APN's daily news review from Israel - Wednesday February 24, 2021
NOTE: News Nosh will be off on Thursday, February 25th, for Purim holiday, and return on Sunday, February 28th.
Quote of the day:
"Any delay lowers his chances of recovery and may result in irreversible damage."
--Dr. David Schul wrote in his medical opinion, calling for Israeli medical respiratory and physical rehabilitation of Harun Abu Aram, who was completely paralyzed when an Israeli soldier 'misfired' into his neck on January 1st. Israel's Physicians for Human Rights Israel has called on the Israeli Ministry of Defense to provide Abu Aram with the treatment. The ministry has yet to provide any care for Abu Aram.*
- Netanyahu’s attorneys expected to summon Attorney General to testify
- Government approved: Night curfew to be imposed during Purim holiday
- Gantz warns that he will be fired from the transitional government, but he did not turn to the Attorney General to clarify the issue
- Israel to transfer thousands of vaccine doses to countries that open embassies in Jerusalem
- Petition to Pfizer CEO: Postpone your visit, Netanyahu could use if for (election) propaganda
- US speaks about “two-state solution,” but it’s not clear what it means // Alon Pinkas
- Gag order over investigation of oil spill polluting the coast partially lifted: Tar was also found in Lebanon
- 6,500 labor migrants died preparing for the World Cup in Qatar // The Guardian
- The rulers of the West Bank // Zvi Bar’el
- Gantz the victim // Limor Moyal
- The transparent children - Jump in number of children getting medical and psychological treatment due to the pandemic (Hebrew)
- Holiday under lockdown - Government approved: Restrictions at night time
- “Investigate Likud’s contacts with the Palestinian Authority” (Hebrew)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- The rate of infection is rising again - Night curfew expected from tomorrow
- Suspicion: Corona test permits were faked - 11 infected people on a rescue flight from New York entered Israel undisturbed
- In the restaurant industry they warn: We won’t be able to open if capacity is limited to 75%
- IAEA report warns: Iran is hiding nuclear material; Netanyahu to Teheran: We won’t allow you to be armed
- Return of the right-wing bloc: (ultra-Orthodox parties led by) Deri, Gafni and Leitzman committed to supporting Netanyahu; Smotrich refuses: “We won’t sign on documents lacking significance”
- More young sick, drop among elderly
- Holiday at home: Government approved night curfew during Purim
- “Biden Administration’s attitude increases the chance of a clash with Iran” - Dramatic assessment of top politicians in meeting Prime Minister convened
- The internal dispute could have a high price // Yoav Limor
- Let’s celebrate - Despite the night curfew, there will numerous events during the holiday
- Minister Gamliel to (‘Israel Hayom’ commentator Jacob) Berdugo: “The tar disaster (on the coast) is under control”
- Attorney General again on the witness stand? Prime Minister’s attorneys demand: Mendelblitt testify
Top News Summary:
Israel is putting the Purim holiday celebrations on night curfew to stop the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s lawyers plan to summon the Attorney Generalto testify over the approval he gave to open a probe against Netanyahu and chairman of the far-right-wing ‘Religious Zionism’ faction, MK Bezalel Smotrich, told Netanyahu, ‘No,’ he would not sign a commitment to support him in the next elections making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Also of interest, while international condemnation against Israel continues, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians a ‘symbolic’ number of vaccines doses, but Israel also decided to provide vaccines to countries that transferred their embassies to Jerusalem.
