News Nosh 5.7.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday May 7, 2020

Number of the day: 28

Percentage of Jewish respondents who think Israel should annex territories in the West Bank, even if annexation will harm relations with Jordan, according to poll found that more Israelis care about peace with Jordan than annexation.*

Front Page:

Haaretz

  • High Court justices ruled unanimously: No legal cause to prevent Netanyahu from forming government
  • Head of advisory team to National Security Council: Epidemic stopped in Israel, coronavirus tests are unnecessary
  • Government approved: Campfires are prohibited during Lag B’Omer holiday
  • State began to house in hotels violent men who were distanced from their homes
  • State-supervised day care centers will return to operation on Sunday. But there won’t be space for all the infants
  • Report: After a decade under Orban’s rule, Hungary is no longer a democracy // NYT
  • The most exact picture of the state of ice at Antartica is also the worst // NYT
  • Self-fraud // Gideon Levy
  • We are guilty // Chaim Levinson on society which puts responsibility to leave home on abused women
  • The light rail received tens of millions to speed up the construction during the lockdown and since then it has announced: We will be delayed by a year

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Netanyahu Gantz government - High Court unanimously rejected appeals against Netanyahu
  • The restraint test // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • Open! *under restrictions - Corona routine

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary, Security and Diplomacy:

A Likud - Kahol-Lavan government is expected to be sworn-in next week after the High Court of Justice gave a green light for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government and approved the coalition agreement between the two parties, meanwhile, as Israel flattened the curve,stores, markets and gyms prepared for their grand re-opening today - making the two top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Interestingly, there was little discussion of Israel’s annexation plans of Palestinian Territories and of the US recognition of them, except in ‘Israel Hayom,’ which broke the story yesterday that the US is preparing to do so ‘within weeks.’ And to top things off, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet announced that he approved doubling the size of Efrat settlement to build seven thousands new settler homes. Bennett’s decision came just three days after a court rejected the Palestinians’ demand that the land was theirs, marking the end to a 20-year legal battle. Peace Now announced that it intends to petition the High Court against the decision. Moreover, Channel 13 News reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to visit Israel next week and discuss annexation. The commentary section of Haaretz was filled with dread for annexation, while ‘Israel Hayom’ Op-Eds were excited.

*Ynet (but not Yedioth) reported on a poll which found that a majority of Israel's Jews oppose annexation in the West Bank. According to ‘Commanders for Israel's Security’ movement poll, only quarter of all respondents support the move, while only third of Likud voters in favor of the initiative. Forty percent prefer a permanent two-state solution with the Palestinians. The poll found that more Israelis care about peace with Jordan than annexation. Participants were also asked “should Israel annex territories in the West Bank, if annexation will harm relations with Jordan. Only a little more than a quarter [28%] think ‘yes’ and the rest were divided between saying ‘no’ [36%] and not being very sure [35],” The Jerusalem Post reported

Also significant, ‘Israel Hayom’ and Yedioth made no mention  (except on their websites) of the single rocket launched late Tuesday night from Gaza into Israel and the subsequent pounding of Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip by IDF tank shells. The rocket exploded in an open area with no injuries. However, Maariv dedicated a one-page report and an Op-Ed by Gen. (res.) Michael Milstein, who is the head of Palestinian studies at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel-Aviv University. Maariv’s military affairs correspondent, Tal Lev-Ram, reported that the rocket launched from Gaza marks the first time in 40 days that warning sirens in Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip have gone off. In the IDF they think that attacks from Gaza will increase with the end of the corona crisis and an unnamed Israeli political source said that the possibility of making a prisoner and missing persons deal is also starting to close. In his Op-Ed, Milstein writes about this closing window of opportunity. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Lev-Ram wrote that reports in Arab media say that there was no significant advancement between Israel and Hamas for a prisoners and missing persons deal and that the gap between the sides remained large.  Meanwhile, Yedioth, which made no mention of the rocket, published a full-page report that a bereaved father told the German government: “Don’t mediate a deal with Hamas.” His daughter was killed in a suicide attack on a bus in 2003.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
After 11 judges unanimously dismissed the petitions that argued an indicted politician, ie. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, cannot form government and approved the Likud - Kahol-Lavan coalition agreement, the Knesset amended the Basic Laws and approved the rotation bill today (Thursday) by a majority of 72 supporters against 36 opponents and Netanyahu is expected to receive the mandate to form a government today. The new government is expected to be sworn in next Wednesday.

