News Nosh 2.5.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday February 5, 2020

Quote of the Day #1:
"Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, it is our destiny to live together.”
--President Reuven Rivlin called on Israelis and Palestinians to renew direct negotiations.*

Quote of the Day #2:
“I’m living in Israel 12 years now, I work as a car mechanic and try to earn a decent living and live my life without bothering anyone. During all my years here Netanyahu and his ministers curse us, incite against us, act toward us as if we aren’t human beings, yell at me in the street that I’m a cockroach, that I’m black and disgusting, but suddenly one can talk with a Sudanese man? You mean all Sudanese aren’t cancer? You can negotiate with them?”
—Faisal Sadiq Adam, a Sudanese asylum seeker living in Israel, responded to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's surprise meeting with Sudan's leader to advance normalizing ties between the countries.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • “I met with Netanyahu for the benefit of Sudan’s interests” - Leader of Sudan, Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan forced to deal with accusations of treason
  • The floods at Hatzor Air Force base: Commander of the base ends his job
  • Coronavirus panic rises: An isolated ward established at Sheba
  • Talking and getting stronger // Tal Lev-Ram on the thwarting of the smuggling to Gaza
  • Modern plague // Dr. Claudey Tal on the hooliganism on the Internet
  • Salary and punishment // Yehuda Sharoni on the salary report
  • Smiling all the way // Haim Isrovitch on US elections
  • On the way to Eurovision: (Ethiopian-Israeli) Eden Alene will represent Israel at the competition in Holland

Israel Hayom

  • Embarrassment for Attorney General: Haim Katz’s immunity was approved (by Knesset)
  • Proof of the low level of the law enforcement establishment // Haim Shine
  • He tried to condemn and was stopped: Dispute between Israel and Iran’s foreign minister at the European Union
  • From celebration to embarrassment: The farce of the Democrats // Boaz Bismuth
  • Coronavirus panic is also in Thailand: “It’s scary to leave the hotel”
  • Senior Intelligence official: “Iran is not recuperating from the assassination of Soleimani”
  • Late, but justified // Yoav Limor on the departure of the commander of the Hatzor Air Force base following the oversight on the flooding of F-16s
  • Our star: Eden Alene will represent us at Eurovision

Top News Summary:
The commander of an Air Force base resigned from his position over the flooding of F-16s (but will become a defense attaché in an Israeli embassy abroad), the European Union threatened to take action if Israel moved towards annexation, Sudan’s leader tried to assuage critics over his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and a Knesset committee approved immunity for indicted Likud MK, Haim Katz, who was indicted on fraud charges (but the plenum needs to approve and if it does, it will probably go to the High Court), making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

**After criticism from his people and lawmakers, as well as from Palestinians, Sudan’s leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan explained that his unannounced meeting with Netanyahu sought to “protect the national security of Sudan and achieve the supreme interests of the Sudanese people.” (Sudan wants Washington to take it off its terror list and after the meeting with Netanyahu US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Burhan to meet in Washington.) Burhan’s troubles and his announcement were front page news in Yedioth and Maariv and along with Haaretz they have reported how Netanyahu was using the warming ties with Sudan to promote his election campaign. However, ‘Israel Hayom’ buried the story on page 13 and gave it a different take: “The Sudanese pressured to meet with Netanyahu as soon as possible,” read the (Hebrew) title. Burhan also confirmed that there was no change in Sudan’s position on Palestinian issue and Sudan's support for an independent Palestinian state. Haaretz+ reported that Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, there are 6,000, were worried that Israel would deport them without them ever receiving refugee status.

Netanyahu said he is postponing the cabinet vote on settlement annexation till after Israel’s relection, backtracking on his earlier promise after getting the message from the US not do any annexing beforehand. But 'Israel Hayom' reported that sources close to Netanyahu say several government officials have already been tasked with outlining maps for future application of Israeli sovereignty on large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. And in a full page article Yedioth reported that a group of families whose relatives were killed by Palestinians demanded in a letter that Netanyahu apply sovereignty now to the Jordan Beqaa Valley, northern Dead Sea area and settlements across the West Bank. “Don't miss the historic opportunity,” they wrote.

