News Nosh 11.25.20

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday November 25, 2020

Quote of the day:

“One can still hope that when the next president takes office, he will have more than scorched earth, landmines and ticking time bombs left behind by Trump and Netanyahu to work with.”
—Daniel Seidemann, an Israeli expert on the geopolitics of Jerusalem, writes about the last-minute attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to create irreversible settlement facts on the ground and a “new normal” that would enshrine a Greater Israel and an exclusively Israeli Jerusalem.*

Breaking News:
Eight pro-Iran Militiamen Killed in Israel Strike in Syria, Watchdog Says
The Syrian state-run news agency says the Israel military struck areas near Damascus and Quneitra early Wednesday, where opposition says there is a strong Iranian military presence. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The sky fell - Disaster at (Air Force) pilots’ course: Instructor and trainee died in training accident (Hebrew)
  • Sudden crash // Yossi Yehoshua
  • Put the smartphone down // Amichai Attali writes not to film moments when people die

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • “My son was killed. My world has been destroyed” - Questions over why the (Air Force training) plane did not contact the air tower
  • Senior police officials go on attack: “Appoint a permanent police commissioner - even if going to elections”
  • Initiative: Deny guardianship to abusive father
  • History in the Gulf: Netanyahu expected to visit Bahrain next week
  • Buying time: Health Ministry to draft guidelines to open some stores
  • Netanyahu spoke with Pollard: “We are waiting for you in Israel”
  • “We aren’t only a square in Zoom”: Youth excited to go back to school
  • “Don’t be silent, share”: Special column for Struggle Against Violence Against Women Day

Top News Summary:
An Israeli Air Force instructor and a cadet were killed in a flight training crash for unknown reasons, the Likud-Kahol-Lavan coalition crisis gets worse and Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz considers pushing to dissolve the Knesset, something opposition lawmakers say they will vote in support of - but Netanyahu makes headlines with a call to former Jewish US spy Jonathan Pollard, an upcoming visit to Bahrain and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination from a previous laureate - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Meanwhile, in the latest Israeli election poll, Netanyahu’s Likud party remains - barely - the largest party with 27 seats (down from the 36 it presently holds), while Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party continues to surge with 23 seats. Page 9 in ‘Israel Hayom’ looked like an election campaign flyer for Netanyahu. The biggest headline read: “Historic moment: Netanyahu expected to leave for visit to Bahrain.” Below it was an article titled, “Netanyahu to Pollard: “We wait for you to come” and on the side was, “Nobel Peace Prize laureate submitted Netanyahu and Ben Ziyad as candidates.” The news about Netanyahu’s (corruption) trial being postponed again was a small item on page 8.

Also, Maariv reported that, according to the Lebanese daily, ‘Al-Akhbar,’ Israel has agreed to transfer medical equipment to Gaza in exchange for stopping the "drip" of rockets. A Hamas source explained that the rocket launched at Ashkelon was a "clear signal” for Israel to notice the dire situation in the Strip and the reasons for the attacks. The report also said that Hamas is demanding from Israel to transfer 40 ventilators and 10 lab devices for coronavirus testing into the impoverished enclave, which currently has 217 ventilators, with dozens more planned to arrive in the next few days. Since last August, Gaza has demanded that Israel transfer medical equipment.

