News Nosh 2.20.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday February 20, 2020
 

You Must Be Kidding: 
“We are missing 3 more (mandates) for victory. I will be very happy if I actually get them from the Arab citizens -- do you know why? Because I really believe in that, because we are working for all…”
—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Israeli Arabs to vote for him - despite all the slurs against the Joint List, whose members were elected by and represent Arab Israelis.*

Quotes of the day:
 “Only a true racist like Netanyahu can think the Arab citizens are foolish enough to forget that only two months ago he wrote that we want to annihilate children and women.”
—Joint List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh said in response to the prime minister's comments.*

"Unlike those who aspire to replace Netanyahu today, Yitzhak Rabin had the moral courage to call a thing by its name. Just a few days before the assassination in Tel Aviv, he said that the demand for a 'Jewish majority' was racist."
—Arab-Israeli commentator Salman Masalha writes in an Op-Ed in today’s Haaretz+.**


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Likely: Police will probe company that Gantz headed (Hebrew)
  • Look who’s coming - The billboards are already ready: Parties move up a gear ahead of elections in 11 days
  • Movie with good ending - Opening of first movie theater in Kiryat Shmona to operate in 15 years (Hebrew)
  • Getting off the cruise - Delay in exit from ‘corona cruise’ - Today Israelis will get permit to leave
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • (Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s) Battle over the agenda
  • The voice rules // Anna Barsky on Netanyahu’s efforts to avoid all talk of his trial and Gantz’s opposite efforts
  • The return home - 12 Israelis released from infected cruise in Japan expected to land in Israel tomorrow
  • Without an investigation: Police closed thousands of complaints - without a probe
  • Smell of mold: Suspicion of negligence and neglect at child day care center in Jerusalem
Israel Hayom
  • Waiting for their return - Returning home: Israelis from the ‘corona cruise’ expected to land tomorrow
  • “State Prosecutor to recommend probing the Fifth Dimension Co. affair”
  • 3 female officers expected to receive rank of Major General
  • Absurd UNESCO: Course for human rights for terrorists
  • Not just Trumpeldor: Stories of first two female fighters who fell in Israel battles are revealed

Top News Summary:
After a delay, Israelis get off the ‘coronavirus cruise’ in Japan today and will arrive tomorrow in Israel (update: a fourth Israeli was tested positive and will remain in Japan for treatment and, meanwhile, Israel is enjoying the profits as cruise ships steer toward Haifa port and away from the Far East and the Gaza Strip government is also preparing a medical complex on the border with Egypt to quarantine Gazans returning from China) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his rival Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz continued to battle over the agenda ahead of national elections in 11 days - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

What barely made the print news were the reactions to Israel easing sanctions on the Gaza Strip as part of the ceasefire arrangement with Hamas. The exception was Haaretz, which ran a front-page analysis by Amos Harel who wrote about how on the eve of Israeli elections, Hamas finally got the ease in sanctions it had been trying to get for so long as part of the ceasefire agreement. Yedioth/Ynet’s Elior Levy also wrote about that. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett told Ynet he was ready to “give Hamas a chance,” but also preparing for a military campaign that would result in 'a fundamental change' in Gaza. Maariv reported that Bennett also said, "We collect terrorists' bodies to put pressure on Hamas.” Yedioth’s southern reporter Matan Tzuri interviewed jubilant Gazan merchants who got a permit to leave the Strip Wednesday. “Everyone wants to work here (in Israel),’ they told him. The easing of sanctions took place despite the shooting by Islamic Jihad members in Gaza at Israeli soldiers over the Gaza border (no injuries), for which Israel struck back directly at the Jihad cell and not at Hamas, as it often does.


Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Israel Hayom and Yedioth focused on the likelihood that a company that Gantz headed will be probed by the police, while only Haaretz pointed out in its headline that Gantz is not a suspect. Maariv’s political correspondent Anna Barsky wrote that the battle is over setting the agenda: Netanyahu is focused on avoiding all talk of his trial and is challenging Gantz to a televised debate, while Gantz is trying to keep the public eye on Netanyahu’s trial and refused to enter a debate, calling it spin. Indeed, the  main stories in the Netanyahu-supporting Israel Hayom were about the corona virus and Gantz’s former company. Gantz on Thursday denied any wrongdoing.

