News Nosh 9.12.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday September 12, 2019

Quote of the day:
“I was disqualified for much less than 'The Arabs want to annihilate us...'"
--Far-right-wing LEHAVA organization chairman, Bentzi Gopstein, whom the High Court disqualified from running for Knesset, tweeted on Twitter after a Facebook message was sent from Netanyahu’s FB account to his supporters saying that they should spread a message that Arab citizens of Israel 'want to annihilate' Jewish Israelis.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
“I strongly oppose approving the building addition. This hotel is an anti-Semitic hotel. It’s a hotel that doesn’t recognize Israeli sovereignty.”
--Statement by Jerusalem city councilman from Likud party, Elisha Peleg, who has delayed the expansion of the Palestinian hotel in E. Jerusalem. The members of the city's planning committee expressed amazement at the councilman’s stance and told him that approval of construction cannot be denied on such a basis.**

Breaking News:
Report: U.S. believes Israel planted listening devices near White House
Politico says devices that mimicked cell phone towers also placed in other 'senstive locations' around Washington; Israeli officials vehemently deny claims, calling report 'blatant lie.' (Haaretz and Ynet)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Censor allowed for publication - This is how we turned a senior Arab member of the government into a spy without him knowing - “Torpedo Case’ comes to light (Hebrew)
  • Trump getting closer to Rouhani (Hebrew)
  • 5 days to elections: Netanyahu moves up a gear against the right-wing
  • Shooting on the south: One wounded in Zikim
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • “Trump considering easing sanctions on Iran”
  • Russia warns against annexing the Bekaa Valley (in West Bank)
  • Odeh’s protest - During Knesset debate on Cameras Bill, Chairman of Joint List got close to Prime Minister and filmed him; LIkud: “Bullying behavior”
  • “Netanyahu is running from the terror” - Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Things are not looking good for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just five days before elections. The Hebrew newspapers' top stories are all about his failures: Iran sanctions, West Bank annexation, Gaza Strip violence, and the Likud party’s Camera Law.

The front pages shouted that US President Donald Trump is considering lifting the sanctions on Iran that Netanyahu worked so hard to get imposed. Yedioth’s Orly Azoulay reported that September 23 is the likely date for a meeting between the US and Iranian presidents and that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has set the repeal of sanctions as a  condition for the meeting and that Trump is already discussing the issue (Yedioth Hebrew). Trump had fired his National Security Advisor John Bolton, a super-hawk and a close friend of Israel, because he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions,” Trump said. Fox News' Tucker Carlson praised Trump saying that pointless wars were stopped as a result. Yet Iran said that Bolton's departure won’t push it into talks with the US. Kahol-Lavan co-leader, Moshe Yaalon said that Bolton’s dismissal was “bad news for Israel” and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that “Following the dismissal of Bolton, Netanyahu lost his strongest asset - President Trump.” (Maariv) The Israeli commentators saw it as bad news for Netanyahu’s election campaign. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Israel Hayom only quoted Trump’s tough quote on Iran on its front page, giving the impression that Trump was being tough on Iran.

Today Netanyahu flies to Russia to meet with President Vladimir Putin at Netanyahu’s behest. But the visit comes the day after Russia condemned Netanyahu's announcement that if he becomes prime minister he will annex the Beqaa Jordan Valley in the West Bank. Accused by his opponents of making this declaration now just to gain votes, Netanyahu explained that he had not made the move before the election because of a ban imposed by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt. (Yedioth Hebrew) The annexation announcement also sparked complaints by Palestinians, who vowed to hold on to their land, the Arab League, which called the plan 'aggression,’ Jordan, which said that would ‘kill the peace process,’ and the UN spokesman also condemned the prime minister's declaration. But it wasn’t only Arabs who opposed it. Haaretz+ reported that US Jewish groups - with the exception of AIPAC - also slammed the promise. But settlers in the Beqaa Valley were pleased. (Yedioth Hebrew)

