News Nosh 9.19.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday September 19, 2019
Quote of the day #1:
"I suggest you make an exit now. This is the 90th minute. Your hourglass is almost out. These are the last moments where (Attorney General) Mendelblitt can make you a reasonable deal. If you don't do it now, you are taking a big gamble. Remember Olmert. He, too, thought it would not happen to him, but he went to Maasiyahu (prison). Do you want to go to Maasiyahu, Bibi? Sure, you'll have some quiet there, finally. I understand. But I don't think you’ll like the scent of Lysol or the kitchen duties. There is no sushi there, and the pasta isn’t great."
--Maariv's political commentator, Ben Caspit, writes what he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's deceased personal lawyer and friend would have advised Netanyahu following his election loss and the upcoming hearing on his corruption cases.*

Quote of the day #2:
"The racism of the politicians kills us - we learned to live together, Arabs and Jews."
--Aida Husari, 52, from Shfaram town, who donated her kidney to a Jewish man. The Jewish man's original donor donated to Husari's sister-in-law.*

Breaking News:
Israel Election Results: Gantz Widens Lead Over Netanyahu as 97% of Vote Counted
Netanyahu's bloc, comprised of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, currently stands at 55 seats. The center-left bloc has 57 seats. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Says He Wants Unity Government; Gantz: I Will Lead It
Kahol Lavan MKs say they will sit with Netanyahu ■ Shaked says she isn't sure she will join right-wing bloc ■ Gantz widens edge over Netanyahu as 98% of vote counted. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Blocked
  • Longing for (his former lawyer, Yaakov) Weinroth - The only thing that will bail us out of the ensnarlment we got stuck in is if Netanyahu gives up  // Ben Caspit
  • Trump: I didn’t speak with Netanyahu - our relations are with Israel
  • Lieberman is loyal to his commitment and makes clear: Only a unity government without ultra-Orthodox
  • On the way to heading the Opposition: The great achievement of the Chairman of the Joint List
  • US in response to attack against Saudi Arabia: “We will expand sanctions on Iran”

Israel Hayom

  • Netanyahu’s bloc - The political snarl, the conclusion is likely far
  • Going to the President
  • Right-wing’s difficulty: Translating the majority at the booths // Eitan Orkibi
  • Netanyahu and Gantz will need to sit together // Amnon Lord
  • Heavy mission on Rivlin’s shoulder’s // Gideon Allon
  • Unity - or elections again // Mati Tuchfeld
  • Arab sector presents: Achievement - and dilemma // Daniel Sirioti
  • Ultra-Orthodox showed up at the last minute // Chanani Bleich

Top News Summary:
Today’s Hebrew stories marveled over the deadlock of the Israeli political system, now that neither of the major blocs, right-wing-ultra-Orthodox or center-left, got enough for a majority without the help of right-wing-secular-ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party. And Lieberman has reiterated that he will only sit in a unity government of both Kahol-Lavan and Likud. The papers also noted that US President Donald Trump didn’t call his good friend, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after the elections and that the mostly-Arab ‘Joint List’ marked a great achievement, raising voter turnout among Arab citizens by 12%.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced the formation of a bloc of the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing parties, sans Yisrael Beiteinu, to thwart Kahol-Lavan leader, Benny Gantz from making a coalition bid first. He declared that Israelis had two choices, a government led by him or a “dangerous government that depends on the support of the Arab parties.”

In order to focus on coalition negotiations, Netanyahu cancelled his participation at the UN General Assembly next week and his meeting with Trump. Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz will fly to New York on Netanyahu’s behalf, marking the first time since 2010 that Netanyahu is not speaking at the event. In what sounded like a slight against Netanyahu, Trump said that he had not spoken with Netanyahu and that “our relationship is with Israel.” Trump’s comments came on the day he named former hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien as his national security adviser, replacing the ousted Iran-hawk and close friend of Israel, John Bolton. Meanwhile, US Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt will visit Israel today and meet with both Benny Gantz and Netanyahu to discuss the optimal time to release the Trump peace plan. This will be the first time US officials meet Gantz as they refused his requests in the past after he became head of the Opposition.

