APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 19, 2013
Quote of the day:
"But let us not delude ourselves. Those who may read it--and I would advise everyone to read it--are not going to conclude that what is needed is more discussion. They are going to conclude that Israel's settlement policy is a disaster."
-- Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie on the Israel advocacy 'David Project's' primer on Israeli settlements.**
Front Page News:
- Police investigating letter against Minister Gideon Saar
- [Central photo: Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett flanked by ultra-Orthodox rabbis]
- Netanyahu's self-inflicted coalition wounds // Yossi Verter
- Guide to coalition spins
- (Shas Minister) Nahari takes care of his relatives
- Leaked details on operation in Italy - The reporter who exposed Zygier: He revealed information on the Mossad
- Last chance: (Holocaust) Claims Conference looking for heirs to 250 million shekels
- Lots of motivation, little training: Police volunteers; Chief of Police's car hit bicyclist, his driver was dismissed following the publication
- Thank you to the Castro brothers: Chavez returned to Venezuela from hospital
- Beersheva turning into capital of shopping malls, at the expense of the small businesses
- Harrassment or frame up? - AG Weinstein gave orders: Police to examine whether to investigate the "Saar letter"
- The Ministry employee who allegedly wrote the letter : "The letter is fake, I didn't write it"
- "What happened to our son?" The family of Ben Zygier, the Mossad agent who committed suicide, breaks its silence
- The songs (of Shmulik Krauss) will remain forever // Yankaleh Rotblitt
- Investigation against three IDF colonels - Two suspected of lying about staying in a hotel, the third suspected of sexually harassing a female officer
- The price is surfing down - Internet service providers are lowering prices and upgrading free
- The hottest line - Who calls the Tax Authority informer hotline?
- With a sheet tied to the bars of the bathroom - Prison Authority investigation discovered how easily Ben Zygier, the most guarded prisoner in Israel, committed suicide (Hebrew)
- Saar affair: Exploitation of his position of authority or political assassination attempt? (Hebrew)
- Agreement between Netanyahu and Livni on verge of being made: Hatnua to receive the Justice Ministry and responsibility for running the diplomatic negotiations (with the Palestinians) (Hebrew)
- After 45 years, following the fighting in Syria: Silence at the 'Shouting Hill' in Majdal Shams
- The connections continue - for the first time since the Marmara crisis: weapons deal between Israel and Turkey
- Following the horse meat scandal: Brits are eating kosher meat
- Police checking if the letter against Saar was fake
- "Zygier gave Australia details on a Mossad operation in Italy"
- Livni on the way to the Justice Ministry, it appears
- Rejoicing - Purim is arriving this weekend and (costume and food) preparations are at a high
- Suspicion in Beitar Illit: "Modesty patrol" attacked youth; Mayor interrogated
An employee's letter raises questions about a minister and about those who want him ousted and reports on the Ben Zygier Prisoner X affair purport to answer more questions making top stories in today's Israeli papers. Meanwhile, Zygier's family breaks its silence and Israel accuses Germany of withholding Holocaust reparations because of settlements.
The question whether a letter purportedly written by a former employee about an affair she had with Education Minister Gideon Saar was real or whether it was a fake that will expose other Likud ministers' attempts to prevent Saar from continuing in his position has brought the Attorney General to call for a probe into the affair. Meanwhile, the woman who supposedly wrote the letter says it was a fake.
Maariv reports that Ben Zygier, the Australian-Israeli Mossad agent who was secretly imprisoned and committed suicide in an Israeli jail in what is known as the Prisoner X affair, hung himself with a sheet from the bars in the bathroom window. (NRG Hebrew) The information comes from a report by the Prison Authority. The report said he woke up from his sleep on the 15th of December, received his breakfast, removed the sheet from his bed, entered the bathroom where there are no surveillance cameras and hung himself. "Because of the fact that he was not defined as suicidal the prison guards did not make the checks every few minutes but checked every 20 to 25 minutes, while watching from the security cameras," Maariv's Avi Ashekenazi writes.
The Australian journalist who exposed the Prisoner X affair, reported Monday that Mossad agents arrested Prisoner X upon his return from Australia due to concerns he may have shared sensitive information with agents from the Australian security services, the ASIO, about Mossad operations in Italy. Zygier's family has finally broken its silence. "We demand that Israel tell us exactly what happened to Ben," a family member told Yedioth Ahronoth's Daniel Edelson. "We are anxiously waiting for the report of the Israeli inquiry commission to be published." Haaretz reports from Australia on anti-Israel rhetoric that has drowned out speculation over Zygier affair. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the head of the Mossad Tamir Pardo and the head of Military Censor both supported the three MKs who raised the issue in the Knesset despite the gag order, the Knesset Legal Advisor Eyal Inon published his view that MKs do not automatically enjoy immunity for everything they say in the Knesset plenum, particularly if they know they are making a violation, the papers reported. Haaretz reports that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is at odds with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz over the decision to keep the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee completely in the dark about the Prisoner X affair. Netanyahu and ministers Benny Begin and Moshe Ya'alon supported the decision.
