News Nosh 5.10.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday May 10, 2020
 
You Must Be Kidding: 
"It's unreasonable to ask Israel to give it up. It's like asking the US to give up the Statue of Liberty."
--In an interview, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman boasts of his work to make settlements and the settlement enclave in Hebron, all deep in the West Bank, a condition for the Palestinians to get statehood.*


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • “26 hours shift is life-endangering” – Cry of medical interns
  • Returning to pre-school
  • Attorney General in the crosshairs – Two weeks ahead of Netanyahu’s trial
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Liberated
  • The Netanyahu method – Now he is using his means to destroy the Attorney General
  • Forming a government – Tension in Likud and Kahol-Lavan ahead of the distribution of the jobs before the swearing-in of the government
Israel Hayom
  • Galant: “(Attorney General) Mendelblitt and (Kahol-Lavan member) Ashkenazi owe the public an explanation” – (Justice Minister) Ohana: I will request from the State Comptroller that he probe the conduct of the Attorney General
  • Returning to pre-schools
  • Distributing the jobs – Record tension ahead of swearing-in of government
  • Lag B’Omer holiday in the shadow of corona: Chief rabbi – don’t light bonfires
  • A step and half towards routine: National League basketball practices restarted

Top News Summary:
Preschools and nurseries partially reopen today - leaving many children at home, liberated Israelis enjoyed the weekend outside - many without taking precautions, the Attorney General and the former state prosecutor are now in the crosshairs of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s loyalists as Netanyahu’s trial gets closer and tensions peak as senior members of Likud await to hear what ministries they get to lead in the government that will be sworn-in - if all goes as planned - on Wednesday - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
A report by journalist Ayala Hasson put a spotlight on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt and former state prosecutor Shai Nitzan, which made front page news in Maariv, Yedioth and Israel Hayom, but with Israel Hayom having a very different take. Maariv and Yedioth saw the report as an attack meant to help Netanyahu. The report, two weeks before Netanyahu’s trial, quoted from a leaked 2010 protocol of talks between Mendelblitt and Kahol-Lavan MK Gabi Ashkenazi. A senior source in the State Prosecutor’s Office told Yedioth Hebrew’s legal affairs correspondent, Tova Tzimuki, that Netanyahu's goal was to come to trial when a stigma is attached to Mendelblitt, as if Mendelblitt were a criminal, who acted for the benefit of then-chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, when Mendelblitt was chief military advocate at the time of the Harpaz affair. Hasson claimed in the broadcast that the quotes in the conversation prove Mendelblit's improper involvement in the affair. Over the weekend, a lot of action began on Netanyahu's social networking base, which is adopting this narrative, Tzimuki reported. For example, a Twitter post said, ”Mendelblitt is wiped out and it's time to insist on abolishing Netanyahu's scandalous trial.” Meanwhile, 'Israel Hayom' (Hebrew) quote unnamed sources in the State Prosecutor's Office who said, "this smells bad."

Hasson also reported that Shai Nitzan, who retired from being state attorney in December, appeared to be connected to the internal computer system last month, more than three months after he retired. So just days before his term ends, Justice Minister Amir Ohana said he would ask the State Comptroller to investigate the issue. Nitzan was put on a three-month leave at the end of his term, as are other civil servants. He said that he continued using his computer during that period, as he claimed is customary, Haaretz+ reported. (Also Yedioth Hebrew)

Likud and Kahol-Lavan have already decided that the swearing-in of the government will be on Wednesday, after Netanyahu got 72 recommendations to form a government last Thursday and was tapped by President Reuven Rivlin to form a government. In the meantime, Netanyahu's senior associates are vying for seats in the cabinet, which is split half and half with Kahol-Lavan.


