News Nosh 5.18.20

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

Quote of the day:"After all the empty talk about an 'emergency government,' they set up the biggest, most wasteful government in Israel's history – 36 ministers, 16 deputy ministers. In Israel, there are currently fewer than 50 corona patients on ventilators. There are more ministers and deputy ministers than patients being ventilated.”
—Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid said in an impassioned speech at the swearing-in of the new government.* Front Page:

Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The are disconnected (from reality) (Hebrew)
  • King, water // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • Disgrace // Sima Kadmon
  • In their hands // Chen Artzi-Srur
  • Israeli correction // Ari Shavit
  • Salary of senior people in Gantz’s campaign: 80,000-100,000 shekels a month for each of them
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Start working
  • It’s success is our success // Ben Caspit
  • Today: Ruling in trial of the accused in the (Jewish terror) attack in Duma (village)
  • Mortal blow: Half of the people in the arts and leisure industry are unemployed
Israel Hayom
Top News Summary:
After more than 500 days without an elected government, the new, most enormous Israeli government ever was sworn-in to the booing of the angry opposition (and the silent disappointment of the Likud members who were left out) and the papers examined what challenges the new ministers faced ahead of themselves - making the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with the death by cardiac arrest of the Chinese ambassador and the unprecedented heat wave.

While the papers with the exception of ‘Israel Hayom’ emphasized the irony of an emergency unity government in the corona period, when the emergency is now economic and yet the government formed is so large, making the cost great. The new government has 34 ministers, compared to 22 in the last government - all to appease all of the senior Likud members who have been loyal to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and wanted a piece of the pie. To this end, ministries were divided and new ones were invented. Even the pro-Netanyahu ‘Israel Hayom’ paper conceded that the swearing-in ceremony was ‘somber’ and ‘anything but festive.’

*Moreover, numerous members of Knesset (MKs) from the Opposition shouted out booed during Netanyahu's speech. Joint List MKs Ahmad Tibi and Ofer Cassif shouted, "Election fraud" and "pathological liar" over the prime minister as he spoke. Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz shouted, "He's guilty of crimes!” In his speech at the ceremony, Opposition leader MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid party) blasted the new government as ‘corrupt’ and hypocritical. “You cannot split the Israeli people year after year, cause each half to hate the other half, and then declare yourself head of a unity government. Your entire career is based on one thing: the ability to make Israelis angry at one another, your talent to make use of hatred and fear,” he said, adding, “There are more ministers and deputy ministers than patients being ventilated. We could put a minister next to the bed of every corona patient.” World leaders congratulated Israel and Netanyahu on the formation of new government.

Noteworthy about the composition of Israel's 35th government, is the first female ultra-Orthodox minister, Omer Yankelevich. A look at the new government by the Israel Democracy Institute found that out of 34 prime ministers, 16 are serving for the first time, Maariv reported. A record number of eight women are in ministerial positions, double the previous record. This is also the highest percentage of women to serve in any Israeli government: 24%. But there is not a single non-Jewish minister. “This should come as no surprise, given that throughout the years of the State of Israel, only three non-Jewish ministers have served in its governments,” the report said. Also noteworthy, only one of the ministers is a settler, David Biton (from Maaleh Adumim), compared to four in the last government, which was almost a quarter of that government. Most of the ministers are native-born Israelis. Only six were born abroad. The average age of all ministers is about 54. The eldest ministers are former health minister, now Housing Minister, Yaakov Litzman (71), Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (70) and and Amir Peretz (68). Merav Cohen is the youngest at age 36. And 10 out of 34 have a law education. (Here is a list of all the ministers of the new government.) The papers also discussed what daunting challenges lay ahead for the government with the corona-effect on everything from the economy and unemployment, to education, security, tourism, culture, health and more.  

