News Nosh 1.26.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday January 26, 2020

Quote of the Day #1:
“While the world is busy worrying about Trump's declarations and the administration's reactions, the situation on the ground is deteriorating, and the aggression and antagonism of the settlers are only getting stronger."
—Ghassan Douglass, who follows settler activities in the northern West Bank, said after settlers attack and injured a Palestinian father and son.*

Quote of the Day #2:
"Don't say I'm delusional. According to what's going on in the State of Israel, it can still happen, anything can happen. If Miri Regev is the Minister of Culture, Naftali Bennett is Minister of Defense, Amir Ohana is Minister of Justice and David Amsalem is Minister of Communications, then (Kahanist Itamar) Ben-Gvir and Trimbobler (wife of killer of Yitzhak Rabin) can integrate wonderfully around the government table."
--Maariv commentator and radio host, Natan Zahavi, wrote that he would not be surprised if two of the most extreme right-wing people running in the upcoming Israeli elections were to become part of the government.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Netanyahu and Gantz will meet with Trump separately
  • In the lion’s den // Sima Kadmon (Hebrew)
  • He got out of the trap // Ben-Dror Yemini (Hebrew)
  • Can’t miss it // Ifat Ehrlich
  • What happened at Soroka Hospital? Fourth doctor committed suicide within 1.5 years (Hebrew)
  • In the heart of scare over the Chinese virus - Yedioth correspondent reports from Shanghai (Hebrew)
  • All the fears // Nadav Eyal (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Going to the US: “An opportunity that must not be missed” - Netanyahu ahead of the presentation of the peace plan
  • Collapse of the concept // Dan Schueftan
  • Annexation is in the consensus, all that’s left is to implement it // Ariel Kahane
  • This time Gantz won’t be able to evade the decision // Mati Tuchfeld
  • The empty threats of the Palestinians // Daniel Sirioti
  • (Public Security Minister) Erdan: A decision must be made in the affair of the Mamad Hamishi - Erdan calls for Justice Ministry decision whether to open investigation regarding company Gantz served as chairman
  • There is a danger, there is no vaccine: The Chinese virus and you - questions and answers
  • Ready for Tokyo - Two Israeli judokas won gold medals six months before the Olympic games
  • Expose - The black list: “160 daycare workers with criminal records”
  • Researchers: “Recognize the survivors of the Farhud in Iraq as victims of the Nazis”

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Kahol-Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz surprised everyone by demanding and receiving a private meeting with US President Donald Trump to discuss Trump’s peace plan - separate from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s meeting, and while politicians and commentators agreed that Trump and Netanyahu were using Gantz’s visit to deflect attention from their own impeachment/immunity problems, the commentators argued about whether the ‘deal of the century’ - and specifically annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley - was “a historical opportunity that must not be passed up” or a catalyst for more problems. Meanwhile, it turns out Naama Issachar, the Israeli young woman imprisoned in Russia, never made a pardon request, which she will do now and will likely be released in a few weeks, while Israel fears that the Chinese Coronavirus will reach Israel - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Gantz and Netanyahu flew to Washington, D.C. today to meet Trump ahead of his release of his Mideast peace plan, which falls - possibly not so coincidentally - on the same day that the Knesset convenes to begin the debates over Netanyahu’s immunity request - something Netanyahu had hoped would be postponed till after elections. Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said Netanyahu was not traveling to the US, but rather “fleeing” the immunity discussions. And his party has submitted a bill proposal to annex the Jordan Valley, which could be approved with or without Gantz's Kahol-Lavan party.Yedioth’s diplomatic affairs correspondent wrote that Netanyahu already knew the details of the Trump plan in advance. The plan includes a Palestinian state with no military, no control of border or alliances, Israeli sovereignty over all but 15 settlements and over all of Jerusalem, all this is a complete reversal from the 2000 Clinton plan in 2000, Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner wrote. Trump said he knows the plan will not be received positively by the Palestinians, but insists that “it's actually very positive for them.” The Americans and Israelis are even working together to prevent expected fallout at the UN, Israel Hayom reported. US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft is postponing her visit this week to Israel and will remain with Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, in New York to work together to coordinate their responses to the various challenges expected to arise after the peace plan is published, the paper wrote. The chairman of Labor-Gesher-Meretz list, Amir Peretz, said,  "There is nothing serious about a political proposal a few weeks before the elections.” (Maariv) The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel and the US against 'crossing red lines' in the peace plan. A senior Palestinian source said the presentation of the peace plan now is meant to help Netanyahu with his elections, "we know when personal interests are at play," said the senior official.” Jordan’s Foreign Minister called annexation of parts of the West Bank “the elimination of the two-state solution.” (Maariv) But right-wing leaders insisted that any land given (back) to the Palestinians is unacceptable. And they are taking action. Samaria (settler) council chairman Yossi Dagan has also flown to the US to meet with Republican officials and evangelical leaders to express objection to the establishment of a Palestinian state. (Maariv)

In an interview on 103FM radio/Maariv with some right-wing journalists, Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom, the former head of the Mossad, said he opposes the annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley, Area C or any other area. "Every unilateral step only worsens the situation.” (See Interviews below.)

