News Nosh 3.1.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday March 1, 2021

Quote of the day:

"Vying in the elections is not a 'prize' afforded only to model citizens or to those whose opinions conform to others."
--Justice Daphne Barak-Erez wrote in the High Court ruling that overruled the disqualification of Arab Labor party candidate Ibtisam Mara’ana for statements she made a decade ago.* 

Front Page:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • Pupils of Israel, guinea pigs // Sarit Rosenblum writes that returning middle school children to school is election propaganda (Hebrew)
  • IDF to appeal judges decision that canceled the dismissal of a commander in the IDF Military Corps for Investigations of Soldiers (Hebrew)
  • Together, in one voice // Special Op-Ed by UAE ambassador to Israel and the head of the Israeli representative office in Abu Dhabi, published in Yedioth and in the UAE in Hebrew, Arabic and English
  • Together in quarantine - Today, pilot begins for electronic wristband for those returning from abroad to make certain they stay in quarantine

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Because of the (corona restriction) violations: Recommendation to delay the restrictions
  • Prime Minister: School year to be extended till (end of) July - with goal of helping close gaps
  • To get closer to normality, slower and carefully // Prof. Ran Belicer
  • After attack on (Israeli-owned) ship: report on attack in Syria
  • Special project: The generosity is contagious: Saluting the volunteers in the corona period
  • “Investigation of the Exceptions Committee (to allow people to enter Israel) is an insult to journalism - MK Smotrich in interview to ‘Israel Hayom’ reporter Jacob Bardugo: “It is an anti-ultra-Orthodox report”
  • Virtuosity and originality: Sapir literature prize to Sami Bardugo
  • High Court: Mara’ana is permitted to run in elections; Many activists are abandoning the Labor party

Top News Summary:
Corona dominated the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers: The Israeli Health Ministry wants to delay the complete opening of the economy and the return of grades 7-10 to school, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants to extend the school year by another month, and Channel 12 News reported that the Exceptions Committee allowed many ultra-Orthodox Israelis to enter Israel, while not approving entry for most secular Israelis.

Diplomacy and Security:
Also, Muslim countries to Israel’s east - Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates also grabbed headlines. Following the blasts on an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman Friday, Netanyahu convened the security cabinet Sunday, to discuss how Israel would retaliate against Iran, which Israel accuses of making the attack. Yedioth Hebrew’s Itamar Eichner reported that the Israeli assessment is that the attack was carried out by Iran’s Revolution Guards, which did not intend to sink the ship in order to avoid leading to a significant escalation and in this way it “maintained relative caution.” That said, Israel expects more Iranian attempts to harm Israeli targets, possibly other Israeli-owned ships, of which there are about 300 in the world. IDF Chief of Staff AvivKochavi said that the attack shows that Iran “not only constitutes a nuclear threat, but carries out terrorism and acts against civilian targets.” (Today, Monday, Netanyahu said publicly that Iran was “clearly” behind the attack, after which Iran’s Foreign Ministry denied it saying that “Gulf security is extremely important for us.” Earlier, an Iranian newspaper closely linked to the Iranian Ayatollah said that the Israeli ship was “possibly" on an "espionage" mission in the region, which is why it was hit.

On Sunday night, Syria said Israel had attacked areas around Damascus, which some say targeted Iran-linked assets. Syrian state TV says most of the missiles that originated from the Golan Heights were shot down by army's air defenses. Meanwhile, the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday that just a few months before the Syrian civil war erupted in March of 2011, the Barack Obama administration offered the Assad regime an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for severing ties with Iran and Hezbollah. Also on Sunday, the White House said the US was ‘disappointed' that Iran rejected a European-US proposal to hold talks in the coming weeks over its nuclear program.

