News Nosh 3.10.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday March 10, 2020

NOTE: News Nosh will be off for Purim holiday tomorrow, March 11, 2020.

Quote of the day #1:
“Letting (US Ambassador David Friedman) carve out the West Bank and hand off vast portions of it to the settlers would be like allowing National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre to distribute the U.S. military’s arsenal of assault rifles among America’s most fanatical gun enthusiasts.”
—Communications director for Americans for Peace Now, Ori Nir, writes in an Op-Ed why Jewish Americans must oppose the Trump administration’s policy for Israeli annexation policy in the West Bank.

Quote of the day #2:
“The bottom line is that this, too, is racism. Not the sweaty, raging and violent kind that the emissaries of Balfour Street scream on the streets and on social media. This is an educated, buttoned-up, cultured racism.”
—Haaretz+’s political analyst, Yossi Verter, examines the decision of two right-wing lawmakers of Kahol-Lavan, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who would prefer to enter a government with Netanyahu, the man the party was formed to replace, than form a government with the party representing Arab citizens and some Jewish ones, too.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • In quarantine
  • The panic index // Yehuda Sharoni
  • A crisis like we’ve never known // Dr. Erez Cohen
  • Fake news danger // Alon Hachmon
  • Minority coalition (Photo of Gantz and Lieberman shaking hands)
  • Despite everything, celebration and joy - Many Israelis participated in tradition of reciting the ‘Megilat Esther’ on Purim in synagogues across the country
Israel Hayom
  • Country under siege
  • Corona threat: Everyone returning from abroad will enter 14-day quarantine; “Positive decision to protect health of public”
  • The nightmare is here: Terrible days in Purim // Boaz Bismuth
  • Minority government? Stormy in Kahol-Lavan
  • (MKs) Hauser and Handel’s stance - heroism // Amnon Lord on Kahol-Lavan MKs’ refusal to support minority government with Arab Joint List
  • What Yaalon understood and what he forgot // Avi Bareli on Yaalon’s support for minority government with Arab Joint List support

Top News Summary:
A sweeping order of quarantine for all arrivals from abroad as coronavirus infects 50 people in Israel (at the time of writing it has reached 58), while Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz works on forming a minority government - with minorities, as two right-wing members of his party try to thwart the move - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

