News Nosh 12.26.19

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday December 26, 2019

 
You Must Be Kidding: 
On a scale of 1 to 10, fully 82% of Israeli Arab youth surveyed rated minority rights either a 9 or 10, in terms of importance. Among Israeli Jewish respondents, the figure was 37%, while in the Palestinian Authority, it was 34%.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • For the second time: Siren takes Netanyahu off stage - Despite the shooting from Gaza: contacts for a long-term arrangement
  • Today: Primaries in Likud - In Likud, they will decide who will head the party: Netanyahu or Saar (Hebrew)
  • Exclusive: The response of the (ICC) prosecutor for the first time (Hebrew)
  • Exclusive: (Former navy chief Eliezer Merom) Cheney speaks (about Case 3000, the submarine affair): “I did not take a shekel that I didn’t deserve” (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Democracy in the Likud - Voting for a chairman: From 09:00, some 116,000 Likud members will vote in early primaries
  • I will continue to lead towards achievements // Binyamin Netanyahu
  • A new hope for Israel // Gideon Saar
  • Likud will gain from the renewed interest of members // Yehuda Shlezinger
  • Also the High Court was brought into the left-wing campaign // Haim Shine
  • Primaries - badge of honor for the party // Sophia Ron-Moria
  • Hanukkah of snow
  • The suspicion: The court security officer was murdered because of a dispute (over a dog)
  • Chief of Staff in exceptional speech: The threats are increasing, we won’t let Iran bring arms into Iraq
  • Police launched defense campaign against drones and explosive balloons
  • Tonight: 5th Hanukkah candle

Top News Summary:
Likud members vote today for either Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or MK Gideon Saar to be the leader of their party amidst a rough storm blasting across the country (raising fears of a low turnout) and, embarrassingly, Netanyahu was forced off the campaign stage in the south last night due to a rocket launched from Gaza (to which the IDF retaliated in the middle of the night - no casualties reported), and deaths from the flu spike - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi gave a speech with a number of messages and warnings.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said the there was a reasonable possibility of a limited confrontation with Iran, and also said that Israel will continue to act to remove Iranian weaponry from entering Syria from Iraq and prevent the threat of precise missiles. Regarding Gaza, he said Hamas is concentrating on improving the condition of civilians, and it was the Islamic Jihad which was responsible for the vast majority of attacks on Israel in the past year. Regarding The Hague inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes he said that the IDF must act with the greatest morality and that israel will continue to operate in urban areas where the enemy has chosen. (Maariv)


Elections 2019 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • Asked about the possibility of asking for immunity, Netanyahu replied: "Stay in suspense" - Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to Army Radio: "I am sure I will receive huge backing at the (Likud) polling stations." (Maariv)
  • Netanyahu secures senior minister's backing two days ahead of Likud primary election - Public Security Minister Erdan, who had reportedly considered backing PM's rival, says he is 'the most suited to continue leading the country.” (Haaretz)
  • As Election Nears, Labor Party Leader Draws Fire for Stalling Left-wing Merger - Labor's ticket, which includes a partnership with Gesher, will be approved despite unsuccessful attempts from party officials to persuade party leader Peretz to unite with Democratic Union or Kahol Lavan. (Haaretz+)
  • Labor party leader reserves two spots of top 10 on Knesset slate ahead of Israeli election - Labor keeps its partnership with Gesher, whose chairwoman, Orli Levi-Abekasis, said she would demand the finance portfolio in the next government if the party joins the coalition. (Haaretz+)
  • MK Stav Shaffir announced that she will run with the Green Party: "The left is drowning like the Titanic" - Stav Shaffir spoke at the first Green Party activist conference ahead of the elections, referring to the failure of the left-wing parties: "In the current state of affairs there is a sinking ship here. We will be a brave force that will bring real solutions." (Yedioth Hebrew and Maariv)

 
Quick Hits:
