News Nosh 10.2.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday October 2, 2019

Quote of the day:
"Today, no one can shove the Arab public aside and ignore its existence. It's a very important community in Israel, one in which changes are constantly taking place. It's becoming more varied and more educated. We aren't satisfied with being part of the final product. We want to take part in the process of development, which will eventually benefit us, too."
--Former police commander and founder of the highly regarded Umm al-Fahm art gallery, Said Abu Shakra, said that the Arab parties'  performance in the most recent elections was a credit to the Arab public, not the politicians, and expressed his belief "in the power of culture and art to overcome humans' emotional obstacles."**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Hearing - This morning: Netanyahu’s attorneys will stand before the Attorney General
  • Getting farther from unity, getting closer to elections
  • Breaking right // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Negotiations over nothing // Yuval Karni
  • House of mixed cards // Nadav Eyal on Trump’s problems
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Case 4000 first - Netanyahu’s hearing begins; His attorneys will say: There was no corruption
  • The prosecution turned into a court // Amnon Lord
  • We don’t have another judicial system // Aviad Hacohen
  • “They broke up the negotiations”: Likud and Kahol-Lavan exchange accusations
  • Prophet of rage: Commander of the “Red Unit” in IDF Military Intel speaks
  • Head of Iranian Kuds force: Israel almost assassinated me in 2006

Top News Summary:
The beginning of Israeli Prime Minister BInyamin Netanyahu’s hearing today in his three corruption cases, the unlikelihood of a unity government between Likud and Kahol-Lavan and the refusal of Iran’s President to take a call from the US president were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Violence towards Arabs also made big news, both from within the Arab Israeli sector and also suspected torture by the Shin Bet against a Palestinian man, who was being interrogated.

This morning, the four-day pre-trial hearing for Netanyahu began over three corruption cases. Twelve of Netanyahu’s lawyers face some 20 Justice Ministry officials who have been following the prime minister's corruption cases since 2016.

The Justice Ministry aspires to reach a final decision by December. The first case to be discussed is Case 4000.According to Yedioth Hebrew legal affairs correspondent, Tova Tzimuki, both sides know that most of the attention will be devoted to one section, in one case: the bribery offense in Case 4000 - on which both Netanyahu's legal future and his political future may depend. Tzimuki wrote: At the center of Case 4000 is the suspicion that Netanyahu made regulatory decisions worth hundreds of millions of shekels in favor of the Bezeq group, and in return, Shaul Elovich, who owned Bezeq and the Walla news site, provided biased coverage for Netanyahu’s benefit and the benefit of his family. Netanyahu's attorneys believe that they are able to surprise Mendelblit and his people in their arguments, and intend to argue that there was no bribery relationship between the prime minister and Elovich and that the coverage on the Walla website was not biased. In evidence, they will present articles published on the site and present Netanyahu and his family in a negative light, and as far as regulatory actions are concerned, they will claim that Netanyahu acted in accordance with the professional guidelines. Attorneys are also expected to claim that illegitimate pressures have been exerted on the state's witnesses, former communications minister Shlomo Filber and former Netanyahu adviser and associate Nir Hefetz. In conclusion, they intend to say that this is an unprecedented indictment, since an elected official has never been prosecuted for such a crime. Netanyahu’s attorneys say they have material that will change how things are seen. For the first time, hundreds of Likud activists showed up at the square in Petah Tikva next to the Attorney General’s house to demonstrate in support of Netanyahu. (Maariv)

Netanyahu is expected to tell President Reuven Rivlin that he can’t form a government after negotiation teams from Likud and Kahol-Lavan met Sunday morning and failed to make any advancements in forming a unity government, with both parties blaming the other. The two parties' representatives were slated to convene again today, but Kahol-Lavan cancelled the meeting. On Saturday, Arab-Israeli MK from the Joint List, Ahmad Tibi, said that his party may support a center-left government led by Kahol-Lavan that included the ultra-Orthodox party.