And to make matters worse, twice in less than a day, rockets and mortars were launched from the Gaza Strip against Israel. The first time, Tuesday night, sent Netanyahu running for cover when he was at a campaign event in Ashdod. The video was not flattering and his opponents accused him of fleeing. The Likud blasted Kahol-Lavan for 'gloating.’ Three more rockets were launched on Wednesday, hitting an Israeli family's yard. Although Israel thought that Islamic Jihad was behind the attacks, Israel responded by striking 15 Hamas targets after the first strike and and shelling two more Hamas military posts after the rockets fired Wednesday afternoon. A Hamas official told Haaretz+ that Hamas was not behind the rockets, but he said that the Tuesday and Wednesday launches were intended to send a signal to Hamas, Israel and Egyptian mediators that "something needs to change" in Gaza. “The situation in Gaza is only worsening and the public in Gaza is strangely awaiting a clash, out of belief that it will bring change,” he said. Today, Thursday, Netanyahu said, “There will probably be no choice but to bring down Hamas rule.” The prime minister was interviewed on KAN Bet Radio and attacked his rivals: "They are irresponsible." About Ayelet Shaked he said: "I will turn to her first. What's in my heart about her is irrelevant.” (Maariv)

But that wasn’t all. Joint List chairman, Ayman Odeh, made a protest in Netanyahu’s face during the Knesset debate on the Cameras bill and sparked the fury of some Likud members. The story was reported on very differently in the Hebrew papers. The Camera Bill was doomed before the vote because Lieberman’s party said it would not support it, but Netanyahu wanted to show that Lieberman’s party was “fleeing” from the vote. A video shows that after Netanyahu spoke in the plenum and returned to his seat, Ayman Odeh calmly approached him and pulled out his cellphone and stood right in front of Netanyahu holding the phone near Netanyahu’s face, ostensibly filming, just like the Likud party wanted its people to be able to do to Arab voters at polling stations on Election Day. But it was in the description of Odeh’s act where the reports differed. Maariv gave extensive details and made it clear that it was ‘an act of protest’ and noted that Netanyahu stood up and pat Odeh on the back, after which three Likud MKs, Miki Zohar, Yoav Kish and Mai Golan, broke out in loud shouts and ran towards Odeh yelling at him and calling him a “terrorist.” Odeh was told by the Knesset Speaker to leave the plenum and did, saying aloud: “I thought it was all in the (Facebook) Story.” Only MaarivOnline provided the full video of the incident. Yedioth reported that Odeh held the phone near Netanyahu’s face - “with the goal, it appears, to demonstrate the idea of being under camera surveillance.” According to Yedioth, while holding the cellphone, Odeh said to the Prime Minister, “What’s the problem. I thought it was all in the Story,” after which Likud MKs, Miki Zohar, Yoav Kish and Mai Golan, "sprinted towards Odeh." Yedioth did not note that Netanyahu pat Odeh on the back or that the Likud MKs screamed at Odeh and called him a terrorist. Yedioth did note that “Likud MKs took advantage of the incident to attack Odeh. MK Sharren Haskell filed a complaint against him to the Knesset Ethics Committee, adding: "We may find ourselves on a day when a wild MK, who does not pass security checks at the entrance to the Knesset by virtue of his immunity, also physically harms the prime minister." Miki Zohar, who called the event “no less than an assault,” demanded that Knesset security guards act. (Yedioth Hebrew) However, Ynet's report put Odeh in a negative light and the Likud MKs in a positive one. The article said that Odeh “shoved his camera phone” close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's face…prompting Likud MKs “to step in” to push him away. Haaretz+ seems to have missed the event. It dedicated a single paragraph to the protest, lacking most of the details and making mistakes in some of them, and adding quotes not in the other papers. Haaretz wrote: “As Netanyahu stepped down from the podium, Odeh called out at him: ‘You are a liar and you know it.’ He then clung to the premier with a camera, and was ejected from the auditorium. ‘Suddenly he has a problem with cameras,’ the Arab Israeli leader later wrote on Twitter.”  ‘Israel Hayom’s’ headline did not mention the protest aspect and instead called Odeh’s act a “physical threat.”

