News Nosh 5.21.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday May 21, 2020
Quote of the day:
"His admirers believe there won't be a trial because of the characteristics he has that others hate. When you are a conniver, a liar and arrogant you manage to cancel trials. That's how his admirers want him - conniving, arrogant, a liar and successful. They wouldn't want someone like that as a teacher, nor as a police officer, nor as a plumber, but a prime minister? That, yes. They admire him because he fulfills the dreams they have no chance of realizing. They, too, would want to avoid going to trial "because it would cost a lot of money," they would also want a private jet and a royal palace. But he has and they don't. They admire the qualities that have earned him that. They hate being ridiculed for that admiration. It offends them. They would like people to think that they have elected him only for logical and substantive reasons."
--Yossi Klein looks at how Netanyahu's opponents and admirers view him.*

Breaking News:
Host of Israeli sites targeted in mass, alleged Iranian cyber-attack
National Cyber Directorate urges the public not to click on any links if they come across a site compromised with a message, 'countdown to Israel’s destruction has begun.' Among targeted sites are Ramat Gan Municipality, United Hatzalah, Kinneret Authority, official site of Meretz party leader. ttack mounted on the Islamic republic's Quds Day (Jerusalem Day). (Ynet and Israel Hayom)

Front Page:Haaretz 
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • He will stand before the judges - With the Prime Minister present - everything is ready for the opening of the trial Sunday (Hebrew)
  • “My daughter is ashamed, she doesn’t want to return to school” -  Day after her 7-year-old daughter was forced to stay in class wearing a shirt and underwear, Anna Yosefov speaks openly
  • “The judicial system needs to be given clear borders” - Incoming Knesset Speaker Yariv Levine (Likud) speaks (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
The court rejected Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s request not to appear at the opening of his criminal trial and the police recommended that the judge and the prosecutor be given bodyguards, while the subject of Israeli annexation of Palestinian West Bank lands made more headlines. (Maariv)

What barely made news this year was about Jerusalem Day, which is today. The traditional Jerusalem ‘liberation and reunification’ Flag Dance, where thousands of right-wingers dance, sing and march waving large Israeli flags from west Jerusalem’s city center down to the Wailing Wall in the Old City - and many going the long way through the Muslim Quarter - and where some of the marchers incite, curse and hit Palestinian residents along the way - was cancelled this year. Instead, 700 people are allowed to make a human chain with 2-meter distance around most of the gates of the Old City walls, including Damascus Gate. There will also be a car convoy that will drive around the Old City walls, which is limited to 450 people. Both require signing up in advance. (Yedioth Hebrew)

Annexation and Trump Deal News:
In a closed session on the Mideast at the UN Security Council, European members said Israeli annexation of West Bank lands would be “the most serious violation of international law.” The Russian Foreign Ambassador told his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, that Russia opposes it. However, the US Ambassador to the UN, said: "A solution to conflict cannot be forced.” (Maariv) On Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that the Palestinian Authority is no longer bound by any agreements and understandings signed with Israel and the United States. At the Security Council session Wednesday,  UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said responded to that declaration. "If I may speak openly and very frankly on the issue, whatever our individual assessments of the Palestinian reaction to the Israeli threat of annexation may be, it is certainly one thing – it is a desperate cry for help,” he said. “It is a call for immediate action. It is a cry for help from a leadership that has invested its life in building institutions and preparing for statehood for over a quarter of a century." Mladenov said annexation would "close the door to a renewal of negotiations” and that Israel must abandon this threat. The French Foreign Minister said that France was working on a joint European action plan should such move be made.

There was confusion and hypotheses regarding Abbas declaration.
Some Palestinians were skeptical, noting that he had made such declarations in the past. And a security source told Haaretz+ that an end to security coordination with Israel would paralyze the Palestinian Authority. But senior Palestinian officials told Ynet’s Elior Levy that the Palestinians are already at work on a timetable for ending security cooperation between Ramallah and Jerusalem. However, the officials did reassure that even if the security ties are severed, Palestinian security forces will continue to operate against Hamas forces. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he “regrets Abbas’’ comments about ending agreements. ‘Israel Hayom’ focused on the division among West Bank Jewish settler leaderss over whether they should accept and support annexation and the Trump ‘Deal of the Century.’ Eight of the 23 Jewish settler mayors that are part of the Yesha Settler Council umbrella group publicly expressed support for the Trump plan, however, not because they support the creation of a Palestinian state or because they gave up their dream that it will all become part of Israel. “It is the leadership that must stand up and say that we cannot fulfill the whole dream here and now, but that we can certainly take strides toward achieving it,” said one. Maariv reported that Samaria settler leader, Yossi Dagan, said Abbas' announcement was a declaration of war. Which is ironic, because Dagan opposes a Palestinian state, so why would he have any demands or expectations from the Palestinian President?

