News Nosh 2.19.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 19, 2019

Quote of the day:
"I was there in the room, I know exactly what Netanyahu agreed to. Every letter in the draft was written by him. But because he does not have the courage to reach a decision [to make peace], he says it’s because of them. There is no leadership here.”
--Outgoing MK Tsipi Livni rejects Likud claim that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu thwarted a secret plan by former US president Barack Obama and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz to withdraw from the West Bank.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Lapid removes the gloves // Nahum Barnea
  • She paid the price // Sima Kadmon on the resignation of MK Tsipi Livni
  • The impressive lists // Ben-Dror Yemini on the undecided voter
  • Expose - The surprising resignation of the commander of Sayeret Matkal (top commando unit)
  • Gantz and Orly Levi-Abukasis getting close to agreement
  • Lapid still not ruling out merger
  • Dramatic development in investigation of murder of Kadourie couple
  • How much will a ticket to Eurovision cost you
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Netanyahu in last effort to unite the right-wing bloc - 72 hours to the closing of (party) lists: Meetings with rabbis and summoning heads of parties
  • War of egos: warning to the nationalist sector // Meir Indor
  • Punches and strangling: An (undercover police) agent revealed horrific abuse of elderly (at nursing home)
  • “Poland supports Israel - and Israel punishes us” - Polish diplomat told ‘Israel Hayom’ in wake of crisis in relations between the countries
  • Excitement in the skies: This weekend - Launching of ‘B’rashit’ spaceship
  • This is how the Palestinian Authority is trying to take over the nature reserve in Area C
  • Yoad left his family in the US in order to join the Israeli army - and was injured in Gaza

Elections 2019 News:
With just two days to go before political parties must submit their lists for Knesset, MK Tzipi Livni, chairwoman of Hatunua party, quit politics, due to dwindling support, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unsuccessfully pushed two far right-wing parties, Habayit Hayehudi and Haichud Haleumi to make a merger with the radical right-wing party, Otzma Yehudit, and Yair Lapid said his Yesh Atid party was still open to a merger with Benny Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael party.

Livni made her resignation announcement without pomp and circumstance. Maariv reported that “it was sad and touching. She arrived at Beit Sokolov in Tel Aviv accompanied only by her spokesperson and two assistants, without Knesset members, and without much preamble she walked to the podium and read from what she prepared, a summary and a farewell, as her voice cracked. Polls said Livni's party, Hatnuah, wouldn’t pass the threshold to enter the Knesset and she said she didn’t want the left-center bloc to lose votes because of her.

*Netanyahu's Likud party published a new campaign ad on Monday that accuses former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz of secretly conspiring with the Obama administration to promote a plan for a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders – until Netanyahu found out about it and blocked it. Haaretz+ noted that in English Netanyahu portrays himself as defender of the initiative. But after her own announcement, Livni told Israeli TV that Netanyahu lied. “In negotiations with Kerry and Obama, Netanyahu formulated every letter that states that the basis for negotiations will be the ’67 lines. In his audacity, (Netanyahu) came out with a video accusing Gantz of surrendering to Obama. I was there in the room, I know exactly what Netanyahu agreed to. Every letter in the draft was written by him. But because he does not have the courage to reach a decision [to make peace], he says it’s because of them. There is no leadership here.” (Maariv)

Other News Summary:
The central European Visegrad Summit in Israel was canceled after Poland pulled out following acting Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz’s remark that Poles 'suckled anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk,’ (Hungarian, Czech and Slovak leaders will still come and hold bilateral meetings with Netanyahu, and even Jewish Polish leaders slammed Minister Katz). And meanwhile, an undercover cop revealed horrific abuse of elderly in another nursing home, making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Quick Hits:
  • Southern Israeli council backtracks, says no rocket fired from Gaza - Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council had said a rocket had fallen without any warning sirens. (Haaretz)
  • IEDs were thrown at IDF forces in violent confrontations along the Gaza Strip border - A number of improvised explosive devices were thrown during confrontations in the Karni area Monday evening, and fires were set alight along the fence. The IDF Spokesperson denied a report by the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council that a fall had been identified in its territory. (Maariv)
