News Nosh 9.15.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday September 15, 2019
 
Quote of the day:
"Like a beaten society, we've grown accustomed, accustomed to the idiotic idea of going to the polling stations yet again, because the stars didn't align for Binyamin Netanyahu and Avidgor Liberman in April."
--Yedioth commentator, Chen Artzi-Sror.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • 48 hours to elections- Special - Candidates for Prime Minister write why vote for them: (Hebrew)
  • Historic change // Binyamin Netanyahu
  • Rare opportunity // Benny Gantz
  • The parties’ last preparations; Voters voting for the first time (Hebrew); The battle for every vote
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Fateful days - Last stretch: 48 hours till the polling stations
  • Kahol-Lavan presents: Initiative of polite hatred // Eitan Orkibi
  • In the end, someone will need to break his promise // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Ugly elections: Everything is personal, everything is political // Yaakov Berdugo


Top News Summary:
Maariv wrote that  “Trump came to Netanyahu’s rescue.” Yedioth called it Trump’s “election present” to Netanyahu and Haaretz+’s Noa Landau called it a “gift credit.” Only Israel Hayom referred to it as “diplomatic news.” US President Donald Trump's confirmation that he will continue discussing after the elections a “defense alliance” between the US and Israel was mostly seen as part of Netanyahu’s election campaign and it made today’s biggest story in the Hebrew newspapers. It comes in the wake of reports that Netanyahu has been trying to get a diplomatic gesture from Washington. Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz responded saying: "This is not what we want. We have never asked anyone to get killed for us. We have never asked anyone to fight for us. And we have never asked anyone anyone’s permission to defend the State of Israel." Maariv asked whether it was really "a defense alliance or election spin." In an interview on 103FM, former National Security Council chief Giora Island said it was a ”meaningless and void agreement,” adding that “the issue arises in almost every term of government” and that it was an agreement that could do damage.

Interestingly, following Trump’s defense alliance statement ’gift,’ with the exception of Maariv, the papers, lost interest in Netanyahu’s recent announcement of annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley if elected. In a full page article, Maariv reported that former US mediator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Amb. Martin Indyk, said that "Netanyahu never claimed that annexation was necessary.” Indyk spoke out after Netanyahu wrote a post against Gantz that he supported withdrawal from the West Bank. Indyk said that “Netanyahu supported General John Allen's security plan,” which did not give Israel sovereignty over the Jordan Beqaa Valley. (Also Times of Israel) On Friday, there was a storm following the report by Maariv's Ben Caspit that a "screaming match" occurred on Tuesday between Netanyahu and senior security leaders, before Netanyahu announced his intention to annex the Jordan Valley after the elections. Netanyahu reportedly spoke with the IDF chief of staff and the Shin Bet head in a conference call in which they criticized him for wanting to announce the annexation of Judea and Samaria and stopped him from implementing immediate annexation. (Also translated for JPost.) Israel Hayom and Haaretz noted that Turkey said it would convene a special meeting of Muslim countries to discuss the pledge, if Netanyahu is re-elected. Haaretz also reported that five major European powers said that the annexation move is illegal according to international law. And Israel's Election Committee considered the declaration illegal electioneering and fined the Likud party $8,500 following Netanyahu’s live broadcast announcement.

Meanwhile, the papers noted that Netanyahu is calling on right-wingers to vote for him and not the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party, because the four mandates they are projected to get would give Likud fewer mandates than Kahol-Lavan or, alternatively, Otzma Yehudit might not pass the minimum threshold and the votes would 'go to the trash' and Kahol-Lavan would still have more mandates.


Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Last Polls Before Election (Friday): Netanyahu and Gantz Tied for Seats - Netanyahu still several seats short of securing coalition. Kahanist party projected to win four seat. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Election poll (Thursday): Netanyahu bloc stronger with Kahanists, still needs Lieberman - Benny Gantz with 33 seats leads Netanyahu with 31. Right-wing bloc with 59 seats to the center-left's 54, with prospective kingmaker Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu down to seven seats. (Haaretz)
  • (Journalist Raviv) Drucker: "Netanyahu's era will end if he does not get 61 seats in elections" - Channel 13 News political commentator said that "according to the prime minister's point of view, he will go to jail if he does not win the elections.” (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu: “They stole the elections” - Following Maariv investigation that showed that police only turned to two out of 82 members of polling station committees that complained of fake voting, Prime Minister requested urgent meeting with Elections Committee Chairman. (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu’s Plan to Escape Trial, in His Own Words: 'Time for Them to Be Frightened' - The PM changed versions during the course of his interrogations, talked about the 'Judgement Day' to come after Adelson, and sounded determined not to stand trial. (Haaretz+)
  • Gantz’s Party Challenges Netanyahu but Leaves Arab Voters Cold - Activists in the Arab community consider Kahol-Lavan ‘Netanyahu-light,’ a party open to linking up with hard-liner Avigdor Lieberman or even Likud itself. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu doesn't rule out appointing Arab ministers - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said overnight Saturday that he "doesn't rule out appointing Arab ministers", but he does rule out leaders of the Joint List, Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu denied involvement in anti-Arab Likud chatbot - Social network suspended the Likud's Facebook chatbot Thursday after the chatbot told surfers that Arabs "want to destroy us all – women, children and men." PM says staffer is to blame. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • MK Ayman Odeh: "Netanyahu is a psychopath, he’s ready to burn everything just not to go to jail” - The Chairman of the Joint List strongly attacked the prime minister on the grounds of his allegations of incitement against Arabs: "Four years ago he said 'the Arabs are flocking in droves’, now the Arabs are stealing, three days ago he said the Arabs are annihilating. He is such a psychopath, I don't know what he will do on election day. He is ready to burn everything just to avoid going to prison. He is a psychopath, against the Arab civilians he is the most psychopath there is.” (Maariv)
  • Will Netanyahu's attempt to suppress the Palestinian (Arab-Israelis’) vote backfire? - In the lead up to the Sept. 17 elections, Benjamin Netanyahu has escalated his racist incitement against Palestinians. The +972 Podcast talks to Adalah’s Sawsan Zaher about how these attacks are affecting Palestinian voters. (+972mag)
  • "You leftists": A right-wing activist attacked Yair Golan during an interview - During a cultural Shabbat event in Netanya, hosted by the former deputy chief of staff, Yair Golan, who is now a member of the Democratic Camp, a right-wing activist got on the stage and tried to break up the interview. He then wrote: "I'll chase him after him until he gets off the map.” (Maariv)
  • Israel's Attorney General Opposes Legalizing Jordan Valley Outpost Before Election - The AG will stand this morning (Sunday) before a government meeting to present his opposition to the establishment of ‘Jericho Foothills’ in the Territories (West Bank) before the elections. "It is not possible to determine that there is a vital need to advance the proposal at this time," he told the Ministers in a written opinion. Netanyahu aims to approve illegal outpost on Sunday, but Mendelblit warns of marrying 'election concerns' with 'actions that make use of state funds.’ (Haaretz+ and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Opposition: "Bibi really is in another league, a league of humiliations“ - The politicians took part in cultural Shabbat events across the country and the main topic in focus was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We must go out and vote and put an end to the corrupt rule.” (Maariv)
  • Prime Minister blames: Gantz and Lapid are responsible for reporting that Israel spied on the USֿ - Knesset Member Yair Lapid attacked Netanyahu’s allegations against him and the Chairman of Kahol-Lavan: “Forget it, he’s a liar? What about some national responsibility? The man has lost it.” (Maariv)
  • Challenges facing Knesset hopefuls in run-up to Election Day - With just days before Israeli citizens go to the polls for the second time this year, we checked who will benefit most from high or low voter turnouts, how Arab voters affect the results and more. (Ynet)
