News Nosh 5.17.20

APN's daily news review from IsraelSunday May 17, 2020

Quote of the day:"I really don't get the your disregard for Jordan. Look at the Israeli citizen, right or left, he does not care about this peace. It is a strange indifference, as if the Israeli public takes us for granted, while Netanyahu acts disdainfully toward the Royal House."
--Jordanian Dr. Dureid Mahasana talked about the Israel-Jordan relationship through Jordanian eyes and about the Israeli plan for annexation of West Bank lands in an interview with Yedioth's Arab Affairs correspondent, Smadar Perry.*
Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The waste government - On the way to the swearing-in: Politicians break record of disconnect
  • You forgot to appoint a minister who liaises between the Prime Minister and reality // Limor Livnat
  • Three women murdered in three weeks - The epidemic that doesn’t end (Hebrew)
  • The bluff of the thermometers

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • The task: Divide four ministry portfolios among nine senior (Likud members)
  • The cry of the unemployed continues
  • Sea of need - Israelis didn’t wait for the bathing season to open and ignored the inspectors: The heat arrived and the beaches filled
  • Another murder in the family - Suspicion: Young man murdered his girlfriend in Ramat Gan

Israel Hayom

  • Start working
  • Bennet and Netanyahu must sit and talk // Jacob Berdugo
  • Fulfillment of the great vision necessitates a wide agreement // Haim Shine
  • The new government: It won’t be boring // Yaakov Ahimeir
  • Horror in Ramat Gan: Murdered his girlfriend and stabbed his mother
  • The return to routine goes up a class - Finally all elementary school children to return to school

Top News Summary:

Likud members’ battled for last ministry portfolios ahead of the swearing-in of the government today, the King of Jordan warned Israel that annexation of West Bank land will lead to conflict and a heatwave swept the country, schools reopened today for all school children, and restauranteurs and unemployed continued to protest - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

King Abdullah II of Jordan threatened
 that if Israel fulfilled its promise to annex the Jordan Beqaa Valley in the West Bank, it will lead to a 'massive' confrontation. In the interview with the German newspaper Der Spiegel, he criticized US President Donald Trump, saying, “Leaders who believe in a single-state solution don't understand what that means," in reference to Trump's Deal of the Century. And he said that if the Palestinian Authority collapses, “There will be even more chaos and extremism in the area.” The King also did not rule out suspending the peace treaty: “I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options,” he said. Yedioth and Haaretz+ ran articles about how annexation could kill the Jordan peace treaty. Yedioth’s Arab Affairs correspondent, Smadar Perry, interviewed numerous senior Jordanian and Israeli security officials in an interesting article. (See translation in Interviews section below.) Jordan expressed its concern about annexation in messages to the IDF and in conversations with those close to Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz, reported Haaretz’s military affairs (and corona) analyst, who interviewed Israeli defense officials, who expressed great concern about the effect of annexation on the peace deal. Haaretz+ also reported that Israel fears that an annexation and an economic crisis in the Palestinian territories could cause the Palestinian street to explode and target Israeli forces. Meanwhile, on Friday, the European Union discussed sanctioning Israel if it goes through with annexation. But some Israeli commentators didn’t think the Europeans had it in them. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the “decision on moving ahead with annexation will be coordinated with the US” and that Israel could “handle the international community's pressure.” And the International Socialist Coalition blasted Israel’s Labor party for joining Netanyahu's pro-annexation government.

Corona Quickees:

  • Israel's coronavirus death toll up to 271, with 3 deaths in 24 hours - The Health Ministry says the number of confirmed cases has not increased since evening, while the number of intubated patients falls below 50 for the first time in weeks; number of virus tests drops sharply to below 2,000. (Ynet)
  • Defying health orders, Israelis flock to beaches amid heatwave - Although beaches set to officially reopen only on Wednesday, thousands of beachgoers could be seen sunbathing and swimming in the sea over the weekend, despite restrictions meant to combat COVID-19; police, inspectors fail to enforce health rules. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israel, Palestinian Authority Set to Further Ease Lockdown Orders - Gatherings of up to 50 allowed in open spaces ■ No new West Bank, Gaza coronavirus cases in over a week ■ Under 3,500 active cases in Israel, figures show. (Haaretz)
  • Israel offers peek at new normal for air travel during pandemic - According to an Israel Airports Authority pilot program, departing passengers will have to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport four hours early, in a mask and without any escort, get checked for a fever, and disinfect their hands at several stations. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel: IDF to test soldiers using new coronavirus antibody testing kits - Army hopes new tests will help prevent local outbreaks, unlock operational capabilities. (Israel Hayom and JPost)

