News Nosh 1.30.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday January 30, 2020

Quote of the day:
“The White House looked like Habayit Hayehudi (nationalist-religious Zionist party) the other day, awash in kippot and Yiddishkeit. Does one have to be an anti-Semite to wonder about this? With all the wheeler-dealer peacemakers – all these Friedmans, Adelsons, Greenblatts, Kushners and Berkowitzes, these supposedly fair and unbiased mediators, it’s impossible to even think about the start of a fair accord. It’s not hard to guess what goes through the mind of every Palestinian and every seeker of justice at the sight of this all-Jewish and all-right-wing class picture.”
Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz+ that the unfair Trump plan is the start of the third Nakba.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Annexation on hold - Not so fast: Sovereignty is being delayed (Hebrew)
  • Exclusive: Our correspondent in China reports from within the “prohibited area” (Hebrew)
  • Returning home - From jail to Israel in the Prime Minister’s plane (Hebrew)
  • The ‘release’ festival // Yuval Karni (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Naama returning home
  • Gantz: I will take the Trump Deal for Knesset approval
  • More on the Trump Deal and its ramifications
  • The coronavirus panic - Health Ministry considering demanding those who returned from China to stay home
Israel Hayom
  • “We understood what they felt in 1948” - Great excitement in Judea and Samaria day after publication of “Plan of the Century”
  • On hypocrisy and unilateralism // Nadav Shragai
  • Love live the difference: Between Trump and Oslo // Akiva Bigman
  • Abu Mazen lost the moderate bloc // Oded Granot
  • Europe is 'bein meitzarim' (mourning period between destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples)  // Eldad Beck
  • Naama returns home: “Waiting to hug her”
  • Yazbak storm: The MK was disqualified, the High Court will decide
  • Danger of coronavirus: Health Ministry considering “isolation” for those returning from China
  • History: Tomorrow Britain exits the European Union
  • President Rivlin in moving address in Hebrew at Bundestag: “The Holocaust can happen again”
  • Committee for investigating activities Police Investigating Police Unit, yes or no: Again, tension between Attorney General and Justice Minister

Top News: Trump Plan
Jewish smiles and Arab frowns stood out in the articles of today’s Hebrew newspapers. The smiles of settlers “waking up to a new reality” ahead of the imminent plan to apply Israeli sovereignty over settlements and annex land, as per the Trump ‘plan of the century,’ and the smile of Naama Issachar, who is being freed today from a Russian prison and returned home on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plane after receiving a pardon from Putin, versus the frowns of Israeli-Arabs, who, according to Trump’s plan, will be swapped into the Palestinian state in exchange for Arab-free land for expanding the State of Israel and the frown MK Heba Yazbak, whom the Central Elections Committee disqualified from running for elections, at the request of right-wing Knesset members due to two Facebook posts she wrote years ago and retracted. (See Commentary below. Larissa Trembovler Amir, the wife of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was also barred.

The timing of the approval of the annexation of the Jordan Beqaa Valley also became top news. The government postponed Netanyahu’s plan to pass annexation approval on Sunday, possibly because the US said it does not approve of the annexation before Israeli elections March 2nd, then Opposition and Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz grabbed the headlines when he declared that he will take the plan to the Knesset for approval next week. Likud people slammed him for trying to get credit for Netanyahu’s achievements. Gantz insisted that Netanyahu, as an indicted man, cannot implement the annexation. The Trump plan is expected to be legally reviewed by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who will likely not rule out the legality of the plan, which includes annexation of land. (Yedioth Hebrew)

In today’s papers, the Arab-Israelis were for the first-time profiled after it came to light that Trump’s plan adopts far-right-wing MK Avigdor Lieberman’s idea: transferring the areas that Arab-Israelis live in, Wadi Ara and the Meshulash (Triangle), to the Palestinian Authority. "We are not civilians with limited time conditions,” one Arab citizen told Yedioth. The Mayor of Taibeh Shuaa Mansour Masarwa said: “We are residents of the State of Israel, not enemies.” Mansour referred to the Palestinian "Nakba" and said: "The plan is delusional, but we will say most clearly - there won’t be another Nakba. We won’t let such a plan can be passed, even if it costs us our very lives. It is regrettable that the political parties in the country do not their raise voices in a clear way against the right-wing apartheid policy."

