News Nosh 9.26.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday September 26, 2019

NOTE: News Nosh will be off for the Jewish Holiday and back Wednesday, October 2nd. Happy 5780!

Quote of the day:
"If anyone thought that responsibility and the good of the state would come first, and that Netanyahu would agree to step off the stage and let his party members, if not the residents of his country - return to normalcy, and go on with their lives, then that person has never seen a wounded animal."
--Yedioth's senior political commentator, Sima Kadmon, examines Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's words and actions yesterday upon receiving the mandate to form a government.*

You Must Be Kidding #1: 
"We have been through a tough election campaign on all sides and for all sides. We need to unite the nation, to heal the rifts because we are facing three huge challenges."
--Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who led incitement against Arabs, left-wingers and the media, in his election campaign, called to heal the rift.***

You Must Be Kidding #2: 
Israeli Judge Miriam Kaslassy ordered the eviction Friday of the 18-member Sumreen family, who have been fighting for 30 years against the attempts by the Jewish National Fund to take ownership of their home, backed by the far-right settler group Elad. Judge Kaslassy accepted the JNF’s claim of ownership on the basis that two of the heirs of one of the family's deceased ancestors live in an ‘enemy country,’ and by Israeli law that gives Israel the right to take the home.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Exclusive - “Violation of the ambiguity harmed security” - Former chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in first interview since removing his uniform (Hebrew)
  • The mandate period - (President) Rivlin gave Netanyahu the opportunity to form a government (Hebrew)
  • All means are kosher // Sima Kadmon
  • Hostages // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Role model - Special project: The greatest Israeli heroes of the decade
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • “The people don’t want new elections, stop the boycotts” - President Rivlin announced yesterday that negotiations for a unity government failed and he gave Netanyahu the mandate to form a gov’t
  • Without any shame // Ben Caspit
  • Attack near Modiin: 22-year-old lightly injured from stabbings, the 14-year-old terrorist was caught
  • US: President in danger of impeachment
  • Woman who murdered her abusive husband released to freedom after 22 years in prison
  • Layoffs in Cellcom and Pelephone were frozen, employees’ strike stopped

Israel Hayom

Elections 2019 Top Story:
After talks for a unity government fell apart, President Reuven Rivlin gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the mandate to try to form a coalition government, while prospects of him succeeding are small and talk of a third round of elections is louder, making the top story in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Both parties pinned the blame for the failure of unity government talks on the other side.

***The Israeli commentators were particularly incensed by Netanyahu’s speech at the President’s Residence upon receiving the mandate: ”We have been through a tough election campaign on all sides and for all sides," he said. "We need to unite the nation, to heal the rifts because we are facing three huge challenges,” Netanyahu said, for which the commentators, Haaretz’s Yossi Verter, Yedioth’s Sima Kadmon and Maariv’s Ben Caspit, expressed disgust. (See Commentary/Analysis below)

What was unclear is what happens forward. Yedioth’s political affairs reporter Yuval Karni called it “one of the most serious political crises in the history of the State of Israel,” since neither leader has the minimum 61 MKs to support him. Karni reported that Likud wants to renew its contacts with Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz or cause Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman to return to the right-wing bloc, while Kahol-Lavan is hoping for an internal revolt in the Likud party and on a government with a rotation without Netanyahu at the head. The papers write that if no one succeeds forming a government, the President could use a never-before-used loophole in Israeli law and give the Knesset one day to endorse any MK as candidate for prime minister who will get the support of at least 61 MKs. The name being bounced around is former minister Gideon Sa'ar of the Likud. But if all efforts fail to form a new government, then Israeli citizens will return to the polls for the third time in a year. (Hebrew) Rivlin had proposed his own compromise suggestion, but Gantz rejected it, Haaretz+ reported. Netanyahu now has 28 days to put together a coalition, with a possible two-week extension.

