APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday December 26, 2012
Quote of the day:
"We're already getting cancellations of conference participation and this is playing straight into the hands of the BDS movement."
-- Prof. Sidra Ezrahi, signatory of petition slamming Tel Aviv University's for its involvement in East Jerusalem archaeological dig. (Haaretz)**
Front Page News:
- Lieberman questioned under caution over the new testimonies
- Foreign Ministry: European Union to try to force diplomatic agreement in region
- Ministry of Finance began to prepare package of budget cuts and tax hikes for after elections
- Subsidized health basket: more preventative medicines, less treatment of sick
- 3 government decisions passed, but the city of Lod still not functioning
- Druze textbooks encourages them to disconnect from Arabness
- Extreme winter in Russia: Minus 60 degrees celsius in Siberia
- Night questioning - Lieberman's evening: From the celebratory launching of the campaign to the investigation room
- Lieberman believes he won't be able to serve as minister: "I will be chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset"
- Not everything is honey with the 'Gashash' [Famous comedian trio] - Because of bad relations: they sold their last joint property - a store in Dizengoff Center for 4.5 million shekels
- "I will fly on Shabbat if there is no choice" - First interview with the religious combat navigator, who will receive her wings tomorrow
- New subsidized health bucket - Pregnancy tests and drugs against cancer in basket; Glucose meters outside basket; One patient got state financing for the most expensive drug - 1.25 million shekels a year
- Roots trip - Students of Ethiopian ethnicity made a moving visit to their former homeland
- Lieberman questioned under caution in affair of appointment of ambassador (Hebrew)
- Academic boycott - Ariel changed the sign at its entrance yesterday in accordance with its new status; University heads refuse to recognize the academic center as a university and petitioned the High Court (Hebrew)
- "State failed to rehabilitate Lod" - State Comptroller report reveals failures of police, Interior Ministry and Lod Municipality over years that perpetuates difficult situation of city and its residents (Hebrew)
- Netanyahu: We will deal with the Iranian problem - Likud-Beiteinu launches its campaign: "There is only one ballot to choose"
- Yesterday: Lieberman questioned under caution over ambassador affair
- Riding high - Graduates of 165th IAF pilots course will wear their wings tomorrow - among the IDF's first religious combat navigator
- We got 120 (and even 130) - Soon: Maximum speed on Hwy 6 to be 130km/h
- From January: 88 new medicines in subsidized health basket
- 101-year-old Rachel Mizrachi's recipe for good life: butter, eggs, meat - and catheterization
- Shaking of twins affair: Father indicted in killing of his son and abuse of his daughter
- State Comptroller Report on local authority: "Crime in Lod rises and management of city fails"
The former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was questioned under warning just hours after launching the Likud-Beiteinu campaign and the State Comptroller slammed authorities for failing the residents of the crime-ridden city of Lod making top stories in today's Israeli papers. Meanwhile, Israel is losing diplomatic strength as Israel avoids a two-state solution, the Palestinians move to join international organizations and the European Union considers 'forcing' a peace agreement. And Israeli university presidents petition the High Court to freeze the recognition of Ariel center as a university.
Lieberman was questioned again by police - this time under warning - over the ambassador affair in which he was charged with fraud and breach of trust over his promotion of Israel's former ambassador to Belarus, Ze'ev Ben Aryeh, to ambassador to Latvia. The investigators focused on only one issue in the appointment process, writes Haaretz: Did Lieberman influence the appointment committee's decision? Police mull attaching moral turpitude clause to the charges. Haaretz writes that Lieberman denied reports of new damning testimonies against him saying 'rumors and quotes' allegedly made by me or my 'associates' are manipulations intended to throw dust in the public's eyes. Lieberman was responding to reports by Channel 10 and Channel 2 on Monday evening that deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had provided police with information that it found helpful in the investigation of Lieberman. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials are irked that three 'Lieberman aides are still running the Foreign Ministry with Netanyahu's approval,' Haaretz reported. His spokesman, office manager and secretary make employees feel "as though Lieberman left his own forward command squad in the office."
Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said Israel must establish a Palestinian state "otherwise we will lose international support," Ynet reported. Reports by Haaretz and Maariv seem to confirm his fears. A Foreign Ministry report states that the EU has become disenchanted with the diplomatic process in its traditional format and that the it may try to force Israel and the PA into an agreement, because it doubts the ability of direct talks leading to a solution. "The feeling in the ministry is that Israel's status has deteriorated badly over the past four years, particularly in the European Union," writes Barak Ravid in Haaretz.The reason, say ministry officials, is the lack of progress in the peace process and Israel's response to the Palestinians' UN bid, particularly the wave of settlement construction. "We think international parameters should be formulated for the end of the conflict. We will no longer agree that the two sides should sit alone in a room and we should say yes to everything they do," a senior European diplomat told Haaretz.
