News Nosh 2.12.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 12, 2019
Quotes of the day:
“If you want to be a hero, you don't kill an innocent woman."
--Imprisoned Fatah official explained why all the Palestinian militant factions have turned their backs on the rapist and murderer of the 19-year-old Israeli young woman.*

"There is no religion and no human being who can accept what happened,"
--Ziyad Sabateen, a resident of Husan village near Bethlehem. Sabateen is among a group of Palestinians who will pay a condolence visit today to the Ansbacher family.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • They gave labor - For an hour, the awful polls and the backstabbing were replaced with optimism and a battle atmosphere; Close to 60% of Labor party members voted and put the leaders of the social justice movement, Itsik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir, at the head of the list
  • Storm over the reserved spots on the Likud list: MK Zohar attacked, Netanyahu gave in
Israel Hayom

Elections 2019 News:
A high voter turnout gave two young leaders from the 2011 social protest movement the two top spots on the Labor party ticket, while Eitan Cabel, the opponent of Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay, was pushed out to an unrealistic spot, making the top story in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Besides the chairman, women were elected to three out of the five top spots.

Meanwhile, the Likud Knesset list is not at all final. Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu called for a recount of the primary votes after inconsistencies were revealed and threats were made that it would be taken to the High Court. The recount will start Wednesday and is expected to take two days. According to Channel 12, most of the missing votes belonged to Netanyahu’s rival, Gideon Sa’ar. And if that were not bad enough for Netanyahu, his long-term loyalists made some unflattering comments about him forcing him to give up spots he reserved on the party list. "Loyalty to Netanyahu doesn't pay off," said MK Miki Zohar, who is number 29 on the Likud list, said, making headlines. "Throughout the term, we paid a price when defending him, and now we've been abandoned by Netanyahu." Zohar, MK David Bitan and others who were loyal to Netanyahu but found themselves in tenuous spots on the party’s Knesset list petitioned the party's court in a bid to revoke the prime minister's three reserved spots, 21, 28, and 36 on the Knesset list.

Netanyahu also declared that he would not form a coalition with Gantz, suggesting that Gantz was not right-wing. “…it will be a nationalistic Likud government, a right-wing government,” Netanyahu said after Minister Naftali Bennett of Hayamin Hadash said, “Netanyahu's first phone call will be to Gantz... it's what he always does.”

There was more talk of talks between Meretz and Labor MKs. Israel Hayom reported that some Labor MKs were talking with Meretz about forming a new left-wing list, possibly with a Labor MK leading it, instead of Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg.

And Benny Gantz suggested he supports annexing the Gush Etzion settlement bloc to Israel, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew reported. In a visit to a museum at the settlement Kibbutz Kfar Etzion he wrote in the guest book that he commends the work in the museum that shows the legacy and added that “Gush Etzion is equally a strategic, spiritual, settlement and security asset - and it will remain that way forever Israel.”

Also, in the exclusive weekend magazine interview he gave to Yedioth, Gantz got angry once, when asked to respond to the claims that his wife was a volunteer with MachsomWatch, a grassroots organization of Israeli women who stand for hours at checkpoints to observe Israeli soldiers conduct towards the Palestinians crossing. Gantz answered with ire, "If someone continues these games, in the end, I will get angry. And it is not recommended that that happen.” Yedioth wrote that the right-wing rapper known as ‘The Shadow,’ was one of the main people who published these claims in the social media networks (in 2017), but the one who contributed to refueling the discourse around them is Science Minister Ofir Akunis. In an interview with Reshet Bet, Akunis repeated the claim and said, “We’ll soon hear from Gantz, if he ever gives an interview, whether the statements made against his wife about participating in MachsomWatch events are true or libelous? This is very relevant because it comes from the place where he comes from, the most influential place, from home - and the home is the place that shapes everyone the most - people go out to work in the morning from their home and decisions are definitely affected." In the interview, Gantz replied angrily when asked: “I do not even understand how intelligent people with an IQ can connect and ask a quarter of a serious question about this story…Are you just screwed up? I don’t have more gentle words." Yedioth Interviewer: "This is the first time you're angry in the interview." Gantz: “You take zero, zero, zero information, zero reality and build a