News Nosh 7.1.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday July 1, 2020

Quote of the day:

"Annexation is a policy of belligerence unbecoming of a country that professes to pursue peace. It’s the diplomatic equivalent of unprovoked aggression, one of the staple Israeli accusations against its neighbors. Rather than proving the wisdom and prudence Israel has always boasted of, annexation is provocative, reckless and dangerous...(it) negates efforts to portray Israel as a responsible member of the free world and international community. It casts Israel as a rogue state that defies not only public opinion but international law as well."
--Haaretz commentator Chemi Shalev writes that annexation ruins 53 years of Israeli propaganda, according to which the evils of occupation are the fault of the Palestinians, who refuse to make peace.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
Despite the sharp rise in coronavirus cases, senior army officials approved that religious settlers hold a mass prayer service with thousands of participants at Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank in order for G-d to help make Israeli annexation of West Bank land happen.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Annexation with additional time
  • Closed skies - Israeli tourists won’t be allowed to enter EU countries due to rising infection rate
  • The battle over the money - Prime Minister and his associates attacked Attorney General recommendation not to approve aid for Netanyahu’s legal defense

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Today is the day that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the annexation process would begin, but Netanyahu’s accusation that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt had a “coup plot” against him because the legal advisor rejected letting a tycoon fund Netanyahu’s legal defense and the government calls for more restrictions as more people demonstrated over corona crisis economic collapse and the European Union barred Israelis from entering its borders were equally big stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, the latest on the Iran sanctions and Netanyahu’s meeting with the US envoy on Iran (more below).

July 1st is here and Netanyahu is not expected to declare annexation moves today. The US delegation returned without achieving a plan for imposing sovereignty and Netanyahu announced that the Israeli government will continue working on the annexation plan “in the coming days.” Kan 11 News reported that the US negotiators asked Israel to make "a significant step" as a gesture to the Palestinians, such as htransfer an amount of territory to Palestinian control that was comparable in size to the areas which it plans to annex. Netanyahu faced public opposition to annexation from both Kahol-Lavan leaders, Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz and from Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. In a widely quoted interview to Ynet, Gantz said, “One million unemployed people do not know what we are talking about right now. Most of them are worried about what they're going to do tomorrow morning." Speaking at a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ashkenazi hinted at his opposition, saying, "We must act very responsibly to safeguard the political and security interests of the State of Israel.” (Maariv) (This morning Ashkenazi was more forthright, telling Israel's Army Radio that he expects 'nothing today' amid rifts within the coalition over the timing of a unilateral move.) There were already other hints that it wouldn’t happen today.  Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio Tuesday that “Whoever painted a picture of everything happening in one day on July 1, did so at their own risk.”

Among the settlers there was fear from those who oppose and those who support annexation. Some 500 settlers rallied against the Trump Plan at a spot near the Palestinian village of Halhul, near Hebron, where they declared they were establishing a new settlement, Yedioth Hebrew reported. “The Trump plan needs to be thrown in the trash," said settler Danielle Weiss. “We came here to establish a settlement. Today everyone understands that the purpose of the plan is to establish a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel.” Most settlement leaders didn’t expect Netanyahu to meet his self-imposed deadline today, but some even predicted that if it doesn’t happen in July, it won’t happen at all, Haaretz+ reported.

The papers reported that the Israeli army had difficulty bracing itself for an outbreak of Palestinian violence because it had no idea what exactly the government was planning to do and when, nor did the Shin Bet or Israel Police know. As a result, Israel Hayom’s Yoav Limor wrote, the IDF is currently refraining from bolstering forces in the Territories because things are still relatively quiet on the ground and a significant deployment of more forces would increase friction between Israelis and Palestinians and spark violence. Yedioth’s Elior Levy wrote that because the annexation did not appear to be going through today, Hamas changed Gaza’s planned ‘Day of Rage’ for today into a march from Gaza City to the sea. Late last night, a volley of rockets was fired from Gaza into sea in what Palestinian media referred to as a “warning” against annexation. Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer made a journey through the West Bank asking Palestinians their views. While their views were different, they agreed: It doesn’t matter if you call it occupation or annexation, Palestinian Authority or Palestinian state. Israel Hayom’s Daniel Siriyoti reported from Ramallah that “Palestinians are more worried about the corona pandemic than annexation.” One resident said: "If Trump gave Israel Jerusalem and people didn't take to the streets to protest, they won't do it over the annexation, either.” What didn’t make news was that a member of the Palestinian Fatah movement told an Israeli radio station that “If Israel wants to return to negotiations from the place where they were discontinued - we're willing.” Ashraf al-Ajrami spoke with 103FM’s Ben Caspit and Inon Magal and presented the Palestinian stance: "Is there no solution based on the borders of 67? So we’ll go for one-state.” (Maariv Online)
Meanwhile, four US Democratic congresswomen wrote an anti-annexation letter, calling for cutting US military aid to Israel if it annexes. The letter, issued by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), accused the Israel move of "paving the path toward an apartheid system." Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders signed the letter.

