News Nosh 4.22.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday April 22, 2020

Number of the day: 31

Front Page:


  • Implementation of agreement between Gantz and Netanyahu will harm the status of the Knesset and the opposition
  • Number of Likud ministers will shrink, Netanyahu will try to compensate those pushed out through rotation of ministry portfolios
  • The complex Netanyahu-Gantz agreement takes the contempt toward the Knesset and the basic laws to new highs // Mordechai Kremnitzer
  • The masks were removed: The “just not Bibi” camp was revealed as supportive of Netanyahu’s corruption and (societal) division // Odeh Bisharat
  • The spread of corona in Israel was thwarted, but the efficiency of the tests remained Israel's vulnerability
  • National Security Council recommendations for a scenario of civil disobedience (against corona lockdown): Establish a “psych ops team” and employment for youth
  • Alcogel (disinfectant) ran out? Researchers developed method to change faucet water into disinfectant
  • The crisis is an opportunity: The need for a green exit strategy
  • Work schedule // Sami Peretz
  • The lesser of two evils // Chemi Shalev
  • Tourism of the future - Lonely Planet narrows its activities because of corona. But the founder of the company is actually optimistic
  • School is closed, so the musician and teacher, Yuval Mendelson, teaches his students with the aid of “good citizenship” songs

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • “This year I won’t be at Mt. Herzl. Uriel and Eliraz will wait for me, I need to live” - Closure on Memorial Day: Cemeteries will not be opened
  • Netanyahu-Gantz government: (the urgent problems you need to take care of) (Hebrew)
  • (Singers) Eyal Golan and Benny Peretz, war film - The full story about the battle that has stormed the entertainment world (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Gantz: “We guarded the democracy”
  • The test of the public // Prof. Asher Cohen
  • They did a ‘hudna’ (long-term ceasefire) // Yohanan Plesner
  • At (Defense Minister) Bennett’s orders: IDF stopped (transferring) corona tests to Gaza
  • “I have no one” - Body of Holocaust survivor, Dr. Magda Greiff, found yesterday in her home in Beersheva. Apparently she died on Passover Eve, after failing to get help
  • Limitations and closure also during Memorial and Independence Days
  • Saluting the heroism - In the shadow of the epidemic, the restrictions on movement and the isolation, Israel united with the memory of the six million who died in the Holocaust

Israel Hayom

  • Prime Minister’s associates: Netanyahu wants Yamina in the coalition
  • Emergency government and fulfillment of a vision // Limor Samimian-Darash
  • Yamina ask: Bennett needs to enter the government // Nadav Shragai
  • We will remember everyone, and we will protect everyone
  • Tragedy: Father of 14 died of corona
  • For the first time: Treatment of corona patients will be investigated
  • Oil prices dropped, gasoline is still expensive: the shake-up and you - questions and answers

Top News Summary:

Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz tried to defend himself in the face of a sharp attack from his former political partner Yair Lapid, while the papers examined the new Likud-Kahol-Lavan unity government coalition agreement and the state decided to close cemeteries on Memorial Day and to put the country under lockdown on Independence Day - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz insisted that he put the country above his own interests in joining a Netanyahu government. Gantz said it was to protect Israel's democracy and that it was a necessary step to take Israel out of the year-long political deadlock and to deal with the coronavirus challenges. His statement came after his former political partner, Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid, called it the ‘greatest fraud since the establishment of the state.’ Lapid said he apologized to anyone who he convinced to vote for Gantz. In an interview to Channel 12 News, former prime minister Ehud Barak said that the only explanation for the formation of the unity government is that Netanyahu has illegally collected slanderous material about the leaders of Kahol-Lavan: “A stench rises from the agreement.” (Maariv)

Haaretz+ reported that the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement will neutralize Israel's legislature. Moreover, implementing requires many changes to constitutional law that experts believe it's unfeasible, and may even be a ploy. Meanwhile, three petitions have been filed demanding to prevent Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from forming a government due to the three indictments against him.

The question still remains whether the far-right-wing Yamina faction will stay in the coalition, in light of the fact that it received only a few ministerial portfolios. Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu’s people said Netanyahu needs Yamina in the cabinet for votes over right-wing issues “like the extension of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria [under the Trump administration's peace plan] that could be torpedoed if Yamina doesn't join us.” However, Haaretz+ reported that with such minor jobs in the government, Yamina prefers to act from the Opposition.