barbed wire on it, you hear a thousand denials and you continue with the question. It’s intolerable. It's just intolerable. And now what will happen? Revital will visit a bereaved family’s home. And what do they have to hear now? The lies that someone is selling somewhere? And she visits with me at the homes of bereaved families. She has seen wounded soldiers and she is concerned about these things. It’s totally incomprehensible. It makes this into a cynical world. And especially coming from a minister who allows himself to lie when he knows it’s a lie…” Yedioth Interviewer: “Come on, it’s just (Minister Ofir) Akunis." Gantz: "Excuse me, a guy who took a job called a minister in the State of Israel, he should take responsibility until the end. He shouldn’t act now just like..a security guard." (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew) [NOTE: See below translated Maariv Op-Ed by Kalman Libeskind about this rumor and Yedioth Op-Ed by Yaron London about Gantz’s reaction to MachsomWatch - OH]

Other News Summary:
*The mugshot of Arafat Irfaiya, the Palestinian rapist and murderer of 19-year-old Israeli, Ori Ansbacher, was in all today’s Hebrew newspapers. But only Haaretz and Yedioth reported that the Palestinian factions “turned their backs” on the 29-year-old murderer because he raped her. “If you want to be a hero, you don't kill an innocent woman,” a jailed senior Fatah official told Haaretz+. “Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have so far failed to respond to the murder. The silence on their part is unusual, and contradicts the pattern of responses that usually follow terror attacks,” Haaretz wrote. “The murder of Ori Ansbacher left the Palestinians in a state of confusion and created an unusual phenomenon: The horrible details leaked from the investigation caused the rare occurrence that not a single Palestinian organization took responsibility or gave support to the murderer,” wrote Yedioth/Ynet’s Elior Levy, noting that the picture of the terrorist was barely disseminated in the social media networks, and there was no boasting of his actions. Haaretz reported that the Palestinian Prisoner's Association would not give Arfaiya legal defense if he raped the Israeli woman. “If it turns out there really was a sexual assault, we will pass on representation. That would make the case a criminal one, as far as we’re concerned, and we object to anyone committing a criminal offense trying to pass it off as a nationalist act.” The Shin Bet declared that Irfaiya's motive was nationalist. Yedioth's Levy also reported that a delegation of Palestinians from the villages around Tekoa settlement, the home of the victim, will pay a condolence visit today at the Ansbacher family home. "There is no religion and no human being who can accept what happened," Ziyad Sabatin, a resident from the village of Husan near Bethlehem, told Yedioth. "We are against murder, against violence from any side. People have to respect the other. There is nothing more precious than human life - that is the most sacred thing,” said Sabatin, who will be paying a condolence visit. The other 5-10 locals visiting had close relations for years with the late Rabbi Menachem Froman and his wife Hadassah, the neighbors and friends of the Ansbacher family at Tekoa. The delegation was organized by the Israeli Tag Meir organization and will be accompanied by Gadi Gavriahu, the organization's director general, MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) and Miki Gitzin, director of the New Israel Fund. "We were very moved to receive requests from many Palestinians who expressed deep shock at the horrific murder and asked to join us in the condolences visit at the Ansbacher home," said Gavaryahu. The UN special envoy to the Middle East also condemned the murder.

Barely making news was the Syrian report that Israel fired four missiles or possibly tank shells at the southern Quneitra province last night, with damage caused only to property. But according to a report today, two Iranian officers were killed in the Quneitra strike. Yesterday, it was reported that Russia asked Israel to stop making strikes in Syria.

Also not making headlines in the print papers, was the divisive Middle East Conference taking place tomorrow in Poland and being co-hosted with the US. Netanyahu flies out tonight. The conference was previously supposed to focus on Iran, but the title was later changed to include the Middle East. Iran and the Palestinian Authority won’t participate and the Palestinians have asked Arab countries to boycott the summit or at the very least send a low-profile delegation. However, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are sending foreign ministers. Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyadh al-Malki said the Palestinians "view the Warsaw conference as a plot against the Palestinian cause. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas flew to Riyadh to persuade the Saudi King to oppose the Trump peace plan. Other Mideast participants at the conference include Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Egypt and Tunisia. Lebanon also boycotted the event.
