News Nosh 10.12.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday October 12, 2020

You Must Be Kidding: 
-- The number of Israeli soldiers hospitalized after a brawl between recruits from the (Jewish) Givati Brigade and the Bedouin Reconnaissance Regiment over the line in the dining hall at the military base.

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • 2000 - Israel will reach 2000 dead today
  • Special to Yedioth: Former US president, Bill Clinton, writes about Eitan Haber RIP: “A gifted writer, patriotic Israeli and good person
  • Wanted: A manager to save the country // Sever Plocker on the meaning of the shake-up in the Finance Ministry (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Abandoned Finance Ministry - Senior people in Finance Ministry continue to resign
  • Ministry of mistakes // Yehuda Sharoni
  • (Coalition chairman) Miki Zohar (Likud) Threatens to resign: “We should go to elections”
  • From Sunday: Rebellion of business owners
  • Corona effect: prices of rent dropped, fired students don’t have money, apartment owners near educational institutions were forced to lower the rent

Israel Hayom

  • Family doctors warn: “We are collapsing under the load” In Maccabi HMO they claim: We were told to only treat corona patients; Maccabi HMO: We are trying to make things easier
  • Back to kindergarten - uncertain
  • The change in corona hospital patients: Period of isolation in hospitals to be shortened
  • Opening and protesting - some stores opening despite the prohibition: “We were strangled”
  • Study: Drop in public trust in police during the second lockdown
  • Gal Gadot to play role of Cleopatra
  • Wave of resignations in Finance Ministry continues: Director-General Keren Terner will leave her position
  • Trump recovered from the virus: “I feel great - and I’m ready to go out to battle”

Top News Summary:
The CEO of the Finance Ministry resigned, the fifth and most important official in the ministry to do so in the last three months, as Likud politicians and the Likud party are accused of preventing economic decisions and legislation out of political considerations, in particular the passing the state budget, as unemployment reaches almost 1 million people and thousands of small business and franchise owners are rebelling against the restrictions as deaths from corona almost reached 2000, double what it was a month ago - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

The talk in the papers points towards another elections. The biggest complaints among Finance Ministry professional civil servants who recently resigned was that the government still hadn’t passed the state budget and that economic decisions were made by politicians and not the professionals in the ministry. After the Finance Ministry CEO resigned Sunday, Finance Minister Yisrael Katz promised to pass the state budget. But, commentators and politicians in the opposition say Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has blocked the passing of the state budget in order to retain the power of being able to bring down his government when he wants, because if the budget isn’t passed by December, the country goes to elections. They say that political considerations, such as preventing people from demonstrating against the government, were behind economic and health decisions, such as keeping the lockdown in place. At the last minute yesterday, Netanyahu canceled the participation of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Kahol-Lavan) in a meeting of senior ministers about the plan for exiting the lockdown. According to Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party, Nissenkorn was disinvited based because of his vehement opposition to limiting public protest.  And Gideon Sa’ar, a senior Likud lawmaker and opponent of Netanyahu, resigned from chairing a Knesset panel in protest over the claim that the panel was acting as a rubber stamp for government decisions. Sa’ar sought to reopen businesses with less than ten employees, but was rejected out of fear that it would lead to lifting restrictions on anti-government protests.

Many businesses are no longer waiting for the government to lift lockdown restrictions. Thousands opened yesterday and others found ways to go around the restrictions. The new exit strategy was slammed by business owners and parents, who said its ridiculous for shopping malls and hotels to reopen before schools do.  

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's coalition whip and loyalist, MK Miki Zohar, called Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz's Kahol-Lavan party is a “danger to Israel.” He accused it of striking a deal with its former partner, Yesh Atid, to establish a minority government with the mostly Arab parties, Balad and the Joint List. All this takes place just as the Knesset returned today for the winter session, which may be brief if the coalition crisis turns into a coalition break-up.

