APN's daily news review from Israel - Tuesday January 12, 2021
Quotes of the day:
"A defense minister without a party, without a public mandate and without a backbone, has again failed to
defend the future of Israel and is bowing to a small and vociferous minority from the settlements. Yesterday he
promised that no outposts would be legalized, and today he approves an outpost with 350 units."
—Peace Now responds to Israeli Defense Minister and Kahol-Lavan chairman, Benny Gantz's approval of more settlement homes.*
“A public security minister who has lost it and a prime minister who gave up and and let this farce continue — that’s the only way to explain not vaccinating prisoners over the age of 60. This is a move that is illegal, politically motivated and life-threatening."
--Israeli Defense Minister and Kahol-Lavan chairman, Benny Gantz, said after calling on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to force Public Security Minister to allow 60+-year-old prisoners be vaccinated.**
You Must Be Kidding:
Yesterday, a Jewish Israeli on one side of a road was moderately injured by a stone thrown by Jewish settlers at Palestinian vehicles from the other side of the road.***
- The last days of Trump put the Middle East on high alert // Amos Harel
- The last moment // Natannel Slyomovics
- “We’ll do it again”: After the storming of Capitol Hill, Trump supporters are preparing for Biden’s swearing-in ceremony
- The deficit grew to 160 billion shekels, but Israel has a bigger problem // Sami Peretz writes that political crisis is the issue
- From today: 55-65-year-olds will be vaccinated
- Court prohibited screening of film, “Jenin, Jenin,” and ordered director Mohammed Bakri to compensate a soldier
- The West is not rushing to help, it’s hard to count on Russia and Ukraine is stuck without vaccines // NYT
- In the service of Netanyahu // Amnon Harari
- Civil disturbance // Amira Hass
- 1/4 page ad: Lives of one man are not worth more than the lives of another man. Israel must provide vaccines for the Palestinians who are under their control in the West Bank and Gaza - Signed by 54 former Israeli ministers, MKs, retired generals, journalists, academics, artists and almost half of them were professors, and all but four were Jewish)
- Gantz moved aside and calls for union, Lapid doesn’t rule it out - Increased efforts to connect between left-center bloc parties (Hebrew)
- The Messiah isn’t coming // Sima Kadmon
- The left-wing is committing suicide // Shelly Yachimovich
- Victory of the soldiers in the battle over (the film) “Jenin, Jenin” (Hebrew)
- The virus defeated the Palmach fighter, Hana Meller; Almost 4,000 dead from corona
- Price of the lockdown: More than 100,000 newly unemployed
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- “First signs of stabilizing” (of corona infection rate)
- From dismantling to assembling - Kahol-Lavan Chairman said he is willing to give up the first spot on a list
- State in overdraft - Deficit jumped to record in 2020
- Half a million people got infected with Corona in Israel
- Smotrich divides Yamina faction - Chairman of National Union leaves alliance with Bennett
- On the division in the right-wing: Smotrich surprised Bennett // Mati Tuchfeld
- On the division in the left-wing: Strong left-wing bloc will help Likud // Amnon Lord
- On the democracy index: Right-wingers and religious don’t have faith in the institutions
- The branch of history - Which tree got a moshav named after it? And which remembers the Crusaders? Meet the oldest trees of each type that made it to finals in the “State Tree” competition
- The movie, “Jenin, Jenin” was prohibited from being screened
- Enforcement of the lockdown: Violent demonstration in Ashdod
- Because of corona: Deficit stands at 160 billion shekels - record high
- Police investigating: Who threw a grenade at the home of Eli Tabib (former owner of Jerusalem Beitar soccer team)?
Top News Summary:
Defense Minister and Kahol-Lavan chairman Benny Gantz said he would be willing to move aside to form a union with left-wing and center parties, Israel’s deficit hit the highest in decades - making top stories in the Hebrew newspapers.
In other news, an Israeli court banned the screening of “Jenin, Jenin,” the film by Arab-Israeli director Mohammed Bakri (see Quick Hits), a Knesset Subcommittee held a special (closed-door) meeting to honor outgoing pro-settler US Ambassador David Friedman, Israel approved building 800 more new settlement homes, and, meanwhile, Egypt, Jordan, German and France met in hopes of restarting Israel-Palestine talks, saying they are ready to work with the US to help achieve a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. And Haaretz reported that settler violence towards Palestinians since the death of settler teen Ahuvia Sandak have risen. (But readers of News Nosh know that ongoing settler violence towards Palestinians has been daily long before Sandak was killed at the end of December 2020.)
