News Nosh 5.22.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday May 22, 2019
Quote of the day:
"Everyone (almost) thinks Israel needn’t seek a peace accord in the foreseeable future; everyone (almost) is sure there’s no partner. Everyone (almost) supports hawkishness toward Iran and harsh blows in Gaza, believes Europe is anti-Semitic and admires Donald Trump."
--Commentator Rami Livni writes that in contrast to the popular belief that Israeli society is divided, the differences between Israelis are actually shrinking.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Immunity on a bypass road
  • Exclusive - In Facebook Headquarters: This is how they decide who to block and what to delete
  • Danger - Through the eyes of the crane operators
  • Fear: Flu vaccines at schools will be canceled
  • Study: Trend of pupils in Israel getting fatter
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “State Comptroller deal with review - not with law enforcement” - Matanyahu Engelman, the leading candidate for the position of state comptroller, speaks
  • Dearest commanders: This time, you made a mistake // Gershon Hacohen reacts to the warning by the “Commanders for the Security of Israel”
  • Heatwave - Lighting (bonfire for Lag B’Omer) and being careful
  • “We will still fight to get home” - Jonathan Pollard gave an interview to Channel 12 News
  • Unity or division: Starting tomorrow - Fateful elections for European Parliament
  • Because of an inheritance dispute: 67-year-old suspected of murdering his 61-year-old brother
  • The crane disaster: Moving call to go to funeral of Sergei Samionov, one of the four killed this week

News Summary:
The storm at the submitting of the amendment to the immunity law expected to prevent Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from facing the law, the criticism by the outgoing State Comptroller of the coalition’s candidate to be the next State Comptroller over lack of transparency in the past (Maariv), and the concern over a heat wave that starts today, on the eve of Lag B’Omer holiday, when Jews light bonfires were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Likud MK and Netanyahu loyalist, Miki Zohar, insisted he was not Netanyahu’s “messenger boy” after a storm broke out when he submitted the bill to amend the Immunity Law, which would give Netanyahu immunity from the three corruption cases he faces. Zohar also declared that Netanyahu’s case proves that the amendment was necessary “because it’s the first time that a man is accused of bribery when he did not receive a penny to his pocket.” Raz Nazri, the deputy attorney general, slammed Zohar’s remarks, Maariv reported. “The Attorney General’s decisions are made on the basis of his professional role and what is presented to him.  I do not recall a case in which the Knesset committee debated whether  there is or isn’t evidence…To come and claim that the Attorney General is committing political persecution is something that should not be said.” Haaretz+ reported that sources in the Likud believe that Netanyahu will likely not promote the new so-called immunity law, due to the controversy even in his own party and also his promise prior to the elections that he wouldn’t. Instead, he will focus on making it harder for the High Court to overturn legislation. MaarivOnline quoted former senior IDF commander, Brig. Gen. Ilan Paz, who said about the immunity law amendment and the High Court overriding law: "I feel that the state is being stolen.”