In Haaretz, four full page ads were taken out, each directed at a different leader, Netanyahu, Gantz, Ashkenazi and (Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, Moshe) Gafni, calling on them not to make a unilateral annexation. The ads were funded by grassroots organization, Commanders for Israel’s Security.

Corona Quickees:

  • Israel reports highest daily rise in virus cases in months - Health authorities report third-highest daily tally since the onset of the pandemic in Israel; number of active patients more than triples in a month, currently standing at 7,015. (Ynet)
  • Dozens of corona hotspot cities face lockdowns - Corona National Information and Knowledge Center warns that without strict steps, Israel could see 1,000 new cases per day, with corresponding numbers of seriously ill patients and dead. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Almost half of Israel's unemployed are under age of 34 - Employment Service report says women comprise 61% of jobless below age of 24, warns coronavirus crisis set to further worsen job prospects for young Israelis, a sector that already has lower employment rate than most OECD counterparts. 56% of corona crisis unemployed are women, reported Maariv. (Ynet)
  • Thousands (or hundreds) of people from the tourism, transportation and airline industry protested - They arrived in Jerusalem and protested outside the Ministry of Finance. Dozens of drivers of private transportation buses blocked the highway outside of Jerusalem for hours in protest against the economic crisis. (Maariv, Yedioth Hebrew and Israel Hayom Hebrew)
  • EU Reopens Borders for 14 Countries, but Americans, Israelis Still Barred - All non-essential travel from outside the EU was restricted since March 17 in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak. (Haaretz+)
  • Sources: Plans to open Israeli borders on August 1 'gone down the drain' - Foreign Ministry officials say due to Europe's requirement of 16 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, Israel will have to significantly bring down COVID-19 infection rate before being allowed to be part of open border deals; 'Israelis are no longer wanted.' (Ynet)
  • Virus spreads in PA: "Close to catastrophe" - In the Palestinian Authority they are concerned about the rapid spread of the corona virus. An official said that it will probably not be possible to avoid imposing a general closure in the Palestinian Territories in the coming days. Since Monday, 255 new diagnoses have been confirmed, when only in Hebron and its surroundings the number of new infections reached more than 200 in one day. (Israel Hayom Hebrew and Times of Israel)


  • Netanyahu Urges U.S. Envoy: Apply Snapback Sanctions on Iran Before It's 'Too Late' - Prime minister tells Hook that the administration 'should not wait for Iran to start its breakout to a nuclear weapon.' (Haaretz+ and Times of Israel)
  • US envoy: We 'see eye to eye' with Israel on stopping Iran - US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires on Oct. 18. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Pompeo Pushes Iran Arms Embargo at UN, Russia Says U.S. Knee on Iran's Neck - Pompeo said that ending Iran embargo would risk Mideast stability.’ (Agencies, Haaretz and Times of Israel)
  • American, Israeli Officials Deny Sabotage of Iranian Missile Site, Report Says - New York Times report says Israeli officials insist they had nothing to do with the blast near the Parchin military base, which analysts say occurred at a missile production facility. (Haaretz)
  • Iranian missile can 'reach central Europe and parts of northern Europe' - According to recent analysis on the website Breaking Defense, Iran has "made great leaps in improving the accuracy of its ballistic missiles." (Israel Hayom)

Quick Hits:

