News Nosh 5.14.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday May 14, 2019

You Must Be Kidding: 
“I’ve met…every Secretary of State since [George] Shultz and every President since George H.W. Bush.”
--The US rejected the recent visa request of veteran Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, who received her Ph.D in the US and who has visited the US many times, and whose grandchildren live in the US. Ashrawi said no reason was given.*
 
Quote of the day:
"Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance."
Veteran Palestinian politician, Hanan Ashrawi (@DrHananAshrawi) was confounded by the US decision not to give her another visa.*


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • War on the immunity - Race against the Prime Minister’s hearing
  • Netanyahu’s State Comptroller - Former president of Accountants Association, Reuven Shiff, who is an associate of Netanyahu, received PNIYA to serve as State Comptroller
  • Noise, we’re starting - Tonight it is really happening: Eurovision semi-final
  • “I murdered Rachel Heller” - 45 years after murder, 70-year-old went to police and claimed he killed the soldier; His lawyer: He is mentally unstable
  • Wings of hope: At Biblical Zoo, 5 eagle eggs are about to hatch
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Opening song - After a year of preparations, today it begins (Eurovision in Tel-Aviv)
  • “Netanyahu wants to turn us into Turkey”
  • The old man told the police investigators: “45 years ago I murdered Rachel”
Israel Hayom
  • Committee of immunity
  • Storm following Israel Hayom report of plan to limit the judges
  • The necessary correction that’s on the way // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Justice won’t be harmed: Yes to immunity // Haim Shine
  • Israel, the stage is yours (Eurovision 2019)
  • Closing of Temple Mount for use of Jews on Jerusalem Day - unacceptable // Nadav Shragai
  • Expose - Health Ministry will act against doctors who oppose vaccinations
  • Again a crisis with Poland: Visit of Israeli delegation was cancelled - “Because they wanted to discuss restitution of Jewish property”
  • After 45 years: Galilee resident admitted to murder of soldier, Rachel Heller; Family of Amos Baranes, who was convicted of the act and was acquitted: “No consolation”

News Summary:
The battle over Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s immunity, the confession by an elderly man to a 45-year-old murder for which another man sat in jail, and the excitement ahead of the Eurovision semi-finals tonight in Tel-Aviv were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.  Also, Maariv’s gossip columnist ‘reported’ that the daughter of senior Likud MK, Gideon Saar, is dating an Arab-Israeli. She called the girl’s mother, Saar’s ex-wife, to ask how she felt about the relationship. The item never actually mentioned that the newsworthy part was the fact that the boyfriend is Arab and that the girlfriend’s father is a senior Likud member. See below.

The combination of thousands of European tourists in Israel for the Eurovision singing competition and the start of Nakba Day events tomorrow marking the Palestinian people’s 'Catastrophe,' when Israel was created on their homeland, has caused concern. The US has warned US citizens in Israel to exercise extra caution. Israel not only deployed Iron Dome anti-rocket battery systems across the country, it also tightened its protocol on opening fire on Palestinians so as to avoid Israeli killings of Palestinian demonstrators, which could spark another escalation and rockets towards Israel, when its filled with international visitors. [NOTE: The question then should be asked: if it is possible to tell soldiers that they can’t open fire on demonstrators unless its a matter of imminent threat to life, then why wasn’t this done until now? - OH] Marking the 71st Nakba anniversary, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said 13.1 million Palestinians live worldwide since the 1948 Nakba, with more than half of the Palestinian population living in historic Palestine.