  • Labor Co-leaders Are Flunking the Polls, but Convinced Netanyahu Can't Be Won Without Them - After attacks from fellow center-let parties and smear campaign targeting former Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Levi-Abekasis, Labor-Gesher moves into high gear: If we don't make it into the Knesset, Netanyahu will have a majority. (Haaretz+)
  • Jeffrey Epstein-controlled Company Donated to Ehud Barak's Political Activity - The $40,000 donation was given to a company founded by Barak aides which launched a campaign to unify left-wing parties. (Haaretz+)
  • For the Bibi-boomer generation, it's hard to imagine life without Netanyahu - They're politically aware and have independent opinions, but all grew up under one prime minister. Haaretz speaks with members from Israel's youngest electorate to understand how this collective memory shapes their voting patterns. (Haaretz+)

Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian prisoners launch hunger strike in Israeli jails over cellphone jamming devices - Twenty-three Palestinian prisoners initiated hunger strike in Israeli prisons on Wednesday in protest of cellular jamming devices in jail wards, which the prisoners claim emit high radiation and are detrimental to their health. Hamas believes Israel is interested in avoiding widespread unrest in Gaza before the election and will agree to prisoners' demands. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinians Say They Downed Israeli Drone Flying Over Gaza; Israeli Army Denies - Report comes several days after Hamas said it took down an Israeli drone that was on a mission in southern Gaza, an incident the IDF confirmed and is investigating. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Palestinians Are 'Illegal Aliens' in West Bank, Israel Tells Top Court - State admits effort to 'halt the growth' in number of Gazans leaving the coastal enclave and 'prevent their settling' in Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Should Let Individual Jews Buy Private West Bank Land, Army Lawyers Say - Currently, Israeli Jews are only allowed to do real estate deals there via a company and with the approval of the head of the Civil Administration. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu advertises 'carrots' of Trump's plan, failing to disclose 'sticks,' Shaked charges - Yamina chairwoman claims the plan would see East Jerusalem neighborhoods falling under Palestinian jurisdiction, but doesn't disclose how she knows. (Haaretz and i24News)
  • Russia prevents Israeli airstrikes in Syria - Israeli sources called Netanyahu's quick Russian visit – to try and convince Putin to ignore Israel's attacks in Syria – "a failure." (Maariv/JPost)
  • Ashdod resident died after being electrocuted by a taser gun by police during his arrest - According to police, the man was arrested on suspicion of burglary, was subjected to a violent attack and could have injured himself. When he arrived at the station with the police, he was electrocuted "for restraint" and he collapsed. (Haaretz Hebrew)
  • Sharp Decline in Investigation, Indictment of Israeli Police Officers - New department head quoted saying role of Police Internal Investigations, tasked with looking into wrongdoing by cops, is to provide services for the police. (Haaretz+)
  • Mafia Enforcer Turned State Witness Gunned Down in Central Israel - Mustafa Basel Assi, 46, had recently returned from 15 years in hiding abroad after his testimony brought down a powerful crime syndicate. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Man Charged With Stabbing Wife to Death in Northern Israel - Yassin Salah Yassin, of the town of Jadeidi-Makr, near Acre, stabbed his wife Amina Yassin-Farhat in the chest with a kitchen knife during an argument in their bedroom. The couple’s children were at home at the time of the murder, and one of them wrestles the father, who had kept knives in various places around the house, indictment says. (Haaretz)
  • Military Police Failed to Prevent Suicide of Soldier-turned-informant in Drug Case, Prosecutors Say - Israeli soldier told investigators he was in distress and wanted to back out, a concern they ignored, court papers show. (Haaretz+)
  • Foreign diplomats invited to "The Mossad" - Is the Israeli secret intelligence organization opening its doors to foreign and Israeli media? Not yet, but an invitation to see "The Mossad" movie is underway. This is a joint initiative of the Foreign Ministry and the Government Press Bureau, which sent invitations to foreign correspondents, foreign bloggers and young diplomats stationed in Israel and invited them to attend a festive screening event for "The Mossad," the most successful Israeli film of 2019. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Fugitive Iranian judoka wants to compete against Israeli world champion - The athlete, who currently resides and trains in Germany, recalls the dramatic chain of events that lead to him losing the recent competition on purpose and his escape. (Ynet)
