News Nosh 3.1.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 1, 2020

NOTE: News Nosh will be off tomorrow, Israel Election Day, Monday March 2nd.


You Must Be Kidding: 
“Hatred is what unites our camp."
--Natan Eshel, close confidante of Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, was secretly recorded explaining how the Likud strategy involved fomenting hatred because the "non-Ashkenazi" Likud supporters "hate everything."***


Quotes of the day:
“And it's important that in the end, after a year in which we asked ourselves 'what do we disagree on,' we will have to ask ourselves the day after 'what do we agree on.' What connects the tribes that make up Israeli society? Around what common ideas can we gather? And in order to answer those questions, we need a leader. And not a campaigner.”
Author Eshkol Nevo writes in Yedioth why it is important to vote tomorrow not to get Netanyahu reelected.*

“It’s hard to imagine a more bipartisan issue than opposition to the abuse of children. But apparently, to AIPAC, if the children are Palestinian, each of their little bodies is a potential terror cell and their legal and moral rights disappear.”
Yoana Gonen writes in Haaretz why Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement that he would not appear at this year’s AIPAC conference because the organization provides a platform “for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights," was justified.**


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Finish line - Israel (again) elects: 24 hours till the polling stations (Hebrew)
  • (Netanyahu’s campaign manager) Natan Eshel’s speech of hate (Hebrew)
  • More than Garboz // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Voyeurists // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • “The ill are here by force. In a certain sense, they are our prisoners” - Exclusive: Director of corona ward at Sheba Hospital speaks (Hebrew)
  • Responsibility, not panic // Prof. Hagai Levine
  • Here passed Israelis who were infected with corona
  • Stun grenade thrown at home of (pop singer) Noa Kirel (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Secret recordings of the aides of the leading candidates harmed their own side and a seventh Israeli was tested positive for coronavirus (yet many Israelis defy the demand to self-quarantine) making top stories ahead of elections tomorrow.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
***In a secretly recorded discussion revealed on Channel 12 News, one of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s closest confidantes, Natan Eshel, said that Mizrachi voters prefer criminal politicians because it’s manly, that they are not interested in politicians who work for the good of the country, that they hate everybody - which is why the Likud political campaign strategy was aimed at fomenting that hatred - and that Minister Miri Regev (Likud) is a beast, but she’s good at fomenting the hatred. Netanyahu and Foreign Minsiter Yisrael Katz rejected Eshel's remarks, saying it “does not reflect Likud,” but it’s doubtful anyone believed them. In his own defense, Eshel said he has Mizrachi grandchildren.

A day earlier, a top Kahol-Lavan political strategist, Yisrael Bachar, was secretly recorded by a rabbi (who had met with Netanyahu the day before) saying that Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz poses a danger to Israel, because he “'doesn't have the guts to strike in Iran.” Bachar had gone to the rabbi to consult on family issues and the rabbi had gotten him to talk about Gantz. Interestingly, top Yedioth political commentator Nahum Barnea didn’t give much weight to the Natan Eshel remarks (!), but had some interesting things to say about Bachar’s remarks. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Gantz fired Bachar. Gantz called Netanyahu and his party “the mafia,” for making secret recordings, surveillance and political assassination attempts.  Friday polls showed the two leaders neck and neck with 33 seats each. But a Channel 12 survey Friday showed the Netanyahu-led right-Orthodox bloc winning 58 seats, just three short of a Knesset majority, compared to 56 for Gantz’s center-left-Arab bloc. 