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli military expels 10 Palestinian families for drills in Jordan Valley - Israeli forces evicted more than  10  Palestinian families from their homes in al-Burj and al-Mayta villages, citing the need to conduct military drills as a pretext. (WAFA)
  • Israeli bulldozers raze Palestinian land west of Ramallah for sewage pipeline - Israeli bulldozers Wednesday razed Palestinian-owned lands Ras Karkar village, west of Ramallah, to make room for the construction of a sewage pipeline for the nearby settlements. (WAFA)
  • Court Reduces Sum Bedouin Must Pay Israel for Demolition of Their Unrecognized Village - Although Supreme Court's verdict cuts the fee down to almost a third, the attorney representing the six activists questions why Bedouin are charged for demolitions, while settlers are compensated. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli forces quell anti-annexation protest in northern Jordan Valley, dozens injured - A large Israeli military force violently dispersed the participants of the rally organized against the Israeli occupation authorities’ plan to annex the site of the demolished village of Khirbet Humsa al-Fawqa, in the northern Jordan Valley (Beqaa). (WAFA)
  • Government Inability to Advance State Budget Violates Basic Laws, High Court Says - The court issued a conditional order to the government on its December budget deadline, which could send Israel to a new election. (Haaretz+)
  • Soldier indicted for stabbing a man after he did not pass him the ball - Indictment filed against a 21-year-old soldier who stabbed and moderately injured another young man, at the end of a soccer game because the latter did not pass him the ball. (Maariv)
  • Court postpones evidence phase of Netanyahu trial to February - Judges agree to extend the deadline for Netanyahu's defense team to file a formal response to the indictment against him. (Maariv, Israel Hayom and Haaretz+)
  • In Secret Meetings, anti-Netanyahu Activists and Police Talk Arrests, Undercover Cops and Inflatable Submarines - While the leaders of the regular anti-Netanyahu protests have refused to meet with the police, under the radar, others have meet with Jerusalem station commander Kobi Yaakobi, in an atmosphere of surprising candor. (Haaretz+)
  • Prosecutors File First Indictments Against Prominent anti-Netanyahu Activist, Protester - Gonen Ben-Yitzhak and Bar Benjamin are the first of this wave of protests to be charged for acts they are said to have committed while demonstrating, and a senior police official says more activists will be charged soon. (Haaretz+)
  • Court Finds Man Charged With Threatening Reporter, Sabotaging Haaretz Systems Unfit to Stand Trial - Judge at Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court orders Eyal Levy, 41, committed to psychiatric institution for three years. Lawyer: 'We hope it will improve his condition.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu Distrusts Army Chief, Keeps Him in the Dark on Sensitive Issues, Defense Officials Say - U.S.'s F-35 sale to UAE and annexation were not disclosed to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, and he only learned of Netanyahu's trip to Saudi Arabia from the media, sources claim. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Navy commissions its most advanced warship ever - The state-of-the-art German-made Sa’ar 6 will form a central pillar in Israel’s ability to secure its economic waters and naval energy resources, which are under mounting threat from Hezbollah’s arsenal, Hamas and Iranian forces in the region. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel to Expedite Citizenship Process for East Jerusalem Palestinians - Following legal challenge, Interior Ministry agrees to implement 1968 clause that would make it faster and easier for young Palestinians to obtain Israeli citizenship. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas' money trail: From Turkey to Gaza to Birzeit University - IDF and Shin Bet security agency arrest five Hamas activists, students at Birzeit University near Ramallah, involved in the scheme. (Israel Hayom)
  • Holocaust survivors protest against appointment of Effi Eitam as head of Yad Vashem: "His candidacy fills me with shame" - ‘How Eitam talks of our citizens and our neighbors reminds me of things said about us which I heard when I was a child,’ says one Holocaust survivor. (JPost/Maariv)
  • Israel's Tourism, Justice Ministries Announce Plans to Tackle Gender-based Violence - A pilot program would train hotel staff to spot evidence of sexual assault and prevent it, while proposed legislation would expand victims' rights. (Haaretz+)
  • Unlike Men’s Team, Israeli Women’s Basketball Team Put on Commercial Flight, Exposing Them to Coronavirus - Women players were exposed to coronavirus on commercial flight returning to Crete while men's national team avoided exposure by flying on private jets. (Haaretz+)