Corona Quickees:
  • Israel has flattened the curve, but still pushes for Shin Bet tracking of coronavirus patients - Proposed legislation, which rights group says sets 'dangerous, severe precedent,' allows security service to trace where patients had been in the two weeks prior to diagnosis. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's Health Ministry Aims for 200,000 Coronavirus Antibody Tests by Month's End - but significant delay to start - The serological testing will provide information on the extent to which exposure to the virus has given the population a measure of immunity to future infection. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • Lower Wage Earners to See Pay Cuts, Report Says - The coronavirus will the reverse the trend of rising wages in Israel, pushed by a significant increase in unemployment, according to Taub Center researchers. (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • After Months of Enforced Distancing, Worshipers Return to Jerusalem's Synagogues - Despite the government green light, it looks as though the return to routine prayer, at least in some of the synagogues, will happen gradually. (Haaretz+)
  • Northern Israeli Police Most Prolific in Issuing Coronavirus Fines, Data Shows - The police were unable to explain why the number of tickets handed out for violation of coronavirus orders in the Northern District is twice as high as anywhere else. The data did not include a segmentation of the number of tickets according to communities, as the newspaper had requested [Arab vs. Jewish - OH]. (Haaretz+)
  • WATCH 13-year-old Gaza Girl Becomes Neighborhood Teacher Amid School Closures - Only 20 people have tested positive for the virus in the Strip but preventive measures have been more far-reaching. (Agencies, Haaretz and VIDEO)
Other Top Quick Hits:
  • Israeli forces shoot man suspected of smuggling weapons through Jordan border - The man, 49, who was wounded and is in stable condition, is said to have crossed the border south of the Sea of Galilee. Police found a host of weapons in the man’s bag, including AK-47 rifles. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Three Palestinians Wounded in East Jerusalem Shootings (crime-related incidents); 4-year-old Girl in Critical Condition - Police say the girl was hit late Wednesday by shots fired over the separation wall, but Palestinian sources in Isawiyah said the family lives near the center of the neighborhood, relatively far from the wall and that the girl's father is involved in a family dispute, which led the family to move to Isawiyah about a year ago. In another shooting incident Wednesday, two armed and masked men broke into a store in the Shoafat refugee camp and shot at the owner and his son, and not for the first time. (Haaretz+ and VIDEOMaariv and Ynet)
  • Israeli Government Seeks Efficiency Plan for Surplus of Ministries - According to the Finance Ministry plan, the headquarters of smaller ministries will be unified to cut costs. (Haaretz+)
  • Knesset Dispute Delays Bill to Make Way for New Kahol Lavan Lawmakers - The bill would permit Gantz's party to have five ministers resign their Knesset seats and have others take them over – a matter of importance to the party, because it currently has only three lawmakers who aren't cabinet members(Haaretz+)
  • The Egyptian energy minister congratulated Steinitz: Al-Ahmadullah for another term - Tarek Al Mulah called the minister to congratulate him on another term in office. The two agreed to re-enter the regional gas forum soon to sign on turning it into an international organization. (Maariv)
  • Israel's new public security minister meets with anti-asylum seekers activists on first day - Touring Tel Aviv, Minister Amir Ohana embraces advocates of deportation of African asylum seekers, vows to 'return a sense of safety' for local residents. (Haaretz+)
  • Four Women Petition Israel's Top Court to Allow Them Into Elite Army Units - The roles offered to women by the IDF are ‘gilded cages, allowing the army to boast of integrating women in combat roles although they are nothing but a misleading fig leaf,’ the petition says. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli schoolgirls don shorts to protest 'sexist' dress code - Hundreds of female students in Ra'anana, Kfar Saba, Gedera, Modi'in and other cities wait outside for hours as they're barred from entering school and even threatened with suspension after they break dress code in protest. (Ynet)
  • New Knesset subcommittee to fight alarming increase in femicide - Eleven women have been murdered since the beginning of 2020, nine of them since the coronavirus crisis erupted. Police report a 40% increase in domestic violence complaints since the pandemic has hit Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • After leaving ministry, Israeli lawmaker vows to look into stalled program on domestic violence - Ten women have died in Israel this year, but a flagship program to deal with the issue was never fully implemented. Now, as Knesset panel chief, Haim Katz promises 'improvements' while a separate committee on femicide is set up. (Haaretz+)
  • Enigmatic Rooms Cut Into the Bedrock Discovered Under Western Wall - Checking beneath the floor of a Byzantine structure in ancient Jerusalem, the archaeologists found a strange system of rooms carved in the early Roman period. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Body of Chinese ambassador who died in Israel returned home - 'China and the world have lost a true diplomat,' Israel's Foreign Ministry director general says at ceremony at Tel Aviv airport. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