Other Quick Hits:

  • IDF shoots three Palestinians on outskirts Jerusalem after they threw pipe bomb at army post - Incident in Abu Dis late on Friday follows week of escalating West Bank violence which killed at least two Palestinians and an IDF soldier. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • 'ICC war crimes investigation against Israel will have consequences,' US warns - "The International Criminal Court is a political body, not a judicial institution," says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, adding Washington "does not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state.” (Israel Hayom)
  • US ambassador to Israel: Embassy relocation to Jerusalem was one of the happiest days of my life - Amb. David Friedman and other top Trump administration officials take to Twitter to celebrate the two-year anniversary of historic move. (Israel Hayom)
  • Shock grenades against (Arab-Israeli) protesters in Wadi Ara - Hundreds of people protested yesterday on Highway 65 in Wadi Ara, a day after Mustafa Yunis was shot dead at the entrance to Tel Hashomer Hospital, after stabbing a hospital guard. Protesters waved a picture of 27-year-old Yunis from Aara village, blocked the road and called "We will sacrifice our lives for the martyr." During the demonstration, clashes broke out between the police and protesters, and the police dispersed the protest with shock grenades. Several of the protesters were detained. "The security guards who killed my son should be punished," said Younis' mother. “It was a murder by all accounts.” (Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Two Police Officers Shot in Israeli Arab Town of Tira, Perpetrator Still at Large - Six suspected of involvement in shooting during chase in Tira were arrested. Police find two improvised submachine guns and an explosive in a nearby structure. (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Shooting incident in Tira: The Joint List party condemned and criticized the police - The Prime Minister strongly condemned the shooting incident during which two police detectives were severely and lightly wounded and promised to bring the criminals to justice. MK Ayman Odeh slammed the government and police for not dealing with the weapons among criminals in the Arab sector: “We demand to live in a society without weapons.” (Maariv)
  • Suspicion of murder: A 32-year-old man was shot dead in the (Arab) village of Maghar - Amir Fadel was fatally wounded Friday after being shot by a man who fled the scene. After resuscitation attempts he was declared dead. The background to the incident is a conflict between criminals. (Maariv)
  • Violence Is Peaking in Israel's Arab Communities, and Criminals Aren't Afraid of the Police - 'Guns that were turned on us are now being turned on the police,' says Arab mayor, claiming the Israel police is not adequately addressing the problem. (Haaretz+)
  • A laborer was crushed to death at a construction site in Tel Aviv - The 35-year-old laborer apparently was raised up using a lift, and was crushed between the lift and the ceiling at the site on Thursday. Chairman of the Forum for the Prevention of Work Accidents: "Since the beginning of the year, 20 laborers have been killed, including 10 in construction.” (Ynet Hebrew and Maariv)
  • Signs of digging found at grave of soldier killed this week - Military officials and family arrived at Beer Yaakov cemetery where Amit Ben Yigal was buried; comrades from Golani Briagde will guard area until the grave can be sealed; police and army investigating incident. (YnetIsrael Hayom and Times of Israel)
  • Australian man mourns slain soldier whose dad saved his life at ’97 Maccabiah Games - ‘I am devastated,’ says Tom Goldman; the families have remained good friends for years, and the late Amit Ben-Ygal called Goldman his ‘grandfather.’ (JTA, Times of Israel)
  • The return of the 'ugly' (badly behaved) Israeli: Young people from the north got into very violent quarrel  - and fled the scene - Police are searching for two residents of Kiryat Shmona, suspected of being involved in a violent incident with youth from Tzfat (Safed), who were injured, at the promenade near Moshav Sde Eliezer in the Hula Valley area. The investigation is underway. (Maariv and VIDEO)