  • Israel's Top Court Blasts State for Misuse of Palestinian Workers’ Sick Fund - High Court justices harshly criticized Monday the state's decision to return 218 million shekels ($63 million), accumulated in a fund designated for paying sick leave to legal Palestinian workers, to their Israeli employers. The mechanism the state had decided on 'raises questions,' Supreme Court President Esther Hayut says. (Haaretz+)
  • Target of Gaza Strike That Killed Family of Nine Was 'Miscategorized,' Israeli Army Finds - The compound where the Sawarka family lived was erroneously marked as 'military.' An accurate definition would have meant the Israeli strike wouldn’t have been carried out at all. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Palestinians Threw Firecrackers at Settlers, So Jerusalem Councilman Wants Them Shot - Incident comes amid wave of house demolitions in East Jerusalem. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Netanyahu pushing plan to build 3,000 settlement housing units - Plan to be submitted to the Higher Planning Committee within two weeks. Meanwhile, PM Netanyahu cancels meeting to discuss annexation of the Jordan Valley. (Israel Hayom)
  • *Majority of Arab Israeli Youth Think Minority Rights Are Important. Their Jewish Counterparts Disagree, Poll Shows - Findings are part of broad German-Israeli survey that compared results on varying issues among young Israeli people and other youth across the Middle East. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem Municipality to Evict Art Gallery, Accusing It of Damaging 'Israel's Good Name' - Barbour Gallery has been battling pushback from the government and municipality for its pro-Palestinian programming. (Haaretz+)
  • Bennett puts freeze on bank accounts of terrorists' families - The Defense Minister signed a seizure order for salaries from the PA received by convicted terrorists and also applied it to family members defined as their beneficiaries; 'another step in the campaign against terrorists,' Bennett said. (Yedioth/Ynet and Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Knesset Speaker’s threat - The International Parliamentary Organization sought clarification on the arrest of Khalida Jarrar - a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council - who is suspicted of leading a terrorist infrastructure. Knesset Speaker, MK Yuli Edelstein, was furious and warned: The Knesset will withdraw from the organization. "The Palestinians have completely taken over the Human Rights committee of the IPO, which repeatedly chooses to protect the Palestinian 'elected officials,’ ignoring the fact that they are hiding behind their parliamentary certificate while organizing terrorist attacks against Israelis. Instead of supporting such people, I would expect your organization to cancel their membership. If the IPO is unable to stop this atmosphere, I will have to reconsider the Knesset's continued relationship with the organization.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Hundreds of Jews Secretly Left Muslim Countries for Israel in Recent Years, Government Data Reveals - A table provided by Israel's Interior Ministry shows that nearly 2,500 Jews secretly left countries hostile to Israel. These include states like Morocco, Yemen, Tunisia - and also Cuba. Turkey was the only one that has diplomatic relations with Israel, though these have deteriorated dramatically in recent years. (Haaretz+)
  • Nefesh B'Nefesh slams report that just 14% of new olim are Jewish - The allegation was put forth by the trans-denominational progressive NGO Hiddush, citing data gathered by the Israeli government. From the beginning of 2010 through the end of 2019, more than 255,000 new immigrants moved to Israel from 150 different countries. (Israel Hayom)
  • After Retracting Initial Data, Israel Reveals: More Than One-third of Recent Immigrants Were ‘Not Jewish’ - The revised data show 61% of Russian immigrants arriving since 2012 were classified as not Jewish, compared to fewer than 5% of U.S. immigrants. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Denies Entry to Thousands of Russian Nationals Amid Asylum Requests Spike - Asylum applications from Russian nationals rose to 4,000 in 2019, from just 395 in 2016, the Interior Ministry agency says, introducing an expedited process to refuse asylum requests from Russian citizens. (Haaretz+)
  • 'We are proud of our Christian friends,' Netanyahu says in Christmas greeting - "The State of Israel would have not come to being if it weren't for the avid support of Christians," PM says in video message alongside his wife Sara. Watch here. (Israel Hayom)