But the camera incident was not the only uproar between Netanyahu and Israel’s Arab citizens yesterday. In a statement sent from the Prime Minister's official Facebook account, urged his followers to make campaign calls and to issue potential voters a warning against a left-wing government that relies on the Arab party because, "The Arabs want to annihilate us all - women, children and men.” The message sparked an uproar and the Likud later said the message was a staffer mistake and Netanyahu did not approve it.” (Maariv) But contrary to Likud's statements, senior campaign officials were behind the message, according to a Channel 12 News report. (Maariv) Meanwhile, Facebook suspended the bot connected to Netanyahu’s account for 24 hours because the message was a hate speech violation. The inflammatory part read: “I contribute my time because in another week a dangerous left-wing government with Lapid, Odeh, Gantz and Lieberman must not be established. A secular, weak, left-wing government that relies on the Arabs who want to annihilate us all - women, children, and men - and to allow a nuclear Iran to eliminate us. We must not let this happen! Therefore I ask you to be the Prime Minister’s messenger, to bring three friends and family members on Tuesday and to make sure they vote for Likud. Thank you (personal name), I trust you!” Ayman Odeh called Netanyahu a psychopath with no red lines and said: "We defeated the cameras and we will defeat the incitement.” (Maariv) Far-right-wing LEHAVA organization leader Bentzi Gopstein quipped: "I was disqualified (from running for elections) for much less than that.” (Yedioth Hebrew)

Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Netanyahu: Whoever doesn't want me as PM is welcome to vote Lieberman - Speaking to Israel Hayom in a special pre-election interview that will run in full over the weekend, PM Netanyahu says Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Odeh is in an alliance with Blue and White and Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman. On his declaration of intent to annex the Jordan Valley – and the cool response from the Americans, Netanyahu asserts: "What I said was done with the knowledge of the US administration." (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu: "Anyone who votes for Ben-Gvir is throwing his vote in the bin" - Battle over right-wing voices: After the recent polls showed that Otzma Yehudit party is passing the threshold, Netanyahu's embrace has ceased, and he scolded voters: "Are you crazy? [Don't vote for him,] We'll lose the election." (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Holding a severed leg: A provocative painting of the Netanyahu couple was placed at Habimah Theater - The exhibit was placed in front of the national theater in Tel Aviv where the prime minister is seen clutching a severed leg and his wife Sarah is making a heart shape with her hands. (Maariv and News1)
  • Israel's AG Opposes Effort to Block Transport of Bedouin Voters to Polling Stations - Likud charges that the Zazim organization was working to topple the party by 'increasing the number of voters for the leftist bloc.’ (Haaretz+)
  • (Former Likud minister) Michael Eitan joins Benny Begin and Dan Tichon - The former minister, who served in the Netanyahu government, revealed that he did not intend to support his party. "Legitimate disagreements have disappeared, and have been replaced by declarations of loyalty to the ruling family,” he wrote on Facebook, noting that he had been a member of the Herut movement and the Likud party for 50 years and served in the government for 30 of those years. (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • The Tibi guideline for for a political blocking bloc - The leaders of the joint list have drafted a document of their demands, which they will submit after the elections to Kahol-Lavan - and in exchange for which they will agree to serve as a political blocking bloc in favor of the Gantz government. It includes the appointment of MKs to head the Knesset Finance and Internal Committees, a budget of 64 billion shekels for a multi-year development plan for Arab society, a plan leading to realization of the two-state solution based on the ’67 borders, legislation of a Basic Law of Equality, canceling the Jewish Nation-State Law, a government decision to eradicate crime in the Arab communities, the creation of an Arab city, and creation of Arab university and hospital in a large Arab city, encouraging the employment of Arab women and the establishment of industrial zones in Arab communities. (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • Ayelet Shaked Inks (Conditions for) Deal to Only Join Government That Establishes Migration Courts - Agreement between far-right alliance and prominent anti-migration activist makes staunch stance against asylum seekers and migrant workers core part of party's demands in coalition talks. (Haaretz+)
  • Liberman: Netanyahu likely to form his 'messianic-haredi government' - According to Lieberman, low voter turnout will ensure Netanyahu's victory and he will be stopped only if the Israeli public is concerned enough about an extreme right-wing and religious government to show up at the polls. (Yedioth/Ynet)

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Settlers Move in to West Bank Land Days After Palestinians Family's Eviction - Owner of the plot, the Jewish National Fund, said it has been leased for agricultural use, but a group of Jews have built residential structures there without permits. (Haaretz+)
