News Nosh 1.8.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday January 8, 2019
Quote of the day:
“The Netanyahu government is carrying out a dangerous and underhanded step in order to avoid public criticism in Israel and worldwide – it is no coincidence that this was done immediately after the announcement of the election, when public attention in Israel is directed at political developments and during the Christmas holiday, when the entire Christian world is on vacation."
--Peace Now's Settlement Watch team leader, Shabtay Bendet, said in reaction to the Israeli government's allocation of 300 acres of West Bank land for a new neighborhood that would expand Efrat settlement toward Bethlehem and surround the Palestinian city with settlements.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s ‘dramatic election show whine’ to the nation, which sent the country in jitters when it was announced hours in advance, the death at age 93 of Moshe Arens, a highly respected senior Likud figure, whom commentators, including Likud people, wished Netanyahu were more like, and the death of a paratrooper, according to some, due to his commanders’ negligence, after he slipped and drowned in a gushing river during a navigation exercise that was held in the midst of a storm, were today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers.

Netanyahu’s staff had said at about 5PM that there would be a “dramatic statement” at 8PM, which coincided with when the evening news programs begin in Israel, but the subject of the statement was kept secret. Four minutes after Netanyahu began his address, Channel 10 cut away from the live broadcast, after it realized that there was no dramatic news, only Netanyahu complaining that his demand for a confrontation with his former allies-turned-state-witnesses - “even on live TV” - had been denied. The full speech was 7.5 minutes. The police have recommended indicting Netanyahu in three corruption cases. Channel 10 lost viewers after it decided to stop broadcasting, Maariv reported. Channel 10 journalist Raviv Drucker and Maariv commentator Ben Caspit (see Caspit’s sharp Op-Ed translated in Commentary below) suggested that the heads of the news companies either demand to know what Netanyahu wants to talk about and then decide whether to broadcast it live or pre-record it and broadcast it as it sees appropriate. (Maariv)

The Justice Ministry, the Police, and left-wing and centrist politicians criticized Netanyahu for the speech. The Justice Ministry said the investigations were "conducted professionally and thoroughly" and senior officials in the judicial system rejected Netanyahu’s claim that he was the victim of biased treatment. “There is no legal obligation to hold a confrontation between him and key witnesses. Netanyahu chooses to create a public hearing for himself, instead of the hearing he will have to face in case he is indicted,” they said. Meretz Chairwoman, MK Tamar Zandberg, called the speech “election propaganda that is not fit to be aired on television." Associates of the new political candidate, Benny Gantz, said, “The time has come for a leadership that cares for citizens, not just for itself.” And Labor party leader Avi Gabbay said: "In a normal country, the prime minister does not attack the law enforcement authorities." But Netanyahu supporter, Culture Minister Miri Regev, said: "Justice is not available in the prime minister's investigation.” (Maariv) TV reporter and commentator on legal affairs, Guy Peleg said that "Netanyahu thinks this is a reality show, but he forgot that he is the suspect.” And veteran TV political commentator Amnon Abramovich, said: "I do not remember such a cynical show" and added that it was meant for Netanyahu’s political base. (Maariv) In his speech, Netanyahu derided the most serious suspicion against him: bribery - that he received favorable media coverage and lavish gifts in exchange for favors. “What was the bribery? Did money change hands? Was money deposited in bank accounts?” Later, he started a game on Instagram where followers were asked to suggest how to finish the sentence: "A bribe without money is like…” One suggested an omelette without an egg, another suggested a reality show host without her co-host.  (Maariv)

Also in the news, Iron Dome intercepted a rocket launched from Gaza early Monday, after which IDF jets attacked several targets at a Hamas military base. No injuries were reported on either side. Later, it was reported that Netanyahu ordered to freeze the Qatari cash transfer meant to go to Hamas this week to pay civilian wages in Gaza this month.

