News Nosh 5.14.20

APN's daily news review from Israel  - Thursday May 14, 2020

NOTE:  Americans for Peace Now (APN) is thrilled to announce that its Board of Directors has appointed Hadar Susskind as APN’s new President and CEO, effective tomorrow, Friday May 15th. Born in Israel and raised in the US, Hadar comes to APN after a rich, diverse career in Washington DC, advocating for peace, fighting for democracy, and championing social justice. Hadar joins APN during the most challenging threat posed to date to the two-state solution: annexation. Hadar will be responsible for leading the organization and charting new paths for it at a time of great challenges for APN’s mission.

Quote of the day:

"And finally, this is not murder. If Sgt. 1st Class Ben-Yigal was murdered, then 15-year-old Zeid Fadl Qasiya, who was shot to death by soldiers in the Al-Fawar refugee camp, was definitely murdered. If a rock-throwing terrorist is a murderer, then the fighter who shoots teenagers is also a murderer."
--Commentator Gideon Levy writes a sharp Op-Ed about the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.


Front Page:

Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv  (Hebrew links only)

  • Beginning on the path - Netanyahu announced: I succeeded in forming a rotation government with Gantz
  • For their care - From dealing with the enormous unemployment and the rehabilitation of the health system to upgrading distance learning in the education system
  • “Don’t forget you are vulnerable” - Series of harassing text messages and phone calls to Attorney General are believed to be connected to his involvement in dealing with Netanyahu’s (criminal) cases
  • Tragedy at Tel-Hashomer Hospital: Mustafa Darwish asked his doctor for medicinal cannabis and after he was rejected he pulled out a knife. At the adjacent shopping center he was asked why he wasn’t wearing a mask - and he again pulled out a knife. At the entrance to the hospital he pulled out a knife again and stabbed a security guard - and was shot dead

Israel Hayom

  • Unity at the expense of the (right-wing) bloc
  • After 500 days and 3 elections, tonight the 35th government will be sworn in
  • “We sacrificed the economy on the altar of health”
  • “In the second wave, the corona labs will collapse” - the employees in a letter to the Prime Minister
  • Exodus from Morocco - 26 Israelis who were stuck in Morocco due to corona, were brought by a special flight
  • Pompeo in a special interview: “Sovereignty? Your right and obligation to decide”
  • Prepare the A/C: The heat wave arrives - from tomorrow it’s extreme



Top News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he succeeded in forming a government - the biggest in Israel’s history - and tonight it will be sworn-in, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn't say anything about the sensitive annexation subject in his declarations during his visit to Israel and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt told police he was being harassed and threatened in messages to his telephone (apparently by two pro-Netanyahu Likud activists) - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also making news were killings, which have invisible threads of racial-profiling and the circle of occupation violence connecting them.

KILLINGS:
Very early Tuesday morning, an Israeli soldier was killed by a rock dropped on his head by a Palestinian during an Israeli military nighttime raid on the West Bank village of Ya'abed, near Jenin, to arrest among others, two stone-throwers. On Wednesday morning, an Israeli soldier shot in the head and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian when locals threw stones at forces who entered Al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron. Today, Thursday morning, a 19-year-old Palestinian rammed his car into a soldier at a checkpoint near Al-Fawwar, moderately injuring him. The Palestinian was shot dead at the scene. He expected it. He left a suicide note.

And also on Wednesday, another tragedy took place outside an Israeli hospital - to 27-year-old Mustafa Darwish, an Arab-Israeli with epilepsy and mental problems, who went with his mother to ask his doctor for medicinal cannabis - and was refused. He waved a knife and then left to an adjacent store. Someone criticized him for not wearing a mask and he waved his knife again and left. As he and his mother were driving out, they were stopped by security guards who were looking for him. The guards ordered him out of the car and a number of them jumped on him, pinning him to the ground. He struggled and stabbed one of them, lightly injuring him. While on the ground, he was shot dead - with his mother present.  (VIDEO) People who visited the family's mourning tent said there should be a large protest: "What happened was murder. The guards could have shot him in the foot or taken control of the situation without shooting. It looked like a brutal shooting, as if they wanted revenge.” The mayor of his town, Arara, and one of his relatives: "This is a terrible situation, and the question is why did it result in death? Why couldn't the security guards take over without causing his death?…It should not have ended like this.” Mustafa's uncle said he suffers from epilepsy and behavioral problems and said he was only defending himself after they took him out of the car. (Ynet Hebrew) Mustafa’s father demanded that the security guards who shot his son be punished - just as the policeman who shot to death Salomon Taka (a mentally-ill Ethiopian Israeli, who also struggled with a knife. - OH) was indicted. (Yedioth Hebrew)