Moreover, as the Palestinians move to join international organizations, Israel's Foreign Ministry fears that it will have difficulty in the diplomatic arena to get other countries to oppose, writes Maariv's Eli Bardenstein. Both the Ministry's legal department and its international organizations department are organizing the effort to prevent the Palestinians' acceptance. The main lever which will likely stop the Palestinian's bids to some of the organizations is the US law that says that the US will end its funding to any international organization that accepts the PLO. US funding is about 22%. Israel is working to make certain that law is not changed, Maariv writes. A number of countries have already informed Palestine that it should not apply to the World Health Organization because the US money is vital. The same goes for the World Patent Organization. Developed countries fear that if the US stops its payments it could cause US companies to cancel their membership. This would harm the remuneration for patents by US companies. Israel particularly fears the Palestinians joining this organization as it would cause immense economic damage, which could affect that US law. The Israeli fear is that the acceptance of Palestine to international organizations will increasingly gnaw at Israel's position ahead of negotiations and that the Palestinians could initiate political resolutions in those organizations in regards to the West Bank and the settlements. So far the Palestinians have only succeeded in joining UNESCO, which recognized the Nativity Church in Bethlehem as a world heritage site. (NRG Hebrew)
**The heads of universities in Israel refuse to accept the decision made Tuesday by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to give the final okay to recognize Ariel Center in the West Bank as a university - Israel's first over the Green Line, Maariv reported. (NRG Hebrew) With the exception of (the religious) Bar-Ilan University, all the university presidents have petitioned the High Court to freeze Ariel's new status, saying that it can't be made on the eve of elections. They also refused to invite the head of the newly recognized university to their forum of university presidents. Hebrew University President, Prof. Menachem Sasson said, "We are endangering the next Nobel Prize."
- Despite international uproar, Israeli planning committee advances new construction plan beyond Green Line - The newly approved plan for 1,000 housing units in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood is among more than 5,000 new settler homes Israel pressed ahead over the past weeks. (Haaretz)
- PM vows to keep building in Jerusalem - Speaking at campaign launch event, Netanyahu pledges to continue supporting Jewish settlements; Lieberman: We want to build in Jerusalem while the Left wants to divide it. (Ynet)
- Arab teen: Attack by ultra-Orthodox was unprovoked - Boy who says he was attacked by haredi men says he was targeted because he is Arab; 'I couldn't believe Jews would do such a thing,' his mom says. (Ynet
- Olmert: We're on verge of 3rd intifada - Former PM says that Palestinian tension and frustration are mounting but stresses opportunity for peace is still viable. (Ynet)
- Rock attacks terrorize West Bank drivers - Surge in violent incidents on West Bank highways prompt residents to liken their daily drive to 'game of roulette.' (Ynet
- Petition slams Tel Aviv University's involvement in East Jerusalem dig - Over 80 academics call on university administration to withdraw its participation in archaeological excavations in the City of David national park, operated by the pro-settlement NGO, Elad. The petition's organizers expressed their concern that the dig would strengthen those who support a boycott against Israeli academics. (Haaretz)
- The lecturer screened the film 'Jenin, Jenin,' and an orphan from a terror attack left furious - Dr. Michal Haham of Beit Berl College showed the controversial film in a course dealing with collective memory of the two peoples. Student Iris Almog who lost her family at the explosion at Maksim restaurant in Haifa broke out crying: "What about the victims?" College: Screening of film does not mean ideological identification of any type. (Maariv, p. 10/NRG Hebrew)
- Shin bet nabs West Bank terror cell - Security services expose Ramallah group planning to abduct Israelis for bargaining purposes. (Ynet
- Haifa's Festival of Festivals - For four weekends a year in the month of December, the northern city of Haifa throws a party for all the major monotheistic faiths, and the result is a rare example of holiday cheer, lights and brotherhood. (Haaretz)
- Netanyahu to Jewish Agency: Find solution for non-Orthodox women at Western Wall - Last week, Israeli police detained women from a liberal Jewish group who approached the holy site in Jerusalem carrying prayer shawls. (Haaretz)
- Vizhnitz Rebbe: Don't report for IDF draft - Head of one of largest Hasidic sects calls on students not to show up at army induction centers upon receiving initial draft notice. (Ynet)
- Anonymous Israeli blogger Eishton offers a deal to the IDF - The anonymous blogger, who is under investigation, says he is willing to confess to suspicions against him if the Defense Ministry would publish - within 24 hours - all information regarding the deaths of 126 IDF soldiers who died last year. (Haaretz)
