APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday April 25, 2013
Quote of the day:
"It doesn't look good on camera."
--Senior IDF officer tells Maariv why Israel has decided to stop supplying itself with white phosphorous bombs.**
Front Page News:
- Treasury to cut 1.5 billion shekels from education budget
- Today evidence stage of Lieberman graft trial to begin
- Olmert: I will run for prime minister in the upcoming elections
- Ahead of a strike: Netanyahu gave a green light to establishing a private port
- AG Weinstein: Shin Bet is allowed to read emails of tourists at airport
- Almost 300,000 citizens return home daily with a weapon. Has the time arrived for a public discussion?
- Face off - the battle over the financial edicts: Histadrut Chairman threatens strike
- This is how the Treasury planned to hurt the hospital directors
- The beer absurdity - Knesset committee approved high tax on beer, but vodka, which is much more dangerous, remains cheap
- Cobra (helicopter) accident - The bereaved mother make rare criticism against Air Force
- US initiating investments of billions in Palestinian Authority in order to prevent its collapse (Hebrew)
- In the streets of despair // Asaf Gabor, Ramallah
- Eini: We will use all means to protect the workers; Netanyahu: No strike will deter us - Believed that if PM and Lapid do not negotiate with the Histadrut on the financial edicts, it will declare a general labor dispute (strike)
- Where did Bennett disappear to? // Amnon Lord
- Plan to establish private port that will compete with Ashdod and Haifa was approved
- Evidence stage in Liberman trial begins today. First witness: Amb. Ben-Arieh
- Because of drop in recruitment to combat units: IDF considering closing home front units (Hebrew)
- Netanyahu: They shouldn't try to scare me, we will advance reforms - On collision course: Histadrut Chairman threatens: Big strike on the way
- The gaffe and the anger: Deputy Finance Minister Miki Levy called ultra-Orthodox 'parasites' - and quickly apologized
- There is no other way // Dan Margalit
- (Crime bosses) Alperon and Molner - the reconciliation
- Whole wheat - In; Refined wheat - out - Health Ministry to put whole wheat bread among subsidized products
- Today: Evidence stage of Lieberman trial opens; His lawyers: Investigate the leak of the transcripts of Lieberman's interrogations
Threat of a general strike over economic reforms, the battle between Yesh Atid and the ultra-Orthodox and the beginning of the interesting part of Avigdor Lieberman's graft trial were today's top stories in Israeli papers. Meanwhile, the US is reportedly planning a four-way Middle East summit in June and an enormous economic initiative in the Palestinian Authority, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is putting up obstacles to the latter. Maariv reported that the IDF is stopping use of white phosphorous bombs against Palestinians and Lebanese and Yedioth reported that Israel has become a bridge for commerce between Turkey and Jordan. And, a Peace Now ad in Maariv challenges the new Finance Minister.
Haaretz writes a four-way Mideast summit may take place in June. US Secretary of State John Kerry has been discussing this for some time. Times of Israel reported on it following US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel and Palestine and Yedioth wrote in early April that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the idea of a summit with Israel, the US and Jordan "unless Israel first took some sort of meaningful action." Haaretz now writes that Kerry is working with Abbas, as well as Turkey and Egypt, to formulate the basis for a summit that would "launch new peace talks and herald economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority." The summit was also expected to be discussed at a meeting between Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah, in the White House on Friday, as well as in a May White House meeting between Obama and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Haaretz wrote.
Speaking of 'economic assistance,' Maariv reports that it will be coming soon to the Palestinian Authority - and in great amounts. Washington has become 'convinced' that 'economic peace will lead to negotiations.' Kerry is advancing economic initiatives that will bring billions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority, Eli Bardenstein wrote. Abbas and Netanyahu agreed to cooperate, but Palestinians fear that this will push aside dealing with the issue of borders. The initiatives will be in transportation, tourism, telecommunication, and use of natural resources and other infrastructure to create thousands of new jobs. The plan will include US conglomerates and one of the (unnamed) senior businessmen that Kerry asked to lead the initiative met this week with Netanyahu and with senior officials in Israel's economic and security establishments as well as with Palestinian officials. Business leaders include Muhtar Kent of Coca Cola and Tim Collins and Kerry is looking to recruit more. Diplomatic sources said some of the ideas of the initiative come from a Palestinian document called "The National Infrastructure Initiative," which calls for using natural resources in the Palestinian Authority for the economy. (NRG Hebrew)
But the problem, writes Maariv, is that although he supports strengthening the Palestinian economy in principle, Netanyahu is placing obstacles before the implementation of the plan, in the view of the Americans. For example, writes Bardenstein, Netanyahu refuses to release some West Bank land in Areas C (under full Israeli control) and transfer them to Palestinian control in order to establish part of the enormous initiative before negotiations begin. He also refuses to allow large Palestinian tourism projects on the northern part of the Dead Sea, which is within the West Bank. And he opposes allowing the gas field opposite Gaza's beaches to go back into operation or for the airport in Gaza to be rebuilt. In the meantime, 'business in Ramallah is dead,' Palestinian shopkeepers told Maariv's Arab affairs correspondent, Asaf Gabor.
