News Nosh 1.2.20

APN's daily news review from Israel

Thursday January 2, 2020

 Quote of the day:

"It is Netanyahu’s right to fight the indictments against him. It is his right to ask for immunity. But he has no right to destroy the remainder of the trust of the citizens of the state in its institutions. Without trust there is no law, no institutions, no army, no state."
--Top Yedioth political commentator, Nahum Barnea, writes about the accusations made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his speech about why he requested immunity from trial.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Immunity at any price - Netanyahu asked for immunity from being put on trial despite his promise (not to)
  • He is S-C-A-R-E-D // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • Where do we live // Sima Kadmon (Hebrew)
  • Moral disgrace // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Legitimate step // Amichai Attali
  • House of horrors - WHat happens in the “Magical House,” the communes of the artist, Gilad Hefetz,…Young women who were lured to live there for free tell of sexual assaults after drinking drugs without their knowledge

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • “Immunity - in order to fulfill my mission” - Legal drama: At the last moment, Netanyahu requested immunity; The next battle: Establishing a Knesset committee
  • The Prime Minister’s message: There is no logic in dismissal at this time // Amnon Lord
  • Not the winner at the ballot box? So Gantz is depending on the judicial system // Mati Tuchfeld
  • It’s all talk: The decision at the Knesset is purely political // Gideon Allon
  • High Court opened the door to the next appeals // Shuki Segev
  • Anti-Semitism from home: MK Kushner presents // Emily Amrousi
  • “The indictment against my brother is a political assassination attempt” - Ido Netanyahu, brother of, gives rare interview in Friday's paper
  • The summit today in Athens: The Israeli message is - we aren’t scared of Erdogan’s threats // Oded Granot
  • From a alliance of discriminated to an alliance of awareness // Limor Samimian-Darash

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu submitted his request to the Knesset for immunity from trial for criminal charges he faces, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said his party would oppose Netanyahu getting immunity from the Knesset and the US sent 750 troops to Iraq - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also, the Israeli government cabinet held a second meeting this week to discuss easing sanctions on Gazans as part of a long-term agreement with the ruling Hamas party. (Maariv)

In what commentators called an “aggressive” speech about his request for immunity in three criminal cases, Netanyahu accused his political rivals and "officials" of framing him and of using selective enforcement against him. He also promised that the immunity would be temporary and that he would eventually stand in court "to crush the unfounded arguments against me.” Opposition head and Kahol-Lavan chairman, Benny Gantz, said it was a sad day for Israel and that “Netanyahu knows he's guilty.” MK Avigdor Lieberman will likely ruin Netanyahu’s chance of getting immunity as he said that his party will vote unanimously against it. Lieberman suggested again that Netanyahu be allowed to leave politics without a trial. "Give him a respectable option to go out, you have to know when to hang your shoes,” he said. (Maariv) The request is likely to delay his trial for at least several months, if not years, according to ‘Israel Hayom.’ Now a Knesset committee needs to be formed to deal with the immunity request, but the process will take time. But while he has yet to be forced to resign as Prime Minister due to the criminal charges against him, Netanyahu did have to formally resign from the other numerous ministerial posts he held. Yesterday, he gave up the health, welfare, agriculture, and diaspora affairs portfolios.

Quick Hits:

