News Nosh 12.15.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday December 15, 2019

Quote of the day:
“Some parents are afraid of the influence we might have on the youth. It’s simply appalling. We visit other schools, and one of the first questions we ask is whether the teens have ever met a Palestinian. Everywhere we go, the answer is no, and then they realize that the person in front of them is a human being. Apparently that scares the government."
-Aharon Barnea, member of the Bereaved Families Forum, reacted to the cancellation of a meeting of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian family members with high school students in a town in Israel's north.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Battle between Saar and Netanyahu for the top Likud members
  • Johnson is good for the Jews - In Israel in particular, and in the Jewish world in general, they celebrate the Conservative’s victory in Britain
  • A sigh of relief // Haim Isrovich
  • 90 acts of murder a year - Blood in the Arab sector continues to be spilled
  • The backyard (of Israeli society) // Jafar Farah
Israel Hayom
  • Deep in the campaign - Tension in Likud ahead of primaries
  • The right-wing needs to go to the polling stations with their heads high // Eitan Orkibi
  • Gantz is interested in (Netanyahu rival) Sa’ar getting stronger // Mati Tuchfeld
  • The positive side of the third round of elections
  • Fateful elections, no less // Yaakov Berdugo
  • Saluting the (IDF) wounded
  • Britain congratulates Johnson - and waits for Brexit
  • Don’t get confused: Trump represents true democracy // Amnon Lord

Top News Summary:
The battle between Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and his rival for Likud leadership, Gideon Saar, ahead of the Likud leadership primaries in 11 days, the continuing violence in the Arab sector that is beginning to be pointed towards its mayors and the victory of Conservative party leader Boris Johnson in the British elections, much to the relief of Israel and many Jewish British, were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

The 91st Arab Israeli was killed in a violent act this year, he is the fourth victim of his family, and shots were fired at the home of the mayor of the Arab-Israeli town of Sakhnin and his car was set on fire in the increasing violence directed at the elected leaders of the Arab local authorities in Israel. (See Commentary by Jaafar Farah about the reasons in Commentary/Analysis below.) Mayors told Maariv "We are being threatened with murder.” Two weeks ago a man was arrested in village of Jadeida-Machar on suspicion of shooting at the mayor and burning his car, while about a month and a half ago, a someone shot at the car of a senior employee of the Nahaf village municipality, damaging his car. Sakhnin Mayor Dr. Safwat Abu-Raya  told Yedioth Hebrew, “I’m afraid for my children.” Haaretz+ also reported that the Israeli Arab leadership has presented a plan for eliminating gun violence in their communities, which require not only government resources, but the closing of socio-economic gap with the Jewish sector.  

Elections 2019 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • In First Election Poll Since Knesset Dissolved, Gantz Ahead but No Clear Majority - According to Channel 12 News Thursday poll, Kahol Lavan would get 35 to Likud’s 32 out 120 Knesset seats, but Gantz would need Lieberman and the acquiescence of Arab lawmakers to form a government. The right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc, would win 54 seats and the center-left bloc would win 45 seats – sans the support of Yisrael Beytenu and the Joint Arab List. The four-party Arab alliance of the Joint List would win 13 seats. (Haaretz)
  • Political pickle sees Likud, right-wing bloc slip in polls - A poll commissioned by Israel Hayom found that Kahol-Lavan would win 37 seats and Likud would win 31. Joint Arab List would secure 14 seats. National Union, Habayit Hayehudi and far-right Otzma Yehudit parties would fail to pass the 3.25% electoral threshold, which is equivalent to four Knesset seats. These results would give the right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc 51 Knesset seats to the Left's 47 – sans the support of Yisrael Beytenu and the Joint Arab List. Asked who they believe is most suited for the role of prime minister, 42% said Netanyahu, 40% named Gantz. The survey dealt Netanyahu another blow, as 43% of respondents said that Netanyahu was to blame for the fact that Israel was going to the polls for the third consecutive time. 5% said Gantz was at fault. Only 15% would like to see a narrow left-wing government installed. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gantz: We will consider pardon for Netanyahu if he quits politics - Kahol-Lavan leader says Thursday there is no desire 'to see another prime minister behind prison walls.’ (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Lapid says he doesn't want to see PM in prison but refuses to back pardon - "Pardon is a legal concept, Netanyahu must first accept responsibility for his actions and express remorse,” said Lapid in an interview with Ynet. (Ynet)

Quick Hits:
  • Despite Court Order, Israeli Army Denies Palestinian Landowners Access to Evacuated Settlement Site - The settlement of Homesh in the West Bank was evacuated as part of Israel’s disengagement plan in 2005, but Israelis have continued to visit the area and Palestinians are still barred. (Haaretz+)
  • The Jewish National Fund Is Trying to Kick a Palestinian Family Out of Their Home. The Court Stopped It – for Now - Court rules that the Sumreen family may stay in its East Jerusalem house until the case it settled. JNF, backed by settler group Elad, argues that it owns the building. (Haaretz+)
  • Hate Crimes Against Palestinians Were More Brazen in 2019 - Data by the Israeli defense establishment shows a fewer number of incidents in the West Bank, but defense officials are concerned about increase in severity, the audaciousness of those responsible. and the scope of the violence. Some 200 of the 256 violent incidents in 2018 involved the uprooting of trees and other non-lethal attacks and security officials believe a quarter of these incidents were carried out by settlers from Yitzhar and the neighboring area. Security sources described Yitzhar as “the beating heart of the far right.” (Haaretz+)
  • *Town Slams 'Murderous Terrorists,' Nixes Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence Meeting for Students - The non-compulsory meeting in the town of Nesher between high school students and bereaved families from the Parents Circle Families Forum, a grassroots organization of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost immediate family members in the conflict, was meant to open dialogue about coexistence. It was cancelled after politicians and parents complained of children being exposed to 'terrorists,’ despite the fact that the student council expressed its full support for the educational staff that planned the meeting. (Haaretz+)
  • Fragile coexistence in northern Israel disturbed by anti-Arab vandals - 'They want to spoil relations between us. It won’t happen,' vows one resident of Manshiya Zabda, the latest target amid spate of racist attacks. (Haaretz+)
