News Nosh 2.21.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday February 21, 2019

Quote of the day:
"The feeling is excellent. We established a ruling party today."
Yair Lapid told journalists as he left his house, hours after it was announced that he and Benny Gantz joined forces to form a new party to replace long-ruling Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.*

Breaking News:
Gantz and Lapid Join Forces to Replace Netanyahu (See Election News)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Talks into the night (Photo of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid)
  • Controversial union (Photo of leaders of Habayit Hayehudi and Otzma Yehudit)
  • The march of shame // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Against normal religious people // Chen Artzi-Srur
  • For the sake of the Land of Israel // Rabbi Yitzhak Levi
  • Orly Levi-Abeksis runs alone: “Gantz is acting in a strange and surreal manner. He is managed by others”
  • Tomorrow - Special: The Maglan Unit soldier who was forced to jump into a thorny bush and was left paralyzed - speaks
  • Above the stars: The spaceship ‘B’reshit’ will be launched tonight on the way to landing on the moon
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Elections 2019 News:
*When the newspapers went to bed, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, the leaders of two strongest centrist parties had met to discuss a possible united list in the day left before parties had to submit their slates for Knesset. And Orly Levi-Abekasis made headlines for ending negotiations with Gantz and calling him “a man who is controlled by others,” after he asked her to give him time “until he finishes his link-up with Lapid” before they finalized their agreements.

By this afternoon, Gantz and Lapid announced they had agreed to  run together and they had created a new party, ‘Blue and White.' If they won, they would rotate as prime minister, with Gantz getting the first two-and-a-half years, while Lapid is foreign minister. Number three on the merged roster is Moshe Ya'alon, who launched his own party when elections were initially announced but then joined Gantz. The new party also enlisted another former chief of staff, Lt. General (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi, filling the top four spots with three former chiefs of staff. The right-wing slammed the new party and called it ‘dangerous’ and ‘leftist’ - [although it is more right, than left. - OH]

The announcement of the new party came less than 24 hours after news that many perceived as 'dangerous': Israeli far-right party Habayit Hayehudi accepted an offer from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to join forces with the even more far-right Otzma Yehudit party, a supremacist anti-Arab party led by followers of racist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from running for Knesset in 1988. In exchange, the party would receive the education and housing ministries in addition to two seats in the security cabinet. Some senior Habayit Hayehudi members opposed the merger. Indeed, Haaretz+ reported that Yifat Erlich – a settler and former Yedioth journalist  –  announced she was leaving the party. Even, US Jewish leaders slammed Netanyahu for pushing for the Kahanists to be in Knesset to strengthen the right-wing bloc. [Read Dror Eydar’s Op-Ed in defense of the move in Elections Commentary below. - OH] The leaders say the Jewish supremacist MKs will hurt Israel’s image, hurt Israel’s relations with Jewish Americans, and could also be embarrassing if some of them are denied entry into the US. [Meir Kahane’s original party was outlawed as a terrorist organization. Kahane was later assassinated by a Palestinian man in the US. - OH] What many found absurd was that Netanyahu canceled his meeting today with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in order to ensure that Habayit Hayehudi accepts a merger with Otzma Yehudit. Haaretz+ reported that “In Likud heartland,” Ashdod, there are numerous Israelis ready to turn their backs on Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, Meretz and Labor were considering a merger with last-minute talks, Green Leaf, which supports legalization of marijuana, won't run for the first time in 20 years and far right-winger and former Likudnik, Moshe Feiglin, said his Zehut party will be the 'surprise' of the April election. Also, Labor party’s new #2, Tal Russo, a former IDF general, said Israel’s main challenge is separating from the Palestinians, which will give it security. Haaretz has a full list of the parties and candidates running in Israel's election.

Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian president rejects tax money from Israel - Mahmoud Abbas says funds collected by Israel on behalf of PA no longer accepted after government passes law meant to deduct 5 percent of that against stipends paid to families of Palestinian terrorists; 'If we are left with only 20 or 30 million shekels, we will pay them to the families of martyrs.' (Haaretz+ Maariv, Israel Hayom, and Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli warplanes fire missiles at youth (Maan) or at Hamas post (IDF) following airborne firebomb from Gaza - On Tuesday, the first airborne firebombs since November was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. IDF said it attacked Hamas post in response. Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that Israeli warplanes fired two missiles towards a group of Palestinian youths east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central West Bank. Five Palestinians were injured during protests organized by the “Night Confusion” unit and transferred to nearby hospitals for medical treatment. (Haaretz and Maan)
  • Military Police Unit investigating soldiers is investigating the circumstances of the injury of another Palestinian detainee - The Palestinian, who was arrested during the same activity in which the Netzach Yehuda fighters apparently [brutally] abused other detainees [father and son - OH], bled in his head after the detention - even though there is no record of any unusual incident that would justify the use of force. (Maariv)
  • IDF soldiers' accounts of Hamas war crimes to be submitted to ICC - Jerusalem Institute of Justice to submit 33 accounts of Hamas war crimes to International Criminal Court in attempt to change anti-Israel bias • JIJ: Court has "rare opportunity to send the world a message that torture and similar acts are unacceptable." (Israel Hayom)
  • 30 Palestinian students suffocate by Israeli tear-gas in Hebron - Thirty Palestinian students suffered tear-gas suffocation, on Thursday morning, as Israeli forces and settlers attacked students of an elementary school in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank. One pupil was hospitalized. (Maan)
  • Israeli demolition leaves 10-member Palestinian family homeless - Several Israeli bulldozers demolished two Palestinian-owned homes belonging to Taysir al-Muhtaseb and his son’s family in the Beit Hanina neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, on Wednesday afternoon. (Maan+PHOTOS)
  • Israeli forces ban 5 Palestinians from entering Al-Aqsa - Israeli police released three Palestinian women and two women, who were detained a day earlier, on the condition of being banned from entering the Al-Aqsa compound for periods between five days to two weeks. (Maan)
  • Injuries, detentions reported as Israeli settlers raid Joseph's Tomb - Several Palestinians were injured by Israeli ammunition, while others suffered tear-gas suffocation, as hundreds of Israeli settlers raided Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus City in the northern occupied West Bank, on predawn Wednesday. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces open fire at Palestinian youths in Gaza - Israeli forces opened heavy fire at Palestinian youths driving a motorcycle, on Thursday, in Rafah, in southern besieged Gaza Strip. Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the youth launched incendiary balloons towards Israel. (Maan)
  • Police question commanders on suspicion of involvement in soldier's death - Sgt. Evyatar Yosefi fell into a stream and drowned during a training exercise on a stormy night. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian vehicles in Ramallah - Israeli settlers punctured several Palestinian-owned vehicles and spray-painted racist graffiti in the Ras Karkar and al-Janiya villages, west of the central occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, on Thursday morning. (Maan)
  • Government to enforce law penalizing calls to boycott Israel - Eight years after Knesset passed law penalizing groups who call for the boycott of Israel, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon signs necessary statutes. Law has not been implemented because of legal wrangling between ministries over its interpretation. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's first moon mission set for liftoff from Florida on Thursday - The unmanned robotic explorer named Beresheet (genesis) is due for liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station atop a Falcon 9 rocket launched by the California-based entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX company; if successful, the Jewish State will be the fourth country to have achieved controlled landing on the lunar surface. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Women soldiers to have free access to 'morning after' pills - In order that cost not be a factor when considering contraception following unprotected sex, a special hotline will offer free, instant prescriptions for female IDF recruits. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel's Deputy Minister Accused of Aiding Suspected Sex Abuser Rebuts Allegations - Ultra-Orthodox Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was put under investigation by police for aiding an Australian school principal suspected of child abuse avoid extradition. (Haaretz+)
  • France Threatens to Boycott Eurovision Over Israeli TV Series Depicting ISIS Attack - The series 'Douze Points' will air the week of the Eurovision, depicting ISIS terrorists who recruit the French contestant to carry out a terror attack on air. (Haaretz+)
