APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday March 18, 2013
Quote of the day:
"This insane law, which was only removed from the agenda in the past because of Tzipi Livni's steadfastness, has now been resurrected due to the strange alliance between Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid."
--Today's Haaretz Editorial takes a look at the return of a bill to make democracy subservient to Judaism in the State of Israel.**
Front Page News:
- The new cabinet and the Iranian question: More hawkish and less experienced ministers
- Bennett's achievements: A Jewish identity administration and public subsidies for private religious education
- Regional peace and the collapse of Hamas: The promises that were not fulfilled
- Interrogation of Dan Cohen likely to reveal suspicions of bribery against other senior people
- Eve of Obama's visit: Tension at Begin-Carter summit revealed
- After the heat wave: Snow on Mt. Hermon
- The 33rd government
- For the information of the new Social Welfare Minister: The aid basket for Passover was cut in half
- The cheapest market - The same tomato being sold at a difference of some 200%: Where is it best to buy?
- 33rd government to be sworn in today; Opposition preparing for battle (Hebrew)
- The Attorney General and Lieberman concluded: quick trial in three months; Meaning: If found innocent, Lieberman can return to the Foreign Ministry this summer (Hebrew)
- Stone terror: Military sources: Rise of hundreds of percent in stone-throwing incidents in Judea and Samaria (W. Bank) (Hebrew)
- The meeting that was not reported on - Obama's shuttle diplomacy: Will meet twice with Netanyahu and pass him diplomatic messages from Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) (Hebrew)
- Petition to the State Comptroller: The boarding schools operating without supervision, government ministries passing on responsibility (Hebrew)
- Presenting a government
- Discussions into the night in attempt to find suitable jobs for (Silvan) Shalom and (Yuval) Steinitz
- IDF against Bar Refaeli
- Cleaning the Wailing Wall - and the (supermarket) shelves
- "Israel to ask from Obama: Attack weapons convoys in Syria - or give us a free hand"
Israel's 33rd government (in 65 years) and what that means regarding the Palestinians and Iran and Israeli and Palestinian requests for the US President were today's top stories in Israeli newspapers. Meanwhile, Maariv reports on the rise in Palestinian stone-throwing incidents in the West Bank, while Ynet reports on Palestinians arrested for reporting on attacks against them.
Israel's 33rd government line-up was finalized with 22 ministers. At the time the papers 'went to bed' it was still unclear what position Silvan Shalom and Yuval Steinitz would have, but that's now clear. The smaller government, to be sworn in today, will save taxpayers 40 million shekels a year, compared to what the previous government cost, writes Maariv/NRG Hebrew.
It appears that not only is the government smaller, but so is the security cabinet, which will be seven members: Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Justice, Minister of Interior Security, and two more: Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi Naftali Bennett and Likud's Gilad Erdan. Haaretz's Amos Harel explains how previously there was a small 'kitchen cabinet' and a larger security cabinet (15), but the two are combined into one small security cabinet. Some of its members, such as Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Gilad Erdan, have no meaningful experience in security issues. Harel says it is unclear how this will affect decisions regarding attacking Iran but clearer regarding negotiations with the Palestinians: "In principle both (Defense Minister Moshe) Ya'alon and (Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali) Bennett are in the hawkish column, although both are likely to support confidence-building gestures toward the Palestinian Authority as long as they don't go too far. Lapid and Livni will be left alone as relative doves." Israel Hayom writes that Ya'alon is tough on the Palestinians, cautious on Iran. In recent interviews with Israel Hayom, Ya'alon said, "there is no place for a Palestinian state alongside Israel at the current time." He added that, "The goals of Abbas are the same as the goals of Hamas." The Labor party, which will likely head the opposition, intends to be combative. Maariv quoted Labor MK Itzhak Herzog, saying that "There will be a no-confidence vote every week." The party plans to put the parties to the test of their campaign promises. (NRG Hebrew)
US President Barack Obama plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu twice during his two-day visit: once before he goes to Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and once afterward to bring Netanyahu a message from Abbas. The Guardian reported that Israel intends to ask Obama to stop the flow of arms from Syria to Hezbollah - or to give Israel a free hand to do so.According to a report in the Guardian Israel plans to ask the U.S. to thwart future weapons transfers by use of lethal force even at the price of igniting a conflict. During Obama's visit, some 15,000 police officers will protect him, writes Haaretz. Streets in Jerusalem will be closed down and Yedioth reports that some shops are forced to close for three days as well. The owners want compensation. Haaretz notes that four US presidents have made eight visits to Israel.
