News Nosh 6.17.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday June 17, 2020

Quotes of the Day:

“The court is sending a clear message to law enforcement authorities today that there is no longer a basis for the many years of immunity that the state has granted to the heads of the settlement movement, who have done in the settlements whatever they have felt like, in violation of the law, and all of this to create facts on the ground that affect the future of all of Israel. We hope that the message is heard and that they finally a stop is put to the lawlessness in the settlements and outposts.”
--Peace Now responds after court orders the State to explain its failure to investigate illegal construction in West Bank settlement.*

"Fifty-three years of occupation since the Six Day War have fundamentally changed Israel. After more than 40 years of right-wing rule, Israelis identify and are identified more with ruling whites than with oppressed Blacks. Ethnocentrism, Jewish fundamentalism and hostility towards Palestinians, it seems, have spawned blatant racism towards minorities in general, as Israel’s own black minority of Ethiopian Jews can attest."
--Haaretz+ commentator Chemi Shalev writes about why Israelis backed the civil rights movement in America, but don't back the Black Lives Matter movement**

"Supporters of annexation want to strengthen Israel by reducing danger. They are trying to get rid of a chronic illness that we have been living with for more than 50 years, but the problem is that the medicine they offer could kill the patient, that is, the State of the Jewish people."
—Sallai Meridor, former Israeli ambassador to the US, former Jewish Agency chairman and a present-day settler, shares his view on annexation.***

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The cry of the entertainment industry’s behind the scenes workers - The economic epidemic (Hebrew)
  • Sad ending: The severely injured person from the attack on the (LGBT) youth bar died (Hebrew)
  • The infuriating statement and resignation of the Shas MK-to-be (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • “Corona is returning”
  • Staying out - Rabbi Baruch Gazahi from Shas made chauvinist statements and won’t become an MK
  • “Opposition to sovereignty will lead to elections”
  • Author of “Kofiko” (children’s) books, Tamar Bornstein-Lazar, passed away at age 93

Israel Hayom

  • The plan: First outside the blocs - Netanyahu examining plan for sovereignty in two stages
  • Status quo is more dangerous than sovereignty // Gershon Hacohen
  • Instead of stuttering: Apply sovereignty at once
  • Likely: The new subsidized medicines will be delayed
  • Corona cabinet: Easing of sanctions in danger
  • Possibility of an island: On August 1st, skies will open to flights to Greece and Cyprus
  • The mother of “Kofiko” (children’s books), Parting from the author Tamar Bornstein-Lazar
  • The case of the soccer players and the teenage girls: The players are expected to be interrogated again
  • After 27 years in prison: Suleiman Al-Abid, who was convicted of murdering Hanit Kikus, will leave jail

Top News Summary:
Talk of a second wave of corona and the latest outbreaks, the racist and chauvinist remarks by a Shas member slated to become an MK forced him to resign from the party (“Women get cancer because of immodesty,” “There’s no such thing as a good-looking Arab”) and the death of a beloved Israeli children's author were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with the latest annexation news.

‘Israel Hayom’s Ariel Kahana reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new idea is applying sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in two stages. Netanyahu wants to start by applying sovereignty to the far-off settlements deep inside the West Bank, then invite the Palestinians to come to the table and then move to the second stage after they refuse. In Netanyahu’s view, writes Kahana, the first stage shows that Israel is listening to the criticism of the international community and acting cautiously. And by doing two-stages and offering to talk to the Palestinians in between, Netanyahu hopes to show the Americans that this is not an Israeli annexation plan, but a peace plan, which is how the Trump administration sees it. Kahana also writes that “The Trump administration wants the Palestinians to realize that time is not on their side, so calling on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the table between the first and second stages of the plan's implementation serves that purpose.” Yedioth’s Elisha Ben-Kimon reported on the alternative annexation plan of the settlers who oppose the Trump plan. Their plan gives them territorial contiguity, but Israeli officials warned that the White House will only accept 'cosmetic changes.’ Haaretz+ reported that Netanyahu’s aides say they fear that the US may drop the annexation plan if Netanyahu can’t reach a deal with Kahol-Lavan leader and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Meanwhile, more declarations of opposition. Jordan's King Abdulllah II told US lawmakers that annexation would destabilize the Middle East. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said annexation would “amount to a breach of international law” and that the U.K. strongly opposed it. And a group of 50 UN rights experts condemned Israel's annexation plan and warned that human rights abuses in the West Bank would only increase afterward. Interestingly, a UAE minister said that the UAE can work with Israel, despite disagreeing about annexation. Speaking at an American Jewish Committee event, Anwar Gargash argued that engaging with Israel will yield better results for the Middle East than previous policies.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinian security services continue shredding files, fearing Israeli raids on their offices if Israel moves ahead with annexation. During the Second Intifada, Israeli security forces repeatedly stormed their offices and removed confidential documents. Indeed, according to Palestinian sources, the Israeli military raided Ramallah, which is under Palestinian security forces control. Israeli military confirmed it was nearby, but denied its troops entered Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government.