  • Business in Brief: Drone Maker Aeronautics Signs Deal to Be Sold to Rafael, Avihai Stolero - Housing & Construction reaches agreement to buy American builder ■ Teva reaches settlement with U.S. on ‘pay-for-delay’ drug deals ■ Delek in advanced talks to sell Phoenix to U.S. fund Centerbridge. (Haaretz)
  • US charity opens cancer ward for children in Gaza - New $3 million department, sponsored by Palestine Children Relief Fund, is designed to treat blood cancer and related diseases, the majority of the roughly 80 cancer cases recorded annually among children in the Palestinian enclave. (Israel Hayom)
  • US ambassador to Poland: Israel should apologize to Poles for Holocaust comments - As spat over Israeli officials' remarks about Poland's involvement in the Holocaust spirals, US ambassador to the Eastern European country says Yisrael Katz should express regret over his statement that Poles ‘sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers' milk.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Ilhan Omar Apologizes to U.S. Jewish Leaders for 'Benjamins' Remark - Omar, who raised controversy over Washington's pro-Israel lobby, tells progressive leaders she wants to mend ties with the Jewish community. (Haaretz+)
  • US court revives Palestinians' lawsuit against Jewish billionaire - $1 billion lawsuit seeks to hold billionaire Sheldon Adelson and more than 30 other pro-Israel defendants liable for alleged war crimes and conspiracy to expel non-Jews from the disputed territories. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Report: Trump aides ignored legal warnings in pushing Saudi Arabia reactor plan - US president's advisors fast-tracked proposed transfer of American nuclear technology to the Arab country in possible breach of the Atomic Energy Act, according to documents released by Democratic lawmakers. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • US voices unease over Hezbollah's role in Lebanon cabinet - Hezbollah continues to violate Lebanon's policy of noninvolvement in regional conflicts by fighting in "at least three countries" and continues to make its own "national security decisions," U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard tells Lebanese PM Hariri. (Israel Hayom)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Kahane Returns to the Knesset (Haaretz Editorial) The party that considers itself a bastion of morality has turned itself into the door through which despicable racists and violent nationalists will enter the halls of power.
Netanyahu Now Endorses Jewish Fascism. U.S. Jews, Cut Your Ties With Him Now (Etan Nechin, Haaretz+) Netanyahu lost his moral compass years ago, but his electoral deal with Israel's most extreme racists is a moment of crisis, and a test, for American Jews. Don't fail it.
Another step toward independent thought (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The Left does not have a monopoly on morality and we have never charged it with ensuring that Israeli politics remains kosher, especially when it does not hold itself to the same moral standards it demands of the Right.
Netanyahu is not fighting for the Land of Israel - but for more votes in the Knesset against the attorney general (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The prime minister crumpled the long-awaited invitation from Putin and threw it into the dustbin of history only to bring into the government the followers of Baruch Goldstein (massacred Muslim Palestinian worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs/ Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron) and the followers of Rabbi Kahane (Jewish supremacist anti-Arab American-Israeli politician).
Courting Kahanists, Netanyahu Takes Politics to the Gutter (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The prime minister has again proved that there is no level to which he will not sink to preserve his power and avoid an indictment.
Opponents of the Zionist left find it difficult to understand the difference between ideological contradiction and ideological tension (Tomer Reznik, Maariv) For years, the right-wing camp has been campaigning to convince the public that Zionism and patriotism only belong to the Right-wing, and on the other hand, that the Israeli left is opposed to Zionism.
Otzma Yehudit's history of racism and provocation (Dror Liba, Ynet) Prime Minister Netanyahu worked hard to get Habayit Hayehudi-Haichud Haleumi to run with Otzma Yehudit in the upcoming elections. The party, which has its roots in Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach Party, is merely the latest incarnation of hardline settler Baruch Marzel's Jewish National Front.
You Wanted Bibi and Got Litzman (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) The deputy health minister's job makes him responsible for human life, yet he has used his office in defense of abomination (preventing extradition of ultra-Orthodox woman who escaped Australia where she was on trial for raping her students - OH).
Floating in space toward the unknown: Israeli politics is like a spacecraft that will be launched to the moon (Meir Uziel, Maariv) Netanyahu is becoming increasingly entangled in the merging of right-wing fractures, and may actually distance voters from the right-wing bloc. On the other hand, the problem with the talks between Lapid and Gantz is that each is afraid of the other's influence.
Where Does the 'Center' Stand? (Limor Livnat, Haaretz+) Lapid rightly accused Gantz of ambiguity on values and ideology, but it’s just as true about Lapid and the whole nothing of a center.