Corona Quickees:
  • Israel sees another drop in virus cases but death toll rises - As of Sunday morning, there are 16,458 confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel, a rise of only four diagnoses since the evening hours, while the death toll currently standing at 248, health officials confirmed. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Chaos tains return of alf a million Israeli children kindergartens, nurseries today - Education system gradually reopens under strict coronavirus restrictions after two-month hiatus, but tens of thousands of toddlers still at home as sites operate on priority basis, struggle with staff shortages. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Sea, Sun and Grey Zone: Israelis Storm Beaches After Weeks of Coronavirus Lockdown - Sunbathing is prohibited but physical activity is allowed, causing chaos for inspectors attempting to enforce confusing regulations. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli Resident Doctors Protest Return to 26-hour Shifts After Coronavirus Respite - Resident physicians refuse to go back to pre-pandemic work schedules: 'We recovered our sanity, our health, we were more alert and gave better medical care.' (Haaretz+, Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • With Pre-registration and Masks, Israelis Cautiously Return to National Parks - It would be premature to state that masses jammed the 20 national parks that reopened this week after coronavirus lockdown eased. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Drubbed by Coronavirus, Small Israeli Businesses Demand Cash – and Shadow Economy Grows - The goal is to pay their expenses for the month and a half of no revenues, and the government is only expected to go after the real criminals. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Advancing Legislation to Let Suspects Attend Court Hearings Digitally to Stem Coronavirus - The Israel Police, the Israel Prison Service and the Finance Ministry – which have pushed for years to replace in-person hearings with technological alternatives – all support the memorandum. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Researchers Pinpoint What Happens to Seriously Ill Coronavirus Patients - Researchers at the Weizmann Institute found out what differentiates the actions of the immune system in serious COVID-19 cases as opposed to those only mildly affected. (Haaretz+)

 

