News Nosh 12.24.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday December 24, 2019

NOTE: News Nosh wishes a Happy Holidays to all its readers!

Quote of the day:
"Because of the prosecutor’s decision in The Hague, the issue of the Jordan Valley annexation will be put on a long hold."
--A government source revealed that the announcement of a probe into war crimes by Israel in the Palestinian Territories has caused Israel to make policy changes.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Testimony from within Iran - The suppression that Teheran tried to hide: 1,500 people killed in demonstrations against the government - Special to Yedioth (Hebrew)
  • The bus crash - The candle went out: one of the four passengers killed was laid to rest
  • Expose - Police: We won’t be able to enforce the “Prostitution Law”
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • The effort to stop Iran: Israel moves up a gear
  • The secrets of The Hague are revealed: This is how ‘B’Tselem’ aided the Prosecutor
  • Likud court: Primaries for the party list won’t be held
  • “Daddy, you didn’t deserve to die that way” - The last path of those killed in the bus crash
  • Following the report in ‘Israel Hayom,’ Bank Leumi will give benefits also to residents of Judea and Samaria (West Bank)
  • Tonight: Third candle of Hanukkah

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
The battle between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his Likud rival Gideon Saar for Likud votes continued in high gear ahead of the Likud primaries Wednesday with Saar promising to push to make Netanyahu President, if he wins the Likud leadership and, meanwhile, the Likud party cancelled its elections for the party list.

Other Top News Summary:
Other top stories were that the driver of the bus that crashed into a bus stop killing four was arrested on negligent manslaughter, and Reuters news agency revealed that about 1,500 people were killed in Iran during the two weeks of unrest  in November, when the Supreme religious leader Ayatollah Khameini ordered that forces "do what was necessary" to put down the demonstrations against regime over the dire economic situation. Yedioth Hebrew, interestingly, had its own reporter - an anonymous Iranian citizen, who shared wrote that the people “don’t want a revolution, we want to make a living.” The man wrote that citizens heard the report that 1500 were killed and they don’t know what to believe and Iranian authorities have in recent days contacted families of the dead, demanding that they declare that their sons committed suicide.

Israel Hayom (Hebrew) accused B'Tselem organization of ‘helping’ the prosecutor at The Hague, in its decision to probe Israel for war crimes against the Palestinians. ‘Israel Hayom’ explained that the ICC Prosecutor’s decision to probe is based on two assumptions: that Israel committed war crimes and that it was impossible to trust the Israeli judicial system to deal with this issue. “These two assumptions adopted are the result of an extensive international campaign run by a network of organizations and associations in Israel, led by B'Tselem, and by the Palestinian Authority, all of which are funded through donations from European countries.” The paper gives the example of a grant B’Tselem received from the Dutch government to produce a report on the role of Israel’s High Court in dispossessing Palestinian communities. And B'Tselem received a grant of 87,000 shekels from the Swedish Deacon in 2019 for "examining court rulings on the violation of Palestinian human rights" and in 2018  it received 70,000 shekels for a project on the ”High Court ruling on house demolitions.” The paper quotes a study by the right-wing organization, NGO MONITOR, which it said shows that in some cases, the sponsoring states state that the funding is specifically for action against the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