**Israel has decided to stop the use of white phosphorous [at last!! - OH]. The decision comes following international criticism over the use of the poisonous chemical in tank shells fired inside [populated areas - OH] of the Gaza Strip during Israel's Operation Cast Lead against the Strip in 2008-2009, Maariv reported. Israel is looking to develop substitutes to act as smoke grenades for infantry and armored vehicles. According to a senior IDF officer, despite the fact that the use of the bombs does not contravene international law [depending on where it is used, not in residential areas where it can harm people - OH], "It doesn't look good on camera and it caused great damage to Israel's image." (NRG Hebrew) The IDF will "not use anymore than the supply we already have," said the senior officer. [Note: Nowhere in the article did the reporter explain WHY the phosphorous shells sparked international criticism and 'looked bad on camera.' The reporter, Ahikam Moshe David, also took at face value the statement by the IDF that it did not use the shells in populated areas. That said, the photos accompanying the article show the infamous white phosphorous attack on a UN-run school in Gaza and over a neighborhood in Gaza.]
In an article with the tongue-in-cheek title, 'The Turkish Flotilla to Haifa Port,' Yedioth writes that 'very quietly, for some five months, Turkish ships have anchored at Haifa port and unloaded truckloads of goods making their way to Jordan." The reason? The security situation in Syria and the tense borders prevent the commerce from entering Jordan via Syria. Alas, business relations are good despite the fact that the reconciliation between Israel and Turkey has yet to be completed. Previously it was reported that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's son was the sole businessman using this channel, but now there are many. A company called Tiran Shipping is the Israeli agent. This Saturday a ship with 60 trucks aboard will anchor in Haifa and then the trucks will make a convoy to Jordan. They will return to the port with Jordanian agricultural products. Sometimes the convoy is a half kilometer long.
On page three of Maariv, Peace Now ran an ad (in Hebrew) challenging Finance Minister Yair Lapid: "Came to change? Start with the settlements budget," read the ad. Then it quoted a statement he made in December 2012: "Since the establishment of the Netanyahu government, investment in settlements rose 38%. Since the the number of settlers did not rise 38%, they are raising the investment in settlements, including in settlements that won't be in the state after a (peace) agreement, at the expense of the Israeli middle class and at the expense of the taxes of teh Israeli middle class." The ad gives a barcode to the YouTube video 'Lapid, Here's the Money!' (Great cartoon with English subtitles!)
- Syria says it would not use chemical arms, 'even against Israel' - Comments by Information Minister come a day after Israeli intelligence officer said Assad regime used chemical weapons against rebels; Hagel: We must not rush to conclusion on WMDs. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Shin Bet can continue to access tourists' emails upon arrival at Ben-Gurion, AG says - Responding to petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein chooses not to interfere with security procedure, stating it's 'performed only in exceptional instances, after other relevant incriminating indications are found.' (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Exceptional: Enormous Foreign Ministry delegation to leave to Jordan - A delegation of 30 senior Foreign Ministry officials will make a one-day educational tour in Jordan at the end of the month. The move is a significant precedent in the relations between the two countries. (NRG Hebrew)
- IDF rabbinate removes controversial 'Laws of Mezuzah' booklet from website - The pamphlet included a section stating that non-Jews are not equal to Jews in Israel. (Haaretz)
- Because of lack of combat soldiers: IDF considering closing home front units - In order to increase the amount of people drafted the IDF plans to draft ultra-Orthodox and cancel the automatic exemption from service for women who declare they are religious. "We won't shorten mandatory army service as long as there is no solution to the shortage of manpower in the IDF and specifically in combat units." (Maariv, p. 4/NRG Hebrew)
- Olmert announces: I will run for prime minister in next Israeli election - At a fundraising event in London two weeks ago, the former prime minister, who was forced to resign in 2008 for corruption charges, stated his intention to give it another go in four years. (Haaretz)
- New Knesset member visits a friend in Ramallah: 'This is not normal' - Adi Koll, a relatively unknown Knesset member from Yair Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid party, posted this picture along with an uncharacteristically long and emotional status on Facebook, the day after she paid a visit to the home of a Palestinian friend in Ramallah. (Translated in full in 972 Mag)
- US Amb. to UN: It's time for UN's Richard Falk to go - U.N.'s Human Rights Council special rapporteur for the Palestinians Richard Falk blames American policy in the Middle East for the Boston bombings, and warns that "as long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy." (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- Livni recommends that Peres not commute ex-president Katsav's sentence - Moshe Katsav, who was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison after being convicted of rape and sexual harassment, argues that his loss of status and dignity is punishment enough. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Deputy Finance Minister calls ultra-Orthodox 'parasites' on the air, and immediately apologizes - Micky Levy of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party was discussing the issue of ultra-Orthodox joining the military and serving in the workforce. He quickly said he was sorry for using such a derogatory term. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Netanya College awards honorary degree to Sarkozy - Former French president will be awarded in May for his support of Israel, Jewish people. (Ynet)
