Crashing the party: 7 things to know for May 15
Israel media review

Crashing the party: 7 things to know for May 15

Both sides seem to want Nakba Day to remain a quiet riot at most, but Eurovision could prove to be a dangerous wildcard

Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song Zero Gravity during the first semifinal of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 14, 2019, in the Israeli coastal city. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song Zero Gravity during the first semifinal of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 14, 2019, in the Israeli coastal city. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

1. Knocking on Nakba’s door: May 15 is Nakba Day, when Palestinians mark the “catastrophe” of their dispossession during the 1947-1949 War of Independence.

  • Unlike many past years, protests and marches are expected to be relatively free of large bouts of violence, but Israeli authorities are preparing for that eventuality just in case.
  • Most of the tensions are focused on the Gaza border, the most volatile area in recent years and the scene of a massive riot a year and a day ago in which 60 Palestinians were killed.
  • Walla news reports that Islamic Jihad is calling for people to riot in cities near the border, though the army thinks a lid will be kept on violence, thanks to Qatari $100 bills making their way into the Strip.
  • “Nonetheless, the IDF is not taking chances and is preparing for protests drawing thousands, who could be injured by Israeli fire. They are also not discounting the possibility that rogue actors could try to carry out an attack against Israel, against Hamas’s wishes,” the site reports.
  • Haaretz reports that protest organizers in Gaza say monitors will be positioned to make sure protesters don’t approach the fence.
  • Nonetheless, Channel 13 news assesses that Hamas is quite liable to lose control.
  • “Tens of thousands of Palestinians are expected at the fence and there could be violence despite Hamas efforts to curb it. Residents in the south have been told to maintain a heightened alertness because of the expected events,” the channel reports.
  • On the Israeli side, efforts are also being made to curb violence, ToI’s Judah Ari Gross notes.
  • “Troops were reportedly given stricter rules of engagement, requiring higher levels of approval before live fire could be used, as Palestinian fatalities along the border have in the past prompted retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza terror groups and larger outbreaks of violence,” he reports.

2. Gazavision: Gross notes that the addition of Eurovision to the mix is a potentially volatile wildcard.

  • “The international competition and the global recognition that comes with it presents a highly vulnerable target for terror groups, as an attack during the event would likely garner worldwide coverage,” he notes.
  • To that end, the army has set up an extra Iron Dome anti-missile battery in the Tel Aviv area.
  • Haaretz reports that Hamas may try to take advantage of the extra attention on Israel for Eurovision to jimmy its way into the spotlight.
  • Last year, the juxtaposition of the embassy move and bloody Gaza violence gave Israel a visceral black eye in international media, something it would plainly like to avoid.

3. Terror hacks: Hackers already tried to score points without any rockets by busting into the Kan online broadcast of Eurovision and replacing it with threats of missile attacks.

  • Kan says not many were affected by the hack, but nonetheless, the interruption gets wide coverage in the Hebrew-language press.
  • Channel 12 gets its hands on the slickly made video, which shows rocket attacks on various sites around Tel Aviv and ends with a fake army warning telling viewers to take shelter.
  • As for who is behind it, the Ynet news site speculates that it is hackers from an Arab country, while Walla calls the hackers Palestinian, albeit apparently without any proof.

4. Not all about the Benjamins: Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi held a press conference in Gaza City Tuesday and pledged to continue giving poor families in Gaza money for six months, after making it rain $100 bills in the Strip like a lovechild of Floyd Mayweather and the Lubavitcher rabbi.

  • Not one to shy away from hyperbole, Emadi says that if the latest round of fighting “had continued for a few more hours, the world would have witnessed humanitarian catastrophes, with thousands made homeless, thousands of homes destroyed and thousands of civilians killed,” ToI’s Adam Rasgon reports.
  • But while Emadi’s largess is praised for helping end the violence and aid needy Gazans, some say that may be giving it too much credit.
  • “Whoever thinks that $100 can improve something for poor families and change the atmosphere for the better is making a big mistake,” a source close to Hamas tells Haaretz.
  • The source says other financial agreements, like regarding paying salaries of Hamas members, have yet to be implemented.