  • Activists urge mass evacuation as Israeli gas rig to emit tons of pollutants in a single day - Environmental Protection Ministry says Carmel coast residents not in danger, but environmental group argues 'the government is betraying its citizens.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Defense Ministry: In Israel there are 57,277 recognized disabled IDF veterans - 591 of the disabled are at the highest level of disability: 100% plus. According to the ministry's data, some 5,000 IDF disabled have been recognized as suffering from post-trauma: "The opportunity to honor those who have paid a heavy price.” (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Day of Appreciation of injured IDF Soldiers: "Every time I look in the mirror, I have a reminder of what I've been through." - Idan Kleiman, chairman of the IDF Disability Organization, referred to the day being marked for the fifth year. About post-trauma victims he said: "There is much more that needs to be improved in order to help them.” (Maariv)
  • BDS activists in Spain attack Israeli delegation of Arabs and Jews - Members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement hurl curses, try to physically attack group of Arabs and Jewish residents of the West Bank [i.e. settlers], who were in Madrid last Tuesday in effort to reverse EU decision to label settlement products. The Arabs were Sheikh Taissir Dayut Tamimi from Ramallah, self-declared "proud Arab, Muslim, Zionist Israeli" Sarah Zoabi from Nazareth, and Arab Israeli Likud member Dima Tayeh. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • 'Narrative about Muslims killing Jews predictive, not anti-Semitic' - Prominent American Islamic scholar Sheikh Yasir Qadhi says Muslims cannot be anti-Semitic since Abraham and the Prophet Mohammed were Semites, as are the majority of Muslims, "But we can be and are anti-Zionists." (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu welcomes Trump bid to target campus anti-Semitism - 'Free speech is not carte blanche for anti-Semitic attacks,' prime minister says of executive order that uses International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism to crack down on hate speech at federally funded colleges and universities. (Ynet)
  • Moroccan parliamentarians make clear: relations with Israel are not expected to be upgraded - Moroccan parliamentarians visiting Paris told Maariv that they could not confirm any intention of Moroccan government to upgrade relations with Israel. (Maariv)
  • Erdogan vs. (exiled Palestinian strongman) Mohammed Dahlan - Mohammed Dahlan was one of Israel's partners in the Palestinian Authority and is now exiled in the UAE after he was suspected of undermining Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership [by trying to oust him and take over - OH]. Now Turkey accuses Dahlan of being part of 2016 coup attempt against President Erdogan, of continuing to work against Erdgoan from the UAE, and of being an "Israeli agent." Turkey is offering $700,000 cash reward for information for the capture of Dahlan who is currently acting as special advisor to the Emirate's ruler, Muhammad Ben-Rashid. (Yedioth Hebrew/Ynet English)
  • (Families of) Palestinian Prisoners Getting Funds From PA Shouldn't Receive Money From Israel, Attorney General Says - Avichai Mendelblit writes in legal opinion that the funds the Palestinian Authority provides to families of prisoners jailed in Israel should be considered sufficient income. (Haaretz+)
  • Tens of thousands in Gaza mark the 32 anniversary of Hamas' founding - The organization's leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is currently abroad in Turkey, was absent from the Saturday event. (Ynet)
  • The Palestinian Authority arrested dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank - According to a spokesman for the terrorist organization, over 66 activists participating in parades that mark 32 years of Hamas founding were arrested. Hamas spokesman warned that crackdown would have negative impact on PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to hold parliamentary and presidential elections. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Israel Bars Gaza's Christians From Visiting Bethlehem, Jerusalem for Christmas - Community member tells of short-lived hope that Israel-Hamas talks would help their cause, as rights group laments 'deepening of Israel's separation policy' between West Bank and Gaza. (Haaretz)
  • In Face of U.S. Opposition, UN Renews Mandate of Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) - General Assembly passes final vote to renew mandate for three years, despite an ongoing investigation into misconduct by senior staff. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Tarantino unchained: Director dabbles in Hebrew in Jerusalem - “Shalom, ma nishma?” (Hi, how are you?), said the legendary director and screenwriter who along with his Israeli wife attended a special screening of a documentary examining the first eight films from the acclaimed filmmaker. (Yedioth/Ynet + VIDEO)
  • The gamers will conquer Eilat - 500 players, 60 teams and 200 million enthusiastic spectators across the globe. Eilat succeeded big time and of all places in the world it was chosen to host the electronic sports world championship next November. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israel welcomes Belgian parade's removal from UNESCO list - The Aalst carnival, which included a float this year of large-nosed Jews atop piles of money, was the first-ever cultural tradition to be taken off the UN's global inventory of cultural practices. (Ynet, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian judoka who defected meets Israeli delegation, may compete in Tel Aviv - Saeid Mollaei, now competing for Mongolia, could make history at Chinese tournament, facing off an Israeli athlete. (Haaretz+)
  • UN can't confirm weapons used in Saudi attacks were Iranian - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that the world body has not been able to independently corroborate that the cruise missiles and drones used in attacks this year on an airport and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia "are of Iranian origin." (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Turkey Urges EU to Boost Its Funding for Syrian Refugees - EU funds support roughly 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, after Syria's war of over eight years killed hundreds of thousands and pushed millions out of their homes. (Agencies, Haaretz)

'I said, get up, Mother. Then I realized she was dead': Survivors of Israel's Gaza strike speak out
An 11-year-old girl in Gaza lost her parents, her brothers and her home when the Israeli air force bombed Dir al-Balah last month. New testimonies from the inferno. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
We were like dreamers: Re-enacting the liberation of the Temple Mount  in the Six Day War