- Jordanian official confirms support for Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit - Jordan regards so-called Two Seas Canal, a joint Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian project, as an essential step in battling the country's severe water shortage, senior official says. (Haaretz)
- Hagel to meet Egypt's leaders, push military ties - Following stops in Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, U.S. Defense Secretary heads to Cairo on Wednesday for meetings with Egypt's top leaders. Hagel is highlighting the Obama administration's hope of preserving influence with the Egyptian military. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
- Doctors union urges Morsi to win release of Egyptians held in Israel - Meanwhile, an Israeli Bedouin imprisoned in Cairo contacts the union to try to get him freed. (Haaretz)
- Cross spray-painted on Kiryat Malachi synagogue - Worshippers arriving for morning service find words 'Jehovah is a son of a bitch' written near shul's entrance. (Ynet)
- For Palestinian prisoners in Israel, hunger strikes become a winning strategy - Samer Issawi's successful hunger strike has not only gained him an early release but has put the plight of Palestinians in Israeli prisons back in the headlines. (Haaretz)
- Palestinian convicted of murdering Asher Palmer and son receives 98 year prison sentence - Waal al-Arja was found guilty of hurling stones at Palmer's car, striking Palmer, 25, in the face, and causing him to lose control of his vehicle in September 2011. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Lumber stolen for Lag Ba'omer bonfires costs contractors NIS 20 million - Lag Ba'omer eve, which falls on Sunday this year, is traditionally celebrated by lighting bonfires mainly by children. (Haaretz)
- In Jerusalem, Maryland governor mulls White House run - Martin O'Malley, who is on an eight-day tour of Israel, says 'key question in running for any office is having a clear and refined understanding of the shared reality we face.' (Agencies, Ynet)
- In Israel-Nepal exchange, monuments erected to link Earth's high, low points - Monument containing stone from the Dead Sea was placed on Mount Everest, and a stone from the mountain will be placed in a matching monument by the Dead Sea on May 16. (Haaretz)
- US: Hezbollah acting like 'drug cartel' - White House says Hezbollah conducts itself like 'drug cartel'; Two Lebanese money exhange firms blacklisted after laundering funds for Shiite group. (Ynet)
- Israel protests India's feting of journalist accused of aiding Iran in New Delhi car bombing - Indian officials attended launch of newspaper to be edited by Syed Kazmi, who is charged with involvement in February 2012 attack on Israeli Embassy. (Haaretz)
- Iran: Nuclear program isn't reason for sanctions - Iran's economy minister says sanctions are only "a cover" for the West's true intentions, to prevent Iran from gaining the latest scientific knowledge in areas such as nanotechnology, aerospace technology and nuclear science. (Israel Hayom)
- Iran presidential candidate blasts Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial - Tehran mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf says controversial leader's conduct, conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, led to loss of credibility, damaging Palestinian goal. (Ynet)
It's not easy being Jewish, let alone in Nigeria
Some 30,000 of Nigeria's 30 million ethnic Ibos consider themselves Jews, an identification that goes back to the last century, and that picked up steam after that country's civil war. Political scientist William Miles visited with some of them and has written a book about the challenges they face. (Haaretz)
Green pilgrimage comes to Jerusalem
Conference marks interfaith effort to encourage sustainable urban and economic development, eco-tourism, equal sharing of public domain. (Media Line, Ynet)
Emergency order forever (Haaretz Editorial) Israel's choice to extend the emergency order denying the unification of citizens with spouses from enemy states strengthens the argument that Israel in as a discriminatory apartheid state.
The political illusion (Noam Sheizaf, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) (Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali) Bennet's "political plan" is nothing more than a joke. It's not that world opinion is preventing Israel from annexing the (Palestinian) Territories - it's simply that the status quo is comfortable for Israel.
One person, one vote (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) A Palestinian focus on the demand for one person, one vote will disarm Israel of all its excuses. What can it say - that the Palestinians aren't human? That they don't have rights like any other nation? Palestinians do not have voting rights in the state that determines their fate.
Israel's difficult decision (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Given its inaction following the use of chemical weapons in Syria, can the U.S. be counted on regarding Iran?
The Lieberman fear factor (Uri Misgav, Haaretz) The decision to keep the foreign minister's post empty and hold it in trust for Avigdor Lieberman is an allegory of his formidable political power and Israel's crumbling rule of law.
The thin red line: Is Iran outmaneuvering the U.S. and Israel? (David Makovsky and Gabrielle Tudin, Haaretz) Now that Iran is capable of circumventing the nuclear weapons 'red line,' it is critical that two new ministers of defense, Hagel and Ya'alon, coordinate closely to prevent the U.S. and Israel from being further outflanked.
A king of flesh and blood (Baruch Leshem, Yedioth/Ynet) If Netanyahu wants to return to TIME's 100 list, he must reinvent himself by making tough decisions.
Boston bombing is a chance for the city's Jews and Muslims to get closer (Michael Felsen, Haaretz) Many of Boston's Jews are hoping thatout of the tragic events of last week, we can find opportunities to enrich our relationships with Boston's vibrant and diverse Muslim community.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.