Quick Hits:
  • Netanyahu rebuffs letter of former security officials warning of annexation - In a letter to Netanyahu first reported on by Channel 12, Commanders for Israel’s Security, which describes itself as a nonpartisan body of nearly 300 retired senior officers, urged him to hold a public referendum before making any moves to annex such territory, which they opposed. Hitting back at the” Commanders for Israel’s Security” (CIS) group,  Netanyahu said that “The region in Judea and Samaria is not just a guarantee for Israel’s security, it’s also the inheritance of our ancestors.” (Times of Israel and JPost)
  • Israeli Government Admits Journalists Beaten by Soldiers in 2015 Didn’t ‘Lead Riot’ - At the demonstration on April 24, 2015, after soldiers fired live bullets at teens throwing rocks, two soldiers approached the two photographers, Abbas Mumani and Haim Schwarczenberg, and told them to leave. Video showed the soldiers, including two officers, hitting and cursing at photographers, with one soldier throwing a rock at a photographer. Photographers receive $2,500 settlement. (Haaretz+ and YOUTUBE)
  • (Female) American-Israeli soldier commits suicide in third case of 2019 - Israeli military denies 'worrying trend' after Michaela Levit, a 19-year-old combat soldier, whose parents live abroad, dies by suicide. Levit, whose parents reside in Miami, moved to Israel in 2017 and served in the mixed-gender Caracal combat battalion. (JTA, Haaretz and JPost)
  • Assessments in Israel: Even if progress is made, the violence on the Gaza border fence will continue - The security establishment believes that the mass demonstrations will not stop. The reason: The severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip requires Hamas to channel the unrest towards Israel. (Maariv)
  • Israel Expands Gaza Fishing Zone 'To Avoid Humanitarian Deterioration' amid reports of six-month truce - Following cease-fire, the move is 'part of a policy that differentiates between terrorist activities and an uninvolved civilian population,' Israeli military says. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel Says It Will Return Dozens of Seized Fishing Boats to Gazans - Israel agreed to return the boats after two Israeli human rights organizations, Gisha and Adalah, and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip, filed a petition to the High Court on behalf of Gazan fisherman Abed Almoati Habil, whose boat was seized by the Israeli navy in September 2016. Petition submitted after navy agreed to return boat, but over land and at the expense of the fisherman. Habil also claimed that Israel refused to return or explain the absence of $150,000 worth of equipment that had been on board. The state failed to announce a timetable for the return. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Israel to demolish playground in unrecognized Bedouin village - The state has no plans to evacuate Rakhma, a community of 850 people in Israel's south, but it blocks any new construction, such as that of a children's playground deemed a 'public safety hazard' by inspectors. (Haaretz+)
  • 10 U.S.-made Armored Vehicles Transferred to Palestinian Authority With Israel's Approval - The cars, passed into Palestinian territory at the beginning of 2019, were provided following a U.S. demand and amid risk of deterioration in the security coordination. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • IDF lets off easy career personnel who are sex offenders: “Lowering their rank is a real punishment for those who have tied their fate to the army" = Double standards in the army: Soldier speaking disrespectfully to a commander may send him to prison. On the other hand, in the sentence of a civilian employee of the IDF, who was convicted of sex offenses against female soldiers, an IDF policy was presented, according to which it’s enough to fire career personnel and demote them. Career personnel stood by their friend: “He is a moral figure.” (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israel wraps up second-highest defense export year in past decade - Sales to the international market in 2018 surpassed $7.5 billion, Defense Ministry says. Asia and the Pacific region lead the way in purchasing Israeli defense products (46%), followed by Europe (26%), North America (20%), South America (6%) and Africa (2%). (Israel Hayom)
  • Knesset Legal Counsel Criticizes Nixing of Minister Limit as Deadline to Form Gov't Approaches - Legal counsel Gur Blay calls the process 'inadvisable and undesirable,' but emphasizes it is not technically illegal. (Haaretz+)
  • Meretz facing internal pressure to become Jewish-Arab party - As the Zionist left struggles to stay relevant, some members of Meretz are proposing a new way forward. (+972mag)
  • The first female Druze MK: "Am I a citizen who is not equal enough?" - Ghadir Kemal Marih made the her first speech in the Knesset in which she called for amending the Jewish Nation-State law and introducing the value of equality: "I am ashamed. My first legislative bill will be to correct (the law).” (Maariv)
  • Jonathan Pollard says Israel ‘missed’ opportunities to bring him back - Pollard, who was paroled in 2015 after serving nearly 30 years in prison for spying on behalf of Israel, says "there's always something" that keeps Israel from making his return a priority. Prime Minister's Office: Netanyahu has raised the matter many times to the U.S. President. (Israel Hayom)