Chief of Staff Kochavi's silence: He should have reacted to the conduct of the Netzach Yehuda soldiers, like (his predecessor) Eisenkot did in the Elor Azaria affair (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The demand for a moral statement is also because we are in the midst of an election war. More than the fate of a prime minister suspected of criminal activity, it is a struggle over the image of Israeli society. The abuse (of a detained Palestinian father and son) by the Netzach Yehuda soldiers is just the tip of the iceberg. A statement of values by the chief of staff is clearly part of the election campaign against a prime minister who is currently making an effort to attract the most vocal supporters of the abusive soldiers to his camp. If Kochavi refrains from condemning the sadistic abuse of the soldiers, he is not fulfilling his duty as a law abiding citizen and as the man who stands at the head of the army.
Regrettable but necessary (Prof. Udi Lebel, Haaretz+) There is a moral price to pay for any military activity, whether that action entails engaging in combat or simply making a presence felt among civilians.
The pain and sorrow of a Palestinian mother is no different from the pain and sorrow of a Jewish mother (Gadi Gavaryahu, Maariv) If we are accused of causing Jews to express compassion for the sorrow of a Palestinian family or or that we succeeded in that Palestinians expressed compassion for the plight of a Jewish family - we admit with humility that we are to blame. We admit with humility that we have a great interest in promoting a partnership of sorrow and simple human solidarity between the Jewish people and the Palestinian people, and we do not understand why pure human gestures cause people like (Maariv columnist) Aryeh Eldad almost to lose their minds (Op-Ed: ”The bereaved family is the platform for advancing the organization"). The solidarity visits of the Tag Meir Forum prevent acts of revenge, create partnerships and long-term friendships between Jews and Arabs, and especially give hope to a very large public that cynical leaders and journalists have told them that this conflict is eternal and unresolved. After we arrived with five buses to comfort the Abu Khdeir family in the Shuafat neighborhood (of E. Jerusalem - whose son was burned alive till he died by three religious Jewish Israelis - OH], we received hundreds of sympathetic messages in Arabic from within Israel and from Arab countries. The number of likes to the (Facebook) page doubled within a few hours. The Tag Meir Forum wishes to pay tribute to the compassionate deeds of Jews and Arabs. Dr. Ezzadin Abu al-Aish, the doctor from Gaza who lost his three daughters and niece in a mistaken bombing of his home by IDF forces, contributes annually to scholarships for Jewish and Arab students at Achva College in Israel; "Baderech Lehachlama" assists hundreds of Palestinian patients from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to hospitals in Israel and back; Jews and Arabs operate and manage the health systems of the State of Israel, and this joint activity shows that the two peoples can live together in a life of brotherhood and peace. The Palestinians who comforted Naama Ansbacher a week ago in Tekoa, and told her that the flower that was picked is also their flower, are brave people. The Ansbacher family, which opened its home to everyone's condolences, is a noble family. The same is true of the Abu-Rabi family in Bidiyeh, and so are the families of those killed in the murderous attack in the Har Nof neighborhood. These human gestures should be encouraged and nurtured. In any political settlement there will be Jews and Palestinians living here together. The sooner we internalize this fact, the better it will be for all the nations, against the noses and wrath of those who despair. (Writer is Chairman of Forum Tag Meir.)
Just another Arab-Israeli get-together (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) The Warsaw conference highlights a promising partnership between the Sunni Arab states and Israel – the only state in the region with both the will and the power to stand up to Iran.
Why is Israel's FM attacking Poland? (Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Israel Hayom) Tens of thousands of Poles were complicit in the Holocaust. But many Poles took huge risks and suffered greatly to save Jews. And today, Poland stands with Israel against Iran's genocidal threats.
The Underground American-Israeli Street Artist Coming Out of the Dark - and Into the Gallery
After years working underground and under pseudonyms, Addam Yekutieli continues his journey into the establishment. ‘The move was organic,’ he says about latest exhibition. (Interviewed by Naama Riba in Haaretz+)
What other projects are you planning?
“I’m working on a project titled ‘A Human Atlas.’ I’m documenting scars on all types of people. I collect the photographs of the scars and plan to create a new map of the region in which we live. The result will be based on the topography of Palestine and Israel, and it ties in with an analogy between border and scar. The approach is political but the content is human. Israelis and West Bank Palestinians will be in the project; it’s more complicated with the Gaza Strip. The goal is to have between 150 and 200 participants.”

Otzma Yehudit leader: "Palestinians are migrant workers, in Germany they are looking for workers"
Michael Ben-Ari, a leader of Otzmah Yehudit party. (Maariv/103FM)
You say you support a one-state solution. You’ll get millions of Palestinians, that doesn’t bother you?
"I am not a racist, I want to make sure that there will be a Jewish state here, according to Zionism. This is our existence, I am not like the new right wing, which talks about annexing 450,000, giving them insurance, etc. We want immigration, construction, emigration and peace. You have to remember that this (Palestinian people) is a migrant people which goes to places where there is work. Germany is lacking 200,000 workers, and I want to help them, to aid them.”

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