Channel 11 News reported that a source close to Netanyahu said that "Netanyahu does not reject a rotation with Gantz.” Others said that Netanyahu was in favor of a third round of elections. But Netanyahu denied that. And Channel 13 News reported that some Likud MKs are talking about the day after Netanyahu. "Our hope is that in the Likud they will understand that Netanyahu needs to be moved.” (Maariv)

Yedioth Hebrew reported that Netanyahu can forget the immunity from being put on trial that he wanted. “Netanyahu planned to win the election, enact the Immunity Law that would prevent him from being prosecuted, pass the High Court Override Law that would prevent the High Court from repealing the law, and then make changes to the top echelons of the justice system,” wrote Moran Azulay and Tova Zimuki. “The current Knesset composition will cause these programs to be shelved.

A full-page article in Yedioth Hebrew, titled, ‘The Joint Success,’ described how the Netanyahu’s and the Likud party’s incitement against Arabs backfired and was a major factor in the sharp rise in voter turnout in the Arab sector, which gave the Joint List at least 12 seats in the Knesset. The Joint List is made up of four Arab parties and its leaders see their 12 seats as a chance to "send that inciter Netanyahu home." Joint List Chairman, Ayman Odeh, gives his party credit: “Without (the high Arab turnout), Netanyahu would have been the prime minister." The papers discussed whether Odeh would become the first Arab citizen to be the head of the Opposition, if the two large parties form a unity government. Yedioth wrote that the position is considered one of the seven government symbols in the country and, by law, requires Shin Bet security for him as well as for him to receive security briefings from the prime minister. Odeh said his party could use its unprecedented success as an opportunity to draw world attention to the injustices done to Israeli Arabs. ”It is a very influential and unprecedented role for the Arab citizens," Odeh said. "The leader of the opposition has an important pulpit from which to inform the world" about the controversial Jewish Nation-State Law passed by Netanyahu's outgoing government and and about the unrecognized villages. MK Ahmed Tibi chilled his enthusiasm. “This possibility is wishful thinking. It won’t happen,” he said. “The Zionist parties won’t let it.” Likud MK Miki Zohar said the Likud battle to get cameras installed at polling stations in Arab areas "may have had the undesired effect" of encouraging larger turnout among Arab voters. It was largely considered as an attempt to frighten Arabs from the polls. Haaretz reported that experts say that the Arab voters deprived Netanyahu of his victory by giving one or possibly two seats to Gantz’s Kahol-Lavan.

Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Palestinian Authority says ready to talk with 'any future Israeli leader' - Ramallah is willing to hold talks with "any future Israeli leader," says PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki. "Whoever will be able to form a government, we are ready to sit with him or her in order to restart the negotiations." (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu strongholds let him down on Election Day - In addition to a low turnout of supporters and a more energized opposition Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party managed to secure traditional supporters of the prime minister. (Ynet)
  • In Tel Aviv and Haifa they voted for Gantz, in Jerusalem and Beersheva they voted Likud: This is how the big cities voted - Kahol-Lavan won 42% support in Tel Aviv, more than twice that of the Likud, which managed to maintain its power in the southern cities: Beersheva, Ashdod and Sderot. Amir Peretz won only a few percent in his own city, Sderot. (Maariv)
  • Yamina turns on leader Shaked after disappointing performance - Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked reportedly told party officials that she would resign if Yamina failed to win more than seven seats. National Union, Habayit Hayehudi announce split from Yamina list. (Israel Hayom)
  • Itamar Ben-Gvir: The one who needs to do some soul searching is the prime minister - [Far-right, religious, ultra-nationalist and anti-Arab - OH] Otzmah Yehudit chairman whose party did not pass the minimum threshold found the culprits: “You need to remember that also the arrogant (MKs) (Bezalel) Smotrich, Ayelet Shaked and (Naftali) Bennett did not want a partnership (with us). They harmed and shot from inside the (right-wing) tank.”  (103FM/Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • “There is a feeling of caring": Elections in the Bedouin sector in the South - In the Bedouin village of Abu Tlul in the Negev, some women were prevented from voting because they were demanded to remove the veil from their faces, there was a sense of chaos in Lakiya town when voters found out at the polling stations that their voting locations were changed, many voters were seen at the polling station at a high school in Segev Shalom town, which is the residence of candidate # 11 on the Joint List, former MK Said al-Khrumi. "We are doing everything we can to overthrow this fascist government," said al-Khrumi. At the entrance to the al-Ahwa school polling station in Rahat sat two youth, who volunteered to direct voters. "I'm doing it for heaven, not for anyone political group,” Hussein said. A minor commotion occurred when two election commission inspectors entered the polling station with cameras, despite the Cameras Law failing to pass. The regional election manager was called to the scene and explained to the two that they were not allowed to take pictures inside the ballot box. "We didn't take pictures inside the polling station," one of them said. "I hope the fall of Netanyahu's laws indicates the fall of his government," concluded one of the voters present. (Maariv)
  • A Look Back at Netanyahu's Scare Tactics - From saber rattling with Gaza and Iran to warning the election is rigged against him, here are some of Netanyahu's most controversial headlines from the campaign. (Haaretz)
  • Who Is Avigdor Lieberman, the Right-wing Leader Standing Between Netanyahu and a 5th Term? - 12 shocking headlines from one of the most bombastic careers in Israeli politics. (Haaretz+)
  • Successful Unity Governments and Those Less So - Maariv returned to the days when the left and right cooperated - 1.) Menachem Begin (Likud) joined Levi Eshkol (Labor) in a national unity government following Nasser’s threats in 1967, after which Israel attacked in what became known as the Six Day War. 2.)  Another was in 1969-1970 between Labor party chief Golda Meir and Begin. 3.) The 1984 elections, which came after the "upheaval" and the rise of the Likud to power, were close and led for the first time to the establishment of a national unity government due to equality between the blocs. 4.) In 1984, due to the inflation crisis, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir created a unity government, considered the most successful ever, and defeated inflation. 5.) In 1999, Ariel Sharon and Peres' unity government is one remembered as beginning with Israel’s assassination counterterrorism policy against Palestinians and for Operation Defensive Shield, after a period that included severe terrorist attacks. However, during the Labor primaries in 2001, a leftist line opposed a unity government and it was decided to advance the elections. 6.) In January 2005, after the disengagement plan, a number of Labor party MKs decided to connect with Sharon and join his government, which ended in November, after Amir Peretz was appointed Labor chairman and his party resigned from the government. 7.) The last unity government was in May 2012, when Shaul Mofaz was head of Kadima party and joined Netanyahu’s government. Kadima quit the government in July over disagreement about the ultra-Orthodox men recruitment law.  (Omer Kapuchavsky, Maariv)

Quick Hits:

  • Palestinian Woman Shot Dead After Trying to Stab Policemen, Israel Police Say - The woman approached policemen at the Qalandiyah crossing between E. Jerusalem and Ramallah, wielded a knife and ignored calls to halt, police say. Witnesses told local media the unidentified woman was left bleeding at the side of the road for "a long time" before being transported to a hospital in Jerusalem, where she was pronounced dead. Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Saleh Higazi said: “Video footage of the incident shows the woman standing some distance away from the Israeli guards when they shot her dead. She did not appear to be carrying a firearm and did not pose any immediate threat to the guards or to the lives of people in the vicinity when they opened fire. This strongly suggests that her killing may have been unlawful." [NOTE: Israel Hayom showed video that does not show the shooting and how problematic it was. Maariv didn't show video. Only Haaretz and Arab networks showed the video circulating among Palestinians. - OH] (Haaretz+ and Maariv and Israel Hayom and Al-Jazeera with video and Amnesty Int'l
  • The house demolition (of Israelis) that got out of control: Watch anti-terror police (violently acted) towards residents of Israeli moshav who tried to attack them - Large forces,  together with members of the Israel Lands Administration, raided moshav Sdeh Uziyahu, near Ashdod, in order to execute a demolition order issued against one of the buildings, that one of the farmers built. Two people were detained and four were evacuated to the hospital. (Maariv and video)
  • Seven Palestinians Wounded After Gaza Rockets Fall Within Strip - Witnesses say two rockets fell outside home in Rafah ■ Unclear which militant group is responsible for launch. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • If Egypt Won’t Buy Israel’s Gas, Maybe Israeli Consumers Will - Government pilot project aims to hook up 15 new neighborhoods to the nationwide pipeline and encourage wider use of natural gas in homes. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran Suspended From International Judo Competitions Over Israel Boycott - Suspension comes less than a month after Iranian world champion, now in hiding, walked off national team in protest of policy. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran's Rohani blames Saudi Arabia, Israel, U.S. for starting war in Yemen - Iranian president said Houthis attacked Saudi oil facilities as a 'warning' after Saudi-led coalition attacked civilian centers. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran reportedly sent U.S. official warning - vows immediate retaliation for any action - Iran's state-run news agency is reporting that Iran sent an official warning through Swiss diplomats to the U.S. that any action taken against Tehran 'will face an immediate answer.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Pompeo in Saudi Arabia to meet crown prince as Iran tensions spike - Russia's Putin, Saudi crown prince discuss attacks by phone. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump Says Ordered Substantial Increase of Iran Sanctions After Saudi Oil Attack - Saudi government presented evidence of Iran's involvement in the attack on Wednesday. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Saudi Arabia Displays Weapon Debris It Says Proves Iran Behind Oil Facility Attacks - Trump says he ordered substantial increase of Iran sanctions after attack. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • FACT CHECK Trump contradicts himself and his cabinet secretaries on Iran talks - On Sunday, Trump flatly contradicted top aides who had characterized his thinking on Iran last week, before a weekend attack on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia. (Agencies, Haaretz)

***Showing contrition - Morality of the kidneys [play on words in Hebrew - OH]
Yisrael and Hanan, a Jewish man and an Arab woman who both needed a kidney transplant, waited for years for the long-awaited surgery.  When kidneys were finally found, they turned out to be unsuitable for them. With the help of a chain of transplants, which also united between Jews and Arabs, donors were found for them and their lives were saved. "The racism of the politicians kills - Jews and Arabs can live together," they concluded. Tensions between Arabs and Jews in Israel were at the heart of the election campaign that ended yesterday. From the turmoil surrounding the proposal to place cameras at polling stations in the Arab communities, through attempts by some parties to intimidate high voter turnout rates in the Arab sector, to text messages that included incitement and attempts to cause a rift between the Jewish and Arab sectors. But while politicians fought - the citizens prove another way is possible. Twenty-four hours before the dramatic moment moment when the polls opened, two Jewish men and two Arab women faced their own dramatic moment: a chain of operations that saved the lives of two of them. Ido from the religious community of Hoshaya intended to donate a kidney altruistically to Yisrael Belban, 35, from Kiryat Bialik, whom he did not know before, but, unfortunately tests found he was not unsuitable. The same happened to Aida Husari, 52, from Shfaram town, who intended to donate a kidney to her sister-in-law Hanan Hamada, but the results of the tests showed that this would not be possible. At Rambam Hospital, the four proposed a "chain of transplants,” which led to Aida donating her kidney to Yisrael, while Ido donated a kidney to Hanan. Aida: “I got a genetic test and told me that the kidney was not right for her. They asked us at the hospital if I were willing to donate the kidney to someone else and maybe, as a result, he can donate his kidney to my sister. I replied, ‘If we save two people's lives, I have no problem donating the kidney to him.’” It took surgeon Dr. Ahmed Asalia and vascular surgeon Dr. Tony Karam 12 hours to perform the transplant operations. The crossover was indeed successful, and this week the donors and recipients met. "I met Aida in the hospital, thanked her and bought her a gift and chocolates," Yisrael said excitedly. Aida added: "I am very happy that I saved the lives of two people. The racism of the politicians kills us - we learned to live together, Arabs and Jews. Every Saturday we meet with our Jewish friends and we have no hatred for anyone - we grow up together and it will stay that way all our lives,” she said. Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, chairman of the Matat Haim Association, which has been responsible for hundreds of transplants in recent years, welcomed the special transplant: “This transplant is a wonderful unification of the parts of the people, who connected in such a moving and uplifting way: Jews and Muslims, religious and secular, women and men. That is the beauty of the gift of life, and I hope we will continue to connect and unite the people through altruistic life-saving acts.” (Inbar Twizer, Yedioth Hebrew)

