News Nosh 1.12.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday January 12, 2020

 
Quote of the day:
“Regretfully, the law is abandoned on the road to Isawiyah."
--Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) lawyer Tal Hassin wrote in a letter to the police, following the detention in an illegal manner of about two hundred Palestinian children, some under the age of 12, since the start of regular police raids in the E. Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiyeh.*


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom


Top News Summary:
Iran admitted to accidentally downing the Ukrainian plane and Iranian people protested in the streets, the Education Minister shocked with homophobic remarks and educators protested with tolerance lessons and the right-wing and the left-wing are working on possible unions ahead of the deadline later this week for declaring party lists, making top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also, the the Sultan of Oman, an Arab leader who had contacts with Israel and was a key Mideast mediator, died.

The right-wing tabloid papers, ‘Israel Hayom’ and ‘Yedioth’ led their papers with ‘Iran’s lies,’ while Haaretz and Maariv simply reported that Iran had admitted it mistakenly downed the Ukrainian plane. Angry Iranians took to the streets against the Iranian regime for its mistaken and for initially concealing it. Meanwhile, Israel's Education Minister Rafi Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi, sparked an uproar with his homophobic remarks against single-sex couples. Israeli educators responded by holding tolerance classes.


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Corruption Case News:
Just days before the Wednesday deadline to register political party lists, the parties were scrambling to merge - or not. Meretz and Labor were to decide today whether to merge. Meanwhile, Moshe Kahlon was expected to announce his retirement from political life on Monday. Kahlon, is leader of the Kulanu party, which merged with Likud last year. Israel Hayom Hebrew reported that sources in Kahol-Lavan said there is an internal dispute in the party leadership over investment of campaign resources in the Arab sector. (Religious) MK from the party (and former cabinet secretary under Netanyahu), Tzvi Hauser, said, “Investment in the Arab sector is making voters on the right-wing flee” and that the move “did not bring results.” To that MK Ram Ben-Barak (former deputy director of the Mossad and former director general of the Ministry of Intelligence Services) shot back: “And do you succeed more in the religious Zionist sector?”

Likud MK and close confidante of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, David Bitan, declared he was would not accept his appointment as agriculture minister. Bitan is expected to be indicted on multiple corruption charges.

Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Inon was to give his legal opinion Sunday on whether Speaker of Knesset Yuli Edelstein (Likud) could prevent the establishment of a Knesset committee that would decide on whether to give Netanyahu immunity or not. (UPDATE: Inon said Edelstein could not prevent the formation of the committee.) The chairman of the Knesset Regulatory committee, MK Avi Nissenkorn (Kahol-Lavan), said that 65 memebers of Knesset from Kahol-Lavan, Yisrael Beiteinu (Avigdor Lieberman's party), Labor-Gesher, the Democratic Camp and the Joint List (mostly Arab party) signed a demand to convene the Knesset committee to torpedo the Prime Minister's request for immunity. (Maariv)
 
