News Nosh 1.27.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday January 27, 2020
Quote of the day:
"This is what happens when one corrupt politician wants to help another corrupt politician. The real deal is between Trump and Netanyahu. Peace should be between two peoples and not two crooks."
--Joint List party head Ayman Odeh described Trump's peace plan.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • On CEO Dr. Shlomi Kodesh’s shift - Row of suicides at Soroka Hospital (Hebrew)
  • Take responsibility // Chen Artzi-Srur (Hebrew)
  • Sports world in shock - Death of a giant - Lakers basketball star Kobi Brians
  • Between the White House and the Knesset Plenum (Hebrew)
  • Uncle Donald // Nahum Barnea
  • The Chinese virus panic: Our correspondent reports from empty streets of Shanghai
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • (Netanyahu:) “In Washington we will make history” - New Middle East - Plan of the Century - On the way to changing the Middle East; Prime Minister landed in US ahead of summit with Trump
  • Trump changed the rules of the game // Avraham Ben-Zvi
  • History won’t forgive the leader who says no // Ariel Kahane
  • Deafening silence: The Arab world is sick of the conflict // Oded Granot
  • This is just the beginning: Say yes to Trump // Nadav Shragai
  • Thanks to the common enemy: Jordan won’t be an obstacle // Efraim Inbar
  • The panic virus
  • Death of a legend (Lakers basketball star Kobi Brians)
  • International Holocaust Day- “Remember and remind”: Rivlin left to Germany and Poland
  • Pending a hearing: MK Bitan will be indicted for receiving bribery; His attorney: “When they reveal the evidence - the fog will dissipate”

Top News Summary:
The expectation ahead of US President Donald Trump’s separate meetings today with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz, as well as the commentators’ discussion over the details revealed of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ along with the indictment against Netanyahu’s close confidante, MK David Bitan on bribery charges, pending a hearing, the panic over the Chinese coronavirus reaching Israel, the sadness and shock over the death of legendary US basketball star, Kobi Bryant and the questions behind the fourth suicide of a doctor at Soroka Hospital were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

The revealing of Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ now referred to with the more respectable name, the ‘plan of the century,’ was the background for what the Israeli papers viewed as the key event: Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s separate meetings with Trump, from which they both hoped to gain electoral profit. Maariv referred to the meetings as a “duel” between and “campaign trail” of the two Israeli leaders and Yedioth called them the ‘Meetings of the Century.’ The most remarkable reporting about the meetings to take place today was in ‘Israel Hayom,’ which completely ignored Gantz’s presence and quoted only Netanyahu as “making history” with Trump. Moreover, ’Israel Hayom’s’ reporting on the so-called peace plan  looked like a promo for the plan.

According to leaked details of the plan, it won’t be good for the Palestinians. As Amos Gilad writes in an Op-Ed (translated in full in Commentary/Analysis), the plan sends two messages to the Palestinians: that what is already an Israeli fact on the ground stays on the ground and that for refusing previous peace proposals the Palestinians now get less. Gilad also comes to the conclusion that this plan must be adopted for Israel to stay ‘democratic and moral.’ The plan allows Israel to annex 30% to 40% of Area C, while the Palestinians will have control over about 40% of Areas A and B, wrote Ynet. At the end of the four-year transition period, the Palestinians will be able to declare an independent state, but with limited powers. It will be completely demilitarized, have no control over its aerial space or border crossings and be unable to form alliances with other countries. It also suggests the construction of a tunnel connecting the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Despite all that, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right party) said he won’t allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state or recognition of such a state. [That said, it does seem like he’s putting up a fight just so that it won’t seem as if he got much more than ever hoped for. - OH]

*The Palestinian  leadership responded with warnings of ‘serious consequences' for the region if proposed plan is implemented. There were calls to exit the Oslo Accords and end security coordination in the West Bank. "The Palestinian leadership will conduct a series of meetings with officials and will announce its determined refusal to any concessions regarding Jerusalem," read a statement from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Authority called for a ‘Day of Rage.’ But Haaretz reported that the Palestinian public seems fed up and apathetic and wasn't interested in putting itself in danger to protest. Chairman of the Joint List, Arab-Israeli MK Ayman Odeh, said Trump’s plan was a bid to help Netanyahu in the upcoming elections at the Palestinians’ expense. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the deal will go down in history as the ‘fraud of the century.' Hamas warned the US plan could lead to renewed violence. Haaretz’s Amir Tibon reported that Trump's plan was written in a way so that the Palestinians would reject it and that maybe that was intended, according to Israeli sources, who said the plan is consistent with right-wing and religious positions. Tibon also writes about who pulled the strings for the last minute decision to invite Gantz to the White House and that Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer had a key role in the original invitation that could have ended in humiliation of Gantz. Meanwhile, the Israeli right-wing coalition parties will boycott tomorrow the vote at the Knesset plenum regarding Netanyahu’s immunity request. (Also Maariv)

News Nosh translated some interesting radio interviews on the subject of the plan and annexation. See Interviews below.