  • Detainees in Israel to Attend Proof Hearings After Attendance Suspended Due to Coronavirus - Government advances legislation to preclude bringing detainees to any court hearings. (Haaretz+)
  • Likud Lawmaker, Granted Immunity in Fraud Case, Questioned Over Tax Offenses - Former minister Haim Katz dismisses latest accusations, months after fellow Knesset members protect him from prosecution in charges of promoting legislation that would have benefited him as a company bondholder. (Haaretz+)
  • Deal Between Netanyahu and Lawmaker Endangers Child Protection Unit, Israeli Officials Warn - Law enforcement officials warn of fallout from moving Child Online Protection Bureau to new ministry headed by Orli Levi-Abekasis, who broke off from left-wing alliance to endorse Netanyahu. (Haaretz+)
  • Missouri lawmakers pass bill against boycotting Israel - The bill would require companies to sign a contract pledging not to boycott Israel in order to do business with Missouri but some members said awarding business contracts based on political opinions is dangerous dangerous. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • European Parliament slams PA over its anti-Israel incitement in schools - The body, which is generally pro-Palestinian in its resolutions, published the results of its vote on whether to condemn the Palestinians on Thursday, with surprising figures: There were 402 MEPs in favor, compared to 263 who were against the resolution, and 13 who abstained. (Israel Hayom)
  • China says 'We trust the Jewish friends' after Pompeo warns Israel about investments - Embassy in Israel responds to U.S. Secretary of State claim that China concealed information about the outbreak of coronavirus as ‘absurd.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Chinese embassy in Israel rejects US claims of coronavirus cover-up - The embassy described its relations with Israel as a win win situation adding that Israel would choose the course of action that serves its interests; 'China had never hidden the COVID-19 virus' the statement said. (Ynet)
  • Vehicles, Not Marches, to Mark Iran's Annual anti-Israel Rally Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak - Participants in this year's Quds Day marches, which typically involve chants of 'death to Israel' and burning Israeli flags, will have to shout from their vehicles instead. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Iran News Agency Warns U.S. Against Any Move on Fuel Shipment to Venezuela - 'If the United States, just like pirates, intends to create insecurity on international waterways, it would be taking a dangerous risk and that will certainly not go without repercussion,' Iran's Nour news agency said. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Promise of Future Prosperity Fades as Austerity Hits Saudis' Pockets - Businesspeople and economists say tripling tax and suspending allowances for civil servants could worsen the Arab world's largest economy and delay job creation. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Features:Intelligence Documents Reveal What Ben-Gurion Learned on the Eve of Declaring Israel's Independence
Israel’s first prime minister knew that the declaration of the Jewish state would lead directly to war with the Arab states. What led him to make such a dangerous decision? (Meir Zamir, Haaretz+)
"Sovereignty? The land of Israel is more important "
Loud protest in the streets, signs in front of homes of MKs, pressure on the uncle from America (reference to US government): These are some of the steps that are ready to be pulled out in the fight against the impending annexation under the auspices of Trump and led by the new government. The protesters? Not Palestinians, but settlements leaders who scoured the detailed maps and found out how twisted the access roads will be to their homes in isolated enclaves "We will become a bubble in the heart of Palestine, the children will need military escort to school," says Kobi Eyal of Beit Hagai. "Who would want to live like that?" (Elisha Ben-Kimon, Yedioth Hebrew)
Palestinians look to a digital future to connect with their past on Nakba day
Online tools are being used to mark the Nakba, or 'Catastrophe' when Palestinians were forced from their villages or fled in the war that surrounded Israel's creation. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:

What Netanyahu's Record-breaking Government Says About His New One (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) This may have been Israel’s longest-serving government by some distance, but its list of achievements was short. Indeed, its main purpose was to serve as the prime minister's own personal platform.
Only those who agreed to degrade the gatekeepers (of democracy) will be given a role in the 35th government (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The 35th government is giving a bad name to a rickety combo. Any Likudnik who didn’t bow down enough to the royal family was left out. Think about what has happened here in recent years. No one expects anyone to appoint the most talented or qualified people for the jobs. This is passe. Only those who have agreed to attack the rule of law, persecute its representatives, degrade the gatekeepers and turn its backbone into the money tray that on which the fifth term will be presented to the Netanyahu family, will be eligible. To the glory of the State of Israel. And some optimistic words. I apologize in advance to some of my loyal readers who believe that the joining of Kahol-Lavan to the Netanyahu-Gantz government is the end of the world, the end of the Zionist dream, a third Holocaust, and a biblical-scale disaster. I am a little less convinced than you are, though it is possible that you are right (but are exaggerating). At least now there will be a government in Israel. A state budget can be passed. Work can be started. Policy can be conducted. Yes, too many hands will clutch the steering wheel, but at least some of them will not belong to the person accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Israel's New Government Hasn't Been Sworn in Yet, but These Crises Could Spell Its End (Jonathan Lis, Haaretz+) Ahead of Sunday's swearing-in, Netanyahu and Gantz's parties have mapped issues and worked potential solutions into coalition deals, but major hurdles stand in the way.
Religious Zionists must wise up about Netanyahu 
(Amiad Taub, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister's insistence on keeping Naftali Bennett confined to the sidelines while he favors the ultra-Orthodox politicians, who care only for their own sector, is proof that the dependency on him must end.
Netanyahu Forces Gantz's Hand Even Before They Swear in a Government (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) And it’s a sign of things to come.
A bloc without faith (Dr. Eithan Orkibi, Israel Hayom) Yamina gave the nationalist camp and Netanyahu something far bigger than its weight in mandates.
The New Israeli Government of the Walking Dead (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) A unity government that includes a painful compromise – legitimizing Benjamin Netanyahu as premier – was the only option, given the situation that had developed. But it was implemented in such a crooked, foul way that not only is it very hard to defend, it’s very hard to see anything good in it at all.
As He Readies for Dual Ambassadorship in U.S., Gilad Erdan Looks to Day After Netanyahu (Josh Breiner, Haaretz+) The public security minister has had some wins, some major losses, a strained relationship with the police chief and a lose-lose position in Netanyahu's three criminal cases.
Israel's Druze can no longer be bought with a pat on the back (Shakib Ali, Yedioth/Ynet) The protests last week by community leaders were the first step of a new era in which the government of Israel will have to relate seriously to the sector - with budgets and social help and not mere ego stroking.
The end of the Netanyahu era? (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Politicians smell weakness. When they are personally affronted, egos kick into action and ravage previously strong relationships. In establishing the current government, Netanyahu is accruing several bitter enemies from home and mainly hurting himself.
Netanyahu's dismantling (of the opposition) plan was successful, but the opposition may cause him a headache (Anna Barsky, Maariv) Above all, Netanyahu's political supremacy is predicated. A politician with three criminal cases managed to neutralize them all. But how long will the cumbersome construction last?
Hatred of the Government Will Unite the Israeli Nation (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Truth is very dear to the heart of the Israeli public. Even when it errs, it does so through a wrong interpretation of the truth, not out of indifference to it. As far as truth goes, the public in Israel is never indifferent. Moreover, it’s keen on convincing the entire world of its being right, namely, of its adherence to the truth. This, after all, is the essence of the almost magical thinking termed here “hasbara” (explaining our cause overseas). It’s important for Israelis to prove that Israel is right and that the Palestinians are wrong. Therefore, the public is going to hate the new government. Hatred towards this government will unite all parts of this divided nation, because there is not a shred of truth behind it. Netanyahu set up a government in order to cancel his trial, to annex part of the West Bank and to fight the coronavirus, precisely at the moment in which these issues lost their importance, with the main issue becoming the one million unemployed and the recession that’s around the corner. It’s the economy, stupid. A cabinet with 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers is the epitome of reckless profligacy and government corruption.
The strange state of politics in Israel and America (Rabbi Dov Fischer, Israel Hayom) If you live in Israel, it is difficult fully to describe or explain Trump Derangement Syndrome.
The Craziest Thing Israel's New Anticlimactic Government Is Likely to Do Is Its Job (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Where is Netanyahu’s cynical signature on every casting decision, which made you really feel how much he enjoyed appointing the person with the greatest potential to drive the left crazy? There’s simply nothing to look forward to.
Can even those who oppose the "Emergency Government" find cautious optimism? (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) Despite the outrageous shortcomings, we will have to give a hundred days of grace and hope for the best, especially given Kahol-Lavan’s main reason for its huge concessions - the desire to heal the rift in the nation.
Israel's Election Had One Good Result You May Have Missed (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Netanyahu has been trying for years to crush Israel’s religious nationalist parties. He’s finally done it – and we all benefit.
10 commandments for the new government (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Tolerate no hate. Brook no terror. Beef-up the IDF. Be cautious about applying sovereignty. Resist socialists in government. Repel pressures to free the coronavirus economy too fast.
Why doesn't anyone bother to condemn the nasty campaign against Attorney General Mendelblitt? (Michael Kleiner, Maariv) I find it difficult to raise strong enough words to condemn the obscene and despicable campaign against the Attorney General. (Writer is right-wing former Likud MK - OH)
The unity of the High Court justices is frightening (Adv. Yechiel Gutman, Maariv) There is an expectation, at least among some of the public, also of a statement of values from the justices. Was there really not even a single judge in the extended lineup (of 11 justices) who thought it inappropriate for Netanyahu to form a government?

