News Nosh 2.10.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday February 10, 2020

 You Must Be Kidding: 

--Percentage of land that Israel Lands Authority auctioned off in January was actually over the Green Line. ILA owns 90% of the land inside Israel.*

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Following Yedioth expose - Enormous class-action suit against Rambam Hospital in the name of the patients who died (after taking expired chemotherapy medicine) (Hebrew)
  • To cringe from fury // Nadav Eyal
  • It’s cooooold - Cold wave that began yesterday continues today
  • High Court approved the MK who supported terrorists
  • Silence of the lambs // Nahum Barnea
  • Tailwind for the extremists // Ben-Dror Yemini
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • High Court: (MK) Yazbak can run for Knesset - Criticism in political establishment from right and left
  • Preserve the stability // Michael Milstein on the security tension
  • More funding necessary // Prof. Dov Tchernichovsky on the situation of the health system
  • Opportunity for change // Tahuna Maharat on the committee to probe the (Justice Ministry’s) unit for the investigation of police officers
  • Lesson in economics // Nirit Tzuk on the gaps in the education system
  • Honor in France: Gold medal for Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik
  • Because of coronavirus: Health Ministry recommends avoiding flights to Far East
Israel Hayom
  • “High Court justices gave approval to a terror supporter” - Despite opposition of Chief Justice Chayut: MK Heba Yazbak can run (for Knesset)
  • Court turned into a political arena // Amnon Lord
  • Expose - One judge, thousands of cases - Numbers behind the red tape are revealed: every judge deals with an average of 530 cases
  • Peter and the gold (medal in judo)
  • Controversial change: Planning Unit of the army will be dismantled
  • Coronavirus panic: Health Ministry recommends cancelling trips to Thailand
  • “He was a money launderer”: Detention of Rabbi Berland was extended


Top News Summary:
The Israeli High Court overturned the decision to bar Arab lawmaker Heba Yazbak from running for election, the US vetoed Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories before elections, the government cabinet approved laws despite the Attorney General’s opposition and a convicted sex-offender rabbi was arrested on fraud and tax evasion making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers, along with the Health Ministry’s recommendation not to travel to the Far East, for fear of coronavirus. Meanwhile, Israel and Gaza exchanged threats and projectiles.

*A day after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel was drawing up a map for West Bank annexations and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett called to immediately bring to a vote applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, their ally for the plan, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, made clear that unilateral annexation before Israeli elections would risk losing US support for any annexation. Oddly, for the US, bilateral does not mean including the Palestinian side, but rather completing a joint committee process with the US. TheMarker economic paper noted that not only is Netanyahu pushing for the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but “the Israel Lands Authority appears to be doing its part to help.” TheMarker noted that in January, two-thirds of the land the Israel Lands Authority offered for residential construction was over the Green Line. The ILA controls some 90% of the land in Israel, so it has considerable control of the supply of land and the ability of builders to increase housing starts, the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, Palestinian violence has risen since the announcement of the Trump plan and annexation in the West Bank and Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett threatened Hamas with targeted killings and ‘a different kind of action’ if rocket attacks from Gaza don't cease. Hamas responded warning the “Zionist enemy not to do anything foolish against our people,” and Islamic Jihad said, "The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and their land against Israeli terrorism.” (Also Maariv) Hours later, a rocket was launched from Gaza at Israel without causing damage or casualties. Israel responded from the air striking Hamas targets late at Sunday night. On Monday morning, an Egyptian security delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip to meet with Hamas leaders and Palestinian factions with the goal of reestablishing calm. Maariv reported that the Palestinians were preparing for a multi-arena diplomatic battle against the Trump plan. Abbas is expected to make a speech at the UN General Assembly against it on Tuesday, the Palestinians are preparing a moderate draft resolution rejecting the US plan at the United Nations Security Council, which won't include explicit condemnation of the Trump plan so that the majority of Security Council members support it, with the hopes that it will isolate the US at the UNSC. The Palestinians are also demanding to sue Israel at The Hague for war crimes.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland, 82, a convicted sex offender, was arrested along with his wife and four others, for exploiting his followers and taking hundreds of millions of shekels from them and evading paying taxes. Berland’s devotees confronted police during his arrest and threw stones and other objects at them, injuring two police officers. Police said he had hundreds of victims, including a cancer patient, whose mother said she died after she was told not to accept medical treatment. His followers believe he has superhuman powers.