All Israelis arriving in the country must self-quarantine for two weeks and foreigners arriving after 8PM Thursday must go into quarantine and the Tel-Aviv airport limited its operations. As of Tuesday evening, 58 coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel. Israel also promised Tuesday to provide Palestinians with 20 tons of disinfectants for West Bank factories and indoor public areas, including mosques and churches.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Benny Gantz moved forward with his plan to swear in a new minority government - within two weeks, sources told Haaretz+ - and had a “good” meeting with Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman Monday, where they discussed the basic lines of a future government, if and when it is established. Some sources told Maariv that the meeting was solely to show determination and a photo of advancing the plan. Kahol-Lavan people believe that Lieberman is waiting to see if President Reuven Rivlin will choose Gantz to form a government. Gantz also met with three of the leaders from the Joint List and said he will form a government that will serve all of Israel's citizens, Jewish and Arab, a positive sign towards collaborating with the Joint List to form a government. On Tuesday, chairman of the Yesh Atid party and one of its four co-leaders, Yair Lapid, said that a minority government with the Joint List is better than a fourth election. Today negotiation teams from Kahol-Lavan and the Joint List meet to discuss cooperation towards establishing a minority government. The only problem is the disapproval of two Kahol-Lavan MKs, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who reject the formation of a government with an Arab party. The two are from the Moshe Yaalon’s Telem party, the most right-wing component of Kahol-Lavan. Yet even Yaalon said Hendel and Hauser "are welcome to resign," if they refuse a minority government. Lapid said that the best situation would be a rotation unity government with Gantz serving as prime minister first, but Netanyahu rejected that “because he knows he will be unable to legislate an immunity law [that would exempt him from prosecution while serving as prime minister].” A court rejected Netanyahu’s request to delay the start of his trial and it wlll begin in one week. Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri signed members of the right-wing bloc on a document saying they will not sit in a government with the Joint List.
Quick Hits:
  • Israel Approves Plans for ‘Separate Road for Palestinians’ to Enable Settlement Construction - Following the revival of the controversial E-1 plan, which would cut parts of the northern West Bank off from the south, Defense Minister Bennett hails 'sovereignty road' construction. "Today, we are giving the sovereignty road a green light and taking our first steps to connect Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim," Bennett says. (Haaretz+, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • Blockaded Gaza free of coronavirus, but stepping up precautions - While some in Gaza advocate closing border crossings with Israel and Egypt entirely to stave off infection, others voice concern about deepening economic hardship in the territory. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli Security Officials Dread Having to Handle a Gaza Coronavirus Outbreak - COVID-19 erupting in the Hamas-controlled, Israeli-blockaded enclave is seen by the defense establishment as a 'God-help-us' scenario. (Haaretz+)
  • Senior Campaign Official Says Netanyahu's Party Tracked Voters' Phones on Election Day - Gili Argentaro has told a podcast that voters could be located 'at the level of 15 meters' in a bid to get them to the polls. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Arms Exports Up 77 Percent, Saudi Arabia Is World's Biggest Importer, Report Shows - Israel, eighth biggest weapons exporter in world, registers record increase in weapons exports over the past five years. (Haaretz)
  • Pentagon cancels plans to purchase Iron Dome, citing integration issues - US defense officials say the network is incompatible; the Israeli-made system poses "cyber challenges and other challenges." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Arab Students' Hebrew Skills Are Declining, Together With Their Employment Prospects - They don’t watch TV in Hebrew or speak the language at home, and prefer to study English. All that doesn't hurt their college admission chances, but research shows poor Hebrew leaves them literally poorer. (Haaretz+)
  • Syrian Muslim Donates Tree in Israel for Italian Boy Whose Bar Mitzvah Was Canceled Over Coronavirus - 'This is what I know how to do,' says Aboud Dandachi, who fled Syria in 2013 and is an outspoken supporter of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Coronavirus outbreak will take a toll on national resilience, experts warn - The global pandemic has direct implications for Israel's economic, political, and governmental resilience and therefore it can impact national security too, former National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel and author Jonathan Schanzer argue. (Israel Hayom)
  • Fourth AIPAC Conference Attendee Tests Positive for Coronavirus - 'This disease will for a period significantly disturb and disrupt our lives,' Ohio governor says, reporting another confirmed case. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas slams secret Saudi trials of its operatives in the kingdom - Hamas criticized the secretive criminal trials and said that Saudi authorities detained dozens of ‘the best of and the most elite of the Palestinian people residing in Saudi Arabia’; Saudi gov't gives no comment on either arrests or trials. (Agencies, Ynet, Israel Hayom and NYT)[NOTE: Ynet changed the wording of the news agency article to name Hamas as 'terrorists'. - OH]
