APN's daily news review from Israel - Thursday April 29, 2021
Quote of the day:
"I would like to say: no matter what the results of the initial and hesitant contact that took place
between a senior right-wing representative and a high-ranking member of Arab politics, the act of dialogue between
them does matter."
Yedioth commentator Meirav Betito said after the meeting between far-right-wing Jewish party chairman Naftali Bennett and Islamist Muslim party chairman Mansour Abbas.*
- Netanyahu caved in under High Court pressure, Gantz was appointed Justice Minister; President Rivlin: We are living in a long period under the illusion of a constitutional functioning
- Caught in his panic // Yossi Verter
- Bennett and (Mansour) Abbas met and discussed positions of Yamina and Ra’am parties for forming a government
- (‘Religious Zionism’ chief) Smotrich: If the Attorney General leads to a governmental cup, he will meet aggressive opposition
- Netanyahu has still not returned the monies to his associate, Partrich. Prime Minister’s Office legal advisor: Our many inquiries to Netanyahu were not answered
- Hamas: If elections to the Palestinian parliament are postponed, we will see Israel as responsible for that
- Media mogul Eli Azur acquired from (tycoon) Yitzhak Tshuva the holdings in the gas reservoir
- The reports (accusing Israel of apartheid) are piling up // Gideon Levy
- The religionization of businesses // Ram Fruman on wealthy religious capitalists who are implementing their worldviews on businesses
- The testimonies of Iron Dome fighters: We got cancer
- The friends of Itzik Saidian (PTSD veteran who self-immolated after not receiving aid from Defense Ministry) donated blood
- He caved in - After the embarrassment of the Justice Minister appointment, Netanyahu made a you turn and appointed Gantz
- Go for it, Bennett // Amichai Attali
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
- Looking for a way out - Political establishment reacts to Netanyahu’s caving in: “Netanyahu is close to forced incapacitation”
- On the fence, in the meantime // Attorney Elad Mann
- “Fearing going backward” - Israel still hasn’t made decision about banning flights to and from India due to corona
- Rescue from between the flames - Two police officers saved the life of a boy
- Under guidelines of the Firefighting Authority: Lag B’Omer holiday will be held with almost no bonfires
- Likely: Merger between Yamina and New Hope parties
- US to Israel: You have the right to act against Iran
- The first to Samaria - “Mid-life” is the first film to be funded by the Samaria (West Bank settler) Film Fund
- There is a (Lag B’Omer) holiday without fire
- The elections that won’t happen - Self-goal // Eyal Zisser on the expected decision of the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority
- Designated US ambassador to Israel: Thomas Nides
- Corona is striking the world: Special reports from India and Turkey
Top News Summary:
After making a move considered illegal and unconstitutional, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu caved in to High Court pressure and appointed Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz as Justice Minister, (President Reuven Rivlin said in a rebuke of Netanyahu: "We have been living in the illusion of constitutional functioning for a long time between one election campaign and another,") two conservatives Israeli party leaders from opposite sides of the political spectrum, one religious Jewish and against a viable Palestinian state, the other a religious Muslim Arab Islamist, held a meeting to discuss the formation of a government without Netanyahu as the ‘change’ bloc moves closer towards forming a coalition government and Hamas declared that it will hold Israel responsible (so did Fatah) if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas postpones Palestinian elections over Israel banning voting in E. Jerusalem, while the Israeli army prepared for the fallout - making top news in today’s Hebrew newspapers.
Also in the news, 60-year-old Jewish Minnesotan, Thomas Nides, has emerged as a front-runner to be the US ambassador to Israel. Nides served in the State Department underformer US President Barack Obama.
