News Nosh 12.22.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday December 19, 2019

 
Quote of the day:
“The existence and expansion of settlements fuel resentment and hopelessness among the Palestinian population and significantly heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions. In addition, they continue to undermine the prospects for ending the (Israeli) occupation and achieving the two-state solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous and viable Palestinian state.”
--U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Death of a female fighter - Geula Cohen 1925-2019
  • Exclusive - “From here I photographed the murder of Rabin”: Roni Kempler, the man who documented the moment Yigal Amir pulled out the gun
  • Nightmare in Moscow - (Israeli) tourists held for questioning for hours
  • Drama of the prosecutor - Moments before Orly Ben-Ari was sworn in as acting State Prosecutor, the High Court froze the controversial appointment
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Freezing the move - Moments before the swearing-in ceremony and the parting from State Prosecutor, the High Court froze the appointment of Orly Ben-Ari as acting State Prosecutor
  • Stuck in Moscow - 46 Israeli tourist held for questioning at Russian airport
  • Shin Bet revealed the murderers of Rina Shenrav
  • At age 94: Former MK Geula Cohen died
Israel Hayom
  • “State Prosecutor’s Office is not a private yard” - Justice Minister Ohana attacks; Storm over (appointment by Ohana) of acting State Prosecutor: High Court delayed the appointment of Ben-Ari
  • It is necessary to behave with the look of justice // Pinchas Marinsky
  • Among those responsible for the murder of Rena Shenrav: A 56-year-old “human rights activist”
  • Geula Cohen passed away
  • Dozens (of Israeli tourists) detained in Russia; Today: Hearing of Naama (Issachar, Israel tourist sentenced to 7 years prison for possession of 9 grams of marijuana)
  • The message: Israelis are not wanted in Russia // Eldad Beck
  • Failure known in advance and could help Trump // Prof. Avraham Ben-Zvi
  • Likud - Only democratic party running for the rule // Uri Cohen


Top News Summary:
In today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers: one controversial appointment was frozen by the High Court, 46 Israelis were detained and delayed at an airport in Russia for hours and 50 Palestinians were detained on suspicion of involvement in attacks on Israelis - and among the detainees was Khalida Jarrar, a 56-year-old female parliamentarian. Some of the papers succeeded in reporting on the passing of former firebrand MK and pre-state fighter Geula Even, last night at the age of 93. In diplomacy, Prince Charles and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will both be attending a Holocaust-related event in Israel next month.

In the latest scene of the drama over the controversial appointment of junior prosecutor Orly Ben-Ari by Justice Minister Amir Ohana in opposition to the proposals of the Attorney General, the High Court froze the appointment minutes before Ben-Ari was sworn in at a large ceremony, leaving her and her family and Minister Ohana in shock. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt said he would not compromise on the matter of the appointment.

In Russia, 46 Israelis were detained at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport airport, questioned and held for hours before being allowed to continue on, just a day before an Israeli delegation was expected to arrive in Russia for "consular consultations," which were scheduled in advance. The papers said the delays were a signal to Israel that Russia is unhappy with the Israeli questioning of Russian citizens by Israeli airport security and the deportation of about 20 Russian tourists every day, which Russian authorities have complained about recently.

In the West Bank, the Shin Bet detained 50 Palestinians, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who allegedly were involved in attacks on Israelis, including the murder of Rina Shenrav in August. Among those detained was former Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar, who was released from Israeli prison earlier this year.

