APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday January 30, 2013
Quote of the day:
The Holocaust has led Jewish Americans to the "wrong conclusion... That they have to support Israel no matter what."
--Israeli film director of "The Gatekeepers" speaks about the forces that harm the Jewish state.**
Front Page News:
- Governor of Bank of Israel Fischer suddenly resigns, two years before end of term
- Particularly bad timing for resigning // Meirav Arlosoroff
- Capitals market and real estate stressed
- UN: Number of Syrian refugees jumped to 700,000
- IAEA: No explosion at Iranian nuclear plant
- Criminal investigation in Harpaz affair reopens
- Yesh Atid likely to demand (the Knesset) Finance Committee and the Ministry of Housing
- Precedent setting ruling, High Court reversed rabbinical court ruling and kept man who refused divorce in
- Film treasures gathered for years - and thrown into the street in a moment
- In Jerusalem, still haven't removed trees that collapsed in storm (Hebrew)
- No confidence in Netanyahu - the responsible adult of the Israeli economy quit
- "Soccer is my religion" - Chechnyan who will play on Beitar Jerusalem team tells Yedioth
- Harpaz affair: Criminal investigation
- Faucets open - It's official: seven years of drought are over
- I sing from my heart - 14 years after falling ill and losing her voice, Ahuva Ozeri releases a new album
- Bicycles on the rise - Not only in Tel-Aviv, in Haifa you can rent and pedal from station to station
- Military police to interrogate (former IDF chief of staff) Ashkenazi on collecting information against Barak (Hebrew)
- Governor of Bank of Israel refused appointment as Minister of Finance and announced his resignation (Hebrew)
- Netanyahu to members of AIPAC: US military action can stop the Iranian nuclear project, Israeli action can only cause it serious damage (Hebrew)
- Lack of teachers in the education system: Only one out of three high schools in Israel teach physics
- Experiences in the stadium's eastern gallery - Maariv reporter joined (racist) fans of Beitar Jerusalem in tense game against Maccabi Umm al-Fahem (Hebrew)
- Fischer's surprise
- What di the Governor bolt? // Hezi Strernlicht
- Soldier of the sons of light // Dan Margalit
- Will the study funds be cancelled?
- Criminal investigation against Weiner and Ashkenazi
- Peres begins consultations with representatives of all the parties
- From spring: One packet (of duty free cigarettes) for every traveler
- Egypt's Defense Minister: "The riots and clashes could collapse the country"
- UN determined: "No explosion at Iran's Fordo nuclear plant"
- Beitar crushed Umm al-Fahem 5-0; Despite concerns, game passed peacefully
The Governor of the Bank of Israel shocks the country by stepping down, former chief of staff to be interrogated and the UN nuclear watchdog says there was no explosion at Iran's nuclear facility making top stories in today's Israeli papers. Barely mentioned was Israel's approval of the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas politburo chief's desire for a different job. Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister acknowledged Israel's military limitations regarding Iran, President Shimon Peres begins party consultations, the Vatican and Israel resolved a long disagreement over the Last Supper room, and the papers all ran stories on what happened at the game with the notorious Beitar Jerusalem soccer team.
Labor chief Shelly Yachimovich called Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer's resignation yesterday "a harsh expression of no-confidence in Prime Minister Netanyahu and a slap in the face of his economic policy." Fischer, who was brought in by Netanyahu in 2005, when Netanyahu was finance minister, surprised the country and worried the markets when he announced his resignation two years before the end of his term. He was known in the media as "the responsible adult." Since agreeing to the job and immigrating to Israel from the US, Israel's economy has grown at an average of 4% a year. The papers write that Netanyahu offered him to be Finance Minister, but he refused. Yedioth's economic affairs commentator, Sever Plocker, writes that the offer was not genuine, and anyway, "it is not acceptable that the Governor of the Central Bank such as Fischer would accept a decrease in his independent status by becoming a political Minister of Finance." Maariv writes that Fischer hinted he wants the job of Foreign Minister. Plocker, however, writes that Fischer was surprised that after elections he was not given a central place in preparing the economic policy for the coming year when he is the #1 economic diplomat. According to Plocker, Fischer, a man of peace, was disappointed in Netanyahu on the diplomatic level. He was seriously concerned by Israel's falling international status and the missed opportunity to make a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Plocker believes that Fischer's resignation is not only "a painful blow to Israel, but for Netanyahu's next coalition - it could be a knock out."