Corona Quickees:

  • Coronavirus Israel Live: Active Cases Keep Declining as Death Toll Nears 2,000 - 91 fines given in Tel Aviv area for praying, but just one in Jerusalem. Infection rate at 7.7%. COVID reinfection documented for first time in Israel. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israeli experts plan to ease lockdown within week save for 14 ‘red’ towns - Health Ministry's eight-stage COVID-19 plan will last until February. If the trend continues, starting Thursday preschools and businesses not serving the public in person will reopen. (Haaretz+)
  • Multiple reports of rule-defying mass gatherings for Simchat Torah - Videos show ultra-Orthodox worshipers celebrating holiday without maintaining health regulations in Jerusalem, Modiin and Tiberias. (Ynet and Times of Israel)
  • Israeli hospital director resigns after blasting Haredim for rise in COVID cases - The ultra-Orthodox community 'was educated to receive everything and give nothing for years,' Prof. Moti Ravid tells Kan public radio. (Haaretz+)
  • Half of Israeli pupils with coronavirus are ultra-Orthodox, data shows - The data is not completely conclusive and there is no indication whether it would be safe for schools to reopen after the fall holidays. (Haaretz+)
  • Five Israeli journalists attacked in a week reporting from ultra-Orthodox areas - Testimonies range from property damage to physical assault while reporting on lockdown compliance in defiant ultra-Orthodox communities, but only one suspect arrested. (Haaretz+)
  • Police Commander says in leaked recording police won't fine synagogue-goers in Israeli settlement - Despite a ban on large gathering under Israel's coronavirus lockdown, station chief in ultra-Orthodox city caught saying law enforcement won't hand out tickets if worshipers disperse when police show up. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israel Needs a 'Traffic Light' Reopening, but ultra-Orthodox Likely to Block It - Coronavirus numbers are improving across Israel, but less so in Haredi communities – and rabbis are insisting on reopening schools right away. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF chief hosts relatives during holiday in violation of lockdown rules - Military says chief of staff apologizes for 'misunderstanding' after inviting in-laws over on first night of Sukkot; Kochavi joins long list of public servants accused of flouting virus rules. (Ynet)
  • COVID-19 kills an Israeli rite of passage: The post-army backpacking trip - With the skies closed, the nomadic dreams of a generation have been shattered. Some, however, have found backpacking possibilities in their own backyard. (Haaretz+)
  • 'We are treating a woman in my old parking spot,' says Haifa coronavirus doctor - Dr. Ami Neuberger of Rambam hospital says he no longer believes he has seen everything, expresses awe for work being done by team of Jewish and Arab medical professionals “who work together in total dedication…”It’s a world away from the bickering in Israeli society, outside, it seems our parking garage is the only normal place on earth," he said. (Ynet)
  • Israel used unusual provision to extend COVID restrictions on protests - According to the law passed Wednesday, the new restrictions go into effect only 24 hours after their approval, which would have allowed demos during this time frame. But the gov't dubbed the need to impose restrictions immediately 'urgent.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Chief PA negotiator facing 'difficult' coronavirus symptoms - Saeb Erekat, 65, underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017, placing him as heightened risk for COVID-19 complication. Longtime PLO exec says he is in isolation and receiving medical treatment at home. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Second member of the PLO’s Executive Committee tests positive for Coronavirus - Hanan Ashrawi, 74, has tested positive for COVID-19, and therefore all her official engagements and scheduled events have been postponed until her recovery. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO’s Executive Committee, had also tested positive for COVID-19 last week. (WAFA)
  • Iran hits record 239 COVID deaths in a single day -The latest death toll brings total fatalities in Islamic Republic to 27,658. Iran reports 4,019 new cases since Tuesday.  (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Face masks made compulsory in public in Tehran as COVID toll rises - Iran is the worst-hit COVID country in the Middle East, with the death toll currently at 28,293. There were 3,875 new cases diagnosed over the weekend, Tehran says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran's nuclear chief contracts coronavirus - Ali Akbar Salehi joins line of senior Islamic Republic officials who have been infected with pathogen; Tehran announces 251 fatalities in one day - highest daily death toll since start of pandemic, and nearly 4,500 critical patients. (Agencies, Ynet)

Quick Hits:

  • Israel, Hamas said to be on verge of six-month Gaza truce - Ceasefire reportedly brokered by Mossad and COGAT after Hamas left reeling by pandemic includes transfer of $100 million in aid from long-time benefactor Qatar, renewal of civilian infrastructure projects for water and electricity, Channel 12 News reported Sunday. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Abbas meets with World Jewish Congress president Ron Lauder in Ramallah - Lauder arrived in Ramallah in a Jordanian helicopter, sparking rumors on social media about health of Palestinian Executive General Saeb Erekat, who has tested positive for COVID. (Haaretz+ and Ynet and WAFA and Israel Hayom)
  • Dozens of Palestinians Wounded in Clashes With Israeli Troops in West Bank - Red Crescent says 53 people treated for wounds and at least 10 hurt by live fire. Residents of refugee camp near Ramallah say soldiers arrived to conduct arrests. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinians suffocate during clashes south of Nablus - Several Palestinians suffocated today evening after inhaling tear gas fired at them by Israeli forces during clashes that broke out in the village of Iraq Burin to the south of the northern West Bank district of Nablus, according to local sources. (WAFA)
  • Palestinian Loses Eye After Israeli Soldiers Fire Rubber Bullets During Clashes - Adham Sha'er says he was hit while sitting in coffee shop to avoid clashes when soldiers entered village following settler complaints of blinding laser beams. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Palestinian detainee Maher al-Akhras on hunger strike for 77th day - Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails Maher al-Akhras, 49, enters today his 77th day of hunger strike in protest of his detention without a charge or trial. Al-Akhras’s lawyer has filed a request to the High Israeli Court demanding his client’s immediate release, after several other requests by the lawyer were rejected by the court over the past few weeks. (WAFA)
  • Israel will 'pay heavy price' if Palestinian hunger-striker not released, Islamic Jihad says - UN ambassador involved in talks with Israel to free Maher Akhras, who has been on hunger strike for 76 days. Israel claimed he admitted to being a member of the group, but transcripts show no mention of Islamic Jihad. (Haaretz+)
  • Chief Justice Hayut rejected request for additional hearing regarding demolition of house of terrorist who killed the late Amit Ben Yigal - High Court ruled that an error in the application of existing law does not establish grounds for another hearing, after the Court ruled in August not to demolish the home of Nizmi Abu Bakr, 49, because his family was innocent. The father of the slain soldier: "Shame and disgrace. The loser is the State of Israel.” (Maariv) According to the indictment, Abu Bakr was in his apartment on the top floor of the three-story building of his extended family’s home when he heard shouts from a neighbor’s house and went up to the roof, where he could see Israeli forces making arrests. When he saw the soldiers walking in front of his house he took a brick and dropped it on the soldiers, hitting Ben Yigal. In a VIDEO from August hearing, Abu Bakr, a father of eight children, cries as he is read the indictment in the courtroom. He asked the soldier’s father for forgiveness. The father yells at him that he won’t give it and he should be ashamed of himself for asking. -OH. Abu Bakr said in his Shin Bet interrogation that he didn't mean to kill “only meant to inflict wounds. I made a mistake, it was foolish of me,” and reiterated he “didn’t mean” to kill the soldier. Gideon Levy wrote that if he were a settler and numerous Palestinians entered his building’s compound in the middle of the night, he would have been considered a hero for throwing a stone and killing one of them.
  • Israeli authorities deny access of farmers to their land near Bethlehem - Israeli authorities issued Sunday a military order preventing Palestinian owners of land located close to illegal settlements south and east of Bethlehem from entering their land. (WAFA)
    Israeli occupation approves the construction of hundreds of housing units in an illegal West Bank settlement - The Israeli occupation authorities have approved the construction of hundreds of new housing units on expropriated Palestinian lands to the west of the occupied southern West Bank city of Bethlehem to expand in Tzur Hadassa, an illegal colonial settlement. (WAFA)