The fear of Iranian attacks also spurred the Israeli Defense Ministry to order Israeli companies not to participate in the arms fair in Abu Dhabi. According to Channel 12 News, the announcement on February 15th was due to concerns of a possible revenge assassination in retaliation for the assassination in November of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhirzadeh. Another economic disappointment was that the UAE rejected a $300 million bid by a consortium of Israeli firms including the Defense Ministry to set up a cyberdefense center. Haaretz’s Yossi Melman reported that political considerations were a factor in the rejection. That said, Abu Dhabi teamed up with two Israeli bodies to speed upprivate sector cooperation, investment and innovation. And today, the first ambassador to Israel of the United Arab Emirates Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah will arrive in Israel and present his letter of credence to President Reuven Rivlin. During the four-day visit, he is expected to visit Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and meet with Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner reported. Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said Sunday that he hoped that Saudi Arabia would join the so-called ‘Abraham Accords,’ the normalization agreements of Emirati countries with Israel and that many Saudis want it. Today, US President Joe Biden will make an announcement regarding Saudi Arabia and its infamous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This comes following a US intelligence report that found bin Salman had approved the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And while Netanyahu got credit for the agreements with the Emirati countries, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed he held secret talks in Jordan with King Abdullah and added that Netanyahu is unwelcome in the kingdom and is hampering the advancement of bilateral ties. "The ties with Jordan are a huge asset and could be a thousand times better," Gantz said.

Elections 2021:

  • *Israel's Top Court Overrules Disqualification of Arab Labor Candidate in March Election - Election panel previously granted far-right party's demand to disqualify Ibtisam Mara’ana, No. 7 on Labor's Knesset slate, who has made highly controversial anti-Zionist statements over a decade ago. She has also faced criticism for slamming the IDF, and over her public refusal to observe the two-minute siren on Memorial Day – for which she later apologized on social media. (Israel Hayom and Haaretz+)
  • 'I don't stand for the siren on Holocaust Remembrance Day,' MK says - Heba Yazbak of the Joint Arab List accuses the Israeli government of using the "terrible crime" of the Holocaust for political ends. “"Honestly, it's an important and interesting issue. We don't stand for the Holocaust siren because it is a universal crime, and the Israeli government is trying to make it an Israeli-political issue, and it's not." (Israel Hayom)
  • Opposition poised to secure 62 Knesset seats, poll shows - A survey by local radio station 103FM also finds that the prime minister's rivals are edging up in terms of their approval ratings. (Israel Hayom)

Corona-related Quickees:

  • A Scandal Over Flights to Israel Is Rocking the Country, and Could Upend Next Month's Election - Netanyahu’s opponents reacted furiously over the weekend after a Channel 12 News report claimed that the vast majority of those permitted to board the special rescue flights back to Israel were members of the ultra-Orthodox community – which is represented in the Knesset by Shas and United Torah Judaism, Netanyahu’s most loyal allies. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Let in Thousands of Foreigners, but Refused 15,000 Citizens in Past Month of COVID Closure - 4,800 foreign nationals allowed in during same period, as nearly 1,000 requests to enter or leave the country for medical reasons have yet to be decided upon. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Drafting Plan Allowing Citizens to Return Home to Vote Despite Closed Skies - Israelis seeking to return from abroad while COVID restrictions are in place need approval from a committee to be allowed back in, and voting isn't on the list of criteria. (Haaretz)
  • With Rise in Infections, Health Officials Weigh Slowing Down Israel's COVID Lockdown Exit Plan - The third stage of reopening, set to begin on March 7, would have pupils in grades 7 to 10 returning to the classroom in cities with low infection rates, but the Health Ministry might seek to delay it. (Haaretz+)
  • PM plans to announce month-long extension of school year - The goal of this unusual measure is to compensate for the disruption caused by remote learning during the past 12 months as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • State-run coronavirus hotels became drugs and sex abuse hubs - Recent rapeof a 13-year-old girl at one of Home Front Command's virus facilities for at-risk youth has opened floodgates to testimonies from former residents and workers, who describe a daily routine of drug abuse, violence and sexual harassment. (Ynet)
  • Israel to use electronic tagging on travelers from Monday - Officials say first passengers to be subjected to measure will be those from Arkia flight 232 from Frankfurt; those refusing electronic monitoring, which allows home quarantine, will be taken to coronavirus hotels. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Plan approved: Thousands of (foreign) young people on the "Masa" programs will be vaccinated in Israel - The vaccination campaign for the 5,000 participants visiting Israeli will be spread over a week and a half and will take place in five vaccination centers. Doctors will provide explanations about the vaccines in three languages. (Maariv)
  • Cabinet Okays Vaccination of Palestinians Working in Israel, West Bank Settlements - Israeli medical staff to administer Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine across West Bank. Some 100,000 Palestinian laborers are estimated to hold a working permit in Israel, settlements. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Oxfam: Israel's vaccine export deal "shameful" as nearly 5m Palestinians wait- "Israel's deal to exchange surplus vaccines for UN votes and embassies, while the vast majority of almost 5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are left to wait for the potentially life-saving vaccine, is shameful and shortsighted," said Oxfam Acting Country Director in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Dina Jibril in a statement. (WAFA)
  • Israel to Provide COVID Vaccines to Sinai Peacekeepers, Official Says - An official said the multinational force had requested vaccines for 1,200 personnel and was willing to pay for them
  • Palestinians shut West Bank schools to contain coronavirus variants - Intensive care units for COVID-19 patients have reached 95% occupancy in the West Bank and schools have been identified as a major cause for the fast spread of infections, says the Palestinian Authority. Night curfew also to be imposed for 12 days. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)