Other Top News Summary:
Worth noting, Maariv reported that the first indictments for negligent death on a construction site were not against the major building contractors and construction companies, which do not provide the safety measures at building sites, as a result of which so many laborers - most of them Palestinians - die - but rather against two Palestinian workers, an electrician and a crane signaller, who together operated the crane to move heavy electric equipment without authorization because the man authorized to tie the equipment up was absent - and accidentally caused the death of a Chinese worker. The reporter did not ask why the newly formed investigation unit chose to go after two employees first and not after the big companies, who are repeat offenders and who continue to risk human lives. And when the overwhelming majority of victims at construction sites are Palestinian and the investigation unit chooses to indict two Palestinian individuals, employees, and not the big Israeli companies responsible for almost all the deaths, then questions need to be asked.
Quick Hits:
  • **Two Palestinians Hospitalized After Attack by West Bank Settlers, NGO Says - Father and son who were working their lands were attacked with rocks and an iron rod by a group from the settlement of Rehelim, according to Yesh Din. Rahsaan Douglas, who follows the activities of settlers in the northern West Bank, said that another family had been attacked on Friday when they went to enjoy the nature near their village. (Haaretz+)
  • Mosque burned, vandalized in East Jerusalem hate crime - Graffitti on the Beit Safafa mosque read, "destroy for Jews?" referring to Israeli demolition of structures at the outpost, "destroy for enemies!" Graffitti also named the illegal outpost of "Kumi Ori" outside of the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank. Earlier Friday, 15 Palestinians were arrested on their way to prayer at the Temple Mount. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli High Court allows DNA testing to prove Judaism - Petition filed by Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beitenu and several individuals asking for the DNA testing to prove Judaism to be disallowed is struck down. (Haaretz+)
  • Eight-year-old Boy Drowns in Flooded Ditch in East Jerusalem - Three Palestinian were detained and 12 injured in clashes with Israel Police as hundreds searched for Qusai Abd Abu Ramileh in the Beit Hanina area (of E. Jerusalem). (Haaretz+VIDEO and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Drowning of 8-year-old Boy in East Jerusalem Sparks Memories of Murder - Security footage was enough for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to be convinced that the disappearance of Qais Abu Ramila was a repeat of Mohammed Abu Khdeir's kidnapping and murder in 2014. From US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi, Israel’s critics rushed to blame "settlers" for the murder of a young Palestinian boy who drowned in east Jerusalem. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Attorney General rejects motion to investigate PM over alleged ties with 'Israel Hayom' - "It is important to distinguish between a newspaper that supports certain ideology and one designed to promote a specific individual," Attorney General's Office says. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Bills Await: Netanyahu Owes His Lawyers Some $430,000 for Work on Corruption Cases - One attorney says this is the first time a client has not paid his bill. Netanyahu also plans to reshuffle his defense team if his immunity request fails. (Haaretz+)
  • Could music help Israeli kids on Gaza border suffering PTSD? - Therapists strongly recommend parents use music as part of child's coping process; music gives children sense of control and stability and puts them in game-like state of mind, which is considered to be wholesome experience. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Prince Charles visits Jerusalem tomb of grandmother who saved Jews during the Holocaust - Princess Alice of Greece's actions under Nazi occupation a source of 'immense pride,' British royal told Holocaust Forum. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Senior Saudi religious leader visits Auschwitz on 75th anniversary of liberation - Mohammed al-Issa, a close associate of the Saudi crown price, leads group of clerics in joint visit to the concentration camp along with American Jewish Committee. (Haaretz+)
  • Albanian president thanks IDF for aid after deadly earthquake - President Ilir Meta, visiting Israel to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, met with the soldiers who traveled to his country in November and awards IDF’s National Rescue Unit with "Golden Eagle Decoration." (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF bolsters defense ties with US Cyber Command - Seen as an outpost against global technological warfare, the IDF has also opened its simulator to visits by several foreign militaries. (Israel Hayom)
  • White House gives credentials to anti-Semitic broadcaster, outlet covering Davos - Rick Wiles of “TruNews” has called the effort to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump a “Jew coup.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian Basij commander assassinated by masked gunmen - The slain commander, Abdolhossein Mojaddami, was gunned down Wednesday in front of his home in southern Iran by unknown assailants. The Basij, the paramilitary wing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was recently involved in violently suppressing civilian protests in the area. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Here's What Happens if Israel Annexes the West Bank and Lets Palestinians Vote
A binational state with voting rights for all its Arab and Jewish citizens would radically change the makeup of Israel’s parliament. Here's how. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
Looking evil in the eyes
They walk down the corridors of the prison, behind them dozens of male prison guards, in the prison cells, Palestinian with ‘blood on their hands.’ Capt. Orly Cohen and Officer Hagit Salah made history in the Israel Prison Service when they were appointed to be the first guard commanders in the security prisons. Special: Our correspondent accompanied them during a shift behind bars and heard what responses they received from family and friends about the unusual job. (Lior Ohana, Yedioth Hebrew’s ’24 Hours’ supplement)
Israeli police gunfire left this Palestinian disabled. Now cops are back to harass him
After shooting Khalil Mahmoud in the head in 2015, disabling him for life, Israeli Border Police showed up in his home last week to summon him for questioning, no explanations offered. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Trump’s Previous 'Election Gifts' to Netanyahu Didn’t Pay Off, but This One Could (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) The U.S. has invited the prime minister (and Benny Gantz) to Washington and is releasing its Mideast peace plan the day of a Knesset vote linked to Netanyahu’s graft indictments. But will this be enough at the polls?