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment Quickees:
  • Otzmah Yehudit: At night, an agreement was reached with the Likud - this morning Netanyahu retracted - According to the right-wing party, according to the agreement, May Golan, 34th place in the Likud, was to serve as a Knesset member of Jewish power and Khan Al Ahmar was to be evicted. Ben Gvir: "Netanyahu foils the 61st government again." (Maariv)
  • Facebook admits that it deliberately reduced the amount of exposure of Itamar Ben Gvir's Facebook page - The social network has admitted to reducing the amount of exposure of the page of a Otzmah Yehudit chairman, and the reason was because of posts Ben Gvir posted in the past, in which Rabbi Meir Kahana and Benzi Gopstein were mentioned. (Maariv)
  • Amir Peretz: "We will establish a government with support of Joint List.“ Netanyahu: "The truth has been revealed" - The chairman of Labor-Gesher-Meretz declared Friday that his party had agreed to form a government headed by Gantz and supported from the outside by the Joint List and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu. (Maariv)
  • Lieberman: "Netanyahu made it clear to King Abdullah that there will be no annexation" - Chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu attacks Prime Minister: "Delivered a message to the king through the defense establishment that 'It is only an election, there will be no annexation.’”Likud in response: "Absolutely false.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Two Days Before Election, Gantz Dismisses Possibility of Unity Government With Netanyahu - Left-wing alliance leader Amir Peretz says Kahol Lavan could form minority government with outside support from Yisrael Beiteinu, Joint List. (Haaretz+)
  • SUNDAY: Gantz tells AIPAC he won’t let Israel ‘become a partisan issue’ in US - Drawing a contrast to Netanyahu on the eve of the election, Blue and White leader promises stronger relations with Diaspora. (Times of Israel)
  • SUNDAY: Gantz: “Netanyahu intends to spread fake news on Coronavirus in Kahol-Lavan areas to disrupt Elections” - Gantz responded to a rumor about a virus in the Givatayim mall, which sparked panic, claiming it was the prime minister's attempt to influence voters. (Maariv)
  • Reports: PM working to discredit, possibly dismiss Mandelblit after election - TV networks say premier concerned AG may launch new probe against him, could thwart him from forming gov’t; PM won’t rule out advancing legislation to overrule High Court decisions. (Times of Israel and Haaretz+)
  • Israeli defense minister is not against legislation to block Netanyahu trial - Naftali Bennett also voiced support for legislation that would let the Knesset override Supreme Court decisions. (Haaretz+)
  • SUNDAY: Netanyahu appears to invent reports that the judges in his case are ‘leftists’ - In prime time interview, PM says he has faith in the justice system, while demanding a denial that the judges in his graft trial were ‘handpicked’ for their political views. (Times of Israel)
  • SUNDAY: Yair Netanyahu ordered to pay $81,000 to journalist in libel suit - PM’s son handed automatic decision in lawsuit filed by former Walla editor after failing to file defense in time, claims he did not know about it. (Yedioth Hebrew and Times of Israel)
  • PM’s son in legal quarrel after tweet leads followers to harass young woman - Dana Cassidy says she was subjected to ‘mass sexual harassment’ after Yair Netanyahu seemed to hint at affair with Gantz; her father accuses him of ‘rape,’ sides threaten to sue. (Times of Israel)
  • Joint List Eyes Record Number of Seats as Activists Pan Lack of Clear Message - Polls show that campaign focus on raising voter turnout in specific constituencies seems to have paid off — but some observers say that the party is not exploiting gifts Netanyahu's Likud is offering it. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Arab party leader Ayman Odeh hints he won’t back Gantz for prime minister after Israeli election - Leader of the Joint List Ayman Odeh calls the Kahol Lavan leader ‘a pale imitation of Netanyahu.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Arab party leader Ayman Odeh: "Lieberman is worthless”; Avigdor Lieberman, Chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu: “I hope we get rid of him in a land exchange (with the Palestinians)“ - The chairman of the Joint List said, “To my great dismay, Gantz is moving toward the right, I haven't spoken to him in a long time."  Lieberman: "It is clear to everyone that we will still be the kingmaker and we will decide.” (Maariv)
  • West Bank, Gaza Strip to be closed on Election Day - The border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip will be closed during the general closure which will take effect from midnight on Sunday night until midnight on Monday night. Humanitarian, medical and other necessary crossings will be allowed during the closure. (JPost and Maariv)
  • In anti-Netanyahu stronghold, there are only two choices in this Israeli election - No one’s talking about Likud on Israel’s biggest kibbutz. The battle playing out here is between the centrist Gantz's Kahol Lavan and the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance. (Haaretz+)
  • Experiencing election fatigue, Israeli expats debating whether to fly home to cast their ballot - Israel’s lack of absentee voting and the novel coronavirus epidemic are also among the factors that could keep Israelis from coming home to vote on March 2. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Israel’s young Arabs are angry and they plan to vote this election - Arab Israeli youth seem determined to exercise their democratic right on Monday's election, hoping to send a message to both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump. (Haaretz+)
  • Defying Global Trend, No Green Party Will Be Running in Israel’s Election. Here’s Why - The Israeli agenda remains dominated by geostrategic issues, but successes in local elections and the efforts of past and present legislators show there's reason for hope. (Haaretz+)