*A Channel 13 News poll showed that the majority of the public is in favor of a unity government. However, when that was broken down by parties, 80% of Likud voters favored the agreement, compared to only 57% of Kahol-Lavan voters. Also, 41% of the respondents do not believe that Netanyahu will vacate his chair after 1.5 years as the agreement requires, only 31% believe that he will and 23% said they did not know. And, 48% of respondents believe that Gantz compromised more than Netanyahu for the establishment of the government, while only 25% believe that Netanyahu made more concessions than Gantz. (Maariv)

Corona News and Quick Hits:

According to Israel Hayom, representatives of bereaved families of fallen soldiers support Netanyahu's decision to close cemeteries and commemorative sites on Memorial Day. On its front page, Yedioth also interviewed an elderly parent who expressed understanding for the decision. However, the bereaved parents that Maariv interviewed said just the opposite. “The denial of visits to military cemeteries is inconceivable.” Amos Shalev, who lost his son in the Second Lebanon War, had a suggestion: “It’s possible to divide the arrival time and to limit the visit only to immediate relatives.”  Interestingly, municipal Arab-Israeli leaders called on Netanyahu to impose nighttime curfews during the month of Ramadan, which begins Thursday. The local leaders called for a lockdown during the hours that families visit each other and break the fast together - from 6pm to 3am each night.

  • Israel's coronavirus death toll up to 187, with 14,326 confirmed cases - Despite spike, coronavirus spread appears to be under control. The Health Ministry says there has been a slight rise in the number of COVID-19 patients in serious condition; number of recoveries has now exceeded the number of new diagnoses for the 7th day in a row. Overall rate of infection has slowed, with total number of cases doubling every 20 days. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • What if People Rise Up Against Coronavirus Lockdowns? Israel Has a Plan - In document obtained by Haaretz, Israel’s National Security Council charts a course of action if coronavirus restrictions lead to civil unrest. They even propose a toast. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel orders 2.4 million serological tests for coronavirus antibodies - Testing may indicate the percentage of Israelis who may have been infected but are asymptomatic, and though the accuracy of these tests is unproven, Health Ministry intends to test areas with high number of COVID-19 cases. (Ynet)
  • Up to 50% More Israeli Businesses Are Expected to Fail in 2020 Due to Coronavirus - Business information firms sees closures in Israel coming in at least two waves. (Haaretz+)
  • Haredi hardliners attack IDF troops distributing food in Jerusalem neighborhood - Police officers evacuate the soldiers from incident in Mea Shearim, condemned by army chief as 'violent, criminal act'; public security minister orders internal probe into previous clash in area that left young girl wounded by stun grenade. (Maariv and Ynet)
  • Muslims Worldwide Try to Keep Ramadan Spirit Alive Amid Coronavirus Restrictions - Many now find themselves cut off from much of what makes the month special with communal meals and late night gatherings banned as authorities try to balance restrictions with traditions. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet))
  • Lebanese protesters return to streets in car convoys amid coronavirus lockdown - The coronavirus pandemic has compounded woes in Lebanon, which had plunged deep into financial crisis months before the outbreak but with people unable to work they have taken to the streets. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • $80M allocated (in US by US Jews) for 'unprecedented' needs created by corona pandemic - Seven Jewish foundations announce launch to Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund, to provide aid in the face of organizational closures, staff layoffs, canceled programs, and greater financial aid demand. (Israel Hayom)

Other Quick Hits:

Alleged Israeli Strike Near Syria's Palmyra Kills 9 Fighters, Watchdog Says - Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says some of the casualties were loyal to Hezbollah, and six of them were foreign fighters. (Agencies, Maariv, Haaretz and Ynet)
12 teens were fined after participating in a party in the nature on Holocaust Day - Rishon Lezion municipal inspectors stopped the celebrations at a park in the city’s dunes, attended by 25 young people. Some youth fled the scene before the arrival of forces. A dozen fines were written for rallying in contravention of regulations and their parents were called. (Maariv)
Iranian Navy boasts improved anti-warship missiles range - Iran periodically announces major advances in its weapons capabilities that cannot be verified independently. Its armed forces are believed to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers, or 1,250 miles, that can reach Israel and US bases in the Mideast. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)


