News Nosh 5.23.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday May 23, 2019
 
Quote of the day:
“I will tell them about myself, I’ll listen to them, and I’ll tell them - let’s live together in peace.”
--Mika Cohen, 15, from a moshav near the Gaza Strip, has hopes for her meeting with Arab youth at an international leadership conference in New York.*


Front Page:
Haaretz
  • Attorney General postponed Netanyahu’s hearing by three months
  • The coalition is hoping for a weak state comptroller and is likely to get him // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • IDF tells political echelons: Abbas is not expected to retract his absolute opposition to the “Deal of the Century” // Amos Harel
  • Despite the reform in the IDF, IDF’s Military Police Investigations still focuses on enforcement against crimes of light drugs
  • High Court changed its ruling allowed, which allowed forced hospitalization of young man who did not suffer from mental disorder
  • Yossi Verter of Haaretz and Roni Linder of TheMarker won the Sokolov Prize (for journalism)
  • Minuscule fury // Gideon Levy
  • Empty vessels // Zehava Galon writes that to survive in the Likud party of today, Miri Regev and her friends must eradicate any trace of independent thinking
  • Above the law - High Court ruled to register children of single-sex families, but the Interior Ministry is adamant not to fulfill the guideline
  • A peek at the IDF cyber school, which turns soldiers into hacking expert of computer systems
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • On the way to a government: Liberman closed on the Defense Ministry portfolio
  • A big hilulah (celebration) tonight - Masses flocked to Mt. Miron last night to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday today
  • The investigators followed after 4-year-old and 5-year-old children - Unbelievable: Health Ministry’s insurance company sent investigators to kindergartens (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • (Coalition talks) Progress with the ultra-Orthodox; Efforts on the issue of the military draft - Likud and ultra-Orthodox concluded: Urgent public works on Shabbat - in liaison with the Rabbinate
  • “The Palestinians will be making a mistake if they don’t come to Bahrain” - US Special Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt
  • Exclusive - The property crimes decreased, computer crimes increased, according to police
  • Hot and flammable  - Lag B’Omer bonfire festivities around the country
  • Jump in number of fines for electric bicycle riders
  • L’Chaim: Researchers made Egyptian beer from yeast that was thousands of years old
  • It’s not concern over, but rather frustration with the democracy // Eitan Lipsker
  • The point that Belarus gave to (Israeli Eurovision singer) Kobi Marimi was revoked [it was the only point Israel received - OH]

News Summary:
Significant progress toward a coalition government with MK Avigdor Lieberman likely returning to the job that he quit, while the Attorney General agreed to postpone the pre-indictment hearing again for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and people in the judicial system fear this will give Netanyahu time to wiggle out of being put on trial, as the protests expand against his assumed plans to pass laws to limit High Court powers and receive immunity from the law - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers, along with the mass celebrations for the Lag B’Omer holiday. 

Time is what Netanyahu needs and is getting - although not as much as he’d like - to form a coalition government and pass the laws that will prevent the state from putting him on trial for corruption. With five days to go before the extended deadline to form a governing coalition, the papers say Netanyahu has made progress with the ultra-Orthodox parties and with Yisrael Beiteinu leader, Avigdor Lieberman, who will - ironically - get his old job back. Lieberman quit as Defense Minister in November because he advocated pounding Gaza to stop violence, instead of a truce that eases the siege and improves the humanitarian situation. Unable to function with a narrow  61-59 seat government, Netanyahu decided to go to early elections.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit agreed to postpone Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing by another three months to October 2nd. It was not the 12 months that Netanyahu's lawyers had asked for, but Yedioth’s judiciary correspondent, Tova Tzimuki, wrote that people in the judicial establishment fear that will be enough time for him to pass the High Court Override clause and then get the Knesset to give him immunity, something he can easily achieve because he will have a majority in the Knesset committees. Afterward, no appeals will be able to be made to the High Court against his immunity because of the Override clause, which will bar judges from overturning administrative decisions. Channel 12 news reported Wednesday night that the coalition agreements include provisions for a particularly wide-ranging version of the High Court Override clause including the ability to re-legislate laws the High Court strikes down and to bar judges from overturning administrative decisions. Maariv reported that Netanyahu’s top lawyer has just quit the defense team.