5. Go get your shrinebox: At a party marking a year since the US embassy move, US Ambassador David Friedman talks of the bureaucratic shift in the loftiest terms possible.

  • “We have created a new shrine in the ancient city of Jerusalem, and we’re extremely proud of it,” he says, according to ToI’s Raphael Ahren.
  • Friedman also says that “Israel is on the side of God,” which is perhaps what he calls US President Donald Trump.
  • Israel Hayom, shoving Nakba Day, Eurovision and coalition talks to the side, leads off its front page with a quote from a Trump tweet calling the embassy move “a proud reminder of our strong relationship with Israel and of the importance of keeping a promise and standing for the truth.”
  • Haaretz’s Amir Tibon notes that now that the embassy has been moved, evangelicals who pushed for the move are looking for a new pet project.
  • “I sense in conversations with people in the evangelical world today that they are very happy it happened — but some are a bit confused right now. They’re not sure what they should be focusing on now that the fight for the embassy is over,” an Israeli official is quoted saying.

6. The race to be last: The embassy party was likely a welcome break for Netanyahu, who is reportedly finding herding his potential coalition partners more of a challenge than widely thought.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth reports that with two weeks to go until the final deadline, he has yet to sign an agreement with a single partner.
  • The paper, quoting a senior coalition (or lack thereof) official, reports that “every one of the parties is demanding it be the last to sign a coalition deal so they can see what the other one is getting.”
  • The tabloid estimates that talks will continue “until the last minute” but Netanyahu will manage to pull off a government in the end.
  • Liberman already said he wants to be the last to sign, and now Walla reports that Kahlon, who does not even have a negotiation team, told associates he wants to be last.
  • Haaretz reports that the two parties both demanding the same thing has led to fears by Netanyahu or those close to him that the two have decided to band together to keep Netanyahu from being able to form a government.
  • Israel Hayom, meanwhile, reports that things are going more swimmingly, with the ultra-Orthodox close to agreeing with Likud on matters pertaining to respect for Shabbat.
  • The paper reports that the issue of allowing work permits for Shabbat had been a main stumbling block, but has now apparently been solved with a proposal to allow the Chief Rabbinate to have a say on issuing the permits, “paving the way” for a coalition agreement.

7. Indecent proposal: If coalition talks seem tougher this time around, it may be because parties know Netanyahu needs them as much as they need him if his immunity bid is going to work.

  • ToI’s Raoul Wootliff writes about the possible dangers of the reported proposal to reform the court system and take away the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn Knesset laws or cabinet decisions, which would apparently ensure his immunity bid.
  • “These are measures to sterilize large parts of the Supreme Court’s ability to maintain the rule of law, human rights and create the required balance between the citizens and the power of the government. That’s what’s on the agenda and that is the danger,” good government activist Yuval Yoaz tells him.
  • Barak Medina, a constitutional law professor at Hebrew University, says the move would make Israel the world’s only democracy where the court has no oversight over the legislature.
  • But right-wing advocate Yossi Fuchs tells Wootliff that the move will be “a restoration of the sanity and balance required between the legal system and the Knesset,” undoing former justice Aharon Barak’s push for judicial activism, which has been a guiding principle of the court.
  • Even some critics of the proposal, though, have a hard time getting behind court president Esther Hayut’s decision to compare the move to Nazi legislation, while in Nuremberg no less.
  • “Instead of getting a meeting with Netanyahu, starting talks with him about what is being seen as very major harm to the justice system, proposing something like shrinking the power of the court system when it comes to choosing judges, Hayut chose to scream into a microphone that she disconnected,” Yedioth’s Amichai Etieli chides. “Her behavior proves the need for a clause of connection, to reality.”
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