Trump in Gantz's Service (Ben Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) What appeared to be a trap for the Kahol-Lavan Chairman at the White House, now appears to be his victory in the battle for the minds. It is quite possible that Netanyahu intended to put Gantz in the trap. But it's not just that Gantz has gotten out. He will travel to the White House, following an invitation he received for a separate meeting with Trump. He will not be a Netanyahu statistician. He is awarded the status of the leader of the largest party. Almost a head of state. Gantz didn't just get out of the trap. He put Netanyahu into it. And Trump has helped him. As soon as the plan was announced, one could understand from the reactions that there was no Trump plan, but a Bibi-Trump plot. Another election trick, designed to rescue Netanyahu from the trap of discussing immunity and, in addition, to humiliating Gantz. The Kahol-Lavan leader made it clear that under the circumstances created he would not travel and he set conditions. Had the publication of the plan been an election scam - the White House would not have accepted Gantz's terms. The response proves that no matter what Netanyahu's intention was, Trump has an independent agenda. And it gets worse. Because from what is already known, in the plan there is no agreement to annexation as an independent move, there is no sovereignty over all Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories there is a Palestinian state that includes not only areas A and B, but also part of Area C, as well as a significant part of East Jerusalem. Most notably, there is the eviction of 60% of the outposts that were established illegally, that harm the Palestinian land continuity and/or were established after 2001, and which the Likud government, led by Arik Sharon, has already agreed to evacuate them under the Roadmap. True, no one is offering the Palestinians the 95% that Clinton did, nor the 100% that was Olmert's initiative. And yet, this is not a program the right-wing can live with. One of the senior Kahol-Lavan people, who is proficient in the detail, made it clear to me yesterday: The Trump plan is the closest thing to our platform. He is probably right. Presumably there was high-level coordination regarding program details. But the result is that the plan is closer to the Kahol-Lavan political platform than the vision of senior Likud officials. The politics behind the plan are important. After all, these are election days. But the essence is also important. The plan presents a demographic that has both demographic separation and security control, including in the Jordan (Beqaa) Valley. Not only will the right-wing have trouble agreeing to the plan. The left is already making similar sounds of complaints. But it is a plan that can serve Israel's national interests. And if the Palestinians were released from fantasies of withdrawal until the last centimeter or "right of return" - they could see a plan for a positive change of their situation. But they are stuck with non-stop refusal. The Trump Initiative returns the political issue to the focus of the election campaign. And if it turns out that the details of the program are similar to the details leaked in the past two days - this is not a gift to Netanyahu. It's a gift to Kahol-Lavan. And if there is no dramatic change any time soon - then it could very well be that Netanyahu has dug a hole - and fallen into it.
Immunity trap in the White House (Haaretz Editorial) In his announcement, Gantz praised the president’s proposal. But the timing of its publication – the week the debate on Netanyahu’s immunity request begins and as Netanyahu tries shamelessly to postpone the hearings – suggests that Trump wasn’t motivated by a desire for conciliation between the two peoples and concern for their future and welfare. Rather, he was concerned for Netanyahu’s welfare and political and legal future. It might be a wise move in terms of the political chess game, but it’s not clear why the peace plan itself came in for praise. The proposal hasn’t yet been made public, but according to Israeli sources it will guarantee Israeli sovereignty over all the settlements and the annexation of the Jordan Valley. These sources say a Palestinian rejection of the plan would set the ball rolling for measures of unilateral annexation. The Palestinians, who were not briefed on the imminent publication of the political part of the so-called peace plan, reject the proposal entirely. That’s not surprising.
Gantz Nabbing Private Trump Meeting Proves U.S. Needs Him as Much as He Needs Them (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) After strong disagreements within Kahol Lavan on whether to accept Trump's invitation, Gantz elegantly evaded the trap Netanyahu set for him by tapping into Washington's concern of election interference.
Gantz niftily averts White House hazing but Trump plan still on course to rescue Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Deal of the century offers Israelis annexation right now and Palestinians a Bantustan in the far future.
With Trump's peace plan, the plot to save Netanyahu enters next phase (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Trump’s plan generates – for the first time in the last three election rounds – a heavyweight issue that could overshadow Netanyahu's immunity bid.
Gantz Sidesteps Netanyahu's Trap, but Two Other Battlefronts Await (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu planned to lay a trap for his chief rival, but the Kahol Lavan leader showed he's no fool by obtaining a separate meeting with Trump.
The real 'Deal of the Century' is peace between Netanyahu and Gantz (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) The spectacle in Washington will be bizarre: Two claimants to the Israeli throne will discuss the peace plan at the White House with no Palestinian partner. Maybe Israel will at least get a government out of it.