  • Exclusive: Israel deducts less than half of terrorists' salaries from PA tax money - While Jerusalem decided to cut some NIS 550M from PA's funds in accordance with the amount it paid to Palestinian prisoners in Israel, the families of 'martyrs' still received a total of NIS 687 million, official document shows. (Ynet)
  • Palestinian Authority furious at Israeli decision to trim funds over terrorist stipends - Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, says Palestinian Authority will challenge the decision that could worsen an already existing economic crisis • Israel and the U.S. argue that the PA's policy of paying terrorists encourages violence. (Israel Hayom)
  • Ashrawi: 'Israel committed acts of piracy repeatedly' - Israel’s heist of Palestinian revenues is an illegal economic aggression and Palestine will not submit to political and financial extortion, a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) official said in an official statement on Monday. (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers assault Palestinian shepherd in Jordan Valley - Local sources told Ma'an that Israeli settlers were driving at a high speed and ran over one sheep and stole another two while he was shepherding in an open field. Israeli forces provided protection to the settlers as the settlers assaulted the shepherd, Ahmad Abu Muhsein, and then the forces detained the shepherd for no known reason before releasing him later. (Maan)
  • Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian lands in Qalqiliya - Muhammad Abu al-Sheikh, an official who monitors settlement activity in Qalqiliya, said that the razing comes under the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s decision to unite four illegal Israeli settlements built on lands of Qalqiliya. (Maan)
  • Jordan Expands Managing Body of Temple Mount to Stop Israel From Changing Status Quo - King Abdullah issues instructions to expand joint council for the management of the Temple Mount to include Palestinians in order to combat (Israeli) changes to the Mount. Palestinians: Israel could block move but fears crisis with Jordan Government. Five Palestinians arrested in clashes with police over reopening of Bab al-Rahma – a large structure inside the Golden Gate that police closed off in 2003 and want to keep closed. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • In video - Israeli forces assault worshipers, reseal Al-Aqsa gate on Temple Mount - Israeli forces resealed the Bab al-Rahma Gate, one of the Al-Aqsa Mosque gates, with a lock and chain after a group of Palestinian youths were able to break the lock and open the gate for worshipers, on Monday. Clashes erupted after Israeli forces resealed the gate with Israeli forces assaulting Palestinian worshipers, students of Sharia school, and detaining and assaulting five Palestinians, including a woman. Bab al-Rahma is a large structure inside the Golden Gate that Israeli police closed off in 2003 (Second Intifada) and want to keep closed. (Maan+VIDEO)
  • Israeli winner of Berlin festival dares culture minister to watch his film - Nadav Lapid says the fact his film was financed by the Culture Ministry is 'the supreme expression' of Israel's democratic character. “I'm interested in showing my films to people whose views are different from my opinions," said Lapid. (Haaretz+, Ynet Hebrew and Maariv)
  • Religious Text Studies and Tours to Israeli Military Courts: The New Education of American Rabbis - The T'ruah program introduces young rabbinical students to Palestinians and the occupation, reflecting a growing a rift between Israeli and American Jews. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israeli soldier's death in military exercise was preventable, testimonies show - Fellow soldiers and other sources involved with the exercise say commanders had been warned, but they refused to listen. (Haaretz+)
  • The soldier injured on the Gaza border fence: Yoad Zaguri, a lone soldier from the United States - "Fortunately, he was not irreversibly injured," the director of the Barzilai Medical Center said yesterday, when a Nahal fighter was hospitalized yesterday after being hit by (the shrapnel of) an explosive device during a violent riot on the fence. (Maariv, and Ynet Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Launches Cybersecurity Hotline for Suspected Hacking - The center is the first such emergency response line in the world and aims to help businesses and individuals. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Report Finds Wide but Varying Pay Gaps by Gender, Religion and Background - Prof. Alexander Kalev attributes the gap to the phenomena of non-college women joining the workforce only after they stop having children, leaving them with fewer years of seniority and fewer chances for promotion. (Haaretz+)
