News Nosh 11.24.20

APN's daily news review from Israel - Tuesday November 24, 2020

Quote of the day:

"With all due respect to the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the guardian of the holy places to Islam, is the real thing, and it is a historic move that will probably take some more time."
--Middle East analyst Shimrit Meir writes in today's Yedioth that Israel should not hold its breath for normalization with Saudi Arabia.

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The secret summit in Saudi Arabia
  • Trump’s orphans // Nahum Barnea (Hebrew)
  • Israeli bulletproof vest // Shimrit Meir (Hebrew)
  • Unnecessary leak // Alex Fishman
  • A message from the palace // Smadar Perry
  • Judges can make mistakes // High Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut answers the criticism following Yedioth investigation on judges lax on domestic abusers (Hebrew)

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Plunging to elections
  • The height of chutzpah // Ben Caspit
  • The secret meeting - and the denial - Netanyahu secretly met in Saudi Arabia with the crown prince and the US Secretary of State
  • 5th and 6th grade back to classrooms

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a not-so-secret meeting in Saudi Arabia with the Saudi crown prince, without informing his coalition partner, Benny Gantz, who had just upset the Likud party over the opening of a commission of inquiry into the submarine affair (which many suspect Netanyahu was embroiled in) and now the whispers of elections are getting turning into shouts as coalition tensions peak, making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also, the latest in diplomacy and US President-elect Joe Biden's appointments.

An Israeli security official and a Saudi adviser confirmed the meeting between Netanyahu and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Saudi coastal town, but the Saudi Foreign Minister denied it.  What the Israeli papers pounced on was the fact that Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi were not informed of the diplomatic move. But Mossad chief Yossi Cohen accompanied Netanyahu, as did the military secretary to the prime minister. What everyone agreed upon was that Saudi Arabia was not ready to normalize relations with the Zionist state, due to the latter’s occupation of the Palestinians. However, Saudi Arabia was interested in improving its standing with the US, with Israeli help, and in making a joint front against Iran and the soon-to-be Biden administration, Saudi officials told ‘Israel Hayom.’ U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper told Israeli media on Monday Arab states discuss normalization with Israel all the time and quite a few are interested in signing normalization deals with the Jewish state. Meanwhile, Israel is sending a delegation to Sudan to firm up ties and offer help in agriculture and healthcare. Gantz refused to allow senior IDF officers to partake in the trip, contrary to Netanyahu's request, because he feared that it could put IDF officers in an embarrassing or dangerous predicament in an emergency situation, since Sudan still has not been removed from the "blacklist" of countries that support terrorism. 

On the Emirati front, the Emirates and Bahrain came to an agreement with the Islamic Waqf at the Temple Mount to allow the Gulf tourists - they will be allowed to visit, but only if they enter through one of the eight entrances for Muslims. The agreement was made after a small group of Palestinians blocked a group of Gulf visitors who had come in October in the first delegation to Israel and entered the Temple Mount through the entrance for Israelis and tourists. The Palestinians were angry over the fact that their countries made normalization agreements with Israel without regard for the Palestinians.  Ynet reported that an Israeli source said that the arrangement was meant to send a message to the upcoming Biden administration that the Palestinians are not peace rejectors. Abu Dhabi and Israel foreign ministries agreed that Israeli tourists can visit Abu Dhabi in the coming days. At this moment flights are only to Dubai and not to Abu Dhabi.

The papers noted that Biden announced his key cabinet positions, and the fact that his choice for Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, is Jewish. Haaretz+ reported that the Palestinian Authority has been in talks with the Biden staff hoping to restore its relationship with Washington. Congresswoman and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib said she is fine with Blinken as long as he doesn't "suppress" her right to criticize PM Netanyahu's "racist and inhumane policies." The Palestinian news agency, WAFA, reported that Biden appointed Palestinian-American, Reema Dodin, as deputy director of the White House legislative affairs team. Dodin, who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants from the Hebron-district town of Dura, also serves as deputy chief of staff to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip in the Senate. "My loss is the president-elect's and the nation's gain,” Durbin said. 