Quick Hits:

  • Ultra-Orthodox Man Killed by (Arab) Driver (who was) Fleeing Attack During ultra-Orthodox Protest in Jerusalem - A 47-year-old man was killed on Sunday when he was run over by a transport van whose driver had been attacked during an ultra-Orthodox protest in Jerusalem, police said. The driver was attacked near the Education Ministry headquarters in Jerusalem, then tried to escape the area and hit the victim, according to authorities. [NOTE: Maariv barely and only partially reported that the driver was Arab and that he was being attacked by the protesters. - OH] (Haaretz+ and Maariv)
  • Israeli forces severally beat up, detain Palestinian teenager near Qalqilia - Israeli forces severely beat up 15-year-old Majd Baida in the town of Jayyous then detained him, said local sources. (WAFA)
  • Israeli settlers attack youth in East Jerusalem area, minor injured - A group of (Jewish Israelis) attacked 17-year-old Mohammad Abu al-Hummos, severely injuring his face Sunday. (WAFA)
  • UN and Hundreds of European Parliamentarians Protest Israel's 'De Facto Annexation' - Lawmakers representing 22 European countries say Israeli policy in the West Bank is 'eliminating the possibility of a two-state solution and entrenching a one-state reality of unequal rights and perpetual conflict.’ They expressed “deep concerned about recent demolitions and confiscations of [Bedouin] property by Israel, including structures funded by the European Union and donors” and demanded humanitarian access to community living in Humsa Al-Baqai’a. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Foreign Ministry says Chapter VII no longer deters Israeli war crimes - Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said today that Chapter VII of the UN Charter is no longer deterring Israel's expansionist policy in the Jordan Valley, calling on the international community to do more action to stop Israel's ethnic transfer of Palestinian population in the region. (WAFA)
  • The (suicide) of Niv Luvton: The IDF will appeal to the High Court demanding that the former MPC be dismissed - The army announced that together with the State Attorney's Office, it would appeal the district court’s decision to "cancel the command proceedings" against the former commander of the Military Investigations Unit in Be'er Sheva following the death of an IDF soldier, who committed suicide after the commander promoted an officer who pressure the soldier to spy on other soldiers. (Maariv and Yedioth Hebrew)
  • Jordan condemns Israel’s continued violations against al-Aqsa mosque - Jordanian FM Spokesperson Daifallah Ali Al-Fayez slammed the settlers' incursions into al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli police as a flagrant violation of international law, the existing legal and historical status at the mosque, and Israel’s obligations as the occupying power in occupied East Jerusalem in accordance with international law. (WAFA)
  • (Arab) Israeli faces treason charges for sharing Iron Dome locations with Hamas - Muhammad Abu Adra, 43, was recruited by Hamas while in Gaza over a year and a half ago. Shin Bet: We view the exploitation of Israeli citizenship for the aiding of terrorist activities with severity. (Israel Hayom)
  • Qatar says to fund $60 million pipeline from Israel to Gaza - The multi-national plan will see natural gas from Israel's Leviathan field flow through a new extension to power the Palestinian enclave's lone power plant, ending rolling blackouts and their damage to the local economy. (Agencies, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Israel designates "Samidoun - Solidarity with the Palestinian Prisoner" organization as terror organization - According to Israeli Defense Ministry, Samidoun is international branch of the PFLP. Its representatives are active in many countries in Europe and North America. Samidoun rejected Israel's claims that a PFLP person is 'director' of the organization (IsraelDefense and JPost)
