APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 24, 2013
Quote of the day:
"They used the special word in Turkish to describe the reconciliation between the countries, 'Dostluk,' which means renewing friendship between friends who fought."
--Yedioth's diplomatic affairs correspondent Itamar Eichner writes from Istanbul about Turkish reactions to the renewed relations between Israel and Turkey.**
Front Page News:
- With Obama's mediation, Israel and Turkey ended the rupture
- Lapid: The economy is worse than I thought, there will be difficult and painful budget cuts (Haaretz)
- The romance won't return // Amos Harel
- The damage has already been done // Zvi Bar'el
- They came down from their tree // Barak Ravid
- Acre mayor shot in his car by a masked man and was moderately injured
- Negotiations for the release of the kidnapped (Israeli) in Sinai
- Israel lost its dramatic advantage over Portugal - and ended in a disappointing tie
- The apology - The deal: Obama mediated, Netanyahu called Erdogan; The insult: Shayetet naval soldiers on the Marmara: "Nothing to apologize for"
- Everything included // Nachum Barnea
- Took advantage of the moment // Alex Fishman
- Hugging an opponent // Yoaz Hendel
- Only Obama can // Shimon Schiffer
- Died from swine flu in third month of pregnancy
- (Barbra Streisand) Bloomfield Stadium, 20 June
- The disintegration in Syria led to the end of the Ankara-Jerusalem rupture
- Unnecessary dispute, Obama's achievement, compliments for Netanyahu // Nadav Eyal (Hebrew)
- When the circumstances changed // Amir Rappaport
- Heavenly harmony // Emre Eizilkaya (Hurriyet newspaper) (Hebrew)
- Health Ministry: Catering company that served Obama (at President's residence) has no food manufacturer approval (Hebrew)
- Police list of threatened people: 23 out of 33 are local council chairpersons (Hebrew)
- Israel makes disappointing tie with Portugal
- "The apology - because of Syria"
- Interest, and pain // Dan Margalit
- "Everything included" // Boaz Bismouth
- Arab Israeli and Norwegian tourist kidnapped in Sinai
- Criminals tried to assassinate Mayor of Acre
- Lapid: "The overdraft is enormous, budget cut necessary"
US President Barack Obama left Israel mediating the end to the Israel-Turkey crisis and making the top story in Israeli newspapers today, which discussed the pros and cons and who supported it and against. Meanwhile, he left behind Secretary of State John Kerry to do the 'dirty-work' (Yedioth) of bringing Israel and Palestine towards the renewal of the diplomatic negotiations.
In the same room at Ben-Gurion Airport (NRG Hebrew) where Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received Gilad Shalit following his release from captivity in Gaza, Netanyahu made the long-awaited phone call to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, apologizing for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens in the Marmara affair and promising to compensate their families financially. Regarding Erdogan's demand to end the siege on Gaza, Netanyahu added that Israel had removed a number of restrictions upon the movement of citizens and goods in all the Palestinian territories [based on the agreements between Hamas and Israel ending Israel's Operation Pillar of Cloud against Gaza - OH] , and would continue to do so as long as the security situation remained peaceful. The US president was on the line during the first minutes of the half-hour-long call. This was enough for Erdogan who said the apology was 'offered the way we wanted.'
Netanyahu told Israelis afterward on his Facebook page that Syria was the main reason for the apology. 'The changing reality requires that we reexamine our relations with countries in the region,' he wrote. He had the blessings of the new Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (who previously opposed such a move) and of the Chief of Staff Beni Gantz. The commentators noted that the top people in the IDF always supported such a move. However, the Navy did not, since it was their combat soldiers from the Shayetet 13 unit that were humiliated. The papers interviewed soldiers from the unit who said Israel owed the Turks no apology. Israeli politicians were divided. Unsurprisingly, former (and possibly future) foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called the apology a 'serious mistake.' His deputy was the one who humiliated the last Turkish ambassador to Israel. Not long after that he was recalled. Labor party chief Shelly Yachimovich said it was the right thing to do and Balad MK Hanin Zuabi, who was one of the people on the Mavi Marmar ship where the nine Turks were killed, said an apology was not enough.
**Yedioth's coverage seemed to support the move. In the page 2-3 article, diplomatic affairs correspondent Itamar Eichner reports from Istanbul on how much the Turks miss the Israelis and their business. 'One day after Netanyahu's apology, the hatred for Israel turned into expectation for the Hebrew-speaking tourists,' wrote Eichner. One Turkish tour guide told him how he 'jumped from excitement.' "I heard the message - 'Return to Turkey, we want you here' - again and again from Turks with whom I spoke yesterday. They used the special word in Turkish to describe the reconciliation between the countries, 'Dostluk,' which means renewing friendship between friends who fought." He also met some Turks who did not want to speak with an Israeli journalist and noted that Turkey is much more religious.