  • Evangelical Church Postpones pro-Israel Event After Israeli Diplomats Attend Miami Pride Parade - Pastor Alberto Delgado, who leads the Alpha and Omega Church in Miami, decided to delay event amid concerns that 'Israeli participation in the pride parade will hurt the support for Israel’. (Haaretz+)
  • Power to the Shekel: Israel’s Currency Is One of the World’s Strongest, Again - Annual economic growth topping 3 percent and a low debt-to-GDP ratio of 61 percent can’t help but impress, even if slower global growth is set to take a slight toll in Israel. (Haaretz)
  • Poland Entitled to Seek German WWII Reparations, Says Official - Berlin insists Poland waived such rights in 1953, while under Moscow's control. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Majority of Congress Urges Trump to Safeguard Israel’s Interests as Syrian War Ends - 'With the region in flux, it remains critical that we reiterate to both friend and foe in the region that we continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself,' bipartisan letter reads. (JTA, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Bahrain Stresses Commitment to Palestinian State After Backlash Over U.S.-led Peace Conference, Defends Decision - Planned conference, where economic parts of the American plan are set to be revealed, 'serves no other purpose' than supporting Palestinian economy, foreign minister says. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Bomb-laden drones of Iran-backed Yemen rebels threaten Arabian Peninsula - The drone attacks come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S., a year after President Donald Trump pulled America out of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran: Today's situation isn't suitable for talks, resistance is our only choice - President Rouhani said he favors talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions. His statement comes following Trump's warning to the Islamic Republic, saying attacks on American interests in the region would be met with 'great force.’ (Ynet)

Elderly Russian Immigrants and Cows — Visiting the Golan Site Earmarked for ‘Trumpville’
‘If we get all of this because Netanyahu wants to make Trump happy, that’s fine with us,’ says local council rep in Golan Heights as plans ramp up for ‘new’ neighborhood honoring U.S. president. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)
Mizrahi rebel: Bidding farewell to an Israeli Black Panther
Kochavi Shemesh, one of the legendary leaders of the Israeli Black Panthers, believed that the liberation of Mizrahim was bound up with the freedom of Palestinians, black South Africans, and other oppressed people. He passed away last week at the age of 75. (Asaf Shalev, +972mag)
Haaretz Photo Blog Seen From Above: Shedding New Light on Familiar Israeli Landscape
Lawyer Adam Shpigel discovered drone photography and started to look at 'even the normal and boring places that we pass by every day' from a different angle. (Daniel Tchetchik, Haaretz+)

The Trump Team Didn’t Invent ‘Economic Peace’ — Blame the International Community (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Jared Kushner and Co. deserve some credit for brushing away some of the doublespeak and diplomatic myths that have characterized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent years.
What does Trump hope to achieve in Bahrain? (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) The Palestinians, who are boycotting the conference, are looking ahead towards a different, substantive peace plan that will include the important issues - including Jerusalem and refugees.
Jordan May Be the Weakest Link in Trump’s Peace Initiative (Amos Harel, Haaretz+)  A report by a former Israeli ambassador in Amman points to the taboo issue of the kingdom’s very stability.
Palestinians need a state, not a 'business plan' (Sam Bahour, +972mag) Jared Kushner believes the first stage to peace is investing capital in Gaza and the West Bank. But just how far can that investment go when Israel is determined to maintain full control of and exploit every aspect of the Palestinian economy?
Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ Is Coming. Israel Is Already Being Handed the Bill (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is likely to sacrifice Israel’s interests in industries like potato chips or milk and not risk its security interests, including the high-tech sector.
Israel doesn't have to be an apartheid state (Zehava Galon, +972mag) It is our duty to take every opportunity to say to the world that the occupation is not Israel, that we are not willing to continue imposing military rule on another people any longer.
Annexation is in Israel’s national interest (Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Israel Hayom) The results of the last election have shown that despite our nation's deep appreciation for the people who dedicated their lives to defending the country, a vast majority of Israelis have come to realize they would be better off not adhering to their recommendations for territorial withdrawal.
Delighted by the Downfall of Austria’s Far Right? Hold On (Esther Solomon, Haaretz+) We’ve prematurely celebrated the demise of Austrian Nazis one too many times. Despite the graft-and-corruption scandal that's just ousted the Freedom Party from government, has anything really changed?
What Israel owes to Diaspora Jewry (Shlomo Pyuterkovsky, Yedioth/Ynet) Most Israelis do not believe that our brethren abroad should have a say in how the country is run, and often only think of them when there is an anti-Semitic attack; but this is a wrong-headed approach, which needs to be corrected before it is too late.
