIDEO - Israeli forces demolish two Palestinian homes in Qalansuwa - Locals said that while Israeli bulldozers began the demolition of the two homes, Israeli police surrounded the area and prevented people from approaching. The houses belonged to the Wardeh Palestinian family. (Maan+VIDEO)
  • In Photos - Israeli forces confiscate 4 Palestinian houses in Hebron area- Fawzi Khalil Abu Tabikh, his four wives and their 20-member family reside(d) in these houses, in al-Tuwani village, east of Yatta. (Maan)
  • Tiberias residents prepare for major earthquake - Following a series of tremors in northern Israel, authorities in the city begin upgrading old infrastructure and open hotlines for PTSD victims in preparation for a possible major earthquake; local residents say they are 'living on borrowed time.' (Ynet)
  • Israel Expected to Allocate $1.4b to Meet Earthquake, Hezbollah Threats - Near the northern border, some 24 percent of residents of Jewish communities and 42 percent of residents in Arab ones have no proper shelter. (Haaretz)
  • Security forces investigate suspected Samaria shooting attack - Investigation launched after several bullets are found near a home in the Samaria settlement of Beit El • No injuries reported in the incident • Security forces carry out several raids in West Bank, arrest four terror suspects, seize weapons and cash. (Israel Hayom)
  • *Israel ranked eighth most powerful country in the world - U.S. News and World Reports, which compiles the annual rankings, says Israel ranks particularly high in terms of life expectancy, education and per capita income. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • (Ultra-orthodox Health Minister) Litzman: If IDF draft bill crisis not resolved within a week, I'll resign - After his Council of Torah Sages instructed him to quit the government if no solution is found that would prevent the drafting of all ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, the deputy health minister gives the state a week to get extension from High Court to resolve issue. (Ynet)
  • Despite Government Opposition, Ireland Expected to Pass Bill Boycotting Israeli Settlement Products - Irish government has made it clear it opposes the legislation, but independent and opposition lawmakers are seen as likely to back it. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Doubles Quota of Migrant Workers - Officials say increase in number of workers who can work in Israel for foreign companies is part of the drive to speed up construction. (Haaretz)
  • First Israeli Spacecraft to Head to Moon on Back of Elon Musk's SpaceX Rocket - The spaceship will be the first privately funded unmanned spacecraft on the Moon and the smallest one ever. It is expected to land in February 2019. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • China to offer Palestinian Authority $15 million aid package - Chinese President Xi Jinping says in meeting with Saudi Arabian officials that Beijing will soon extend an offer of aid to the cash-strapped PA, which is in financial straits following sanctions over its payments to terrorists and their families. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas leader Sinwar breaks hand in car accident - Yahya Sinwar, Hamas's leader in Gaza, was lightly injured in a car accident Monday; sources say no foul play suspected in accident. (Ynet)
  • Iranians outraged over arrest of teenager for Instagram dancing clips - Gymnast Maedeh Hojabri, 18, is made to apologize for "breaking moral norms" but says it was not intentional. Three other people arrested for breaching Islamic modesty codes of behavior and attire • Dozens of Iranian women post similar videos in protest. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Vows to Sell as Much Oil as It Can Despite U.S. Sanctions - Iran's foreign ministry and the central bank claim to have taken measures to facilitate banking operations despite the U.S. sanctions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Pompeo: Iranian Quds Force commander Soleimani will pay 'personal' price - U.S. Secretary of State ratchets up rhetoric against Iran's Revolutionary Guards, says administration seeks to"raise the cost" for Iran's rogue behavior in region • Pompeo accuses Iran of using embassies for terror plots in Europe. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Explained Saudi-led coalition faces extended quagmire in Yemen's main port city - The Arab states pledged a swift operation to take over Hodeidah's air and sea ports, but they have made little progress in the campaign. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey's Erdogan uses extended powers to appoint son-in-law finance minister - The announcement - and the absence of familiar, market-friendly ministers from the cabinet - helped to send the lira sharply lower. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Germany Increases Funding for Holocaust Survivors by $88 Million - Significant increase in social welfare services will apply for Jewish Holocaust survivors all around the world. (JTA, Haaretz)

Explained: The Controversial Bill That Would Allow Jewish-only Communities in Israel
Right-wing politicians have spent half a decade trying to pass a ‘nation-state’ bill that would prioritize Israel’s Jewish nature over its democratic one. Even President Rivlin thinks the law could harm Jews worldwide. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)
Brotherhood of Fighters: The Battle of Karnei Hitim is brought alive, and this time Saladdin will win
Last Saturday, only 50 meters from the tent where Anna Stern arranged a sack of souvenir printed shirts a Muslim man with a large sword cut off the head of her husband. "The performance was good," said Gennady Niznik, 45, the husband, after he got up again. "But there is room to improve all the time." Today he is not Gennady, but Renaud de Chatillon, a 12th-century French aristocrat whose head was then cut off by the sword in this very field. Niznik, for his part, dusted off the heavy clothes he wore under the noon sun of Tiberias, and turned to fold the equipment that was scattered in the open field around him. Israelis, Poles, Americans, Russians, Turks, and others, came to the Jezreel Valley to recreate the battle from 1187  that had ravaged the Middle East for hundreds of years. "There is tremendous potential here, economically and socially,” said Niznik. (Oz Rosenberg, Maariv Magazine supplement, cover)
An Israeli singer returns to her Yemeni roots – and fans in Yemen approve
Singer Shiran Avraham combines Yemeni tradition with an African groove. Admirers in Yemen are urging her to perform in Sana’a. (Eness Elias, Haaretz+)
Nation-state Bill Heralds the End of Israel as a Jewish, Democratic State (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) Israel wants to be 'darkness unto the nations' — to remove the mask so as to reveal the ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance.
