News Nosh 3.24.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 24, 2019
 
Quote of the day:
"It was a noble act, a rarity in our locale."
--Yedioth journalist Ronen Bergman writes that Rafi Eitan, a legendary Israeli spy, who died yesterday at age 92, took responsibility for the entire debacle regarding the recruitment of US spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, letting the Americans blame him alone, without placing any responsibility on the political echelons.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
Israel police shuts down Mother's Day event at the French Cultural Center in East Jerusalem under claim it's funded by the Palestinian Authority.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “Egypt would have bought the submarines anyway” - Before trip to US: PM goes on attack in surprising TV interview
  • Interview for his home base // Mati Tuchfeld
  • “Generations will learn about Rafi Eitan” who died at age 92
  • The Russian connection: The end? // Avraham Ben-Zvi
  • Going to the army is the tops, brother - Just before the March draft for combat soldiers begins, little brothers of male and female draftees prepared moving drawings for those going to the combat units
  • The submarines affair: The chatter of (former chief of staff Moshe) Bugie Yaalon // Amnon Lord

Elections 2019 News:
In a sudden and rare TV interview to the Israeli media, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed that he approved the advanced submarine sale to Egypt without informing the defense minister or chief of staff, due to a ‘state secret, making the top story in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Netanyahu denied any wrongdoing in the submarine affair and said there was no connection to the submarine sale to Egypt and the recent allegations about his investments in a steel factory.  Most of the commentators thought otherwise, with the usual exception of Israel Hayom. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) The interview came shortly before Netanyahu took off to the US where he will meet US President Donald Trump Monday and speak at the AIPAC conference on Tuesday. During Netanyahu’s visit, Trump is expected to sign an official declaration recognizing the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory after he wrote in a Twitter message that the time has come for full US recognition. (More about Trump’s declaration on the Golan below.)

Election Quickees:
  • MK Yachimovich: Trump's statement about the Golan was meant to help Netanyahu in the elections - Opposition chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich spoke at cultural event in Hadera and called for investigation of the prime minister in the submarine affair. (Maariv)
  • Trump denies Golan Heights announcement meant to help Netanyahu re-election campaign - President says 'whoever’s against him is also in favor of what I just did,' amid claims that support for recognizing Israeli sovereignty in Golan is geared at boosting prime minister. (Haaretz+)
  • PM, Likud slammed for TV show mocking appearance of journalist burned in ’73 war - Post promoting interview with actor made-up to resemble journalist Amnon Abramovitch, who was wounded driving tank in Yom Kippur War, deleted from PM’s Facebook page. Abramowitz's tank commander in the war: “This is a Black flag. Netanyahu forgot the values we grew up on.” Disabled veterans plan protest. (Yedioth Hebrew, Maariv, Times of Israel)
  • Friday Maariv poll: Blue and White leads by 3 seats; The right-wing bloc leads with 65 seats over 55 - Gantz's party is weakened by one mandate compared with the previous poll, but the Likud is losing two Knesset seats. The poll was conducted prior to President Trump's Tweet about Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. (Maariv)
  • Friday i24NEWS-Israel Hayom Poll: Gantz's ability to lead unaffected by phone hack story - Weekly i24NEWS-Israel Hayom poll shows 23% of respondents believe phone (hack affair) would harm Blue and White leader's capacity to lead the country, while another 49% say they it does not • Some 28% are uncertain. (Israel Hayom)
  • Friday poll: Blue and White loses ground, Likud holds - As the two largest parties snipe at each other, bringing up scandals, Blue and White drops three seats to 30, with 26 predicted for Likud, the same as last week • Labor gains three seats • Far-right activist Moshe Feiglin's Zehut slowly gaining. (Israel Hayom)
  • Blue and White Wave Israeli Students Overwhelmingly Back Gantz’s Party in Mock Elections - Kahol Lavan wins 20 out of 24 elections in high schools across country, capturing 43 percent of the vote; Netanyahu’s Likud is distant second and left-wing Meretz third. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu says he will sue political rivals for libel - The prime minister says he has instructed his attorneys to take legal action against former IDF chief Benny Gantz and ex-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, claiming that they labeled him a traitor over a graft scandal involving a German submarine deal. (Israel Hayom)
