APN's daily news review from Israel - Monday April 19, 2021
Quote of the day:
“If I had told you five years ago that three TV stations would stop their newscast to broadcast a speech by
an Arab politician saying what he thinks about the composition of the coalition in Israel, you would have said I
—Arab-Israeli activist and lawyer Ameer Fakhoury speaks about how for the first time,large parts of the Jewish population can distinguish between the different elements of the so-called Arab parties, and are even willing to accept some of them as partners in running the state.*
- (Israel’s) aggressive approach is not hindering Iran nuclear talks // Amos Harel
- At Natanz, Israel ratified the nuclear agreement and became a spectator from the side // Zvi Bar’el
- Shell-shocked soldiers are deteriorating - to jail, drugs and life in the street
- [Main photo: Disabled veterans sitting in the midst of a highway in protest of the lack of treatment from the Defense Ministry]
- Lapid: I expect to receive the mandate, I aspire to a government with Bennett
- “Seriously and urgently”: China made an agreement with the US to battle the climate crisis // NYT
- After the pre-military-academy-yeshiva in Jaffa was attacked: Jews demonstrated and Arabs and police clashed
- Court: A woman who was sexually harassed in and did not file complaints about previous incidents caused her situation
- The fortress is falling // Odeh Bisharat
- But I’m a soldier - Three friends recorded a hip-hop album that answers the question: “How’s the army?”
- “Our rabbi was attacked because they don’t want Jews in Jaffa”
- Cry of the war injured
- Eight in one boat // Nahum Barnea on the gridlock blocking the formation of a coalition
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- The cry and the support - Protest of disabled veterans, who blocked a highway to protest against the Defense Ministry’s treatment of them
- The transparent injured // Oren Avman
- The battle over the Knesset Arrangements committee - Netanyahu called on Bennett “to leave the veto to the right-wing”
- Last night: Violent clashes in Jaffa and Jerusalem
- Solution of the direct vote - Minister Deri initiates: Another elections - for the prime minister only
- Bennett is turning into a pawn of the left-wing // Amnon Lord on the forming of a coalition
- Willful blindness will end in murder // Yehuda Shlesinger on the attack against ultra-Orthodox
- Errant bullet - there is no such thing // Jalal Bana on the killing of a young woman in E. Jerusalem in the midst of a family feud
- We charged without backup // Yaron Adel on the cry of the veterans with PTSD
- Injured in the field - A week after IDF veteran with PTSD set himself on fire, disabled veterans blocked a highway to protest against the Defense Ministry’s treatment of them
- Extension of the school year: More concerns than answers
- Shock in Iran: One of the planners of the attack in Buenos Aires died of a heart attack
- Slowly and unsurely: Biden is delaying the appointment of ambassadors in dozens of countries, at the top of which is Israel
Top News Summary:
Shell-shocked IDF veterans protested in the middle of the highway against negligence by the Defense Ministry (Israel rejects about half of disabled veteran requests and Netanyahu vowed afterward to pass reforms), at the Knesset, the formation of a coalition government appeared to be getting farther from the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and closer toward the anti-Netanyahu camp and two local Arab-Israelis in Jaffa assaulted the head rabbi of a pre-military yeshiva there that is considered by locals a ‘settlement enclave,’ after which clashes broke out between right-wing Jews on the one side and local Arabs and left-wing Jews in Jaffa until police intervened - making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Also making news was Israeli concern over the advancement of the renewal of the Iran nuclear deal. Israel’s security cabinet convened on Sunday for the first time in over two months and senior Israeli officials said afterward that the "Americans and Iranians are interested in an agreement,” Maariv reported. Israeli intel officials said the nuclear deal could be concluded within weeks. Israel is concerned that the US is giving up too much for this deal. The Biden administration informed Israel earlier that Israel’s attacks on Iran are interfering with nuclear deal efforts and blamed Israel for Tehran increasing uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s direction towards conciliation with Iran appears to be causing Saudi Arabia to make a U-turn. The two countries severed diplomatic ties in 2016 following the Saudi execution of a Shia Saudi sheikh, followed by the burning of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by angry Iranians. Now, they reportedly are holding talks to repair relations. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said it “always welcomes” dialogue with Saudi Arabia.