Quick Hits:
  • *Israel arrests hundreds of Palestinian minors in Jerusalem, violating children's rights - One 13 year-old boy says police officers broke into his house while his parents were not home and hit him on the head before arresting him. (Haaretz+)
  • Cabinet concerned about secret ICC arrest warrants against Israeli officials - Ministers believe International Criminal Court will launch an investigation against Israel within 90 days. If so, high-ranking Israeli officials and IDF officers may be arrested upon traveling abroad and extradited to The Hague. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hungary Backs Israel in Fight Against ICC Call to Probe War Crimes Against Palestinians - Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó says his government agrees that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction in Palestinian territories. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Judge Slams Shin Bet for Using Sleep Deprivation Against Jewish Terror Suspects - After suspects interrogated all night with only brief breaks, district court judge says 'abusive manner of interrogation' is unacceptable. (Haaretz+)
  • 'I don't recognize the authority of this court': Israeli activist, arrested for anti-occupation protests, asks to stay jailed - Jonathan Pollak, a Haaretz employee, says transferring him between prison and court doesn't allow Prison Service to provide him food or medical care. (Haaretz+)
  • Five East Jerusalem residents detained for violating curfew they claim is unlawful - Part of a group of nine targeted specifically by the Israeli army with British Mandate-era regulations, Isawiyah residents refused to post bail. (Haaretz+)
  • Following Maariv expose: The conclusions of the investigation of the events in Palsar 7 (armored corps commando unit) will be published - The decision on the investigation was made following admissions and complaints about the bullying and humiliation of the soldiers in the training course of the prestigious commando unit of the armored corps, which included carrying heavy weights and sleep deprivation. (Maariv)
  • Israel frees 2 (Syrian Druze from the Golan Heights) as 'goodwill' for return of soldier's remains from Syria - Israel's prime minister's office said the two men released are from Majdal Shams, a Druze village in Golan Heights territory Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day war. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • 'Day of Victory Over the Israeli Occupation': Druze Prisoner Who Spied for Syria Celebrates Release - Sidqi Al-Maqt, draped in the Syrian flag, refused interviews by Israeli outlets and called his release from an Israeli prison 'a day of victory for me and for the Syrian people.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Thousands of Bedouin students in Israel to go on strike for third time in a year - Al-Kasom Regional Council calls a strike for the schools under its jurisdiction, claiming the Education Ministry hasn't properly assessed the budget required for unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev. (Haaretz+)
  • Wanted: New information on the Yom Kippur War - The Yom Kippur War Center, which has set for itself the goal of making war history and legacy accessible, has launched a new website: www.kippur.org. Rami Swatt, chair of the Yom Kippur War Center: "The purpose of the site is to gather and make available most of the war-related materials that are currently scattered. The site is just beginning and we need information in all areas - personal stories, documents, research work, art works (pictures and sculptures) and files with details about the fallen - in order to be the knowledgeable factor in documenting and commemorating the war.” On the website can be found much information about commemorating the 2,673 fallen fo the war, the medals and decorations awarded, books and documentary material. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israeli Intel Helped the United States to Take Out Soleimani, Report Says - Informants at the Damascus international airport tipped off the CIA about the time Soleimani's plane took off for Baghdad, while Israel confirmed the information provided to the Americans, NBC reported on Friday. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • U.S. Targeted Iranian Officer in Yemen on Same Day as Soleimani Strike, Officials Say - Failed strike on Quds Force senior officer Abdul Reza Shahlai was carried out on same day that the U.S. killed Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/u-s-targeted-iranian-official-in-yemen-in-failed-strike-u-s-officials-say-1.8380455
  • Netherlands Rally Protesting Soleimani Assassination Sparks anti-Semitic Sentiments - Two women waved a poster featuring a man dressed as an Orthodox Jew titled 'the makers of terrorism' at a demonstration staged near The Hague. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • U.S. imposes additional sanctions on Iran after attack on U.S. allied troops - 'We will continue to apply economic sanctions until Iran stops its terrorist activities and commits that it will never have nuclear weapons,' Pompeo said. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey says Friday that ceasefire will be implemented in Syria's Idlib - It will go into effect on Sunday, after hundreds of thousands have fled the province toward the Turkish border. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saturday: Syrian government strike kills 18 civilians in Idlib despite cease-fire - Meanwhile, UN Security Council votes to halt humanitarian aid through northeast passage after Russian argument that it is already delivered by Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Late Thursday night: Israel reportedly attacks Syria-Iraq border, thwarts shipment of Iranian ballistic missiles - Witnesses say a big explosion was seen at the Abu Kamal border crossing, a site that has been attacked before. Israel has repeatedly warned Iran that it would not tolerate its arming of militias in Syria. Israeli aircraft attacked a truck convoy near the Syria-Iraq border in an effort to thwart the delivery of weapon systems to pro-Iranian militias, Arab media reported overnight Thursday. Israel has not commented on the incident. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Raises $3 Billion in Record U.S. Bond Issue - Issue draws strong demand from foreign investors, despite geopolitical tensions, budget problems. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Hebrew Inscription on a 3,000-year-old Jar Could Redraw Borders of Ancient Israel - Archaeologists were surprised to find Hebrew writing in Abel Beth Maacah, which some don’t think was part of the ancient kingdom. (Haaretz+)
  • PA elections remain elusive as Abbas seeks to postpone them - While outsiders may want the Palestinian leadership to hold elections, according to a recent study by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, half of Palestinians polled said they do not believe that elections would be free and fair. (Israel Hayom)
  • IN PHOTOS Egypt restores historic synagogue, but few Jews remain - 'I'm very proud of what my country has done, and it symbolizes living together, today there is no difference between Egyptian Muslim, Christian and Egyptian Jew,' says head of Cairo's Jewish community. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • U.S. dismisses Iraqi request to withdraw troops - Iraqi prime minister asked the U.S. to start working on a plan which would see some 5,200 U.S. troops leave the country, while U.S. refuses to discuss withdrawal. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • US senators back bill to provide Israel with $3.3B a year - The bill would put into law the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding reached between Israel in 2016 that was the biggest pledge of US military assistance made to any country. (Agencies, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • 'What's in it for Trump?': White House debating release of Mideast peace plan before third Israeli election - With Trump and Netanyahu heading for elections, some in Israel flouted the concern that Kushner's team is considering the release of the plan to help the Israeli PM – which the administration denies. (Haaretz+)
  • A Resolution Over Iran Splits a Tight Group of Moderate Jewish Lawmakers - Elissa Slotkin's advancing a resolution to curb Trump's war powers on Iran 'plays politics' with war, says fellow member of the 'Gang of Nine' moderate Democrats. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Israeli American Council honors Ivanka Trump over her support for Israel - First daughter says her father and his administration are committed to defending the Jewish people and combating anti-Semitism "everywhere it exists." (Israel Hayom)