Palestinian 'stone terror' is again threatening the West Bank highways, writes Maariv. Hundreds of rocks are thrown on cars in the West Bank weekly and the settlers want a change in the IDF's rules of engagement (ROE). According to the Israeli ROE, in response to rock throwing, one must first shoot in the air and only after that at the lower body of the culprit. However, if a Palestinian threw a Molotov cocktail then one is allowed to shoot to kill on the spot. The settlers have turned to the new Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon requesting that the ROE be changed so that one can shoot to kill a Palestinian who throws rocks. [It is not clear if these ROE are applicable to Jews. - OH] According to a settler organization called 'Hatzala Yosh,' the number of incidents of rock-throwing at Israeli cars in the West Bank has risen by hundreds of percent in the last couple months. The settlers accuse the military of ignoring dealing with rock-throwing incidents, so many of the incidents are not reported on. (NRG Hebrew)
Meanwhile, when it comes to price-tag attacks, the Palestinians have the same complaints - nothing is being done about it. However, things got even worse for villagers from Qusra, who were arrested when they went to the police station to file a complaint against settlers who set their car on fire. The police arrested the villagers, claiming they had faked the attack. Haaretz also reported three weeks ago that the police accuse the Palestinians of fabricating the attack. But a Channel 2 News report by Igal Mosko who visited Qusra village and the nearby settlement outpost Esh Kodesh, whose residents constantly clash with the Palestinians. Mosko found that the police never even entered the village to examine the cars and take testimonies. (Fascinating TV video report in Hebrew here.) Meanwhile, in another incident not reported on in the Israeli media, settlers torched a chicken coop in Qusra yesterday.
- West Bank settlement leaders seizing control of Israel's housing policy - With ministerial appointments complete, it has become clear that the drive to fix the real estate market will be led by those who once at the forefront of the settlement movement. (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu sold us out, say top Foreign Ministry officials - Israel's Foreign Ministry is in disarray: It has no minister, a deputy minister without clear powers, no involvement in talks with the Palestinians, and no say in Israel-U.S. strategic dialogue. Oh, and now there's a new Ministry for International Relations. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel likely to cut funding for popular Jewish-Arab dialogue - A project that brings Jewish and Arab teens together with the purpose of promoting coexistence is at risk of closing down as funding promised by the Education Ministry has not been forthcoming. (Haaretz)
- Eight (left-wing) Sheikh Jarrah activists acquitted of disorderly conduct at 2010 protest - Protesters were demonstrating against Jewish takeover of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. (Haaretz)
- Soldier sets himself on fire in Tel Aviv base - Soldier in Tel Aviv's Kirya base tries to immolate himself, stopped by other soldiers; claims he was not given home leave. (Ynet)
- IDF: Man drafted during Gaza op did not prove he was mentally ill - Civilian in his 20s was called up for reserve duty in combat unit during Operation Pillar of Defense despite mental illness. Attorney: He could have harmed himself, other soldiers. [Or Palestinians! - OH] (Ynet)
- Hunger striking Palestinian arrives in Gaza - Ayman Sharawna released from Israeli prison, arrives in Gaza Strip where he has been expelled to for 10 years. Palestinian official: 'This is punishment not release.' (Haaretz and Ynet)
- 'Mother of martyrs' dies - Mariam Farhat, who said she wished she had 100 sons to die carrying out terror attacks against Israelis, died in a Gaza city hospital. Also known as 'Umm Nidal' she received military funeral. (Ynet)
- Sexy supermodel, draft dodger, official spokeswoman? Bar Refaeli to headline new official public diplomacy campaign highlighting Israeli technological breakthroughs and inventions. But some see her avoidance of military service as rendering her unsuitable to serve as an official, national symbol. (Israel Hayom)