Haaretz Hebrew reported that the police gave problems to demonstrators who oppose a Netanyahu-led government, who organized a protest near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in Petah Tikva telling them to step in the street and questioning the organizer for two hours. Moreover, demonstrators who organized a convoy protest to the home of High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut were warned not to make noise or they would get a fine. The protesters said that ‘noise’ has never been an issue. The organizer, Pinny George, said: "If we were so noisy, then why didn't they stop the demonstration? It's an attempt to shut up and scare us. The police are the ones who asked us to get into the street. Then they questioned me why protesters were on the road.” At the same time, right-wing Channel 20 (Hebrew) reported that dozens of right-wingers demonstrated outside the home of the former chief justice, Aharon Barak. The protesters claimed that the judicial activism that Barak led was guiding High Court justices till today and it was ruining democracy. “You are all damned, (Chief Justice) Esther Hayut is damned.” And to Barak they shouted, “Even if you are retired we will continue to bother you.” There was no report that police told the protesters to be quiet. A photo shows them with a loudspeaker standing on the sidewalk.

Corona Quickees:

  • Israel coronavirus daily case increase remains low - The Health Ministry says the number of patients who have died from COVID-19 remains at 239 since Wednesday, while only 7 new virus cases have been recorded since the previous day. (Ynet)
  • Massive Coronavirus Testing Plan Will Waste Precious Resources, National Security Council Says - Testing should be focused on patients with symptoms becuse there is no real value to general survey testing, NSC advisor argues. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF removes rust: "Corona crisis has proven we can be depended on" - This week, the army also returns to routine. It is holding battalion exercises, which include examining the readiness for a confrontation with Hezbollah. The military is pleased to note that the volume of AWOL soldiers has dropped despite the lockdown from going home. (Maariv)
  • Israel bans all Lag BaOmer bonfires due to coronavirus outbreak - Traditional bonfires banned in private areas as well due to fears of mass virus contagion and multitude of house fires; pilgrims not allowed to visit tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Mount Meron. (Ynet)
  • Coronavirus Pandemic Boosts Palestinian PM as Potential Abbas Successor - Any successor, no matter who, will inherit a multitude of problems plaguing Palestinian political institutions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Ramadan Shutdown Spells Disaster for Small Businesses in Israel's Arab Community - Nazareth, for example, hasn’t stopped charging its businesses property tax, and restaurants aren’t eligible for the government’s crisis loan program. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinians fear corona outbreak in Jerusalem's 'no man's land' - Kufr Aqab is within the Israeli-drawn municipal boundary of Jerusalem, but the neighborhood is on the opposite side of the security barrier Israel built in the mid-2000s, so the Israeli police don't go there. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Security Convicts to Get Brief Phone Call Despite Coronavirus Regulations - The regulations prohibit such phone calls at least until May 15, but following court challenge, the state has agreed to allow those in detention on offenses related to state security a short call. (Haaretz+)
  • Israelis protest femicide after uptick in violence against women during coronavirus lockdown - Five women were murdered over a seven-week period since the government imposed a lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Weakest Workers Are Most Likely to Be on Leave or Laid Off During Coronavirus - Those laid off or put on unpaid leave earn on average one-third less than Israel’s average wage according to chief economist. (Haaretz+)
  • WATCH ‘Hallelujah’ Performed in English, Hebrew and Arabic Raises $1M to Support First Responders in Israel - 'Saving Lives Sunday,' a virtual benefit to support the emergency response organization United Hatzalah of Israel in its fight against COVID-19, raised over $1 million. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Some Egyptians pack streets for Ramadan shopping despite coronavirus fears - Despite the curfew being moved from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M., shoppers continue to rush to the stores to stock up before breaking fast. (Agencies, Haaretz

Other Quick Hits:

  • 17 Immigrants From U.S. Arrive in Israel, as Aliyah Agency Says Interest Soars - Nefesh B’Nefesh group says applications for aliyah from North American Jews are up 50 percent from 12 months ago. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu's Son Becomes Star of German Nationalist Party After Calling EU 'Evil' - AfD lawmaker tweets poster quoting Yair Netanyahu after the prime minister's son appealed for a return to a 'free, democratic and Christian' Europe. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu filed a complaint with the police against the activist who threatened to harm his son: "Red line crossed" - The Prime Minister's son complained to the police of threats and incitement to harm him personally by Haim Shadmi at a number of events. The video shows a protester saying: "Yair, remember our promise, we know why you need security guards.” (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Former terrorist asks High Court to cut funds to Palestinian Authority - Settler leader, Chairman of the Shomron Regional Council Yossi Dagan, was one of the people who assisted Mohammad Massad in filing the petition. Massad, who spent 7 years in Israeli prison for carrying out attacks against Israelis during First Intifada and currently lives in Haifa (Israel), filed the petition demanding the funds meant for Abbas's government be directly transferred to Palestinian workers and needy families. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • In First, Israel Houses Abusive Men in Hotels to Protect Battered Women - Social Affairs Ministry orders the move as many violent men who were removed from their homes are having difficulties to find an alternate place to stay amid coronavirus fears. (Haaretz+)
  • Haaretz journalist Dina Kraft wins major Jewish journalism prize - Correspondent is honored for coverage of Diaspora communities in United States and Britain, including Pittsburgh a year on from mass shooting. (Haaretz)
  • Israel Demands to Extend Activity of and make major changes to UN Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon - Envoy Danny Danon insists that UNIFIL has access to all sites in Lebanon, and that any time that the peacekeeping mission is being blocked the UN Security Council must be immediately informed. (Agencies, Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • In First Military Deal, Israel to Lease Drone to Greece for Border Defense - Under the deal, Israel will lease the Heron UAV used by the IDF and in naval forces around the world, which is equipped with both day and night activity platforms, maritime patrol radars and satellite communications. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Kinneret rises by centimeter in 24 hours, further rain expected - The Kinneret rose by another centimeter from Tuesday to Wednesday, bringing the lake within 11 cm of the upper red line threshold and bringing the water level to 208.91 meters below sea level, after rain fell throughout the country on Tuesday, according to the Water Authority. (Yedioth Hebrew and JPost)
  • WATCH: Brazil’s President Speaks Next to an Israeli Flag at Anti-democratic Rally, Confusing and Angering Jews - Bolsonaro is a right-wing strongman who is a passionate advocate of Israel and counts on massive Evangelical Christian support. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Iraqi military says 3 rockets strike near Baghdad airport - No immediate casualties were reported and there was no claim of responsibility. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Former Iraqi Intelligence Chief Approved as New Prime Minister - Al-Kadhimi, who gave up the intelligence post when he became the prime minister-designate, assumes the premiership as Iraq faces unprecedented crises amid falling oil revenues. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran vows 'crushing response' if arms embargo extended - Trump pulled the United States out of the pact in 2018, arguing it did not go far enough to constrain Tehran's missile program and influence in the region. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iran reportedly approves plan to rename, cut four zeros from falling currency - Iran's national currency will be changed from the rial to the Toman, which is equal to 10,000 rials, under the bill. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Announces $225 Million in Emergency Aid to Yemen - Many aid groups have been forced to scale down due to lack of funds and ongoing interferences from Houthi authorities. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Features:

How an Obscure TV Channel Drove a Wedge Between Israeli Settlers and Their Evangelical Allies
The launch of an offshoot of God TV has angered many right-wing Israelis, who had long seen the Christian Zionists as a partner in their ‘Biblical Heartland’ project. ‘It sets us back 10 years’ says one. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
Are the anti-government economic protests organized by the Left?
Standing Together, which took part in the recent demonstrations against the government over its economic response to the coronavirus crisis, has received hundreds of thousands of shekels from Germany and the New Israel Fund, which has supported a left-wing agenda. (Gilad Zwick, Israel Hayom)
U.S. Jewish Groups Alarmed by anti-Semitism, Nazi Symbols in Lockdown Protests
‘When economic times get bad, people everywhere tend to seek scapegoats, and Jews have always been a target of choice,’ warns head of one Jewish organization. (Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:

The moral testimony against Netanyahu failed because of three rotten apples (Ran Edelist, Maariv) In preparation for the High Court hearing, where were all those who are crying today about the conduct of the justice system, where they were when this system acted in an anti-legal manner? Where were they were when this whole system operated in the territories in an anti-legal manner (international - and don't bother me with military government regulations), anti-human and anti-political-political interests of the State of Israel? Today, the system protects Netanyahu, including the High Court, which favored smart legal treatment of a ludicrous agreement over a simple black-and-white moral decision. "Legal constraints," such as "the language of the law," are the middle names of oppression and corruption.
Where Was the High Court Till Now? - In South Africa, too, the High Court defended apartheid (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+ and Haaretz Hebrew) The High Court of Justice is one of Israel’s cleverest ploys. Nothing beats the High Court at embodying Israel as it wishes to be seen: enlightened, constitutional, democratic. The High Court is its Iron Dome when it comes to democracy. If there are injustices, the High Court will fix them. How lovely is the High Court, how lovely are we. Yitzhak Rabin might have dreamed about a country with no High Court, but the High Court didn’t stop him from doing anything, including the criminal expulsion of 415 Hamas activists to Lebanon, and the aura of the beacon of justice and enlightenment only grew stronger. The war waged on the High Court in recent years by the right has only added to the illusion. Israel is a democracy just as that earlier South Africa was a democracy. Apartheid has not been enshrined in law here, but the way there has been paved – thanks in part to the High Court. The High Court will not stop the slide to apartheid just as it did not stop the occupation. Judicial activism has always known where to stop short…Most of the people now waving black flags and awaiting salvation from the High Court did not take to the streets with the same flags when the High Court authorized and whitewashed war crimes. Now you’re raising your voices? Too late...
With their questions and their guidance, the High Court justified our democratic foundations (Attorney Uri Keenan, Maariv) In the days when tensions between the authorities are at its peak, it is worth noting the court's activities, which have raised the discussion for public discourse. Party representatives also expressed important arguments, and agreed to implement the ruling in the coalition agreement.
High Court may still intervene (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Israel's top court denied the petitions against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first and foremost to avoid another pitfall but it still underpins future political processes…The outcome of the High Court discussions is clear: no matter what the prime minister is accused of, he is legally allowed to serve as prime minister. The sad conclusion is that apparently he judicial system in the land of the righteous is probably not and the systems have indeed been corrupted over the years.
If the coalition agreement is approved, a new system of government will be created in Israel (Prof. Yuval Shani, Maariv) Instead of a coalition-based government headed by one prime minister with a great deal of political power, we will receive an "exchange government" in which power appears to be split equally between two individual blocs, headed by two personalities - an acting prime minister and an alternate prime minister. Reform of the Basic Laws to make this rotation happen can be understood as a transitional arrangement that will create a temporary political structure, and allow the center-left bloc to gradually cut Netanyahu off from power.
Israel’s Top Court Kosherized an Abomination (Haaretz Editorial) Netanyahu’s loyalists have never had a problem with the twists and turns of this agreement since they have grown accustomed to demonstrating exceptional flexibility as part of their defense of a man charged with criminal offenses. It is a shame that the Supreme Court refused to accept the fact that the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement is nothing more than the lens we can look through at the government corruption it wants to impose. A criminal defendant demanding to appoint the state prosecutor and attorney general is unheard of. So is the fact that a person under indictment demands to freeze legislation that is not linked to the coronavirus for the next six months and to do away with the opposition representative on the Judicial Appointments Committee. These clauses in the coalition agreement reveal Netanyahu’s intentions to undermine the legal proceedings against him.
Even If the path is full of agony: the fort won't fall (Matan Wasserman, Maariv) It appears that the statement by the High Court Chief Justice that "even if we do not accept your position - the fortress is not falling," there was a hint that says the court is attentive on the one hand, but on the other hand it will not rule on fates.

