News Nosh 6.29.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday June 29, 2020

Quote of the day:

"It will not happen overnight, and it will be done gradually over years, but the path is clear and one-way: a fundamental change in the character of the state and a change in the nature of the Israeli economy. Partial annexation will create a new dynamic. Israel will not only lose its Jewish character, but also its economic and social character."
--Former CEO of Finance Ministry, David Brodt, writes about the implications of Israeli annexation of the West Bank in Yedioth. See translation in Commentary/Analysis below.*

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • A blow to the country - More than a million Israelis still not receiving a salary (Hebrew)
  • Yedioth probe: They are making money on our backs - Supermarket campaigns say they have lowered prices in consideration of the situation of consumers, but actually they rose (Hebrew)
  • Gantz’s anger - The weekend arrest of Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Haskel, who demonstrated in front of the PM’s Residence, led to a public confrontation between Netanyahu and Gantz over freedom of speech (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
After experts said Israel has lost control over the outbreak of the virus, the Health Minister called return to corona restrictions, despite the painfully high unemployment (around 850,000 people - who now got an extension on unemployment benefits), while Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu justified receiving tax breaks, but said the timing was wrong and he and his coalition partner, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, got into a public dispute following the arrest and release of Brig. Gen. Amir Haskel, who demonstrated against Netanyahu, raising questions about whether this government will survive long - and making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.  

After midnight Sunday, an Israeli judge released anti-Netanyahu activist retired Brig. Gen. Amir Haskel, who protested outside the Israeli prime minister’s residence. The judge said the police tried to muzzle freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate and Haskel said he thought the order came from “the top” (Maariv) and that his arrest was “a price worth paying” to create change. The night after his arrest, thousands protested across the country. The police commissioner said that lessons would be learned from arrest of the respected anti-corruption protester.

The event sparked an unusual public confrontation between Gantz and Netanyahu, which Yedioth Hebrew wrote revealed the rift between them and which Likud sources told ’Israel Hayom’ was a sign that the Likud - Kahol-Lavan coalition government might not survive. At the opening of the Sunday cabinet meeting, Netanyahu, but did not pass Gantz the option of speaking and Gantz was caught on camera protesting the fact. So the journalists were returned to the room and Gantz spoke, saying that "freedom of demonstration is a sacred right.” That angered Netanyahu, who responded saying, "The argument that we restrict freedom of demonstration is absurd” and said that he does not intervene in police decisions.

A Likud insider warned that tensions with Kahol-Lavan were growing and that the unity government may not live till the winter session. Under Israeli law, if the government is unable to pass the annual budget within 100 days of its formation the Knesset must dissolve, triggering elections. That would not be good for Gantz, according to a poll by Channel 13 News.  The poll found that were elections held at this time, Likud would win 38 seats, Kahol-Lavan would crash to nine mandates and the right-wing bloc would get 64 seats out of the 120. The Joint List would rise from 15 to 16 and the Labor party would not pass the 3.25% threshold.

Meanwhile, youth of the Yesh Atid party called on Gantz to "Stop defending Netanyahu and investigate the submarines affair.” The youth of Yair Lapid’s faction, which was formerly part of Kahol-Lavan, protested that Gantz was absent from the vote to set up an investigation committee into the submarine affair: "You promised us an investigation into the serious corruption case.” (Maariv)

With two days to go till the declared annexation begins, US and Israeli teams reconvene today to discuss the Israeli annexation plan of West Bank lands. The maps have yet to be revealed publicly. A Palestinian official accused Israel of “trying to exploit the Palestinian street's ambivalence about Israel's intentions to implement annexation." Yesterday, Netanyahu gave a virtual speech to a US evangelical group, presenting the case for annexation and referring to settlements as 'integral part of the historic Jewish homeland’ and of 'your heritage and of our common civilization.’ However, in the UK, a minister called for a ban on settlements goods if Israel goes through with annexation and German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer warned that the "EU will not recognize a border change”and that annexation “will be a burden on relations with Israel." (Maariv) In France, pro-Palestinian organizations protested by marching through the center of Paris center - from Barbès to Châtelet - "in solidarity with Palestine and its resistance." And in the US, even AIPAC and mainstream Jewish groups are struggling to defend Israeli annexation, Haaretz+ reported. In Israel, the only protest recorded yesterday was at 'Trump Square' in the city of Petach Tikva, where unidentified people sprayed graffiti on a water fountain and colored the fountain water red. (Maariv and PHOTO)

