APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday August 13, 2013
Quote of the day:
"In an ideal world, in a civilized country that does not have a belligerent occupying regime, that has a system of equal justice for all and that has mechanisms of reconciliation and forgiveness, I would oppose the release of prisoners with and without blood on their hands."
--Yedioth's Igal Sarna explains why he supports the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners tonight.**
Front Page News:
- Education Ministry cancelled national 'Meitzav' exams
- 26 Palestinian prisoners to be released tonight in the shadow of crisis in the talks
- Prime Minister's Office recruiting students for an undercover national PR unit
- Because of the low interest rate: Treasury to cut 10% of the pension of those retiring
- For the first time in Iran: The President chose a woman to be his deputy
- Nazi war criminal died two months before his trial opened
- Under cover of darkness - Tonight, in police cars to avoid victory pictures in the Palestinian Authority, Israel will release 26 terrorists with blood on their hands
- Futile move // Alex Fishman
- Just the beginning // Eitan Haber
- Historic move to correct the injustice // Igal Sarna
- Standardized tests frozen
- Next Governor of Bank of Israel Blejer: It was not a dramatic civil lawsuit
- State to compensate the Topaz family - following Yedioth expose that the organs of (deceased actor Dudu Topaz) were kept in Abu Kabir
- Conquering the world - July: All-time-record high number of Israelis leaving to travel abroad
- Ministers changed the Shin Bet's list of prisoners in order to strengthen Abu Mazen (Hebrew)
- Shin Bet questioning the designated deputy ambassador to Washington (Eran Etzion) on suspicion of leaking sensitive information (Hebrew)
- Satisfaction in education establishment over cancelling of (the standardized) exam that harmed the weak students and the motivation of the teachers (Hebrew)
- "I miss Israel and am keeping my fingers crossed for Maccabi" - Three months after he announced he would no longer coach in Tel-Aviv, Oscar Garcia is at the bottom of the second league in England
- A revolution in the race for the Governor of the BoI? - The preferred candidate of Netanyahu's associates: Zvi Eckstein instead of Mario Blejer
- "The wound is opened, the heart stops" - Kerry: Israel's announcement on settlement construction - "Expected move"
- The terrorists - 104 symbols of lepers // Dan Margalit
- Iron Dome intercepted Grad above Eilat
- Good news for students: No 'Meitzav'
- Ramat Aviv? For the left-wing organization it is 'Sheikh Munis'
- Esther Brog, Ehud Barak's mother, passed away at age 100
- Treasury: Cut the future pensions because of the low interest rate
- Beit Shemesh: Ultra-Orthodox rioted at construction site built on graves
Peace Talks Highlights:
As Israel prepares to release Palestinian prisoners late tonight Israeli commentators argue whether it's right or wrong (see Commentary below) and discuss details the prisoners' victims. Maariv writes that the Israeli ministers changed the list of prisoners for the benefit of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas while the Palestinians say that no well-known prisoners are on the list. Maariv also reports that Israel will continue the policy of "prisoners in exchange for (settlement) housing units" - in liaison with the US. Haaretz writes that it is still unclear whether the Palestinians will show up for negotiations tomorrow after the two announcements in three days of expansive settlement construction. Families on both sides of the divide are unhappy. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned the German Foreign Minister that the new EU guidelines will only hurt peace.
Some time after midnight, when the 48 hours since the release of the names of the Palestinian prisoners was published, 12 prisoners will be taken to the Beitunia Crossing, where they will be released to the West Bank. Another convoy with 14 prisoners will depart for the Erez Crossing, who will be released to the Gaza Strip. (Israel Hayom wrote 14 to West Bank and 12 to Gaza.) The late hour is meant to minimize Palestinian celebrations, the Israeli papers write. Yedioth reported that Israel chose to release a larger number of prisoners to Gaza with two goals: minimize Abbas' ability to celebrate and hurt Hamas. By releasing some members of Hamas to Gaza, Hamas will have to hold celebrations and thereby credit Abbas for achieving the release, which he did in order to start peace talks, which Hamas opposes [without their input and veto power -OH].