  • Parties pushing social agenda losing their appeal - Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu and Orli Levi-Abekasis's Gesher party lag far behind in an election that has marginalized social issues. (Haaretz+)
  • Having Been ‘Knifed in the Back,’ These Israeli Druze Won’t Be Backing Bibi This Time Around - The Druze have a history of voting for right-wing parties, but this Election Day they vow to help unseat those behind the legislation that turned them into 'second-class citizens.’ (Haaretz+)
  • These Israeli Expats Are Flying Home Especially to Vote Bibi Out (They Hope) - For these Israelis living in the United States, making time and spending money to come back to cast their ballot was an obvious decision, whether they’ve been away a couple of years or a decade. (Haaretz+)
  • Weekly Fake News report: Rise in False reports against Benny Gantz - Vocativ’s weekly report shows that there has been an increase in the number of Fake News in the general debate. Among the leading false news about Gantz: "Embarrassing personal details were exposed from Gantz's cell phone” and "Gantz's cell phone hack was done by an Israeli company and was requested by a senior member of the Kahol-Lavan party." The percentage of Fake News in the general discussion was about 13%. And the politician most mentioned in the troll discourse on the Internet: Netanyahu. (Maariv)
  • Gaza area polling station - It is a strange natural phenomenon. As you get closer to the border with Gaza, voters become more leftist and you see more signs of Meretz and Labor parties. In Netivot, Netanyahu and (Shas leader) Deri dominate the ‘parliaments’ of men sitting in the cafes "with all due respect to the blue-and-white generals.” At the religious kibbutz, Sa’ad, the majority will vote for the right-wing, but there are those who quietly dream of a revolution. And at Kibbutz Nahal Oz, right on the fence, they are certain that Gantz and Gabbay will protect them better than the Likud. New series of articles: Journey across the country ahead of the 2019 elections. (Itai Ilnai, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israel's Election Watchdog Forces ultra-Orthodox City to Display Women on Campaign Ads - Meretz and the Israel Women’s Network sued the city after it banned an election poster featuring Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg. (Haaretz+)
  • 'Israel's campaign ad laws could stand to be revised' - Chairman of the Central Elections Committee Justice Hanan Melcer says that he is trying to keep things calm in a particularly loaded and volatile campaign, and believes that laws on campaign ads should be amended to fit the social media era. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gantz Ruled Out 'Political Discourse' With Arab Parties Over 'anti-Israel' Rhetoric - Last Tuesday, in first televised interviews, main Netanyahu rival deems Israeli Arab politicians 'irrelevant,' predicts Kahol Lavan will win election with 40 seats. (Haaretz)
  • Gantz Said He Won't Sit in Coalition With Netanyahu After Recording Leaked - In a recording leaked last Monday, the Kahol Lavan leader didn't rule out sitting in a Netanyahu-led coalition, but now says remarks were made prior to details of the prime minister's draft indictment were released. (Haaretz+)
  • Jewish Lawmaker Shoots Dead Arab Colleague in Campaign Video; Complaint Filed - Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka filed a complaint with the police on Tuesday against MK Oren Hazan (Likud) for incitement to murder after Hazan, notorious for his inflammatory rhetoric, is seen shooting and killing Zahalka in a campaign video intended as satirical. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Justice Minister Sprays 'Fascism' Perfume in Provocative Campaign Ad - A new election ad featuring Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in sultry poses, spraying herself with a perfume labeled 'Fascism,' has the look and feel of a satiric sketch, but it's no send up. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Iran: Claims that we hacked Gantz cell phone are part of Israel 'psychological war' - On Wednesday, Tehran spokesman denied involvement in breach of Blue and White leader's device, says Israeli officials 'are long used to spreading lies.’ The alleged hack was not confirmed or denied by the Shin Bet domestic security agency. (Ynet)
  • Law Championed by the Right Used to Ban Kahanist Leader From Election - Israel's Supreme Court last week banned Michael Ben Ari, leader of the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party, from running in the April 9 general election. The amendment to the Basic Law that disqualified Otzma Yehudit's Michael Ben Ari was originally drafted by the right to be used against Arab parties and their candidates. (Haaretz)
Trump's Golan Declaration Quickees:
  • Recognizing Israeli control of Golan may hurt peace plan's chance with Arab world, former U.S. officials warn - Former American mediators and envoys say that if the Trump administration wants their proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to have a chance at success, then this move is a mistake. (Haaretz+)