*Israel's Melting Pot Has Won (Rami Livni, Haaretz+) The differences between us are shrinking; the melting pot won. Not the melting pot of the Labor Party, which demanded spiritual elevation and radical self-change, but a de facto melting pot in which all layers of society are swept toward a lowest common denominator of ultranationalism-religiosity-money-trash culture. The last election, a contest between the right and the center-right, expressed the blocs’ historic ideological similarity, the growing consensus and the disappearance of genuine debate on once-divisive issues, such as the conflict with the Palestinians or the Haredi draft. Everyone (almost) thinks Israel needn’t seek a peace accord in the foreseeable future; everyone (almost) is sure there’s no partner. Everyone (almost) supports hawkishness toward Iran and harsh blows in Gaza, believes Europe is anti-Semitic and admires Donald Trump. Everyone (almost) supports removing Israel’s Arab citizens from the political game and only a few, despite the outcry from the left, are really upset by the threats to shatter Israel’s democracy. Everyone thinks Benjamin Netanyahu is all in all a good prime minister, except for the corruption. That’s not a rift. It’s (almost) harmony.
The decision on the Immunity Law must be made by an anonymous vote (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) Benny Begin, one of the last of the honest Likudniks, said that “the Prime Minister hiding behind immunity is a corrupt act. Those who support his attempt to escape justice are betraying their positions.”
What about northern Samaria? (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) Late PM Ariel Sharon's decision to evacuate four settlements in northern Samaria won Israel no points in the international arena. It did, however, hurt settlers, who believe the destruction of their homes was completely unnecessary.
A message for Israel's new foreign minister (Ron Prosor, Yedioth/Ynet)  The diplomatic corps has been stripped of its responsibilities, money and future, but a new person at the top may be able to make it relevant once again, if he or she decides to.
Netanyahu Is Too Distracted to Face the Threats at Israel's Doorstep (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A heavy cloud is gathering over the Persian Gulf whose implications for Israel could be disastrous. In Jordan, public protests are rising over high unemployment and corruption. The Palestinian Authority is on the brink of economic and political collapse. American assistance has been frozen, foreign investments aren’t coming in. Gaza is receiving generous aid from Qatar but that money can’t calm the mood for long. If Israel doesn’t make good on its commitments to Hamas via Egypt, which include a significant easing of the closure and the beginning of reconstruction in the Strip, the next round won’t be far off.  In the face of these warning signs, Israel has no coherent policy or reliable strategy. But the most dangerous threat is the lack of Israeli leaders who can navigate these mine fields. The country is being run by a prime minister (who’s also defense minister) enmeshed in legal issues and busy giving gifts and favors to vultures seeking to gorge at the state coffers while he’s planning his and his family’s survival.
It’s time to stop reporting every nonsense that comes out of Yair Netanyahu's mouth (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) The message that is important to convey is that anyone who wants to reach the traditional media and express an opinion in a dignified manner should learn to speak like a human being.
If the Gulf crisis worsens, Israel won’t be able to keep out (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) As the Persian Gulf crisis continues, Iran is openly threatening that if a full-scale military conflict between it and the U.S. erupts, U.S. allies in the region – including Saudi Arabia and Israel – will pay the price.
Israel’s Attorney General Better Not Let Netanyahu Fool Him (Haaretz Editorial) In late February, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his decision to put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing. Mendelblit innocently agreed that those 90 days would begin the day after the April 9 general election, and then, at Netanyahu’s lawyers’ request, it was delayed to July 10th and now Netanyahu’s lawyers requested to delay it by at least a year. Don’t be fooled, Mendelblit. Netanyahu has a political agenda. He seeks a delay in the hearing and the decision whether to try him until he has enough time to arrange immunity for himself with a little help from his new coalition partners. He also wants a so-called override clause to prevent the Supreme Court from interfering with an illegal decision by the Knesset to block an indictment of the prime minister. Netanyahu’s refusal to pay his lawyers (supposedly while waiting for the state comptroller’s permits committee to approve funds from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky to cover the fees) is part of this strategy, as is the fresh request for a postponement.
The worst crime in the Arab sector (Yoseph Haddad, Israel Hayom) Rather than advocate for their constituencies, Arab MKs busy themselves with provocations and external matters, ignoring the high rate of violence and serious socio-economic issues Israel's Arab population faces. [NOTE: Oddly, this was written despite Arab MKs speaking out against the violence. See Monday and Tuesday Noshes on murders in Arab sector. - OH]
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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