Quick Hits:

  • *Top court orders Israel to explain failure to investigate illegal construction in West Bank settlement - Court issues order against outpost housing project after Peace Now petition demanding enforcement of rules forbidding construction in West Bank without permit or master plan. Peace Now included the Binyamin regional council in the petition because it had become clear, following a Freedom of Information Act request, that the council that had hired the construction company. The outpost, sometimes described as of neighborhood of Eli, was established in 1998 and has about 40 families. This housing project began in 2016. (Haaretz+ and JPost)
  • Over 550 British Jews Sign Petition to Block Appointment of New Israeli Ambassador - Petition by Jewish citizens of U.K. says former settlements minister Tzipi Hotovely 'shares responsibility for upholding Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank.’ (Haaretz)
  • Man Killed, 12-year-old Boy Critically Wounded in Jaffa Shooting - Family members accuse Israeli police of failure in combating organized crime in their community: 'We are cooperating but they're not doing anything.’ In the incident of the drive-by shooting death of the 20-year-old Arab man in Jaffa, a 12-year-old boy was also critically wounded. (Haaretz+ and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Anti-corruption group asks High Court to probe Netanyahu in submarine case - Movement for Quality Government wants attorney general to investigate PM’s decade-old stock deal with cousin tied to Case 3000. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • Greek PM visits Israel, hoping to restore tourism and warning on Turkey - With Greece, Israel, and Cyprus partnered up on energy projects in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warns against the exploration efforts of the “neighborhood bully” Turkey. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Greece, Israel aim to resume joint tourism by August 1 - Any move to resume bilateral travel still rests on ability to cope with coronavirus and Health Ministry figures, says Netanyahu on a visit by the Greek PM to Jerusalem. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israeli scientists invent mask that kills coronavirus with phone charger heat - Research team at Technion University in Haifa develop a mask that with a USB port that connects to a power source, draws heat and disinfects itself in 30 minutes, killing most viruses. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • 70,000 Israeli businesses expected to close in 2020 - A report by the Knesset Research and Information Center says that approximately 70,000 businesses are expected to close in 2020, as opposed to 40,000 new businesses that have already opened and or open during the year. (Ynet)
  • Apple TV+ Buys 'Fauda' Creator's New Israeli Spy Thriller 'Tehran' - The show revolves around a Mossad agent who enters Iran undercover in an attempt to sabotage the country’s nuclear facilities, while falling in love with an Iranian man. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Army Returns Soldiers Who Tested Positive With Coronavirus to Their Bases - A new Health Ministry guideline made it possible for the soldiers who have been in isolation for 30 days but still tested positive to return to duty. (Haaretz+)
  • Coronavirus Drives Wave of Return Among Longtime Israeli Expats - Jewish Agency projects that number of immigrants is set to rise in 2021, but immigrants to Israel still face challenges in aliyah process because of COVID-19. (Haaretz+)
  • Concerns mount as Lebanon struggles to take first steps out of crisis - Slow efforts to pull the heavily indebted nation, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and deep corruption, show little success; Beirut facing growing criticism amid fears of renewed sectarian violence. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Combative Nasrallah vows to fight new US sanctions against Syria - "Our weapons will remain in our hands. We will not go hungry and we will kill you," Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatens US in televised message, accusing Washington of trying to force Lebanon to turn to Israel for economic relief. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