  • Saudi Arabia Says Drone Attacks Halt Half Its Oil Supplies; U.S. Blames Iran - Pompeo says Iran launched 'unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply' after attacks that raise concerns about global oil supply. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Egypt Says Three Forces, Three Militants Killed in Attack on Sinai Checkpoin - No group claimed responsibility for attack, which also wounded two security forces. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanese-American to Be Prosecuted for Dealing With Israel - Amer Fakhoury was detained after returning to his native Lebanon from the United States earlier this month. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Trump Confirms That Al-Qaida Leader Bin Laden's Son Was Killed in Special U.S. Operation - Hamza is believed to have been killed sometime over the past two years. He was at his father's side before the 9/11 attacks, and threatened to take revenge against the U.S. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Erdogan says he will discuss buying U.S. Patriot missiles with Trump - The U.S. has mentioned the possibility of sanctions on Turkey after its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
'We Had a Beautiful Life, and It Was Lost': Gaza Women Widowed in the 2014 War Speak Out
On the fifth anniversary of the end of Operation Protective Edge, Olfat al-Kurd, a B'Tselem field researcher in Gaza, visits five women who lost their husbands and other relatives in Israeli bombing. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
'Netanyahu is a rock star:' The evangelicals harvesting land in settlements Israel hopes to annex
Evangelical support for Israel goes back decades, but recent moves by Trump and Netanyahu have strengthened the group, leaving others suspicious of their intentions. (Agency, Haaretz)
Kickbacks, Death Threats and Local Democracy: The Arab Town Crying Out for Good Governance
The authorities say they’re doing everything they can to help the Arab citizens of Kalansua, but desperate locals are having a hard time believing that. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)
He dared and he won: The Wonderful Story of Sammy Nahmias, Founder of Sayeret Matkal (elite commando unit)
He did not celebrate his Bar Mitzvah because of the War of Independence and as a teenager he arranged for a friend to serve in the paratroopers by knocking on Arik Sharon's door. Dr. Uri Milstein reveals conversations with Sami Nahmias. (Dr. Uri Milstein, Maariv)
In Argentina, He's Known as the 'Bone Breaker.' Israel Granted Him Citizenship
Argentine lawyer Federico Schiber allegedly convinced destitute women to be subjected to extreme violence in order to get an insurance payout. He stole their money, was tried for heading a crime ring – and found haven in Israel. (Hilo Glazer, Haaretz+)


Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Let Me Complete The Historical Change (Binyamin Netanyahu, Yedioth Hebrew) Citizens of Israel, we are at the peak of historical change in the history of the people of Israel and the State of Israel. This past weekend, I spoke with President Trump and after strenuous political work, we agreed on promoting a historic defense alliance between Israel and the United States. This is another step in the historical transformation that I am leading. For the past three decades, I have led a determined struggle against tremendous pressures, from home and abroad, to a retreat to the 1967 lines that jeopardized our very existence. I repelled the pressure of the Clinton and Obama governments, repaired the damage of Oslo and led to the best decade in the history of the country in terms of security, political and economic. Economic growth peaked, as did GDP per capita, tourism and exports. Unemployment is at an all-time low. We connected the periphery to the center through a network of roads and railways. Recently, Israel was ranked as one of the ten strongest countries in the world. This is a direct result of determined leadership and our informed policy. We curbed Iran's establishment in Syria, unveiled the Iranian nuclear archive and led to the cancellation of the nuclear agreement and the establishment of a tough sanctions regime against Iran. The last decade was the decade with the lowest number of casualties from terrorist acts. Now, after decades of repelling pressure, in the last two years we have been changing the direction of Jewish and Israeli history. No more withdrawals, but instead, recognition of our existential rights and interests. First, we brought the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, followed by the transfer of the embassy and later the American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. President Trump announced his intention to publish the Deal of the Century shortly after the election. In recent months, I have made extensive political effort, and I can share that the conditions have come to the next level. As I announced, immediately after the elections, I intend to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and then apply sovereignty to all localities and other areas of security and national importance in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). I now ask for your trust to complete the historic work and fortify the borders and security of the State of Israel forever.
