News Nosh 2.16.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday February 16, 2020

 
Quote of the day:
"I do not intervene with signs in the public space, but this time the rules have been broken. The humiliation of others is not our way."
--Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai orders removal of billboard signs, which showed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh blindfolded and kneeling, saying they were reminiscent of ISIS and the Nazis.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Lieberman: “Gantz lies through his teeth” - 15 days to elections: Sharp attack by Chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu on Chairman of Kahol-Lavan (Hebrew)
  • First patient in Egypt, first victim in France - Coronavirus panic
  • The protest of the “torn families” - Ethiopian-Israeli families increasing the pressure to bring back relatives still in Ethiopia (Hebrew)
  • End the saga // Danny Adino Ababa
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Gantz: We will establish a government without the Joint List and without Netanyahu
  • Coronavirus panic: US also trying to evacuate citizens from the ship
  • Saudi foreign minister to Maariv: “Relations - only after peace”
  • Prisoner, adopt a fighter - Attack dogs ending their combat service will be transferred to Tzalmon Prison and will be spoiled by prisoners

Israel Hayom

  • Joint effort: The sovereignty committee begins to work
  • Expose - The screwup: Two years waiting list for surgery
  • The women of Shas - In attempt to get new votes: Shas will put women in center of campaign
  • US preparing: “The coronavirus will continue to spread even after the winter”

Top News Summary:
Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz's claim that he can form a 'Jewish majority' government, i.e. one without the support of the Joint List,' and the responses of Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman that "he's a liar" (See Election Quickees) and the latest developments on the coronavirus panic (Israelis still on virus-hit cruise ship off Japanese coast) made top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Beyond that, each paper to his own: Yedioth focused on the fear among Ethiopian-Israelis that the government decision to bring their relatives from Ethiopia to Israel was an empty campaign promise, Maariv focused on security affairs: the two rockets shot from Gaza, for which Israel cancelled its plan to ease sanctions on the Strip (and struck back before dawn today) and that two of those killed in the Thursday aerial attack in Syria that was attributed to Israel were Iranian officers. Israel Hayom and Haaretz had similar focuses: the Trump Mideast plan and the Palestinian war crime suit against Israel at The Hague. Both papers reported on the formation of a US-Israel committee led by Amb. David Friedman that will plan annexation of Palestinian territories. Haaretz also reported on the plan by European Union foreign ministers to weigh countermeasures to Trump's Mideast plan. The papers wrote about Israel’s success at getting other countries, now Germany and the Czech Republic, to support Israel’s claim that The Hague has no jurisdiction to probe alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.


Elections 2020 Quickees:
Gantz: "We don't need the Joint List's support"; Netanyahu in response: "Liar"
The Kahol-Lavan chairman was interviewed on the television channels, saying: "We can form a unity government with Zionist parties." PM: "Without Tibi's and Odeh's support in Knesset, he has no government." (Maariv)
Lieberman: “Gantz offered the ultra-Orthodox no less than the Likud”
Gantz stated last night that Lieberman will be part of his government, but the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu reacted sharply: "He lies through his teeth to take away our voters,” he asserted. "Gantz gave far-reaching offers to the ultra-Orthodox that are no less than those of Likud.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
Lieberman rules out joining government with Arab Israeli parties
Yisrael Beiteinu won’t be a part of a government with 'terror supporters,' Lieberman says, adding he's willing to cooperate with left-wing Meretz. (Haaretz)
Gantz: “Diplomatically I lean to the right, socially - I'm left"
The blue-and-white chairman revealed his views on free economics at the conference, saying that on some issues he tends to the left, and in others he tends to the right. (Maariv)
Lieberman Says 'The Netanyahu Era Has Ended,' He's 'In Denial'
Right-wing leaders are 'dreaming of how to form a government without him,' Yisrael Beiteinu chairman says ahead of Israel's March 2 election. (Haaretz+)
Gantz’s Party Gears Up to Siphon Off Votes From Left-wing Alliance Labor-Gesher-Meretz
