APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday August 28, 2013
Quote of the day:
"They are talking about everything without a framework or plan to deal with the issues. In actuality, this means they aren't speaking about anything."
--Noam Sheizaf writes a sharply worded Op-Ed in Maariv on the report that Israel only wants an interim agreement with the Palestinians. **
Front Page News:
- US: Prepared for immediate attack in Syria
- Residents of Damascus in testimony to Haaretz: "Save us" (Hebrew)
- An attack is a matter of days // Amos Harel
- The dream coalition // Zvi Bar'el
- One-time shooting or an ongoing operation: all the possible attack scenarios // Anshel Pfeffer
- Court administration requests acting against internet sites that attack judges (Hebrew)
- Tunnel instead of a highway - State refuses solution that will make it easier for Beit Safafa
- Suspicions in the Civil Administration - Senior official claims an inspector took bribes, the director covered up
- Study: Coral in Eilat coral reef resistant to global warming
- The countdown - US: Military ready for immediate attack on Syria; Plan: Bombing facilities, but not Assad; Israel: If Assad will try to attack us - we will respond with force
- Obama's choice // Nahum Barnea
- Without stressing // Alex Fishman
- China opened hundreds of rehab centers for youth who became addicted to the internet
- Senior official in Syria: "If Damascus is attacked, Tel-Aviv will be harmed"; Netanyahu: "We will respond with great force" (Hebrew)
- There are no more easy wars // Dr. Oded Eran
- Economic price of the tension in Syria: (Israel's) stock market dropped 2%, gasoline to rise 20 agorot a liter (Globes English)
- Home front exposed: 40% of Israelis to remain without gas masks, and one third will have no protection at all during an emergency
- Following a lengthy struggle by the families of the murdered, German government to establish museum to memorialize the victims of the massacre at the Munich Olympics (Hebrew)
- The campaign to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel has ended: 450 new immigrants to land today in Israel (Hebrew)
- Why were dozens of Border Police called late at night to a coffee shop of social justice activists? The activists believe it was a 'price-tag' attack by the police (Hebrew)
- The countdown - Netanyahu in aggressive message to Assad: "If we identify an attempt to hurt us, we will respond - and we will respond with great force"
- Stock markets dropped, oil jumped
- Assad should listen // Dan Margalit
- Between a signal and a punishment // Yoav Limor
- Don't fear Assad // Boaz Bismouth
- Senior Foreign Ministry official (Eran Etzion, appointed to be deputy ambassador to US) questioned by Shin Bet on suspicion of leaking information
- Facebook to compensate 614,000 customers whose details were revealed in ads
- 'Big Brother' reality show: Tahunia won the million
Peace Talks Highlights:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu wants an interim agreement with the Palestinians, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid forbids Yesh Atid MKs from attending a pre-Rosh Hashana toast hosted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin tells the Norwegian Foreign Minister that if the Palestinians aren't following the Oslo Accords then why would they follow any future accords.
Four years after his famous first speech at Bar-Ilan University, where he said as head of Likud that he supported the creation of a Palestinian state, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to return to Bar-Ilan University to announce his goal for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians [sounds like what Hamas has offered - OH] that won't include withdrawing from W. Bank land or dividing Jerusalem, writes Maariv/NRG Hebrew reporter Ariel Kahane. The Prime Minister's Office denies the claims. The speech, whose official title is "Face of the Jewish State in 2020,"is planned for October 8th, shortly after Netanyahu returns from the UN General Assembly. NRG writes that the speech will not be one of his regular monthly speeches, but one that Netanyahu gives great importance to and whose content will have a significant affect on the policy for the coming years in regards to the Palestinian issue. The Prime Minister's Office refused to confirm the report and only said that Netanyahu will be participating in a conference at the university. (NRG Hebrew)
Lapid told fellow Yesh Atid members they cannot attend a pre-Rosh Hashana toast hosted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas next week, The Jerusalem Post and NRG Hebrew reported. Lapid claimed it would weaken Israel's side in ongoing negotiations with the Palestinians, because it could undercut Israel's position. The event is being organized by Labor MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Knesset Caucus on Ending the Israeli-Arab Conflict. More than 30 MKs who are part of the caucus were expected to travel to Ramallah before Yesh Atid announced the boycott. Bar accused Yesh Atid of "shaking with fear from the right-wing" coalition partners. (NRG Hebrew)
Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide was in Jerusalem on Monday met with Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin, President Shimon Peres, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk, then travelled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Israel Hayom and NRG Hebrew reported only on the meeting between Eide and Elkin. Elkin complained that Palestinians were being allowed to continue to take unilateral steps despite the Oslo Agreements forbidding it and that this was a worrying harbinger for future agreements [although the same goes for Israel - OH]. They also discussed the possibility of Israel renewing its cooperation with the UN Human Rights, if the Commission 'changed its approach to Israel.' (NRG Hebrew)
Israeli and Syrian leaders have been exchanging threats, while Israel prepares for the possible repercussions on Israel's home front of a US attack on Syria, and the stock market and shekel already feel the affects.