  • Awaiting grandson, Israel trip ends in tragedy for U.S. couple - Elderly American couple, who came to Israel for first time in years to meet their soon-to-be born grandson, were involved in fatal bus crash near Ben Gurion Airport, leaving wife trapped under a block of concrete, where she died. Baruch Shwartz, 71, says he “screamed for help for half an hour.” (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Fearing It Will Shun ICC Proceedings, Prosecutor Presents Israel's Legal Opinion to Judges - Bensouda filed official Israeli statements that assert that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does not fall under the court's jurisdiction. (Haaretz+)
  • Defense minister warns ICC: Israel will provide a legal Iron Dome to its service members - "The court is a breeding ground for modern anti-Semitism; We will fight terrorism as if there is no Hague and we will fight the Hague as if there is no terrorism," Naftali Bennett says days after International Criminal Court prosecutor proposes full-fledged investigation into Israeli conduct. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel unveils laser system designed to intercept incendiary threats from Gaza - Developed by the Israel Police and the IDF, the Light Blade system is the first of its kind in the world to target airborne incendiary devices. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: IDF tech unit veterans helped create UAE spy tool masked as messenger app - ToTok, one of the most-downloaded social media apps in the US, was built by a company affiliated with DarkMatter, a cybersecurity firm based in Abu Dhabi. (Israel Hayom)
  • Top Court Accepts 'Disturbing Pattern' of Yemenite Children's Disappearance in Israel's Early Years  - Justices avoid deciding whether there had been kidnappings, but said 11 cases against the state and the Jewish Agency point to a 'common question.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Eurovision Puts Israel on the Global Conference Map - The high-profile music competition held in Tel Aviv last May has helped dispel their sponsors’ security worries. (Haaretz+)
  • Strategic Affairs Ministry: Campus anti-Semitism increasingly 'related to Israel' - More and more Jewish students report being targeted by pro-Palestinian activists because of their support for Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian Chess player decides not to play for Iran, after ban on competing against Israelis - Alireza Firouzja becomes second Iranian sports figure in recent months to try renouncing citizenship over pressures on athletes to forego matches with Israeli competitors. (Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Congo probing Israeli billionaire’s loan to state firm - Sources say probe focusing on allegations of fraud and money laundering by Dan Gertler, who is under U.S. sanctions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Gal Gadot to produce film adaptation of novel banned in Israeli schools - The Wonder Woman star and her husband are set to co-produce the movie, based on 2014 book 'All the Rivers' that depicts a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, with Keshet Studios. (Ynet)
  • Democratic House candidate: Palestinians like African Americans under Jim Crow - Heidi Sloan of Texas calls for ending US assistance to Israel "until the occupation of Palestinian territory is ended.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Elle magazine singles out Rashida Tlaib, Linda Sarsour as emerging political forces in 2020 - In a collaboration with nonprofit She The People, the magazine offers flattering write-ups of two BDS activists. (Israel Hayom)
  • Whole nuclear family found in ancient Phoenician tomb in Israel - `The remains of what seems to be a cherished child buried with its unadorned parents in Achziv 2,800 years ago indicate they lived well and died a century before the Assyrians arrived. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Hamas strongman Khaled Mashaal eyeing a comeback - Mashaal stepped down as Hamas' leader in 2007. Bid reportedly supported by Qatar and Turkey, which seek to increase their influence on Hamas. (Israel Hayom)
  • Arch-murderer Barghouti said to be Fatah's pick if Abbas bows out - Marwan Barghouti is serving five life sentences for terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada. Fatah official Hatem Abdel Qader: We hope the Fatah movement will have one candidate for president. (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Five killed in missile strike on pro-Iranian militias in Syria - UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says a missile of an 'unknown origin' was fired at a site along the Syria-Iraq border, believed to belong to Tehran's proxies, as well as a military location belonging to Hezbollah. (Ynet and Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran Starts Internet Shutdown Ahead of Possible New Protests - Social media posts and some relatives of people killed in unrest last month over hikes in gasoline prices have called for renewed protests and commemorations for the dead on Thursday. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Iran-backed bloc names Basra governor for post of Iraqi PM - Nomination was promptly rejected by Iraqi protesters who want an independent candidate to take over the government, officials say. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran to hold joint, four-day navy drill with Russia, China - The drill will be the first such trilateral exercise as Tehran seeks to boost military cooperation with Beijing and Moscow amid unprecedented economic sanctions from Washington. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Fighter jet crashes in northern Iran, pilot's whereabouts unknown - A Mikoyan MiG-29M that was recently modernized bursts into flames and crashes to the ground close to the Azerbaijani border. (Israel Hayom)
  • Erdogan in Tunisia for Surprise Talks on Libya - Visit comes as Turkey ramps up efforts to strike deals with nations on the Mediterranean, which included an agreement with Libya's internationally recognized government, a move that enraged Greece. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey to Send Troops to Libya Following Military and Economic Pact - Erdogan recently signed a deal with Tripoli, criticizing Russia and some European and Arab countries for supporting 'warlord' Khalifa Haftar. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Explained Why the Turkey-Libya Maritime Deal Is Rattling the East Mediterranean - Israel and Egypt, heavily invested in energy exploration in the area, among countries alarmed by Ankara-Tripoli pact to create exclusive economic zone. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
WATCH From Bethlehem to Tel Aviv, Here's What Christmas in the Holy Land Looks Like
Bethlehem sees most successful year in history for tourism to the West Bank. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
Arabic for the advanced
They don't miss a single episode, they rewatch seasons, and even the anger over how the Arab characters are portrayed doesn't keep them away from the remote: This is how the TV series, “Fauda,” conquered the Arab sector. Ahead of the third season, we heard from Arab fans what made them addicted to the show, how their environment accepts that they are watching a series that deals with the conflict through the eyes of undercover IDF soldiers masking as Arabs, and what they think of the Israeli actors' Arabic: "The Arab accent is often ridiculous. If soldiers from Duvdevan (undercover unit) would talk like that, they would be discovered in a second.” (Yoav Birnberg, Yedioth Hebrew)
'No money for medicine or heating'
Some Israelis instead of selebrating Hannukah resort to selling their household goods to survive; search for furniture on the streets, give up medication and cut off heat in winter; NGOs hand out blankets and winter supplies for the elderly, Holocaust survivors and those in need. (Ynet)
Top secret IDF unit allows glimpse into ops 'you'd only find in thrillers'
Military Intelligence Unit 504, which sends undercover agents to missions overseas, allowed Israel Hayom to take a peek at documents detailing operations that could easily be made into Hollywood blockbusters. (Hanan Greenwood, Israel Hayom)
Jerusalem architect follows in footsteps of his friend Amos Oz in new book
‘I wanted to give it to him on his 80th birthday, but he died on me,’ says David Kroyanker, author of ‘The Jerusalem of Amos Oz.’ (Naama Riba, Haaretz+)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Likud primary election offers a choice between two bad options (Haaretz Editorial) We can be happy that Netanyahu’s leadership is being challenged, and perhaps a door has been opened for a change of personnel. Still, the Likud leadership battle exposes how radical the party has been become ideologically. Likud supports annexing the occupied territories and creating the basis for an apartheid regime, while demonstrating contempt for international law. Sa’ar’s campaign, which was launched in Khan al-Ahmar, made it clear that it is challenging Netanyahu from the right.
Aftermath: How can we continue to live here without Netanyahu? (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) The feeling is that the prime minister's days in office are few. How do we deal with the fact that our lives will become a long yawn? How will we eliminate the boredom?
Cool Tel Avivian or pro-settler nationalist? Netanyahu could be ousted by this man (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Gideon Sa'ar was an outsider far to the right of Likud, but he went on to help Netanyahu transform the party from a beaten shell of itself to a fighting parliamentary machine. Now he's back to try to take over the party.