Today the Knesset will vote on the composition of the committee that will affect the passing of laws against Netanyahu, who called on Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett to vote in favor of giving the right-wing the veto power in the committee. The papers reported that Bennett is leaning towards giving it to the anti-Netanyahu, ‘change,’ camp. Meanwhile,opposition and Yesh Atid chairman, Yair Lapid, said he expects to be tasked next with forming a government. That fear prompted Netanyahu ally, Shas leader and Interior Minister Arieh Der’i, to propose holding a fifth election, which would be only for directly electing a premier.
- At J Street, Abbas Warns of Apartheid if Two-state Solution Is Abandoned - The Palestinian president also praised the Biden administration's moves toward restoring bilateral relations. (Haaretz+)
- Israeli Left-wing Leaders Tell J Street: We're Committed to Replacing Netanyahu - None of the politicians who spoke at the U.S. group's conference mentioned Naftali Bennett or Yair Lapid by name during their remarks, despite calling for an alternative to Netanyahu. (Haaretz+)
- Israel’s State Prosecution Says ‘Leftists Are Traitors’ Campaign Isn’t Incitement - State Prosecutor’s Office rejects request to open investigation into right-wing campaign to paint leftists as enemies. (Haaretz+)
- Attack on 'Settler' Yeshiva Head in Jaffa Triggers Violent Clashes Between Residents, Police - Jaffa residents said the attack was motivated by the talks on selling the building, which some locals see as part of an attempt to push Arab residents out. Police offered a similar explanation, given that both suspects are currently renting apartments in the building in question. Police detained three Jaffa residents who protested the sale of a local building to the yeshiva, after two were arrested for the attack on Rabbi Eliyahu Mali. (Ynet, Maariv and Haaretz+)
- For Sixth Night in a Row, Palestinians Confront Israeli Police in Jerusalem's Old City - Police detain three of the hundreds of demonstrators, who came out once more to protest an Israeli decision to restrict access to the Damascus Gate plaza. (Maariv and Haaretz+ and WAFA)
- East Jerusalem Woman Shot Dead Amid Family Altercation - Locals say 21-year-old Mareem Altakruri was returning home from prayers when she was caught in the crossfire of two feuding families. (Haaretz+)
- Arson near Bethlehem, Israeli settlers torch dozens of olive trees in south of the West Bank - Israeli settlers Saturday torched at least 50 olive trees in the town of Beit Fajjar, south of Bethlehem, after sneaking into privately-owned Palestinian land. (WAFA)
- Palestinian Elections Commission says 150,000 Palestinians from East Jerusalem suburbs can vote without Israeli approval - These Palestinians live in neighborhoods were separated from the holy city since 2004 with an 8-meter high concrete barrier and Israeli army-controlled crossings but remain as part of the Jerusalem municipal lines. out of a total of over 300,000 Palestinian residents of the occupied city. (WAFA)
- Israel Detains Jerusalem Activists Ahead of Palestinian Elections - Before the arrest, the Palestinian activists planned to say that the election should not be held if it didn’t include East Jerusalem and all its neighborhoods. (Haaretz+)
- New COVID-19 Deaths in Gaza Reach Record High - Gaza Strip records 23 new deaths within 24 hours, bringing its death toll to 761, with just a small fraction of residents vaccinated. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Elbit inks $1.65B contract to run flight training center for Greek Air Force - Defense Minister Benny Gantz welcomes deal, says it will deepen ties between Israel and Greece. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Deputy commander of Iran's Quds Force dies of heart condition, reports say - Muhammad Hussein-Zada Hejazi was marked by IDF as playing key role in Hezbollah's precision-guided missile program, as well as a suspected planner of deadly 1994 bombing at AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. (Ynet)
- American Airlines Resumes Flights to and From Israel After Five Years - Regular service was meant to start earlier, but the coronavirus crisis delayed the company's plans, and its first flight from New York to Tel Aviv is set for early May. (Haaretz+)
Two Jews, Three Definitions: New Documents Challenge Mainstream View of Antisemitism
Two new documents published by Jewish intellectuals challenge the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and its emphasis on Israel. (Jonathan Shamir, Haaretz+)
Place of healing for bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families
Parents of Bnaya Rubel honored their son who fell in 2014 Gaza war with family guest room at Wolfson Hospital, and there they met Gazan Saher Sabera, who lost a brother in an IAF raid and whose grandson is being treated at the medical center. (Adir Yanko,Yedioth/Ynet)
How many more basic laws can be changed to extricate the defendant from his trial?(Ben Caspit, Maariv) Netanyahu tried four times to reach 61 Knesset seats and was unsuccessful. So what do you do if you fail to get elected and reach the majority in the current method? You change the method and return to voting for a prime minister by a direct vote, that mutation that almost dismantled Israeli democracy in the past.