Elections 2019 Quickees:
  • Final Israel Election Results: Netanyahu Up to 32 Seats, ultra-Orthodox Party Down One - Election board amends results following investigation into suspected fraud at six polling stations. Kahol-Lavan has one more with 33 seats. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Kahol Lavan MK Asked Arab Leaders to Ensure Netanyahu Gets First Crack at Forming Government - Joint List leader Ayman Odeh says he was contacted by Ofer Shelah, who asked him to ensure that only 10 of 13 lawmakers endorse Gantz — handing Netanyahu a majority. Joint List is made up of three predominantly parties and one party, Balad, with three members said it would not recommend Gantz. (Haaretz+, Ynet, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Why as Balad We Did Not Recommend Gantz as Israel's Next Prime Minister by MK Mtanes Shehadeh. (Haaretz+)
  • Lieberman Chides Netanyahu as ‘Most Flexible Man’ - Kingmaker blasts PM for playing political games, says he's willing to do 'anything to keep the prime minister’s chair.' Appears more aligned with Benny Gantz than ever as he accuses Netanyahu of dragging out coalition talks and working toward bringing about a third election. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Trump to Minister Katz: "What will happen to the political situation in Israel?" - The President of the United States posed for a joint photo with the Israeli Foreign Minister and was interested in the political developments in Israel. Katz replied that he hoped a unity government, headed by Netanyahu, would be established. (Maariv)
  • Key Dates: A Guide to Important Moments in Israeli Politics Over the Next 3 Months - From a possible third election to Netanyahu's hearing over the three criminal cases he is embroiled in, these are the events that will shape the public debate. (Haaretz+)