The trap for the naive (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth Hebrew) Only Monday would we know if Gantz's decision to comply with President Trump's "personal, separate and respectable" invitation was the right one. It is advisable to wait until Gantz is on the plane on the way back to Israel, to see if any of these promises have been fulfilled…It was enough to see Netanyahu's swift response to the fact that his meeting with Trump was also scheduled for Monday, the day that Gantz's meeting was scheduled, to understand that the last word had not yet been uttered. And that these two impotent people, Netanyahu and Trump, can still trap the Kahol-Lavan chairman and succeed in humiliating, dwarfing and reducing his status. Not to be confused: These are two people who, as a matter of course, have no qualms about making any trick or intrigue, and certainly not these days, as they fight for their political fate - Trump faces impeachment hearings and Netanyahu faces  immunity hearings. To put Gantz in the White House at this time and under these circumstances, it's like putting a young calf into a starving lion's cage. Nevertheless, Gantz seems to have escaped by the skin of his teeth from the worse prospect, joining Netanyahu as a statistician on his publicity campaign. And you have to be really devoid of any political sense, or even of just a sense of survival, to not see the double trap that Netanyahu's proposal was to join him in Washington: Gantz’s humiliation there, and Gantz’s departure from here. The argument in favor of the decision to travel is the fact that you do not refuse an invitation of an American president. But it should be kept in mind that from the outset, it was not the invitation of the president, but the invitation of Netanyahu to Gantz, as Vice President Pence testified at the press conference Thursday. In 2000, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak traveled to the Camp David conference with Yasser Arafat, Yossi Sarid asked to join his entourage. After all, who is better suited to attend such a summit? Sarid then told everyone who agreed to hear that he got a negative response. There are not enough beds - he says that was the excuse for rejection. For some reason, I remembered that story when I heard Netanyahu invite Gantz to come with him to Washington. It sounds like another moment Netanyahu will say: Benny, I don't have a place for you in business class, but there is a place in the economy section. With leg space. It seems to me that even the prime minister's wife and son will have trouble defining it as a proposal that has come from the heart or as a gesture. The question was not whether there was a trap here - but where and when the prey would be captured. And anyone familiar with Washington's mannerisms and customs knows that there are enough stops for that to happen: seating arrangements at the meeting, joint photos, the press conference after the meeting, the order of the speakers. The inevitable comparison of English, the intimacy with the ambassador, the little gestures of the president. Even a lot more experienced, skilled people, who have moves around the world and who are practiced at these kinds of events, have very little chance of getting out of this looking good out of this placing by Netanyahu and Trump. It's hard to believe that Gantz is giving any chance to the deal of the century, a plan that looks mostly like a deal between Trump and Netanyahu. But in his speech last night, he was cautious Gantz. On the eve of his meeting with the US President, he could not have done otherwise. He talked about a significant milestone, a historic agreement, a deep and powerful alliance with the US, but also talked about major internal disputes and mentioned the strategic partnership with Jordan, Egypt and other Arab states. In other words: It has no feasibility, and looks like it was born to give a rescue board to a prime minister under three indictments, or as Lieberman described it so well: the prime minister is not traveling. He’s escaping. And so the question that needs to bother us all this week is not what will happen there, but what will happen here. And whether Netanyahu will be able to delay the discussions on his immunity.
Trump's peace deal could be a green light for Israel's annexation plan (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) 'Deal of the Century' is the key. Israeli president calls to leave history to the historians – shame Israel is not heeding his call.
Welcome to the preparation course for the government that will come after Bibi (Meir Uziel, Maariv) Hello friends. Welcome to the preparation course for the government that will come after Bibi. We have a lot of work, and time is short. There is a fear that this will happen, and suddenly. All at once, Netanyahu will not be the prime minister, but you will. What will you do without Bibi? You have to act in an innovative way, because if you keep shouting just not Bibi, someone can scratch their heads and say: Oh, sorry, Bibi is gone. This is a situation where you have to change from the ground up, to prepare. But don't worry, we're here to put together a work plan in this case. This is not the end of the world, you just won the election. In the early days you celebrate the celebrations of no more Bibi. Proper planning can make this take the first three months. For example, ribbons can be cut for streets to be called Just Not Bibi Street, you can issue Just Not Bibi stamps, and the government company for medals and coins will issue a victory coin without Bibi's portrait to be called Just Not Bibi. But after three months things may start to limp. That’s not terrible, there's Bibi. Open from notebooks, or laptops for those who know how, and now learn how to blame Bibi when it turns out you failed in your position, and the economy is collapsing, foreign investment is dropping, unemployment is rising, taxes are rising, expansion is halting, happiness is waning and there is zero maintanance in the international relations field.
It’s No Election Campaign Gift or Friendship: Putin Just Blackmailed Netanyahu (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Russia will free an Israeli woman jailed on drug charges, but the ironic smile on Putin’s lips told the whole story. Meanwhile, Bibi’s talk of annexation is causing problems for Benny Gantz.
The return of Naama Issachar will not bring Netanyahu a victory in elections, but it will contribute to the Israeli narrative (Anna Barsky, Maariv) How symbolic that a great human drama was happening in the shadow of the Holocaust forum, and Israel is sending a strong message: Here, we don’t give up on our citizens. But will that help the prime minister at the polls as well? It appears not.
Netanyahu Has a Friend in Moscow. Until He Doesn't (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Netanyahu has managed the task of defending Israel's interests in Syria without crossing Putin. But how long can this delicate balance last?
The Issachar Festival: Putin must have exploded with laughter from our national psychosis (Ben Caspit, Maariv) If I were Naama's father, I would turn the world over to bring her home. The prime minister has a different role. He needs to balance national interests and considerations. I did not hang high hopes on Netanyahu in this regard. The man who signed the scandalous Shalit deal and sent hundreds of bloodthirsty murderers to the streets in order to suppress Israel’s summer 2011 protest and to rise up in the polls, won't fulfill some requests by Putin on the eve of fateful election for him, in order to bring Naama home? Of course he would. We in the media are also guilty. We turned this into an enormous story . We ignored dozens of other Israelis imprisoned around the world in no less Kafkaesque situations and locked in on the new National sweetneart. I have no doubt that Putin is bursting out of laughter in his Kremlin room when he encounters the Israeli national psychosis that erupts once every few years and smashes everything that lies in front of it. This week we broadcast on 103 Radio FM that the veteran driver of the prime minister, Asher Issachar, is Naama's uncle. His brother, Nathaniel, is her father. In the meantime, I remembered that the same driver also testified against Netanyahu in Case 1000 (along with several other drivers who testified that he never bought cigars for Netanyahu, as was claimed). What does this mean? Nothing. There is no way that Netanyahu committed suicide for the release of Naama Issachar because of his connection to his driver. He committed suicide on the release of Naama Issachar because of the political return it might yield him on the eve of the election. Once again, it has been shown that the man is capable of pushing aside the interests of the state in favor of his political whims. Were there discussions about the deal with the Russians? Did the National Security Council do work on this? Did the Cabinet sit to discuss this? Did the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee receive a report?  With whom did Netanyahu talk about the decisions, aside from Meir Ben Shabbat and Rabbi Druckman? At the moment, it is unclear. Like all of us, we hope to see Naama going home as soon as possible. That doesn't change the fact that what walks like a shoddy job, makes the sounds of a shoddy job, is a shooddy job.