*Interestingly, for the second day, the papers have reported on how Israel is adjusting its conduct out of fear of the ICC probe. Today, Yedioth/Ynet reported that Netanyahu at the last minute cancelled a meeting of an inter-ministerial team meant to formulate a bill that would annex the Jordan Beqaa Valley. Sources said, he put the bill on hold out of fear the move would further antagonize the Hague. Yesterday
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said Israel will not evict the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin village in the West Bank "because of fear of the International Court of Justice at The Hague." Katz told KAN Bet Radio that the government feared that the removal of the compound in the West Bank would be the "last straw" in terms of the international body. (Maariv) The ICC Prosecutor's announcement has also affected other organizations. UN decided to finally publish the blacklist of companies operating in settlements after an extensive delay. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is believed to have been encouraged to publish the list by the ICC prosecutor’s decision to open a probe into alleged Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian territories. (Yedioth/Ynet)
Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian Said Cop Fractured Her Skull With Rifle Stock. Police Tried to Convince Her It Was a Stone - A Border Police officer knocked Rina Darbas unconscious when she tried to prevent her son's arrest in East Jerusalem, requiring she undergo surgery. Israel Police claims she fell victim to stray stone hurled by rioters. (Haaretz+)
  • Appeals Court Upholds Eviction of Settlers From Hebron Home - Forged documents were used to deprive Palestinian family of its Tel Rumeida house, the court confirms. (Haaretz+)
  • Survey: Most Jews and Arabs living in mixed cities are in favor of joint education - New survey reveals that 55% of Jews and 86% of Arabs living in Haifa, Acre, Lod, Ramla, Jaffa, Nof Galilee (Nazareth) and Ma'alot-Tarshiha are ready to send their children to bilingual school. (Maariv)
  • Several Killed in Israeli Strikes on Iranian Targets Near Damascus, Report Says - Monitoring group says attack targeted Iranian and Syrian military positions near the capital. (Haaretz, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran warns Israel 'will regret' alleged strikes in Syria - A senior advisor to Iran's Khamenei says Israeli actions against Iranian assets in the region will yield a response; remarks come less than a day after 3 foreign nationals, believed to be Iranians, were killed in an alleged Israeli missile attack south of Damascus. (Ynet)
  • Israel Admits It Will Miss Court Deadline to Meet Standards for Prisoner Living Space - State prosecutors tell justices ongoing political deadlock is to blame, but a senior official says: 'For a whole year, no agency has done enough to change the situation.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian man serving 10 years for selling land to Jews dies in PA custody - The prisoner, who was identified by PA officials only by the initials M.E., was arrested by PA security forces in 2012 and was transferred from jail to the hospital two weeks ago. (Israel Hayom)
  • For the first time in over 50 years: France acquires Israeli weapons again - France decided to acquire from the Israeli "Robots" company robots that carry APCs which will transport soldiers, wounded people, ammunition and military equipment, as part of the French military's operations against Islamic terror units. This is the first time France is buying military equipment from Israel since its embargo following the 1967 war. (Maariv)
  • Sub-machine gun found in backpack led to the arrest of three high school students from the Galilee - The boys were arrested on suspicion of trafficking and possession of weapons during a police operation near a village in the Galilee area, during which a school backpack containing makeshift weapons and a cartridge were found. Since the beginning of 2019, police forces seized more than 4,700 weapons, including M16 rifles, pistols, chargers and grenades. The rising violence in Arab society has caught the attention of senior political officials. (Maariv)
  • Lieberman appealed to senior Russian officials to help release Naama Issachar - After Russian court rejected appeal of the Israeli backpacker sentenced to 7.5 years in prison (for possession of 9 grams of hashish), Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman accessed several channels in Moscow, Ma'ariv learned. (Maariv)
  • Sara Netanyahu threatened me with an iron": New testimony from a former employee at the Prime Minister’s Residence - Sylvie, who worked for the prime minister's wife until a month ago, turned to Channel 12 News on her own initiative and said: "She called me stupid and would say that I had the brain of a 5-year-old girl." (Maariv)
  • Mortifying: Israel Announces New Hotel Construction at Dying Dead Sea - The four new hotels will line the pockets of billionaire Yitzhak Tshuva. But how much will the government spend to save the sea itself? (Haaretz+)
  • Achievement in Abu Dhabi - Justice Ministry delegation attending international conference in UAE successfully passed resolution to streamline control over implementation of the anti-corruption treaty. Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber headed the delegation to the UN Convention against Corruption. The conference was attended by 1,500 delegates from some 185 countries, including representatives of many Arab states from the region.(Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Popular Messaging App Is UAE Spy Tool, Developed by Firm Employing ex-NSA and Israeli Intel Officers - ToTok, developed by firm that lures ex-Israeli intel officers with huge salaries, is used by UAE government to keep track of its users. (Haaretz)
  • Saudi sentences five to death, three to jail in Khashoggi case - In total, 11 people were on trial in Saudi Arabia for the killing, but the government has not made their names public. All can appeal the preliminary verdicts. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi Arabia Cuts Loose With Bevy of Models and a Rave - DJs, supermodels, actors and Instagrammers join partiers at extravaganza geared at showcasing kingdom's relaxing of social rules. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Begins New Operations at Heavy Water Nuclear Reactor - Starting up the reactor's secondary circuit doesn't violate the 2015 nuclear deal, but produces plutonium as a byproduct that can potentially be used in nuclear weapons. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Turkey, Russia Talk Syria as Thousands Flee Bombing - A Turkey-based humanitarian group said 120,000 Syrians are heading towards Turkey as Syrian military strikes seized villages killed large numbers of 'terrorists.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Jewish astronaut celebrates Hanukkah from space - Jessica Meir arguably had the best view in the universe as she celebrated the Festival of Lights. (Israell Hayom)
  • (Jewish right-wing) Study: Amnesty International's anti-Israel bias extends to overlap with BDS - Report commissioned by UK-based Jewish Human Rights Watch group details an alarming rate of anti-Israel "obsession" on the part of position-holders who are also identified with pro-Palestinian and pro-BDS agendas. (Israel Hayom)