Quick Hits:
  • WATCH: Israeli settler assaults activist, journalist in Hebron - Israeli extremist settler Inat Cohen attacked a journalist and an activist in Hebron, on Sunday. Activist Issa Amr said that he had filed several complaints against Israeli extremist settler , however, when he headed to the Israeli police last month they attempted to detain him. (Maan+VIDEO)
  • Israel seals off roads in Nablus as settlers protest - Israeli authorities sealed off the main Huwwara road and the road leading to the illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar late Sunday, in addition to closing the Huwwara checkpoint and preventing passage to and from Nablus as settlers protested "the deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank." (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers attack Palestinian vehicles in Nablus area - During settler protest, Israeli settlers smashed the windows of several Palestinian vehicles parked in front of Palestinian homes in town of Huwwara. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces raid water pump rooms in Yatta - Israeli Civil Administration staff raided water pump rooms in al-Tuwani village, east of Yatta City, and searched for the water pipelines feeding the eastern part of Masafer Yatta with water, in a prelude to cut off water supply to Palestinian residents. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces uproot over 500 olive trees in Jordan Valley in West Bank - Israeli Civil Administration staff raided the Bardala village in the northern Jordan Valley and bulldozers began to uproot 15-year-old olive trees that belonged to five Palestinian residents. (Maan)
  • Israel demolishes home in al-Walaja, 40 others under threat - in photos - Five family members lived in the home, which measured 100-square-meters, and that it was demolished under the pretext that it was built without the nearly-impossible to obtain Israeli permit. (Maan+PHOTOS)
  • Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian shepherds in Khan Younis - The Israeli army also regularly detains and opens fire on unarmed Palestinian fishermen, shepherds, and farmers along the border areas if they approach the Israeli-declared buffer zone, as the authorities have not made clear the precise area of the designated zone. (Maan)
  • Israel asks Dutch court to drop war crimes case against Gantz - Justice Ministry says military investigation found Gaza airstrike in question killed militants, adding that Hague court lacks jurisdiction. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Two Palestinians died of gas inhalation in a Gaza tunnel between Egypt and the Gaza Strip - The two Palestinian policemen were found dead after rescue attempts. The Palestinians claim that the Egyptian army is behind the injection of gas into the tunnel. Palestinian police officer Major Abed al-Hamid al-Aker, 39, and Police officer Subhi Saqer Abu Qirshein, 28, were buried Monday. Two other security officers were rescued and transferred for treatment. (Maan and Maariv)
  • At Last Minute, West Bank College Panel OKs Ariel Medical School - It would not be unreasonable for the Council for Higher Education in Israel to make a decision that contradicts the territories council, which operates under orders from the army’s Central Command commander. (Haaretz+)
  • Next month: The UN will publish the list of companies operating in the settlements - Diplomatic efforts have not helped, and the UN Human Rights Council will publish next month a blacklist of companies operating beyond the Green Line. CEO of HOT to Netanyahu: "We may be exposed to legal proceedings.” Among the Israeli companies that received a request from the Ombudsman's Office regarding the possibility of including them on the blacklist: Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, Bezeq, Bezeq International, Coca Cola, Africa Israel, Teva, IDB, Egged, Netafim, Elbit Systems, Ahava, Motorola, Nesher, Partner, Paz, Rami Levy, Remax, Shikun V’binui, Shufersal, Sonol and Trema. (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israeli forces detain 2 Palestinians near Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron - Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the two 18-year-olds were allegedly carrying a knife, near the (Cave of the Patriarchs) and were transferred for interrogation. (Maan)
  • Uprooting from home, the death penalty and huge sums: This is how criminals in the Palestinian Authority are punished - An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is the tribal code with which it is customary to punish murderers in the Palestinian territories, including revenge, which is forced on the offender's family to implement - expulsion from the community for many years, says Gal Berger, head of Palestinian-related news at KAN Israel Broadcasting Corp. (Maariv/103FM)
  • Workplace Deaths Rose 35% in 2018 as Slots for Inspectors Went Unfilled - The Labor Ministry focused safety inspection on construction sites, yet deaths increased there as well. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli ministry's 2019 target: 90% of abused women will return to abusive partner - If 10% do not return to their partners, the Social Service Ministry will have reached its set goal. The director of a shelter says the targets sends 'a terrible message.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Homophobia on the rise in Israel, study finds - Annual report shows a surge of some 54% in the number of anti-LGBT cases reported in 2018 as opposed to 2017, with 1,577 cases of homophobia reported over the past year; just 3% of victims reported the incident to the police. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • New Likud candidate calls LGBT community 'unnatural,' slams Gay Pride - Shlomo Karhi, who won 27th spot on the party's Knesset list, says annual festivities 'are inappropriate and against nature'; his aunt, who has two gay sons, says she will continue fighting to eradicate bullying against the LGBT community. (Ynet)