  • Girl power: IDF sees 160% rise in number of women in combat roles - Increase in numbers noted over a period of six years. "The IDF must aspire to let every person maximize their potential during their service, women and men alike," says Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Tzvika Hauser. (Israel Hayom)
  • Through Netanyahu's sponsorship? MK Mansour Abbas' interview led to a big explosion within the Joint List - After chairman of the Ra’am Israeli-Islamist party, one of four parts of the Joint List faction, gave an interview to (right-wing) Channel 20, in which he hinted at joining the right-wing, he was attacked by MK Mtanas Shahadeh: “He chose Netanyahu's shofar and the far right-wing. MK Abbas is unworthy of leadership.” (Maariv)
  • COVID-stricken Palestinian Economy to Contract 8% in 2020, World Bank Says - The report also pointed to unemployment of 18.2 percent in the West Bank, while almost half of Gazans are out of work. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Sweden calls on Iran to cancel execution of academic charged with spying for Israel - Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde formally urged Iran to cancel an execution for an Iranian-Swedish professor charged with spying for Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Eleven killed in clash between Kurdish, Turkey-backed fighters in Syria, war monitor says - Monday's clashes, said to be the most intense in weeks, were triggered by a Turkey-backed attack on Syrian rebel positions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Two Lebanese Customs Officials Charged Over Beirut Port Blast - The number of those now charged in connection with the August 4 explosion has reached 33, of whom 25 are under arrest, according to the Lebanese National News Agency. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Top Commentary/Analysis:
*Inside Trump and Netanyahu’s ‘end of season’ settlement bonanza (Daniel Seidemann, 972mag) Amid ongoing political instability in the US, Israel is advancing 'doomsday' settlements in East Jerusalem that would devastate prospects for a future peace deal.
The Yesha settlers’ Council presents: Wall-to-wall disputes (Elisha Ben Kimon, Yedioth Hebrew) The settler leadership is divided over the end of the Trump era, but not only. What began as a controversy over the ‘Deal of the Century’ has since become a fundamental rift over Binyamin Netanyahu and his policy regarding the territories…Just before President Donald Trump leaves the White House, and after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's historic visit and gestures last week, settlers are trying to put pressure on Netanyahu to advance a series of demands. The entry of President Joe Biden, they say, is a mystery. The fact that he was Barack Obama's deputy during one of the most difficult periods of the settlement enterprise raises concerns. Optimists call him "Obama Lite." It’s unlikely that demands they made to Netanyahu, which were not accepted during the Trump administration, will be accepted now. Most of them also understand that they do not really have leverages over Netanyahu, and most importantly - they find it difficult to unite around one demand. In the meantime, there is an effort to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity until the US administration changes. For example, this week a nucleus of 15 families went up to the area of Sa-Nur, which was evacuated as part of the 2005 disengagement, in an attempt to repeal the disengagement law. A declarative decision, but one that will open the door to return to the settlement. On another front, the Yesha leaders are promoting the legalizing of the young settlement enterprises [i.e. settlement outposts - OH] These are about 70 localities that have been on the land for years but have not yet been legalized and the residents there do not receive basic infrastructure. Also the Hauser Law, which talks about amending the “Basic Law: National Referendum" so that it will also apply fully and immediately to the localities of Judea and Samaria [West Bank - OH], is on the agenda. There is also the issue of the evacuation of [Bedouin-Palestinian village] Khan al-Ahmar, and Netanyahu’s repeated postponement. And in addition, what is left, if anything, of the sovereignty that has disappeared as it came. Uncoordinated ‘shooting’ in lots of areas. Eyes are also on Washington, but mostly on the Prime Minister's Office. "This year I went through a process of disillusionment with everything related to Netanyahu. The sovereignty issue has shattered my trust in him," one of the senior settler officials told me this week. But not everyone thinks like him. The settler leadership is currently divided. What began as a controversy around the Deal of the Century has already become a fundamental rift. The sovereignty issue has already died, but outside the Green Line [in the West Bank - OH] it has left mostly wall-to-wall disputes. Someone could ask: if sovereignty is no