  • Rare Israeli Nighttime Curfew on East Jerusalem Residents Goes Into Effect - Army uses British Mandate-era regulations against nine Palestinians from neighborhood that has become the flashpoint of an intense military campaign. (Haaretz+)
  •  Why did a large Palestinian flag cover Jerusalem's city walls? - The flag, with images of the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, triggered a harsh rebuke from Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, who vowed to fight such provocations. Maariv wrote that Fatah activists hung the flag to mark the 55th anniversary of the movement. (Israel Hayom and Times of Israel and Maariv, p. 8)
  • Israel Police Arrest Two Settler Teenagers for Attacking Cops Disguised as Palestinians - Police refuse to disclose why two officers were disguised as Palestinian laborers in Bat Ayin settlement. NGO representing settlers accuses police of 'provocation.’ (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Stepping up financial warfare, Israel seizes funds from 32 families of terrorists - "The murder of Jews will stop being profitable," Defense Minister Naftali Bennett says in a statement, adding that the confiscation would go into effect immediately. (Israel Hayom)
  • 'Right-wing Economic Lobby' With Populist Agenda Makes Knesset Debut - Our Interest says it aims to protect average Israelis from ‘pressure groups’ while promoting a freer market. (Haaretz+)
  • Former Israeli Military Chief Says Heavy Pressure Was Applied to Keep Women Out of Tanks - Pilot program was successful but outside interests intervened to thwart integration of women into tank crews, Gadi Eisenkot states. (Haaretz+)
  • New IDF special ops unit to go deep in enemy territory - Multi-corps division comprises tanks, UAVs, classified combat technologies and highly trained infantry soldiers,  intelligence personnel, special units and other entities; set to go operational within a year, it will take major part in missions featuring ground maneuvering on front lines. (Ynet and Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Archaeologists Find Hoard of Islamic Coins in Israel: 'It's Like a Hanukkah Present' - Coins placed in a clay juglet 1,200 years ago included rare specimens from North Africa and one issued by Caliph Haroun A-Rashid, on whom 'One Thousand and One Nights,' was based. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel’s Housing Crisis Is Being Solved at the Cost of a Food Crisis - That’s what the head of the Moshav Movement warns as the country’s massive building programs eat away at farmland. (Haaretz+)
  • Latest Gaza Operation Failed to Boost Sense of Security in Israel's South, Study Finds - Only 10 percent of Gaza border residents said the campaign made them feel safer, while 63 percent said nothing has changed. (Haaretz+)
  • “I wanted to run away after 5 minutes”: A new affidavit was filed against Sara Netanyahu - A woman who previously worked for the Prime Minister's family filed a complaint reinforcing Shira Raban's claims. Sara Netanyahu's attorney: “Brazen and evil chutzpah. This is an unfounded story.” (Maariv)
  • Israel's Electoral Stalemate Endangers Olympics Prospects - Lack of a fully functioning government leads to funding crisis that means no training camps, no competitions abroad, and no equipment purchases for sports associations. (Haaretz+)
  • Outstanding soldier who was named by the President was accused of rape: attacked women while walking alone on the street - Three years ago, Fente Terpa, a resident of Bat Yam, who enlisted in the paratroopers and served as an officer in the 906th Battalion, was named The President’s Outstanding (Soldier). Wednesday he was indicted for rape and assault of three different women who were walking alone at night on the city streets. (Maariv)
  • Mother of Briton jailed for alleging gang rape by Israelis backs boycott of Cyprus - 19-year-old found guilty of lying about being assaulted by Israeli youths in Cypriot holiday resort, now claims she recanted accusation under duress from local police. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Trump administration reduces periods of visas for Israelis in surprise move - New shift in visa policy applies to Israelis only and takes effect immediately, report says. (i24News and Ynet Hebrew)
  • Yemen's Houthis release Saudi prisoners as peace negotiations gain momentum - Saudi Arabia is holding back-channel talks with Yemeni rebels to end its military campaign that has killed over 100,000 people since 2015. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • At least six dead after government shelling hits school in rebel-held Syrian village - The offensive on the Al-Qaida held enclave has displaced more than than 235,000 people. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Where do we live (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth Hebrew and Ynet English) The PM is not likely to receive the votes he needs to be granted immunity but he can and likely will drag the country through more election cycles, as long as he can avoid the courts....If until yesterday evening there were those who asked themselves what country we live in, then yesterday they received an answer: where a prime minister is not ashamed to stand in front of the public and lie. Yes, you have to say it explicitly: lied. To say what the Prime Minister said last night in his request for immunity is to make a bald faced lie. (Accusations of) Framing him, selective enforcement, blackmail of state witnesses, ousting witnesses, "a flood of leaks intended to make a field trial," influencing public opinion - these are just some of Netanyahu's charges yesterday against the judiciary, the media and the political system - which is not Bibi. And if that were not enough - then it is possible to put in this mix can also the distorting of the Immunity Law. Law, which according to Netanyahu, is intended to protect the public from cases where people are framed and that is why, he says, he is using this law. Not because of his attempt to escape the law, not because he makes every possible effort to reject his trial, but, in the spirit of his words - to protect the public. He and the public are one. It's him and the public facing  everything else. There are only two options: if these things are true, and the prime minister is even right in some of the things he said, then this is a country we do not want to live in. That it has no right to exist for even one more day, unless we have no problem being in line with totalitarian states that just saying their names brings disgust. And if Netanyahu lies - he has no right to exist as prime minister for one more day. His performance last night was devoid of any sense of self-confidence. On the contrary. He looked scared. Troubled. Tired. What happened to the assertive, confident, leadership body language that we know from other the past. This is how a man on the run looks. Even those who aren't crazy about (Kahol-Lavan leader Benny) Gantz and don't see him as an alternative leader could identify with Gantz’s remarks yesterday, when he said that this was a difficult day for the State of Israel. Who would have thought we would end up in a situation where a prime minister is trying to escape so blatantly from the systems of law and justice. But the real significant move following Netanyahu's immunity speech was that of Lieberman, who announced that his party would not support the prime minister's immunity and that he would do everything possible to prevent giving immunity to the defendant. This can be said with complete confidence, as far as anything can be trusted these days: There will be no majority in the Knesset to grant immunity to Netanyahu. And not just because of Lieberman's opposition. There will not be 61 Knesset members who will support it during this time, and there will be those who oppose it even within his coalition. But Netanyahu did what he does best yesterday: stealing more time. There is currently no Knesset committee. And if it is not established, as the opposition demands - we will reach the elections when Netanyahu's cases are not filed in court. If he is lucky - and he is - the most charlatan prime minister who we’ve had will pull us into another round of elections. You don't believe it? Think again. Some of us believed we would reach this moment, two months before the third election, when there was nothing to indicate that the picture was about to change.