- Police Officers in Jerusalem Accused of Conducting Illegal Strip Searches of Minors - A Hebrew University law clinic received three complaints from minors who claimed that police stripped them of their clothing immediately after their arrest. (Haaretz+)
- Palestinian Cars Torched, Graffiti Sprayed in Palestinian Village Near Jerusalem - Incident in Beit Iksa comes after police arrest eight right-wing activists suspected of attacking two men in Jerusalem with pepper spray. (WAFA, Ynet and Haaretz+)
- A Molotov cocktail was thrown into a building in a settler outpost in Binyamin (area in West Bank) - Molotov cocktails were thrown early Thursday morning into a building in the Oz Zion outpost in Binyamin. There were no casualties and security forces are trying to locate suspects. In the Jerusalem area, a suspect was arrested for throwing a Molotov cocktail. (Maariv)
- Palestinians succeed in kicking out Israeli settlers who sought to level their land for settlement purposes - Palestinians in the West Bank village of Nilin succeeded today in kicking out Israeli settlers who came to their lands to level it in order to open a 2 kilometer road for the settlers, who put up tents and mobile homes in the area two years ago. (WAFA)
- There's no such thing as occupied Palestinian land,' legalist says - Renowned international law expert Dr. Jacques Gauthier thinks Israelis are not as aware of their historical rights to the land as they should be. (Israel Hayom)
- Citing military drills, Israeli army orders Humsa al-Fouqa community to leave their homes - Israel has been trying to evacuate the Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley using different pretext, including conducting military exercises. (WAFA)
- U.S. disagrees that rights group claim Israel carrying out 'apartheid' - State Department says that recent report by Human Rights Watch 'is not the view of this administration'; renews calls on both Israel and Palestinians to 'refrain from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
- Ultra-Orthodox paratroopers drill home raid in Yiddish (as a joke) - The ultra-Orthodox company recently received a citation for several daring operations it conducted across the Syrian border. (Israel Hayom and VIDEO)
- Paramedic among eight Palestinians detained from West Bank - So was Mansour Mamoud, the head of a neighborhood Fatah Youth organization, who was injured when Israeli police hit him with the butt of their rifles after prayers at Damascus Gate, where Palestinians celebrated the police removal of the barriers at the Gate’s plaza. (WAFA)
- Israel reopens Gaza fishing zone Thursday after quiet night on the border - Military liaison to the Palestinians says move is conditional on calm persisting, comes hours before PA due to decide if elections will be held. (Maariv and Times of Israel)
- EU condemns UNRWA for 'hate speech and violence' taught in PA schools - In first, European bloc passes resolution against United Nations refugee agency following report that highlights examples of organization's curriculum containing inciting material against Israel and Jews in nearly every subject. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- EU-funded project scrubs website after involvement of Israeli settlement university revealed - A European Union tax-payer funded research project has redacted or removed from its website a number of incriminating documents demonstrating involvement of illegal Israeli settlement-based Ariel University in the project. (WAFA)
- Yair Netanyahu to pay NIS 4,500 legal expenses to the woman who sued him - The lawsuit came as a result of Netanyahu making baseless claims on his Twitter account insinuating that she and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz were in an intimate and sexual relationship. (Maariv, Times of Israel and JPost)
- Netanyahu Ignoring Requests to Reimburse U.S. Businessman for Suits, Cigars, Legal Counsel Says - The legal adviser at the Prime Minister’s Office tried to get Netanyahu to follow comptroller's order, and after being ignored for months, decided to give up. (Haaretz+)
- Israeli media mogul Eli Azur buys Tamar Petroleum stake - Azur, who owns Jerusalem Post, Maariv and Walla! website, is paying 100 million shekels for Delek Drilling's 22.6% stake in Tamar offshore gas field partner Tamar Petroleum. (Globes English)
- Rivlin sends letter to French president expressing disappointment in Halimi case - "Every effort must be made as to send a clear message that there is [no forgiveness] for acts of despicable and morbid antisemitism, and for attacking Jews on the basis of their origin and religion," says the letter to French President Emmanuel Macron. Rivlin praised Macron for his response to the failure to prosecute the killer. (Maariv, p. 8 and Israel Hayom)
- "Our home is in Israel" - In the wake of the storm in France over not putting the Muslim murderer of Sarah Halimi on trial: 16 (Jewish) French citizens immigrated to Israel yesterday. (Yedioth Hebrew, p. 11)
- Israel’s Cyber directorate warns of anticipated attacks to mark Iran’s ‘Jerusalem Day’ - Hackers expected to try corrupting websites with propaganda messages, hit Israeli information systems around May 7
- (Maariv and Times of Israel)
- Iran's Zarif Apologizes Over Leaked Comments About Soleimani, Nuclear Talks - Releasing the statement on his Instagram account, Iran's top diplomat stopped short of apologizing for his remarks directly, but expressed regret that the leak caused 'internal conflict.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iran orders probe into leaked Zarif audio 'conspiracy' - Government spokesman says the explosive 3-hour-long recording of Iranian FM, where he accuses Revolutionary Guard of having too much power, was 'stolen' by agents as part of a 'conspiracy against the government.’ (Agencies, Ynet)
- Trump: Kerry convinced Iran not to sign better deal - "I think we would have had a deal with Iran done except he was telling Iran not to do it, that's my opinion," 45th president says in wake of recordings alleging that Kerry was sharing sensitive intelligence on Israel with Iran. (Israel Hayom)