*Also of interest, Netanyahu is now trying to get Arab citizens to vote for him. The Prime Minister gave his first interview ever to an Arab-Israeli media network and vowed not to 'transfer' any Arab citizens to a future Palestinian state, despite that it’s part of the Trump plan and reportedly it was added at his request. Yedioth Hebrew reported on this interview in a two-page spread. "The idea of a transfer must be erased,” he told PANET. “There is no transfer and no one, neither Arab nor Jewish, will be displaced from his home. I object to it ideologically and practically. This will not happen." Netanyahu continued: "I cannot tell you how many times I have visited Arab countries, such as Amman. And in Uganda, I met with the President of Sudan. These were visible visits, but believe me there are many more, and relations are only getting closer.” Netanyahu also badmouthed the Joint List: "I think the story of Israeli Arabs is a story of great success and a story of great hope, and unfortunately those who hold them, or are trying to hold them and leave them behind and push them to dark corners, are the representatives of the Joint List.” Netanyahu claimed that since the establishment of the state there has not been a prime minister who has invested resources in the Arab public as much as he has and he promised to continue doing so.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
Gantz's Party Gains Two-seat Lead Over Netanyahu's in Latest Election Poll
Survey shows parties loyal to Netanyahu with total of 56 seats – five seats short of a coalition after two previous inconclusive elections, according to a Channel 12 poll. The poll shows Kahol Lavan getting 35 out of the Knesset's 120 seats, with 33 going to Likud. (Haaretz+)
Despite Netanyahu's efforts only 43 of the Falash Mura will arrive before elections
In his effort to pander for votes among the Ethiopian community, Netanyahu pledged to allow 8,000 of the Falsh Mura community to Israel despite concerns from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners and his AG's warnings this politically motivated decision could wait until elections are over
Of the hundreds promised, only 43 will arrive next week onboard a flight that will also include Likud ministers and members of Knesset. (Ynet)
Israeli Minister Tried to Push for Move to Postpone Netanyahu's Criminal Trial
Gilad Erdan wanted to initiate a process to unseal evidence in Netanyahu's cases, which could have significantly delayed the proceedings. (Haaretz+)
Senior Likud MK throws water on idea of Palestinian state
While the new US Mideast proposal "is better than anything we have seen over the last decades, a Palestinian state just a few miles from Israeli population centers is not part of my vision," says Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar. (Israel Hayom)
Peretz: "We will act for a regional peace conference immediately after elections"
The Labor-Gesher-Meretz leader Amir Peretz said "we will demand that in the basic principles of the government we sit in that the peace process be renewed within 90 days 'in the path of Rabin.'" MK Nitzan Horovitz: "Rabin's government was also supported by the Arab parties and that support led to equality and economic flourishing." (Maariv, p. 6)
Labor party veterans gathered to remember the days they managed to win. Shimon Peres was not mentioned
In the first place, the concept of this convention was a bit odd. “Members of the late Yitzhak Rabin's historic government," the statement read, "will convene together with Knesset members and candidates for Labor-Gesher-Meretz for a special conference entitled 'Returning to Rabin’s Path.’” Amir Peretz asked to return to Rabin’s path and to show that Labor and Meretz rule is not just a story of mythology. Instead, he found Beiga Shochat grumbling about the Likud and Raanan Cohen telling jokes with Uzi Baram. (Haaretz Hebrew)
Netanyahu apologizes to prominent right-wing rabbi after aide’s mocking
PM says sorry after his top political fixer, Natan Eshel, in bid to get extremist Itamar Ben Gvir to leave race, disparages religious leader and supporters with dismissive Yiddish prefix ‘sh’: ‘Druckman and Shmuckman.’ (Times of Israel)
“Binyamin the Friend of G-d“: The new Likud song reflects a deep and pathological madness - Likud warmly adopted the song of Ariel Zilber, who considers "The Prosecutor” an enemy and upgrades Netanyahu to the rank of God's friend. The gap between the new election campaign video clip and the previous campaign folds into it everything the Prime Minister has been through in recent months. (Dan Bar-On, Haaretz Hebrew)
Quick Hits:
  • Witnesses Say Israeli Policeman Shot Sponge-tipped Bullet at 9-year-old Palestinian - Malek Issa, 9, was shot in the face last week during clashes between residents and security forces. Witness of incident that will cause boy to lose his sight in one eye and possibly in the other says he was told to 'move on' when he protested; policeman not yet summoned for statement. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem Mayor Freezes House Demolitions in Restive Palestinian Neighborhood - Eight structures were demolished in Isawiyah in recent months, and orders were issued against dozens more. Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon made decision after meeting with local leaders, following a visit he made to the neighborhood to dedicate the first playground there about a month ago. A local representative had approached him and explained the problems faced by residents, after which Leon invited him and neighborhood representatives to a round of talks with Leon and his adviser on Arab affairs, Uri Yakir. (Haaretz+)