And, the families of the five Jewish boys arrested on suspicion of terror for the murder of a Palestinian woman got special treatment. The suspects' parents met with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, to whom they reiterated their accusations against the interrogation methods used against the minors. Also, it was revealed that Shaked called the mother of one of the minors and told her that she had spoken to the State Attorney on the subject. The youth, all yeshiva students in a West Bank settlement, suspected of throwing rocks at a Palestinian car that hit Aisha Rabi in the head and killed her. Meretz chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg slammed Shaked for meeting with the suspects’ families, saying that the justice minister’s New Right party has “different standards for Jews and Arabs.” “Instead of doing soul searching, (Shaked) is making an electoral calculation and running into the arms of families accused of terror,” Zandberg said. The suspects’ parents also reiterated their accusations later at a press conference they gave, continuing to accuse the Shin Bet of employing illegal methods against the youth. One of the parents in the murder of Aisha al-Rabi said: "They tied up my son and spit on him.” Others said, "The boys will need psychological treatment following the trauma." (Maariv) Oddly, no journalist asked the parents if they think that tying up and spitting on suspects in terror cases is okay when the suspect is Palestinian. However, the Hebrew newspapers have published such questions raised by commentators, such as Haaretz’s Mordechai Kremnitzer and Maariv’s Tal Lev-Ram. At a swearing-in ceremony for judges, President Reuven Rivlin warned, "The Shin Bet is on the front lines these days…We must refrain from irresponsible attacks on people whose job it is to protect and defend the security of Israel against threats from home and abroad.”
Quick Hits:
  • *Israel Pushing to Expand West Bank Settlement Until It Surrounds Bethlehem - Area allocated by Civil Administration to Housing Ministry is considered particularly sensitive diplomatically. If the Givat Eitam neighborhood is built, the Palestinian city of Bethlehem will be surrounded by the settlement of Efrat. “The Netanyahu government is carrying out a dangerous and underhanded step in order to avoid public criticism in Israel and worldwide – it is no coincidence that this was done immediately after the announcement of the election, when public attention in Israel is directed at political developments and during the Christmas holiday, when the entire Christian world is on vacation,” said Peace Now's Settlement Watch team leader, Shabtay Bendet. (Haaretz+)
  • Tapuach Junction (West Bank): Border Police force fired at a Palestinian woman who did not hear the call to stop, she was wounded in the legs - A Border Police force stationed at the Tapuach junction carried out a procedure for apprehending a suspect by shooting at a Palestinian woman who was walking with an object in her hand and did not stop when she was called to stop. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Hebrew University Accused of ‘Abandoning’ Lecturer Facing Threats - After false media reports that the lecturer had taken a female student to task for coming to class in an army uniform, the university issued a statement saying that it ‘warmly supports the right of students and faculty to come dressed as they please.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Settlement population growth slows for 10th straight year - Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria: Settlements grew by 3% in 2018, 3.4% in 2017 and 3.9% in 2016. Settler leaders blame slow growth on lack of new housing, urge next government to build • At end 2018, 448,672 Jews lived in territories. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pink Floyd cover band caves in to Roger Waters, doesn't play his songs in Israel - Fans disappointed after attending UK Pink Floyd Experience's Tel Aviv and Be'er Sheva concerts. 'To sing my songs in front of segregated audiences in Israel... would be an act of unconscionable malice,' warned Waters. (Haaretz+)
  • Labor chief Avi Gabbay visited Abu Dhabi, met senior Emirati leaders — report - Opposition politician said to discuss Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump peace plan, Iranian threat during secret three-day visit last month. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • Three Iraqi delegations said to make unprecedented Israel visits, meet officials - Hadashot TV report says secret taboo-busting trips arranged with goal of building basis for future ties and marking a shift in attitudes in the once hostile country. Around 15 Iraqi citizens total toured Yad Vashem, met academics and Jewish-Iraqi experts, discussed Iraqi Jewish heritage. (JPost and Times of Israel)