Other Quick Hits:
  • Anti-Netanyahu Protesters Questioned Over Suspected Threats to Premier's Son - Attorney says it's unusual for the head of police investigations to show up at the Prime Minister's Residence to collect testimony: 'The public might understand this to mean the police work for him.' (Maariv and 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+)
  • U.S. Confirms Pompeo to Travel to Israel on May 13 to Meet Netanyahu, Gantz - Secretary of State to discuss coronavirus outbreak and regional developments with officials. (Haaretz+)
  • U.S. to Withdraw Troops From Sinai Peacekeeping Force Despite Israeli Opposition, Report Says - Minister says Israel to discuss 'important' military mission in the Egyptian peninsula with the Americans. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel demands major changes in UN peacekeeping in Lebanon - According to Ambassador Danon, UNIFIL cannot fulfill their mandate if they continue to accept Hezbollah dictates keeping them away from areas where violations of UN resolutions are taking place. (Agencies, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Hamas denies progress in Israel prisoner swap talks - Group official rejects Thursday report that German and Swiss negotiators were making progress in mediation between Israel, Egypt and Hamas to secure an agreement involving bodies of two soldiers, two Israelis held captive. (Ynet)
  • West Bank settlers: Trump plan calls for Palestinian statehood - Claiming U.S. aims to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on 70% of area captured by Israel in 1967, Yesha Council warns Thursday that the decision to extend sovereignty over settlements and Jordan Valley is in hands of government. (Ynet)
  • Palestinians take battle against annexation to UN Security Council - PA envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour: The Palestinians are set on security a "wide and powerful front" in the UN with the aim of preventing Israel from annexing parts of the West Bank. Gulf states slam "Israel's cynical exploitation of this period of global pandemic to advance these illegal plans.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Will EU sanction Israel over annexation plan? - EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is reportedly pushing to penalize Jerusalem if it moves ahead with plans to apply Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria. (Israel Hayom)
  • Friedman to 'Post': To annex, Netanyahu must tell Abbas he’ll negotiate state - An interview with Friedman in honor of the second anniversary of the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem will be featured in Friday’s Jerusalem Post. (JPost)
  • Shots fired at Palestinian bank that closed accounts of released prisoners under Israeli pressure - Move follows new Israeli rule aiming to block the Palestinian Authority from giving stipends to Palestinian convicted in Israeli courts, and Palestinians are concerned more banks will follow. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Says Banks Won’t Abide by Israeli Order in Prisoner Funds Dispute - New regulation means banks can be punished for involvement in providing funds paid by the PA to prisoners, but the banks have decided not to cooperate. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Pandemic boosts Palestinian PM as potential Abbas successor - Mohammad Shtayyeh's success in tackling the coronavirus outbreak in the West Bank has brought many to consider him a worthy successor, especially considering the deteriorating economic situation within the Palestinian Authority. (Ynet)
  • EU says Palestinians affiliated with terror groups can still access funds - Israeli Foreign Ministry summons EU ambassador in response to envoy to West Bank and Gaza saying Palestinian grantees may include those affiliated with blacklisted groups. (Ynet)
  • Israel to loan financially strapped Palestinian Authority 800M shekels (of its own money) - Funds are an advanced payment on taxes Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians, halted over Ramallah's "pay-for-slay" policy. "Our taxes pay the salaries of our children's murderers," bereaved parents fume. [NOTE: The report does not note that Israel has withheld much of the taxes it has already collected. - OH] (Israel Hayom)
  • Amnesty slams Palestinians' freedom of expression arrests - Human rights group says 5 people arrested in March and April, including a peace activist who held a video call with Israelis and a writer who criticized Gaza leaders. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli billionaire hopes to bring water to parched Gaza - Michael Mirilashvili wants to deliver hundreds of generators that produce drinking water out of thin air. Israeli authorities hasten process that normally takes years in order to install machine in Gaza hospital, at behest of businessman close to Netanyahu. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israeli ambassador slams NYT for slandering IDF - NYT's highlights that the IDF's research and development efforts, crucial in Israel's battle against the coronavirus, are usually dedicated to devising ways to eliminate the Jewish state's enemies, criticized as "vile" and “shameful." (Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • Police investigate suspected double murder (of Arab-Israelis) in northern Israel - Men shot to death in vehicle in northern town of Daliyat al-Karmel named as Ofer Abu Sauda and Carlos Abu Tamimi. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Military Intelligence chief misled Israeli leaders ahead of 1973 War, declassified doc reveals - 'Special means' that could have foretold the Yom Kippur War weren't employed – but intel chief made political leaders believe otherwise, a newly discovered document shows. (Haaretz+)
  • God TV Responds to Critics: ‘We’re Not Trying to Convert Jews; We Just Want Them to Accept Jesus as the Messiah’ - Regulatory body in charge of broadcasting in Israel is currently investigating whether God TV, which launched its new Israeli channel two weeks ago, is in violation of its terms of license, which forbid proselytizing. (Haaretz+)
  • Whether or Not the Authorities Know Their Struggles, At-risk Israeli Women Are Being Murdered - Tatiana Khaikin and Mastwell Mandparo were both killed in recent weeks; in one case the partner has been arrested, in the other he confessed. Why are these cases falling through the cracks? (Haaretz+)
  • Egypt’s Sissi Expands Emergency Powers, Citing Coronavirus Outbreak - Most of the amendments to emergency law are unrelated to public health, and include a ban on protests and other forms of assembly. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Tripoli Airport Shelling Hits Fuel Tanks and Passenger Plane, Libyan Ministry Says - Transport Ministry, blaming Haftar's eastern-based forces, says a damaged plane was preparing to fly to Spain to retrieve Libyans stranded amid coronavirus lockdown. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. pulling Patriot missile batteries out of Saudi Arabia amid oil dispute - Move scales back American presence in Saudi Arabia just months after the Pentagon began a military buildup there to counter threats from Iran. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Senate upholds Trump veto of 'insulting' Iran war powers resolution - The president accused Democrats of pursuing the matter for political reasons, although the measure was introduced by some of Trump's fellow Republicans along with Democrats. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran seeks to boost food reserves as virus compounds economic woes - Bumper grain crops will guarantee staple foods to March 2021 as impact of pandemic not spread to farming, Rouhani tells parliament, but previously unreported buying spree highlights concern of possible supply crunch. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Report: Iran behind hack of Israeli Water Authority sites - According to Fox News report Thursday, the Iranians used American servers to launch their attack on the Israeli infrastructure sites last month; U.S. Department of Energy refused to comment on the report. (Ynet)