(Saving) Tmol Shilshom Cafe
Tmol Shilshom Cafe was a beloved Jerusalem cultural institution. About five weeks ago, David Ehrlich, the owner and founder of the literary cafe in Jerusalem, passed away. The place, named after S. Y. Agnon's book, has been in Nahalat Shiva district for more than 25 years, was famous for the cultural evenings hosted by the best writers, and became one of the capital's favorite institutions. Amos Oz said of the place: "Jerusalem has holy places that that people fought for, but there is one holy place over which there is no need to shed blood, and it is Tmol Shilshom.” After six weeks that the cafe is closed due to the corona restrictions, its managers now need financial support. "Even in the harsh terror attacks in Jerusalem when people did not leave their homes, we continued to hold cultural events," said Dan Goldberg, Ehrlich's partner at Tmol Shilshom. So he started a HeadStart crowdfunding campaign on the Internet. “Since David passed away, I have received inquiries from many people who want to help, such as (authors) Gil Hovav, David Grossman and Eshkol Nevo, who are willing to be hosted and contribute from their own monies for the benefit of the place.” The family of the poet, Yehuda Amichai, will put his pipe up for auction and the revenues will be donated to the literary institution. "Before David opened Tmol Shilshom, he consulted my father, and father encouraged him to go with the dream," said David Amichai, the poet's son. Over the years, Ehrlich maintained close contact with the Amichai family, and two days before his death called to ask how is Hannah, the poet's widow, and offered to shop for her during corona. "I remember dad sitting in Tmol Shilshom with the pipe and smoke rings rising, and when they stopped (allowing) smoking in closed places, he used to come with the pipe unlit in his mouth. I'm sure dad would want to do everything possible to save this important place. It's a kind of exterritorial (place) in Jerusalem that everyone is welcome to: religious, secular, LGBT community. Everyone felt at home there.” Headstart campaign.  (Yael Friedson, Yedioth Hebrew)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
A Sad Day for Democracy (Haaretz Editorial) On Monday, the head of the “Just Not Bibi” camp, Benny Gantz, laid the foundation for a historic precedent, by which a lawmaker accused of criminal wrongdoing is entitled to form a government. Moreover, Gantz agreed to anchor a clause in the coalition deal that requires him to dissolve the Knesset if the High Court of Justice dares to intervene and disqualify Benjamin Netanyahu. In the name of hundreds of thousands of people who voted “just not Bibi,” Gantz has exempted Netanyahu from being subject to the prevailing law, thereby whitewashing Netanyahu’s corruption and lending his hand to the destruction of the foundations of this country’s democracy. The attempts by Gantz and his partner, former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, to signal to their voters that they would be like undercover agents defending democracy and the rule of law from within the coalition, were pathetic, given their willingness to sign a deal giving the accused a veto on appointments of Supreme Court justices who may eventually determine his case’s outcome.
Disgraceful unity deal serves one person only (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) After three election campaigns and months of tense negotiations, the fifth Netanyahu government is here, and it is now clear how much Blue & White has betrayed its voters to shore up the indicted prime minister
Netanyahu-Gantz Deal Ensures Accused Premier Will Have the Last Word (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Benny Gantz surrenders yet again after giving up his strategic leverage, going against everything he believes in on the matter of annexation.
Proper conduct: The unity government can bring about a "Hudna" in democracy (Yonatan Plesner, Maariv)  While this is the most bloated and wasteful government in the history of Israel, the flood of anti-democratic legislation is expected to cease, and the attack on government institutions may become more moderate.
Coalition Deal Reflects Netanyahu and Gantz's Total Disconnect From Israeli Society (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Transparent, petty and selfish, the two leaders are over-optimistically banking on an abrupt end to the coronavirus crisis, as a dystopian future approaches.
Can Netanyahu and Gantz work together (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) Americans think of the prime minister as an extremist. But on the issues that matter most, he's content to govern with Gantz.
Gantz's Sinful Deal With Netanyahu Makes Clash With High Court Inevitable (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Sure, Gantz can boast that he ousted Amir Ohana as justice minister and replaced him with someone from his party. But after the deal he signed with Netanyahu, that won’t matter very much.
Israel's Coalition Deal Feels Like a Setup (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+)) The details of the agreement between the prime minister and his future deputy are nauseating. While millions of Israelis are holed up in their homes, fearful for their health and for their livelihoods, what Netanyahu cares most about is securing his legal and economic situation, as well as his job for the coming years. And Gantz willingly gave into his every whim. Netanyahu, like a customer negotiating with an insurance agent, demanded progressively more coverage and protections, additional guarantees and assurances to ensure zero damage to his personal well-being.

Other Commentary/Analysis:
‘Fauda’ Isn't Just Ignorant, Dishonest and Sadly Absurd. It's anti-Palestinian Incitement (George Zeidan, Haaretz+) *Warning: Spoilers* The Middle East is already bursting with disinformation, insinuations and dangerous propaganda: there’s no need for yet more. Fauda can do better.
The prisoner exchange deal: discussions are ongoing but the gaps are still wide (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Both parties are actually waiting for each other's proposal. It is believed that while Israel is interested in carrying out a comprehensive deal, Hamas is targeting a partial deal that does not include the return of bodies of fallen soldiers.
The straw that broke Hamas' back? (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) What over a decade of military pressure couldn't achieve, a month of corona fright has. But Israel must be careful not to be dragged back into a position of responsibility for the welfare of the residents of Gaza.
Digital Tracking of Israelis Thrives Amid Coronavirus. It's a Slippery Slope (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Doctors warn over tracking methods, as coronavirus provides Israeli intelligence with perfect excuse to invade private lives.
Don’t Count on Israelis to Follow Their Government's Coronavirus Recommendations (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Health Minister Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov is counting on Israelis to obey the rules, regulations, instructions and recommendations. But, he can’t. It’s because the public refuses to take responsibility for the failures of the government, and of its prime minister in particular. Because when they drop quarantine on us but don’t check up on the most isolated people of all, the ones living in nursing homes, and let them die; and when medical teams, who are justifiably praised, aren’t protected in their battlefield, and couldn’t get face masks for days on end; and when the prime minster doesn’t dare fire the health minister – don’t drop the responsibility on us.
Anti-Semitism is world's oldest 'fake news' (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) In the past, hatred of Jews was the tool of the ignorant, a product of prolonged demonization and blind hate; today it is a tool used worldwide by 'enlightened' elites and organizations, which spread hostility for their own gains.

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