While 26 Palestinian families will be rejoicing - assuming there are no surprises - the Palestinians said that if Israel would have included a small number of prisoners who became Palestinian symbols, Abbas would have had greater public support for the resumption of peace talks - enough support to combat internal criticism against the return to the negotiation table, Ynet wrote. "Abbas received two blows. On Saturday morning when he found out of the settlement construction bids and at night when he saw the list of prisoners that few even know who they are," a Palestinian source told Ynet.
Yet, Maariv/NRG Hebrew claimed that the choices for release were in order 'to strengthen Abbas.' A 'senior official who is involved in the discussions' told Maariv that the Israeli ministers 'refused some of the (40) names given to them by the Shin Bet' because they wanted to choose people who Abbas would want freed in order to strengthen him. Maariv writes: 'The ministers' outlook had a diplomatic emphasis. Since Abu Mazen delivered the goods from Israel's point of view regarding no pre-conditions like the '67 borders or freezing settlement construction, the ministers decided not to stick to the Shin Bet list and to put in other prisoners." Nevertheless, Maariv noted that the 'really heavy prisoners' were not expected to be released till the fourth round.
Families of the victims say 'terrorists got rewarded,' however, the wife of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti complained that releasing the 104 veteran prisoners in four groups was a big mistake. She was also disappointed that the Palestinian leadership did not raise with the Israelis the release of her husband. Haaretz learned that the Palestinian Authority will try to add Barghouti and jailed PFLP leader Ahmed Sadaat as well as other to future releases during the negotiations.
The Palestinians apparently are still undecided about whether to show up tomorrow for negotiations after the second announcement of 1,200 settlement housing units to be built. Haaretz reported that the dominant view among the Palestinian leadership is that there's no place for resuming negotiations with Israel in light of the continued construction in the settlements. But Abbas is still leaning toward continuing the talks, on the basis of various promises he has received from the United States. Maariv/NRG Hebrew reported that Israel will continue with this policy of settlement construction in exchange for the release of prisoners and the next announcement will be in a couple months time. (Meanwhile, Israel has given a final go for another 890 settlement homes over the Green Line in Jerusalem.)
US Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Palestinians to stick to the process, noting that the Palestinians and the US knew that the Israelis would continue building. But he added: "I think one of the announcements or maybe one of them was outside of that level of expectation, and that's being discussed right now." But the US State Department said it was displeased with the new settlement units bid, and said the US views all of the settlements as illegitimate.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu had harsh words for the German Foreign Minister over the EU's new guidelines for boycotting settlements. Netanyahu said the EU ban undercuts the peace process because it 'hardens the Palestinian positions.' Previous reports have said that it was because of the EU boycott that Abbas agreed to go to talks. The EU's new guidelines bar any of its agencies from funding entities connected to settlements in the W. Bank and E. Jerusalem and settlements in the Golan Heights.
A poll by the Palestinians research institute, Urad, revealed that 46% of residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (note: Maariv refers to the W. Bank as 'the Palestinian Authority') support Abbas' move to renew peace talks with Israel - in exchange for the release of prisoners. Some 25% said they have hope in their hearts that the talks will lead to a peace agreement, 38% said they have little hope that it will achieve an agreement.