Corona Quickees:
  • Israel reports no new coronavirus cases, deaths - Health Ministry says current death toll remains at 272, with 3,335 current cases; 167 are being treated in hospitals, with 57 people in serious condition, including 47 on ventilators; 4,344 tests performed Sunday, far fewer than Netanyahu's promise of 10,000 daily. (Ynet)
  • Israel mulls reopening of houses of worship - Each house of worship will have permanent parishioners, with religious articles brought from home and a 'virus supervisor' to make sure public health directives are being observed. (Ynet)
  • Israel to reopen restaurants, cafes by next week - Proposed outline by Health Ministry brings forward date for reopening, stipulates two-meter distance between tables, temperature checks for clients at the entrance to the establishment and ordering a place ahead of arrival. (Ynet)
  • Tel Aviv mayor bracing for exodus over high cost of living and coronavirus - In-depth: As the virus leaves many without a stable source of income, Ron Huldai is expecting many to leave due to notoriously high living costs, while a local councilor says the municipality needs to offer better services. (Ynet)
  • Chances of contracting corona from surfaces slim, Israeli study finds - Israeli researchers find that samples of the virus taken from mobile phones owned by coronavirus patients cannot reproduce in laboratory conditions. Meanwhile, for the first time since the pandemic hit Israel, no new corona cases have been reported. Death toll steady at 272. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli scientists develop long-lasting 'smart' coronavirus disinfectant - Considering to date there are no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19, effective disinfectants are deemed crucial for stymieing the spread of the coronavirus. (JPostTechnion and Maariv, p.11)
Other Top Quick Hits:
  • Chinese Ambassador to Israel Found Dead in His Home - Cause of death appears to be a cardiac incident, as the envoy was found dead in his bed by staff at his residence with no signs of violence on his body ■ China to send special team to investigate death, sources say. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • West Bank Annexation Will Encourage Radicalization on All Sides, Mideast UN Envoy Says - Move by Israel will also diminish the prospects for normalization of ties between Israel and Arab states, says Nickolay Mladenov. (Haaretz+)
  • Official: EU member states may impose independent sanctions on Israel - In the wake of a failed attempt to adopt a formal EU policy that would warn and possibly punish Israel over extending sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, some EU states could resort to their own sanctions. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinians in Nablus burn effigy of Pompeo - Incident comes in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Israel and the Trump administration's peace plan. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli activist who slapped Ahed Tamimi’s prosecutor sentenced to eight months - Jerusalem court sentences Yifat Doron, who slapped the military prosecutor during Ahed Tamimi's trial, to eight months behind bars. She will begin serving her sentence on July 1. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF Shoots Man Attempting to Enter Israel From Lebanon - The identity and motive of the man, who is currently being treated in a Haifa hospital, are still unknown. (Haaretz+, Maariv and Ynet)
  • Rare Lengthy Heat Wave in Israel Could Break Records - Temperatures in eastern valleys have topped a sweltering 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Heatwave claims 60-year-old victim - Israel is suffering from extreme temperatures felt throughout the country and expected to last until the end of the week; another man was in serious condition at the Rambam Health Care Campus suffering from heatstroke. (Ynet)
  • The inflated wages of Gantz associates - They got into politics with him - and were well rewarded in the turbulent year he went through. Between 80,000 and over 100,000 shekels: This was the monthly salary of each of the three Gantz Hive members during the Blue and White campaigns. The party said: The data is inaccurate. (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • The security footage documented a female figure desecrating the grave of Amit Ben-Yigal - Police also analyzed the handwriting of the letter left at the site to gauge a suspect or suspect who was operating at the scene. Assessment: Someone mentally unstable was connected to the incident in which the Golani warrior's grave was desecrated. (Maariv)
  • (Second Israeli) detained on suspicion of inciting violence against Netanyahu - The police investigation shows that the suspect, 39 and a resident of Tel-Aviv, has published biased content in various media urging the public to resort to violence against the prime minister because ‘he’s corrupt.’ His arrest was extended by the Magistrate Court until Tuesday. Separately, the Hadera Magistrate's Court Judge extended the arrest of a resident of the north, on suspicion of inciting on the internet to murder the Prime Minister. The suspect ran on the Labor Party's Knesset list in recent election campaigns, but was not in a realistic place to enter Knesset. The decision is to extend his detention under hospitalization conditions due to his psychiatric past. (Maariv)
  • Israel to Compensate Ethiopian Rabbis for Decades of Discriminatory Funding - Spiritual leaders of the Jewish Ethiopian community were denied equal funding by local religious councils, and have been fighting in court since 1992. (Haaretz+)
  • Underground Economy: Israel's Burial Societies Exploit Diaspora Jews - Israeli cemetery operators charge exorbitant prices in violation of the law, flout rules and crowd graves into any available space. Regulation is spotty. (Haaretz+)
  • The EU announced: Palestinian textbook content will be reviewed - The European Union has decided to fund an "independent and objective" report, which will examine and determine whether the contents of the textbooks in the Palestinian Authority contradict the values of peace, freedom and discrimination. (Maariv)
  • Airstrikes in East Syria Kill Iran-backed Fighters, Opposition Activists Say - The strikes late Saturday targeted a base near the border town of Boukamal, killing seven fighters, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Iran Summons Swiss Envoy Over Possible U.S. Measures Against Venezuela Shipment - 'We have to sell our oil and we have ways to do it,' Tehran says, while some posit sanctions-hit Iran could attack U.S. ships in retaliation for action from Washington. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)