Diplomacy and Hasbara Quickees:
  • Prince Charles to visit Israel, West Bank in first state visit - British royal will attend the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem and 'undertake engagements' in the Palestinian Territories in late January. (Haaretz and Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • US VP Pence expected to visit Israel for Auschwitz ceremony
  • The event has caused tensions between the offices of Netanyahu and President Rivlin, who fears Netanyahu will hijack the event for his re-election campaign. (Israel Hayom and Haaretz+)
  • Dozens of UN envoys tour Samaria (northern West Bank) for first time - Visit "helps us to present the truth about Israel," says Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who led the tour with settler leader Yossi Dagan. The tour took place as part of the Samaria Regional Council's foreign relations and public diplomacy efforts. (Israel Hayom)
  • Maine state secretary in Israel to learn about cybersecurity - Matthew Dunlap and other US secretaries of state are participating in the trip with the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange. (Israel Hayom)
  • German Parliament Approves Motion Urging Total Ban on Hezbollah - Motion Thursday calls on government to end its policy of distinguishing between the Iran-backed Lebanese group's political arm and military units. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Merkel defends Germany’s UN voting record on Israel - Chancellor argued that supporting Israel doesn’t mean backing all of its actions, after Jewish human rights organization criticizes country's ambassador voting against Israel at UN. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli resident of rocket-stricken south goes before UN Security Council - Adele Raemer's testimony relayed the experience of border community residents during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, after Gaza terrorists fired 250 rockets at Israel in the course of three weeks. (Israel Hayom)
     
