APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday February 18, 2013
Amount of the day:
--Codename for the US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel (with a five-hour trip to Ramallah).**
Front Page News:
- Australia investigating Zygier's cause of death in Israel
- They don't leave the mayor's post, even with indictments; High Court likely to end this
- Lieberman: I did not know that Ben-Arieh wanted to help me
- Waiting for the ambassador // Ido Baum
- Negotiation freeze - Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi rejected the Kendal plan for drafting the ultra-Orthodox
- Ice cream with connections - Owner of Netanyahu's favorite ice cream shop was also Sarah's hair stylist and a tax evader
- Ashdod Port employee convicted, but his job will wait him for seven years
- The chaos from which harmony is born - Shmulik Krauss, 1935-2013
- The residents saved the first Hebrew kindergarten
- Prisoner X affair - Australia: We will investigate the death of the agent
- (Singer/Song writer) Shmulik Krauss 1935-2013
- Lieberman: I did not commit a crime; Prosecution: If convicted, we will demand incarceration
- Let us live - Religious-nationalist women suffer curses from ultra-Orthodox in Beit Shemesh and are now going out to battle
- Beitar's fall - Defeated 0:3 against Hapoal Haifa and won only one point in the last four games
- Netanyahu's threat to Bennett: Join the coalition government or we'll go to elections - attempts to break the Yesh Atid - Habayit Hayehudi alliance continue (Hebrew)
- Lieberman the accused
- Prisoner X affair - Publication of the report of Judge Baltman-Kadrai on cause of death of Ben Zygier delayed because of pressures coming from security establishment (Hebrew)
- Balad to the departed - Shmulik Krauss 1935-2013
- Assad's women - 1400 volunteers in the 'Surayat' battalion aid the Syrian army in overcoming the rebels
- Waiting for the report: "Zygier died because of shame"
- Shmulik Krauss passed away, he was 77
- Two years to the massacre - Memorial for Fogel family
- Lieberman trial opened: "I am not guilty"
- Suspicion: Gynecologist performed surgical procedure on 10 women - for the money
- Israel Prize for life achievement awarded posthumously to (former Ariel settlement mayor) Ron Nahman
- Author Shimon Adaf won the Sapir Prize for 2012 for his book "Mox Nox"
Avigdor Lieberman pleads 'not guilty,' a famous songwriter dies and more revelations on the 'Prisoner X' affair made the top stories in Israeli newspapers today. Meanwhile, the latest on the preparations for the visit of US President Barack Obama.
"We did not persecute him. He died from shame," a senior security official told Channel 2 News and Israel Hayom reported. The source was speaking about the cause of death of alleged Mossad agent Ben Zygier, the Australian-Israeli whose secret imprisonment, trial and death have caused an uproar in Israel, since their revelation by ABC Australia TV news program. The Attorney General is weighing whether to publish the report on the investigation into his death, which found that the cause was suicide. Maariv reported that security officials are pressuring to keep the report away from the public. The Israel Prisons Authority fears it will be blamed for not preventing Zygier's death, if the report is not released. The problem, according to one source, who spoke to Maariv, was that the prison received the detainee, but was not allowed to speak with him, so it's not clear that it was able to know that he was suicidal. The Knesset subcommittee for Intelligence affairs announced it will make an 'intensive examination' into Zygier's death, but a number of Israeli MKs have called for an independent probe, including Labor MK Nahman Shai, Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Ariel and Labor MK Eitan Cabel. Shai said Israel must publish a report before Australia does, so that Israel is not further embarrassed. Interestingly, there was no word on the affair from Israel's second largest party, Yesh Atid, which campaigned for more transparency in government.
In his first comment on the Prisoner X affair, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Israelis to let the story go. "Let the security forces continue working in quiet so we can go on living in security and peace in Israel..." He explained that Israel is a democratic state, but "we are not like other countries. We are also more threatened and more challenged, and so we must make sure that out security forces are able to work in a sound manner."