A Knesset Subcommittee held a special (closed-door) meeting to honor outgoing US Ambassador David Friedman. (US Embassy has full quotes here.) Pro-settler Friedman said his three-and-a-half years in office “flew by” because the job was “exciting, riveting and enjoyable.” He called the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital US President Donald Trump’s “most important achievement” in Israel and said that “Everyone feared that the recognition of Jerusalem would lead to an explosion, but it turned out to be an explosion of peace and not of violence.” [NOTE: Israeli soldiers shot dead 58 Palestinian protesters the day the new embassy was inaugurated in Jerusalem. - OH] and added that it was US President Donald Trump’s “most important achievement” in Israel. Another accomplishment, eh said, was “the non-illegality, if you will, of communities in Yehuda Veshomron [Hebrew for Judea and Samaria, i.e. the West Bank - OH].”
*With 71 days till the fourth Israeli elections in two years, and during a fight for the right-wing vote, Netanyahu announced the approval to build 800 more settlement homes. Maariv noted that Gantz had already approved them earlier. The separate announcements by the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister caused a stir in the Palestinian Authority and among the left-wing parties and non-parliamentary organizations. The Palestinian Authority said Israel was “racing against time” to expand settlements before Trump leaves office. Peace Now responded saying that Gantz "again failed to defend the future of Israel and is bowing to a small and vociferous minority from the settlements. Yesterday he promised that no outposts would be approved, and today he approves 350 housing units for an outpost.” Peace Now also said it was “intended to signal to the new administration in the United States that Israel wants a confrontation." Meretz party chairman Nitzan Horovitz called it “a devastating welcome for the new president, Biden. Building settlements is a fatal blow to the chances of separating into two states and it brings Israel and the Palestinians closer to the irreversible reality of a binational state." On the other hand, MK Nissim Vatori (Likud) accused Gantz of trying to get right-wing votes, but welcomed the move: “This is the only response to Arab terrorism and this response should not depend on the political whims of one politician or another.” Even center-right Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called it an "irresponsible step" that would spark a "battle" with the new US administration.
Maariv reported that Gantz also approved a number of construction initiatives for the Palestinian sector next week within the framework of the Planning and Licensing Subcommittee in the Civil Administration. Among them: Master plan to expand Wallajeh and Hizmeh villages (south and north of Jerusalem), validating the plan for a hotel in the Bethlehem area, discussing the discussion of a plan for a hotel in Beit Jala and discussing a request for the regulation of agricultural buildings in Ghoura al-Far’a.
***Ironically, Palestinians are taking the brunt of settlers' anger over the death of Ahuvia Sandak, Haaretz+ reported. This is ironic because the settlers are often throwing stones at passing Palestinian cars, which is exactly what Sandak and his friends were doing, according to the police who were chasing them on December 22nd. Sandak’s car flipped over and his friends got out, but did not tell the police who apprehended them that Sandak was caught under the car. He was found dead when police came to remove the car. Haaretz's Hagar Sheizaf writes that there were dozens of attacks against Palestinians since then. But a look at back at News Nosh reports show that this has been going on almost daily for years. Today, WAFA Palestinian news agency reported that a Palestinian man was injured in the eye when a group of Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles driving on the Nablus-Qalqilia road. However, yesterday there was a twist. A Jewish Israeli was moderately injured by a stone thrown by settlers at Palestinians in the area of Havat Gilad. The Israeli army said it was not known whether the victim was also involved in the stone-throwing, but he was standing on the other side of the road when a stone thrown at the Palestinian van missed the vehicle and hit him. The injured thirty-something-year-old Israeli was moderately injured. Maariv noted that (settler) Rivka Teitel was seriously injured when a stone was thrown at her car. [NOTE: There was no attempt by Israeli forces to search for the perpetrators and make mass arrests in the nearby Havat Gilad outpost, as is done in the much fewer cases when a Palestinian throws stones on Israeli cars. - OH]
Haaretz, Yedioth and Maariv focused on Gantz’s offer to give up the lead in order to unite center and left into one bloc, while ‘Israel Hayom’ focused on the break-up of the far right-wing alliance. In a prime-time press conference, Kahol-Lavan leader Benny Gantz conceded that he was wrong to break his promise to voters and join a government under Netanyahu and said he would be willing to give up the lead to create a broad center-left bloc. He ‘called it “an emergency” and said, “Let's unite and send Bibi home.” This comes as his party is crashing in the polls. He also apologized for calling Lapid a “people hater”: "I did not mean to call him a hater of people, I'm sorry.” (Maariv) In Yesh Atid, they did not close the door on him, and behind the scenes contacts are already taking place for a meeting between Gantz and Lapid, Yedioth Hebrew’s Yuval Karni reported. The far-right-wing alliance known as the Yamina faction appears to have broken up after Naftali Bennett’s New Right party ditched the extreme right-wing Kahanists of MK Bezalel Smotrich's National Union party. Polls say Bennett's New Right is projected to win more seats without the extremist Smotrich and his ilk. It’s unclear whether the other party in the alliance, Habayit Hayehudi, will run: its leader Rafi Peretz announced last week he was exiting politics.