Forty-four-year-old Samer Arbid was hospitalized in critical condition after being interrogated for several hours by the Shin Bet immediately after being detained. The Israeli security establishment said that Arbid is the man who planned and pressed the button to set off the explosives that killed Israeli teen, Rina Shnerb, in the West Bank. In ‘Israel Hayom’ newspaper, the headline announced that Shnerb’s killers were apprehended. In Haaretz, Maariv and Yedioth the headline announced that the Justice Ministry had opened a probe into Arbid’s injury during his Shin Bet interrogation. Palestinian Health Minister called on the Red Cross to press Israel to allow a Ramallah medical team to visit Arbid, Maariv reported. And the Joint List petitioned the Attorney General to investigate the circumstances of Arbid’s arrest and hospitalization, stating that the Shin Bet tortured him and noting that he was in good health when he was detained, Maariv reported. The Joint List called for the prosecution of those responsible. Arbid's wife told Yedioth that "He was severely tortured.” Two more murders within the Arab sector took place just as thousands of Arab-Israelis participated in an anti-violence protest that called on the country’s security forces to seize illegal weapons in Arab communities. (Also Maariv.) Police claimed that there was no support from community leaders for dealing with violence within the Arab sector, but Arab leaders fired back that “It’s convenient for Arabs to be shooting each other.” This came just as thousands of Israeli Arabs marked the anniversary of the deadly clashes in which Israeli police shot dead 13 young Arab-Israeli protesters in 2000.