Annexation and Other Commentary/Analysis:

Europe’s Disappointing Response to Israeli Annexation of the West Bank (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The all-clear has sounded for those who were worried: Israel can annex the West Bank as much as it wants – Europe will not stand it its way. Anyone who thought they could strike fear into our hearts over Europe’s reaction to annexation forgot what Europe is, how paralyzed it is, how coerced, fearful, divided and helpless it is in the face of Israel.
Pompeo, the coronavirus and the 'risks' of sovereignty (Caroline B. Glick, Israel Hayom) Israeli leftist groups are hanging their hopes for torpedoing Israel's sovereignty plans on the European Union. But like the Palestinians, Israeli leftists are likely to be disappointed.
Jordan King’s Warning About Annexation (Haaretz Editorial) The king’s statements to the German daily Der Spiegel are an important reminder to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to his coterie of supporters of annexation. These people are misleading the Israeli public into believing that American willingness to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the settlements is a historic insurance policy that allows Israel to make a unilateral grab, at no cost and no risk. This is a dangerous state of being drunk with power. The European Union on Friday moved ahead on anti-annexation sanctions if Israel takes unilateral steps that go against international law. In fact, Israel’s arrogance isn’t backed up even by the United States, which conveys conflicting messages.
Netanyahu lays first down payment for West Bank annexation (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) PM pledges to give colossal loans out of Israeli taxpayer money to financially struggling Palestinian Authority in order to buy peaceful annexation; whether move works out or not, Gantz will share either the glory or the blame.
(Kahol-Lavan MK Gabi) Ashkenazi outflanked Ehud Barak as chief of staff, so there is no reason why he can’t as foreign minister do so to Netanyahu (Ran Edelist, Maariv) Ashkenazi is supposedly a Golanchik (from Golani Brigades) who is stubborn. In fact he has more than a pinch of political sophistication, and not from today. The one who scuttled at the time the plan to attack Iran could now do the same about annexation.
Justify annexation: Gabi Ashkenazi's challenges in the Foreign Ministry (Haim Isrowitz, Maariv) Israeli diplomacy will need to continue to strengthen open and secret relationships that have been developed in recent years. But the two main issues facing the new minister will be the elections in the US and the question of annexation (of Palestinian land - OH). This is a decision that is expected to provoke fierce international criticism, including from friendly EU countries, and will also bolster the boycott of Israel (BDS). Israeli diplomats will have to defend the move and explain how the move will help advance the peace process in an attempt to prevent political deterioration and even the implementation of sanctions on the state.
What's the Real Purpose of Israel's Annexation Plan? (Hagai El-Ad, Haaretz+) The full-page ad published in Haaretz on April 24 by Commanders for Israel’s Security cogently explained why Israel has no practical need for a “unilateral annexation.” The ad explained on a solid factual basis, one that sanctifies and enthusiastically touts the current situation, why the way Israel is managing its control of the Palestinians maximizes the benefits for it and minimizes the costs and risks…But after more than 50 years, people in Israel are ready to strike a new internal deal. The time has come to end the show, to remove the masks. No longer people being “dragged” into the situation and others doing the dragging, but broad agreement. This is the real objective of the annexation push: Making the existing situation a matter of open consensus, making it public and official, not something that is supposedly controversial, that supposedly is the subject of some meaningful internal debate.