High Court's Netanyahu verdict may pose danger to democracy (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu is publicly corrupt, he deepens the rift within our society, cooperates with racists and leads us to a one-state disaster; but even assuming that he's is bad for Israel, a judicial decision to ban him from the premiership is much worse.
The leader is not above everything (Limor Livnat, Yedioth Hebrew) A day when about 120,000 Likud officials are given the right to go to the polls to elect the chairman of the movement, who is also the prime ministerial candidate, should be a holiday. 77 of the incumbent Knesset members have been appointed by their party leader: according to his desire he appoint and according to his desire he dismisses. Only some of the 11 Knesset members of the Labor- Gesher and the Democratic Camp were elected (only in Meretz are there still democratic elections), and only 32 Likud MKs were elected in the primaries. In the Likud, we always were proud of our internal democracy. We were so proud that we had never challenged the leader - even when he was prime minister - an act of "betrayal," "subversion," "putsch," or some kind of declaration of war as some call Gideon Sa'ar's decision to run against Netanyahu. Olmert ran against Sharon in 1999. Netanyahu himself, the foreign minister in the Sharon government, ran in the primaries for the head of the party…and in November 2002, without shaking hands, he lost. After winning, Sharon, by the way, appointed Netanyahu as finance minister.
Likud’s Netanyahu-Sa'ar Showdown Pits Tribal Loyalty vs. Rational Expediency (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister faces formidable legal and political obstacles, but his fans won’t abandon him in his time of need.
It's just me and my Labor: Amir Peretz is putting the center-left bloc in danger (Ran Edelist, Maariv) For the information of the chairman of the Labor party, the Labor Party must disband. The situation requires leadership that will divide the slice so that Kahol-Lavan will require additional seats.
The Israeli Center-left Must Open Its Eyes (Ehud Barak, Haaretz+) Those of you in the center left must open your eyes. The election will determine the size of the bloc, not the size of the party. The center left’s unwillingness to take decisive action to build a winning bloc, in total contrast to the right, constitutes inexplicable blindness on the part of its leaders. If even one of the small leftist parties fails to meet the electoral threshold, it could guarantee the establishment of a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, which would be a disaster.
Left-wing and right-wing concepts have no real economic or social connotation (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) In recent years, the definitions of "left" and "right" relate mainly to Palestinian issues in Israel, to settlement in Judea and Samaria, to the idea of two states and the like.


Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israeli Jew, Speak Arabic (Esawi Freige, Haaretz+) World Arab Language Day was observed December 18, a date that not coincidentally didn’t spark much interest in Israel. Most Israeli Jews fear Arabic, and this fear leads to silencing. It happened with the nation-state law, which undercut the status of Arabic as an official language. It happens in workplaces that forbid their employees to speak Arabic among themselves. It happens with Hebrew-only street signs and, most importantly, with the lack of desire among the vast majority of Israeli citizens to know the language that dominates the region in which they live. According to the Jewish-Arab NGO Sikkuy, only 8.6 percent of Israeli Jews say they know Arabic. Just 1.6 percent of them studied Arabic in school. Many of them who report knowing Arabic would struggle to write an email or read a newspaper article in this language.
Israeli Army Chief Made It Clear: A Collision With Iran Is Almost Inevitable (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) In resolute speech on Mideast threats, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi implied Israel attacks Iranian weapon convoys smuggled through Iraq. He also warned of a conflict up north.
An understanding with Gaza, a looming conflict with Lebanon (Yossi Yehoshua, Yedioth/Ynet) IDF chief sees a need to prepare the Israeli public for a war, unlike earlier military conflicts, with thousands of missiles fired daily at populated areas and expected civilian casualties.
Netanyahu Should Not Be Allowed to Start a War With Iran to Save Himself (Shlomo Brom, Haaretz+) The prime minister needs a win in the next elections, and initiating a major conflict with Iran may be his only hope to convince Israelis that there is no alternative to his leadership.
