APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday March 19, 2013
Quote of the day:
"(Obama) is probably the most Jewish president the United States has ever had."
--US columnist Jeffrey Goldberg in an interview with Haaretz. **
Front Page News:
- Israel's 33rd government sworn in
- Government adopting Lapid plan: construction of 150,000 rental apartments
- "Obama is the most Jewish president of the US" - journalist Jeffrey Goldberg
- Settlements under siege - Hwy 60 in the West Bank to close for the visit (Hebrew)
- The new advisor of the State Comptroller: An officer who was criticized in report by previous SC
- High Court: Examine the testimonies in the Tair Rada case
- Women who gave birth through surrogate does not have to adopt (her child)
- Neighbor making noise? Police to confiscate sound equipment
- 33rd government sworn-in; Netanyahu: We are putting out disputes aside (Hebrew)
- "Iron Dome" deployed at Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of Obama's visit (Hebrew)
- Odelia Carmon, 'A.' from the Transportation Ministry, reveals herself in a resonating interview: "(Former president Mosh) Katzav took me by the hand and pulled me to the bed" (Hebrew)
- New for Maariv readers: "Shabbat evening" - a supplement on Judaism, thought and creativity
Israel's 33rd government was sworn-in with excitement in the air marking the big story of the day in Israeli papers. But there was also opposition that raised its voice and left its chair. When it comes to the visit of Obama tomorrow, Israelis were generally excited while Palestinians were not. It remains to be seen whether settlements and renewed negotiations with the Palestinians will be an issue.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's new government was sworn in yesterday, with 40% of the Knesset voting against it. The papers wrote how excited the many first-time ministers felt to be there. (Maariv noted that Sarah Netanyahu saw MK Ahmed Tibi in the halls and told him how her son is in his daughter's partner in a democracy project.) However, not all the MKs were so thrilled with the new coalition. Netanyahu's speech was interrupted when Yehadut Hatorah members walked out en masse, calling out "a Jew doesn't banish a Jew." Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich stood at the podium after Netanyahu addressed the plenum, saying: "You are a wealthy, satiated leadership, who may physically be sitting among the people but who fails to understand the people." Ultra-Orthodox Yehadut Hatorah party leader Yaakov Litzman responded to one of the 'sharing the burden' goals of the new government - drafting the ultra-Orthodox, saying: "...Burden-shmurden - no one will enlist. Do not be fooled." Afterwards, Netanyahu convened the new government for the first time telling them that the "threats facing Israel are greater than ever" and demand putting aside disputes.
What may be particularly challenging is the job that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has: holding peace negotiations with the Palestinians. "It's going to be complicated. We'll find a way to promote a peace process, and I hope we'll do well." Maariv political affairs correspondent Shalom Yerushalmi writes that the new government's best chance for success is by avoiding any diplomatic moves with the Palestinians, because it might cause Naftali Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi party to jump ship. If the government focuses on internal issues, the ultra-Orthodox draft, housing scarcity and 'the only subject that interests Netanyahu - Iran's developing nuclear power," then the government has a much better chance of lasting for three or more years.
**"Obama will be coming with the carrot and Kerry will return with the stick," senior Israeli diplomatic sources told Israel Hayom. Indeed, Obama is expected to try to win over the Jewish Israeli public, a great part of which does not trust his support for the Jewish state. Haaretz ran an interview with Jewish US journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who called Obama the most Jewish US President ever. Yedioth ran a feature by its DC correspondent Orly Azulay, which examines Obama's close relations with American Jews. She writes about the Jewish counselor in Hawaii that deeply affected him as a youth and about his closest advisors who have been with him in the White House. Meanwhile, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 69% of Americans want their government to stay out of Israeli-Palestinian talks. It also found that 55% of Americans sympathize with Israel, compared to 9% that side with the Palestinians. Haaretz writes that religion is a factor. Support for Israel is highest (76%) among Evangelical white Protestants and falls to 39% among those without any religious affiliation.