The criticism of Netanyahu’s anti-democratic legislative plans continued.
The Israeli academia joined the protest against the immunity and override laws, with some 130 law professors and lecturers announcing the establishment of a coalition for the rule of law, Maariv reported. The organization "Adam Teva V'Din" sent a letter to all members of the Knesset calling for preserving the status of the High Court. And, former attorney-general and former High Court deputy chief Justice, Elyakim Rubinstein, attacked the Likud MK, a Netanyahu loyalist, who submitted the bill to amend the immunity law: "Miki Zohar is throwing sand in the eyes of the public without blinking.” Rubinstein also criticized the Likud party’s  candidate for state comptroller, a man who never served as a judge: “There is a desire to harm the idea of a judge serving in the role of state comptroller." (Maariv) The opposition party Kahol-Lavan is holding a massive demonstration in Tel Aviv Saturday night against the legislation. “Defensive Shield for Democracy” is the slogan of the demonstration, which is also drawing additional parties such as Labor and Meretz, the Israel Democracy Institute and additional public social justice organizations. Maariv’s Ben Caspit writes about the seriousness of these efforts to stop Netanyahu, while Haaretz’s Gideon Levy belittles them. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)
 

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Army Blamed Palestinians for Arson by Settlers. Then a Video Emerged - The Israeli military had originally claimed that only Palestinians set fire to West Bank fields near Asira al-Qibliya, Urif and Burin villages, but changed versions after video released by NGO B'Tselem showed that at least two settlers set fields on fire. Another video showed settlers at Yitzhar fields, lighting fires that quickly spread. (Haaretz+, B’Tselem+VIDEO, Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Israel Limits Gaza Fishing Zone After Incendiary Balloons From Strip Set Fields Aflame - Fire services say 11 fires contained in border communities. Move comes only 1 day after government announced it was expanding fishing zone in order to avoid 'humanitarian deterioration' in Gaza. (Haaretz, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • (Jewish) Israeli accused of helping sneak balloons into Gaza, possibly for arson attacks - David Cohen arrested on charges of illegally purchasing hundreds of thousands of balloons on behalf of Palestinian businessman, with plans to send them to the Strip. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
  • *Blowing up the hatred - Mika Cohen, 15, who grew up in the shadow of Qassam rockets at Moshav Ein Bsor in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, will represent Israel at a 4-week leadership conference, sponsored by an international organization in NY, where she’ll meet Palestinian, Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian youth, and will present to them a photo of an explosive device with a drawing of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and which was tied to balloons and which landed her in backyard. “I will tell them about myself, I’ll listen to them, and I’ll tell them - let’s live together in peace.” (Yedioth, p. 12)
  • Despondent Over Left's Lack of Influence, Israeli Farmers Join Netanyahu's Party - As lobbying government officials hasn't been enough, hundreds have joined governing Likud in recent weeks over issues like water and foreign workers (Haaretz+)
  • GOP Florida cabinet meeting held in Israel raises questions - Trade mission part of GOP campaign promise, bid to woo predominantly Democrat Jewish community; visit assumed to be largely symbolic; delegation plans to hold meeting at Jerusalem embassy but still lacks an agenda. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Hacker Reveals Breach Exposing Flight Histories of Netanyahu Family, Other Israeli Officials - System also contains data on 700,000 visa applications submitted by Israeli citizens to foreign embassies. (Haaretz+)
  • Cabbies giving Israel a bad name - Taxi union apologizes and promises to discipline driver who quoted double fare for a BBC reporter covering Eurovision in Tel Aviv; 'customer should always demand the meter’. (Ynet)
  • Haaretz Reporters Awarded Major Israeli Journalism Prize - Yossi Verter, Haaretz's political correspondent and columnist, and Ronny Linder, TheMarker's health correspondent, announced recipients of 2019 Sokolow Prize. (Haaretz+)
  • Lechaim! Israeli Archaeologists Resurrect 5,000-year-old Yeast and Make Beer From It - Scientists found microbes that survived for thousands of years inside pores in the clay of ancient pottery used to make and store beer and wine. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • In faked scene, ‘Fauda’ cast stages genuine marriage proposal - Crew member has girlfriend hired for the show and then fictionally ‘kidnapped’ so that he can really ask her to marry him. Confused? So was she. (Times of Israel)