  • Druze in Golan Heights protest Trump's call for recognition of Israeli sovereignty - The 300 demonstrators waved Syrian and Druze flags and carried images of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Haaretz+)
  • Muslim world condemns Trump's Golan Heights decision - Syria Vows to Recover Golan Heights; Russia: Trump's Recognition Violates UN Resolutions - Erdogan says Trump's statement that it's time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan has brought region to edge of new crisis ■ Iran calls declaration 'illegal and unacceptable.' Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says Trump's declaration has brought the region to the edge of a new crisis. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Trump's Golan recognition will cause bloodshed, top Palestinian negotiator warns - Druze leaders call Trump and his announcement 'delusional' ■ Egypt urges international community to prevent Israeli sovereignty over Golan ■ Hamas: Trump's move is new kind of aggression against Arab nations. (Haaretz+)
  • EU says does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights - Despite Trump's shift toward recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan, European Union still considers the area occupied. (Haaretz+)
  • Gantz on his trip to the AIPAC conference: "Recognition of the Golan will save Trump a place in history" - The Kahol-Lavan co-chairman referred to the US president's statement regarding the Golan Heights, and thanked him. Gantz said the AIPAC conference is a great opportunity to thank President Trump for his recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a statement that joins the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem, two moves that will preserve his place in history as a true friend of the State of Israel. " (Maariv)
  • Trump's Golan Heights declaration: What does it mean and what happens now - In one tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump shook a decades-long international status quo on the Syrian territory occupied by Israel in 1967. Here's what you need to know. (Haaretz+)

GAZA:
In Gaza things continued to be reactive. On Friday, IDF forces killed two Gazans and wounded at least 55 others who were demonstrating at the border fence. In response, Hamas' so-called ''nighttime unit'' announced Saturday that it would extend the hours of its noisy activity along the border between the coastal enclave and Israel  "Our stance is clear, either they [Israel] lift the blockade [on Gaza] or [Israeli] residents of border communities evacuate," a statement by the unit read. Hamas' statement also comes as the organization faces rare protests over the high cost of living throughout the week. Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it struck in Gaza on Saturday afternoon, targeting cells that launched incendiary balloons toward Israel and wounding three people.
 
Quick Hits:
  • In a majority of 23:9, UN adopts report condemning suspected Israeli war crimes on Gaza border - Half of the UN Human Rights Council members voted in favor of the decision, which rules that Israel is responsible for committing war crimes in dealing with the “March of Return," and called for the imposition of an arms embargo on the state. The report says 183 Palestinians were killed by Israel, including 35 children, during protests along the Gaza border. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • UN human rights body asks for larger presence in PA territories - Move comes after U.N. Human Rights Council report alleges IDF soldiers intentionally fired on civilians and possibly committed war crimes, crimes against humanity • Foreign Ministry: Israel will continue to protect its citizens against terror, aggression. (Israel Hayom)
  • Abbas: I agreed to U.S.-led NATO force in ‘Palestine’ - “Trump told me I’m a man of peace,” Abbas told visiting Harvard University students in Ramallah. Abbas said he proposed to US President Donald Trump during their last meeting in New York in September 2017 the deployment of US-led NATO forces in a future Palestinian state to address Israel’s security concern. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Abbas welcomes Harvard students, discusses Palestinian situation - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke to some 180 visiting Harvard University students Saturday regarding recent American and Israeli measures against the Palestinian people. The students are conducting a tour of the occupied Palestinian territories, in order to understand the reality of the Palestinian people and their lives under Israeli occupation. (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers attack Palestinian homes in Hebron - Armed Israeli settlers from Kiryat Arba threw rocks at Palestinian homes and vehicles late Friday in the Wadi al-Hasim area of the city, which Israeli forces sealed off earlier in the month. (Maan)
  • Palestinian youth detained at Qalandia checkpoint, clashes erupt during Israeli raids in West Bank villages - Clashes erupted in Azzun town near Qalqiliya and in Muthalath al-Shuhada village after Israeli forces raided them. (Maan)
