News Nosh 9.24.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday September 24, 2019

  
You Must Be Kidding: 
The town of Mevasseret Zion is going ahead with plans to build a cemetery for its residents across the Green Line, even though the army is making this conditional on having armed civilian security guards at every funeral to be held there.**

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Unity or a trick
  • Dance lesson // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • After the holiday, Cellcom fires hundreds of employees
  • Open wound - The great pain of the widow of Lt. Gen. M. (who was killed in botched secret operation in Gaza)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • Netanyahu and Gantz: Talking about unity - Rivlin on the contacts: “We made a significant step”
  • Lieberman’s folding, unity or elections: all the scenarios
  • Shake up in Cellcom: It will fire 600 employees
  • Held up in detention because “there is no Amharic translator”
  • UN Assembly opened: Those who oppose Israel no longer feel at home // Amb. Danny Danon
  • State Attorney’s appeal was accepted: Police commander Niso Shaham was convicted of sex crimes

Elections 2019 TOP NEWS:
Post-election moves ahead of the formation of a coalition government were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. A ‘summit’ at the President’s Residence was held with Prime Minister and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and Kahol-Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz with a promise for a meeting between the party coalition negotiators the following day. The papers noted that while Netanyahu was all smiles and promises of holding discussions on the “unity of Israel,” he afterward announced what seemed to political commentators a rejection of his interest in a unity government when he said he was “committed to the right-wing bloc,” which included the ultra-Orthodox parties that refuse to sit in a government with Kahol-Lavan. Yedioth (Hebrew) called it a ‘bloc that blocks unity.’ It’s not clear who the President will give the job of forming a coalition government to, particularly after the three Balad party members of the Joint List (which is made up of four mostly-Arab parties) said they don’t join the Joint List’s recommendation of Gantz. That gives Netanyahu one more recommendation than Gantz to form the government, while Gantz’s party has more seats. Haaretz+ reported that some sources in Balad suggested that their letter dissociating from the Gantz recommendation was written with the agreement of the other leaders of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi, and with Kahol Lavan’s agreement, so that the President would give Netanyahu the first chance to form a government. Yedioth has reported that Kahol-Lavan thinks that Netanyahu will fail, after which senior Likud members would push Netanyahu to leave the party leadership or they would join Kahol-Lavan. But Odeh, Tibi and Kahol-Lavan  denied any such collusion. Meanwhile, Likud member and Netanyahu loyalist, David Bitan, suggested that a rotation unity government be made with Netanyahu serving for the first year as prime minister, followed by Gantz for two years and then Netanyahu for the fourth and final year of the term. (Israel Hayom Hebrew).

Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and kingmaker, Avigdor Lieberman, met with Gantz after which he said that debate with Netanyahu is about who will serve first.” Interestingly, Lieberman promised to Speaker of the Knesset, Yul Edelstein of Likud, that he would not support Edelstein’s ouster as Speaker of Knesset, which Kahol-Lavan is reportedly wants to do immediately after the inauguration of the 22nd Knesset. (Maariv) Gantz is finally being recognized by the US administration as a major player in Israeli politics. Yesterday Gantz met with both US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt and with US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [NOTE: In the joint photo published in Maariv, Friedman does not look happy. He’s smirking. - OH] Haaretz wrote that the release of the ‘Deal of the Century’ remains uncertain.

Other Top News:
In other top news, a district court overturned the acquittal of the former Jerusalem chief of police for sex crimes and French President Emanuel Macron is adamant about mediating a meeting between the leaders of the US and Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (Maariv), despite the attack in Saudi Arabia, which France, Germany and the UK blame on Iran.