Former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi is to be interrogated in a criminal investigation by the Military Police over who gave the orders to 'search for dirt' on Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At this point, there is no suspicion of a civil criminal violation, said Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who called for the investigation. [This will further taint the clean image of Ashkenazi, who was a very popular commander and was believed to have great potential in the political sphere. - OH] (Haaretz)
After much speculation, the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, yesterday backed Iran's denial of an explosion at the Fordo nuclear plant. Also yesterday, Netanyahu told visiting AIPAC members that the US has the military capability to stop Iran's nuclear project, while Israel would (only) be able to make significant damage, Maariv reported. (NRG Hebrew)
Israel approved the transfer of 400 million shekels in tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority that it withheld in response to the Palestinian status upgrade at UN in November. Israel's defense establishment had pressured the political establishment to transfer the funds, so that the PA, which is in dire economic straits, would be able to pay its security forces, Yedioth wrote. Maariv did not report on this at all. (Haaretz)
Ynet writes that according to a report in London's Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal is gearing for a bid to lead the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Mashaal announced he would be stepping down in mid-2012, but Hamas has yet to announce who will take over the position. Mashaal recently met with Jordan's King Abdullah, just after the latter met with President Shimon Peres.
Today, President Peres begins consultations with representatives of the various parties to hear who they recommend to be the next prime minister. It is Peres who decides who has the best chance of forming a government and then offers that person to try to form a coalition. Peres has till February 6th to choose that person, but Yedioth writes he is expected to decide by Friday. From that day, the chosen person has 28 days to form a coalition government and another 14 days extension. Yedioth reports that Labor's Yachimovich, Hatunuah's Tzipi Livni, and Meretz's Zahava Gal-On will not recommend any candidate. Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, Habayit Hayehudi's Naftali Bennett, Shas and Kadimah's Shaul Mofaz will all recommend Netanyahu.
After 20 years, the Vatican's status in a famous room in Jerusalem was resolved. As part of the historic agreement between Israel and Vatican it was concluded that the room of the Last Supper will receive special status, Israel Hayom reported, although Israel did not relinquish its hold over the site, as the Vatican had demanded. Another decision gave all Vatican institutions an exemption from paying taxes in Israel. The agreement was arranged by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Vatican representatives and will be signed in June by the heads of the two states.
In the end, the Beitar soccer team's board of directors withdrew its request to play the Arab-Israeli team Maccabi Umm al-Fahem without spectators. Some 4000 spectators came - 3000 of Beitar and 1000 from Umm al-Fahem - along with 700 policemen. The Jewish fans of Beitar held up Israeli flags and the Arab fans of Umm al-Fahem wore keffiyehs. Maariv's reporter wrote that some kids who are Beitar fans wore black masks and made racial slurs. (Hebrew) The game went on, minus some 50 hardcore Beitar fans, who were prevented from entering, and some racial slurs - by Beitar fans, particularly against Arab MK Ahmed Tibi who came to the game and against an Arab Muslim player of Umm al-Fahem who used half-time to pray, wrote Yedioth. Other spectators included far-right wing politicians of Utzma L'Yisrael (which did not make it into the Knesset) Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad along with Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir. Beitar won: 5-0, but it was also fined 50,000 shekels for its fans' anti-Arab racism, writes Haaretz. But the big storm is still ahead of us, according to Yedioth, when the Arab-Israel team Bnei Sakhnin arrives at Teddy Stadium, because there will be some 18,000 fans.