Labor-Gesher-Meretz says the most recent polls before the March 2 election give it around nine of the Knesset’s 120 seats, reflecting its maximum strength, as parties try to make inroads with new demographics. (Haaretz+)
New Likud election campaign focuses entirely on the Arab public
The campaign slogan says: "Ahmad Tibi and the Joint List will scare you, the Likud will protect you." Campaign creator MK Miki Zohar: "We want to tell the Arab public that we aren't against them. Just the opposite, we're for them, we are working on their behalf as we are working for all of Israel." (Israel Hayom)
The Joint List’s Yiddish campaign
The surprising election propaganda of the Joint List: It will call in Yiddish on the ultra-Orthodox to vote for it, and also will distribute targeted campaigns to Ethiopian immigrants and Russian immigrants. Joint List: “The division (in Israeli society) is the greatest achievement of the right-wing - and the real victory will come when we break the walls that separate all citizens of the state. The Joint List will advance the interests of Arab society and all the excluded populations.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
MK Ayman Odeh: "I would be a better culture minister than (Miri) Regev, I read Chekhov"
The chairman of the Joint List made it clear that his party would not join any government, but revealed what ministry he would like: "Culture is something strategic and constructive." About contacts with (Kahol-Lavan leader) Gantz: “He’s not our cup of tea, but we wanted to replace Netanyahu. Kahol-Lavan wanted to treat us like mistress." (Maariv)
Channel 12 POLL: Gantz's Party Maintains Lead Over Netanyahu's Likud
However, 42 percent of respondents believe Netanyahu is more suitable to serve as Israel's prime minister, while 36 percent think Gantz should lead the country, a poll released on Thursday by Channel 12 News showed. (Haaretz)
Ma'ariv POLL: Blue and White 34, Likud 33, Lieberman 7
In the battle between the blocs, the left-center bloc continues to lead with 57 seats - compared to the 56 of the right. On the question of the match for prime minister: Netanyahu - 49%, Gantz - 40%. Survey shows that despite Benjamin Netanyahu's political and media blitz - which included a summit in Washington, a visit to Moscow, the return of Naama Issachar from there and a visit to Africa - Blue and White remains the largest list, with 34 seats - one more mandate than in the outgoing Knesset. The Likud list is lagging behind, with 33 seats, and it also goes up by one. (Maariv)
Israel Hayom/i24 Poll: 40% of Israelis dread political logjam, think 4th elections likely
Kahol-Lavan would win 34 Knesset seats, besting the Likud, which would secure 32 mandates. These results give the right-wing bloc 57 confirmed mandates, and the center-left bloc 42 without the Joint List and 56 with it, a poll commissioned by Israel Hayom and i24NEWS found Thursday. But the majority of Israelis still believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is best suited to lead the country (47%), compared to 35% for Kahol-Lavan leader, Benny Gantz. (Israel Hayom)


Quick Hits:
  • Two Gaza Rockets Fired at Southern Israel After Several Days of Calm - Defense chief Bennett lauds 'dramatic decline' in rocket fire just moments before attack. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Strikes Gaza and Cancels (Plan to) Ease Restrictions - Defense Ministry says restrictions on Gazans won't be lifted, days after military said they would be in response to Hamas saying it would halt attacks. Despite messages from Hamas that they would stop the launch of projectiles and balloons carrying explosives across the border, mortar fire again targeted Israeli communities Saturday prompting Israel to halt to any lifting of restrictions. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Boy May Lose Eye After Jerusalem Police Shoot Sponge-tipped Bullet - Nine-year-old's father says shooting not preceded by violent protests or stone-throwing. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth, p. 10)
  • Israeli Army Blocks 200 Activists From Planting Trees With Palestinians in West Bank - The IDF demanded to know the exact location where the initiative would take place – and immediately issued a warrant declaring it a closed military area. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel prohibits Palestinians from working land, citing British Mandate ruling - Farmers suspect pressure by nearby settlers led to sudden ban based on pre-1948 declaration of area as antiquities site. (Haaretz+)