  • Pope to visit 'Jerusalem of the Nineveh plains' in Iraq in rare visit - The pope is due to hold prayers for the victims of war at Hosh al-Bieaa, known as Church Square in English, as part of a four-day trip to Mosul in March. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • [Another] Fatal work accident: A 46-year-old worker was electrocuted to death at a construction site in Ashdod - An medics team that arrived at the scene of the accident at the work site on Uziyahu Street in the city found laborer lying unconscious on the scaffolding after he was electrocuted. (Maariv)
  • Israeli Cyber Czar Wants Access to Private Firms' Computers, Content - To prevent ‘serious cyber attacks’, new bill wants to expand cyber directorate’s authority substantially, giving them Shin Bet-like powers - with little oversight. (Haaretz+)
  • U.S. firm that provided Israeli nuke facility imagery photographed another highly sensitive site - Planet Labs photographed an area west of Beit Shemesh, which appears on ordinary Israeli maps as open space. It’s not clear who commissioned the satellite photographs. (Haaretz+)
  • JNF directors ask to overturn vote to allocate funds for West Bank land purchases - Five of the 32 directors claim the organization's chairman silenced criticism and provided incorrect data during the contentious vote that approved on Thursday the allocation of 38 million shekels ($11.6 million) to buy land in the West Bank by one vote. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Russian army searches Syrian cemetery for Eli Cohen's remains - London-based Arabic news outlet Rai Al-Youm reports that Russians are pressuring Syrian regime to release information about Cohen's place of burial. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Russian helicopter crash-lands in northern Syria, casualties reported - One crew member was killed and others were wounded, Syria's state news agency reports. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iranian chess players join global competitors in Israeli-led virtual tournament - The Chess4Solidarity initiative aims to strengthen ties between people, countries and nations. (Israel Hayom)
  • Erdogan presents: The Directorate of Jerusalem and Umrah Affairs - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan changes the name of his country's Directorate of Religious Affairs, which is a government organ, to the "Directorate of Jerusalem and Umrah Affairs." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli lawmaker, mayor wounded in clashes with police as hundreds protest violence in Arab community - Demonstration Friday in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm is the latest in a string of protests decrying an inadequate response by authorities to a rise in crime and gun violence in the Israeli Arab community. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran hits 60,000 virus deaths; bans 32 nations - Iran is also accelerating efforts to produce a domestic vaccine, beginning human trials for its second vaccine on Sunday. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Internet disruption reported in southeast Iran amid unrest - The reports of internet interference come as Iranian authorities and semiofficial news agencies increasingly acknowledge the turmoil challenging local authorities in the southeast. (Agencies, Haaretz)