  • Despite the decrease in the number of bonfires: air pollution on Lag BaOmer holiday was 11 times an average day - The public responded to calls to refrain from holding bonfires in many parts of the country, but nevertheless high concentrations of respiratory particles were recorded in most places at night compared to a clear day. (Maariv)
  • Israelis among world's leading consumers of addictive painkillers - New report says Israel showed greatest increase in use of habit-forming medication among OECD members during 2014-16; overall use of narcotic painkillers in country up 13% since 2013, putting it 11th highest user among 37 member states. (Ynet)
  • Lechaim! Israeli Archaeologists Resurrect 5,000-year-old Yeast and Make Beer From It - Scientists found microbes that survived for thousands of years inside pores in the clay of ancient pottery used to make and store beer and wine. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • In first, Germany votes against anti-Israel measure at World Health Organization - Israeli ambassador thanks Berlin for ‘significant and principled stand’. Despite Germany’s “no” vote, resolution blaming Israel for poor health conditions in Palestinian areas passes with overwhelming majority. (Times of Israel and 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+)
  • IDF furious after UN rep meets with deputy Hezbollah chief - After Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kunis meets with Gen. Naim Qassem and tweets his thanks for "an open and substantive discussion," IDF spokesperson demands to know whether Hezbollah's violations of UNSC 1701 had been addressed. (Israel Hayom)
  • Following request from Ma'ariv reporter: The book of Hezbollah's deputy secretary-general was removed from Amazon - The famous website sold Naim Qassem's book, which supports the injury of Israeli civilians, despite the fact that the American administration has declared him an international terrorist. (Maariv)
  • In First, Omani Author Brings Man Booker International Literary Prize to Arabian Gulf - Jokha Alharthi, the winner, is the first female Omani novelist to be translated into English. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran crisis: Democrats caution Trump administration using intelligence to justify war - 'We’re concerned that information is being used for the purposes of accomplishing an objective, rather than for the purposes of making a decision,' said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump Administration May Use Iran Threat to Sell Bombs to Saudis Without Congress' Approval, Senator Says - Sen. Chris Murphy notes that Trump can declare a national emergency to exploit a loophole, like he attempted once before with the Mexican border wall. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iranians Tense and Apprehensive as Whispers of War Spread - In interviews conducted from outside the country by telephone and online, Iranians described heated discussions at home, on the streets and on social media. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran's Khamenei Promises Youth Will See 'Demise of Israel,' American Civilization - Tehran's supreme leader warns of the fall of 'enemies of humanity' amid tense standoff with the U.S. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US sees signs Syria may be using chemical weapons, warns of quick response - Washington rejects Russia's claims terrorists captured by Syrian troops spoke of plan to stage fake chemical attacks, blame them on government forces. Moscow's allegations part of "continuing disinformation campaign" to blame others for chemical attacks carried out by Assad forces, U.S. says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Syria detains hundreds, dozen killed in southern cradle of revolt, says UN - At least 380 civilians have been arrested in Syria's south and 11 civilians serving on local councils and former fighters have been killed or attacked. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 2020 Candidates' Stance on Israel Is Lowest Priority for U.S. Jews, Poll Shows - In new Jewish Electorate Institute poll, Israel ranks at the bottom of a list of 16 policy subjects that Jewish voters view as a priority ahead of presidential election. (Haaretz+)
  • U.S. Man Charged With Aiding Hamas and Threatening Israel Supporters, Trump Tower - In a video Jonathan Xie posted to Instagram, he railed against Zionism, displayed a handgun and said he would 'shoot everybody' at a pro-Israel march. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)


Features:
Alabama, Iran, or Saudi Arabia? We Checked Where Abortion Laws Are Better for Women
Laws in many Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East are actually more lenient than those currently being pushed in some U.S. states, Haaretz finds. (Noga Malkin, Haaretz+)
In Gaza, Dreams of Marriage Crushed by Crippling Debt and High Unemployment Rates
Many unemployed young Gaza men have turned to wedding lenders, but when they can't pay their debts some are forced to go into hiding, while others end up in prison. (AP, Haaretz)