- Prime Minister's Office recruiting students to wage online hasbara (propaganda) battles - PMO and national student union to create covert units at universities to engage in diplomacy via social media; unit heads to receive full scholarships. (Haaretz)
- Iron Dome battery successfully intercepts rocket targeting Eilat - Police in Eilat confirm no damage or casualties caused; incident marks first time Iron Dome system intercepts rocket over the southern resort city. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Israeli forces deny former PA minister entry to village - Israeli forces temporarily detained a former Palestinian minister at Bartaa checkpoint west of Jenin as he attempted to enter his village of origin Monday evening, even though he had a special Israeli permit. (Maan)
- PA official: Settlers attack Nablus village - A group of settlers attacked Palestinian homes in Jalud village, south of Nablus, clashing with local residents. The settlers set fire to a hill know as Mount Jalud. (Maan)
- Third Palestinian baby born after sperm smuggled from jail - Salam Nazzal, the wife of Jordanian prisoner Sharif, gave birth to a baby boy on Monday in Nablus, the third case of a baby being conceived using sperm smuggled from jail. (Maan)
- UN summer camp in Nablus and Gaza: Jihad and violence - UNRWA holds summer camps for Palestinian children under the title, "Peace begins here." A video shows counselors calling for violent conquering of Jaffa and Acre (Akko). (Maariv, p. 6/NRG Hebrew)
- Israeli forces arrest journalist from Budrus village - Soldiers detained Mohammad Awad after raiding his home and breaking down the door. Awad has been detained several times by Palestinian Authority security forces over the past year and spent months in jail. (Maan)
- 4 Jordanian prisoners end hunger strike in Israel - Three month strike ends on prisoners' own volition, unconditioned by perks, says Israeli Prison Service. But Jordanian officials claim prisoners' got visitation rights for families. (Ynet and Maan)
- Border Guard officer confesses to stealing phones - Undercover Internal Affairs investigation leads police to arrest Border Guard drill sergeant for stealing iPhones, cash from recruits while they were in the field training. Border Patrol promise: If officer is guilt, he will be dismissed 'effective immediately.' (Ynet)
- Israeli soldiers deny medical help to boy bitten by snake - A young boy bitten by a snake in Nablus on Sunday was refused medical attention by Israeli soldiers manning the Hamra checkpoint, the boy's father said. He asked Israeli soldiers to allow him to pass the checkpoint and call an ambulance, but they refused. He said the soldiers were laughing as they left the area. (Maan)
- Record number of tourists in July - 245,900 tourists visited Israel in July, 2% more than in July 2012 and 4% more than in July 2011. (Globes)
- Post-Morsi Egypt curbs Palestinian visits from Gaza - Recent curbs are 'not a punishment' for Hamas' Islamist leanings, says official, citing escalating fight against Sinai militants. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Egypt postpones dispersing pro-Morsi protest camps - Judge orders ousted president be held for 15 more days pending investigations into charges he conspired with Hamas; Morsi backers call for marches to foil Egypt crackdown. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- JCPA: Iran's new defense minister orchestrated attacks on US, Israeli forces - (Right-wing think tank) Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs reports that Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, slated to be Iran's new defense minister, was responsible for building Hezbollah and was behind the suicide bombing at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Marines. (Israel Hayom)
- Report: Iran President Rohani appoints female deputy - Elham Aminzadeh's position as vice president of legal affairs needs to be approved by legislators; hard liners criticize proposed cabinet makeup. (Agencies, Haaretz)
An Arab Jewish tycoon and Communist: Meet the leader of a provincial Turkish community in Turkey
Harun Jamal, the leader of the tiny Jewish community in Antakya, says he never visited Israel because 'there is no love between its citizens.' (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz)
The new pioneers
After waiting for seven years for permission to build a new community in the Negev, members of the Harel 'gar'in' decided to take matters in their own hands. Overnight, 60 teachers, social workers and hi-tech people established a village on Mt. Eldad, building a solar system and domes and fulfilling the Zionist dream. Except that the Israel Land Authority and the Ramat Negev Regional Council threatens now to evacuate them: "These are illegal squatters." (Uri Bender, Yedioth '24 Hours' supplement)
Documenting a warped and psychotic society in Israel's Wild West
Interview with author Assaf Gavron, whose new book, 'The Hilltop,' engages with the radical fringes of the settler movement in their full, flesh-and-blood glory. (Haaretz)
Israeli social-justice protest leaders seek greener pastures abroad
'It hurts me that soon, I won't have any friends left here,' writes 2011 protest pioneer Daphni Leef. (Haaretz)
Targeted assassination of talks (Haaretz Editorial) The government must immediately stop this double political game and overcome the conditioned reflex by which every time talks come near, it responds with real estate violence.