Decade in Review For Israel’s Reform and Conservative Jews, an Uphill Battle With Some Reprieves
The non-Orthodox movements have experienced impressive growth in their number of congregations since 2010. However, the Chief Rabbinate’s grip on matters of religion and state is proving hard to loosen | 2010-2020 roundup: Part 2 (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
Terror victims' families are battling to make punishment worse: "Killing a Jew is very economic"
"Choosing Life" forum, whose members are family who lost their loved ones in terrorist attacks, launched a mass funding campaign for the legal and public battle to prevent the next attack. (Ilana Stutland, Maariv)
1927-2019 Israeli-Danish Journalist – and an Undercover Mossad Agent – Dies
Herbert (Nahum) Pundak, 'the flying editor,' shocked his many readers when he revealed his work for the Israeli spy agency in several African countries in the 1960s. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+)
LISTEN The Mossad, China's Trojan horse and censorship
Yossi Melman on spooks and secrets (Haaretz Weekly Podcast)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Danger to democracy (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) It could happen. We should pray, in any way, that this does not happen. Because, God forbid, it would not only be an earthquake, it would not only be the culmination of all the heights of the crossing of red lines, it would not be just a trampling of democracy - it would be primarily a boomerang. Because if the High Court, God forbid, decides to break the explicit law and prevent Binyamin Netanyahu from running for election, or prevent him from forming a government after the election - he will bring the rise of close to half the nation, and maybe more, and he will push people to the polls, to give victory to the right. Netanyahu is bad for Israel. Even very bad. He is publicly corrupt, even if not criminally so. He deepens the internal rifts. He leads us to the disaster of the country. He collaborates with racists to serve his personal interests. But political stance and public criticism is one thing. Constitutional principles are another. They make it clear that he is entitled to innocence until proven guilty. In Israel, an explicit provision was also made in the law that a prime minister should not resign, unless we reach a stage of conviction with which there is indisputable flagrant infamy. I wish Netanyahu would rid us of this dilemma. I wish he would quit. That he would serve the national interest. But he decided otherwise. He takes advantage of the law, perhaps even a cynical exploit, but the law is on his side. And all the claims that he is not really a prime minister, but just a transitional prime minister, and therefore the law does not apply to him, are superficial contradictions that seek to manipulate public opinion to approve a decision that tramples the law…
Netanyahu Is Not Trump (Tzvia Greenfield, Haaretz+) In reality these two leaders differ greatly from one another, as do their political and legal situations. Both are unquestionably pursuers of publicity, personal glory and the good things in life. But what Trump was able to obtain for himself (or his family’s money obtained for him) in decades of wheeling and dealing, Netanyahu tried and apparently succeeded to generate for himself and his family as illegal favors, thanks to his status as prime minister. That is why three criminal indictments have already been served against Netanyahu, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, not to mention the affair of the submarines, the shares and the business connections with Nathan Milikowsky, which have yet to be properly investigated.
Timer Period: The spirit of this period is to count backward (Dror Raphael, Maariv) We measure the time remaining until the expiry of the mandate, until the elections, until the formation of the government. We delete the days from the National Despair Table and are left waiting for the next big drama.
Netanyahu and a court coalition quandary (Tova Tzimuki, Yedioth/Ynet) The High Court has received a petition seeking to ban an indicted prime minister from forming a government, but with a third national election looming, will the justices and the attorney general be willing to issue a ruling that could be seen as political intervention?