Now full diplomatic relations will be restored and ambassadors will be returned, but commentators argued that it's not clear that relations will be as warm as they once were. Erdogan said afterward that the reconciliation between the two countries could hasten Assad's fall and added that it could advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Haaretz reported. Erdogan reportedly called both the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh (or Khaled Mashaal) to ask for their permission to accept the apology. They both agreed. Now Erdogan is planning to visit Gaza next month.
When Obama returned Saturday to the US, US Secretary of State John Kerry stayed behind to try to restart Israel-Palestine negotiations. First he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan, then returned to Israel to meet with Netanyahu Saturday night. Yedioth mentioned it in one sentence at the end of an article on Obama's trip to Jordan. Haaretz wrote at length how Kerry was seeking confidence-building measures from both sides. Ynet quotes from an Arab paper that reports that Kerry is working on arranging a summit between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to end stalemate in peace talks. Another Arab paper reported that during talks in Ramllah, Obama asked Abbas not to take Israel to The Hague for any reason. Abbas threatened he would were Israel to start building in the E1 zone.
During Obama's visit Israeli President Shimon Peres warned him that the present Israeli government coalition would make it difficult for Netanyahu to make any progress in negotiations, Haaretz reports. Moreover, Abbas told Obama he would only agree to renew talks with Israel in exchange for a settlement freeze and release of prisoners, despite Obama saying he opposes making pre-conditions to resuming negotiations Haaretz reported. Both he PLO and Fatah protested that Obama's position on the settlements issue was too weak. Meanwhile, the US has unblocked $500 million in aid money for the Palestinians, that was frozen by Congress for months. This comes as the Palestinian Authority faces its worst economic crisis in years.
- Hamas arrests hardline Islamists over rocket attacks - Gaza's internal security forces nab terrorists from group that claimed responsibility for attack on Israel during Obama visit. (Ynet)
- Israeli military court expected to reject claim that stone throwing is attempted murder - Judge, Maj. Amir Dahan is due to rule the day after Passover on the case of Asher Palmer and his infant son Yonatan, who were killed after a stone was thrown at them from a passing car near Hebron. (Haaretz)
- Goal: Penetrating Iran - Investigative report by 'Der Speigel' published today claims: Ben Zygier was sent to Europe with goal of penetrating Iran. When he failed and was returned to Israel he tried of his own initiative to draft a Hezbollah collaborator - and got into trouble. That's how he found himself in a jail cell where he committed suicide. According to report, he joined Mossad in December 2003. (Yedioth, p. 20)
- Finance Minister Lapid: Israel is in a worse financial state than I thought - Lapid said his first year in office will be devoted to dealing with Israel's debt, which according to him Israel accrued through mismanagement in the past, by making painful budget cuts. (Haaretz)
- Obama plays tourist in Petra as he winds up Mideast trip - Following unexpected diplomatic triumph in Israel, where he announced breakthrough in ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, US president shifts into sightseeing mode in Jordan; Kerry to meet PA's Abbas, PM Netanyahu. (Ynet)
- Kidnapped Israeli to family: 'Be calm' - Amir Omar Hasan, Israeli-Arab kidnapped in Sinai, speaks with family members, says: 'Situation ok'; Egyptian report: Kidnappers reject negotiation, demand release of relatives. (Ynet)
- Akko (Acre) Mayor wounded in shooting incident - Shimon Lankry in stable condition after being shot in the chest at close range by unknown assailants; police launch investigation. (Ynet)
- IDF jeep in Golan hit by bullets, as fighting rages on Syrian side of border - Several dozen fighters, from both sides, have reportedly been killed in past week as rebels and regime struggle for control over the Syrian Golan. (Haaretz)
- 'Jews of Egypt' film passes censor - Director of historical documentary about Jewish community says censor's office has decided to license film after delay caused by security agency that expressed reservations about title. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Abandoned IDF base broken into, equipment compromised, says witness - The IDF says all valuable equipment was removed from the base, which is slated to be demolished and handed over to the Tel Aviv Municipality. (Haaretz)
- Roger Waters: Israel boycott is 'the way to go' - Former Pink Floyd frontman reveals he is behind letter to Stevie Wonder which led to cancellation of singer's participation in event for IDF soldiers. 'Israeli government runs an apartheid regime,' he adds. (Ynet)
- Sahteen, Lina - Lina Mahoul, a 19-year-old Christian Arab from Acre, became the big winner of the 'The Voice.' (Yedioth, back page)
