APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday June 26, 2013
Quote of the day:
"Instead of asking how much (the celebrations/conference) cost and who will pay - we need to ask: Where was everybody?
--Yedioth commentator Sever Plocker discusses why no foreign presidents or great intellectuals showed up for the President's Conference and President Shimon Peres' 90th birthday celebrations.**
Front Page News:
- High Court to Tel-Aviv municipality: Close businesses on Shabbat - or change the law
- Far-right-wing Likud deputy minister Danny Danon elected president of Likud convention - Danonism // Yossi Verter
- (Police) Unit to prevent 'price-tag' attacks will operate only in the West Bank
- Assad's cousin: The Jihadists won't be satisfied just with Syria, but with the whole region
- Jump in the number of requests for surrogacy abroad
- Teacher's salary in Israel rose, but the investment in pupils dropped
- Closed on Sabbath - Dramatic High Court ruling...Blow to secular people: You got used to going to the supermarket on Saturday? Forget about it now
- Bill: Israel to be more Jewish than democratic - Senior Likud and Habayit Hayehudi members preparing dramatic change to law...Goal: To force High Court to give preference to Jews over other citizens.
- Israel apologized - but the reconciliation with Turkey is stuck
- Queen of the catwalk - Soldier Shlomit Malka is one of the top earning models in the country
- This is how housing prices will drop - Cement market to be opened to competition, but the process will take years
- High Court ruling could cause a flood of appeals against working on Sabbath
- (Danny) Danon on Likud under Netanyahu's leadership: "The movement has been neglected for years" (Hebrew)
- Exterminators warn: Dangerous spread in Israel of Asiatic Tiger mosquito and fire ants (Hebrew)
- International study finds that Israelis evading paying tax at a total of 185 billion shekels - Similar to Spain, Italy and Portugal
- Netanyahu declared war on 'kiosk durgs,' but court released four suspects and criticized authorities
- (Mayor) Huldai: Tel-Aviv will continue to be a liberal city - High Court ruled against opening businesses on Shabbat - and renewed the debate about its character
- End to Israelbluff - Victory for mom and pop shops // Dr. Aviad Hacohen
- The residents will suffer // Sigal Arbitman
- Danny Danon won, waiting for Sunday
- Harpaz Affair: Military police investigation or criminal investigation?
- Weinstein is right // Amos Regev
- Lindenstrauss is right // Dan Margalit
- Fischer felt ill and collapsed in his home
- Hit and run, plague across the country: Chase after the driver who killed Lula Amdor
- Netanyahu: "We will not enter diplomatic negotiations only to mark an 'X'"
- Putin to US: "Snowden is with us, we won't extradite him"
- Now it's official: Rihanna to come to Tel-Aviv; Tickets from 369 shekels
The High Court rules shops to close on Sabbath in Tel-Aviv or allow for the small businesses to be open without being fined, a far-right-wing Likud deputy minister is conquering the Likud while Jewish MKs propose bills to make Israel Jewish before democratic. Meanwhile, a host of other bills have been proposed that anger Arabs and Jews who want Israel to be a liberal pluralistic country. On the diplomatic front, it remains unclear what the Palestinians and Israelis will agree to do to restart negotiations - and US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives tomorrow!
Likud Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon secured a landslide victory in the first of Likud's elections for party mechanism heads and vowed to stymie diplomatic plans. Danon was elected president of the Likud Convention last night. On Sunday he will run for the powerful position of Likud Central Committee chairman and is expected to win that, too. Haaretz's Yossi Verter writes that Danon's victory leaves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "in the worst possible situation for a party chairman: he's not even a player." Yedioth's Yuval Karni writes that Netanyahu will be leading a party whose institutions are headed by people who challenge him. Danon plans to make two significant changes that Netanyahu vehemently opposes: Stopping Netanyahu's plan to unite Yisrael Beiteinu with the Likud and returning the power to the Likud Central Committee members. Danon is even considering bringing for a vote a decision that rules that Central Likud Committee members will vote for who will be on the party's list in Knesset - instead of it being decided in primaries. "Netanyahu is losing Likud to the (extremist) Danons and Feiglins," a senior Likud member told Yedioth. Referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest diplomatic initiative, Danon also said that "If in a few days from now there will be some diplomatic plan or another, it will be brought to a vote, because these things are part of the essence of democracy." Kerry is scheduled to visit Israel this Thursday.