Israeli left must seek salvation in unity (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) The left is accused of turning its back on tradition, but it still seems to be bound to its long-standing tradition of arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I invested my life in Meretz. I became the leader of a party that remains dear to me. I supported the formation of the Democratic Union joint election ticket. It was hard for me to see some of Meretz’s outstanding MKs relegated down the slate as a result of the linkup, but it served its goal – to be an insurance policy against falling below the minimum threshold required to get into Knesset. Parties fighting for their lives need to be capable of making painful changes – and Meretz is fighting for its life. That also holds true for Labor, whose self-satisfaction over the six seats it got in September’s election is a reminder of how great the party’s concern was about falling below the four-seat minimum.
Netanyahu’s Best-case Scenario Is a Fourth Election Round. And Then a Fifth (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The PM did his best to avoid having to seek parliamentary immunity, but knowing a trial is inevitable, he’s playing for time.
In terms of "the people”: Even if Netanyahu were charged on pedophilia charges it would pass easily (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) "Immunity," according to Bibi the thinker from the depths of his spinologist brain, "is a cornerstone of democracy" - and he probably means that this stone can be thrown at the foundations of democracy, after its use. In other words, we have a large minority of people in the country, who, according to the early polls and the elections for the Likud leadership, are willing to accept without blinking the principle that this prime minister will also be able to lead the country in the future, despite the criminal corruption stains on his crown.
Requesting Immunity, Master Manipulator Netanyahu Gave One of the Worst Performances of His Life (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) In one brief speech, Netanyahu announced he wants to be shielded from prosecution. If the address is any indication, his election campaign is at risk.
It's the law, it's his right (Amichai Attali, Yedioth) The immunity law was not written for Netaenyahu, and the use of all the legal tools is the most legitimate step for a politician.
He is s-c-a-r-e-d (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) It is evident in Netanyahu that the present position he is in is difficult for him. By law, immunity is a right that one asks for, and asking was something he forgot. In his 13 years in power, he got used to demanding, not asking. Case 1000, one of the three cases he is charged with, includes a variety of demands, all for personal purposes. Netanyahu did not ask for gifts from others; he demanded to receive them, in detailed lists. It is difficult for him, because he understands that anyone who is seeking immunity is considered guilty by the public: In state ruled by law, the innocent are fighting for their innocence and criminals are asking for immunity. Some of the such criminals he knows well: they were the head of his office, his media consultant and the CEO who that he planted in the Ministry of Communications. Their immunity is not morally different from his immunity request. It's hard for him, because he knows that anyone asking for immunity is considered a coward by the public. The hero who confronted the President of the United States is afraid to confront a prosecutor in court. His voters, even those who are willing to put up with the offenses attributed to him, will find it difficult to explain his cowardice to themselves. This is not the way the King of Israel should be. The King of Israel does not run away from the battle: he fights and wins. At the present time, two months before the election, this difficulty can have dramatic significance at the ballot box. Netanyahu understood and was prepared. As of last night, he provided his voters with two different answers. One was transmitted through his men: he was undecided (about asking for immunity). In fact, he didn't want to (ask). The debate went on for hours. Those who decided were the lawyers, for legal reasons. The second answer was said by Netanyahu himself: He was asking for immunity because the dark apparatus of officials, operating out of the Justice Department's basements, want to destroy him. They are jealous of him. They hate him. They are - he lowers his voice -  leftists. Both explanations are unfounded, but there is a difference between them. One is nonsense. The other is playing for the whole jackpot. The Prosecutor's Office has erred quite a bit over the years, sinning with vanity and opacity, over-enthusiasm and carelessness, but whoever attributes it to a dark political plot knowingly lies. It is Netanyahu’s right to fight the indictments against him. It is his right to ask for immunity. But he has no right to destroy the remainder of the trust of the citizens of the state in its institutions. Without trust there is no law, no institutions, no army, no state. If Netanyahu wants in his plight to become an anarchist, he should go demonstrate at the (separation) fence in Bil'in. The question of Netanyahu's immunity will probably play a major role in the election campaign. The unity government's vision is dead: Netanyahu will hope for a government of 61 MKs, a right-wing government, an immunity government, and Gantz will hope to achieve a bloc. The failure to form a government after the previous two rounds was supposed to bring a battle between the two major parties, but the opposite happened and both are trapped in the Netanyahu deadlock: Kahol-Lavan can't with him; The Likud cannot do without it. Even if the next Knesset gives Netanyahu immunity, Gantz and his party will not join his government. They are sick of him. Netanyahu could have improved his situation somewhat if he had said last night: I am in the midst of great acts. All I ask for is some time. Give me immunity for a year, two years; then I will resign, and place my fate in court. He chose the opposite. "The thorn bush said to the trees, 'If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thorn bush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’” (‘Jotham’s Parable in Torah, Judges 9:15)

