News Nosh 4.6.21

APN's daily news review from Israel - Tuesday April 6, 2021


Quote of the day:

"Could anyone else possibly compare to Bibi when it comes to symbolizing this country? Just like him, it plays the victim, is corrupt, cynical, arrogant, malicious, racist, mendacious, cunning, aggressive, greedy, susceptible to bribery, conflicted, hypocritical, self-righteous, cruel, treacherous, hedonistic and suspected of criminal actions. So similar are the two that, in the twilight, it’s quite hard to distinguish between the symbolizer and the symbolized."
--B. Michael writes that Israel deserves Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister.*

Breaking News:
*President Reuven Rivlin gives Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the mandate to form the next government.

*Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man and wounded his wife in West Bank. The army initially alleged the couple, who have five children, had attempted to ram the soldiers with their car, but a preliminary military investigation said it was too early to determine that it was an attack. The wounded wife said Israeli soldiers asked them to stop their car and after they did, a soldier waved them forward at which point soldiers opened fire on them. (Ynet, Maariv, Haaretz+, WAFA)

Front Page:


  • “Elovitch said: 'Take down the article immediately. If Sara gets angry, he (Netanyahu) will get angry and then he won’t sign'...He specifically said to me: ‘Take down the article, I will kill you, tomorrow I need him to sign on YES (satellite company)” - Opening testimony of key witness, former CEO of Walla website
  • In the service of Netanyahu // Gidi Weitz
  • In the 28-day mandate that the Prime Minister is expected to receive from Rivlin, we will meet a more desperate and dangerous Netanyahu than ever // Yossi Verter
  • Lapid offered Bennett to be first in a rotation government; President is expected to declare his decision today
  • Iran and the US will open indirect negotiations in Vienna today about the return to the nuclear agreement
  • Following the drop in registration for humanities degrees, multi-disciplinary programs to be offered
  • Study: climate crisis already harming world food output
  • The real change // Noa Landau supports an ‘experts government’
  • Red traffic light // Yehudit Karp on the need to examine Israel’s crimes in the Palestinian Territories, regardless of the ICC
  • Education system is in a dismal situation, but the politicians fear the aggressive teachers’ unions
  • 1/4 page ad: LET LAITH GO! - Today is hearing on second appeal of our colleague from Amnesty International, Laith Abu Ziyad. Israel has prohibited him from leaving the West Bank for almost 1.5 years. The draconian restrictions on the movement of millions of Palestinians are among the central characteristics of the Israeli regime….The ban on Leith leaving the West Bank shows how Israel oppresses and punishes human rights activists with the goal of silencing criticism of the regime and of the policies it implements…We stand in solidarity with our colleague in Amnesty International and make clear again to the government: this type of harassment will no deter us.

Yedioth Ahronoth

  • “Elovitch told me: Take down the article. I will kill you. He needs to sign for me” - Ilan Yeshua’s dramatic testimony (Hebrew)
  • Getting closer to getting the mandate - President to announce today who will get to form the next government
  • Accused and accusing // Nahum Barnea in the courtroom (Hebrew)
  • From hope to disappointment // Sima Kadmon on Gideon Sa’ar and his New Hope party
  • Defeating the radicals // Ben-Dror Yemini on the the visit of a Ra’am MK to the reception held for an Arab-Israeli released from prison after serving for murdering a soldier

Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)

Israel Hayom

  • Assessment: The mandate goes to Netanyahu (to form a government)
  • (Prosecutor) Ben-Ari: “You traded with the regime”; Netanyahu; “This is a coup”
  • A celebration day for Naftali Bennett // Amnon Lord
  • Ben-Ari spoke to the media // Jacob Bardugo
  • The prosecutor spoke, the smoke remained // Prof. Aviad Hacohen
  • A Lapid-Bennett rule has no use // Mati Tuchfeld
  • US State Department to ‘Israel Hayom’: “We are prepared to take the necessary trips to return to the nuclear agreement”