One bill calls for the State of Israel to be Jewish by law, another bill asserts that the right to self-determination in Israel should be reserved solely for Jews. Neither is making Arab citizens of Israel happy. Yesh Atid MK Ruth Calderon submitted a bill making the Declaration of Independence a Basic Law. The bill aims to formally establish that the State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people. However, Calderon stressed that the term Jewish state does not refer the Jewish religion but to the Jewish people and culture. "We don't need laws that are designed to establish the hegemony of the majority, but we need laws to protect the minority when racism rages," responded Hadash MK Mohammed Barakeh. Meanwhile, Likud MK Yariv Levin and Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked have unveiled a separate bill seeking to bolster Israel's Jewish identity. The 'Jewish Identity bill" seeks to entrench Israel's Jewish character. They asked MK Calderon to join them on their bill, but she wanted to submit her own version.
MK Shaked has also proposed another bill with Arabs in mind. The bill is aimed at preventing what she dubs as "incitement from within parliament" by Arab MKs. She proposed it after, earlier this week, Arab MKs tore up a draft of the Begin/Prawer bill to relocate tens of thousands of Bedouin off their land. Meanwhile, Tibi said yesterday that the eviction of the Bedouin will not succeed. "People will meet the bulldozers with their bodies."
Then there is the anti-freedom of speech bill, 'inspired' by a documentary film, but it faces some problems. Dubbed the 'Jenin-Jenin bill' after the film by Israeli Arab actor-director Mohammed Bakri, which claimed IDF soldiers committed a massacre in Jenin, the bill proposes that slander against the IDF become a criminal offense. And the Minister of Internal Security wants it to include police, as well. But Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the Attorney General oppose it, saying it infringes freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, a stormy discussion broke out between Arab and Jewish MKs the Knesset Interior committee over plans to expand the crowded Arab Israeli village of Jisr Az-Zarka at the expense of moshav. The beach highway will be slightly diverted onto Beit Hananya lands in order that the seaside Arab village can expand. One Arab MK noted, "On Hwy 6, there is no Arab village that did not have lands appropriated (for the highway construction). It's good you feel what we feel all the time." MK Feiglin responded to the Arab MKs: "This is our land, not yours." Arab MK Zahalka: "You are just a racist."
It may come then as no surprise that the 2012 Index of Arab-Jewish Relations in Israel shows that while Jews are open to change, Arabs perceive themselves as absolute victims and expect Jews to make all the concessions.
On the diplomatic front, Netanyahu there were conflicting reports about which of the Palestinians three negotiation pre-conditions did they agree to drop: Freezing settlement construction, release of pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, negotiating on the basis of the '67 borders. Maariv reported that Chief Palestinian negotiatior Saeb Erekat said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not agree to give up the negotiating starting point: the '67 borders. But other Palestinian sources said that it is possible Abbas did not update Erekat. (NRG Hebrew) Netanyahu said yesterday that Israel's goal is not just to restart peace talks, but to keep them going until significant progress is made, while Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the Israeli public does not expect its elected leaders to deal with peace talks. "I don't understand the logic of working to transfer Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] to our greatest enemy," Bennett said.
Yedioth writes that Kerry is already preparing a three-way summit in Amman ahead of his arrival here tomorrow - not of the leaders, but of their envoys. Alex Fishman writes that if this happens it will be a significant step ahead of the opening of negotiations. Israeli sources expressed their surprise that Kerry is moving forward with the meeting even before the two sides agreed to a guideline of the content of the talks. Meanwhile, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that Palestinians would not recognize Israel, despite the pressure by Israel and the Mideast Quartet, through Israel's blockade, its wars on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian isolation. Haniyeh thanked activists who came to Palestine, describing solidarity visits as a holy duty, and he urged more supporters to come.