The last moments of alert, the flag from 1948 and the grandmother's explicit command.  Two weeks ago, company soldiers from the 71st Battalion, 55th Brigade of the Paratroopers, shared memories from 1967 at the Ammunition Hill Events Hall, ending an intense day that included visiting the Temple Mount, where they retold what happened (See VIDEO). Commander Yoram Zamush said the liberation of Mount Moriah - by his company - the place which is the source of the creation of the world, in which the Sacrifice of Isaac took place and on which the Holy Temple was built, is the most important event in the history of the Jewish people. (Dr. Uri Milstein, Maariv + YOUTUBE VIDEO OF VISIT TO TEMPLE MOUNT)
A Palestinian Shooting That Doesn’t Alarm the Israeli Army
A Palestinian was killed in the West Bank, allegedly by his brother, then the victim’s home was shot at. But Israeli security forces haven’t acted in the second case, despite their authority to do so. (Amira Hass, Haaretz+)
Hiking Israel's iconic cross-country trail could kill you
Over one-third of Israel’s territory is designated as army firing zones. What happens when the Israel National Trail passes through one? (Dani Bar On, Haaretz+)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Elect as Many Arabs to the Knesset as Possible (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) I hope the March election will be the last in which Meretz (or the Democratic Union in latest incarnation) and Labor – with or without Gesher – participate. This is because the solution of the Zionist left, two nations for two peoples, can no longer be implemented. Anyone whose only aim in voting is to remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be better off voting for Kahol Lavan. Anyone who votes with a more long-term view, based on the aspiration of granting full equal rights to the Palestinians in the binational apartheid nation – which has become a fait accompli under Netanyahu’s rule (with the help of the European Union and U.S. President Donald Trump) – would be better off voting for the Joint List. Bring as many Arabs as possible into the Knesset: This needs to be the goal of the dissidents whose vision extends beyond the Netanyahu era, and who realize that the leaders who come after him − whether they are part of the center such as Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi, or whether they are on the right, such as Gideon Sa’ar, Moshe Ya’alon, Ayelet Shaked and Bezalel Smotrich − will only perpetuate the occupation and the apartheid.
The election to save Netanyahu is paralyzing the government systems (Yehuda Sharoni, Maariv) Economic roundup: The upcoming elections is a high unnecessary expense. A government with a budget of 400 billion shekels has the power of influence that extends to all aspects of life itself, such as health, education, transport, the periphery, welfare budgets and more. Now everything is frozen, and starting next month, the offices will operate monthly at 1:12 of their relative budget. Also, he tourism industry is in danger of collapse due to lack of budget.
Thanks to Netanyahu, Gantz Is Now Ready to Be Prime Minister (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) With each election – and yet another one was called this week – his chances of gaining the top spot again recede further into the distance, but Benjamin Netanyahu remains determined to hold on.
Gantz's spin, according to which immunity is grounds for election, is poor and miserable (Michael Kleiner, Maariv) The Kahol-Lavan Chairman presented himself as one who is interested in unity, but in practice demanded Netanyahu give up immunity and to take leave of absence. In other words - to get away from political life.
Netanyahu's post-indictment candidacy reflects moral bankruptcy of Likud and the Israeli right (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The March 2 ballot is fundamentally different from its two predecessors – and its outcome might be as well.
They didn't go crazy (Shimon Schiffer, Yedioth Hebrew) 1. Whoever is looking for the overwhelming answer to why Israelis should welcome the decision to go to the third elections should read the words of Boris Johnson, who led the Conservatives to a historic victory in the British parliamentary election this weekend. "These elections," he said, "will provide the government with the opportunity to respect the democratic will of the people - to change the country for the better, and to realize the potential inherent in its residents." Three and a half years after the referendum that signaled to UK politicians the best thing for them was to withdraw from the EU and focus on the effort to build a prosperous society, Johnson, with the same promise, managed to convince voters in Labor's best-known strongholds to change their voting patterns. 2. With all due respect and appreciation to President Rivlin, who said that Netanyahu and Gantz "went crazy" following their failure to form a unity government, it should be said that he was wrong: they did not go crazy. Netanyahu has taken the Likud captive, it serves as a sanctuary city from the risk of ending his public life in prison. Nothing else interests him. The block with the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, the promises to Lieberman - all these are just the mantle. And this commodity, it seems, has no buyers: Gantz and Lieberman sat opposite Netanyahu, each in turn, and internatlized the lessons from Herzog and Mofaz that their dealings with Netanyahu caused their downfall. Gantz, moreover, is convinced that on March 2 voters will give him the mandate to form a government that fully expresses the "democratic will of the people to change the state." And a good word for Yair Lapid. For a long time his critics tried to portray him as a politically inexperienced presenter, but he emerged as a character with a backbone. He refused to subordinate his positions on the coalition with Netanyahu, and when necessary, he gave up the rotation of Prime Minister with Gantz because he understood that this would increase the likelihood of turning Kahol-Lavan into a ruling party. 3. The arguments by Netanyahu's supporters for continuing his grip on the government, is that the indictments against him holding no water. But the latest polls point to the maturation of understanding, even among right-wing voters, that it was time to stop mindless support of Netanyahu. And for those who now wonder whether Saar can lead the right-wing camp in the near and distant future, it is worth mentioning the statement by Ehud Barak when he faced Netanyahu in the direct election to the prime minister: Whoever is with me in take-off will also be with me at landing. With the opening of another election campaign, I want to propose a metaphorical treaty for the media covering it. First, we will all be obliged to avoid allowing interviewees to go back and pass on the pages of slogans they receive from their party leaders. In addition, we will not participate in the accusation game: who brought about the failure of the unity government, who favored the annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley, and who should pick up the red phone. And finally, we will require applicants to present the "Hundred Days Plan." Do you want to talk to us? So you will need to talk about ways to add beds to hospitals, ways to improve the scores of graduates of the Israeli education system on international tests, and ways to alleviate the dreaded traffic jams on the roads. Anyone who does not comply with these rules will not receive a platform in the media.