 
Quick Hits:
  • **Israeli Town to Build Its Cemetery in the West Bank, Requiring Armed Security at Funerals - The cemetery of Mevasseret Zion will be constructed between the Green Line and the separation barrier and will have a three meter high fence, surveillance cameras and armed guards at every burial. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Bars Gaza Soccer Players From Leaving Strip, Forcing Cancellation of West Bank Match - Israel has been blocking for over two months the requests of the Rafah team seeking to compete in the Palestinian soccer cup championship, citing 'security reasons.’ (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Netanyahu Pleads Not Guilty to Criminal Charges Ahead of Hearing, but Offers No Claims to Back Innocence - Netanyahu's hearing on the three criminal cases against him is scheduled for next week. PM sends one page to AG in which he fails to explain his plea, defying procedure. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Police Arrest 25 in East Jerusalem Neighborhood, Despite Vow to Ease Crackdown - For the past three months police have been coming to Isawiyah daily and arrested more than 350 people, although indictments were only filed against less than 10 people. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Top Court Hears Appeal Against Deportation of Human Rights Watch Director - Omar Shakir's counsel is expected to argue that the decision to deport him on grounds of support for BDS is an attempt to silence human rights organizations operating in the country. (Haaretz+)
  • Wave of killings (in Arab sector) continues as man shot dead in Nazareth and another in Acre - In two other cases in the Arab sector yesterday, a man was shot in Kabul village, while in Shfar'am, a 20-year-old was stabbed and seriously wounded. More than 60 Arab Israelis have been murdered so far in 2019; Joint List promises legislative action to stem violence. (Maariv, Yedioth Hebrew and Times of Israel)
  • Murder in Acre: A 22-year-old man was shot dead  - Near the lighthouse on the city promenade, the young man, Mohammed Tabarani, was found lying on the floor and on his body signs of injury caused by gunfire. (Maariv, News1/Mako Hebrew)
  • Police official: Arab leaders partly responsible for crime in sector - While Israeli Arab officials blame the government for the high crime rate in their sector, police official tells Israel Hayom that police efforts to contain crime and collect illegal weapons do not always meet with cooperation from Arab leaders. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Spent Nearly $5 Million on Cameras on Election Day – and Recorded 15 Incidents - The Central Election Committee hired some 3,500 polling station inspectors with about 3,000 cameras – which were used to document only 15 incidents. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel election results: Fewer women and LGBT people — but lots of ex-generals — in new Knesset - While there will be many ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, there are only nine religious-Zionist/Modern Orthodox legislators — though the Arab community and Russian-speaking Israelis are well represented. (Haaretz+)
  • Funding for the "Connected" program was discontinued, thousands of at-risk youth who are immigrants from France remained without a framework - A program providing a response to at-risk youth from France is in danger of closure, despite a budget of 1.5 million shekels to continue operating for at least six months. The program was established by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption in February 2019 following a series of violent incidents among the immigrant youth. One incident in Jerusalem ended in murder. The program operated in Jerusalem, Ashdod and Netanya. (Maariv)
  • Because of budget cuts: Israel will not send reinforcements to UN mission - Due to cuts in the Foreign Ministry budget, it was decided not to send representatives this year to increase the delegation ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting. Office official: "Israel has decided to close its eyes to the expected wave of harassment.” (Maariv)
  • Israeli Court Delays Decision on Whether Accused Pedophile Malka Leifer Is Fit to Stand Trial - 'We're defeated but won't give up,' victims say after Jerusalem court decides to form experts' panel to determine if school principal can be tried and extradited to Australia. (Haaretz+)
  •  Film that tells story of Rabin's assassin wins Israeli Oscars - 'There is no place for a movie that attempts to understand Yigal Amir and his motives,' says Culture Minister Miri Regev. (Haaretz+)
  • Life sentence for one of murderers of Malachi Rosenfeld - Faiz Hamed, convicted of 2015 murder of Malachi Rosenfeld, also sentenced to pay compensation to victim's family. Judge Lt. Col. Zvi Heilbrun wrote that Hamed was convicted of the most serious offense on the books, as he put it. "He provided the squad with the firearm, suggested the place to carry out the attack, and actively made sure the actual attacker knew the area.”Another life sentence and another 30 years were meted to Abdullah Asahaq driving the vehicle in which the squad committed the attack. Asahaq was also charged 250,000 shekels in compensation to Rosenfeld's family and 25,000 shekels to each of the wounded in the attack. (Maariv and INN)
  • Renewed Demolition - The home of the terrorist who murdered the late Sergeant Ronen Lubarsky nine months ago, was rebuilt by the Palestinians. The IDF now plans to destroy it again. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Mother of captured soldier to UN: Imagine this was your son - Addressing UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Leah Goldin calls on member-states to change their policies on Gaza and act toward the return of captured Israeli soldiers and civilians being held in the terrorist enclave. "For five years, Hamas has cruelly tormented our family," she says. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Another) Work accident: Two seriously injured in a crane collapse in Maalot Tarshiha - The two were busy hanging signs at the mall. Firefighters rescued them from the bin they were trapped in and they were evacuated to hospital. (Maariv)
  • Egypt warns journalists, says coverage of rare anti-Sissi protests being monitored - Authority says Sunday its ensuring 'professional codes' are followed amid small-scale demonstrations that come years after government effectively banned all public protests. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Police Arrest Hundreds During Egypt Protests, Lawyers Say - Regime attempts to nip protests in the bud, as viral videos send Egyptians to the streets. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.K. Says Iran Responsible for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities - PM Johnson joins U.S., Saudi in assigning blame to Tehran, set to meet Iran's president Rohani at UN General Assembly. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Five family members killed in air strikes launched by Saudi-led coalition in Yemen - Two children from the same family are still missing, with searches for them going on under the rubble, the Houthi owned Al-Masirah TV reports. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iraq: Iranian-backed militia targeted in another airstrike - An Iraqi security official and a militia commander say airstrike on a military base in western Anbar province causes no damage or casualties. Twitter users, however, report black smoke billowing from the militia's compound. Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units blame a string of bombings on Israel. (Israel Hayom)