Seven decades on, internally displaced Palestinians wait to return home
Muhammad Kayal is one of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel who remain internally displaced 72 years after the Nakba, and whom Israel will not allow to return to their former — and often empty — land. (Orly Noy, +972mag)
PODCAST: The project bringing Palestinian refugees back home
What does the right of return mean to Palestinians, 72 years since the Nakba? Tarek Bakri’s visual documentation project offers a glimpse. (Henriette Chacar, +972mag)
Catching a train to Beirut after the return of Palestinian refugees
We wondered why, so many years after the return, people were still asking us to talk about the crazy, seemingly impossible idea we put out to the world all those years ago. The following is the introduction to ‘Awda: Imagined Testimonies from Possible Futures,’ a book of fictional short stories published in 2013 by Israeli NGO Zochrot and Pardes Publishing. The book is comprised of 12 vignettes written by prominent Palestinians and Jewish Israeli authors and thinkers about what life could look like after the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland. Each story was published in both Arabic and Hebrew. (Umar Al-Ghubari, +972mag)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:

With New Government, Netanyahu Is President in All but Name (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The prime minister wants to make his ministers a laughingstock and the Knesset as irrelevant as possible, ensuring that the Israeli political system serves only one man.
Likud members are marionettes on strings for Netanyahu (Limor Livnat, Yedioth/Ynet) Now that the fifth Netanyahu government is up and running, those left empty-handed by his political chicanery have - despite their supposed undying loyalty to him - suddenly started voicing their grievances with their leader's conduct.
Too much and too late (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) I suppose most Israelis consider the swearing-in of the government like those texts after the Passover meal: too much and too late. The words say holy day, but the people want home. Or even better: the sea. There was something refreshing about the two events that happened yesterday: the mass flooding of beaches, bikinis and speedos, blatantly contrary to government directives, compared to the men in the blue business suits, who faked celebratory feelings at the Knesset and lied in every direction. The minister of the sea faced the minister of water. Where is the real Israel, someone could ask. Sharon is guilty, someone who was there (at the swearing-in) told me yesterday. Ariel Sharon told them: Politics is a huge wheel - sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down. The main thing is never to let go of the wheel. They've learned to pay any price: downgrading, degrading titles, being the subject of social media jokes, periods of idleness in fictitious ministries, the main thing is to stay on the wheel. Netanyahu is playing with his party's senior officials not because he is afraid of what will be done to him from their seat in the Knesset - after years of defiance, what can they do? - but because it's his way of declaring: I'm the king here. How do you know that a man is a king? According to his eunuchs ability to deal with what he serves out. Think for a moment about Zeev Elkin: his life's ambition is to be elected prime minister. At one time he was Netanyahu's closest minister, the chief political adviser, his emissary to every Russian-speaking country. Until yesterday, he served as Minister of Environmental Protection - not the center of his world, but still a significant ministry. Yesterday he agreed to serve under the title "Minister of Higher Education and Water Resources". His position in Balfour dropped a bit in the last term, and that was the result. Elkin could say no, thank you, and become a powerhouse in the Knesset. He chose to surrender: he found it hard to give up invitations to cabinet meetings, classified documents, the prospect of joining a visit to Putin. Or think of Tzachi Hanegbi, one of the most experienced politicians in the Likud. Not many years ago, he was seen as a possible candidate for prime minister. Now he looks at Yisrael Katz, his assistant during his time as a student activist, and he is overcome with frustration. Only a concession by Gantz allowed him to join the government, in a position analogous to that of Michael Biton, the minister in Gantz's office. How heroes fell. Or Edelstein, who was thrown out from being Knesset Speaker, wanted the Foreign Ministry and got a ministry for which his chances of success don’t exceed (former health minister) Litzman’s chances. The speech Netanyahu made yesterday in praise of Edelstein's, on behalf of all Knesset members, was a model of cynicism. If Kahol-Lavan liked him, why did they condition the coalition