Third time's a charm? Why this Israeli election could be different (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) These are the five main questions that could shape the race this time around.
The Roulette of mandates: The Political Strategy That Could Allow the Right to Form a Government Without Lieberman (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) One move could bring the rightist bloc closer to the coalition without Avigdor Lieberman, or crush it completely from the other side. In the April elections, the right-wing party missed a victory because of several hundred votes that prevented Naftali Bennett from entering the Knesset. Commentators have been quick to explain that there is probably no room for more than one right-wing party to the right of the Likud. Not sure that was a correct conclusion. Sure she was in a hurry. One cannot reach such a definite conclusion based on one election campaign, which almost succeeded (for the right-wing). In the September election campaign the right united because of the trauma of teh April elections. The result was not impressive for list, and even less impressive for the right-wing bloc. In this format, Netanyahu's block cannot approach 60. To get closer you have to gamble: run with two heads. Either everyone passes the minimum threshold percentage, or everyone does not pass. Left-wing parties also have to decide whether to gamble. Labor and the Democratic Camp [Ehud Barak, Stav Shafir and Meretz - OH] are close to ten seats if they run alone. If they reunite - and this is already hypothesized - the total number of seats will probably decline.
Hail the mighty shekel, the real reason Israelis are so well off (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) As Israel heads to another election, the markets clearly don't think the economy will be worse off with Netanyahu as jailbird instead of Bibi as boss.
The Immune System Did Its Job (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The fact that Israel has to hold a third election within such a short period of time reflects a grave political crisis. The fact that millions of people will again be exposed to wasteful, inflammatory and uncontrolled advertising campaigns is also far from ideal. And yet, it also carried a reassuring message for everyone who champions healthy democracy. In fact, Israel must go to the polls again because the system of checks and balances that is the foundation of democracy worked. It prevented, in every manner possible, a situation in which a prime minister who has been charged with criminal offenses, who seeks to escape to the “city of refuge” of parliamentary immunity, continues to serve.
The ruling in Alon Hassan's case is only a sign of the fate of the PM and can the President give the prime minister a pardon without a trial? (Adv. Yechiel Gutman, Maariv) The decision in the matter of the Ashdod Port Labor Committee Chairman does not bode well for the Prime Minister. Hassan was convicted of two counts of fraud and breach of trust. The judges ruled that "the fraud and breach of trust is one of the main offenses in the fight against government corruption.” Separately and recently, there has been a lot of talk about the proposal that some rabbis - and now some politicians - put forward, that the President will grant a pardon without a trial to Netanyahu in return for him resigning as prime minister and all other public offices. In doing so, they see an appropriate solution to the deep constitutional problem created after the indictment was filed against him. Such a case happened once in the history of Israel, when President Haim Herzog was willing under certain conditions to grant amnesty to Shin Bet officials in the Bus 300 affair (extrajudicial killing of Palestinian hijackers who were caught and led away and hiding evidence - OH) even before they were tried and indicted, on the basis of his defense cabinet's appeal in this matter. One of the major problems with pardon requests is that the applicant must admit to committing the offense. As we know, Netanyahu adamantly declared that he did not commit any offense, so there is no chance he will submit a request to the president for a pardon for what he is accused of. One of the Shin Bet agents refused to admit to the act attributed to him (killing terrorists and hiding evidence). That was the compromise that justified itself under the circumstances. Netanyahu can also claim that “they are claiming“ he committed various crimes as expressed in the indictment, without admitting that he did. The idea of granting amnesty to Shin Bet members on the recommendation of the Security Cabinet and the prior commitment of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to support it was based on security ties. Prime Minister Shimon Peres, along with Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin, who were formerly in charge of the Shin Bet, feared - and rightly so - that conducting a trial would reveal stories about what happened in the security service and in its conduct, in a way that would jeopardize state security. Shortly thereafter, petitions were submitted to the High Court against the President and the Government who supported the pardon (including against the Minister of Justice), and the matter was put to a legal hearing on the High Court's table, headed by the late Meir Shamgar. The other judges were Justice Miriam Ben Porat and Justice Aharon Barak. As part of the High Court hearing, it was ruled once again that there was no legal feasibility of petitioning against the President of the State, and that the petition should be directed solely against the Minister of Justice and the Cabinet, who recommended the amnesty to the President. Years later, in another High Court ruling on mayors who were indicted after being elected to office, the court ruled that the law may allow them to continue in office - but that it is unreasonable, it was ordered their term be ended. In the same ruling, the judges also ruled that even if suspected mayors are elected again, their election does not constitute immunity and does not allow them to continue their term. From the verdict it can be understood that the petition can also be filed against the subject of the job itself. So it can be learned from this that anyone who wants to attack a decision to pardon Netanyahu can file it against the prime minister himself, claiming that giving him the job of forming a government when such a severe indictment is pending against him is unreasonable. In the High Court hearing on the pardons in the Bus 300 case, the petitioners sought to revoke the amnesty granted to the Shin Bet Chief and his aides, in addition to issuing an order instructing the enforcement authorities to continue the investigation. Attorney General Joseph Harish of course objected. But Justices Shamgar and Ben-Porat decided not to cancel the pardon. "There is no reason why the pre-trial pardon will become an appeal against the State Prosecutor’s decisions," Shamgar said. "Only circumstances in which serious damage is expected, which has no other reasonable solution ... can allow deviation from the material restraint." Ben Porat explained: "We have been shown that the use of pre-trial pardon was ... extremely rare. The cases where this authority should be used are greatly reduced." In contrast, Justice Barak believed the pardon was null and void, "since the president acted without authority." Although the Shin Bet case states that the president's authority to grant a pardon without trial is rare and can only exist under special circumstances, it may be that when Netanyahu's case comes to the High Court, it will approve the pardon or decide not to intervene. I am prepared to go even further and without a pardon to close all the cases against Netanyahu in return for his resignation, similar to the settlement in form prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's dollar affair and the Seroussi affair of former president Ezer Weizman. The idea in itself is not invalid.