Germany is delaying holding urgent meetings regarding the payments for compensating Jewish Holocaust survivors, Israel claims. Yedioth quoted unnamed government sources who said that since 2013, a high-ranking offiical in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office refuses to hold meetings to finalize the retroactive pension payments to some 13,000 former Ghetto workers until Israel freezes settlement construction.
Following the Facebook initiative, do you also want Obama to speak at Rabin's Square? (Yedioth poll by cellular phone text messages)
Yes - 93%
No - 7%
- Palestinians to ask that Obama personally kickstart peace process - Palestinian Authority representative says he will tell Washington that Palestinians have no preconditions to returning to the negotiating table, want U.S. recognition of Palestinian state. (Haaretz)
- Palestinian Authority official: Israel continues to withhold tax revenue - Israel is still withholding Palestinian tax revenue breaching the 2004 Paris agreement, said PA Finance Ministry Spokesman Rami Mahdawi. "[This] confirms that Israel is going on with its piracy on Palestinian money." (Maan)
- Netanyahu: Like North Korean example, sanctions won't stop Iran - Speaking Monday at the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the first challenge for his government is dealing with the threat from Iran. "The historic desire to eradicate the Jewish people has come back with full force." (Israel Hayom)
- Report: Egyptian security delegation to visit Israel - Security official tells Palestinian news agency Cairo will demand that Jewish state allow commercial goods into Gaza; says Morsi already held indirect talks with Israel. (Ynet)
- Palestinians demanding prisoners' release riot in West Bank - Palestinians across West Bank protest Monday for prisoners held in Israel, clash with IDF, demand release of four detainees on hunger strike. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Hundreds of prisoners launch solidarity hunger strike - Around 800 prisoners in Israeli jails launched a one day hunger strike on Tuesday to show solidarity with long-term hunger strikers, a prisoner group said. (Maan)
- Palestinian prisoner in isolation struggles to recall language - Held in solitary confinement for two years, Dirar Abu Sisi exhibits health, speech problems, his lawyer says; prisoner says he is given rotten food. (Agencies, Ynet)
- 'Israeli security forces blindly cooperate with Palestinian Authority' - Former top Military Intelligence officer lashes out at ex-Shin Bet Chief Ayalon during testimony in terror case. 'I suggest not relying on Ayalon in regards to Palestinians,' he says. (Yedioth/Ynet)
- Outcry over Israel soldier's photo of boy in cross-hairs - "Every Palestinian mother is concerned for her child ... because of the picture that is now known and seen worldwide," said PA spokeswoman Nour Odeh on Tuesday. (Maan)
- Public security minister admits police follow activists on Facebook - Yizhak Aharonvitch defended the practice in response to questions by Labor MKs Stav Shaffir and Merav Michaeli about the tactics police use against social justice protestors. (Haaretz)
- Polish tennis player Radwanska still seethes over Israel row - Polish tennis player alleges that 'unfair' and irresponsible behavior took place at Fed Cup, possibly referring to political demonstrations from Israeli crowd in Eilat. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Netanyahu thanks pope for deepening Christian-Jewish ties - Honduran possible successor to Benedict XVI accused of expressing anti-Semitic views. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Israel issues order to seize 120 dunams of Yatta land - Coordinator of the popular committee against settlements in Yatta said Israeli authorities want to seize Hussein Ahmad Hamamdeh's land on the pretext that it is located near an Israeli settlement outpost, Mitzpe Yair. (Maan)
- Israeli forces occupy home in Jenin village - Israeli forces seized a Palestinian apartment building in Jenin village Yabad on Friday, the third such incident of its kind in the last month, said the home-owner. (Maan)
- Israeli art scene honored in Rome - Twenty-four Israeli artists star in new exhibition in Italian capital which has received medal of honor from President Giorgio Napolitano. (Ynet)
- Lapid calls Pollard, vows to campaign for his freedom - Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid spoke by phone yesterday with Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for having spied on America on Israel's behalf. (Haaretz)
- Police suspect 'modesty squad' terrorized Beitar Illit - Two ultra-Orthodox men harass city's female residents for what they claim is unchaste behavior. (Ynet)
- Holocaust commemorated in Istanbul - Ceremony at Ortaköy Etz Ahayim Synagogue attended by Jewish community members, Holocaust survivors, chief rabbi, Turkish government officials, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew and local citizens. (YnetVIDEO)
- Paul Krugman doesn't think Fischer has edge to be picked to head the U.S. Federal Reserve - In a recent column, Washington Post blogger Dylan Matthews proposed Fischer as a possible successor to Ben Bernanke; Fischer is retiring from his job in Jerusalem at the end of June. (Haaretz)
- Morsi Aide: Egypt flooded tunnels to cut Gaza arms flow - 'We don't want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security.' National security adviser to Morsi says, adding that president will respect peace treaty with Israel. (Agencies, Ynet)