Top News Summary:
For both Yedioth and Haaretz, the dramatic quotes from the key witness in Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial were the biggest story of the day. For Maariv it was the attempt by opposition leader, MK Yair Lapid, to get Yamina party leader, MK Naftali Bennett, to join him and form a coalition government and replace Netanyahu. For the pro-Netanyahu paper, ‘Israel Hayom,’ it was that Netanyahu would likely be chosen by the President to form the next government. The fact was that while Netanyahu was in the courtroom listening to the prosecutor accuse him of wheeling and dealing with his power in exchange for benefits, he was also being given the most endorsements to form the next coalition government - but not enough in order to form one. (See Elections 2021 below.)

In the courtroom Prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari said that “Defendant No. 1...made improper use of the major government power placed in him to demand and obtain improper benefits from the owners of major Israeli media outlets to advance his personal interests, including a time during which he was facing the desire to be reelected.” Netanyahu called the hearing a ‘charade’ and accused the prosecution of ignoring testimonies, leaking information and extorting witnesses. “This is how you try to topple a strong prime minister from the right wing,” he said. “This is what a coup attempt looks like.” Netanyahu was allowed to leave before key witness Ilan Yeshua, the former CEO of the Walla website, began his testimony. Yeshua said that he was pressured by the website owner, Shaul Elovich and his wife, Iris, to remove negative articles about Netanyahum his wife and son so that Netanyahu would sign on to regulatory benefits for Bezeq telecommunications company, of which Elovich was the main shareholder. Outside the courthouse, two groups demonstrated, some against Netanyahu the criminal and others against Netanyahu the victim.

Elections 2021:
On Monday, President Reuven Rivlin subtly expressed his disapproval of Netanyahu getting the mandate to form the next government. He told the Likud lawmakers who came to endorse Netanyahu that "there may be a moral component to choosing a prime minister that I do not know whether a president or the Supreme Court should address." The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties along with the Kahanist Religious Zionism party and of course the Likud all endorsed Netanyahu. Yesh Atid, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu and Meretz all endorsed Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid. Naftali Bennett’s seven Yamina party MKs endorsed Bennett. And the four members of the Islamist Ra’am party also refrained from endorsing anyone. The one who could have changed it all was Gideon Sa’ar, who was derided because he ran on a campaign to replace Netanyahu, but then refrained from endorsing Yair Lapid or anyone else, thereby giving Netanyahu the most mandates. In the end, Netanyahu received the most mandates: 52. Late Monday night, Lapid said on national TV that he reached out to Bennett and offered him to be prime minister first in a rotation government. Bennett, who in the run-up to the elections, pledged not to sit in a government headed by Lapid, gave no public response. Today Rivlin gave the mandate to Netanyahu to form the next government, but said he didn't think anyone actually would succeed.

Israel Hayom reported that a prominent Australian religious Jewish philanthropist and key donor urged Netanyahu to step down and to run for president in order to ensure a right-wing government. And Maariv reported Monday that Likud officials were also considering (again) to run Netanyahu for the position.

Quick Hits:

