APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday March 14, 2013
Quote of the day:
"He even lit a candle in the main menorah of the community last Hannukah."
--Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, in a piece for Yedioth about the new Pope.**
Front Page News:
- The 33rd government: Piron at Education (Ministry), Interior (Ministry) to Likud
- Pope Francis I - Latin American and representing the conservatives
- Not a buddy, pensioner: Ehud Barak parted secretly from the Defense Ministry
- Historical gesture by Kurdish undergrounds to Erdogan: Released 8 Turkish captives
- White smoke - The third Netanyahu government is underway
- Pope Francis - Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, of Argentina is known for having good relations with Jews
- Coalition agreement achieved, in Likud they will battle over seven ministries (Hebrew)
- White smoke at the Vatican: First pope from Latin America (Hebrew)
- The attack and the anger - Some 150 residents of south Tel-Aviv demonstrated yesterday against the government's failure to deal with infiltrators [African refugees and migrants], following the arrest of a Sudanese citizen suspected of raping an 8-year-old
- On the way to the 33th government
- And white smoke at the Vatican
- Suspicion: Infiltrator from Sudan attacked a mother and her daughter in south Tel-Aviv
- Lt. Col. (res.) Noam Ron and Major (res.) Erez Plasker buried: "You left us to pick up the pieces"
- Tragedy in Rosh Ha'ayin: Father ran over his toddler son
'White smoke' in Jerusalem and the Rome were today's top stories in Israeli papers today: after Israel formed a government and the Vatican chose a pope. Who were the winners and who were the losers in the prolonged coalition negotiations, what is the conclusion on the military draft, and how do the ultra-Orthodox feel about it all? Meanwhile, Maarov reports on parts of the UN report on the status of the Palestinians and Yedioth ran a first-person piece by someone who knows the new Pope.
Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett gets the credit for mediating a resolution to the impasse between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid yesterday afternoon. The result is a coalition agreement in which Likud surrendered the Education Ministry to Yesh Atid, but kept the Interior Ministry. Habayit Hayehudi will chair the Knesset Finance Committee. The cabinet will be expanded to 22 ministers, including the prime minister, so that Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party can have a second ministry as promised. Likud members slammed Netanyahu, calling him the "big loser" of the negotiations, but Netanyahu said, "We did our best; we are still the ruling party."
Yedioth writes that Lapid negotiated very well and won many achievements, in particular the lowering of the number of ministers. It also won the Education Ministry, but lost the Interior Ministry to Likud and the Knesset Finance Committee to Habayit Hayehudi. On Habayit Hayehudi leader Nafatali Bennett, Yedioth writes that he made a dramatic achievement for his party with four ministries, the most in recent decades. But more importantly for him, he presented himself as the responsible adult in coalition negotiations, which is no less important to him on his way to his ultimate goal: becoming prime minister. Tzipi Livni did well, too, writes Yedioth, because she managed to get the Justice Ministry and a second ministry portfolio for her party despite only having six mandates to contribute to the coalition. This was because she was first to sign a coalition agreement. The Environment Ministry will go to her #3, Amir Peretz. Her first priority is to begin negotiations with the Palestinians. Her role in that was apparently not taken from her, despite opposition by Bennett.
Regarding the 'sharing of the burden,' otherwise known as the ultra-Orthodox military draft, a new law will be voted on within 45 days, according to which every Israeli male above the age of 18 will have to serve in the military or National Service. Mandatory service for males will be reduced from three years to two years. Those who serve a third year will be paid minimum wage and receive an academic grant. Some 1,800 ultra-Orthodox will receive exemptions every year. Meanwhile, all schools will be taught core studies of English, math and science. The ultra-Orthodox were none too happy about being left out of the government and forced to be drafted. Shas leader Eli Yishai slammed Bennett and Lapid, saying, "The only thing you have in common is hatred of others." Shas leader Arieh Der'i predicted the new coalition will collapse soon.