- Bat-Ayin settler suspected of stone hurling, tree felling - A 43-year-old man from the Bat-Ayin settlement was arrested Monday for suspected stone hurling and tree felling in April. The allegations refer to the cutting of some 100 trees belonging to Palestinians. (Ynet)
- Israel Police creates unit to fight 'price tag' attacks, but only in West Bank - Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered police to establish centralized unit 18 months ago with goal of creating intelligence database and cracking down on extremist attacks across country - but plan has already gotten off to rocky start. (Haaretz)
- Assailants fire at Israeli bus in West Bank; no casualties - Head of Shomron Regional Council slams lack of adequate response to stone-hurling attacks behind Green Line. (Ynet)
- Israeli military court acquits Palestinian who failed to stop at temporary West Bank checkpoint - WATCH: IDF troops raided Palestinian's home after he refused to halt on way to Ramadan prayer; Judge rules in favor of defendant, saying people tend to get cranky during month-long fast. (Haaretz)
- Protest against the closure order of the Palestinian puppet festival - Dozens of Israeli Jewish actos and intellectuals organized and signed a petition to the Israeli President demanding he cancel Interior Ministry Yitzhak Aharnovich's closure order. The management of the 'Hakawati' (Palestinian National Theater) in E. Jerusalem (where the annual festival takes place) petitioned the High Court with the same demand and actors held a protest at the theater. (Maariv, p. 10)
- Israel ranks as the world's sixth largest arms exporter in 2012 - Israel's weapons sales jumped 74% since 2008, largely thanks to deals with India, according to IHS Jane's; U.S. tops the defense intelligence company's list of arms exporters, with more than $28 billion in defense deals in 2012. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
- Israel in 2035: Older, less Jewish - Israel expected to populate 11.4 million inhabitants by 2035, 73% of whom would be Jewish, according to Central Bureau of Statistics report. Population expected to be older, life expectancy of women to nearly reach 90. (Ynet)
- OECD report: Education system in Israel lags behind other developed countries - Israeli education system doesn't teach teamwork, communication and negotiation skills; curriculum tends to focus on memorizing information. Less investment per student, teachers work less hours, earn lower salaries, and classrooms most crowded. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Fearing time-consuming security checks, Israeli kibbutz firm balks at employing Arabs - Israeli Arabs working for firms that export goods may trigger costly security checks, but kibbutz members, activists, and Israeli Tax Authority in agreement that discrimination in employment is illegal. (Haaretz)
- Supreme Court to hear petition against road that cuts Arab neighborhood in half - Israeli author David Grossman sends letter of support for Beit Safafa residents to President Shimon Peres, calling on him to take a stand. (Haaretz)
- The law that will legalize Mossad activities - Unlike the Shin Bet, which operates in Israel and whose authority applies to all residents, the Mossad operates abroad and and in some cases could violate int'l laws and the sovereignty of countries wher it operates. Mossad wants only to define its authority, goals, how it is supervised, and how it appoints chiefs. A legal source: "We won't go into the details of its operations." (Yedioth, p. 6)
- Defense Ministry fights ouster of pro-IDF Christian Arab leader - Father Jibra'il (Gabriel) Nadaf may be shown the door after endorsing the conscription of Arab Christians. Defense Ministry to hold special meeting and may establish dedicated unit to protect Arab youth who enlist. We must have their backs, Danon says. (Israel Hayom)
- Archaeologists unearth part of ancient Roman road in East Jerusalem - The section of road, one of two that connected Jerusalem to Jaffa, is the best-preserved segment ever found. (Haaretz)
- Jerusalem court releases name of Israeli guard who shot Jewish man at Western Wall - The security guard who killed Doron Ben-Shloosh is Hadi Kablan, a former Border Patrol officer, from the Druze village Beit Jann. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- (Former chief of staff) Ashkenazi: There were no attempts at coup - In latest development in Harpaz affair, former IDF chief accepts partial responsibility for rift with Defense Ministry, yet alleges Ehud Barak's camp should own up to lion's share. (Ynet)
- McDonald's says it won't open branch in Ariel - According to Calcalist report, fast-food franchise cites location beyond the Green Line as the reason. McDonald's Israel: Decision not to operate beyond the Green Line was "always the policy of the franchise." (Israel Hayom)
- Study: Almost half of Belgian, French, Hungarian Jews mull emigration - EU agency: Forty to 50 percent of Jews say they are considering emigrating because they do not feel safe. Jewish think tank: Backlash against Muslim religious practices is harming status of Jewish communities in Europe. (Israel Hayom)
- Move over, Al Jazeera - First of its kind Israeli 24-hour international TV news station about to go live; creators insist it won't be a propaganda machine. (Haaretz)
