APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday March 12, 2013
Quote of the day:
'(Pro-settler party leader Naftali) Bennett was then asked how someone who knew when to exit his (hi-tech) company to the tune of $150 million doesn't understand the need to exit the settlements in time.'
--Don Futterman writes about the entertaining Israeli satire show, 'State of the Nation' in Haaretz
Front Page News:
- Achievement for Lapid: Government with only 20 ministers
- Low-fat government // Yossi Verter
- Unprecedented: UN turns to High Court to overturn Israeli 'infiltration law'
- Pizza, bowling and fun days: This is how to raise the rating of schools in the standardized achievement test scores
- Crimes and misdemeanors - Why does the police file indictments against those who stole a lighter or gum?
- Despite the criticism: Judge who sent migrant workers to work with his brother has returned to civil service
- World industry of trade of rare wildlife passes through secret range in Laos
- Iron Dome to be deployed at Ben-Gurion Airport so that Obama can be photographed near it
- Government of 20 ministers - Netanyahu accepted Lapid's demand: government to become smaller
- Day of tears and insults at high school - Teacher who accidentally leaked teachers' gossip about students cried and students wondered how trust would be returned
- Achievement for Lapid: Only 20 ministers to serve in Netanyahu government (Hebrew)
- IDF plan: Detention facility meant for Africans to become absorption base for enlisted ultra-Orthodox (Hebrew)
- Teva Pharmaceuticals received biggest tax break ever in Israel in 2011: 3 billion shekels
- Reception for President Obama in Israel: Falafel, hummous, a performance by Rita and a photo next to 'Iron Dome' at Ben-Gurion Airport (Hebrew)
- Will he return? After six stormy years, Ehud Barak parts from the Defense Ministry
- Kadima's failure - Senior Likud officials: Shaul Mofaz is outside the coalition and will not serve as a minister
- Former Speaker (of Knesset) accuses - Rivlin to his associates: I fell asleep at the guard. Netanyahu and Lieberman ganged up against me (Hebrew)
- The Jeep - After years of searching: Mythological recoilless gun jeep that IDF used in the French Hill enclave between '55-'67 found in Nablus
- Likely: 20 ministers
- Fear: The heat will bring the locusts to the center of the country
- Students protest - Apologies and crying of teachers did not help: Day after insulting nicknames teachers gave to students were leaked, students demonstrated
- "Admor from Jerusalem suspected of sexual harassment - on way to Israel"
- Almost a week before President's visit: Esther Pollard requests from Obama to pardon her husband
- Health Ministry lightened punishment against pediatrician who was found guilty of having in his possession and publishing pedophilic material
A shrunk government - and those will suffer from that, a photo-op for the US President - and the rest of his itinerary in Israel and Palestine were top stories in today's Israeli papers. Barely noted in the news was the IDF Chief of Staff's statement to ignore inflammatory rhetoric from Gaza and the Egyptian Army announcement that it destroyed two-thirds of the tunnels from the Gaza Strip.
It is being called a huge achievement: Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid was able to negotiate the size of the next government down to 20 ministers. Actually, the number will be 21, once Avigdor Lieberman's trial is over and he returns to the Foreign Ministry - and that does not include the Prime Minister. There will also be eight deputies. This compares to 30 ministers and nine deputy ministers at the start of the last government. That number dropped and is currently 29 ministers and seven deputy ministers. Haaretz writes this will be the first time since 1951, that there will be no ministers without portfolios.
But Israel Hayom writes that Likud-Beiteinu had its own achievement: a majority of 11/20 ministers in the government. Another five are for Yesh Atid and three to Habayit Hayehudi. Tzipi Livni has been asked to accept one instead of two. However, Yedioth reports that in Livni's party, Hatunua, they are not willing to give up on the second ministry they were promised. "Our agreement is closed and signed. If Netanyahu insists on opening it, he will be left with a smaller coalition," the party warned. Meanwhile, Shaul Mofaz and his Kadima party did not even make the cut. Yedioth writes that Likud sources say that Netanyahu prefers to leave Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz in the opposition because (Mofaz) preferred to put himself with Lapid and Bennett in order to make an alliance against (Netanyahu)."
The battle is still on over the Education Ministry with its massive budget, ties to ultra-Orthodox schools [and influence over the political education of Israel's children. - OH]. Yesh Atid and Likud both insist on having it. Israel Hayom explains [part] of what's behind the fight. Haaretz notes that only four or five women will serve as ministers - so much for equality in government. And top Likud MKs are upset that they won't be getting a promotion, writes Ynet.