Also, the Israeli news websites reported Tuesday night that a 17-year-old Israeli settler was indicted for carrying out ‘hate crimes’ [e.g. Jewish terror - OH] against Palestinians on the night of January 4th. The charges of conspiracy to commit a crime for racist motives, aggravated battery, carrying a weapon, attempted destruction of property using explosives, and other crimes were committed on January 4th in the Palestinian village of Sarta. The suspect threw stun grenades into two Palestinian homes while the residents were sleeping, injuring a 61-year-old man and his 17-year-old daughter. Four other suspects who were also involved are still under investigation and three other suspects have not been caught yet. The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, posted the video from the incident. [NOTE: There has been a sharp spike in the number of settler attacks on Palestinians since the death in December of Ahuviya Sandak, a settler youth who died in a car crash while trying to escape police who were chasing him for throwing stones at passing Palestinian cars. An incident similar to the one in Sarta took place two weeks later in the village of Madama, where some 20 settlers from Yitzhar reportedly entered and injured a 10-year-old girl by throwing a rock at her, as well as damaging cars and homes.] Separately, three Palestinian minors were indicted Monday for throwing pipe bombs at settlers. However, no one was harmed by their actions.
- Gantz Fears Netanyahu Will Fire Him and His Ministers After March Election - Defense Minister Gantz, who is also the alternate prime minister, may quit the race or fail to pass the electoral threshold. That may allow Netanyahu to dismiss him and Kahol Lavan ministers from the transitional government. (Haaretz+)
- Ultra-Orthodox parties pledge loyalty to Netanyahu; Smotrich’s 'Religious Zionism' party doesn’t - UTJ, Shas and Likud reconstitute right-wing bloc that prevented a Gantz-led government after previous elections, but without Bennett’s Yamina. (Times of Israel and Maariv)
- A Month to Israeli Election, Bennett Says He Won't Join Lapid-led Government- (Far right-wing) Yamina party leader, Naftali Bennett, says that he is willing to join a coalition that includes the Yesh Atid leader, but that he will not be part of a 'left-wing' government led by him. (Haaretz+)
- "Investigate (Likud Deputy Minister) Fateen Mulla" (for contacting Palestinians) - The Movement for Quality of Government: "The contacts Deputy Minister from the Likud party made with the Palestinian Authority with the aim of influencing Israeli Arabs to support the Likud - are against the law." The political system continues to stir following the exposure by Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet reporter Elior Levy about the contacts that Deputy Minister Fateen Mulla had with officials in the Palestinian Authority to discuss encouraging Israeli Arabs to support the Likud party in the upcoming elections and not to support the Joint List. Now, alongside the political storm, there is a demand for a criminal investigation against Deputy Minister Mulla. (Yedioth Hebrew)
- Israel's Top Court Hears Petition to Disqualify Israeli Arab Labor Candidate - Ibtisam Mara’ana was disqualified last week by the Central Election Committee. The court will likely quash the decision. (Haaretz+)
- Targeting the Jewish left-wing voters - The Joint List launched its Hebrew campaign: “We offer partnership” - The chairman of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, said at the launch of the party’s Hebrew campaign: "In the last two years, we have proven that Netanayahu can’t beat a strong Joint List. But even the center-left understood that without it can’t (beat Netanyahu). The same Yair Lapid who said ‘Zoebiz’ [reference to firebrand former MK Haneen Zoebi - OH] now wants the Joint List in government. All this happened only thanks to the power of the Joint List. There is no democracy without equality and there is no equality without power. I appeal to the Jewish public to vote for the Joint List, not out of sympathy but out of interest. Peace is a common interest. Democracy is a common interest. Social justice is a common interest.” (Maariv)
- Israeli Scientists Warn Pfizer CEO: Netanyahu May Exploit Your Visit for Election Campaign - Albert Bourla, Pfizer's CEO, has yet to respond, showing no signs of planning to change the date of his visit. (Haaretz+)
- Only 25 of the 120 members of the 18th Knesset from 2009 are still in politics - The data presented by the Israel Democracy Inistitute shows a high turnover rate in the Israeli political system. (News1)
- Anti-Netanyahu Bloc Maintains Majority in New Israel Election Poll - The poll, done for Channel 12 and released exactly one month ahead of the scheduled date of the election, gave Netanyahu's Likud party 28 seats, making it the largest. (Haaretz and Times of Israel)