Features:
Operation Moses - New owner of Beitar Jerusalem soccer team implements battle plan against the team’s racist and violent ‘La Familia’ fan club
On the eve of a game, which may bring the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team a title after a decade, the confrontation between owner Moshe Hogeg and the team’s La Familia [extremist - OH] fan club comes to a boiling point. Beitar's program to eradicate violence, racism and damage to the club's reputation by the La Familia organization was revealed to Yedioth. Betar Jerusalem yesterday signed a settlement agreement with one of the group's fans, according to which the fan will pay ten thousand shekels and publish an apology post, after disseminating to the teams’ fan WhatsApp group a abusive recording in which he threatened the [new black African player - OH] Ali Muhammad and the club's owners. This is a recent example of Beitar's leadership led by Moshe Hogeg to battle against violence, racism and harm to him and the club's reputation. The program first revealed here a step up in the Beitar campaign against the La Familia fan club. The main message: Any damage to the Beitar’s reputation will lead to an immediate law suit. To combat the negative impact of "La Familia" fan club has, as stated, formulated an action plan aimed at reducing, among other things, the amount of attacks on the owner on social media networks, through lawsuits against incitement and by creating a positive atmosphere around the club. Beitar confirmed this to Yedioth Ahronoth.
1. Employment of a private investigations company
2. Getting La Familia's commitment to accept players from all religions. (It opposes Muslim players.)
3. Closing La Familia’s financial tap. Hogeg no longer allow La Familia to have a product booth at games, which was a financial source for financing the organization's activities. Moreover, in the eastern stands, Hogeg opened a Beitar club booth that brought tens of thousands of shekels in the first few games of the season - amounts that have previously flowed to the La Familia organization. Moreover, smaller fan groups have recently received financial support when it comes to encouraging the team. The closure of the economic tap has forced La Familia members to post on social media networks in an attempt to raise funds. "Since the organization's product booth has been closed by management, the main source of funding for its displays in the eastern part has been taken,” La Familia wrote.
4. Personal law suits against the organization's leaders.
5. Denial of subscriptions (of seats) in the eastern part of the stadium. [NOTE: Eastern galleys at Teddy Stadium are where the most racist and violent fans, those of La Familia, congregate.- OH]
The contingency plan that has not yet been implemented is the removal of organization leaders from Teddy. However, Beitar intends to deny subscription cards from rogue fans, even if the team is exposed to lawsuits. (Nadav Zanzifer, Yedioth Hebrew)
 
Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
My Handyman Dani, an Israeli Role Model (Orit Kamir, Haaretz+) Dani  (not his real name) my electrician and a plumber is a diehard Likudnik, with all his soul. He’s connected to all of Bibi’s communication channels, disseminating on WhatsApp hair-raising stories he gets about harassment of Netanyahu family members, and he unreservedly buys in to displays of victimhood, incitement and mudslinging put on by the Likud leader. In the past, when I asked him why he doesn’t consider other modes of political thinking, he told me honestly that he was afraid. He was afraid that the Arabs will wipe out this country; that the left will give it up; he is afraid of losing, of the unknowable. So, he votes for Bibi. On September 17 Dudi voted for Benny Gantz. I asked him what happened, what brought him to do that.  He said he could no longer take the vulgarization, the aggression, the rapaciousness and the hatred. I asked him what had changed compared to the last election, and he said that up to now he had managed to live in denial. It’s not that he hadn’t heard about the extravagance, the lies and the abuse of power, he’d just chosen not to believe. It’s not that he hadn’t noted the incitement and inflamed emotions, he’d just chosen not to be shocked. But the evidence had accumulated to such dimensions that he could no longer bear the ugliness, deciding to face it and recognize it. The cognitive dissonance was too costly. “I couldn’t have done it on my own,” he admitted with honesty. “With a few friends, all lifelong Likud voters, we began to talk. We realized that these stories about him could not all be made up. All the criminal cases, all the employees at their residence who complained about his wife – it was just too much. And the propaganda, the spin, too,” The conclusion? A change was needed. It was time. Dudi’s awakening is one of the gladdest things that’s happened to me in this country for a long time. I’d already stopped believing that such a change was possible. So thank you media men and women who did not give up and continued reporting Netanyahu’s malfeasance even when it seemed these reports were falling on deaf ears. Thank you to the men and women of the law enforcement authorities, who did not cease in their professional labors despite the persecution and slander. Thank you to Kahol Lavan members, who decided to jump in and try and offer an alternative government that Dudi can put his faith in. If Dudi managed to overcome his fears, we can too. This includes senior Likud officials who so far have not dared acknowledge what they’ve known for a long time; many of us who have to date not dared trust Israel’s Arab citizens enough to include them in managing this country as equal citizens; men and women of the “old elites” who haven’t really opened up to Israelis who are different than they are; Israeli men and women who are afraid to relinquish their feelings of resentment and being left behind; people who are afraid of African migrants, and many others.
Dance class (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) The unity government negotiations, which opened last night, look like a dance class: one dances, two steps forward and half a step back. The other stands. Throughout most of the evening, the impression was that Netanyahu and Gantz were embracing President Rivlin's directive - an equal and shared government. In other words, an equal government in which Kahol-Lavan and Likud share equal power, status and authority. The fact that the two agreed to issue a joint statement asking the president to postpone the appointment of the person who will assemble the government coalition was another reason for optimism. The request means that the person assembling will not be appointed until after the Jewish New Year [October 3rd]. Then came Netanyahu's announcement, which reaffirmed his commitment to go all the way with the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing. The joint announcement was two steps ahead; committing to the right-wing bloc was half a step back. If Netanyahu wanted to confuse everyone - the president, (Kahol-Lavan leader Benny) Gantz, public opinion - he succeeded. He understands the contradiction: It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to form a government based on the two major parties when one is dragging its own satellite parties. What is this similar to? A bride who insists on bringing her brother, cousin, neighbor and rabbi to her wedding night [bedroom - OH]. It doesn’t work. Gantz is a believer. That's his advantage; This is also his disadvantage in negotiations. If I understand correctly, he actually removed the Kahol-Lavan veto on sitting in a Netanyahu-led government. However, he has conditions that involve Netanyahu's legal problems. Kahol-Lavan will sit with Netanyahu only when he is released from legal proceedings. This leads to a rumor that got strength among the media last night, stating that Kahol-Lavan will agree to rotation (of leadership of the gov’t) in the following order: Netanyahu is prime minister until he is indicted, and then he turns his chair to Gantz, who will serve two years and be replaced by Netanyahu, if the cases are behind him, or by another Likud representative. I have no idea if there is any truth in this rumor. To me it sounds like a guard watch arrangement among soldiers in basic training: you will guard till 11:30PM, I will replace you at 3AM and you will replace me at 5:15AM. In between we both sleep, one on his bed and the other on his watch. This is not serious: a prime minister demands continuum. Just going for a rotation is a constraint. Better not turn it into material for satire programs.
Gantz Capitulates Without Battle (Haaretz Editorial) Less than a week after his impressive electoral achievement, Benny Gantz conceded his right to be the first to try and form a coalition government.
Benny Gantz's tactical waiting game is too clever by half (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The Kahol Lavan leader's preference for Netanyahu getting first crack at forming a government could backfire – and lose the whole ballgame
A government for everyone (Nimrod Lev, Yedioth Hebrew) An ancient parable describes a group of blind people who meet an elephant and return to report various findings. It is a brush, says one blind person holding the tail. All of a sudden, a second blind person holding the tusk screams that it's a water-conduit. Nonsense, says the third, grinning the biggest grin of all, and clinging to its fluttering ear - the elephant is intended to relieve the heavy heat. Dear politicians, the blind are you. Everyone sees their partial truth and is convinced that there is nothing wrong with it. It follows, therefore, that in that way it rejects the possibility of the truth of all other points of view. But rifts and division are a recipe for failure, always. Our power is in our unity, not our singularity. As different parts that make up the whole that we are. The versatility produces a reflective discourse that creates a better reality. It's time for a government in which everyone is a partner. Community life cannot be a zero-sum game where a single worldview eliminates another’s view, but rather a synthesis of the different perspectives.
Rivlin, President of the Jews – Not Israelis (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Right now, our president, i.e., the president of all the people, is behaving more like the Jewish Agency chairman than the president of the State of Israel with its two million Arab citizens. To put it more bluntly: Rivlin is only the president of the Jews, and acting as though you're president of one ethnic group, even if it is the majority, is not the same as acting as the president of a country. By inviting just the heads of the two largest parties, Kahol Lavan and Likud to sit down and pow-wow about the composition of the next government, Rivlin has essentially ostracized two million Arabs.
The Government That Israel Must Have (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) What did the election achieve? First, for the first time in a decade, there appears to be a realistic possibility of removing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power. The achievement of a bloc – 56 or 57 Knesset seats including the Joint List of Arab parties or 63 to 65 seats adding on Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu – makes this possible. Second, at the last minute both Democratic Union and Labor-Gesher stayed above the electoral threshold. Their absence from the Knesset would have guaranteed Netanyahu a bloc of at least 61 MKs and paved the way for another right-wing government with him at the helm. The importance of this result cannot be exaggerated; Israeli democracy this week was only a few inches from being Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. And the threat to its existence hasn’t been totally lifted: a government led by Netanyahu – who’s fighting desperately to escape the wrath of justice – designed to pass a law letting the Knesset override Supreme Court rulings, thereby neutering the court and establishing a dictatorship. In other words, a regime in which a person, or small group of people, control all three branches of government: the executive, legislature and judiciary.
The composition of the next government will mark whether we are on the verge of a secular revolution (Maya Aidan, Maariv) It will take time for Israel to separate religion from the state, but in this election, the immigrants of the former Soviet Union were able to use their political power to shape a new player in the political field: the secular right-wing. The last election was in many ways the final scene of the successful absorption process of immigration from the Soviet Union into Israeli society. Former immigrants and the second generation have put on the agenda the issue of separating religion from the state as never before. Avigdor Lieberman, who identified the intensifying sentiment and connected with the general public atmosphere, has reinvented the agenda of the 2019 second round election.
For God’s Sake, Go Already! (B. Michael, Haaretz+) We’re sick and tired of one person, just one, who is driving an entire country mad just to evade prosecution. After all, there is, and was, no other reason for the pair of elections you put us through and the hysterical circus you continue to conduct before our eyes. With unfounded warmongering, strange shows of deception and a disgusting festival of unbridled incitement.
A pardon for Netanyahu is an award from Israeli democracy to the one that hurt it the most (Omar Kofuschevsky, Maariv)  You can argue about how Netanyahu functioned and about his contribution to the state, but there is one thing that should be consensus - no person in Israel is above the law.
The Mission: Changing the Political System (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) The way out of the deadlock we’re in is the formation of a secular unity government. It should consist of Kahol Lavan and Likud, who together have 64 Knesset seats. This will be a government that will not be extorted by small sectorial parties but will do what it takes to make this country a normal one. It will allow civil marriage and introduce the study of core subjects in ultra-Orthodox schools. It will support public transportation and open supermarkets on Saturdays and will pass a draft bill that includes the ultra-Orthodox. Such a government will enter negotiations on the future of the occupied territories (based on Trump’s “deal of the century”), and will effectively handle the budget deficit. This sounds nice, but somewhat utopian. Netanyahu will not accept this. His sole objective is a government that will grant him immunity, and this will not be found in a unity government. If Benny Gantz is prime minister and Netanyahu a regular cabinet member, he will be indicted and forced to resign, according to the law. He will then be tried and possibly sent to prison. The problem is that other scenarios for forming a government are also impossible, and this has happened twice already.