Netanyahu said Israel will respond forcefully if Syria attacks Israel and that Israel is prepared for any scenario. Netanyahu convened the members of the political-security cabinet for a special meeting on Syria on Tuesday morning, but canceled it for an unknown reason and held a smaller consultation instead. A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the main conclusion from the meeting was that Israel "should maintain a low profile" and not get dragged into the events in Syria, which is what all the papers wrote. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that whoever tests Israel will be confronted with the might of the IDF.
At the same time, a top Syrian official said Tel Aviv would be hit if Damascus were attacked and the regime accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of lying when he said there was proof of regime use of chemical weapons, while Iran warned of 'perilous consequences' for the region, if an attack were made. But the Arab League blamed the Syrian government for last week's alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus that killed hundreds, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Israel has been preparing the home front for a possible Syrian attack, but Maariv reports that Israel cannot defend its citizens from a massive chemical attack (Hebrew). Patriot anti-missile batteries in Haifa were put on alert, the IDF announced a major drill in the Golan Heights and Education Minister Shay Piron said the school system was ready for any deterioration of security situation. Yet, while Israelis are flooding gas masks distribution points, Maariv reports that some 40% of Israelis don't have gas masks and there is a serious lack of masks for people with beards. Moreover, the shekel loses more ground as Syria tension mounts, reports Globes.
- Jihadists: Rockets indicate resumption of activity against Jews - Lebanese-based Azzam Abdullah Brigades officially claims responsibility for rocket attack on north Israel last week, says more attacks against 'Jewish conquerors' coming. (Ynet)
- They hate Israel, but they hate Hezbollah more - Abdullah Azzam Brigades took responsibility for rocket fire at Israel on Thursday, but also defies Hezbollah for backing Syrian regime. Al-Qaeda affiliated group also linked to rocket launches at Eilat. (Ynet)
- Jerusalem: Tires of 6 cars (of Arabs) punctured, 'price tag' sprayed - Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa scene of latest nationalistic vandalism, investigation ongoing. (YnetPHOTOS)
- UNRWA condemns killing of staff member in Qalandia - "Credible reports say that he was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest," said the UNRWA statement about the 34-year-old father of four who was killed during an IDF raid on Qalandiya refugee camp. Another UNRWA employee was shot in the leg. (Maan)
- Foreign Ministry against UNRWA: "Rushed to quote" - Israel's Foreign Ministry published a harsh statement against the UNRWA organization of the UN for stataing that one of its workers was killed Tuesday in the clashes in Qalandiya "on his way to work, without being involved in the violence." (Israel Hayom, p. 29)
- Hackers hijack Google Palestine site with anti-Israel message - Google says servers not hacked, instead Web users redirected to site that reminds 'Uncle Google' that the country shown on Google Maps is Palestine, not Israel. (Haaretz and Maan)
- Because of budget cuts: Israel Air Force parts from veteran squadron - The decision to close the squadron was made a few weeks ago. Yesterday the IAF held a parting ceremony inviting all the previous squadron commanders. (Israel Hayom, p. 29)
- Prison labor used on defense and Shin Bet projects - Prison Service earns some NIS 40 million annually from carpentry and metal work done by prisoners. (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu resurrects government's student public advocacy unit - The government would like to harness the skills of Israeli students to the make the case for Israel using social media. Israelis, who must have a command of a second language, would be part of an effort similar to the one Netanyahu ran as a diplomat. (Israel Hayom)
- Police investigate bribery accusation by Civil Administration inspector against colleague - Claimant alleges that no action was taken when he alerted superiors to his suspicions two years ago. (Haaretz)
- Zoabi to contest the Nazareth mayoralty race - The city is considered a Hadash stronghold, but Zoabi's Balad party is counting on uniting the opposition in a run-off. (Haaretz)
- Ahead of Israel show, Tom Jones gets the BDS treatment - After Alicia Keys, It's Jones's turn: Welsh singer scheduled to play in Israel at center of boycott campaign aimed at persuading him to cancel visit. (Haaretz)
- Haredi school is driving Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter architect to move out - After living in Jerusalem's Old City for 42 years, Moshe Safdie petitions municipality to remove illegal institution next door to his apartment. (Haaretz)
- Israeli designer creates 'bomb-proof' backpack for kids - The backpack, which costs around £300 (1,683 shekels), should fully protect the brain, heart, liver and kidneys from impact of an explosion, with 19-layer Kevlar fabric at its core. Hila Raam: "I hope one day that my invention will be irrelevant." (Israel Hayom)
- Israel and China agreement takes direct flights to new heights - Under new deal, Israel and China can operate 14 regular weekly flights and seven cargo flights between the two countries. Until now, El Al has operated just three weekly flights from Tel Aviv to Beijing, while Air China does not operate any. (Israel Hayom)
Revealed: In 1950s Mossad spies married Arabs to conceal identity
Mossad's Ulysses Project's secret operatives took on false identities, married Palestinians, had children - all while feeding intelligence to Israeli operators. (By Ronen Bergman in Yedioth/Ynet)
Raid in Qalandiyah is a raid on the negotiations (Haaretz Editorial) If Prime Minister Netanyahu is serious about negotiations, he will prevent the army from undertaking actions which jeopardize the talks.