  • Iran’s nuclear deal breaches mean breakout time could be mere months — experts - Tehran’s atomic program under renewed scrutiny as International Atomic Energy Agency governors meet Monday in Vienna. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Sanctions Have Idled a Quarter of Iranian Oil Rigs - Plummeting production and exports have deepened the country's recession. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Michigan Muslims Support ‘Amo Bernie,’ as Much of the Jewish Community Opts for Biden - After Biden raced ahead of him last week, a defeat in Michigan primary on Tuesday could be the beginning of the end for Sanders’ presidential bid. (Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Gantz must try a government with Israel's Arabs (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) It’s the clearly preferable alternative to any other option, including a fourth election.
Blue & White must put country over party (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The public has chosen to believe the thrice-indicted Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's own law enforcement agencies, and even though it means breaking their promise to never sit in a Netanyahu-led unity government, Gantz's party needs to hold national interests higher than its own political ones.
**Two Refined Racists From Gantz's Party Foil His Chance at Replacing Netanyahu (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Right-wing Kahol Lavan lawmakers would rather immortalize Netanyahu than be on the same side as the Arabs
Netanyahu Must Be Replaced for Israel’s Sake (Haaretz Editorial) Kahol Lavan’s raison d’etre is to bring the era of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a close. It’s no coincidence that they’ve been dubbed the “Just Not Bibi” party. We must be realistic: The election results on the one hand, and the ultra-Orthodox parties’ commitment to the right-wing bloc that Netanyahu heads on the other, doesn’t leave Kahol Lavan a choice. Despite the separatist position of Balad (one of the component factions of the Joint List), without political cooperation between Jews and Arabs there is no option for replacing Netanyahu and avoiding a fourth election. Now that the Joint List has won 15 seats, the center-left bloc has started to internalize what Netanyahu understood years ago: The only threat to right-wing rule is cooperation between all of the bloc’s parties, including the Joint List. This insight dictated Netanyahu’s political strategy throughout the years of his premiership: Divide the left’s different parts, prevent them from joining forces, and govern forever. The delegitimization campaign against the Arab MKs is exactly what it sounds like – a campaign aimed solely at persuading the public that parliamentary representation for Israel’s Arab citizens is unacceptable and dangerous, and that working with them is forbidden.
The coronavirus coalition (Giora Eiland, Yedioth/Ynet) In a political catch-22, Israel needs to make urgent decisions about the economy that on one hand cannot wait for the formation of a new government but on the other cannot be made by the current interim administration, and the solution is obvious.
What the Israeli Arab Party's Election Gains Actually Mean (Maurice Ebileeni, Haaretz+) While Netanyahu distracted us with his best performance yet, an irreversible process has been set in motion.
Test Time: Handel and Hauser can restore confidence in the political system (Eric Ziv Weiser, Maariv) This is how the circle might close: those who compared Netanyahu to Erdogan will receive outside support from those who praise Erdogan for his extreme actions against Israel….What is most interesting is to see if the members of Ya'alon's party (which is party of Kahol-Lavan -OH) turn from being the guards of Jewish nationalism into the guards of a move of joining with the deniers of Jewish nationalism. This may be the most becoming hour of Knesset members Zvika Hauser and Yoaz Handel. If they refuse to support a minority government supported by YIsrael Beiteinu and by the Joint List, they will demonstrate that there is reason to return to our trust in the political system, which has lost many of its values in recent years. If they do not, then we will have a questionable government.
Unrestrained hatred endangering democracy (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) The prospect of a fourth election is abhorrent and out of the question. Yet, Likud rivals' willingness to ally with the Joint Arab List demonstrates the extent to which hatred prevails in much of Israeli society.
Gantz Must Try a Government With Israel's Arabs (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) It’s the clearly preferable alternative to any other option, including a fourth election.
On politics and pretenses (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Gantz and Liberman have passed the point of no return and must push for a coalition backed by the Arab MKs or fade away over the course of the fourth or fifth elections.
