APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday June 20, 2013
Quote of the day:
"The Arab League today is less hostile to Israel. The Arab (Peace) Initiative should form the basis of renewed negotiations. We need to look for opportunities at a time like this."
--Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan says Israel must renew negotiations with the Palestinians.**
Front Page News:
- Prime Minister's Office prevents transparency in Legislative Committee
- Protest activists to petition High Court - Under pressure from protest, government increased amount of gas reserves (60%) for Israeli economy (and not for export)
- Jewish National Fund (JNF): Examine dangers of oil shale venture
- UN: The number of refugees is at record two-decade high
- Costa Rica revealed Israeli doctors involved in organ trafficking
- Gas division - 60% to remain in Israel, 40% for exports - Meaning of decision: Gas will last for 30 years.
- Yo Ya - Last performance of 'Kaveret' band
- Going on summer holiday
- Netanyahu decided: 60% of gas reserves to remain in Israel
- GOC Central Command: Failure of US efforts for peace negotiations could bring escalation in region
- Hamas: Iran is drying us out - Leaders went on fundraising campaign among Arab countries (Hebrew)
- Grave of helicopter pilot that was killed in a training accident re-opened after hikers found body remains (Hebrew)
- "Parkinson's is not a terminal illness, but all the signs show I'm at the end..." - Moving interview with journalist and satirist Didi Manosi
- Remembering them from the kiosk - Moving performance of the 'Kaveret' band
- Natural gas: 60% to remain in Israel
- "Remarks by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef could increase the hatred for Torah," says Rabbi David Stav
- It was really nice - Last performance of 'Kaveret' band
- Big summer holiday for the big kids
- In the midst of the race for a new Governor of Bank of Israel: Trachtenberg announced he was dropping out
- Obama in Berlin: "Decrease nuclear weapons by a third"
- Top Dolce and Gabbana designers sentenced to 20 months prison
The gas reserves that stay in Israel, the IDF general who warned of increased Palestinian violence without peace and an Israeli band that reunited and warmed hearts made top news in today's Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, a former Mossad chief and a former US ambassador to Israel say Israel must make peace soon, while other Jewish American leaders call on the Prime Minister to refute anti-two-state solution remarks by government ministers. Meanwhile, Hamas's coffers are emptying due to its opposition to Iranian ally, Syria.
It appears that despite Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's claims that Israel is ready to negotiate, others believe Israel is responsible for doing more to make that happen. Yesterday, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, the top IDF commander in the West Bank, sparked the latest storm with his remarks. Alon said a continued postponement in renewing diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians would likely cause Palestinian violence to escalate - for which he was attacked by the right-wing. The remarks come in the wake of remarks by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon that 'The government does not want a two-solution' and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett: 'The two-state solution is dead.' Alon noted that the recent months of increased involvement here by US Secretary of State John Kerry 'had a positive impact in the field.' Alon said that, for example, the Palestinian Authority had stopped funding of a grassroots anti-occupation group. However, the organization, the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, said they never received money to begin with.
Nitzan also voiced frustration with the "terror activity" of radical Jewish settlers. Agence France Presse interviewed two former Israeli security heads who said Israel was not really tackling the 'price-tag' attacks phenomenon. Menahem Landau, former head of the Jewish terror unit of the Shin Bet said: "...there will be repercussions and people will die. What will we say then? That it was only graffiti?"
**Then it was former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's turn. Speaking at the President's Conference said restarting peace negotiations with the Palestinians is a 'vital necessity,' and that "to say that this is not possible is very damaging to Israel." Moreover, he said that although he does not like every aspect of the Arab Peace Initiative, "as a starting point to sit down and discuss, it is a vital necessity for Israel to do it." Dagan also contradicted Netanyahu's claims that for security reasons Israel cannot relinquish the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement. "If the political need will be as such that the Jordan Valley will not be in Israeli hands, I think the IDF will have a unique ability to protect Israel on those borders,' said Dagan.
Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer spoke of "conflict fatigue" in the United States and warned that if the attempt to renew negotiations fails, there may not be another US attempt. He also said that settlement construction complicates any future agreement with Arab world. MidEast envoy Tony Blair added that the Palestinians "should have a state not as a reward but as a right." Kurtzer was also quoted as saying that the US may end security assistance to Israel, which former US ambassador to Israel Moshe Arens said, "We can get along without."