  • New data shows Israeli settlement surge in east Jerusalem - The latest statistics, obtained by Israeli human rights group, reveal there has been 60% increase in settlement construction in the first 2 years of Trump's presidency, with 21,834 building permits issued to Jewish residents and only 9,536 to Palestinians. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel bans 'dangerous' settler from northern West Bank home - Security forces say Neria Zarug of the settlement of Yitzhar is a violent extremist who attacked both Palestinians and Border Police; consequently, he is barred from entering Samaria region for three months. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • **Expansion of Vatican-owned East Jerusalem Hotel Stalled Over 'anti-Semitism' Claims - Owners refuse to recognize Israeli sovereignty, fly the flag, Likud councilman told municipal planning committee. (Haaretz)
  • ‘Coming in Droves’: Number of Arabs in Israeli High-tech Soars - In 2008 there were 350 Israeli Arab high-tech engineers, all of them men. Now there are 6,600, one fourth of them women. (Haaretz+)
  • Abbas meets family of (Ethiopian-)Israeli held in Gaza, offers to help - The family of the young Ethiopian-Israeli man found in Gaza by Hamas arrived at the Muqata’a (Palestinian President offices) yesterday. The spiritual leader of the community: "We are happy to be meeting with this man of peace, whose actions speak for themselves.” (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • An Arabic TV Station in Israel Thrives After Being Saved by a Surprising Political Ally - Once on the verge of collapse, Hala TV, Israel’s only private Arabic channel, is now aiming to become the home station for the county's Arabic-speaking community. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem skyline lights up in memory of 9/11 - PM's wife Sara Netanyahu and American Ambassador David Friedman inaugurate new art installation at memorial ceremony to mark 18th anniversary of September 11 attacks. (Ynet)
  • UN report: Palestinian economic crisis now at breaking point - United Nations Conference on Trade and Development points at Israeli activities, mass unemployment and environmental degradation among other factors driving the ongoing crisis. Report also highlights decreasing foreign investment, a 6% drop in donor support in 2017-2018, and untapped oil and gas deposits near Gaza's coastline and in the West Bank due to the conflict with Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian youth smuggled cell phones on their bodies to security prisoners - Israel Prison Service reports that this is a phenomenon in which youth are detained for minor offenses in order to be sent to prison: There is an increase in attempts at bring in cell phones in various ways.” (Maariv)
  • 2,600-year-old Seal Bearing Hebrew Name Found at Western Wall in Jerusalem - The seal from Kingdom of Judea was discovered by a volunteer sifting dirt excavated in 2013 from beneath Robinson’s Arch. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Electrician Stops Car on Northern Israeli Road, Finds 4,500-year-old Dagger and Burial Vessels - The items had been in a burial cave dating to the middle Bronze Age. (Haaretz+)
  • UAE to fight anti-Semitism alongside European rabbis - The new action plan sets out battle hate crimes and promote religious fraternity; rabbi calls it 'turning point' in fight against anti-Jewish sentiment. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Egypt Says Israeli Gas Exports on Track but Cites Low Figures - El Molla sees 2 bcm of gas at first, versus 7 bcm stated in export agreement. (Haaretz)
  • Hezbollah leader calls US mediator a 'friend of Israel' - Hassan Nasrallah says US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker, appointed to help negotiate the Israeli-Lebanese maritime border dispute, is "keen to protect Israel's interests." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • In last words, slain journalist Khashoggi asked killers not to suffocate him - Transcript published in Turkey's Sabah newspaper gives more precise details of the journalist's last moments at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia's MBS hosts delegation of U.S. evangelical leaders on eve of 9/11 anniversary - U.S.-Israeli leading visit urges lawmakers to 'see the reforms the crown prince is making' as the Kingdom attempts to improve its image post-Khashoggi's murder. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran Denounces 'U.S.-Israeli Plot' Over Nuclear Program - Meanwhile, Iran denounced the ‘US-Israeli plot’ to put pressure on the UN nuclear watchdog, after the IAEA called in recent days for more cooperation from Tehran following what diplomats say was the detection of uranium particles at an undeclared site. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Operation "Torpedo"
Expose: This is how we turned a senior Arab statesman from an Arab country into a spy for Israel for five years - without his having any idea about it. In a rare move, the daring operation of Israeli intelligence was cleared for publication while still taking place. "Torpedo," a man in a very senior position in an Arab country, thought he was chosen to work in a civilian institution - but he had no idea that the people with whom he was meeting were agents of Military Intel Unit #504. Since then, for five years, the senior Arab official is passing the most sensitive secrets of his country to Israel - and he doesn't even know about it. (Yossi Yehoshua and Reuven Weiss, Yedioth Hebrew, full story in Friday's paper)
The Religious Activists Waging a ‘Holy War’ Against Israel’s Arms Exports
The country’s sale of weaponry to murderous regimes goes against all Jewish religious teachings, charge members of No 2 Arms — and they are fighting back. (Patty Nieberg, Haaretz+)
Our man in Netflix
From the controversial casting of Sasha Baron-Cohen, to the decision to edit changes in the historical facts and to the criticism that Eli Cohen's family has made on the results: The talked-about series of the greatest Israeli spy ever is raising a storm with its showing on Netflix. Now Gidi Raf, who created the series, and the widow, Nadia Cohen, talk about it all. (Interviewed by Ayala Or-El and Yoav Birnberg in Yedioth's '24 Hours' and in the Friday supplement.)