Features:
Inside the Shadowy World of Israeli Arms Dealers
Some say the business isn’t really all that profitable, except when you score that one very big deal. (Shuki Sadeh, Haaretz+)
Advocating for Israel via philanthropy
Impact Forum’s “silver-bullet” method lies in collaboration between philanthropists and pro-Israel organizations to produce maximum impact. (Eliana Rudee, Israel Hayom)
The Secret Israel-Soviet Union War Nobody Knew About
A new book follows how Israel got dragged into a battle it couldn’t win in 1970. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+)
It Took a Decade for This Palestinian to Learn She Was Allowed to Live in the West Bank
Sura Tawil didn’t know a new ID was waiting for her since 2011. So who’s responsible for the failure, the Palestinian side that issues the cards or the Israeli side that approves them? (Amira Hass, Haaretz+)

Other Commentary/Analysis:
For Israelis, There Is No World Beyond Their Borders, and They Don't Need BBC World News (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Yaakov Ahimeir’s weekly international news show, “Ro’im Olam,” was insubstantial and often infuriating. Despite that, I watched it religiously for decades. It was for me a refuge from the nonsense of the other news programs, with their whitewashing and their brainwashing. Its cancellation is not a tragedy, as it has been depicted on social media, and of course it had nothing to do with Ahimeir’s right-wing views, as the prime minister has claimed. But it is part of a significant and deeply worrying trend: Israel has lost interest in the world beyond its borders. If it isn’t Jews, Israel or anti-Semitism, there is no world. In any case the whole world is against us, so why should we care about it. In any given situation we know best, we’re the chosen people, a light unto the nations, the nation of high-tech and Nobel laureates, so what does the world matter to us now. Several days before “Roi’m Olam” (“Seeing the World”) ended, Israel’s HOT cable company stopped offering BBC World News. The arbitrary, aggravating decision left HOT customers without a single serious international news channel, with the exception of the overly American CNN.
Donald Trump and the mythmakers (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) The more successful Trump's reality-based policies towards Iran and Israel are, the harder it will be for the foreign policy establishment to restore their delusion-based policies when he leaves power.
Watching 'Our Boys' Made Me Realize: Jerusalem Can No Longer Be Divided (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) Israel finds itself in a confused state about the Palestinians residing in East Jerusalem. Budgets are channeled to them, yet they’re denied citizenship. But they’re not waiting for the Israelis to decide – they are deciding for the Israelis.
The sultan's death should worry Israel (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) For half a century, Omani leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has served as a moderating influence in the Middle East and was one of the first Arab leaders to formalize ties with Israel. Will his successor adhere to his path?
The Israeli Right’s ‘Plan’ for Jordan's King Abdullah (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+ The Israeli right has no solution for civil rights for Palestinians after annexation, except for overthrowing Jordan's Hashemite monarchy.
Erdoğan's 'quiet jihad’
(Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Turkey's efforts to restore the "glory days" of the Ottoman Empire extend far beyond influence peddling in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount. Turkey is spending money in Haifa, among the Bedouin, and even in mixed Jewish-Arab cities in an attempt to increase its status and bolster the Palestinian cause.
As long as Israeli Arabs do not master Hebrew, they will find it difficult to integrate into society (Ruth Wasserman Lande, Maariv) The lack of good command of the language does not allow Arab young people to present themselves and to express themselves. But to reduce the gaps there is something that the Jews must also do…"Jews and Arabs in Israel live in two parallel worlds," a friend from Kfar Yasif told me this week. While Jews watch television in Hebrew, Israeli Arabs are mainly connected to satellite channels of the Arab world. The radio channels are also separated, the education system in both sectors runs like two lines that will never meet, and most of the performances and cultural products in Israel are divided into something that is intended for an Arab target audience and its parallel Jewish counterpart, and hardly any overlap exists between them. The late President Shimon Peres used to say that only in the hospitals are the citizens of the Jewish state completely at ease when