  • State to withhold publication of school test scores amid labor dispute - After a report revealed that school principals tried to skew results to artificially boost scores the Teachers Union claims the exams are 'foiling the ability of the education staff to work.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Sea of Galilee's waterline expected to rise above lower red line - Water Authority says levels in the freshwater lake have increased by 1.405 meters since start of winter, but warns waterline will sink back down when beating sun of summer causes evaporation. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Australian Jewish Group Calls to Oust Israeli Deputy Minister Accused of Aiding Suspected Sex Abuser - The Zionist Federation of Australia wants Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman fired, after police investigated him for aiding an Australian school principal suspected of child abuse avoid extradition. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Seven Labour Party Lawmakers Quit Over 'Institutional anti-Semitism' - Jewish MP Luciana Berger says she's 'leaving behind a culture of bullying bigotry and intimidation' and was looking 'forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other.’ (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Anti-Semitism Has Spread Through the Islamic World Like a Cancer, CNN Host Fareed Zakaria Says - 'Muslims should be particularly thoughtful when speaking about these issues,' Zakaria writes in op-ed on tweets by congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Yemen's Warring Sides Agree to Mutual Pullout in Key Port City of Hodeida - In December, Saudi-backed government and the Iran-funded Houthis agreed to confidence-building measures. But the deals' implementation has been slow and mired by violence. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • China seeks 'deeper trust' with Iran ahead of Saudi visit - Days before Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad is due to arrive in Beijing, China's top diplomat meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Zarif: Our relationship with China is very valuable to us • Iran is China's fourth-largest supplier of oil. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Haaretz Photo Blog 'I'm 33 years old and I've never been on a plane': The Palestinian photographer at the Gaza border
It took Abdel Zagout, a 33-year-old photographer from Gaza, five years to complete a project on Egypt's border with Gaza that won him the Red Cross 2018 photography competition. (Daniel Tchetchik, Haaretz+)
Researchers Unlock the Mystery of Polish Diplomats Who Rescued Jews
Hundreds of recipients used life-saving forgeries made by a group of six Poles in Switzerland to escape genocide in Nazi-occupied Europe. (JTA, Haaretz)
Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
A Champion of Alliances in Israeli Politics, Tzipi Livni Rejected at Finish Line (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) After 20 years in politics, Livni found that the public had turned its back on her ideological hallmark – a two-state solution as a guarantee of Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish democracy.
Livni's final act of decency (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) After 20 years, the former justice and foreign minister who came within reach of the prime minister's office said goodbye to politics; and her tears were not only for herself, but for the Israeli condition.
Tzipi Livni paid the price for peace (Haaretz Editorial) Livni’s retirement testifies to the fact that most of the energy and the political ammunition of the center-left is being wasted on infighting.
The disappearance of Livni’s Hatunua party is a black hole in the political map of Israel (Eyal Ben-Reuven, Maariv) I joined MK Tzipi Livni because of her clear and almost the only voice in politics that was fighting for the political, security, social and moral aspects of the State of Israel. Her withdrawal from politics is a blow to the state.
Netanyahu’s only fear is Gantz (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet) With the threat of an indictment hanging over his head, Netanyahu is falling back on what worked in 1996: portraying the only one he views as a threat to his image as Mr. Security, Benny Gantz, as a dangerous partner to Israel’s enemies.
Gantz tried and failed to be Netanyahu (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) The Israel Resilience Party leader went to Munich to rack up credentials in international affairs but sent the same messages as his "rival," Prime Minister Netanyahu, with less effect.
Condolence calls for the photo-op (Yaron Dekel, Yedioth/Ynet) As a primary symbol of the state, it is understandable that the PM sees fit to pay condolence calls to families of terror victims. But why are other public officials making such highly publicized visits, cynically using grieving families as campaign props? If they are sincere they should leave the cameras behind.