  • Israel's Health Ministry Panel to Review Hospital Internal Medicine Wards - About 20 percent of patients in internal medicine departments do not need to be in these wards, and remain there only for lack of space in rehabilitation hospitals and departments. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Doctors Set to Start Striking - Physicians accuse management of breaking collective bargaining agreement. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israeli Court Upholds Mayor’s Decision to Take Down ‘McJesus’ Sculpture - The judges cited public-order concerns about the work being shown at a museum, saying a city must prevent offense to local people. (Haaretz+)
  • ‘The Band’s Visit’ wins Grammy for best musical theater album - Based on Israeli film about Egyptian orchestra that winds up in a dusty Negev town, play is to end its Broadway run in two months. (Times of Israel and Israel Hayom)
  • Did Israeli spyware company target its critics? - Lawyers and activists say that NSO Group, which sold its product to governments with questionable human rights records, is using operatives who try to discredit them and sabotage their case. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel pushes for UN to declare Hezbollah as a terror organization - Senior IDF officials are expected to brief the members of the UN Security Council on the Iran-backed group's activity in Lebanon, voicing their concerns over its further strengthening in the country and its entrenchment in Syria. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Russia, Turkey Agree on Decisive Action in Syria's Idlib - Russia, one of the Syrian government's staunchest allies, and Turkey brokered a deal in September to create a demilitarised zone in the northwest Idlib region. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Withdrawal of US forces in Syria likely to start in 'weeks' - Removal of U.S. forces "will all be driven by the situation on the ground," says U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command • Votel says he does not believe the U.S. will broadly increase overall troop numbers in neighboring Iraq. (Israel Hayom)
  • No consensus yet for Syria return - Arab League chief - Syria's membership which was suspended in 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of the civil war. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran vaunts military, exults at U.S. 'dismay' as revolution turns 40 - Iran, foes wage Middle East proxy wars. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iranian commander threatens to 'raze Tel Aviv to the ground' if U.S. attacks - At a rally celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, marchers burned American flags and carried cut outs of dogs sporting the faces of Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Netanyahu fires back at Iran: Attack Tel Aviv and 'it'll be the last anniversary you celebrate' - At a rally celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution, a senior Iranian commander threatened to 'raze Tel Aviv to the ground' if the U.S. attacks. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel has the gas to sell to Egypt, but can it get it there? - A year after a deal to export $15 billion in gas to Egypt’s Dolphinus, it’s not clear where the pipeline capacity to deliver the stuff will come from. (Haaretz)
  • Why these Democratic presidential hopefuls voted no on an anti-BDS bill - JTA asked all seven for explanations, and five sent replies. Klobuchar’s staff said she was caught up in hearings, and the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., never responded. (JTA, Haaretz)

'When Time Permits': Red Tape Keeps Sick Palestinian Minor in Detention
Civil Administration social worker Liat Scharf wrote the military court that she didn't have time to write the military court-ordered detention review that could have allowed the sick child to be released on probation, because such reports are not required for Palestinian minors and are only prepared "as time permits." Israeli law requires that a detention review be prepared for all minors, including Jewish minors from the West Bank who are suspected of committing crimes, but that law does not apply to Palestinian minors in the West Bank, and military law does not require the detention review. This case exemplifies the discrimination between Palestinian and Israeli minors. In 2017, Israeli human rights attorney Gaby Lasky filed a petition with the High Court of Justice, demanding that discrimination between Palestinian and Jewish minors be stopped. Israel's Civil Administration in the West Bank hopes that it will be implemented by July 2019 (Haaretz+)

'In Balata camp, every single child suffers from psychological problems'
Yafa Cultural Center is one of the few places left for Palestinian children from Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus in the West Bank to cope with the violence they witness on a daily basis. With funding running low, the center is under threat of closing. (Rami Younis, +972mag)

From the Elysee Palace to Neve Tirza Prison