With the exception of Israel Hayom, the Hebrew newspapers warned of doom following the reports that Netanyahu was drafting a legislative bill to override High Court rulings, bills to limit the attorney general's powers and grant automatic immunity to MKs. Netanyahu insisted the media was ‘sowing fear’ and that the bill was meant to ‘restore balance.’ But most Israeli commentators and analysts were not convinced. Even the right-wing Yedioth columnist, Ben-Dror Yemini, called it ‘Erdoganization.’ Maariv ran an Op-Ed by Professor Eli Zeltzberger titled, “Clear and Immediate Danger.” It’s main article on the subject was titled with a quote by MK Yair Lapid: “Netanyahu wants to turn Israel into Turkey.” The internal memo that Israel Hayom exclusively obtained shows the government plans to dramatically alter the relationship between the branches of government at the expense of the judicial branch and describes 16 separate measures to bolster lawmakers and weaken courts. It was part of the coalition talks between Likud and the United Right.A political firestorm erupted on Monday after Israel Hayom published an internal memo showing the next government The memo, which lists Blue and White MK Karin Elharrar joined Zandberg, saying, “This is not just some judicial reform plan, it is a plan to eliminate the High Court of Justice and get rid of our gatekeepers, ending the checks and balances and dealing a fatal blow to Israeli democracy.” Ironing out these controversial coalition agreements takes time. Yesterday, President Reuven Rivlin acceded to Netanyahu’s request for a two-week extension to form the next government.Haaretz+ has an explainer on how a broader court override bill would help Netanyahu. Meanwhile, sources in the State Prosecutor's Office told Channel 13 News that “If Netanyahu does not attend the pre-indictment hearing, the following day an indictment will be filed against him.” They said they were furious at the Prime Minister's conduct, saying that he is "making a mockery of the (judicial) system.”(See Maariv)  Also, Yedioth reported that an associate of Netanyahu is a candidate for the position of state comptroller. Reuven Schiff, former president of the Accountants Association, received an official request to serve in the senior position.

“Get to know the new boyfriend of Gideon Sa'ar’s daughter”
Alona, the daughter of Gideon Sa'ar from his first marriage has a new boyfriend. Why is that interesting? Get Liora's scoop.
(Translation of gossip article on Maariv’s gossip website.)
 While Knesset Member Gideon Saar is waiting for his appointment in the government, which today received a two-week extension from President Reuven Rivlin, Liora reveals exclusively that Sa'ar's youngest daughter from his first marriage to Shelly, Alona, who is an actress and student at Yoram Levinstein's acting school, is dating a student who studies with her, the actor Amir Khoury, who acted in the series "The Greenhouse" and “Fawda".
Shelly Saar, how do you feel about your daughter's boyfriend?
“They are a charming couple, I love both of them very much."
 Sa'ar is now married to former former news anchorwoman, Geula Even, is one of the most popular politicians in the Likud and among right-wing voters, and although he is considered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opponent, he was ranked high in the party's primaries and is expected to be appointed in the next government. Saar is considered one of the strongest opponents to leaving [African -OH] refugees in the country, and claims that this is a problem that must be solved soon, while sending the infiltrators back to their countries. Gideon Saar's response has not yet been received
 