doctors address them in Hebrew with a heavy Arabic accent. In most cases, however, this is not the case, as points of interaction between Jews and Arabs in Israeli society are not very many nor are they necessarily very comfortable. This dichotomy is created despite the law that prohibits discrimination between Jews and Arabs. It is mainly created by the lack of legislation and in-depth thought of initiatives aimed at increasing intersection points for the populations. Bedouin girls from Bir al-Maksur, a Bedouin village in the north of the country, can reach the age of 18 without ever meeting a single Jew and without hearing the Hebrew language. Most of the teachers of Hebrew in the Israeli educational system in the Arab schools are Arab, and even that does not mean that their Hebrew isn’t perfect, it will usually be with Arabic pronunciation and accent. When those Bedouin girls from the village in the north want to continue their studies, they will encounter an immediate barrier: the psychometric exam. Although this examination is also offered in the Arabic language, the young Arabs fail to overcome the gaps, in both the language and other professions. Many of them are forced to leave the country and study in Jordan and other countries. Not only that: Jordan encourages them to choose to study there by providing thousands of scholarships a year to Arab Israelis. Not only do studies in Jordan not contribute to improving the Hebrew level of those young people, of course, it also impairs their ability to integrate upon their return to Israeli society and to the local employment market. It has happened that studying in Jordan has radicalized young Arabs from Israel and further distanced them from the desire to integrate into the Israeli mainstream. Arab students who succeed in reaching Hebrew universities and colleges in Israel, after all, will have to start at a significantly lower starting point than their Jewish counterparts. The Hebrew language media also does not provide a sufficient stage for Israeli Arabs, nor does it present figures that can serve as role models for the Arab-speaking population in the country. Although the various Hebrew television and radio channels integrate Arab citizens of the state, their number does not represent their share of the population at all. The Israeli Arab stars are young people from Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, who appear in regional musical competitions, while the Israeli-speaking Israeli reality show create role models for Jewish youth, and only for them. Allowing the establishment of Arabic-language educational institutions at the time of the establishment of the state expressed, among other things, the willingness to allow pluralism and make space for the other and those that are different. This willingness has diminished and has over the years become one that intensifies the gaps. In the absence of proactive systematic steps that will lead to the integration of the worlds, the gaps will only continue to deepen in the consciousness, emotional and cultural sphere. On the other hand, if an elected Jewish official shows desire to bring maximum integration of Israeli Arabs into Israeli society, and dares to declare that within a few years, in all the kindergartens and schools in Arab society, the language of instruction of all subjects - excluding religious classes and Arabic language - will be Hebrew, then without a doubt, an uprising will be felt. More than a few voices in Arab society will cry out that it is discrimination and an attempt to push aside Arab culture and language beyond recognition. The answer, then, must be gradual and integrated. To close the gaps we must learn the other's language: Jewish youth must learn Arabic and Arabic culture through Arab teachers and teachers. This is how the Jewish students will benefit doubly: the content will equip them with another important language, and the encounter with the Arab teachers will enable them to become acquainted with the “Other,” one who will serve as a positive role model. At the same time, young Arabs will learn Hebrew through Jewish teachers, as part of implementing a comprehensive national program to enhance knowledge and command of the Hebrew language. Thus, within a few years, the Arab students will find themselves at a much better starting point for a more complete and correct integration into Israeli society. Language is undoubtedly a major tool for integrating, expanding horizons and diversifying opportunities for suitable employment. Studies indicate that language is the main barrier of Arab society in terms of employment. The lack of good command of the language does not allow Arab young people to present themselves and express themselves optimally to potential Jewish employers. Thus, their chances of being accepted into workplaces in general and the public sector in particular are significantly reduced. Giving this population easier access to the Hebrew language is key to lowering unemployment rates and increasing labor productivity, and in many cases to reducing the phenomenon of black market employment, which is often happens when people have no choice.