- Israel to boycott UNHRC review - A diplomatic crisis in the making? In unprecedented move Israeli authorities refuse to cooperate with Rights Council's probe of settlement activity; experts worry other nations will follow suit. According to the BBC, this is the first time any UN member has refused to cooperate with the mandatory review. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- Israel Police to compensate Kahanists for unlawful detention - Itamar Ben-Gvir, Noam Federman and Baruch Marzel, arrested after announcing plan to patrol hometown of terrorist who killed eight at Merkaz Harav yeshiva. (Haaretz)
- Israel not doing enough to avoid defense sector corruption, report says - International NGO ranks Israel in the same category as Kuwait, Lebanon and Mexico for risk of defense-sector corruption; rails the Jewish state for not implementing anti-corruption warnings. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Lapid and Bennett coordinating moves to outflank ultra-Orthodox in next coalition - The link between Lapid and Bennett sends a clear signal to Netanyahu that both are serious about confronting the ultra-Orthodox conscription issue. (Haaretz)
- Lapid demanding Finance Committee and Housing Ministry - Yair Lapid's party says there's no point in receiving ministerial posts if the committee remains in United Torah Judaism's hands. (Haaretz)
- Palestinian stabs Jewish teen in northern West Bank - A Ramallah resident attacked the 17-year old near Tapuah junction; the teen's injuries are slight to moderate; suspect taken into custody. (Ynet and Haaretz)
- Women's group: Ban Eshel from public office - Israel Women's Network urges AG to bar disgraced PM bureau chief from heading coalition negotiation; warns 'Bringing Eshel back threatens women's safety.' (Ynet)
- **Israeli filmmaker: Netanyahu as much to blame for Rabin's death as Yigal Amir - Dror Moreh, who directed the Oscar-nominated documentary 'The Gatekeepers,' also says that American Jews' unyielding support for Israel is harmful to its future. (Haaretz)
- New space center opens in Sakhnin - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden arrives in Israel for launching of Moona science, environment, space center; tells children if space shuttles connect cultures, same can occur on ground. (Ynet)
- Rivlin: Knesset may be ready to pass a constitution - Knesset speaker says conditions are ripe for permanent constitution: "The election results show that Israelis have reset their priorities and prove that many are no longer resigned to having the peace process top the agenda." (Israel Hayom)
- Supreme Court slams Dirani in damages claim hearing - Justice Rubinstein points to fact that Lebanese terrorist rejoined Hezbollah; 'he isn't sitting on his porch smoking a hookah.' (Ynet)
- Hebrew University gets its very own asteroid - The International Astronomical Union recently decided to name an asteroid in honor of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, at the request of Canadian astronomer David E. Levy. (Haaretz)
- Tourists favor Bethlehem over Jerusalem - Vice president of Arab Hotel Association participates in Herzliya Conference on Tourism, says high hotel prices in Jerusalem driving pilgrims to West Bank. (Ynet)
- Netanyahu's plan: NIS 27 billion in cuts, ban on strikes in essential services - Draft of biannual budget, which will be presented to the new government once it is formed, seeks to abolish Israel's Labor Courts and raise VAT on fruits and vegetables, but will not raise taxes or institute new taxes. (Haaretz)
- Steinitz sees cuts to defense spending - Finance minister tells Reuters there are no plans to further raise taxes in order to hit deficit target of 3% of economic output. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Due to clerical error, Arab town votes for far-right Jewish party - A recount of the polling data in Jisr al-Zarqa, which attracted the attention of the elections committee, revealed a clerical error was responsible for the surprising support of Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari's party. (Haaretz)
- Morsi aide: Holocaust a US hoax - FoxNews quotes Fathi Shihab-Eddim as saying 'The myth of the Holocaust is an industry that America invented.' (Ynet)
- Egypt army: Political upheaval could lead to collapse of state - WATCH: Army chief and defense minister says one main goal of deploying troops at Suez Canal cities is to protect waterway that is vital for Egypt's economy and world trade. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Scores of bodies found shot in the head in Syria's Aleppo - Over 30 bodies exhibiting signs of torture found in a mass grave outside Damascus as Assad's forces continue to pound Aleppo. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Obama pledges $155 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians - President Obama authorizes additional aid for food, medical care and clothing for Syrians and refugees, bringing the U.S. total to $365 million. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- IAF chief warns against complacency on Syria - Maj.-Gen. Eshel says Damascus 'undergoing tectonic changes'; stresses Israel 'can't afford to wait for war' to address Assad's weapons arsenal. (Ynet)
- Iran-linked arms shipment intercepted off Yemen's shores - Sanaa says another Iranian arms shipment meant to reach insurgents has been caught; Iran denies any interference in Yemen's affairs. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Clinton: Elections open new avenues for peace - Outgoing US secretary of state expresses hope for peace in Middle East following Israeli elections, says Obama, her successor will 'look for every possible opening.' (Agencies, Ynet)
The 'unworthy' Ms. Margolis
Granddaughter of Holocaust survivor who came to Israel as child, serves as IDF officer, stunned to find Rabbinate does not deem her 'Jewish enough' to marry in Israel. (Yedioth '24 Hours' and Ynet)
Netanyahu is responsible (Haaretz Editorial) Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer's resignation comes on the heels of news that the budget deficit stands at an astounding NIS 39 billion and the consequent demotion of deputy budget director Eyal Epstein. Is Fischer's choice to depart a vote of no-confidence in PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Steinitz?