Other Commentary/Analysis:
What Our Students Will Learn (Or Kashti, Haaretz+) The Education Ministry’s recent directive to high school civics teachers with regard to the so-called nation-state law left no room for doubt: “The students will know and understand the content of the law and its components;” the students will understand that the law contains the characteristics of the State of Israel as a Jewish state;” and, most important, “the students will internalize the vision of the state, including Israel’s being the state of the Jewish people.” It’s not enough to know or understand; there is a more important test: internalization. Only when Israel’s Arab students write in their test booklet 100 times that their inferior status is enshrined in a Basic Law will the Kohelet Policy Forum, which promoted the program, and the Education Ministry, whose minister this week politically embraced the successors of Meir Kahane, be reassured.
Investigation against Israel at The Hague: The Tribunal puts itself in a mess that it is unclear how it will come out (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) According to UN diplomats, the plaintiff's decision will place the tribunal in red tape that will significantly impair its activity and its status will be undermined in the global arena.
The Gift That Keeps on Giving (Haaretz Editorial) State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman had brought an evil wind into the institution he now heads. Under the banner of “constructive criticism,” Englman, who was promoted to his current position by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without any relevant experience in law or oversight, is neutering and censoring the comptroller’s reports and emptying them of meaning.
Syria: An irresistible force (Israel) meets an immovable object (Iran) (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) There was nothing overtly extraordinary about Sunday night's missile attack near Damascus, which was attributed to Israel. And yet, it very well could have signaled the start of a new phase in Israel's campaign to remove Iran from Syria.
Israeli Right Wants End to Peace With Jordan (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Israel has big plans for Jordan, but they don’t include King Abdullah II. A long list of articles by right-wing commentators, PR hacks for the government, which were published over the past month in media (Caroline Glick in Israel Hayom, Aryeh Eldad in Maariv, Motti Karpel in Makor Rishon and others), raised similar arguments and identical conclusions. Coincidence? Maybe. It is more reasonable to assume the similarity stems from briefings by the same official. All these articles have the same objective: Blowing up the peace treaty with Jordan.
Forecasting the Mideast in 2020 (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) In the next year, Israel must be ready to tackle Iran militarily on its own and fight a pre-emptive war with Hezbollah.
A Muslim Woman in London Is Our Light (Francesco Patton, Haaretz+) during the last year, we have seen violence exploding in an inhuman and brutal way against people who were praying. This violence has struck the Jewish community in the United States, the Muslim community in New Zealand, as well as the Christian community in Sri Lanka and Burkina Faso. On the other hand, there are encouraging events, for example recently when in a London subway, a Muslim woman protected a Jewish family that was being verbally attacked.
Israel and Iran's game of cat and mouse (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) The latest missile attack on Iranian targets near Damascus indicates the Revolutionary Guards have resumed with full force their attempts to militarily entrench themselves in the region, after a lull which stemmed from Russian pressure.
Armed With Cameras, Iraqi Protesters Are Shaping a Nation's Memory (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+VIDEO) From the modest part it had in the 2011 uprising, social media now sets the rules.
How Can 'Kill the Jew' and 'Sieg Heil' Really Mean 'anti-Israel Sentiment'? (Eric Hassall, Haaretz+) All evidence past and present points to powerful and prevalent anti-Semitic forces at work in South Africa. The Jewish community's representatives, though, are in desperate denial.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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