Rough seas ahead for Netanyahu
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Hebrew media review

Rough seas ahead for Netanyahu

One major Hebrew daily says state witness's latest testimony in submarine affair could spell trouble for the prime minister

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aboard the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aboard the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

While most of the Hebrew press on Tuesday is busy with the latest developments regarding Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, one of the country’s major dailies reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indeed aware of a legally questionable submarine deal in which some of his associates are being questioned.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth’s exclusive report, state witness Miki Ganor has told authorities that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin David Shimron sought help from the prime minister in advancing a deal to purchase submarines from a German shipbuilder.

The daily seems confident the new information — denied by Netanyahu on Tuesday — could lead to Netanyahu being questioned by police in the affair known as Case 3000. Netanyahu is already under investigation in two other corruption-related matters.

Though state witness Miki Ganor and attorney David Shimron made sure not to refer to Netanyahu or his negotiator Yitzhak Molcho by name in their conversations about the deal, Yedioth has managed to crack what it refers to as their code names — “the friend” meaning Netanyahu, and “the brother-in-law” meaning Molcho. Molcho is married to Shimron’s sister, so it’s not that hard a code to crack. But it all “testifies to Netanyahu’s involvement, or at least the need to hear from him his version of events.”

Yedioth columnists, however, take a break from Netanyahu’s alleged corruption, instead weighing in on the government’s controversial plan to deport tens of thousands of undocumented Africans living in Israel.

Yaron London argues the plan to deport the undocumented Africans to third-party countries is a way to sidestep the state’s responsibility toward refugees outlined in the UN Convention on Refugees, to which Israel is a signatory.

“The convention prohibits the expulsion of a refugee back to the country from which they fled, but does not prohibit the expulsion to a third country.

“Israel is relying on this and ignoring evidence that the people who will be deported from here will eventually be sent to their home countries,” he says. “This is an ugly trick that contradicts the spirit of the Convention.”

Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as ‘Case 3000,’ is brought for a court hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Rishon Lezion, July 10, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)

Another Yedioth columnist, Yaniv Hendel, argues that Israel must maintain a struct immigration policy as a deterrent to other Africans desperate to leave the continent.

“If Israel takes in the infiltrators as permanent residents, there won’t be a fence high enough to stop the smugglers from making money off the backs of poor Africans who are seeking to come to the Promised Land,” he writes.

However, he ultimately urges that there’s no practical reason not to allow them to stay.

“Of course absorbing tens of thousands of people into the fabric of Israeli society involves a certain effort, but it’s a smaller effort than we invest in the Jewish immigrants who only come to live in Israel for a year or two,” he writes.

Haaretz leads its Tuesday paper with its a report saying the IDF is set to take security control of several East Jerusalem neighborhoods, even some that lie beyond the security barrier.

The report quotes IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis, who said the move was aimed at thwarting terror attacks carried out by Palestinians at border crossings in the Jerusalem area.

The army insists to the paper that the move will not change the lives of East Jerusalem Palestinians, but is rather a re-distribution of security arrangements.

But Haaretz seems unconvinced. Reporter Yaniv Kubovich notes that while many Palestinians who carry out terror attacks in the Jerusalem area are from beyond the barrier, some of the neighborhoods in question are suffering from increasing violence, drug trafficking, illegal weapons and poor infrastructure.

“Because these neighborhoods were severed from Jerusalem, the city and police provide few services and conditions have significantly deteriorated in recent years,” the report says.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri speaks at an Interior Affairs Committee meeting regarding the deportation of African asylum seekers at the Knesset, January 29, 2018. (Alster/Flash90)

Also on Haaretz’s front page Tuesday are the statements made by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who insisted to a Knesset panel Monday that a third-party country has agreed to take African migrants who will be deported from Israel.

The paper — whose previous reporting on Israel’s controversial plan to forcefully deport close to 40,000 African asylum seekers has been highly critical — casts doubt on his assertion.

“Past reports suggested that this ‘third country’ is Rwanda, but Deri’s remarks conflict with statements made by Rwanda’s deputy foreign minister, who called on the migrants in Israel not to come to his country against their will,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom makes no mention of Yedioth’s expose on the submarine affair, and barely refers to Deri’s remarks to the Knesset regarding the increasingly unpopular plan.

The freebie daily leads its coverage with Netanyahu’s Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding Iran’s military installations in Syria.

In a lengthy and prominently placed column, Dror Eydar comes out swinging against the media and Israeli left for trying to embarrass Netanyahu with a leaked recording of his wife, Sara, berating a political aide over her title several years ago.

“We are not stupid, it wasn’t by chance that after two brilliant weeks of Netanyahu in the international arena — placing Israel on the world stage like no other leader before him — the media ayatollahs at [Hadashot news] keep questioning the Netanyahus instead of reviewing the historical and unprecedented changes in our status in the world,” Eydar gushes.

He heaps heavy criticism on the Israeli media for “berating this family for over 20 years,” calling the recently leaked tape of Sara Netanyahu “a disgrace.”

In 2012, Channel 10 uncovered that Eydar was in fact on the payroll of the Prime Minister’s Office, earning some NIS 50,000 a year to “write speeches and letters.” As a senior Israel Hayom columnist, Eydar regularly accuses the media of being hostile to Netanyau and his family.

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