Quick Hits:

  • Settlers intercept and attack Palestinian vehicles in northern West Bank road - A group of club-yielding settlers intercepted Palestinian vehicles traveling along the Nablus-Qalqilya Road, close to the entrance of the illegal Yitzhar colonial settlement, notorious for its violent settlers, and attacked them, causing damage to some of the cars and terrifying the passengers. The use of clubs is a new phenomenon in the settlers’ violence. (WAFA)
  • High Court rejects tougher sentence for soldier who shot 2 Palestinians - Families argued that plea bargain did not reflect severity of the shooting; soldier's attorneys: He was operating alone in very complicated circumstances, and the deal is balanced. (Israel Hayom and Haaretz+)
  • Dozens protest Israeli construction of new industrial zone in unique West Bank ecosystem - Israel Police detained eight One Climate activists after direct action aimed at disrupting ongoing construction work in ecologically and politically sensitive area. Eight climate activists arrested for protesting the theft of Palestinian land and destruction of local ecology. (Haaretz+ and 972mag)
  • A worker was killed when a wall of a building being demolished collapsed on him - Medics called to the building in Herzliya reported that a 30-year-old laborer was lying unconscious among the rubble. His death was determined on the spot. He is the 59th worker killed in work accidents in Israel since the beginning of 2020. (Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israeli conscientious objector released from military prison - Army board accepts that 19-year-old Hallel Rabin’s pacifism is sincere, not driven by ‘political considerations.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Haredi volunteers get hardship grants but troops don’t - Some 1,000 Haredi national service volunteers laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 expected to receive grant of up to $4000; committee chairman says fighting to secure funds for similar stipends for other volunteers, service members. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • 50% Increase in Two Years: One Out of Eight Israeli Men Exempt From Army for Mental Health Issues - Israeli army attributes the spike to an increase in anxiety diagnoses in young people and a decreased motivation to serve. (Haaretz+)
  • After an argument on Twitter: Israeli Minister Steinitz calls on the Lebanese president to meet him - The Minister of Energy called on the President of Lebanon to meet face-to-face to discuss negotiations on the maritime border between the two countries: "I actually quite enjoy the dialogue that has developed between us. We can contribute to the economic future and well-being of the two peoples." (Maariv)
  • Due to rise in coronavirus cases, weekend and night lockdown to be imposed in the West Bank - ue to the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Palestine in the last few weeks, the Palestinian government decided today to shut down the country on weekends and at night for 14 days. (WAFA)
  • Ninety-two Percent of Rape Investigations in Israel Are Closed Without Charges - Only around 20 percent of cases involving sex crimes last year led to indictments; Israel's rape crisis centers report surge in calls during pandemic. (Haaretz+)
  • Qatar airport police officers charged over invasive searches of women - Acting on Australian complaints, Qatar prosecutor said officers acted without permission when they summoned medical staff to search women while on hunt for mother of child abandoned in a bathroom. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Egypt court to examine case of actor under fire over photos with Israeli pop star - Mohamed Ramadan, who is famous in his native country for playing a soldier, was also sanctioned by Egypt's actors' union, while a production company he was working with cancelled his TV show. (Agencies, Haaretz, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Egypt holding head of human rights group in 'inhumane conditions,' lawyers say - Head shaved, kept in solitary confinement and in the cold, Gasser Abdel Razek apparently pays the price for briefing foreign diplomats on rights abuses. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Germany hopes for renewed joint transatlantic approach on Iran under Biden - U.K., France, Germany prepare for period of intense diplomacy to bring back U.S. in nuclear deal fold and curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran Sees Foreign Firms Returning if U.S. Lifts Sanctions - Major foreign companies left Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump two years ago abandoned Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and restored economic sanctions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Turkey summons EU, Italian, German envoys over attempt to search ship for weapons - Earlier, Germany accused Turkey of preventing German forces belonging to an EU military mission from fully searching the ship. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