- Turkey may again become favorite Israeli tourism spot, in wake of Netanyahu's apology - Before relations between the two countries soured following Israel's Operation Cast Lead military incursion into the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009, and particularly the 2010 naval raid in which nine Turkish passengers died, Turkey was a favorite vacation destination for Israelis. (Haaretz)
- Cyprus convicts Hezbollah man over anti-Israel plot - Dual Lebanese-Swedish citizen Hossam Taleb Yaacoub found guilty of participating in a criminal organization, taking part in criminal act and money laundering. Israeli official: Abundant proof Hezbollah is, and always has been, deeply involved in terrorist activities worldwide. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Lebanese prime minister resigns amid infighting - Lebanon's Hezbollah backed Prime Minister Mikati resigns over election law stalemate as Syrian conflict spills in to Lebanon, heightening sectarian tensions, fighting. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Kurdish rebels declare formal ceasefire with Turkey - PKK's field commander issues statement officially declaring ceasefire with Ankara after leader Ocalan ordered group to end armed campaign. (Agencies, Ynet)
Friend, why did you vote for Yair Lapid?
My friend M. explains how politics today is all about principles - principles that can change from day to day. (Yossi Klein, Haaretz)
Picture the Third Lebanon War:
Hezbollah wakes up to discover that a contingent of elite IDF troops has taken over the airport in Beirut, and that IDF forces are in control of all major routes connecting Lebanon with Syria. Does this sound far-fetched? An exclusive glimpse into the IDF's new Depth Corps. (Israel Hayom)
An ultra-Orthodox in enemy territory
H was hosted by Hamas people in Gaza, joined demonstrators in the revolution in Tunisia, and prayed in synagogues in Iraq. The ultra-Orthodox journalist Aharon Granot does not dress in costume, does not use foreign passports and is not afraid of anyone except the One in the heavens. (Yedioth, 24-hour supplement)
In a West Bank refugee camp, stones take place of hope
In the Al-Fawar refugee camp near Hebron, the hope shared over a decade ago by a few has disappeared, without a trace. (Haaretz)
Drinking tea with the man who killed my father
Her father was killed in an IRA bombing but Jo Berry decided to meet the men responsible; her first meeting with Pat Magee, the bomber, developed into a public dialogue lasting years; the two visited Israel and told Ynet their story. (Haaretz and Ynet)
Of mice, men and the inner struggle of an Arab-Israeli scientist
Dr. Yaqub Hanna was the recent recipient of an award for his groundbreaking work on returning the mature stem cells of mice to an embryonic state. He discusses his research and the complexities of life in Israel. (Haaretz)
Reconciliation, rehabilitation with Turkey (Haaretz Editorial) After the destruction, the work of rehabilitation is now the challenge on the doorstep of the two leaders. They cannot lose any more time.
Everything included (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth) There is more than a little similarity between the Shalit deal and the Turkish deal. In both cases Netayahu made the right decision in the end. In both cases the decision was in opposition to the positions that he expressed all along. In both cases, he gave in to pressure from outside....Former Defense Minister Ehud Barak and heads of the defense establishment called on Netanyahu to agree (to the agreement prepared by earlier by the former CEO of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, in which Netanyahu changed his mind at the last minute. ) They saw how the joint security interests, which became vital in light of what was happening in Syria, are evaporating because of the demagoguery that had taken over Erdogan and of Netayahu's fears that he would shamed...Netanyahu's willingness to swallow his pride - and our pride - in order to apologize and reconcile was right. The process is less exciting. What lesson will Israel's enemies learn from this? As Netanyahu once said, Ahmedinejad and Nasrallah are watching us and making their conclusions.
Despite reconciliation, Israel-Turkey military ties are far from their glory days (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Widely supported by Israel's defense establishment, the Israeli-Turkish rapprochement holds strategic importance given the Iran threat and Syria crisis. But for now one should only expect gradual, symbolic gestures.
Only Obama can (Shimon Schiffer, Yedioth) The quiet contacts to close the apology deal arrived at a climax during Obama's visit. The US President proved that only he can connect between two US allies, and he returned home with a real achievement in his hand - one that can be described in strategic terms.,,For Israel, this is an important achievement, particularly in light of what could happen in Syria in the near future. Also on the Iranian issue Turkey appears to fill an important role in the US effort to prevent Teheran from achieving nuclear weapons. ..
