News Nosh 1.15.20

APN's daily news review from Israel

Wednesday January 15, 2020

Quote of the day:
“I expect the state authorities in the area, both the army and the Civil Administration, to treat Palestinians, especially those who are innocent of any crime, as they would Israelis who are injured parties. I expect that after [the authorities] are forced to damage businesses, they act fairly when considering the compensation due them and not try to evade responsibility using creative legal arguments.”
--Military Judge Ronen Atzmon wrote in an unusual ruling because it awarded compensation to the plaintiffs — Palestinians whose plant nurseries were needlessly destroyed by Israeli soldiers in 2000, during the Second intifada.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"The charges against Netanyahu are much more serious. If Netanyahu can [run for Knesset], so can we."
—Gali Silver, wife of Amos Silver who is in jail on drug trafficking charges for running Telegrass, an online illegal Israeli cannabis and drug distribution network. Amos registered the New Economic Dawn party from jail on Tuesday.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Netanyahu’s threat to (Defense Minister) Bennett: Unite (with right-wing parties) or you will be fired - Tonight the (party) lists close: Last effort to prevent division in right-wing (Hebrew)
  • Alone at the top - Kochavi closes a stormy year as IDF Chief of Staff - under a PM who is busy with elections and indictments, most of the time without a defense minister and without an elected Knesset that will approve his multi-annual plan // Yossi Yehoshua (Hebrew)
  • 50 year anniversary of the death of (national poet) Lea Goldberg
  • Likely: Indictment against (Likud MK and Netanyahu loyalist) David Biton before the elections (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Against a united left-wing, the right-wing must unite // Amnon Lord
  • Drama ahead of the closing of the party lists: Heavy pressure on the right-wing parties to unite
  • “High chance of deterioration to war on the northern front”
  • Between a stormy right-wing and a burning left-wing, Speaker of Knesset Edelstein remains stately // Ariel Kahane
  • The right-wing’s present to Benny Gantz: Four mandates will be thrown away // Sofi Ron-Moriah
  • Europe against Iran: “We will join Trump”
  • The strange revenge against Bar Refaeli
  • Testimonies you never heard: National Library will publish stories of immigrants from Muslim countries

Top News Summary:
Election news vied with Iran-related news for the top stories of today's Hebrew newspapers. The IDF published its 2020 report, saying that Iran will have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb by the end of this year, although it doesn't have a missile capable of carrying it, but also said that chances for war on the northern front with Hezbollah are low.

Israeli election news continued to vie with Iran-related news for the top stories of today's Hebrew newspapers. The IDF Intel published its 2020 report, saying that Iran will have enough enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb within two years, although it doesn't have a missile capable of carrying one, and it also said that chances for war on the northern front with Hezbollah are low and that the West Bank could become a new threat following Palestinian elections. More here.

Coincidentally, or possibly not, France, Britain and Germany triggered the dispute mechanism of the Iran nuclear deal and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that a new 'Trump deal' can replace the Iran nuclear agreement. The European powers said they made the move to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation being added to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East.
At the same time, IDF Intel officials told Haaretz that the army sees an opportunity to increase attacks against Iran and Hezbollah. Coincidentally, or not, Syria said the Israeli Army struck theT-4 air base in Homs. Israel did not comment. And in Iraq, rockets were fired at an Iraqi Base hosting US troops last night, but there were no casualties reported.

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment News:
Fearing that right-wing parties won’t make the minimum threshold to enter Knesset, Israeli prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatened he would fire Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, co-leader of the New Right party, as well as Education Minster Rafi Peretz, the head of Haybait Hayehudi party if the right-wing parties did not merge. It seemed to have an effect. Bennett's party merged with far-right-wing Ichud Leumi party led by Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich. (Maariv) However, Bennett drew the line about merging with Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzma Yehudit): ”Running with him will be damage for generation to comes." (Yedioth Hebrew) Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) also had problems with merging with Otzma Yehudit. The initiative was so controversial that a fist fight broke out at the Habayit Hayehudi rally between those who approved merging with Otzma Yehudit, headed by Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, and those who opposed it. The central committees of both Labor and Meretz parties voted to approve the merger. But, the Arab members of those two parties felt left out without a single Arab representative in the top 10 spots of the merger.