In a report on the status of the Palestinians, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon decided the Palestinian Authority would be called State of Palestine and harshly criticized Israel, Maariv reports from a copy it received. "The occupation and the achievement of a two-state solution should have happened long ago." Moon noted that the change in the Palestinians' status is only valid within the UN and is irrelevant in regards to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, thereby accepting Israel's qualification that the Palestinians cannot renew negotiations with the status of a state. Moon wrote that the Palestinians could offer candidates to be judges in UN criminal tribunals. This worries Israel, writes Maariv, which fears a tribunal may be established to investigate settlement construction. (NRG Hebrew)
**Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, who is based in Jerusalem's Old City, wrote a piece for Yedioth about the new Pope, whom he met a few times during visits to Buenos Aires. "...Suddenly we have a new pope. And not just any pope. This time he comes from the new world (Argentina), the first time in 1200 years that one was not born in Europe. It was strange in the beginning to see a cardinal who opens the door for you, without any formality, and is willing to talk to you about anything, with complete simplicity. With him I didn't have the feeling I was standing in front of a person of great power. But in conversation with him - his concern was always for the poor and how we need to protect them. The Holy Land is very close to heart Francis' heart. The last time he visited Israel was 10 years ago, but he is in very good relations with the Jewish community of Argentina. He even lit a candle in the main menorah of the community last Hannukah. Francis also is in good relations with the Muslims and he is open to dialogue with non-Catholic churches. Simplicity and modesty are his way of life. He doesn't have a driver and he prefers to travel by bus. Now he's the pope and it's very moving. The Holy Spirit continues to surprise us."
Meanwhile, the installation of Pope Francis may force US President Obama to cut short his trip to Israel next week, writes Haaretz's Anshel Pfeffer.
- East Jerusalem building plans delayed over Obama visit - In an effort to avoid potential embarrassment during U.S. president's visit Prime Minister's Office orders Jerusalem's municipality to postpone hearings on construction of 50 new housing units in Har Homa neighborhood, infrastructure upgrade in E1 area. (Israel Hayom)
- Palestinian Authority officials lower expectations of Obama visit - Palestinians say U.S. administration reps told them president was coming just 'to listen'; Abbas visits Putin Thursday, not coincidentally. (Haaretz)
- Police chief concerned over deterioration of Israeli youth - Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino provides grim description of the state of Israeli youth: "The youth in Israel is violent and consumes drugs and alcohol. Youth violence, in my eyes, is as grave as the external threats that Israel contends with." (Israel Hayom)
- New Israeli organization aims to be first right-wing Palestinian rights watchdog - Ex-PMO staffer Yoaz Hendel establishes BlueWhite Human Rights, which aims to monitor violation of Palestinians' rights at West Bank checkpoints, collate testimonies of apparent war crimes by IDF soldiers, as well as provide medical assistance to Palestinians and African asylum-seekers. (Haaretz)
- Barak waves goodbye after long and stormy term as defense minister - The gap between the defense establishment's admiration and his public image informed the unusually long tenure of Ehud Barak as minister of defense. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Wikipedia editors decided in a vote: [radical settler - OH] Orit Struck: human rights activist - For years 'Wikipedians' argued whether Struck, former head of the Yesha (settler council) human rights organization, worked only for the benefit of Jews. She was given the title in a 28:23 vote. (Maariv, p. 24/NRG Hebrew)
- "Bus driver attacked me from dark racist motives" - (Palestinian) Ayman Hamed, who carries a work permit from Israel, says an Israeli bus driver refused to allow him to enter the bus, cursed him and others and literally "kicked him off the bus." Hamed filed a complaint with the police, but they closed case saying "the circumstances do not warrant an investigation or trial." Hamed is suing. (Israel Hayom, p. 21)
- Shin Bet: Hamas minister promoted terror attempts - Captured Hamas terror cell says they received assistance from senior Hamas operatives in Gaza, including interior minister Fathi Hamad. (Ynet)
- Lieberman: Fire the lecturer who participated in 'Apartheid Week' - Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the dismissal of Haifa University lecturer Dr. Yusef Jabarin, for participating in a conference in Nazareth in support of an international boycott on Israel. Jabarin gave a lecture on 'Racism within the Green Line.' (Maariv, p. 8/NRG Hebrew)
- Left-wing activist celebrates pilots' tragic death online - Extreme left-wing activist Shaindlinger wrote on her Facebook page: "We may have some good news later this morning (hint: IOF drill with casualties)..."Angered readers respond by threatening activist's family. Left-wing MK condemns statements. (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli army says its troops killed Palestinian after their vehicle was attacked - Picture taken by soldier shows that the Jeep Defender was badly pelted by stones; Palestinians say troops fired dozens of bullets. (Haaretz)
- Chief pathologist tapped to replace disgraced Hiss - Dr. Chen Kugel, who helped bring investigation into Yehuda Hiss' work, will take post at Abu Kabir. Hiss was involved in a series of embarrassing affairs. A Health Ministry investigative committee determined that there had been serious lapses at the institute not only in the removal of tissue and body parts without permission for research use, but in false statements made in court by the institute's doctors. (Haaretz)