The enigmatic genetic footprint of Palestine
How it came to pass that Palestinians availing themselves of ancestry kits discover they’re ‘Italian’ or ‘Syrian Jews,’ among other things – and what Canaanites have to do with it. (Yasmin Zaher, Haaretz+)
Was Ariel Sharon a Warmonger or Man of Peace? New Israeli TV Series Reaches a Surprising Conclusion
Levi Zini struggled to raise money for his three-part series on the late right-wing leader – perhaps, he believes, because his show paints the former prime minister’s final actions in a more generous political light. (Shany Littman, Haaretz+)

Report on Suspected (Israeli) Execution of Palestinian Should Alarm Every Israeli(Haaretz Editorial) The investigative report published last week by the London-based Forensic Architecture organization looked into the circumstances of the killing of Ahmad Erekat, 27, of Abu Dis, by border policemen at the “Container” checkpoint (Wadi Nar) last June. Israel claimed that Erekat – nephew of the late Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ senior diplomatic negotiator – tried to carry out a car-ramming attack and was shot to death because he threatened the lives of the border policemen at the checkpoint. Forensic Architecture researchers, relying on eyewitness testimonies, videos from the scene and the opinion of a forensic expert from the United States, came to the conclusion that this was an “extrajudicial execution,” as the report was titled (and as reported by Gideon Levy and Alex Levac on Friday). The report cast doubt regarding Erekat’s intent, noting he was driving at 15 kilometers an hour when he hit a border policewoman. The policewoman was lightly injured and got up immediately. The forensic expert noted that Erekat did not accelerate his vehicle at any point, and may have even tried to brake. The expert noted that if he had wanted to harm the border policemen, he would have accelerated so he could hit them with greater force. What happened afterward was even worse. Erekat immediately got out of his car, raised his arms and moved backward. He was not armed. The border policemen claim that he was trying to get close to them. Within two seconds the policemen shot him in the upper body six times, even though he didn’t pose any risk. According to the report, Erekat was denied immediate medical help that might have saved his life. During the first moments after the shooting he is seen moving his hands. The police claim he was examined, but according to the report’s findings, a Palestinian ambulance was blocked from approaching, and an Israeli ambulance crew only treated the policewoman. Erekat’s body remained on the road for a lengthy period, undressed for part of the time. Policemen and soldiers are seen smoking and walking near the body in what was described as disrespect for the dead. Moreover, to this day, eight months after the incident, Israel hasn’t returned his body to his family due to the trade of bodies it is trying to arrange with Hamas in Gaza. Erekat was not the only senseless Palestinian victim in recent months, but for the first time an international organization thoroughly investigated the circumstances of his death, using sophisticated means. One might expect that the Israel Police would conduct a similar investigation, but of course that hasn’t happened, nor will it. The government must now give the family back the body of its son, who was killed on the day of his sister’s wedding.
With the Right in Control of Zionist Institutions, Settlement Expansion Becomes Policy (Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz+)  Four months after a right-wing wave in the Zionist Congress, a new Jewish National Fund proposal is only one of several policy shifts designed to serve the settlement enterprise.
Immigrating to Israel Made Me Renounce Judaism (Jotam Confin, Haaretz+) My dad’s an IDF veteran. My grandparents founded a kibbutz. Growing up in Denmark, I took my Jewishness for granted. But my experience of Israel’s degrading, racist immigration process changed all that.
It is time to involve Diaspora Jews in decision-making in Israel  (Becky Caspi, Maariv) The State of Israel must recognize that what happens in it affects Jews everywhere. This is why world Jewry must also have a voice in some of the decisions that are made in the country. [Rebecca Caspi is the senior vice president for global operations of The Jewish Federations of North America, as well as the director general of JFNA's Israel office.]
It's not just Iran and annexation. Israel simply does not have a strategy (former Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, Yedioth Hebrew) Although its power and capabilities have no equal in the region, Israel continues to perceive itself as a ghetto Jew in the Diaspora. The result is a political-security conduct based on shooting from the hip, myopia and missing the big picture. The former head of the Mossad calls for finally adopting a super-strategy…The helplessness of making an independent decision, whether to annex - which is destructive, in my opinion - or to move toward separation of civilians, while continuing security control until a Palestinian partner is found, has for more than 50 years resulted in a constant movement toward a reality of a binational state. And this reality is evolving without the state establishments doing as required and analyzing its implications for Israel's security, its economy, its international status or the stability of peace relations with its neighbors. Supporters of this approach have jumped on the bandwagon over the new normalization agreements (with Arab countries), as if they confirm the claim that millions of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza Strip can be ignored. As if these agreements nullify the whole range of threats inherent in the creeping annexation on the future and identity of Israel as the safe and democratic national home of the Jewish people ... It is time to put an end to conduct that is completely reactive, to formulate a strategy for security, and as part of it to initiate moves that reflect a consideration of constraints, capabilities and opportunities. Such a responsible and informed approach can be expected to yield a different approach to the Biden administration's approach to the Iranian nuclear issue, similar to that formulated by an extensive think tank of the Commanders Movement for Israel's Security.