The woman in the tank
Maayan Helberstadt and Or Avramson, the two candidates for draft who appealed to the High Court demanding to be allowed to be drafted to a combat position in the Armored Corps, talk in an interview about Alice Miller, women in the IDF and (far-right-wing religious Minister Bezalel) Smotrich: "Female soldiers have already proven themselves in a successful pilot (program of women serving in tanks). They say to us 'no' just because we are female." (Interviewed by Sigal Ben-David in Maariv Magazine supplement, cover)
Please, Bibi, Let the Annexations Begin (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) I obviously won’t vote for Netanyahu, but I hope that this time he keeps his promise. Let him annex the Jordan Valley, and afterward the entire West Bank. Let him turn the reality in this territory into a political reality, without hiding it any longer. The time has come for truth. The time has come to put an end to the great masked ball that Israel and the world have been holding for 52 years already. There’s no longer any real debate in Israel. Immediately after Netanyahu promised annexation, Benny Gantz, the great hope of the enlightened public, delivered the word of the opposition: He, too, is in favor of the Jordan Valley in perpetuity…But this is one of the worst evils of apartheid and transfer that the occupation has ever produced. Behind the modern names – there’s no Esh Kodesh or Shvut Ami here – hide greedy and sometimes violent farmers. Here, a quiet transfer of communities of shepherds has been carried out, just like in the South Hebron Hills. Anyone who still doubts the existence of apartheid ought to visit the Jordan Valley. The water, the land and the freedom – which are divvied up there via blatant segregation based on nationality, with no shame – tell the entire story. Nothing could be more just than for the Torah of annexation to go forth from here.
Avoiding the demographic threat (Jason Shvili, Israel Hayom) Full annexation of Judea and Samaria would result in Jews becoming a minority in Israel – the end of the Zionist project. We should only annex areas that do not have a large Palestinian population. And this would leave the Palestinians with plenty of space for a state of their own.
Bolton's exit leaves Netanyahu without White House ally on Iran (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Trump's decision to cozy up to the Iranian regime worsened already tense relations with his national security adviser, but the president is desperate for a win on the international stage even if means going against his friend and confidant Benjamin Netanyahu.
Why Netanyahu and Dermer Have Kept Silent About John Bolton (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) The prime minister heaped praise on another Trump aide who recently left the administration – but he has good reasons to stay silent on Bolton’s dismissal.
Analysis Washington May Be Ready for Talks post-Bolton, but Iran Is Still Hesitant (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Changing alliances make negotiations with Iran pressing for the Trump administration, and Israel is becoming less and less of a consideration.
Illegal for 20 Years, Torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet Goes On (Executive Director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Dr. Rachel Stromusa, Haaretz+) Twenty years ago last week, Shin Bet security services interrogations changed overnight. The High Court of Justice ruled in detail and at length on the methods used in Shin Bet interrogation rooms, and completely outlawed torture. The ruling was handed down five years after the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel filed the first petition on the matter, and only after several deaths occurred in the wake of Shin Bet questioning – that of Abdel Samad Harizat being the most well-known. Supreme Court President Aharon Barak wrote in the ruling that a “reasonable” interrogation does not include torture. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the change that occurred on September 6, 1999. Prior to that date, hundreds of Palestinians each year were subjected to serious physical and emotional violence that was an integral part of every arrest and every security interrogation. The “shaking” method – a sudden, violent shaking of the subject’s upper body, causing the subject’s brain to strike the inside of his skull – which was widely used, has practically disappeared. The “shabah” – a collection of methods that included bending the subject’s back and tying him to a tilted chair, inserting the subject’s head in a foul-smelling bag and blasting loud music – is no longer in use. So if the change of September 1999 was such a dazzling success, why are we still talking about torture in Israel? The Shin Bet continues to use severe physical and emotional violence in interrogations, with the knowledge and approval of the Justice Ministry, under the euphemism of “special methods.” We continue to look away and fall for the illusion that this is how credible information is obtained, despite the numerous studies that prove otherwise.