**Netanyahu won (Noam Sheizaf, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) A month has not gone by since the talks began and it was reported this week that Netanyahu wants an interim agreement. The Palestinians will get a little less than what they have now, and only at an unknown time in the future will talks for a final status agreement begin. The feeling of deja vu is justified: Whoever made a career from opposing the Oslo Accords is now presenting a failed part two of the film with third-rate actors and decor made from carton. Instead of Rabin, we have the Bibi-Lapid duo, pathological ratings readers, who have elitist world values. Instead of Arafat, who represented the whole of the Palestinian people, we have Abu Mazen, who barely holds together a puppet regime in Ramallah. Only the American mediators are more or less the same people, much more cynical and older. In one thing we must admit: Netanyahu defeated the Americans (who will pay the price for that is another question). After three years of insistence, the Obama administration gave in and agreed to abandon the agreements regarding the previous rounds of talks, from Taba to Annapolis. According to the demands of the Israeli Prime Minister, they aren't beginning (the talks) with the '67 borders and not with the division of Jerusalem, not freezing settlement construction and not evacuating outposts. They are talking about everything without a framework or plan to deal with the issues. In actuality, this means they aren't speaking about anything...In the present situation, the worst thing the talks can do is lead to an agreement, either interim or final status. Because the maximum Netanyahu is able to give does not come close to the minimum that any sane Palestinian can live with. The problem, of course, is not Netanyahu - the Israeli public at large prefers the status quo over taking chances and paying prices involved in ending the occupation. In light of the gaps, the only path to get to a signing ceremony at the White House will be to cut corners and force the Palestinian Authority to sign documents they can't or are not interested in implementing (see Oslo B.) Gaza will remain outside, and so the refugees, which means that most of the Palestinian people will oppose the agreement. The only regime that can stand in the West Bank is a small military dictatorship, Egyptian-style, which depends on the cash funnel from abroad and the oppression of the opposition at home. It is hard to prophecy the future, but in this situation the nightmare scenarios like a coup in the PA and rockets on Tel-Aviv are much more likely than the peace."
Time for a targeted killing in Syria (Reuven Merhav, Haaretz) A strategic U.S. strike to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad is not just justifiable, it is also essential.
Western coalition to attack Syria (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Kerry's statement was unequivocal. There are two possible courses of action: Striking chemical weapons reserves or attacking Syrian army, regime establishments. How will Assad act against Israel, what will Russia do?
Israel, the convenient puppet master (Khaled Diab, Haaretz) Why do so many politicians - from Turkey's Erdogan to Morsi supporters and even anti-Muslim Brotherhood activists - see Israel as the Egyptian crisis' prime conspirator, even though it's a minor player there?
Jewish and then democratic (Roni Schocken, Haaretz) The appointment of Prof. Ruth Gavison to oversee Israel's Jewish element becoming more important than its democratic nature is a classic Tzipi Livni move.
Peace vs. UNRWA (Asaf Romirowsky, Ynet) UN agency's anomalous treatment of Palestinian refugees prolongs Mideast conflict.
Obama's Syria options: From a symbolic strike to wiping out Assad's air force (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) The Americans are most likely deliberating not whether to attack Assad but what kind of blow to deal the tyrant.
Turning Israeli leaders into mush: Lapid's blender politics (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Yesh Atid has taken good people and blended them into a voiceless replica of their leader - wasting their potential and depriving us of leadership.
Gas masks are not the issue (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) Israel is not merely getting caught in the crossfire; it is a prime target.
Harbingers of an imminent U.S. strike in Syria are fast accumulating (Amos Harel, Haaretz) There is no way to know, however, if Assad will turn his loose cannon on Israel, and if intervention will be a watershed moment in the civil war.
Old school rules (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) We need to create a norm where yerida (emigration from Israel) is looked down upon, morally and ethically.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.