Quick Hits:
  • Wednesday Israeli Lightly Wounded in Suspected Stabbing in Central Israel, Police Arrest 14-year-old Palestinian - A 22-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed Wednesday in a bus station near the city of Modi'in, the Shilat junction. [NOTE: The articles say 'central Israel,' but next to the Green Line is more accurate. The attack took place near the junction of Shilat settlement. - OH) (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • Thursday: (Border) Police officer lightly wounded in suspected terror attack in Jerusalem - Policewoman hurt in stabbing attack at one of Israel's most sensitive locations right before Jewish New Year in Jerusalem; forces arrive at scene, detain suspect. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • Eve of Jewish New Year 5780: The State of Israel has 9 million inhabitants - On cusp of Jewish year 5780, vast majority of Israelis say they are satisfied with their lives, the Central Bureau of Statistics finds, but more than one third say their financial situation could be better. According to figures, by the end of 2024, the population is expected to reach 10 million, and by 2048 - 15 million. 43% define themselves as secular. (Maariv and Ynet)
  • Israel Detains Palestinian Minister Who Planned to Take Part in East Jerusalem Event - Several officials were released after questioning while another was briefly detained at checkpoint as police say they intended to violate law barring PA from sponsoring events in E. J'lem. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • **After 30 Years of Legal Battle, Israeli Court OKs Evacuation of East Jerusalem Family - The Jewish National Fund, backed by settler group, has sought the evacuation of 18 Palestinian family members ■ Two Palestinians brothers wounded in clashes with Israeli police during home demolition. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad Prisoners in Israel End 14-day-long Hunger Strike - Prisoners' call to remove cellular jamming devices from their wards as punishment over smuggled cellphones was not met, but other minor concessions were given. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel-Hamas understandings on Gaza yield results - The establishment of an internationally run field hospital was a major subject of discussions. It's construction in the northern part of the enclave near the Erez crossing into Israel, is in its operational stages, funded by private American money. It will provide treatment that had in the past necessitated travel outside the Strip to either Egypt, Israel or the Palestinian Authority. (Ynet)
  • Bank of Israel urges more flexibility in visas for Palestinian workers - Research shows that one-third of Palestinians working in Israel pay permit brokers and obtain work with an official employer while actually working for someone else to earn more money. Reforms approved in 2016 would not tie visa-holders to one pre-specified employer. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel, US urge EU to take action against boycott movement - Speaking alongside US envoy Elan Carr, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan calls for the EU to stop funding the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Surprise strike shutters Israel's embassies abroad - The employees of foreign and defense ministries on Thursday declared a strike across all Israeli embassies around the world, halting all consular services abroad and domestically, just days before the Jewish high holiday The strike was suspended some hours later after an interim solution to a dispute with the Ministry of Finance, was found. In addition, all Gaza and the West Bank border crossings will be closed. The Kirya IDF headquarters base in Tel Aviv will also be shut for visitors starting Thursday afternoon. (Ynet)
  • This Is What Frosty Peace Looks Like: Israel, Jordan Choose to Ignore the 25th Anniversary of Their Peace Treaty - Threats of annexation, clashes over the Temple Mount, and a hugely partisan White House have all contributed to a chill in relations. (Haaretz+)
  • The female doctor of the Givati Brigade - All the graduates of the Medical Officers course who attended yesterday's festive ceremony were excited, but Dr. Gal Puris, who was selected as the most outstanding person of the course, was also able to make history on the road when she was inducted as a physician in the Rotem Battalion in Givati Brigade, making her the first infantry physician in the IDF. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • IAF pilot makes history as first female squadron commander - Israeli Air Force Commander Amiram Norkin hails Lt. Col. G., as "role model and inspiration to thousands of women" in Israel. "We have been waiting for this for 71 years," he says. (Israel Hayom)
  • As Number of Murders Rises, Police and Israeli Arabs at Odds Over Solutions - Police complain there is no support from community leaders, who fire back: 'it’s convenient for Arabs to be shooting each other.' (Haaretz+)
  • Startrek, Stargate and the Israeli Army’s Other AI Projects - What looks like just another startup is actually a joint army and civilian project developing tools for military intelligence. (Haaretz+)
  • Former (Netanyahu) Aide Gets 30 Days Probation in Sara Netanyahu Fraud Case  -Ezra Saidoff was involved in ordering some $100,000 worth of catered meals to the Prime Minister’s Residence, for which the prime minister's wife was also convicted. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Honors WWI Australian Aborigine Fighters at Center Near Sea of Galilee - A statue, 'The Aborigine and His Horse,' was dedicated this week in Tzemach 101 years after the fateful battle, in honor of the Aborigine soldiers who fought and fell in WWI. (Haaretz+)