Maariv wrote sarcastically that US President Barack Obama will be given great respect upon his visit: He'll be served hummous and falafel. We do know that he won't be eating bread, as Haaretz's Ilene Prusher reveals. The papers also seemed to laugh that an Iron Dome anti-missile battery will be moved to Ben-Gurion Airport so that Obama can have a photo-op with the defense system for which he has devoted so much US money.
On a more important note, Obama's itinerary includes two trips to the Palestinian Authority: The first next Thursday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials and then again, just before he leaves on Friday, to Bethlehem to visit the Church of Nativity. Haaretz writes that, "According to a high-ranking Israeli official, that stop...was added to his itinerary only in the past few days. UNESCO recognized the Church of the Nativity as a Palestinian World Heritage Site in June 2012, several months after Palestine became a full-fledged member of the organization." Maan writes that the youth group Palestinians for Dignity plans to protest Obama's visit. "We call on the masses of the Palestinian people to change this path and demonstrate against receiving he who considers Israel 'the closest ally in the region', and to refuse the return to futile negotiations," said the group. Ynet reports that some '600 lucky students are to hear Obama speak in Jerusalem.' The US Embassy will also give 20 tickets to people who post creative statuses on Facebook.
After meeting with Jewish American leaders ahead of his trip, Obama met yesterday with leaders of Arab-American groups. The Arab-American groups encouraged him to deliver a message of hope to the Palestinian people even if he is unable to immediately deliver a peace plan with Israel. After the meeting, James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute, said: "...the conversation begins and we want to be part of that conversation. Bringing us in was an important start."
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference taking place this week, IDF Chief of Staff Beni Gantz said there was a high probability of regional deterioration, but on Gaza he said: "We have to distinguish very, very clearly between the inflammatory declarations and what it's actually doing (Hamas)." Ynet has more details on what Gantz said were the threats facing Israel from each region.
In an article focusing on former president Hosni Mubarak's statements on the mayhem in Egypt, Maariv's Asaf Gabor noted that the Egyptian Army announced it destroyed 230 out of 330 of the tunnels connecting between the Gaza Strip and Sinai. (Maariv, p. 20/NRG Hebrew)
- Man dies after being hit by settler car in Salfit - Zeid Ali Rayyan, 28, was seriously wounded after being knocked down by a settler car on Saturday near Barqan settlement, west of Salfit. He was taken to an Israeli hospital where he died yesterday. (Maan)
- On tape: Settler attacks Palestinian shepherd - Security officer of West Bank outpost documented attacking Palestinian shepherd; officer says he was just pushing shepherd away after latter threatened him. (Ynet)
- Settlers block Nablus road, throw stones at cars - A group of settlers blocked a main road linking Nablus and Jenin on Monday, preventing Palestinian cars from passing, a PA official said. Settlers threw stones at Palestinian cars driving in the area, causing damage to several vehicles. An Israeli army spokeswoman said that a "military exercise simulating rock hurling" was taking place near Shave Shomron settlement, without providing further details. (Maan)
- MK Tibi: Settlers training dogs to attack Palestinians - Tibi told Ma'an that he obtained a videotape which shows settlers training dogs to attack Palestinians who say Allahu Akbar, or, 'God is Great'. (Maan)
- Israel forces 'order 15 families to leave homes' - Israeli forces on Monday ordered 15 families to evacuate their homes in the southern West Bank and said the area was a "closed military zone." The families live in caves and ancient stone dwellings in an area with fruit trees and water wells. Shalalda said all the residents had land ownership deeds. (Maan)
- Barak leaves Defense Ministry: 'Israel is facing extremely complex challenges' - Ehud Barak begins taking leave of ministry, after almost six years in office; he headed the ministry during the strike on the nuclear facility in Syria, which, according to foreign reports, was carried out by Israel, and during the two assaults on the Gaza Strip. (Haaretz)
- 'Bush advised Livni to use Olmert's peace plan to beat Netanyahu in election' - The New Republic's latest cover story on the dwindling prospects for a two-state solution contains several revelations about major players in the peace process. (Haaretz)
- UN refugee agency petitions High Court to overturn 'infiltration' law - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees concerned law will 'wrongly stigmatize and penalize' those seeking protection as refugees; parts of law violate 'international human rights.' (Haaretz)