Those we have elected to the Knesset want to help, but only themselves (Rafi Carasso, Maariv) Three right-wing extremists [Education Minister Rafi Peretz (Habayit Hayehudi), Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Ichud Leumi) and Itamar Ben-Gvir (Otzmah Yehudit)] split into a couple and an individual, as is almost always the case. The individual [Ben-Gvir] was sent to hell, although he received a words of honor from the educator. What is a word? What is honor? People at the top are not ashamed to retract their promises with a determined and unabashed brow. Everyone is lying to everyone, and most of all lying to us. Lying to their constituents who so much want to trust someone…Our Torah is great. The elected officials hold it over their heads and quote from it. Everything is good and beautiful, our dear ones, we are glad you try to fulfill their commandments as they are stated, but we would be even happier if you did not consider accepting monetary compensation as if it were a commandment from G-d.
Israel’s Political Drama Is Actually a Top TV Show (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) My Haaretz colleague Sami Peretz wondered – rightly – how it was possible that the economy didn’t responded negatively to the political crisis. The labor markets, the capital markets, the housing market and the shekel haven’t suffered; quite the contrary. At the same time, the political arena has become “the best performer of the year.” The explanation might be that the body is smart. Three elections in a row impose on Israelis an endless campaign environment, but the state can’t allow itself to neglect its day-to-day activities in favor of a year of binge watching the Israeli version of “Borgen” or “House of Cards” until the elections finally produce a winner, God knows when.
*As long as Amir Ohana is Justice Minister, (Kahanist) Ben-Gvir, and (wife of Rabin’s assassin), Larissa Trimbobler, can be wonderfully integrated into the government (Natan Zehavi, Maariv) In the atmosphere created, the right-wing may still appeal to the prime minister's killer wife. And also: The Holocaust festival budgets should have been passed on to survivors and the elderly, and the Gaza periphery communities are again hostage…. 1.) Even though I am not sick with terrible Parkinson's disease, my fingers are shaking as I type this column. This past week, the "Auschwitz Festival" is was being held in the Holy Land, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the murderous camp by the Russian army. From all over the world came kings, presidents, prime ministers, nobility, counts and shahs. They were received on red carpets, mostly in ceremony and splendor, transported in luxury cars, some armored, to royal suites in the best hotels. Hundreds of security guards arrived with their dignitaries and with them their personal servants, private chefs, advocates, courtiers, dressmakers and makeup artists. The Holocaust festival was underway this week, and some idiots think that after this event there will be no anti-Semitism and that the whole world will turn its eyes to Jerusalem and identify with the persecuted Jewish people….It was an event almost like the Eurovision…At the same time as the mayhem…and the splendor,…in miserable rooms, in nursing homes, in the corridors of the hospital's inner wards, the last vestiges of the Auschwitz camp continued to shiver, screaming at night from uncontrollable nightmares. Thousands of Holocaust survivors who are still alive, watched the magnificent events and did not understand what all the celebration was about, what all the fuss was about. If they really wanted all those distinguished gentlemen and ladies to understand what Auschwitz was, they should have taken them quietly to visit Holocaust survivors where they live. Sitting them down with the survivors to tell them face to face what happened to them then and what is happening to them now, towards the end of their lives. How the country they dreamed about left them moaning…2.) Itamar Ben-Gvir is the prominent star of our next election campaign. The nation's greats are loitering, flattering him, tempting him with skyrocketing offers, asking-begging him not to run on an independent list. They will appoint him as minister, as ambassador, whatever he wants, just that he doesn’t waste any right-wing votes, which could go down the drain if he doesn’t pass the threshold, as happened before. Ben Gvir, a successful lawyer, Kahanist, a partner of Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel, is a favorite of the media. He appears on television, is heard on the radio, is interviewed in the print media more than any other politician. A sophisticated provocateur whose "word is a word," as he suggests. Ben Gvir's electorate is also courted by a new party leader, Larissa Trimbobler, the wife of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's murderer. At one time, Ben-Gvir was photographed with the hood ornament of Rabin's car and said, "We have reached the hood ornament, we will reach Rabin as well." He was late reaching Rabin. Yigal Amir preceded him. The right-wing political speculators have yet to appeal to Trimbobler, asking that she will not run and waste right-wing votes, and in return after the right-wing victory, she will be made a deputy minister. For example, Ben-Gvir will be Minister of Justice and Larissa will be his deputy. Don't say I'm delusional. According to what's going on in the State of Israel, it can still happen, anything can happen. If Miri Regev is the Minister of Culture, Naftali Bennett is Minister of Defense, Amir Ohana is Minister of Justice and David Amsalem is Minister of Communications, then Ben-Gvir and Trimbobler can integrate wonderfully around the government table.
