News Nosh 9.10.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday September 10, 2019

You Must Be Kidding: 
"After all, there are 1.8 million Arab residents."
--Statement made by former state comptroller Yosef Shapira, who at the time explained why he instructed his office to translate the prefaces to every state comptroller report into Arabic. However, his successor, Matanyahu Englman, does not see that reason as sufficing and intends to cancel the translations to Arabic.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The percentage of voters will decide
  • “Fighter 88”: The file of (spy) Eli Cohen is revealed
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Prime Minister: Iran hid more nuclear sites
  • Barnea is not a giant and you aren’t dwarves // Eitan Orkibi on the Op-Ed by Yedioth’s Nahum Barnea
  • Netanyahu changed the right-wing // Amnon Lord
  • Counting backwards: A week to elections
  • Making closer relations: (Hamas leader) Haniyeh wrote to (Iranian spiritual leader) Khamenei: “With you to the final victory”

Top News Summary:
With a week to elections every top story is election news, be it Iran or the cameras. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he exposed a previously unknown 'nuclear weapons development site' in central Iran, while commentators and opposition MKs, said he was electioneering and sources in the Mossad and the IDF told Maariv they resented that their security organizations were being used for political purposes (and Iran’s Foreign Minister accused Netanyahu of ‘crying wolf.’)

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's bill for placing cameras at polling stations failed to pass the Knesset Regulatory Committee, pretty much burying it, much to the chagrin of Likud. Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman zigzagged on whether his party would vote for or against and at the last minute it voted against and the bill didn’t pass. Lieberman said he won’t let the election be supervised by "Netanyahu’s private militia." Former lawmaker and minister and veteran Likud MK, Benny Begin, who is also the son of the legendary Likud leader, declared he won’t vote for his party. He said Likud members have displayed “arrogant, conceited, rude and flagrant behavior.”

In what would have made top news on any other day not close to elections, Syria blamed Israel for the airstrike that killed 18 people on the Syria-Iraq border and satellite images taken after the airstrike showed damage to warehouses allegedly belonging to pro-Iranian militia in Syria. Israel did not take responsibility, but the IDF said pro-Iranian militias in Syria made a failed attempt to launch missiles into Israel shorty before they'd been attacked by warplanes on the Iraqi border. Hezbollah said it downed an Israeli drone in Lebanon, which is now in Hezbollah’s possession.

Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Netanyahu to Make One-day Visit to Russia, Five Days Before Election - The prime minister will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss security matters related to Iran, Syria and Lebanon. (Haaretz+)
  • Ehud Barak: "There is no doubt that Netanyahu is exceptionally talented at incitement" - Former prime minister talks about fight between the political blocs (“Lapid must give up the rotation”), criticizes Netanyahu ("he has no inhibitions“) and explains why he returned to politics: “I’m not doing it for me.” (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu's party exposed personal details, political affiliation of millions of Israelis - Party database, which was shut down after Haaretz query, allowed completely unsecured access to private info including phone and ID numbers. All parties in Israel have access to voter rolls, but are required by law to protect the information. (Haaretz+)
  • This is how the Likud succeeded in flooding social media networks in groups that support it - This is how Likud manages to flood social media networks with election propaganda: Likud uses existing pages and "unsuspecting" Facebook and Twitter groups and turns them overnight into groups for spreading its propaganda messages - using the group's existing members. (Maariv, p.1 and MSN Hebrew)
  • Election week: "Gaza organizations do not want to escalate the situation" - The Egyptian delegation ended another round of talks with Hamas officials and Islamic Jihad. A Gaza source told Maariv: "Nobody wants an escalation, especially on the eve of Israeli elections.” (Maariv)


Quick Hits:
  • Trump following Netanyahu's statement: "I have no problem meeting Rouhani" - Shortly after the PM's speech, the US president told reporters at the White House that a meeting with the Iranian president was possible. Iranian Foreign Minister: "Netanyahu only wants war." (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • **Israel's State Comptroller Wants to Scrap Translations for Prefaces to Office's Reports - Matanyahu Englman also reportedly opposed requiring Arabic—language notices about bus lanes before relenting. (Haaretz+)
  • It all started at lunch with Sara Netanyahu: The strange deal between Israel and Honduras - President Juan Hernández inaugurated a new trade mission in Jerusalem which could create 5,000 job openings for Hondurans in Israel. But the foreign ministry says no official agreement has been drafted. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Can Hold Bodies of Terrorists, High Court Rules, Reversing Landmark Decision - Court backtracks on ruling that holding bodies is a ‘violation of human rights,’ permitting Israel to exercise such practice for negotiation tactics. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Positive move: Jordanian Education Reform: Added content on peace, diversity and openness to Judaism - Research by the Israeli institute, IMPACT-se, on textbooks in Jordanian schools reveals that a comprehensive reform has been implemented in high school curricula. Among other things, ideas about peace, and openness to other religions, including Judaism, and gender equality have been added. (Maariv)
  • Canada to appeal decision against 'Made in Israel' wine - Move comes after court ruled that wine made in Judea and Samaria cannot be sold as Israeli because of settlement activity. Canadian regulator supports lifting restriction. (Israel Hayom)
  • Double Agent's Widow Offers New Take on Eli Cohen Affair - Decades after the Eli Cohen affair there are still many questions, some minor, others major - among them, the way in which Syrian counterintelligence identified the Israeli spy (from the archive). (Haaretz)
  • Israeli gas exports to Egypt advance after terminal deal signed - But two NGOs file suit to block deal that would allow exports to start. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Claims in Tunisia: "Israel intervenes in elections and spreads fake news" - International Sky Line organization warned the Tunisian political establishment yesterday of Israeli involvement in local presidential elections via social media networks. (Maariv)