Only Haaretz noted that Darwish was shot to death after he was already laying on the ground. Yedioth alluded that the incident should not have ended with Mustafa's death: "From the initial reports from Tel Hashomer Hospital it appeared to be a (terror) stabbing attack. But later it became clear: the background to the shots heard on the scene was not for nationalistic reasons, (instead, this was…) an exceptional event that got out of control.” And Maariv called it a "tragedy" on the front page. Meanwhile, on the same day, Israel approved medical cannabis for export.

Israel Hayom reported that today is Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, the day that Palestinians mark the creation of the State of Israel and their subsequent suffering. Israel Hayom wrote that due to coronavirus, this Nakba Day would have been the most quiet ever since the creation of the state, "were it not for the killing of IDF Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal, who was killed (early Tuesday morning) during a raid on a terrorist hub in the West Bank village of Yabed and the death of a Palestinian teen in Hebron in ensuing clashes with IDF troops. Israel Hayom failed to explain that it was the Israeli response to the killing that caused disquiet in the village - the continued hunt by soldiers for the person who dropped the stone and the detention of numerous people in the village as part of that hunt - OH]. Palestinians were expected to mark the day with a 72-second-long siren, representing the 72 years of national mourning, and to launch balloons in the colors of the Palestinian flag, and hanging black mourning flags.

POMPEO and ANNEXATION:
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s one day visit was NOT about annexation, as the Israeli reporters had expected. Pompeo didn’t say a word about annexation in the joint statement with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. What he did talk about was the ‘Vision of Peace’ - the newest name for his boss’ ‘Deal of the Century,’ and about China. Nevertheless, ’Israel Hayom’ ran its second exclusive interview with Pompeo in a week and again joyously announced that Pompeo said the Israelis can do whatever they want about annexing the West Bank or parts of it. But what was clear between the lines was that Pompeo was guarded noncommittal about the subject of annexation. An official in the US State Department told Israeli reporters that despite reports otherwise, Pompeo’s visit was not to address the issue of sovereignty. "We didn't fly to the other side of the world to talk about annexation,” one US official told Maariv. We are working with the Israelis to apply the ‘Vision of Peace’ and we support their efforts. The Israeli government has several ends, and I think it will take time to decide together on policy on this issue. However, it is necessary to clarify, we did not come here to talk only about annexation, these are incorrect reports, that was not the purpose of the visit.” The sources also said that "Israelis are aware of how an annexation process will be implemented in the neighborhood they live in, so they will do their calculations. Israel knows how to deal with its partners in the Arab countries.” Netanyahu told Pompeo that Israel will promote peace and security based on understandings with Trump. What really concerned the Americans was Israel's cooperation with China, specifically, Chinese involvement in major Israeli infrastructure projects, which a US official said was ’dangerous.’

Meanwhile, the a committee of the UK’s House of Lords questioned whether Israel should continue to receive preferential access to the UK market if it implements the plan for annexing West Bank territory. In the US, AIPAC said it strongly opposes US retaliatory measures towards Israel if Israel goes forward with its declared intention to annex West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley. And from the other direction, 51 anti-war groups called on US Presidential candidate Joe Biden to leverage military aid to Israel in order to pressure Israel to end Israel’s military occupation.

