Kafe Knesset for Feb. 24

The statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad Zeid al-Hussein, criticizing “the lenient sentence” given by the Tel Aviv Military Court in the Elor Azaria trial, prompted harsh reactions this morning. Defense Minister Liberman said that “once again the UN Human Rights Council’s distorted moral judgment thinks one bullet Azaria shot at a terrorist is worse then millions of bullets murdering innocent people in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Liberman was echoed by Yair Lapid who said he intends to renew his lobbying on Capitol Hill to de-fund the UN Human Rights Council. “There is only one state in the Middle East in which a soldier that killed a wounded enemy can go to jail. Only one country with a rule of law. Only one country in which such a trial could even occur. But the ‘Terrorist Right Council’ is concerned about us,” Lapid wrote in a Facebook post. “In the past, I encouraged congressmen and senators to cut off the budget of this biased anti-Semitic organization. I am going to double-down on this request now. This time they gave us proof that the only thing that guides them is a deep hatred of Jews.”

Meanwhile, in other news, the Noni tapes – the recordings of the talks between PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Arnon “Noni” Mozes, publisher of the Yediot Ahronot daily, are back in the spotlight after a few weeks of drifting away. The police investigation called “File 2000” emerged in the headlines again as Channel 2’s Amnon Abramovich reported that the State Comptroller, Yosef Shapira, has requested that the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, provide Shapira with copies of the recordings of the conversations in which Netanyahu and Mozes allegedly discuss limiting the distribution of Sheldon Adelson’s “Israel Hayom.”

For years, politicians have been complaining about the Netanyahu-Israel Hayom connection, and several probes have been launched into the claim that the pro-Netanyahu daily is an illegal political contribution. Before the last election, the Likud submitted a written Affidavit in which it declared Netanyahu had no connection to Israel Hayom whatsoever. But the Noni tapes reveal that Netanyahu was negotiating the commercial aspects of the newspaper with its biggest rival. Moreover, Mozes has supposedly passed on even more evidence proving Netanyahu was involved in the newspaper. According to Abramovich, the State Comptroller now believes there are grounds to prove that Israel Hayom is an illegal political contribution and is requesting the investigation materials, but the Attorney General is refusing to do so until the police probe is concluded. The Netanyahu-Noni tapes hardly interest the wider public, but for politicians and journalists this is the hottest potato around, so the saga continues.

The State Comptroller Shapira was personally vetted by the PM and his wife and was first expected to be a Netanyahu “yes man” but Shapira has turned out to be quite independent and is giving the PM quite a hard time. Next week, Shapira will be publishing the loaded report about Operation Protective Edge, which is expected to criticize Netanyahu’s decision-making process ahead of the war and also re-spark the intensive political fight inside the security cabinet. On one side of the arena are Netanyahu and his former Defense Minister Yaalon, and on the other side, Naftali Bennett, who has accused them of not informing the cabinet about the terror tunnel threat. Shapira is expected to accept Bennett’s version of the events. The report is likely to be attacked by the PM who once appointed Shapira so gladly.

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