  • PA amends educational curriculum under EU pressure - Several European national governments convey opposition to incitement, anti-Semitic materials in textbooks; officials stress development of curricula would be 'independent Palestinian national decision.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iranian supreme leader shares anti-Israel poster with Nazi-inspired rhetoric - Caricature uploaded on Khamenei's website depicts Palestine devoid of Jews and uses Nazi phrase “The Final Solution"; PM in response: those threatening the destruction of Israel face a similar danger. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • After Releasing 'Final Solution' Cartoon, Iran Says Will Back Any Entity That Fights Israel - Comments come amid recent reports of a cyber warfare tit-for-tat between Israel and Iran. Following their comments, Khamenei tweeted that he opposes the “Zionism regime,’ and not the Jewish people. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Netanyahu to Iran: Those who threaten Israel will be destroyed - Netanyahu’s tweet came in response to one from Khamenei, featuring a poster that reads: “Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum.” (JPost/Maariv)
  • US charges Iranian company, executives with wire fraud, money laundering - Fees were charged to circumvent "American sanctions," with the result of millions of dollars of foreign currency coming into Iran. (Israel Hayom)
  • Amnesty urges probe into 'ruthless' Iran protest killings - Watchdog says over 300 dead after Iranian security forces crackdown on gas price protests; Iran yet to issue official death toll but dismisses counts from Western sources as exaggerated. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iran Pushes Burgeoning Businesses With Venezuela - Iranian oil tankers are expected to start arriving to Venezuela in the coming days amid U.S. sanctions on the South American nation designed to force out President Nicolás Maduro. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Playing Along With Netanyahu's Annexation Fantasy, Gantz Is Rebranding Apartheid (Zehava Galon, Haaretz+) There isn’t much left to be said about the political demise of Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz, who makes sure to attach the title “alternate prime minister” to his press releases. A kind of spell to protect him from the future. He and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi committed many sins during their political journey: They betrayed their electorate, they lent a hand to the crushing of the Knesset’s power, and in the name of the emergency situation, they joined a disgraceful inflated government. But their main and most despicable sin remains the legitimacy they granted to the dangerous delusion of annexing the territories.
Abbas' annexation warning to Israel (Elior Levy, Yedioth/Ynet) The Palestinian President's threat to cut security ties with Israel wasn't meant to rile up his people, but rather remind Jerusalem that applying sovereignty over West Bank lands will open a can of worms it wouldn't want to handle.
Annexation is not just about stealing land — it’s about expelling Palestinians (Ahmad Al-Bazz, 972mag) What the international community views as an illegal move under occupation is in fact another stage in Israel's century-long settler colonial project.
Annexation Means AIPAC Can Pack Up and Go Home (Keith Kahn-Harris, Haaretz+) Annexing the West Bank punctures useful delusions about Israel and Zionism which have, until now, kept together otherwise fractious Diaspora Jewish communities – and their proudly 'big tent' organizations.
Time to revive the Old City's Jewish community (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) At its peak, the Jewish community in the Muslim Quarter in Jerusalem numbered 5,000. Today, Israel leaves Jewish enclaves in the Old City in the hands of NGOs. The time has come for a change.
Jewish terrorism: Ashkenazim provide the fuel, Mizrahim light the match (Orly Noy, 972mag) Israeli leaders have imbued generations of Mizrahim with a hatred for both Arabs as well as their own Arab identity. The results have been deadly.
Lifting the fog on the Israel-Iran cyber war (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) If reports are to be believed, Iran's recent attempted attack on Israeli water infrastructure was retaliation for IDF strikes against Iranian interests in Syria, and Pompeo's sudden dash to Jerusalem only serves to reinforce this claim.
The Abbas comedy and ongoing Palestinian tragedy (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) By insincerely again declaring that he is withdrawing from agreements with Israel, the Palestinian Authority leader is helping to perpetuate the conflict
From Abbas to Hamas, Palestinian leaders have no strategy against annexation (Muhammad Shehada, Haaretz+) A fumbling, factional, incoherent Palestinian response to Israel’s looming move on the West Bank would be a dream for annexationists. And that’s exactly what’s happening.
Sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is key to security (Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom) Unlike a technological advantage that may be transient, the topographical advantage is eternal.
Israel Uses Coronavirus Fears to Spying on Its Citizens. We Can't Let That Happen (Haaretz Editorial) The danger of misuse of the law and its expansion for other purposes is a concrete one. Not only would citizens be exposed to Shin Bet surveillance, the law would also grant the Health Ministry the right to keep the information that was gathered for a period of 60 days, “for the purpose of an internal investigation.” We must not cooperate with that. It represents an upsetting of the balance between the power of the regime and citizens’ rights. The Shin Bet is an spy agency, and we must prevent its activity from creeping beyond the realm of security.
How Arabs Crushed the Curve and Became Israel's Coronavirus Success Story (Ronny Linder, Haaretz+) Though they are 21 percent of population, Arabs account for only 2 percent of COVID-19 deaths and 6 percent of cases. Even the month of Ramadan ended without any outbreaks.