Quick Hits:
  • Quietly, Israel Has Been Letting in Thousands of Gaza Workers in Bid to Ease Tensions - Palestinian officials say Israel is now awarding some 5,000 so-called merchant permits, meant for business owners to travel to Israel and the West Bank for commerce, to Palestinians working as laborers in construction, agriculture and manufacturing. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Sudan Foreign Minister: There currently won’t be diplomatic relationship with Israel - Establishing a relationship with Israel could potentially help Sudan with its request to be taken off of the US' list of 'State sponsors of terrorism.’ (Maariv/JPost)
  • Outgoing IDF West Bank Commander Says Security Coordination With PA Working, for Now - Brig. Gen. Eran Niv describes IDF achievements in the West Bank and highlights the importance of security coordination with the Palestinians. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Police Arrest 15-year-old Palestinian Concealing Knife at West Bank Holy Site - Hebron arrest on Monday comes less than a week after Palestinians minors, 12 and 14, arrested in connection with stabbing police in two separate incidents. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Court Annuls Conviction of Cop Filmed in Unprovoked Attack of Protester - The parole service said policeman failed to see the problem with his actions, but judge ruled in his favor, partly in order not to damage his future in the force. The policeman was filmed attacking a young ultra-Orthodox man during a demonstration in Jerusalem in 2017. (Haaretz+ VIDEO)
  • In 4 years: Over 130,000 Jews (in the world) have applied for Spanish citizenship - 132,226 Jews of Spanish origin contacted the Madrid authorities, with about half of them doing so during the past month, and most of them coming from Latin American countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela. The local Justice Department will soon begin reviewing the applications. (Maariv)
  • Escape from Venezuela - Five days after they escaped from the country whose economy is falling apart, whose citizens are dying of hunger and from the crime rampant in the streets, Hanan and Karen celebrated the Jewish New Year happily and securely in Israel with their children. Now they are in their new house in Nof Hagalil (Upper Nazareth). “Now the children will go for the first time to a school in Israel - and I don’t have to worry about it. I am full of joy because in Venezuela we were limited. It’s dangerous to go out to the streets,” said Hanan. (Yedioth Hebrew, p. 19)
  • Israel's formerly religious students hope to find support in new campus clubs - Those who have left the fold go through a process comparable to that of new immigrants, including separation from their families. The first club of its kind, at Ben-Gurion University, aims to help them adjust. (Haaretz+)
  • Egypt Gets Back Looted Gold Coffin Displayed in New York - The finely decorated coffin is inscribed with the name Nedjemankh, a priest of the ram-headed god Heryshef of Herakleopolis, and dates to the first century B.C. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Pro-Iranian Militia Leader in Iraq Threatens Revenge Over Attacks Attributed to Israel - Leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces says statements by Iraqi PM accusing Israel of a slew of recent attacks serve as 'a green light to take revenge.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Qassem Suleimani: "Israel tried to kill me in 2006" - Quds Force commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Suleimani, claimed yesterday that Israel was trying to assassinate him with UAVs during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Saudi Prince Seeks to Dodge Blame for Khashoggi Killing, UN Investigator Says - MBS may have said he bears 'full responsibility' for the dissident journalist's death, but continues to insist that 'layers and layers' of hierarchy separate him from it. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Erdogan: Turkey Has No Choice but Go Its Own Way on Syria 'Safe Zone' - Ankara and NATO ally Washington have agreed to establish a zone along 480 km of the Turkish border. Turkey has warned of unilateral military action if efforts do not meet its expectations, and it set an end-September deadline. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Hariri, the model and the gift of millions - In a lawsuit filed by a young South African model against tax authorities, it was revealed taht she had an affair with the Lebanese prime minister, the NYT reported. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Rohani's Brother Sentenced to Five Years in Prison in Iran - Supporters of the Iranian president claim the corruption case against his brother Hossein Fereydoun was politically motivated. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Hollywood Hills, corner of West Bank: Meet the Palestinian villagers living out the American dream
The Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya is empty for most of the year, until its residents return in the summer from the U.S., where they moved to make the big bucks. The Western influence sets them apart from other West Bank communities, but doesn’t help solve many challenges. (Patty Nieberg, Haaretz+)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:
Gantz’s Project (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A center-left coalition plus the ultra-Orthodox is still one seat short of forming a majority government, but there is no reason why Gantz couldn’t form a minority government. It would be a narrow, fragile coalition that would rely on the support of the Arabs, with the ultra-Orthodox parties and without Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. It would also not require a rotation of prime ministers between Gantz and Netanyahu or the proposal that would have Netanyahu remain as prime minister in name even while being incapacitated.
There are no control mechanisms, no authorities: Israel's state leadership has become a wasteland (Ben Caspit, Maariv) On the eve of the election, the prime minister's security judgment also reached the delirium districts. And, too - Kahol-Lavan’s dilemma: Can Bibi be believed and follow the president's fortified outline?
Bibi’s Own Defeat (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Netanyahu wants a third round of elections not because it would benefit his party and himself, but because he has nothing to lose. He knows that even if the center-left parties win another few Knesset seats, they still won’t be able to form a government without his Likud party. He is therefore prepared to gamble on a relative failure as long as the extension of time improves his prospects of facing indictment while he is still prime minister. That is the only reason for the long-running trick that he is forcing upon his party and upon the voters.  I must say that in all my political life, I never witnessed Knesset members falling in line behind a leader suspected of criminal wrongdoing. They know that Netanyahu has no interest in them, in their abilities or their aspirations to make a political mark of their own, but any threat they might make could lead to new Likud primaries that would only reelect the party’s wounded king as to the leadership. It’s possible that another election is actually needed to make Likud Knesset members come to their senses and free themselves of their bonds with Netanyahu, which are akin to those between a revered ultra-Orthodox rabbi and his followers. But until it happens, Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party needs to launch a public campaign that unmasks Netanyahu’s deceit. A third round of elections, which is fast approaching, is a thing of Netanyahu’s creation and runs counter to a rational approach to forming a unity government.
Yes, the media is biased - in favor of the right (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth/Ynet) Right-wing officials keep accusing the media of being prejudiced against them, but when one examines the data, it's clear that their bloc receives far more screen time than the left-wing parties, and Netanyahu more so than anyone else.
Netanyahu-Gantz Unity Government? Israel in 1984 Has Its Lessons (Shira Kadari-Ovadia, Haaretz+) The partnership between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres came about under circumstances not too dissimilar from those Israel faces today.
Don’t Accept Rivlin’s False Symmetry (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Rivlin has sketched out a false symmetry in his efforts to prevent another election because “the nation doesn’t want it.” This is what makes Kahol Lavan’s refusal to serve with Netanyahu in the same government a tool in the hands of the prime minister’s proxies. Suddenly, anyone who won’t cooperate with Netanyahu – a man charged with crimes (subject to a hearing) and who deliberately chose incitement as his hand to play in the political game – has no concern for national stability or for the welfare of the people. The opposite is true. Benny Gantz must persist in his refusal to be a partner in a government in which Netanyahu has a major role, or to have any discourse with a monolithic “right bloc” that has proved in the past four years that it stands for nationalism, racism, extortion and incitement.