  • Lebanon’s security chief: "The tunnels are out of date and exist for years, Israel should not have gone after them" - Lebanon’s General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim told a monthly magazine that Israel only recently publicized the discovery of the underground passageways “in an attempt to achieve an illusory victory.” (Maariv and The National)
  • As Election Campaign Gets Underway, Israel Faces Threats by Hackers - Vulnerabilities range from fake social media accounts to the voting system itself, warns a study by the cybersecurity firm Check Point. (Haaretz)
  • Under Pressure, Israeli Labor Chief to Give Up One of His Picks for Election Ticket - Avi Gabbay will only pick three people of his choosing for Labor's election ticket, as many current Labor members of Knesset are expected to lose their seats. (Haaretz+)
  • Likud hires law firm of Netanyahu's confidants embroiled in corruption probe - It’s not yet clear if two key figures at the firm, David Shimron and Isaac Molho, will face charges in the affair in which bribery is suspected. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel spending $27,000 per month on Australia trip expenses for Netanyahu's son - Avner Netanyahu is on a 8-month trip, touring Australia and New Zealand. His security guards are replaced every two weeks, and taxpayers are footing the bill for their flights, accommodation, salaries, expenses and insurance. (Haaretz+)
  • LISTEN: Israeli F-15 Loses Canopy at 30,000 Feet, Pilots Make Emergency Landing - Army releases sound recordings of the incident. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas gains control of Rafah crossing after PA withdraws personnel - Hamas militants gained control of the Rafah crossing on Monday after the Palestinian Authority announced Sunday that its security forces had been withdrawn and would not continue guarding the crossing, apparently in order to put pressure on Hamas. Hamas handed control of crossing to PA in 2017. The decision comes after a wave of arrests made by Hamas, aimed to deter Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian Soccer Stars With Israeli Citizenship Put on the Red, Green and Black - At the Asian Cup now underway, Palestine has four players with blue ID cards. Star back Abdullah Jaber tells Haaretz about the challenges. (Haaretz)
  • WATCH CBS Explains How Egypt Tried to Kill a '60 Minutes' Sissi Interview Over Israel Comment - The program said Cairo had asked the network not to air the interview but did not give further details. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Egypt's Sissi Opens Mega-mosque and Middle East's Largest Cathedral in New Capital - Copts, the largest Christian minority in the Middle East, held a midnight mass in the Cathedral of the Nativity on the eve of Coptic Christmas. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Kurdish Official Asks for U.S. Clarifications Over Syria Withdrawal - Speaking to The Associated Press from northern Syria Monday, Badran Jia Kurd says the Kurds have not been informed of any change in the U.S. position. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • A week into new U.S. Congress, tense debate erupts over anti-BDS bills - Debate centers on two bills against boycotts of Israel and its settlements, with some claiming that 'a significant number of Democrats now support BDS and leaders want to avoid a floor vote that reveals that.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Senate GOP uses Israel bill as wedge issue to split Democrats - Middle East package, which includes support for Israel, has bipartisan support • Some Democrats oppose addition of an act that confirms state, local governments can take steps to counter Israel boycotts • Opponents: BDS protected by First Amendment. (Israel Hayom)
  • Thailand says won't deport Saudi teen seeking asylum back to Kuwait - 'We will not send anyone to their death,' BBC quotes Thai immigration chief as saying. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, barricaded herself in her Bangkok hotel room and called for help from the UN on Twitter. (Haaretz+)
  • Turkey orders arrest of 100 soldiers over suspected Gulen links - More than 77,000 people have been jailed pending trial, while 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others have been sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of the post-coup purges. (Haaretz)