Israel builds road to link settlements as West Bank annexation nears
Jerusalem municipality official says 'The American Road' will connect Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are north and south of Jerusalem and is projected to cost quarter of a billion dollars; Palestinians say the new road will mostly benefit settlers. Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli attorney who represented some Palestinian families affected by the construction, said the bypass fitted into a long-time strategy by Israel of using infrastructure projects to secure "de facto annexation" of territory. (Reuters, Ynet and PHOTOS)
Annexation turns Israel lobby against Israeli gov’t (Peace Now chair says ‘it’s been de facto apartheid for a long time’)
There has been remarkable news in the last few days: much of the Israel lobby in the United States is in open revolt against the Israeli government to try and stop annexation of the West Bank. The concern for American Zionists is that annexation will remove their main talking point, that Israel is a model democracy. They will have trouble selling Israel in the U.S. if this goes through. Suddenly Palestinians will be demanding rights, and that will embarrass liberals. (Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss)
Inside a Hormone-drenched Israeli Army Base Spying on Gabby Enemies
A new novel by a former soldier in Israeli’s top military intelligence body, Unit 8200, may be fiction but it grasps the moods, and lusts, in this hush-hush world of eavesdropping and deciphering very well. (Yossi Melman, Haaretz+)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:
Chance of West Bank Annexation Is Fading, but Limited Move Still Possible (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) What is certain is that for everyone except Netanyahu, what will help is a slow and consistent postponement of the July 1 deadline – to never,
The real price (Moshe Pearl, Yedioth Hebrew) The public debate over the price of annexation misses one of the significant dangers, which can cost a lot of money. The supporters of annexation believe that the economic threat is summed up with making several tens of thousands of Palestinians into Israeli residents - not a big economic drama. Opponents to annexation are convinced that the dynamics of the events will lead to the annexation of more than two million Palestinians - paying every annuity, maternity allowance, chronic unemployment benefit, and providing them with civic needs. Even after you clear this amount of the taxes they will pay, the bottom line is tens of billions of shekels a year. But in the meantime, we're ignoring the hidden threat that awaits us when we have to borrow the money in world markets. In recent years, the Gentiles have developed a special relationship with us. As far as their heart is concerned, we seem to be in retreat: Europe is disgusted by what it sees in the Territories, the UN does not stop harassing, the young generation in the United States is no longer with us, and the social media networks have a tsunami of anti-Semitism. Overseas financial bodies have so far been willing to lend us money almost without issue. On the last occasion, the government went to raise credit, the pension and international banks agreed to give it loans for a period of 100 years as well, and they believe we will repay the fund and interest rates. This happens because of a change in the lenders’ approach. Israel's security situation, which has been extremely central in the past, has deteriorated. 20 years ago, recruitment delegations had to deal with countless security issues. The world was afraid to lend to a country to the east of which lies a regional power that threatens it with nuclear power. That has pretty much faded. The number of slides about security in the slide-show presentation prepared by the Treasury recently shrunk, and their place was taken by a new subject: corruption. As government officials have resolved security-related questions, the more they find themselves faced with questions about the rule of law. Big lenders are disturbed by the fact that they are required to give loans to a country that, within a few years, has imprisoned a president, a prime minister, a finance minister and a chief rabbi. They find it difficult to understand how it is that a suspected criminal minister swears he can prove his innocence, but seeks to avoid it through immunity. It is difficult for them to give loans to the government  whose leader is sitting on the bench of the accused…And now add to this an annexation with a wave of violence in the Occupied Territories, and then get into the head of the pensioners in Europe and the US to whom we apply for loans. Oops, the plot gets complicated. They will probably continue to give them, but this time they will price the risk differently. By how much will they raise our interest rates? It's hard to tell, but it's worth billions of dollars. That's where the true price of annexation is.