A number of American Jewish leaders also had some negative words for remarks by government officials against the two-state solution and called on Netanyahu to disown the 'irresponsible" statements by ministers against a two-state solution, Haaretz reported. Kerry leaves Friday for a 12-day seven-country Middle East and Southeast Asia tour. He will be in the Middle East from June 27 to 29, with a stop in Jordan before making his fifth visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Last year, as the atrocities of Syria's civil war became apparent, Hamas ended its ties with the Assad regime and pulled out its headquarters. This week it told Hezbollah to stop fighting on Assad's side. Now it is literally paying the price. Its political and financial ties with Iran have worsened as a result. So its leaders have begun traveling among other Muslim countries to fundraise. Tuesday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal met in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. They also discussed reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
- Settler dogs attack Palestinian villagers near Hebron - a settler from Susiya settlement unleashed his dogs near in Yatta to scare villagers. In March, Israeli Knesset member Ahmad Tibi alleged that settlers in the West Bank were training dogs to attack Palestinians. (Maan)
- Israel's defense minister considering legalizing disputed West Bank outpost - Moshe Ya'alon is negotiating with settlers to legalize the Havat Gilad outpost in exchange for their voluntary withdrawal from four structures in the West Bank's Area B. (Haaretz)
- Erekat: World should sever ties with Israel - PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the int'l community to stop dealing with the Israeli government while it acts above the law. His statements were made after meeting with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, who he gave documents and maps detailing settlement activity, the siege on Gaza, and displacement of Palestinians. (Maan)
- Palestinian detainee's mother dies before son's release - Basima Hashash, 67, passed away just two weeks before her son Atallah was scheduled for release. She had not seen him for 10 years. (Maan)
- Young Palestinians launch initiative to influence Palestinian future - Fed up with leadership, Ramallah-based youth group NEWpal hosts conference to discuss how young Palestinians can shape future state, end occupation. (Ynet)
- Google goes all the way to Jerusalem to discuss its 'Palestine' policy - Israel's Foreign Ministry fails in its attempt to convince Google representatives to get 'Palestine' off the tech giant's products. (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu blocks bid for transparency in legislation process of Israeli government - Livni had been pushing to publicize how cabinet members vote; lack of transparency allows applying pressure on ministers, stymie legislative initiatives without public monitoring. (Haaretz)
- Likud MK submits bill to boost politicians' power over judicial appointments - Amendment proposed by MK Yariv Levin would reduce number of Supreme Court justices in the Judicial Appointments Committee from three to one. (Haaretz)
- Peres tells Clinton '2-state solution is your gift to Israel' - At opening of 'Facing Tomorrow' conference in Jerusalem, Peres grants 42nd president of United States Israel's highest distinction: 'Your work laid the foundations which will one day bring peace to our region.' (Ynet)
- Tower and stockade settlement, 2013 - Students from the Religious Kibbutz Movement will try to lay the foundations for a new kibbutz near the Gaza Strip by building in the tower and stockade style of Zionist pioneers. And like the founding generation, they plan to do it in one night. (Israel Hayom)
- Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at Gaza farmers - Locals said Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers opened fire at Palestinian farmers near the separation fence in Khan Younis and Deir al-Balah. The gunfire hit several homes in the area, with no injuries reported. (Maan)
- Gaza rocket lands in Palestinian territory - Siren sounds in Ashkelon area as world leaders, celebrities are gathered in Jerusalem for Peres' birthday; rocket lands in Gaza. (Ynet)
- Education Ministry funds fewer school hours for Arabs than Jews - Arab students continue to score two grade levels below their Jewish peers on math, language and science exams. (Haaretz)
- Israel will be first country to receive F-35 stealth jet fighter - State-of-the-art fighter aircraft, the first of which are scheduled to be delivered to Israel at the end of 2016, are also expected to be fitted with an Israeli "twist." (Israel Hayom)
- Drug trafficking IDF officer jailed for 13 years - Operations officer Eran Kabalo sentenced to 13 years in jail for selling dozens of kilograms of narcotics, which he obtained through the Egyptian border. (Ynet)
- Israeli MDs harvesting organs for international trafficking ring - Costa Rica says ring allegedly sold kidneys to patients in Israel, East Europe; Health Ministry: No knowledge of reported cases. (Haaretz)