Quick Hits:
  • Israel to Close Temple Mount for Jews on Jerusalem Day for First Time in 30 Years - Police say they plan to prevent Jews from visiting the site because the holiday will coincide with final days of Ramadan ■ Activists vow to fight decision. (Haaretz+)
  • *U.S. Rejects Top Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi's Visa Request - Ashrawi, who in the past met with U.S. presidents and senior officials, says no reason was given for refusal. State Department says it does not refuse visas based solely on political views if they are 'lawful in the United States.’ (Haaretz+, JPost and Maariv)
  • Palestinian PM: Israel wants to destroy our economy - Palestinian Authority asks World Bank to monitor Jewish state’s policy of withholding tax transfers over PA payments for attacks against Israelis. (Ynet)
  • Over one million Palestinians in Gaza to not have enough food by June - UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. From fewer than 80,000 Palestine refugees receiving UNRWA social assistance in Gaza in the year 2000, there are today over one million people who need emergency food assistance without which they cannot get through their day. (Maan)
  • Security Cooperation With PA Could Decline Within Three Months, Intel Officials Warn - Intelligence sources warned Israel's leaders of escalating tensions in the West Bank and the undermining of the PA’s status as a result of the economic crisis, the pending U.S. peace plan and Hamas’ recent 'point-scoring' against Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • UN Middle East envoy warns of war between Israel, Hamas - Speaking at the inauguration of a solar power plant for a hospital in the Gaza Strip, Nickolay Mladenov says "risk of war remains imminent." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • EU contributes over €20 million for vulnerable Palestinian families - EU’s contribution of €20 million and Ireland’s €275,000 will cover the social allowances of around 76,700 families of which 77% live in the Gaza Strip. (Maan)
  • EU pledges to cover PA salaries and pensions for April - Move will compensate for the Palestinian Authority's decision to cut the salaries of its public employees by 50% to maintain its "pay-for-slay" program, after Israel began withholding tax revenues earlier this year. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli bulldozers raze, level lands in northern Gaza - Sources added that Israeli military bulldozers razed and leveled the lands while drones flew overhead. The practice has in effect destroyed much of the agricultural and fishing sector of the blockaded coastal enclave. (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers chop down dozens of trees near Nablus - Rashed Marar, head of Yanun village council, said a number of Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Hill 777, north of the village, chopped down dozens of the village's almond trees. Marar said he was unable to reach the area due to Israeli forces surrounding the trees and providing protection to the settlers. (Maan)
  • Israel detains Palestinian activist, 7 journalists in Jordan Valley - Israeli forces detained seven Palestinian journalists and a human rights activist who were covering the Israeli forces’ eviction of 15 Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley Sunday, to make way for military exercises. (Maan)
  • ‘Deal of the century’ will leave settlements in Israeli hands - report - Likud MK Michal Shir thanked President Donald Trump for what she called “the historical justice he is doing for the State of Israel.” (JPost)
  • “It is impossible to solve the Palestinian issue at the expense of the Arab states " - The head of the Arab affairs committee in the Egyptian parliament, Gen. Saad Al-Gamal, vehemently denied the reports in the Israeli media that according to the ’Deal of the Century’ Egypt will transfer Egyptian land to the Palestinians.  “The Israeli leaks are part of a test of the pulse and the public Egyptian response is that Egypt will not concede a single inch of its land,” he said. (Maariv)
  • Greenblatt: Peace plan ‘won’t compromise on Israel’s security’ - Trump's special envoy says plan will be revealed only after Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Ramallah's boycott of U.S. peace efforts will come "at the expense of everyday Palestinians," he warns. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel: No Link Between Gun Ownership and Domestic Murders - Defending the easing of gun permit criteria, state tells court there is no factual basis for claims that increased rates of Israelis owning guns contribute to domestic violence. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Right-wing NGO Publishes Details on Dozens of Left-leaning Academics - Im Tirtzu publishes contact information of some 80 faculty members which it claims expressed anti-Israeli opinions or refused to serve in the military. Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities condemns 'intimidation.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Ministry trolls BDS supporter -  Internet users seeking information regarding boycotting the Eurovision in Tel Aviv got a surprise when their search took them to a website about how Beautiful, Diverse and Sensational Israel is. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Poland nixes Israeli delegation visit in row over Holocaust compensation - Warsaw says it has no interest in discussing property restitution, which appeared to be focus of trip following last-minute changes by Jerusalem; Polish PM: We will not pay compensation for property lost during World War II, we were also victims of Nazis. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Labor to Move Up Primaries After Suffering Major Loss in Knesset Election - The party’s central committee will convene next month to set a date for the primaries after the party reached an all-time low, falling short of its projected 15 Knesset seats with six. (Haaretz+)
  • Nasrallah Reveals New Details About Ambush, Killing of 12 Israeli Commandos - Hezbollah chief reveals how the Israeli soldiers were tracked in Lebanon in 1997 and offers hints about a mysterious murder of a militant leader in Syria. (Haaretz+)