 
Quick Hits:
  • Watchdog: Israel moves ahead with hundreds of settler homes - Peace Now says the housing is spread over 10 communities. About 1,000 units are in the initial stages of approval, whereas 700 received near-final approval. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Over a Hundred Palestinians Lightly Wounded in Clashes With Israeli Army in West Bank - Two Israeli soldiers also lightly wounded in confrontation near city of Nablus. (Haaretz+)
  • EU Urges Israel to Halt Building Plans for Settlements in East Jerusalem - On Tuesday, Netanyahu announced he would move forward with plan to build 3,500 housing units in area E-1, which could jeopardize establishment of a future Palestinian state. (Haaretz+)
  • Court Rejects Petition by Suspect in Palestinian Family's Murder Over Excluding Women - 'Today we exile women from the the courtroom and...tomorrow the appellant will demand that the state be represented only by a male,' judge writes, in his rejection Thursday of appeal filed by Amiram Ben-Uliel, an Israeli accused of the murder of the Dawabshe family in Duma. Ben-Uliel refused to lift his head as he did not want to look at women in the courtroom. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Top Israeli Military Brass to Be Indicted in Submarine Affair - Avriel Bar-Yosef, former No. 2 at National Security Council to be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending hearing. (Haaretz+)
  • Jerusalem's Hebrew U to reexamine collaboration with right-wing group that blacklists academics - Students will continue to receive credits for volunteering with Im Tirtzu, which has targeted left-wing groups and academics, at least through the end of the academic year. (Haaretz+)
  • Defense Chief Admits Israel Was Behind Damascus Attack That Killed Son of Islamic Jihad Official - Israel has so far not accepted responsibility for the November strike, although it has been attributed to it by foreign media outlets. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Supreme Court rules in favor of prisoners, orders unlimited call duration - The District Court's ruling stated that phone calls constitute a fundamental right to prisoners, inhibiting the limitation. (Maariv/JPost)
  • Report: Dozens of US child abusers living in Israel to avoid prosecution - American broadcaster CBS says that more than 60 accused child molesters may have fled from the US to Israel since 2014, exploiting the Law of Return. (Israel Hayom)
  • In Israel, if You Stay in School, You’ll Live Longer - Newly released data show huge gaps in average life expectancy based on education, income and religion. (Haaretz+)
  • Neglect Turns Nature Reserve in Israel Into Garbage Dump - The reserve near the city of Rehovot has a wide selection of tropical trees and wild flowers. (Haaretz+)
  • Film Critiquing Iranian Death Penalty Wins Berlin's Golden Bear - Director Mohammad Rasoulof was unable to leave Iran to pick up the award because of propaganda charges he faces in relation to earlier films. (Agencies, Haaretz and Times of Israel)
  • Iran Prepares to Test 'Tens of Thousands' for Coronavirus Amid Spike in Confirmed Cases; Among victims - member of parliament - World Health Organization's experts have expressed concern that Iran might be underreporting cases. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • Coronavirus Reaches Qatar: First Confirmed Case in Man Returning From Iran - Saudi Arabia is now the only Gulf state not to have signaled any cases. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Raises Death Toll to 54 From New Coronavirus - One Iranian lawmaker is among those who have died from the disease as officials urge Iranians to stay home. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey opens European borders as Greek police fire teargas at refugees - Meanwhile, Turkey's Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed and two were injured by Syrian government shelling in Idlib. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey Retaliating After Syrian Government Strike Killed 33 Turkish Soldiers in Idlib - This marks the single largest death toll in a day of Turkish soldiers in Idlib, which is the last stronghold of the Syrian opposition. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Russia Sends Warships to Syria, Blames Ankara for Killing of 33 Turkish Troops - Meanwhile, NATO calls on Russia and Syria to halt Idlib offensive as Putin and Erdogan discuss situation by phone, agree to ease tensions and normalize the situation. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkish strikes kill 48 pro-Assad troops in Syria's Idlib - Syrian government and Russian warplanes continued air strikes on Saturday on the strategic city of Saraqeb. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkish strike in Syria kills nine Hezbollah members, according to source - Smart missiles and drones targeted Hezbollah headquarters in Idlib Friday, according to pro-Assad commander. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maariv)
  • SUNDAY: Turkey launches massive operation in northern Syria to counter Assad's force - Ankara says it has “neutralized” more than 2,200 Syrian troops, 103 tanks and eight helicopters. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt Vows to Use 'All Means' to Defend Nile Interests After Ethiopia Skips U.S. Talks - A final deal on the massive Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was expected in the two-day, U.S.-brokered talks in Washington. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Most Jewish Americans Would Vote for Any Democrat Over Trump, Survey Shows - 45% of Jewish voters said they had an unfavorable view of Sanders, but 65% would vote for him over Trump. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Sanders Handily Beats Trump Among U.S. Jewish Voters, New Poll Finds - Three major polls this week shed light on possible general election match-ups and Super Tuesday. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 347 Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Rabbis Sign Letter Slamming Sanders for Skipping AIPAC - Sanders, now the frontrunner in the Democratic race, said AIPAC provides a 'platform' for 'leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights’. (JTA, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli diplomat at AIPAC: We don't want Sanders here - Danny Danon lashes out at Jewish Vermont senator for saying pro-Israel lobby provides platform for 'bigotry', says anyone who calls PM a 'racist' is 'either a liar, an ignorant fool or both.’ (Ynet)