- Israel hits new record high with 9,589 daily infections - Some 127,000 tests yield positivity rate of 7.6% as country also crosses threshold of half a million infections since start of outbreak; Health Ministry data shows areas with prominent Haredi population have seen highest infection rates in last seven days. (Ynet and Haaretz)
- Israel's virus vaccination campaign expanding to include over 55s - Following the arrival of additional Pfizer vaccine shipments, Health Ministry says Israelis over 55 years will also be able to get inoculated from Tuesday; HMOs complain they weren't informed before the announcement. (Ynet)
- **Gantz to Netanyahu: Allow older prisoners to be vaccinated; Calls Minister Ohana's ban illegal - Letter comes after Public Security Minister Amir Ohana (Likud) refused to inoculate inmates age 60-plus, despite Health Ministry order and Attorney General saying decision isn’t his to make. Gantz: "Non-vaccination of prisoners over the age of 60 by Minister Ohana - an illegal move that endangers human lives. Politicization of the fight in Corona will harm the government's ability to fight the virus." (Maariv and Times of Israel)
- No mask, no social distancing: chief rabbi ignores health rules - Israel's most senior Sephardic rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who earns a state salary, is under investigation after being caught at numerous mass gatherings in recent months without abiding by any of the legal regulations to fight coronavirus. (Ynet)
- Israeli Police, ultra-Orthodox Clash Over COVID Restrictions on Schools - Despite leading ultra-Orthodox figures calling to follow lockdown procedures, radical groups have kept dozens of schools opened throughout Israel. (Haaretz+VIDEO and Ynet)
- Meretz MK: Haredim flouting corona rules should be denied medical care - Following the harsh criticism, MK Yair Golan tweeted a clarification, saying, "I don't propose denying treatment to any Israeli, but the situation in which there are those who obey only the laws they wish or go against the state and its institutions is intolerable." (Israel Hayom)
- As Israel refuses to inoculate Palestinian prisoners against coronavirus, number of cases is on the rise, says group - Palestinian Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Commission said 191 Palestinian prisoners have so far contracted the disease since its outbreak. Commission accused Israel Prison Service of a policy of disregard for health of the prisoners and said the dismal conditions are ground for spread of pandemic that could lead to death of prisoners. (WAFA)
- Palestinians Strike Four COVID-19 Vaccine Deals, With 'Emergency Approval' for Russia's Sputnik V - Palestinian Authority (PA) health minister confirms ministry granted 'emergency approval' for vaccine without demanding additional clinical trials, and the first doses to arrive in February as PA accuses Israel of shirking duty to ensure vaccines available to Palestinians. (Ynet, Israel Hayom, WAFAand Haaretz+)
- Israeli Court Bans 2002 Documentary 'Jenin, Jenin' Following Soldier's Libel Suit - Court ordered Director Mohammed Bakri to pay $55,000 to reservist appearing for seconds in the film, which suggests Israeli soldiers committed war crimes in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. The film suggests Israeli soldiers committed war crimes during a military operation in the densely populated Jenin refugee camp in 2002, which killed dozens of Palestinians and partially demolished the camp, rendering 450 families homeless. (Haaretz+, Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
- Israeli settlers take over Palestinian land near Nablus - Settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Gitit, under protection from the Israeli army and police, plowed a plot of land owned by residents of Aqraba village. (WAFA)
- Israeli forces seize heavy machinery, equipment in northern Jordan Valley area - Israeli occupation forces seized today evening equipment and heavy machinery that was working on rehabilitating a road in Bardala village. In past two months, Israeli forces seized around 30 agricultural tractors, trucks, and heavy machinery in northern Jordan valley. (WAFA)
- Gaza fishermen forced by Israeli forces to leave sea and farmers to leave their lands - Israeli navy opened fire at the fishermen’s boats as they were sailing three nautical miles in the Sudaniya coast, northwest of Gaza City and Israeli forces stationed at military sites behind the borderline east of Khan Younis, opened fire at farmers as they were plowing their lands, and shepherds as well. (WAFA)
- Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian workers near separation barrier - A Palestinian worker was shot in the foot by Israeli forces at the Separation Barrier at the village of Faroun, south of Tulkarem, as he was attempting to cross to reach his workplace inside Israel, according to witnesses. Earlier six Palestinian workers attempting to reach their workplaces inside Israel were shot and injured by Israeli army gunfire at a gate in the apartheid barrier. (WAFA)