An opportunity to repair and restore the state to its citizens (Benny Gantz, Yedioth Hebrew) Election Day, even if it is one that the current government forced on us for the second time in six months, is a day of democracy. I ask for your trust, first and foremost because I believe in our democracy and the ability to influence. I believe that we need another (way) and it is possible (to do things) differently. I believe that after a decade of Netanyahu, Israel needs to do differently. To advance. I did not drop into the role I am currently fulfilling, but grew into it. Behind me are decades of security service that culminated as IDF Chief of Staff. The years of service went through the Pentagon's corridors, government ministries and Knesset offices, and running the organization with the largest budget of the State of Israel. I have come a long way from the small religious moshav near Kiryat Malachi, throught the 14th floor of Kirya (IDF Headquarters) to the establishment of the only political alternative in a decade to the present rule, which has reshaped the map of political blocs in Israel. I don't think everything here is bad. Israel is a good country to live in, but in recent years something has happened. The rifts are widening, the gaps are widening and the basic solidarity between us is unraveling: the right against the left, the Jews against the Arabs. The social fabric cracked. At the same time, the gaps between the poor and the rich are among the largest in the OECD; The deficit grew 20 billion shekels over the planned rate as a result of irresponsible political conduct. And in the security field - the state is abandoning the residents of the south, and it is (Hamas politburo chief Yahya) Sinwar and Hamas who set the agenda. All this does not happen on its own, but because this is the way leadership leads us. The same leadership that now bombs with words and promises. I was a soldier, fighter, commander and chief of staff. I led fighters to dangerous operations and made courageous decisions. From 38 years of experience in uniform, I can tell you that security is not made with vain promises before elections, but in deeds. We will bring back deterrence in the south, work to create another priority to stop the extortion and increase support for new immigrants, the elderly, people with disabilities, residents of the social and geographical periphery. We will give Israeli children free education from birth, build hospitals in the south and north, and emergency rooms. We will enable transportation on Shabbat for those who desire it, without harming those who keep Shabbat. We will not allow coercion from either side. On Tuesday, you, the citizens of Israel, have a rare opportunity to choose between two ways: an extreme government - with Itamar Ben-Gvir a disciple of the racist Meir Kahane as Minister of Justice, and Bezalel Smotrich as a government cabinet member; Or a secular, broad-based unity government led by the majority of the citizens of the State of Israel. This is a crucial moment. After years of blackmail and surrender to small parties that care about narrow sectors, we will establish a government that will represent the majority and take care of all Israeli citizens; 80 percent of the country's citizens agree on 80 percent of the issues. Then, anyone who wants to join based on these principles is welcome. The citizens of Israel, I know your distress, I feel for your pains and I intend to work 24 hours a day to make this wonderful country better. On Tuesday, I ask you to vote Kahol-Lavan - here. This is our opportunity to reform, and give the country back to its citizens.
A Brief History of Bullshit: Why We've Learned to Ignore Truth (Eva Illouz, Haaretz+) Lies no longer draw backlash or punishment. But truth remains the strongest weapon against the world of alternative facts propagated by Trump and Netanyahu.
A message intended for all Likudniks who are unable to put a ballot other than for Likud (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Until 1977, Israel had never known a non-Labor government. The people were sure that without Mapai Israel would be lost. That it would be impossible to separate between the state and the party, and then we conquered the mountain.
Days to Election, Master Wizard Netanyahu Ramps Up Efforts to Mesmerize Israeli Voters (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Like Trump in 2016, Netanyahu dominates the campaign with innuendo, lies, slander, total fabrications and untethered fantasies.