Other Commentary/Analysis:
2020, the Year of the End for Gaza (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) That’s how it goes when you’re having fun. Time flies. Eight years ago, in 2012, the United Nations issued a report entitled “Gaza in 2020: A livable place?” The answer was contained in the body of the report – no. Not unless steps are taken to save it. That’s how it goes when you’re having fun. Time flies. Eight years ago, in 2012, the United Nations issued a report entitled “Gaza in 2020: A livable place?” The answer was contained in the body of the report – no. Not unless steps are taken to save it.
Fighting Israel's demonization at the ICC (Eytan Gilboa, Israel Hayom) Israel should expose the International Criminal Court's complete lack of credibility and legitimacy via aggressive political measures in collaboration with concerned liberal democracies, primarily the US.
Israel’s Pathetic Toll of 86 Dead in Work Accidents (Haaretz Editorial) The report Wednesday by the group Kav LaOved reveals the cost in human lives exacted by negligent enforcement, lenient punishment of safety-standard violators and a lack of deterrence. The numbers paint a frightening picture regarding work fatalities in Israel.
The Democrats folded and the decision of "unconditional continuation" of aid to Israel was passed (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Resolution 326, which is related to Israel and has a $38 billion price tag, passed in Congress only after the folding before the female anti-Israeli members of the House of Representatives by adding the following "clarification”: “Whereas the United States has long sought a just, stable, and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ends the occupation, including opposition to settlement activities, and to unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory” - there was no mention of the permanent Palestinian refusal of any political compromise or of Palestinian terrorism - which did not prevent the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic members of the House of Representatives, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley from voting against the decision anyway. And why? Because this group is opposed not only to security assistance to Israel, but also to the very existence of Israel, i.e. the two-state version. [NOTE: Actual wording of Resolution 326 here.]
2010-2019 For the Trump Administration, the Bible Decides the Palestinians' Fate, Not International Law (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.
The decade that normalized anti-Semitism, in America and across the globe (Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Haaretz+) Violence, extremism, and hate targeting Jews spread quickly and travel widely, from white supremacists to jihadists to the far left. It's hard to look back at the past decade without feeling a sense of alarm.
Trump also has responsibility for the manifestations of anti-Semitism in his country (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Despite the Jewish son-in-law and despite the presidential decree to fight the phenomenon, Trump is the number one violence generator in the United States and the world, and as such he is one of those responsible.
Israel should stand up for Jews wherever they are (Chen Sror Artzi, Yedioth/Ynet) People's homes, communities and lives make up their identities no less than the fact that they are Jewish.
Israel’s Decade of Progress for Holocaust Survivors – at the Last Moment (Aviva Silberman, Haaretz+) For 27 years I’ve been fighting to improve the lives of Holocaust survivors in Israel. During this time, I got to know the difficulties that Holocaust survivors faced in realizing their rights. They didn’t have information about all their rights, both in Israel and abroad, and ran into bureaucracy and a system deaf to their needs, preventing them from exercising their rights. I felt their pain at the humiliating treatment they received from the very entities that were supposed to provide them service and support. The state hardened its heart and put them through an obstacle course of humiliation and trouble for every right or benefit they were entitled to by law.
Trump's dilemma, how to deal with Iran? (Shmirit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) Iran reverted to the tried and tested method of attacking an American diplomatic mission in order to humiliate the superpower and rekindle traumas from the past.
Recalculating the path: The effects of the US offensive in Iraq (Omar Dustri, Maariv) The rules of the game have changed: The attack against the Shiite militia in Iraq is a message to Iran, but even Iran's opponents see American bombings of this kind as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
Erdogan's desperate gambit in Libya (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) In the fight for the natural gas reservoirs in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish tyrant finds himself pitted against a strategic coalition of old and new enemies: Greece and Cyprus, Egypt and Israel.

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

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