  • Education Ministry chief discusses Arab schoolkids with Shin Bet - Meeting at Shmuel Abuav's office, which the security service says was initiated by the ministry DG, discussed trends in informal education among Arab students and their participation in youth movements and organizations. Ministry sources said that the meeting also had significant security objectives, such as preventing radical Islamists from working in schools. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • **Tel-Aviv-Jaffa Mayor: "I ordered the removal of a sign showing Abbas and Haniyeh surrendering" - Ron Huldai wrote that he gave an order to remove billboards hung Friday around Tel-Aviv that humiliate Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh (both are blindfolded and on their knees) and reads: "Peace is only done with defeated enemies.” Huldai: ”That picture incites to violence and is reminiscent of ISIS and the Nazis.” Signs were hung by activists of the organization of 'Project for Israel's Victory.' (Maariv, JPost, Yedioth/Ynet Hebrew), Walla Hebrew, and i24News)
  • Mark Zuckerberg to Yedioth Ahronoth: "If NSO thinks it acted legally, prove it in court“ - In a particularly unusual appearance for the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg attended the  annual Munich Security Conference - and in response to a question from "Yedioth Ahronoth" strongly attacked the Israeli cyber company, ‘NSO.’ Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who was supposed to meet with heads of major European companies, canceled his arrival. Minister's Bureau: "In light of the security situation, his presence is required in Israel.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israeli soldier who killed Palestinian teen was not in danger, video suggests - An IDF soldier shot dead 19-year-old Badr Nafla in the West Bank 10 days ago. The army claims the soldier's life was in danger, but a video of the incident suggests a different story. (+972mag)
  • (Right-wing) US Zionist group: UNHRC's blacklist 'echoes some of the darkest periods in Jewish history' - Herut North America warns Human Rights Council's list of 112 companies operating in Judea and Samaria "must be called out as hateful and dangerous," as it bolsters the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement. (Israel Hayom)
  • Yesha Settler Council plans: File suit against UN blacklist publishers - A day after the list of 112 businesses operating in the settlements was published on the UN website, Israel is preparing to respond - a lawsuit against human rights council leaders, according to the boycott law. (Maariv)
  • The Lieutenant Colonel who exposed the “Tahini affair" struggles against his ouster him from the secret unit - Lt.-Col. R. was the one who revealed that agents of IDF Intel Unit 504 had been dispatched to the Occupied Territories, at their risk, to bring back Palestinian tehini to the Brigadier General commander of the unit. Now Lt. Col. R. is battling against his dismissal, which was allegedly for not working properly. He claims that the process was contaminated by those whom he complained against: "I was like a bone in their throat." IDF: The decision was made before the complaint, for professional reasons. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Israeli army chief unveils 5-year plan : More lethal, high-tech army with focus on Iran threat - The plan, which covers 2020-2024, is subject to approval by the security cabinet and prime minister and could be curtailed due to budget constraints. (Haaretz+ and Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi foreign minister: No meeting planned with Netanyahu - 'There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the Kingdom stands firmly behind Palestine,' says Prince Faisal bin Farhan. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Saudi and Iranian Foreign Ministers speak to Ma'ariv - Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that  "Upgrading relations with Israel - only after peace agreement," emphasizing that agreement must be in accordance with Palestinian conditions. The Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif told Maariv that the deal of the century would lead to violence and that Iran is always being blamed for Mideast violence. Maariv asked him if Iran itself would not act violently against Israel. "Not in this case," replied Zarif, "but Iran will obviously be blamed." (Maariv)
  • Jews are still 'treacherous' according to Saudi textbooks - Despite some improvement, Christians and Jews are still called "infidels," and Jews and Israelis are eternally treacherous, murdering prophets who commit irreparable evil and determined to harm Muslim holy places, new report shows. (Israel Hayom)