Elections 2020 / Netanyahu Indictment News:
Netanyahu told President Reuven Rivlin Wednesday that he had succeeded in forming a government and so the country’s fattest most minister-laden government ever will be sworn-in probably tonight, despite the country's economic crisis, as Yedioth noted in bold letters on its front page. Also, it looked like Yamina (made up of three parties) would be out of the government after Netanyahu and Yamina faction leader Naftali Bennett failed to come to an agreement. But then Yamina MK Rafi Peretz, from the Habayit Hayehudi party, broke off from Yamina and said he would be willing to join the government. ‘Israel Hayom’ preferred not to focus on the expensive size of the government at a time of great economic distress, but rather that it will “place emphasis on economic recovery and mending social rifts”


Corona Quickees:

  • Up to 70,000 Israeli Businesses Forecast to Go Under Amid Coronavirus Crisis - 2020 is likely to be the first year in a decade in which the number of businesses in Israel contracts. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Ben Gurion airport may reopen by June 1 - Only visitors from countries with low infection rates, compulsory protective equipment laws will be granted entry; Israelis will report to Health Ministry before traveling abroad. (Ynet)
  • Dozens of Israelis stranded in Morocco extracted in secret operation - Some 30 Israelis stranded in the Muslim country brought to Israel on plane provided by Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. MK Nir Barkat lauds "exceptional display of mutual guarantee.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Positive diagnosis: Crisis leads to spike in Jews asking to volunteer in Israel - Thousands of Masa participants have had their dream of volunteering in the Holy Land put on hold because of the pandemic. But Israel's successful response means registration is up by 120%. (Israel Hayom)
     

Top Quick Hits:

  • Hebrew Graffiti Found in West Bank Village in Suspected Hate Crime as Tensions Escalate - Messages reading 'I do not sleep when blood is spilled' and 'The lives of our soldiers come before the lives of the enemy,' follow killing of soldier in West Bank arrest raid. (Haaretz+)
  • Agreeing to Perform in Settlements Can't Be Criteria for Funding of Arts, Israel's Top Court Rules - 'Providing incentives to institutions for appearing in the settlements harms the principle of equality,' justices rule, in blow to Culture Minister Miri Regev. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Tells Court Will Stop Forcing Palestinian Laborers to Give Access to Phone Data - Terms of use of Israel's Al Munasiq app, which was required of laborers during the coronavirus crisis, say information shared can be used 'for any purpose, including security,' but the Civil Administration now says they would change. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel to Release $22m in Funds 'Deposited' by Asylum Seekers Under Court-revoked Law - 'The use of economic incentives is a legitimate way to conduct immigration policy but the means chosen in this case... is clearly harmful,' Supreme Court president rules. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran expanding military base in eastern Syria, satellite images show - Images released by ImageSat International indicate Iran, whose IRGC forces are deployed in Syria extensively, is building a new weapons storage facility at the Imam Ali military base in the country's east. Construction includes a tunnel capable of holding advanced weapons systems. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Envoy Threatens to Trigger Return of UN Sanctions on Iran - Arms embargo will remain 'one way or another,' writes Brian Hook in Wall Street Journal, as U.S. attempts to strong-arm nuclear deal signatories. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Hezbollah's Nasrallah: Bennet is lying when he presents the achievements of Israeli attacks in Syria - they are not the reason for withdrawing forces - Israel defense sources claimed over the weekend that Iran had begun withdrawing its forces from Syria and down-scaling support for Hezbollah as result of Israeli strikes. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israel 'appears' to be expanding strikes against Iran in Syria, senior U.S. official says - State Department officials say American concerns over Chinese involvement in major Israeli infrastructure projects came up during Pompeo's visit, West Bank annexation 'wasn't the top line' in discussions. (Haaretz+)


Features:

The Coronavirus Gave Israel’s Bedouin Immunity From Demolition Orders. Until It Didn’t
In an unrecognized Bedouin village in southern Israel, shepherd Salem Kash’ha and others are learning that putting up a simple shed can cause you problems. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)
Ten Days Until Netanyahu’s Trial Begins: Everything You Need to Know
‘The State of Israel v. Benjamin Netanyahu’ commences in Jerusalem District Court on May 24 (probably) – this is how we got there. (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
*An Israeli Soldier Just Died in the West Bank for No Reason (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The video is hard to watch: armed soldiers leaping and shouting in near-religious ecstasy, forming a circle around their comrade, swaying as in some sort of ritual. “Who’s crazy? I’m crazy!” they shout. Who’s crazy? I’m crazy. The meaning is clear: Don’t test us. We’re crazy. It’s a scary sight. It’s not hard to imagine how this group, the Golani Brigade reconnaissance unit, operates in the occupied territories. This is what their purpose is. They have no other way to act except with violence and intimidation, and there’s nothing like this wild motivation dance to prepare them for the mission. The are led by the soldier in the center, Sgt. 1st Class Amit Ben-Yigal, who was killed two days ago in Yabed when a Palestinian threw a rock on him from the roof of a house in the middle of the night and killed him…Understandably, the media was immediately filled with a wave of sympathy for the bereaved family – heartbreaking interviews with the parents and a live broadcast of the funeral, after more than a year in which no soldier was killed in action. The jargon came from the usual propaganda lexicon: The soldier was a “fighter” and the youth who threw the rock at him is a “terrorist”; the village is “hostile” and the act is “murder.” But we shouldn’t surrender to the pathetic media in the service of propaganda: The soldier may be a fighter, but not when he comes in the middle of the night to pull young men out of their beds. The “terrorist” is a youth defending his home and his friends and trying to repel the invader with the meager means at his disposal. A rock is a weapon, as the right wing correctly argued, but the rifle, machine gun and grenades that the soldiers have are weapons of a vastly greater kind. The village is “hostile”; there is no village anywhere in the West Bank that is not hostile, nor could there be, rightly so, to the occupation. And finally, this is not murder. If Sgt. 1st Class Ben-Yigal was murdered, then 15-year-old Zeid Fadl Qasiya, who was shot to death by soldiers in the Al-Fawar refugee camp, was definitely murdered. If a rock-throwing terrorist is a murderer, then the fighter who shoots teenagers is also a murderer. In the year and two months in which no Israeli soldier was killed, 150 Palestinians were killed by soldiers. Most of them were not endangering the soldiers’ lives. In any other time in history, the rock-thrower’s act would have been seen, by Israelis too, as a heroic action against an invader. In Yediot Ahronot, it’s murder. But the language is just a means. The question is why this tragedy, in which an Israeli soldier lost his life for nothing, had to happen. The soldiers had come to arrest rock-throwers. In Yabed, they throw rocks on the road that leads to the Mevo Dotan settlement, which is smothering the village. The rock-throwers could be stopped in other ways, and in any case, these arrests will only give the rock-throwers more incentive. These nighttime raids by the IDF are criminal and pointless. Ben-Yigal and his comrades shouldn’t have been in Yabed. There is nothing for them to do there. The last time I was in Yabed was during Ramadan in 2017. Nof Anafi’at, a 15-year-old girl, had tried to stab a soldier at the Mevo Dotan checkpoint. The soldiers shot her. A hard-to-watch video showed them circling around her and cursing her as she lay on the road bleeding to death. Then, too, they were fighters and she was a terrorist. Then, too, they probably sang: Who’s crazy? I’m crazy.
We need an aggressive response against stone-throwers (Meir Indor, Israel Hayom) The next Israeli government must legislate directive that would allow security forces to use lethal force against stone-throwers. Our lawmakers own it to IDF soldiers, their families, and the Israeli public.
Annexation is important to Netanyahu, but what about American Jewry? (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) For the first time since the outbreak of corona, a minister-level US official has visited a foreign country. What was did he talk about with Netanyahu? Jordan Valley. But what about strengthening ties with the Jews in his country?
To Israeli ears, threats of annexation devastation are like the boy who cried wolf (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+)) Pompeo dismisses impending decision on Jordan Valley and settlements as local issue rather than a ticking regional time bomb.
Israel should look to EU before West Bank annexation (Dr. Nimrod Goren, Yedioth/Ynet) Jerusalem is accustomed to viewing Europe as weakened entity and to dismissing its protests, but this could be mistake if Israel decides to take formal annexation step, which many in Europe would see as game changer and advance costly measures.
Pompeo's green, yellow and red lights for Israel (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Israel a green light to continue targeting Iranian forces in Syria; a yellow light to pursue annexation, albeit with an American request to postpone the move; and a bright red light when it comes to deals with China.
Pompeo’s Concern in Israel Visit: Chinese Investment (Hagai Amit, Haaretz+) Under talks of West Bank annexation and Iran, an issue of more concern to Washington was at play during the Secretary of State's lightning trip.
The battle for sovereignty has begun (Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash, Israel Hayom) Sovereignty is one of the most important diplomatic initiatives, from a historical perspective, ever endeavored by the people and state of Israel, and Israel must capitalize on the paradigmatic shift in the White House before it's too late.
Time Is Up for Netanyahu’s Wiggle-and-squirm Act on China (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Amid growing strife with Beijing, Washington isn't going to like Israel giving China the contract to build the world's biggest desalination plant.
Why the Israeli Right need not fear Trump's peace plan (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) The right must not squander the moment by adhering to a purist philosophy. Instead, it should back the plan, support the extension of sovereignty and let the Palestinians fail, as they always do.
The dual dilemma of combat military service among only-children (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) The “Only-child boys" order was updated after unusual events occurred during Operation Protective Edge. (Prior to the operation, the rule was that parents of male only children decide whether they can serve in combat units or not.) After Operation Protective Edge in 2014, there were no less than nine cases in which parents of single-son families sought to withdraw their son's permission and remove them from the fighting zone during the operation. In the IDF, the orders were updated so that whoever enlisted in combat service with the consent of his parents would not be able to change his service later. But despite the update, the choice was still left to the parents instead of the military deciding for itself on the complicated issue.
Terrorists in suits (Tzachi Gabrieli, Israel Hayom) The EU announcement that it intends to continue funding Palestinian civil society organizations affiliated with terrorist groups legitimizes the phenomenon by which terrorists present themselves as human rights activists.


Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
A Government of Fraud and Breach of Trust (Haaretz Editorial) The Likud-Kahol Lavan unity government due to be sworn in on Thursday was born in the sin of the severe crimes of bribery of which Benjamin Netanyahu is accused. This coalition was only made possible by defrauding massive numbers of voters, and even before it has been established, it has already become synonymous with the political system’s breach of the public’s trust….The festive smiles that will be seen on Thursday in the Knesset chamber must not obscure the fact that this is a government of corrupt standards, led by a criminal defendant. Therefore the wishes for success that would have been appropriate to convey to this new government should instead go to the country’s citizens, who now face the unknown.
Israel Is Forming an 'Emergency' Government, but Not to Fight the Coronavirus (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Kahol Lavan didn't even fight for a suitable appointment to the Health Ministry, which was given to weary politico Yuli Edelstein.
Why isn’t Gilad Erdan fit to be an ambassador to the United Nations? Because everyone knows his what is his positions (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The secret to the success of Israeli diplomats who preceded Danny Danon in that role in New York was the fact that no one in the UN corridors knew about their political affiliation. Thus, Netanyahu turned international diplomacy into a land where bad
Coronavirus Made This Official the Most Powerful Man in Israel. Will He Now Join Netanyahu? (Ronny Linder, Haaretz+) The coronavirus crisis gave Health Ministry director Moshe Bar Siman Tov unprecedented power. It’s difficult to assess exactly how many people’s lives were saved thanks to the steps he took, despite great criticism.
Here Lies the High Court of Justice, of Blessed Memory (B. Michael, Haaretz+) The High Court of Justice is the only court which isn’t just concerned with the law, but also with justice. It’s the only court permitted to order that an action be carried out or avoided out of considerations of justice. It’s the only court able to operate in the broader realm of “justice,” that elusive and lofty dimension that sometimes extends beyond the strict letter of the law. Which is why, in the absence of a constitution, it is the only entity that can take a stand against a leadership drunk with power and demarcate its boundaries….Netanyahu has repeatedly proven that he has used the seat of prime minister as a pickaxe with which to dig a tunnel to escape prosecution. They know that for years he has exploited his position to discredit, lie, deceive, incite and mock the legal and judicial authorities, to evade the arm of the law; that for at least a year and a half he has been threatening that same tribunal from which he now sought permission to return to his seat, so that from there he could continue to crush that same tribunal. He asked for it, and he got it. It’s as if some suicidal spirit had seized the court….

 

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

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