- *Rehabilitation of Palestinian who was seriously injured by IDF gunfire because of a generator is delayed due to funding problems - Harun Abu Aram,who was shot in the neck by an Israeli soldier on January 1st while resisting the soldiers' attempt to confiscate his neighbor's electricity generator, remains completely paralyzed, is connected to a respirator and can only communicate with his eyes. Requests to the Israeli Ministry of Defense to finance his treatment in Israel were not answered. According to opinions submitted by Israeli doctors, he needs treatment that the Palestinian health system cannot provide. However, the hospitals in Israel will provide him with treatment only if a financial guarantee is given. According to two opinions submitted by Israeli doctors at the request of the Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) organization, in order to rehabilitate Abu Aram, it is necessary to transfer him to the respiratory rehabilitation department at Sheba Hospital. "Any delay decreases his chances of recovery and could end in irreversible damage," Dr. David Schull wrote in his opinion. PHRI said that since the IDF said it mistakenly shot Abu Aram, it must take responsibility for his treatment. (Haaretz Hebrew and VIDEO of SHOOTING)
- Israel levels land east of Jerusalem to expand illegal settlement - Israel leveled Wednesday an estimated at 1500 dunams (1.5 square kilometers) near Kedar settlement on land belonging to residents of Abu Dis. Israel prevents the landowners from working on it or reclaiming it since it falls within the Israeli settlement plan known as E1. (WAFA)
- Israeli navy attack Palestinian boats off Gaza shore - The Israeli navy opened fire and water hoses Wednesday at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within six nautical miles offshore Gaza city, causing damages to the boats. Fishermen had to end their fishing mission, which is their sole source of livelihood. (WAFA)
- Photojournalist, teen among 18 Palestinians detained from West Bank - In E. Jerusalem, Israeli police rounded up a Palestinian after violently storming and searching his parents’ house in Shuafat refugee camp. Later, police detained Ahmad Jalajel, who works as a photojournalist, after stopping and inspecting his vehicle in al-Tur neighborhood. (WAFA)
- Palestine, Arab diplomats meet members of the Mideast Quartet to revive the peace process - Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said a meeting with the European Union delegate is going to be held today, and another meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Friday in effort to re-activate the Middle East Quartet and revive the Middle East peace process. (WAFA)
*Israel Opens Vaccination Center at Checkpoint to Reach Palestinians Who Are East Jerusalem
Residents - COVID vaccinations start at Qalandiyah checkpoint as cases jump and inoculations lag
in predominately Arab East Jerusalem. On Monday, 31% of the coronavirus tests from the Arab neighborhoods were
positive, while on Tuesday it was 27%. Conspiracy theories among Palestinian E. Jerusalemites about the risks
posed by the COVID-19 vaccine have been replaced by rumors encouraging vaccination.
- Palestinian Health Minister urges United Nations to help expedite provision of Covid-19 vaccine - The minister briefed the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Palestine, Lynn Hastings on the vaccination plan and efforts to secure vaccine doses from various sources and urged international organizations to help expedite the provision of the vaccine to Palestine. (WAFA)
- Gantz: Hezbollah aggression will end badly for Lebanese civilians - "If [Hassan] Nasrallah and Hezbollah's threats translate into action, the outcome will be painful for Hezbollah. And, sadly, it will also be painful for the Lebanese people, who are being used as human shields," Defense Minister Benny Gantz warns. (Israel Hayom)
- Lebanon's PM blames 'ship of the Israeli enemy' for massive oil spill - Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab also turns to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to launch an investigation and possibly help with the severe pollution. Israeli officials continue to try to find those responsible for the spill. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Court Partially Lifts Gag Order on Probe Into Worst Oil Spill in Israel's History- According to the new order, the reports on Channel 13 and Channel 11 were retroactively approved about a suspected vessel. The government has approved the transfer of 45 million shekels to deal with the damage of the disaster. (Maariv and Haaretz+)