Elections 2020 News:
In a close vote, 5:4, the High Court ruled to allow  MK Heba Yazbak to run for Knesset, despite controversial posts she shared on social media years ago. She and Joint List Chairman, MK Ayman Odeh, called the campaign to bar her ‘political incitement.’

A stormy argument broke out during the government cabinet meeting between Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt, over two decisions that were very supportive of the Ethiopian-Israeli community. One decision was about a probe into the Justice Ministry’s unit for investigating police. Yedioth even ran an Op-Ed an Ethiopian-Israeli supporting the move. Ethiopian-Israelis have suffered from police brutality. The other decision was to bring 400 Ethiopians to Israel. Mendelblitt said this should not be done right before elections, arguing it may 'appear to be motivated by election campaign interests.’

Kahol Lavan and other lawmakers denounce colleague’s anti-Arab bigotry - Yoaz Hendel is 'a white racist against Arabs and Mizrahim alike,' charged Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi. (Haaretz+)
Itamar Ben Gvir filed a million-shekel libel suit against Gilat Bennett - (Kahanist) chairman of Otzma Yehudit sues the wife of defense minister Naftali Bennett, Gilat, who in a Facebook post wrote: "I have had enough of their repugnant criminal behavior, like when they broke into my house in the last election to show that they will cross borders, if need be. So that I understand that they are terrorists in all sense of the word and that I will be afraid of them.” According to Ben Gvir and Otzma Yehudit, these are false claims: "There was no break-in and those filing suit are not terrorists and criminals." (Maariv and Ynet Hebrew)
Health care a top concern for swing voters in Israel election, polls discover - Kahol Lavan, Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor-Gesher-Meretz rush to announce their would-be-picks for health minister in an attempt to garner errant votes. (Haaretz+)
Quick Hits:
  • Former IDF Officers Take Action Against Corrupt Trade in Palestinians’ Work Permits - System of profiteering in permits currently forces Palestinians to pay thousands of shekels to work in Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel blocks Palestinian exports in escalating trade crisis - Tit-for-tat embargoes imposed by decision-makers in Jerusalem and Ramallah leaves local merchants out of pocket as political situation corrodes long-standing trade links. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Cabinet Approves Aliyah of 400 Ethiopians, Probe of Police Misconduct - Attorney general opposes establishment of committees, arguing it may 'appear to be motivated by election campaign interests.’ (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • App Used by Netanyahu's Likud Leaks Israel's Entire Voter Registry - Names, identification numbers and addresses of over 6 million voters were leaked through the unsecured Elector app. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israel Police, Justice Ministry Use Court Ruling to Force Suspects to Unlock Their Phones (with finger) - Critics in the justice system consider this a violation of suspects' right to avoid self-incrimination. (Haaretz+)
  • (Israel:) Hamas stole sophisticated Israeli equipment - Last year, Israel delivered advanced telecom equipment to the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip for civilian needs. Last week Hamas broke into the warehouses of the Palestinian telecom company, Paltel, and stole the equipment - optic fibers, copper cables, advanced electronic communication systems allowing changing channels, and more -  with the aim of strengthening its military communication. Coordinator of operations in the Occupied Territories: "Until the robbed goods are not returned, we will not allow the introduction of communications equipment to all companies operating in the Strip.” (Yedioth Hebrew and Ynet)
  • Israel's Top Court Rules Threat of Female Genital Mutilation Is Basis for Granting Asylum - In first-ever ruling, justices order state to grant asylum status to Ivory Coast family whose daughters face threat of mutilation, citing failed policy of finding a 'safe' place elsewhere in their homeland. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Farmers against Rami Levy Supermarkets: "Importing tomatoes from Turkey to break us" - According to the Farmers Association, Ramy Levy Supermarket owners buy tomatoes abroad at a high price and create excess in the local market to lower prices. Rami Levy: "The chain will always prefer local produce and only import when there is a shortage.” (Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew)
  • New book reveals how Osama Bin Laden hid in Mossad resort in Sudan - The author Raffi Berg tells the Daily Mail the fake Red Sea resort set up by Israeli intelligence to smuggle Ethiopian Jews from the war-torn country, was years later used by Al Qaeda chief as his headquarters. (Ynet)
  • Iranians nabbed using fake Israeli passports in Ecuador - Man and woman both in their 20s caught trying to travel from South American country to Spain for unknown purposes; Jerusalem often receives requests from other countries asking them to verify Israeli passports due to the frequency of attempts to forge them. It is currently unclear why couple used Israeli documents or whether they had any ties to Iranian intelligence. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Iran Unveils New, More Accurate Ballistic Missile Technology - State television said the missile, called Raad-500, or thunder, had half the weight of a similar ballistic missile, but had 200 kilometers (some 120 miles) more range. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Fails to Launch Satellite Into Space, After Two Failures Last Year - U.S. believes satellite activity is a cover for missile development, which Tehran denies and says it has never pursued the development of nuclear weapons. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Jewish shrine of Prophet Ezekiel’s Tomb open to visitors in Iraq's Shi'ite heartland
  •  - The shrine is modestly concealed in the compound of a newly-built Shi'ite mosque that replaced the original synagogue, and is attracting mainly Muslim pilgrims. (Haaretz+)