Rivlin must decide if he's a nice guy or a great president (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet) With Israel facing the prospect of a third election in less than a year, the president needs to prove he truly is the defender of democracy he says he is and publicly call for Netanyahu to step aside until he gets his legal affairs in order.
As Netanyahu Begins His Third Campaign, Rivlin Readies the Ejector Seat (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is racing against the legal and political clock while trying to hold fast to power, but Gantz won't be able to get rid of him.
When Israel's right-wing courted the Arab vote (Dr. Arnon Degani, Yedioth/Ynet) At the beginning of the 60s, when all the Arabs under Israeli rule had the right to vote, Menachem Begin chased them with sweet talk and grandiose promises, and then the West Bank was conquered and everything changed.
The Birth of Secularism (Yuli Tamir, Haaretz+) In the few months in which he served as Education minister, Rafi Peretz managed to demonstrate to the general public what dangers are embodied in religionization. No longer the pleasant words of deceased Education Minister Zevulun Hammer, or the moderate statements of Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, and certainly not the pluralism of Rabbi Shai Piron. Closer to the ideological brutalism of his predecessor, Naftali Bennett, Peretz made it clear what a country led by a religious, conservative, messianic leadership that aspires to “convert” the broader public to its views would look like. This is how the danger of religionization received official recognition and in its wake, its “alter ego,” secularism, was born.
How Far Will Lieberman Go? (Shlomo Sand, Haaretz+) Ever since Lieberman broke off with his pal Netanyahu and founded his own party Yisrael Beitenu in 1999, his “master” was the “Russian” electorate, and his political discourse more or less reflected the evolving tastes and desires of these voters. More than half of the immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not considered Jewish according to Israeli law and the Chief Rabbinate has begun making life difficult for these people in every way possible. The new liberal-secular Lieberman was born and promptly took center stage in the electoral arena. At the same time, he did not stop being racist and condescending toward the local Arabs. Nor did he suddenly start evincing respect for the Supreme Court like the average liberal. But he did become the leader of an all-out battle against the Haredim. How far will he dare to go? No one knows. A new identity politics is behind the politics of the last election.
The current mess doesn't warrant a new political system (Dr. Emmanuel Navon, Israel Hayom) The Israeli system of parliamentary representation is far from perfect, but claims that other options are better are inaccurate.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
This Palestinian Terror Suspect Is No Saint. But Something Went Wrong in Israel's Interrogation of Him (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Democratic countries defending against terrorism shouldn't use torture as punishment.
Short and to the Point, Attorney General Mendelblit
(Haaretz Editorial) The hearing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the criminal cases against him will begin Wednesday, nearly three years after they were opened. (Cases 1000 and 2000 came first, followed later by Case 3000.) That is an unreasonable period of time, including in comparison to investigations of and legal steps taken against other public figures. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is responsible for this. The attorney general’s behavior signals hesitation and lack of confidence that are thoroughly exploited by Netanyahu the suspect, whose unbridled attacks on law enforcement continue to shock. As if he were not the prime minister, who is responsible for protecting the state’s institutions, Netanyahu incites against the police and the prosecution, destroying his supporters’ faith in them. His efforts to advance legislation that will allow him to escape prosecution, as if Israel were a dictatorship whose laws should be tailored to fit its emperor, are simply shameless. Mendelblit must not surrender to the bullying of Netanyahu, who will accept nothing short of the closure of his cases for lack of guilt, even at the price of destroying Israeli democracy.
Longing for the past: We need to make a lot of effort to heal the rifts among us (Keren Ozen, Maariv) This year, the start-up nation needs more than ever to reboot. Let's embrace what the business world understood: To succeed - you need to connect, unite and share.
This Is How Netanyahu's Attorneys Will Try to Save Him From Indictment at Wednesday's Momentous Hearing (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) The main question regarding the outcome of Netanyahu’s hearing is whether the bribery accusations in Case 4000 will remain.
Change the status quo on religion and state (Itamar Fleishman, Israel Hayom) Since the time of David Ben-Gurion, everything has changed. The next prime minister will have to take serious steps to prevent the rift between the religious and the secular in Israel from widening.
The Myth of Israel's 'Radical Left' (Dmitri Shumsky, Haaretz+) In her response to my Election Day piece in which I criticized her compulsive and systematic bashing of what remains of the Israeli left, Tzvia Greenfield argues that the left has destroyed itself. And she says this is because, since the 1980s, the “radical” left (her term, for as she sees it, there is no other kind of left) in Israel has been preaching “against the legitimacy of Israel’s Zionist and even Jewish existence.”  But, in reality, the handful of “New Historians” of the War of Independence (One of whom, Benny Morris, has insisted from the start that he is a devout Zionist) and the critical sociologists – upon whom Greenfield pins the start and development of the Israeli left’s self-imposed “de-Zionization,” had no concrete connection to the shapers of Israeli leftist policy and ideology from the 1990s onward. Thus they had no real influence on them. In the 1990s and 2000s, the left’s “spiritual leaders” were not Ilan Pappe and Baruch Kimmerling, but AB Yehoshua and Amos Oz, whose Zionist commitment should require no proof to any reasonable person. The false and misleading linkage of ideas and figures who carry no real weight in the life of the Israeli political left with the actual political playing field in Israel is clearly just an ideological myth that is totally unsupported by the Israeli political reality. A myth Greenfield asserts in her publicity-seeking writings.
Trump-Rohani Phone Call May Have Dissipated, but U.S.-Iran Negotiations Aren't Dead Yet (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Despite the insult Trump endured when Rohani refused to speak with him, it seems that both the U.S. and Iran are willing to return to the negotiating table with sufficiently vague conditions to give each side great flexibility.
House of wild cards (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth Hebrew) The jolt in the United States may seem strange to viewers from the sidelines. In the end, impeaching a president is a definite political and party affair. Democrats have the majority to start the president's trial in the House of Representatives, Republicans have the majority to give him an acquittal in the Senate. But at the basis of democracy and American system is hope: hope that people will act in politics in a proper way, not like automated tribes, lacking all integrity. That they will abide by their fundamental oath: to fulfill their role in the faith and to protect and preserve the American Constitution. That sounds naive, but that's how Richard Nixon went home because of Watergate, and because of that naivety, the most important republic in history has survived as a democracy. Therefore, the impeachment procedure, a purely political act, also carries administrative and historical significance. Bill Clinton may not have been ousted from office, but the procedure tarnished his presidency and left it amputated forever. Now that is happening to Trump, in circumstances that seem far more acute: not a White House affair based on a second testimony and a lie to Congress, but a request (recorded), perhaps exerting pressure on a foreign nation to find dirt on a political opponent. When Trump asked the President of Ukraine to "help" about a case involving Joe Biden's son, he at the same time delayed the hundreds of millions of aid Ukraine should have received. "The Affair" is a conspiracy theory that none of its parts has really provenץ
Iran's Audacious Saudi Attack Will Require Israel to Upgrade Its Missile Defense (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The precision and effectiveness of Iran's strike on Saudi oil fields put Israel’s strategic infrastructure in danger.
'In Sao Paulo, Jews and Muslims live together happily. In Israel, it’s complicated'
Last week at the Tel Aviv airport: An expat who lives in Brazil explains why she left Israel. Why it's complicated for gay people in Eilat, according to a young couple. (Interviewed by Liat Elkayam in Haaretz+)