Feminism, Nakba and Tears: This Young Palestinian Artist's Works Are Hard to Look Away From
Womanhood and national identity politics are at the heart of the drawings of artist Samah Shihadi, now on display at her solo Tel Aviv Museum exhibition. (Vered Lee, Haaretz+)
Israelis Want Nicer Rightists in Power (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) In casting ballots for Kahol Lavan voters were rejecting Netanyahu's boisterous campaign, more than they were voicing disagreement with Likud's ideology.
These elections will be remembered eternally in disgrace because of the Likud's attack on Israeli Arabs (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The right-wing coalition has continually engaged in intimidation, hatred and experimentation in order to escape its responsibility for the terrorist attacks that have occurred here, and through it has mounted a deranged public unable to deal with the complexity of the conflict…It’s nice that everyone is excited about the results of the election, but no matter what the results, nothing will change dramatically…The coalition supposedly is supposed to give a value-based, ideological and practical answer to those matters, but the goal today is to fit an anonymous buttock into a John Doe chair, followed by control over finances and means. Until that happens, the latest election campaign can be summed up as the most polluted one ever. Both the right-wing line of hatred of Arabs, and the left-wing line about hatred of Netanyahu. And yet, these elections will be remembered forever shamefully because of the main line axis around which the other elements of the Likud campaign focused: a wild, planned, malicious attack and, of course, baseless attack by the Likud base against almost a quarter of the population, the Israeli Arabs. The technique was as simple and effective as any fascist Machiavellian method: to create an atmosphere of fear. Arabs will be afraid to vote at the polls, and Jews will be afraid of Arabs. Netanyahu was just the MC. The Likud and other elements of the coalition pumped this fear as if it were part of their struggle for their land of Israel. Each attack had several layers of blame: the perpetrator himself, the Palestinians in general, their Israeli Arab brothers and Jewish leftists. The whole right-wing coalition has been constantly, almost obsessively, engaged in intimidation, hatred and incitement to escape their own responsibility for the endless terror attacks. And in their way, they ride on the divided public, which is unable to cope with the complexity of the conflict.
How Avigdor Lieberman Has Made Himself King Bibi's Regicide (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Israelis have an appetite for a hawkish leader willing to do battle for the rights of secular people in the face of perceived religious coercion.
If Netanyahu’s Right, Get Ready for a Third General Election (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) 'Only two governments are possible,' he said, 'one led by me, or of the left and the Arab parties.' But will Likud let Bibi lead it if he's indicted?
Netanyahu's era is over, Israel is on a new path (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister has lost his allies and his touch, and the future identity of the state now rests on kingmaker Avigdor Liberman, Benny Gantz's determination, and the Likud's willingness to boot its long-term leader from its midst.
Deliberate Escalation in One of the Security Arenas Could Impact on Coalition Talks (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Netanyahu could try exploit a security crisis to force the establishment of an emergency government under his watch.