Netanyahu Prepares for Israel's Next Election From the Shores of Saudi Arabia (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Despite Gantz's best efforts to destabilize him, Netanyahu still has a few Trump cards up his sleeve to upstage his rival; but with plenty of political uncertainty ahead, the PM is likely not ready to face the polls.
Meet - yes, peace - no: The Saudi crown prince's real interests (Oded Granot, Israel Hayom) Mohammed Bin Salman is very worried about the future, mainly the possibility that a new administration in the White House will harm his country's vital interests.
Meeting of the Trump Orphans (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew)  An American guest once asked Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman why, during a time of economic crisis, he had invested $450 million in buying a painting by Da Vinci and several hundred million dollars in buying a giant yacht. "Because I have it,” the prince replied with characteristic modesty, closing the argument.
The Saudis aren’t ready for a relationship yet (Shimrit Meir, Yedioth Hebrew)….Coordination ahead of the formation of the new administration of the next US President Joe Biden is as necessary for the Saudis as it is for us, as they will be in a very vulnerable position in the new Washington. Biden's two new senior appointments, next Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jack Sliven, recently signaled that the discounts for "club members” that Ben-Salman received, courtesy of Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, were ran out. It would not hurt the Saudis to come to the inauguration of the new president in January while hiding behind the wide back that Israel still has in Washington, to balance their problematic image in human rights matters. Even so, as we learned yesterday, they are not ready yet. Not even for a joint photo. With all due respect to the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the guardian of the holy places to Islam, is the real thing, and it is a historic move that will probably take some more time. The problem is not with the Arabs, the problem is with us. The psychological transition from the Trump era back to a democratic administration that intends to seek diplomatic contact with Iran again is very complex. So what do Israelis do? They add endless power games between the prime minister and the defense and foreign ministers and a loss of attention due to another election campaign, precisely in the critical months when the new administration is taking shape. A country in chaos.
The Netanyahu-Bin Salman summit transforms regional dynamics (Daniel Siryoti, Israel Hayom) The historic meeting sends a clear message to the new administration in Washington, and even more so to the ayatollah regime in Tehran.
A Palestinian guide to Jewish American 'allyship' (Tom Pessach, 972mag) As American Jews increasingly enter the Palestinian rights movement, the power dynamics between the two groups often lead to tensions. One activist opens up about the complexities of navigating those dynamics, and what Jews should be doing to center Palestinian voices.
The truth behind the campaign against Effi Eitam (Uri Cohen, Israel Hayom) It's not a question of whether Eitam, a decorated officer, is an appropriate person to head Israel's national Holocaust memorial; it's that the radical Left wants to hijack the purpose of the memorial entirely.
Most Atrocious Government in Israeli History Should Be Put Out of Its Misery (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu-Gantz government will become a caretaker government as Israel lurches toward its fourth election in two years.
Gantz's Party Is Falling Apart Before His Eyes (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) Stalling and postponing, Gantz is struggling to make political decisions. But Netanyahu's party already has a plan for him
Gantz's flurry of distractions, mere background noise (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The defense minister will continue using the tools at his disposal to disguise the monumental capitulation he has been planning for weeks, over the national budget.
The Israeli Public’s Right to Know (Haaretz Editorial) Government corruption hurts everyone, and the battle against it must be a joint effort by all political camps. That is why Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz did well in establishing a government committee of inquiry to investigate the purchase of submarines and patrol boats from Germany. The public has the right to know the truth about the “submarine affair,” which has been described by former prime ministers, defense ministers and senior defense officials as “the most serious defense corruption case in the history of Israel.”
Netanyahu Must Not Hail Pollard as Israel’s Spy Hero (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) It would be a serious miscalculation for Israel to call attention right now to one of the most damaging sagas in both the history of the American-Israeli alliance, and in U.S. Jews’ relations with Israel.


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