  • PM Shtayyeh urges an international intervention to stop Israeli demolition of a West Bank school - The Office of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh today called on international human rights and humanitarian organizations and allies to intervene and stop Israeli demolition of Ras al-Tin school. School built with aid from 8 EU nations. Israel says no authorizations. School directors asked Israeli court to postpone demolition orders, but request was rejected. (WAFA and Ansamed)
  • Members of European Parliament call to defund Palestinian education over anti-Israel incitement in schoolbooks - Pleas by the members of the cross-party Transatlantic Friends of Israel interparliamentary group's plea follows report claiming to find no problematic rhetoric in curriculum. Only later was it reported that the textbooks reviewed by the institute were actually Arabic-language Israeli textbooks for schools in East Jerusalem, which were falsely presented as Palestinian schoolbooks promoting peace with the Jewish state. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Shlomo Gazit, Israel’s first military coordinator for occupied land, dies at 94 - Gazit joined the Haganah at the age of 16. Two years later, he signed up for the Palmach, its elite strike force. He rebuilt Israel's intelligence branch after the Yom Kippur War and later played a role in peace talks with Egypt. (Haaretz+) [NOTE: See Thursday's Nosh for in-depth look at this man who as he grew older and wiser he worked for a two-state solution and Palestinian human rights. - OH]
  • Halt in coordination with Israel prevents Palestinian newborns from traveling - The PA has stopped giving Israel the information needed to issue passports, so many Palestinian requests to leave the West Bank with an infant are refused. (Haaretz+)
  • Gaza female bodybuilder is breaking the mould - Palestinian fitness guru Sheerin al-Ila, who is today a nutrition consultant, a bodybuilder and trainer, was one of the first women in the coastal enclave to break gender stereotypes and advance equality in the sport. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • TikTok boots far-right-wing racist Israeli group Lehava off platform - Users on video-sharing social network lodge countless complaints against [anti-Arab] Lehava during the one week in which its TikTok account existed, citing racist and offensive content. (Israel Hayom and Times of Israel)
  • Four months in, dozens of attacks on Israeli protesters but only one indictment - As one demonstrator puts it, ‘It seems the police have picked a side in the conflict between the Israeli public and Netanyahu and his supporters.' (Haaretz+)Man Arrested for Threatening anti-Netanyahu Protesters on Telegram - Ashkelon resident, who allegedly sent threatening messages to members of 'Black Flags' protest movement, was released on condition that he not approach demonstration or other gathering for 100 days. (Haaretz+)
  • Gantz: Rising violence against anti-Netanyahu protesters could lead to murder - Benny Gantz calls on public security minister to bolster police forces at the mass protests. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Police Quote Fake Post Claiming Protesters Called to Use Tear Gas Against Them - Senior officer’s statement on live TV was retracted by police. The movement falsely accused of being behind the post said it would sue for slander. (Haaretz+)
  • Anti-government protester arrested for assaulting police officer - Police say woman refused to put on a mask and then beat and kicked an officer who tried to arrest her Thursday night; elsewhere, demonstrator injured by police pepper spray. (Israel Hayom)
  • Police (themselves) filmed (and leaked) protest leader's viral rebuke of Ethiopian-Israeli cops, investigation finds - 'I devoted years to bringing your parents here, and this is what we get from you. You should be ashamed,' anti-Netanyahu protest leader and former air force pilot, Brig. Gen. (res.) Amir Haskel, says in a clip seen on Channel 12 news. “The fact that police filmed the incident, which took place two months ago, and leaked it [now] to the media just to smear Amir Haskel, without connection to any investigation, shows above all that we have a police force that operates in the service of Public Security Minister [Amir] Ohana and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” one protest activist said. (Haaretz+)
  • **Mass brawl at infantry base: 21 injured due to an argument over the line at the dining room - Givati's recruits and the recruits of the elite Bedouin patrol unit exchanged blows, punches and kicks - and one even cocked his weapon - in an argument at the dining room. Seven were evacuated to a hospital. According to testimonies, commanders were also involved in the incident. IDF: "Extraordinary and serious incident.” (Maariv, Ynet Hebrew and JPost)
