News Nosh - 11.18.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday November 18, 2019
You Must Be Kidding: 

"...this would be a national historic terror attack against the State of Israel and we cannot allow this."
--The way Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described a government with outside support from Arab-Israeli MKs.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Messi arrived: Last night, Argentina (national soccer team) landed in Israel (Hebrew)
  • Game of blame - Moment before Gantz’s mandate expires, Netanyahu held ‘emergency conference’ and attacked
  • Wolf, wolf // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • Likely: (Attorney General) Mendelblitt’s decision in Netanyahu cases - beginning of next week
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • The fateful two days - Pressure increases as hours pass until end of Benny Gantz’s mandate
  • Rolling danger - Number of people injured from electric scooters tripled in last year
Israel Hayom
  • Senior Likud official: “The danger of a minority government has not passed” - Two days till the expiration of (Gantz’s) mandate: “Lieberman did not give clear answers to either side”
  • Lapid and Yaalon are blocking Gantz // Amnon Lord
  • Unity is necessary and possible // Avraham Diskin
  • (State Prosecutor) Shai Nitzan, it’s time to go // Akiva Bigman
  • Ahead of the decision: Attorney General asked police to check points in Case 4000
  • Remembering and memorializing - 5 years since the attack in Har Nof (synagogue in Jerusalem)
  • The sanctions work, the ayatollahs are under pressure // Oded Granot on the fuel protest in Iran
  • Muy fun: Messi is here
  • Complaint against (State Prosecutor) Shai Nitzan: “Unlawful conduct and severe ethical flaw”
  • The enemies understand: Israeli deterrence did not collapse // Dan Shiftan
Top News Summary:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called a possible government supported by Arab MKs, “a danger to the country’s security,” while security will be increased for senior officials in the State Prosecutor’s office due to threats (Maariv) ahead of the decision on whether to indict Netanyahu, possibly early next week, and soccer superstar Lionel Messi landed in Israel, despite recent rockets and BDS threats - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. (One commentator wrote in Yedioth that Messi's arrival in Israel is the equivalent of a visit by the Beatles. Haaretz looked at the politics behind the sport and the dilemma for progressive fans). In news regarding violent acts against Palestinians, the police falsely said they shot dead a suspected (Palestinian) car thief in Jerusalem during a car chase that endangered the public, but the Justice Ministry said he was running away on foot - i.e. posing no threat - when he was killed (also Maariv), and Haaretz+ noted that the Israel police have killed six suspects this year, but no indictments were filed. Three suspects were Palestinians, two were Ethiopian-Israelis and one was a Mizrachi Israeli. Also, an Israeli soldier shot Palestinian press photographer, Muad Amarna, in the eye, sparking journalists worldwide to post photos of themselves with one eye covered as a show of solidarity with Amarna, who will have to leave the profession.

Elections 2019:
Sunday night at the ‘Emergency Conference, Netanyahu warned of a "national terror attack" if Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz forms a minority government with the support of the mostly-Arab Joint List.  “I tell you that if such a minority government is formed, they’ll celebrate in Tehran, Ramallah, and they’ll celebrate in Gaza – just like they celebrate after every terror attack [against Israelis], but this would be a national historic terror attack against the State of Israel and we cannot allow this,” he said. (Maariv noted that when it has suited the Likud, it worked with the Arab MKs. The recent example was after the April elections, when the Likud contacted the Arab parties to make a blocking bloc before dispersing the 21st Knesset.)

**And like the senior officials of the State Prosecutor's Office, the lives of the members of the Joint List were threatened. "Incitement has led to dozens of murder threats against our MKs,” they wrote, blaming Netanyahu and demanding that the President and AG publicly condemn his’s remarks. "In recent days, Netanyahu has crossed every border in dangerous and savage incitement against members of the Joint List. Netanyahu, who has done and will do everything to keep his seat, continues to incite against the Arab public as a whole, spreading lies and claiming that our Knesset members support terrorism. The Arab public and its representatives are as legitimate as any other public. Anyone who believes in democratic values must resist the witch-hunt of the Balfour suspect against us.” (Yedioth Hebrew) Moreover, Maariv reported that Joint List leader Ayman Odeh and MK Ahmed Tibi appealed to the acting Police Commissioner and Knesset Officer over incitement on social media networks, specifically, a post in which the face of MK Ayman Odeh was photoshopped on the body of a militant of the "Alquds Forces,” alongside the caption: "After the last round (of fighting in Gaza) and the demonstrations of support in Gaza, I recalled things Ayman Odeh told Army Radio: 'I want to be the opposition and receive security briefings.’ But the left-wing still does not understand the danger of Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters in the Knesset and they want a narrow government with them,” the document reads. Even before Netanyahu’s ‘Emergency conference’ took place, MK Amtanes Shahadeh (Balad - Joint List) sent an urgent petition to the Attorney General demanding he prevent the convening of the “incitement convention of the Likud against the Arab civilians and parties." (Maariv)