agreement on ousting him? If Netanyahu admired him, why did he agree? Nobody grew up next to Netanyahu: not in Likud, not in religious Zionism, not in the centrist parties. He grew, and they shrank. Indeed, a very talented man. In the first period, he will be Gantz's teacher of politics: Gantz loves to learn and Bibi loves to teach. He will tell him anecdotes about the hypocrisy and misery of his people. He was probably taught him that the complaints about the inflated government were work of the media: within days they would disappear. That the people would still love him: he would help. Gantz will be convinced that it is a great compliment to bestow on him, as an alternate leader, part of the honorifics received by the incumbent. If one's sons get bodyguards, Gantz's sons will get them, too; If Netanyahu has housing arrangements - there will also be Gantz, plus an office, which will operate alongside the Defense Ministry. But this is no compliment: this is the way to turn Benny into Bibi. You said I am wasteful, that I only care about myself, that I was corrupt? What is the difference between me and my replacement? Cosi fan tutte, as the Italians say. That's what everyone does.
The Disturbing Image of Gantz Bowing Down to Pompeo (Tchia Dov, Haaretz+) The photograph published on the front page of Haaretz last Thursday still disturbs my sleep. It showed Benny Gantz – at that time the Knesset speaker, the vice prime minister-designate, the chairman of a party that did quite well during the many elections held here recently, a former military chief of staff, a fighter, a tall man in the prime of life – bowing low before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. President Donald Trump’s envoy came at the height of a coronavirus pandemic that has hit the entire world hard, but has been especially terrible in his own country, a vast empire that doesn’t believe in compassion or in state medical insurance for all. It believes in the free market, but not human freedom. It believes in its own rights, but not those of others.
Netanyahu’s New Government: Monty Python, the Purge and Goodfellas Combined (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Israel's newly-appointed ministers have already delivered on their main pledge: Uniting Israelis, albeit in revulsion and disgust.
Women and social issues are represented (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The new government has some strong points and some black spots, the most obvious of which is Yamina's exclusion.
Ultra-orthodox Are Real Winners in Israeli Coalition Deal (Hagai Amit, Haaretz+) Shas and UTJ ensured they would get key appointments in the cabinet and Knesset and amassed more economic power.
Yair Lapid Just Showed Once Again He Is a Self-righteous Primitive Nationalist (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) It’s truly heartwarming to see two proud Jews from two rival parties, Likud and Yesh Atid, engaged in mutual back-patting….Because it’s true that these two friends are on opposite sides of the political divide, but at the moment of truth, they’ll find themselves on the same side….The government decided, for instance, to evict Arab citizens from the Negev Bedouin town of Umm al-Hiran and settle Jews there in their place. But Yair Lapid maintained his silence, even though he’s on the other side of the political divide. Why? Because the Jewish nation takes precedence over anything else.
An inflated, yet useful, government (Yehuda Shlezinger, Israel Hayom) Even if the argument that another round of elections would have cost more is plausible, the government's outward appearance, particularly the invention of embarrassing and redundant new ministries, is hard to swallow, But this government offers a particularly hopeful message.
Israel's New Government: Wasteful, Inflated and Out of Touch (Haaretz Editorial) When the government was sworn in on Sunday, Benny Gantz – the shattered political hope of the center-left and incoming vice prime minister and defense minister – asserted that the people had told its elected representatives, “Stop fighting among yourselves and start working for us.” But judging by the new government’s size, the ones who started working for someone else on Sunday are the people. It’s the public that will have to pay for the most wasteful, inflated and greedy government in the country’s history.
The 'Second Israel' government (
Dina Dayan, Israel Hayom) What hasn't been said about this government? A corrupt, bloated, sullied, detached government – a government that will topple the rule of law. But the 35th government is the most Mizrahi-oriented government in Israel's history.
A few strong MKs (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The new government is cumbersome. So was the Netanyahu-Barak government of 2009, and it was one of the best the country has ever had.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:

