Kafe Knesset for August 2
Battle of the buffoons: This morning the scandal plagued Likud MK, Oren Hazan, was ready for a fight. He got his hair cut, took some puffs into his inhaler, got some tips from Olympic bronze medal-winning judoka Oren Smadja, and started driving towards the Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan. He was ready for an international rumble. It all started last week, when Hazan tweeted in response to the security guard mess that the Jordanians needs “re-education,” because Israel provides them with water and “protects their asses.” The tweet went viral in Jordan, where the masses want justice for the two people killed. A Jordanian MP named Yahya Mohammad Alsaud challenged Hazan to show up at the Allenby Bridge this morning, where he would beat Hazan up. Hazan responded to the challenge and said he would be there. But after a night of suspense, Hazan drove almost all the way to the bridge before Netanyahu’s chief of staff,Yoav Horowitz, called the renegade MK and told him to turn around. Surprisingly, Hazan listened. He said that he only wanted to talk all along and explain to Alsaud that “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.” Alsaud, for his part, made it all the way to the bridge, mocked Hazan for being ordered around by Netanyahu, called him a pig, and offered to meet in a third country to kick his butt.
Criminal cucumber season: It is the beginning of what is known in Israel as the “cucumber season,” that time of the summer in which most of the country slows down, as well as the news cycle. But this year, as various police probes involving the PM and his closest confidants advance, it appears the media will have quite enough headlines to keep busy. This afternoon, Sarah Netanyahu is set to arrive at the Lahav 433 (Israel’s version of the FBI) headquarters for another investigation in the “residence affair.,” This is the case in which she is suspected of alleged fraud, breach of trust and misuse of public funds for private expenses at the PM’s residence. The police already recommended last year that Sarah Netanyahu be indicted the case. The investigation today is one of the final steps ahead of concluding the case and submitting an official recommendation by the State Prosecutor. Meanwhile, Balfour’s residents might be concerned about other recent developments, as the state is now engaged in advanced negotiations to turn Ari Harrow, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, into a state witness. Harrow used to be one of Bibi’s closest confidants, and his testimony is considered crucial in two open cases against the PM. Harrow was the one who recorded the infamous “Noni Tapes” at the center of the 2000 file investigating contacts between BB and Arnon Mozes, Yedioth Aharonoth’s publisher and owner. A former major fund-raiser for the Likud in the US, he is also reportedly linked to the 1000 file and has knowledge about the relationship between Netanyahu and LA producer Arnon Milchan, as well as other wealthy friends and acquaintances of the Netanyahus – the main subject of file 1000.
If the law enforcement efforts come to fruition, Harrow will be the second state witness enlisted as part of the ongoing probes into Netanyahu and his associates, following Miki Ganor, the Israeli representative of the ThyssenKrupp ship company, who has signed a deal as part of the submarine affair investigation, aka file 3000, and his testimony is expected to incriminate Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron. Ganor has been spending the past week or so in a special isolated investigation facility, and various leaks have come out from his testimony, moving the court to issue a special gag order yesterday on his investigation. Netanyahu’s personal media advisor Nir Heffetz issued a response today in which he “reiterates to all of the concerned media outlets that there will be nothing because there was nothing.” However, as the list of former aides and confidants starring in criminal headlines continues to grow longer, Netanyahu sure would be happy to shift the cucumber season agenda far from where it is now.
Yair vs. the left: In another possible sign that tensions in the first family are high, Netanyahu’s eldest, Yair, made it to the headlines for the second time this week. This after he issued an extremely strong and obscene response to some of the criticism and attacks against him. The initial social media uproar started over the weekend when Yair did not scoop the Netanyahus’ dog Kaiya’s poop, On Sunday, the left-wing 61 Project, which operates under the progressive think tank Molad, posted on Facebook criticism of the premier’s son for his lavish lifestyle and influence on his father’s right-wing agenda. Under the headline “5 facts about Crown Prince Yair Netanyahu,” 61 gathered a series of findings of journalistic investigations on Netanyahu Jr. in recent years. These findings include Yair’s ties with Australian billionaire James Packer, who is also involved in Police File 1000. The report also included details about Yair’s luxurious vacation and entertainment habits. A few hours later, Netanyahu, under his current “Yair Hun” user name, posted a comment to the post, in which he lashed out at the Molad Institute and accused the left of whitewashing other misdoings by sons of former PMs. “Hey, I’m not going to answer all the lies and slander, but your side always rants about incitement, demonization, character assassination, and crossing red lines …how about investigating the different and strange sources of funding of this fantasy page.” Yair Neyanyahu ended his post with two emojis – of a middle finger and poop – claiming this is “message to all the members of the fund for the destruction of Israel and their satellites,” referring to the New Israel Fund, even though the fund is no longer a supporter of the Molad research center. Molad has demanded an apology from Netanyahu, and is threatening a libel suit. The New Israel Fund issued a response to the remarks made on Tisha B’Av: “On the day when the Jewish people mourn the destruction of the two Temples because of baseless hatred, the prime minister should educate his son to spread love of Israel.”
Kaiya’s day in the Knesset: Speaking of the first pup, the Knesset convened today despite being in recess to discuss a bill that would make rules for quarantining dogs more lenient. If a dog bites someone, he or she will be put under house arrest instead of quarantine in a special facility. The bill was inspired by Kaiya Netanyahu, who bit MK Sharren Haskel and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s husband at a Likud lawmakers’ dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence. It’s more than a little strange to call all the MKs to the Knesset during their vacation for a vote like this one – and it isn’t even the final vote, only a first reading. The reason is that when the bill came up for a vote last week, coalition whip David Bitan realized that he didn’t have enough votes, even though he was supposed to, blaming the opposition for backing out on agreements between them. So he punished the opposition by calling this meeting. The opposition, however, took advantage of the hour-long session to slam Netanyahu for corruption, to criticize his handling of the Temple Mount, to complain about the coalition for focusing on this doggie bill and not more important matters, and to castigate Oren Hazan for, well, being Oren Hazan.