Iraq knows it's turning into a battlefield for the U.S. and Iran, but its hands are tied (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) In the wake of Soleimani's killing and the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner, Iran is on the defensive. Now the main question is how much control it has over Iraqi proxies.
Don't be fooled by Iran's low-key revenge for Soleimani (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) It would be wrong to consider the Islamic Republic weak or underestimate its military strength - its supreme leader made a calculated choice not to put Trump's resolve to the test this time.
Iran retaliated. Now may come the covert proxy revenge (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Qassem Soleimani wasn't the only high-profile target assassinated by the U.S.
At least in Israel, unlike the United States, the opposition remains patriotic (Prof. Arieh Eldad, Maariv) The Democratic Party's response to Soleimani's assassination has shown that in comparison to the polarization and division in the US, our situation is much better. Our opposition is still patriotic. Kahol-Lavan welcomed the elimination of the jihad commander. Gantz was updated before the action. He, as well as (fellow party leaders) Yair Lapid, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya'alon, praised the action. Amir Peretz (Labor party), too. Only Meretz's left rear criticized it. Even if not for the assassination itself, but for its timing, which was intended to serve Netanyahu's political interests. Only the collaborators of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, Aida Toma Sliman and Ofer Kassif, strongly condemned the assassination itself, saying it was meant to distance peace, bring war and deepen the occupation. Kassif wrote that it was an act of "killing, destroying and growls of war. The bloodshed - is in Netanyahu's head."
After Soleimani: Maintain the Pressure on Iran's Nuclear Project (Dr. Eran Lerman, Israel Hayom) A firm stand at this critical juncture may prove to be of use as part of the effort to bring Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table on terms more acceptable to the US and to Trump's regional allies, including Israel.
Hezbollah’s Revenge: Can Iran’s Powerful Proxy Retaliate for Soleimani Without Destroying Lebanon? (David Daoud, Haaretz+) As Iran’s most prominent, powerful proxy, Hezbollah is committed to avenging Qassem Soleimani’s death. But the Party of God can't risk inviting the kind of U.S. retaliation that would push Lebanon over the edge.
The perverse Western mourning for Soleimani (Melanie Phillips, Israel Hayom) In this upside-down moral universe, genocidal fanatics, whose dissembling enables liberals to take refuge in the fantasy of a trouble-free solution, must be negotiated with and appeased.
Suleimani's assassination is a negligible tactical event: the Middle East will bleed without him, too (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Despite the revelations in Iran and the strange enthusiasm in Israel, the elimination of the Qods Force commander is a marginal tactical change, and the intriguing question is whether the elimination will increase or weaken the removal of US forces from the Middle East.
Why Israel’s New Laser Interceptor Could Be a Game Changer (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The clues lie in the Defense Ministry’s uncharacteristic optimism.
The legal threat posed by The Hague is real (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) The implications of a potential International Criminal Court war crimes investigation against Israel cannot be discounted. It is time to take real action.
The hypocrisy of those who seek to boycott Israel (Justine Murray, Israel Hayom) The self-proclaimed "academics" behind the BDS movement described their proposal as a defense of academic freedom, yet the resolution proposed ending the freedoms of academics from Israel.
Minister of Ignorance (Haaretz Editorial) The remarks of Education Minister Rafi Peretz as reported in Yedioth Ahronoth Friday are another sad reminder of the moral nadir of the person entrusted by Israel’s government to oversee the country’s education system. He displayed a rare combination of ignorance and religious chauvinism on myriad topics — from proposals to introduce apartheid after annexing the territories, the defense of the electoral alliance with the racist Kahanists and the utter rejection of the LGBT community, to opposition to women serving in combat.