The Governor who has no replacement (Sever Plocker, Yedioth) "There is no point in denying the truth and trying to put a pretty face on it: Stanley Fischer's departure from the Bank of Israel is a painful blow to the Israeli economy and a crushing blow to Netanyahu's next coalition, an expression of no-confidence in it, even if Fischer himself denies it...Even though he has refrained from criticizing, Prof. Fischer was angry over Netanyahu's giving up on the current government's ability to pass the 2013 budget and pushing off the difficult decisions to the next coalition; for him, this was a sign of weak leadership..."
Stanley Fischer, are you deserting a sinking ship? (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz) Is the respected economist jumping the good ship Bank of Israel because economic havoc looms, or is he angling for a different job?
Time has come for 2 states (Gilead Sher, Yedioth/Ynet) Israel must separate from the Palestinians to preserve country's Jewish, democratic character.
Of racist Israeli soccer fans and the ultra-Orthodox draft (Avi Shilon, Haaretz) Secular leaders must show largeness of spirit and, together with the Haredim, search for a compromise that would result in a sharing of the burden without negating anyone's right to live according to his beliefs.
Obama is waiting for Israel's new star (Leon Hadar, Haaretz) Lapid could act contrary to the pundits' expectations and demand the foreign affairs portfolio in the new government and Israel could find itself in a world that isn't totally against it, able to work with the White House, where there's a friend prepared to help it, if only it is ready to first help itself.
Not a national interest (Giora Eiland, Yedioth/Ynet) Recruiting all ultra-Orthodox to IDF just for the principle of the matter would be a huge mistake.
Why idealist Anglos voted for the centrist messiah (Sara Hirschhorn, Haaretz) Did immigrants from the U.S. and other English-speaking countries 'save Israel from itself' by voting for Yair Lapid, Israel's Barack Obama, in an attempt to resurrect ideological moderation in Israel? It appears that Anglos felt drawn to participating in creating a new space for centrism - which may well still be a false dawn.
I won't attend Beitar games (full Op-Ed by Ehud Olmert, Yedioth/Ynet) Former PM Olmert disgusted by racist fans who oppose signing of Muslim, Arab players.
Regards from the Iranian intellectuals (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) While Israeli politicians have done little to dissect the politics of the Arab world, Iranian academics are watching us closely, and publishing their analyses abroad.
Why oppose my rights as a Reform Jew in Israel? (Rabbi Michael Boyden, Haaretz) Progressive Jewish communities are not universally 'scorned and despised in Israel' as Rabbi Eric Yoffie has written, but the belittling and degrading description of Reform Judaism offered by Daniel Gordis demonstrates precisely why the lack of religious pluralism in Israel is a real problem.
This ministry will soon self-destruct (Meirav Arlosoroff, Haaretz) The Finance Ministry seriously mismanaged its budget crisis, but now, by focusing on personal issues rather than public ones, it is allowing its enemies the upper hand.
Smart warfare is prevention of warfare (Dr. Gabi Avital, Israel Hayom) One of the important objectives, if not the most important, is to paint a clear picture of the price that states or organizations will pay if they seize weapons of mass destruction.
A resounding Russian slap against the Assad regime (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Moscow's support for Syria's president is becoming steadily more tenuous.
The ideological collapse of the Right (Erez Tadmor [of the extreme right-wing Im Tirtzu organization - OH], Maariv/NRG Hebrew) "In the elections, the Israeli Right received a stinging slap in the face...According to the signs, it seems that it has no intention of looking at the facts honestly and internalizing why and how...The real reason (for) the collapse of Likud-Beytenu and the dramatic contraction of the right-wing bloc, (which) it seems the Likud is refusing to acknowledge, is the ideological collapse and intellectual atrophy of all branches of the Right - religious and secular...Right-wingers are liable to err and pin the reason for the results on a failed campaign and temporary circumstances...If they do this, they will discover that the recent elections were only a warning light; they will receive the wake-up call in the next elections when they discover that even a good campaign and new presenters will not halt the trend of collapse."
Racism has no place in Judaism (Dr. Aviad Hacohen, Israel Hayom) Ironically, the disgraceful racist campaign waged by Beitar Jerusalem soccer fans shames the democratic and Jewish values synonymous with the Beitar movement.
Fischer was the 'responsible adult' of the Israeli economy (Sami Peretz, Haaretz) But timing of resignation of the BOI chief bodes ill, Israel grapples with a budget crisis that will outlast him.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.