Have We Reached the End of the Secular Zionist Dream? (Shaul Arieli, Haaretz+) A perception has taken root in Israeli society that canonical, secular Zionist and nationalist, messianic religious Zionism can live side by side in this country. However, the two are actually different national visions that contradict one another and compete over the determination of the character, identity and regime in the State of Israel; moreover, their ability to coexist is conditional upon the identity of the controlling worldview.

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu's annexation election vow proves contempt for his own voters (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) 'Historic opportunity' to annex Jordan Valley is just hysterical despair.
Netanyahu's annexation pledge proves he puts his own welfare above Israel's (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister's announcement that he plans to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea is nothing more than an attempt to win more votes, but such declarations only serve to hurt Israel, even more so than the Gaza rocket fire that forced him to seek shelter mid-speech in Ashdod.
Netanyahu could have annexed the Jordan Bekaa Valley, but settled for a meaningless announcement (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The Prime Minister tried to make political fortune on sympathetic sentiment (Israelis have) for residents of the Bekaa. But (Trump’s) firing of Bolton and the rockets (from Gaza) during his speech destroyed the mastermind's spin.
The 15-second Video That Could Kill Netanyahu’s Rock-star Election Campaign (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Signaling the collapse of his Iran strategy, Bolton’s dismissal sparks fear the Israeli PM could be next in line to hear the Apprentice host’s trademark line, 'You’re fired!'
Netanyahu's dash off stage was a victory for terror groups (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Some residents of the south no doubt observed Tuesday's events with some satisfaction after the prime minister finally experienced some of what they have been living with for so many years as he was faced with sirens warning of incoming rocket fire from Gaza.
Militia in Guise of Unity Government (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A single Knesset member, Yulia Malinovsky from Yisrael Beiteinu, has saved Israel’s “democracy.” Her finger in the dam held back the flood. This unknown member of the Knesset committee that brings bills to the plenary acted in the spirit of her boss, Avigdor Lieberman, who declared that he would not allow “Netanyahu’s private militia” to monitor the election (and, thus, the Cameras Bill did not pass.) The formation of a unity government will not sate Lieberman’s political appetite. He will have a veto on the details of coalition negotiations, he’ll determine the fate of the nation-state law, the character of the school system and the extent of funds allocated to health and welfare services.
Kahane lives and breathes in the Israeli mainstream (Ron Cahlili, +972mag) If the polls are accurate, more than 140,000 voters will vote the Kahanists back into the Knesset in next week’s election. Yet the desire for a pure Jewish state long ago moved from the margins of Israeli society to the mainstream.
What effort will President Rivlin make to prevent a third round (of elections)? (Avraham Tirosh, Maariv) The president could, and even must, create a fuss, agitate and initiate a public campaign against the theft of the mandate by Netanyahu. He must not settle for shock as he did in the last elections.
Netanyahu the Inciter, Version 2.0 (Haaretz Editorial) Netanyahu used the Messenger app to contact followers who agreed to talk with floating voters for him. In the script he gave them, he asked them to say, “A dangerous government with Lapid, Odeh, Gantz and Lieberman must not be established in another week. A weak, secular, left-wing government that relies on the Arabs, who want to annihilate all of us – women children and men – and allow a nuclear Iran that will exterminate us.” As we all know, this isn’t the first time Netanyahu has incited against Arabs shortly before an election. His appeal to the public on Election Day in 2015 is still remembered with revulsion: He posted a video on Facebook warning that “Arab voters are coming to the polls in droves.”
Netanyahu's goals justify the means (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) The prime minister has dedicated a considerable portion of his public life to fighting for the right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. In his next term, which could be his last, he needs to translate these rights into tangible steps on the ground and close the gap between words and deeds.
Despite Netanyahu's handshakes, we are not a superpower (Ran Edelist, Maariv) No US president will sign a defense alliance with Israel. The owner of the estate does not sign a protective alliance with the guard at the gate. Maximum he gives an employment contract.
Netanyahu's Illegal Experiment (Tzvia Greenfield, Haaretz+) When it appeared on Monday as though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed (at least so far) in his desperate attempt to recruit U.S. President Donald Trump to his side, it became clear that the Likud-sponsored uproar surrounding the use of cameras at polling stations was designed for one purpose: To conduct a dry run. With the illegal step of disobeying the attorney general and the court’s decisions, Netanyahu is checking how determined are the public, the police and the legal apparatus to resist him in the event that he loses the election and decides not to accept the outcome.