  • Syrian troops capture 2 villages in last rebel stronghold - Much of Idlib is controlled by the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham insurgent group. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Democrats say Trump, GOP, twisting Tlaib’s Holocaust remarks - Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she gets "a calming feeling" when she thinks of "the tragedy of the Holocaust," the suffering of her Palestinian ancestors, and the new state of Israel. "Policing my words, twisting and turning them to ignite vile attacks on me will not work," she says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pompeo Shares Details on 'Escalating' Iran Threats in Brussels - U.S. envoy said secretary of state discussed sabotaged oil tankers off UAE coast with NATO allies en route to meeting with Russian president and foreign minister. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Initial U.S. Assessment Blames Iran for Ship Attacks Off the UAE Coast, Official Says - Each ship has a 5- to 10-foot hole in it, near or just below the water line, and the U.S. team’s early belief is that the holes were caused by explosive charges, American official says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Two Saudi oil tankers targeted in Sunday's 'sabotage attack' near Iran - Saudi energy minister says one vessel was to be loaded with oil for delivery to the United States ■ Kingdom expresses support for United Arab Emirates after attack of its coast. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Arab League condemns attacks on Saudi tankers - After Saudi Arabia announces "significant damage" to two of its oil tankers off the coast of the UAE, the U.S. issues a new warning to sailors and Iran calls for "further clarification" of the incident. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Insists on Ramping Up Oil Sales to Stay in Nuclear Pact - The United States reimposed sanctions in November on exports of Iranian oil after U.S. President Donald Trump last spring unilaterally pulled out of the 2015 accord. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi ship, blocked from loading arms cargo in France, arrives at Spanish port - The Saudi vessel Bahri-Yanbu arrived at the Spanish port of Santander without the weapons it was charged with collecting. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Egyptian actress faces backlash after appearing in blackface - After Shimaa Seif performs demeaning imitation of Sudanese woman, Sudanese refugees and migrants in Egypt, who have long complained of bigotry, call to boycott the TV station that ran the sketch. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt's New Desert Capital Faces Delays as It Battles for Funds - Once elegant Cairo exploded into sprawling conurbation. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Commentary/Analysis:
Evangelicals and Empty Promises: A Year After Trump’s Embassy Move, Only One Country Has Followed U.S. to Jerusalem (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) 12 months ago, President Donald Trump broke one of the international community’s greatest taboos. However, despite Benjamin Netanyahu’s best efforts to leverage the historic moment, Guatemala is the only other state to have followed suit. Here’s why.
The siege on Gaza is not the way to get the bodies of the dead and the prisoners returned (Menachem Ben, Maariv) The root of the siege and the crisis with the Gaza Strip is the adoption of the approach of the bereaved Goldin family to torture Gaza until Hamas says "I will” and returns the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. But that will not happen. The siege on Gaza is not the way to return the bodies of the dead as well as the prisoners (not the POWs!), who are reportedly mentally unstable, such that they each crossed the border of their own volition (and therefore we owe them nothing), including Avraham Mengistu and Hisham Sha’aban a-Sayyid…So Israel insists on its justness: we will continue torturing Gaza under siege until it returns the "POWs and MIAs.” This is the concept of Prof. Goldin…Meanwhile, the entire south and Israel as a whole are facing Gaza and Hamas in a war situation, rising and falling, which has been going on for more than a year. And except for a frontal war against Hamas and the invasion of Gaza (which is perhaps the only option left in the current situation), Israel can not really stop the fire. This will be stopped for the long term only when the Gazans and Hamas really have nothing to lose. That is, only when the siege on Gaza is really stopped. Therefore, to start from the end, Israel must reach an immediate and generous arrangement with Gaza, regardless of the question of the dead and the prisoners…It is precisely the recent case in which the remains of the fallen soldier Zecharia Baumel were returned after 37 years of his absence from Sultan Yaakoub (in Lebanon) that proves that it is not urgent to return the dead…Yes, it is important and holy to bring the fallen to the grave of Israel, but why not wait patiently for a future deal that will allow this? Would anyone have thought that Israel would have been called upon to continue the war with Syria until the body of Zecharia Baumel, or the distinguished spy Eli Cohen, who was executed in Syria in 1965, was returned to Israel and since then Israel has signed several agreements with Syria without his body being returned?…It would have been preferable, of course, if Israel had completely and once and for all destroyed the firepower of Hamas and all its missiles, but if Israel is unable to decide on this, it must at least allow itself and Gaza residents to live independently of our dead heroes.
The Ultimate Deal: Netanyahu’s Freedom for His Citizens’ Liberty (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Neutering the High Court of Justice would place Israel among countries such as Hungary and Turkey that are rapidly shifting from democracy to authoritarianism.
Netanyahu stalling for time refuses to face the charges against him (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The new Knesset will pass a law to protect Prime Minister Netanyahu from prosecution but what price will the Israeli public have to pay in religious and far-right interests.
The Law Against Democracy (Haaretz Editorial) The bill’s purpose goes far beyond limiting the ability to determine the guilt of politicians suspected of corruption in general; it creates an escape route from the law for the criminal suspect in the prime minister’s residence. The proposed amendment, which would in part grant Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, undermines the Basic Law on the Judiciary, so sacred to the rule of law in Israel. It would deny the High Court of Justice of the authority to rule on the constitutionality of decisions made by the Knesset — including not only laws but also matters such as removing an MK’s immunity. The High Court would not have the authority to deliberate on the constitutionality of resolutions passed by cabinet ministers, ministerial committees and the cabinet. The right to file a so-called public petition, in cases where a governmental decision injures an entire population but a single individual cannot be named, would also be rescinded.