- 'We want good relations with Iran,' Saudi crown prince says - Saudi crown prince softens Iran rhetoric in balancing act. On relations with Washington, heir to the throne says Saudi Arabia and the Biden administration agree on 90% of issues of mutual concern, but are in disagreement on the rest, though he did not elaborate. (Israel Hayom and Ynet)
- Explosive-laden 'drone' boat targets Saudi port of Yanbu - Saudi Arabia claims to have intercepted and destroyed the attack boat, but private security firms suggest commercial traffic near the port may have been hit in the assault. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- George Washington letter to Savannah Jewish community to be auctioned off- Initial bidding for the newspaper clipping that contains the letter, which is said to be in "very good condition," begins at $18,000. (Israel Hayom)
How a Drunk, Unstable Billionaire Became Netanyahu and Mossad Chief's Confidant
James Packer wasn't just another billionaire who developed relationships with Israel's elite. The Australian media and casino tycoon with the troubled psyche mingled with those in the most secret circles in the country. Benjamin Netanyahu exploited him to the hilt – and he wasn't the only one who did so. (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+)
We Can Keep Lying to Ourselves on 'Apartheid,' but Israel Has Crossed the Line(Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The Foreign Ministry can excoriate the report published Tuesday as much as it wants – accusing HRW of being anti-Israel and antisemitic, and calling its claims “preposterous and false.” It can continue to ask about Syria, forgetting that no one embraces Syria the way they embrace Israel. Israeli media outlets can continue to belittle the report’s value or ignore its existence to please their customers. But in the end, something is happening in front of our closed eyes. The illusion of the occupation’s transience is fading, and the false charm of Israel as a democracy will be shattered.
Faced with delegitimization, Israel is silent (Sara Ha'etzni-Cohen, Israel Hayom) If we had a government, a Knesset, and Foreign Ministry that wanted to fight, they would have declared all the non-Israeli authors of the latest Human Rights Watch report accusing Israel of apartheid persona non grata.
The ‘A’ Word: Why Israel Is Not an Apartheid State, Despite HRW’s Claims (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz+) This week’s Human Rights Watch report on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians exhibits two glaring flaws, while its attempts to compare Israel and the old South African regime are flimsy and unfounded.
Human Rights Watch's long war against Israel (Russell Shalev, Israel Hayom) Its recent report is another shot fired in the battle to disenfranchise the Jewish people and criminalize the Jewish state.
*The Naftali Bennett - Mansour Abbas meeting shattered the glass wall (Meirav Betito,Yedioth Hebrew) They are members of the same club (the Knesset), dine in the same cafeteria, vote on the same bills in the plenum, and have been playing for the past two and a half years according to the same parliamentary rules. One is a a 49-year-old kippah-wearing high-tech entrepreneur from Raanana, the other is a 47-year-old dentist from Mgh'ar who serves as deputy chairman of the Islamic Movement's southern faction - both MKs lead a party clearly identified with one end on the political map. And it seems that until their meeting yesterday (Wednesday) they did everything so as not to sit in one room. For the first time in their political lives, the two chairmen, Naftali Bennett and Mansour Abbas, descended from the holy throne of ideology and smashed the armored glass wall built by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last ten years between Jews and Arabs. It is too early to determine what will happen to the two, who at the height of their coalition desperation are trying to get together unintentionally. But it is safe to say that something big has happened in Israel. I would like to say: no matter what the results of the initial and hesitant contact that took place between a senior right-wing representative and a high-ranking member of Arab politics, the act of dialogue between them does matter. Now that his personal and public pursuits are filling his agenda, Netanyahu is not free to defend the transparent wall of alienation he has erected between the Jewish and Arab populations. Rogue moves, like the one he tried with the appointment of Ophir Akunis as justice minister, left a huge hole in the coalition blanket he tried to sew, and for the next six days Netanyahu will spend most of his time running wild against an hourglass whose grains of sand are dwindling. Skeptics will say rightly that the only thing these two have in common is their concern for their chair, and it is only that which connects the Jewish and Arab politicians. It is also permissible to doubt the meaning of the joint statement issued by Bennett and Abbas at the end of their meeting, or to see it as a statement devoid of any promise of real achievement - everyone knows that with a "positive spirit" and "both sides are interested in this government" it is not yet possible to buy anything at the coalition minimarket. If we add to this the gust of wind blowing from the window of religious Zionists, the rhyming “Abbas and Hamas" campaign that will be going out on billboards and social media networks today and which imbue a sense of public danger from such an alliance, as well as the old slogans that Bennett himself signed on to, it appears that a tough road awaits these two travelers. Along this road they will probably also encounter old footprints left by Mansour Abbas, who in the past supported state-funded conversion therapy and legal regulation of polygamy. The importance of the campaign that began yesterday, whatever its goals may be, is not in the formation of a government, nor even in the end of Netanyahu's rule - but in that they actually set off on it and are willing to face its challenges.