  • **Army Allows Mass Prayer Service for Annexation in Nablus Despite Spike in Coronavirus Cases - The service, attended by thousands, was intended to 'strengthen the prime minister and the success of sovereignty,' organizers said. (Haaretz+)
  • Protesters Across Israel Seek Justice a Year After Police Killing of Black Teen - Hundreds of demonstrators marched from the site of the fatal shooting that led to 18-year-old Solomon Teka's death to a police station, alongside his family, chanting slogans against police brutality and calling the cop a 'murderer.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Supreme Court Justice Heard Case on Disputed Jaffa Cemetery Despite Conflict of Interests - George Karra issued a temporary injunction to halt construction on the site of a Muslim burial ground before transferring the the case to another justice. (Haaretz+)
  • Shin Bet exposes Hezbollah attempt to recruit Israelis - Officials say 2 Arab-Israeli women from northern town investigated at the beginning of June after meeting with a journalist from Lebanon who was originally from their town of Majd al-Krum and who tried to recruit them to the terrorist group. (Ynet, Maariv and Israel Hayom)
  • No Resurrection for God TV: Israeli Cable Provider Won’t Try to Renew Evangelical Christian Channel - Hot cable company won’t reapply for broadcasting license from Israeli cable authority on behalf of station devoted to spreading the gospel of Jesus to Jews. (Haaretz+)
  • Facebook Unblocks Accounts of Israeli Spyware Firm NSO's Staffers - The employees’ lawsuit came after about 100 NSO staff and their families found their accounts had been blocked last October. (Agencies, Haaretz and Calcalist English)
  • Report: Israeli government mulls joining Facebook ad boycott - Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel is said to be looking into state-sponsored advertising on Facebook, which has seen hundreds of firms pull their ads over its lacking policy on hate speech and inflammatory rhetoric. (Israel Hayom)
  • SodaStream Becomes First Israel-based Company to Join Facebook Boycott - Firm is joining over 100 others in America to support ADL, NAACP campaign protesting Facebook’s promotion of ‘hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence’ on its platform. (Haaretz+)
  • The U.S. Ambassador to Israel's Residence Can Be Yours, if You've Got $87 Million - Former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro says the house had 'served the United States well for several decades.’ The beachfront mansion in the affluent central Israeli city of Herzliya is going on the market because most of Ambassador David Friedman's day-to-day activities are based in Jerusalem, following the transfer of the embassy, the State Department said.(Ynet and Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Hundreds Were Tortured in Secret Prisons in War-torn Yemen, Human Rights Group Says - Many secret sites held people for lengthy periods, with detainees’ families not knowing where their relatives were held, report based on 2,566 interviews reveals. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran journalist who inspired 2017 rallies sentenced to death - Ruhollah Zam had been living and working in exile in Paris before being convinced into returning to Iran, where he was arrested in October 2019. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Persia Enabled Jerusalem to Rise Anew and Now Archaeologists Have Found Clues - Two ancient seals, one of which may show a Babylonian god, and fish bones may show Jerusalem struggling to its feet after the destruction by a peeved Nebuchadnezzar. (Haaretz+)