  • Palestinian Forced To Demolish His Own Home In Jerusalem - Amer Shqeirat had to demolish his home in in Jabal al-Mukabber to avoid paying more excessively high fines and fees, in addition to the exaggerated demolition costs if the Jerusalem City Council uses its workers and machines. (IMEMC)
  • Terrorist released after 35-year sentence, victim's family demand he be expelled - Rushdi Hamdan Abu Mukh was convicted for the murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984; now soldier's family appeals to Interior Minister Deri to revoke terrorist's citizenship, fearing of running into him. (Ynet)
  • Senior Ra'am official attends homecoming celebration for released terrorist- Former MK Ibrahim Sarsur arrives at the home of Rushdi Hamdan Abu Mukh was released from prison Monday after serving a 35-year sentence for the 1984 murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli forces set up mobile homes in Nablus-area as a prelude to expand a nearby settlement - Israeli forces Monday placed two mobile homes on lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Asira al-Qibliya as a prelude for expanding the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Yitzhar, according to a local activist. (WAFA)
  • Abbas flown to Jordan ahead of 'medical checkup' in Germany - Palestinian president's office does not provide any further details on trip that was not announced in advance, only saying in statement that 85-year-old leader will undergo routine health checks in European country. (Agencies, Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Prince Hamza warns he will not give in to military's orders - While Prince Hamza is not seen as a direct threat to the king, his actions suggest he wants to shore up his position with the Jordanian public after being removed from the royal succession. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Prince Hamza signs letter of allegiance to King Abdullah after alleged coup - Hamza, the former crown prince, signs the letter after meeting with Prince Hassan, the king's uncle, and other princes on Monday, the royal court says. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Israel and UAE Shared Intel on Hezbollah Cyberattack - 'I owe you coffee, Mohammed. I thought they would ask about NSO within five minutes!': Haaretz sat down with the Israeli and UAE cybersecurity czars to talk cyberweaponry, Iran and Hezbollah. Here's what we learned. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran claims to have captured an 'Israeli spy' - Tehran says agent was apprehended with a number of other people in East Azerbaijan province who are alleged to have been in contact with foreign intelligence services. (Israel Hayomand Ynet)