Israel's one-person rule (Yuval Karni, Yedioth/Ynet) The years of political turmoil have debilitated Knesset's work, leaving Netanyahu in total control of the state - uncontested and unchecked - as his party thwarts the formation of parliamentary panels that are key to the functioning of the state.
Lapid or Abbas: With whom is a partnership to form a government preferable? (Adv. Aharon Papu, Maariv) Lapid, Chairman of Yesh Atid, who promises to fight corruption, dealt with a morally and legally flawed matter by trying to advance a bill banning a prime minister while he has been served an indictment. In contrast, Mansour Abbas demonstrates a desire for full cooperation with the state.
Netanyahu Wakes Up Late to Find Israel Is Merely a Spectator on Iran Nuclear Talks(Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Israel is trapped amid the substantive diplomatic moves to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal and Iran's interest of clinching a deal before its presidential election in June.
This is not how Israel influences the Iran nuclear deal (Raz Zimmt, Yedioth/Ynet) Jerusalem's efforts to sway the U.S. stance on its return to the pact were doomed once Washington came to the conclusion that only way ahead was through the 2015 agreement - and recent strikes blamed on Israel are not helping neither.
Israel's Aggressive Acts Aren’t Hindering Iran Nuclear Talks (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Attacks on Iranian targets fail to make a dent in stance of Iran, U.S. or other world powers hoping to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.
Hamas speaking volumes in recent rocket fire from Gaza (Elior Levy, Yedioth/Ynet) While Palestinian elections loom and Hamas operatives are arrested and warned against participating and campaigning for the group's efforts to increase its West Bank strength, the risk of escalating violence along the Gaza border persists.
Will the Palestinian Authority Dare Turn the Parliamentary Election Into Civil Disobedience? (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Opponents of President Mahmoud Abbas are demanding that the general election be held in East Jerusalem too, saying that an Israeli veto of Palestinian democracy must not be accepted.
The beginning of the end of existing Palestinian politics (Hani al-Masri, Yedioth Hebrew) Whether or not the parliamentary elections are held in the Palestinian Authority, whether they are free and fair or whether their results are falsified or disrespected - the change cannot be stopped. The Palestinian voter will know how to vote. 36 lists will run - if and when - in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. These are a huge number of candidates required at high personal prices: they have to resign from their jobs (if they are in the public service) and wait for their resignation to be accepted and take effect; They may have to pay for it with losing their job (if they aren’t elected to parliament); And they are often subject to various sanctions, social and administrative, if they chose a particular list and not another, such as those who chose to run on Marwan Barghouti's "Freedom" list [instead of on the Fatah list - OH]. The Palestinian people have shown that they understand the magnitude of the hour and hurried to register to vote at an astonishing rate of 93.3%. We must therefore accept its will and make every effort to make the forthcoming elections an opportunity for change: To do everything except give legitimacy to the existing situation and perpetuate the internal disputes. Although the elections will be held in a framework bound by Oslo Accord commitments, they must first and foremost be used to end the occupation and achieve freedom, sovereignty and independence, exactly the same principles that Oslo did not bring. We have reached a point where the Palestinian issue, and the PLO representing it, have been pushed to the margins. The occupation has deepened, the settlements have spread and internal disputes have intensified. That is why the PLO is fighting for its legitimacy, as evidenced by its decision to run in a joint national list election while expressing support for Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) in the presidential election. But the names of the 36 lists, which include words like "freedom," "covenant," "Jerusalem" and "new dawn," leave no room for doubt: they prove that water has reached the soul and that change is urgently needed. Look at the current situation: In the territories occupied in 1967, the Palestinians live in population centers. In the West Bank - in concentrations isolated from each other under direct occupation, and in the Gaza Strip - in large isolated concentrations under indirect occupation. Both here and there the population is preoccupied with survival. The Arabs of 1948 - the Palestinians who are citizens of Israel - live in a racist reality as second-class citizens, as the Jewish Nation State Law has proven, even