Commentary/Analysis:
The Delay Battle (Tova Tzimuki and Amichai Attali, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew) This is not how the prime minister would like to celebrate Rosh Hashana: The attorney general has allowed his lawyers to postpone the hearing uto after the end of the Jewish holiday, but not longer, on the grounds that a prolonged postponement would "harm the public interest." The new date is October 2nd. But the legal system is convinced: Netanyahu is trying to gain time in order to be able to pass the High Court Override clause, (in order) to give up the hearing altogether - and then ask the Knesset to grant him immunity that would prevent him from being brought to justice.
Despite its flaws, we need to fight for Israel’s High Court (Attorney Michael Sfard, +972mag) By propping up a legal system that does not protect the most vulnerable and powerless, the justices of Israel’s High Court have planted the seeds of its own destruction.
Protests spread against Netanyahu’s immunity law (Ben Caspit, version in Maariv/Al-Monitor in English) Controversy has arisen in Israel over a campaign by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's associates for an immunity law and to override the authority of the Supreme Court. In other words, Israel is now speeding headfirst toward a constitutional crisis. According to all the signs, this collision could take the form of a widespread protest movement or even a popular revolt. Such a movement would make the 2011 social justice protests — which involved a million Israelis, the largest demonstration in the history of the state — look like a walk in the park.
Israelis Aren't Storming the Real Bastille (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) There it goes again, the cry for civil disobedience. To the barricades! Revolution! Immunity laws and laws for overriding Supreme Court rulings rouse the liberal camp from its slumber, and again it’s threatening to go on the attack. Someone suggested a mass resignation of judges; another suggested, heaven forfend, wearing a black armband. What else is in their arsenal? Not leaving a tip at a restaurant? No shopping at the duty-free stores at Ben-Gurion Airport? Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit, a confirmed democrat specializing in executions, talks about “the execution of democracy.” A former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Gabi Ashkenazi, is making the supreme sacrifice: “For this struggle, I am willing even to go on Twitter.” On Saturday night, a rally will take place under the banner “a Defensive Shield for Democracy.” We can only hope that the choice of name, reminiscent of the IDF’s 2002 operation during the second intifada, was coincidental, because that was one of the most heinous operations in the IDF’s history...Half an hour away by car from the revolutionary law offices of Goldfarb Seligman [where lawyers held a protest conference against the planned controversial legislation - OH], 500 people have been incarcerated for years without trial. There can’t be a democracy where people are locked up without trial. On this matter the protesting lawyers from the esteemed law firm have never piped up. The Supreme Court, for whose independence these attorneys are fighting, approves these detentions, just as it has approved nearly all the occupation’s crimes. An hour away from the museum square where masses will convene Saturday night there’s a horrific cage [Gaza Strip - OH] where 2.5 million people have been imprisoned for 13 years. Children die of cancer there due to a lack of medicine, adults there are like the living dead…
Why the Israeli Left is still in power (Kenneth Levin, Israel Hayom) The Right may form the next government but the Left still controls the unelected government.
Israel at Risk of Credit Rating Drop if It Reins in the Courts (Efrat Neuman and Avi Waksman, Haaretz+)  S&P warned last year it would look askance at such a move. Investors may act more quickly than the rating agencies.
In recent calls for civil disobedience, the left's hypocrisy is exposed (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) You can be in favor of or against civil disobedience, and even be in favor of the right of an elected government to make decisions - and also to set limits on them. Just don’t be hypocrites, okay?
A Watchdog Ready-made for Netanyahu (Haaretz Editorial) The coalition’s choice of Englman, the director general of the Council for Higher Education, is another step in a deliberate process of undermining the comptroller’s standing as part of the broader assault on Israel’s system of checks and balances that the right, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is spearheading. MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties — one of the two leading candidates for justice minister and with whom Netanyahu coordinated Englman’s nomination — promoted a bill in the last Knesset that sought to quash the comptroller’s power.
Trump has been kind to Israel, but it might end in disaster (Lior Weintraub, Ynet) While Israelis still enjoy kickbacks of friendly U.S. administration, the wheel might soon be turning as Palestinians are seen more and more as the ultimate victim, making some political figures in America refrain from publicly supporting the Jewish state.
Palestinians Won't Ever Warm to Trump's 'Deal of the Century,' Israeli Army Tells Government (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Security sources believe the Palestinian Authority will collapse economically within three months, but Abbas is unlikely to accept tax funds from Israel.
The US’s Middle East strategy might be fraying (Jonathan Ariel, Israel Hayom) Egypt’s withdrawal from the formation of an “Arab NATO” against Iran is a warning that both Israel and the US need to urgently rethink their strategy regarding the Middle East.
Trump May Expect Riyadh to Invest in Peace Deal, but Saudi Dollars Come at a High Price (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Trump hopes to raise $68 billion for his 'deal of the century' in Bahrain conference, but it's unclear who's going to be pulling out the checkbook.
Throw the Palestinian Beggars a Bone (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) in the past, the Palestinian leadership conducted their direct and indirect negotiations with Israel, the United States and the European Union on a single principle: A two-state solution along the 1967 lines, and even set clear, strategic policy demands. Today, too, such statements can be heard in almost every response from the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior PA officials, while Hamas speaks high and mighty about liberation of Palestinian lands from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. But in practice, the two leaderships have accepted the fact that the only thing left to do is bargain over money in return for quiet. After all, the goal of those paying is not to strengthen the Palestinian national institutions or to allow it to build new ones. At most, they want to keep the PA from disintegrating – something that would damage the security coordination with Israel – and prevent a violent outbreak in Gaza by handing out money in the form of $100 bills.
US embassy move has produced lasting gains (Evelyn Gordon, Israel Hayom) Other countries have gone from a situation in which recognizing Jerusalem was unthinkable to one in which it’s being actively debated.
We made sure Israel couldn't hide the occupation from Eurovision (Tanya Rubinstein, +972mag) Israel had hoped to use the Eurovision Song Contest to bolster its international image. We were there to remind the world that there is no business as usual with an occupying state.
Israeli capitulation on the Temple Mount (Tom Nisani, Ynet) We are told that Jews cannot visit this holy site during the final days of Ramadan due to the large number of Muslim worshipers and the danger of violence; but can you imagine France closing the Eiffel Tower to French Christians or Britain banning Church of England followers from the Tower of London
The imperative of deterrence (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) We invite aggression if our enemies believe “America cannot do a damn thing.”
 
