News Nosh 6.10.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday June 10, 2020

NOTE: APN invites you to join a briefing call on West Bank Annexation: A View from the Knesset - with MK Merav Michaeli of Israel’s Labor Party, a member of the opposition in the Knesset, and a longtime advocate for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Date: Thursday, June 11th
Time: 11:00 am (Eastern Time)
Dial-in Number: 951-797-1058
Participant Access Code: 147414

Number of the day: 15

--Percentage of Israelis who fully support the application of Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank and in the Beqaa Jordan Valley, as per the Trump plan, according to a poll.

You Must Be Kidding: 

—The term the Likud party used to describe the High Court ruling that struck down the law that would allow Israeli settlers to confiscate privately-owned Palestinian land for the benefit of settlements. The Likud party promised to pass the law again.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The regularization law was nullified by the High Court
  • Rescue ruling // Ben-Dror Yemini (Hebrew)
  • The iron wall // Tova Tzimuki (Hebrew)
  • The land is shaking // Alex Fishman
  • The loss for us all // Yifat Ehrlich
  • A test is needed - Not enough corona tests and results are being delayed and lost (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:

**‘Israel Hayom’ and the Likud party are in an uproar over the Israeli High Court ruling to strike down the law that allowed settlers to confiscate privately-owned Palestinian land that they illegally built on. The “Law for the Regularization of Settlement in Judea and Samaria” was approved in February 2017 and it was meant to pave the way to legalize outposts built on private land. The petition states that according to Peace Now data, the law will result in the expropriation of tens of thousands of acres of land owned by thousands of Palestinians, Maariv reported. In the ruling, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said that the law "seeks to retroactively legalize illegal acts perpetrated by a specific population in the region whilst harming the rights of another." The Likud party said it will work to re-enact the law and pass a law to bypass High Court rulings. Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz said the law should never have been passed. Yedioth Hebrew noted how the law put Gantz in an uncomfortable situation where he was trying to protect the High Court, but in a government coalition with the party calling to bypass the court’s rulings.

But when it came to the annexation plans set for July 1st, Gantz told settlers who oppose the Trump Plan they should take what they can get. He also told them how importance it was to maintain the peace agreement with Jordan for regional stability. Indeed, Channel 12 reported that Gantz will be visiting Jordan in a bid to defuse the tensions over annexation plans. Israel Hayom reported that the annexation plan will be implemented between July and September.

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had some interesting things to announce at a press conference.
1.) He made a counter-proposal to the Trump plan: a demilitarized Palestinian state with “minor border modifications" and the exchange of territory equivalent "in size, in volume, and in value." He said the plan was recently submitted to the Quartet of Mideast mediators – the US, the UN, the European Union, and Russia.
2.) He said that if Israel does annex territories in the West Bank, “We will declare a state within the borders of 67.”

And Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian official in charge of relations with Israel and a confidante of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, warned that Abbas was willing “to let the Palestinian Authority collapse” in order to foil Israel's annexation bid. Al-Sheikh said that Abbas plans to slash the wages of tens of thousands of functionaries and police officers, as well as the $105 million in monthly aid it sends to the Gaza Strip. In addition, any Israeli citizens or Arab residents of Jerusalem arrested in the West Bank will be tried in Palestinian courts instead of being handed over to the Israel Police, the report noted. “We are pragmatic. I want peace and two states,” Al-Sheikh told the NYT. But I'm not a collaborator with Israel."

Abbas has already declared the end of security coordination with Israel and, in response, Israel blocked Palestinian security forces from entering Israeli-controlled areas to deal with violent internal conflicts. This has caused a spike in internal disputes and conflicts that arise occasionally between civilians of the same town, or between residents of neighboring towns and villages. Ynet’s great Palestinian affairs reporter, Elior Levy, revealed that local Tanzim groups, Palestinian grassroots security groups that were formed and existed during the Second Intifada in villages and cities, have formed to help Palestinians maintain civil order where Israel no longer lets Palestinian security forces move. And Channel 12 reported that Palestinian Authority intelligence officers were given orders to transfer physical files of sensitive documents to hiding place, amid fears of violence if Israel annexes West Bank lands.