With Iran closer than ever to military nuclear power, we must use all of our diplomatic capabilities (Maj. Gen. (Res.) Matan Vilnai, Maariv) The effort to halt the development of Iran's nuclear capabilities requires consideration, a broad vision and the recognition that there is no more correct outline for securing all of Israel's national interests than using diplomacy.
Iran has identified Israel's vulnerability on the high seas (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Attack on Israeli-owned Helios Ray could have been lethal, but sinking the ship would have been seen as act of war by U.S. and regional states; Iran used strike on vessel to warn Israel of its maritime weakness.
Iranian attack provides Israel leverage at a critical time (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The attack on an Israeli-owned vessel in the Gulf of Oman last week, likely carried out by the Revolutionary Guards, didn't take Israeli officials by surprise. The ayatollah regime has suffered painful blows both across the Middle East and inside Iran in recent years and has been seeking revenge for quite some time.
Jerusalem, we have a signal from Tehran (Tal Lev Ram, Maariv) The Iranians have left no room for ambiguity when they hit an Israeli-owned ship. They wanted to show Israel that Tehran is capable of hitting Israel’s targets at sea. This operation is intended to be a psychological attack.
Biden's Message to MBS: Your Impunity in Washington Is Over (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz+) The Biden administration will not be abandoning Saudi Arabia despite a damning U.S. intel report into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, but it may not be so keen on Crown Prince Mohammed.
The moral high ground cannot replace foreign policy (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Washington is facing a hard choice: Does it side with Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally, and try to get it to redeem its ways through poignant dialogue; or does it they choose Iran, the sworn enemy of all that America stands for.
Saudi Arabia has entangled Biden in a diplomatic twist on the road to a new Iran nuclear agreement (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Moving toward a deal with Iran traps Biden in a convoluted loop that largely blocks his intention, assuming there is one, to impose sanctions in the wake of the Khashoggi report.
Biden administration is reviving the Muslim Brotherhood threat (Eldad Beck, Israel Hayom) By prioritizing western conceptions of human rights above all other complicated conditions in the Middle East, the Biden administration is about to make a mistake as bad as allowing the Islamic Revolution to proceed.
"Here we write together, in one voice" (UAE ambassador to Israel and the head of the Israeli delegation to the representative office in the UAE Yedioth Hebrew) For the first time, a joint Op-Ed, written by the two senior diplomatic representatives of Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Together, they write about the courageous bond formed between them and their countries and the hope for future cooperation: in vaccines and in the race to space race…Six months ago, it was unreasonable to predict that an Israeli diplomat and an Emirati diplomat would meet. And even less likely to write a newspaper Op-Ed together. Making direct connections between the two countries and opening embassies seemed even more absurd. But here we are, the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Israel and the head of the Israeli delegation to the United Arab Emirates, together, writing in one voice.
The importance of media alliance among Abraham Accords states (Najat Al-Saied,Israel Hayom) The mainstream media is rife with disinformation, bias and polarized views of the Abraham Accords countries, where each country faces different kinds of attacks.
The public is not really dumb: this is how Netanyahu can be defeated in the election(Roi Tzaig, Maariv) The prime minister was the first to recognize that the preoccupation (of his opponents) with him was only serving him and squeezing the ranks of his supporters. Anyone who wants to replace him needs to find a strong message that will speak to the public. Focusing on managing the corona crisis is a good start.
Politics in the Netanyahu Era Is a Dangerous Thing, and the PM Is the Ultimate Danger (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) Netanyahu hasn’t merely adopted a policy of divide and conquer, the essence of colonialism, but has upgraded it, including against his own people. He has succeeded in sparking disputes within and breaking down nearly every party institution that stood in his way. He identifies his rival’s weak point, applies pressure, and the rest is history…Netanyahu assessed that the weak link (in the mostly Arab ‘Joint List’ party was the United Arab List faction, and that it could be drawn out of the Joint List. If there’s a need, he will even go as far as Hezbollah, perhaps even Tehran.
Of the glorious Likud of Begin and Shamir, only the brand name remains today (Yoav Blum, Maariv) The Likud as an ideological ideological body basically no longer exists. Due to his personal legal troubles, Binyamin Netanyahu turned the Likud into an ax with which to dig.