*The only thing that will bail us out of the ensnarlment we got stuck in is if Netanyahu gives up (Ben Caspit, Maariv) If anyone could have extracted the state from the whirlwind of madness into which we are caught it is lawyer Yaakov Weinroth. He was the attorney for the Netanyahu couple, but also their close psychologist. Unlike many of his peers, who peeked at the made Balfour (Netanyahu residence) bubble, were injured and ran, Weinroth knew the couple's operating software. He was not alarmed by them or afraid to tell them the truth. He told it to them long ago. If he were alive, he would have gone to Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday morning and, more or less, told him these things. "Bibi, the elections are behind us. You lost. You don't have a majority for the immunity government. You can't bend the system. The public has spoken. People got a little tired of what went on here last year. You tried, fought, did your best. Let's leave that now for the test of history. Now is the time to think about your trial. It's time for you to look into reality with your eyes. Understand the situation. It’s not good, Bibi, believe me. You know I'm not against you. I'm not part of any conspiracy. I haven't talked to Gideon Sa'ar for the past two years, and Reuven Rivlin isn't on my speed dial, either. I only care about you, Bibi, and I know what I'm talking about. I suggest you make an exit now. This is the 90th minute. Your hourglass is almost out. These are the last moments where (Attorney General) Mendelblitt can make you a reasonable deal. If you don't do it now, you are taking a big gamble. Remember Olmert. He, too, thought it would not happen to him, but he went to Maasiyahu (prison). Do you want to go to Maasiyahu, Bibi? Sure, you'll have some quiet there, finally. I understand. But I don't think you’ll like the scent of Lysol or the kitchen duties. There is no sushi there, and the pasta isn’t great. I don't believe that even (State Comptroller who Netanyahu wanted) Matanyahu Engelman, your new State Comptroller, will be able to allow Spencer Partridge or Nathan Milkowsky to purchase the prison as part of a swift privatization. You don't want to go there Bibi, but you do everything to make it happen. It’s a pity.” That is my guess about the conversation that will not take place between the veteran attorney and his client. It was drawn from a conversation I had with Weinroth myself, and other things he had said in his last months of life. As we know, Weinroth tried to reach a quick plea bargain with Mendelblit in the first phase of the investigations, when investigative materials began to be revealed in Cases 1000 and 2000. Even more so, now that we are after the submission of three allegations, plus a bribe in Case 4000. Weinroth would go on to tell Netanyahu that the prosecutor's office is ultimately investigating the economic relationship between him and his cousin, Nathan Milkowsky. This is an investigation with the most explosive potential. Netanyahu does not really want the state to start poking in his economic history. Weinroth also tried to rescue the “Lady" [Sara Netanyahu - OH] from her cases, by suggesting she was (not) competent to stand trial, but he was thrown down the stairs. Her will can't be broken. The question is what can be done with her husband. A few months ago, Attorney General Mendelblitt was asked in a closed hearing what he would do if it received a request for a plea deal with Netanyahu. He did not throw the questioner down the stairs. Just the opposite. Welcome, he said to the person who asked. Mendelblitt knows what Netanyahu's trial will do to what remains of Israeli society. President Reuben (Ruvy) Rivlin was also asked in the last year what he would do if any request involving a pardon for Netanyahu was requested in the style of the Bus Line 300 Affair ( which includes pleading guilty and permanently retiring from political life). The President also let his interlocutors understand that there was something to talk about. If Mendelblitt approves, there is no reason for Rivlin to rule it out. We are not there yet, nor on the way there. Netanyahu is not yet ripe psychologically and it is doubtful that will happen. Weinroth could have advanced this ripening, but he's gone. Yesterday, an interesting replacement in the form of attorney Ram Caspi was found. Incidentally, Caspi was the one who cooked that pardon for the culprits of Bus Line 300 Affair. The thing that Caspi most hates, is to come with his client to court. He is the wizard of contacts, deals, and alliances behind the scenes. If I know Caspi, he will explain to Netanyahu what Weinroth was supposed to explain to him, but with one hand tied behind his back - Weinroth knew how to "get along" with the Lady. Caspi has not yet gone through this grinder yet. Either way, the only thing that can bail us out of the political-legal plunder we have been in is Netanyahu's understanding that it is time to give up. It's over. Currently, he's not there. He is striving to reach a third round and drag Israel into another election campaign in early 2020. As has already been said: the state - is I.