- African refugees not just Israel's problem, say scholars - Two prominent Holocaust historians are rallying support for a petition calling on the international community to help Israel deal with the African refugee crisis. (Haaretz)
- Treasury: Real estate bubble still here - Number of transactions in Israeli housing market increased by 9% in third quarter of 2012, Finance Ministry report reveals. (Ynet)
- At Midnight Mass, top cleric congratulates Abbas on UN bid - Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal gives sermon at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and praises Palestinian President for being 'at the forefront of those who worked and continue to work for nonviolence, peace and justice.' (Haaretz)
- Bethlehem mayor seeks to boost economy - West Bank city's first female mayor, Vera Baboun, hopes to deliver 'true change' to major tourist destination. (Ynet)
- White House rethinks Hagel nomination for defense secretary - Following widespread criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, Obama administration official tells National Journal it is "fair" to say Obama is weighing candidates other than Hagel for defense secretary. If chosen, candidate Michèle Flournoy would be first female defense secretary. (Israel Hayom)
- Lost Jewish tombstones found in Greece - Fragments from Jewish graves destroyed during WWII Nazi occupation recovered in Thessaloniki. (Agencies, Ynet)
- 5% of Israeli degree holders live abroad for three or more years - Israelis with science and engineering degrees most likely to live abroad. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz: I think we'll start to see a decrease in the number of Israeli academic degree holders living abroad in the coming years. (Israel Hayom)
- Egypt Islamist-drafted constitution approved with 63.8 percent - Final turnout was 32.9 percent, says election committee; opposition claims charter fails to guarantee personal freedom and the rights of women and minorities. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Report: Former Syria FM spokesman in U.S., cooperating with intelligence - The Guardian reports that Jihad Makdissi, who was the public face of the Assad regime's 20-month-old battle with rebels, fled to Washington with the aid of U.S. officials. (Haaretz)
- Syria's military police chief defects, calls army 'gangs' - Major General says Syrian army no longer acting in the best interest of the people, adds other high-ranking officers would follow suit but it was not 'suitable'. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iran to conduct navy drill in Strait of Hormuz - Six-day 'Velayat 91' drill to test navy's missile systems, combat ships, submarines and patrol and reconnaissance method. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Iran says defeats cyber-attack on industrial sites - Officials from the Iranian body tasked with fighting cyber-attacks say computer virus that penetrated several sites in the south of the country was neutralized. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Meretz presents four-year path to peace based on Arab League initiative - Party would cancel the Oslo Accords in agreement with the Palestinians, and replace them with a new interim pact. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- Election committee once again disqualifies election campaign of Otzma L'yisrael - Judge Rubinstein ruled that the slogan "Without obligations there are no rights" written in Arabic is racist, because it is clearly directed at the Arab sector. The party petitioned the committee, saying the judge did not have jurisdiction over buses. The committee agreed with the judge. [Yesterday, I saw a banner with the slogan written in Hebrew hanging from an balcony on Jaffa's main street. -OH] (NRG Hebrew)
- Habayit Hayehudi leader: Israel cannot recognize same-sex marriage - A group of gay Orthodox men, Havruta, asked for a meeting with Bennett, but was turned down with the explanation 'there are more important issues.' (Haaretz)
- Naftali Bennett beat the Likud - and they will pay him compensation - Chairman of the elections comittee, Judge Eliyakim Rubinstein, ruled that Likud-Beiteinu, Haaretz, Maariv, and Israel Hayom will each pay Bennett's party, Habayit Hayehudi, 1000 shekels for publishing ads without writing who paid for them. The ads read: Bennett is irresponsible - he supports refusing orders." (Yedioth, p. 6)
- At Likud Beiteinu gala, no charges, budget cuts or two-state solutions - 'When Netanyahu speaks, the world listens,' was one of the slogans at the end of a clip summarizing Netanyahu's achievements abroad. (Haaretz)
- Shas vs. Likud: "Wake up Sepharadim" - Shas' campaign has taken shape: removing the ethnic genie from the bottle. In the wake of the 'Ashekenazi' leadership of Likud-Beiteinu, Shas raises a campaign calling for voters of Sephardi origin [loosely meaning Jews from Arab countries - OH] to vote for them. (Yedioth, p. 8)
The NRA is America's curse. And the settlements are Israel's NRA (Bradley Burston, Haaretz) The NRA and the settlements movements divide us as few movements can. Both have come to believe that they should in no way be curbed. Both have come to believe that they cannot be stopped.