IN PHOTOS Israel's Settlers and the Palestinians They Live Among
Across the road from one another, their homes and surroundings depict the gap between them. (Reuters, Haaretz)
No Nuclear Presentation Can Save Netanyahu From Trump's Willingness to Speak With Enemies (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) As Trump courts a possible Rohani meeting, all Netanyahu can do is hope it will wait until after the election.
The Assault Attributed to Israel: Isn’t Jerusalem planning to take its foot off the gas? (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) If Israel is indeed the one behind the attack, it actually signifies that even after recent events, actions against Iran establishing itself in Syria will continue, regardless of the elections.
The ‘Road Not Taken’: The Dilemma Facing Trump’s Mideast Peace Team (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Jason Greenblatt’s departure from the Trump administration may mean the peace plan is released soon — but judging by those now leading the process, its real target is not Israel or the Palestinians.
Fed Up With Hamas, Young Gaza Activists Are Trying to Take Matters Into Their Hands (Yaniv Kubovich, Haaretz+) The younger generation is frustrated with how the organization is reining in the weekly March of Return demonstrations, and are abandoning Hamas for rogue groups.
Iran's hasty, failed attempt at revenge for Syrian-Iraq border attack (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Monday's rocket launch attempt, most likely by Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias shows Tehran is determined to prove it is a force to be reckoned with, coming just hours after a deadly strike on a target on the Syria-Iraq border.
Are Syrian Refugees Destined to Be the Palestinians of the 21st Century? (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The civil war in Syria is winding down but there's no sign that they're welcome back which is a problem for their host countries.
Netanyahu revelations could be the smoking gun proving Iran's ongoing nuclear weapons program (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) If Israel's assertions about the Abadeh installation's true purpose were verified, they would be the smoking gun that would finally prove Iran is developing a nuclear weapon in complete violation of the treaties it had signed.
Pakistan will not be recognizing Israel anytime soon — here’s why (Ayesha Siddiqa, Haaretz+) While Israel is selling arms to India, and with Pakistan keen to draw parallels between events in Kashmir and the occupied territories, Islamabad will not be in any rush to recognize the Jewish state.
Egypt's New Model for Clamping Down on Media Is Just What Netanyahu Needs (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) New regulations propose legal, patriotic and sufficiently vague guidelines for permitted content – whose interpretation is conveniently left to the government and its agencies.

