News Nosh 4.11.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday April 11, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Netanyahu proved once again he is a virtuoso without peers…He plays on the heartstrings of his constituents like Itzhak Perlman on his Stradivarius and leads them to vote Likud like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Many of his voters know that his years in power have been too many and that the cloud of suspicions enveloping him has grown too thick, but Netanyahu transcends the barriers of their minds and injects his message directly into their veins. Gevalt, he cries, the town is burning and the barbarians are at the gate. He knows that the very thought of the smug smiles and smirking Schadenfreude of the despised media and their leftist backers will suffice to drive his supporters in droves to the polling booths, because loyalty to the tribe comes first."
--Haaretz commentator Chemi Shalev in a column in today's paper.*

"Now it's official – the Likud tried to lower the Arab turnout through illegal means. Hidden cameras, monitoring and voter suppression. This is what de-legitimization of a fifth of the citizenry looks like. What started out as unleashed racist incitement continued in the nation-state law and could end with a transfer government and revoking rights."
--MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Hadash-Ta'al slate, explained that the Likud-backed people showing up with cameras sparked confrontations and riots, which halted the voting process at some polling stations and caused fear among many Arabs who decided to not to go to the polling stations.**

You Must Be Kidding: 
"Thanks to us placing observers in every polling station we managed to lower the voter turnout to under 50 percent, the lowest in recent years!"
--Facebook post of PR company, Kaizler Inbar, boasting that it's stunt lowered voting rates in Arab towns.**

Breaking News:
Updated vote tally could make Likud largest faction in Knesset
Almost complete count from Tuesday election shows Likud at 36 seats, Kahol-Lavan 35. New Right (Hayamin Hadash) unlikely to cross electoral threshold.

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • The battle for the (ministerial) portfolios
  • The last hope - Bennett and Shaked pray that votes (of soldiers) will put them into the Knesset
  • Declaration of war - After the embarrassment following the (mistaken) polls, Kahol-Lavan promises to “make Netanyahu’s life miserable”
  • Tonight: The Genesis spaceship expected to land on the moon
Israel Hayom

Elections 2019 News:
Kahol-Lavan leaders gave their concession speech and vowed to turn the Knesset into a ‘battleground’ while Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu worked on hammering out coalition agreements with the right-wing parties that made it into the Knesset and leaders of the Hayamin Hadash party, Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, waited for the count of the soldiers’ ballots hoping that they would make it over the minimum threshold. (UPDATE: they did not and Bennett called for a recount.)

Netanyahu was expected to make demands from his potential coalition members so that he could continue to serve as Prime Minister, despite the criminal charges he is expected to face pending a hearing that will take place with the Attorney General in July. One report said that he would demand that coalition partners agree to pass a law giving him immunity from criminal charges or that they agree to stay in a coalition with him even as he is indicted. (Maariv) Haaretz+ reported that Netanyahu's lawyers are refusing to pick up the prosecution's massive evidence files until he pays them. However, Maariv wrote that Netanyahu's lawyers asked for a delay because the of the size of the evidence files. Haaretz+ prepared an "Everything You Need to Know About the Prime Minister's Corruption Scandals" article.

**The other big story was that the PR firm behind Likud’s hidden cameras admitted its stunt was designed to lower Arab voters’ participation - and it boasted about it. The storm broke out on Election Day when it was discovered that the Likud party sent over 1,350 people wearing cameras to polling stations - but only to Arab ones. The ‘observers’ sparked confrontations, riots and fear - causing Arab voters to stay away from the polls and leading to the lowest Arab voter turnout in Israel’s history. In 2015, the head of the PR firm, Sagi Kaizler, was documented saying: "Arabs are sitting alone in the polling station, we don't trust them. We let them vote in our country even though it's our country, they should at least vote truthfully." On Election Day in 2015, in his role as settler residents' council chief, Kaizer was behind a film showing left-wing activists as traitors who would end up hanged, using anti-Semitic stereotypes. Yesterday, the firm boasted on its Facebook page: “We managed to lower the (Arab) voter turnout to under 50%, the lowest in recent years!” A Meretz lawmaker urged Israel's Attorney General to probe whether Likud's attempts at voter suppression within the Arab community amount to violation of election law.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said that Netanyahu’s win was a "good sign for peace," and added said, "I’d like to congratulate him on a well-thought-out race," Trump said. Speaking of peace, Trump’s Mideast peace plan will be unveiled only after Netanyahu forms his coalition, according to a Reuters source. Also, of interest, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to back the two-state solution in a testimony to the Senate. “Ultimately the Israelis and Palestinians will decide how to resolve this,” he said.