Quick Hits:
  • THURSDAY: Arabs? Expel or Kill': Cars Vandalized, Graffiti Sprayed in West Bank Hate Crime - Some 25 vehicles were vandalized and hateful graffiti was sprayed in Palestinian village of Jib, near Jerusalem, on Wednesday overnight.  Defense officials have recently expressed concern over increase in such 'price tag' attacks. (Haaretz+)
  • *UN Says Israel Has Advanced 22,000 Settler Homes in Last Three Years - Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov reports to Security Council on implementation of Obama-era resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. UN Secretary General says settlements have "no legal effect, adding construction and approvals "must cease immediately and completely." (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel cuts electricity to West Bank over $519M bill - Daily, three-hour power cuts began Sunday as the IEC seeks "reasonable and proportionate way" to collect debt owed by Palestinian electricity supplier. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Said Expelled Hebron Monitoring Force Caused 'Friction,' but Provided No Evidence - Public Security Minister Erdan relied on an Israel Police report that claimed the TIPH observer force was stirring up 'friction,' but the report only cites one case of alleged misconduct in recent years against the observers. (Haaretz+)
  • Karaites Join Petitions Against Planned Western Wall Cable Car - Jewish community says project will pass over and thus desecrate its graves, rejects Jerusalem’s and state’s offer to pay to relocate the graves. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Top Court Okays Barring Two Suspects of Security Offenses From Seeing Lawyer - Preventing suspects from seeing a lawyer is a measure generally employed in investigations of Palestinian terror suspects or against Jews being questioned by the Shin Bet’s Jewish division. The fact that it is being used in this case indicates that the defense establishment considers it extremely sensitive. (Haaretz+)
  • Defense Minister Bennett: 'Syria becoming Iran's Vietnam' - DM and IDF chief Kochavi attend large-scale military exercise in Golan Heights; Bennett says IDF will increase pressure to prevent Iranian presence in Syria
    Naftali Bennett said on Wednesday that the IDF will increase pressure on Iran and its proxies around the northern border to prevent the Muslim Republic from establishing its stronghold in Syria. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • Netanyahu Clarifies Promise to Bring Back Israeli Jailed in Russia: It Will Take Time - Naama Issachar is serving a lengthy jail sentence in Russia, which she was sentenced to after 9.6 grams of hashish were found in her luggage during a layover in Moscow. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • THURSDAY: Moscow Court Hears Appeal of Israeli Jailed in Russia Over Drug Charges - Court is expected to decide whether to amend the verdict of Naama Isaachar, who is serving a 7.5-year prison term for possession of 9.6 grams of hashish found during a layover at a Moscow airport. (Haaretz+)
  • Children of immigrants from Colombia are not allowed to visit her in Israel - The Ministry of the Interior does not approve of Deborah Meier's minor children visiting Israel and is causing difficulties. The Ministry responds: “The procedure is uniform for everyone.” (Maariv)
  • Report: Turkey allows Hamas to plot attacks against Israel on its soil - Senior officials are directing operations in the West Bank and assassination plots from Istanbul, according to Palestinians' interrogations in Israel revealed by the Telegraph. Erdogan: "We will continue to support our Palestinian brothers" (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Former Jerusalem mayor urges US to sanction Turkey - Britain's Telegraph reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is "turning a blind eye" to Hamas' terrorist activities within its borders. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel allows shipment of emergency vehicles donated by Qatar into Gaza - Doha sends 24 rescue and firefighting vehicles to the coastal enclave through the Kerem Shalom crossing in what a Hamas official describes as "an unprecedented positive step." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Qatar: Gaza aid to continue through March 2020 at least - With Israel's approval, Qatar has so far provided over $1 billion in reconstruction funds and stipends for Palestinians in the coastal enclave. The aid has helped Doha win favor in Washington despite Qatari-Saudi diplomatic tensions. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Trump invokes Jerusalem and Golan as accomplishments in letter protesting impeachment - Among his accomplishments as president, Trump includes 'recognition of Israel’s capital, opening the American Embassy in Jerusalem, and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.’ (JTA, Haaretz)
  • 'Harassment is not free speech': Trump's anti-Semitism czar rejects criticism over executive order - 'Every time you try to label something anti-Semitic, the people who traffic in anti-Semitism yell about free speech and censorship,' Elan Carr says in Tel Aviv. (Haaretz+)
  • 11 years late and at double the cost, Jerusalem-Tel Aviv express line finally opens - 57 km route takes 28 minutes, traverses nine bridges and five tunnels and cost NIS 7 billion; 'This is a celebration,' says transportation minister, declaring that Israel's two largest cities are now physically and symbolically connected. (Ynet)
  • Israeli Court Overturns Order to Freeze Leviathan Gas Rig Test Emitting Pollutants - Drilling, which was supposed to commence on Tuesday, is expected to emit large quantities of pollutants including benzene, a carcinogen. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Within three hours: two construction workers were crushed to death at construction sites - A 30-year-old worker was killed Thursday after being trapped under a concrete wall at a construction site. Before that, a worker of the same age was killed after being hit by a heavy object at another construction site. Medics declared them dead on the spot. (Maariv)
  • Ancient Ruins of Caesarea Named a Global Go-to Destination for 2020 - The Israeli seaside city, with its archaeological gems, diving center, and eateries, has notched up an impressive 12th place out of the 50 sites recommended by the prestigious Travel and Leisure magazine. (Haaretz+)
  • Submerged Seawall Attests to Futile Struggle Against Rising Seas in Israel 7,000 Years Ago - The last Ice Age peaked 20,000 years ago, then the glaciers began to melt and the oceans to rise – including the Mediterranean, where ancient, drowned villages still lie preserved beneath the waves. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Lebanon's Prime Minister Hariri Says He Won't Run in Next Election - Hariri resigned after protests began earlier in October over widespread corruption and mismanagement. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • WATCH: Night of Violence in Lebanon Sparked by Video of Sunni Resident Slamming Shi'ites - Mob attacks office of Sunni cleric in Tripoli, sets fire to Christmas tree as violence threatens to plunge Lebanon further into chaos and ignite sectarian strife amid two months of anti-government protests. (Agencies, Haaretz and VIDEO)
  • Jewish Group to Repair Home of Muslim Family That Saved Jews in Holocaust - Poland-based group raises $10,000 for Albanian family, dubbed Righteous Among the Nations, whose home was destroyed in the November earthquake. (JTA, Haaretz+)