Netanyahu's biggest electoral threat is on the right (Ariel Ben Solomon, Yedioth/Ynet) While PM's Likud party is frontrunner, its center-right voter base overlaps with Yamina and New Hope, with the latter's leader Gideon Saar positioning himself as center-right alternative who will 'unequivocally not sit in Netanyahu-led government.’
Netanyahu promises a "right-wing government in full." So why is he doing business with Abu Mazen? (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The story [report about Netanyahu reaching out to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to get the latter to convince Arab-Israelis not to vote for the Joint List and which Ben Caspit writes was in exchange for getting vaccines for the Palestinian people - OH]  illustrates the sole rule of the Balfour junta in all state institutions, and especially in the system of rule of law and justice.
Israel-Syria peace is not such a farfetched idea (Oraib Al Rantawi, Yedioth/Ynet) A shift in Damascus policy towards Jerusalem could provide Assad with much needed funds to rebuild his country and repatriate half of his population that is scattered around the world since the 10-year long civil war.
If There Were an Israeli Left (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) In the first 100 days of its imaginary government, the left would carry out a revolution. Mainly, not entirely, in its relation to the occupation, the topic that defines Israel’s identity more than any other. The first resolution passed by the left-wing government would end the siege of the Gaza Strip. In one day, as with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Strip would be liberated, its 2 million inhabitants would be free people. The sea would be open, and the border with Israel would be open and controlled. Concurrently, a call would go out from Israel, inviting the leaders of Hamas to a meeting. They could very well surprise us. We have much to talk about with them. The next step, also an immediate one, would be an extensive release of Palestinians who are incarcerated in Israel. All the thousands of political prisoners and the hundreds of people who are being held without trial, in so-called administration detention, all the Palestinian children and ill people in Israeli prisons would be set free at once. Leading them would be Marwan Barghouti, the only person with the ability to reunite the Palestinians. Barghouti must be released immediately, just as F.W. de Klerk released Nelson Mandela quite soon after becoming president. The rest must also happen at the stunning speed with which things happened in South Africa. A freed Barghouti would be elected Palestinian president, and Israel will find him to be an amazing partner. The lifting of the Gaza siege and the prisoner release will inspire hope…
The most important book in the history of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict presents us with a dark mirror (Ran Adelist, Maariv) Prof. Ilan Pappe’s book, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” forces the reader not only to be shocked, but also to think and ask questions such as: Was Ben-Gurion right, and how will we deal with this knowledge today?
COVID Vaccines and Palestinians: Israeli Authorities Just Need to Be Human(Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) …These are doses that were intended for Israelis who never showed up on their designated vaccination day. Shalmon added that without inoculating the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel won’t be able to overcome the pandemic. The conclusion is clear: Instead of throwing leftover vaccines in the garbage, it’s better to hand them over to the Palestinians. Shalmon isn’t alone in understanding that checkpoints, a separation barrier and even “the fence,” the Gaza border fence, don’t impress the coronavirus. Epidemiologists repeatedly tell us that Israelis and Palestinians make up one epidemiological unit. But this isn’t what it looks like through the night-vision lens of committee member Avi Dichter of Likud, who once headed the Shin Bet security service. “I don’t know what an epidemiological continuum is. In the same vein you could say that there was a ‘rocketological’ continuum between Gaza and Judea and Samaria,” he said, referring to the West Bank. The only consoling thought in Dichter’s shallow pun is realizing that not all ex-military square-minded people are on the left..,
In vaccines, Palestinians come after even asylum seekers (Zoe Gutzeit, Yedioth Hebrew) Migrant workers from Sri Lanka and Georgia, and even tourists, have all been vaccinated. But the statusless Palestinians, some persecuted in the West Bank, others who are collaborators, are refused.
The Channel 12 News investigation of the Corona Exceptions Committee is nothing more than an anti-ultra-Orthodox campaign (Kalman Libskind, Maariv) Throughout the nine minutes and 36 seconds of the ugly incitement report on Channel 12, no evidence was found of any report by the reporters against the ultra-Orthodox, and it was not proven that they received more permits to return to Israel than secular Israelis received. [NOTE: The report included testimonies from people who got the permit. - OH]
A Year of Discriminatory COVID Policy Now Makes It to Israel's International Airport(Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The government's incompetence in handling the coronavirus crisis, with little enforcement when it comes to the ultra-Orthodox public, led to a Purim show of defiance. But with more than half the population inoculated, infection rates are almost bound to go down.
Sissi Is Selling His Vision of Religion and State, but Egyptians Aren't Buying (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The president's attempts to 'revive the religious discourse' is unwelcome in Egypt, a country that once brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power.


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