Election Quickees:
  • **PR Firm Behind Likud's 1350 Hidden Cameras in Arab Polling Sites Boasts of Lowering Voter Turnout - 'We managed to lower the voter turnout to under 50%, the lowest in recent years!' firm boasts on Facebook. Company is headed by Sagi Kaizler, the former head of the northern West Bank residents' council. In 2015, Kaizler was documented saying: "Arabs are sitting alone in the polling station, we don't trust them. We let them vote in our country even though it's our country, they should at least vote truthfully." On Election Day in 2015, in his role as settler residents' council chief, Kaizer was behind a film showing left-wing activists as traitors who would end up hanged, using anti-Semitic stereotypes. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth, p. 10)
  • Israel's Attorney General Urged to Probe Likud Hidden Cameras in Arab Polling Stations - Avichai Mendelblit should check whether Likud's attempts at voter suppression within the Arab community amount to violation of election law, Meretz lawmaker says. (Haaretz+)
  • ‘It Feels Like Memorial Day’: Tel Aviv Residents in Mourning as Netanyahu Triumphs Again - Two-thirds of the city voted for left-wing or center-left parties, bucking the national trend. ‘I don’t see a future. The gap between my values and desires and what the state is doing will only grow,’ sighs one despondent local. (Haaretz+)
  • Arab parties pay the price for the indifference of their voters - Hadash leader Ayman Odeh calls the turnout a 'nightmare' - as joint Balad-Ra'am list apparently fails to pass the threshold; Umm al-Fahm resident: We will teach our politicians a lesson. (Ynet)
  • Arab Votes Saved Meretz, Party Chairwoman Says - Tamar Zandberg tells Haaretz she refuses to quit after party survived 'Kahol Lavan tsunami' and calls for partnership with Arabs to stop demise of the left. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu's Campaign Guru Regrets Only One Thing - Israel Einhorn tells Haaretz it wasn't a dirty trick to brand Benny Gantz as mentally ill and that critics were 'hypocritical' for focusing on Likud's attack videos. (Haaretz+)
  • Minister Yoav Galant apologizes to the left-wing: "I said things that should not have been said" - The minister, who said a few days ago that "the left-wing has nursed its legacy from Stalin and Lenin," apologized in an interview to Channel 12 for his remarks, explaining: "When blood heat up, things are said that are wrong.” (Maariv)
  • 21st Knesset: More ultra-Orthodox, fewer women - Female and ultra-Orthodox MKs will both represent a quarter of the next parliament respectively; first female Haredi MK elected via Blue and White; number of LGBT parliamentarians also on the rise. (Ynet)
  • Ultra-Orthodox Parties Were This Year's Real Winners, Here's Why - In successful night for ultra-Orthodox, Mizrahi Haredi party gets 8 seats, matching its Ashkenazi sister party, United Torah Judaism. (Haaretz+)
  • Union for Reform Jews Congratulates Netanyahu, but Warns of Religious, Anti-democratic Legislation - Meanwhile the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America congratulates Netanyahu on his reelection. (Haaretz+)
  • Election night in pictures - From the triumph kiss of the Netanyahu couple to Gantz's premature victory speech at Blue and White headquarters; these are the images of election night in Israel. (Ynet)
  • How Israeli Arab Voters Saved Meretz, the Druze Got Payback and Kibbutzniks Broke Tradition - Behind the numbers: A deep dive into how Israelis voted in the election. (Haaretz+)
  • Strange bedfellows: United Torah Judaism and the Arab Israeli vote - A number of Israeli Arabs voted for the ultra-Orthodox party after having received assistance from its leader and Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman. (Israel Hayom)
  • Left-wing voters furious over southern residents: "Next time the ‘Red’ siren goes off - shut up" - Some residents of the center did not remain silent and expressed their anger on the social media networks, accusing the residents of the south of voting for the Likud: "Take your Bibi, but don’t say a word.” The surfers are outraged at the choice of residents in Sderot, Ashkelon, Netivot and Be'er Sheva, despite the precarious security situation in these areas, and they accuse them of voting for the same prime minister, which, in their opinion, left the situation unchanged. (Maariv)
  • Tel Aviv Stock Exchange reacts positively to election results - Modest gains show confidence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has overseen a humming economy and restrained security challenges. (Israel Hayom)