Likud's manifesto isn't worth the paper it wasn't written on (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) As Israel is ruled by coalitions, party manifestos often become irrelevant when governments are formed. Struggling to reconcile his official support for a two-state solution with his party's growing rightward tendency, Netanyahu may opt for not drafting one altogether.
Living in sin (Dror Zarasky, Maariv) In a reality where almost every party has a convicted criminal, it is not baseless to expect Avraham Hirschson in the 20th Knesset. The truth is that I have nothing against politicians and their styles. The blame is ours. The riddle is ours. How did we turn into a public for whom clean hands is not important? When was the moment when we all crossed the Rubicon en route to wealth? Why hasn't the National Ornamentation Committee informed us that the new status symbol is a conviction or at least an indictment? How did we decide that theft, breach of trust, perjury, indecent acts without consent, bribery and fraud - that all of these are akin to the childhood prank of swiping chocolate milk from the local grocery store? What can we expect from them when we don't care if those who represent us have been warming courtroom benches?"
A harsh blow to academia (Haaretz Editorial) Ehud Barak's directive to declare Ariel University Center a full-fledged university was politically motivated, not professional, and certainly not good for the country.
University in Ariel - The politicians won (Zeev Tzachor, Yedioth) ...It's doubtful that graduates of Ariel will be proud that they studied in the only university in the world in which the university status was given by a general in the military and in opposition to the decision by the Council for Higher Education
The construction bluff (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) One should doubt Netanyahu's declarations on constructing apartments in E-1, that they will disappear after elections, like his declarations on strengthening the communities in Judea and Samaria....
Criticism in Likud Beiteinu: Every week we lose a mandate (Shalom Yerushalmi, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Does Netanyahu need to worry? In the party they complain on the drop in polls and the campaign against Naftali Bennett and in the meantime, the Likudniks are waiting for Lieberman. Despite the calls of 'Heide Bibi,' the real star at the Likud-Beiteinu convention last night was the foreign minister who resigned and acted like it was business as usual.
The case for Meretz (Ronit Matalon, Haaretz) Israel's historic left-wing party has been accused of lacking passion, but what else do you call its lonely and tireless defense of democracy?
Yacimovich makes peace... with the settlers (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) The frustration with Yacimovich is not about her unwillingness to take a leftist stance on the peace process. Rather, it is because this party will be unable to faithfully represent those who oppose the policies the next Netanyahu government will follow regarding the peace process.
Netanyahu's coalition calculus (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Barring unforeseen circumstances, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud-Yisrael Beytenu bloc will capture the most seats in the Jan. 22 Knesset elections and be given the chance to form a new Israeli government. But winning the election is the easy part for Netanyahu. The tough part will be forming and managing his new coalition government (and dealing with the challenges that the world will throw at him).
Israel is a country in search of an ideology (Avi Shilon, Haaretz) Naftali Bennett has merged the high-tech world with the knitted kippa, and closer to the center, journalist Yoaz Hendel is pondering the option of a national liberal movement. But the people want more.
Why does PM fear disobedience? (Elyakim Haetzni, Yedioth/Ynet) Uprooting of Arabs viewed in Israel as abomination, while expelling Jews has become the norm.
They can't handle the truth: Why Israel can't get over its ongoing leadership crisis (Lev Grinberg, Haaretz) Today's candidates are sweeping the major issues under the rug and avoiding giving answers. A candidate who dared say something meaningful could rake in a lot of votes.
Morsi's Aladdin's lamp (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Egyptians have approved a new constitution, but growing criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood points to dissatisfaction that jeopardizes the regime.
4.5 Prime Ministers - Only Likud will return them (Eitan Haber, Yedioth) "Likud Prime Ministers, more than Labor Prime Ministers, never kept their promises to the public nor their threats towards the Palestinians and the Arab countries. In actuality, they led to the largest and most expansive compromises till today...In effect, the territories have been annexed, resettled and are under the complete sovereignty of the State of Israel. Legally, they are in a kind of limbo, neither here nor there, in a prolonged temporary situation that allows both sides to cling to their slogans. The Left does not explain who is its partner that will supply the goods and how we would deal with the risks. It suffices with describing the end of the process (two states). The Right does not explain what we would do with the masses of Palestinians living - in effect - as aliens without rights under our rule and what would be the international ramifications of annexing the territories. The annexation is not declared, therefore, because an open declaration would entail a crisis."
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.