Yedioth Hebrew wrote that a minority government is the leading scenario, aside from round three of elections. A ’47 government’ would include Kahol-Lavan, Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor-Gesher with the Democratic Camp and most of the MKs from the Joint List supporting from the outside. But some MKs of the Joint List faction oppose joining a government with Avigdor Lieberman. Interestingly, a poll found that 49% of Arab Israelis want the Joint List to join a Gantz-led minority government. f such a government is sworn in, it would be difficult to bring it down in a vote of no confidence, Yedioth Hebrew wrote. President Rivlin scolded both Likud and Kahol-Lavan saying that it was only personal interests that kept them from making a unity government.

Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian Photographer Blinded in One Eye by Israeli Border Police Fire at Protest - Police say Muad Amarna may have been too close to a clash with dozens of rioting demonstrators in the West Bank near Hebron. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Israeli Judge Orders Release of Palestinian Activist Who Was Filmed Being Beaten by Police - Judge criticizes police, who claimed the suspect assaulted officers, recommends case be turned over to Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Made No Promises for Gaza Cease-fire - Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, prime minister said 'we maintain complete freedom of action and we will hurt whoever tries to hurt us.' (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Netanyahu meets families of fallen soldiers held by Hamas - Netanyahu updates families on efforts made to return missing soldiers and on latest developments; families slam recent Gaza ceasefire, labeling it 'abandonment of missing soldiers.’ (Maariv and Ynet)
  • Chinese delegation in Israel talk policy, US-China rift  - As tensions between the US and China heats up, Israel finds itself in the crosshairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Protester Fined Heavily for ‘Humiliating’ Banker - Attorney Barak Cohen was given a six-month suspended sentence and a $5,800 fine on Sunday for infringing on the privacy of Bank Leumi’s former CEO. (Haaretz+)
  • Sources: Trump 'frustrated' and 'disappointed' with Netanyahu, Israel - White House senior officials, who spoke with their Israeli counterparts, say the president distanced himself from Israel's leader because he 'doesn't like losers.’ (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel's UN Envoy Slams 'Radical Voice' Bernie Sanders on Gaza Comments - Danon attacked recent comments by Sanders, saying presidential hopeful 'undermines the security of both Israel and the U.S.' (Haaretz, Israel Hayom, and Ynet)
  • Airstrikes Kill 5 in Northwest Rebel-held Syrian Village - Strike hit the village of Mallaja in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, which President Bashar Assad said forces will soon retake. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanese protesters lash out at Hezbollah over economic woes - The Shiite militant group has been hailed for decades as the country's protector against Israel and defender of the poor, but now the protesters want the Lebanon's political elite, including Hezbollah, out. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Saudi-Qatar crisis nearing end, suggests a hopeful U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff - Washington sees an ongoing political rift that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and non-Gulf state Egypt have with Qatar as a threat to efforts to contain Iran and has pushed for a united front. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2019 Commentary/Analysis:

A Genuine State of Emergency (Haaretz Editorial) In a last-ditch effort to prevent Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz from being able to form a government in the final moments before his mandate to do so expires, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an “emergency conversation” with cabinet ministers and Knesset members from his Likud party, where he Iassailed Gantz for his intention to form a minority government supported by the Arab parties, inciting against the Arab Knesset members, treating the possibility that a ruling coalition would be formed with parties that were democratically elected and represent 20 percent of Israel’s citizens as if it were a suspected bomb on a bus. “…forming a government dependent on the Arab parties is a bigger disaster,” he added. “is is a historic danger to Israel’s security. It’s a severe blow to Israel’s security.” It’s hard to exaggerate the gravity of such statements by Netanyahu, who, by virtue of his job, is supposed to serve all Israelis, including the country’s Arab citizens.
Netanyahu Is Worse Than Kahane (Esawi Freige, Haaretz+) “A minority government supported by Arab parties is a danger to this country”, tweeted Netanyahu four hours before the IDF launched the missile that killed Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata. A few weeks earlier, MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud) proposed a new bill that would preclude Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh from being head of the opposition in case a unity government was formed. It seems that the Likud party’s position is clear: Members of the Joint List are unworthy of being in the coalition, and not really in the opposition either.
Gantz, Forget About Israel's Arabs (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The process started a while ago, but the nightmarish days of last week made it clear to me, at least, that the Joint List can’t link up with Kahol Lavan. It was a week that began with bloodletting in Gaza, along with the deligitimization of the Arabs in Israel through a spectacular television campaign, from which the Arabs (21 percent of the population) were absent and which later put the Joint List’s 13 MKs in front of a one-man firing squad, that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. All this – and this is the problem at hand – happened without any condemnation by their supposed future partners, members of Kahol Lavan, whose leader is a serious contender for prime minister thanks to the Joint List.
Netanyahu and Gantz Moved on From the Blame Game. Now They're Playing Chicken (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The two drivers of Israel's main parties are barreling toward a collision - and a third election.
Only Lieberman can save the people of Israel from political trouble (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) The Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman stood in front of the cameras, in front of the people and especially his detractors, while showing the conditions for his support in establishing the next government, proving that he is the responsible adult in our political system.
Is Gantz Really About to Become Prime Minister? Panicking Bibi Thinks He Might (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Kahol Lavan leader has three days left to form a coalition. Benjamin Netanyahu is worried, and there could be a delicious irony if he is ultimately dethroned by Israeli-Arab lawmakers.
Likud and Blue and White are more frenemies than rivals (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel's two largest political factions are so similar it's amazing that they haven't yet formed a unity government in order to save the country from an unwanted third election cycle that will likely yield the same results.
Israel's Real Minority Government (Amir Fuchs, Haaretz+) As part of the campaign being waged to delegitimize any option that includes a government supported by some or all Arab parties, multiple spokesmen have in recent weeks been plugging the term “minority government.” This is a technical term used in political science, denoting a government supported by less than half the members of parliament. However, an important point must be clarified: according to Israel’s Basic Law regulating the formation of governments, any government needs a plurality in a vote of confidence. It need not be a majority vote (consisting of 61 Knesset members) but there have to be more supporters than opponents. The repeated use of “minority government” is an illegitimate deception which implies the formation of a government that represents a minority, which the majority objects to. This attempt at delegitimization is particularly strident now, since it comes from people who have been serving in a transitional government for a long time. It was a government which did not gain the confidence of the Knesset after the April election, then, in the repeat election in September, it received a definite vote of no-confidence from the public.
Will Bloomberg vs. Bernie End Up Defining the Democrat's Approach to Israel After 2020 (Alexander Griffing, Haaretz+) Mayor Bloomberg may not end up winning many votes in the Democratic primary, but he is already slated to be biggest political spender in the 2020 race and will undoubtedly change the debate.

Other Commentary/Analysis:

Israeli Intelligence Is Doomed to Err – Because It Doesn’t See Humans (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) One of the results of Israeli domination over the Palestinians and those who resist it is the attitude of Israelis toward facts, sociological truths and assessments voiced by Palestinians.
Army Radio became a reservoir of bots and remote commenters operated from the (Prime Minister’s) residence on Balfour Street (Ben Caspit, Maariv) What happened to the radio station that was once the glory of the press and a school for media? Also, Bennett's appointment (as Defense Minister) is the liquidation sale of national security for the creation of the (right-wing) bloc for (Netanyahu’s) immunity.
With race-baiting rabble-rousers like Netanyahu, who needs BDS? (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister’s obscene “emergency rally” against a Gantz-Joint List deal risks alienating Israeli Arabs just as they seek greater integration.
Wolf, wolf (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Pavilion 10 at the Fair Center has seen better days, even with Netanyahu. The poster behind the speaker's booth, in dramatic blue-and-white, said "Emergency conference - stopping a dangerous government that relies on supporters of terror." But the atmosphere in the hall didn't say emergency. The chairs filled up, but a large, empty space opened up behind them. "We are a little over this," explained the deputy mayor of a city in the center of the country. "Too many events, too many 'Oh, no' shouts. We have not yet calmed down yet from the elections." The audience is divided into two: full-time politicians who represent the party in government, in the Knesset, in the local authorities, in government companies, in labor organizations. (In the second group): Netanyahu's fans and admirers. The first group came due to their jobs. The Likud today is an entrenched, governing party that is more and more like the historic Mapai. Every party activist looks up to his head. I belong to Haim Katz, I belong to Israel Katz, I belong to Gideon Sa'ar, I belong to Gilad Erdan. I thought the fear of losing power would set them on fire. There was no fire, not last night. Not even on stage, in the row assigned to ministers and MKs. They feigned applause on the eve of the election, when Netanyahu summoned them to the roof of a hotel, announcing the fake news of the annexation of the Jordan Valley (part that is in the West Bank - OH) and they feigned applause last night. And there were the fans. "These are not Likudniks; they are Bibis," a well-known activist whispered to me. A lot of older women, who came armed with state flags; Some danced to the sounds of Mediterranean music, some took selfies alongside ministers and MKs. Some brought signs from home: "Mohammed Gantz - Hassan Lieberman," "Netanyahu is white as snow," "Bibi and Sara - You Will Never Walk Alone," "Investigate [State Prosecutor] Shai Nitzan." When the Netanyahu couple entered, they got on the chairs and sang to him, "Bibi the King of Israel is alive and well" and they filmed it on their mobile phones. "Look how intelligent he is," one enthusiast told me. "In Kahol-Lavan they are all donkeys. No one comes to his ankles. "I asked him who he voted for in the election. "Me? I'm a Shasnik," he said quietly...Netanyahu seems to be paying the price of crying "wolf wolf" when there is no wolf in sight. Admire him. Don't believe him...
The latest round of fighting in Gaza has revealed that the Hamas leadership is no longer the only sovereign (Dr. Michael Barak, Maariv) Islamic Jihad dares to act as a rogue and independent organization in the Gaza Strip. Hamas's choice to "sit on the fence" somewhat undermines its prestige and plays into the hands of Islamic Jihad.
Lies, damned lies and the Gaza Strip (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Despite Netanyahu's proclamations of victory following the latest round of cross-border fighting, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are still there, and only long-term ceasefire arrangement with the Palestinian factions will bring about a significant period of relative quiet.
The European Union labels itself biased (Alan Baker, Israel Hayom) The EU labeling requirement is an overt, political measure strengthening the already existing links between the EU and the predominantly European BDS campaign.
The Israeli Nation Is a Fiction (Sagi Elbaz, Haaretz+) Throughout history, nations have sought to establish a system of common values that would define them as a people. In Israel the attempt to form a shared ethos, inspired by successive generations of the Labor movement, led over the years to the consolidation of various identities, most of them different from one another. The vision of a homogeneous society encountered many obstacles and, later, also resistance from groups that did not assimilate into the nation-building project. This set off a struggle over the character of Israeli society between those who sought a uniform identity - based on Ashkenazi, secular, native-born, socialist elites — and other groups and forces, including Arabs, Mizrahi Jews and the religious, who promote ideas of diversity and multiculturalism. The melting pot did not manage to forge the multiplicity of groups in Israel into a single dominant culture. The multicultural model failed also as a result of the hostility between Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, religious and secular and right and left. The person responsible for fanning the hatred between the two political camps, right and left, is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More than any other politician, Netanyahu undermined the values that were mistakenly perceived as shared ones: nonpartisan governance, collectivism, secularism and socialism.
Sanctions on Iran are working (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) The regime is buckling under the weight of heavy US economic sanctions and is also facing protests on both sides of the Iran-Iraq border. If if nothing changes and stifling US sanctions aren't eased, the next eruption is just around the corner.
In Saudi Arabia, Liberalism and Openness Is Now an Order (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Mohammad Bin Salman understands very well the social and religious implications of his vision of liberalization. His new Public Taste law is doing little to curb critics' fears.

Yael Eckstein is putting her own mark on building bridges between Christians and Jews
As the new head of the International “Fellowship” that helps 1.5 million people a year, she has taken what her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, built and is adding her own vision to the 36-year-old organization. ( Deborah Fineblum, Israel Hayom)

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