Israelis are very excited about his arrival, as Ynet describes. Singer David D'Or , who was chosen to perform 'Amazing Grace,' said "It's a dream come true." Israeli women take the lead in arranging his visit, writes Yedioth/Ynet. They will be accompanying his entourage and taking care of his special requests 24/7.
The Palestinians, however, are not excited about Obama's arrival seeing little reason for optimism from Obama's second term. Indeed, he did not even come with a peace plan. The Palestinian Authority wants Obama to pressure the Israelis into a complete settlement freeze in order to renew negotiations. But former (and possibly future foreign minister) and chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman said he will oppose a settlement freeze and says the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can't be solved. Moreover, the US itself has shunned a UN debate on Israeli settlers just ahead of Obama's visit. A UN Human Rights Council concluded that Israel's 'creeping annexation' of the West Bank violates many rights. The US ambassador to the UN says the US is 'extremely troubled' by the UN Council's 'biased and disproportionate focus on Israel.'
In Bethlehem dozens of residents, both members of organized Palestinian movements and relatives of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, vandalized a large billboard drawing a cross and a swastika over a photo of Obama's face and announced that Obama would not receive warm welcome during his Friday visit to the Nativity Church. Large signs in Ramallah call on Obama to leave his smartphone at home when visiting Ramallah seeing as Israel prevents the Palestinian Authority from utilizing the third-generation (3-G) cellular technology. However, there is one Palestinian group that awaits Obama: the security forces. They want to prove their mettle, writes Haaretz. Meanwhile, the US security forces have brought over US Galaxy planes to aid the FBI in protecting its president, Maariv reported. In Israel some 15,000 police will be participating in the security operation, codename "Operation Alliance of Peoples," to protect him within Israel.
- Racist incitement by Israeli public figures doubled in 2012, study shows - According to a new report from the Coalition Against Racism in Israel, there were 106 cases of high profile racist statements last year, compared with 59 such cases the year before. (Haaretz)
- Israeli lightly injured in West Bank shooting - Man shot from passing car at bus stop southwest of Nablus; police searching for shooter. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Settlers damage tractors near Nablus - Dozens of residents of Yizhar settlement stopped farmers from Burin village from reaching their land and threw hundreds of nails in front of their tractors. (Maan)
- Palestinian sues West Bank settler in theft of his goats - Defense lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir calls suit part of continuing harassment of settlers in southern Hebron Hills by leftist groups; police recommend prosecution. (Haaretz)
- Settlers prevent farmers from harvesting their land near Hebron - A group of settlers prevented Palestinian farmers in Yatta from reaching their land on Sunday. Israeli forces were present in the area at the time but did not intervene in the incident. (Maan)
- IDF soldier convicted of negligent homicide for killing of Palestinian man - The 21-year-old laborer who was shot was not considered a security threat but was trying to get to his job after entering Israel through a gap in the separation fence. (Haaretz)
- Prisoners group to protest outside US consulate in Jerusalem - A Palestinian prisoners group will organize a sit-in protest on Tuesday in front of the US consulate in Jerusalem, a day before President Obama visits the region. (Maan)
- Israeli troops detain Sharawna's brother - Israel detained Jihad Sharawna at dawn Monday, hours after his brother was deported to Gaza following an 8-month hunger strike. Amjad Najjar, head of the Hebron branch of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, denounced the arrest as an act of revenge to punish the Sharawna family. (Maan)
- Petition: Complaints by (Palestinian) prisoners dismissed without any examination, Israel Prisons Authority punishes for false complaints - Prisoners claim their complaints dismissed based on IPA response and without any option for the person complaining to respond. Yet when the petitioner sues in a civil court, his often complaint if found as justified. If he loses the case, he is punished. (Haaretz Hebrew)
- Israel Prison Service chief: Mossad responsible for Zygier's suicide - Israel Prison Service Commissioner Lt. Gen. Aharon Franco: Information provided by Mossad on Ben Zygier did not enable his imprisonment to be managed as needed, which led to his suicide. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel's Civil administration (in Palestinian Territories) prevented Palestinian from working in Israel "because he has a relative who is insane" - Jerusalem District Court criticized Civil Administration and ordered it to reconsider Ahmed Khamaysa's request. (Haaretz Hebrew)