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank made known their disapproval - but in a peaceful way. Hundreds of Palestinians marched from Tubas in the West Bank past soldiers and through a checkpoint in the Jordan Beqaa Valley, the Valley that Israel intends on annexing, to protest against the 'Deal of the Century,’ +972 mag reported. They marched toward privately-owned agricultural land that Israel had declared a closed military zone for the purpose of IDF training and began to plow the area. “Border Police officers arrived at the scene and began dispersing the demonstrators with tear gas and stun grenades, as protesters sat down on the ground in an act of civil disobedience. The protesters headed back to Tubas at around noon, and the demonstration ended without arrests.” But Israeli forces opened fire on some protesters, injuring three Palestinians with live fire and 41 other Palestinians in demonstrations across the West Bank. Haaretz+ reported that many Palestinian activists are pressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to declare a civil revolt in the West Bank against the occupation. “To block a road not with stones, but by sitting on the roads leading up to the settlements and causing traffic jams. That’s a revolt,” said Qadura Fares. “To damage infrastructure is a revolt; to remove all Israeli products from the Palestinian market – that’s a revolt. We don’t want a drop of blood spilled on either side.” There was a single projectile fired from Gaza that landed in Israel, to which the Israeli army responded, hitting Hamas targets. Maariv reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wrote a letter to Netanyahu, warning that “We are free to renounce security coordination" with Israel. Moreover, senior defense officials warned that annexation would endanger Israel's peace with Jordan, Haaretz+ reported.

The Trump plan will also swap land in the Negev for areas in the West Bank and build 12 bridges and tunnels to connect enclaves. Haaretz+ has a digitized version of a map that shows how annexing certain parts of the West Bank carves up Palestinian territory.

Interestingly, speaking in Hebrew at the Bundestag, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin threw tepid water on Trump’s plan, saying only that it “could allow the two peoples to renew the channels of dialogue and make progress towards a shared future.” But he did not adopt the plan and said “both sides need to study the plan in depth.” That said, Yedioth Hebrew and Israel Hayom focused on his statements on anti-Semitism in Europe.

Similarly, some countries expressed support for Trump’s ‘efforts,’ but not for the plan itself. The European Union welcomed Trump’s ‘efforts' toward a two-state solution. But also cautioned that both sides needed to show 'a genuine commitment' to ending the conflict. Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Maariv that “The plan seems to have details acceptable to Arab countries” adding ”we will have to see how to come up with a solution that will be acceptable to everyone.” Egypt also welcomed Trump’s efforts.  The Arab League, Turkey and Iran condemned the plan for legitimizing the occupation.

And Democratic presidential candidates slammed the plan as too pro-Israel. While Democratic senators slammed Trump for presenting the plan now, saying it raises ‘disturbing questions’ about interference in Israeli elections.

  • Only 10% of Israelis say Trump’s plan will bring peace (JPost)
  • Trump's Peace Plan Doesn't Bolster Netanyahu's Likud, Election Polls Show (Haaretz)
  • Nearly half of Jewish Israelis oppose unilateral West Bank annexation (Times of Israel and Haaretz)

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stops in Moscow today on his way back from Washington to bring Naama Issachar, an Israeli-American woman jailed over drug charges in a high-profile case, back to Israel after arranging for her pardon and reportedly is now seeking to get US spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel before elections. Maariv reported that Netanyahu's trial may take at least two years.

