News Nosh 2.21.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Sunday February 21, 2021


Quote of the day:

"The proposal talks about 'redeeming the land,' as if we were living under the Ottoman Empire...This is a decision aimed solely at harming a future Israeli-Palestinians settlement. If there were a responsible adult in the region, they would have prevented it. But right now, no such person can be found."*
--In an Op-Ed in 'Israel Hayom,' Yossi Beilin slams the Jewish National Fund (JNF/KKL) plan to invest $11.6 million toward the purchase of lands in the West Bank. The JNF stipulates that only Jews can buy, mortgage or lease JNF-owned land.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
In a survey of 1,100 teens aged 16-18 who constitute a representative sample of Israel’s different “tribes” – secular, religious Zionist, ultra-Orthodox and Arab, Arabs are the group most feared and hated by Jews of all kinds. This view was expressed by 24%, 42% and 66%, respectively of secular, religious Zionist and ultra-Orthodox teens. Fully 49% of religious Zionists and 23% of secular Jews favored stripping Arabs of the right to vote.**

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

  • Black in the eyes - Tens of tons of petroleum emitted to the sea - and Israel’s beaches were covered with tar
  • Clear and immediate threat // Dr. Yehoshua Shkedi
  • Shot of encouragement - Pfizer vaccine has 99% effectivity, Health Ministry statistics show
  • The secret clause of the deal of the young woman - Did Israel pay for vaccines for Syria in exchange for return of Israeli woman who crossed the border?
  • Incapacity is not a vulgar word: Netanyahu is ignoring his commitment to the High Court // Ben Caspit

Israel Hayom

Top News Summary:
Black, green and a secret deal were today’s top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. The black was the oil spill which covered Israel’s beaches in tar, killing wildlife in one of the country’s worst natural disasters in decades. The green was the new Green Pass system beginning today to allow people who got vaccinated to enter gyms, cultural events, museums, and hotels - and to keep the unvaccinated out as Israel’s third lockdown comes to an end. And the secret clause was in the deal with Syria for the release the 25-year-old Israeli woman - beyond the swap for two Syrian shepherds - according to which Israel agreed to pay Russia $1.2 million for hundreds of thousands of Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines for Syria.

Meanwhile, the latest in Iran nuclear deal news: At the moment, the US and Iran are wrangling over who goes first in returning to the 2015 agreement: the US lifts sanctions or Iran returns to compliance with the stipulations of the agreement. On Thursday, the US said it’s ready for talks with Iran and would accept an invitation from the European Union to attend a meeting of the participants in the original agreement. The White House also announced the reversal of the Trump administration’s interest that all UN sanctions against Iran be restored and it eased restrictions on the travel in the US of Iranian diplomats posted to the UN. Iran stopped abiding by the deal restrictions after the Trump administration restarted the sanctions. Iran continued to insist that the US lift sanctions first. The next day, US President Joe Biden reiterated his administration's willingness to re-engage with Iran and other major powers in negotiations. On Saturday, Iran said it was studying the European Union proposed informal meeting with the US. Meanwhile, the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, reportedly found traces of uranium at two sites Iran barred it from. And the IAEA chief arrived in Iran on Saturday ahead of the deadline on which Tehran said it would suspend nuclear inspections by the IAEA.

Corona-related Quickees:

  • Israel to vaccinate 100,000 Palestinian workers against COVID- Israeli and Palestinian health officials also agreed to work together to curb the spread of new coronavirus strains, the Palestinian Health Ministry says following a joint meeting in Ramallah. (Haaretzand JPost)
  • Abbas rival, Mohammed Dahlan, delivers COVID vaccines to Gaza- 20,000 doses of Russia's Sputnik V, donated by the United Arab Emirates and organized by Mohammed Dahlan, a rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, entered the Palestinian enclave through its border with Egypt, embarrassing the Palestinian leader ahead of national elections. (Israel Hayom)
  • Pfizer COVID Vaccine Close to 99-percent Effective in Preventing Death, Latest Israeli Data Shows- Two weeks after the second dose, close to 96 percent of people inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine don't get sick at all, data on people vaccinated up to February 13 shows. (Haaretzand Times of Israel)
  • Israel extends COVID ban on inbound and outbound flights through March 6- Restrictions on regular flights were initially meant to be in effect until February 20. (Haaretz+)
  • As fake news fades and sanctions fears grow, more Israeli Bedouin are getting vaccinated- But the rate of vaccination against COVID-19 among the country’s Bedouin is still far lower than among the general population. (Haaretz+)