Annexation Commentary/Analysis:
As Israel's friend, I urge you not to annex (Boris Johnson, Yedioth/Ynet) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says West Bank annexation threatens budding ties between Israel and the Arab world, warns United Kingdom views move as violation of international law, which will not be accepted by London.
Why not annexation: EU Foreign Minister in a special column (Joseph Borell, Maariv) There is a strong connection between Israel and Europe and we want to strengthen and deepen our relations even further, and not to move them back. However, this will inevitably happen if unilateral annexation is carried out.
The annexation of the territories contravenes international law and violates the peace agreements (Former Peace Now secretary general, Mossi Raz, Maariv) July 1 arrived and everything is about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise/threat to annex territories. The settlers are pressuring and Netanyahu is concerned. This week marked 53 years of annexing East Jerusalem, which has become a target for Israeli takeover. About one-third of the land went to Jewish hands, and about 200,000 Israelis live there. The methods of takeover (in E. Jerusalem) included expropriation, the use of the law of absentee property and other means. Residents of the city lost their land. Movement of (Palestinian) Jerusalemites was not officially restricted. However, because movement (of Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank into Jerusalem) was restricted, their businesses were harmed and East Jerusalem, which was the most important city in the West Bank, was cut off. The right (for Palestinian Jerusalemites) to vote for the Knesset was not granted and since 1967 there has been an apartheid regime in the city, where Jews are allowed to vote and most Arabs are not allowed. The resident status received by the residents is temporary. This is how many of those who left the city discovered their residency was revoked when they returned [Israel ruled that E. Jerusalemites lose their residency after seven years abroad. - OH] In the Palestinian annexed territories, they will experience danger to their lands, a danger to their freedom of movement and a danger to their status as residents. The annexation of the territories contravenes international law and violates the peace agreements and the Oslo agreements. Israeli law requires that in the event of a waver over sovereign territory, a decision of 80 MKs will be required. Annexation will make it difficult to mobilize a majority for peace, so annexation is immoral. The supporters will probably say: We already annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and nothing bad happened  - of course, except for the terrorist attacks, the Katyusha shootings, the War of Attrition, the hijacking of airplanes and the Yom Kippur War. I am not saying that this is only the result of annexation, but they are the result of the occupation in 1967. The thing is that from 1967, everything changed: That year there was still apartheid, in some European countries women did not have the right to vote, let alone a law against sexual harassment, and the LGBTs were still in the closet before the first Pride Parade. There was also no internet and no television in the country. We're not in 1967. We made progress. The laws have changed, and it's worth telling that to the policymakers. (The writer was a Knesset member on behalf of Meretz.)
As His Popularity Falls, Gantz Is Confronting Netanyahu to Justify His Political Existence (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) The target date for annexation is upon us, and it turns out that the Kahol Lavan chairman doesn’t really have an opinion on the matter.
Historic decisions require courage (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) There will always be reasons why initiative should not be taken, even though throughout Israel's history, daring steps have been rewarded.
Netanyahu Has Taken It Too Far (Haaretz Editorial) Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly cited July 1 as the date on which the process of “applying sovereignty” to areas of the West Bank would begin, in recent days he has tried to find ways of extricating himself from his promise. One way is through his disagreement with alternate prime minister Benny Gantz over the narrative that explains why the date of annexation would be postponed. The argument between Netanyahu and Gantz about timing is designed to conceal the real dispute about the annexation itself. The reason why this dispute is not publicized is that opposition to annexation is seen as a left-wing stance, and both parties, each for his own reasons, are not interested in being labeled “leftists.” That is the high price of the process of delegitimization that the left wing has undergone in recent years. Instead of conducting a basic and incisive discussion about a crucial issue, the only thing possible in Israel’s shrinking democratic space is a petty argument about timing. Netanyahu is caught in a catch-22 that he can’t admit.
There won't be better conditions for sovereignty (Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, Israel Hayom) Soon the stars aligned in Israel's favor will scatter, and who knows when or if they will align again?
Joe Biden Can, and Should, Stop Israel’s Annexation. This Is How (Paul Scham, Haaretz+) As America's likely next president, Biden can undo Trump's damage and differentiate himself from the Democratic party's radical left and toothless right. But he has to abandon ambiguity.
Netanyahu brought the right to the trough, and here they are are unable to drink (Eitan Hershko, Maariv) The way it looks now - the right-wing campaign against the Trump plan certainly influences the public's decision whether to support the application of sovereignty or not. Are they really shooting themselves in the foot? Only 29% of settlers asked in a poll, ”Do you think it is right now to take some form of sovereignty / annexation in the territories of Judea, Samaria and the Beqaa Jordan Valley,”  replied that it was indeed correct to apply sovereignty, 39% of them were Likud voters. For the first time since 1967, there is a possibility given by an American president to advance sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the Beqaa Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria, and who stands up and opposes it? The Yesha Settlers’ Council, which is campaigning against the Trump plan. The protest from the opponents of the Trump plan from among the settlers may be right, but not wise. The time has come to put the disputes aside and move forward in applying sovereignty to any additional territory that the US administration, led by President Donald Trump approves, knowing that he will veto any decision on it that is against Israel…
Sovereignty in the Jordan Valley must come first (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Historic decisions may require careful consideration, but they also require courage and determination.  
*Netanyahu’s Annexation Throws 72 Years of Israeli Diplomacy Down the Drain (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The proposed land grab undermines long-held support for direct talks, opposition to unilateral actions and efforts to refute analogies with apartheid South Africa.
Netanyahu may be playing with fire (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The prime minister may be schooling Blue and White leader Benny Gantz but walking the fine line between political maneuvering and elections is risky. Trying to bolster his image, Gantz is going after Netanyahu's current weak spot – the sovereignty bid. While politically Netanyahu does not need Blue and White to push the move through, the Americans require Likud and Blue and White to be united on the issue.
Seeing far: The Trump plan is not ideal but it must be agreed to (Yossi Hadar, Maariv) Netanyahu and Gantz now have a heavy responsibility. They must rise above the political foil and seize the opportunity, but nevertheless create a responsible plan that will moderate the objections.
Don’t Annex and Don’t Make Waves (Shlomo Sand, Haaretz+) Faced with the daring gamble that U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are taking on annexing part of the West Bank, three different political blocs have risen up to oppose it. If we want to understand the Israel of 2020 and the unimportant political game being played there, we must distinguish between these blocs and grasp their characteristics: the vast majority of the settlers and their enthusiastic supporters within pre-1967 Israel, the majority of the liberal humanists who also vehemently oppose the occupation. and the largest one, which includes all the people who are at peace with the occupation, but fear that annexation will undermine the tranquility and comfort of our lives to date.
The process of applying sovereignty must be put to a vote in the Knesset (Prof. Shimon Sheetrit, Maariv) A constitutional examination requires the Knesset's approval of both the concession of territories and the annexation of territories. Fulfilling its role will strengthen the legislative branch in its reciprocal relationship with the executive branch.