Flotillas and fights: Israel's most controversial MK leaves behind a contentious legacy
Hanin Zoabi was the first Arab woman to become an MK for an Arab party, and the Joint List lawmaker spent her decade in parliament stirring up controversy, joining the Gaza flotilla, calling IDF soldiers murderers, praising terrorists who carried out deadly attacks on Israelis. (Moran Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
After His ‘Dramatic Statement,’ Netanyahu Should Be Barred From Live Israeli Television (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) It was a disaster for truth, statesmanship and proper governance, and for this nonsense an entire country was tense and preoccupied for several hours.
Netanyahu needs to understand a simple thing: He is not conducting the investigation against him (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The prime minister once again confiscated expensive broadcast time at prime time to whine. Even before that, he was made a whole country nuts about a "dramatic announcement" expected at eight o'clock in the evening. The WhatsApp groups crashed. In the army, they checked to see if anything was happening. Lt. Col. Rumor hastily received new ranks of representation, rumors began to chase themselves and everything seemed possible: from a declaration of war on Russia and Iran to the appointment of (Likud MK) Nava Boker as Prisons Service Commissioner…At one point, MK Boker read on one of the television shows one of the more surreal WhatsApp messages that was being flown around yesterday afternoon. Netanyahu's lawyer, Navot Tel-Tzur, managed to obtain material proving that (Police Commissioner) Alsheikh is a Jewish Yemenite child kidnapped from Pakistan and that (Attorney General) Mendelblit is an alien who arrived in a spaceship under the auspices of the New Israel Fund. Only that Boker read the message as if it were true. But it wasn’t funny, because at some points there was real panic, especially among parents whose children were in the army. When the prime minister's "associates" understood what they were doing and tried to calm things down, it was too late. Netanyahu's arguments yesterday are not worthy of a serious discussion. ‘I wanted a confrontation with the state's witnesses, and I was refused.’ And it was not just a confrontation he wanted. A live (televised) confrontation! So why not do it at the VIP Big Brother (reality show)? If you’re doing it, do it big. By the way, in most cases, even in white-collar and legal cases of senior officials, the suspects want a confrontation, but the state refuses, for its own reasons. Sometimes it's the opposite. In any case, it is legitimate, completely routine, completely understandable. The only relevant question is whether the investigation was conducted in a fair and proper manner, and whether the investigating authorities did everything to arrive at the truth. If it becomes clear that it wasn’t and they didn’t, the prime minister's claim regarding a confrontation will become relevant. Allow me to bet that it will not turn out no. Why? Because the truth is the opposite. Attorney General Mendelblit, and this is really no secret, gave Netanyahu quite a few celebrity discounts during the interrogation. They were listed and described in the media at length, so there is no point in discussing them again. Mendelblit worked slowly, weighed and checked every thing, approved investigative activities sparingly, respected the dignity and rights of the prime minister as never before, and perhaps in retrospect did the right things that today make the claims of Netanyahu's persecution a sad grotesque. He may have known in advance that this is what Netanyahu will try to argue and make the arguments in advance. After all, he knows the client. The mere thought that a prime minister in Israel is troubling an entire country for hours to announce this announcement proves that anyone who thinks that a prime minister under investigation can not run a country - is right. By the way, Netanyahu thinks that too, because he said exactly that about Ehud Olmert when Olmert was immersed in his investigations. Netanyahu's version, according to which he meant only "a political plan,” is not true, does not hold water and is not serious. Netanyahu knows exactly what he meant. And not only he. If Netanyahu's interrogations were conducted with force and decisiveness and with the means of interrogation that were used against Olmert, he may have been in a completely different place today, with a much more serious leak of water from the ceiling [reference to Netanyahu’s couples complaints that the PM’s residence is in a dilapidated state. Caspit is suggesting Netanyahu might already be in jail. - OH] A special citation goes to those who made the right decision in the control room of Channel 10 News, to drop Netanyahu's political speech after four and a half minutes (out of seven). It seems to me that the broadcast should have been stopped before, when it turned out that this was not a drama, but just a little rampage on the law enforcement authorities. It seems to me that the prime minister has exhausted the credit of his dramatic messages. The next time (his associates) promise such a statement, they need to be recorded and broadcast later, if things are worthy. He looked bad yesterday, desperate, drowning, clinging to a straw. The man must understand a simple thing: he does not conduct the investigation against him. He is not sitting on the TV control. He thought he was, and maybe that's why all the troubles began. Sad.
Best political drama: Israeli election 2019, starring Benjamin Netanyahu as O. J. Simpson (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister is exploiting the right-wing’s eternal sense of victimhood to blind it to the incriminating evidence collected against him.
Justices must act with restraint (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Supreme Court justices, both past and present, would be wise to allow their judgments to speak for them instead of becoming tools of self-interested political parties.
Netanyahu's Messi delusions of grandeur (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) In a recent campaign video, Prime Minister Netanyahu compared himself to soccer star Lionel Messi. But Messi is a complicated man: his feet are near genius, but he's as dumb as a rock. Which Messi is Netanyahu? The star player or the convicted felon?
There is no doubt that Netanyahu's investigation was a corrupt investigation by a corrupt police (Attorney Yoram Sheftel, Maariv) The police's statement that it does not set up confrontations between a suspect any everyone who testified against him is a misleading statement that shows that the prosecution is the bad boy in the story here, and not the police.
Israel's left wing must have the courage to tackle the big issue (Yaron London, Yedioth/Ynet) The left must clearly state, without obfuscating in the name of political correctness, what it believes is the long-hungered solution for good relations between Israel's Arab and Jewish citizens, instead of providing superficial and hysterical solutions to the country's rising fascism.

