News Nosh 12.14.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday January 14, 2020

 
Number of the day:
500.
--Number of Bedouin elementary school students without running water at Tel Arad Elementary School in the Negev.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Union against immunity
  • Affair of the ultra-Orthodox cult: The abusive rabbi was arrested
Israel Hayom

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Israel’s two left-wing Zionist parties unite and a Knesset committee approves forming a separate committee to vote on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s immunity request making the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers alongside the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox cult leader who abused women and children and the attempted cover up by the Israel Air Force of its negligence in preparing for the storm, which ended up damaging fighter jets at the cost of hundreds of millions of shekels.

The Likud MKs put up a fight in the Knesset Committee, doing their best to delay the vote, if not cancel it, so that Netanyahu’s immunity request won’t be discussed - as he is not expected to get it when it is put up for a vote. But the Knesset plenum must vote in favor of the new committee.

The Labor party, which once established the state and governed it for many years, entered into a joint political list with the Meretz party in order that both of them make it across the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset. All parties have till 10PM Wednesday to submit the members of their lists. In an apparent jab at Kahol-Lavan party, Meretz party leader Nizan Horowitz said, “Those who want to vote for the right-wing can vote for Likud or Kahol Lavan. Those who want to want left have one choice.”


Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • Gantz, Netanyahu at a Tie in Poll Asking Israelis Who Is Best Fit for PM Ahead of Election - Kahol Lavan remains largest party, newly-merged Labor-Gesher projected to get nine Knesset seats in Channel 12 News election poll. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Bennett, Shaked Announce They Won't Merge With Other Right-wing Parties Ahead of Israeli Election - The defense minister and former justice minister are opting to run in the Knesset election alone as Hayamin Hehadash. (Haaretz+)
  • Trump officials hint peace plan may come out during Israel's election campaign - Publication of the Trump administration's plan ahead of the March 2 vote could aid Netanyahu's campaign in Israel's contentious third election within a year. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Beleaguered Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, to Withdraw From Public Life - 'He is not going to be a member of Knesset or hold any political office. He wants to be with his family and grandchildren,' his spokesperson says. (Haaretz)



Quick Hits:

  • Pressured by Far Right, Israel's Bar Association Sanctions Attorney Defending Palestinians - Lea Tsemel, whose work representing Palestinian terror suspects was documented in a film that sparked controversy, loses post as head of military tribunals committee. (Haaretz+)
  • Five states have expressed support for Israel's position in the Hague prosecutor's decision - The US, Canada, Australia and Germany are among the countries that oppose opening an investigation against senior officials in the country. (Maariv)
  • *500 (Bedouin) students without running water at Tel Arad Elementary School in the Negev - Hundreds of children attend school in a building without access to water. Students’ parents say: "We are a bargaining chip for internal struggles in the town council. The state needs to take care of our children.” (Maariv)
  • Bedouin Leaders Reach Deal With Israel's Education Ministry to Ensure 'Proper School System' - Planned strike called off after funding was secured for 19,000 students in villages in Israel's south that Israel does not recognize. According to the deal between the al-Kasom Regional Council in the Negev and the Education Ministry, the council will receive 18.25 million shekels ($5.26 million) a year for the next two years, as well as a one-time grant of 15 million shekels. (Haaretz+)
  • Air Force officer: Flooded fighter jets should have been moved - Local council pleaded with Israel Air Force in 2013 to help fund new drainage system, but only partial, inadequate repairs made; airman says floods overwhelmed hangars holding eight F-16s at Hatzor Airbase within minutes; 'Every time a lake floods our base is in danger,' he says. (Ynet)
  • Report: Israel to use EU funding to build natural gas pipeline for Gaza - The project is designed to alleviate the energy crisis in the coastal enclave. Planned pipeline slated to supply the coastal enclave with up to 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. (Israel Hayom)
  • Settlement Between Haaretz and Anat Kamm: Her Suit Is Dismissed, Paper to Share in Her Legal Expenses - The settlement, which has been approved by the Supreme Court, vacates a judgment in favor of Kamm, who alleged that Haaretz and journalist Uri Blau had violated their duty of care to her as a news source. (Haaretz+ and News1)
  • King Abdullah: "There is rhetoric in Israel that sparks massive resistance in the Middle East" - Jordan's King Abdullah admits that in the past year there has been a kind of break in Israel-Jordan relations following the successive elections in Israel. In an interview with France 24 News, the king says that statements made by Israeli politicians about the future of Judea and Samaria are causing the relationship to deteriorate. Abdullah also addressed President Donald Trump's peace plan, saying he was waiting for it to be published and then "we will have to see how Israel and the Palestinians are getting closer." On Israeli statements about the annexation of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Jordan Valley, he said: "These are pre-election statements that cast doubt on the intentions of certain politicians…Jordan is still committed to peace with Israel. This is a very important element of stability in the Middle East." (Maariv)
  • Jordanian king views Trump Mideast peace plan in 'glass half-full' light - "He understands what needs to be done to get the Israelis and the Palestinians closer together," King Abdullah says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Sentenced in Jordan to Four Months in Prison for Drug Possession - 35-year-old man illegally crossed into Jordan and wrongly claimed that having a small amount of marijuana was legal in Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Watch: Israeli-made missile destroys tank - Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' Spike SR can be fired by infantry troops within six seconds of being powered up and has a range of up to 4,900 feet. (Israel Hayom)
  • Jerusalem cult leader arrested on suspicion he enslaved, sexually abused women and children - The suspect allegedly controlled every aspect of the lives of the dozens of women who resided with him at a religious seminary in a compound located in the capital. (Haaretz+)
  • 2020 Wolf Prize Laureates Include Pioneers of Gene-editing Tool - Nine winners from six counties are among the recipients of the prestigious international prize awarded in Israel in the fields of science and art. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • 'I never thought I would see this in my lifetime' - As Saudi Arabia opens its doors to tourists for the first time, i24NEWS correspondent Henrique Cymerman visits the kingdom and reports back on how it is changing. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hezbollah says payback for US killing top Iranian general 'has just begun' - “We are speaking about the start of a phase, about a new battle, about a new era in the region," says Hassan Nasrallah. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Imminent Threat From Soleimani 'Doesn't Really Matter,' Trump Says - Trump said Friday that Iran had been poised to attack four American embassies however, Esper said he didn't see specific evidence of such plans. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran: Police reportedly open fire as protesters chant 'Death to the dictator!' - "They killed our elites and replaced them with clerics," scores of protesters chant after the downing of the plane carrying 176 people, some them Iranian students. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran May Fire at Protesters Now, but Clampdown on Demonstrations Has Been Going on for Decades - From the 1979 Islamic Revolution to ongoing uproar over the downing of the Ukrainian jetliner, the regime has long used deadly force to crack down on protesters. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'We don't want you to liberate Jerusalem for us,' Arab host slams Iranian guest - Watch viral video clip: Iranian guest getting slammed for suggesting Islamic republic should dominate the region. (Israel Hayom)
  • US Supreme Court throws out suit accusing Iran of funding terrorism - Lawsuit was revived after President Donald Trump signed legislation that removes hurdles for courts to seize assets held abroad. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Ousts 21 Saudi Military Personnel After Florida Killings Deemed 'Act of Terror' - AG William Barr says cadets will be 'disenrolled from their training curriculum' after an investigation found they either had child pornography or social media accounts containing Islamic extremist or anti-American content. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Labor-Meretz Merger: Once a Powerhouse, Israel's Founding Party Struggles to Survive (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Israel's Labor Party once dominated the Knesset, and its aim was to keep hold of and share its power. Now it's all about survival.