Other Top Commentary/Analysis:
Why the Left Is Afraid of the Right in Israel (Stav Shaffir, Haaretz+) We, a handful of opposition Knesset members, plunged into a filibuster lasting 13 hours over a bill to which a provision had been added aimed at preventing oversight of the state budget. As time passed, and as the fatigue intensified, so did the curses and threats coming from committee members from the government coalition, as they sought to stymie our efforts. Then came the telephone call from the leadership of my faction. They asked my consultant to have me stop immediately. Why? “It’s not good for us to fight with the government now.” But we didn’t stop, and in the middle of the night, the bill was defeated. The mantra that we should not engage in quarrels with the right-wing government has been repeated on the left for years. At nearly every meeting of the Labor Party Knesset faction, disagreements would erupt among the lawmakers over whether to use the word “peace” and how the right wing would call us “Arab lovers.”
U-turn: Binyamin Netanyahu is the most asymptomatic Israeli (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) The prime minister is responsible for the fake reality and many negative phenomena in the country. As anger and frustration grows, the crowds against him may grow exponentially into socio-political rebellions.
Netanyahu Is Quaking; a Popular Protest Movement Could Topple Him (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Less than a decade ago, in 2011, widespread socioeconomic protests that nobody had predicted erupted. Netanyahu, then as now prime minister, feared the protest movement’s popularity. He sought to make it go away by any possible means, and in the end, he set up the Trajtenberg Committee. Establishing this committee gradually slowed the protest movement until it disappeared completely.Today, too, in 2020, public pressure could undermine Netanyahu. This pressure has arisen both because of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the economy and because of his own corruption, which has been revealed in all its ugliness and become impossible to hide...
The new blood libel (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) The claim that Israelis taught George Floyd's killer how to use the deadly chokehold that ended his life is the same anti-Semitism we have seen before, it's not surprising from Roger Waters, but why is J Street dabbling in it?
He doesn’t know the whole picture: Yaakov Amidror is wrong and misleading in regards to the submarine affair, Case 3000 (Shahar Ginosar, Maariv) The former National Security Council chief said he was behind the idea of the controversial acquisition of nine submarines. However, the timetable shows otherwise and shows that Netanyahu has already thought of the acquisition before that. Also, the legend that the submarines that were purchased “will only replace old submarines" is inaccurate.
Arab Israeli leaders must step up to the plate (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) Whenever there are cases of domestic violence in the Arab Israeli society, its leaders shed responsibility for the root cause of the problem and blame the police.

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