- Israel sends 3 Palestinian hunger strikers to isolation cells - The Israeli Prison Service on Monday sent three detainees on hunger strike to solitary confinement, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said. (Maan)
- (Israeli Arab) Prisoners offer to waive Israeli citizenship to be released - The prisoners wrote to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoner Affairs in Ramallah, asking to be included in negotiations for the release of Palestinian detainees. According to the prisoner rights group Addameer, 185 of the 4,812 Palestinian political prisoners are from inside Israel. (Maan)
- Israeli man asks Palestinian Authority for political asylum - Andre Beniron, 23, told Ma'an that he wanted temporary political asylum and protection while finding a way to leave Israel. (Maan and Maariv, p. 20/NRG Hebrew)
- Palestinian Authority: 50,000 drug addicts in East Jerusalem, West Bank - Hani Abdin told Ma'an that the figures have encouraged the ministry to exert efforts to raise awareness about drug addiction and work with partner organizations to fight drug use. (Maan)
- Silwan's Jews subjected to repeated attacks - Trial of five Palestinians exposes regular use of homemade Molotov cocktails, stones against Jews in attempt to oust them from east Jerusalem neighborhood. (Ynet)
- Muslim hackers planning attack against Israel on April 7 - Nine groups of Muslim hackers announced a cyberattack on Israel on April 7. Codename: OpIsrael. "The goal is to wipe Israel off the internet. The act is directed against the Zionist entity occupying the Palestinian people." (Maariv, p. 20)
- Two IAF pilots killed in helicopter crash in southern Israel - The Cobra helicopter was on a routine training flight; the cause of the crash is still unknown. (Haaretz)
- Family of shot rabbi blasts closure of case - During IDF Judea, Samaria Division commander's visit to family of rabbi who was accidentally shot by soldier in 2011, relatives criticize decision not to try soldier. (Ynet)
- Kidnapped UN peacekeepers held in Syria returned to their base via Israel - UN peacekeepers held by rebels for three days in southern Syria and freed at the weekend crossed into Israel from neighboring Jordan through the Peace Island on Monday. Israeli troops received them and escorted the 21 Filipino peacekeepers back to their base along the Syrian frontier with the Golan Heights. (Maan and NRG Hebrew)
- UN: Palestinian rocket, not Israeli strike, killed baby during Gaza war - Previous reports indicated that the baby of a BBC reporter in Gaza was killed in an Israeli airstrike; UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says in new report that incident likely caused by errant Palestinian rocket. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Haniyeh urges Palestinians to holiday in Gaza - "From the bottom of my heart I say that there is no need for touristic normalization with the Israeli occupation. There is no need for our people to go to Israeli beaches in occupied Palestine. I hereby tell them to come to Gaza which will be happy with their presence," said the Hamas Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza. (Maan)
- Gaza ministry allows import of frozen chicken from Israel - Chicken imports were usually banned in order to encourage people to buy locally, but due to the rising cost of fresh chicken, the ministry has decided to import frozen chicken to ease the burden on families. Farmers also quit raising chickens because of the ongoing shortage of domestic gas, needed to heat coops. (Maan)
- Limited (IDF) incursion in Gaza Strip - Israeli military vehicles crossed into an area southeast of Gaza City on Monday, locals said, briefly entering the area of Juhor al-Dik. An Israeli spokeswoman said there was "routine military activity in the central Gaza Strip area." (Maan)
- "Thank you for saving me. Now it's Pollard's turn" - Gilad SHalit signed the petition for the release of US-Israeli spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard. (Yedioth, p. 18)
- Aliyah for yerida (Going up and moving to Israel in order to go down - in your salary) - Study: Doctors who immigrated to Israel complain of a drop in their salaries. Some 50% earn less than $50,000/year in Israel while only 5% earned that little in the US. Some 36% earned more than $250,000 in the US and none earn that much here. (Yedioth p. 28)
- Israeli religious schools to separate boys and girls from fourth grade - This is the first time that a system-wide policy has been developed for elementary grades since the state religious school system was set up in 1953. (Haaretz)
- The Israeli connection of Depeche Mode - Jack, the son of popular band's lead singer, Dave Gahan, is in relationship with an Israeli woman, Sigal Mamis. The two live in London. The band is coming to perform in Israel in May. Dave may come earlier for a family event, which Yedioth says might be his son's wedding. (Yedioth, p. 38)