Israel's Tale of Two Peoples Is a Sad One (B. Michael, Haaretz+) I listened very attentively to the speeches by Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, when the Kahol Lavan chief said “the majority wants an end to Netanyahu’s rule” and the prime minister said his rivals “are trying to steal the election.” Netanyahu’s words filled my heart with schadenfreude but also nauseated me. Gantz’s words ignited a tiny spark of hope in my heart and a slight tremor of fear in my gut, because it’s clear that the pair of moles from the right who were invited around a year ago to join Kahol Lavan (despite the horrified warnings to avoid this) went out of their way to extinguish any iota of hope. But this time it’s not about that but about a word that Bibi and Gantz said over and over: “people.” As in “the people have decided,” “the people have determined,” “the people have had their say,” “the will of the people,” “a majority of the people,” “the people demand.” And so on, 127 “peoples” said by both Bibi and Gantz. So it’s worth telling Gantz that “people” is a very problematic word, especially after Nazism based all its despicable philosophy on “the superiority of the German Volk.” So when the word “people” enters the political discourse in a democratic country, it adds something noxious and frightening. And in a country like Israel, which contains two peoples, to talk about a “people” is a surefire recipe for an eruption of ugly racism.
Order of the hour: The Joint List must recommend Benny Gantz to the president (Zuheir Bahloul, Maariv) The Arab public and quite a few Jews have sent you, my fellow Knesset members from the Joint List, with an formidable force, to try and change the reality of our lives - and not to sit on the back benches and shout.
Gantz's Three Options to Oust Netanyahu and Become Prime Minister (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) From a right-wing government led by Netanyahu to a minority one led by Gantz, here are seven possibilities of what may unfold when President Reuven Rivlin asks someone to form a government next week.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
*The Dangerous Irony of Letting David Friedman Carve Up the West Bank (Ori Nir, Haaretz+) Letting a religious zealot like Ambassador Friedman decide the future of the West Bank is like allowing the NRA chief to distribute the U.S. army's rifles among the most fanatical gun enthusiasts.
Mubarak maintained the peace framework, but emptied it of the bilateral content (Isaac Levanon, Maariv) The late Egyptian president ruled his country for three decades and met almost all Israeli leaders and their aides. We chose to keep the existing one and not confront him, which was a mistake…My memories of the strong man are centered on five lunches with him, as I was accompanied by high-ranking personalities who came to him from Israel. He always welcomed us warmly with a smile and  with light jokes. I felt he had a different attitude towards each of the guests, but respected everyone. An image engraved in my memory is that the late President Shimon Peres was walking arm-in-arm with Mubarak in the palace hall, slowly, leaning on each other… Mubarak had an affection for Peres. I also saw how he hugs Netanyahu and talks to him like a father to a son. In "Ma'ariv” there was an article stating that Mubarak was a friend of Israel, and in another article the opposite was stated. It doesn't matter which of the two is right, the facts are that Mubarak maintained the peace framework, but emptied it of the bilateral content. We chose to keep the little positive that exists and not confront him. In my opinion it was a mistake. Mubarak's first decade in power was not the same as the second decade, and certainly not the last decade in which he ended his rule. We may have three Mubaraks before us. If he had left political life at the height of his popularity, after the surgery in Germany, he would have entered the Egyptian pantheon as one of Egypt's greatest leaders.
Israel Is Marching Into a Coronavirus Recession With No Armor (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+)  The legacy of the Netanyahu years is a large budget deficit that will leave the government unable to launch fiscal policies to counter a downturn.
Did the Old-time Saudi Princes Plan a Coup Against the Crown Prince? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef led the Interior Ministry for decades, developing close ties with the United States and the CIA.
MK Ahmad Tibi: "The expression ‘Land of Israel’ is a colonialist expression, I oppose it"
The senior MK of the Joint List said to journalists Ben Caspit and Yinon Magal on 103FM that  On the prospect of a coalition agreement: "The ball in Kahol-Lavan’s field.” (103FM/Maariv)
Yinon Magal: I heard Moshe Yaalon (Kahol-Lavan) being interviewed and saying 'We won’t give the Joint List anything, what we give the Arabs is what we would give anyway and they will vote the way they want.' What’s your view on his remarks?
Ahmed Tibi: "I don't know of anything like that in politics before the forming of a government."
Ben Caspit: I didn't understand, explain.
Ahmed Tibi: “Anyone who turns to the Joint List who has not yet decided what their position is, will have to listen to the demands of the Joint List and the Arab public."
Caspit: I heard you're asking to cancel the national anthem ‘Hatikva,’ the Law of Return, Zionism.
Magal:  I heard that Balad (a part of the Joint List) will be in the negotiation and Deal of the Century.
Tibi: “I am the chairman of the faction, yesterday I saw a post by the Israeli prime minister who wrote, ‘’These are the requirements of the Joint List.' The prime minister is lying, misleading the public, what he has posted is irrelevant, did not come out of the Joint List as demands. We have a platform and he can bring whatever of our quotes from the platform that he wants. We like our platform, but to present a misrepresentation to the public is a lie that signifies the basis for incitement.”

