News Nosh 1.15.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday January 15, 2019
Quote of the day:
"We have a blood alliance, but just as importantly, we have a life alliance. We need to make sure that we build this partnership and this alliance together, as it should be."
--The most sought after candidate in the Israeli elections campaign, Benny Gantz, made his first political statement against the coalition's controversial Jewish Nation-State Law and in support of Israel's Druze minority, which considers it discriminating and insulting.*

Front Page:
  • State Comptroller to (Attorney General) Mendelblit: Probe the money Netanyahu received for funding his legal aid
  • Gantz: I will act as much as I can to fix the (Jewish) Nation-State Law
  • (MK) Bezalel Smotrich chosen to head Ichud Leumi party
  • (Judge) Gerstel case was closed - Mendelblitt: The gaps between the versions did not allow us to prove that the judge was offered an appointment as attorney general on condition that she close the Prime Minister’s Residence case [against Sara Netanyahu]
  • Police probing whether there is a connection between the double murder in Jerusalem and the stabbing of a girl in the area
  • After 40 year struggle, resident of Kufr Kana petitions to visit the grave of her father in a military zone
  • Despite the lack of judges, a judge who defended those who protested against the banks was suddenly removed from his job
  • The Kochavi test // Yagil Levi
  • A model and an example // Zvi Bar’el
  • Within the family - At Asia soccer championships, Palestinians will play on both sides of the field
  • It turns out that even in 2019 there are things to find in the Dead Sea caves
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The commander - Aviv Kochavi takes office this morning as the 22nd Chief of Staff
  • Kochavi’s challenges // Yossi Yehoshua
  • The baptism of fire of Benny Gantz - Former chief of staff broke his silence with his promise to fix the (Jewish) Nation-State Law
  • Look who’s talking // Sima Kadmon
  • Exclusive - Revolution in the IDF: Personal weapon with a barcode
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Elections 2019 News:
Two chiefs of staff made the top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Former chief of staff and the leader of the Israel Resilience Party Benny Gantz made his first public political statement, vowing to ‘fix’ the controversial Jewish Nation-State Law, and Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi took office today as the IDF’s 22nd Chief of Staff. In his opening words Kochavi said the Israeli military must be willing to use force but also ‘discretion.’

* Gantz’s first political statement was one minute long outside his home and it sparked a storm. Dozens of Israeli Druze came to him to protest against the Jewish Nation-State law and Gantz stepped outside and promised to “fix" the controversial law to make it more inclusive for the country's minorities. He thanked the protesters for the honor of them coming to protest outside his home. The right-wing attacked Gantz, who is seen as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's main contender, and labeled him a ‘leftist.’ The new right-wing party of Minister Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's said, “He's teamed up with the left.”

Meanwhile, controversial MK Bezalel Smotrich ousted Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel as leader of the far-right-wing Ichud Leumi party and is expected to lead Habayit Hayehudi faction after Bennett and Shaked left. Ariel will resign from politics.

And the Likud party court is holding a hearing over whether the "New Likudniks" can be ousted from the party, Maariv and JPost reported. The ‘New Likudniks’ are running candidates in the Likud primary as the party weighs expelling them for being ‘leftist.' A total of 15 New Likudniks activists were summoned to the hearing by Likud Director-General Zuri Siso, who argued that they are leftists.

Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian Boy, 14, Dies of Bullet Wounds Sustained in Gaza Border Clashes - Abd a-Rauf Ismail Salehah, shot in the head by Israeli forces, is the third Gazan to be pronounced dead since Friday's protests. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Maan)
  • IDF shooters get 'smart' gun sight to increase accuracy - Revolutionary product has processor that takes into account distance, movement and even the bullets used; 'Dagger' creators also aim to reduce collateral damage. (Ynet)
  • Israel orders construction halt of Palestinian structures in Yatta - Israeli forces delivered a stop-construction notice to local for his house, and to three other people; a demolition notice for a water well, another for a steel structure used for housing sheep and a stop-construction notice for a room in which the family resides. (Maan)
  • Palestinian Woman Petitions Israel's Top Court to Visit Father's Grave Inside Military Base - The state is not letting Qubati visit the grave because it is located inside a military base built at the site of a Christian cemetery in the village of Malul, saying allowing her access would set a problematic precedent. (Haaretz+)
  • All the Ways East Jerusalem Palestinians Get Rebuffed in Bid to Become Israelis - Interior Ministry says the years-long delays are the result of the volume of requests, but lawyers are convinced the backlog is a deliberate policy to prevent the city’s Palestinians from becoming citizens. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel denying entry to left-wing British activist for second time since 2014 - Garry Spedding was denied entry for five years in 2014. Israel says he needed to coordinate his arrival now that the ban is over, he says he applied to the embassy in London and never heard back. He was held for 5 hours and sent back. (Haaretz+)
  • 'No grounds for action against lecturer in IDF uniform scandal' - Hebrew University Rector Barak Medina addresses controversy in end-of-semester letter, saying that the lecturer had not intended to offend the student and had been the victim of verbal attacks and threats since the video of their conversation went viral. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Jewish) Israeli activist who slapped Ahed Tamimi's prosecutor wants a political trial - Yifat Doron says she slapped the IDF prosecutor to defend her friend. ‘We are not punished the same way the Palestinians are for the same actions.’ (+972mag)
  • Israeli Watchdog Calls to Probe Netanyahu's Receipt of $300,000 in Legal Aid - State Comptroller Joseph Shapira charges the PM had no permission to receive from two businessmen closely affiliated with him. (Haaretz+)
  • Attorney General closes case against judge over Sara Netanyahu bribery case - Avichai Mandelblit rules Hila Gertsel was not presented with an ‘offer on the table’ in return for ending fraud investigation against PM’s wife. (Times of Israel)
  • Police looking into Minister Ayoob Kara - National Fraud Investigations Unit is examining materials it received containing Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that raise suspicions of alleged criminal activity; Kara: 'I'm confident in my righteous and honest path.' (Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • Netanyahu blocks vote on budget reserves in bid to use them for defense - Cabinet vote on directing funds to reduce deficit delayed, as treasury report puts fiscal pressure on Finance Minister Kahlon ahead of election. (Haaretz)
  • Israel reaches deal with several Eastern Mediterranean countries to form regional gas market - The consortium, which includes Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinians, is aimed at cutting infrastructure costs and lowering prices. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israelis on Gaza border anxious after IDF pulls plug on private rocket alarm apps - Public rejects army decision to stop third-party alert system because it sows panic, and insists official alarm app is insufficient. (Haaretz+)
  • 'If the IDF won't deal with the terror threat, we will' - Dismayed by IDF announcement of end to Operation Northern Shield, residents of northern Israel say they plan to hire private firms to look for terror tunnels below Israel-Lebanon border. IDF says it has thoroughly examined all reports of digging. (Israel Hayom)
  • BDS-backing artist asked Haifa museum to remove his controversial 'McJesus' sculpture - After artwork sparked a violent protest last week by local Christians, the Finnish artist discovered his artwork is still on display, although he had asked it to be removed back in September. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian worshipers at Al-Aqsa block policeman over kippah; scuffles ensue - Mosque director lightly wounded in brawl between worshipers and police after guards barricade themselves inside Jerusalem mosque. (Haaretz+, Maan and Ynet)
  • Israeli forces raid Beituniya, confiscate camera recordings - Clashes erupted among Palestinian youths and Israeli forces, when the forces raided the in West Bank village, during which the youths threw rocks and the soldiers fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear-gas bombs, and sound grenades towards the youths. (Maan)
  • Israel's future English teachers scored below average on English high school exam - Over 90 percent of future English teachers failed to obtain a high-enough grade on the matriculation exam to exempt them from English-language studies. (Haaretz)
  • Unemployment drops to record low of 4.1% in 2018 - Unemployment in 2018 drops to record low of 4.1%, Israeli Employment Service says • Meanwhile, claims for unemployment benefits actually rose 5.7% in 2018 • In total, 402,730 people file for unemployment in 2018, a 4.4% drop compared to 2017. (Israel Hayom)