What Is Shin Bet Hiding About Killing of Israeli Accused of 'Selling His Soul' to the Nazis?
High Court set to hear from former defense officials on case of Israel (Rudolf) Kastner, who was shot dead outside his Tel Aviv home in 1957. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+)

Facing Blowback From Annexation (Avner Gvaryahu, Haaretz+) In the discussions last week about annexing the Jordan Valley, Benjamin Netanyahu told security officials the following incredible thing: “My decision, as the statesman, is to annex the valley. Your job is to deal with the consequences, if there are any.” In one fell swoop, with one sentence, Netanyahu refuted the oldest and most effective lie regarding the occupation – that it’s necessary for security. Security, it seems, is only a consideration when one wants to send soldiers to die for the status quo or for a politician’s survival. But when you want to annex, you can throw the status quo out the window.
What haven't you been told about the Plan of the Century (Gilad Sher and Prof. Gideon Bigger, Yedioth Hebrew) The puzzling drawing of the borders that Trump's team made creates a twisting and complicated friction area and border lines that can't be protected. And that's before the issue of ignoring the other side or the annexation or the immense damage to Israel's fundamental vision as a Jewish, democratic, secure and moral state, with recognized and safe borders and international legitimacy. The territorial solution in a permanent settlement, if and when it arrives, will not necessarily be according to one plan or another. It will be diplomatic, between the parties. The boundary issue - like the other core issues - requires in-depth thinking…a step-by-step approach, and of course negotiation in direct dialogue or through coordinated independent actions.
Requiem to the Apartheid Argument (Gadi Taub, Haaretz+) The argument from the left that annexation of parts of the West Bank would make Israel an apartheid state has lost both its moral and political force, and survives mainly today as a form of virtue signaling.
Trump's plan and the 'apartheid' lie (Dr. Shuki Friedman, Israel Hayom) The Palestinians and their supporters seem to believe that repeating a lie enough times will make it true. Now that the US peace plan has been released, they are trying to undermine it by using the same tactics.
Municipal taxes and Industry - The weak point of Arab municipalities (Ahmed Iyad, Ynet Hebrew)  The Catch 22 of the Arab sector: The problems in Arab society require treatment that costs money, but the poverty of the residents doesn’t allow sufficient tax collection to finance the moves. The deficit of a local municipal council that provides a basket of services to its residents, but which is in budget deficit, must be distinguished from a local municipal council which is in economic collapse and is unable to provide a reasonable services. But one way or another, the economic weakness of the Arab local municipal authorities directly affects all areas of everyday life - education, culture, infrastructure, environmental quality and the quality of life of the residents. Therefore, the lack of budgets makes it difficult for the authorities to implement broad-based programs - educational and otherwise - to eliminate the phenomenon of violence and for the use of other needs. A key part of the Arab local authorities' economic weakness is the lack of a sufficient base of municipal taxes. While many of those authorities manage to collect 80% and more of the municipal tax, this is not a sufficient amount, because most of them are collected for housing and not for businesses, and due to the extent of poverty (in the Arab sector) many families are entitled to discounts. This forces authorities to rely on government balance stipend and support grants, and they don’t have the ability to fund special projects. Government decision 922 for economic development in Arab localities is a correct and important step, but it is not enough. Alongside that, industrial zones near the localities need to be established and factories need to be drawn to them, which will be an important source of both places of employment for residents and business municipal taxes. [NOTE: the municipal taxes are charged based on the square meter size of the property where the person lives or where the business is located. Business municipal tax rates are much higher per meter than residential municipal taxes, known in Hebrew as ‘arnona.’ - OH]