Features:
He Laid the Foundation for Israel's Army. His Story Was Kept Secret – Until His Diary Turned Up
No streets are named for him, he’s not mentioned in textbooks and even his family didn't know about his vital role in Israel's security. Meet Yosef Hecht, who headed the pre-state Haganah for a decade, before being deposed and erased from the collective memory. (Nir Mann, Haaretz+)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
In Netanyahu Ruling, Israel's Chief Justice Did Exactly What She Should Have Done (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The court’s main claim is convincing because it is so simple – there is currently nothing in the law preventing a prime minister from serving while under indictment, and there is no legal barrier to appointing someone who has been criminally indicted to form a government.
Netanyahu is mobilizing all the means to destroy the attorney general (Ben Caspit, Maariv) When it comes to defeating rivals, creating spin or producing Fake News, the prime minister uses all the means, the tools, the power. Now, all of these are being recruited for one mission: the elimination of Avichai Mendelblitt.
Unanimously (Shimon Schiffer, Yedioth Hebrew)1. On Wednesday, if they don't surprise us again, tdozens of happy people will rise to the Knesset podium and "will pledge as members of the government to maintain allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws, to faithfully fulfill their role as members of the government and to comply with the Knesset's decisions." And when the designated Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi [Kahol-Lavan] comes up to declare allegiance, we will remember his oath of allegiance to his constituents when he declared that even if has to pass an IDF 'captivity training,' he will not sit with Netanyahu in a government. Which oath we are supposed to believe? Last weekend, when the ink was still dry on Benny Gantz's signature recommending Netanyahu as prime minister, he was already quick to share with us his reservations about the product he bought with the votes of more than a million voters - "It won't be my dream government," he declared...I suggest not using astrology to try to guess what is the future of this government. One fact, however, is indisputable: a man accused of serious public corruption offenses, and whose trial will begin in two weeks, will be the head of the executive branch of Israel...
The High Court Allowed Israel’s Most Demented Government Ever. Now It Will Get Uglier (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Eleven justices unanimously agreed that the explosive political issues are within the court’s jurisdiction, and Netanyahu's base is as inflamed as ever.
Judicial Activism: A Complete Collection of Conflicts of Interest by High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) Sending people in trial to mediation with her friend; promoting her former assistant to be a judge; Accepting the daughter of a friend of hers to be an intern in her office; to specialize in the bureau, of her boyfriend's daughter; Sitting in hearings on companies, which her husband represents.
Israel's High Court Spares Netanyahu, but Remains Locked and Loaded (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The decision to effectively keep Netanyahu in power has the leftist minority in disarray – but at least the country's highest judicial authority lives to fight another day.
In the current political structure, it is not possible to create governmental stability (Lior Ackerman, Maariv) Today it is clear that Israel needs a revolution in its thinking and conduct. A functioning modern state must be built here, with clear policies and strategic plans in place in every area of life.
Don't Blame Israel's High Court, Blame Gantz (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) In the wake of that High Court ruling, Benjamin Netanyahu repeated his tired mantra: “The ones who decide who will lead the people are the people, and no one else.” Yet not even Netanyahu dreamed in January that the “people” he would use to undermine the High Court’s right to prevent him from forming a government would include Kahol Lavan and Labor Party voters - despite the opposition of some of them. Gantz fulfilled Netanyahu’s wildest fantasy.
The High Court's intoxication of power (Jacob Bardugo, Israel Hayom) The performance put on for the wider public earlier this week was just the beginning. The next chapters will be unveiled in the very near future.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s second-rate Jews (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu recently claimed ‘the people’ gave him a ‘massive majority.’ It’s a bald untruth, but that’s not why it’s so revealing.
Unlike Gantz, Netanyahu had and still has an alternative: fourth elections (Anna Barsky, Maariv) The chain of events seemingly took us in the opposite direction, but only ostensibly. Gantz is the one whose advantage fell once he made the move and crossed the border. The one who has no other alternative but the establishment of a unity government, at all costs, is actually Gantz. For Gantz, the choice was a rotation prime minister position, which may never happen, or to run for election as a failed, hollow politician who came to the arena with a promise to replace Netanyahu, and in the act dismantled the power he received from the public and gave him another term as prime minister. Netanyahu actually had an alternative, and it still exists: elections. It's not his preferred option, but he certainly enjoys its very existence. Netanyahu is in no hurry to make a final decision. In the meantime, he has been following what is happening in both arenas, legal and political, and is debating. Time is running out, but there is still room for maneuver. However, despite the High Court decision, the PM understands that the legal train has not yet reached the last stop and not all legal obstacles have been removed. The High Court left its foot in the door and rejected answering most of the crucial questions until a later battle, and that is exactly what Netanyahu fears.