- Palestinian Prime Minister, PLO official condemn import by Arab markets of Israeli settlement products - PLO Executive Committee Member, Ahmad Majdalani, slammed the decision by the United Arab Emirates, which has begun importing products from Israeli settlement Rehelim: “This dangerous and unprecedented step encourages Israel's colonial settlement enterprise's prosperity and undermines the right of Palestine to exist and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.” (WAFA)
- Israel to sell its 'smart' shopping carts to UAE's biggest supermarket chain - Cart, developed by A2Z Smart Technologies Corp, is priced at NIS 20,000 each and is equipped with a touch screen, a barcode reader and a weight at the bottom that allows shoppers to shop without heading to checkout. (Ynet)
- Israelis losing confidence in state institutions, poll shows - The 2020 Democracy Index finds only 42% of Israelis have faith in the High Court of Justice, merely 17% think social solidarity still exists. President Reuven Rivlin: Elected officials' rhetoric is proving destructive. (Israel Hayom)
- Netanyahu's Corruption Trial to Resume February 8 After Being Postponed Due to COVID Lockdown - Judges say that the PM will be required to attend the hearing and respond to the indictment against him. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
- Gantz Assembling Another Inquiry Panel on Submarines Affair - The initial committee was disbanded over restrictions placed on members by the attorney general. (Haaretz+)
- UN nuclear watchdog chief warns time is running out to revive Iran deal - President-elect Biden said he will return to deal immediately if Iran resumes strict compliance with the 2015 deal, but enrichment has only accelerated and Tehran is now threatening to expel UN inspectors. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
- Oman to Get Its First Crown Prince in Constitutional Overhaul - New basic law also emphasizes the role of the state in guaranteeing more rights and freedoms for citizens – including equality between men and women. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Firebrand Turkish Televangelist and Cult Leader Gets Life Term - Court hands TV personality Adnan Oktar more than 1,000 years in prison for sex abuse, aiding a coup against Erdogan and other offenses. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Lebanon High Court Says Prosecutor Can Resume Beirut Port Explosion Investigation - Almost 30 people have been arrested since the probe into August's deadly blast began, which killed more than 200 people, but fears remain that culture of impunity and pressure from prominent groups could derail inquiry. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- 'The People Will Pay the Price': U.S. Plan to Blacklist Houthis Raises Concerns in Yemen - Pompeo's designation of the Houthis (who are fighting the Saudi-allied government) as a terrorist organization could be a matter of 'life or death,' says humanitarian source, while others warn it could polarize the conflict. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Comedian says 'people like their Jews suffering,' stirs controversy - "It is not anti-Semitism to criticize a government. I'm fine with BDS, as long as it's clear that you are boycotting a government and not a people," Sarah Silverman says on social media. (Israel Hayom)
Ahmad Hamdon became a kibbutznik and cooks from wild plants
Over a decade ago, Ahmad Hamdon changed his name to Meidan Sadeh and almost completely abandoned his Arab origins, joining Kibbutz Lotem as a full member. But once he entered the kitchen, he went back to foraging and returned to his roots. (Dor Vanger, Haaretz+)
The Jews now dumping Trump won’t ever apologize for backing him (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) There were Jews who joined the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, arm-in-arm with open antisemites. But while most Jewish Trump voters won’t mourn his exit, they don’t regret backing him either.
Traumatized by Trump, U.S. Jews Are About to Get Battered by Israel, Too (Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) If and when American Jews emerge from their own country’s horror show and pay attention to Israel’s upcoming election, they won't like what they'll see. As Trump exits the White House stage, more right-wing nationalists are surging towards power in Israel.
We need to learn from the US: Netanyahu should be suspended - now (Attorney Gilad Sher, Ynet Hebrew) The attacks on the legal systems, the built-in conflict of interest of a criminal defendant, and the difficulty of running a state in parallel with the trial - all of these should bring the Attorney General to take the required step.