The Arab World Just Trashed Trump's Mideast 'Peace' Plan (Saeb Erekat, Haaretz+) Despite U.S. envoys' exaggerations and pretense, the Warsaw conference burst the Trump Mideast team's biggest delusion: that Arab states would back a deal that sells out Palestine, and Palestinians.
What the Americans don’t understand (Giora Eiland, Yedioth) the only way to reach a permanent arrangement between Israel and Palestine requires cancelling the first basic assumption regarding the conflict that the geographical border is located in the land between the Jordan River and the sea...The Palestinians say that dividing the land on the ’67 bordersonly leaves them with 22% of the land and for that reason there is no reason they should give up on an inch of land, while the Israelis say that they need to control a significant part of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) for security reasons and to prevent the eviction of more than 120,000 Israelis living among other places in Kiryat Arba, Beit El, Ofra, Shilo, Eli and maybe even Ariel. Here we need to look at the regional aspect…Since there is no formula that will succeed in dividing the small cake in a way that both sides will be satisfied, the only thing that the Arab state have to offer is territory. The only way to get to a stable permanent agreement between Israel and Palestine requires a modest territorial concession from Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which could create a situation in which Israel and the Palestinians can be satisfied, and maybe even Jordan and Egypt can get more out of this than everyone else.
Reality program (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) Suddenly, the Prime Minister pulls out the Palestinian issue to the foreign ministers of the Arab states. For whom exactly was this message of peace meant?…If we play it right, Netanyahu will say, we can claim that we tried 100 times, but the Palestinians again did not miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The competition of the fast draw (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) Israel is not presenting a serious position on any subject, even in regards to the Holocaust. The problem is not in the choice between truth and interests, but in irresponsible fast draws.
It will be hard for Netanyahu to sell Trump's ‘Deal of the Century’ to the right-wing camp (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) It is possible that the prime minister is taking into account that in such a case, salvation will come from the center-left bloc, which, it can be guessed, will support a permanent arrangement that will also win the backing of the moderate Arab states.
Absentee News (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The Israeli media is a senior collaborator in blotting out our hostile foreign rule over the Palestinians.
Starving the Palestinians of money will cost Israel dearly
(Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The government in Jerusalem should be able to see the end result of the decision to withhold tax refunds from the PA; it's not like they haven’t been through this exercise in futility before.
Israel Tampers With Palestinian Authority Funds – and Could Get Hamas Rockets in Response (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The transfer freeze is an attempt by Netanyahu to portray himself as the strong right against Benny Gantz’s weak left. Any move Abbas makes to reduce the prisoners’ payments will cause him a huge domestic crisis.
Netanyahu’s Embrace of Ethno-nationalists Endangers European Jews Like Me (Giorgio Gomel, Haaretz+) Israel’s right-wing is seduced by European nationalists’ warmth toward the Jewish state, and their hostility toward Islam. But an illiberal Europe intolerant of minorities and pluralism is a disaster for Jews.
Rashida Tlaib and Benjamin Netanyahu's anti-Zionist alliance (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) They're the strangest of bedfellows, but both want to destroy the Jewish state. At least Tlaib is honest about her support for a one state solution; Netanyahu is not.