Pain now for a better future (Ora Pearl-Mintz, Israel Hayom) I am not speaking as a bereaved mother but a mother of children still alive, who looks at her grandchildren and wonders what future awaits them here.
**To correct the injustice (Igal Sarna, Yedioth) In an ideal world, in a civilized country that does not have a belligerent occupying regime, that has a system of equal justice for all and that has mechanisms of reconciliation and forgiveness, I would oppose the release of prisoners with and without blood on their hands. But since we live in the opposite situation of what was described, in which under us a people groans under a violent and continuous occupation, when the military justice system and even the civil one discriminates blatantly between Jews and Arabs - as I have described on my return from Ofer Military Camp, giving examples of 800 cases of Palestinian minors of which only one was acquitted - then I support all releases of prisoners from that side....
Smart on economics, dumb on peace (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz) Economy Minister Naftali Bennett gets it right, mostly, though he can't see that Israel will never reach the American dream as long as we hold onto the West Bank.
Paying the ultimate price, again (Yossi Tzur, Israel Hayom) Every few years, under one pretext or another, the government decides to release murderous terrorists. Each time we try to rehabilitate ourselves and each time the government throws us back into suffering and pain.
Peace based on the '67 borders is the only way (Niva Lanir, Haaretz) What began as a division within the ranks of the left has become a national imperative, accepted by the right-wing core.
The bitter pill (Yossi Ahimeir, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) "Most Israelis are indifferent and are swallowing the bitter pill," and points out, "On the Palestinian side, they understand today more than ever that murder and terrorism pay." The author claims that, "The willingness to release murderers...only encourages the Palestinians to present more and more demands," and concludes, "What is worse than anything is the sense that these gestures will be meaningless. Sooner or later, these negotiations/not negotiations will be broken off, mainly because Israel has already shown at the outset that it does not know how to stand up for its own."
Talks on a tightrope (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) It would have been better if Netanyahu had frozen settlement construction and avoided freeing Palestinian terrorists.
For Israel, size does matter (Moshe Arens, Haaretz) A small truncated Israel will invite aggression - by terrorists, armed forces, and those in possession of nuclear weapons.
Int'l pressure for peace (Ilan Baruch, Ynet) Pressure from US and Europe, together with Arab initiative, may lead to successful talks.
The silent construction freeze is over (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Each year Jerusalem's Jewish population shrinks by about 18,000 inhabitants. This is largely a consequence of the shortage in available dwellings.
An immoral move (Alex Fishman, Yedioth) "This is not an act that will advance the diplomatic process and build confidence between the sides...This is useless, unnecessary and, therefore, immoral...Whoever signed off on the release of the 26 Palestinian prisoners who will be released this week does not really believe in the diplomatic process...This is the political maneuvering of horse dealers who are trading a little construction in the territories for a few prisoners while winking at all possible coalitions...This is a cynical, tactical move designed to achieve one thing: Buy time from, or for, the American administration...so that the Americans will not blame Israel for torpedoing the Kerry initiative at the current stage."
Killing Arabs - not what you thought (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz) A minister boasts of killing Arabs, a leader in the ruling party wants to expel them and a mayor is in favor of cleansing his city of them.
Confessions of a schnauzer (Barney Breen-Portnoy, Israel Hayom) As trendy as it was to vote for Yair Lapid, it's now even trendier to be disappointed in him.
Me, racist? The demon made me do it (Asher Schechter, Haaretz) What's behind the most recent surfacing of the 'ethnic demon'?
Avoid Vietnam syndrome (Merav Betito, Yedioth/Ynet) IDF can share its knowledge with Egyptian army, but must not do its job in eradicating terror.
A demand from the Mizrahim (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz) The Mizrahim have no choice but to fight for equality, without insisting on Ashkenazi acknowledgement of the injustice caused them.
The dilemma that sparked the protest (Asher Schechter, Haaretz) Over the past year, when it finally became clear that the protest was over and it would take years for the change demanded by those young people to come, more and more of them are choosing to leave.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.