This time, there has to be a clear decision (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Another election isn't necessarily a bad things, but this time we must put trivia aside and discuss the real issues facing us as a society. The person or party who does that will be the winner.
Netanyahu’s Atonement (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has about three months to atone, even in small measure, for his sins toward the country of Israel. He has the power to prove with deeds, not empty declarations, that he is a prime minister of a rightist government. It may not prevent – and must not prevent – putting him on trial, but it could get him into history. Not as another leader placed in the dock but as one who generated, even if at the end of his term, changes with historic significance to the future of the land of Israel. The first deed called for is a government decision to adopt the conclusions of the Edmond Levy committee, which found that Judea and Samaria aren’t “occupied territories” and that Israel, even under international law, has the right to rule it. Such a decision would pave the way to applying Israeli law and justice to the Jordan Valley, the Etzion Bloc, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel – and perhaps all of Area C, including the granting of Israeli citizenship to the Arab residents in this region.
The more Netanyahu builds flowering towers in the air, the more they collapse one after another (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Before the collapse, the Prime Minister voluntarily avoids turning and leaving a historic mark. The results, meanwhile, are a continued losing control of himself due to the pressure he under when he is about to lose his world in the most shameful way. It’s natural and human. From then on, he operates in the gray area between repressed awareness (knowing he has no chance but not flooding his mind with that in his functioning) and an uncontrollable survival instinct and an unconscious urge to protect his historical heritage. here and now. Meanwhile, Netanyahu has no choice but to continue to trust the right-wing block, with the bitter and conscious knowledge that everything he has done for it for ten years will be forgotten as soon as he falls on the ruins of his policy (Shakespeare and Freud would have put it better). And here comes Gantz's time to remove the obsession, namely Netanyahu, to dismantle the block…Shas and the ultra-Orthodox appear to be a possible target.
Netanyahu needs to reinvent himself (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The road to the 2020 elections runs through the Likud primaries. While Netanyahu is sure to win them, the fact that MK Gideon Sa'ar is gaining momentum within the party cannot be ignored.
Statement of defense: Anyone who dares to visit the prosecutor's office has entered a dangerous minefield (Kalman Libeskind, Maariv) Senior Justice Department officials often claim to be the most criticized institution. The Audit Commissioner, Judges, the Bar Association, and simple protesters who tried, found a determined system to fight anyone who spoke against it.
The New Coffins Along Netanyahu’s Route (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The attorney general’s great sin in the eyes of Justice Minister Amir Ohana was that in the Justice Ministry’s name, he denounced a Der Sturmer-style propaganda clip, in which Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber was portrayed as one who gives money to terrorists and who in general, just like the Jew Suss, spreads her claws and terrifies the entire world. The condemnation of this filth is so searing and painful to the justice minister that he absolutely refuses to take part in it and forbids his ministry to validate it. What crazy days. The face of the Justice Ministry face is the face of Yair Netanyahu. What Israeli civil servants, headed by senior prosecution and attorney general’s officials, are going through these days will be hard to explain in the future, when the next assassination will be taught in some laundered lesson at school and bored children will be misled into thinking that “a wild weed” arose and did “something crazy.” What horrifying, insufferable iniquity. Senior officials who do their job and refuse to stray to appease those in power at any price, some of them right wingers, must hide behind security guards, check their cars carefully, avoid the social-media slime and pray it doesn’t reach their frightened children’s eyes.
"Bibi, it's too late": about the week the prime minister paid the bill (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Netanyahu agreed this week to give up his kingdom in exchange for a horse, donkey, goat - whatever comes first - but on the other side there was no one to believe him. A Kahol-Lavan source told me, "With a greater credibility factor, it is possible that Benny (Gantz) would have believed Bibi and gone (into a coalition government) with him.” The problem is that Netanyahu's reliability factor does not advance anything. He has long since reached absolute zero. The mass graves where we buried all those who trusted him, followed him, signed with him, believed in him, assisted him and joined him is full. Bottom line, he is reaping what he sowed all his life…Netanyahu has a method: he negotiates long, engaging, complex and complicated negotiations with intimate emissaries. He will never openly stand behind the concessions, details and complexities of what's going on there. At the moment of truth, when he has to sign, he's gone. It's exactly the same disappearance that happens when he needs to pay for something. And so, this week the bill came. Netanyahu paid it in cash.
Leaving Israel makes you come back as a better Jew (Daniel Zamir, Yedioth/Ynet) Israeli saxophonist Daniel Zamir left for the U.S. over 20 years ago. “Benjamin Netanyahu being elected prime minister shortly after the assassinations was the last straw that made me decide to leave and never come back. Once in the United States, I detached myself from anything that had to do with being Jewish or Israeli.” But being across the ocean only brought him closer to not only Judaism but to Israel as well. “Today, I'm the only ultra-Orthodox active jazz musician in the country. Somehow trying to connect these two totally opposite worlds created something magical. Life is a circle.”