Annexation hasn’t even failed yet and Netanyahu is already playing the blame game (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The prime minister is preparing multiple narratives of guilt so he can accuse allies and enemies from Jerusalem to Washington and back.
Netanyahu mocked, put down and ridiculed the Trump Plan and annoyed the White House (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The one who shocks and undermines Israel's position in the international arena today is the one who loves and prides himself as an Israeli statesman who strengthened and glorified Israel's presence in the capitals and centers of influence in the world….Leading Jewish figures in New York Jewish are astonished at how Prime Minister Netanyahu is not updated or just ignoring the fact that the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the peace plan architect, opposes and denies a unilateral move, like annexation. According to them, Kushner is coordinated and connected with the Saudis and the leaders of the Persian Gulf countries, who are fueling his opposition to annexation.
The Annexation’s Ambassador to Israel (Haaretz Editorial) Recent polls show that barely a third of the public supports a unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank, and that annexation is actually at the bottom of its list of priorities. Outside Israel, opposition to unilateral annexation has been sweeping. Moreover, the assumption that Arab states, especially the Gulf States, support the annexation plan has proven baseless. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mocked the Kahol Lavan party this week, saying he doesn’t know what its position on annexation is. But his own position on annexation is also a mystery, especially given the fact that during his previous 11 years as prime minister, he hasn’t annexed so much as a millimeter. The United States also has more pressing issues. In this sense, it’s not at all clear who US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman represents….
Trump plan offers chance to change the Hamas equation (Col. (res.) Ronen Itsik, Israel Hayom) The approach of withdrawal and "separation" has proven to incur the maximum cost and maximal damage. There is no worse alternative.
***Not just good for the Jews (Former Israeli ambassador to the US and former Jewish Agency chairman, Sallai Meridor, Yedioth Hebrew) In 1996, Netanyahu ran for election and won on the slogan "Bibi is good for the Jews." He is currently announcing his intention of unilateral annexation in Judea and Samaria, including many localities outside the security fence. So is "widespread unilateral annexation good for Jews"? Let's do a cost versus benefit account. What will we gain from annexation? Not zero. From my backyard in Kfar Adumim I see the Judean Desert on the Dead Sea, the Jerusalem-Jericho Road, the dividing space between Arab states in the East and Jerusalem and Israel in the West. I live over Wadi Qelt in the space that separates Judea in the south and Samaria in the north. A limited annexation may, to some extent, reduce the possibility that a Palestinian state, if established, will threaten Israel's security. However, the benefit is not great. On the one hand, we have been controlling the territory for 53 years now, without annexation. On the other hand, annexation also does not constitute a certificate of withdrawal. We all remember that the application of the law in Jerusalem did not prevent negotiations later on its borders, and the annexation of the Golan did not prevent negotiations and Israeli willingness to give up. So anyone who says that annexation has no benefit is wrong, but anyone who claims that annexation is of great benefit is misleading. On the other hand, what is the price we might pay if we broadly and unilaterally annex? In the short term, there may be a deterioration in relations with the Palestinian Authority, which would jeopardize Israeli security and life. Improving relations with the Arab countries, which are strategically valuable, could also backfire. In addition, for a small strengthening of our existing hold on the Beqaa Jordan Valley security strip, we could weaken our significant security zone - our relationship with Jordan - and instead of intensifying cooperation with the Gulf states, given the Iranian threat, we could end up making this cooperation difficult. Therefore, we should listen to the speakers - from the Jordanian King to the UAE ambassador to the United States - to gauge the damage that annexation can bring…Supporters of annexation want to strengthen Israel by reducing danger. They are trying to get rid of a chronic illness that we have been living with for more than 50 years, but the problem is that the medicine they offer could kill the patient, that is, the State of the Jewish people. Is it good for the Jews?
Led by Saudi Arabia, we Arabs are talking peace. But Israelis aren’t listening (Nawaf Obaid, Haaretz+) For years, a potent Saudi-led Arab camp has been offering Israel security and regional cooperation. Annexation will slam that door shut.