Quick Hits:

  • Arab woman attacked at Tel Aviv clinic after argument with 'racist' man: 'He choked me'- The man in question heard her negative comments in Arabic about Jewish Israelis, and the situation escalated into physical assault. (Haaretz+)
  • **'Map of hatred': Half of Israeli religious teens would strip Arab right to vote, poll finds- The Hebrew University center study surveyed 1,100 teens aged 16-18 representing Israel’s different “tribes” – secular, religious Zionist, Haredi and Arab. (Haaretz+)
    Anti-Netanyahu Activists Report Assaults as Hundreds Protest a Month Before Election- Protesters take to the streets in Jerusalem, Caesarea and throughout the country for the 35th week in a row. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Asks for Egypt's Help in Securing Prisoner Swap With Hamas, Report Says- Al Arabiya reports Israel has approached Cairo, but details of the negotiations, which come amid reports of a vaccines-for-prisoner deal between Israel and Syria, remain unclear. (Haaretz+)
  • Equatorial Guinea to Move Israel Embassy to Jerusalem, Netanyahu Says- The country is the second in Africa, after Malawi, to announce such a move to the city in recent months. (Haaretzand Israel Hayom)
  • 2 Bedouin-Israeli suspects detained in theft of IDF ammunition- Crime wave in southern Israel continues with another army base targeted by local residents. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian Judoka, Cheered on by Israeli Fans, Snags Silver Medal at Tel Aviv Tournament- Saeid Mollaei, who plays for Mongolia after fleeing his country, said: 'I have always been an athlete, never political.’ (Haaretz+)
  • IDF decides models are not artists, are not eligible for perks during service- Models serving in the IDF will no longer receive benefits, like shorter basic training or the ability to travel abroad for work. Will the new announcement lead to them evading their military service? (Israel Hayom)
  • Abbas Issues Decree to Boost Public Freedoms Ahead of Palestinian Elections- Critics assume it is a political ploy, as the Palestinian territories go towards a long-awaited presidential and legislative contest. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Rockets Strike Iraqi Air Base Housing U.S. Military Contractor, One Injured- Attack comes days after NATO announced it would boost its troop presence in the country. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Algeria frees imprisoned journalist, pro-democracy activists- Khaled Drareni was imprisoned for 'inciting an unarmed gathering' and 'endangering national unity,' charges linked to his coverage of the protest movement. (Agencies,Haaretz)
  • Lebanon appoints new prosecutor to lead probe into Beirut blast- Despite the fast appointment of judge Tarek Bitar, the removal of his predecessor by the country's top court will likely further delay the investigation into the horrific explosion. (Agencies, Haaretz)


These siblings may never see their father again: They're in Israel and he's in Gaza
Palestinians in Israel over the age of 18 are barred from visiting their loved ones in the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of families are being torn apart. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
New Book Shows How Israel’s Fate Was Decided at the Battle of El Alamein
A breakthrough book by Gershom Gorenberg featuring uncovered secrets from World War II reveals how easily the war could have gone the other way, and how Israelis tend to exaggerate the role played by the Palmach. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)