I've Become an Israeli – to Help Kick Netanyahu Out (Barbara Opall-Rome, Haaretz+) For 20 years, I've prioritized my impartiality. Now, witnessing Netanyahu's pathological assault on democracy and its gatekeepers, I’ve decided it’s time to go all in.
It's time to say thank you to Netanyahu - and replace him (Lior Ackerman, Maariv) After more than a decade of being prime minister and two failures in trying to form a government, it's time for a change. It is legitimate, it is essential, it is the time and imperative order for the continued existence of the Likud.
What should Israel be after Netanyahu? (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth/Ynet) As the interminable political crisis and his own ongoing legal tribulations seem to push the PM's tenure into its twilight, the country must decide what its future will look like on the day after the man who only saw an increasingly divided country as an opportunity to consolidate his own power.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Testimony From Collateral Damage (Haaretz Editorial) What does Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi mean when he says “minimal collateral damage?” A partial answer can be found in the testimonies of members of the al-Sawarka family from the Gaza Strip, whose nine relatives were unintentionally killed during the last round of military escalation in the enclave in November. “I found my brother Salem and my sister Lama next to my mother, who recited the Shahada prayer [the statement of Muslim faith], and then was silent. I tried to wake her up, I said, ‘Get up, mother, get up,’ but she didn’t hear me. I realized that she was dead.” Nine members of the same family – five of them children – were killed through no fault of their own, because the IDF did not bother to check its old “target bank” before giving the order to bomb the home of the al-Sawarka family – and not during the previous year, either. Kochavi was not moved by the disaster. In the document summing up the operation, written by the IDF’s operations directorate at his request, which asked, “Did the latest round of fighting end successfully in the IDF’s view?,” a clear answer was given: “Definitely.” The success, as the document states, resulted from “the fact that the Air Force attacks were carried out in an intense and precise surgical manner while causing minimal collateral damage.” As long as the army continues to view such tragedies as “minimal collateral damage,” it will not be possible to carry out the essential changes to prevent their reoccurrence.
The embrace of the people gives us strength (Aharon Karov, Israel Hayom) Alongside the casualties, there are tens of thousands of wounded IDF veterans who carry the pain of their trauma – emotional and physical – with them on a daily basis.
Who’s an anti-Zionist? (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) The admor, the anti-Zionist leader of the Satmar Hasidic community who visited Israel last month, is the clearest proof that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. The “chief commander” of the battle against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, did not send his forces to arrest the admor. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not consider blocking his entry into Israel and the Shin Bet security service didn’t lead him to a side room at Ben-Gurion International Airport to interrogate him. If anti-Zionism is nothing but disguised anti-Semitism, and if there’s a subcategory that allows for accusing Zionism critics and opponents of anti-Semitism even when they are Jews (auto-anti-Semitism), then how can an extreme form of anti-Zionism be immune from the anti-Semitic implications by definition? The explanation is that the Jewishness of the ultra-Orthodox is unassailable. Only those who are insecure in their identity were happy when Trump declared that “Judaism is a nationality.” An ultra-Orthodox Jew doesn’t need an executive order to define him. Equating anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism through a definition is actually necessary because in Netanyahu’s Israel, the distinction between Jew and Israeli has been shattered. If it had been preserved, it would have been possible to easily distinguish between criticism of Israel, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Netanyahu’s refusal to recognize Palestinian nationalism and their right to self-determination has been dressed up as a requirement that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The irony of fate is that when Israel directed the same requirement to itself, and asked to define itself as a Jewish state through legislating the so-called nation-state law, it collapsed into the definition: It became recursive, like a mirror facing another mirror.
What was, was: This is not the country its founding fathers dreamed of (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) When you see the flaws of the present leadership, a longing awakens for those who behaved modestly and honestly, and put the good of the state before their own good.
Everyone had their hand on the youth (Meirav Betito, Yedioth Hebrew) Marking Yedioth’s 80th anniversary, commentator chose the front page of January 5, 2017, with the report that Elor Azaria was convicted the main story on the front page, as the report she wanted to comment on: Big words without backing are what characterized more than anything else the frontal clash between the IDF's world of values and the reality on the ground. Elor Azaria - a random soldier who stood next to a shot terrorist, and of own accord made a fateful decision, which generals and statesmen greater than he failed at - was unlucky when he was filmed by a camera and he was punished for that.  Lawyers and rabbis, journalists and opinion leaders, Knesset members and chiefs of staff - all reached out to the boy, rolled him into their agenda and dispatched to the general public, expecting to earn a few more pennies of support. In a few days, Azaria became the child of us all. Those who did not want it in the security debate received it in the public debate, and those who moved it to an issue of principles were amazed to discover that Azaria popped up in the religious, sectarian and educational spaces: it seemed we needed him in order to understand the abyss that any soldier in the [Palestinian] Territories could fall to. The demonstration of support for Azaria, which took place on Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, has unleashed steam by his supporters. The boiling steam hit anyone suspected of not supporting his acquittal, and reporters like me, caught in the scene, felt their loathing and anger. Even then, it was clear that the Azaria case was not a matter of right-wing or left-wing but rather of a failed leadership that would prefer to impose on its soldiers the task which it itself cannot do. Nothing has changed since then. The eight months he spent in prison after he was sentenced did not change the thinking of Azaria supporters and did not re-implant those lofty values that we tried to forcefully clothe on the children who will stand tomorrow with a rifle in front of a shot terrorist. The soldier, who has been released from prison and since returned to his previous life, will forever serve as a reminder of the failure of those who sent him. As we continue to ask our children to fulfill a mission that we cannot fulfill, Azaria will remain the child of us all.