Commentary/Analysis:
The Sunni-U.S. Alliance Against Iran Has Weakened, and Trump Is Partly to Blame (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) It seems the Saudis, too, may no longer want to risk a conflict with Tehran, especially when Trump’s reservations about a military clash are so clear – and Mideast leaders are busy with problems at home.
El-Sissi is close to becoming Mubarak (Itzhak Levanon, Israel Hayom) Human rights has always been the Egyptian regime's Achilles' heel. The Egyptian president will have to terminate draconian legislation based on Shariah law, spearhead judicial reforms, introduce transparency and fight corruption, or the streets will erupt.
'Howdy Modi' Meets Reality: Trump and Modi Celebrate U.S.- India Ties, but Explosive Differences Remain (Rupakjyoti Borah, Haaretz+) Despite the synchronized energy of the Houston mega-event and its 50,000 attendees, and the real progress between the countries, the issues on which Trump and Modi disagree - on trade, Iran, the Taliban and Russian missile systems - aren't minor details at all
Exposing Hezbollah's lies (Yossi Mansharof, Israel Hayom) Israel has an interest in seeing Hezbollah's image in Lebanon continue to erode and for pressure on the organization to increase. The time may have come for Israel to use the information at its disposal in order to remove the mask from the organization terrorizing Lebanon.
The Aramco Fiasco: How Not to Build the New Saudi Arabia (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The Saudi crown prince is gonna make you a share offering you can’t refuse — and that’s the start of the problem.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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