  • Israeli navy injures Palestinian father, son off Gaza's coast - Israeli navy targeted a number of Palestinian fishing boats Friday and opened heavy fire towards them, injuring one fisherman and his son. (Maan)
  • Saeb Erekat: UK voting against UNHRC resolution 'gift to Israeli settlers' - The decision by the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to vote against a resolution on Palestine at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), on Friday, is a gift for the Israeli settlers and government, said Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee. (Maan)
  • **Israel police shuts down Mother's Day event in East Jerusalem under claim it's funded by PA - The event was co-organized by the French Cultural Institute in East Jerusalem. France summons Israeli envoy for clarifications. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israeli settler runs over Palestinian worker in Hebron - Israeli settler ran over a Palestinian worker, Jumaa Qufeisha, near the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs) before fleeing the area. (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers puncture 17 Palestinian vehicles near Bethlehem - Israeli settlers punctured tires of 17 Palestinian-owned vehicles and sprayed racist graffiti on some in the Battir town west of southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem, overnight Wednesday. (Maan)
  • JDC, IsraAID to supply disaster relief to Mozambique - JDC activated its network of local and international partners, is assessing emerging needs and will continue to direct relief accordingly following worst tropical cyclones to hit Africa. IsraAID sending emergency response team to cyclone-ravaged area. (Israel Hayom)
  • EU expresses concern over violence used by Hamas against protesters - The European Union Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah expressed concern, on Thursday, about the arrests and violence used by Hamas security forces against Palestinian protesters, including journalists, staff from the Independent Commission of Human Rights, and human rights defenders, in the besieged Gaza Strip over the past few days. (Maan)
  • Chinese Involvement in Israeli Infrastructure May Threaten Security, U.S. Study Warns - The U.S. and Israel should share information and jointly monitor the expansion of Chinese investments and other economic activity, both in Israel and the wider Middle East, the RAND Corporation says. (Haaretz+)
  • Denied phones by Israel, Hamas prisoners set fire to cells - Inmates at Ramon Prison set mattresses alight on Tuesday in culmination of month-long protest over new jamming signal that stops them from making calls on smuggled phones. Security prisoners viewed step as serious blow, as the phones were used to communicate with their families. The [ sic - some] prisoners, however, also used these same cell phones to communicate with terrorist organizations in West Bank and Gaza. The prisoner leaders resigned about a month ago, which the IPS saw as a very serious protest measure. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Legendary Israeli Mossad agent Rafi Eitan dies at 92 - One of the founders of Israel’s intelligence community, who helped capture Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann and bring him to trial in Jerusalem, dies after being hospitalized in Tel Aviv. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Palestine rejects opening of Hungarian 'diplomatic' trade office - The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said “The State of Palestine unequivocally rejects the inauguration of the so-called Hungarian diplomatic trade office to Israel, the Occupying Power, in the Holy City of Jerusalem,” on Wednesday. (Maan)
  • Israelis and Palestinians fed up as bid to end burning of e-waste fails - 223 plastic-burning sites have been found in Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements, but such industries' importance in the West Bank economy make it difficult to find a solution. (Haaretz+)
  • Gazan parrot undergoes life-saving operation at Israeli checkpoint - Bird's owner was told his African grey, “Cookie,” which suffered severe burns, needed to be put down, since no veterinarian in the Strip knew how to help; in a desperate Facebook post he reached out to an Israeli wildlife NGO, “For The Wildlife,” which quickly organized the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Shlomit Levy, the only veterinarian in Israel solely dedicated to the care of birds and parrots. (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew English)
  • Brown University Students Pass Referendum Demanding School Divest From Israeli Firms - 69% of students at the Ivy League school voted for the measure, which proposes to 'identify and divest from companies that profit from Israeli violations of human rights.’ (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Democrats introduce anti-BDS resolution that backs two-state solution - Effort seen as answer to Republican attempts to promote legislation that does not distinguish between Israel and settlements in the West Bank. (Haaretz)