In normal times, the French chef, Guillaume Gomez, cooks at the Elysee Palace for the president of France and world leaders. Yesterday he cooked a gourmet meal for the prisoners of the Neve Tirza prison and their children. As part of the 7th French culinary week in Israel, the French Embassy in Israel held an extraordinary social event in which the Chef of the Elysee Palace, Chef Guillaume Gomez, gave a cooking workshop to 12 female prisoners who learned to cook kosher meals with the basic raw materials of the Prison. Guillaume also gave the 19 children of the same prisoners a workshop for making cookies for their mothers. The idea was to create a connection between the prisoners and their children, ages 3-18, who live outside the prison walls. And the culinary connection worked - big time. The prisoners, jailed for violence, drugs and fraud offenses were moved to tears to be able to cook a gourmet meal in the prison kitchen for their children. Some had never cooked for their children before. The person who sponsored the meal was none other than Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israel’s President, who is an honorary visitor to the prison and has visited it three times before to watch the women's theatrical plays. (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew+PHOTOS)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
This Netanyahu corruption case is the gravest threat to Israel’s democracy (Guy Rolnik, Ido Baum and Nati Tucker, Haaretz+) Politicians, media, money and mafia-like conduct: An indictment in Case 2000 may include charges of bribery or breach of trust – but the corruption it represents goes much deeper. Of the cases pending against Netanyahu, Case 2000 – the affair involving a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between him and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon "Noni" Mozes, in which the prime minister allegedly wanted to weaken the rival Israel Hayom paper in return for favorable coverage in Mozes’ paper – poses the greatest harm to the public interest. Therefore, this case is precedent-setting. Without diminishing the seriousness of the suspicions in the other cases, with Case 2000 the attorney general has been given the opportunity and the responsibility to thoroughly uproot the ingrained institutionalized corruption underlying media-politics relations in Israel. Of all the cases involving the prime minister, this one is the game-changer.
"Who is Revital Ganz?" This is what was important to a senior IDF officer in the middle of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ (Kalman Libeskind, Maariv) It was during one of the difficult days of Operation Protective Edge that I got a phone call from someone who wanted to emphasize that the wife of the chief of staff who is conducting the fighting is not active in MachsomWatch. Two weeks ago, when Minister Ofir Akunis was interviewed by me and Asaf Lieberman on Reshet B radio, and raised a claim about the activities of Revital Ganz, the wife of the chairman of the ‘Hosen L’Yisrael’ party, that she was active in the left-wing Machsom Watch organization, I remembered the first time I was exposed to this issue. It was the evening of one of the difficult days of Operation Operation Protective Edge, when I left a television studio and the cell phone rang. On the line was a senior IDF official, with whom it was the first time I spoke: "It's important to me that you know that Revital Gantz is not active in any extreme left-wing organization, and not a member of MachsomWatch,” he said. "Who is Revital Gantz?" I asked. "What is my connection to her and what happened now that it caused you to phone and tell me about her?” I asked. “She is the wife of the chief of staff, as you know," he replied, "and it is very important to me that you know the facts.”  "But why is this important?" I replied in amazement when I couldn’t understand why this man came to me. "You described her on Facebook as an extreme leftist activist, and it's important for us to fix that,” he explained. Now this story began to be interesting. "I did not write anything about the chief of staff's wife, and I do not have a green idea of what you're talking about," I swore, and five minutes later the senior officer sent me a link to a Facebook page operated by someone who owns a bed-and-breakfast in the north, somebody whose name I never heard of until then and also don’t remember today. The same woman, it turned out, told several dozen of her friends on the social media network that I had revealed somewhere that Mrs. Gantz was a leftist activist. "Do me a favor, make a denial," the senior officer pleaded, when he realized that a mistake had been made and someone had used my name on the basis of some erroneous information. The truth is that the idea of publishing a denial based on something written by someone in a remote post, which it is not clear how the chief of staff's office located, seems to me baseless, but because it was important to me that the head of the Israel Defense Forces commander be available to fight the enemy, I was ready to publish something, and since I was already willing to help the IDF in its war, as soon as I got home I sat down at my computer to find the owner of that bed-and-breakfast. A brief conversation with her made it clear to me that she was strong in rural hospitality, but less adept in using the Internet, and somehow my name, which appeared at the top of my column, joined the name of the chief of staff's wife, which appeared in one of the internet comments in the same column. At the end of the day, I convinced the same senior IDF source that every word I write about this affair will only harm the chief of staff, and that is how the affair ended. What did I learn from it? A few things. The first is that the stories against Gantz's wife about her political activity on the left side of the (political) map are an old thing. The second, that these stories bothered him from the first moment they came up. Third, even at a time when our forces are sacrificing their lives in the war with the enemy inside the Gaza Strip, there are those in the IDF echelons who have the leisure to deal with what a the owner of a bed-and-breakfast in the north writes to her 50 Facebook friends.