Balad may be facing the end of the road (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) Arab voters seem tired of the party's string of hollow provocations, but a scenario by which Balad drops out of the election race would shake Arab politics in Israel to their core. The fact that it is even being discussed signals potential winds of change.
Other Commentary/Analysis:
Israel, Beware the True Cost of Trump's 'Peace' Plan (Daniel B. Shapiro, Haaretz+) If Netanyahu adopts a plan that greenlights unilateral annexation, he should acknowledge what's at stake. Setting Israel up for an immediate clash with a Democratic president is only the beginning.
Trump's peace plan is once-in-a-lifetime chance for Israel
(Shimrit Meir, Yedioth/Ynet) The so-called deal of the century gives Israel carte blanche to annex Jordan Valley and other settlements in the West Bank; although the move will entail worldwide backlash, it's a window of opportunity that might close forever.
What do the Israelis really know about the Jordan Beqaa Valley? (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) Most Jews in Israel will not be willing to give up the Jordan Valley in the framework of a peace agreement. But a number of surveys have shown that Israeli residents are not completely certain even where it is. Why do so many Israelis see the Jordan Valley (Beqaa - which is in the West Bank - OH) as  part of the Land of Israel? Again - the data gets complicated. One might suggest: because there is a political consensus between them that the Beqaa is necessary for Israel for some reason or another, and so they have no intention of giving it up, anyway. A survey a decade ago revealed that seven out of ten Israelis believed that "relinquishing the Jordan Valley puts all the residents of the country at risk." And it turned out: Nearly one-third of the Jewish public will vote against the evacuation of the Valley, because in their view it is part of the Land of Israel; About a quarter will vote against - because they don't believe there can be real peace, and about a fifth - because the Beqaa is an essential safety belt. Most Jews in Israel are not willing to relinquish the Beqaa in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, nor do they attach particular importance to Jordan's position on this issue.
Trump is changing the course of history (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) In all likelihood, Trump's peace plan will recognize Israel's rights over the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. It also won't include references to the 1967 borders as a basis for a final status agreement.
The Zionist Left Has Paved the Way to the Rise of the Extreme Right (Ilana Hammerman, Haaretz+) I was born in Haifa in 1944. I was four when my father returned home one day with a soft cloth doll in his hand and deep shame in his heart. He took it from an Arab house, he told my mother. His Hebrew wouldn’t have been good enough yet to have used the more accurate term and say he “plundered” it. A while later I heard him mention the doll again and say that others stole much more: decorative objects, appliances, carpets. And he took only a small doll, and still he felt ashamed. Really? I didn’t care. The shooting and explosions and later the bombardments we heard from the lower city instilled in me a huge fear of the Arabs. I just wanted them to leave and to have quiet. This fear stayed with me for many years...Even though my parents were left-wingers and sent me to Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, like the vast majority of my generation, I was a victim of such thorough and profound emotional and ideological deception that when my eyes were finally opened, it was too late. New and fateful facts in the field had already been established. Our Israeli world was built on three foundations: the cult of the Holocaust, a false narrative and ignorance. And it was the Zionist left that ruled in Israel then, without Herut and without Maki (the Israeli Communist Party)..
The annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley - a step that could set the Middle East on fire (Ehud Olmert, Maariv) What in the past year has brought about the need for a decision to annex the Beqaa right now? Was there a mass movement of terrorists crossing the river from Jordan to Judea and Samaria? Has there been violent terrorist activity in areas where Jewish settlers live in the Jordan Valley? Was there an attempt to organize terrorists in areas near the valley, in a way that required strong backlash from Israel? Is the declaration of annexation of the Jordan Valley likely to serve an Israeli, security or political interest, whose vitality is at stake in these days or weeks, and which justifies such far-reaching action? In the past year, no event took place that could serve as grounds for applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. The idea of declaring the Jordan Beqaa Valley (in the West Bank - OH) a part of the State of Israel is a political, populist, provocative move that will end up causing Israel security damage, a collapse in the international relations and the receiving of some affection from the US president, which will expire quickly and the benefit of which will be zero.
Is Trump's plan a fantasy or an exercise in realism? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) It is not clear whether it will bail out Netanyahu or hurt Gantz, but imagining a future Middle East that accepts most of these terms is actually a practical idea.
If you want to apply sovereignty, apply sovereignty. Don't talk (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Anyone who wants our voice [right-wing] should announce his intentions regarding the future of the Palestinian Authority. And also: Netanyahu's immunity saga has become the main arena for political hypocrisy.
In Trump's Peace Plan, Jordan Only Sees an Ambush (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The Hashemite Kingdom, in the dark on the details, views the 'deal of the century' as an existential threat – and its hands are tied.
Amman assumes that the deal of the century is merely an election exercise, but fears the street reaction (Jackie Khougy, Maariv) Jordan is confident that the Trump initiative is coordinating with Netanyahu, and it could anger the Palestinian and Jordanian streets. A source in Amman: You don't take us into account.
In Israel, Indoctrination Starts in Kindergarten (Noa Limone, Haaretz+) The national flag and portraits of the country’s leaders have become part of the décor in Israeli preschools. What messages is the system trying to inculcate in our children?
A great – but fragile – triumph of Zionism (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) The arrival of dozens of world leaders to Jerusalem to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day and commit to fighting anti-Semitism represents recognition of Zionism's fundamental truth: The Land of Israel is the one and only, eternal homeland of the Jewish people.