  • Pro-Israel Donor Pulls Out of AIPAC Conference After Attacking Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib - Major AIPAC sponsor Adam Milstein said the two Muslim congresswomen 'clash with American values' and had said they were members of the Muslim Brotherhood. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • AIPAC downplays absence of Democratic presidential contenders at conference - Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris among those staying away from the March 24-26 event in D.C., with left-wing group claiming it reflects the pro-Israel lobby's new standing in the party. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • 'Total Elimination': ISIS Defeated at Final Shred of Territory, U.S.-backed Syrian Forces Announce - The Syrian Democratic Forces announced victory Saturday and an end to the 'caliphate' that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US hits Iran with new sanctions while Pompeo visits Lebanon - Sanctions target Iranian experts U.S. State Dept. says could be tasked with restarting nuclear program. In Beirut, U.S. secretary of state says Lebanese face choice: Bravely move forward or allow Iran's, Hezbollah's dark ambitions to dictate your future. (Israel Hayom)
  • Trump is like biblical queen Esther who saved Jews in Persia, says Pompeo - U.S. secretary of state tells Christian broadcaster during trip to the Middle East he 'certainly believes it's possible' the president is like the queen, after whom a book in the Hebrew Bible is named. (Haaretz)


Features:
Palestinian Car Hit Soldiers, They Shot Back Once. Four Minutes Later, Nine Bullets Followed
From Israeli media reports on the possible accident, one might believe that the soldiers immediately opened fire in self-defense to kill two young men, but footage and eyewitness accounts tell otherwise . (Amira Hass, Haaretz+)
Israeli troops got off easy after abusing a Palestinian family. Here's what actually happened
A family of shepherds living in miserable tents, a father and son brutalized at the hands of Israeli soldiers (from the Netzach Yehuda battalion): The painful and ongoing saga of the Shalada family of Kobar. According to the eldest daughter, Houlod, 19, her brother is accused of having encountered Assam Barghouti, who was on the run in the wake of murders, in the pasture, and who asked to be taken to the tent, where Ziad hid him. She maintains that they hadn’t known Barghouti before and that she didn’t see him in their tent compound. She had heard about the trial of the soldiers who abused her father and her brother, and about the verdict, but she wasn’t interested. She asks only why the commanding officers weren’t tried (for the abuse of her father and brother). (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
How secret Netanyahu-Assad back-channel gave way to Israeli demand for recognition of Golan sovereignty
Almost all Israeli governments – including Netanyahu's – negotiated U.S.-brokered withdrawals from Golan Heights ■ Trump's support of annexation is culmination of shift that began with civil war ■ Haaretz spoke to sources involved in the talks who attested to advanced talks between Netanyahu and Damascus, including maps and computerized scenarios for withdrawal – in exchange for pushing out Iran. (Noa Landau, Haaretz+)
Bedouin diplomat and Chabad rabbi unite to save lives
Upon arriving at his diplomatic posting in Kathmandu, Ismail Khalidi heard reports of a serious accident that killed Vered Aviyashar in the Annapurna Range of Nepal. Touched by the story of her life, Khalidi teamed up with the local Chabad Rabbi Hezki Lifshitz to establish a life-saving project to provide trekkers with mini oxygen tanks to protect from altitude sickness. (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet)
Jerusalem’s Golden Gate Has Been at Center of Religious Conflicts for More Than 1,000 Years
Who built it and why was it sealed? Little is known about the Gate of Mercy, over which Jews and Muslims are now clashing. It may have been built by the Byzantines, according to some researchers. (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)
 
Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Trump Once Again Proves He's Netanyahu's Private Santa Claus (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Gantz's hacked phone hasn't hurt his party, but Netanyahu's submarine affair may finish him – unless Trump saves him. And, Ayelet Shaked’s perfume video is her party's Hail Mary.
Between videos clips and lies, the election campaign breaks all records of slime (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) The smell that is being carried in the air these days is not a democratic celebration at its best, but of propaganda without limits - on the right, on the left and in the center. The only loser is the citizen.
What Shaked is selling smells more like anarchy (Limor Livnat, Yedioth/Ynet) The justice minister's new election campaign video is an anti-feminist piece that exposes many flaws in her 'revolutionary plan' for reforming Israel's judicial system; governance is good, but what she offers appears to be chaos.