Iran's score with Israel remains unsettled (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) The Islamic Republic has shifted from being an expansionist force on the move to a country on the defensive, having to protect its Mideast assets in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq and payback for alleged IDF attacks in the region is coming.
The Most Ethical Weapons Ever Known? Not So Fast (Yagil Levy, Haaretz+) Do drones and other guided weaponry protect civilians in war zones – or pose a greater threat to them?
Oslo Accords may prove to be best defense against ICC probe (Dr. Matan Gutman, Yedioth/Ynet) Palestinians draw on a 2012 resolution, which upgrades them to a UN non-member observer state, when insisting they have a case in the Hague; but Israel can make a number of valid legal arguments to prove law is on its side.
Who controls international bodies? (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) European countries prefer to live in a utopian fantasy rather than confront reality. That is why they allow oppressive regimes to manipulate the ICC.
The right and left are competing who kicks more at the gatekeepers (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) B'Tselem's efforts (to aid) The Hague prosecutor (in her probe on alleged Israeli war crimes) and Likud's efforts under the “he is innocent” campaign created a meeting of interests between the two bodies for one purpose: to slam the Israeli judicial system. Each for its reasons, of course, but the bottom line is that the conclusion serves the sacred political needs of both bodies. The Hague court prosecutor will use Israel’s High Court to sue Israeli military officers for war crimes, and the Likud will use it to convince the public that three charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust (against Netanyahu) were nothing because our court system is not credible.
Israel Steps Up Contempt for ICC (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Netanyahu asks why don’t they investigate Syria and Iraq or China or Iran and Hamas. Selective international enforcement is a lame and dangerous argument. Lame, because it’s like the claim of a driver caught breaking the law while other drivers go whizzing past the police officer. Dangerous, because in so doing Israel is placing itself in the company of the world’s worst states and demanding equal treatment.
With his arrogance and opacity, Netanyahu led us all the way to The Hague (Isaac Ben-Ner, Maariv) We must prevent the prime minister, whose policies and lies led to the investigation of the possibility of Israeli war crimes, from using them for the sake of survival in his chair in the run-up to the elections and to the courtroom.
'Leftist Media' Seeks the Blood of Those Who Dare Criticize Israel (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) This was Yedioth Ahronoth’s main headline Monday: “‘The Devil in Gambia’ and the prosecutor in The Hague.” The banner of Israel Hayom the next day: “Secrets of The Hague revealed: How B’Tselem helped the prosecutor.” The Israeli media is enthusiastically enlisting in service of the narrative, moving from obscuring and concealing to incitement, from misleading to mudslinging. The Hague already won. If the country’s two largest newspapers are flinging insults, then the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, hit the right nerve. The wilder the incitement, the clearer it is that Israel has totally lost its way. Look at its newspapers. There’s no response to The Hague, nor will there be. There’s nothing left but to incite. The gates of hell of “the country’s newspaper,” which always knew what was expected of it, have opened. Yedioth will yet cause make Bensouda rue the day she dared open her mouth; Richard Goldstone can tell her what Israeli propaganda can do to its victims.
Lies Palestinians tell at Christmas (Barry Shaw, Israel Hayom) The Palestinian leadership blames the "security wall" for all that ails their people. This is little more than propaganda seeking to malign Israel and projects Palestinians as oppressed victims.
Israeli schools must help Bedouin community integrate (Jamal Alkirnawi, Yedioth/Ynet) Bedouin students continuously underperform academically due to ongoing neglect, failing to keep pace even with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia; Education Ministry must intervene and implement new models to sector's education system.
Cities with mixed populations are breaking down barriers (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) While national politics are rife with polarization and incitement, Israel's mixed Jewish-Arab cities are seeing unprecedented levels of cooperation.
Cyprus, cyberspies and the dark side of Israeli intel (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) An Israeli Military Intelligence veteran’s arrest in Cyprus is an object lesson in the hazards of commercializing defense technologies.