Other Commentary/Analysis:

There Will Be Lots of Annexation Talk From Netanyahu, but No Action (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has worked for decades to achieve the current status quo whereby the Palestinian issue has all but disappeared from the global agenda. Why jeopardize that by pursuing actual annexation?
The time to apply sovereignty is now (Amir Avivi, Israel Hayom) The attempts by left-leaning generals, the champions of stoking fears, to frighten the public about the consequences of annexation, are unbecoming and misleading.
What will happen to Palestinian land the day after annexation? (Ziv Stahl, 972mag) The exact shape that annexation will take is still unknown. One thing is certain: Israel will use it to facilitate the theft of Palestinian land across the West Bank.
Call Yourself a Friend? Then Stop Israel’s West Bank Annexation Disaster (Guy Ziv, Haaretz+) Israel faces a national emergency, its political opposition has capitulated and many of its American 'friends' are urging it on towards doom. Who will stop Israel’s suicidal annexation plan?
A golden opportunity for Judea and Samaria (Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Israel's center and coastal area are already too congested. Annexation will obligate the government to formulate a new strategic master plan for the development of a crucial eastern backbone.
Donald Trump Is Complicit in a Catastrophe for (Palestinian) Christians (Jamal Khader, Haaretz+)  Israel’s West Bank annexation policy, fueled by the Trump administration’s 'peace plan,' may gratify extreme evangelicals, but it is a mortal blow to the future of Christianity in the Holy Land.
Action Plan: Television series during Ramadan contribute to the intensification of hostility (Yitzhak Lebanon, Maariv) The Egyptian TV series "The End" celebrates the end of the State of Israel, exile of all its inhabitants and the liberation of Jerusalem. Our silence on the difficult content will only perpetuate the hatred toward us.
The Israeli Army Is Embarrassed by Its Military Dancers? They Are the Least of Its Problems (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) A video of soldiers dancing backup to a singer on Independence Day triggered an abrupt policy change but the real issue is the compulsory draft.
Israel's Male-directed Shutdown Leaves Women Home (Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz+) 'Some 4 million workers in Israel are women, and like men they’re being expected to return to work, except women are paying a higher price on both ends' says one expert
A lesson in fighting apartheid from a Jewish South African dissident (Amjad Iraqi, 972mag) Denis Goldberg, who passed away on April 29, reminded Palestinians that the world has seen their kind of oppression before — and that it can be beaten.
Before the window of opportunities closes (Michael Milstein, Maariv - no link) The renewal of the dialogue between Israel and Hamas that began in the last two months regarding a possible "prisoners deal" comes completely from the corona crisis. The unique "window of opportunity" was created following a deep fear by Hamas of the spread of corona in the Gaza Strip, which caused the organization to show unprecedented willingness to advance a 'deal,' and that is after five years of a freeze on the subject...An expression of the 'return of teh Gaza Strip to routine' was the shooting of a rocket Tuesday night, which drew attacksy by the IDF. The gradual return to familiar routine means the closing of the window of opportunity regarding the prisoners and missing persons. ...Israel's exit process from the corona crisis means a return to the discussion over the long-term arrangement with the Gaza Strip. Israel stands before an opportunity to complete the 'holes' left in the framework of formulating the move adn at the top of this is advancing the solution regarding the prisoners and missing.
One of the Best Docuseries in Recent Years Tells the Tragic Story of Israel's 'Agent 566' (Ariana Melamed, Haaretz+VIDEO) The portrayal of ‘Field Agent 566,’ Eli Cohen, rises above jingoistic portrayals of Israel’s spy in Syria and delves into the complexities of this ‘necessary evil in an evil world.’
Are lockdown protests signaling a resurgence of anti-Semitism? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom)
Those who misuse Holocaust imagery are profoundly inappropriate; still, the rush to label all the protesters as neo-Nazis is wrong.
Coronavirus, oil war and a Hajj in doubt: Saudia Arabia’s triple whammy (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The pandemic has dictated a new oil strategy in which the American administration is even willing to put the historic U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia to the test.

Interviews:

‘I want to be seen’: Coronavirus lockdown stories from across the Middle East
With a computer, Zoom, and a list of questions, I spoke to young people across the region about how their lives are being affected by COVID-19. (Interviews By Yuval Abraham in 972mag)
 

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

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