  • Tel Aviv U Rejects Request by (extreme right-wing) Group That Blacklisted Academics, Won’t Give Credits to Volunteers - 'One must be very cautious about giving academic credit for social-service work,' a Tel Aviv University source said. Last week Haaretz revealed that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem had recently recognized work.
  • for Im Tirtzu for earning two course credits. Ariel University did the same. Bar-Ilan and Ben-Gurion Universities refused the request. (Haaretz+)
  • New IDF Comptroller report reveals uptick of violent and racist incidents - Despite a drop in complaints this year's report shows an uptick in commanders using excessive force toward soldier and racism directed primarily at soldiers from the Ethiopian community which the authors of the report say 'have no place in the society and certainly not the IDF.’ (Maariv, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • The "Israelis Against Racism" Initiative reaches the municipalites - 15 Heads of Local Government signed the Convention Against Racism. Alongside them, 20 heads of local authorities who came to the conference from around the world signed it. The plan of action includes establishing a dedicated manager, mapping challenges and formulating education, society, welfare, public space, employment, police-community relations and military service. "Unfortunately, we have witnessed in recent years, and in the current period, more overtly, racist manifestations that have even become serious crimes of hate. We will stand strong and firm in the face of them, and today we are putting a clear boundary on it,” said Haim Bibbes, chairman of the local government and Mayor of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut. (Yedioth Hebrew photo caption)
  • Adva Center Report: One in four families in Israel is at risk of poverty - According to the data, the growth that the government prides itself on is not reflected in wages, and the top 10% earns twelve times more than the bottom 10%. One fifth of the public receives low wages, one out of three earns minimum wage and the gaps are among the highest in the West. Middle class is shrinking. (Maariv, Yedioth Hebrew and JPost)
  • "Maariv" expose: Police close thousands of complaints without investigating them - The decision is the responsibility of every investigating officer at each station. Complaints about libel, destruction, implied threat or fraud are closed out of lack of public interest. Researchers: "We don't have the manpower for that.” (Maariv)
  • Thursday: PA removes Israeli calf ban, Israel removes Palestinian agriculture ban - The ban on importing calves from Israel was taken in September by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh as part of his plan to achieve “gradual economic disengagement” from the Jewish state. (JPost, Maariv and i24news and Ynet)
  • Sudanese welcome normalization with Israel online - Netanyahu's meeting with Sudan leader 2 weeks ago props up a wave of positive comments in the African country calling to strengthen ties with 'Sister Israel.’ (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • “Requests forgiveness": Father of murderer of soldier Ron Kokia apologized to Kukia’s family - The family of the terrorist, Khaled Abu Judeh, who was convicted of the murder of a soldier in Arad in November 2017 convened a press conference Thursday outside the Be'er Sheva courthouse, where Abu Judeh’s relatives apologized for the act. "I turn to the Kukia family and apologize, asking for forgiveness," said Odeh, the terrorist's father. In 2019, Be'er Sheva District Court imposed a life sentence and another 20 years on the terrorist, stating that he would also pay 15 million shekels in compensation. Abu Judeh made the decision to murder an IDF soldier and grab his weapon because of his desire to do something for the Palestinians, and as revenge for IDF activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (Maariv)
  • Attorney general orders prominent anti-occupation activist released from custody - Left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak has been behind bars for nearly two months, after an extreme-right group filed a suit against him for protesting in the West Bank. His lawyer, Gaby Lasky, requested the file be closed. “From the first moment [the court] said it was a misuse of legal proceedings,” said Lasky on Wednesday following the decision. “An extreme right-wing organization tried to take over the general prosecution while purporting to show the public interest. The attorney general has made it clear that this is a matter for the state to decide.” (Haaretz Hebrew and +972mag)
  • Israel Police Detain Far-right Politician Yehuda Glick for Disrupting Investigation - Former MK and Temple Mount activist is suspected of stealing documents from his police file after being arrested for visiting the holy site without prior coordination. Search for the lost documents was conducted at the Glick’s home. (Haaretz+, Yedioth Hebrew and Maariv)
