Kafe Knesset for June 13
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Tensions on the southern border continue to exacerbate: On Sunday evening, the security cabinet decided to follow the PA’s request and to cut off the power supply to the Gaza Strip, sparking opposition critic warning that the move will lead to an uptick in security threats on the already fragile border. This morning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman held a special consultation meeting in the southern command on the latest developments. A few hours later, the PM addressed the issue: “Over the last 24 hours I have heard wrong explanations about the electricity issue in Gaza. We must understand this is an internal debate between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, who’s demanding that the PA finance the electricity and the PA is refusing to pay. In any case, I would like to clarify that Israel has no interest in escalation and any other interpretation is wrong. But we do have an interest in security and our security policy is clear and it’s not going to change.”
BB combat mode: Netanyahu appears to be in a combative mode this week. On Sunday he directed promoting bills against left-wing NGO’s and launched a new diplomatic battle calling to dismantle UNWRA. But he apparently hasn’t had enough. Yesterday, he announced he will boycott the EMET Prize ceremony, an annual prize awarded under the PM’s auspices, which acknowledges individuals for excellence in academic, cultural and professional achievements, expected to take place in September. One of the recipients this year is veteran actor Oded Kotler, who gave an infamous speech known as “the cattle speech” after the elections two years ago, in which he slammed culture minister Miri Regev and depicted Likud voters as “cud-chewing cattle.” Netanyahu it seems decided to demand his party’s dignity. Channel 2 reported yesterday that the premier has informed the EMET Prize committee that he will not attend the ceremony due to Kotler’s participation.
Another old-new target on the PM’s agenda is AL-Jazeera. Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page headline this morning revealed that the PM has decided to follow Jordan and Saudi Arabia and is examining the possibility of closing the Israeli Al-Jazeera offices in Israel, against the backdrop of the latest regional developments and the Gulf states’ row with Qatar. The government has tried to take steps against the Israeli branch of the Qatari network, which has caused much anguish in Israel in recent years due to its biased coverage of the conflict and now reportedly wants to take advantage of the anti-Qatari trend and use the window of opportunity to make a move. According to the report, officials in the PMO, the foreign ministry, and the GPO have already begun drafting a plan.
The Palestinian Gal Gadot: Israelis have been boasting with pride in recent weeks after our new Hollywood star, Gal Gadot, has become a real Hasbara wonder woman while breaking the box offices worldwide with the movie. Off course, not everyone is happy with the Israeli success, as Lebanon and Tunisia have both announced they would a boycott the film because Gadot plays the leading role, and Jordan is also reportedly mulling a similar move, as well as prominent Palestinian movie theaters. Major General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai, head of COGAT, slammed the Palestinian ban earlier this week. “Apparently Palestine Towers Cinema in Ramallah fears that the audience will enjoy the excellent film ‘Wonder Woman,’ and cannot separate politics from an American film.Boycotting the film shows only weakness and fear. One who is self-confident is not afraid of movies — even if it’s ‘Wonder Woman’ standing before him,” he wrote on Facebook.
The boycott wave has prompted defensive reactions from Israeli politicians who are happy to jump into the mix and defend the new national sweetheart from anti-Israel defamation. But yesterday, Jewish home MK Shuli Moalem went one step too far and created a political firestorm. Moalem posted a photo montage of MK Tzipi Livni’s head on Gadot’s body in the “Wonder Woman” poster with the following message attached to it: “I heard that the Palestinian Authority isn’t screening ‘Wonder Woman”‘because of Gal Gadot. If TzipiLivnii would replace her it would probably turn into a box office hit.” Moalem’s Facebook post was deleted within an hour, but a print screen image of it circulated onTwitterr, with a following vivid discussion and varying reactions from those who thought it was tasteless to others who found it amusing. Livni herself tweeted: “And then on Tisha Be’Av you will be talking about the Sinat Hinam (senseless hatred) that lead to our destruction.”