  • Record number of 'wasted votes' - Some 325,000 ballots might be essentially useless if the count of over 200,000 double envelopes - which are counted last - proves fruitless for parties failing to pass the electoral threshold; Bennett's New Right party appears to be the only one with a chance to enter Knesset. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu Wins: World's Press Reacts With Very Different Headlines - Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was the first world leader to congratulate Netanyahu on Wednesday morning. (Haaretz)
  • Nasrallah says US-Israel ties ‘unprecedented’ after Netanyahu election win - Hezbollah chief slams US designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terror group, a move which Iranian president says was meant to boost PM’s reelection campaign. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Iran’s Rouhani slams Israel elections as ‘meaningless’ - Rouhani: "Crystal clear" Washington's designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorist organization aimed at paving the way for Netanyahu's re-election • "If they want to hold elections, it's the Palestinians that should vote, not the occupiers," he says. (Israel Hayom)
Quick Hits:
  • Airbnb reverses on delisting Israeli settlements, won't profit off West Bank - Airbnb announced it would donate any profits generated for the company to organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Palestinians condemn Airbnb about-face on de-listing Israeli settlements - Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says decision “signals the complicity of the company with the systematic denial of our inalienable right to self-determination." (Israel Hayom)
  • Cars Vandalized in West Bank Hate Crime on Eve of Israeli Election - Twenty-five vehicles in Palestinian village Ein Yabroud were spray painted with Star of David symbol and 'Revenge' slogans, a week after 150 trees were vandalized in nearby village. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinian Woman Arrested After Pulling a Knife on Israeli Security at Checkpoint - The security forces subdued and arrested the suspect, a resident of Tul Karm. No injuries reported. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Dozens of Israeli settlers storm Al-Aqsa compound and pray in violation of Israel-Jordan agreement - Large groups of Israeli settlers stormed the Al-Aqsa compound through the Moroccan Gate Tuesday (Israeli election day) and performed Talmudic prayers while under the armed protection of Israeli forces and police, who were deployed across the compound. Non-Muslim worship is prohibited according to an agreement signed between Israel and the Jordanian government after Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. (Maan)
  • Students, teachers suffocate as Israeli forces target Hebron schools - Locals reported that Israeli forces heavily fired tear-gas bombs and stun grenades Tuesday targeting the adjacent schools of Hebron Elementary School, Tareq Ben Ziad School, al-Hajriya Elementary School and the Khadija Ben Khweiled Elementary School. (Maan)
  • In video - Palestinian forced to demolish own home near Bethlehem - Locals said Ayman Zreineh demolished his own two-floor home upon receiving an order by Israeli authorities to carry out the demolition within 48 hours, under the pretext that the house was built without an almost impossible to get Israeli-issued building permit. (Maan)
  • Israeli missile targets agricultural lands in central Gaza - Eyewitnesses told Ma'an that an autopilot aircraft targeted and fired one missile towards agricultural lands near the border fence, east of al-Breij, causing material damages. No injuries reported. (Maan)
  • WATCH: Israel's Moon Lander Attempting Historic Touchdown Tonight - Until now, only global superpowers have been able to successfully land an object on the moon. Beresheet could be a trailblazer for future privatization of space exploration. (Haaretz)
  • Who’s Behind anti-LGBT, anti-Reform Signs in Cities? - Huge signs with offensive slogans were posted recently in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area. A Haaretz investigation revealed a number of players involved in the campaigns. (Haaretz)