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli Army Strikes Hamas Targets After Projectile Fired From Gaza Lands in Israel - The incident comes a day after U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his "Deal of the Century," a plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which was widely condemned by Palestinian factions. (Haaretz+ and i24News)
  • (Dampening right-wing excitement) Israeli President at German Parliament: Trump's Peace Plan Requires Big Concessions, anti-Semitism raises its head again in Europe - 'We can't give up,' Rivlin speaks in Hebrew at Bundestag, urges Palestinians and Israelis at ceremony in Berlin to commemorate the victims of Nazi Germany. (Haaretz+, Times of Israel and Israel Hayom and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • War crimes case against Benny Gantz dismissed by Dutch court for lack of jurisdiction - Civil suit seeks compensation for the deaths of six members of Gazan-born Dutch citizen's family while Gantz was army chief. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • In Wake of Tensions With U.S., Iranian Factory Making American, Israeli Flags to Burn Is Thriving - 'The people of America and Israel know that we have no problem with them. If people burn the flags of these countries at different rallies, it is only to show their protest,' says the flag factory owner. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump administration to renew foreign firms’ waivers for work at Iranian nuclear sites - Republicans on Capitol Hill have previously objected to waivers being extended and are likely do so in the case of another extension. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Trump Deal/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Sorry, Jared, This Time It’s Not the Palestinians Who Have 'Screwed Up,' It’s You (Elie Podeh, Haaretz+) When Jared Kushner on CNN accused the Palestinians of 'screwing up another opportunity,' he not only overlooked Israel’s own screw-ups, but entirely mischaracterized the Trump plan as an opportunity for peace.
Trump's agreement is nonsense with the potential to deteriorate the existing situation (Ran Edelist, Maariv) This is a satanic, grandiose and ridiculous program. Middle Eastern affairs interest Americans as the garlic shell as Kobe Bryant crashes and corona virus takes off.
*Trump Declared the Third Nakba (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) In a flimsy hospital gown, injured, barefoot and confused, without food or water, with a catheter attached and wearing a diaper, Gaza resident Omar Abu Jeriban was tossed on the side of the road (in Israel by Israeli police) on June 13, 2008 and left to die. Chaim Levinson reported the story in Haaretz at the time, David Grossman was appalled by it. The other day, the entire Palestinian people became Abu Jeriban. The role of the police who tossed out a wounded man in the middle of the night was taken by the American president, Donald Trump, and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The role of the hospital that just stood by was taken by the world. In 2008 it was a human tragedy; two days ago, it was a national tragedy: The White House declared the start of the third Nakba. The Palestinians were tossed by the side of the road and abandoned to their fate. Right-wing Israel is delighted, left-wing Israel is lost as usual, and the world is silent. It’s the end of the world…This is their third Nakba. After losing most of their land, property and dignity in the first and their liberty in the second, now comes the third to crush whatever is left of their hope. They’ve tried everything. Diplomatic struggle and armed struggle, nonviolent protest and economic boycott. Nothing has helped. The ‘deal of the century’ only reconfirms what was known: The evil thrive, this time in a particularly extreme edition of one-sidedness, racism and arrogance. The mighty take all. All. The Palestinians get a caricature of an independent state after many years, if ever, and only as long as they agree to a series of degrading surrender conditions that even the lowest collaborator would never agree to. Israel, on the other hand, gets almost everything, and right away. Why do only the Palestinians have to prove themselves before they get anything? Has Israel proven itself in the half-century of occupation? Has it obeyed international law at all? Has it heeded the international community? Should there be a prize for the brutal occupier? For the settlers? For what, and why, America?..
Breaking the 'everybody knows paradigm' (Dr. Eran Lerman, Israel Hayom) Even if the Palestinians reject Trump's peace plan, it still serves their long-term interests. False, undeliverable expectations – based on the assumption that "everybody knows" what Israel will be forced to concede – eventually need to give way to a more realistic paradigm, which in turn may lead to a better life for both sides.
Indicted Netanyahu Has No Mandate for Annexation (Haaretz Editorial) We must hope that when the Attorney General does examine the issue thoroughly, he will reach the appropriate conclusion: that the current, temporary government, on the eve of the third election within a year and led by a prime minister who has been charged in three corruption cases, does not have a mandate to make a decision of such enormous importance to the state. That is especially the case when the guiding criterion is urgency. Were it urgent to the Netanyahu government to solve the conflict on one hand, or to inflame it by means of unilateral annexation on the other hand, he had 10 years of uninterrupted rule to do so. It cannot be the case that now, two months before an election and on the day he was formally indicted, Netanyahu suddenly finds it necessary to end the stalemate vis-a-vis the Palestinians. The juncture of circumstances is too great; Mendelblit, as well as any Knesset member with a shred of decency, must not do anything to facilitate such an underhanded move.