Netanyahu's dilemma over Trump's slap in the face (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet) The apparent American shift in position on Iran and its nuclear aspirations, in the shape of a meeting between the two presidents and sanctions relief for Tehran has left the prime minister in an uncomfortable situation and unable to criticize his 'very good friend' as he did with Obama.
In Take Two of Israel's Election, the Guests at Netanyahu's Reelection Party Are Coming Empty-handed (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) The April election saw grand gestures from world leaders in Netanyahu's favor. Now, he's lucky if they get to meetings with him on time.
Powerful, but only briefly (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will use Otzma Yehudit to secure his "immunity coalition," then drop them as soon as possible in favor of more palatable political partners.
Israelis vs. the Jews: The Real Voters Who Will Decide Netanyahu’s Fate (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Even the longest-serving prime minister is transitory and cannot change the deeper trends in Israeli society, making Tuesday the first election that will be won by a new type of Judaism.
The Last Supper (Ron Miberg, Maariv) Ron Miberg has no idea what the outcome of the elections in Israel will be. But he has hope. While most of his time he lacks hope, this time he is optimistic.
Netanyahu Knows Well, Those Who Humiliate Will Be Humiliated (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applied Israeli law and sovereignty to Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim (including the corridors connecting them to Jerusalem), this week he appeared on the eve of the election and promised to apply it to the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea regions, too…Netanyahu had humiliated his colleagues, including his cabinet ministers, who were forced to abandon their work and gather at Kfar Hamaccabiah and wait a long time, while tense and lacking information, for him to spin his insulting scam. Why was he creating such a big deal? For what purpose did he deceive Central Elections Committee head Justice Hanan Melcer by saying it was an important official – and not political – announcement? After all, his regular, captive audience does not need the “dramatic” trick to vote for Likud. Was it to attract voters to the right of Likud? He knows very well that he can never convince those called the “ideological right” to vote for him: They don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth.
Statement on the (annexation of the) Jordan Valley: The most important political move since the Declaration of Independence (Attorney Yoram Sheftel, Maariv) Netanyahu's annexation statement heralds a complete upheaval in Israel's conduct. The position of the legal establishment on this issue is hypocrisy and extreme dishonesty at a level we did not yet know existed.
Israeli TV Just Let Netanyahu Manipulate It in Aggressive Campaign Move (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The prime minister rudely pounced on his interviewers from home, while all other party leaders were asked to come to the studio. But this time he didn't deny his tricks.
The Jordan Valley is waiting for Zionist action (Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Not only is the Jordan Valley vital to Israel's security, it is vital to the Zionist enterprise as a potential place for a million Israelis to live and work.
Bibi, a Weak Right (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Netanyahu offers the public promises and threats along the lines of “there will be no choice but to embark on a campaign, a war against Gaza” and hints that toppling Hamas will “apparently” be on the agenda (Kan Bet radio, September 12). But he obscures his own role in nourishing the clashes that have lasted for many long months already, in which thousands of Gazans protest along the border fence, carry out attacks, launch rockets at Israel and are killed or wounded by the Israel Defense Forces.
The ingredient that must be as strong and large as possible can be found to the right of the Likud (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Netanyahu's sophistication is not limited to false declarations on election night, from Hebron to the Jordan Valley. It is also reflected in the deliberate violation of a government decision.
Netanyahu Is Destroying Israel’s Democracy to Survive (Haaretz Editorial) Netanyahu insisted on remaining in office for the duration of the corruption investigations against him, even after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced his intention to issue three indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing. Not only did Netanyahu not step down, he launched an unbridled attack on the law enforcement agencies. What didn’t he accuse them of? He accused them of conspiring against him, of hating him, of being leftists, of framing him, anything to delegitimize them in the eyes of the public. “Stop being frightened. It’s time for them to be frightened,” Netanyahu told confidants, referring to those who decided to indict him, as Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz reported Friday. And without fear or shame, Netanyahu’s people did in fact try to pass laws for his personal benefit…The destructive effect of Netanyahu’s criminal cases on his conduct as prime minister; the corrupting effect of his legal struggle on his colleagues in Likud and the entire right-wing bloc; the cumulative damage to the state and to the public’s trust in the systems of the state, to the principles of fundamental honesty and decency; and the fact that the country has been dragged into a general election twice the same year, at the public’s expense — all this shows that management of the country has been subordinated to Netanyahu’s legal battle.