- At This Israeli Turtles Hospital, Oil Spill Victims Are Saved With Q-tips and Mayonnaise - At the National Sea Turtle Rescue Center, sea turtles are on the mend after the massive oil spill and might be released back to nature soon. The little creatures can’t eat solid food yet. (Haaretz+)
- Rare Israeli Bedouin audio archive sheds light on nomadic society - National Library works to transcribe and digitize over 350 hours of recordings in Arabic made by leading scholar Clinton Bailey, a project aimed at enriching Bedouin studies in Israel, the Arab world and beyond. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Gas to Gaza? The pipeline that might provide a lifeline - Plan would see natural gas from Israel's Leviathan gas field transferred to new extension into Palestinian enclave, providing its lone power plant a steady energy source and ending the ongoing rolling blackouts plaguing its economy. (Agencies, Ynet)
- U.S. Aims to Return to Human Rights Council, Shield Israel From 'Disproportionate Focus' - Under Trump's more isolationist approach, Washington quit the council in 2018 but the Biden government has already returned as an observer. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- UAE Weapons Maker EDGE Wants in on F-35 Supply Chain - EDGE was in 'advanced discussion' with several Israeli defense companies about jointly funding and developing missiles and unmanned platforms, CEO Faisal al-Bannai said without identifying the firms. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israel to supply tank defense system to German military - Israeli and German defense ministries on Tuesday signed a G2G agreement for Israeli to supply Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' TROPHY tank defense system to the Germany army, making Germany the second country to purchase the system from Israel. (Maarivand Israel Hayom)
- Former pro-Palestinian Militant Anis Naccache Dies After Contracting COVID - Naccache participated in the 1975 kidnapping of oil ministers in Vienna and helped recruit Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyeh, who later rose to become the group's top operative. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Yamani, the Saudi Oil Minister Who Brought the West to Its Knees, Dies at 91 - Known for his elegant manner and trademark goatee beard, Sheikh Zaki Yamani's 24-year tenure running the oil affairs of the world's biggest crude producer made him a global celebrity. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israeli officials: Return to nuclear deal will increase odds of war with Iran - Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran has not yet answered questions on uranium particles found at two sites inspected last year. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell: Reviving the nuclear deal is "the most urgent and important" diplomatic priority in US-European relations. (Israel Hayom)
- Iran Has Started Enriching Uranium Up to 20 Percent Purity, UN Watchdog Says - Iran officially started restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, state TV reports, in a bid to pressure European countries and Biden to lift economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)
WATCH: Forensic analysis undermines Israeli police narrative of checkpoint killing
Border Police shot dead Ahmad Erekat after his car crashed into a checkpoint, labeling him a 'terrorist.' A forensic investigation raises questions about the police's story and conduct. (Oren Ziv, 972mag)
When Ancient Israel and the Arabs United Against a Common Enemy
Nearly 3,000 years ago, King Ahab of Israel and other oft-squabbling nations of the Levant came together to face the Assyrian Empire in an alliance whose importance echoes to this very day. (Ariel David, Haaretz+)
A youth-led Palestinian protest movement is rocking the hills south of Jerusalem
Activist Sami Huraini, 23, is one of the coordinators of a West Bank youth group engaged in weekly demonstrations. His family history of nonviolent protest has yielded some unlikely victories. (Jonathan Shamir and Nicolas Rouger, Haaretz+)
I’m Tired of American Jews Making Excuses for Netanyahu and His Proud Boy Allies(Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) Just as Trump normalized the Proud Boys, Bibi is normalizing the neo-fascist Kahanists and their anti-Arab hate. But instead of outrage from AIPAC and U.S. Jewish groups, there's apologetics, or silence.
The prime minister and Biden have finally spoken, but it is not certain that they came to agreements (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Netanyahu's conversation with the US president was a good and necessary opening for raising Israeli-US relations on a positive path, but not a guaranteed prescription for resolving all disagreements between them.