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Iranian Centrifuges Meet Netanyahu’s Political Spin Cycle (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The foundations of Netanyahu’s campaign are pretty consistent: some enemy to unite against. Sometimes it’s the left, sometimes it’s a political rival, such as Avigdor Lieberman or Ayelet Shaked, and of course there are always the Arabs and the media. He’s like the hated Real Madrid; Netanyahu wins big when his back is to the wall. His noisy self-victimization is one of the most cynical, violent processes known to Israeli politics. This time Netanyahu is beating even his own records. There isn’t a single moment of relative quiet (silence is too much to expect). As in Amos Oz’s air compressor allegory, one family has been battering the entire nation with its noise. For now, it’s still working. Bibi-ism is a large, powerful strong movement. Given the right-wing paradigm that Netanyahu has no substitute in the international arena, the announcement on the Iranian nukes, half a second after the camera bill fell, was so surprising that Lieberman and the center left hasn’t managed to respond with something cohesive and of appropriate gravity. This political stage looks more like a forced encounter of nice, concerned people than a place where anyone is really capable of fighting the wild phenomenon that is the Netanyahu regime.
On the Iran Front, Netanyahu Is Blurring the Border Between Defense and Politics (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) While Israel employed old policy of vagueness concerning latest attack in Syria, Iran took new approach and retaliated within hours.
The politics of power, corruption and insatiable greed (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The wife of the prime minister of the State of Israel should be thrilled with the endless positive coverage provided by Miriam Adelson and her billionaire casino mogul husband, but it seems that it is never enough - and the benefactors have no one to blame but themselves.
Reigning Supremacist: The House of Netanyahu and the Jews Bibi hates (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has remade Israel into his bigot father's image. Such is Bibi - dutiful child of a supremacist. Obedient husband of a supremacist. Role-model father of a supremacist.
Israel's basic principles of democracy must be preserved (Daniel Friedmann, Yedioth/Ynet) These ideals are safe from attack when shared by all branches of government, but when a leader considers his political failure as tantamount to a national calamity, those values may be eroded; no party should be able to undermine these principles in the name of victory.
Netanyahu's efforts to allow cameras at polling stations is a mere distraction (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The prime minister's draft bill was a red herring. The furor that he knew the whole initiative would cause had a number of political objectives.
2 Liebermans in as many days (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) Politics are politics, and while Avigdor Lieberman might not be a leftist, he is being forced to cooperate with the dynamics at work in the left-wing bloc.
This Is What Political Persecution Looks Like (Heba Yazbak, Haaretz+) Last month, the ruling Likud party followed in the footsteps of the anti-Arab Otzma Yehudit party by turning to the Supreme Court, appealing the Central Elections Committee decision to allow the Arab Joint List party to run in the upcoming Knesset election. This was a call for the delegitimization and effacement of any representation of the Arab population in the Knesset, tying in with the Likud’s campaign to install cameras at polling stations, which is an incitement against Arab voters based on racist notions that Arabs are fraudulent when it comes to elections.
No zero-sum game (Prof. Abraham Diskin, Israel Hayom) With Israel just days away from its second election this year, all eyes are on the electoral struggle between the Likud and Blue and White. Meanwhile, Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Lieberman has shown a willingness to switch sides in the past.
Battling Tribalism in Israeli Politics (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) The stone that Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh threw into the shallow mud of this election campaign merely exposed the painful reality of Israeli politics, with all its divisions and factions. After all, what did Odeh say? That under certain conditions, the Arab parties’ combined slate would be willing to join a governing coalition that stood as an alternative to right-wing rule. This small stone managed to stir up all the stench that has spread through the airwaves. The leaders of the Kahol Lavan party, who aspire to replace the government, quickly raised an outcry and ruled out any possibility of cooperating with the Joint List a priori. Odeh’s political home, both his own Hadash party and the other parties on the ticket, was similarly unhappy with the chairman’s announcement and quickly issued a statement rejecting it.
Reflecting the will of the people (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) The do-over election is a disgrace that should have been avoided. But ironically, its outcome could be the formation of a stable government that reflects the national consensus.
Yes to Cameras in Israel's Polling Stations on Election Day (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) From investigative reporting in the past, we learned an important lesson. If the oversight process mandated by law is implemented correctly, it’s very hard to forge results in elections. If all the party representatives who are supposed to be on the poll committees really come and remain there until Election Day is over, it will be very difficult if not impossible to commit fraud. At those polling stations where fraud was suspected during this past election, it always began with negligence by one of the party representatives. in my opinion it seems that installing cameras in the public areas of the polling stations isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But these cameras must not be installed by the parties, which leaves a huge opening for manipulating data and editing photos. The cameras must be installed by the state, and they must be installed at every polling station, not just those of weak minorities that someone would like to deter from voting. Netanyahu knows perfectly well that there’s no practical way to do this in an orderly fashion for the upcoming election, which is just over a week away. We’re talking about tens of thousands of cameras, infrastructure, and procedures to be drawn up – it’s impossible.
Spin of the Hour: The victim is the same victim, and the path is the same path (Dr. Revital Amiran, Maariv) The purity of the elections is unimportant, but the claim that the election is in danger of being falsified is false. Netanyahu's bill is fundamentally and administratively problematic.
The Likud’s Little Red Booklet (Haaretz Editorial) Haaretz journalist Hagai Amit has uncovered a secret Likud database that contains the names of 1.1 million Israeli citizens, with all their identifying details. Along with their phone numbers, addresses and ID numbers, each one of these 1.1 million citizens is classified according to three categories: Likud supporter, opponent or floating voter.
The spirit of the unity in the people begins at the top and goes down (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv) Honorable President and Honorable Prime Minister, all eyes are on you. Opinions among us will continue to be divisive, but our shared approach to challenges is more important than anything else.
WATCH: Slain Prime Minister Rabin Is Suddenly the Star of Israel's Mudslinging Election (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) 23 years later, assassinated PM Yitzhak Rabin has been forced front and center by Yair Netanyahu in final weeks of Israel's repeat election.

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