  • In First, Umbrella U.S. Jewish Group Sends Delegation to Saudi Arabia - The visit signals what could be an increasing warmness between some mainstream U.S. Jewish groups and Saudi Arabia as Israel also looks to forger informal ties. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Jewish and anti-Zionist: Harvard Students Launch pro-BDS Organization - Group of undergrads says it will focus on Palestinian solidarity work, states it doesn't represent the vision of most Jewish students attending the university. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • The Muslim minister who supports Israel has resigned - Shortly after his sweeping election victory two months ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he would make a revolution in his government and fire ministers. Yesterday he fulfilled his promise, fired several ministers, and even led to the resignation of the person considered Johnson's future heir, Finance Minister Sajid Javid. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Pompeo 'outraged' over UN list of companies with ties to Israeli settlements - Secretary of State says U.S. will never provide 'any information to the Office of the High Commissioner to support compilation of these lists.’ (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Former Trump adviser: "Stop using the term 'settlements'" - Jason Greenblatt, who is close to the US president and one of the initiators of the Deal of the Century, was interviewed on Channel 13, saying "this is an amazing plan for the Palestinian people, but they have the right to be skeptical.” (Maariv)
  • Turkish-backed rebels shoot down Friday another Syrian helicopter in Idlib - Turkish-backed rebels also shot down a Syrian military helicopter in northern Syria on Tuesday, killing its crew members in a fiery crash. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey Rejects Russian Accusation That It Flouted Agreement in Syria's Idlib - Amid Assad regime assault, Ankara says it will use military power to drive back Syrian forces if they don't withdraw, while Moscow says Turkey failed to neutralize militants. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Airstrike in Damascus Thursday said to target Iranian backed militias, seven reported killed - Last week, Israeli air strikes killed up to 23 Syrian government soldiers and allied militia. Earlier this week, Iran threatened Israel with 'crushing response' to any action against its Mideast interests. (Haaretz+, Maariv, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • U.S. warship in Arabian Sea seizes suspected Iranian weapons - USS Normandy boarded dhow last Sunday, seizing anti-tank guided missiles, surface-to-air missiles; Senate moves to limit Trump's ability to wage war against Iran; Revolutionary Guard chief says ready to strike U.S., Israel if they give cause. (Agencies, Ynet, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Report: Iranian hackers targeted Western universities - Hackers allegedly attempt to steal academic literature and course material to use in Iranian schools. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Killing of Iran's Soleimani will lead to liberation of Jerusalem, Guards say - 'The cowardly and craven assassination of commander Soleimani will lead to the liberation of Jerusalem by the grace of God.’ (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Plummeting remittances leave Lebanon's banks in need of billions to stay afloat - 'If we want to serve the economy we need a solid banking sector. A zombie banking sector will mean a lost decade,' says one Lebanese bank's chairman. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Features:
The people behind the blacklist
The UN report names businesses and companies operating in the settlements, but among those who fear being harmed there are also residents who make a living from guiding, tourism and restaurants and even Palestinians. A journey between residents and workers in Judea and Samaria, who are primarily concerned about the harm to coexistence. (Elisha Ben Kimon, Yedioth Hebrew)
Sanders' Adviser Tells Haaretz What His 'Progressive' Foreign Policy Means for Israel
Matt Duss says calling Bernie Sanders an 'isolationist' is a 'slur' – and explains what the difference between Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz is for the Democratic presidential contender. (Alexander Griffing, Haaretz+)
Seller of Secrets
Expose: During Ariel Sharon's famous libel case against Time magazine, IDF general sold classified documents to the magazine. For almost four decades, a stubborn rumor has been going around in the security establishment: During the First Lebanon War, someone - there were all sorts of suspicions about who - took a huge amount of top secret documents and gave them to US magazine Time, whose defense team used them in the libel trial. These are secret documents and reports from the Mossad, the Ministry of Defense and the IDF, which dealt with the Lebanese war in general, and in particular the event that completely changed it: the Sabra and Shatila massacre by Phalangists. These documents came just when Arik Sharon ran his famous libel case against the magazine for reporting that he had discussed avenging the murder of Phalangist leader, Jemayel. Who leaked these documents? What did he get in return? And why exactly during this loaded trial? These questions remained open. Until this week. The person who brought the news at the time that Sharon had discussed with the Phalangists the need to avenge Jemayel’s murder was an Israeli journalist for Time, who was a senior [reserve] intelligence and armor corps officer who had extensive connections in Israel.  