Yes, Israeli Media Distort Protests That Aren't 'Correct.' No, It Doesn't Make Netanyahu Right (Fekade Abebe, Haaretz+) With shameless cynicism, Netanyahu exploits the feelings of people who rightly feel that entire systems in Israeli society have been shutting the door in their and their children’s faces. This kind of cynicism is unforgivable, in part because Likud has been in power for 40 years and Netanyahu for 13. Law enforcement and the media have earned people’s alienation and revulsion. The second Israel’s struggle against these systems is just and entirely deserves support. But this struggle and Netanyahu have about as much to do with each other as a camel and a piano.
Violence in the Arab sector: The heads of the Arab authorities have become punching bags (Jaafar Farah, Maariv) The government has succeeded in rolling the Arab (Israel) citizen's frustration towards the Arab mayors. Again, at night, they shot at an Arab mayor, this time the mayor of Sakhnin, Dr. Safwat Abu Raya. Nearly ten Arab leaders have suffered threats, gunfire and violence. Netanyahu's governments have privatized the state. They passed on to the local authorities the "responsibility" for welfare, education, employment, environment and housing. The heads of the Arab authorities (the mayors) have become the punching bag of those living below the poverty line, i.e. 47% of Israel's Arab citizens. Even nonprofit organizations are required to replace the government, which does not allow to build even an industrial zone in a city like Umm al-Fahm. The mayors elected to "change the reality" found they had no tools to do so. Poverty, employment, housing and unemployment have become a burden on the mayors. They promised mountains and hills. In actuality, the government controls planning, budgets, and national economic priorities, poverty and employment. Since the beginning of the year, Arab society (in Israel) has lost more than 90 civilians in serious violence incidents. It's a small civil war. Petty disagreements become a mass brawl. The Facebook network has become the scene of slander from which inicted and underprivileged young people go out to the street. Businesses that open up are required to pay sponsorship for organized crime, and without a banking and financing system, the black market becomes a mortgage bank. In the Palestinian territories, a similar reality was created between 2002 and 2005 [period of Second Intifada when Israel invaded the West Bank - OH]. The instability, lack of rule of law and violence led many to demand even security coordination with the Shin Bet. But the real solution is in the hands of three factors: 1. The Shin Bet, which sees the crisis as a  tool to control the (Israeli) Arabs. 2. The Netanyahu government, which sees the Arabs as an enemy. 3. The Arabs themselves, who have not yet broken tools and turned tables, which will cause the Jews to wake up and cause the rule of law to be implemented. The small civil war in the country's backyard would further disintegrate the country and social structure. The cost of the bloodshed has an economic price. At this point, this cost does not cause state's leaders to wake up. What is certain is that the use of weapons in Arab communities against the state authorities could lead to an uncontrollable crisis. Netanyahu thinks he will gain political benefits from the Arab crisis. In the end, we will all pay the price of the blood that only Arabs pay today. The reality may be that the Arab mayors will put the keys in the hands of the prime minister, who will have to be the recipient of the anger over unemployment, housing shortages and sewage flowing through the streets. The writer is the director of the Mossawa Center for Arab Civil Rights in Israel.
Since when is hatred for Israel a progressive value? (Ryan Fournier, Israel Hayom) Following the rise of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, professional anti-Israel activists have launched a strategy to infiltrate and co-opt the liberal movement.
Abu Mazen fights Israel in every arena where he identifies a weakness (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) What is behind the Palestinian Authority chairman's decision to boycott purchase of calves for slaughter from Israel? He is allegedly doing it to develop the Arab economy in the PA. But in fact, the choice to hit those raising calves in Israel is intended to benefit some of his associates, including some importers who have decided to take over the meat market. Although they are waving the "disengagement from the Israeli economy" flag, they do not want o and cannot disengage from us, and the move is intended to benefit "some mobsters from Ramallah, Nablus and Gaza", as an Arab from the Galilee (Israel), who makes a living from transporting the calves to the territories, told al-Monitor website…What did Israel do in response? Nothing. I mean - we actually did something. We granted Abu Mazen a tax-free exemption on imports. In doing so, we gave up one of the guiding principles of the "Paris Accords" and, in return, Abu Mazen agreed to receive from Israel two billion shekels of tax money from which Israel offset the salaries of terrorists. Why? To “protect Abu Mazen.” Quietly, Israel also cut down some of the offsets. Israel, which fights voices of European BDS, quietly surrenders to and strengthens the Palestinian BDS. More than 90% of Palestinian exports are to Israel. We could strangle them in a moment. But giving in is much easier…
George Orwell's '1984' Revisited: What Oceania and Israel Have in Common (Adam Raz, Haaretz+) For George Orwell, the appalling picture of the future starkly depicted in '1984' was not some imaginative exercise. 'Don’t let it happen. It depends on you,' he warned.
The Druze community is more than soldiers (Shakib Ali, Yedioth/Ynet) Anyone who says that IDF service creates blood pact between Druze and Jews or that it is duty of every citizen cannot use it as a means to get something in return; for if it is a quid pro quo, there is no difference between the Druze community and mercenaries fighting for a country not their own.
Israel needs a bottom-up approach to diplomacy (Evelyn Gordon, Israel Hayom) Most people don’t care that much about Israeli-Palestinian issues, so small groups of committed activists can exert a disproportionate influence on policy.