Elections 2019/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu’s Latest Ploy Against the Justice System: Bash the Knesset’s Legal Adviser (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Paradoxically, a lifting of Bibi’s immunity from prosecution may help him in the election. Meanwhile, the political maneuvering on the left almost makes the right seem like softies.
The precedent that requires that opposition members stop the chatter (Adv. Yechiel Gutman, Maariv) Binyamin Netanyahu crossed the Rubicon for immunity. In a similar case in the past, Knesset members have been warned about making public statements that have a clear opinion before a hearing is held. Please note, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid…The institution of immunity was born in England in the 14th century, when one of the MPs came up with a bill that offended the king, and he was therefore sentenced to the death penalty. Parliament pressed to cancel the sentence, the sentence was abolished and, following the case, it was held that as long as a Member of Parliament was acting within his capacity, the King had no authority to take punitive measures against him. Since then, a lot of water has flowed into the Thames, and many democratic countries have adopted the English approach. Some, including Israel, took another step and established "procedural" immunity in favor of a Knesset member, even in connection with offenses unrelated to the performance of his duties. In the explanation of Israeli law, which was enacted as early as the 1950s, a Knesset member on behalf of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee gave an example. She argued that if a Knesset is going to hold a critical vote that will change the image of the State of Israel, and an opposition Knesset member is just making his way from Tel Aviv to the Knesset residence in Jerusalem to vote, there is at least theoretical concern that a traffic policeman sent by the government will stop him on the road for a traffic violation unrelated to his role, thus preventing his participation in the vote, and perhaps also prevent the decision from being made. The law then stipulated that immunity is granted automatically and the Attorney General may ask the Knesset committee to remove it. In 2005, the law was amended to stipulate that immunity is not granted automatically. If a Knesset member wants it, he must request the immunity from the Knesset committee and from the Knesset. In addition, the legislature then determined the grounds for obtaining immunity. I do not know of a case in which the head of the executive branch of any democratic state sought immunity, as opposed to non-democratic states where totalitarian rulers also sought immunity for serious crimes committed during their term, or earlier. The prime minister claimed he was framed. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblitt rejected his remarks, and even emphasized that during Netanyahu’s hearing such a claim was never raised. Netanyahu took a considerable risk when he decided to apply for immunity, and only the future will prove whether the risk was worthwhile. The mere request of immunity may harm him politically, because in this way he is seen by many as clinging to the "altar horns" to avert himself from the terror of the law. In addition, at least in the current Knesset - and according to the next Knesset polls - he will not have a majority for the request for immunity. So even moreso after he explicitly pledged to the television cameras he would not deal with the immunity issue. It appears he violated his commitment. The request for immunity begins with a quasi-judicial proceeding in the Knesset Committee, which, for that matter, meets to discuss the Knesset Member's request and constitutes a type of court. The Knesset member must state in his application what are the reasons why he is seeking immunity and he may be assisted by lawyers who will present his position. The procedure is similar to the US Senate hearing on the impeachment of the president, but in Israel the person leading the debate is not the High Court president like in the United States, but the chairman of the Knesset committee. Members of the Knesset are required to act as judges and to listen carefully to the reasons and decide on the merits of the matter, and not according to their political view, with all the difficulties involved - and the difficulty exists. Unlike the court, at the Knesset committee hearing it is customary that there are no witnesses and no interrogation of witnesses. Netanyahu's lawyers have asked for a witness to the Knesset committee, but Attorney General Mandelblit rejected their request. Most of the Knesset committees were not formed because of the current Knesset's provisional elections and the March elections. Now the Kahol-Lavan party is seeking to establish the