- UN investigators: Leading Syria officials guilty of war crimes, must be brought to ICC - In new report, UN human rights investigators say they have identifies leaders on both sides of the conflict who are suspected of perpetrating massacres, indiscriminate shelling and torture; for first time, the team explicitly says the ICC should undertake the case. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Bulgaria presses EU to toughen stance on Hezbollah - Bulgaria urges EU to blacklist Hezbollah, accused of planning Burgas 2012 attack, which killed 5 Israelis. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Beirut airport sells Israeli lighters - Lebanese media gushing over products originating in Jewish state, which are being offered for sale in capital's Duty Free stores. (Ynet)
- Livni agreed to enter the government - Likud sources: Understandings reached with Hatnua party and only missing formal signature on agreement that Tzipi Livni will be Justice Minister. (Maariv, p. 6/NRG Hebrew)
- Bennett visits yeshivas, urges integrating Torah, IDF service - After Habayit Hayehudi chairman bonds with Yair Lapid on universal draft, he visits yeshivas in Jerusalem to discuss practicing Judaism in a world in which 'things have changed'; students ambivalent. (Ynet)
- Yehadut Hatorah to announce: We will accept evacuation of settlements in exchange for yeshivas (men not being drafted) - The ultra-Orthodox party breaks left over the issue of 'sharing the burden.' One source in the party: We will show everyone how much the outposts and settlements cost. (Maariv/NRG Hebrew)
- Bennett reveals: Haven't negotiated for a week - Likud says the delay is because of Habayit Hayehudi's demand for one of the three senior ministries. (Maariv p. 6, NRG Hebrew)
Commentary/Analysis:Zygier affair demands a professional, public inquiry (Haaretz Editorial) While we will never know the full details, the case of Prisoner X must be probed, as well as as the extent of Netanyahu's knowledge of it.
Bibi's licking his fingers (Uzi Benziman, Haaretz) For Netanyahu, the public arena is a hunting ground for him to roam and from which to extract maximal personal gain.
Vain hope springs eternal (Moshe Arens, Haaretz) Israel has been fooled not once, not twice, but at least five times in a quest for peace that has gone nowhere.
Israel needs a full-time foreign minister (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) It is unheard of in a Western democracy to go through a year without a foreign minister.
MK Hanin Zuabi should stand for the national anthem (Zvi Gabay, Haaretz) Rushing out of the Knesset after being sworn in to avoid standing for the national anthem showed a lack of respect for the country that protects her rights and issues her paychecks.
Public responsibility (Noam Sheizaf, Maariv) The politicians failed to release Jonathan Pollard and the Americans hold him as a bargaining chip. Obama's visit is possibly his and our last opportunity...
Lord Sacks' gift to Diaspora Jews will outlive his political controversies (Dr. Samuel Lebens, Haaretz) Britain's chief rabbi has used his political office to become a statesman for enlightened Jewry, resonating among prime ministers, presidents, Jews and Gentiles, intellectuals and laity.
In Israel, religion and state should keep their distance (Gabi Sheffer, Haaretz) Ben-Gurion's failure to separate religion and state from the beginning has created a situation in which a religious minority exerts extraordinary control over Israeli society.
Dial 1-800-4Mossad (Aharon Lapidot, Israel Hayom) The Mossad needs to improve its media relations.
Mossad doesn't owe the media explanations (Yaakov Ahimeir, Israel Hayom) Contrary to the media's advice, the Mossad must not appoint a spokesperson.
What are the police doing on my Facebook page? (Zamir Dahbash and Shiri Perciger-Cohen, Haaretz) Law enforcement authorities spying on activists' Facebook pages is a disturbing sign which evinces an urgent need for legislation drawing clearer lines around what is and what isn't acceptable.
Between Israel and Australia (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) This tragic episode reminds us that we live in a very tough region and that even as a democracy, security related issues will arise which must remain outside the public purview.
**Pro-Israel group's primer on West Bank settlements shows just how disastrous they are (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz) The Israel advocacy 'David Project's' primer on Israeli settlements, aimed at campus activists, avoids inflammatory language, but it cannot escape the glaring conclusion: Settlement policy is Israel's Achilles heel, and no amount of discussion and review will make it more convincing, either on campus or outside.
Syrian refugees: Morality and limits (Dr. Gabi Avital, Israel Hayom) The Mossad needs to improve its media relations.
Netanyahu's self-inflicted coalition wounds (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) At this stage, no one, including Netanyahu himself, knows what his government will look like on March 15.
United we stand: Post-Assad Syria may not sever ties with Iran (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) The West believes that Assad's fall will serve Israel by cutting Syria off from Iran and Hezbollah. But regardless of the outcome, those ties could remain.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.