though they are the original inhabitants of the country. The other half of the Palestinian people live in the diaspora as refugees, and these suffer from a lack of recognition of their rights and national identity, and in some countries are denied even the most basic rights of the individual. All this causes them to emigrate again and again. Moreover, since the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians have no real leadership to represent them or a national plan to assist them. The Oslo Accords dwarfed the Palestinian issue and divided the country and the people. At this stage, no reform of the existing system will be useful. We need comprehensive and profound change, not only at the political level but also at the economic, social and cultural level, without incitement and without demonization. I believe that voters will tend to vote for lists that seem to be able to bring about change and are not be satisfied with empty slogans. The public will lean towards those who can present a concrete plan that can achieve the maximum now, on the way to achieving historic national rights. If no elections are held, then the legitimacy of the existing regime will collapse and crumble. In order to allow a free and dignified life for Palestinian citizens, change is necessary. Palestinians have the right to live under a regime that provides justice and equality for all and moves away from corruption. Our democracy requires the separation of powers, especially the judiciary, which has become subordinate to the executive. This is the beginning of the end of the existing political system, whether or not elections are held, whether they are free and fair or whether their results are falsified or disrespected. No one can stop the change. Some seek to preserve the bad situation as it is, and some seek change that will take us backward to economic peace and solutions that will make the Palestinian people groups without identity and rights. But there are also those who strive to bring about national and democratic change that will satisfy the needs of the Palestinian people, their interests and their rights. Remember this well, this is the change that is about to begin. (Hani al-Masri is the head of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Strategy Research. The full article was published in Al-Quds. This version is published under the auspices of ‘Ofek for the Arab Media’ - a joint venture of the Van Leer Institute, the Forum for Regional Thinking and the Alam Center.)
Celebrating the independence we are still fighting for (Raanan Shaked, Yedioth/Ynet) We might have freed ourselves from the pandemic, but we are still slaves to elections and temporary governments; so what do we do with this paradox? Celebrate, I mean we do have a full calendar year to make up for.
Mizrahi immigrants as a security threat and the High Court's mistake (Dr. Avner Barnea, Yedioth Hebrew) Recently, the High Court decided to reject a petition for the disclosure of archival material on the Shin Bet’s activities during the Wadi Salib events in Haifa in 1959. The decision was based on a law that allows the publication of certain security material only after 90 years (!), And accepted the Shin Bet’s position that even after 62 years, "exposing the requested materials may lead to a violation of state security." In 2017, the book "Days of Amos" was published, which reviews the period of Amos Manor's tenure as head of the Shin Bet in the years 1963-1953. The book was published by the Ministry of Defense and Modan publishers, and was written by former Shin Bet member Yair Spiegel. Surprisingly, the events of Wadi Salib actually are written about there. On pages 99-97 it is written based on the Shin Bet archives that: "Immediately after the riots broke out, the head of the Shin Bet’s Northern Region Unit warned that the riots were to a certain extent detrimental to national security…The issue belongs to some extent to us as well, and the organizers of the riots should be a target for the Shin Bet and should be dealt with.” According to the book, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion asked the Shin Bet “to conduct a survey and use intelligence to assist the police in preventing terrorism and bullying ... A temporary section called ‘Exile’ was established, headed by Avraham Ahituv, who was known as ‘Vegetarian’ (and served as Shin Bet chief in the years 1980-1974 - AB) and some employees and regional intelligence coordinators who were given tasks in the field of recruitment and operation of informants ... In total, about 50 informants were recruited in 35 localities.” The unit was disbanded five months later, and the head of the Shin Bet, Manor, assessed that "the ethnic problem and the religious problem that concern the public in the country have a security implication." He suggested to Ben-Gurion "to gather current information about these groups ... thus preventing illegal, underground or violent activity in advance ... The Prime Minister approved the transfer of responsibility for these issues to the Shin Bet and a department was set up to deal with them." The demonstrators in Wadi Salib and elsewhere in the country at the time were immigrants from Islamic countries who had difficulty adapting and they suffered insults and discrimination that led to violence. The information published in the book indicates that the incidents were in the area of responsibility of the Israel Police - preventing the violation of public order, but the Shin Bet took the matter into its own hands while stating that it was national security. This is a serious mistake in the organization's discretion: a desire to expand the supervision of civic activities of a socio-political nature without security justification. Back to 2021. Is the Shin Bet’s argument in court that exposing its activities more than 60 years ago is a violation of state security justified, or is it still using security today to hide the organization's sensitive involvement in civic issues? Of course, the details of the recruited informants will be hidden, but it is hard to believe that operating an information network is a security secret to the point that its very publication will harm state security. Over the years, much more sensitive operational activities of the Shin Bet have been published. (Avishai Raviv) In connection with the assassination of Rabin. It seems that when the organization seeks to publish information for its own reasons, censorship is silenced and state security considerations are pushed to the margins. The High Court's decision in the Wadi Salib case ostensibly serves the intention of preventing information that was uncomfortable for it to expose about the government monitoring civilian activities with the help of the Shin Bet, and perhaps also to prevent a public debate on one of the sources of the social divide in Israel. The judges allowed only a little information about these events to be published, and missed a historic opportunity to oblige the wide-ranging documents regarding the Shin Bet’s 'involvement in a civilian and non-security matter. There is a public and research-historical interest in disclosing information about the conduct of the defense establishment and its considerations at the time, within the limits of censorship. Just as the sky did not fall and no security damage was caused when the information was officially published in the book "Days of Amos,” so it would have happened even if the petition had been accepted. (Dr. Avner Barnea, from the Center for National Security Studies at the University of Haifa, is a former Shin Bet official.)
On Independence Day, Israelis have a lot to be proud of (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) While seems public dissatisfaction with the state of the country is rising, factual data proves that not only are we stronger and more prosperous than ever and we are able to overcome any political crisis.
Lebanon first: Biden's decision raised eyebrows (Yitzhak Levanon, Maariv) France, the Arab League, most of the Gulf states and most of the ethnic communities in Lebanon support keeping Lebanon out of the regional conflicts and rescuing Lebanon from economic collapse. So why does President Biden prefer UNRWA, the Palestinian Refugee Organization, for which he decided to renew financial aid. As if he does not know details about the organization. After all, its very existence perpetuates a problem instead of solving it. As if the President had not heard that UNRWA registers the descendants of the refugees from 1948 as if they themselves were refugees. As if he had not heard of the Jewish refugees deported from Arab countries, and I am one of them.
In Jordan, Fake Coups and Real Dissent: Unpacking Censorship, Spin and Conspiracy Theories in Amman's Royal Crisis (Marwan A. Kardoosh, Haaretz+) Rumors about destabilizing conspiracies, Saudi-backed sedition and family feuds still swirl around Prince Hamzah's house arrest and his reconciliation with King Abdullah II, intensified by a local media blackout. What really happened? And can the king really crush newly-emboldened critics channeling dissent that's simmered for decades?
*‘There's an Attempt to Change the Jewish Monopoly on Power’
For the first time, large parts of the Jewish population can distinguish between the different elements of the so-called Arab parties, and are even willing to accept some of them as partners in running the state. Can this maneuver, which began as a political necessity for the camp that wants to ouster Benjamin Netanyahu and continued as a life raft for the prime minister himself, become a tectonic shift that will change the face of the state? Activist and lawyer Ameer Fakhoury weighs in on an unprecedented time for Arabs in Israeli politics – and what that means for the Palestinian national movement within the country. (Interviewed by Moran Sharir in Haaretz+)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.