Features:
Gideon Levy The IDF Jeep's Door Swung Open. A Single Bullet Hit the Palestinian's Neck
The family of Bader Harashi, who live in a peaceful West Bank village, used to work in Israel. But after he was shot dead at a protest, the authorities have revoked their permits, denying them of a livelihood as well as their kin. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
Hijab and handgun: Israel's first Muslim female detective is breaking the mold
Already serving as an juvenile investigator, Sabrin Sa'adi wants not only to be the first police officer to wear the Muslim head covering, but also a role model for other Arab women to see the force as a viable career option; 'I want to be the first police chief with hijab,' she says. (Israel Moskovitz, Yedioth/Ynet)
An Israeli Finds Out What's on Jordan's Side of the Dead Sea
It’s within floating distance from us, but few Israelis go there. (Roy Arad, Haaretz+)


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Amid Dirty Campaign, Netanyahu Shows His True Rival Is Still the Justice System (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu, whose Likud is gaining momentum at the last, critical bend, sent an implicit threat to his judges in front of the cameras. Can it wake Kahol Lavan voters up?
His shamelessness has made Netanyahu a cunning candidate who spreads lies about his rivals (Ben Caspit, Maariv) How did he succeed? What is the big secret that allows him to kill and crush (talented respectable) people, which allows him to turn talented people into his rags, how does he manages to erase senior security officials? The answer is simple: it's not what he has. It’s what he doesn't have. Shame. The man has no shame and if ever did, he managed to get rid of it. It's that simple. He is released from restraints, free of any inhibitions, has no restrictions or rules that apply to other human beings. The simple “things that are not done" does not exist at his residence. He is above these vanities. Think about life without shame. What fun it is. No inhibitions, no rules, everything can be done. This is what makes him such an aggressive candidate capable of spreading the worst of lies about his political rivals. Sometimes, through messengers or relatives, but usually himself. In his own oice. Without blushing, without blinking, without stuttering…The prime minister could have been the greatest leader of our generation had he not believed that he was anointed king of the sun, and fallen captive of madness and give himself over to extremists…
Voyeurists (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) I hope the reader will forgive me if today, 24 hours before the polls open, I will address the issue that will disappear from the public agenda by tomorrow night. I'm talking about secret recordings. The current election campaign has spilled on voters a sea of filth. Hidden recordings were particularly abhorrent: they turned the last days of the campaign into a festival of praise for those who breached trust, for crooks, for informants and for liars, with the enthusiastic cooperation of the best journalists in the country. It has been ages since ethical criminality received such a generous dose of fame. It's voyeurism. Last night, Ilana Dayan released the words that Netanyahu's confidante, Nathan Eshel, told to a man whom Eshel wanted to hire for the Likud elections. The man didn't bother to tell Eshel that he was recording it. Eshel shared some philosophical thoughts with him. He thinks, for example, that the people of Eastern ethnicities (Mizrachim - OH) hate everyone. He also thinks that Miri Regev is a beast, but that she is somewhat useful. Eshel became famous for his interest in photographing under the skirt of a female employee at the prime minister's office. Although forced to resign, he continues to act as Netanyahu's political pimp, both in authority and with permission. This is a problem. Beyond that, the question of what Eshel thinks is not particularly interesting, certainly not on the even of elections. He is a ridiculous man, lacking depth of thought and lacking talent. People of this kind allow Netanyahu to feel big. Eshel was the star of some more relevant secret recordings, the ones that leaked from his conversations with Itamar Ben-Gvir. According to these recordings, Eshel offered a role of minister, ambassador, money to cover his debts and the crown of pearls - a place on the Likud list for the next Knesset. The successor of Rabbi Kahane on the Likud's Knesset list: that is an interesting thought. The hidden recording from the talks with Ben-Gvir was published on Thursday’s news on Keshet channel. In the same edition, news of two more secret recordings were broadcast. One included a passage from Yankee Deri, son of Shas leader, to an anonymous aide of a Knesset member. Why was it worthy of publicity? Because according to the correspondent, Deri's son claims he is a friend of Netanyahu's son. The second hidden tape was so important that it opened the news program. Yisrael Bachar, the Kahol-Lavan pollster, went to a rabbi to discuss a family problem that was troubling him. The rabbi got Bachar to talk: What does he think about Benny Gantz? Bachar said…, and the rabbi recorded. There is no argument for a colleague who has published the story: it's his job. There is room for argument for the editor, who inflated the drama. As with any dirty story, this story also goes back to its advertisers. Bachar is the sucker here: Anyone who thinks you can count on the discretion of rabbis probably hasn't heard of Rabbi Pinto. But