This Best-selling Saudi Novel Sheds Light on the Prospect of Normalization With Israel (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Everyone expects a meeting between Bin Salman and Netanyahu – but public opinion in Saudi Arabia has not been won over yet.
Arab Oil Money Is Running Out, and Chaos Will Likely Follow (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Cash from the Gulf states has been smoothing over the roughest edges of the region’s failed economies. But the oil that paid for it won't last much longer.
Chance to expand sovereignty must be leveraged (Jacob Bardugo, Israel Hayom) The possibility of applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria is suddenly seen as a political obstacle that could impede the Likud and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the polls, but that is not the case.
Netanyahu Just Set the New Starting Point for Future Israeli-Palestinian Talks (Tamir Pardo, Haaretz+) For 53 years, 13 of them with Benjamin Netanyahu at the helm, the Israeli leadership has refrained from applying Israeli sovereignty to the territories of the West Bank, arguing that it would then become a benchmark for future talks, which would see Israel compelled to make further territorial compromises. This made both settlement expansion, and the containment of controversial moves by settler groups, possible. And then, lo and behold, on January 28, 2020, an Israeli prime minister agreed to define the eastern border, to transfer 70 percent of the West Bank and 14 percent of sovereign Israeli territory to a future Palestinian state, and to making the West Bank and Gaza into a single political entity. History could remember Benjamin Netanyahu as the statesman that set a starting point for negotiations.
Israeli Arabs are Israeli, not Palestinian (Shakib Ali, Yedioth/Ynet) Raising the Palestinian flag in protest of the Trump peace plan was an act of solidarity, not identity; no one could remain indifferent as their brothers buckle under the weight of occupation, but we will not be handed over to a different country when we belong here.
Israel's History Police Doesn't Belong in the 21st Century (Haaretz Editorial)  The High Court of Justice is scheduled to hear a petition Monday morning filed by two Israeli historians, Dr. Nadav Kaplan and Dr. Shay Hazkani, who have reached an impasse in their efforts to complete their research. Dr. Kaplan is studying the murder of Israel Kastner in 1957, while Dr. Hazkani is writing about the riots in Haifa’s Wadi Salib neighborhood two years later. The Shin Bet security service is refusing to allow the two to examine documents in its archives connected to these sensitive, charged events, which were of undeniable public importance. In the state’s response to both cases, which were merged into one petition, it did not deny that many documents connected to these incidents remain hidden from the public. Moreover, there is so much material, the state fears that having it gone over by state employees before it is released would “divert” so much manpower that ongoing Shin Bet operations could be undermined. And if this wasn’t enough, the state, as it often does, continues to hide behind that eternal excuse of “state security,” which is hard to challenge for one simple reason: The material is classified, so there is no way to prove whether or not its publication would threaten state security. But past cases, in which archival material that had been hidden on “state security” grounds was finally released after lengthy struggles, have shown that this claim is often unwarranted.
Our European enemy (Victor Rosenthal, Israel Hayom) Are EU officials so foolish as to fail to understand that the funds that they provide to the Palestinian Authority are used to pay terrorists? I don’t believe it.