*But the European Union ‘threatened” (all the papers except Haaretz used that word) that Israeli moves toward annexation in the West Bank would “not pass unchallenged.” The EU also criticized the Trump peace plan, saying it departs from "internationally agreed parameters." Israel was furious with with the EU’s Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, as he had just recently started his job and only hours earlier had ended meetings in Teheran, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said. And, Haaretz+ revealed that it was Netanyahu’s idea to add to the Trump plan moving Israeli Arabs concentrated in the ‘Meshulash’ (triangle) and Wadi Ara areas into the future Palestinian state. Meanwhile, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin called for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians using the Trump plan as a foundation. Speaking to some 30 U.S. Armed Forces officers visiting Israel, Rivlin said he supported Israel retaining security responsibility for all areas west of the Jordan River. “Israel must always be able to defend itself by itself,"

Elections 2020 Quickees:
(Kahanist) Itamar Ben Gvir: “I feel that there is a significant public drift towards the Otzma Yehudit party"
During the launch of the (extremist right-wing Kahanist - OH) party's campaign for elections to the 23rd Knesset, the party leader said: "This is a party that represents all religious Zionism, without discrimination and without arrogance." (Maariv)
Liberman ditches prospects of unity government
After insisting on establishment of unity government in wake of last general vote, Liberman abandons hope such government will be forme; dismisses PM's recent political moves as election spins and says next government will not be a unity government, but a Zionist and liberal government. (Ynet)
Quick Hits:
  • Gaza escalation: Three rockets hit Israel, army strikes Hamas - Late Tuesday night, airstrikes target Hamas positions in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties reported. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli army now using ‘talking drone’ to disperse West Bank protests - A new IDF drone implores Palestinian protesters in the village of Qaddum to 'go home,' while urging Israeli activists 'not to side with the enemy.' (+972mag)
  • IDF foils attempted weapons smuggling into Gaza from Sinai by sea - Military says naval officers, Shin Bet agents intercepted a boat carrying weapons meant for Hamas' naval commando unit in the Strip. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • IDF deployed sniper cells along the border - After return of incendiary balloons and firebomb terror in recent weeks from the Gaza Strip, IDF deployed intercepting forces yesterday. Each firing position has two fighters: One observes with binoculars, detects the balloons and directs, and his comrade intercepts the bundle with a special-purpose rifle. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Palestinian Authority announces partial ban on Israeli imports - Move seeks to counter a Defense Ministry order halting agricultural imports from the West Bank to Israel. Palestinian ban includes produce, soft drinks, and water. (Israel Hayom)
  • Six new factories in the Mishor Adumim industrial area (in the West Bank) - Signs of increase in the rate of marketing of plots in the industrial zone, especially in zone A, where, by law, those who build factories are entitled to receive benefits such as subsidized land and an exemption from a tender. (Israel Hayom Hebrew)
  • Demonstrations against home demolitions in the Bedouin sector - Abdallah Azazmeh, a 20-month-old toddler, was the youngest protester at the demonstrations at 12 highway junctions yesterday against the (Government) policy of house demolitions, with the participation of hundreds of Jewish and Arab demonstrators. “His home was destroyed when he was born,” said his uncle, Hussein, the Chairman of the local council of the unrecognized village, A-Sir. MK Saeed Alharumi (Joint List): “The continuing protest of the Bedouin public in the Negev will reach its climax next Thursday in a demonstration opposite the Offices of the Authority of Bedouin Settlement in Beersheva.” (Maariv, p. 15)
  • In First, Ethiopian Israeli Singer to Represent Israel in Eurovision -19-year-old TV contest winner Eden Alene says competition has 'turned me from a girl with a dream into a seasoned singer.’ (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • The EU is funding a left-wing campaign for Russian speakers in the country - Grant given to the “Moresheteinu” (Our Legacy) organization: half a million euros. Objective: "Dismantling the negative attitude toward the Palestinian narrative.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu’s Embrace of Trump Is Driving U.S. Jews Away From Israel, Survey Shows - Less observant Jews were more likely to feel that their connection to Israel had weakened in recent years, poll commissioned by U.S.-based Ruderman Family Foundation says. (Haaretz+)
  • Lieberman Denies Granting Military Exemptions to ultra-Orthodox as Defense Minister - Following Haaretz investigation that found that Lieberman's office arranged conscription exemptions, Labor-Gesher calls to convene Knesset committee to review claims. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli activist persecuted by far-right group marks one month in custody - Israel has been holding Jonathan Pollak in custody since the beginning of January, after an extreme-right group filed a suit against him for protesting in the West Bank. (+972mag)
  • Netanyahu's new plane gets anti-missile protection system - The Boeing 767 conducted a third flight test, possibly entering service in two months. Installed on its belly is the DIRCM system (Sky Shield) that detects shoulder fired missiles and shoots lasers to neutralize them. (Ynet)
  • Israel's flag flies on the International Space Station - As Israel marks 17 years since passing of its first spaceman Ilan Ramon, American astronaut Jessica Meir, whose father is Israeli, unveils anti-radiation spacesuit celebrating contributions of the small nation to international space efforts. (Ynet)
  • Israeli energy company denies Egyptian attack on gas pipeline - Controlling shareholder Yitzhak Tshuva attributes report to disinformation campaign aimed at scuttling Israeli natural gas exports. (Haaretz+)
  • Mysterious Egyptian artifact from the Bronze Age found off Israeli coast - A veterinarian taking a morning swim found what turned out to be an anchor engraved with hieroglyphs on the seafloor. But who defaced the Egyptian goddess? (Haaretz+)
  • Iran says it may block UN access to nuclear sites if it faces 'new situation' - The Iran nuclear accord hangs on a single thread, one that permits international inspection of its atomic facilities. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran to execute alleged spy who gave nuclear secrets to CIA - The state-run news agencies in the country report that Amir Rahimpour received money from the U.S. state agency to share the details; the Islamic Republic in the past has sentenced alleged American and Israeli spies to death. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Slain Iranian general was set to deliver reconciliatory message to Saudi Arabia, diplomat says - Invoking U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, ambassador in Iraq says Tehran wants to resolve differences with Gulf states 'as quickly as possible.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Twitter Says Iran, Israel May Have Accessed Users' Phone Numbers - Social media giant says it identified a 'high volume of requests' to use contact upload feature coming from IP addresses in the two countries, adding some 'may have ties to state-sponsored actors.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • TV report: Oman sought to broker Israel-Iran talks in 2013; Netanyahu said no - Muscat felt Israel would benefit from dialogue, as US was already in secret talks that led to 2015 nuke deal, Channel 13 reports; Mossad chief Pardo thought idea worth considering. (Times of Israel)
  • After deadly clashes, Erdogan says Turkey won't allow Syrian advance on Idlib - Erdogan and Putin reportedly agreed to improve coordination of their countries' actions in Syria after a confrontation between Turkish and Syrian forces killed soldiers on both sides. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanese-American who worked for Israel charged with murder - The indictment says Amer Fakhoury killed and tortured prisoners inside Khiam prison that was run by an Israeli-backed militia and where the defendant worked as warden. Fakhoury confessed to working as a senior warden at Khiam Prison. Fakhoury was detained after returning from the US to his native Lebanon, where he's undergoing cancer treatment, and it remains unclear if he'll be able to stand trial. (Agencies, Ynet)