the crook is the rabbi who recorded it, and the bad guy is Netanyahu, who honored the crook with a hug. Last night, at the end of the Kahol-Lavan campaign, some Knesset members of the party argued that the story was reversed: voters on the soft right did not like Netanyahu's despicable use of the Rabbi. They could not prove the claim: Bachar, their pollster, was fired for the affair. The entertaining part of this story is the claim that Gantz has no courage to attack Iran. The late (IDF chief of staff) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak was one of the most prominent chiefs of staff. He knew Netanyahu well. When Netanyahu threatened Iran again and spent billions on training to attack the nuclear facilities, Lipkin-Shahak did not worry: "Bibi is a coward," he said, "he will not attack Iran." He was right, of course. The planes remained in their hangars. The real question is not whether Gantz will attack Iran but whether it is right to attack Iran. But this question is of no interest to anyone at the moment: Secret recordings, that's what turns them on.
Israel Election: Will Netanyahu’s Sordid Campaign of Sex, Lies and Sham Videos Carry the Day? (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Final polls indicating a last-minute surge by the right deviate from the prime minister’s time-tested formula of last minute, come-from-behind victory.
Stupid elections aimed at punishing the prime minister, who got us to a good position (Meir Uziel, Maariv) These are stupid and wicked choices that have one purpose: to punish a prime minister who brought Israel to the best point in its history. Tomorrow, we are going to the polls. Anyone wearing a mask who is concerned, may be wearing a protective mask but he has no protection from the painful schism among the people.
*Deciding between liberal and dark Israel (Eshkol Nevo, Yedioth Hebrew) How much we’re sick of it. Sick of the spins. Sick of the polls. Sick of the talking points. Sick of the politicians who recite the talking points. Sick of the political commentators. Sick of the discrediting… Sick of the blocking bloc. Sick of the blocked bloc. Sick of the investigations. Sick of the leaks. Sick of the immunity. Sick of the removing of the immunity. Sick of the racism. Especially from the repulsive racism directed at Israeli Arabs in every election campaign, out of the belief that it brings votes. Sick of thinking about what brings votes. Sick of the attempts to wink to the right-wing, to the center, to the base, we deserve to hear what you really think, damn it. Sick of Case 1000, of Case 2000, of Case 4000. Sick of the attacks on law enforcement officials handling these cases. Sick of the delusional appointments of ministers during the transition period. Sick of the transition periods. Sick of the waste that these choices impose on us. So much waste. Of money. Of paper. Of product. Sick of the hatred of the other that these election systems impose on us. Sick of being forced into election campaigns. That they decide for us that this ridiculous, false, and infuriating circus is coming back to town. And again. And again. But as much as we are sick of it, that’s how important it is. It is important because, in the end, voting in elections is our only way as citizens to tell politicians, and in particular one politician: that’s enough. You’ve gone too far. An entire country cannot be dragged into a year and a half of madness just by (your) desire to evade justice. There are too many important things on the agenda. The people living in the Gaza periphery cannot live like this. The health system cannot continue to collapse like this. Whole public systems can't keep dying waiting for a budget because one person thinks he's above the state. And it is important because ultimately the decision in this election is really fundamental. Between Israel as we know it, as it is drafted in the Declaration of Independence, a democratic, enlightened and liberal state that maintains a balance between religion and state - and another state. Dark. Extreme. Racist. That will wage an ongoing war with all its neighbors. And will be boycotted by all countries of the world. Yes, also by the US of Bernie Sanders. And it's important that in the end, after a year in which we asked ourselves "what do we disagree on,” we will have to ask ourselves the day after "what do we agree on.” What connects the tribes that make up Israeli society? Around what common ideas can we gather? And in order to answer those questions, we need a leader. And not a campaigner. A man who knew how to maintain the two delicate and fragile balances that our society has always been based on - between secular and religious, and between Jews and Arabs. And to establish here a broad consensus government, which reflects the many shades of Israeliness. Binyamin Netanyahu, with three indictments hanging over his head, and a long history of incitement and divisions - can no longer be that man. And so - as much as we’re sick of it - it's important that we go to the polls tomorrow and replace him.
The Gantz and Netanyahu switcheroo (Yuval Karni, Yedioth/Ynet) Recent polls show Likud overtaking Blue & White for the first time in this election cycle and demonstrate how, unlike in previous ballots, this time the prime minister appears to have the upper hand.
On eve of vote, its all down to turnout (Moran Azulay, Yedioth/Ynet) With Israelis going to the polls for the third time in less than 12 months, political parties are mobilizing their volunteers, manning the phones and doing their utmost to push themselves and their bloc over the elusive 61-lawmaker benchmark that could end a year-long electoral impasse.