Netanyahu's Son Put the Family's Disturbing Psyche on Display (Itay Rom, Haaretz+) Haaretz correspondent Almog Ben Zikri was right on the mark when he summed up Yair Netanyahu’s court appearance this week: “A hearing that’s being conducted in a very circus-like manner.” That really is the picture we get from the abuse and lies that characterized his testimony in the context of the mutual lawsuit between him and Molad – The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy. Not surprisingly, abuse and lies are the regular features of his posts on social media. However, this event was not only a “circus” involving a young man lacking any public position – it also teaches us something quite horrifying about the prime minister.
What Is Israel Planning, Expulsion by Bus or by Truck? (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) In buses, trucks or command cars? How do the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration plan to carry out the major expulsion of over 1,000 Palestinians from their land, their villages, and their homes in Masafer Yatta, a collection of around 20 Palestinian hamlets and villages in the southern West Bank? Will the soldiers receive an order to use live fire against the men, women and children who refuse to leave their land, their villages and their caves, the region where their parents and grandparents were born and lived? Or will rubber-coated metal bullets, dogs, suffocating tear gas, stun grenades, tasers and beatings with clubs suffice?
Jerusalem's Palestinians need a diplomatic solution not a security one (Daoud Kuttab, Yedioth/Ynet) Recent riots in capital were caused not by barriers placed at Damascus Gate but by repression at hands of Israeli government; to restore order in Holy City, Israel must stop denying political rights and try talking instead.
Abbas shoots himself in the foot (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) It's unclear what the Palestinian Authority president has actually achieved from his election ploy.
Even if Netanyahu's term ends, it will not solve the enormous challenges we face(Ron Tira, Maariv) The end of the Netanyahu era, if it comes, poses four main challenges because it is indeed a symptom of a fundamental problem, but it is not the fundamental problem. It may also end the government's attack on state institutions…The basic problem is about a million citizens who thought it was legitimate and committed to vote for a criminal defendant, who works to dismantle state systems of government in favor of continuing his unlimited tenure. The basic problem is the alliance that Netanyahu made with the ultra-Orthodox, and which created a state within a state. Most of the ultra-Orthodox, whose children already make up almost a quarter of first-graders, do not work or enlist in the army. The fundamental problem is also the alliance Netanyahu made with the Messianists and the racists. The fundamental problem is the abandoning of the vision of Ben-Gurion's melting pot and stateliness, and replacing it with a mix of tribes and identities.
Time for an Israeli Coalition of Change (Haaretz Editorial) The latest “round of fighting” between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel ended with Netanyahu’s surrender. On Wednesday, three hours before the High Court of Justice was going to hold a hearing on the illegal appointment of Ofir Akunis as justice minister, Netanyahu decided to appoint Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz to the post in the transition government. The appointment was approved in a telephone vote. The criminal defendant also announced that he plans to bring other ministerial appointments to the cabinet for a vote on Sunday.
Israel deserves more than Netanyahu's chaotic governance (Amos Gilad, Yedioth/Ynet) With no real strategy on Iran, save for antagonizing the U.S. administration, a misconception of the Palestinian issue and a disregard of the importance of the relationship with Jordan, the leadership is failing the people.
Netanyahu's Attempt at a Constitutional Putsch Put Rivals Closer to Government(Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Prime Minister Netanyahu's wild flip-flop on appointing a justice minister is a further testament of his panic. Meanwhile, Naftali Bennet steps up his political game in meeting with Islamist leader.
Israel must do more for disenfranchised ultra-Orthodox youths (Asaf Malchi,Yedioth/Ynet) Ultra-Orthodox leaders are unable or unwilling to provide solutions for young people in their community who have only had religious education and are unprepared for real world, leaving them to become a problem for society to deal with.
Lifting U.S. Sanctions Won't Solve Iran's Problems (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A new agreement could unfreeze $100 billion in assets around the world, and moderates are striving for a deal now in case conservatives take over after the June presidential election
Is Saudi Arabia next in line? (Rachel Avraham, Israel Hayom) Considering Riyadh's criticism of the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran, stronger Israeli-Saudi relations could be a major asset in ensuring that the interests of Israel and the Gulf states are taken into account in Washington.
'People must understand we are all human beings, no matter where we come from'
In 2019, A. saved the lives of three Israelis when they were shot at by Palestinian terrorists on a highway in Judea and Samaria. Now, he is asking Israel for help: to be able to live in the Jewish state to ensure his and his family's safety. (Interviewed by Bat-Chen Epstein Elias and Orit Mark Ettinger in Israel Hayom)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.