Benny Gantz Is Either Cowardly or Immoral (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Gantz has the image of a brave and principled man, an officer and a gentleman. But if he knows what should be done about the occupation and doesn't say it, he's a coward.
A sane state does not elect a prime minister who has never been a member of the Knesset or a minister (Michael Kleiner, Maariv) I have a heart for (Labor party chief Avi) Gabbay, a talented and worthy man of action who, while still politically unripe, was promoted to a position he lacked the tools to succeed in. It's too bad that he chose to tread in sectarian incitement, when he said, “A Mizrachi Jew does not vote Likud.”
Sane right-wing? The fear of the not crossing the minimum threshold pushes the politicians beyond the lines (Udi Segal, Maariv) Kahlon released a video showing his coalition partners in a straitjacket, but if the goal of the campaign is achieved and he enters the Knesset, these are the people with whom he is supposed to sit in the next government.
For Netanyahu and His Ilk, Hatred Is Essential (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz+) Jewish nationalism would be incomplete without hatred of Arabs.
In Bibi's head: the research that explains Netanyahu's behavior (Yossi Melman, Maariv) "A narcissist with paranoid and authoritative strains”: Psychological studies that have analyzed the personality of the prime minister over the years show a number of recurring and worrying dominant traits.
Netanyahu Heads Straight Into the Eye of the Mueller Storm. He May Repay Twin Brother Trump (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister would welcome a presidential assertion that both are victims of a conspiracy and witch-hunt.
Netanyahu talks a lot but does very little (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Prime minister's surprise interview with Channel 12 news - to try and stop the avalanche of accusations regarding the submarine affair - raises more questions than it provides answers.
Submarines and 'State Secrets': The Red Flags in Netanyahu's Latest Version (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The prime minister's surprise interview with Channel 12 was meant to resolve issues raised by Gantz's party. It did just the opposite.
Submarine affair could sink the Blue and White party (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Case 3,000's revival may be keeping the focus away from Benny Gantz's hacked phone, this submarine may ultimately bring Blue and White down with it • A faux perfume ad indicates the next Knesset will focus its attention on the justice system.
Pivotal battle in Gantz-Netanyahu showdown pits submarine vs. cellphone (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) 11 comments about scandals, boycotts and media bias in an election campaign evolving from divisive to repulsive.
The hacking affair with Gantz's phone shows that he simply does not have what it takes (Haim Etgar, Maariv) Those who are not tough and aggressive and those who get upset about stories and by headlines, whether true or false, will never win the election campaign.
Netanyahu and the submarine affair: Who said that this man is not a magician? (Ben Caspit, Maariv) It is possible that had it not been for the endless greed that was etched in the prime minister's genetics, the incredible coincidence of his holdings in the steel concern [in Texas] would not have been published.
A Lost Decade Under Netanyahu (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan are focusing on the submarines affair, but should focus on the other failures and fiascoes of the Netanyahu decade.
Netanyahu's decade: Could we be in a better place? And what will history remember? (Eyal Levy, Maariv) The social situation, the economic situation, the foreign relations with the Americans, the feeling of security, the Palestinians and of course the investigations - the main issues that characterized the prime minister's decade in power.
Gantz refuses to be an alternative (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Why is a man presuming to offer an alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule unwilling to expose his position on the most critical issue in Israel?
The role of “Kahol-Lavan” party is to open the blockage which is keeping Israel from going forward (Avi Benayahu, Maariv) The role of Kahol-Lavan will be to eliminate the blockage of trust in law enforcement institutions, in the IDF and in the state's audit, to open the blockage on roads and transportation, in hospital departments, in surgery lines, in the collapse of the health system, in nursing and in compassion. And also: Do not be surprised if the anger of the Gazan street is again directed at Israel.
The High Court justices helped me decide who I would vote for in those elections (Kalman Liebeskind, Maariv) When the court disqualifies (Kahanist Michael) Ben-Ari, and at the same time grants an excellent standard of approval to [Arab] MKs who support terrorists and act to abolish Israel as a Jewish state, of course something here is screwed from the ground up.