Elections 2020/Netanyahu Indictment Commentary/Analysis:
Give Gantz a Chance. He Might Just Be Our Hope for the Future (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) …(In the Uvda program interview) the center camp’s “traitor,” who has had every type of insult thrown at him since he decided to join the government, was persuasive about his motives and the wisdom of his moves. He could have easily remained in the opposition and been dragged into another election campaign, the only option remaining other than joining the government. He would then have been carried on his camp’s shoulders, but would have given Netanyahu another great victory. And so he chose what he saw as the lesser evil for the country, even though it was the worst possible choice for him personally, at least as of now.Overnight the blue-eyed chief of general staff, the great white hope, the friend of Yair Lapid from the basement in Ramat Aviv Gimmel and Moshe Ya’alon’s good buddy of the slaps on the back and macho hugs, had become the enemy of the people. But he chose correctly. He’s paying for it now, but it may yet be worth it. Meanwhile it seems as if the only way to replace Netanyahu is the way that Gantz chose…
An expensive disgrace: The huge unity government that was sworn-in costs us a fortune (Abraham Tirosh, Maariv) The numerous holders of jobs, the empty appointments, the, ministers - all this costs a lot of money to the public. And also - why isn’t it certain that the PM will avoid passing his chair to Benny Gantz. I did not conduct a survey, but from conversations with various people, My impression was that many think that this government is expected to have crises and they do not believe that the Bibi-Benny match will last for long - whether because the prime minister is convicted at his trial or even if he exits it safely, in due course, he will evade transferring the premiership to Gantz with the aid of feats typical to him, (they say). But I'm not sure of that.
*Will Bibi come to trial with a white kippah? (Yossi Klein, Haaretz Hebrew) I asked friends if they thought there would be a trial on Sunday. They said no. I said: What no? It's in two days. They said that anything could happen. I said that with all due respect, what can you do in two days? I was told, you are naive, he can do anything. I saw that there was no one to talk to, even (Netanyahu's) worst enemies were convinced he was a magician. Anyone who convinces a normal person to become Minister of Water can also cancel a trial. His rivals see him as a super-conniver. This whole government, in their opinion, is a genius exercise that starts with an absurd government and will somehow end up, don't ask how, with a pardon, plea deal, a fourth election or a presidential election. Each one alone or all together...His opponents are asking if, even when there is a sentence, will something will. The question is whether a prime minister charged with criminal offenses is still a story or not. An accused Prime Minister? We were already in this movie. Convicted? Boring. Go to the end of the broadcast, just before the weather forecast. Who is interested in another trial with meaningless results. After all, the court does not interfere with the will of the people. The people want an offender? The court will let them (have one). A prime minister can be a full-fledged offender, what do we care? We wouldn't be surprised if shows up to the trial with a white kippah on his head. He himself, like every defendant, is sure he has been wronged. He doesn't think we will put him on trial like some Aryeh Deri (Shas politician convicted of bribery). Just you wait, the appointment of Yoav Galant as Minister of Education is just the beginning. He has more cards up his sleeve. The second wave option still exists. If he falls, we all fall. There was never such a hated prime minister. David Ben Gurion was criticized because of being tyrannical, Yitzhak Rabin because of his policy. Criticized, but not hated (well, he was murdered). Binyamin Netanyahu is hated. The man himself, his presence, his