APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday May 01, 2013
Quote of the day:
"He does not need to accept the Initiative as it is. He is not supposed to agree to every article of it. He needs to make a positive sign heard."
--Right-wing Maariv commentator Ben-Dror Yemini calls on his Prime Minister and Israelis to give the newly updated Arab Peace Initiative a chance.**
Front Page News:
- In the background of the tension, 2000 reserve soldiers suddenly called up - Defense Minister not updated about special exercise in north
- Obama: There was use of chemical weapons in Syria, but more information is necessary (NYT)
- Israeli murdered in attack in West Bank
- Lieberman trial: Members of appointment committee deny they received orders from minister
- Rise of 11% in treatments in last year - Committee recommends limiting funding fertility treatments
- Women of the Wall changed their minds: Won't accept Sharansky's guideline
- Holland celebrated transfer of the throne
- Thousands of soldiers suddenly sent to the north - and who doesn't know about the enormous exercise? Defense Minister Yaalon
- They don't even ask him // Alex Fishman
- Daddy, don't go - Hundreds cried when son of Eviatar Borovsky, who was murdered at the Tappuah junction, laid head on his father's body; Angry settlers took revenge throwing stones (at Palestinians)
- Sparkling ceremony in Holland: The Queen became a princess, her son was crowned king
- Turning point in Arab League: Israel will be able to keep settlement blocs (Hebrew)
- We need to try // Ben-Dror Yemini on the new initiative (Hebrew)
- Yitzhar resident murdered; IAF assassinated a Hamas activist in Gaza for first time since Pillar of Cloud operation; IDF suddenly sent a division of reservists to north without knowledge of Defense Minister (Hebrew)
- Rabbi battle: Dispute in Shas between Der'i and Yishai over preferred candidate for Sephardic Chief Rabbi; In Habayit Hayehudi: Associates of Rabbi Druckman claim Bennett trying to thwart choice of Rabbi Ariel
- One knife, five orphans
- Just because he was Jewish // Emily Amrousi
- Kerry lauds Arab initiative to land swaps; In Jerusalem they say: Negotiations - without preconditions
- Tension in south after IDF assassinated man responsible for shooting on Eilat
- Thousands of soldiers suddenly sent (to north) - Defense Minister not updated
- In mutual respect - President Peres welcomed with great friendship in Vatican by Pope Franciscus
- Horror in Jerusalem: Murdered his divorcee and dismembered her body
- State considering financing egg donations instead of financing IVF above age 44
- Good news for drivers: Gasoline price dropped 31 agorot
A Palestinian man murders an Israeli settler and Israeli settlers take revenge on Palestinians, the IDF makes a surprise call up for a special exercise on the northern border and does not inform the Defense Minister, and the Arab League softened its stance on Israel's final borders, but the Israeli government reacts tepidly making top stories in today's newspapers.
Settlers rioted yesterday attacking Palestinians and their property after a young Palestinian from a village near Tulkarem stabbed to death a young father of five from Yitzhar settlement at a junction near Kfar Tappuach settlement, south of Nablus. The Palestinian, Salam al-Zaghal, was shot and wounded by Border Police and taken to hospital. He has not been allowed to see a lawyer. Angry settlers stopped two Palestinian girls' school buses attacking at least one of the drivers, pelting them with stones, injuring some of the girls and causing widespread panic. The settlers also attacked villages near Nablus and Tulkarem, where they set fire to dozens of olive trees, attacked vehicles and attacked the Urif village mosque. The Palestinian Authority urged Palestinians to exercise extreme caution while driving near settlements and it has suspended all school trips. According to Maan, the rioting settlers injured over 20 people. Maariv writes that Israeli security forces arrested 10 rioting Israelis last night: four for attacking a Palestinian bus driver and six for attacking Israeli police. (NRG Hebrew) Meanwhile, eight Israeli military jeeps raided the home of al-Zaghal as well as several neighboring homes, locals told Ma'an. Ynet reported that Israeli security establishment also fears the settlers' will continue to attack today and that it could escalate into a Third Intifada. Consequently, the IDF and police reinforced their presence near Yitzhar settlement, where Borovsky lived.
With tension high along the northern border, the IDF held a major surprise battle drill calling up thousands of reservists to the northern border, but did not inform Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, the papers were quick to note. The drill began on Sunday and is expected to last until tomorrow, according to Haaretz or till the weekend, according to Ynet. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama said the US was unwilling to rush into Syria intervention, while Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah hinted that his movement may do just that - to save Assad's regime.
Meanwhile, there were mixed responses to the softening of the Arab League's stance on Israel's final borders. Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al-Thani renewed his call for Mideast peace, citing for first time the possibility of 'comparable,' mutually agreed and 'minor' land swaps. Al-Thani had just met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, the latter who has been pushing Arab leaders to embrace a modified version of their decade-old "Arab Peace Initiative" as part of a new U.S.-led effort to corral Israel and the Palestinians back into direct peace talks.