His name was Dudu Halevy. He had heard it as Sharon and his delegation left the headquarters of the Phalangists, where Sharon had gone to give condolences.  Halevy: "Bashir's deputy told me they had discussed with Arik about the revenge on the Palestinians over the assassination.” This news of Halevy was not immediately published in Time. Only a few months later, when the Israeli investigative commission submitted its findings, another reporter of the paper took Halevy’s summary and used it. The article claimed that "Sharon discussed with the Phalanges the need to avenge Bashir's death." The publication, as mentioned, caused an international storm. The article in time was actually the seal of the accusation that many in the world had imposed on Sharon and Israel: direct and full responsibility for the terrible massacre. In 2016, I met with Halevy for a series of engaging conversations on various topics. We talked for hours. At the end I decided to just ask him, maybe he would finally clear the fog over the mystery of the secret documents that Time received. Say, I asked, how did this material come to you? It took some time, but in the end, Halevy revealed to me where he got the documents, or at least most of them. But he had one condition: You don't report on it until I agree. When I heard his story, I realized why it was so sensitive. This week, he said, "All right. Report it.” So how did classified documents come to the Times defense team during such a loaded trial? Halevy claims that for these documents the magazine paid money to the IDF officer, a general who served in a number of sensitive positions. According to Halevy, the general or someone on his behalf, took the secret documents from the country, flew with them to New York - and gave them to the Time attorneys. For all this, says Halevy, the general received several tens of thousands of dollars. So, plain and simple: A general who sells state secrets for money. Halevy said that shortly after the lawsuit was filed, unsigned envelopes began to be placed under the door of the Time office in Jerusalem, including documents relevant to the lawsuit. "To this day, I do not know who passed them on, but I guess it was a very senior Shin Bet official who despised Sharon and wanted to help the defense." Some time later, Halevy recounts, an attorney offered him and the magazine "all the documents you want," for a fee. The lawyer later arranged a meeting between Halevy and a man very close to him, a serving general, with a sensitive role. At that meeting - so Halevi said - the general promised to deliver the documents weekly. The lawyer engaged another mediator to separate between the general and the newspaper. Halevy: "I mediated between them and Time's lawyers and finance department. They paid him (the general) the sum of tens of thousands of dollars, but less than a hundred thousand. In those days, that was a lot of money. Because I was afraid to fly with the folders on the plane with me. " I insisted that the documents be physically delivered to Time in New York because I was afraid to fly with the folders on the plane with me.” According to Halevy, the general. or someone on his behalf, delivered eight thick folders to New York with thousands of documents inside. The money was apparently paid in cash… (Ronen Bergman, Yedioth Hebrew)
Brothers in trouble
Meir Alkobi just wanted to get a passport, and an innocent question from the Interior Ministry official opened an old wound: Had their brother Shimon, who arrived as a baby to a hospital in the 1950s and was declared dead, been taken from them and lived all these years? The state, it seems, is determined to keep the details to itself and any attempts to get clear answers about the fate of Shimon are being pushed by the authorities. Now they demand the information to clarify where their brother is and what is his condition. Meir’s parents, Masudi and Aziz Alkoby immigrated to Israel in 1955 from Casablanca with their ten children. The father, who was a businessman in Morocco, obtained a franchise to sell (diesel) oil and ice and the family settled in Naveh Oved, near Tiberias. In Israel, Meir was born, today 63, and a year and a half later, in May 1958, Shimon was born. Later, the daughter, Clara, was born. (Tamar Kaplansky, Yedioth Hebrew’s ’24 Hours’ supplement, cover)
Are women being pushed out of Israeli politics?