- J'lem resident convicted of contacting Hezbollah - The indictment indicates that in June 2012 Assam Mashahra traveled to Beirut, where he met with Hezbollah several times. In meetings, one of the organization's computer instructors showed him how to work with encryption software and messaging to keep in touch with them after his return to Israel. (Ynet)
- Palestinian Arab Idol winner receives hero's welcome in Gaza - Thousands of fans greet Mohammed Assaf upon his return to Gaza after winning singing competition in Egypt. (Agencies, Haaretz and Maan)
The Jewish director George Sluizer is accustomed to sparking storms. Like the one that broke out when he claimed he saw Ariel Sharon shoot Palestinians dead. Now, he arrives at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and despite the fact that his story sounds unfounded, he has no intention to unsay it. But at least he is bringing with him the last movie starring River Phoenix, which has never been screened before...It began as a newspaper interview, but surprisingly quickly lost control. In November 2010, the Dutch newspaper "Volkskrant" interviewed the Jewish-Dutch director George Sluizer. He dropped a bomb when he claimed that during the filming of a documentary about a Palestinian family in Lebanon, two months after Sabra and Shatilla, he was witness to a murder (by) Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. "It was in the alleys of Sabra and Shatila, and I stood very close to Sharon. He shot two Palestinian toddlers from a distance of 10 meters with his pistol. He shot them like you shoot rabbits." (Amir Kaminer, Yedioth '24 Hours' supplement)
Netanyahu only talks the talk on peace process (Haaretz Editorial) So long as what he means by 'two states for two peoples' remains vague, Israel will have a diplomatic problem and be unable to break out of its ever-increasing isolation.
Netanyahu is trying to prevent negotiations from even starting (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Netanyahu's two conditions that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and that the negotiations must deal with all the core issues ensure Abbas has no room to maneuver.
Another Abbas trick? (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Israel believes Abbas wants to be able to claim that while he indeed met with Netanyahu, Israel isn't interested in negotiations. Abbas will then turn to the U.N. and seek condemnations of Israel.
American Jews are part of the Israeli-Palestinian problem (Dov Waxman, Haaretz) Despite U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's pleas, there's little chance the American Jewish community will pressure the Israeli government to enter negotiations.
**The President's Conference - And who didn't come? (Sever Plocker, Yedioth) ...What was apparent at the President's Conference this year, particularly on a year that fell on the celebrations for President Shimon Peres' 90th birthday, was the small number of participants from abroad. It was a sparse and marginal conference, where those who starred were actresses and actors beyond the zenith of their careers and former diplomats who make their rich living giving lectures...In 2008 in comparison, 12 heads of state participated in the conference, from US President George Bush to the Presidents of E. Europe, Africa and Mongolia. Germany apologized for only sending its serving foreign minister...It was also apparent the lack of leading intellectuals, with the exception of a few hi-tech people and neuroscientists who tend to come here anyway. It's sad, but true. Barbra Streisand is not a replacement for Nobel Prize winners and the greatest physicist, who decided to boycott the celebrations (Stephen Hawking). Others did not (declare) boycott, they just did not come...Instead of asking how much (the celebrations/conference) cost and who will pay - we need to ask where was everybody? What happened to the political and academic leaders of the world, who avoided coming to the celebrations and the President's Conference of the only Israeli diplomat they really do hold in esteem? One painful answer is that fewer and fewer diplomats are willing to identify publicly with Israel. Identification that is not looked upon nicely in their countries. An official diplomatic visit - yes. A demonstration of friendship - no. This is a 'half-boycott.' Another answer comes from discussions with Jewish intellectuals in the Diaspora: Israel is turning into a far-off province, withdrawn, vexatious and petty. A state that deals with issues that don't interest anyone, stuck in futile arguments and ignoring completely the real dangers awaiting it in the future - even beyond the door...A people who won independence and liberation after 2000 years is in a storm right now over whether to export 40 or 50% of its natural gas reserves from 2030, but G-d forbid, does it touch the question of how the country will look in that year not so far from now. You are a smart people, said an intellectual whose foot also did not step into the President's Conference, why are you dealing with nonsense? The 2013 President's Conference dealt with a lot of such nonsense: It's intellectual star was Robert de Niro. And even if I am exaggerating a little, this event greatly worried me.