Netanyahu's office declined requests for comment Tuesday. But Cabinet minister Silvan Shalom, played down the Arab League's decision, saying, "There is nothing new here...In principle, I support renewing the process. Of course, I don't accept the 1967 lines," he told Israel Radio. "If the Arab League wants to be a partner to this process, then we welcome it, but this is not negotiations." Another Jerusalem source - unnamed - told Haaretz that "Israel welcomes the encouragement by Arab League delegates and Secretary of State John Kerry to rekindle diplomatic efforts," but that Israel won't agree to any preconditions.
Interestingly, Maariv's article by reporter Arik Bender on the change to the Arab Peace Initiative began with a very positive paragraph that read: "The Arab League's announcement yesterday about its agreement in principle to adopt peace negotiations on the basis of the '67 borders with land swaps signifies a revolutionary change in the Arab attitude to the conflict with Israel. This is a positive development that has the ability to advance negotiations but it also pushes Israel towards a decision. Palestinian negotiation team chairman Saeb Erekat already made clear that the plan is acceptable to the Palestinians." (NRG Hebrew) Erekat also said that "Israeli rejection of this initiative shows once again that the Israeli government lacks a peace plan. Rather, it is fully engaged in further colonization and attacks against Palestinian rights and regional stability." However, another unnamed official in Jerusalem told Maariv that Israel would not agree to preconditions unless the Arab initiative clarifies that it will allow the inclusion of Israeli settlement blocs in Israel. Except that the Palestinians won't agree to that and therefore everything must be worked out in negotiations, the source said.
However, not all in the government had such a cool attitude. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wrote on her Facebook page: It's good news that should be welcomed. She told Army Radio: " It's definitely an important step -- I welcome it. Let's talk about it -- we are ready for changes, something which will allow the Palestinians, I hope, to enter the (negotiating) room and make the necessary compromises. It also gives a message to Israeli citizens: it is no longer just us ... talking with the Palestinians, there is a group of Arab states who are saying: you reach an agreement with the Palestinians and we will make peace with you, we will have normalization with you," she said. Livni is set to lead peace negotiations, if and when they take place. She told Ynet: "The Arab countries are coming and saying to all of us 'amongst all the surrounding tumult, we are still interested in promoting a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians...the Arab League says they understand that there are reality changes that will require the border line to be altered. Another thing said is that an agreement like this needs to be 'fair.' It needs to be fair for both sides."
Members of the opposition Labor Party urged Netanyahu to accept the Arab initiative. Meanwhile, Israel Hayom confirmed earlier reports that the Palestinians have agreed to suspend their drive to obtain further recognition from the UN in order to give Kerry's diplomacy a chance.
But, before actual talks begin, Israeli leaders have been clashing over the idea of holding a referendum on any peace deal. And for the first time, Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman disagree. Netanyahu supports passing a law that would require a referendum, while Lieberman says it is an attempt to shirk responsibility, Israel Hayom reported. Livni said her Hatnuah party will also oppose the referendum.
- Palestinian stabbed in Jerusalem, Israeli police say - A Palestinian man was stabbed in an ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli police said. (Maan)
- Israeli defense minister: Gaza assassination in line with terms of November truce - Moshe Ya'alon says the Gaza militant Haitham Mishal, 24, who was killed by the Israel Air Force on Tuesday was involved in the rocket attack on Eilat two weeks ago. In first assassination since Operation Pillar of Cloud, Yaalon says that Israel has the right to defense itself against terrorism originating in the Gaza Strip. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- DFLP brigades 'will respond' to Israeli airstrike - The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Tuesday said it would respond to Israel's assassination of a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip. (Maan)
- Jerusalem yeshiva student arrested after attacking Arabic-speaking detectives - Police are looking for the other four students involved in the attack, the latest of several nationalist-motivated assaults on Arabs. (Haaretz)
- Minister Ariel: State must fund settlement construction - Habayit Hayehudi member meets with Netanyahu, stresses that party will not support budget if cuts to West Bank settlements are presented. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- Pope Francis accepts Peres' invitation to visit Israel - The new pontiff accepts invitation by Israeli president to visit Jerusalem 'with willingness and joy,' says spokesman. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israeli army drill damages Bedouin land in Jordan Valley - Israeli army exercises scorched fields in the Wadi al-Maleh area of the northern Jordan Valley, the local village council said. The Bedouin community was evicted from their lands and tents while the Israeli military continued its training exercises. (Maan)
- Woman sues State for ID-issuance red tape - Arab woman from Haifa sues Interior Ministry for NIS 372,000 after State claims she forged her identity, denying her ID: 'She refused to follow protocol,' ministry insists. (Ynet)
- Online campaign urges release of Iran scientist - Omid Kokabee serves 10 year sentence after refusing to collaborate on nuclear program; says he is 'eager to pursue scientific research.' (Yedioth/Ynet)