- Another means of pressure: A neighborhood named after (Jonathan) Pollard - Just as US President Barack Obama is being received in a ceremony Wednesday at Ben-Gurion Airport, the settlement of Karmei Tzur will name a caravan site [settlement outpost - OH] 'Karmei Jonathan.' (Maariv, p. 12)
- No business: (Landmark) Jerusalem eatery 'Restobar' closes after 8 years of operation - Owners shut down popular Rehavia restaurant rather than obey landlord's dictate to stop serving on Shabbat; secular residents of Jerusalem protest closure. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Israel to get major exposure at Expo 2015 - Italian organizers say Jewish state considered one of 15 leading countries set to participate in world fair focusing on fighting famine. (Ynet)
- Angry Israeli causes bomb scare at NJ Airport - New York Post reports that angry Israeli tourist caused panic at Newark Airport after learning there were no seats on his connecting flight. He then said he had bomb in his bag and was arrested. (Ynet)
- Kissinger: Little chance of breakthrough in peace talks - Former secretary of state said chances for progress in Israeli-Palestinians peace process slim. Meanwhile, poll shows 68% of Americans against US involvement in negotiations. (Ynet)
Froman revisited: How religious extremists can make peace
Menachem Froman was neither a liberal, a democrat, nor a supporter of the aims and value of the secular peace camp. But with that camp's failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and with the critical threat pose by religious extremists on both sides, perhaps it is indeed time to co-opt religious dialogue into future peace negotiations. (Haaretz)
New film seeks to show that love conquers all, even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli director puts his career shooting Hollywood blockbuster trailers on hold; makes first feature, which depicts the love story of two men, Israeli and Palestinian. (Haaretz)
The emergence of Israel's settler government (Haaretz Editorial) A quick look at the distribution of ministerial portfolios shows that the big winners of the past election are the settlers, and none else.
The last mine (Eitan Haber, Yedioth) Deep inside of him, Netanyahu knows that he is not capable of achieving a breakthrough with the Palestinians. Obama won't pressure him. Obama has four more years to serve and in this time Iran can build all the nuclear bombs of the world. Netanyahu also knows this, and together with his senior ministeres he will need to make a difficult decision like none before: To dismantle the diplomatic mine the Americans have put at his feet or the Iranian nuclear bomb?....
Where have all the Gaza rockets gone? (Uzi Rubin, Haaretz) If only 10 percent of the rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, where did the nearly 430 rockets that apparently fell nowhere vanish?
Before it all goes wrong (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth) One by one they went up to the podium and swore their allegiance. The excitement was visible, even on those who have been minister before, and especially on the new ones. When you look at them, celebrating, full of good intentions and desire to make change - it is impossible not to think about what goes wrong. What happens to those people after they sit on the minister's seat? When did the ambitions turn into survival instincts, and the good intentions turn into personal interests...?
Should Hezbollah fret over Europe? (Adar Primor, Haaretz) The European Union was quick to condemn Hezbollah in words but when it comes to action, it will be more difficult to get a consensus vote on sanctions from the 27-member organization.
Israel's foreign ministry will pay the price for Netanyahu's surrender to Lieberman and Likud MKs (Barak Ravid, Haaretz) With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saving Foreign Ministry for Avigdor Lieberman pending the latter's trial, there will be no full-time Israeli minister handling Israel's contacts with rest of the world for at least several months.
Voice of reason returns (Merav Betito, Yedioth/Ynet) Israelis should be satisfied as new government has already made some achievements.
Israel's new coalition is the stuff of Benjamin Netanyahu's nightmares (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) The prime minister's senior partners in Israel's new government, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, are the faces of the younger generation that will one day usurp him, and he knows they can unseat him at any time.
Jeffrey Goldberg to Haaretz: 'Obama is the most Jewish U.S. president ever'
Obama could be placed in the spiritual and moral mainstream of American liberal Judaism, says Goldberg - and that's why his relationship with Netanyahu is so complicated. (Interviewed by Ari Shavit in Haaretz)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.