Top Turkish officials: Rapid steps to restore Turkey-Israel ties to commence in coming days (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Erdogan has secured the Israeli apology he wanted so dearly to hear; will he now use his charisma to speed up the thaw in the Israeli-Turkish relations?
Burden of proof is on the Palestinians (Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) Obama's addresses in Ramallah and Jerusalem made it clear to the Palestinians that Washington expects them to assume responsibility for their own destiny.
Obama never stood a chance with Israel's analysts (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Obama barely finished his speech before it was engulfed in waves of sour, skeptical, judgmental negativity from our studio analysts. If anyone tries to talk about hope, peace and justice, they'll tell you how 'naive' and 'childish' it is.
Obama's visit reshuffled the deck (Gonen Ginat, Israel Hayom) For weeks, Israel's best news commentators spewed doomsday prophecies about Obama's loathing for Netanyahu. But then Obama came with love. mmm
Pride in Obama's pro-Israel diplomacy (Marc R. Stanley, Ynet) Prominent Jewish leader says American president has gone above and beyond to defend Israel's rights.
Obama's 'You're not alone' red light for Israel (Amir Oren, Haaretz) With regard to Iranian nuclear facilities, Obama is unequivocal: This is a global problem requiring American leadership. Israel is indeed under threat, but it is not alone. And woe betides Israel if Netanyahu pursues his goal despite an emphatic 'no' from Washington.
A president of words (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Instead of bringing real peace plan to Middle East, Obama chooses to do nothing but talk.
Israel speaks neither Hebrew nor Arabic these days (just English) (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz) All U.S. President Barack Obama had to was to land here, and everyone ingratiated themselves to him. Israel's president and prime minister, even the Iron Dome anti-missile system, they all grumbled in English. In contrast, the henpecked Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas spoke in Arabic, the language of his people.
American insistence inexplicable (Elyakim Haetzni, Yedioth/Ynet) Formal peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would only lead to more hatred.
Barack and Barak need a champion in the Israeli cabinet (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz) Both Barack Obama and Ehud Barak share the commitment to a peace built on two states and to a robust, militarily secured Israel. Now that Ehud Barak has retired, who in Israel's cabinet will voice this position with sufficient force and influence?
Through Obama's eyes (Alon Pinkas, Yedioth/Ynet) US president sees Israel as a strong country which must make decisions rather than seek sympathy.
Barack Obama has a dream, and we should listen (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) No American president or Israeli statesman has ever delivered a speech like this. It deserves to enter the history books - and Israel's textbooks.
Obama encouraged Israelis to rebel (Attila Somafalvi, Ynet) In Jerusalem speech, US president went over the head of a prime minister he does not trust.
Obama's visit to end all visits (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz) Goals? Achieved. Media coverage? Couldn't be better. Expectations? Reasonable. Deliverables? Maybe down the road, maybe not.
Obama is not that nice (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz) If we don't see a significant peace process here in the coming years, what will be left is just internal affairs. And the new government was established exactly for that: to deal with the economic-social-civil sphere.
Listen to Obama (Haaretz Friday Editorial) Obama's goal in coming to Israel has been achieved: He won Israeli hearts and gave Israelis a sense of security, in the hope that now they will take charge and push the leadership toward a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Today I was proud of my president, and proud to be an Israeli (Debra Kamin, Haaretz) Four years after I first heard Barack Obama speak live on election night in Chicago, I heard him again today in Jerusalem, two years after becoming an Israeli citizen. It was an event that gave full expression to my pride in both of my nationalities.
The Uncle Sam doctrine (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) Obama's visit to the Holy Land was mainly an attempt to assuage Israel's fears -- he will not leave us exposed in the face of the growing Iranian dangers • America hopes to forget the baggage of the past and re-establish a relationship that will be stronger and tighter on the highest levels, and hopefully impact the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Presidential trip: The symbolism succeeded, but what happens next? (Alan M. Dershowitz, Haaretz) Ironically, the New York Times' Iron Dome 'expose' was the worst spoiler of Obama's visit, clouding the president's assurances on Israel's security. The good news is the closeness on Iran policy between the U.S. and Israel and the absence of demands for preconditions to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
The day after Obama (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The new government is entering its "trial-run" period. The question is whether trust will ultimately be established. Most Likud members are pleased with the distribution of positions, with one notable exception: Reuven Rivlin is very angry.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.