Quick Hits:

  • Despite Ruling, Prisoners in Israel Continue to Get Cuffed When Taken to Court - The law states that a prisoner or detainee may only be cuffed when they are a flight risk or at risk of doing harm to others or sabotaging an investigation. (Haaretz+)
  • Gantz Ally Pushes for Softer Version of Shin Bet Tracing Measure - Sources tell Haaretz the current measure may face a vote as soon as Monday, but would expire within a few weeks. (Haaretz+)
  • Hundreds Across Israel Attend LGBTQ Pride Rally - Jerusalem police detained several far-right activists on suspicion of planning to disturb the event, which was significantly scaled back this year in light of coronavirus restrictions. (Haaretz+)
  • Women should be allowed to join IDF's elite commando unit, former commander says - The former commander of Sayeret Matkal, the IDF's elite intelligence-gathering unit, and his deputy have come out in support of four female recruits who have petitioned to test for the army's special forces units. (Israel Hayom)
  • High Court finally publicizes its conflict of interest list - Justices were under attack for alleged double-standard. (JPost)
  • Israel leads global battle against human trafficking, report says - Annual paper published by U.S. State Department reveals 73 individuals were recognized by Israel as victims in 2019; 38 victims of sex trafficking, 34 victims of forced labor. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Israel pulls plug on God TV, evangelical channel 'spreading gospel of Jesus' to Jews - Regulatory authorities say one of the world's largest Christian broadcasting networks failed to disclose true agenda. God TV says will apply for license again. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Lebanon's Foreign Minister Summons U.S. Envoy as Her Hezbollah Comments Draw Ire - Ambassador Dorothy Shea's comments criticizing Iran-backed group have been described as 'a flagrant aggression on the sovereignty of our country and its national dignity.’ (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Satellite image: Iran blast was near suspected missile site - A large explosion that rattled Tehran early Friday came from an area that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Was Israel behind Friday's mysterious blast near Tehran? - "Although military and defense industry accidents do occur in Iran, the consensus appears to be a cyberstrike by Israel against Iran," a senior Western analyst tells Saudi news site. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian official: IRGC to get 'surprising' weapon systems soon - Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami says attempts by the US to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran "would not affect our defense power." Quds Force chief Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani make surprise visit to Syria. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • US sanctions, coronavirus make for Iran's toughest year, Rouhani says - The global pandemic has caused a death toll in Iran that has now passed 10,000 and has exacerbated economic problems - Iran's currency has hit an all-time low against the dollar - after the US pulled out of the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear activity. (Agencies, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Iraqi forces arrest suspected of attacks on US presence in Iraq - The arrests mark a bold move by the government to crack down on groups that have long been a source of tension for US-Iraq relations. Additionally, they highlight rising tensions between state security forces and militia groups. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Egyptian court jails belly dancer for 'debauchery' in social media crackdown - Sama el-Masry was sentenced to three years in prison and fined $18,500 for "inciting debauchery and immorality" with her performances. Dancer says she will appeal sentence. (Israel Hayom)