Political games at The Hague (Gerald M. Steinberg, Israel Hayom) For the past two decades, political actors have continuously led campaigns aimed at bringing Israel before the International Criminal Court. These actros all ignore Palestinian terrorism, thereby making the accusations of Israeli "war crimes" stand out.
In Next Phase of Demonstrations, Lebanon Protesters Are Wielding the Ultimate Weapon (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) 'Until there is a government we trust, there is nobody to pay taxes to': Facing little room to maneuver, protesters are hitting the regime where it hurts the most.
Turkey racks up tension in the eastern Med (Neville Teller, Israel Hayom) Turkey’s frustration at being excluded from highly lucrative enterprises in the region is understandable, but it is not likely to win a share by way of belligerence.
Young Jews Are Leading a Grassroots Arabic Renaissance in Israel (Anat Peled, Haaretz+VIDEO) The Israeli education system has failed to teach its Jewish students Arabic. Young Jewish artists, designers and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking matters into their own hands.
Sanders in our eyes (Yisrael Medad, Israel Hayom) One could argue that to be pro-Israel is to reduce its administrative control over Judea and Samaria. But reducing Israel’s geographical area has not proven to be a good move or effective. The PA is still a terrorist entity, thinking and acting like one.
Decade in Review: In the last decade, the Bible replaced international law in deciding Palestinians' fate (Zaha Hassan, Haaretz+) As multiple legal efforts bear fruit, 2020 could be the year that international law supplants the nationalist and religious policies of Netanyahu and Trump in determining the outcome of the conflict.
Decade In Review: The 2010s: When Israeli TV Captured the World's Imagination - but Will It Last? (Adrian Hennigan, Haaretz+) Israel's television producers and stars have adopted the 'startup nation' mentality, becoming an internationally recognized ideas factory where being ahead of the curve is a vital part of its identity.
Israel's biggest political bombshells of the decade (Erez Linn, Israel Hayom) From social protests and the loss of political giants to multiple elections – the past 10 years have seen Israel weather several major watershed political moments.
Decade in Review: The 2010s, When Social Media Upended the Middle East (Alexander Griffing, Haaretz+) From the Arab Spring to Trump’s Twitter feed: The decade social media went from a tool of freedom to one of oppression.
Israel and Portugal: Our friendship is stronger than ever (João Lemos Esteves, Israel Hayom) We truly appreciate the gesture Netanyahu made when he went out of his way to meet with our prime minister.
 
Interviews:
"I have nothing to hide, my conscience is clean"
Fatou Bensouda for years served Yahya Jamma's murderous repressive regime - until she crossed to the other side. His victims claim: She knew and was silent. She is now responding for the first time to the harsh claims and to the question of whether someone who was the justice minister of the cruel tyrant can investigate Israel for "war crimes.” (Yaniv Khalili, Yedioth Hebrew)

"In Gambia, I have served my country and Gambia residents with dignity and integrity," she says, speaking of "an honest and irrefutable commitment to the law and equality before it, efforts documented in legal documents."
YK: Jamma’s victims present difficult evidence against you, how do you respond to them?
"I completely deny the false accusations and hints directed at me by some of the Gambian witnesses," she says through her spokespeople. According to them, “If her status and the restrictions arising from her role at the International Court of Justice in the Hague allow her, she would not hesitate to appear before the Gambia Truth Commission and answer all the false and misleading allegations made against sincer her absence from the state."
YK: Can anyone who served under one of the world's cruel dictators be a prosecutor in the Criminal Court in The Hague? Can she preach morality to Israelis?
"I have nothing to explain and my conscience is clean," she insists, explaining that she "implements the mandate given her with full independence, objectivity and professional integrity. All other hints or statements are simply misleading and unfounded." Bensouda's spokeswoman adds that "a thorough examination of the prosecutor's recent appeal to the judges (that is, the investigation she opened with regard to “war crimes” committed by Israel) only demonstrates the professional and responsible approach."
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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