  • German police raids offices of Islamic organisations suspected of financing Hamas - The organisations say on their websites that they collect donations for people in Gaza, Somalia, Syria and other countries. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia, Turkey, Iran Call for Syrian Territorial Integrity After Golan Recognition - Lawmakers from three countries meet in Moscow for special session on Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Hezbollah Warns U.S. Pressure on Iran Could Backfire - Nasrallah says Iran and its allies may retaliate over U.S. designating Revolutionary Guards as a terror group, says all options are on the table. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Report: Egypt pulls out of US-led anti-Iran security initiative - U.S. has been trying to forge an "Arab NATO," with key allies in Arab world • Sources say Egypt announced decision at meeting in Riyadh on Sunday • Move seen as blow to Trump administration's strategy on Iran. (Israel Hayom)
  • Overlooking human rights concerns, Trump praises Egypt's Sissi as 'great president' - As Egyptian president visits the White House, Pompeo lauds Cairo's actions as support of Israel. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • White House: Trump discussed Iran, human rights with Saudi crown prince - U.S. lawmakers have called on the Trump administration to take a harder line on Saudi Arabia • President Trump says U.S.-Saudi partnership is important both for U.S. economy and Middle East stability. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi-led Coalition Air Strikes Hit Yemeni Capital as Violence Flares - Although a ceasefire agreed in December for Hodeidah largely holds, violence continues elsewhere and has escalated in recent weeks. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu, More Emboldened Than Ever, Will Do Anything to Stop Indictment (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The raison d’etre of Netanyahu’s political existence is to save himself from his pending indictments.
Netanyahu's victory will not change the criminal track that threatens him (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The referendum on the prime minister came out with a draw, which is all victory: Israel is right-wing and this right-wing was not convinced that the time has come to replace him.
Netanyahu's Next Coalition: Annexation for Immunity From Indictment (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) The new Netanyahu government will have two main goals: Get rid of the indictments looming in his future, and annex the settlements to Israel, in coordination with the Trump administration.
Netanyahu's short-lived victory (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister might have secured a fifth term, but it appears he will not be able to put together a coalition sufficiently obsequious to pass legislation to shield him from his legal woes.
Labor's Collapse Proves Liberal Zionism Is Facing an Existential Crisis (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Israel's founding party made its poorest showing yet, while Meretz also lost one seat. The ideology that established Israel now has a very small following.
Labor is relying on its past (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) When all it has left is a desire to join a government and nostalgia for Ben-Gurion, Labor can't contend with all the whimsical, middle-of-the-road parties that pathetically declare there's "no left and no right," and present hollow, one-size-fits-all plans.
Netanyahu Celebrates His Bibistan as the Left Wakes Up to the Dawn of an Old and Darker Day (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Netanyahu played on the heartstrings of his constituents like Itzhak Perlman on his Stradivarius and led them to vote Likud like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The elections are proof that the Israeli public knows how to appreciate Netanyahu's achievements (Meir Uziel, Maariv) Both Likud and Kahol-Lavan have something to be proud of. The ruling party increased its power despite daily accusations and the new rival, Kahol-Lavan, replaced Mapai (Labor party’s old name).
Netanyahu’s fifth mandate: A condemnation of elitism (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Both Right and Left have made immense contributions to this wonderful country. But the Left cannot accept that the people who keep electing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a clearly defined worldview and values, which they refuse to give up.
Hoping to Be Repaid, ultra-Orthodox Parties Embrace Netanyahu Moments After Victory (Israel Cohen, Haaretz+) By immediately supporting Netanyahu after the election, the ultra-Orthodox parties aim to lock Netanyahu in, keeping him from taking unilateral steps without first coordinating with them.