Israel's Arabs Should Thank Netanyahu for Striking Their Most Painful Nerve (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The prime minister's fear campaign against the Arabs shook them of their indifference, and now the Joint List needs to try to depose Netanyahu without putting all their eggs in Benny Gantz's basket.
Netanyahu is outmaneuvering Gantz (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully nixed any chance for a unity government. In order to achieve this, he is operating a three-stage campaign. If Netanyahu had truly been in favor of a unity government, he would have turned to Gantz before signing an agreement Wednesday with the far-right and religious parties, creating an effective parliamentary bloc.
Ayman Odeh With Shin Bet Bodyguards? (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Shortly after the exit poll results were released on Tuesday night, talk began of Ayman Odeh heading the opposition in the next Knesset. Then the whispers started: Odeh with Shin Bet security service bodyguards? Odeh in an official state car, an armored one even? Odeh in official meetings with foreign heads of state? You must be joking. Even worse: Odeh provided with sensitive intelligence from defense briefings. Israel’s next existential crisis. But commentators did not take long to put us at ease: There are ways to get around the law, they said, the Knesset can choose a different opposition leader, he doesn’t need to hear everything, the Shin Bet will find a way, no need to worry, have faith in Israeli democracy. The votes were still being counted in the only democracy in the Middle East, and racism and ultranationalism already reared their ugly heads. No,  of course, not the vulgar racism of Benzi Gopstein and Michael Ben Ari, who actually took a severe blow in the election, and not that of Benjamin Netanyahu, who stirs up anti-Arab fear. No, this is the hidden kind, which goes down easy, dressed in excuses about security, and is immeasurably more dangerous because it’s nicer and more commonplace. Barely an eyebrow will be raised.
Netanyahu Brought a Disaster on Likud (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) After waging the battle of his life, Netanyahu waged a campaign of incitement and lies, driving away thousands of sane and moderate voters.
Will the leonine prime minister roar again? (Fiamma Nirenstein, Israel Hayom) Benjamin Netanyahu is not a dictator; he is a bold leader who has been in power for 13 years. He has been around a long time, but he is “right-wing,” which to many has become akin to a mortal sin.
Netanyahu Will Pull Out All the Stops - Including Military Action - to Hold on to Power (Chuck Freilich, Haaretz+) Israelis voted to save their democracy. But the country may soon face a severe constitutional crisis if Netanyahu, facing political failure and criminal prosecution, adopts Nixon-style desperate measures.
With friends like these, who needs enemies? (Yehuda Shlezinger, Israel Hayom) Barely a day goes by without a report of internal friction in the Yamina faction. This is not how you win an election. This is not how you build a party.
With Indictment Around the Corner, Netanyahu Is at the Mercy of the Attorney General (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Attorney General Mendelblit has described the prime minister as tainted by government corruption, leaving Netanyahu the option of a trial or plea agreement.
Stopping foreign interference in Israel’s elections (Douglas Altabef, Israel Hayom) The Left’s hypocrisy regarding foreign interference in elections aside, such interference is both dangerous and illegal.
Trump Clearly Wants Rapprochement With Iran. Israel Can’t Let That Happen (Yossi Mansharof, Haaretz+) Despite Iran’s role in the Saudi attack, there’s still speculation that presidents Trump and Rohani may meet. Even a tentative rapprochement would severely strain Israel’s close ties with the White House.

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