Who will fight for peace in Israel? (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) Left-wing parties Labor and Meretz have aligned and will pursue a socialist economic agenda that will not serve to attract any voters away from Likud or Blue & White.
The Israeli Right is on the precipice of defeat (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The Left, with support from the media and judiciary, is plowing ahead to victory while the Right is mired in division, indolence and self-pity.
Netanyahu's budget deficit problem (Roi Bergman, Yedioth/Ynet) Forget the opinions of professional bodies such as Finance Ministry and Bank of Israel or every money expert in Israel, the prime minister would much rather bury his head in the sand when it comes to the warnings of a looming economic crisis, so that he claim that all is well ahead of the upcoming elections.
Enough with the Trump-Netanyahu analogies (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Despite the superficial analogies between the two embattled leaders and allies, America is the nation grappling with a real political crisis, not Israel.
Don't want Arabs (Afif Abu Mukh, Yedioth Hebrew) After fortunately, Benny Gantz smiled quite a few times in the past during his military and political career, and he smiled again and brought a connection between the left-wing parties that Kahol-Lavan prayed and hoped for: a connection of the two parties left of his party, the Labor=Bridge party and the Joint List, thus ensuring that none of the center-left-Arab bloc lists - or by its other name, the "just not Bibi" bloc - would get stuck on the wrong side of the threshold.
The Israeli Left's Labor-Meretz Linkup: An Alliance Forged by Fear, Not Love (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The difficulty in forging a slate between people who have no fundamental differences of opinion show that culture wars and ethnic rifts still drive Israeli society.
Blue & White's campaign should focus on its leaders' military past (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet) The centrist party insists on focusing on Netanyahu's legal woes, which don't seem to deter his voters; it's time for the party's leaders to reevaluate their election campaign and pull their old uniforms out of the attic.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Lucky No One Blamed ‘Flood Terror’ (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Channel 20’s diplomatic analyst, Shimon Riklin, marveled at the beauty of nature in a tweet last week, in which he described, “The water rushing through the streams, the level of the Kinneret breaking records, and Israel being flooded with water as never before, to the degree that it’s giving it to the neighbors.” Riklin is known to be one of Netanyahu’s most fervent supporters, and such a tweet, coming from such a relentless promoter, signifies the disconnect between the leader and his circles, and the rest of the public. Instead of the leader going out to comfort his people, his minions implore the people to rejoice, and that the masses should speak of the beauty that floods the land of the forefathers. Riklin’s message was also that when faced with a natural disaster, one shouldn’t demonstrate panic or pain, or criticize the authorities’ failures.
Is the Mideast heading for an energy war? (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Once, most of the wars in the Middle East were about water, one way or another. Now natural gas – which could make us all rich – is staying in the seabed because of ego, politics, and greed.
Israeli Government Faces Crucial Decision on Reining in Natural Gas Cartel (Avi Bar-Eli, Haaretz+) At stake: the cost of living for ordinary Israelis, but also the ability of regulators to exercise control over the country’s natural gas industry.
Needed in Israel: CTRL-ALT-DELETE (B. Michael, Haaretz+) A week ago I was sitting and staring at the screen. Two people had drowned. They sunk to the depths in an elevator. Now, that’s backwards. You descend to the depths in a submarine, not in an elevator. And Nahariya had turned into a river (nahar in Hebrew), justifying its name. There was one death and people hurt. The political scene, however, was preoccupied with whether giving David Bitan the Agriculture Ministry was the right thing to do.
Enough of the Cover-up Culture (Haaretz Editorial) The damage caused by the flood last week at the Hatzor Air Force base, which did damage to eight F-16 fighter jets estimated at millions of shekels, is worrisome. Because of negligence, huge sums of public funds went down the drain and the army’s readiness was undermined, during a period more sensitive than usual from a security perspective given the tensions in the Persian Gulf. It’s especially unfortunate because this happened to the Israel Air Force, which is generally considered a “greenhouse” for quality management compared to what happens in other parts of the defense establishment. Nevertheless, the IDF did not report what happened to the pubic on its own initiative; the military censor delayed publication of the mainstream press reports until Sunday.
Taking out Soleimeini should never have been a question (Thane Rosenbaum, Israel Hayom) What more did the head of Iran's Quds Force have to do to merit an early demise? He surely knew that in his line of work, death by natural causes is a rare occurrence.
Feminism and the Army Don’t Mix, Even in Israel (Yagil Levy, Haaretz+) There is no feminist achievement here. And in welcoming the step, the Women’s Network was acknowledging the centrality of the army in determining the status of women in civil society. Not only is this centrality becoming less valid, but if this assessment is correct, that’s the target against which feminists should fight – instead of their reinforcing it. The demand for gender equality in the army must be based on the principle of the right to fill any position in the civil service – especially under a regime of compulsory service – without empowering the military.
The Russian angle: Soleimani's assassination has positive aspects for Moscow (Mickey Aaronson, Maariv) Despite the Russian public’s condemnation of the senior Iranian’s killing, the Kremlin has benefited from some of the consequences of the move: rising oil prices and delaying Tehran's buildup in Syria.
Where do we go from here with Iran? (Eric R. Mandel, Israel Hayom) We need to look at the new possibilities and perils in the era that follows the US killing of the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
 
Interviews:
Israel's 'Censor in Chief': The Activist Who Manages to Silence the Left
Shai Glick has used his keyboard and his connections to block performances and exhibitions in Israel. ‘When I silence Dareen Tatour, I’m fighting for human rights,’ he tells Haaretz. (Interviewed by Nirit Anderman in Haaretz+)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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