In Israel, a group of 25 former Knesset members of left-wing parties wrote a letter to US elected officials declaring their opposition to the idea of unilateral annexation of West Bank lands. Former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg and former MKs Amram Mitzna, Ophir Pines-Paz, Ephraim Sneh, Danny Yatom, Yossi Yona, Ksenia Svetlova, Tsali Reshef, Zehava Galon, Tamar Guzanski, Naomi Hazan and others: “(Annexation) is the creation of a reality of apartheid in Israel.” (Maariv - includes photo of letter in English)

And in the Knesset, members of the Joint List submitted a bill to give Israel back its old, pre-1967 war, borders. The bill states that the borders of the State of Israel will be the lines of June 4, 1967. In addition, a motion was submitted seeking to recognize the Arab minority in Israel as a national minority. The explanation of the bill states that "since its establishment, the boundaries of the State of Israel have not yet been formulated and formed. The bill is intended to bring an end to the anomaly and that the state has no definite boundaries. Therefore, it is proposed to establish that the borders of the State of Israel on June 4, 1967, are its permanent borders. The sovereignty of the state will therefore apply to the territories included in the said area. (Maariv)

Haaretz+ interviewed Joel Singer, who said that Israel annexation violates the Oslo Accords. Singer was one of the Israeli negotiators of the Oslo Accords.

‘Israel Hayom’ continues to express joy at the annexation plan. According to its investigation, applying sovereignty will allow some 100,000 apartment owners in the West Bank to complete the transfer of ownership rights and to register their properties with the Land Registration Office, it reported as ‘good news.’

*But according to a poll by 103FM, only 15% of Israelis fully support the application of sovereignty in parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, as per the Trump plan. Data from a 103FM poll shows that close to a third of respondents overwhelmingly oppose a political move in the West Bank, Maariv reported. Also, 27% of respondents said they were in favor of implementing annexation, but that they did not want it to occur under one of the clauses proposed in President Trump's plan, which allows, among other things, the establishment of the Palestinian state. Another 9% said they supported annexation only in the Beqaa Jordan Valley region. Some 38% of those polled who are Likud voters said that they opposed the plan, while (only) a quarter of the Likud voters said they supported the plan. These new numbers are similar to the data presented in a Channel 12 news sample Monday, which showed that 4% of the Israeli population is interested in the annexation plan.

A recent poll of political mandates was also presented, according to which, if elections were held now, the Likud party would win 40 seats. According to the survey, the Joint List would be the second largest party, with 15 seats, unchanged from its current power in the Knesset. Yesh Atid - Telem would have won 14 seats and Kahol-Lavan 12. Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu would win nine seats each, Yamin would get eight, Yehadut Hatorah would get seven and Meretz would get six. The Labor party, Gesher, Derech Eretz and Habayit Hayehudi would not pass the threshold. In this scenario, the right-wing ultra-Orthodox bloc would lead safely with 64 seats, compared with 47 for the center-left bloc and nine seats for Yisrael Beiteinu. (Maariv)