One Day to Election: Polls Forecast a Tie, but Then What? Not Even Lieberman Knows (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) Surprises can only come from voter turnout ■ Kahol Lavan could have a shot at government with predominantly Arab Joint List - but is still courting 'Jewish majority.’
The recipe for keeping Netanyahu in the right-wing bloc: elections every month (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Aware that many in the nationalist camp do not believe his promises, the prime minister began to pay in cash, all to move some mandates towards himself (and away from other right-wing parties). This week, in addition to regular election tours in Kiryat Arba and Samaria, where, as is his custom, he made hollow promises, he began to act: He released planning procedures for continuing construction in the Har Homa neighborhood, but far more important - he allowed the first tender to be built for more than a thousand housing units on Givat Hamatos (in E. Jerusalem). On Tuesday, Netanyahu took another dramatic, albeit impractical, move to announce the advancing of construction in the area between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim - E1.
Who is really going to build in Judea and Jerusalem? (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Which of the candidates for Israeli prime minister is truly going to build, and who is going to bury the building in years more of sterile peace processing and doomed attempts to achieve "international consensus"?
'Just no Arabs' proves the last thing Gantz’s party wants is a 'progressive' label (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Who came up with “just no Arabs” as a principle for building governing coalitions? Why yes to haredim and no to Arabs? Why is United Torah Judaism wooed and the Joint List rejected? If the criteria for entry into society are the creed of Zionism and army service, does that mean the haredim are more Zionist than the Arabs? Do they enlist in greater numbers? If it’s so hard for us with the Joint List, why don’t we just be done with it – who needs them there? Just to be our fig leaf? To justify the shred of democracy that is still barely clinging to our Jewish state?
Neither Fateful, nor Important: Israel's Third Election Will Decide Little, if Anything (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The election tomorrow is not fateful, and probably not even important. That’s the way it is when there is sweeping agreement over the fateful issues, and the controversial ones are marginal. The dispute over Benjamin Netanyahu has almost nothing to do with his policies, but mainly his personal conduct. There’s almost nothing to argue over about his policies because the opposition has no real alternative to offer. The Law of Return, the nation-state law, the closure of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank – on these fundamental issues there is accursed consensus.
The Likud action team shoots slogans and praises the leader, and it works (Nathan Zehavi, Maariv) He has superpowers and the ability to tirelessly work around the clock and around the globe to advance his victory and make the people sitting in Zion believe in his promises. Only the terrorist organizations reveal that the king is naked.
How three elections exposed all the diseases ravaging Israeli democracy (Dahlia Scheindlin, Haaretz+)  Monday’s vote seems unlikely to break the political deadlock – but has succeeded in shattering Israelis’ trust in the electoral system
Obligation to Democracy: Elites have no superiority over the masses of voters (Dr. Esther Luzzatto, Maariv) The legal hunting campaign by senior officials and pilots against Prime Minister Netanyahu is a show of pure politics. A struggle for control, positions of power and influence.
Just don't stay home (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Even if Netanyahu and the parties in his right-wing bloc aren't your cup of tea – don't stay home. Abstaining – particularly this time – is a de facto vote for the rival political camp.
Between Financial Corruption and Political Corruption (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Many younger (religious) people, are confronting their political and rabbinic leaders with a difficult demand: to explain, especially to men and women studying at yeshivot and midrashot, respectively, why they are obligated to support parties in the current governing coalition - especially Yamina, when the person leading the coalition has been charged with corruption. After all, such support contradicts the Jewish laws the rabbis and educators repeat constantly.
Netanyahu's willing to burn Israel down for a couple of Knesset seats (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Final polls show that 'anything goes' is an effective campaign strategy for Netanyahu.
Otzma Yehudit's egoistic display (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) The small far-right party insists that there is immense value in voicing its own "truth." But when "their truth" puts your core values at risk, it is no longer truth – it is foolishness and arrogance.
Wherever you throw a stone at Netanyahu's government, it will hit a failure (Ran Edelist, Maariv) To all the confused on the way to the ballot box: The right-wing government must end its role in the face of its failure on all fronts on the subjects of foreign affairs and security, whose issues are matters of life and death decisions.