The security bank: With the changing nature of the threat, the importance of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) for our security is increasing (Oded Tira, Maariv) When within reach of the coastal plain there is a terror-intensive entity, the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria is essential for Israel's strategic depth.
Netanyahu has a chance to complete one of his life's missions (Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom) The introduction of Trump's Middle East peace plan will present Israel with the chance to take its fate into its own hands and change reality on the ground by cement its eastern borders.
One Person, One Vote for Israel-Palestine (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan brings with it good news and bad news. It will put the final nail in the coffin of that walking corpse known as the two-state solution – that’s the good news. It will also create a new reality in which international law, the resolutions of the international community and especially international institutions are meaningless. Filled with the hope that the U.S. president instills in us, in his great mercy, let’s begin with the good news. Once his proposal is made public, no one will ever be able to talk with any seriousness about the two-state solution. It was probably never born, but now it is clearly dead. There is no Palestinian state and there never will be. The gall of America to support Israeli annexation now and the establishment of a Palestinian state only “in the future” – as if the burning issue were annexation, not the occupation – is only an ornament for the casket.
What Israelis should know about a Hamas deal (Michael Milstein, Yedioth/Ynet) The biggest - and most crucial - challenge for Gaza's rulers will be the ability to exert authority over other factions in the Strip, while the Palestinian Authority will likely suffer domestically and internationally as a result of an agreement.
Why This Female Arab Lawmaker Scares Israelis So Much (Tsafi Saar, Haaretz+) For years, Israelis reserved a special scorn for Balad's Haneen Zoabi. Now that she's gone, they have wasted no time in finding her replacement: Heba Yazbak.
Bennett is actually fine with the Oslo Accords (Sany Arazi, Yedioth/Ynet) Right-wing tenets like Israel holding both sides of the River Jordan, the PA being a disaster and a complete refusal to retreat from any territory have fallen from favor with the defense minister, who seems to have adopted some of the left's most deep-rooted beliefs about West Bank
The collapse of old conceptions (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) It has been widely accepted since Oslo that any peace deal must be based on a sovereign Palestinian state in most of Judea and Samaria. The Trump peace plan, however, has caused a profound conceptual change, in parts irreversible.
A Deadly Skirmish on Gaza Border, an Inconvenient Question for Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Perhaps Hamas is not ready for a deal, and Israel is reading the situation with too much optimism?
When BDS Means Boycotting Israeli Palestinians (Rajaa Natour, Haaretz+) Criticism of Jordanian singer Aziz Maraqa, who recently performed in a Galilee Arab village, shows how boycotters of Israel dictate the bounds of political-cultural discourse – and expect Palestinian citizens living in the country to unquestioningly obey it
The expansion of the Bedouin Forum can bring about a change in the political reality in Israel (Ruth Wasserman Lande, Maariv) After being split and conflicted, the heads of all the Bedouin authorities in the north of the country decided to unite. And when the parties are already courting them, it's time to think about the price….. In 2009, the heads of the eight Bedouin local authorities in the north established the Bedouin Forum, with the understanding that together they could advance what none of these authorities would be able to promote alone. The eight heads of municipalities came together to prepare the basis for a 350 million shekel government grant from the state, which came that year. This grant was preceded by the government's decision #1480, which dealt with the empowerment and socio-economic strengthening of the Bedouin communities in the north. In 2016-2019, 950 million shekels were allocated from the government budgets to support this decision. However, the amount received did not fit the needs of the sector at all. In addition, the impact of the budget was minimal, with only about 70% of the amount spent so far. According to the heads of the authorities in question, by the end of the year, the budget will be used...Unity and cohesion have been stopped…but the trend has recently reversed. The forum has become more spacious overnight, contains more and more cohesive. This is not a symbolic move. This is the result of consistent fieldwork and smart diplomacy that has created recognition among the current elected Bedouin leadership of the true potential that exists in creating a significant lobby for the benefit of the population…Now we have to wait and see if the newly formed government can understand the true potential of the union and its ability to bring about the long-awaited integration of Bedouin into the general population and know how to identify the risk of ignoring this sector.
Germany's pro-Israel Left Has a New Target in the Crosshairs: Jews (Ofri Ilany, Haaretz+) Ideas and opinions that can be voiced freely in Israeli academia will spark a big backlash in Berlin, led by the Antideutsche movement.
The attempt to steal the Holocaust agenda reflected the loss of the path of the politicians (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) The third election campaign has just begun, and has already registered a new low. After every important issue was trampled on or exploited, it was the turn of anti-Semitism. The Holocaust conference and attempts to steal from it the agenda reflected the loss of the path and the true cost of failing to form a government for a year. After Nitzan Horowitz was photographed with Nancy Pelosi, Miri Regev with Argentina's president, and Germany's president with Yad Vashem - the one who scooped up most of the headlines on Wednesday was French President Emmanuel Macron of all people. The incident in which Macron yelled at the (Israeli) security guards at the St. Anne Church in Jerusalem took the headlines in France and on the social media networks in Israel. "If the French were so assertive about their personal safety in 1940, it’s possible that Macron would not have needed to come here for International Holocaust Day," one person tweeted. Funny, but less funny is what politics of the present age looks like, not only in us but also in enlightened Europeans. A constant battle is taking place over the viral image and the ratings, and the shifting of the main serious issue (i.e. the Holocaust) to something insignificant that a certain politician might generate some personal gain from.
Israel sold the memory of the Holocaust to the interests of foreign nations (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+) Israel, which was founded three years after the liberation of Auschwitz, has been revealed as spineless, and as being forced – or consenting – to bend to the interests of other nations and leaders.