How stands the union? (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) The growing rift between Hamas and Islamic Jihad may soon escalate further, but Israeli deterrence achieved in Operation Pillar of Defense still stands strong.
Honoring Kaniuk, a disappointed Zionist (Uri Misgav, Haaretz) Yoram Kaniuk painted a picture of a nation that was born messily and of a Zionism that is confused, improvised, groping.
Turkey: A democracy, despite everything (Asaf Ronel, Haaretz) Turkey has come a long way vis-à-vis democracy under Prime Minister Erdogan; but when it comes to minority rights, the leader still has lessons to learn.
Jacob Frenkel - the Israeli economy's new foreign minister (Eytan Avriel, Haaretz) Israel's new central bank chief is a great schmoozer abroad, though in recent years he hasn't been doing thorough economic research and hasn't been managing major operations.
Netanyahu goes AWOL as Danon takes control (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) Far-right Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon clinches easy victory among Likud party members, to the PM's dismay.
There is no perfect peace - The baby crib in Kiryat Malachi (UK Amb. to Israel Matthew Gould, Yedioth) I have had almost three wonderful years in Israel, but my most vivid memory is not a happy one. It is of a children's bedroom in Kiryat Malachi, which I visited last November during Op Cloud Pillar, just a few hours after it had been hit by a rocket. Three adults were killed. Two children were seriously injured. There was blood on the child's bed. There was a baby's cot next to it. That image will stay with me until the day I die.
When I talk about Israel's need for security, I know what that requirement means to Israelis. Diplomats can sometimes talk about security like it is a subject for seminars and policy papers. But for a country that has been repeatedly bombarded with rockets, and subjected to waves of vicious terrorist attacks, security is not something that can be discussed in the abstract.
With all these threats, we understand why Israelis are nervous about making peace with the Palestinians. Israel has legitimate security concerns about the creation of a Palestinian state. After the experience of leaving Gaza, it is hardly surprising there are concerns that if Israeli forces left the West Bank it might create a safe haven for terrorism and rocket attacks.
Any peace deal will have to address those concerns. Israel must have confidence that when it ends the occupation it will find a peaceful neighbour. It needs to know that a peace deal with the Palestinians will make it more secure, not less.
Many have said that with all the turmoil in the region, this is the worst possible moment for Israel to try to make peace. How can Israel know that if it signs a deal with the Palestinians today, someone else will not take over tomorrow? The honest answer is that there is no guarantee of the future. But I am confident of three points.
First, that if Israel is waiting for a solution guaranteed to last forever, there will never be a peace deal. There would have been no peace deal with Egypt, for example, if there had been a requirement that it hold for eternity. After thirty-five years of peace with Egypt, does anyone really believe that Israel would have been more secure if that peace deal had not been signed?
Second, that if Israel waits for a solution that offers a perfect security, then there will be no peace deal. There is no such thing as perfect security, or any solution that offers absolute guarantees. There are just solutions that offer different degrees and types of risk.
Third, the status quo in the West Bank will not hold without a deal, and the situation will deteriorate. The hopes of the Arab Spring resonate in the Palestinian territories too. It might not be immediate, or fast, but if all hope is lost that a peace deal is possible, the impact on Israel's security will be grave.
Making peace with the Palestinians will be a fantastically difficult task. Everyone involved will need to work hard and imaginatively to find answers to Israel's security concerns. But using those security concerns to rule out even the possibility of making peace, before we have even started, will undermine Israel's long-term security rather than preserve it.
Britain understands and respects Israel's security concerns. We are neither naïve about the region nor blind to the risks. We believe that Israel's security can best be preserved for the long-term by the creation of a Palestinian state to sit alongside Israel.
This is why the UK is giving its full support to Secretary Kerry's leadership on this issue. And why Britain will stand with Israel on the difficult road to peace. Because the cot in the children's room in the Kiryat Malachi apartment was the same cot that I put my daughter to bed in every night, and I want a better future for Israel's children.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.