  • World faces 'unprecedented' threat from terrorism, UN chief warns - "The new frontier is cyberterrorism – the use of social media and the dark web to coordinate attacks, spread propaganda and recruit new followers," António Guterres tells UN Security Council. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Trump's withdrawal from nuclear accord broke trust between us, Iranian president tells Fox News - 'America is the supporter of terrorism in our region — and wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in the wake,' Rohani says. (Haaretz)
  • Iranian president accuses Israel of supporting Islamic State fighters - Hassan Rouhani claims Israel treating IS fighters and arming them as well; Rouhani is set to meet French president, British PM for second time this week on sidelines of the UN General Assembly. [NOTE: Israel is giving hospital treatment and other aid to Islamist fighters from Syria. - OH] (Ynet)
  • At UN, Iran Says It Will Never Hold Talks With U.S. Under Pressure - 'Our response to talks under pressure is no,' says President Rohani to renewed negotiations with U.S. on nuclear deal. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Demands U.S. 'Pay More' for Broader Nuclear Deal - President Rohani also rejectes meeting U.S. President Donald Trump while the two are in New York this week for annual United Nations General Assembly. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Crippling economic sanctions-hit Iran props up economy with bartering, secret deals - Iran remains defiant in the face of US efforts to compel it to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear program and scale back support for proxy wars across the Middle East. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Turkey's Erdogan Urges Caution Over Blaming Iran for Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities - Turkish president says he 'doesn't think it's the right thing' to blame Tehran for the attack that knocked out more than 5 percent of global oil supply. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Syria constitution committee set, will meet within weeks, UN says - EU welcomes move, which, after months of talks, might be a first step towards peace. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Israel Elections Results: Why as Balad We Did Not Recommend Gantz as Israel's Next Prime Minister (Mtanes Shehadeh, Haaretz+) Less than a week after the election, Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz has already turned his back on the Arab community. He has completely ignored the Joint List, which is the third largest party in the Knesset and the one for which the vast majority of the Arab community cast their ballots. He has ignored its demands and denied holding talks with it, and in the end, he was even scared by the fact that three of the four parties comprising the joint ticket recommended him as prime minister to President Reuven Rivlin. Throughout the election campaign, the Joint List stressed that it seeks to end the reign of Benjamin Netanyahu, the racist, dangerous inciter, and prevent him from forming a government. But we never promised to do so by supporting the ostensibly less dangerous candidate, Gantz, at any price. And that’s all the more true when said candidate has offered less than nothing in exchange. We in Balad want true equality in every walk of life. We want a democratic system of government, and we want to have an influence. In this, Balad is no different from the other components of the Joint List.
Everyone believes that Netanyahu has a new plot to eliminate the evil of the decree (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Netanyahu stood there yesterday at the president's residence and unity and reconciliation were his words. Again and again he preached and implored his hearers to understand the magnitude of the hour and the state of emergency and the mighty challenges, etc. He was wearing yesterday the perfect fake image of the father of the most gracious and merciful, and even he no longer buys his own story. A few days earlier, another dance of swords, incitement, arousal, deception, and dereliction of his creation had ended. And suddenly he says that "there is no point in stretching and wasting the state's time," ignoring the fact that he called for early election so as to advance his own hearing, and then he did not return the mandate to the president (after failing to form a government in April) and dragged the state into another election to preclude his indictment - four years after he called for early elections due to the ‘Israel Hayom’ newspaper affair. Binyamin Netanyahu stood there without shame yesterday, because he has none. One’s heart goes out to the president, he knows the client better than all of us. Ruvy Rivlin was the first to warn the Likud princes about what was to come, when Netanyahu returned to Israel in 1988. Now he has exhausted all the creativity in the world to square the circle of madness and to try to release the country from the grip of the family that lost all remains of checks and balances.
Netanyahu’s Mandate Is Meaningless, but He Will Continue Campaigning (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) He will appeal to Gantz’s sense of national responsibility while secretly reaching out to potential defectors in the opposition.