Israel is going to the polls on the whim of one person (Amnon Abramovich, Yedioth/Ynet) On Tuesday, Israelis vote in national elections for the third time in a row because of the personal and criminal interests of a single man, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu Keeps Setting New Records of anti-Arab Incitement (Joint List Chairman, Ayman Odeh, Haaretz+) So here then is another Netanyahu record for inciting against Arabs. If we ignore the gentler incitements, like “Arabs streaming to the polls” and “Arab forgery” then until recently only the Mufti starred as an exterminator of Jews. Later he determined that the Arab parties are enemies of the state. Even that could be tolerated, after all, he was talking about parties, not the entire Arab public. But now comes the big boom: All Arabs want to destroy the Jews. Yes, no longer is there one destroyer facing the Jewish state, but loads of destroyers. What did the Arabs do in their former incarnation to make them into the targets of accusations by everyone - from future partners like Kahol-Lavan through Otzma Yehudit, Netanyahu’s ally – and the butts of a few nations’ worth of slander? The Arabs serve as punching bags for all comers. Here are the Arabs; smack them and you’ll feel better! Many people, myself included, are getting pretty fed up with repeating the mantra that if a French or Belgian leader would say the same things about Jews, the sun would go on strike and disappear at midday.
Russia, also, understands: A week before the election, everything is about them (Anna Barsky, Maariv) The local journalists saw (Netanyahu’s) visit (to meet Putin) unequivocally. You have elections, shaking hands with Putin will do Netanyahu just fine. "Had it not been for Netanyahu's declaration of intent to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, we would not have reported on the meeting extensively," Anton Warnicki, a senior political commentator for the Russian First Channel, told me. "This is because the statement has quite shocked our foreign ministry. We know all the other issues well. Syria and Iran, Iran and Syria. And security coordination.”
Israeli Politicians All Lie, but Only One of Them Has a Vision (Shlomo Sand, Haaretz+) Nearly all Israeli politicians are aware that the current election propaganda is not addressing – directly or indirectly – the elephant in the room: the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Of course the Joint List and Yamina are expressing clear positions on these relations, but all the other parties know full well that the historic argument about peace with the Palestinians has long been tabled from the national agenda, and so they intentionally remain vague and elusive on the subject.
Fighting for Survival and Revenge: The election campaign is beyond politics (Anna Barsky, Maariv) In Likud and in Kahol-Lavan, they will work continuously until election day for the five mandates which, according to the polls, were added to Yisrael Beiteinu. Lieberman, for his part, is mainly troubled by the percentage of votes.
Someone will have to break their promise (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) If we get a rerun of the previous round, someone will have to break their promise and sit in a government with someone they vowed to eschew, otherwise the country will be dragged into a third election and it just won't be funny anymore.
Netanyahu's Unusual Declaration - and What Really Worries Him Days Before Election (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) A bad week that may have driven him to throw caution to the wind.
Netanyahu feels firsthand the incomprehensible behavior of Trump (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The president's willingness to host Taliban leaders at Camp David is another testament to the unintelligible conduct of the free world leader. Only now, though, Netanyahu feels it up close.
The Only Real Question Still Looming Over Israel's Repeat Election (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) It doesn't matter whether Israelis changed their minds since they last had to cast their votes in April. There is one issue that can still tip the scales on Tuesday.
An ‘enlightened’ secular democratic state of the Jews (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Freedom of and from religion is what we’ll get if a defiantly secular, left-of-center Israeli government is formed later this fall. Just imagine…
Netanyahu’s Plan to Escape Trial, in His Own Words: 'Time for Them to Be Frightened' (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) The PM changed versions during the course of his interrogations, talked about the 'Judgement Day' to come after Adelson, and sounded determined not to stand trial.