**All the parties have till 10:00 pm tonight to submit their party lists. Already two newly registered parties have raised some eyebrows. Amos Silver registered the New Economic Dawn party from jail on Tuesday. Silver is in jail on drug trafficking charges for running Telegrass, an online illegal Israeli cannabis and drug distribution network,
His wife said she didn't see a problem with her husband running for office while being on trial for drug trafficking. "f Netanyahu can, so can we."  And the wife of Yitzhak Rabin's assassin also registered a party. Larissa Trimbobler-Amir, wife of Yigal Amir, established a party in a bid to get a retrial for her jailed husband.

Quick Hits:
  • Senior Hamas official: "If prisoners are exchanged with Israel - we will demand the release of Marwan Barghouti" - Soheil al-Hindi emphasized that his organization places the Fatah Central Committee member at the top of the list of prisoners whose release is required. "Hamas wants Barghouti to lead the national project alongside other Palestinian factions and leaders. Everyone knows Barghouti's weight, so we see it as important that he be at the top of the list of prisoners who will be released as part of the deal,” he said, adding that Ahmed Saadat, head of the PFLP, and others will also be. Al-Hindi reiterated the importance of holding the Palestinian elections, reiterating the position of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: "Hamas and other Palestinian factions say that there is no election without Jerusalem, but that Israeli occupation forces us [not to hold it in E. Jerusalem - OH] and puts us in a corner. We will not accept this, and we cannot ask for permission from our enemy, so Jerusalem must be a site of political and popular clash with the occupation. This is how the elections in Jerusalem should be held." (Maariv)
  • 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)
  • The government Registrar of NGOs and charities has announced to the right-wing NGO, Ateret Cohanim, it will consider dissolving the NGO due to its lack of transparency - The Registrar announced that the case was passed for examination by the Enforcement Unit, as no financial reports and protocols had been submitted for over a year.  The NGO, one of the most important settler organizations for Judaizing East Jerusalem, rejects the claims. Ateret Hacohanim has settled about 1000 Jews in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, it bought two buildings at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate through a straw company, as a result of which the Greek Patriarch was removed from office. It established the illegal Beit Yonatan housing 10 Jewish families in the center of Silwan neighborhood, it acted to remove 70 Palestinian families from Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan. Meanwhile, Ateret Cohanim received a good news for it last week: The Jerusalem District Court reversed its previous decision and restored the ownership of two hotels at Jaffa Gate to Ateret Hacohanim - so the association can now continue its efforts to evict the Palestinian tenants who operate them. It was determined that at the same time, that the court would consider the Patriarchate’s request to open the case in order to cancel the sale. (Haaretz Hebrew+)
  • Court to hear Amnesty bid to revoke NSO export license - Organization claims NSO profits from spyware being used to abuse activists; Defense Ministry refuses to conduct open court debate, citing security concerns. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Bar Refaeli to Do Community Service, Mother to Go to Jail in Proposed Plea Bargain - Could Bar avoid being behind bars? The supermodel and her parents are suspected of tax evasion and perjury over the concealment of about 30 million shekels ($8.6 million) in income. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Court Stalls Case of Accused Sex Offender Malka Leifer - Hearings on psychological evaluation expected to take place in February or March, further delaying a possible decision on extraditing Leifer to Australia for trial. (Haaretz+)
  • Private school teacher fired for anti-Israel posts, obscene gesture at rabbis - In response to the Fieldston school inviting two pro-Israel rabbis to speak at an assembly on anti-Semitism, history teacher J.B. Brager, who is Jewish, accused Israel of exemplifying “ethno-nationalist settler colonialism.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Syrian official gave US intel on Soleimani whereabouts - A senior Western intelligence official told “The Independent” Arabic edition that the Syrian official, who has been in contact with the Americans for a long time, had set a condition that the Americans would not assassinate Soleimani in Syria. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Iran's president says downing Ukrainian plane an 'unforgivable error' - Judiciary spokesman says several people arrested for their role in the crash, which led to anti-government protests. (Haaretz)
  • Iran announces arrests over downing of passenger jet that killed 176 - Announcement comes amid upsurge of anger and protests by Iranians in recent days over the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which was hit by an Iranian missile shortly after takeoff in Tehran last Wednesday, and apparent attempts by senior regime officials to cover up cause of crash. (Ynet)
  • Art of protest - Assistance from unexpected protesters in Iran: More and more intellectuals, media and cultural people are announcing that they support protests against the regime. The climax was yesterday when a state television announcer announced live that she was joining the masses.  Golar Jabari, a veteran narrator on Iranian state television, and Faiza Rafsanjani, the daughter of former president Hashmi Rafsanjani are among them. The administration arrested suspects of downing the Ukrainian plane. (Ynet)
  • “We hope for help from Israel": The surprising messages from Iranians demonstrating in the streets - Israeli media outlets that broadcast in Persian language talk about the voices coming to them from Iranian society these days: in conversations, on WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. "One can say that the Iranian people are in tremendous mourning," says Shirley Shamsian, who runs two Facebook pages in the Persian language and was a broadcaster on (Israeli) Persian radio and television. “When they killed Soleimani, the regime declared three days of mourning with force and coercion, but this time the people decided on a week, which came from the hearts of the civilians. The Iranian people are really sad. I feel it in talking, in conversatiosn with me, and in social networking posts. The main message of this protest is that Soleimani was murdered, and that his leader Khamenei is a traitor and must resign.” (Maariv)
  • Turkish, Syrian Intelligence Chiefs Hold Rare Meeting in Moscow - This is the first confirmed high-level meeting between the two countries, with potential joint action against YPG reportedly on the agenda. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanon Protests Turn Violent Outside Central Bank - Demonstrators resort to blocking roads around capital to express impatience at ruling elite they say has failed to address the economy's downward spiral. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)