MachsomWatch - What upsets Gantz (Yaron London, Yedioth) One of the main attributes of Benny Gantz is his aristocratic air…it was apparent in the interview he gave to Yedioth, in which he avoided harming his political opponents and avoided making any value-based remark in the most pleasant way possible. This tone changed only once in the interview. It was when the interviewers asked him about the claim of Minister Ofir Akunis, according to which, Gantz’s wife Revital was active in [the anti-occupation organization - OH] MachsomWatch. That’s when he started talking street talk: “In the end, it’ll upset me. And when that happens, it’s not recommended. My enemies know this. My opponents will also know this.” This is a testimony that things that affect the public, don’t raise his ire, but an attack on someone from his home infuriates him. Before I continue I will remove the doubt: Revital Gantz is not active in MachsomWatch…Akunis lied…But what? The lie was not a denunciation., but rather a compliment that Mrs. Gantz did not deserve. She deserves compliments for the activities which she is involved in. The activities of MachsomWatch are an act deserving of all praise. Gantz knows this well, since many times the army praised the (MachsomWatch) women, because due to their reports (from military checkpoints) the guidelines at the checkpoints were improved as well as the conduct of the soldiers. It’s very possible that the women of MachsomWatch saved from death the lives of more Israelis than a platoon of combat soldiers, because in their acts, they toned down to a degree the bitterness of the downtrodden Palestinian laborers. The best proof of the importance of MachsomWatch was offered by the competing group, ‘Kaholavan’ (Blue and White), which was formed by the ‘Institute for Zionist Studies,’ an organization with a clear right-wing slant at whose head stood Yoaz Hendel. Hendel brought together a group of his friends to take upon itself the mission of taking from the hands of the left-wing the monopoly on guarding human rights. It was declared that beyond watching over what is happening at military checkpoints, the organization will provide medical aid to Palestinians and asylum seekers from Africa. The extent of its activities does not come close to those of human rights organizations identified with the left-wing, but the very intent shows that providing aid to Palestinians and asylum seekers is not improper even in the eyes of honest people who are right-wing. If Gantz were gallant and honest as his supporters assume he is, he would not have been satisfied with denying Akunis’ remarks, but would have added: “Akunis lied, but the activities of MachsomWatch are not treasonous against the state, but rather concern for its moral image. The slander against me is integrated with an attempt to turn left-wingers into traitors, and I also protest against this.” He would not have lost votes if he had also said this.
In Campaign Against Rival Gantz, Netanyahu Sends Worrying Message to the Army (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Netanyahu promoted a paid social media post falsely claiming that Gantz once left a border policeman 'to die.' Should the current commander of the West Bank forces now conclude that the government won't back him up?
Beware of Gantz's unilateralism (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Gantz believes the 2005 Disengagement Plan was not a disaster and can serve as a model for unilateral concessions. His view will help Hamas turn the West Bank into a rocket-launching platform.
Israel's Labor Party Just Elected a New King and Queen (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Labor has ceased to be a ruling party – and five other takeaways from Monday's primary.