Israel Banning Kahanist Played Straight Into the Right's Hands (Noa Osterreicher, Haaretz+) The attack at Ariel junction and the Supreme court ruling disqualifying Kahanist Ben Ari but allowing Balad and Cassif is good luck for Bennett and Shaked.
The judges are the true rulers (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The High Court's ruling, barring a far-right candidate while allowing far-left candidates to run, harmed freedom of expression and the public's sense of justice. Opinions, however offensive, should not be policed unless they explicitly call for violence.
Michael Ben-Ari's disqualification (from running in elections): The High Court of Justice became a significant shareholder in Netanyahu's next victory speech (Attorney Yoram Sheftel, Maariv) The 2019 elections: The inevitable result of the High Court ruling will be a popular uprising against the High Court of Justice, which will be reflected in the influx of the Zionist, national and patriotic masses of Israel on Voters’ Day.
Why I am not voting when Israel goes to the polls (Yair Katan, Yedioth/Ynet) I am not willing to cast a ballot for this current crop of scandal-mongers, gossips and PR-obsessed dilettantes who are tearing the country apart - don't we deserve better?

Commentary/Analysis:
U.S. media finally discovers Netanyahu-Trump similarities – and pro-Israel groups are worried (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Growing number of national news outlets are highlighting resemblance in tactics being employed by Netanyahu and his friend in the White House.
Overt racism among Israeli officialdom (Elyakim Rubinstein, Yedioth/Ynet) The theme of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Israel should be centered around attempts to eliminate racism and prejudice from running amok in governmental ministries in the country and even the Knesset.
Netanyahu's speech: Today's AIPAC is not what it used to be (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) A speech at AIPAC? A meeting with Trump? On his visit to the United States, Netanyahu must work to restore relations with the Democratic Party and the Jewish community.
Israel's Submarine Affair Was Already Serious. Then Netanyahu Opened a Pandora's Box (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Many former security officials describe the affair as the most significant corruption scandal Israel has known. When Netanyahu asked to raise funds for his legal defense, the plot thickened.
Netanyahu came to the studio to sink the submarine affair, but again he became embroiled in lies (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The prime minister admitted that he had authorized the Germans to sell sophisticated submarines to Egypt, on the pretext of a secret that must also be hidden from the defense establishment.
Netanyahu Dropped by for a Surprise Interview. He Won't Do It Again (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) In his impromptu Channel 12 appearance, the prime minister rediscovered something he has forgotten in recent years: Not all interviewers are parrots dutifully reciting the questions dictated to them.
Netanyahu must be questioned under caution in submarine affair (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) Netanyahu committed breach of trust in the holy of holies of Israel’s security systems, raising heavy suspicions of bribery and criminal wrongdoing.
The Golan Heights First (Haaretz Editorial) Trump gave Syria and its allies a renewed pretext for possible military action.
How the Syrians lost the Golan (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Faulty assumptions that time was on Syria's side, along with Assad's utter dependence on the will of his masters in Tehran, led Trump to declare American recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.
The path to Trump's Golan declaration starts with a Texan entrepreneur (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) America's energy independence has enabled Trump to shatter foreign policy taboos without concern for angry reactions from the Persian Gulf states. But will other countries follow suit?
Affirming an ancient bond (Haim Rokach, Israel Hayom) In the 52 years that have passed since we acquired the Golan Heights, 34 ancient synagogues from different points in history have been discovered there, far more than anywhere else in the country.
Trump's Golan declaration: Blessing for Netanyahu, message to Russia (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The international response is likely to be weak, and returning the Golan isn't something most Israelis support. The significance is mostly political, and the timing unsurprising
Trump’s Golan Tweet Brings U.S. Back to Syria Through the Back Door (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) More than just crude intervention in the April 9 election, Trump’s promise to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights is a slap in the face to Putin, and a show of force against Iran.
Bracing for Gaza’s ‘million man march’ (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The West Bank is at a boiling point, the Palestinian economy is weak and the motivation for terror attacks high, and now Hamas is planning its biggest demonstration ever to mark the anniversary of the ‘March of Return’; Israel fears events may spin out of control with dozens of casualties and a possible military confrontation.
Calculated Risk (Jacky Khougy, Maariv) Why did the IDF clear Hamas from blame? Why did the parties rush to close the event? Why did Hamas fire in the first place? The Gaza problem was never so complicated.