  • Why was a prominent Jewish activist arrested on Temple Mount? - Watch as Yehuda Glick talks about his unusual encounter with law-enforcement officials, as reported by i24NEWS. (Israel Hayom VIDEO)
  • Absurdity 101: UNESCO helps Palestinian terrorists study 'human rights' in Israeli prisons - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in conjunction with An-Najah National University in Nablus, funds a special academic program that gives convicted Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails the opportunity to study "human rights." (Israel Hayom)
  • For the first time: A Lieutenant Colonel was convicted of environmental damage and negligence in dealing with ground pollution - Military court sentenced a financial fine and a suspended sentence against deputy commander of an IDF base, who was convicted of negligent conduct in relation to treatment of a diesel leak. In 2016, following leak of about 5,000 liters of diesel fuel at the School of Military Engineering in the south, Ministry of Environment teams ordered a series of actions to reduce environmental damage. After failing to comply with the requirements, Ministry of Environment n 2017 again demanded to follow the instructions. However, only at end of 2018 that IDF did as required. (Maariv)
  • IDF's pioneering all-women tank crews to provide protection of Israel's south - Military sees great value and importance in the broader goal of incorporating women into combat duty and this development has proven highly beneficial to its operations, official says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Sanders Doubles Down, Blasts Israeli Government as ‘Right-wing and Racist’ - Democratic front-runner also slams Mohammed bin Salman at Las Vegas town hall, saying the government of ‘billionaire dictator of Saudi Arabia’ is made up of ‘murderous thugs.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Jewish GOP Leader Fundraises for Candidate Who Said ‘Israeli Lobby’ Controls Party - Jason Lewis is Republican primary hopeful who has referred to the 'Israeli influence' in U.S. politics on multiple occasions, and has lashed out at those he calls supporters of Israel. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Ancient Human’s Healed Foot Fracture Shows Prehistoric Nursing in Israel - Unless he hopped to the hunt, this young adult couldn’t have survived its foot injury without help from the prehistoric community, archaeologists say. (Haaretz+)
  • Syrian Air Defenses Thwart 'Hostile' Attack on Targets in Latakia, State TV Reports - Last week saw monitor say suspected Israeli missiles targeted Iranian-backed militias in Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Erdogan says Syria talks with Russia unsatisfactory, full offensive 'matter of time' - Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said Turkey was determined to make Idlib a secure zone 'no matter the cost.’ (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Syrian Father (in battle-struck Idlib) Turns Sounds of War Into a Game to Ease Daughter of Trauma From Airstrikes - Syrian troops have been advancing on the last rebel-held bastions in Idlib and Aleppo provinces since December in what could be the one of the final chapters of the nine-year-old civil war. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Syria's Aleppo airport resumes flights for 1st time in years - Backed by heavy Russian airstrikes, government forces have been on the offensive for weeks to recapture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighboring Idlib province in northwestern Syria. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • In northern Syria, currency switch shows Turkey's influence - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey has no wish to occupy any part of Syria, but is trying to create conditions for some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees it currently hosts to return. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • After Trump attack, top Democrat defends meeting Iran's FM - Senator Chris Murphy said his Saturday meeting with Mohammed Javad Zarif was important because it is 'dangerous not to talk to one’s enemies.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Pompeo Says U.S. Ready to Talk to Iran ‘Anytime,’ Pressure to Continue - ‘It's not just an economic pressure campaign… it's isolation through diplomacy as well’, U.S. secretary of state says. (Agencies, Haaretz and YouTube and YouTube interview)
  • Zarif defends meeting US senator, but he still won't negotiate with Trump - "Trump and Pompeo are afraid of a senator hearing facts from the Iranian foreign minister," Zarif explains. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran-backed Houthi rebels block UN’s aid delivery jeopardizing 2 million Yemenis - 80% of the population in need of aid, says U.N. official. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Devices found in missiles and Yemen drones link Iran to attacks - This follows a UN report saying its experts saw a similar gyroscope from an Iranian drone obtained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and in a shipment of cruise missiles seized in the Arabian Sea bound for Yemen. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Trump Pardons Michael Milken, Junk Bond King of the ’80s - Milken, who donates to Jewish philanthropic endeavors and Israeli causes, pleaded guilty to racketeering and securities fraud charges in 1990. (JTA, Haaretz)