Netanyahu and his trumpets are leading us to the next disaster in the Oslo and disengagement series (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) Accepting the Trump plan would jeopardize the very existence of the settlement and the entire State of Israel. This is a delusional plan, which can not be implemented in any (West Bank) settlement, and a normal society will not be able to withstand such circumstances.
A muffled consensus serves not Israel but her enemies (Melanie Phillips, Israel Hayom) If silence ensues, nothing will combat the lie that Israel is a rogue state that illegally steals another people's land. Not only does this lie drive hatred of Israel in the West, it also foments attacks on Diaspora Jews who are held responsible for Israel's actions.
The Jordan Valley dilemma: A realistic approach (Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen, Israel Hayom) The dark prophecies by "liberal" Israelis and EU officials about Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank are exaggerated and obscure the strategic value of the Jordan Valley for Israel's security.
Is it time for a fresh look at the Palestinians? (Ben Lynfield, JPost) Thus far, when it comes to curbing corona, the “failed state,” despite limited resources and medical infrastructure, has done even better. 
The crash of the Palestinian economy threatens stability (Michael Milstein, Maariv) Most businesses in the Occupied Territories have ceased operations, and nearly half a million workers have reported difficulty in maintaining their families after losing their livelihoods. Frustration and anxiety can cause violent struggles.
US aid to Lebanon funds Hezbollah: Time to stop it (James Sinkinson, Israel Hayom) Every penny of the quarter-billion-dollar US annual contribution to Lebanon supports Hezbollah terrorists, Iranian imperialism and military threats to Israel.
Mohammed Bin Salman's Saudi Vision Will Have to Wait (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) The crown prince’s plans are threatened by a weak oil market, an oil war with Russia, and a shaky international reputation. But he’s not bothered by domestic criticism.
Jews Welcome Evangelical Love, Money and Influence for Israel. But Call Our Christianity 'Poison'? (Michael L. Brown, Haaretz+) It seems disingenuous that that Jewish leaders now blast fervently pro-Israel evangelicals’ faith as toxic, ugly and destructive – just because we won’t, and can’t, stop preaching to Jews.
Startup Nation's Moral Values Are in Decline, and It's Not Just About the Occupation (Amit Varshizky, Haaretz+) When the coronavirus emergency lifts, Israel will still be suffering from a democratic culture in deep trouble. Only a humanistic revolution in education and in public discourse can halt the deterioration
*"Israel is walking all over the Royal House, Netanyahu Has Not Even Called to send greetings to the King Before Ramadan”
King Abdullah warned this weekend about annexation in Judea and Samaria that would put Israel and Jordan on a collision course. Smadar Perry recently spoke with senior officials in Jordan and heard their version of the deterioration of relations between the two countries to an all-time low, and why cancellation of the peace agreement is certainly a viable option. (Interviews by Smadar Perry in Yedioth Hebrew's '24 Hours' supplement)