Netanyahu's on a Quest for Survival, and the Hell With Israeli Democracy (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu did nothing for 10 years, but things have changed. Now it’s his own neck on the line, and suddenly Israel is ripe for a judicial revolution to override the High Court.
Jew-hatred given a pass by Democratic Congress (Carol Greenwald, Israel Hayom) There is a new tone in American politics, in the media and on university campuses – one that should scare every American Jew.
Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism wins the pop-culture primary (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) The real defeat for those who worry about the legitimization of Jew-hatred wasn’t in Congress but on the late-night comedy television shows.
It’s Not Surrender to the Settlers, It's Israeli Policy (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Attributing an official and consistent policy to “surrender” to the power of a specific group of people was already wrong and deceptive back in the ‘70s immediately after the Six-Day War. The massive land grab in Jerusalem and its surroundings and in the Jordan Valley prove it. But at the time at least a majority of Israel’s Jews weren’t trapped in the messianic real estate project of the Greater Land of Israel, and there was the impression that this majority would support a full withdrawal in return for peace. But (today) most of the Jewish public now sees the Jordan Valley, Area C (61 percent of the West Bank) and the area beyond the separation barrier as part of the State of Israel. The talk about the government’s surrender to the settlers also exposes a denial of the similarity and continuity between the land grab stunts implemented in the occupied territory and those in force inside Israel proper. Here, the Palestinians citizens of Israel, whom we failed to banish, are also doomed to living in densely populated enclaves. The word “surrender” lifts responsibility from the Jewish Israeli public and from key Jewish figures and organizations in the Diaspora who support Israel’s policy of forcing the Palestinians out from their space.
Breaking the Silence harms Israel with attempts to politicize Eurovision (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The prestigious song contest is traditionally an apolitical event, which is essentially a tourism ad for the host country, even right-wing hardliners like Miri Regev understand that; the anti-occupation group, however, want Europeans to stay biased against Israel.
Netanyahu’s assault on judiciary will lead to rule without restraint (Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) For those who seek unlimited power, neutralizing the High Court makes sense as it will rescue Netanyahu from the charges against him. This must be stopped.
Fighting anti-Semitism, supporting Israel (France’s Ambassador to Israel, Hélène Le Gal, Israel Hayom) Those, like Israel Hayom correspondent Eldad Beck who claim France's policies are hostile to Israel and the Jews, have forgotten history and reality.
The Other Threat That Both Muslim and Jewish Women Face (Elizabeth Arif-Fear, Haaretz+) Jews and Muslims face a common struggle against white supremacists. Now Jewish and Muslim women are building another form of solidarity: jointly facing the discrimination within our own communities that denies us religious and ritual equality.
Israel Should Talk to Hamas' Leader in Gaza (Ronit Marzan, Haaretz+) In 2006, when Sinwar was imprisoned in Israel, he told journalist Yoram Binur that Hamas wouldn’t recognize Israel, but he also admitted that Hamas had no chance of destroying Israel, and that he was willing to support a long-term truce that would bring calm and prosperity to the region. Sinwar made clear that this would be tough going, but when a hudna was achieved, his side would respect it, and maybe it could continue through another generation. That interview was highly indicative of the changes penetrating the language of struggle, both his own and that of his Hamas comrades. These people have gone from being members of the Muslim Brotherhood to fighters in the Palestinian national liberation movement. Their grand vision – of liberating all Palestine from the river to the sea – is now accompanied by a more practical and modest vision of an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty along the 1967 borders. They have replaced the rhetoric of a to-the-death religious war against the Jews and absolute opposition to peace initiatives and international conferences with a rhetoric of a diplomatic struggle alongside the armed one – this time not against Jews but against the Zionist occupation. Even Sinwar’s youngest son, who was photographed in a uniform holding a toy rifle during a military clash, appeared in a suit and pink tie at the May 2017 ceremony where the new Hamas policy document was presented.
Ramadan introspection for Hamas? Not likely (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Paradoxically, the dollars funneled into Gaza by Qatar only expedite Gaza's descent into decay, as it keeps Hamas in power.
Iran's nuclear standoff has left it in a bind (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet)Tehran's 60-day ultimatum to Europe, China and Russia to renegotiate the 2015 agreement brokered by Obama and rejected by Trump could leave the Islamic Republic with no option but to go cap in hand to the Americans, unless the ayatollahs are playing a more dangerous game.
Not Interested in War With U.S., Iran Walks a Tightrope (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) An escalation with Washington could turn Iranian citizens against their rulers and neutralize Tehran's diplomacy of intimidation – but the Trump administration's lack of strategy may spark a conflict.
Time to end the Falash Mura charade (Danny Adeno Abebe, Yedioth/Ynet) The entire mechanism of bringing to Israel those Ethiopians whose ancestors were once Jews is a money-making exercise that takes advantage of the poor and desperate in order to line the pockets of the uncaring and unscrupulous.

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