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli Ministers Push Forward Bill Enshrining Government's Powers to Impose Coronavirus Restrictions - Coalition-backed legislation would allow the cabinet, for the next 10 months, to enact emergency measures and restrict civilian movements
  • Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Tuesday to support a bill that would give the cabinet wide-ranging powers to impose restrictions to combat the coronavirus. (Haaretz+)
  • Relative of Murdered Palestinian Family Describes ‘Hell’ of Aftermath at Israeli Killer’s Hearing; Shouting match erupts in court - At hearing of Amiram Ben-Uliel, 26, convicted of killing three members of the Dawabsheh family when he firebombed their home in 2015, relatives say surviving child still lives in fear. The Prosecutor's Office will demand three life sentences for the murderer of the Dawabasha family in Duma. (Haaretz+, Maariv and  Ynet)
  • Israeli Cabinet Not Obligated to Share Decisions With Public, PMO Legal Adviser Says - Legal counsel responds to petition demanding decisions made remotely during coronavirus crisis be published; High Court to hear Haaretz petition calling for cabinet meeting transcripts this week. (Haaretz+)
  • Industrial Zone in West Bank Settlement Would Harm Palestinian Water Sources, Environmentalists Say - Groups warn that zone planned by Betar Ilit will damage both water sources for nearby villages and an important ecological corridor for wildlife. (Haaretz+)
  • President Rivlin in alarming message: "There will be no civil war only if we struggle over this” - On the 72nd anniversary of the sinking of the Altalena ship, the President of the State and the Prime Minister addressed the growing unrest in Israeli society: "Already then there was us and them…The singular lesson is this: to allow argument, to allow discussion, to encourage it and at the same time to fight those who incite to war…Of course, all this within the boundaries of the law and in language that is respectful. Argue, take a stance, encourage an environment of discourse that is pointed but not violent.” (Maariv and MFA English)
  • UAE flight lands in Israel with medical aid for Palestinians - Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh says he was not informed about flight, raising concern that the PA might reject this shipment as it did another UAE aid delivery last month. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • As ties warm, Israel hails UAE space launch bid - Foreign Ministry on Twitter expresses hope that attempt to launch first Arab space probe ‘will contribute towards deeper cooperation between all countries in the region.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Health Minister: Israel nearing 200 new corona cases a day - "If we don't wake up, we'll find ourselves in a very problematic situation," warns Yuli Edelstein. (Israel Hayom)
  • High Court Agrees to Hear Petition on Eliminating Deputy PM Position - This comes after previous petitions on the issue were rejected on the grounds that the court did not want to intervene in legislative proceedings before they were completed. (Haaretz+)
  • 79 years later, Knesset marks Farhud pogrom for first time - The Knesset is for the first time marking the Farhud, a Holocaust-era pogrom against Iraqi Jews supported by Baghdad’s Nazi-backed government. At least 180 Jews were killed in two days of mob violence on June 1-2, 1941. “The Farhud is a Nazi crime,” says Joint List MK Ofer Kasif, calling for Farhud victims to be afforded the same rights as Holocaust survivors. The event was seen as a turning point that brought centuries of strong Jewish-Arab ties in Iraq to a shuddering end. [NOTE: Actually, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Iraqis stayed in Iraq after the Farhud. It wasn’t till a series of explosions that took place at Jewish centers in Baghdad did most of the Jewish Iraqis emigrate to Israel. But afterward, an Israeli journalist found that the Israeli government was behind the bombings (similar to the Lavon Affair) with the aim of causing a mass exodus. Many Jewish Iraqis also said and still say 'the Zionists' were behind the bombings, and in Iraq, three Jewish Iraqis were found responsible and jailed. They later immigrated to Israel. In 2019, the High Court refused to pay compensation to Iraqi Jews who suffered economic laws. The court did agree that the pogrom was partially caused by the antisemitic tone set by Germany and Iraqis aligned with the Germans. - OH] (Times of Israel)
  • Israel's Justice Ministry Has Been Quietly Providing Legal Aid to Some Asylum Seekers - Refugee aid organisations say they were unaware that such a service was available, and that no clear eligibility criteria was provided. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli model Bar Refaeli signs plea bargain for tax evasion - The heart of the case revolves around Refaeli's residence earlier this decade when she gallivanted around the world in high-profile modeling campaigns. (Israel Hayom and Maariv)
  • With Fauda's help, pandemic makes Hebrew spread around the world - Israeli TV hit is now part and parcel of Hebrew education as Jewish Agency emissaries embrace its popularity to convey common language and bolster connection to Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pandemic's silver lining: More affordable Jewish education - Jewish leaders believe coronavirus crisis could create a new era that would boost aliyah and bring down costs of Jewish education. (Israel Hayom)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:

Diplomatic Bullying Is the Real Virus (Haaretz Editorial) German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will not visit the Palestinian Authority. Israel, which decided to enlist the coronavirus in its political efforts, made it clear to the German Federal Foreign Office that if the minister visits the PA, he will have to enter a two-week quarantine in Israel upon his return. One can assume that this restriction would not be applied to the U.S. secretary of state, just as it does not apply to Israeli settlers, soldiers and officers who “visit” the territories of the PA on a nightly basis, nor to the Palestinian laborers whose services Israel needs on its construction sites and foreign diplomats who are already here.
Annexation vs. sovereignty: Words matter (Arsen Ostrovsky and Richard Kemp, Israel Hayom) It is factually incorrect to assert that Israel intends to "annex" territory to which it has a legitimate claim and that never has been part of a "state of Palestine."
The annexation is morally wrong and dangerous to Israel's security (Ksenia Svetlova, Maariv) Annexation could downplay all the work that has been done in recent years on the diplomatic and security level - and, of course, weaken the Middle East's anti-Iranian front.
Legal protective wall (Tova Tzimuki, Yedioth Hebrew) In rejecting the Regularization law, the High Court proved that despite political criticism, it’s power has not gone…In light of the expected trouble for Israel from the International Criminal Court at The Hague, if Israel does decide to annex territories in Judea and Samaria, the High Court decision yesterday is no less than an iron wall that protects the Israeli government in the world - from itself…The court, led by the chief justice, has corrected the harsh impression left by its ruling on the approval of the prime minister serving in office. The unanimous ruling of 11 judges, headed by (Chief Justice Esther) Chayut, (to allow Netanyahu to serve as prime minister despite criminal charges against him) demonstrated small thinking in the eyes of many and was contrary to common sense and to the legacy of the High Court as a shield against government corruption. The rationale was that this was the language of the law - but it was clear that Chayut’s ruling was more like “Survival" reality program than like the “Wedding at First Site" reality program, which she mentioned many times during the hearing. But this time the situation is different: When the judges know that the “Overriding Law" is no longer at issue at this point, and that the new Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn and Kahol-Lavan heads will, in the meantime, stop any harm to the independence of the court, the High Court has allowed itself to do the right thing. Chayut firmly stated that the Regularization Law violates the ownership rights and the Palestinians' right to equality, and gives a clear priority to the interests of Israeli settlers, without any specific examination of the circumstances in which the settlement was established, and without giving sufficient weight to the special status of the Palestinians as "protected residents" in territory under belligerent occupation. Moreover, the High Court did not hesitate to emphasize the right to equality caused by its different and beneficial attitude, according to the Regularization Law, to Israeli construction offenders compared to Palestinian construction offenders. The right-wing often talks about the conservative court of the past, headed by, for example, the late President Moshe Landau, who later turned out to hold extreme right-wing views. But it was Landau who determined that, with all his grief, the settlement of Alon Moreh should be taken down due to the simple fact that it was built on private (Palestinian) land. Almost 50 years later, this is no longer a fundamental issue. The High Court, which is under political siege, has shown that it is it has not lost its power and that there are still judges in Jerusalem.
The High Court rescued us from trouble (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth Hebrew) It’s worth remembering: In 2012, the Likud opposed the Regularization Law. Four years later, following a letter of support for a bill on the subject of regularization (i.e. legalizing settlements built on privately-owned Palestinian land - OH) on behalf of Likud ministers and Knesset members, the legislative processes resumed. The goal was to prevent the demolition of houses in settlements built on private Palestinian land. But even then, it was clear that this was a problematic law that would not solve the problem  and would put Israel under severe international criticism. This is exactly why in the early stages Binyamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett also opposed the law. The law provides compensation to (Palestinian) landowners instead of evacuating those (settlers) who have already built houses on the land. Israeli real estate law also allows such a regulation, under very specific conditions. But when it comes to settlers vis-a-vis Palestinians, and given the sweeping international stance on the issue, it was clear that the law was primarily a whim. The signers of the (law) wanted to show the settler that they cared more for him than Habayit Hayehudi (pro-settler party). The law did not save one house from eviction. But it was nevertheless enacted. There is an international precedent for the law: Turkey expelled two hundred thousand Greek Christians following the invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974. In the vacant houses, settlers from Turkey