Biden's Diplomacy Train Is Headed Straight for Iran, With No Stop in Israel (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Israel’s ability to influence Biden is limited, nor is the option of clashing openly with the U.S. administration truly feasible.
Netanyahu sees the problem of the future of the nuclear agreement with Iran as a “diplomatic COVID-19” (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv)  The prime minister received a reasoned explanation from the White House for a delay in the phone call from his old friend, Biden. In practice, the incoming US president will make decisions regarding Iran, and Netanyahu will just have to deal with them.
Iran Gains Nuke Know-how With Uranium Metal Production, Alarming Israel (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is signaling to voters that only he can fix the Iran crisis. Israeli drone activity in Lebanon could lead to flare-up.
Can Biden's zeal to deal work better than 'maximum pressure'? (Jonathan S. Tobin,Israel Hayom) The unsurprising announcement that the United States is ready to negotiate with Iran is worrisome because of the new administration's modest goals and dismal negotiating record.
In Submarine Affair Plaguing Netanyahu, the Egypt Angle Is Just as Murky (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) A senior defense official when the sale of German submarines to Egypt was approved says Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak okayed the deal behind his back and despite his opposition. Barak denies this.
Why Israel's Choice for National Tree Is So Destructive (Tomer Dekel, Haaretz+) We do not deserve the olive as our national tree. I have nothing personal against the olive tree, which triumphed… Like most inhabitants of this land, I too admire and revere it…Already in the early 1920s artists of the Land of Israel school of painting, personified by Nahum Gutman, Reuven Rubin and others, depicted the mythic landscapes of this land. The olive tree was a major fixture of the land of the Bible envisioned in those paintings, as it gave expression to a powerful yearning for lost and forgotten terrain. But the overwhelming majority of the olive groves rendered in those paintings and in that imagined biblical place actually belonged to the Arab fellahin who lived here. That symbol, which was revived more than 100 years ago, had its genesis in a lie. It wasn’t the land of the Bible: The scenes painted were those of farmlands of the Arab villages that existed here. Perhaps that’s what the land of the Bible looked like, though it’s more reasonable to suppose that it didn’t. One way or the other, the groves constituted a mythological land and history that belonged to other people…But that biblical land still remains an imaginary image: We encounter it on hikes in the Galilee, in a touching photo of the Judean Hills or in a naïve landscape painting. The splendid, ancient olive trees that populate our imagination were mostly planted by indigenous Arab villagers. Their thick trunks were toughened throughout centuries, nourished by determined fathers; their rounded bodies were pruned and chiseled by generations of faithful sons…I would be remiss in not taking note of the place held by the olive tree among the messianic strain of Israeli society, in particular in the West Bank, where it has become a means of war. In the archaic perception of a zero-sum game, the owner of it is the owner of the land. The sanctifiers of the land will not balk at burning that tree or that land for the sake of their messianic vision…(Tomer Dekel is an artist and a gardener.)
Allowing vaccines into Gaza must be first step in prisoner swap deal (Aviram Shaul, Yedioth/Ynet) Brother of Oron Shaul, who fell in 2014 Gaza war and whose body is being held by Hamas, says vaccine shipment serves as a major PR boost for Israel to showcase the terror group's lack of cooperation and could help revive negotiations.
Israel cut its losses with Syrian prisoner swap (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) Israel has paid rogue rulers to return our citizens before. At least this time, the payout was not a personal gift to the dictator across the border but aid that benefits the general population.
Netanyahu's Vaccine Deal With Syria's Assad Will Haunt Him in Dealings With Hamas (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The deal with Damascus to secure the return of an Israeli who crossed the border raises an uncomfortable question for the prime minister.
Russia wanted to show Israel who's boss (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The Israeli government made a legitimate decision to deviate from its customary position and purchase the Russian vaccines, but concealing the matter raises questions and concerns.
The Left uses incitement as a political tool (Dr. Limor Samimian-Daras, Israel Hayom) Why is it that the Left can use incitement and hate speech without restraint or fear of retribution, while the Right fears criticism every time it tries to express itself?
Who Should Fear More the Long Arm of International Justice: Israel or Hamas?(Victor Kattan, Haaretz+) The International Criminal Court decision that it can investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel is a vindication of the Palestinians’ legal strategy. Unless it backfires.
