News Roundup for February 11, 2020

February 11, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Benny Gantz had two shots to oust Israel’s Netanyahu. He hopes the third time is the charm, Washington Post
Benny Gantz has packed a full political career into a single tumultuous year. A political neophyte when he jumped into Israel’s electoral dogfight in late 2018, he has battled the country’s longest-serving leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to a stalemate over the course of two elections. Now, as the sides slug their way to a third election in less than a year on March 2, political observers say the nonstop campaign has made the former army general an even more formidable opponent. “Sometimes growing so fast makes it challenging, but I wake up every morning very happy with what I am doing because I am serving the cause that I set out to do when I joined politics,” Gantz said in a rare interview.

Israel accused of torturing Palestinians after fatal bombing, AP
One of the men was taken to hospital with kidney failure and 11 broken ribs. Another was nearly unrecognisable to his wife when he was wheeled into a courtroom. A third was stitched up after being attacked by a security dog. Then the three Palestinians were returned to their Israeli interrogators. They had been swept up in a sprawling manhunt launched after a roadside bomb killed a 17-year-old Israeli girl and wounded her father and brother as they hiked down to a spring last August in the occupied West Bank. The allegations against Israel are the most serious to come to light in years, and the rights groups say they point to a loosening of constraints two decades after the Israeli Supreme Court outlawed most forms of torture.

Personal Data of All 6.5 Million Israeli Voters Is Exposed, New York Times
A software flaw exposed the personal data of every eligible voter in Israel — including full names, addresses and identity card numbers for 6.5 million people — raising concerns about identity theft and electoral manipulation, three weeks before the country’s national election. The security lapse was tied to a mobile app used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party to communicate with voters, offering news and information about the March 2 election. Until it was fixed, the flaw made it possible, without advanced technical skills, to view and download the government’s entire voter registry, though it was unclear how many people did so.


Israel’s President Implores Top Army Brass to Speak Up Despite Political Pressure, Haaretz
He said, senior officers must do two things: “Navigate this enormous ship called national security wisely, responsibly and fearlessly,” and say what they think “without fear of what they’ll say, what they’ll tweet … without interference from people with irrelevant considerations.”

Former Israeli PM says Abbas is the sole peace partner, MEMO
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is the sole peace partner for his country, Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. Abbas, confirmed Olmert, is trusted by the Israeli security services.

Boycott AIPAC? In Tug of War Over Israel, Democratic Candidates Are the Rope, Haaretz
With much online fanfare, a coalition of four progressive U.S. groups launched a #SkipAIPAC Campaign on Friday, aiming to pressure 2020 Democratic presidential candidates into missing next month’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington.

Joe Biden rejects pressure to boycott AIPAC conference, JTA
“No, because I’m there to convince,” Biden said in a video of the encounter posted Sunday by IfNotNow on Twitter, “convince them to change their position.”

Diplomats say Abbas, lacking votes, pulls request for UN vote against Trump plan, Times of Israel
The Palestinians have abandoned their request for a vote at the UN Security Council Tuesday that they hoped would reject the peace plan of US President Donald Trump, whose administration has put heavy pressure on critics, diplomats said.

‘Largest cyber attack in Iran’s history’ occurs on eve of failed satellite launch, The National
Iranian telecommunications infrastructure experienced the largest cyber attack in the country’s history on the eve of its failed Zafar satellite launch, a government minister has said.

Gaza groups said to call halt to incendiary balloon attacks on Israel, Times of Israel
Factions in Gaza have decided to halt the launching of balloon-borne explosive devices from the Gaza Strip into Israel, the al-Quds daily reported on Tuesday, citing an “on-the-ground source.”

Israel Taps Settler NGO Lawyer to Handle Bankruptcy of Palestinian Firm He’s Working to Evict, Haaretz
The attorney for right-wing settler group Ateret Cohanim has been named the official receiver in a bankruptcy case involving a Palestinian company in East Jerusalem, which he has also been fighting in court via shell companies.

170 cars, mosque vandalized in northern Arab town, drawing rare Netanyahu rebuke, Times of Israel
Police on Tuesday opened an investigation into an apparent hate crime in the northern Arab town of Jish, where the tires of some 170 vehicles were slashed and Hebrew graffiti condemning interfaith coexistence was daubed on buildings.

Opinion and Analysis

In this diverse, changing suburb, liberal Jews are struggling to understand their Hasidic neighbors, The Forward
Ari Feldman writes, “In Rockland County, N.Y., a diverse string of suburbs about an hour from Manhattan, non-Orthodox Jews have frequently joined with their non-Jewish neighbors in resisting the Hasidic community’s rapid growth over the past 30 years, citing concerns about strains on public services and overdevelopment. But rising anti-Semitism in the last few years, especially a recent series of violent attacks against the visibly Orthodox, has left Jews like Hertzberg feeling caught in the middle.”

How the U.S. made Palestine the exception to the rules of peacemaking, +972 Mag
Amjad Iraqi writes, “Israel has only ever offered Palestinians two things over the past century — submission or devastation — and the Americans have always backed them.”