I managed to catch Dr. Dureid Mahasana on his phone this week in his home in Amman. We have known for almost 30 years, since the peace treaty negotiations opened. On close contact with government and commercial sector officials in Amman. "Let me be polite when I state that the relationship is in the lowest place we have known since 1994, when the peace agreements were signed," he declares. "The truth is, I don't understand how we got into a situation where nobody cares about the deterioration of the relationship. I'll describe what it looks like from the Jordanian side: Annexation is an ideological issue for Netanyahu without considering the other side. In Jordan, the story is quite different: in the street, you have to admit, they really hate you, among the trading circles there are strong claims about Israeli restrictions on the transfer of goods to the West Bank. You are ignoring Jordan's difficult economic situation. True, there are relations in the security field, where it works well, but I do declare that even these good relationships have narrowed. The military does just what it needs to. I know the commanders in the field know each other, there is understanding, there is respect, but there could have been so much more. I really don't get your disregard for Jordan. Look at the Israeli citizen, right or left, he does not care about this peace. It is a strange indifference, as if the Israeli public takes us for granted, while Netanyahu acts disdainfully toward the Royal House. He didn't even bother to pick up a phone, two weeks ago, to send greetings to the King before Ramadan.”

Daoud Kuttab is a veteran Jordanian journalist of Palestinian descent, who is closely linked to the corridors of Amman. Kutab, too, especially after meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safdie, is expecting an explosion between Israel and Jordan. Daoud Kuttab: "There is a great suspicion of you (Israelis)," he explains. "After Rabin formed such a warm relationship with King Hussein and left a basis for a good relationship with his son, King Abdullah, that relationship was at once weakened in the Netanyahu era. AHonestly, I'm not sure that Netanyahu completely understands what he is giving up in the Jordanian arena, and what the price of it will be."

However we look at the relationship between the two countries, it is a missed peace. If we look only at the security relationship: Israel's joint border with Jordan is the longest (400 km); Jordan crosses between us and Iraq, where Iran's influence is growing, and Israel and Jordan share a common border with Syria.

"It is impossible to underestimate the importance of the Jordanian role in maintaining security on the Israeli border," says General (res.) Mansour Abu Rashad, a key figure in relations with Jordan, who is also valued and respected on the Israeli side. The story of "General Mansour,” so we call him with great affection, is fascinating. He is connected to peace agreements from the beginning, often comes to Israel, knows well our security officials, senior government officials and ministers. Mansour transfers messages from here and from there, skips between bureaus and ministry offices, and conducts countless personal meetings. There is hardly anyone on the Israeli side who doesn’t like and trust the "General" who is careful to stay away from the media. He doesn’t do interviews here (in Israel), nor at home (in Jordan). This week Mansour surprised me with his outspoken remarks, and especially by the fact that he agreed to have them published in his name, "because the situation is very bad. I can sadly state that even security relations are now on a low profile. Honestly, also because of corona, but as one who knows the system of relations between the countries, I can say that such a chill has never occurred. Even Gantz and Ashkenazi, who know well from their period as chiefs of staff what the relationship with Jordan really looks like, have now decided to ignore.”
Journalist: Gantz opposes annexation. He made clear statements in this regard.
Mansour Abu Rashad: ”Netanyahu will bend him," Mansour replies confidently even before I finish.

Unlike Mansour, some believe that Gantz and Ashkenazi play a crucial role in maintaining relations with Jordan. One of them, Dr. Adnan Abu-Odeh, also played key roles in achieving peace (between israel) and Jordan. Abu-Odeh actually recommends inviting Gantz and Ashkenazi to the King's Palace in Amman for open conversation. "The king has to look into his eyes and say what he thinks. This conversation is important even if it is unpleasant. I would choose not to invite Netanyahu because there is no way to know where this will lead, but I certainly mark Gantz and Ashkenazi to listen and pass on to Netanyahu.”

In the Israeli security establishment, they are listening to King Abdullah’s warning with great interest. "Unfortunately, because of my job, I can't speak (publicly) in my name," says a senior IDF officer. “But the Jordanian issue is burning in me and I want to express myself without my identity being revealed. If an annexation decision is made, then Jordan will have to act. King Abdullah now speaks mainly to the Israeli ears. I suggest to take it seriously and begin to think, at the political level, of how they are approaching this, how to create economic collaborations that Jordan craves...
(Interviews by Smadar Perry in Yedioth Hebrew)

Will annexation be a death blow for American-Jewish support of Israel?
What do young, Israel-loving U.S. liberals think about potential Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements? Haaretz speaks to some to find out if this could be the end of a beautiful friendship. (Interviewed by Danielle Ziri in Haaretz+)

'We Used Gay-friendly Eurovision to Hide the Truth, That We’re a Racist and Conservative Country'
Madonna’s disastrous performance or the stagehand who was killed are absent from filmmaker Orna Ben Dor's new docuseries on Israel's Eurovision 2019. 'Cinema is manipulation,' she tells Haaretz. (Interviewed by Itay Stern in Haaretz+)

'We sacrificed the economy on the altar of public health'
Outgoing Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon sits down with Israel Hayom to discuss the ups and downs of his time at the Treasury, especially the economic aspects of the coronavirus epidemic, which has left over a million Israelis out of work. (Interviewed by  Yehuda Shlezinger in Israel Hayom)

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

comments powered by Disqus