settled. The deportees did not give up. They filed claims on the property left behind. In the last lawsuit, which came to the European Court for Human Rights in 1999, the law changed. The ruling was only given in 2009, and it was stated there, inter alia, that the arrangement proposed by Northern Cyprus should be accepted and that "there is no precedent supporting the assumption that a state is subject to a policy of returning property to owners without taking into account current use of property." For the Israeli right, it could have been a bingo. Here, there is an international precedent for a “Regularization law.” But the circumstances were different. The European Court of Justice has relied on the fact that the property in question is in the area under the UN's international agreement (the Anan agreement, named after the then secretary-general of the organization) should remain in Turkish control. Although the agreement was not implemented, it gained wide international support. This is not the story when it comes to Palestinian-owned land. Not only is there no international agreement on settlement in the Occupied Territories, but there is widespread opposition. The High Court decision is, of course, another expression of judicial activism. But even those who oppose activism know that this time it is a much more complex matter. After all, without a petition against the law at the High Court, the Palestinian Authority, or another party, would have found the way to petition against Israel at an international tribunal. The damage to Israel would have been tremendous. Moreover, the chief prosecutor at the international Court at The Hague (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, is currently will decide soon on an investigation against Israel for the committing of war crimes. It is not clear whether the court will approve the plaintiff's decision, but it is clear that one of the considerations in favor of opening an investigation is that the judicial system in the state is not independent, or does not take into account international law. In this sense, the High Court's decision to repeal the Regularization Law proves the opposite. It will stand before the ICC judges. Already when the law was enacted, it was clear that it would cause international damage, on the one hand, but would not save homes built on private Palestinian land, on the other. It was an unnecessary oaw. So this time, at least this time, the High Court did not hurt the settlers. But it saved Israel from serious trouble.
Annexation is Netanyahu's legacy (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) Many believe that the prime minister only makes moves that serve his own immediate interests, but the long-time leader actually wants to go down in history as the one who claimed sovereignty over parts of West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Palestinian threats aren't the real danger (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) The only danger from Israel's perspective, in the context of applying sovereignty, is the rise of a Democratic administration that will recognize a Palestinian state.
Palestinian Leadership Tried to Rally Public Against Annexation, and Found Itself Alone (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) PA was barely able to rouse 200 people to attend a demonstration in Ramallah against Israel's plans to annex territories of the West Bank.
Let Germany prove its commitment to Israel's existence (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) Germany needs to take action against Iran's nuclear weapons program and stop inventing "international law" that would bar Israel from declaring sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, Judea, and Samaria.
We must not miss the opportunity to annex the territories (Attorney Aharon Papou, Maariv) The Zionist left-wing has no reason to oppose the plan that Bibi wants to implement. There is no need to wait to apply sovereignty, as this will miss the unique willingness that has been offered to the State of Israel.
Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) PA President Mahmoud Abbas realizes he will never bring about an independent Palestinian state, so he is reaching out to Turkey for support, which the Arab states will never allow, as the conflict marches on.
Glass half full: some significant points in favor of annexation (Mayor of Efrat settlement, Oded Revivi, Maariv) After years of trying to force a peace process back on us, the US government understood the reality and offered the deal of the century. How can we tell our allies "No, thank you"? Applying Israeli law to communities in Judea and Samaria is an oxygen tube for normalcy. I do not deny the challenges, but choose to look at half the full glass. If we do not accept the plan, we will bring destruction of Oslo, the (construction) freeze or disengagement, G-d forbid.
An early death for 'legal Zionism' (Akiva Bigman, Israel Hayom) Every time the Right passes right-wing legislation, the High Court steps in and strikes it down, making itself the final authority on national issues.

Radio host, Inon Magal: "If blood is shed it will be by the left-wing”; Maariv top political commentator and radio host, Ben Caspit: "The left is not violent.”
The radio hosts argued at the beginning of their radio program over the question of which of the political camps in Israel is more violent. Magal: “The left is trying to set afire to the street, it wants looting.” Caspi: "At the top of the list stars Yigal Amir.” (103FM/Maariv)

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