longer on the agenda, what is the controversy about? The generator of the controversy is no more. We remained, therefore, only with Netanyahu's supporters and his opponents in everything related to his policy in the Territories. On the one hand, there are mayors of local settler councils such as Oded Ravivi (Efrat), Assaf Menzer (Elkana) and others who supported the deal and now support Netanyahu's policy. According to them, "this is the most fertile period in the settlements." On the other side is the chairman of the Yesha Council, David Elhayani (Jordan Valley), who said that the deal should be thrown in the trash, and is angry at Netanyahu for not fulfilling his promise of sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. In the middle are other extras trying to walk between the drops. Allegedly, all the settlement officials will say that they support the legalization of settlements, the Hauser Law and the repeal of the Disengagement Law, but not everything is possible. One demand mixes with another demand and slowly fades away. Although they also have experienced failures, the settlers know how to start battles, set up protest tents and make huge demonstrations. This is not happening right now. The assessment is that even if Netanyahu does not bring them any achievement, on Election Day, the heads of the (settler) councils will knock on the doors of voters in Ashdod and Ashkelon for him. The lack of leverage is perhaps due to the Achilles heel of the battles. And when left with only shouting, it is better that everyone shouts the same thing and in a uniform voice. Maybe someone in Balfour will hear.
Millions of Americans and Israelis are still convinced that they stole the election from Trump (Ran Edelist, Maariv) The president of the United States refuses to accept the election results like an infantile child from they took a toy, and yet millions of Americans and Israelis are convinced that they stole Trump and them the election. This is an amazing phenomenon. Or, maybe a regular thing, just like Netanyahu's supporters, who won’t accept any proof that their prime minister is accused of fraud, bribery and breach of trust. And they are not alone. I assume that both the ultra-Orthodox and the settlers know who they are dealing with, and they need Netanyahu as an instrument for printing money. For them. But even among them there are quite a few who believe Netanyahu’s stories, just as millions believe Trump is God's messenger. Before the 2020 election in the United States, prayers were said in quite a few synagogues for Trump. The rabbis of religious Zionism signed a letter of support. In Hebron, some of the settler leaders gathered for him. "He who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon will bless the good name Donald John son of Fred Trump for taking it upon himself to preserve and strengthen the people of Israel, the State of Israel and the Land of Israel," blessed Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, Head of the Jewish community in Hebron. The heads of the settlements' councils read a passage from the "Songs of Virtue." Above them was a huge sign glorifying Trump's achievements: moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing settlements, removing restrictions on support for academic institutions in the Territories, cutting budgets for Palestinians and recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. "We have come together to congratulate President Trump, and perhaps first of all to thank the Blessed One for President Trump and his tenure for making such important changes," event facilitator Yishai Fleischer announced. If there is anyone who thinks this is unreal, he should listen to the declarations of the right-wing ministers.
Dogs, Shooting, Explosions at 4 A.M.: Just Another Routine Night of Israeli Raids (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The sound of an explosion woke up the household at 4 A.M. on Wednesday, November 11. Sharif Zibar, 32, didn’t even have time to utter “the army” before he found himself beneath a large black lump panting above him – a dog that had hurtled into his bedroom. While his pregnant wife who underwent knee surgery a month earlier and now walks with crutches, was screaming, scared for her baby, Zibar found the strength to turn over and lie on top of the dog. “Release the dog,” he heard someone shout. The same person demanded that they get out of the house. Zibar shouted back that he has trouble walking. “So crawl,” came the reply, in mother-tongue Arabic. The exchange mingled with loud shouts in the background. Meanwhile Zibar’s 70-year-old mother and his children – his 9-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son – had gotten up and were standing near the exploded door…
Netanyahu Ditches Rule Book to Become Super Statesman in Saudi Arabia (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) By leaking news of the meeting, Netanyahu wanted to achieve three goals.