Jewish Israelis Should Cast a Solidarity Vote for the Arab Joint List (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Reminder No. 1: There are such things as solidarity and identification, even if it’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything about them. Reminder No. 2: Israel’s Arab citizens are a constant target for attack, exclusion and humiliation, especially in this campaign season.
*This election campaign has reached a new low (Chen Artzi Sror, Yedioth/Ynet) Elections were never for those with refined tastes, but the feeling of disgust surrounding the upcoming vote is record breaking; there's no red lines left to cross, every conceivable demographic is a target for someone, and nothing is too petty for the candidates.
The nasty, racist campaign that will go down in Israel's history (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) If there's no breakthrough in the coming days, we will find ourselves, the morning after the election, mired deep in a political and constitutional nightmare. Will it be left to the president to save the day?
At Last, Israelis Are Turning Away From Their Medieval Religious Maniacs (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) This election will determine if the future of Israel will be gender-segregated, ignorant, poor and fundamentalist. And there's evidence that Israeli Jews are finally seeing the light.

Commentary/Analysis:
The Gift That Never Stops Letting Israel Avoid Peace (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) If we examine the Gaza disengagement according to its true goal, we must crown it an overwhelming success of the settler right. A gift that never stops giving. Three weeks before the approval, in an interview with Ari Shavit in Haaretz Magazine, Sharon’s bureau chief Dov Weissglas explained that the pullout was designed to provide legitimacy for freezing the peace process. “The disengagement plan makes it possible for Israel to park conveniently in an interim situation that distances us as far as possible from political pressure. It legitimizes our contention that there is no negotiating with the Palestinians...The disengagement is actually formaldehyde. It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” The disengagement was depicted by Sharon’s lawyer as a long-term investment: giving up Gaza in order to keep control of the West Bank. Regarding the large settlement blocs, Weissglas said that “thanks to the disengagement plan, we have in our hands a first-ever American statement that they will be part of Israel. In years to come, perhaps decades, when negotiations will be held between Israel and the Palestinians, the master of the world will pound on the table and say: We stated already 10 years ago that the large blocs are part of Israel.”
It's not hard to go to war in the Gaza Strip, but chances are we will come back with our tail between our legs (Jacky Khougy, Maariv) Israel is approaching with huge steps to the point of no return in Gaza. Almost every possibility of getting out of the mess is blocked. A guide for understanding a national problem.
The Palestinian Economy Is Collapsing. Its Future Depends on Israel (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The minister of national economy is ambitious and as capable as can be, but when it comes to trade, industry and Palestinian Authority's revenues, he doesn't call the shots.
Why is the BDS movement dangerous? (Tesfazion Gerhelase, Israel Hayom) BDS poses a threat to Israel not because it is causing Israel political or financial damage but because it is shifting the opinions of the next generation of American and European leaders.
Erdogan has an army of Syrian refugees, and he's not afraid to use it (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Turkey's threat to flood Europe with refugees is meant to pressure the U.S. to allow Turkey to establish a safe zone in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria.
Israel may not be behind the espionage case in the US, but if it is, then it’s an earthquake (Yossi Melman, Maariv) For decades, the state has not been spying on US territory following the discovery of spy Jonathan Pollard in the 1980s, and it is hard to believe that this directive has been violated in the present case.
Israel and John Bolton’s departure (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) The fact that Netanyahu announced his annexation plan just as Bolton was departing suggests the administration’s positions on Israel are unlikely to change now that one of its allies is gone.

 
Interviews:
PM defends Trump-touted defense deal, won't rule out Arab ministers
In an exclusive interview with Ynet, Netanyahu says those who claim the potential U.S.-Israel defense treaty wouldn't be financially viable 'don't know what they're taking about'; adds he'd sit with Arab ministers in his government as long as they're not Ahmad Tibi or Ayman Odeh. (Interviewed by Moran Azulay Ynet)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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