Will Labor’s Vibrant Primary Be Remembered as Turning Point – or Gala on the Titanic? (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The Israeli Labor Party indicated on Monday night that reports of its death, as Mark Twain once said, were exaggerated. Labor members came out in droves to participate in the primary for the party’s Knesset list, surprising everyone with a demonstration of energy and even exuberance that stood in stark contrast to the party’s terrifying free-fall in the polls and the widespread predictions of its imminent demise. Labor’s diverse Knesset list is to Likud’s all-Ashkenazi male makeup as U.S Democrats are to Republicans, more or less.
The Jewish left has no revival without the Arabs of Israel (Dr. Alon Liel, Ynet Hebrew) In Israeli politics there are currently three ideologies: the national-religious right (some say Messianic); the conservative-capitalist center, and the left-which strives for Jewish-Arab equality within Israel and for the two-state solution. There is a chasm between these ideologies and there is certainly no floating voice between right and left. Such a floating sound would rest comfortably in the growing centrist camp. In terms of political action, the difference between the camps is as follows: the right supports the intensification of the occupation and the preservation of the new Nation-State law; The center is interested in a more subtle occupation and the amendment of the Nation-State law, and the left - which aspires to end the occupation and abolish the Nation-State law. There is no possibility of blurring. The camps are defined, plain and simple. The left is undoubtedly the smallest among the camps. It is more or less composed of every tenth citizen among the Jews in the country and many of the Arab population. The Jewish left can not be revived without the Israeli Arabs and the Israeli Arabs don’t have political legitimacy without the Jewish Left. These are not just comfortable marriages without which neither group is relevant in Israeli politics. There is a significant ideological common denominator in this marriage that enables a mutual embrace that strengthens the Israeli left into a significant player. Two parties form the Israeli left: the Joint List (even against the background of the split) and Meretz. Both do not constitute a factor in the administration of the state and do not affect its strategic direction. There is also no chance that they will unite or even become involved in a meaningful action. What remains is that both Meretz and the Joint List will in the near future become more Jewish-Arab as parties, thereby strengthening Jewish-Arab cooperation in the left-wing bloc. As someone who sees himself as belonging to the left bloc without being able to float towards the center, I will not vote for the party in the left bloc that will not be represented in a realistic place for both Arabs and Jews. Only if Meretz and the joint coalition create real Jewish-Arab political partnerships can the leftist bloc influence both the end of the occupation and the annulment of the Nation-State law, which is a disgrace to the entire Jewish people, not only to the State of Israel…Jewish communities abroad, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom (together about half of the entire Jewish people) have understood in the last decade the importance of creating a Jewish-Arab joint society in Israel, and not just as a common political bloc. An analysis of Jewish contributions to Israel indicates an increase in the share of world Jewry that believes in Jewish-Arab cooperation. The support of the American-British Jewish Diaspora for such a political trend is also capable of influencing the strengthening of the Jewish-Arab-liberal-democratic and peace-loving camp. - - Dr. Alon Liel is a member of the Meretz Committee and former director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Reality has changed: the ethnic demon is hardly a factor in the 2019 elections (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) The Likud list won unconventional praise, but of course there was a need to find some flaw in it: the party's leadership is Ashkenazi. Then it is imperative to clarify: the public has matured, ethnic feelings have dulled.
The Likud list for the Knesset is composed of people who failed in their roles and are disconnected from the nation (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) There is really no reason to be enthusiastic about the list that the ruling party has chosen. Are their members connected to the people? Were ministers ranked in high places successful in their offices?
The Top 10 Political Combos That Could Swing Israel’s April 9 Election (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) With 10 days left to submit their lists of candidates, parties on left and right are feverishly contemplating mergers and acquisitions that could redraw the political map.