Quick Hits:
  • Israel Strikes in Gaza After South Targeted for Second Consecutive Day - Israeli military attacks Hamas post in the Strip following rocket fire
    Earlier Sunday, the Israeli military said that a rocket was fired from the Gaza Srip, adding that the rocket fire caused an alarm to sound in an open area near Israel's border with the coastal enclave. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Attorney General Mendelblit to MK Yazbak: Explain your statements implying support for harming soldiers - In a letter sent to the Knesset member of the Joint List, it was written that Attorney General Mendelblitt views very severely MK Heba Yazbak's statements expressly supporting the armed struggle against the State of Israel. In particular, Mendelblitt wants her to explain her statement in interview on Channel 13, during which she was asked "Is this part of reasonable resistance for you, and legitimate for the occupation, to harm soldiers or to harm the chief of staff?" Yazbak replied that "international law itself allows the peoples under occupation to act for their liberation.” This clarification is required so that the Attorney General can complete the formulation of his position in relation to requests to disqualify her from running in elections on the grounds set forth in Article 7A of the Knesset Basic Law, which deals with "supporting the armed struggle of an enemy state or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel." (Maariv)
  • International Holocaust Day: President Rivlin left for Poland in an effort to ease tensions - The President will attend the official ceremony today to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and will meet with President Doda, who boycotted the event at Yad Vashem. Then, he will continue to Germany. (Maariv)
  • Prince Charles: "I'd love to visit Iran to advance peace" - The British regent expressed his desire to make an official visit to the Islamic Republic, but made it clear that such a visit was not planned. "It contributed much to human culture." (Israel Hayom Hebrew and Maariv, p.2)
  • KKL-JNF chairman Danny Atar will not be charged with a criminal offense for illegal construction offenses at his home - The State Prosecutor's Office decided not to indict the JNF chairman and to stop all criminal proceedings against him, stating that the violations were either corrected or will be within 30 days. Among other things, the family allegedly dismantled, without permission, the roof of the residence and some of the walls, erected a swimming pool and road on public space and built new rock walls around their home in Gan-Ner. According to Calcalist, Atar won’t even be fined. According to Maariv, Atar, his spouse and their son will pay an administrative fine. (Maariv and TheMarker Hebrew and Calcalist/Ynet Hebrew+PHOTOS)
  • Israel officially allows Israelis to travel to Saudi Arabia - Some Israelis, mostly members of the Arab minority, do travel to Saudi Arabia, but they have done so without an official clearance. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom, Maariv and Ynet)
  • Young Israeli Woman Held in Russia Files Pardon Request to Putin - Move comes after Naama Issachar's mother met Putin in Israel on Thursday. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli Firm Mellanox Aims to Bring Palestinian Staff to Nvidia After Takeover - The 140 are currently employed through an outsourcing firm, but the Israeli chip maker wants the U.S. company to employ them directly. (Haaretz+)
  • Syrian Government Forces Capture Towns in Advance on Rebel-held Idlib - Syrian Observatory says six towns in the Idlib countryside had fallen to regime forces in the past 24 hours. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iraqi protesters clash with security forces in Baghdad, other cities - At least 14 protesters were injured in the Iraqi capital, security and medical sources say, while unrest in the southern city of Nassiriya left at least 17 demonstrators wounded, four of them by gunfire. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. won't lift Iran sanctions in order to negotiate, Trump says - Comment comes in response to Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif's interview with German magazine, where he said Iran is still open to negotiations with America if sanctions are lifted. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Battle of the banknotes: In Yemen, rival powers push rival currencies - Two governments, two central banks and now two currencies have added to the turmoil in war-torn Yemen. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Fighting rages as Libya force pushes toward key western city - The weak but UN-recognized government in the capital Tripoli is backed by Turkey, and to a lesser degree Qatar and Italy. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Earliest Mosaic in the World Found in Turkey - Intricate stone floor by a possible temple and cuneiform texts indicate that Usakli Hoyuk may have been the lost Hittite city of Zippalanda, suggests archaeologist Anacleto D’Agostino. (Haaretz+ and ArchaeologyWorld)