Interviews:
The movie about the yeshiva student from Hezbollah
If a screenwriter would have written the story of Ibrahim Yassin, he would have been told that he had gone overboard. But the young Lebanese man who spied for Israel from inside Hezbollah, converted to Judaism and became the ultra-Orthodox, Abraham Sinai, is a real person. Sinai is now starring in the YES film, "The Yeshiva Student from Hezbollah," which is being screened a the DocAviv Festival. In a joint interview with Tzahi Barkat, the IDF agent from Unit 504, who became his close friend, they talk about the strong and special relationship between them. (Interviewed by Etti Abramov in Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)

Bursting Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s ‘Bubble Inside a Bubble’
In her first interview as the institution’s director, Tania Coen-Uzzielli says she’ll bring in fashion and design shows and is confident the state cannot enforce censorship of art. (Interviewed by Naama Riba in Haaretz+)
Would you prefer to have a source like the Culture Ministry give more money? After all, that could mean an increase in its influence on content.
“The Culture Ministry paid for the entire exhibition we curated in Venice, and didn’t interfere in content at all. I don’t think the ministry can really impose censorship. If there really is censorship the entire country will be up in arms. It’s just noise. Did anyone really stop doing something because of it? I don’t believe in self-censorship. I do believe in respecting different audiences. We as an institution can be critical but we don’t have to be insulting.”
What is your opinion of the removal of the “McJesus” sculpture from the exhibition in Haifa? [The reference is to a controversial work by a Finnish artist that portrayed Ronald McDonald on the cross.]
“At Gil Yefman’s exhibition ‘Kibbutz Buchenwald” [on through August 31], there’s an explanation next to one of the works and there are adult volunteers who serve as intermediaries. The act of removing something from a show is terrible; it’s a difficult step that shouldn’t have been taken. They should have mediated the work in Haifa – for example, to have a religious person at the exhibition, explaining the work. That could have been proper mediation.”

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