'Israel Has Been Seized by a Crime Organization': Meet the Activists Leading the Charge Against Netanyahu's Rule
Some are veteran protesters, some are newcomers, but all of them agree that the younger generation – that they say takes no interest in politics – must be enlisted to bring about change. (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:
The Blatant Moral Bankruptcy of U.S. Jewish Groups Shilling for Israel's Annexation (Russel Neiss, Haaretz+)  Why are establishment U.S. Jewish organizations like the AJC doubling down on defending Israeli government actions that violate the values they're supposed to represent?
Listen to both sides (Afif Abu Much, Yedioth Hebrew) 53 years after the Six-Day War and 72 years after the establishment of the State of Israel, and when annexation once again floods the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the question arises whether it is time to stop, to take a break from the never-ending war of narratives and the ongoing attempts to erase the past from the perspective of the other side - and also think about our future and our children? With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, some 500 Arab villages were demolished and their residents were deported or left or were forced to leave or fled - each side calling it as was convenient for it. That does change the fact that by the end of the war, a great number of villages were wiped out and their residents became displaced, with some becoming refugees and others moving to other Arab localities in the country and becoming citizens of the state without the possibility of returning to their homes. Has anyone considered erecting even a single monument to these ruined villages to acknowledge the suffering and pain of the Other? Not to mention the policy adopted by the State of Israel to not establish new Arab towns since 1948, with the exception of a few Bedouin towns. In November 1977, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a historic visit to Israel, a visit that changed the Middle East, in which he declared above the Knesset stage: "I appeal to you, every man and woman and every child in Israel - encourage your leadership to fight for peace in order to turn efforts towards erecting a great building of peace instead of building fortresses and fortified shelters against destructive missiles." He did not seek to forget and erase the past, but to build a new beginning of a new life, a life of love, blessing, freedom and peace. Sadat's speech was supposed to inspire recognition that people - whether Arabs or Jews - have experienced events in the distant or near past that are ideological rifts for them. You do not always have to agree and totally identify with the Other, but you must act and make decisions with full understanding and recognition that even those we disagree with have experienced pain and suffering in the past, he deserves that you acknowledge their pain and suffering. Not everything in life is a war of narratives aimed at eliminating the Other. We are witnessing the same discourse of eliminating the Other in the current discourse around the so-called "annexation" of parts of the West Bank. The word annexation is nothing more than euphemism for apartheid rule that is being conducted the Occupied Territories. And yet, if we delve into the discourse that is now underway, we will discover that it ignores the Other and excludes him. It is a discourse that recognizes the justness of only one side, as if there is were no other side to the equation and a side that also has history and aspirations for independence. This is a discourse designed to make the other side irrelevant to the peace process, assuming that the Trump program can be called a "peace process." However, it is worth noting the response of the Yesha (settler) leadership to the best peace plan that the State of Israel could receive - which shows that the claim "never missed any opportunity to miss an opportunity" is not only valid for the Palestinian side (but also for the settlers). And maybe that is the very essence of what they are afraid to talk about, and it is the inability to come to terms that there is another side, that there is another party that they refuse to acknowledge exists. Such an understanding will require us [reference actually to Jewish Israelis - OH] to acknowledge the history of the Other and to come to terms with the fact that in every future way of life, two states or one state, Arabs and Jews live side by side in this country - and neither side is going to disappear from the map.
Gulf States' Outrage on Israel's Annexation Is Empty Bluff (Yousef Alhelou, Haaretz+) With days left to the potential start of Israel's annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank, Arab states normalizing ties with Israel are making noisy threats about their sustainability. But informed by years of disillusionment, Palestinians are rightly skeptical about their protestations.
Gantz Gets Tough on the Palestinians (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) …Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz attacked the members of the Palestinian people, claiming that they prefer to remain in “deep shit” due to their refusal to accept the annexation plan being granted them by Israel. The main question here is: What is the role of Gantz himself, as a former chief of staff, in creating the deep shit in which the Palestinians are living? And one more question: Will accepting the annexation plan extricate the Palestinians from the deep shit? Gantz didn’t promise that, and it’s a good thing, since we know what Gantz’s promises are worth…And at present, when he is unable to force Netanyahu to cancel the annexation, all his bullying is directed against the Palestinians. The Palestinians are not allowed to oppose the annexation. The whole world, including Jews, can oppose the annexation, but not the Palestinians…