(Disabled Arab-Israelis) making history
First basketball team on wheelchairs in the Arab sector. The dream that became a reality in Majd al-Krum was ithe idea of (Arab-Israeli) basketball player Yusuf Man’a, 38, from Majd al-Krum, who asked Eran Levita, coach of a handicapped team in Haifa to help him set up a basketball team on wheelchairs in his village. “Unfortunately, some people are still hiding with their disability, curled up in their homes,” says Man’a. The two got a handicapped player from the village, who plays on the national team, to find the first players. "The goal is to get the disabled out of their homes and on to the hardwood.” Eventually, they got permission to use two sports halls in the village and with the help of donations, they bought used wheelchairs. “We somehow got chairs of low quality, some of which are even broken. They are far from professional basketball wheelchairs that are customized for any player, but you start with what is available." Next they hope to make a team for handicapped Jewish and Arab women. (Yedioth Hebrew)
From Math to Music: 7 Israeli Startups That Want to Educate Your Kids
Commemorating the U.N.’s International Education Day taking place Friday, Calcalist gathered a list of seven Israel-linked startups focused on promoting education in whatever form it may take. (Elham Nasser Eddin, Calcalist English)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Gantz did not fall into the pit that Netanyahu dug and he turned the bowl over [but will he be able to postpone decisions on the Trump plan?] (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Kahol-Lavan Chairman will meet with Trump and return in time to discuss Netanyahu's immunity. He will receive a separate meeting and exclusive photo with President and will simultaneously conduct discussions on the prime minister’s request for immunity… If nothing last-minute unexpected happens, he'll get his picture. It will be more significant than what Netanyahu will receive, because in Netanyahu's case, the Israeli public is already accustomed. His relationship with Trump has already been embodied in price. Now, Gantz should try to come up with a solution to the more dangerous trap that will end up this weekend: what he's doing with the American plan itself. If the leaks are true, this is a plan that will allow, perhaps even immediate, annexation of the Jordan Valley and possibly other Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Gantz is perfectly aware of the risks inherent in the unilateral step of the Jordan Valley annex. Incidentally, Netanyahu knows them, too. But Netanyahu is now fighting for his life, and the interests of the country, small things such as peace with Jordan - are being pushed into a corner. Gantz, a retired chief of staff who is still surrounded by some of his kind, has to consider other considerations. He is the responsible adult at this event, but his life is also complicated. He has, in Kahol-Lavan, a right-wing nucleus that will jump on the annexation of the Beqaa Valley as if it found great amounts of booty. He cannot afford to reject the Trump plan or to disapprove of parts of it. Will he be able to sell to the Israeli electorate the need to postpone decisions until after the elections? The answer to this question will be received in the coming weeks.
Beware the political trap (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) It is unlikely that the attorney general would allow for a major political move the likes of territorial annexation to take place so close to the elections. If PM Netanyahu makes a promise he cannot keep, it could fracture his coalition well before the March 2 vote.
Now They’ve Decided to Disqualify Me (Heba Yazbak, Haaretz+) An integral part of the political persecution of Arab MKs is the ritual of the Central Elections Committee discussing requests to disqualify Arab slates and their candidates. These discussions were designed to promote messages of hatred, and are used as a tool to silence the legitimate demand for full civic and national equality. The right decided to focus on me this time, by means of its populist emphasis on two messages that I posted five and seven years ago, long before I was elected to the Knesset. The public uproar included disinformation, distortions and incitement, as well as statements attributed to me that I never made. The right did so because they don’t want to deal with my political messages and those of the Joint List.
No doubt: The big winner of the March 2020 elections is (Kahanist) Itamar Ben-Gvir (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Chairman of Otzmah Yehudit has the opportunity to outflank Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich's vulnerable spots among the nationalist ultra-Orthodox and the anti-establishment right in the battle for the leadership of the Zionist nationalist religious and partially dark right-wing. And he received this status directly from Netanyahu.
His ammunition is all their concessions, real or alleged. If the response to a rocket from Gaza that fell in open areas is the destruction of ten houses in the Gaza Strip, Ben-Gvir, in the Knesset, in the government or in the street, will be sent and asked why not a hundred houses and a hundred dead. And in general, sweating and puffing, he will demand to conquer Gaza and eliminate terror. Qatar brings money into the Gaza Strip? Confiscate it and transfer it to settlements and outposts. Any terrorist attack or Jewish person killed are the result of the Bibi-Bennett-Smotrich government's weakness, and what about resuming construction and freezing budgets in the West Bank while the money is being transferred to the Arab sector at the expense of widows and orphans, and of course the arrangement with Hamas is a surrender - which is true, by the way.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Explained: Annexation for Dummies: Making Sense of Netanyahu and Gantz's Declarations (Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz+) Thousands of Israelis and tens of thousands of Palestinians share this contested part of the West Bank. How did we get to talking about annexation, and what might it look like?
Two who came to be hosted (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth) For years the left-wing in Israel has hoped that America will solve for it the Palestinian problem. That the uncle from America would save Israel from itself. Now the hope transferred to the right-wing: Uncle Donald will legalize the annexation. I always thought that depending on the uncle from America was childish and Diaspora-like: the problem is ours, not his. In the best case the uncle will help; in the worst case he will ruin things. With Trump's plan or without it, we are marching towards one state, an Apartheid state, between the river and the sea.