hair, his makeup. Turn off the TV when he appears. The hatred for his personality is greater than the hatred for his policies. His supporters don't like him. They admire him and it's not the same. His admirers believe there won't be a trial because of the characteristics he has that others hate. When you are a conniver, a liar and arrogant you manage to cancel trials. That's how his admirers want him - conniving, arrogant, a liar and successful. They wouldn't want someone like that as a teacher, nor as a police officer, nor a a plumber, but a prime minister? That, yes. They admire him because he fulfills the dreams they have no chance of realizing. They, too, would want to avoid going to trial "because it would cost a lot of money," they would also want a private jet and a royal palace. But he has and they don't. They admire the qualities that have earned him that. They hate being ridiculed for that admiration. It offends them. They would like people to think that they have elected him only for logical and substantive reasons. Most of them are good and concerned people. Who will protect them, Benny Gantz? Ahmed Tibi? They demand that they not be left alone with the corona, the second wave, Iran and the economic crisis. They are not screamers like (Miri) Regev, nor are they snakes like rival (Yariv) Levin [both Likud ministers - OH]. They are not in social media networks, they don't sign petitions and don't protest in the squares. Kill them and they still won't understand what the connection is between an inflated government and their livelihood and what the connection is between their livelihood and his trial. They think the prime minister deserves no trial. My mother would think so, too. All her life she chose "Ben Gurion" and could not explain why. She did not like him and she did not admire him as much as one doesn't like the sun and doesn't admire the moon. They are a fact in the field and that is it. She didn't say "he's in my blood" but, apparently, that was what she thought.
Size is the least of the government's problems (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) The statements made by three new ministers upon receiving the proverbial keys to the offices from their immediate predecessors illustrate that Israel's 35th government is in for a very bumpy ride.
Inventing Roles, Dividing Government Arms, Netanyahu Proves to Be a Horrible Manager (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz+) It's no surprise that Israel's ineffective government is ranked among the weakest among the developed nations.
New Knesset speaker sends warning to judiciary
Likud's Yariv Levin believes the judiciary “needs to be set clear boundaries,” calling for an end to the 'unbearable ease with which it can intervene in the Knesset’s work and instruct this institution as if it were inferior. He also said that “if the High Court intervenes in the coalition agreement, it will bring about the collapse of the government - and we will go to the elections immediately.” (Interviewed by Moran Azulay, Yuval Karni and Amichai Atalipo in Yedioth Hebrew and Ynet)

'It's still too early to discuss sanctions against Israel'
Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn warn the new government against applying Israeli law in parts of Judea and Samaria. "We are working vigorously to prevent the annexation of occupied Palestinian territories," he says. (Interviewed by Eldad Beck in Israel Hayom)

Former IDF chief hints at move to politics: I want to make a difference
For the first time since completing his tenure as IDF chief of staff and retiring some 18 months ago, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Gadi Eizenkot tells Israel Hayom he is seriously contemplating a career in politics. (Interviewed by Yoav Limor in Israel Hayom)

Play by Netanyahu's brother, Iddo, becomes a hit in coronavirus era
Russian Culture Ministry's decision to put production of Worlds in Collision for free online generates hundreds of thousands of views. (Interviewed by Maya Cohen in Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.