Itamar Ben-Gvir is neither religious nor a Zionist (Moti Shklar, Yedioth/Ynet) Religious Zionists believe one can fight for Jews' rights to the land while recognizing modern social and universal processes, and comprehend that Jewish faith aspires to high morals and humane behavior.
Likud will never be able to remove stain of Kahane (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) By embracing Itamar Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu may believe he will secure the immunity he seeks in the criminal proceedings against him, but he is underestimating the extremists and racists if he thinks he can control them - and his party will pay the price.
The time is ripe: Does anyone have the courage to get Netanyahu to be incapacitated (from politics)? (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The Prime Minister's behavior, his outbursts, his disregard for the commitments he made in the High Court - all of these create a situation to make him incapacitated (to serve as prime minister). But it isn’t certain that it is worthwhile to go for such a move, because like Trump, Netanyahu will not hesitate to use his supporters to escape the threat of justice.
With Heavy Heart, I’ll Vote for Netanyahu (Yehezkel Dror, Haaretz+) It’s hard not to despair over the dangerous malady beleaguering Israeli politics, which is bringing us to the polls for the fourth time in two years. But a small light in the darkness can be found in the example set by Ariel Sharon, who came to a new understanding about our circumstances and began taking steps toward a two-state solution. I believe that Netanyahu too has the potential to do this. He has even said a few times that he stands by his so-called Bar-Ilan speech, in which he voiced support for two states. Here is where the tragedy of the center and the left comes in: Instead of promising to support any candidate who is prepared to proceed toward such a solution, they have taken a person-based position, making “no Netanyahu” its key issue. This has pushed the prime minister into embracing the extreme right, destroying any chance that he might come to his senses.
Jewish National Fund, It's Time to Redeem the Land of Israel (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) ..The Six-Day War of 1967 should have breathed new life into the KKL-JNF, which received from the Israel Lands Administration (which later became the Israel Lands Authority) and had turned into a fat, lazy organization…But its hacks, like those in the Labor Party who led the cabinet and Knesset, didn’t rise to the occasion; they missed the window of opportunity that had been opened to the Jewish people. Many Arabs would have been willing to sell their land; in the early days, they would even have done so openly. But the lazy KKL-JNF rested on its laurels, aside from marginal purchases by its subsidiary Himnuta…
*Provocative and unnecessary (Yossi Beilin, Israel Hayom) The JNF's decision to purchase West Bank lands is aimed solely at harming a future Israeli-Palestinians settlement. If there was a responsible adult in the region, they would have prevented it. Right now, unfortunately, no such person can be found.
The Israeli Left's Test: Standing Up for Arab Labor Candidate (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Labor party chairwoman MK Merav Michaeli, who defines herself as a “revisionist,” did not disavow Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin, the seventh member of her Knesset slate, for not standing at attention for the Memorial Day siren, as Yitzhak Rabin would certainly have done, and insultingly to boot. This is to her credit, of course. It’s just a pity that she mentioned in one breath the brave and authentic words of Ibtisam Mara’ana-Menuhin, and sex offenders who have been rehabilitated. The connection is a wretched one. It’s also a pity that Mara’ana herself apologized for her remarks, which she made 10 years ago. They are still valid today for any Arab citizens who have not lost the last vestige of their national pride.
Engaging with the UN Human Rights Council (Ben Cohen, Israel Hayom) It's a real American conundrum – namely, because the majority of its member states are illiberal autocracies, and yet, the only country to have its record scrutinized as a fixed agenda item is Israel.
How Israel Hopes to Avert U.S. Crisis Over Illegal Missile Sales to Asian Country(Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Jerusalem is banking on its fast response and cooperation with the U.S. to prevent the affair becoming a new flashpoint.
The Palestinian Authority is winning in Area C (Hillel Frisch, Israel Hayom) In 2009, the majority of built-up space in Area C was populated by Jews. By 2019, most of the built-up space was Palestinian. Such a feat rivals even the most successful settlement projects of the Jewish Agency during the Mandate.
Fatah on Verge of Split Ahead of Palestinian Election That Might Still Be Nixed(Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Nasser al-Kidwa – a longstanding critic of Abbas’ leadership – revealed the open secret of an alternative slate in the works and called on the jailed Marwan Barghouti to join him.
Marwan Bargouthi could inject new life into Palestinian politics (Ben Lynfield,Plus61J) Although releasing the former Fatah leader, who is serving five life sentences for murder, it is a step Israel can take now to pave the way for having a viable negotiating partner in the future.


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