Features:
Palestinian Artist Embroiders 'Inshallah' in Hebrew on Islamic Prayer Rugs
Nawal Arafat’s reworked rugs, now on show in Haifa, explore the complex interplay between Hebrew and Arabic. (Eness Elias, Haaretz+)
Households in Developed Countries Are Shrinking, Except in Israel
The global trend in developed countries toward having less children and living in smaller households presents economic concerns, but by bucking the trend Israel creates its own set of issues. (Dafna Maor, Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
**The Difference Between Benny Gantz and Yitzhak Rabin (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) Ladies and gentlemen, history is repeating itself. The same man who stood on the balcony in Zion Square in November 1995 and incited against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is currently standing on every possible social media balcony and repeating the same mantra. Back then the rightists, led by this same man, hoarsely shouted that Rabin had no Jewish majority to implement his policy. And all because the Rabin government relied on a blocking majority that included Arab opposition MKs. Nothing has changed since then. In fact, the situation has gotten worse. The man who came to power in the wake of the Rabin assassination understood how to win a majority in an election and he’s not about to stop betting on the racist winning horse. And what is the opposition doing? What is the other Benjamin who heads that opposition and aspires to replace this evil rule doing? He is falling again and again into the same racist pit dug for him by the first Benjamin, and is hastening to disavow any connection and any possibility of cooperation with the “not nice” “Ahmads” of the Joint List. Unlike those who aspire to replace Netanyahu today, Yitzhak Rabin had the moral courage to call a thing by its name. Just a few days before the assassination in Tel Aviv, he said that the demand for a “Jewish majority” was racist….
When Netanyahu moved toward the Arabs (Meirav Betito, Yedioth Hebrew) In the previous election, Netanyahu warned against the Arabs voting at the polls. This time he is courting him. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is moving enormously toward the Arabs. He even mentions an explicit number: three mandates that he hopes to get from them. The magician who warned against them in previous election campaigns, who used the name "Tibi" in a rhyming slogan as a synonym for an Arab who is a danger for the security of the nation, and in November he made a blitz against the possibility that his opponent (Benny Gantz) would set up a minority government with the support of the Joint List, calling it the idea ”madness,” pulled out from his hat this time a dove of peace and gave a comprehensive and rare interview to Israeli media in Arabic. Despite the cynical move, which is a completely transparent attempt to calm the unrest in the Arab electorate after the population and land exchanges were announced in the Trump plan, Netanyahu easily gets the title of the first Israeli prime minister to recognize the country's ongoing injustice toward the 1.9 million Arab citizens living in its territory. At the end of 2015, the Israeli government approved the five-year ‘922’ plan, which only by the size of its budget - 15 billion shekels - can it be learned about the vast extent of the gap between the Jewish and Arab citizens in all walks of life. This is a historic program that is rightly displayed in the Likud campaign, but instead of publicizing it by means that have softened the hearts of Arab citizens, the prime minister has chosen to discredit all Knesset members who represent them. “The Joint List did nothing for Israeli Arabs, compared to the 15 billion shekels we are investing,” he said, as if it was his money and not the taxpayer's in Israel. Instead of mentioning the tremendous contribution of the Joint List (Knesset) members, who not only worked with the Treasury, they were also forced to get it executed despite the many delays put before them, the prime minister preferred to concentrate on the possibility to take away votes. Netanyahu is obviously well versed in details, so it's interesting that he did not mention that out of the 15 billion (shekels) in question, only 9.3 billion were finally allocated - and they haven't yet been fully utilized. But it is not the billions that are the solution, and the 89 fresh graves of those killed in the Arab sector who have paid their lives for the slackening of the hands of the authorities can testify to this. What killed them was the continuing disregard for the need for basic security in the streets, and the gaps in education - the dropout rate of Arab students in secondary education is double that of those in the Jewish education system. And while Netanyahu is being interviewed, Gantz seems to be focusing on the current campaign to distance himself from the Arabs. He procrastinated with condemnation of the idea of population exchange, he tacitly agrees to the informal boycott of the Arab boy in the Knesset plenum. He had already declared that he would not sit with them (the Joint List), claiming that they were not Zionists. With the ultra-Orthodox, whose leaders urge him not to serve in the army, he has no problem [they are also not Zionists - OH]. Just like the Jewish nation-state law that he and his friends support - it is one’s religion that matters.
Netanyahu, Likud try to solicit votes form Israeli-Arabs (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) The ruling party estimates there is enough potential votes in the Arab sector to win them at least one Knesset seat in the coming elections; launches large-scale campaign to recruit new supporters.
Hamas Chief Uses Israeli Election to Extract a Softer Stance on Gaza (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Israel’s easing of Gaza blockade is most far-reaching since Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip.
Five weeks of attrition: This is how Hamas extorted unprecedented ease of sanctions from Israel (Elior Levy, Ynet Hebrew/Ynet English) The Egyptians raised the tax on gas and prices soared. Hamas was pushed into the corner and the fire was directed toward Israel. With myriad of options in its arsenal, Hamas chose two. One was to once again use balloon clusters to send incendiary devices into Israel, and two was to turn a blind eye to rockets fired (by other groups) from the Strip. Their logic for doing so was clear: they sought to create an atmosphere of confrontation with Israel, until both Cairo and Jerusalem understood this is not a sustainable situation. It is also safe to assume that Hamas knew that since Israel isn’t looking for a full-time military conflict so close to elections, the country's response would be moderate. A few days passed and in Cairo, they folded and lowered the price of the gas and Jerusalem rushed to "open its wallet“ and bring huge amounts of gas, tires, cash and even cement (for the first time since 2014) to the Gaza Strip - to prevent escalation. In addition, the quotas for Israeli entry permits have also increased dramatically. Hamas's “protection” method - step by step.
Result known in advance: The politicians don't really fear fourth elections (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) In order for a unity government to be established, the prime minister will have to agree to be second in a rotation. Beyond the political struggle, this is a struggle over norms: whether we stick to the rules that at one time we all agreed upon or we don’t.
Chances of 4th election may be higher – and lower – than you think, experts say (Assaf Golan, Israel Hayom) If there is one thing senior political advisers agree on is that when it comes to Israeli politics, all bets are off.
Political problem: Another draw between the blocs and a fourth election will be a political and national disaster (Avraham Tirosh, Maariv)  How are we again in a political stalemate, why can (convicted former prime minister Ehud) Olmert write articles in the newspaper, and why do I want to shatter the screen when a prime ministerial candidate turns to the people?
Sanders vs. Bloomberg Scenario Is Like a Jewish Joke Turned Ominously Real (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Two Jewish finalists in the Democratic race is a source of pride for U.S. Jews – as well as a reason for grave concern.
Hating Trump can't unite the Democrats (Daniel Greenfield, Israel Hayom) The Democrats have become a party divided between the moderates, obsessed with destroying Trump, and the socialists, obsessed with destroying the Democrats.