BDS movemenet wants us to know that the occupation also has a price at cinemas (Jacky Khougy, Maariv) This wee, at the Tel-Aviv Cinemateque’s annual international ‘Solidarity’ film festival on the subject of human rights, it was revealed that the boycott of Israel's cinema is expanding and encompassing not only Arab filmmakers. Also: From whom did Mahmoud Abbas learn to make election tricks: An intellectual challenge has come to Israel’s door. The Palestinian Authority has formally sought permission from Israel to allow East Jerusalem residents to participate in the general elections scheduled to run in Gaza and the West Bank in 2020. Israel must decide if it allows East Jerusalem residents to participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections, as it did in 2006, at the request of the United States. If it says yes, it will provide symbolic approval for Palestinian sovereignty in East Jerusalem. If Israel refuses, it will prove the Palestinians' claims of occupation and intervention in their issues. Every decision that Israel makes will have symbolic and political significance, but it is doubtful whether it is practical either. The Palestinian Authority does not intend to hold these elections, but for now it is playing as if it is. This is an exercise whose importance is not the result but the process. An exercise that allows all players in the arena to demonstrate patriotism and acting skills and make headlines, only to return home safely without making any changes. In the coming days, a discussion will be held in the security establishment about the PA’s request. Israel is again in an election period, and decision makers in Jerusalem tend to harden their positions in such situations. Even without elections, the trend is to veto. If Israel does respond in the negative, it is likely we will hear harsh criticism from Abu Mazen and his people. The occupation, he will say, hinders the growth of Palestine. But in his heart he will be glad, because in refusing, Israel will provide him with the excuse he longs for in order to retract his elections decision. Mahmoud Abbas was pressured to announce elections following international pressure and the demands from the street. But with all due respect to democracy, he does not intend to voluntarily shake his chair.
The new EU push for Palestinian statehood (Yoni Ben Menachem, Israel Hayom) Israel must make it clear to Europe that negotiations are the only acceptable path toward Palestinian statehood.
Trump won’t be impeached, but the US will lose its status as the world's greatest power (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Foreign policy? Don't make the US president laugh. Probably for the next few months, he will only devote his time to the unrestrained fight for electoral victory and the humiliation of Democrats.
Why American Jews slander President Trump (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) While it is true that to date, white supremacist anti-Semitism has been the most lethal form of anti-Semitism in America, from a political and social perspective it poses a smaller danger to Jewish life in America than the three other forms of active Jew-hatred: Progressive/socialist, Islamist, and black anti-Semitism.
Corbynism Crashed the British Left, Enabled the Populist Right, and Will Always Blame the Jews (Daniella Peled, Haaretz+) The dogwhistle attacks on Jews for Labour’s historic defeat has already begun. They will only get louder.
One hundred years of patriarchy (Ruth Halperin-Kadri and Einat Ofer, Yedioth/Ynet) The myth of the independent and free female pioneer and the false notion that women were always equal in Israel silences modern feminists and denies the story of those who fought for their rights.
'We waited two hours to enter Israel. Security agents asked to see our Facebook profiles'
This week at the Tel Aviv airport: French political science students who find Istanbul safer than Paris, and Israeli High-tech bros heading on a surfing trip because 'life is not a dress rehearsal.’ (Interviewed by Liat Elkayam in Haaretz+)

Settler on duty
He has no kippah on his head and he doesn’t wear the coat typical of settlers. David Alhiani is not the first person to come to mind when thinking about the Chairman of the Yesha (settlers) Council. He is a Likudnik, secular, a farmer, Mizrahi and lives in the Jordan Valley. But after winning a single-vote majority at the end of a tense fight, Elhiaini became the head of the new Yesha Council. Many people tend to think that all settlement in Judea and Samaria is made up of religious Zionism, but that is not the case at all. There is a diverse population here that comes from almost the entire political spectrum. Regarding my ancestry, the sectarian issue never came up, but it is clear that, like all the other things in me, it is different from what it used to be in the Yesha Council. "Obviously, I'm different in the landscape," says Alhiani. "But I have never considered the importance of whether people have or do not have a dome. Many people tend to think that all settlement in Judea and Samaria is made up of religious Zionism but that is not the case at all. There is a diverse population that comes from almost the entire political spectrum. It has emerged, but it is clear that, like all the other things in me, it is different from what it used to be in the Yesha Council. Elchaini, 59, married to Hannah, was born and raised in Tiberias, a father of three and a grandfather of five. "My parents will come to live in the valley in the end," he laughs. He has been there since August '83. Immediately after his military service as a naval commander, he arrived in the valley. "I always wanted to be a moshavnik,” he says. "I left the port of Haifa after returned my army equipment and I saw a sign of the settlement division. I told myself let's see what this is. I went inside and they explained to me that they were engaged in settling in the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights. The magic of the Beqaa (Jordan Valley in West Bank) appealed to me. I looked at the two communities with the smallest number of families, at the time, these were the communities of Argamon and Roee, and I sent them a CV. Roee didn’t give me an answer to this day and I have been at Argamon ever since.” Alhiani does not believe in the two-state solution nor in granting equal civil rights to the Palestinians. "We are in a process that cannot be stopped, settling in Judea and Samaria is an existing fact and the state must make all the adjustments that come with it. Regarding the Palestinians, you need to understand that they want to live and earn a living. I come from the field, the desire of the Palestinian on the street is to get an Israeli ID card. They know that the Palestinian Authority is corrupt and does not help them. I argue that in 30 years under certain arrangements the Palestinians will want to be like the Arabs of Israel. That he could go to the sea "In Tel Aviv, to see snow in Hermon and not stop at checkpoints. Vote for the Knesset? I personally do not think that the same Palestinian should be allowed to decide on the character of the Jewish state, but it must give him economic tools." (Interviewed by Elisha Ben Kimon in Yedioth Hebrew’s ’24 Hours’ supplement, cover)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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