For Israel, now is the time for strategic initiatives (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Israel's current regional status and its economic, diplomatic and military clout allow it to advance strategic and even historic initiatives it could only have dreamed of in the past. It seems such initiatives are fundamentally palatable to the US administration and even coincide with the general outlines of its peace plan.
Another royal visit to Israel, another sign of Britain’s weakness (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Prince Charles’ visit to Jerusalem this week highlights the post-Brexit U.K.’s desperation to secure a favorable trade deal with the United States, not a thawing of ties with the Jewish state.
Explained: Israeli gesture to secure release of woman jailed in Russia could spell trouble in Jerusalem (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) No, Israel isn't giving Putin a church in return for high-profile prisoner Naama Issachar, but the move could cause problems for Israel with all the other Christian denominations in the city.
With Lev Leviev gone: The era of the tycoons in Israel is over (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) The masters of the local universe have been laid low. The new tycoon is a high-tech entrepreneur, and that’s a big improvement.
Former head of the Mossad: “I oppose annexation of the Jordan (Beqaa) valley, Area C or any other area"
Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom, former head of Mossad and former Knesset member (Labor party) spoke on Thursday at 103 FM about the effects of possible annexation of the Jordan Valley. "I am against any unilateral step. I am against any annexation of the valley, annexation of Area C or any other area.” (Interviewed by Roni Daniel, Yoav Limor and Inon Magal on 103FM/Maariv)
DY: ”I was in favor of the disengagement, and it was indeed a one-sided step but not the same."
Yatom said that annex is not like withdrawing. "We took a unilateral step that was supposed to ease things for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. I am against unilateral steps that hurt the other side," he explained.

Interviewers: So are you against annexation and unification of Jerusalem?
DY: "I was much younger then. Looking back, yes, definitely. Every unilateral step only made things worse."
You were the military secretary of the late Yitzhak Rabin, who unequivocally supported leaving the Jordan Valley under Israeli control and called it the strategic hinterland of the State of Israel.
DY: "He was right, but that does not mean it should be done unilaterally. Jordan's prime minister has already made it clear that a unilateral move will be very dangerous for the region. You need not hear it to understand that once Israel annexes 20% of the land, Israeli-Palestinian relations will become extreme to the point of a breakdown and we will face the need to take control over all of Judea and Samaria, which in my view is contrary to the interests of the State of Israel, while controlling 2.6 million Palestinians. The Jordanians are connected to the residents of Judea and Samaria, and there are very close family ties.  King Abdullah, on the basis of unilateral annexation without negotiations, will not be able to hold restrain.”
Why does it have to do with Jordan? King Hussein has already given up the territory. Why do they tell us what to do here?
DY: "They don’t decide. We need to look around and not to look at the problem through a straw. We must expand and understand the implications. The Jordanians are neighbors to Palestinians. In the past, King Hussein asked Rabin if he could be involved in all negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Rabin assured him that this would be the case. The Palestinians have an interest in knowing who will be the power on the other side of the Jordan River with whom they will have to cooperate.”
"My vision is that, in the end, we will have to give back the Jordan Valley if we want peace," Yatom explained. "If we still believe in peace, I think it will need to continue to control the Valley for a number of years and slowly transfer responsibility to an international power." He said the multilateral force should not prevent war between Jordan and Israel, but ensure that terrorist squads do not enter.
Will it prevent weapons and missiles from the entire Iraqi, Iranian and Jordanian territory to Highway Six [Hwy 6 goes along the much of the border with the West Bank.
DY: "According to (your) view, we should continue to control the Gaza Strip and go back to it."
That’s possible. You promised that the disengagement would bring security and in the meantime an army established itself there.
DY: "I don't know who ‘you’ are. To end the conflict between us and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, other ways need to be found."
Since when do we rely on international power? Look at what happened in World War II.
DY: “We’re talking about a multinational force whose base is American."
Your words are a little strange to me. If I had asked you about a defense alliance with the US, you would have told me that we should never depend on foreign power. That’s the IDF position. Now we put Israel's security in the hands of American soldiers? This goes against Ben Gurion's theory of security.
DY: “So you think that an if American force or a force that has a major American component along with a Palestinian or Jordanian force is patrolling along the West Bank it is putting the security of the State of Israel in jeopardy?"
Imagine if the Palestinian opens fire in the direction of Israel and the Israeli soldier accidentally hits an American soldier and kills him?
DY: "It's all a matter of priority. If any of you think things will be much better and be completely quiet here if we annex the Valley, you’re wrong. In my opinion, this is a better solution than not having an international power involved at all. You're talking about a situation where the IDF will have to re-conquer all of Judea and Samaria. Is that a better situation?”
Yatom explained that "the annexation of the Jordan Valley could lead to riots in Judea and Samaria, and also weakening of the Jordanian kingdom." According to Yatom, if there is a disarray within the Jordanian kingdom as a result of Palestinians taking to the streets over the Jordan Valley, then such a country, whose base is shaky, may invite, inter alia, Iranian involvement. Yatom concluded: "We may find not only the Jordanians on the other side of the (border Jordan) river but also pro-Iranian or Iranian militias. It's all a matter of priority."

'Israeli-American alliance is essential for the future of the world'
Texas Governor Greg Abbott visits Israel to see first hand just how Israel and Texas, despite being so different in size, are very much alike in everything else. (Interviewed by Erez Linn in Israel Hayom)

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