  • Christians mark Epiphany at holy site on Jordan River - Christians from around the world gather at Qasr al-Yahud, on the Israeli side of the Jordan River, where Jesus is believed to have been baptized • Churches in area cleared from mines, but not open to general public. (Israel Hayom)
  • Divers to search for remains of Jews murdered on banks of Danube - In October 1944, after the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party rose to power in Hungary, thousands of Budapest Jews were shot to death on the banks of the Danube River. Interior Minister Arye Deri hopes Holocaust martyrs can be brought to Jewish burial. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Tom Jones to Rock on Tel Aviv Stage This Summer - The Welsh singer, known for his hit 'Sex Bomb,' will perform at the Menora Mivtachim stadium on July 3. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Abbas arrives in New York to take leadership of Group of 77 and China - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in the United States Monday to take over presidency from Egypt of the Group of 77 (G77) and China during a ceremony to be held at the UN on Tuesday. (Maan)
  • Malaysia won’t let Israeli paralympic swimmers enter country for Olympic qualifier - Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Entry to Malaysia on an Israeli passport is prohibited. (Haaretz)
  • Israel Strikes Syria: Satellite Images Show Iranian Weapons Depot Targeted Near Damascus - The images show the extent of the damage caused by Israel's attack near Damascus, which supposedly destroyed an Iranian weapons depot on Friday. (Haaretz)
  • 'Israeli strike in Syria targeted Hezbollah, Iranian commanders' - Iranian Revolutionary Guard sources tell Kuwaiti newspaper that Israeli missiles stuck Damascus airport mere minutes after Iranian, Hezbollah, and Syrian military commanders met, wounding several of them. (Israel Hayom)
  • Barak, ministers slam Netanyahu for ending Israel ambiguity on Syria - After PM assumed responsibility for Friday's Damascus airstrike, his former defense minister insinuates that his considerations in doing so may have been political, and aimed at the April 9 elections. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran dismisses Netanyahu's 'baseless' claims about Israeli strikes in Syria - Iranian Foreign Ministry says Israel's admission of carrying out 'hundreds' of attacks on targets belonging to Iran, are 'Zionists' attempt to conceal their failures in the region'; adds there is no Iranian military in Syria, only 'consultants.' (Ynet)
  • Senior US official vows to counter Iran, Hezbollah on Lebanon visit - Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale says US will step up its efforts against the Islamic Republic and its proxies in the region, adding it’s 'unacceptable' to have a militia assembling weapons 'outside the control of the state.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Trump asked Mattis for plan to blow up Iranian 'fast boats,' report says - 'Why don't we sink them?' U.S. president told his national security team, sources tell Axios, in 'disproportionate' proposal they say could have quickly led to war. (Haaretz)
  • Report: White House sought Iran strike options in 2018 - U.S. source says White House consulted Pentagon after Iran-aligned militants fired mortars into part of Baghdad where U.S. Embassy is located. Wall Street Journal reported that the request sparked "deep concern" among military, diplomatic officials. (Israel Hayom)
  • Fifteen Killed in Military Cargo Plane Crash in Iran - Boeing 707 flying from Kyrgyzstan burst into flames after making emergency landing in Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran exploring new uranium enrichment, nuclear chief says - Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, tells state TV that preliminary work on a process to enrich uranium to the 20% level needed for civilian fuel has begun. Does appearance signal that Iran is restarting its nuclear program? (Israel Hayom)
  • Pompeo in Riyadh: Saudis assured me of accountability for Khashoggi murder - Pompeo told reporters he had also raised a number of human rights issues with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, including women’s rights activists who have been detained and allegedly tortured for months. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • TechNation: ISIS Reportedly Turns to Israeli-developed Messaging App - Israeli-Japanese Magenta tech fund seeks to raise $100 million ■ Israel’s election commission retains cybersecurity expert head of poll ■ Wiliot raises $30 million for battery-free Bluetooth technology. (Haaretz)
  • Mueller Reportedly Probing Illicit Donations to Trump Inaugural Event Related to Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE - Mueller is looking into whether Middle Eastern countries contributed money to Trump's events before he was sworn in, perhaps through U.S. donors. (Haaretz)
  • Qatar sees no need to re-open embassy in Syria - Some Arab states, including some that once backed rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, are seeking to reconcile with him after decisive gains by his and allied forces in the war. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Sudan's Spring: Protestors worry because of the lack of attention of the Arab world - The protests that have been taking place for about a month in Sudan continue to claim casualties, but the protesters do not intend to stop until they remove political Islam from the poor country. (Maariv)