Gaza farmers return to their lands along volatile Israeli border
Border area has been a 'no-go' zone for Palestinians due to increased unrest stemming violent attacks initiated by Hamas; now, International Committee of the Red Cross is sponsoring agricultural project in Gaza, allowing farmers to regain access. (Reuters, Ynet)

Trump Deal Commentary/Analysis:
There is no doubt that the Palestinian side is the main casualty of the "century deal" (Dr. Eli Carmon, Maariv) The Plan of the Century was released during the time that Netanyahu fights for his political and legal survival and Trump faces being ousted. The plan serves their political interests.
How Trump’s Mideast Plan Is Angering Both Annexationists and Peaceniks (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Left-wingers in both Israel and America don’t believe the plan will lead to peace, while the right’s hopes for an instant green light for annexation have dimmed. Centrists, meanwhile, are left with many questions.
American Jews' political bubble (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Reactions to Trump's Mideast peace plan reveal that the chasm between what Israelis are thinking and the opinions of American Jews has never been greater.
Jared Kushner does not see the brutal occupation I helped carry out (Yehuda Shaul, +972mag) As a former soldier, I enforced two separate legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump plan wants to make this reality permanent.
Time to draw the line for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) The most important thing to take from US President Trump's peace plan is its spirit, which allows Israel to cement a new reality on the ground and reshape its border.
American Jewish leaders betray their community by backing Trump’s deal (Mairav Zonszein, +972mag) The American Jewish establishment's alignment with philo-Semitic officials and the pro-settler right is not in the interest of Jews in Israel or the diaspora.
The Palestinian veto has been denied (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) The Trump administration's peace plan denies the Palestinians their main political asset: The right to veto any deal presented to them, which for decades they used to remain at the center of the world political stage.
The Palestinian leader did not miss an opportunity to provoke antagonism against his people (Ephraim Ganor, Maariv) If the wisdom were on the Palestinian side, they would have been able to thwart and change Trump's plan easily. They simply had to say "yes" to the plan with a few reservations.
The Democratic Party is also devoted to Israel’s apartheid (Alex Kane, +972mag) Both sides of the aisle are complicit in maintaining U.S. support for Israel’s separate and unequal regime.
What happens after the Palestinians reject the peace plan? (Rabbi Dov Fischer, Israel Hayom) The Palestinians are likely to say "no" once again and refuse to compromise on one inch of land they claim for themselves in Judea and Samaria. Will this be an opportunity for Israel?