Adopt it - and prepare (Amos Yadlin, Yedioth Hebrew) Political moves and election campaigns are a deadly combination. It is very difficult to distinguish between the essence and the spin, between spin and essence. From this understanding, the expected presentation of President Donald Trump's diplomatic plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be approached and analyzed carefully. From recent developments and ahead of the dramatic week in Washington a number of salient points have been raised that must be discussed. The first of these is the Israeli interest in the plan. It is important to note that, in terms of the essential parameters for Israel, this is the best program for Israel that has been placed on the table by an international body ever. Certainly compared to what the Clinton, Bush and Obama governments have suggested. Trump's plan is expected to provide a good answer to the four core issues (borders, Jerusalem, refugees and security), and ensure Israel's preservation of a Jewish, democratic and safe state - within the parameters acceptable to most Israelis. Beyond that, there is a clear statement here: an agreement must take into account the facts that have been established on the ground since 1967. Beyond this, there is a clear message here: an agreement must take into account the facts established on the ground since 1967. By the way to this, it conveys a sharp message to the Palestinian side about the price that their historical rejection carries and that time does not play in their favor. The second point is the sober understanding that the plan will not lead to peace. The Palestinians rejected it even before its publication, which also makes it irrelevant as the basis for negotiations for the same reason. Apart from the basic opposition to the principles of the program, which undermine the assumptions on which the political process has been based in the last three decades, the Palestinian system today is unable to present a single official position because of the ongoing split between Fatah and Hamas. Third, an essential element of the plan is the role of the pragmatic Arab states, with emphasis on their political and economic support. The plan assumes Arab support regardless of its total acceptance by the Palestinians. Currently there is no confirmation of this assumption in Riyadh and Cairo, and even more worryingly - in Amman. Despite Palestinian refusal, Arab silence and (condescending) condemnation in Europe - the right thing for Israel is the adoption of the plan by the two major parties. In the second stage, and knowing that there is no agreement on the horizon, the question is what is next? Obviously, the continuation of the status quo  - an imaginary status quo, reality does not freeze -  will lead to one state, possibly non-Jewish or undemocratic. The right-wingf, at least according to its rhetoric, will try to use the Palestinian refusal as a lever to annex the Jordan Beqaa Valley and Area C. This is a dangerous move, which could shatter the peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, end the West Bank calm, escalate things in the Gaza Strip, and lead Israel to a political conflict with the international community. We must understand that bringing the Palestinian issue to the forefront is not an Israeli interest. Following the publication of the plan, we need to prepare in the Palestinian area for the possibility of riots and violations with different characteristics from the past, and with a high likelihood of confrontation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. At the same time, Israel's concerns should be focused on continuing its focus on the major security threats posed by Tehran: the nuclear program, the Iranian establishment in Syria and the Lebanese precision missile project. We must not let the United States and the international community let go of this. This is the most pressing and important issue on Israel's political-security agenda. In the long run, we propose to leverage the Palestinian refusal to a move that would design a new reality according to the layout of the Institute of National Security Studies (Tel-Aviv University). The main points of the program are an independent and coordinated move with the US and relevant Arab countries in order to preserve the possibility of a two-state reality. At the same time, we should try to include and coordinate with the Palestinians as much as possible, but at the same time take away their veto right - stemming from their stubborn refusal - for Israel's future, and shape the geographical, demographic and security conditions that will keep Israel Jewish, democratic, safe and moral. Bottom line - the Trump program is a historic opportunity that serves as a platform for Israel to determine what it will look like in the future under the conditions and parameters it desires. If we know how to save the option for an agreement that will lead to two states, then we will come out benefitting from this. (Major General (res.) Amos Yadlin is the head of the Institute for National Security Studies - INSS)
Jordan will not impede the US peace plan (Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom) Israel and Jordan share various common interests, and it is actually more convenient for Amman to have Israel retain its security control over the Jordan Valley.
Trump's peace plan undercuts Palestinian egotism (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The so-called deal of the century offers the Palestinians far less than they've ever been offered, but they've been saying 'no' to any proposal to resolve the conflict since the 1920s, and the time has come to pay the price.
Hail the Trump plan (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Israel should act swiftly to lock-in the concrete diplomatic gains that can be derived from the American president's outline for regional peace.
Netanyahu's American friend comes to his rescue again (Afif Abu Much, Yedioth/Ynet) Some may think it a coincidence that the peace plan reveal is scheduled on the same day a Knesset vote to move forward on the question of immunity is to take place, others would be doubtful.
Lebanon's New 'Government of Experts' Is Already Planning for the End (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) All the new Lebanese ministers hold academic degrees, but each one is also politically supported by their connection to the leadership of a represented party.
(Right-wing journalist) Erel Segal: "The Palestinian story is Jaffa and Haifa"; (Former Peace Now secretary-general) Yariv Oppenheimer: "The debate is over the settlements"
The radio program host and journalist hosted Erel Segal former Peace Now CEO Yariv Oppenheimer on his Sunday morning program on 103FM Radio, and the two clashed over the 'deal of the century': Segal: "Olmert and Barak offered (the Palestinians) a dream plan and they didn't take it." (Maariv)