Miri Regev, where have you been until now? (Nirit Andermann, Haaretz+) At the Berlin Film Festival, the Israeli film “Synonyms" recorded one of the greatest achievements in the history of Israeli cinema, but almost a day passed and Culture Minister Miri Regev did not open her mouth to congratulate. Nothing. Silence. Perhaps because she, too, knows that, contrary to her promises, the film that was made under her nose was a “Foxtrot 2.” A possible explanation for this mystery lays in the impressions published by those who watched the film in Berlin last week. Avner Shavit, for example, reported in Walla! website that “Synonyms,” directed by Nadav Lapid, criticizes Israeli militaristic society and that its contents "provoke unrest." He noted that at a press conference the Lapid wondered how "there aren’t more Israelis leaving the country, and instead so many remain in an unacceptable political situation." Variety Magazine hastened to state that Lapid's film "aimed a Kalashnikov into Israel's militaristic culture and its persecution complex," and wondered how the Culture Minister would respond to this work, which is so critical. This pushed Regev into a very unflattering corner, especially in the eyes of her potential voters. In the uproar that she made over Samuel Maoz's film, Foxtrot, at the time, she proudly waved the claim that the film had been approved by the Israeli Film Fund under her predecessor. "I had nothing to do with it," said the minister. "Such demonstrations of contempt for the state and its symbols will no longer be supported by the ministry…I will not allow support for the films that are playing into the hands of our haters and are being done on the backs of IDF soldiers and the State of Israel." And yet, a little less than two years passed, and Regev's resolute promise seemed to crumble, disappear and vanish without leaving any imprint. The "contempt" is still here, and four years of Regev as culture minister have not been able to change anything. Once again, a local film foundation (this time the Yehoshua Rabinovich Foundation) supported a film that raises political demons from their depths. Again this film is internationally recognized, captures headlines all over the world, and proves that critical and biting art can be interesting and attractive - usually much more than an art of flattery and consensus. Nadav Lapid's “Synonyms" threatens to be Regev's "Foxtrot 2," but this time the Ministry of Culture that supported him did so while she was in charge, so this time she will not be able to shift the responsibility from her. So a little sigh of relief can now be released over the proof that there are still a few small islands of free art that Regev has not been able to destroy. And one can certainly understand why the most vocal culture minister that this country has ever known now prefers to keep her mouth shut. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and the Culture Ministry said in response: "We congratulate the creator Nadav Lapid for the prestigious award at the Berlin Film Festival, which is yet another testimony to the success of the Israeli cinema, its status and its prestige in the world. However, none of the ministry's staff have watched the film and we do not have the knowledge whether the film raises issues that are liable to harm the State of Israel, its symbols and values. We hope that this is a film that, even if it is critical, is consistent with Israeli law."
Why I, an Egyptian woman and author, decided to meet Israel’s ambassador (Mona Prince, Haaretz+) I knew I would pay a price for my decision to meet with ‘the enemy.’ But years of hatred left me exhausted - and I care about the future too much.
A veteran general for the ground forces (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) To strengthen the ground forces, which have been losing status for years, Chief of Staff Kochavi must continue the reforms begun by his predecessor and put an end to cliquishness in the general staff.
China Is Now Pakistan's Partner in Jihadist Terror (Shrenik Rao, Haaretz+) Beijing blocks international efforts to sanction Pakistan's Islamist terrorists, who foment insurgencies on India's borders and export their violent, deeply anti-Semitic jihad to the West. This is why.
Anti-Semitism Was Symptom and Catalyst of U.K. Labour Party Split, Not Root Cause (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The decision of seven lawmakers to leave Jeremy Corbyn’s party will have huge implications for Jews in left-wing parties everywhere, not just in Britain.
Anti-Semitism in yellow vests (Meyer Habib, Israel Hayom) French leaders are right to worry about rising anti-Semitism, which is integral to recent popular protests. But what is the sense in condemning anti-Semitism at home while rolling out the red carpet for Iran?
Judaizing the Galilee? Land Reform Marks an About-face (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+) The government is encouraging home building in the Arab sector by granting ex-post facto legal recognition to illegal building and transferring state land for Arab construction to solve the sector’s housing shortage.
Lack of a culture and climate of safety awareness contributes to an increase in the number of work accidents (Dr. Amir Perry, Maariv) There is no doubt that creating safety costs money, but those who think that safety is too expensive to invest in should calculate how much a fatal work accident will cost the country.
Chilling report on Israeli soldier's death puts new army chief to the test (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The army has to prepare its soldiers for the kind of difficult scenarios that may occur in wartime. But the need to produce tough soldiers doesn’t justify a mishap ending in death.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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