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Both Israel and Hamas Need a Gaza Deal Before the Election (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Israel’s government and intelligence agencies are facing a real dilemma. They aren’t sure if Hamas is still interested in a cease-fire deal or if it has it decided to abandon it. Is Hamas allowing Gazans to fire mortar bombs and incendiary balloons to pressure Israel, or is it merely using them to express its opinion of U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan? Guessing Hamas’ positions has become a political and diplomatic game that obviously isn’t disconnected from the colossal event slated to take place here in another month – the third Knesset election of the past 12 months. But can anyone guess what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions on Hamas are? Does the government itself want a deal, or is it deliberately dragging its feet? It’s as if we’ve already forgotten the reason for the very idea of a deal. It was born of Israel’s and Gaza’s shared interest in preventing a military conflict, calming the border and letting both sides live reasonably normal lives.
Holy Cow, Israel and the Palestinians Have Gotten Into a Lose-lose Trade War (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) The PA’s ban on imports of Israeli calves triggered Defense Minister Bennett to hit back with his own boycott.
The price of Israel's new African adventure (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu says Sudan wants to change its ways and receive international legitimacy after being named state sponsor of terrorism, but its leader was still not willing to commit to full ties with the Jewish state.
Flooded Fighter Jets Were Bad for Israeli Air Force, the Cover-up Was Worse (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) While the base commander took responsibility for last month's incident which caused $9 million in damage, it seems the buck conveniently stops there.
Bribes, Bombs and Saudi Billionaires: The Secret History of Israel’s Explosive Relations With Sudan (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+) Netanyahu wants Sudan to join the 'friends of Israel' club of Sunni Arab states. The Mossad, with Saudi help, has tried that before.
Politics Is a Pain in the Gas for Israel and Its Mideast Neighbors (David Rosenberg, Israel Hayom) From Egypt to Jordan and Lebanon, many in the region prefer to engage in empty posturing than getting natural gas into production.
After violent clashes with Syrian forces, Turkey must ask itself a hard question (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Fighting between Turkish and Syrian forces shows Ankara has run out of options in Idlib.
"Yad Vashem" admitted it made a mistake and it gave troubling evidence of forcing diplomacy over memory (Gideon Kotz, Maariv) The whole affair, in the end, played into the hands of the President of Poland, who succeeded in appearing just and right - precisely because of the policy of dubious memory of the administration that he heads.
Benny Gantz, Mediocrity Personified (Nave Dromi, Haaretz+) Gantz was a mediocre Israel Defense Forces officer, a mediocre chief of staff, and if he becomes prime minister – he will be a mediocre prime minister. But for a country like Israel, mediocre is not sufficient. Evidence of his mediocrity is the fact that he doesn’t arouse any extreme feelings. In order to understand how “parve” he is, it’s enough to look at his associates, whose declarations generate more interest and stir up more emotions than his do. For example, Yael German, with her concoction of comments about separation versus disengagement, has created more noise than Gantz. Yair Lapid, with his video about the ultra-Orthodox, succeeded in arousing a public uproar for half a day.
"In most Arab roles the (Arabs) are terrorists"
Salim Dao, 69, and his daughter Maisa, 26, collaborate in the movie "The Jaffa Dead," and they talk about the stereotypes that Arab actors have to deal with, as well as Salim's decision to leave the Repertoire Theater: “They offered me roles that were not honorable. After 45 years in the theater, that’s what they offer me?” (Interviewed by Yoav Birnberg in Yedioth Hebrew’s ’24 Hours supplement)

'People today have no problem admitting they fake polls'
"The most common race is between the posers and the professionals, and the former usually has a much better chance of winning," says pollster Yitzhak Katz. (Interviewed by  Nadav Shragai in Israel Hayom)

'ISIS in Sinai is close, we must be ready,' IDF official warns
Lt. Col. Erez Shabtay, commander of the IDF's elite mixed-gender Caracal battalion, says his forces can see jihadi cells in neighboring Egypt. (Israel Hayom)

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