Drowning in His Own Racist Poison (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) A few years ago I read an opinion piece in Yedioth Ahronoth by Yoaz Hendel (now a Knesset member for Kahol Lavan), in which he wrote that his grandfather used to tell him about having cut off the ears of Arabs during the war. Hendel did not express any disgust, did not repudiate the act and did not even really look into whether it had actually happened or not. It was just another cool story about grandpa’s heroism. Hendel wrote that his grandfather had reached the conclusion that “there’s us [the Jews], and there are those that hate us.” Thus, according to Hendel, the world is a cold place, a real jungle, with enemies all around waiting for the right moment to attack. If every nation would adopt this approach, we would be living in an endless Armageddon. Later, the man uttered a statement that echoed the horrible things that were voiced during Europe’s darkest times: “The Zionist interest is maximum territory with minimum Arabs.”… On Friday, in an interview with Ravit Hecht in the Hebrew edition of Haaretz, Hendel doubled down and presented his race theory on Arabs. First of all, let it be said that any remark about the inferiority of Arabs in effect also includes Mizrahim, who after all came from the jungle so detested by the grandson of the ear-slicer….Eventually, the leaders of Kahol Lavan woke up and asked Hendel to shut up. They did the right thing. They should have demanded long ago that he desist from his racist remarks. ..
It's just inherent racism (Ze'ev Avrahami, Ynet Hebrew) According to Yoaz Hendel, the Ashkenazi Israelis all came from the Opera House, and not from simple-minded farmers, while all the Mizrahim came from the backyard of the society in which they lived.
Stating faults of Arab culture isn't racist, ignoring them is (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) MK Hendel's recent criticism of the Arab and Muslim cultures stoked the rage of the 'enlightened', but examining his words without the 'progressive spectacles', one could see who is the real racist.
The leftists who are trying to eliminate Benny Gantz (Dr. Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew) While unconsciously cooperating with Netanyahu, the center-left people choose to attack the Kahol-Lavan chairman for his ambiguity and kindness. There is something they do not understand…Gantz's greatest talent, for some reason seen as a disadvantage in the eyes of the some, lies in his ability not to upset anyone. Did anyone think that Yair Lapid would be willing to serve as Number 2 under any politician and also give up rotation for the leadership?  Would Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi be willing to relinquish to any other officer whom they were the commander of while serving in the army? This is not self-evident when one knows the generals' rigor about their seniority. Gantz's easygoing temperament and his ability to restrain disagreements and incarcerate anger have enabled Kahol-Lavan to create the best leadership of a party in the current election campaign: Gantz as Prime Minister, Ashkenazi as Minister of Defense, Lapid as Foreign Minister and Yaalon as Minister of Education…
The Israeli Left’s Bad Choice of Heroes (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) In his op-ed Sunday “The left’s messianic stage,” Aluf Benn rubs salt into the left’s wounds: “Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ has delivered a knockout blow to the Israeli left.” And why? Because it placed its trust in “the Messiah,” namely “the world.” This Messiah..never came…With the exception of sliding over into violent means, namely a civil war, the left has done everything to promote a Palestinian state. The reason why until now this “everything” has been unable to achieve the sacred objective, is due to one small (repressed) fact: The Palestinians’ primary goal – which takes priority over the establishment of a state for themselves – is to bring an end to the Jewish state.

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