Trump's Peace Plan Still Has Some Bones That Will Get Stuck in the Settlers' Throats (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) Ambiguous talk about imposing sovereignty in the West Bank is nice, the Jordan Valley is cute and the pro-Israeli tone is certainly pleasant to right-wing ears. But the aspirations of the settlers are much larger.
Misreading reality, Palestinians overplayed their hand (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) The writing was on the wall, but Ramallah and Gaza refused to see it. For decades, the Palestinians expected that the world would force a deal on Israel that would break it – but in the end, the world got weary and PA leader Abbas was left stuck with Hamas. The Arab response to the "deal of the century" has left the Palestinians in shock.
It’s a just and moral plan…In the End We’ll Return to Gaza, Too (Nave Dromi, Haaretz+) The “deal of the century” is a great victory for Israel. It’s a just and moral plan that positions all the parties where they belong: Israel has the legal and historic right to territory in the Land of Israel, and the Palestinians have a chance to take charge of their lives and build their future alongside us. As is typical of chronic rejectionists, they will mess up this opportunity too, but for Israel their stubborn refusal will merely be another victory. They say that U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t particularly elegant, but the harsh blow he delivered to the Palestinians was elegantly crafted. There are those who find comfort in the fact that Trump repeatedly referred to “two states” in his declaration. But it was clear to everyone that we’re talking about two states “on condition” – and since the Palestinians will never meet the demands of the Trump plan, they won’t have a state. Israel has to be prepared for Palestinian riots at best, and for a mini-intifada at worst. If the Palestinians choose the second route, Israel will have another opportunity to improve its situation and make it clear to the Palestinians where they stand when the White House yawns in response to their cries for attention…Right-wing realism must seek to apply sovereignty now and deal afterward with what might happen.
Time for the architects of Middle East failures to be quiet (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Longtime State Department peace processors who helped wreck the region under Clinton or Obama, and are now the first to criticize the Trump plan, lack credibility.
Trump’s Plan Calls for ‘Sensitivity’ in Jerusalem. Then Takes a Hammer to It (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) The plan is also short on details and full of contradictions about things like the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Trump's 'Al-Aqua Mosque' Plan Leaves Palestinians With Nothing More to Lose (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The plan annuls the applicability of international law in the West Bank, meaning Israel may face an aggressive legal forum and economic sanctions.
The Left knows Netanyahu won this round (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The Likud hopes that the sovereignty issue can dominate the agenda for the remaining four weeks of the campaign, as this will definitely help Netanyahu's electoral chances.
A Victory for the Settlers, Not for Israel (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) Commentators are already discussing whether the Yesha Council decision is just spin designed to help Benjamin Netanyahu or the council’s true position. But it’s been shown that people can get used to the most absurd things, like a municipality dispatching its own diplomatic delegation – an original Israeli trick. Another Israeli trick is explaining to the left that it mustn’t speak abroad. That’s only allowed for those who are promoting the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state. It’s clear why the Yesha Council has a position on the “deal of the century” plan, which will have an impact on settlements. It’s also clear why it chooses to express this position in Washington. It’s not clear why Israelis are ready to keep funding this absurd situation.
Oslo vs Trump's Vision: How U.S. Mideast Plan Differs From Its Predecessors (David B. Green, Haaretz+) From the way it was created and the way it was unveiled to the actual content, these are the major differences between the new peace plan and previous ones.
Trump Fulfills Netanyahu's Diplomatic Vision, but Is Unlikely to Save His Political Career (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) 'Deal of the Century' paves the way for a unity government of Likud and Kahol Lavan, if the formula can be found to remove Netanyahu out of the way, or at least terminate his tenure while his trial is ongoing.