Ynet and Yedioth reported from Melbourne that Australia's Jews fear the 'Prisoner X' affair will not only damage the long-term relations between Israel and Australia, but that it also makes Australian Jews who support Israel suspect of dual loyalty. Some of Melbourne's Jews declared they would avoid visiting Israel, and deter their children from visiting, as well. (Click here for more: Ynet)
**The date is set. Obama will arrive on March 20th for a 48 hour visit, five hours of which will be spent with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The visit even has a codename: Unbreakable Alliance in English, and Brit Amim (A Covenant of Peoples) in Hebrew. Netanyahu said his meetings with Obama will focus on three major security issues: Iran, Syria and the Palestinians. Netanyahu and his National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror presented the cabinet with the preliminary schedule, which according to Haaretz's Barak Ravid, "will be run like a military operation in most every way." Netanyahu even is calling on people through his Facebook page to choose which of three logos will be used for the visit. The Prime Minister's Office had suggested numerous places for Obama to visit outside of Jerusalem and its vicinity, but there wasn't enough time, said Amidror.
The one location still undecided is where Obama will give his speech to the Israeli people. Yedioth's '24 Hours' supplement ran a poll asking people whether they would like Obama to give his speech at Rabin Square. The responses - by cellular phone text messages - will be published tomorrow. (Today Yedioth published the response to the question whether Israel should publish information that was already revealed in the foreign press. Interestingly, 53% of the respondents said no and only 47% said yes.)
A senior Palestinian Authority official told the Palestinian media that 550 prisoners are to be released ahead of Obama's visit, Maariv reported. According to the senior source, among those released will be Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti and PFLP Chairman Ahmed Saadat, the latter who was found guilty of planning the murder of minister Rehavam Ze'evi. But Nimer Hamad, advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, denied Israel plans on releasing the two. Ziyad Abu Ein of the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs said great pressure is being put on sources abroad to take advantage of the arrival of the US President to release as many prisoners as possible from Israeli jails. He also noted that according to an agreement with Israel, Israel must release prisoners arrested before the Oslo Accords. (NRG Hebrew)
- Lieberman pleads not guilty as trial gets underway; first hearings set for late April - Former foreign minister is charged with acting to have Ze'ev Ben Aryeh named Israeli ambassador to Latvia, after Ben Aryeh provided Lieberman with information about an investigation into his affairs. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Watchdog urges Netanyahu: Don't save Foreign Ministry portfolio for Lieberman - Movement for Quality Government claims judicial process could suffer if ministry staffers are forced to testify against someone who might become their boss once again. (Haaretz)
- Israel to return West Bank farmland to Palestinian owners after wrongly allocating land to kibbutz - Over the years, Israel, under various pretexts, has seized control of around 20,000 dunams of privately owned Palestinian land and transferred it to settlements for agricultural use. (Haaretz)
- Palestinians reject Israel's compromise for West Bank fence: Stop rail traffic instead of building on our land - Batir village residents reject state suggestion to build chain-link fence instead of wall on ancient terraces. (Haaretz)
- IDF top brass bitterly divided over entry of Syrian refugees - IDF chief of staff upset he wasn't notified in advance of decision to allow seven Syrian refugees into Israel for medical care and is concerned incident will set a dangerous precedent. Israel's policy is not to allow Syrian refugees across the border. (Israel Hayom)
- IDF soldier posts Instagram photo of Palestinian boy in crosshairs of sniper rifle - Another soldier gets two weeks in military jail for posting his picture on Facebook next to bound and blindfolded detainees. (Haaretz)
- OECD study: Poor Israeli students lagging two years behind wealthy in math, science - Israel ranked among the five countries with the biggest performance gap between rich and poor students on an international mathematics and science test. (Haaretz)
- Historic rivals unite to save Jewish history - Cambridge, Oxford universities' libraries announce first ever joint fundraising campaign to purchase Lewis-Gibson Genizah Collection, which comprises more than 1,700 fragments of Hebrew and Arabic manuscripts dating from 9th-19th centuries. (Ynet)
- The perils of taking out a mortgage in a West Bank settlement - Tel Aviv also has entire neighborhoods that the banks avoid, such as the Shapira and Hatikva neighborhoods in the south. (Haaretz)
- Another Israeli film awarded in Berlin' - Rock the Casbah' takes home prestigious International Confederation of Art Cinemas award at German capital's international film festival. (Ynet)
- Anonymous activists hack into 600,000 Israeli email accounts - Expert says attack is part of the #OpIsrael campaign targeting Israeli websites; email provider 'Walla!' confirms that an attack took place but says information taken was useless. (Haaretz)