- Iran decries use of chemical arms by anyone in Syria as a 'red line' - Islamic Republic reiterates calls for United Nations to investigate assertions by Assad regime that Syrian insurgents have used chemical weapons, says Damascus government not guilty of such use. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Egypt pulls out of talks to protest Middle East nuclear arms - In reference to Israel, Egypt says failure to implement 1995 resolution for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons was its reason for backing out of talks. Egyptian Foreign Ministry: We cannot continue waiting for implementation of this resolution. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
**We must try (Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) From the beginning Israel needed to say a big 'yes' to the Arab Initiative. It's not an ideal initiative. It's a problematic initiative with mines that need to be dismantled. But from the beginning, in 2002, it was an historic turning point. After an infinite number of declarations about the destruction of the Zionist entity, a collective Arab declaration appeared on recognizing Israel. Excuses for saying 'no' appeared without end (such as): we're talking about dictators, they don't mean it, you can't trust them, they want to flood Israel with refugees, and on and on. But Israel of those days did not say 'no' and did not say 'yes.' The impression was that Israel rejected the plan. Because there is no sane Israeli who thinks it's possible to withdraw to the '67 lines and also get the fantasy of the 'Right of Return.' Because there are so many Arab spokespersons who made clear that the 'Right of Return' is the winning weapons needed to destroy Israel - so we need to believe them...so when they say "Right of Return" we need to believe them that they mean the destruction of Israel. And in this way we need to deal with them seriously when they reveal signs of flexibility on the subject of borders... Once there was a claim that Arabs weren't willing to make any compromises before the negotiations. Now it has become clear that that legend is also broken. Here, there is a declared compromise, pan-Arab, even before the negotiations began. It does not mean that a dramatic breakthrough has been achieved and the problems are still on the table: refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements. And especially, how to avoid a coup turning the West Bank into a branch of the Gaza Strip. It's almost impossible, but that does not mean it is wrong to try. On the contrary. It is obligatory to try. Israel succeeded to flourish because it always said, 'Yes.' The Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular are sunk in mud because they always said only 'no.' There is no need to change positions. Of all the problems, the refugees is the hardest one...It's difficult to find flexibility on that point in the Arab Initiative, but after the turning point on the subject of the settlement blocs, there is a basis for hope that a turning point will come on the issue of the (Right of) Return...Two ministers, Tzipi Livni and Yaakov Peri, already responded positively to the turning point when it became known yesterday. That's a step in the right direction. Now it's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who needs to say his words. He does not need to accept the Initiative as it is. He is not supposed to agree to every article of it. He needs to make a positive sign heard. Because there is a chance that this move will also fail. But the failure will be much greater if the responsibility for the failure falls on Israel.
Israel's triple security threat: Settlers, Gaza rockets, and Syria chemical weapons (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Israel has already faced a triple security threat this week, with a Palestinian terror attack against a settler in the West Bank, the assassination of a militant in Gaza and chemical-weapons worries in the north.
Nothing new in the Arab League proposal (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Israel must welcome the Arab League's endorsement of land swaps, but the situation hasn't fundamentally changed.
Another stain on the law books (Haaretz Editorial) Bringing a suspect to court doesn't increase the danger he constitutes. But not bringing him greatly increases another danger, which is no less grave: It widens the cracks in Israel's democracy.
Empty initiative (Eli Bender, Maariv) If the Americans need the Arab League to bring about a breakthrough, that's a sign things are really bad. The ball is not with Qatar, but rather it's in the Palestinian court...In his visit in Ramallah Obama asked Abu Mazen, "What are you willing to do in order to renew the negotiations?" The administration is still waiting for an answer...
Equal rights for gentile troops (Hassan Kaabiya, Ynet) Bedouin, Druze soldiers have sacrificed their lives so rabbis could write their halachic rulings safely.
Israel is the superpower of international panic (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Israel, the country that notices distant threats before anyone else, has become deaf, dumb and blind when the threat is lying at its doorstep.
What to do about Syria? (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) For Israel, there are no good options in Syria.
Truth, lies and Palestinian prisoners (Benjamin Pogrund, Haaretz) As the controversy over the deaths of Palestinians in Israeli jails continues to stoke unrest, the prison service invited journalists to visit the only Israeli prison in the West Bank. This is what I saw.
Livni's referendum rage (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) Despite supporting the idea in the past, Livni has now rejected the idea of putting any peace deal with the Palestinians to a public vote.
Palestinian stone throwers and Israelis speak different languages (Mira Sucharov, Haaretz) With a West Bank Palestinian having been sentenced last Thursday to 98 years for throwing a stone that caused Asher Palmer and his infant son to die in a fatal car crash, the issue of Palestinian resistance to occupation has again been thrust into the spotlight.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.