Blue and White hypocrisy on full display (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) In order to convince the public that "things will be different" with them, Blue and White leaders and former senior defense officials Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya'alon will need to explain when and how exactly their security philosophy on the Gaza Strip changed.
Cry of Israel's Ruling Party: The Reichstag Is Burning (Alon Mizrahi, Haaretz+) This age of continual filming and media gives government institutions tremendous power to shape public opinion, but it also imposes a limit on their power…Whoever wishes to burn down the Reichstag of our day needn’t set fire to buildings, but instead set fire to the democratic traditions that rightly enjoy near-hallowed status. The symbolic buildings of the present are abstract and exist on the level of public consensus. This is precisely what Benjamin Netanyahu is doing with regard to the institution of elections. Destroying the Israeli public’s trust in this institution is akin to dropping an atom bomb on the center of democratic life and will have tragic consequences.
Brace for the return of the 'Oslo coalition' (Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash, Israel Hayom) The disastrous Rabin government that gave us the Oslo Accords was made possible by an unfathomable confluence of left-wing generals, anonymous Knesset members and Arab parties. Does this sound familiar?
Israeli Arabs want to improve their lives, but no party stands by them (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) The low turnout in the sector is a sign for all of us: From the Joint List, to the High Court judges, the Zionist parties, the ruling party and the Israeli Arabs themselves…The Joint List continues stubbornly in its divergent ways, which prioritize the Palestinian struggle instead of the Arabs who are Israeli citizens. It does so even though the public they purport to represent consistently shows it that it is not serving them faithfully. For a moment the party seemed to be changing its way, with (chairman) Ayman Odeh declaring that he did not oppose joining a coalition government. But immediately there were conflicting voices in the party that made him fold. The members of the Joint List are trying to wake-up their indifferent sector through provocations, but imagine how the sector would wake up if they suddenly the party came out announcing that it was changing its priorities. That its goal is to enter the government to reduce educational and income gaps, or to finally reduce crime. It is a pity that it chooses to stimulate the sector by the same measures that made it fall asleep to begin with.
Although expected, Netanyahu has lost an enthusiastic supporter in the White House (Shlomo in the environment of the US President has been annoying and disturbing to President Trump, who believes that if he listened to Bolton’s advice, the US would be mired in a four-front war.
What’s Going in Netanyahu’s House? (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) It’s really too bad about all the good work by (journalists) Guy Peleg, Raviv Drucker, Aviad Glickman and all the others who dig, reveal and publish. Too bad all that work has been frittered away. Journalism that doesn’t influence or change anything is a waste. Every night there’s another scandal and still, a million Israelis (according to the polls) declare that despite the revelations, they will vote for the liar and troublemaker. The reports from the investigations are no longer news; they are just confirming what we already know. We understand and have internalized them – the man is a liar and a trickster, but so what? Honesty is not the topic of this election. The topic is immunity, and that’s not just Netanyahu’s opinion; his whole family is working on it. She’s the commander and supervisor, he’s the presenter and the kid tweets what his father is thinking but doesn’t have the courage to say out loud. The whole family is working on the immunity. The question is how much it’s costing us and how much it’s costing democracy.
Yedioth tries to belittle Israel Hayom readers (Dr. Eitan Orkibi, Israel Hayom) Attempting to restore its hegemonic past, Yedioth Ahronoth has deployed Nahum Barnea to besmirch Israel Hayom. But this paper's unorthodox approach has proved itself time and again, and our readers won't be told what to think.
Netanyahu's conduct after the elections will determine the future of the state (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) The first issue that will concern Netanyahu, if he sets up the next government, will be to pass the Immunity Law at all costs. But it could cause chaos in Israel.
Bolton's dismissal: Despite it being expected, Netanyahu has lost an enthusiastic supporter of the White House Interpretation (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) For months now, Bolton's presence in his environment has been annoying and disturbing to President Trump, who believes that if he listened to his advice, the US would be engrossed in the war on four fronts.
For Second Day Running, Trump – and Hamas – Rain on Netanyahu’s Grandstanding Parade (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Rockets on southern city mar prime minister’s election rally, while Bolton’s dismissal indicates growing rift with Trump on Iran.

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