Dressed in Drag, This Artist Is Love-bombing Israel’s War on ‘Unpatriotic Art’
Ze’ev Engelmayer is one of Israel’s most famous illustrators. But once he dons a baby-pink bodysuit, yellow foam wig and scarlet court shoes, he becomes Shoshke, its most defiant protest artist. (Rivkah Brown, Haaretz+)
The Russian immigrants who left Israel and are making it back in Moscow
Three decades after the mass immigration from the former Soviet Union, many of the younger generation are still unable to integrate into Israeli society and some are even trying their luck back in Moscow. (Shuki Sadeh, Haaretz+)

The True Objective of Jewish Terror (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) It's not the murder of Palestinians. It is to grab whatever Palestinian space is left, and the Israeli army allows it, because it's afraid.
Are Hordes of Radical anti-Zionist Professors Intimidating Jewish Students on Campus? (Ivan Kalmar, Haaretz+) A recent Hillel fundraising email claimed Jewish students in Canada felt 'ashamed, angry and exposed' by academics filling their classrooms with radical leftist propaganda. That's a trope taken straight from the fear-mongering populist Right.
Universities under siege: The battle for a free and progressive education is in full swing (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) The anti-liberal tendencies that the right-wing is trying to impose on higher education, to the extent that it has turned into a tool by the supporters of the occupation, the halakha and the privatization regime are dangerous to academic freedom.
When you're staying with West Bank settlers, here's how to break the ice (Arnon Grunberg, Haaretz+) First up, assure your hosts you aren't spying for an anti-occupation human rights group. Second tip: Don't take off your coat. Part one of a three part report.
By breaking its ambiguity on Syria, Israel backed its enemies into a corner (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) When Netanyahu and Eisenkot decided to end Israel's plausible deniability regarding its airstrikes in Syria, they damaged the country's deterrence, and there is no knowing how all of this will blow up in our faces.
Gantz told the Druze what any other candidate would say - and rightly so (Meir Uziel, Maariv) Even those who wholeheartedly believe in the necessity of the Jewish Nation-State law have promised in one language or another that a correction is required, which expresses the partnership with the community. However, these were just sounds, not real speech.
The mask is off: Gantz is a leftist (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) By the time the Left realizes the Israel Resilience Party and its leader Benny Gantz are positioned to be the final nail in its coffin, it may be too late.
Eisenkot Withstood the Heat (Haaretz Editorial) The outgoing army chief's term included missteps, But in his major test – his conduct as a public servant who could stand up to politicians who often exerted pressure that was not to the point – Eisenkot came through with honor.
Kochavi is the right man to deal with the IDF's challenges successfully (MK Eyal Ben Reuven, Maariv) The incoming chief of staff comes to the post with a huge load of experience, knowledge and familiarity with the large systems he will have to lead in a rapidly changing regional reality.
U.S. Jews Are to Blame for Crisis With Israel (Nave Dromi, Haaretz+) The painful truth is that the rupture between Israel and progressive American Jewry is worsening because the thing they may want to change most of all, without succeeding, is us.
Is an increasingly unhinged Trump good or bad for Netanyahu? (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister basks in the president’s pro-Israeli gestures but could gain from Trump’s total unraveling as well.
The Palestinian struggle is shifting to a civil rights movement, and Gaza is leading the way (Rami Younis, +972mag) The Great Return March signals a shift for the Palestinian people, says scholar Tareq Baconi. Palestinians are no longer fighting for a state, and are increasingly demanding their full rights — primarily the right of return.
A very long first term (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) PA President Mahmoud Abbas was elected in a free election 15 years ago. It was the last parliamentary election held to date in the Palestinian Authority.
Trump's Syria Pullout Hurts Bolton and Pompeo's Diplomatic Credibility (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) The president's policy-by-tweet handling of Syria undercuts the credibility of his senior staffers, who spent months prior to his announcement advocating against the move, and are now scrambling to pacify Mideast allies.
A tale of two speeches (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's speech in Cairo last week may not have been as flashy as Obama's in 2009, but it did indicate a return to a sober and healthy perception of reality.
How the Far Right Accused a Chocolate Bar of 'Islamizing' Europe (Farid Hafez, Haaretz+) 'Don’t buy from Muslims!' Toblerone's halal certification triggered a far right campaign to boycott Muslim-owned businesses - part of a wider strategy to suffocate Muslim life in Europe.
Hamas signals to Israel that if the Qatari money does not arrive, stability on the border will be undermined (Yoni Ben Menachem, Maariv) In renewing the violent demonstrations, the Palestinian organization signals to Israel that the situation in Gaza is very fragile. So far, the organization has gained few achievements and has not been able to deliver on its promise to the Palestinian public.
Runaway Saudi teen scores victory against kingdom's tyrannical hierarchy (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Saudi women are quietly rebelling against the kingdom on Facebook and Twitter. But even on social media, there are people who monitor, threaten, smear or arrest them.
The Left's Russian delusions (Tal Gilad, Israel Hayom) The Left, which hasn't forgiven Russia for turning its back on communism, now views Moscow as the ultimate demon. Why has the media played along rather than act as the responsible adult?
Yemen Came in Last of 146 Countries on Women's Rights. So the UN Gave It a Prize (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Yemen is outstanding at trampling on women’s rights. It’s hard to find even a grain of sense in the UN’s decision to give this country the vice presidency of the executive board of UN Women for 2019.
On the Arab Spring's 9th Anniversary, Is the Mideast Poised for Breakthrough? (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) There’s no shortage of optimism, but the region seems to be sinking deeper into malaise.

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