*End of annexation at first thought (Former CEO of Finance Ministry, David Brodt, Yedioth Hebrew) Planned annexation has dramatic implications for the Israeli economy and the state - and as a major and historic event, its implications must be examined and the economic-social aspects raised to the public's consciousness. Only after the public is aware of all these aspects will he be able to judge himself - yes or no for annexation. Had there been an in-depth discussion of the implications of annexation, chances are the public's response to the polls would have been completely different. But the government seems to be insisting and refraining from examining these aspects so as not to hear the real public response - so that it cannot be said that "the address was on the wall." This behavior is a failure and is irresponsible, and can cause problems for generations. They are currently talking about partial annexation, but conceal that such a move will lead to full annexation. Indeed, it may only happen in many years, but we are also responsible for the next generation. Supporters of the annexation idea in its current form are dazzled by their vision for "the Land of Israel" and ignore their desire for the territory of Israel, but not for the local residents. If they could, they would have made local residents emigrate, but that would not be possible, so they would have to pay by giving residency status, without voting rights, to Palestinians - much like the status of East Jerusalem residents. This has a heavy economic price. However, the partial annexation process is not motivated by these considerations, but rather by the internal Israeli pressure of supporters of the Greater Land of Israel vision, which relies on the hard core of the settlers, as well as the pressure of other groups - those who have given up on diplomatic agreements because the Palestinians "are not a partner,” and in addition, Palestinians who have given up due to their difficult situation and from lack of hope for a diplomatic agreement and ready to settle for one state from which they will receive civilian services provided to Israeli residents. This partial annexation means one state for two peoples - a state that will not guarantee peace between peoples but an internal struggle that could deteriorate into civil war and international pressure and impose sanctions to the extent that Israel will not give full civil and political equality (much like South Africa). The international community will change the paradigm from the two-state solution to one state, and full equality for all. One state means the addition of 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians, whose per capita produce is less than $5,000. Annexation will lower the average per capita GDP of the united country [of Israel and Palestine - OH] to $ 25,000 per capita - and after corona the situation will be even worse. The state will be completely different, the Palestinian minority will grow to 40 percent, leading to a bi-national state. In addition, annexation will put Israel at the bottom of developed countries because of the need to dedicate many sources of civil services to all residents of the binational state - Social Security, the implementation of the compulsory education law, the health law and other public services provided to the state's residents. Today, these services at the most conservative estimate amount to over 12 percent of the state budget, i.e. over 50 billion shekels a year. This cost will be reflected in raising taxes and cutting services for those who are Israeli residents today. The cut will hurt the general population, but the weaker strata will be hurt more. Moreover, it is likely that the weight of the tasks that will be imposed on the economy will lead to a reduction in Israel's credit rating. It will not happen overnight, and will be done gradually over years, but the path is clear and one-way: a fundamental change in the character of the state and a change in the nature of the Israeli economy. Partial annexation will create a new dynamic. Israel will not only lose its Jewish character, but also its economic and social character. Israeli society will change: Even today, Israel provides lower-than-average civilian services than other OECD countries, and the addition of lower-income residents will exacerbate the problem and reduce inequality and polarity, which will overlap a national and religious gap. If they were to properly look at the implications for the historic and great event, the right question for Israeli residents would have been: "Are you willing to pay the economic, personal and family costs associated with long-term annexation - a change in the state's socio-economic character and an increase in taxes - to fund public services for the annexed Palestinians? And get reduced and less quality public services. " The answer to that would probably be a great no.
Like Trump, Netanyahu Suddenly Seems Out of Touch and Off the Rails (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+)  Tax greed and overreaction to protests together with coronavirus laxity and annexation frenzy seem taken from the U.S. president's self-destructive playbook.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Incites, Police Arrest (Haaretz Editorial) “We’re living in an insane reality, in which someone charged with crimes is sitting in the [official] residence with security guards, and we are arrested for not observing the conditions of the demonstration,” said Amir Haskel, the leader of Friday’s demonstration against the prime minister, after he was released from detention Saturday night. It’s hard to think of a more accurate description of Israel’s absurd reality.
Left still unable to accept election results (Erez Tadmor, Israel Hayom) If any of the Left's protest campaigns gain actual traction it will be because it is able to frame its frustration as pan-Israeli rage.
With Netanyahu's Insinuated Blessing, the Police Are Crushing the Right to Protest in Israel
(Mordechai Kremnitzer, Haaretz+) The real test of a democratic government is its attitude toward major demonstrations with mass participation, the kind that reveal the deep currents flowing in society.
Anti-Semitism gets you fired by Labour, but hired by NYT (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) What does a new editor at The New York Times have in common with two of Jeremy Corbyn's most prominent supporters? A willingness to spread anti-Semitic myths.
Mahmoud Darwish’s Masculine Discourse Is Silencing Palestinian Women’s Voices (Rajaa Natour, Haaretz+) After the report that Darwish had a daughter out of wedlock, legions of men came out to defend the honor of the national poet, demonstrating to what extent the Palestinian narrative, molded by Darwish, is based on silencing women.
As Lebanon and Syria Reopen, Coronavirus Graffiti Emerge Alongside War Paintings (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Spraying graffiti on the walls of cities and bicycling have become popular Lebanese pastime amid the coronavirus crisis.

'Status quo on religious issues is a cornerstone of our ability to live in Israel'
The chairperson of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, MK Yakov Asher (of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party), believes the (High Court) override clause should be legislated in cooperation with the judges. He is convinced the draft law can not be forced on the ultra-Orthodox public and states: We'll want to keep this committee in the future. (Interviewed by Gideon Allon in Israel Hayom)

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