Knesset committee so that Netanyahu's immunity - and that of former Welfare Minister Haim Katz - will not pass to the next Knesset, but will be decided in this Knesset. But it's not that simple. First, because for that matter, the approval of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who is the prime minister's faction, is required. He certainly has no interest in discussing Netanyahu's immunity at this stage. His opposition, if any, could be overcome by a petition to the High Court or by replacing him, as Kahol-Lavan has threatened. In addition, the opinion of the Knesset Legal Advisor, Eyal Yinon, is also required on whether it is appropriate and proper to discuss Netanyahu's immunity in the fully functioning Knesset. Incidentally, the opinion of the Knesset Legal Advisor, whatever the case, may be appealed to the High Court, and the court's decision on this matter will be final and binding. In the meantime, the Knesset Legal Advisor’s opinion is that there is no impetus to form the Knesset Committee now. To that end, it also relies on the language of the law, which states that the hearing on immunity will be held as soon as possible. The opinion sparked significant criticism of Yinon, allegedly for a conflict of interest (his spouse is a senior attorney in the Netanyahu case). Although in the procedural question there is no conflict of interest. If, however, a decision comes to discuss Netanyahu's immunity in the current Knesset, the Knesset will probably not grant it to him, and then his gamble will have failed. If the prime minister, through various measures, succeeds in postponing the hearing on immunity until after the upcoming elections and the establishment of the next Knesset, and if he can achieve a majority after the next election, then the risk he took for himself was worthwhile. time will tell. It is worth noting that when the Knesset Committee members come to apply for immunity, they act as a tribunal and apply the rules accordingly. In 1993, MK Raphael Pinchasi of the Shas party sought immunity in connection with an indictment filed against him, but the Knesset committee refused to grant him his request. He appealed to the High Court on the grounds that the Knesset Committee made a political and non-judicial decision. Chief Justice Prof. Aharon Barak ruled in his favor and the Knesset committee's decision was overturned. In the High Court, members of the Knesset were warned against making public statements that expressed a clear opinion (on the issue) before the hearing was held. Knesset members from the various factions, especially members of Kahol-Lavan and Yisrael Beiteinu, should take note of this High Court ruling, because general statement, according to which the entire faction will vote against granting immunity seem to indicate a political decision rather than a legal decision.
The Target Bank of Likud (
Friday Haaretz Editorial) Make no mistake: The reason Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon found himself in Likud’s target bank was the professional opinion he submitted saying there was no impediment to forming a committee to discuss Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution, despite the Knesset’s being in a pre-election recess. The prime minister and his allies in Likud understood full well that after Avigdor Lieberman announced that the legislators of his Yisrael Beiteinu party would “vote unanimously against immunity for Netanyahu,” if the committee were to be convened the immunity request would fail for lack of support from a majority of panel members. And what’s the point of the Knesset House Committee if Likud doesn’t control it?
'The prosecutors are reinterpreting the law' (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's younger brother Iddo, a doctor and playwright, speaks to Israel Hayom about how the wrongs being done to his brother have wronged Israeli society as a whole.
 
Interviews:
Israel’s Top Arab Politician: Gantz's Party Wanted to Treat Us Like a Mistress
Ayman Odeh tells Haaretz why his photo with Benny Gantz was historic, why his most important message is unity on the whole left, and whether he’ll ever establish a truly Jewish-Arab party. (Interviewed by Ravit Hecht in Haaretz+)

'The prosecutors are reinterpreting the law'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's younger brother Iddo, a doctor and playwright, speaks to Israel Hayom about how the wrongs being done to his brother have wronged Israeli society as a whole. (Interviewed by  Amnon Lord in Israel Hayom)

Merge, Rejuvenate or Desist: How to Save the Israeli Left
Veterans of the Israeli left lay out what they believe would save it. So why does the coming March election spell trouble? (Interviewed by Ravit Hecht in Haaretz+)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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