Top Commentary/Analysis:
Israel Sent a Bulldozer to Snatch a Gazan’s Body. The Result Was 100 Rockets (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Islamic Jihad took a risk igniting the Gaza front, and it seemed to have paid off.
Postponing the inevitable in Gaza (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Israel and Hamas may be trying to avoid a security escalation that could lead to another war in Gaza, but Islamic Jihad dances to its own tune.
What doesn’t happen with force…: The latest escalation round leaves quite a few open questions (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Netanyahu, Bennett and cabinet ministers accept the IDF's position that a long-term ceasefire (with Hamas) can be achieved within the framework of diplomatic agreements (with Hamas). But Gazans have a different interpretation of how negotiations are conducted.
Gaza, elections and the Corbynization of the Democratic party (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) In a world where the best-case scenario has a Democratic Party that's openly hostile to Israel and the worst-case scenario has a White House openly hostile to Israel, we need to consider the military and diplomatic conditions under which a military campaign is launched in Gaza.
**Finally, Somebody Dares to Hit Back at AIPAC (Yoana Gonen, Haaretz+) About a month ago ads began appearing on Facebook against three U.S. Democratic congresswomen: Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum. Alongside their photos a petition appeared claiming that “radicals in Congress are threatening the U.S.-Israel relationship,” and that this threat was “more sinister” than that of Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS. Tlaib and Omar are Muslims and so it’s clear why from a racist perspective they are “radical” by their very essence. McCollum was on the list of existential threats because of a bill she proposed seeking to prohibit countries that receive American aid from using it to arrest children. The bill was proposed in light of the extent of interrogations and arrests of Palestinian minors by Israel, sometimes using violence and threats. One might assume that ads in which American legislators are depicted as ISIS would have been placed by the Republican Party. But no, the ads were posted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish lobby group that purports to be bipartisan. It’s hard to imagine a more bipartisan issue than opposition to the abuse of children. But apparently, to AIPAC, if the children are Palestinian, each of their little bodies is a potential terror cell and their legal and moral rights disappear. The ads were removed following a public outcry, but they show the true face of AIPAC, which spends tens of millions of dollars a year on promoting clearly right-wing policies. AIPAC supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, opposed the nuclear agreement with Iran, worked enthusiastically against the ban of products from the settlements, among other things. Like the right wing in Israel, AIPAC uses baseless claims of anti-Semitism to repel criticism of the occupation and the settlements, while it is happy to ignore open anti-Semitism when it comes from the Christian right wing. This is a bipartisan agenda the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda is bipartisan, and about as good for Israel as he is.
What AIPAC needs is an effective Democratic champion (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) What Pro-Israel Democrats needed was for one of their presidential candidates to directly take on Sanders on the issue. It's not going to happen.
The Likud campaign finally succeeded in damaging Benny Gantz's image (Anna Barsky, Maariv) "This week it became clear that there was even a limit to hatred of Bibi," a survey and sociology expert told me. The big question is whether in Kahol-Lavan they will adopt the traditional “Oh no (we are going to lose)” trick (of Netanyahu).
The Democrats Who Are Going to AIPAC – and Those Who Are Staying Away (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) With presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders alluding to Benjamin Netanyahu with words like ‘bigotry,’ AIPAC’s bipartisan support is at risk.
Bibi killed AIPAC long before Bernie came along (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Sanders may not win, and even if he does will probably be an ineffectual president. But his candidacy is good news for relations between Israel and American Jews.
Mubarak is dead but his legacy is alive and kicking: to preserve security, to sabotage peace (Jackie Khougy, Maariv) The former Egyptian president, who passed away last week, had three decades to extract much more from relations with Israel, but he chose to prevent the Egyptian people from reaping the fruits.
Mubarak's death made me deeply sad (Ehud Olmert, Maariv) In the week when the former Egyptian leader passed away, it is worth bowing down in recognition and gratitude to a leader who was a better friend of Israel than he could show.
My parenting challenge: Protecting my two-year-old from tear gas (Umm Forat, Haaretz+) I went out for a morning run with my son in a stroller, and suddenly felt my eyes and throat burn. Tear gas thrown by Israeli soldiers. I sprinted away, my eyes streaming with tears and the stroller shaking ■ Post #7
Israel, the Promised Land for pedophiles (Tamar Kaplinsky, Ynet/Yedioth) Among the tax evaders and smugglers who have found a safe haven in the Jewish state is a particularly nasty subset of criminals who for some reason are allowed to live freely without fear of reprisal for their heinous actions in their own countries.
Plot against Islam? In ill-prepared Mideast, coronavirus spreads conspiracies too (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) In Iran and Egypt, government incompetence in handling coronavirus cases is met with an increasingly suspicious public
Any solution to the Gaza issue should include the Palestinian Authority (Nadav Tamir, Maariv) To resolve the problem for the long-term, a political process must be resumed with Abu Mazen to encourage a technocratic unity government in the Gaza Strip, which thus promotes the rehabilitation and demilitarization of the Strip.
The Israeli Army Has Ambitious Plans in Case of Next War. Now It Just Needs a Government (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) But even as he awaits proper budget, the army chief is already introducing significant changes.