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Tel Aviv Billboards Exemplify Israeli Fascism (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) I like reading opinion pieces by Nave Dromi. She’s straight-shooting, genuine, extreme, secular and doesn’t evade or equivocate: pure, distilled fascism, with no inhibitions and no masks. Who cares about The Hague. We’ll return to Gush Katif. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the last defense against the legal system. The Palestinians must apologize, “and if it were up to me, we wouldn’t forgive them.” That’s what she is – an avowed super-ultranationalist fascist who believes the Jews deserve everything and the Palestinians nothing; that human rights are for wimps and that the entire land is hers. She’s much more honest than the prevaricators of the center left. I was impressed with her honesty even while reading her op-ed in Haaretz Wednesday (“We were right to hang billboards showing Abbas and Haniyeh as defeated terrorists”)…The essay summed up Israeli fascist thinking. Formulated more mildly, the op-ed could represent the prevalent view of the Israeli mainstream.
Mahmoud Abbas' map of lies (Ambassador Danny Danon, Israel Hayom) That Abbas brought this to the highest level of international diplomacy suggests that he believes that the world is ready to entertain this revisionist history of the Middle East. Sadly, in this regard, he may not be mistaken.
The empty promise of annexation (Meron Rapoport, Israel Hayom) The 'Deal of the Century' was supposed to be Netanyahu's ticket to re-election and out of prison. That may no longer be enough.
Reports on Israel's threats against Hamas officials should be taken lightly (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) In light of the continued rocket fire and the ballooning of the Gaza Strip, careful consideration should be given to publications in the Arab media regarding the planning of possible elimination actions by Israel.
It’s the Iranian Economy, Stupid: Regime Asks Voters to Swallow Another Bitter Pill (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Iranians will be voting in parliamentary elections this week that may provide a gauge of the extent of discontent in the country.
Turning human rights into a bad joke (Evelyn Gordon, Israel Hayom) The UN anti-Israel blacklist asserts that the most basic essentials – food, water, transportation, communication – raise "particular human rights concerns." But if every human activity is a "human rights concern," then nothing is.
 
Interviews:
‘We gave up on historic Palestine in exchange for nothing’
Bassem Tamimi, who has led popular protests in Nabi Saleh for more than a decade, says the two-state solution is 'no longer an option.' (Interviewed by Oren Ziv in +972mag)
 


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