*All means are valid (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth Hebrew) Those who have not been here in recent months must have been impressed by the appearance of the Prime Minister last night at the President's Residence, almost bending down from acting so humbly and calling for reconciliation with the people. Anyone here who went through what we went through in two of the most difficult elections here ever had to rub their eyes at the cynicism of those who spoke about a difficult election campaign, and the immediate need to unite the people and nurse the tears.  It was as if it was someone else, not him, had roughly ripped the delicate seams (of society). As if he were not the one who led the incitement, the one who for many months split and divided and separated and destroyed every good part of the nation. How much disrespect and contempt for public intelligence there was in this slick speech, in his intention to bring unity to the people, detailing the existential threats (yes, Iran's nuclear as well) that require the unification of the ranks. Could the Prime Minister really believe what he says? Or maybe he sees us all as statisticians, an audience who is thrilled by his dramatic abilities, which make up for his lack of integrity and honesty. Because if we were impressed with his excellent acting in the election videos, it was just the promo for the real show going on in front of our eyes these days. They call for unity, when they are actually preparing for elections. They talk about clean negotiations, and it comes with a 55-seat block that allows no unity. If there were honesty here, Netanyahu would have said in the rare opportunity given him that he regretted being a key partner in the campaign of incitement and division being done here. That he is doing real soul searching right now and he apologizes to entire groups for hurting them. Like the Arabs. The left-wing. The media. Not to mention the delegitimization he did to three former chiefs of staff, in particular Benny Gantz. But no honesty was there yesterday, and certainly noreckoning, but another stage on the way to the supreme goal, called survival. Or in other words: how can a prime minister be extricated from three indictments, with all the means sanctifying it? You could almost hear the cogwheels working in the prime minister's mind as he planned the following moves: how to shorten the term given to him by the mandate to form a government, how to return it to the president, who might give up the expected failure at Gantz's attempt to form a government. And how all this moves towards new elections, a third round, and that if it happens, Netanyahu will try to advance them so they take place before the attorney general files the indictments. What we saw yesterday - and it's so awful that it's hard to say it - is an irresponsible prime minister who would be willing to drag the state into yet another election campaign if it serves his interests. If anyone thought that responsibility and the good of the state would come first, and that Netanyahu would agree to step off the stage and let his party members, if not the residents of his country - return to normalcy, and go on with their lives, then that person has never seen a wounded animal.
Israel’s do-over election performed a vital service for democracy (Evelyn Gordon, Israel Hayom) Without it, many right-wing voters would have felt that April’s election was stolen from them. That would have undermined their faith in the democratic process.
Another Election Is a Real Possibility: We Must Prepare for It (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a decisive blow in the last election. In his efforts to build a narrow right-wing government, he didn’t shy away from using any means to make his rival seem ridiculous. He divided the country into two groups – his supporters, and all the rest, who of course are all leftists. He threatened Arab voters with unconcealed cameras, persuaded Moshe Feiglin to withdraw his party from the race and published false polls on Election Day, after realizing his situation wasn’t good. Netanyahu’s guiding assumption in promoting a third election is that while there are parties that say they won’t sit with him, those parties are also very afraid of another election. If any of the parties comprising the “blocking majority” against him were to join a Netanyahu-led government, he wouldn’t need another election. From this, we see that the threat of a third election will bring about a real shift in the coalition negotiations. We must immediately form a united left-wing Zionist bloc that will include both Labor and Meretz. That will greatly increase their ability to withstand the threats posed by a new election, such as a loss of votes and the danger of falling below the electoral threshold.
Lower the minimum electoral threshold (Prof. Asher Cohen, Israel Hayom) Small parties do not form nearly as big a threat to government stability that mid-size parties do. Regardless, we have a political and cultural obligation to ensure that everyone, even the smallest groups, are represented.
Close Ranks and Don’t Be Tempted (Haaretz Editorial) Even if another election seems a high-price to pay, the left cannot let Netanyahu get another term.
A nation divided about Netanyahu, not the peace process (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) As long as the question is on whether or not Netanyahu should remain in office, unity may be more a figment of Rivlin’s imagination than a realistic plan.
We are all hostages (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) We are entering crisis days. Israeli democracy is not in danger. It is functioning. But there is not even a quarter of comfort here. Because both sides were supposed to show flexibility. And neither side revealed any. Netanyahu's responsibilities are a little bigger because he has already led us to unnecessary choices, in order to save himself. The bet was unsuccessful. He might take us for another bet. We are all hostages. The President of the State raised a compromise proposal: a two-headed government. The experienced President Reuven Rivlin was supposed to know that as soon as Netanyahu created a 55-seat block, and insisted on negotiating on behalf of the block, rather than on behalf of the Likud party - it was not a negotiation. It was a tug of time. After all, unity should create a compromise between the parties. Insisting on the block was meant to torpedo any chance of a compromise.