The debate over the future of the territories (Dr. Dore Gold, Israel Hayom) The International Committee of the Red Cross defines "annexation" as "a unilateral act of a state through which it proclaims its sovereignty over the territory of another state." But did the West Bank belong to "another state," when only the UK and Pakistan recognized Jordanian sovereignty there?
Kahol Lavan's Generals Opt to Be Puppets (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) On annexation, the U.S. have given Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi the opportunity to be statesmen - but they look ready to squander it.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Jewish Publications Really Shouldn’t Platform Jew-hating White Supremacists (Esther Solomon, Haaretz+) It is not courage, it is self-abasement, for any Jewish publication to call up an antisemitic white supremacist and be grateful for their time.
IDF soldier who saved Palestinian deserves Medal of Honor (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The Golani soldier who rescued a Palestinian man from a group of settlers in Hebron is an example of maintaining one's humanity toward people over whom you're exercising control; IDF's chief of staff and defense minister must award this brave man.
The Attorney General Is Dragging His Feet on Netanyahu's Latest Potential Probe (Gur Megiddo, Haaretz+) The Justice Ministry claims that it cannot decide to investigate Netanyahu until the attorney general has more information in his hands. But he's had enough info to investigate for over a year now.
Apparently, even in 2020, legislation is needed to put women at the center of decision-making center (MK Sundos Saleh, Maariv) A week that began with a dramatic appointment of a man to head the women's status committee ended with a bill that will guarantee that half of the Knesset permanent committee chairpersons will be women. Because at present, 16 men sit at the heads of the 18 existing committees. That's what's behind the proposal. Apparently, the Knesset Law and the Knesset Rules do not address the appointment of women to positions in the Knesset itself, including the role of committee chairperson. This is in spite of the fact that Article 6 of the Women's Equal Rights Act speaks about social equality, the right to equal representation, and within it the right to appropriate representation of women in public institutions.
**Why Israelis Backed the Civil Rights Movement but Fear Black Lives Matter (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+)  53 years of occupation shifted sympathies from oppressed African-Americans to their white oppressors.
Israel has always sought peace with its Arab neighbors (Shelomoh Naḳdimon, Yedioth/Ynet) In 1944, Menachem Begin, who would one day sign an historic treaty with Israel's greatest foe, urged cooperation and peace between Jews and Arabs on this land, a plea that has fallen on deaf ears for a century.
Wake Up, Globalization Fans: In a Pandemic, Nation-states Are at Their Best (Gadi Taub, Haaretz+) In a crisis that demands solidarity and sacrifice, within a society based on true democracy, it's clear which political frameworks will deliver – and it's not what historian Yuval Noah Harari is selling us.
The temporary silence depends on the depth of the pocket and the generosity of the Qataris (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) Almost routinely, as a demonstration of dissatisfaction with the delayed Qatari money (to the Gaza Strip), Hamas is putting pressure on Israel. This time, it seems that (Hamas politburo chief Yahya) Sinwar is doing this with controlled and gentle movements,  as far as he is concerned. The launching of explosive and incendiary balloons has resumed, but at present at a small scale. For now, Hamas is signaling through balloons. As with us, Hamas is also troubled by the relaxing of civilian discipline over corona guidelines. The security establishment believes that the leadership in the Gaza Strip is more troubled today by the economic situation and the fear of the outbreak of the epidemic than by Israel's annexation statements. A significant political declaration and escalation in Judea and Samaria are developments that are expected to affect security stability in Gaza as well. But Hamas will not rush to the forefront of this battle if there is no real change in the field.
The ICC has nothing to do with justice (James Sinkinson, Israel Hayom) The International Criminal Court is not a court at all, but a political action agency of the United Nations whose goal is to defame countries it views as enemies.
Will Israel Deport a Woman Who Was Trafficked, Enslaved and Repeatedly Raped by Israelis? (Vered Lee, Haaretz+VIDEO) On June 24, a humanitarian committee which advises the Interior Ministry will meet to decide whether to give her official status in Israel or deport her. For 22 years, she has lived among us and the fragile fabric of the life she’s woven for herself with great difficulty is constantly at risk of dissipating. Her story is complicated and full of pain.


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