The High Court, Resisting the Urge to Disqualify Netanyahu, Evades the Left's Trap
(Israel Harel, Haaretz+) The  law enabling a prime minister charged with bribery to remain in his lofty post, and even to form a new government, is outrageous. But since it’s a clear and unequivocal law, the High Court justices did well this time to curb their activist temperament. The High Court of Justice probably understood, albeit at a critically late stage, that it must reinstate the public’s confidence in it.
Just Like Israelis Love: The Great Week of the High Court of Emotion (Meir Uziel, Maariv) It is time to change the name of the institution to the HCE, because the judges have already made it clear: here, judges don’t judge by law, but by feelings.
The High Court Held Up a Mirror to Our Faces. This Is What We Look Like
(Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) The High Court put a mirror in front of us, which reflected the countenance of a state going through a process. Now we are prepared to install a criminal at the helm of our state. This is what we look like. The High Court isn’t responsible for improving our ugly face, only for reflecting it. We look the way the court says we look. “The voters’ will,” from its perspective, is even stronger than equality before the law, which isn’t mentioned in any law. Democracy is not on its agenda. No one ever asked us if we even wanted democracy. We don’t even know what it is exactly. As far as we’re concerned, it could be an empire here.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
In Coronavirus' Shadow, Israel and Iran Wage a Diplomatic Battle Over Sanctions (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Not only strikes in Syria: Israeli diplomats are pushing the message that Tehran is exploiting the pandemic to get sanctions against it lifted.
Is Israel asking for trouble with annexation plan? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) A leading pro-Israel scholar sees danger ahead, yet his worries are unpersuasive.
Let Israel Annex the West Bank. It's the Least Worst Option for Palestinians (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Annexation is indeed an intolerable prize for the occupier and an outrageous punishment for the occupied. It legitimizes the most serious crimes and severs the most just of dreams – but the alternative is even worse. It would eternalize the criminal situation – this situation has long been perpetuated; it would establish a reality of apartheid – a reality that has existed for quite some time.
The 'legal' landmine on the road to sovereignty (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) The incoming government must instruct the State Prosecution and the IDF Military Advocate Unit to properly represent Israel's longstanding position: As the holder of sovereign rights to Judea and Samaria in accordance with international law. A lawyer in an official position who presents otherwise does not represent the State of Israel.
The Two U.S. Politicians Who Would Gain the Most From Israeli Annexation (Amir Tibon, Haaretz+) Democratic lawmakers are split into three camps when it comes to Israel and annexation. Some believe Bernie Sanders’ wing would be the biggest beneficiary if Israel follows through on its West Bank plans this summer.
The ICC has become a tool of Palestinian lawfare (Arsen Ostrovsky and Maurice Hirsch, Israel Hayom) By becoming a willing pawn of the Palestinians, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has politicized the court and brought its very legitimacy into question. [Note: Author Maurice Hirsch is the former IDF JAG.-OH]
Hezbollah permits Lebanon to be rescued by the West (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) In Lebanon, Hezbollah is so powerful that the Lebanese Armed Forces refrain from challenging it in any meaningful way. Not just coincidentally, Hezbollah and its political allies effectively control the Lebanese government.
Russia Wants a Lucrative Diplomatic Victory in Syria. Iran and Assad Are in Its Way (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) President Assad is squeezing his billionaire cousin to pay for Russia's expenses. Kremlin needs Iran out of Syria to reap the rewards of its strategic investment.
Watching Hezbollah entrench itself in Lebanon (Sarah N. Stern, Israel Hayom) Israel is careful to avoid a direct conflict with the Shiite terrorist group in southern Lebanon, and Hezbollah is well aware of Israel's massive artillery power. They therefore now play a "cat and mouse game."
Religion Can No Longer Claim Moral Superiority, and Six Other Lessons From the Coronavirus Crisis (Eva Illouz, Haaretz+) The global coronavirus crisis is unprecedented in many ways – with the power of states unchecked, freedoms crushed and values distorted – but it's already possible to draw a few lessons from it.
 