While four women currently serve as government ministers, female representation in the Israeli parliament is waning: Women who used to lead parties have disappeared, and leading female figures have been pushed down the party lists. Where has the representation of half the population disappeared to? (Naama Lanski, Israel Hayom)
The Palestinian Village That Never Sleeps (Due to Nighttime Israeli Army Raids)
Nabi Saleh, a village of 600 people, has ended weekly protests, but its struggle against the occupation continues. As in other villages involved in the struggle, a settler takeover of the local spring was what sparked the protests. Every Friday for nine years, there were demonstrations; most of the villagers, along with several dozen Israeli and international activists, took part. Two years ago, the village’s popular committee decided to end the regular demonstrations. By that time, the village had already buried four protesters, three from Nabi Saleh and one from a neighboring village; 22 villagers were incarcerated in Israel and 15 had been wounded by live fire. Those are brutal numbers in a small village like Nabi Saleh. Quite a few of the village residents fell ill over the years from the voluminous amounts of tear gas used by the IDF and the Border Police. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
As BDS runs rampant on UK campuses, Jewish students are fighting back
Until recently, anti-Israel events on UK university campuses went unchallenged. But the days when Jewish students remained silent for fear of harassment are over and they plan on changing the situation. (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Throws IED at Defense Chief Bennett, but It Could Be a Dud (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Looming election throws caution into the wind, but the jabs and gung-ho rhetoric can’t conceal the almost unanimous support for a deal with Hamas.
Build Bibi, build (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) A government decision to apply Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria would be an appropriate response to the UN Human Rights Council's anti-Semitic blacklist and it would significantly reinforce the Jewish communities there to the benefit of Israel and American Jewry alike.
In Trade War, Both Israeli and Palestinian Farmers Lose (Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz+) New Israeli and Palestinian import restrictions are causing produce prices to plummet and rise on both sides of the border.
The UN is right to track businesses in Israeli settlements (Hugh Lovatt, +972mag) The disinformation campaign against a new UN database aims to legitimize the Israeli settler movement and those who illegally profit from it.
After years of a strong chill in Israeli-German relations, something warm this way blows (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) Due to the clear and decisive policies put forth by the American administration, along with a slow but consistent change taking place in Israel's favor within the German government and society, a growing number of Germans have begun expressing sympathy for Israel's position.
A Different Germany? Not With Its Israel Policy (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) On Friday, Germany proved that it’s on a downward trend toward its past. Its decision to be a friend of the Israeli occupation at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, alongside beacons of morality like the governments of Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic, should worry all Germans haunted by the past. Late in her impressive career, under the threat of anti-Semitism in her country, Angela Merkel is willing to forgive Israel everything in an utter knee-jerk reaction. Thus she’s abusing her office as chancellor of the different Germany and one of the last defenders of human rights in the world. We’re left with Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.
What the Trump peace plan doesn't tell us (Gideon Biger and Gilead Sher, Yedioth/Ynet) The U.S. proposal is riddled with strategic mistakes, omissions and fundamental faults, while serious questions about borders, enclaves and land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians are mainly unanswered.
Israel and Hamas should take their clandestine relationship public (Lior Lehrs, Haaretz+) Israel has conducted a quiet, indirect, pragmatic dialogue with Hamas for several years. But secrecy cannot be a long-term foreign policy. The Israeli public deserves to know more.
Promises of the ceasefire alongside the continued rocket fire: the fragile situation in the Gaza Strip (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Reports of a halt to the launch of explosive balloons from the Gaza Strip and Israel easing sanctions, alongside the sunny weather, have created a moment of momentary silence - but security tensions remain intact.
As Dozens Ask to Join Israel-Palestine Case, Request From Within the ICC Could Be the Deciding One (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Israel is leaning toward not participating in the proceedings in order to avoid conveying legitimacy, but is recruiting all the unofficial proxies it can muster.
What Are the Supporters of the ‘Deal of the Century’ So Happy About? (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) I can’t get out of my head the picture of right-wing journalists Yinon Magal, Shimon Riklin and Erel Segal singing about Jerusalem – on Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined them – in clips they’ve been posting on Twitter celebrating the so-called historic victory. But what kind of victory is it when the referee is a player on one team and the rival team hasn’t taken the field?