Benny Gantz Got a Full-fledged Political Training (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) The main beneficiary of Israel’s current political paralysis is Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz. For him, the past year has been an intensive internship for the world he is entering, the kind that simply sitting in the opposition for four years couldn’t give him. When Gantz decided to enter politics, he aspired to be No. 2 to an experienced politician, recognizing that this was a profession that must be learned. He wanted to test the water before plunging in, and without drawing too much attention. He soon realized he couldn’t be No. 2 to Benjamin Netanyahu, due to the prime minister’s legal situation. That’s what turned Gantz into the head of Kahol Lavan and a candidate for prime minister. This period, with its political uncertainty, won’t be remembered favorably in Israeli history, but it has served Gantz well. He received a year of accelerated professional training, with three election campaigns and a few challenges that he has so far successfully met.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
Arab Lawmaker Targeted by Israel's Right Is a Courageous Woman (Samah Salaime, Haaretz+) On the virtual wall of MK Heba Yazbak were vestiges of an image she shared on Facebook five years ago, posted after the assassination of Samir Kuntar. In the post she wrote “a shahid [martyr] and a warrior.” To the far-right parties (Likud and those further right), the right-in-denial (Kahol Lavan) and the “lite” right (Labor-Gesher), the act of sharing was enough to show that Yazbak favors armed struggle in Israel, and supports terror. On the wall of the home of far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir there was a picture of Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish terrorist who murdered 22 Palestinians in Hebron. Ben-Gvir was not disqualified from serving in the Knesset, despite his anti-Palestinian statements. The right-wing parties opened their doors to him; the prime minister himself tried to ensure his political future. The level of this theater of the absurd deteriorates every election campaign; it’s become boring and predictable.
The Pluralism of the Hypocritical Left-wing (Itamar Ben-Gvir, in a special column for Maariv) There is a lot of hypocrisy in the article by the director of the The Israel Religious Action Center (legal advocacy center of Reform Judaism Movement), Noa Sattat, published over the pages of this newspaper last week ("Isolate them", 21.1.20). Sattat accuses Otzmah Yehudit party and myself (Chairman) of bullying and racist statements, but wonder of wonder, while the Reform Center has made efforts and dug into archives to disqualify me, when it comes to the Arab Joint List, their ears are sealed. Freedom of expression? Only for (Arab MK) Heba Yazbak and her friends.
Naama struggled and won her freedom (Alexey Dobrynin, Israel Hayom) In a special column for Israel Hayom, attorney who represented Israeli backpacker jailed in Russia says the travesty in her trial was not the lack of evidence that somehow still led to a conviction, but the indifference to the fact that she did not understand the charges against her.
The Naama Release Festival (Yuval Karni, Yedioth Hebrew) The talks for a pardon could also be done in quiet diplomacy without cynically gaining a political profit…Let's start with the last line: Naama Issachar needs to return home, to Israel. She was caught for possession of a small amount of drugs in a suitcase that she put on a plane, charged with attempted smuggling and given an extreme and disproportionate punishment. The State of Israel is one of the few countries in the world that works to assist its citizens in times of distress - even if it is a criminal problem. You can argue against that, but that’s the way we are. The battle of Naama and Yaffa (Naama’s mother) Issachar is justified, the aid given by the State of Israel in its release is proper - but the whole festival around the affair is ridiculous and miserable. Her release affair must not be made into a national festival. Where are the proportions? Where is the modesty? The talks for her release could also be done in secret talks, closed rooms and quiet diplomacy with the Russians, even if the price was the same…
The state has given a divorce to the Druze, and they have to act on the assumption that the alliance is over (Malek Bader, Maariv) The Druze must begin and prepare for a new era, at least until a government emerges and fixes the injustice created by the Kaminitz Law and the National-State Law.
The Israeli Civics Teacher Canned for Challenging His Students
Meir Baruchin, fired for remarks about the IDF and ‘rot’ in Israel, stands by his methods of teaching high school students. “Just because almost all the students absorb the indoctrination of the majority viewpoint, as they have heard and learned it at home, in school, or in the media – the duty of every civics teacher is to make the minority present in the classroom,” Baruchin tells Haaretz. Depending on the subject he is teaching, the “minority” changes each time: Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox, LBGT individuals, the political right or left. “The challenge is to deal with the students’ one-dimensional thinking, which is reflected in intolerance, in being deterred by complex situations, and in simplistic perceptions,” he says. “It goes far beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…Sometimes I see the spark in the students, the moment when they get it. I’ve heard them saying, ‘Wow, I never thought of it like that.’ For the absolute majority of the Jewish students, not only is the Arab not deserving of the same rights they receive – he is some abstract image: He’s nameless, he’s faceless, there’s no individual identity. They all look the same.” (Interviewed by Or Kashti in Haaretz+)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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