Features:
‘Fake Halos’ and Mystery: Removing the Mask From Israel’s Famed Mossad Spy Agency
The new three-part documentary by Amit Goren, who also heads a controversial film foundation, begs the question, ‘Is it right for an organization like the Mossad to be controlled by one person – a prime minister?’ (Itay Stern, Haaretz+)
Hanging out to dry: Lone soldiers suffer long wait until enlistment date
New immigrants who arrive to Israel as lone soldiers are now forced to wait for over a year until they can finally enlist. (Hanan Greenwood, Israel Hayom)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
If you come for King Bibi, you better not miss (by more than 30 percent) (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Though Netanyahu’s victory over Gideon Sa’ar in the Likud primary is all but assured, it is still a crucial election for determining Israel’s next prime minister.
Ohana, Take the Attorney General's Advice (Haaretz Editorial) Ohana has to understand that the suspicion aroused by the appointment of Ginsberg Ben-Ari is natural. The State of Israel is in an unprecedented situation, in the midst of a third election campaign and trapped in a political dead end because of the legal predicment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing three indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Under these circumstances, how can the public accept the appointment of someone in a relatively junior position – deputy Central District district attorney – against the attorney general’s position and the opinion of Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz? What’s more, the appointment is being made by a minister in a transition government who has repeatedly castigated the judicial system, and the public atmosphere is rent by a battle between the branches of government being conducted by the prime minister himself.
It's easy to hide behind names, it would have been appropriate for the State Prosecutor’s Office to give Ben Ari backing (Attorney Uri Keenan, Maariv) The new acting State Attorney is most deserving of the position, despite the unsheathing of the system's long swords and knives. How did Ohana dare to appoint an attorney who is not considered “one of us“?
Attack on State Prosecutor Appointment Exposes the Real Fear of Israel's 'Old Elite' (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) In the end, the names say something: Mendelblit, Hershkowitz, Kremnitzer, Nitzan, Lemberger and Zilber vs. Ohana, Bitan and Amsalem. A kind of coincidence. But all the denials won’t help. This isn’t an exaggerated interpretation. The names speak like a thousand witnesses. A bystander sees Ashkenazim blocking Mizrahim – all wrapped in purely legal, democratic and professional arguments – and he concludes what we cannot avoid concluding: Alongside all the other struggles, there is a bitter, bloody and devastating ethnic struggle here that refuses to die, that is far from being resolved…Another justice minister at a different time would have been forgiven Ben-Ari’s appointment; he might even have been praised for thinking out of the box, for being unpredictable, for being a gay minister who chose a woman for a senior position. But now suddenly Avichai Mendelblit, Shai Nitzan and Daniel Hershkowitz are the fearless gatekeepers of democracy, a rare, Israeli-style combination of Andrei Sakharov, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rene Cassin, the Just-Not-Netanyahu camp’s heroes of the hour. Nitzan, who arrogantly permitted so many war crimes without blinking, is now the hero of the left…The ethnic aspect will of course be hidden and repressed. It’s not politically correct in either camp to talk about it. But there is still an ethnic struggle here. The whitewashed code name is the “new elites” vs. the “old elites.”
Turbulent waters: Israel needs leadership with proven experience (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Some politicians and media outlets are trying to obscure this, but Israel faces a period  full of dangers, especially in the area of political security.
The anarchy of Netanyahu's adversaries (Aharon Gerber, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister's opponents are willing to disregard the Basic Laws as they try to set legal precedent that will send him home; it's no wonder that public confidence in the rule of law has been greatly diminished.
A victory for Gideon Saar in primaries will be a national catastrophe (Ran Edelist, Maariv) In fact, Saar is worse than Netanyahu. As mentioned, his campaign is a contribution to the national interest by having the potential to help unravel the Likud. But a victory for Saar is a national catastrophe. Anyone who started his campaign in Umm al-Hiran and calls for annexation and construction will continue his path in the extreme right. His advantage over Netanyahu is his appearance as a vegetarian clerk who is credible, as opposed to Netanyahu whom no one believes, including Netanyahu himself, who does not believe himself. As far as the right-wing bloc is concerned, Saar has the credit and the good manners to continue and pull the wool over the world’s eyes. And guess who was the first one to embrace Saar? Correct. Samaria Council Chairman Yossi Dagan. I don't know if Sa'ar believes in the ultra-patriotic-nationalist-religious sentences he emits. I clearly know that anyone who needs the bloc's bear hug, like Netanyahu, has to suck up to the block and not the of the law enforcement and legal systems.