A Lesson in Collaboration (Haaretz Editorial) Hebrew University’s decision to include the right-wing movement Im Tirtzu – a key mission of which has been persecuting professors for their political views – among the groups where students can volunteer and earn two academic credits constitutes moral bankruptcy. It’s hard to overstate the nature of the decision or the error in judgment by the university’s leaders. Last year the university began awarding credits for volunteering for social causes and listed 140 groups where students could take part.
No, Gadi Taub, Apartheid Is Still a Sin (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Gadi Taub tries to explain in his February 11 Haaretz article why a possible apartheid state in Israel shouldn’t be considered a sin. Taub’s arguments barely hold water because they are built on two assumptions: First, that the world is moving toward ultra-nationalism and countries are being cautious about taking binding moral positions and second, that we are facing a Palestinian killing machine and whatever stand we take toward it won’t change that. Both assumptions are dubious.
No need to brood, sovereignty is underway (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Instead of celebrating an ideological and political victory and taking pride in the fact that Israel has reached the pinnacle of its political aspirations, the leaders of the settlement enterprise are unnecessarily anxious.
The Sacred Task of Preventing Palestinians From Reaching Work (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Since 2016 Israel has been revoking entry permits of people whose surnames are identical to those of Palestinian assailants. It’s called deterrence.
Annexing the Left (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The most surprising response to the publishing by the UN Human Rights Council of a list of 112 businesses that operate in the settlements. came from the chairman of the Labor-Gesher-Meretz joint ticket, Amir Peretz, who said “We oppose boycotts, and outrageous and superfluous UN decisions. We’ll work in every forum to repeal this decision.” When even a ticket that ostensibly represents the left joins the chorus of condemnations, it’s clear that the line between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories has been almost completely obscured. Under the auspices of a pro-settler American government, the center-left bloc is finishing Israel’s process of denial of the fact that the settlements aren’t legal. The right’s propaganda has succeeded, and the left has internalized the lie that criticism of the occupation and the settlements is anti-Semitic.
The return of the Monroe Doctrine (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) The Trump administration has found bipartisan support for a pro-US Venezuelan leader but its efforts to bring about regime change in Venezuela have been principled, persistent and, so far, ineffective.
Israeli Army's Strategic Window of Opportunity Is Back (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Identifying no immediate threats, Israeli army chief eyes long-term buildup.
Wanted: Real discourse between Arabs and Jews (Yuval Karni, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu's hateful campaign against Arab MKs, radical statements by Joint List lawmakers and Gantz's decision to bar Arabs from a future government have brought the debate to a complete halt.
Germany Is Guilty – but Russia and Poland Both Bear Responsibility, Too (Shlomo Avineri, Haaretz+) As a 5-year-old boy, I saw tanks for the first time in my life – not German or Soviet tanks, but Polish tanks driving through our street on their way to 'liberate' Tesin.
‘Million-man’ Protests Threaten New Havoc in Iraq (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Even if there are no new fatalities on Saturday, the protests will undoubtedly continue to exert a great influence over the plight of a country unable to form a widely accepted government.
Denying their parent and embracing their assassin (Melanie Phillips, Israel Hayom) Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Christians are safe. Yet some churches dump on the Jewish state, not only assisting the mortal threat it faces from Palestinian Muslims, but ignoring the threat those people pose to the church itself.
High Court may have just opened the floodgates to refugees (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Granting asylum to African family fearing female relatives may be circumcised by force if repatriated is noble, but considering how pervasive the phenomenon is across the continent, masses of other families may soon be making same demand.
Trump’s Angry Vendetta Against Rule of Law Is Preview of Netanyahu, Should He Win (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Trump’s post-impeachment purges prove the impotence of checks and balances when confronted by a ruthless president who knows no bounds.

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Elections will determine whether Israel seizes or squanders a historic opportunity (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Hayom) Israeli law will be applied in our communities in Judea and Samaria once the mapping process is completed • A Palestinian state that supports terror will not be established, rather a demilitarized democratic entity • The deal of the century will enhance security and ensure our future • Special to Israel Hayom, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu details the plan: Here are the facts – these are the lies.