- Secret treatment: Kazakhstan President arrived in Israel - Nursultan Nazarbayev (72), one of the world's strongest leaders, secretly arrived in Israel for medical treatment. Foreign Ministry refused to comment. (Yedioth, p. 51)
- 400 officers raid Negev criminals' homes - Five stolen vehicles, $82,000 in cash, 6 guns, 2 rifles 420 gas balloons, IDF bullet-proof vests found in one of Southern Police District's biggest-ever campaigns. (Ynet)
- WATCH: Israel planting trees along Gaza border to defend against rockets - The IDF first used trees as a line of defense as the state was being established, but say they can be just as effective today. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Demand: Put filmmakers of "5 Broken Cameras" on trial - The forum 'Consensus - Soldiers in support of soldiers' turned to Attorney General requesting the filmmakers of (the Oscar-nominated) film be tried for incitement against IDF soldiers and commanders, partly because they exposed soldiers' faces in the film. (Israel Hayom, p. 19)
- Egypt 'prevents screening of film about country's Jews' - State Security requested to view film about Egyptian Jews before it could be cleared to be shown in cinemas; permit has not been issued. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli calls for Pollard's release - Ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Israel, supermodel Bar Refaeli and actors Zion Baruch, Eli Yatzpan and Shlomo Vishinsky join more than 155,000 Israelis who have signed a petition supporting the release of imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel unaffordable for foreign tourists - With rise in hotel prices, drop in purchasing power and poor attitude towards foreign visitors, Israel plunges to 53rd place in World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. (Ynet)
- Damascus rocket attack kills EU policy officer - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton confirms Ahmad Shihadeh was killed while giving humanitarian help to people in the suburb of Deraya, where he lived. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- U.S. grants exceptions to 11 nations on Iran sanctions - Ten European countries and Japan were given an exception in exchange for a pledge to cut purchases of the OPEC nation's crude oil. (Agencies, Haaretz)
The settlers will rise in power in Israel's new government (Barak Ravid, Haaretz) Netanyahu's new government, which will pour its resources into settlement expansion, is likely to force Israel into growing international isolation.
The president who holds Israel's fate in the palm of his hand (Ari Shavit, Haaretz) Israel has recently lost quite a bit of its ability to chart its own strategic future, and this will make Obama's upcoming trip different than previous ones by U.S. presidents.
Intifada far off (Hani al-Masri, published in Palestinian news agency Sama and translated and published in Yedioth/Ynet) Arab columnist says Palestinians will revolt against 'occupation' when they reach state of utter despair.
The Israel-Diaspora disconnect (Gabi Sheffer, Haaretz) There are many factors to the weakening of ties between the Diaspora and Israel, but in order to fight any of them, Israeli leadership must recognize the legitimacy of approaches which differ from its own.
The minister's test (Yael Paz-Melamed, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Gideon Saar was a political and self-serving Education Minister. Shai Piron's job will be to make the reorganization necessary at this time, in light of the many cases of racism.
Israel's pretenders: Bibi, Bennett and Lapid (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Israel's new power triumvirate is nearly identical in both their privileged backgrounds and their phoniness.
David's Harp / Hugo Chavez, Yair Lapid and useful pigs (David Rosenberg, Haaretz) It may not be fair to devote more attention to the middle class than the poor, but it's the class that gives back the most to society.
Modest government now! (Eli Hazan, Israel Hayom) We can only hope that in four years, we'll look back and say the 33rd government was both small and efficient.
What Obama needs to tell the people of Israel (Abraham Foxman, Haaretz) The president needs to tell the Israeli public: 'It is Israel that has sought peace, shown willingness to compromise, and recognized there is a legitimate Palestinian narrative alongside the Jewish people's historic connection to the land of Israel.'
Israel's new coalition: a winner's alliance, a loser's grudge (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) The new government isn't the one Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted, and the Finance Ministry isn't the one Yair Lapid dreamed of. Both are starting out with quite a bit of mutual resentment.
Close the peace gap (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Palestinian rejectionism creates a peace gap that must be closed through intensive education.
Too early for the bubbly: Lapid and Bennett still face stern tests (Sami Peretz, Haaretz) Netanyahu's senior coalition partners may initially feel drunk with victory from their visible achievements, but they will soon find out that while the political situation made it easy to squeeze Netanyahu, difficult struggles like cuts to the budget and social services still lie ahead.
Paying for Dankner's damage (Haaretz Editorial) Too many people are indebted to Nochi Dankner, it appears, and they pay him with public funds in what is an entirely unjustified arrangement. The bondholders and the court must reject it, and demand instead a formula that is clear, simple and fair.
Obama's Knesset boycott (Israel Harel, Haaretz) If Obama wants to be heard by the Israeli public, he should not bypass the Knesset, as this will be regarded by many as an insult.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.