- Mubarak to Egyptian people: "Support President Morsi" - Egyptian President received surprising support: "Mubarak is pained by what is happening, the demonstrators don't care about Egypt's future." Egyptian Army announced it destroyed 230 out of 330 of the tunnels connecting between the Gaza Strip and Sinai. (Maariv, p. 20/NRG Hebrew)
- Turkish business executives seek two passports for travel to Israel, Iran - Businesspeople are complaining that Iran and Israel turn away travelers with stamps in their passports from certain countries. (Haaretz)
- EU tightens Iran sanctions for rights violations - European foreign ministers add nine people 'responsible for serious human rights violations' to list of those subjected to travel ban, asset freeze. (Agencies, Ynet)
The jeep that returned home
45 years after it was lost, the recoilless gun jeep used by the unit at the Mt. Scopus enclave was discovered as a piece of junk in Nablus. After it was bought and repaired it will await visitors at the Ammunition Hill site. (Yedioth, p. 26 and Maariv, p. 16)
Experts probe reach of toxins from West Bank landfill
"They drank from the dark water, and then they died," a Bedouin shepherd boy says of the putrid black liquid oozing from the ground. From the level of decomposition, it's clear they died recently. What isn't so clear is how, but a new environmental survey is turning up clues about toxins in the air and water here. The area, Wadi Abu Hindi, is downstream from the busiest commercial waste site in the occupied West Bank, in a valley overshadowed on both sides by Israeli settlements. (Maan)
Listening to the 'wicked child' who dares to challenge Israeli policies (Rabbi Gideon D. Sylvester , Haaretz) The British Zionist Federation has just denied membership to its own "enfant terrible:" Yachad, which defines itself as the "pro-Israel, pro-peace voice of British Jews". Rather than excluding nonconformists from the Jewish community, we should acknowledge that their love for the State of Israel is what drives their challenging questions.
Palestinian Authority and Hamas not interested in escalation (Maan) A third intifada is not likely to erupt in the occupied West Bank, neither a military confrontation is expected between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, say Palestinian analysts.
Israel's next cabinet: low-fat, but rife with inner problems (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) Dr. Yair Lapid didn't put it on a diet, he performed gastric bypass surgery by pressuring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lower the number of ministers from 30 to 21.
Size does matter (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) Yesh Atid leader Lapid making good on his campaign promise for small government without the ultra-Orthodox.
Netanyahu's vendetta against Rivlin (Haaretz Editorial) Even if he has not said so explicitly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to prevent a man who has placed him in a less than flattering light from serving another term as Knesset speaker.
Strategy of change (Danny Rotschild, Maariv) The changes in the Middle East require that Israel think again. Self-reliance is no longer a viable option...
Leaving out the ultra-Orthodox isn't a boycott (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz) Keeping the ultra-Orthodox parties out of the coalition isn't a boycott, nor is it hatred, but rather a political attempt to achieve a different, more just distribution of resources.
Lieberman's systematic threat (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz) Yair Lapid created a feeling of change and civil awareness, but the good is likely to drown in a right-wing government and the Iran war that Netanyahu is now preparing seriously.
Turkey's difficult choice in Palestine (Ramzy Baroud, Maan) An Israeli-Turkish rapprochement is unmistakably underway, but unlike the heyday of their political alignment of the 1990's, the revamped relationship is likely to be more guarded and will pose a greater challenge to Turkey rather than to Israel.
Erdogan, this isn't Zionism (Dmitry Shumsky, Haaretz) Those who care deeply about Zionist ideals shouldn't criticize Turkey's prime minister but rather the Israeli leaders who are destroying the very foundations of Zionism.
Diaspora Jews want to be Israel's partners - not only its donors (Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Haaretz) North American Jews are no longer willing to just send money to Israel with no say in what goes on there: We have a stake in Israel, as true partners who want to ensure Israel lives up to the best of our Jewish human rights values.
Racists a handful of hooligans (Noah Klieger, Yedioth/Ynet) Few acts of violence by several Jewish youths do not turn entire nation into racist, bloodthirsty people.
**So funny it hurts: Satire in my survival kit for Israeli coalition negotiations (Don Futterman, Haaretz) How does one deal with the mind-numbing politics of this country? With the hard-biting, endlessly entertaining satire of 'State of the Nation,' a brilliant show on Israel's Channel 2.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.