TheMarker’s - ISRAEL’S MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE:
From politicians to innovators, take a look at the movers and shakers deciding the future of the country’s nearly 9 million citizens.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut
Israel's chief justice isn't afraid to maintain the court's independence, even when it means making politically explosive decisions. She'll most likely be put the the test in a question of whether Benjamin Netanyahu can keep the prime minister's seat while standing trial. (Ido Baum, Haaretz+)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz  
Netanyahu is Israel's longest-serving prime minister, but it's questionable whether he'll be leaving any real legacy. Meanwhile, Gantz is Israel's best shot at unseating him. (Meirav Moran, Haaretz+)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
Tel Aviv's longtime mayor isn't afraid to skirt the national government in order to carry out far-reaching changes that change the fabric of life, such as introducing transportation on Shabbat. Where Tel Aviv goes, Israel follows. (Meirav Moran, Haaretz+)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, his Defense Minister Naftali Bennett is new and inexperienced, and that leaves Kochavi as the adult in the room. (Amos Harel, Haaretz+)

 
Interviews:
'Israeli politics embody the art of the possible, even when sometimes it looks impossible'
Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz believes the Center-Left bloc has a real chance of winning the March 2 elections and believes the Labor-Gesher-Meretz faction "needs to be the influencing force over Blue and White." Labor-Gesher-Meretz "offers clear and precise solutions to people who need to ask themselves who really represents them in the Knesset," he says. (Interviewed by  Aviad Pohorils in Israel Hayom)

'I'd rather sit in the opposition than join a government led by Benny Gantz'
A week before Israel's third election in under a year, Yamina leader and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett talks to Israel Hayom about the need for new tactics against terrorists in Gaza and reiterates that Yamina is the only party that can guarantee Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. (Interviewed by  Ariel Kahana in Israel Hayom)

'We accept the Trump plan'
Blue and White MK Zvi Hauser used to be Netanyahu's right-hand man, and now he wants to unseat him. But even he agrees that the ideological differences between the Right and the Left are almost nonexistent. (Interviewed by  Ariel Kahana in Israel Hayom)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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