Arab leaders not surprised by Netanyahu win (Smadar Perry, Yedioth/Ynet) From Egypt to Lebanon, no one was amazed by the outcome of the elections, and for some it was even preferable, in advance of Trump's long awaited 'deal of the century.’
Impeccable Timing and Brilliant Campaigning Give Netanyahu His Biggest Win Yet (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) However, it’s no landslide that secured Netanyahu’s spot as Israel’s longest serving prime minister. From the Arabs to the Zionist left and Gantz, a full analysis of Israel’s election results.
Not only will the political issue emerge in the near future, but also the legal one (Ran Edelist, Maariv) On the day after the elections, several right-wing public figures will be required to deal with serious criminal charges. Only the right-wing leadership can form a government and also populate the prisons: President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and MKs Yair Levy, Shlomo Benizri and Omri Sharon. Bassel Ghattas of Balad went to jail for smuggling cell phones to Palestinians who were tried for terror. The Palestinians in the Territories see Ghattas as a hero. Palestinian citizens of Israel think he is stupid, but in no case corrupt. So welcome to the continued plots of the right wing against the legal system. Ahead of Netanyahu's hearing, ahead of the continued investigation of his stocks and the affairs of Aryeh Deri, Haim Katz, David Bitan and Faina Kirschenbaum. So there is something to look forward to.
Netanyahu the 5th Has Already Begun to Rewrite History (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) And if there were any one thing that this election was about, beside the obvious – that is, desperately finding a way to keep the prime minister out of Maasiyahu Prison over graft allegations – it was to secure Netanyahu's legacy, to mold it in the public mind, to burnish it, and, in an astonishing number of ways, to rewrite it. In particular, the history of Israel itself. Netanyahu is betting that the lies will in time be accepted as fact, and become his legacy. Yet, if lessons are to be drawn from the life and works of Richard Nixon, to whom Netanyahu is often compared, it is all too possible that, in the end, the centerpiece of Netanyahu's fundamental legacy may be the depth and breadth of his practice of lying.
Netanyahu Won the Election. Will He Now Dismantle Israel's Democracy? (Daniel Sokatch, Haaretz+) With Trump's blessing, Netanyahu is pushing Israel towards becoming a non-democratic Jewish apartheid state. It just takes one act of hubris that he trial-ballooned during the campaign: annexing the West Bank.
Regime change is vital to democracy (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) When the government does not change for many years, voters begin to get the sense that their vote is of no significance and that those in power are there to stay.
They Say Netanyahu Is a Magician – He’s Much More Than That (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) In no Western country, not even Italy, could a person who is allegedly a serial lawbreaker, on his way to trial and possibly to jail, be elected to the highest office in the land.
Blue and White’s polite incitement (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) The Blue and White party raised the banner of unity, reconciliation and statesmanship in its election campaign. But there was another side to their purported purist rhetoric, one that spoke of the enemy, in other words, the Right.
A Victory for Bibi-ism (Haaretz Editorial) It wasn't the man himself who pulled off his fifth term, but his ideology.
The Competition Was Fierce, but Labor Wins the Humiliation Race (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The party that founded the State of Israel, and which for much of Likud's years in power was the only one with potential to replace it, has fallen to new lows.
Anything goes in New York Times’ coverage of Israel (Tamar Sternthal, Israel Hayom) The paper promises its readers "the world's most trusted perspective." Yet the complete misreading of a rather blatant political ad exposes, once again, the paper's failure to deliver up factual reporting.
A Palestinian Who’s Denied a Vote — and Trapped in Gaza (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Shada Shandghali didn’t cast a ballot Tuesday, and not because her life isn’t deeply connected to Israel. Quite the contrary.

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