A Fourth Election Is Growing More Likely by the Day, but Israelis Don't Care (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Both the public and Netanyahu, who would gain another six months in his Balfour St. digs, seem almost resigned to the possibility of yet another election round.
Gantz and Netanyahu must work together (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) The Trump plan can only succeed if there is consensus in Israel endorsing its implementation. Those demanding immediate annexation are jeopardizing the entire plan.
Battle of the Speakers: Opposite campaigns - Netanyahu and Gantz's Verbosity as a Significant Component of the Current Elections (Anna Barsky, Maariv) The prime minister is known as a genius of appearances while the Kahol-Lavan chairman turns out to be a non-speaker. So, while Netanyahu has the whole campaign on his shoulders, Gantz mostly tries not to spoil.
Falash Mura aliyah is nothing but election spin (Danny Adeno Abebe, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu is trying to portray the government decision to bring the group that has been waiting in Ethiopia for so many years as an act of Zionism, but its peculiar timing, right before the third elections in less than a year, reeks of cynicism and manipulation.
Kahol Lavan is oblivious to its own condescension (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) In their own eyes they are the knights of virtue, who came to rescue Israel from the rule of darkness in which it has been immersed for many years. This is supposed to be the link between [right-wing] Zvi Hauzer and [left-wing] Yael German. But this romantic narrative, as well as the respectability agenda – the message of I am the establishment, I am the state or the sovereign – reflect more than anything their sense of self-importance. In contrast to prevalent thinking, Kahol Lavan isn’t only an “anyone but Bibi” party. In a deeper sense it’s a partnership intended to dredge up a yearning and pining for the beautiful Israel of yore, in which characters like Bitan, Amsalem, Ohana and Regev didn’t even dream of being cabinet ministers. The beautiful Israel that was trampled upon and robbed by Likud and Netanyahu. Kahol Lavan is Mapai’s fit young daughter, one of whose jobs is to bury the fruit of the cultural revolution that began in ‘77, with Likud’s rise to power. It’s frustrating and sad to see Likud headed by a problematic figure like Netanyahu, but those courting his loyal voters must at least respect them, and understand that more than Netanyahu is using them, they are using him. He is their way to obtain domination and power, and more importantly – respect and recognition. Menachem Begin opened Likud to Mizrahi people and Netanyahu, who has reportedly also made racist statements, as has his wife, appointed them as cabinet ministers.
Elections # 4: A reasonable scenario that will lead to economic catastrophe (Roy Bergman, Yedioth Hebrew) Three weeks before the Knesset elections, the fourth election scenario seems highly likely - and the lack of a state budget for the coming year is an fact. Continuing the situation will hurt the public in the defense, health, education and welfare systems.
How Iran Could Get Israel to Take Sides in the 2020 U.S. Election (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Of the six main candidates, most expressed a nuanced position: Reenter the nuke deal but negotiate new clauses on issues like Iran’s ballistic missiles and Mideast activity.
Why are Democrats skipping out on AIPAC? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Despite the pro-Israel lobby’s missteps, their dilemma is that the bipartisan coalition they’ve worked to build may no longer be viable.
 
Interviews:
Cover story
On the way to a historical appointment: She lives in an Arab village, grows up in a religious home and prays five times a day. Major Sabrin Saadi is the first Muslim cadet with a hijab to go to police officer’s course.Although he has previously suffered threats to her life, it has not stopped her from climbing in the organization. ”My message to religious Muslim girls like me: You can prove yourself and feel equal.”  Saadi was born and raised in a village in Basmat Tivon, near Kiryat Tivon, and attended a prestigious high school in Haifa. After completing her matriculation exams, she volunteered for National Service in the Coastal Police District, and after release she tried to enlist in the police force. However, at that time there were no available positions, so she worked as a clothing store manager in Haifa. Saadi does not allow obstacles and challenges to stop her and she strives for the highest possible: “To be the first police commissioner with a hijab in the Israeli police." Inshallah. (Interviewed by Yisrael Moskowitz in Yedioth Hebrew)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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