Does Iran really want to destroy Israel? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Turns out, Iranians are split over this question, but the debate doesn’t make it to Israel – nor does the fact that the Iranians have other interests unrelated to the Holy Land.
Outcry Over Treatment of Jewish Terror Suspects Aims to Thwart Shin Bet Investigation (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The allegations of torture are being exaggerated as part of a well-planned effort led by the lawyers of the suspects in the murder of Aisha Mohammed Rabi.
Two Israeli Literary Giants, Haim Gouri and Amos Oz, Under This Blazing Light (Yechiam Weitz, Haaretz+) There were major differences between Haim Gouri of the ‘Palmach generation’ and Amoz Oz, who rebelled against it, yet with their deaths, we have lost two of the greatest lovers of Israel, and also two of its greatest critics.
The Abbas-Hamas Tension Is Seeping Into the Gaza Front, at an Uncomfortable Time for Netanyahu (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The Palestinian Authority has stepped up its threats to further reduce its aid that helps Hamas pay for water and electricity in Gaza, while Israel is blocking funds from Qatar.
Unnecessary death: the difficult questions that must be asked in the investigation into the death of Sergeant Eviatar Yosefi (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Training takes place in the IDF even in stormy weather, but the commanders must exercise their discretion, follow the procedures and identify the weak points in the navigation axis even before training.
Responsibility falls on the generals (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The unnecessary death of Sgt. Evyatar Yosefi is the type of tragedy that makes you pull your hair out in anger. The writing wasn't just on the wall, it was everywhere.
How U.S. Jewish anti-occupation group IfNotNow suppresses free speech on Israel (Carra Glatt, Haaretz+) IfNotNow's campaign against Birthright reveals a deeply reductive, illiberal streak: Palestinian narratives are uncritically endorsed - but Jewish Israeli views are apologetics and 'propaganda.’
Losing faith in the PLO (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The PA and Hamas have left the Palestinian street indifferent. Many Palestinians no longer believe either is capable of managing their affairs, let alone leading them to realize their goals.
How Israel Usurps Palestinian Land in Calculated Stages (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Israelization of 137,000 dunams (nearly 34,000 acres) of Palestinian land deepens every time its legal owners, their children and grandchildren are denied entry.
Palestinians should push the Muslim world to compensate Jewish refugees (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) Israel is demanding reparations for the assets lost when 856,000 Jews were forced from their homes after 1948 - claims that are no less just than those of the Palestinians. It's time for both sides to see past their own exclusive victimhood.
National asset (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Moshe Arens was very nationally-oriented, but not a nationalist and he did not see any contradiction between nationalism and liberal democracy. I wish his memory would give inspiration to political life in the State of Israel in the coming years.
Farewell to Moshe Arens, an analytical mind and one-state ideologue (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) Moshe Arens’ voice was unique, insistent and unsuited to the talking points of Likud and Netanyahu.

1925-2019: The Irony of Moshe Arens, the Unfailingly Courteous Gentleman Who Brought Us Netanyahu (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The US-educated former defense minister lost his American accent, but one Israeli characteristic he never quite mastered was pushiness.

Public servant of a different kind: The mark left by Moshe Arens goes beyond the limits of politics (Arik Bender, Maariv) A farewell to a diplomat and a gentleman, one of the last people who saw Jabotinsky alive, who brought Netanyahu into our lives, and who left behind him a tremendous contribution to fortifying Israel's security and democratic life here.

Editorial Moshe Arens: Democrat, Hawk, Gentleman (Haaretz Editorial) Moshe Arens, who died on Monday at age 93, was a rare breed.


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