How far has Israel gone from the dream of its founding fathers? (Ron Tira, Maariv) The new government and its supporters are not Israel. Israel is a dream thought up by Herzl, Pinsker and Jabotinsky and achieved by Alexander Zaid, Mania Shochat and Yitzhak Sadeh. These, and not others, are the founding shareholders of the state. Israel is a dream of replacing a mixture of Diasporic, communal, and religious identities that were formed in the Middle Ages, with a new, national, secular, democratic, enlightened identity. Israel is the fulfillment of the cultural-Hebrew melting pot, of economic creativity and in fighting fir the homeland. If Israel had drafted a constitution in the 1948, those would have been its principles…For me, a state that crowns defendants accused of crimes so that the defendants will appoint the accusers, is not Israel. In such a country, the basic rules do not guarantee fair play, but rather determine the outcome of the game. The minister in charge of the police is appointed with the expectation that he will allegedly disrupt investigative proceedings. Democracy, the law and the justice are hollow. In my Israel, human capital is the relative advantage. In your country some of the six-year-olds are studying “streams (of Judaism)“, and hundreds of thousands of children are tracked back into the dark…In this country women are excluded. I will write this again, as this is unimaginable: There is gender segregation in this country. As if we weren’t in the 21st century. In its army, the branch of religious missionaryism is so strong that even the chief of staff backed down, and when soldiers on patrol return from the dirt roads on Friday night, they should not turn on the water heater (for a hot shower) lest they be punished. This state rejects the Hebrew (Jewish) stateliness of Ben-Gurion, and establishes sultanates of the mix of diasporic, communal, religious and hostile identities. Look in the mirror and see the ghetto, the king, the landowner and the middleman.
As West Bank Annexation Looms, What Are Jordan's Options? (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) The 'Judaization' of Jerusalem and the status of Jordan in the holy sights are still at stake, but the international struggle will now revolve around stopping the annexation.
Israel's time to act (Jason Shvili, Israel Hayom) It is imperative for Israel to apply sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as soon as possible, while it has the blessing of the US.
The consequences of withdrawing from Lebanon are still evident to this day (Dr. Haim Misgav, Maariv) In a few days, it will be the 20 year anniversary of the IDF's disgraceful withdrawal from the security zone in the south of our northern neighbor. Withdrawals are always a sign of weakness, and this is also understood by the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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