Kafe Knesset for November 28

Shaming and acceptance: The tension between the Israeli government and segments of US Jewry continues to make headlines, and yesterday Channel 2 sent out a push notification with out a dramatic one that turned out to not be entirely accurate. “American Jews to the PM: shame on you,” it read, citing a new social media video distributed by the Conservative Judaism Movement in an unprecedented attack against Netanyahu. The video, in English, accused Bibi of manipulating the facts about the Kotel agreement. The Israeli Masorti movement said the video was coordinated with the US Conservative Movement – a fact that seemed suspect, considering it was released over Thanksgiving weekend, its English was a bit off, and it didn’t have any logos in it. Then, the Conservative Movement in the US denied having anything to do with the video.

The Prime Minister’s Office didn’t issue any official comment, but Kafe Knesset learned that Netanyahu addressed the issue yesterday at the Likud’s weekly faction meeting. “Some of [US Jewry’s] statements are out of place, because our real intention is to embrace them, to the extent that the limitations of Israeli politics, that are well known to all, allow. This will not change between one government to another government. We’re doing our best to cooperate with them. They cannot change what exists here, and we cannot change what is there. There are certain things that we need to accept, and we need to accept one another.”

Bibi bill clears a hurdle: With the word out that investigations into corruption allegations against Netanyahu are winding down, some in the Likud – particularly coalition chairman David Bitan and Knesset Interior Committee chairman David Amsalem – are in a rush to try to save the prime minister through questionable legislative means. After floating other ideas, which were shot down by coalition partners, the duo settled on a bill that passed a first reading last night. The bill was originally meant to ban the police from making recommendations to the state prosecution at the end of an investigation, but after pressure mostly from Kulanu, it was softened a bit, so the Attorney-General can ask the police for a recommendation. Still, the proposal is generally seen as a way to put pressure on the police and the Attorney General’s office not to recommend or go through with an indictment of Netanyahu. The second part of the bill is a way to make it harder for journalists to report on Netanyahu’s investigation, as it makes leaking content of an investigation punishable by up to a year in prison. Amsalem argues that the bill is meant to prevent situations where investigation details make it to the press and people are publicly accused of crimes for which they don’t actually end up being charged. While that does happen more often than it should, the timing is suspect.

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