  • Israel will oppose any U.S. F-35 sale to Qatar, cabinet minister says - Intelligence Minister Cohen cites security, military superiority in the region as main concerns following reports Gulf state submitted formal request to Washington to purchase stealth jets. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom))
  • Are these nails from Jesus’ crucifixion? New evidence emerges, but experts are unconvinced - Study of two 2000-year-old nails that surfaced in a Tel Aviv University lab revives claim linking them to the burial of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest involved in Jesus’ crucifixion. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's oldest man passes away at age of 117 - If family testimony that he was born in 1903 is verified, Yemenite-born Shlomo Sulayman could be one of the oldest males to ever live; survived by large family who say his longevity was due to staying active and eating small meals. "He would walk great distances on foot, the same as when he was working," his grandson said, adding that being confined to his home over the past months, due to the corona pandemic, harmed him. (Ynet)
  • AI Is the Next National Security Frontier, but Israel May Be Losing Its Edge - A new national defense study recommends setting up an agency like the National Cyber Directorate to take charge of integrating artificial intelligence into the defense establishment and make sure Israel doesn't fall behind. (Haaretz+)
  • Five years on, Israelis see few benefits from major gas deal (and now Chevron wants to keep the status quo) - Gas price Israeli consumers pay is still largely determined by 2012 contact between Tamar field and the state-run Electric Corporation, in which prices are tethered to the U.S. consumer price index and have only risen since 2015. When asked about the high prices enshrined in the Tamar contract, Chevron, which completed its acquisition of Noble last Monday, said it “firmly believes in the sanctity of contracts.” (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Israel’s Reputation as ‘Startup Nation’ Is Fraying, Survey Finds - While Israeli technology prowess is as strong as ever, other countries are surpassing Israel as a high-tech brand. (Haaretz+)
  • Top IRGC official: Many Israelis willing to cooperate with Iran - Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warns "there are many people in the Zionist entity who are willing to cooperate with Iran," but a top Israeli intelligence expert says Iran's real focus in the US elections. (Israel Hayom)
  • IAEA chief says Iran does not have enough uranium to make atomic weapon - Asked about how long Iran would need to build a nuclear weapon, Rafael Grossi says, "In the IAEA we do not talk about breakout time. We look at the significant quantity, the minimum amount of enriched uranium or plutonium needed to make an atomic bomb. Iran does not have this significant quantity at the moment." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. to hit all of Iran’s financial sector with sanctions - The Trump administration is poised to announce that it will blacklist Iran’s entire financial sector, dealing another blow to an economy that is already reeling under U.S. sanctions. The move could deepen tensions with European nations over Iran. Announcement follows months-long debate on best way to proceed with Iran, particularly as Trump faces difficult reelection challenge against opponent Biden who wants to return to nuclear deal. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Iranian composer and opposition beacon Shajarian dies at 80 - Mohammad Reza Shajarian, whose distinctive voice quavered to traditional Persian music on state radio for years, supported protesters after Iran's contested 2009 election. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lebanon's caretaker PM warns of 'social explosion' if subsidies on vital goods lifted - The country continues to face its worst economic crisis in decades under weight of mountain of debt. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Lithuania city celebrates Jewish past, honors Israeli poet - Kaunas unveils a mural of prolific writer Leah Goldberg and her influence on the town's history and culture, nearly 85 years after she left with her family to immigrate to Israel. (Ynet)
  • The world celebrated Kurdish women’s fight against ISIS. Now it’s silent as they’re raped and tortured - A recent UN report revealed an increase in sexual violence against women and girls since the Turkish military operation began in the Kurdish enclave a year ago. Some Kurds say their current lives are no better than when ISIS was running amok. (Haaretz+)