Security Revolution in East Jerusalem: Israel Opens Community Police Station in Tense Palestinian Neighborhood
A more aggressive policing by Israeli authorities is being replaced by community policing carried out by officers who are becoming familiar with the neighborhood. On Sunday, the Israel Police community policing station was officially opened in Sur Baher at an integrated community service center that also has other government services, including emergency medical services, an office of the Population and Immigration Authority and a Border Police station. The station also serves the function of unifying the city, said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Police Superintendent Guy Gilboa is the commander of the new station. He actually established it two and a half years ago, but it was housed in a temporary facility until this week. Gilboa and his six officers have begun circulating in the village in an effort to solve problems. “I’ve gone from door to door, from shop to shop, asking people what was bothering them. The combined community service center in Sur Baher is one of five in East Jerusalem. The others are in the Shoafat refugee camp and in Silwan, Beit Hanina and Isawiyah. The new stations in Palestinian neighborhoods organize Hebrew lessons and student driving courses. They visit schools and intervene with municipal authorities to facilitate getting services provided to the neighborhoods. In two and a half years, we’ve had [just] three stones thrown at us. I walk everywhere in my blue dress uniform, without a bullet-proof vest or rifle.” (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)
Worthless stone
Stone terror and incendiary bottles have long since become the daily reality of Judea and Samaria (West Bank Jewish) residents.  The reality of stone throwing on Judea and Samaria roads has been familiar to the settlers for many years. Those who travel in these areas for a time can hardly miss one or a few stones thrown at or near it, and the residents are helpless. But despite many complaints being filed, quite a few cases are closed without indictments - simply because of lack of coordination between authorities, and even when in many cases the offenders are in the hands of security forces. Police: "Every complaint received is investigated and taken care of thoroughly for the purpose of reaching the truth.” (Elisha Ben Kimon, Yedioth Hebrew)
It's Not Just the Love of Barbecue That Unites Jews and Arabs at This Israeli Market
There's no talking politics at the Kafr Qasem market. (Ronit Vered, Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
The union on the left will allow them to get more seats than the sum of their parts (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) In this way, our political landscape and values have been were saved from  disappearance of the only two liberal and ideological parties: the Labor Party, which established the state, and Meretz, the essence of the progressive and honest left-wing.
By Releasing Peace Plan Before Election, Trump Would Throw Stink Bomb at Israeli Democracy (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Such gross intervention, clearly timed to help Netanyahu, would make Russia’s 2016 meddling seem like child’s play.
Parties horse trade, fight and unite as deadline looms for election submissions (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Political pacts are made and broken with factions seeking to ensure their spot in the next parliament as Israel goes to the polls for the third time in a 12-month period, and while the left coalesces around Labor, the smaller parties to the right of Likud have found unity a challenge.
How the Star of Israeli Left-winger Stav Shaffir Burned Out (Jonathan Lis, Haaretz+) She started out as a promising new face in Labor and snagged the second spot on Democratic Union's slate. But now that the left has merged, Stav is left out of the game.
The 'year of 3 elections' has changed us, and not for the better (Nadav Shragai, Haaretz+) It often seems as if the Jewish people have stopped acting as a collective, and that huge groups are showing more loyalty to themselves than to Israel as a whole.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Why the Late Sultan of Oman Was So Determined to Befriend Israel (Sigurd Neubauer, Haaretz+) Through thick and thin – intifadas, peace agreements, Arab boycotts, protests and Iran - Qaboos Al Said, who died this week, built and deepened ties with the Jewish state.
The duplicity of Western progressives (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) They claim to support human rights yet are quick to slam Israel and now have turned their backs on the brave protesters who have risked their lives to publicly demonstrate against the black-hearted regime in Tehran.