- Thousands attend memorial for slain Fogel family, vow to continue West Bank settlement - An exceptional number of public figures attended the memorial ceremony. Almost the entire Habayit Hayehudi Knesset faction was there, as well as ministers Yaakov Neeman, Yuli Edelstein and Katz from Likud; and minister Eli Yishai and MK Nissim Zeev of Shas. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- (Former Ariel settlement mayor) Ron Nachman honored with Israel Prize posthumously - Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar awards prize for Lifetime Achievement to late Ariel mayor and Hebrew music professor, Eliyahu Cohen, upon committee recommendation. "Nachman was a pioneer and a great Zionist." (Israel Hayom)
- HIV among Israeli gay men up 55% since 2005 - Ministry figures: Infection is five times more common among gays than among straights. (Haaretz)
- Barbie and Ken love Israel - Italian couple shoots photos of Israeli tourist attractions with iconic plastic dolls 'posing' in background; photos presented in Milan exhibition. (Ynet)
- **Netanyahu overspent budget for Jerusalem residence by 50% in 2012 - Amid calls for frugality, PM spent more on home than last 4 prime ministers; and, who owned the tender-free ice cream parlor? Sara Netanyahu's ex-hairdresser. (Haaretz)
- Iran will never shut down Fordow nuclear plant, says senior MP - Remark follows report that world powers are planning to offer to ease sanctions on Iran in return for steps to shut down Fordow uranium enrichment plant. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- In Likud they are threatening: "Netanyahu is not ruling out new elections" - In the wake of his lack of success in breaking the alliance between Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Habayit Hayehudi responded saying: "Netanyahu needs to realize that the religious zionists are no longer the Likud pet." (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
- Israeli coalition talks stuck; source: Netanyahu focused on portfolios, not substance - Likud still at odds with Bennett and Lapid over compromise for IDF service. (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu seeks broad coalition to push forward Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - Netanyahu's statements were another hint he is not interested in having Habayit Hayehudi join the coalition unless one of the center-left parties, such as Yesh Atid or Labor, also join. (Haaretz)
- Habayit Hayehudi MKs want to bury the hatchet with Likud - Habayit Hayehudi MKs say main goal of coalition talks should be joining the government, with or without Yesh Atid. If Bennett keeps us out of coalition, he will have no support, Habayit Hayehudi MKs say. (Israel Hayom)
Fitting Palestinian prisoners into the excitement of the Ben Zygier affair (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz) News consumers don't really love the truth. They love sudden revelations, belated of course, so they can't do anything about it − like the reports on Zygier, which will have to tide us over until the next wave of excitement.
Good morning, Abbas-stan (Aluf Benn, Haaretz) U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel is approaching, while in the background the calm of the status quo is weakening and a third intifada looms more threateningly than usual.
Free Marwan Barghouti (Amnon Shamosh, Yedioth/Ynet) Releasing idolized Palestinian leader will pave the way for a two-state solution that will save us from ruin.
Boiling down the Lieberman affair: The line between criminal offense and a simple favor (Ido Baum, Haaretz) Trial hinges on Lieberman's 'reading' of letter given to him by envoy regarding pending investigation, who the former foreign minister then sought to promote.
Iran reaches out to Egypt in bid for increased regional power (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Iran's letter inviting Egypt to 'adopt the Iranian model and join Tehran to build a new Islamic culture' is indicative of Tehran's desire to redraw the new Middle East and the pressure it feels over the developments in Syria.
Things more sacred than public proceedings (Prof. Aryeh Eldad, Israel Hayom) Is democracy severely compromised when a man is held in prison under a fictitious name? Not if doing so protects the lives of other agents. [Writer is former MK of most extreme right-wing party - OH]
The ice cream has gone to his head (Haaretz Editorial) Instead of retroactively canceling scandalous expenses, it would behoove the prime minister to make the budget for the prime minister's residence public. Let the public have a look and decide if that's how it wants its money spent.
Between Bennett and Lapid (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) It appears that even among the knights of changing the political system, eventually, everything comes down to government portfolios and the distribution of the spoils.
Sara Netanyahu, Israel's first lady and public enemy No. 1 (Eyal Megged, Haaretz) The media can't have it both ways: Either the stories about Sara Netanyahu's inappropriate involvement in matters of state are correct, in which case action must be taken, or they are false, in which case they are themselves inappropriate and should cease.
When immunity is used for evil (Uri Heitner, Israel Hayom) It seems only appropriate that we adopt a political system that respects the law, in which MKs set a personal example by respecting the law as well.
The truth about Iron Dome has come out (Reuven Pedatzur, Haaretz) Iron Dome cannot protect Sderot and the communities around the Gaza Strip. Everyone should know it, not only the nine people sitting in a Kiryat Gat courtroom.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.