**The big problem with law: judges can rule out laws, but don’t take responsibility (Avishai Greenzweig, Maariv) The Knesset's Legal Advisor, Attorney Eyal Yinon, opposed the article in the Basic Law on Nationality, which allows for the existence of community settlements for Jews only, and Yinon’s opposition is not new. In fact, he opposed this clause even in its previous version and politically correct version, which entered the law book seven and a half years ago. That was a law initiated by Yisrael Hasson from Kadima and David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, which established the right to run admission committees for communities. The law allowed the admissions committee to disqualify a candidate unsuitable for "the way of life and the social fabric of the community as a community with social and cultural cohesion, and of the suitability of the candidate to the basic outlook of the community." It was clear to everyone that the purpose of the law was, among other things, to make it difficult for Arab citizens to live in Jewish communities and to prevent them from doing so. A petition to the High Court of Justice against the law was rejected by one vote. The clause that provoked the storm in the nation-state law that is being advanced now is the same law - only without a wink. It’s on the table and not under it. The law can be supported and it can be opposed, but Arab MKs and human rights organizations know very well that this is the same law. During the stormy debate yesterday, Yinon said that this section renders the Basic Law unconstitutional and that the High Court of Justice is liable to disqualify it. This argument is astonishing, since the public debate has been concerned with the question of whether the High Court of Justice has the power to invalidate a law based on the interpretation of a Basic Law. Now Attorney Yinon says that the High Court justices went one step further because they argued that they could also disqualify a Basic Law. Why?  According to Attorney Yinon, the High Court justices went one step further because they argued that they could also disqualify a Basic Law. According to Attorney Yinon, the justices may rule that the Basic Law is "a constitutional amendment that is unconstitutional." If so, what other tool remains available to the legislature in the face of the constitutional revolution of the judiciary? Former High Court justice Eliyahu Matza recently published in the weekly Ma'ariv that in his opinion the High Court justices will have to disqualify the overriding clause, in the event that it passes in the Knesset, even though it is an amendment to the Basic Law. The reasoning for his claim is that this is "a concrete danger to democracy." Has the current coalition really reached such a low point that it has no way and no democratic right to enact an anti-democratic law? Or has the constitutional revolution succeeded in conquering another goal and further constricting the legislature? The great problem of the world of law is that judges have authority without responsibility. They can disqualify laws, but are not required to take responsibility for their actions. How should the judges and Attorney Yinon think that the state of the Jewish people should act when it loses its Jewish majority in the Negev and the Galilee? Is that even a problem at all, in their view? Assuming that the answer is yes, they are invited to propose another humane and democratic idea.
Gaza Goes From 'World's Biggest Prison' to 'World's Biggest Solitary Confinement Cell' (Haaretz Editorial) Israel should reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing and endeavor to help rebuild the Strip.
We are closer to the next round of violence in Gaza - and no solution is in sight(Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) The IDF understands belatedly that it is impossible to continue with the current situation in the south. In Israel, they are trying to return the initiative to their hands and be one step ahead of Hamas, and they are pressing on the economic channel.
Netanyahu to Make It Official: Fascism Is What We Are (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Benjamin Netanyahu has a message for you. 'Jewish' is not what this state is. Our message and our mission has become something else. And it starts with an F.
The games at play in Syria (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The Israelis have given a clear ultimatum to Syria: a military force entering the buffer zone in Quneitra will be destroyed. Russia has made a commitment to Israel to keep Iranian forces 100 km from the border, while the US is holding Israel on a loose leash as the IDF prepares to pounce on Syria’s army the moment the Kremlin allows it to go too far.
A proven strategy (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) In its efforts to increase pressure on Iran, the United States is hoping that the very people who brought the ayatollahs to power will be the ones who drive them out.
Netanyahu May Offer Putin: Remove Iran From Syria for Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Russia - But can Moscow deliver? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Israel and the Saudis pushed for Trump-Putin deal, The New Yorker reports. Netanyahu could try and sell this idea to Putin, but can Moscow deliver the goods?
Today, the Temple Mount is of interest to the political leadership of the State of Israel as nothing (Kalman Liebeskind, Maariv) If we return to the sentence of Uri Zvi Greenberg, who wrote that "Israel without the Mount is not Israel," then whenever the Prime Minister or the cabinet ministers talk about the Land of Israel, one must remember: they gave up the heart of this land long ago.
Netanyahu Heads to Moscow as Battle Commander, Not Statesman (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) On each of its troubled fronts, Israel is employing strictly tactical force. It has no long-term plans or policies.
SpaceIL's goal is to demonstrate that with Israeli education and chutzpah - the moon is within reach (Professor Yitzhak Ben-Israel, Chairman of the Israeli Space Agency at the Ministry of Science, Maariv) Israel has so far concentrated on building satellites that travel in space and watch the Earth, but SpaceIL's spacecraft makes a breakthrough in the study of distant space.
Fight boycotts in the economic arena (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) The best way for Israel to fight the international boycott campaign is to institute changes that will make it easier and more convenient for foreign investors to do business here.
Ari Shavit knew how powerful he was. He is still deep in denial (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) After two failed comebacks, it’s clear Shavit still exhibits the same traits that fed his previous transgressive behavior.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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