Magal: What (Joint List MK Aida) Touma-Sliman said about (Joint List demanding rejection of) the Deal of the Century, is that true?
Tibi: “I do not want to negotiate publicly now. We have known positions that we have publicly presented in the past. The Likud and Kahol-Lavan are in favor of the Deal of the Century, the Joint List is very much opposed to the Deal of the Century."

Caspit: Avi Dichter used you as an example of a government 'that depended on Ahmad Tibi, who praises the shaheeds (martyrs) both within Israel and in the Palestinian Authority’ and I told him what you said about the 'martyrs' speech.’
Tibi: ”I am prepared to be quoted in Arabic, in Hebrew and in English."

Yinon: (Dichter) said that the translation is that “May the martyrs in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority live on’?
Tibi: ”No. The speech he was talking about at the time, he asked me about it personally and a report was made about it by journalist Nadav Perry on Channel 10 News at the time. Someone edited the video and removed the names I stated: the names of the martyr(s) in the al-Qassem massacre, the martyr(s) in the events of October 2000 and the martyr(s) on Land Day. [Tibi is referring to three events when Israeli soldiers and police wrongly shot dead Arab-Israeli civilians. -OH] When I say ‘martyrs,’ there are those in Israeli society, who out of ignorance of Arab language and culture, think that a martyr is only a person who blows up a bus. That is not the case. The martyrs I mentioned are people who were hurt and not people who hurt (others)."

Yinon: You also glorified Abu Jihad.
Tibi: “It seems not in this speech."

Yinon: Then in another speech.
Tibi: ”I have a position about these leaders. I will make it easier for you - I think Marwan Barghouti is a legitimate leader and in national conflicts, like the one that was in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, people go to jail for various charges or for violence."

Magal: If we’re speaking directly to the point, there is a claim that you are actually supporters of terrorism, or that you don’t condemn terrorism against settlers. You find acceptable harm to Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Ahmed Tibi: ”I detest settlers in settlements, but I suggest you go back to YouTube to see what my stance was about the murder (in the settlement of) Itamar. It took courage and I have courage. I still wait for the Israeli leader who will condemn the harm against Palestinian children. This is not one child or ten children, but hundreds of Palestinian children and youths killed by bombings, wars or assassinations."

Magal: I heard you in Arabic say that you don't recognize the term ‘Land of Israel.’
Tibi: “I feel I am in an interview for a job or for the Likud. The expression ‘Land of Israel’ is a colonial expression and not only do I not accept it, I oppose it, is that clear? I reject the phrase 'Judea and Samaria', they are speaking of the Palestinian West Bank, in the Palestinian Territories that were occupied.”

Ben Caspit: If a government is established with your votes, how will it work? If a rocket falls from Gaza and Israel embarks on a military operation will you topple the government?
Tibi: "Further to the previous question, it seems to me that no one from the Joint List has hurt or killed anyone. On the other side are people who insulted that people were killed. I brought life into the world - some have brought about the end of the lives of others. If we have a position of influence, we will strive to reach a diplomatic arrangement, not a war. (We will strive) to prevent wars and bring peace in a diplomatic arrangement.”

Yinon: Do you think there will be a deal?
Tibi: “There are a lot of roadblocks and obstacles on the way; Lieberman, Handel, Hauser. We in the Joint List have yet to decide, the ball is in Kahol-Lavan’s court.“

Caspit: As a doctor, how bad do you think the situation is in the Palestinian Authority with the corona?
Tibi: "I think at this stage there are 21 cases, there are 39 in Israel. I came back from Jordan yesterday and was told that there is one case there that is getting better and he will be released today or tomorrow from the hospital. I'm in favor of the whole world cooperating to eradicate the virus, this epidemic.”


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