Let’s talk about the one-state solution (Ureib al-Rantawi, Yedioth/Ynet) Decades of futile peace negotiations prove that the two-state solution has failed and Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ will not change this. It is time to take another look at a one-state solution that will offer full equality to all its citizens.
The fumes of gas in the air are enough to ignite confrontations that Abu Mazen is not interested in
(Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Abu Mazen's refusal to accept tax revenues from Israel could lead to an economic collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the set the area on fire. Meanwhile, Israel is also flexing its muscles.
Gaza negotiations are futile; conflict is inevitable (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The clock is ticking toward another military confrontation in Gaza as militants demand cash and generous economic concessions but are not willing to offer Israel any concrete guarantees regarding security and the Israelis being held hostage in the Strip.
*The last of the giants (Ronen Bergman, Yedioth/Ynet) Rafi Eitan was creative, controversial and dedicated to Israel's security; in the early years of the state, he devoted his life to ensuring that Jewish blood would never again be spilled with impunity.
With Victory Over Islamic State, a New War Begins (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) While hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis and Syrians face an uncertain future with no international help in sight, ISIS is likely to copy Al-Qaida and set up new strongholds around the world.
The massacre in New Zealand: Racism is the lot of all of us, not only of the heinous murderers (Prof. Rafi Carasso, Maariv) Fifty Muslims were slaughtered in New Zealand only because they were different from a “white,” who decided he was better than they are. Once this view is given political power, which leads to discrimination and violence -  it must be fought.
Israel can overcome its greatest trials (Tamar Asraf, Yedioth/Ynet) The Jewish state has achieved far more impressive gains in situations in which we need to make a little more effort, that push us far out of our comfort zone, and we should embrace this quality for it makes us who we are.
New York Times rewrites history of Jaffa (Tamar Sternthal, Israel Hayom) In response to a claim that a feature article on Jaffa ignored the city's Arab history, editors "corrected" it with the misinformation that most Jaffa Arabs were forced out in 1948.
‘Kushner, Inc.’ — a Book You Can Judge by Its Cover (Adrian Hennigan, Haaretz+) Two average people born into wealth and dysfunctional families, who worked in their fathers’ real estate empires with various levels of failure, before ultimately lucking into the ultimate D.C. location…If there is a reason to pick up a copy of “Kushner, Inc.,” other than to swat a fly, it probably is for those little snippets about Israel and the Middle East. Certainly, one thing the book makes abundantly clear is how much Kushner loves Israel. For example, after he bought the New York Observer, the book details how he wrote a manifesto on what the weekly should be about. “It was, like, four pages long, and two of them were about Israel. I thought that was bizarre,” then-editor Elizabeth Spiers is quoted as saying, noting that until then, the New York Observer had, reasonably enough, always been about the Big Apple…Take this excerpt describing a fundraising meeting between Bannon and the rest of the Trump team with GOP billionaire Sheldon Adelson in August 2016, a conversation that “centered” on Israel. “Adelson’s chief concern was that the next U.S. president move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Not even Yair Netanyahu can stop 'The Bride from Istanbul'  (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Turkish TV series are now broadcast in some 150 countries, leaving the Egyptian industry in the dust.
 
Interviews:
Fighting Netanyahu and Ilhan Omar at the same time: The strategist working both Israeli and U.S. elections
Respected Democratic adviser Mark Mellman is simultaneously working to unseat Netanyahu while defending Israel against his critics in Washington. He explains how he performs his high-wire act. (Interviewed by Allison Kaplan Sommer in Haaretz+)

Gandhi’s grandson has a message for Israel
Dr. Arun Gandhi, who is visiting the Jewish state for the first time as part of a promotional book tour, believes Israelis must free themselves from the chains of the Holocaust and seek peace with the Palestinians. (Interviewed by Yulia Karra in Yedioth/Ynet)

A shekel a year
Israel Hayom spends a day with former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who placed ninth in the Likud primaries and is seen as a candidate for finance minister. Barkat stresses teamwork and says wherever PM Netanyahu asks him to serve, he will serve gladly. (Interviewed by Adi Rubinstein in Israel Hayom)

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