Do not write off Netanyahu just yet (Nadav Eyal, Yedioth/Ynet) The veteran master of tricks and shticks is starting to run out of new material and the latest alleged talks regarding making him 'President Netanyahu' only further illustrate his low state, but can the other guys really form a government?
Netanyahu Is Now More Desperate and Dangerous Than Ever Before (Yossi Verter,Haaretz+) Netanyahu understands that if he fails in the next 28 days to form a government, he isn't facing a fifth election.
Netanyahu demonstrated on live broadcast the collapse of a leader who is trying to dismantle the institutions of his country from within (Ben Caspit, Maariv) If Netanyahu fails to form a government, it will be easier for Bennett to form a government under his own leadership. Once Netanyahu's option expires, the situation will be less turbulent…What looks like a tailspin, makes the noise of a tailspin and loses control like a tailspin, is a tailspin. During his “Je ‘accuse” speech yesterday, it seemed that Binyamin Netanyahu was losing it. What was he trying to achieve, other than a live demonstration of the collapse of a leader trying to dismantle the institutions of his country from within? If this influences the judges, then the effect will be contrary to Netanyahu's interest. Even public opinion, let’s be gentle, will not really be shocked by the collection of lies that the defendant scattered yesterday with uncharacteristic generosity. When he wrote the words of hatred he uttered to us, Netanyahu was convinced that Gideon Saar would recommend Yair Lapid (to get the mandate to form a government), followed by two or three MKs from the Joint List. Netanyahu understood that they were closing in on him. That the "great conspiracy" about which he has been talking since the fall has finally arrived. So he hurries to do the only thing he still does out of habit, which is to talk on TV. In retrospect, it turned out that with Saar, Bennett and Lapid, things were a little tiring. So what did Netanyahu achieve in that delusional performance? If he tried to speak to the hearts of the political actors, here, too, the goal was not achieved. Netanyahu has worsened his situation, instead of improving it. He looks like (new Likud MK) Galit Distel-Atbarian on steroids. She delivered her inconceivable "Assassin's Speech" this morning. In the evening, Netanyahu arrived and raised the bar. If we ignore for a moment the 52 MKs who support him, does Netanyahu really believe that a speech of this kind, which is all lawlessness and a rude kick by a leader at his country, can convince Naftali Bennett to prefer him over the alternative? Netanyahu knows what Bennett really thinks of him. He earned it, so now he has proved to Bennett that he is no longer qualified to run the country. It is hard to digest the fact, repeatedly, that the man who is supposedly the head of state continues to pounce on it in order to dismantle it from within. He does not miss a beat, does not blush or stutter, while blaming the most important institutions of this country for a "government coup" and other hallucinations. Pay attention to the arguments: Netanyahu claimed that on Ilan Yeshua's cell phone there were deleted conversations! Phone calls with Iris Elovich that Yeshua deleted !! Woe to that conspiracy! Woe to that coup attempt! He even read a quote from one of those conversations, during which Ms. Elovich says she wants the Walla website to be "balanced." Here, Netanyahu found the smoking cannon. He just wanted to balance Walla. He came with good intentions. It is the reviled Leftists who are in the State Attorney's Office, the police, the media and the new foundation who stitched up a case against him, (according to Netanyahu). But this is actually what happened: no call was deleted. An expert from the defense, who checked Yeshua's cell phone, discovered an app there that the prosecution did not know existed. The app had 10 more recorded calls, which were not known until now. Of these, 7 calls are relevant to the 4000 case. They were transcribed and planned and transferred to the defense. As far as I know, they make Iris Elovich's situation worse, they do not improve it, and they are not relevant at all to the situation of Defendant No. 1. In other words, "more of the same." One way or another, until what happens happens, we can expect long weeks of intoxication, nerve-wracking and quite a few upheavals. It is recommended to keep pregnant women and children away from the screens.
Mark the Date: The Exact Moment When Bibi Launched the Rebellion (Rogel Alpher,Haaretz+) At 5:30 P.M., with a row of Israeli flags behind him to show that the occasion was one of state, Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the cameras and addressed the nation, speaking as prime minister. Not as a private individual, the flags show. It was an official occasion. The prime minister informed the citizenry that at those very moments a “coup attempt” was taking place. “It’s so anti-democratic,” he warned. “This is how they are trying to topple a strong, right-wing prime minister.” In other words, the supposed coup was ideological. The left is trying to seize power by means of the State Prosecutor’s Office, which is engaged in a “witch-hunt” against him, acting “against the law”; its heavy־handed conduct, according to Netanyahu, is undermining “the rule of law, ethics” and it “extorted witnesses,” making “terrible threats.” He dubbed the evidentiary stage of his trial now taking place “a charade.” With this he has demonstrated total lack of confidence in the panel of judges. They are also part of the attempted coup. This speech is indescribably grave.
A political and legal circus (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) With Netanyahu showing up for his trial in Jerusalem and consultations with political parties streaming live, the best show on earth just kicked off in Jerusalem, and tickets are two for one.
Netanyahu Will Try to Use His Mandate From President Rivlin to Push for a Fifth Election (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The anti-Bibi bloc is in a better position to form a government, but Netanyahu now has four weeks to try to lure defectors and secure a Knesset majority.