Israeli Soldiers Raid a Palestinian Village at Night, Terrifying Residents – for Training Purposes
Armed Israeli soldiers wandered through backyards, peeking through windows during a nighttime exercise in a village overlooking the Jordan Beqaa Valley. Imagine them doing the same in a Jewish settlement. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
'I was afraid. The army and Israel were falling apart': A reservist's recollection of the '73 war
At the base, there was no way of knowing who was flying on duty and who was fleeing the horror of battle; when I heard some of their stories, I wasn't sure what I would have done in their place. (Joseph Gale, Haaretz+)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
The Trashy Talk Show, a Fitting Home for Israel's Political Debate (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The most-read article on the Haaretz Hebrew website Saturday was the report on what Transportation Minister Miri Regev said to the broadcaster Eyal Berkovic. The second most-read story was Ariana Melamed’s critique of Regev’s remarks. Regev told the former soccer star that he would never coach the national team because he called Likud a “criminal organization.” This launched the weekly ritual of “public uproar” to great fanfare.
The third state solution (Ben Hartman, Yedioth/Ynet) They say young Americans who move to Israel are looking for meaning or running from something. For me it was both. Now, nearly two decades later, with Israel one of the world’s worst-hit countries for COVID-19, with a thrice-indicted wannabe strongman dragging this country into the abyss, and with the return of my children's schools nowhere in sight, it’s time to take stock of things, find where the fire exits are, and decide if, when, and how we make a break for it.
Netanyahu got what he wanted - and the top officials in the Finance Ministry were abandoned in favor of deputies (Yehuda Sharoni, Maariv) Finance Minister Yisrael Katz has failed in his appointments, and if nothing dramatic happens, he may fail in his job and lose his chances of becoming the future prime minister. And that is what the prime minister wants.
Netanyahu Is Holding the State Budget Hostage (Haaretz Editorial) The state of Israel continues to be held hostage by a prime minister, charged with crimes, who is sparing no effort to escape the law. There is no appointment, asset or even essential public need that is not being coffered by Benjamin Netanyahu and his coterie of sycophants as a bargaining chip for political or legal purposes. In one instance, it might be Transport Minister Miri Regev who threatens to prevent Eyal Berkovic from getting the job of coach of the national soccer team until he obeys her and apologizes for insulting Likud. By the same token, it could be the state budget that provides an excuse to get out of the coalition agreement and halt the transfer of power to Benny Gantz.
Likud needs to wake up (Jacob Bardugo, Israel Hayom) It is highly likely that the only solution to the political chaos the is upon us is calling an election. But in order to win them, Likud needs to turn its focus away from political squabbling and back on to the real issues.
Netanyahu Isn't Stupid, but He Makes 'Peace' for All the Wrong Reasons (Salman Masalha, Haaretz+) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “peace” stands on three pillars: bullshit, unpaid leave and, above all, trying to escape justice. Many things can about the deceptiveness of the man who heads Israel’s government, but let’s not forget that deceptiveness is far from stupidity. As in the manner of tyrants who are expert at manipulation, Netanyahu has seen to it to surround himself with an entire network of wormlike sycophants who slowly crawl to any available microphone on behalf of his every whim.
The challenge of normalization: Peace agreements have brought the Palestinian leadership to a deep low (Dr. Ido Zalkovich, Maariv) This is the moment of truth for the leaders of the older generation of the PLO: they must decide whether they return to the negotiating table and work to fulfill the vision of the two countries, or whether they continue in the current status quo.
The real winners in the Israel-UAE deal? Arms dealers (Sahar Vardi, 972mag) The normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was presented as a peace deal. In reality, it's a license for weapons manufacturers to expand their customer base.
The makings of a true peace (Michal Divon, Israel Hayom) The historic Israel-UAE agreement is changing social dynamics for Israelis and Emiratis alike.
Hamas’ lost identity (Abeer Darwish, Ynet) The Palestinian organization is rife with contradiction: when a truce with Israel was convenient, it reprimanded Islamic Jihad for firing rockets, and while over 70% of Gazans are poor, its leader uses private planes and lives life of wealth.
Hamas holds Israelis and the world is silent (Daniel Mariaschin, Israel Hayom) The human rights abuses committed by the terrorist organization that rules Gaza continue to go largely ignored by the international community and media.
No partner? When needed, Israel can talk to Hezbollah (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) As Lebanon tries to form a new cabinet, the Iran-backed group is set to maintain its prominent presence in the government, which is negotiating a maritime border with Israel.
Is normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel in the cards? (James Dorsey, Israel Hayom) The kingdom, its image tarnished by multiple missteps, is seeking to ensure that it is not perceived as the odd man out as smaller Gulf states establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
Saudi Arabia’s Campaign to Cancel the Palestinians (Muhammad Shehada, Haaretz+) From trolls to TV, Riyadh is rewriting history to undermine the entire Palestinian struggle, softening up the Arab world for its pending normalization with Israel.
The talks between Israel and Lebanon need media silence in order to end successfully (Yitzhak Levanon, Maariv) The preoccupation with negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on agreeing to the maritime border between them should be cooled down and talks between the parties should be allowed to take place without public statements. It's time for quiet diplomacy.