The dispute on how to handle Iran could cost us (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Not only do America and Israel not see eye to eye with Israel – Israel's political and military experts can't agree among themselves, and election rivalries are just making things worse.
Israel would do well to take the initiative to resume talks with the Palestinians(Brigadier General (Res.) Rachel Dolev, Maariv) It is worth starting the political negotiations with the aim of increasing security, and creating a better political reality, which will allow for political moves in the future and prevent unilateral measures that will frustrate the possibility of reaching an agreement.
A Truce With the ‘Hilltop Youth’ (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) When the head of Israel Defense Forces Central Command, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, meets with “hilltop youth,” residents of the Maoz Esther outpost, in order to “create rapprochement and calm things down” in the words of a military representative, he is conducting negotiations with terrorists. Some of these “youth,” who are no longer teenagers, but adults who legally bear criminal responsibility, participated in unruly demonstrations against policemen after one of them, Ahuvia Sandak, was killed in a road accident during a police chase. His friends, who fled with him by car after apparently throwing stones at Palestinians, are suspected of reckless homicide, endangering human life on a traffic artery for nationalist reasons, throwing stones at Palestinians and conspiring to commit a crime. These are all clauses that are familiar from indictments filed against Palestinians. The illegal outpost had been declared a closed military area and was supposed to be demolished two days before the accident. The words “supposed to be” would have been superfluous had it been a Palestinian village that was there…Israel has already realized that it can only achieve results by talking to Hamas, and Yadai is only implementing this philosophy vis-a-vis a Jewish terror organization. A kind of internal, not to say private arrangement, which ostensibly does not stain the government with conducting negotiations with terrorists and does not hold the Yesha Council and its rabbis responsible. Because what can a general in the IDF, which is also the sovereign in the territories, do when faced with three fortified walls that protect the “outposts” – the rabbis, the Yesha Council and the government? He can’t even offer them a gift of vaccines.
COVID-19 Vaccines for the Palestinians (Haaretz Editorial) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was right to remind Israel’s government of its obligation to the Palestinians. Blinken spoke with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi Monday and asked that Israel help in delivering coronavirus vaccines from abroad to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. President Donald Trump’s biased attitude in the past four years provided backing to deniers of the occupation and to those seeing to shirk responsibility for the Palestinians. The Biden administration is in effect joining human rights organizations around the world that have been trying to apply pressure and that recently called on the Israeli government to see to it that the Palestinians are vaccinated, as required by Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that the occupying power “has the duty of ensuring and maintaining ... prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.” But not in the foreseeable future, presumably: What was Israel’s response? The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Tuesday that Israel will provide a symbolic quantity of vaccines to Palestinian Authority medical teams and to a few countries, including Guatemala (the second country, after the U.S., to move its embassy to Jerusalem), Honduras (which said it plans to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem), the Czech Republic (which announced plans to open a diplomatic office in the capital) and Hungary. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers to buy diplomatic support with leftover vaccine rather than to meet Israel’s legal and moral obligation to the Palestinians…
The Europeans Don’t Really Care About the Palestinians Either (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The sloth of the European Union has once again been revealed in all its shame. The EU is good at giving the Palestinians charity and preaching about the rule of law. It fails politically when it comes to stopping Israel’s plans to concentrate the Palestinians into reservations in the West Bank and clear most of the land for Jews. Where will the EU be when the supporters of Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir and the erudite proponent of transfer Bezalel Smotrich get even stronger – as seems likely given the anti-Arab attitudes of Haredi and so-called religious Zionist teens in Israel? What will it do when they carry out their threats to expel Palestinians “disloyal to Israel” beyond the borders of the “Greater Land of Israel”? Will it send its aid organizations to hand out tents and teach the Palestinians about hygiene in desert conditions?