UAE and Israel: A partnership that can help the world (Sabah al-Binali, Israel Hayom) Israel can help the UAE expose its tech startups to partners and investors in the West, while the UAE can be Israel's gateway to Asia and the East.
Amid Oil Market Upheaval, Saudi Arabia May Be Eyeing Israeli Companies, Know-how (Dafna Maor, Haaretz+) The Middle East's oil colossus needs to diversify its economy, and it's possible that the need for regional cooperation will make it remove the ban on investing in Israeli firms.
Antisemitism? Better Call It Judeophobia (Shlomo Sand, Haaretz+) There is no such thing as a Semitic race. There are only Semitic languages. I am a Semite because I speak and write Hebrew. My parents were not Semites because they spoke Yiddish.
It is strange to make peace efforts with Arab countries when the war is intensifying inside the country (Lilach Sigan, Maariv) The tendency to open up so many internal fronts is not good for Jews, and that is certainly unequivocal. There are wars that no one wins, because their very existence is a loss.
A government that cannot be vomited and cannot be swallowed (Ariella Ringel-Hoffman, Yedioth Hebrew) ….It is not pleasant to see a closed kindergarten, closed shops, a closed country, but the most unpleasant, and also terrible thing, is to see a closed government, even if the doors of the chambers are wide open. Just two days ago, Minister of Labor, Social Welfare and Social Services Itzik Shmuli twisted in his seat in an interview with the journalist Keren Neubach to explain why the ministry he heads is unable to implement decisions that have long been made. Explain how he tries to navigate, "without ego" as he puts it, in order to still propel the stuck business and promote things that are under his auspices, but at the same time also in a competing Ministry for the advancement of citizens, or something similar. And all this in a government that Gantz was fully responsible for and co-founded, a government that today is fully responsible for its survival, which was dismantled and divided into 36 ministry fragments with each such ministry, a remnant and refugee to what was once a more or less a functioning body, fighting to ensure that the nothing he received would continue to breathe. Even if that ensures complete paralysis. And so we are all imprisoned in an impossible situation, with a government that can not be swallowed and cannot be vomited, entangled to the brim in an endless mask of excuses and explanations, on the one hand and on the other, for and against, and find ourselves, as we were half a year ago, dependent on Gantz: a government that he himself says is not functioning will be maintained or dismantled. True, Gantz has reached a stage where not only his body language, but also the things he says make it clear that he is tired of the situation he is in. That he believes, and is probably also not mistaken, that he will not make it to Balfour (the Prime Minister’s Residence as Prime Minister) and that all this Alternate Prime Minister matter, born in great sin - will die in scorching disgrace…How did the story end with the man who wanted the Ministry of Education, found himself in the Alternate Prime Minister bureau and on the way discovered that he did not like to get up in the morning for school at all? How will the story end and what message will it leave to the one who comes after him, the next partner in the formation of the coalition, which, at least according to the polls, it is not impossible that Binyamin Netanyahu will lead it? What message, what lesson, what insights, what is allowed and what is forbidden, and how things could have been done differently, and hence how it would have been possible to do them differently. And most importantly, how to be careful like from fire of an ambitious government…and how to give up the Alternate Prime Minister arrangement that inevitably corrupts the system, and how to promise the people of Israel, even in these difficult days, proper leadership.
Why Ehud Barak thinks Biden will be 'great' for Israel – and better than Trump on China (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Former prime minister voices optimism about a Biden presidency and predicts the restoration of U.S. leadership on the world stage. He also calls Secretary of State nominee Blinken ‘a great friend of Israel.’
If you really want a different type of Arab politics (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) For an alternative to the Joint Arab List to be realistic, the large parties, which purport to lead the country, must declare in advance their willingness to engage in talks with an Arab party with a civil agenda.
The Joint Arab List's Internal Rift Threatens to Sink the Party
(Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) Efforts at reconciliation within the Joint List have faltered amid one of its leader's comments that he does not rule out cooperating with Netanyahu.

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