Lebanon's future runs through talks with Israel (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) Given the growing number of Arab countries reportedly seeking rapprochement with Israel, even Hezbollah cannot deny the fact that the Middle East is changing.
Anarchy prevails in Israel, and it starts with Netanyahu (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Without any personal example, proper management or reasonable enforcement, Netanyahu proves that he is to blame – rather than protesters he likes to cast as 'anarchists.’
The protesters who flooded the streets are doing the role of Gantz in his place (Ben Caspit, Maariv) Gantz proves that he is not qualified to lead - he doesn’t dare to look Netanyahu in the white of his eyes and say “that’s enough.” Instead, the protesters, who flooded the streets and the opposition yesterday, are doing so.
Top Treasury Official's Exit Leaves Israel's Economic Policy in the Worst Possible Hands (Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) The latest of three top treasury officials to quit, she leaves politicians now running the show
National paralysis (Sever Plocker, Yedioth Hebrew) In view of the crucial challenge facing the state, the Ministry of Finance was expected to do what it can to keep officials with an independent and creative backbone. But Minister Yisrael Katz does the opposite: he is mainly responsible for implementing the prime minister's instructions, even if they are unreasonable, and creates - like Netanyahu - an atmosphere of "I and nothing more.” The result: proper management procedures are thrown away, the budget does not pass. This is what a paralyzed system looks like. Yisrael Katz did not come to the Ministry of Finance to navigate the Israeli economy through the Corona storm; He came to use his post as a springboard to the coveted position of prime minister. When this is his goal, it is not surprising that the most common word in all his public appearances is “I,” and that he removes from his environment and path any civil servant and any senior official who dares to disagree with him and his approach.
Coalition members are their own worst enemy (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The infighting among coalition members has reached new highs that have made it clear the government has zero chances of living out its days. Elections are emerging as the only solution.
In Absence of Palestinian Parliament, Tribalism Thrives, Anti-corruption NGO Says (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Report by AMAN criticizes power of clans, but also reflects a vibrant society that voices domestic criticism despite authoritarian self-rule in parts of West Bank and in Gaza.
Palestinians losing Arab World's support (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The days when Palestinian bullying intimidated Persian Gulf states are over. The new generation of sheiks is made of sturdier stuff.
Suicide bombings, fear and almost no Palestinians: the second intifada transformed Israeli literature (David B. Green, Haaretz+) Literary heavyweights like A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman found different ways of representing the uprising – but very few offered a Palestinian voice in their terror-strewn narratives.
Israel can be Jewish and democratic (Nadav Tamir, Yedioth/Ynet) We must not let the distorted interpretation of the Jewish faith and nationalism by anti-liberal elements disconnect us from the values of liberal Zionism, which allow us to uphold our uniqueness and universal humane values.
Forget About Jewish or Democratic. Is Israel Even an Actual Country? (Yuli Tamir, Haaretz+) Based on the accepted (and most simplistic) definition, a country is a sovereign political organization that controls a defined territory. Israel does not meet these basic conditions. It does not have a defined territory: As long as its northern and eastern borders have not been approved on a final basis, Israel is a political entity whose territory is subject to domestic and external dispute. Secondly, Israel lacks a source of authority accepted by all of its citizens.
The Corona crisis is an opportunity for the resurgence of the Jewish and democratic state of Israel (MK Michal Kotler-Winsh, Maariv) The discourse on "back to routine" and "exit strategy” indicates that we have not yet internalized the need - we must change the "routine" in order to overcome the challenges, as individuals, as a company or as a country.
The Republican Jewish Coalition’s shocking, shameful appeasement of Donald Trump (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) How the Republican Jewish Coalition lost its ethics, dignity and purpose, to became the Sheldon Adelson-backed Jewish community stooge of a demagogue who dog-whistles, loudly, to white supremacists.
Trump's support for Israel will not benefit him among Jewish voters in the election (Prof. Eitan Gilboa, Maariv) American Jews see Trump as a racist and extremist conservative candidate who despised minorities and equality and who contributed in his failures to rising anti-Semitism and violence against Jews, and most of the Jews are liberals who support Democrats.
Direct border talks with Lebanon hold wider significance (Giora Eiland, Yedioth/Ynet) The negotiations over the location of the shared maritime border prove normalization is achievable; it might bode well for the relationship with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and make life harder for a belligerent Hezbollah.
Harris’ Iran Comment Is Shot Across Netanyahu’s Bow in Advance of Biden’s Looming Victory (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Democratic landslide as well as sensational Trump triumph portend dramatic upheaval in U.S.-Israeli ties.
Egypt's 'anarchists' are once again calling on Sissi to resign, but this time it's different (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The president must contend with a protest that has spread for the first time to the countryside, just before elections where his parliament's legitimacy is at stake.

How a former Israeli Hummus maker ended up running for Dutch parliament
A decade ago Yuval Gal moved to the Hague, where he opened a hummus joint, was a stay-at-home dad and created a show about Jewish food. No he's vying for a seat in the Dutch parliament in a party that backs boycotting Israel and a one-state solution to the conflict. (Interviewed by Asaf Ronel in Haaretz+)


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