Expert on Middle East: "The Trump administration only engages in dialogue with the Israeli right"
The Yedioth commentator and correspondent on Arab affairs, Shimrit Meir, was hosted on Erel Segal's 103FM radio show to discuss the deal of the century, which will soon be presented by the White House: "The chance of it being accepted by the Palestinian Authority - less than zero." (Maariv)
Shimrit Meir: "The Palestinians were not supposed to be a party in this in the first place, and this plan was designed knowing that the Palestinians would not be a party in the matter," Meir explained at the outset. "The Americans will say that the plan is being presented now because of the circumstances. Given that it is a plan that is essentially a US-Israel dialogue without the Palestinians, the Arabs, the democratic camp or the Europeans, the minimum that the Americans had to ensure in this regard is to have an Israeli consensus."

Col. Gershon: "It is impossible to give up the Jordan Beqaa Valley"; Col. Ayalon: "This is a meaningless political move"
Against the backdrop of public debate over the application of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Beqaa Valley, Col. Ami Ayalon and Col. Yitzhak Gershon spoke with Ben Caspit and Inon Magal on 103 FM Radio and presented their opposing views on the issue. (Maariv)
Ami Ayalon: "The story is not the annexation of the valley but what we want and how we see the Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. I am not talking about the essence because we do not know the details of the plan, but talking about the timing. In my opinion, this is a political move whose meaning does not exist. Therefore, since I think the State of Israel should be Jewish and democratic in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, this debate that reinforces the thinking that we can do what we want unilaterally is not good. I am worried by the very act of discussing the moves of the political system. We all have a dream that we are in reality where there are no Palestinians and no Arabs around us. And then we wake up the next day and find out that they actually are here and they can embitter our lives."
RADIO HOST: No one means to annex all the Palestinians, just the 6,000 Palestinians who will receive citizenship and a blue identity card.
Ami Ayalon: "I do not yet know what is written in the plan and to my understanding neither do you."
RADIO HOST: But are you for or against the annexation of the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria?
Ami Ayalon: "I am against any unilateral move because the meaning is not about how many people are or are not in the Jordan Valley. The question is what will happen the day after."
RADIO HOST: Did you also object to the disengagement from Gaza, which was also a unilateral step?
Ami Ayalon: "I thought that leaving Gaza was the right thing for the State of Israel to be a little more Jewish, but I thought the way Sharon did it was wrong. I wrote and said that as a result of Sharon's doing so, there would be more violence."
RADIO HOST: Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon, are you in favor of annexing the Jordan Beqaa Valley and Jewish communities?
Yitzhak Gershon: "First of all, I really admire Ami Ayalon. We tried all the possibilities, went did what we could for the Palestinians in every way. Even when we gave them 100% of their wishes they said 'no'. Sorry, Israel also has interests that must be widely agreed upon by the public. I don't care if it's a spin or a political move, I'm talking about the essence. The Jordan Valley, as the eastern border of the country, is something Israel cannot allow itself to give up."

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