**'No one will ever forget about the Arab sector again'
Former police commander and founder of a highly regarded Umm al-Fahm art gallery Said Abu Shakra says that the Arab parties' record performance on Sept. 17 is a credit to the Arab public, not the politicians, and expresses his belief "in the power of culture and art to overcome humans' emotional obstacles." (Interviewed by  Yariv Peleg in Israel Hayom)

After the Flat World, Comes the Deep World: A Conversation With Thomas Friedman
The New York Times columnist tells Haaretz how 2007 was a technological tipping point that can only be truly realized if the U.S. and China overcome their trust deficit. (Interviewed by Aluf Benn in Haaretz+)

'At the end of the day, it's all about Iran'
Brig. Gen. Dror Shalom, the head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate's Research Division, warns that Israel is in a "dangerous round" against the Islamic republic and needs to "keep a tight grip on the wheel." In an exclusive interview he says that despite the evolving threats, Israel is working hard to frustrate Tehran's ambitions: "We've moved from lopping off branches to chopping down trees." (Interviewed by Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom)

The prospect of a war is faint: The Golan Heights commander sums up the past year
From the shooting at Mt. Hermon to the thwarting of the Iranian attack: Col. Avinoam Emunah makes clear that the Golan Heights are not on their way to becoming Gaza 2: "We will not allow this place to become another line of confrontation.” (Interviewed by Tal Lev-Ram in Maariv)

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