- IDF complains over Bar Refaeli's involvement in Israeli PR campaign - IDF spokesman sends an official letter to the Foreign Ministry arguing that by using Refaeli, who didn't complete her military service, the Foreign Ministry was sending the wrong message. (Haaretz)
- Moroccan Jews study high-tech in Israel - As part of fast-growing phenomenon, Jewish families from Morocco send their sons to study at Jerusalem College of Technology. After their graduation, most students decide to make aliyah. (Ynet)
- Abbas urges EU to remove Hamas from list of terrorist organizations - Though Abbas' faction Fatah is at odds with rival Hamas, Palestinian Authority President insists that Hamas's policies are no different than his own. Abbas hints that if peace talks yield results, Palestinians will drop efforts to prosecute Israel. (Israel Hayom)
- Bulgaria will not take lead in blacklisting Hezbollah, says PM - Interim Prime Minister Marin Raikov says he won't push for EU sanctions on Lebanese Shiite group despite its clear link to Burgas attack. All 27 EU member states must agree on sanctions. Israel urges EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- Syrian rebels seize security compound near Golan Heights - The Syrian military intelligence base near the Israeli border was siezed by opposition forces on Sunday, rebel commanders said. (Ynet)
- Egyptian Minister of Defense refuses to meet with Hamas leaders - Despite President Morsi's request, General Sisi announced he does not forgive Khaled Mashaal and his friends for the massacre of 16 security agents in Sinai. (Maariv, p. 9)
- Egypt vigilantes hang 2 thieves in public - Egyptian vigilantes lynch 2 thieves in town north of Cairo; 'Kill them!' shouted 3,000 strong crowd; police helpless, weakened by strikes and riot control. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Iran launches destroyer in Caspian Sea - Ahmadinejad says guided missile destroyer Jamaran-2 'is there to meet those who want to jeopardize security of surrounding nations.' (Agencies, Ynet)
- Israel's sunny-side-up campaign in the land down under - Australasian Union of Jewish Students political director: "Our aim with this campaign is to educate students with a positive message about the real spirit of Israel that is so evident to anyone who has actually visited the country." (Israel Hayom)
**A battle over identity (Haaretz Editorial) The proposed Basic Law nullifying Arabic as an official language needs to be killed immediately; the identity of the State of Israel must not rest on the political and legal extinction of the minority.
How can Obama make the most of this visit? (Daniel Levy, Haaretz) Forget efforts to revive the peace talks with the Palestinians. This is the time for the president to accumulate some personal credit with the Israeli public.
Israelis indifferent to Obama visit (Tamar Hermann, Ynet) Lack of public interest particularly intriguing as US president repeatedly urged to come to Israel.
Obama, did you bring any presents? (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz) The Israeli left is still waiting for a president to come here and, like a police officer, bring peace to our country in the name of American values, as America has done in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and other places the Israeli left never mentions.
Jonathan Pollard is no Prisoner of Zion (Barbara Opall-Rom, Haaretz) The 'Free Pollard' campaign ahead of Obama's visit is a disgrace to American Zionists and U.S.-Israel relations. The bare truth is that he committed espionage for financial gain and glory.
Israel's true future (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) The national religious sector now has an opportunity to implement its commendable vision, but it must breach the sectorial boundaries to do it.
What happened to Likud? (Moshe Arens, Haaretz) Due to an unnatural alliance the party has lost seats, but it has not lost its way.
Israeli leftists, stop fantasizing (Aluf Benn, Haaretz) If the left wants to turn things around, it has to refresh its message and find a leader who will connect it to the mainstream.
Netanyahu's lost dignity (Emanuel Rosen, Yedioth/Ynet) How is it that Israel's most stable prime minister has become least popular, least valued by Israeli public?
Who won Israel's coalition talks? (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz) When it comes to the country's purse strings, Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi has scored a major victory for religious Zionism.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.