Interviews:
*'For Israel to give up Hebron and Beit El is like the US giving up the Statue of Liberty'
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman believes that applying Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria can take place in a matter of weeks. In a special interview, he dismisses the Left's criticism, saying, "We have doubled areas A' and B' and reassures the Right it will only have to contend with a Palestinian state "if the Palestinians become Canadian.” (Interviewed by Ariel Kahana in Israel Hayom)

Friedman to 'Post': We need to strengthen Israel-US ties with peace plan
Diplomatic Affairs: Marking two years since the move of the embassy to Jerusalem, David Friedman talks about annexation, the peace process and rapprochement in the Gulf. (Interviewed by Yaakov Katz and Lahav Harkov in JPost/Maariv)

Ehud Barak returns to Camp David: "We didn't go there to commit suicide"
The then-prime minister traveled to Camp David in July 2000, seeking to end the conflict with the Palestinians. Two weeks later, the "No Partner" speech came. Why did the peace process go up in flames? (Interviewed by Dr. Uri Milstein in Maariv)
What did you hope to achieve at Camp David?
EB: ”Nobody expected a final peace agreement. The target was a 'framework agreement'. That's also what was achieved at Begin's Camp David in 1978. After Begin's agreement, they discussed details for another entire year and only afterwards signed a peace agreement. Its implementation was over another five years.  We didn’t think we’d reach an agreement. But we said there was a chance of reaching a framework agreement, but we didn't really know about that either. As mentioned, we conducted hundreds of hours of talks on four continents, eight different teams throughout this year.  I was involved in all previous contacts with the Palestinians during the Rabin and Peres years. We made a huge effort. But there was no situation that we or the Americans thought there was a draft and agreement. That's what I told reporters before the conference. Every time they asked me what the odds were, I gave the same answer: 'It's 50-50'. Not because I know something you don't know. There are two options - it can succeed and it can fail. It is impossible to know which of these things will happen.”
After the Camp David conference, you stated that as long as Arafat was leading the Palestinians, they could not reach a peace agreement and "no partner." Why, after six months, on January 21, when you were already in an election campaign with Eric Sharon, did you go to the Taba Conference with them?
“There was no conference in Taba.There were talks there without Arafat and without me. After Camp David, Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid and others who very much wanted to attend the conference in July, came to me on the grounds that they must understand why we did not succeed at Camp David. And that maybe if they had, there would have been positive results. I saw no reason to leave them in the fog. I conditioned verbally and in writing with Arafat and Clinton that we are not renewing the negotiations, there won’t be a plenary, no protocols, no working groups. There will be a free discussion at the Taba Hotel between Israeli and Palestinian officials.”
There was talk that in Taba you were ready to give the Palestinians 100% of the territories.
"This is an urban legend. I was not there, and anyway I gave nothing and even objected to someone else committing to something on my behalf or on behalf of Israel.”
Was there a stage after Camp David that you offered to give them more?
"The proposal sounded like Clinton: 92% - 94%, but that is his position and not our formal position.  At Taba, we did not discuss percentages on my behalf and, of course, they could not 'agree' on anything on our behalf beyond expressing their personal opinion. The people who were there, some of them would later say that if they continued, they would have solved (the conflict). But nothing is resolved if there is no negotiation. Negotiations have a form. And content. I agreed that our people and their people would meet, that they talk between themselves.”
So the meeting in Taba has no meaning?
"There is no political significance. There is human meaning. People who were there wanted to give it more meaning. People who got frustrated with the process and wanted to create a feeling that there should be a continuation, preferred to see it as if it were a continuation. I told Gili (Gilad) Sher, ‘Never stop reminding them that there is no negotiation and no certification by our teams for any "agreement" on my behalf or on behalf of Israel.’ Beilin wrote down things for himself and then wrote down something. It was natural and acceptable. But there was no negotiation. hen Yossi Sarid came back, still full of complaints that we didn't take him to Camp David, he told me, 'On one point you were right. The Palestinians don’t want only Ramallah and Kedumim [in West Bank- OH], they want Sheikh Munis [in Israel - OH]. Sarid lived at Sde Dov, one mile west of Sheikh Munis. Tel Aviv University is located on the original Sheikh Munis (village).”

'For us, taking on Iran's anti-Israel propaganda machine is just another day at the office'
Fuente Latina, an NGO started in a small Jerusalem apartment, has grown into an information powerhouse seeking to change Spanish-speaking audiences' view of Israel. "We work around the clock to ensure Spanish-language media have the facts they need to accurately cover Israel and the Jewish world," says founder Leah Soibel. (Interviewed by Sharon Gilad in Israel Hayom)
 
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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