Arab Knesset members must adopt coexistence policies (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) The Joint List may record unprecedented success in the upcoming elections. The question is what will its representatives in the Knesset do with their political power.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israel's Reckless Policy Buried This Palestinian Family. Their Story Was Buried Too (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) In a chilling series of stories, Yaniv Kubovich revealed in Haaretz how the air force’s “bank of targets” is put together. Kubovich exposed how a decade of living with a policy that sees blockade and cyclical rounds of armed clashes as a reasonable solution has created constant pressure to provide new targets; how the army rewards the identification of new targets and the stunning ease with which old targets are re-approved; how no one checks what’s happening at the target right before planes are dispatched to drop a bomb in the midst of a civilian area; how, in short, the surgical pilot so praised by our propagandists has been shown to be a surgeon with unsteady hands. The Sawarka family in Gaza no longer exists. Nine family members, two of them babies, fell victim to this reckless policy. Somewhere there is a pilot and an intelligence officer who have to live with that. One can’t know how many more Gazans have paid with their lives for the offhandedness with which we’ve decided we’re permitted to drop bombs. “We’ve erred, we made a mistake, what can we do?” is the perennial answer given for every additional resident of Gaza whose life was cut short. Someone more pedantic may add a verse from Proverbs: “He who admits ... shall have mercy.” But it wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t negligence. It was indifference – we casually played with fire and people died.
Israel fears fallout of Qatar freeze on Gaza aid (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Gulf state's assistance pulled Hamas-run enclave out of depression after PA suspended funding, bringing improved infrastructure and hopes for better standard of living, but halt to Qatari funds could lead to escalation on Israeli border, kill chances of long-term calm.
How Israel's Conflict With Iran Will Be Different in 2020 (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) As Netanyahu's associates talk about an Iranian effort to deploy a ring of fire around Israel, a think tank is skeptical about the chances for a truce with Hamas.
#MeToo reaches Arab society (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) A social media campaign by Arab women's groups is providing victims of sexual harassment and assault with a chance to hold men accountable for their conduct toward their female colleagues and subordinates.
Why Prince Charles’ Official Visit to Israel Marks a 'New Phase' in U.K.-Israeli Relations (Danna Harman, Haaretz+) Heir to the British throne’s trip in January follows previous visit in June 2018 by his son, Prince William, and aims to duplicate that tour’s success.
Progress on 'the Jewish question' (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) While anti-Semites suffer defeats in the UK and the US, Jew-hatred, an ancient and shape-shifting pathology, is on the rise almost everywhere, often with lethal results.
Fight against BDS is far from over (Prof. Eli Avraham, Israel Hayom) We tend to see this struggle in absolute terms of victory and defeat, but BDS supporters believe that even if they lose a bid, the mere fact that they gout to malign Israel means that they have won.
Can U.S. Jews Be Protected by Trump, a President Who Spouts Contempt for Jews? (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) Should Jews rattled by shooting attacks be grateful for Trump's executive order on anti-Semitism, when days earlier he unleashed a barrage of insults against them? What if it means sacrificing free speech on Israel and Palestine?
Combating anti-Semitism without stifling free speech (Alyza Lewin, Israel Hayom) Applying Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to Jews is not new. It is the "adoption" of the IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism that is causing all the ruckus.
The ugly truth about campus anti-Semitism and BDS (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) While some on the Left disparage Trump’s executive order, research uncovers the common ground shared by the BDS movement and the far Right, as well as terror supporters.

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