Can Trump, Evangelicals and Right-wing Jews Really Relate to a post-Netanyahu Israel? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) Will the U.S. president lose interest in an Israel no longer headed by a populist honorary Republican? What about Trump's most ardent supporters, and his Mideast 'peace team,' so deeply invested in Netanyahu staying in office?
Out of gratitude: An open letter to PM Netanyahu (João Lemos Esteves, Israel Hayom) Thank you for standing up to Islamic terrorism, denouncing the nuclear deal with the barbaric ayatollahs' regime, and making Israel a startup nation. May the legacy of your wise policies and resolute defense of Israel always prevail.
Mr. President, don't apologize in my name (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) You don't need to be a Holocaust survivor, or even a second-generation Holocaust survivor, to understand that former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan's remarks comparing Israel to 1930s Germany deserve condemnation and not support.
Netanyahu Got the Mandate, but One That Won't Lead Anywhere (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Despite losing the election, the Prime Minister and all his indictments keep holding the country hostage.
Netanyahu decides to beat Blue and White to the punch (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants a government in place or a date for a new election before the attorney general makes a decision about whether or not to indict him.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
We’re the Good Folks (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz+) Racism isn’t the exclusive province of the right. Racism is the state.
Israel, Judge and Jury: When Mob Rule Overpowers the Law (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) A  society is measured by how it deals with extreme cases; how it treats, for example, Carmel Mauda, manager of a daycare center who is accused of abusing children under her care. Enlightenment, humanity and lawfulness must still apply. If they don’t, the path to the slippery slope is short and dangerous, and will end in the public lynching of anyone who commits a crime considered serious in certain circles. These values have been totally erased in Mauda’s case. What happened in the Baby Love daycare center was indeed horrible; watching the videos is difficult. But no less difficult is the public treatment of the accused. Mauda is now in jail, contrary to a ruling by the Supreme Court, which ordered her released to house arrest. A few violent threats by furious parents, not all of them related to the victims, were enough to undermine the court ruling.
The attacks attributed to Israel are justified but one gets picture of going wild in the region (Amos Gilboa, Maariv) Israel's confrontation with Iran and its emissaries on the one hand, and the United States' struggle with Iran on the other, are two issues that we are now at a strategic juncture.
Israel’s Netanyahu Experience Validates Pelosi’s Fear of Trump Impeachment (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The Ukraine-Gate scandal overpowered the Speaker’s resistance but House proceedings could still emerge as Trump’s blessing in disguise.
The First Step in a 1,000 Mile Journey to Rebuild Syria (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) After over eight years of war, a 150-member committee will soon convene to write a constitution for the battle-weary country. But internal divisions and foreign interests could torpedo the accord at any time.
“A defense alliance with the US is unnecessary"
From his whereabouts in the US, former chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot tells in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth about the need for the destruction of Hamas, about dealing with Iran and relations with defense ministers. “The violation of (policy of) ambiguity recently is a serious mistake that jeopardizes state security," says Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot in an exclusive interview with Yedioth Ahronoth. From his stay at a prestigious Washington research institute, the former chief of staff gave this week his first interview since he removed his uniform, and he speaks in detail about his perceptions of security and policy issues. Eisenkott also talks about his relationship with Avigdor Lieberman, who "opposed the operation against Hezbollah tunnels.” I said to him: 'Mr. Minister, I respect you, I am subordinate to you, but I am forced to act according to the government’s wishes.’ And it got off the agenda." As for what is happening in Gaza, Eisenkot claims: "Strengthening Hamas is a grave mistake. We need to bring an end to its rule in the Strip." On a defense alliance with the US: "It's an unnecessary alliance. There is no logic to it. " At this time, Eisenkot publishes a document entitled "Guidelines for Security Perception for Israel", which he co-authored with Col. (Res.) Gabi Siboni. The document has a war scenario called "deterrent retaliation," and implies it’s about Israel's coping with the nuclear capabilities of countries such as Iran. (Interviewed by Alex Fishman in Yedioth Hebrew)

'Iran could fire cruise missiles at Israel from Iraq'
Head of the Research Division in IDF Military Intelligence Brig. Gen. Dror Shalom tells Israel Hayom that Iran is a "very sophisticated enemy," and the chances of a major escalation between Israel and Iran are increasing. (Interviewed by Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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