Nationalistic Motives, Indeed (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Shin Bet said Ori Ansbacher’s rape-murder was committed for ‘nationalistic’ motives. And at the crime scene, the nationalistically-motivated violence committed by Israel screams from every inch...All the parties were interested in having the murder of Ori Ansbacher declared an attack of nationalistic motivation. The family of the suspect will not have to bear the shame of a son who raped a girl and then murdered her. There’s no heroism here...For the Israeli planning authorities in the West Bank, this will be an opportunity – which they will justify in somber, fateful tones echoing with history – to steal more Palestinian land on the pretext of security. Just yesterday they demolished another home in Walaja. Because the murder victim lived in the settlement of Tekoa, the symbolic stock of the settler nation has risen, due to yet another sacrifice it has offered up for the Land of Israel. Declaring the murder a nationalistic attack gave it yet another reason to launch a campaign of intimidation and stone-throwing at Palestinians in Hebron, and on the roads of the West Bank. On Saturday and Sunday – at the Beit Fajjar junction (Gush Etzion), near the villages of Beitillu and Ras Karkar west of Ramallah, and on Route 60 en route to the Hawara checkpoint. At Beit Fajjar and Ras Karkar police closed the road to Palestinian traffic. That’s what the settlers want, to pressure the army to regularly block more and more roads to the Palestinians, thus advancing their goal of emptying Area C (which encompasses 61 percent of the West Bank) of non-Jews. On the other hand, what isn’t “nationalistic” in our country? What about cancelling the train route in the mainly Arab-populated Wadi Ara, for example, or the abundant water available to Tekoa for agriculture and domestic use, while the villages and cities in the Bethlehem area live on water quotas and water delivered by tanker trucks? It’s two weeks since the murder of Hamdi Na’asan from the village of Al-Mughayyir and we haven’t heard of any suspect being arrested – that’s “nationalistic” negligence and contempt.
The occupation didn't kill Ori Ansbacher (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) For years Israeli public has been tricked into believing that Palestinian terrorism stems from a desire to end the occupation and be liberated, but the truth is that terror originates from hate and incitement being preached by jihadists within the Muslim community.
In the Service of Israeli Censorship (Haaretz Editorial) The bottom line is that an Israeli court allowed a politician to intervene in cultural and artistic content under the vague umbrella of 'preventing hurt feelings.’
Israel must stop dancing to Hamas' tune (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel's security bodies keep warning about the chaos that would hit Gaza should Hamas' regime fall, while in fact this so-called status quo is a fancy euphemism for Israel's surrender to the terror organization's terms.
Thanks to Ilhan Omar, U.S. Jews just got their Jeremy Corbyn moment (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) While the Democratic Congresswoman is feted in her Twitter echo-chamber for 'standing up to the lobby' and her defenders cycle though the Corbyn 'no anti-Semitism here' canon, the most significant lesson of Omar's anti-Semitic tweets isn't about Jews or Israel at all.
Strange bedfellows (Chris Robbins, Israel Hayom) An upcoming Reform Jewish conference will host Al Sharpton, who built his career on anti-Semitism and corruption. Apparently, to the Reform movement, his hatred for Trump trumps his hatred for Jews.
Pro-Trump, Hitler-appeasing hard right is now targeting Britain (Esther Solomon, Haaretz+) Trump's alt-lite acolytes are hoping the chaos of Brexit Britain will open a door for their nationalistic culture wars. But the disastrous launch of Turning Point U.K. showcased the indefensible flaws in their crusade.
How 40 Years of Mullah-nomics Have Failed Iran (David Rosenberg, Haaretz) War and sanctions did a lot of damage, but nothing compared to the inefficiency, corruption and revolutionary stubbornness of the country’s leaders.
No Revolution in Lebanon's Future (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Uproar over the self-immolation of a Lebanese driver who couldn't bankroll his daughter's tuition recalls start of Arab Spring, but Lebanon's relative liberalism will likely dissolve any dissent into peaceful protest.
“My Iran will be a friend of Israel"
While in Tehran they are burning Israeli flags to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, the son of the deposed Shah says in a rare statement to Israeli media: "In the future democratic Iran I see in my vision that we will be friends again." He is still confident that his father did not flee and that Iran has a place for monarchy," as in Sweden and Japan.” (Interviewed by Amir Bogen in New York for Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
Venezuela's Guaidó seeks to renew diplomatic ties with Israel
In interview with Israel Hayom, Juan Guaidó, recognized by some 50 countries, including Israel, as Venezuela's interim leader, says, "I am very happy to report that the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is at its height." (Interviewed by Eldad Beck - also Reuters for Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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