- India to fund construction of West Bank schools - The Indian government is funding a $1.8 million dollar project to construct two schools in Abu Dis and Asira al-Shamaliya villages. (Maan)
- After a 5 year freeze: Delegation from Georgia arrives to advance weapons deals - Georgia will ask to purchase drones and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from the Israeli security industries. Israel has sold Georgia defense weapons in the past, but due to pressure from Russia ended the commerce. (Maariv, p. 6)
- Israeli diplomat in open letter to Alice Walker: Don't boycott my home - The Israeli consul general in New York says that the American novelist is trying to deprive millions of regular, hard-working Israeli music fans of their right to enjoy music. (Haaretz)
- Acclaimed Iranian director to visit Jerusalem for international film festival - The Jerusalem Film Festival, which kicks off July 4, will screen Makhmalbaf's most recent film, 'The Gardener,' about a man from Papua New Guinea who tends the Bahai gardens in Haifa. (Haaretz)
- Israel snatches suspected killers of cabinet minister's nephew - Three Palestinian Authority security officers who attacked Jewish pilgrims at Joseph's Tomb in 2011 and killed Ben-Yosef Livnat were apprehended after being released from Palestinian jail. One more suspect still in PA custody. (Israel Hayom)
- Aimed at killing 'enemies of Israel' - Suspect with links to Ku Klux Klan approached Albany synagogue and Jewish group to help in bizarre plot to build 'Hiroshima on a light switch.' ABC News: One of the targets - Obama. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- British Supreme Court quashes sanctions on Iranian bank - Court says the U.K. had been 'arbitrary,' 'irrational,' and 'disproportionate' to single out Bank Mellat, Iran's largest private bank, for sanctions. (Agencies, Haaretz)
The 'Arabs Out' government (Haaretz Editorial) Israelis who support democracy, rule of law and basic human morality must fight the government policy of discrimination and exclusion of Arabs.
Kerry hasn't given up (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Top US diplomat thought he could come to Mideast with two diligent aides and move mountains.
Brave new journalism in Israel (Yossi Klein, Haaretz) 'We intend to replace all of you - the newspapers, the writers and then the readers,' experts say; but until that new media model is unveiled, and the world's problems are solved, they are stuck with the old readers, who read newspapers not because of what seasoned reporters write, but because of how they write it.
Netanyahu doesn't have what it takes to make a bold move (Carlo Strenger, Haaretz) Benjamin Netanyahu's history shows that he's incapable of processing information that contradicts his bleak worldview formed in the 1980s.
A bunch of criminal, racist ignoramuses (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Price-tag attacks, like the most recent in Abu Ghosh, are an affront to Jewish values and an embarrassment to all decent-minded Israelis.
How an image is destroyed - It's not shrapnel, it's a mortar (Ariella Ringel-Hoffman, Yedioth) Ringel-Hoffman refers to the statements by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett who called the Palestinian-Israeli conflict 'shrapnel in the butt' and said the two-state solution was dead"...Where do the Bennett's get their power? From the indifference of the majority. From the strange fact that the citizens of the state happily boycotted the cottage cheese, but not the one who makes a mockery of the possibility that we will wake up tomorrow to a bad morning of the Third Intifada...
President Peres' evening of lies (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) All you need are a few Hollywood movie stars and a few former world leaders, and voila! For one night it seemed as if Israel was not merely the most moral nation on earth, but also the most popular. But what about the truth?
Khamenei's clone (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) Iran's elections were preceded by a vetting process that included the disqualification of candidates deemed unsuitable by the supreme leader.
Celebrating Peres, but not the personality cult that surrounds him (Uri Misgav, Haaretz) While I admire the Peres vision of peace and normalization, I am repulsed by the disconnectedness and ego of his NIS 11 million cost of the Presidential Conference
Ahead of the curve, for better or for worse (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Peres' decisions, from building the Dimona reactor to engineering the Oslo Accords, changed history. His contribution to Israel's security exceeds most.
Can the Middle East escape dictatorship? (Khaled Diab, Haaretz) Although the risk of sliding toward authoritarianism afflicts all societies, Turkey and 'Arab Spring' countries seems particularly prone to this. But what is the reason behind it?
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.