If Trump Deserves a Twitter Ban, So Does Netanyahu (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) …Fake news has a glorious and ancient history in these parts. Here is one piece of fake news that handed Netanyahu the government on a platter of venomous incitement: a flood of slogans and tweets that informed everyone, shamelessly, that “the Arab MKs are supporters of terror,” and more fake news: The Arabs were accused by the choruses of the right of being serial perpetrators of election fraud. On the eve of the election tempers flared due to this issue; after the election, all was forgotten. In the coming election another dose of incitement awaits us. All the gatekeepers are silent, almost all the media outlets related to those lies as though they were an axiom that needs no proof. Why? Because anyone who questions these “axioms” is in effect a supporter of “supporters of terror.” Is it possible to ask Twitter to close the platform to the host of inciters against the Arabs and members of the left, with the same efficiency it is demonstrating in closing the platform to the world’s most powerful man? For some reason Twitter did not see fit to erase such tweets. Okay, if the landlord, in other words Israeli democracy, is silent, then why should Twitter intervene?…
The Right will no longer be muzzled (Erez Tadmor, Israel Hayom) The Right has to develop independent platforms rather than suffice with its status as a fig leaf in the leftist media.
Rules of the game of democracy (Isaac Herzog, Yedioth/Ynet) Democracy, statehood, institutions, ethos and heritage are big, amorphous words, sometimes too complex for a short slogan; but they are the foundation that holds us together and without them, different groups of people coexist.
The current reality in the United States presents us with difficult challenges (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) One of the challenges will be the declared intention of President-elect Joe Biden to return his country to the nuclear deal with Iran, and to lift the sanctions against it without preconditions.
Trump's Erratic Last Days in Office Put the Middle East on High Alert (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Although an escalation doesn't suit anybody, Iran and its proxies remain primed, while Israel is maintaining contact with the Pentagon over any unbidden moves.
Biden's Choice for CIA Director Shows Where He's Headed on Iran (Ben Samuels, Haaretz+) William Burns has long argued that the nuclear deal actually makes Israel safer, despite Netanyahu's long-standing, vocal objections to it.
Vaccinate the Palestinians. We share an epidemiological fate (Dr. Shelly Kamin-Friedman, Ynet Hebrew) Both morally and health-wise, Israel must help the Palestinian Authority’s poor health system. The corona virus does not stop at military checkpoints and this is exactly where the state must take responsibility.
Getting Israel's Arabs to get vaccinated (Prof. Nihaya Daoud, Israel Hayom) Not even COVID has changed the chronic disadvantages under which Arab Israeli communities suffer when it comes to budgets, healthcare, and infrastructure.
Netanyahu gets A for vaccines, F for pandemic (Amichai Attali, Yedioth/Ynet) In 71 days, Israelis will head to the polls and might finally decide on who they want as a leader: a flashy showman and political trickster or a sensible leader whose decisions and governance make such flashiness irrelevant.
Winning the Arab vote (Jason Shvili, Israel Hayom) If parties that do support the State of Israel's continued existence as a Jewish state want Israeli Arabs to vote for them, they will have to make it worth their while.
The change in the Prime Minister's attitude toward Arab citizens ahead of the election is ridiculous and mocking (Yair Bar-Kol, Maariv) Netanyahu's courtship of Arab citizens in the run-up to the upcoming elections is not only unnecessary, but also a target of ridicule and derision. It would be better to conclude that the Jewish Nation State Law is unnecessary and that it is possible and perhaps even desirable to be satisfied with the Declaration of Independence.
‘Riffraff’ turned into ‘Bibists.’ Both nicknames are unacceptable (Eran Rosenzweig, Ynet Hebrew) As in the days of (former prime minister Menachem) Begin, (who beat the Labor party by bringing in Mizrachi Jews to the Likud party - OH], in recent years the left -wing has found a nickname designed to belittle us Likud supporters, and attribute to us a lack of intelligence. Those of us who adopt the nickname defiantly only kindle the fire.
Splits and mergers on both the Right and the Left (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The high minimum threshold will force the new parties, and some established ones, to form partnerships in order to survive. Even though Bennett isn't doing badly in the polls, the misadventure of his former New Right list has left scars that probably won't go away.
Top GOP Donor Tells Haaretz: 'Jews Know What Happens When Rule of Law Gives Way to Mob Rule'
Sam Fox, who disavowed Sen. Josh Hawley over vote to block election certification, says Capitol attack 'unleashed by a Big Lie,' echoing Biden reference to Goebbels. (Interviewed by Ben Samuels in Haaretz+)
Jewish Activists Who Fought Trump Promise They Won't Go Easy on Biden
These activists were at the forefront of the fight for social justice during the Trump era. Now they tell Haaretz how they are preparing for the day after he's gone. (Interviewed by Danielle Ziri in Haaretz+)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.