It depends on him: only Rivlin can stop the destablization of the law and justice system (Yitzhak Ben-Ner, Maariv) When justice and truth are not part of the game, Prime Minister Netanyahu takes all. And that is probably what will happen, unless the President, who reads the situation carefully, dares to do something else and gives the mandate to form the next government not to the prime minister who is on trial and who has failed three times in forming a coalition and led three times to elections and undermined the legal and judicial system to bring his trial to a halt. It is possible that the very choice of another candidate - Lapid (or Gantz, as an alternate prime minister and a candidate for compromise) - will increase the chances of the elected to form a stable and broad government, of change, rehabilitation and equality. In any case, it is obligatory to prevent by law any combination that would release Netanyahu from his trial and allow him to serve as president. He must pay by a just trial for his deeds and omissions.
*Netanyahu Deserves to Be Israel's President (B. Michael, Haaretz+) The rumblings ahead of the election of Israel’s next president have already begun. The machers are doing their thing, the “base” is heating up, the retinue of lawyers is busy scheming. And delicate souls are already wrinkling their noses in disgust and muttering, “What? Bibi? For president?” To which I reply: Yes. Bibi. For president. He deserves it. We deserve it. Remember, the main role of the president is to be a symbol, or a “symbolizer,” as Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann succinctly described it. To symbolize the state, its vision, its values, its virtues. Could anyone else possibly compare to Bibi when it comes to symbolizing this country? Just like him, it plays the victim, is corrupt, cynical, arrogant, malicious, racist, mendacious, cunning, aggressive, greedy, susceptible to bribery, conflicted, hypocritical, self-righteous, cruel, treacherous, hedonistic and suspected of criminal actions. So similar are the two that, in the twilight, it’s quite hard to distinguish between the symbolizer and the symbolized…
Bennett and the curse of the kingmaker (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The Yamina chairman is stuck between a shot at the premiership but blame for helping establish a left-wing government, and committing to Netanyahu, who would him any portfolio he wishes but would still lack the requisite majority.
Israel's Democracy Has Exhausted Itself – This Could Save It (Noa Landau, Haaretz+) Most Israelis would undoubtedly agree that a fifth election should be prevented at almost any cost. After all, as long as elections are taking place, (Netanyahu) remains the acting prime minister…A sixth election? Seventh? Eighth? As far as he’s concerned, let’s have elections forever and he’ll be in office forever…Admittedly, a caretaker government has limits to what it can do. It paralyzes the country…There is a solution for this situation. Admittedly, it’s one that’s extremely unusual for Israel, but it has been used more than once in the democratic world – a government of experts. Governments comprised of experts, also known as technocratic governments, are formed in parliamentary democracies for a defined time precisely to extricate them from exceptional situations like the one in which Israel is mired. Since the mid-20th century, more than 25 such governments have been set up in Europe…
Don't Give Netanyahu the Mandate to Form a Government (Haaretz Editorial) President Reuven Rivlin cannot give Benjamin Netanyahu the mandate to form a government. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from Netanyahu’s horror show on Monday, which only reinforced the notion that the president must put an end to his repulsive, corrupt, destructive rule.
What Netanyahu Should Really Be on Trial For (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) One man twists an entire country around. One man is responsible for both of Monday’s dramas, in court and in the President’s Residence. One man is also responsible for the impossible puzzle of election results, and the chaotic reality in which we live, a reality where all the rules we were accustomed to are broken and gone. Until now it was a given that after every election, a government was formed – sometimes a good one, sometimes less so, but it happened. Now, after a fourth election in less than two years, there is no conclusion, and both sides dream about a government of 61 MKs, which is itself, by definition, unstable.
Has Biden already betrayed pro-Israel Democrats' trust? (Jonathan S. Tobin, Israel Hayom) A shift towards the Palestinians and anti-Israel international organizations, coupled with an ominous silence about a drift to Iran appeasement, are all recreating Obama's "daylight" strategy.
The return of the Cold War, and where is Israel in all this? (Zalman Shoval, Maariv) Israel today enjoys practical understandings and friendly relations with Russia, without compromising its basic alliance with America. One of the conditions for maintaining this situation is the establishment of a homogeneous government on the diplomatic issue.
If the International Criminal Court Lacks Jurisdiction, Is Everything Legal? (Yehudit Karp, Haaretz+) Even if Israel’s position is legally correct, that the ICC decision to permit a war crimes investigation against Israel to proceed is legally mistaken because the court lacks the authority to investigate what is done in Israel or the Palestinian Territories, the ICC’s lack of jurisdiction cannot obscure the crimes being committed in the territories, and Israel cannot absolve itself of responsibility. The court’s jurisdiction is one thing, and the crimes being committed in the territories are another.
Power can corrupt, weakness corrupts absolutely (Dan Schueftan, Israel Hayom) It is clear that the US's enemies are smelling weakness and they are responding, as expected, with provocations.
Jews Really Don't Need 'Heroes' Like Jonathan Pollard (Jonathan S. Tobin, Haaretz+) Freed spy Jonathan Pollard just broke his silence since immigrating to Israel in a gobsmackingly tone deaf interview in which he told tall tales, expressed no regrets, called the U.S. incorrigibly antisemitic and advised other American Jews to follow his catastrophic example of betrayal.


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