On Monday, for the fifth time this year and the sixth since November, Israeli Civil Administration and army forces razed and seized structures in Khirbet Humsa, in the northern Jordan Valley. Their plunder this time: 17 tents, five of which served as animal pens, seven open pens, four water tanks and a few tents that hadn’t yet been pitched. Israel wants the entire community to move to the west, to a reservation allocated to it – ostensibly so the army can train in the area, but as the experience of over 73 years teaches, it’s to make more room for Jews, in this case the settlements of Ro’i and Bekaot on either side of Humsa...
The State of the Judahites (B. Michael, Haaretz+) One of the gravest sins of the State of Israel is the absolute custodianship it has granted itself, without permission and without authority, over the entire Jewish people. Both here and in the Diaspora. As though Israel is its leader, as though it is the one protecting the Jewish people as though they are all its subjects. This presumption is not only chutzpah, arrogance and foolishness, it’s a great danger as well. In blurring the sharp difference between the State of Israel and world Jewry, Israel is turning all Jews, against their will, into partners, with responsibility for all its deeds. Every kippa-wearer in France is responsible for every bombing in Gaza. Every wearer of a kapote (a long coat worn by many ultra-Orthodox Jews) in New York finds himself a partner to the killing of Palestinian teens. Everyone identified as a Jew anywhere in the world becomes a collaborator with all the evil and crimes of the State of Israel. They don’t deserve that.
What's wrong with appeasement? (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) The simple fact that one has to consider that concessions do not actually conciliate those who misuse power.
Temporary Nuclear Deal With Iran Buys Time for Biden, but Sets Bad Precedent (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Biden is aware of the price and realizes that ultimately, he will be forced to make a difficult decision if he wants to to return to nuclear deal.
The hints that peace with Syria is not completely unfounded (Oraib Al Rantawi, Al-Shabaka/Yedioth Hebrew) Reports of secret contacts, the intersection of interests with Russia, the Abraham Agreements, and especially Assad's super aspiration: to remain in power at all costs. And what about the Golan and the Palestinians? The questions on the agenda.
The Tragic Blunder of the High Court Justices (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) Following the signing of the last coalition agreement in April 2020 between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, several petitions were submitted to the High Court of Justice against giving Netanyahu the mandate to form a government. An expanded panel of 11 High Court Justices deliberated the issue and on May 6 dismissed all the petitions – unanimously, but demanded Netanyahu do something unusual: Sign a conflict-of-interest agreement that would not allow him to intervene in the law enforcement system – not to be involved in the appointment of the police commissioner, the state prosecutor, the attorney general, members of the Judicial Appointments Committee and so on…Netanyahu’s lawyers agreed to the condition and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit started to prepare the agreement. He started and never finished. He prepared it and they objected. He changed things and they complained. He wrote things and they erased them. Thus six months passed, until in November Netanyahu declared that he doesn’t recognize Mendelblit’s authority to decide anything about his conflicts of interest. Who can decide? Why, Netanyahu himself…
Even Arabs view Ibtisam Mara'ana as burden to Labor (Jalal Bana, Israel Hayom) Her left-wing Jewish supporters, those who believe she will attract Arab voters, will be disappointed to learn that the Arab street in no way views her as an authentic representative of mainstream Arab society.
What Angela Merkel's Retirement This Year Means for Israel (Richard C. Schneider, Haaretz+) Armin Laschet, new chairman of the Christian Democratic Union party, has worked for years to tighten ties with Israel, but won't see eye to eye with Netanyahu on Iran if he becomes chancellor.
The Latest Jewish Newcomer to Congress Believes Biden Can Get a Better Iran Deal
Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina, the deputy chief of a key subcommittee, told Haaretz the nuclear agreement ‘needs to be for a longer period of time, it needs to be a stronger deal, it needs to be broader.’ (Interviewed by Ben Samuels in Haaretz+)
Bennett: I’m more right-wing than Bibi, but I don’t use the tools of hate
In a landmark interview, the likely election kingmaker sets out hawkish policies but an inclusive Jewish philosophy; assures voters: Israel thrived before Bibi, will soar after him. (Interviewed by David Horovitz in Times of Israel)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.