*Your Honor, You Went Too Far! You Awarded Damages to Palestinians (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) “I expect the state authorities in the area, both the army and the Civil Administration, to treat Palestinians, especially those who are innocent of any crime, as they would Israelis who are injured parties. I expect that after [the authorities] are forced to damage businesses, they act fairly when considering the compensation due them and not try to evade responsibility using creative legal arguments.” So wrote Military Judge Ronen Atzmon in awarding plaintiffs — Palestinians whose plant nurseries were needlessly destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces in 2000, during the second intifada — some 3 million shekels ($865,000), a sum that with interest and inflation linkage differentials is likely to reach seven million shekels. It’s been more than 19 years since the army’s rampage at the greenhouses near Qalqilyah, 18 years since the first suit was filed and about a decade since a district court ruled that the IDF’s excuse, according to which the damage was incurred in the course of “warfare activity” (and that as a result the government is exempt from paying damages), does not hold. The plaintiffs surely deserve a medal for their patience and their resolve. Thousands of Palestinians who have suffered damages from the IDF’s non-wartime activities gave up on appealing to the courts in the first place, settling in the best case for the crumbs offered by the Civil Administration by way of compensation.
When co-existence rears its beautiful head (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) For the residents of the Galilee, Jews and Arabs alike, there was nothing strange during last week's floods about an Arab rescuing a Jew or vice versa.
Israeli Army Sees Chance to Escalate Attacks Against Iran and Its Allies (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Intelligence officials admit that given the current pace of events in the region, it is impossible to provide a precise forecast regarding chances of war.
A year in the eye of the storm (Yossi Yehoshua, Yedioth Hebrew) Almost a war against Hezbollah. Foreign reports on Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Iraq. And two rounds of fighting in Gaza that announced the return of counterterrorism policy. In his first year as IDF chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi spent most of his time without a defense minister and with a prime minister immersed in three electoral campaigns and three criminal cases, without a functioning government to approve his multi-year plan that is so important to building the military's strength for the next decade, and especially alone in making real-time, super-dramatic operational decisions.  As he leads the long-term agreement with Hamas, the chief of staff mostly needs approval of a budget that will allow him to withstand the most important test - The IDF's readiness for the next war…
Iran, Wannabe Regional Hegemon on the Cheap (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Its economy is too small and its technology not advanced enough to support its leaders' ambitions. If Tehran didn’t realize it before, now it knows.
The Europeans have a chance to save face (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) If the Europeans don’t want to go down in history as “willing collaborators” with the ayatollah regime, they need to join the US in applying draconian sanctions and preparing for war.
We need to get the Qataris out of here, and fast (Ronit Marzan, Haaretz+) To become a leading country, Qatari Emir Hamad Al Thani, followed by his son Tamim, decided to anaesthetize rival Arab leaders and undermine them quietly until it can oust and replace them with friendlier, more cooperative Islamist rulers. By persuading Meshal to draft a new political document more moderate than Hamas’ charter and launch it in Doha, trying to mediate between Fatah and Hamas, funding projects in Gaza and giving money to its poor and unemployed, curtailing Gaza’s “March of Return” protests to the necessary minimum and encouraging young Palestinians to adopt a language of human rights and broadcast their suffering in Hebrew and English – for instance, through the website “We Are Not Numbers” – the emir hoped to save his ally Hamas and make Israelis, Americans, Europeans and even the hated Egyptians view it as a legitimate political player equal to the Palestinian Authority. Israel was convinced; it lets Qatari envoy Al-Emadi act as Gaza’s “Uncle Sam” and helps him reduce public anger at Hamas and preserve its rule. America was convinced; it lets Qatar replace it in funding UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Egypt was convinced, through lack of choice; it lets Haniyeh go to Qatar. But when you examine the words and deeds of Qatari officials in depth, the impression you get is that Qatar doesn’t really intend to make peace between Hamas and the PA, between Israel and the Palestinians or between Egypt and the Palestinians.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.