News Nosh 01.01.15


APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday January 1, 2015

Quote of the day:
"The Palestinian issue was and remains the number one problem of Israel, and it will also be an important challenge, possibly the existential one, of Israel in 2015."
--Maariv's security analyst Yossi Melman sums up Israel's security challenges of 2014, writing that Hamas is no longer a terror organization and that without a peace agreement two things can happen - and neither of them is good.**


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • 54% of Likud members voted: Netanyahu won – waiting for (Likud) list
  • “Abu Mazen is the one who should fear The Hague”
  • Attorney General to Kirschenbaum: Don’t go (to your job) at the Interior Ministry
  • Senior Shas MK: “My impression was that Deri’s resignation was no more than a show”
  • Welcome to 2015
  • Internal report: “Police guilty in car accident in which one person was killed and another seriously wounded”
  • Record immigration: 26,500 Jews made aliyah to Israel in 2014

News Summary:
Likud primaries, the latest in the Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal and the Palestinian move to join the International Criminal Court at The Hague were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. And Ynet lists the top stories of 2014.
 
The Israeli Police raided the World Zionist Organization settlement division offices in what was likely connected to the ongoing investigation into the Yisrael Beiteinu graft case. Earlier this month, the settlement division's budget was increased by $31 million, Haaretz+ reported. The settlement unit works on behalf of Israel’s government to found and assist rural communities, and is fully funded by the state. Haaretz noted that an agreement signed in 2000 between the state and the WZO gives the settlement division the job of establishing and assist settlements in the Golan Heights and the West Bank. Moreover, the police seized records tracing Yisrael Beiteinu’s West Bank graft deals with the Central Company for the Development of Samaria. Settler Gershon Mesika heads the company and was arrested last week.
 
After failure at the UN Security Council in passing the resolution to end the Israeli occupation and establish a Palestinian state, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with the PLO Executive Committee in an emergency meeting yesterday, whose members pressured him to apply to join the International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC), reported Haaretz+'s Jacky Khoury. Abbas agreed and signed the documents to join the ICC, as well as 21 other international agreements. This brings the Palestinians closer to filing complaints against Israelis they accuse of violating international law or committing war crimes or crimes against humanity. Netanyahu vowed to take steps in response. The US said the  move was counterproductive. The Palestinians had promised on numerous occasions in the past that if their bid at the UN failed they would join the ICC. The failure Tuesday came as a suprise ending to a tense day. Senior PLO member Hanan Ashrawi called the result "outrageously shameful." "It is ironic that while the United Nations designated 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the resolution failed to pass as an indication of a failure of will by some members of the international community," she said in a statement. 

Israel summoned the French ambassador over France’s vote in favor of the bid and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked the US and Australia for voting against the Palestinians. But it appears the real thanks should go to Nigeria, whose abstention was the big surprise and the “big disappointment” for the Palestinians, in light of the country's historical support for the Palestinian cause, said the Palestinian representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He also said it violated numerous resolutions passed at the Islamic organization's summits in support of Palestine. Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner explains that the abstentions of Nigeria and Rwanda “demonstrated the importance of the visits made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the African continent” earlier this year. Eichner also notes that a change of power is set to take place in the Security Council today that will change the balance of power against Israel. 
 
Top 10 stories, events and issues that made Israel in 2014
 
Top 10 most popular articles on 2014 on Ynet

Quick Hits:
  • Police, forecasting more violence, unveil plan to add 1,160 cops in capital - Intelligence material indicates that current trend of terror acts involving Arab E. Jerusalemites - primarily 'lone wolf' attacks - will continue. Police identified Temple Mount as most significant flashpoint. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinian man crushed to death inside overcrowded Israeli checkpoint - Ahmad Samih Bdeir, 39, who was on his way to a construction job inside Israel, choked to death in extreme overcrowding amid large numbers of people trying to cross the al-Tayba checkpoint, also called Shaar Efrayim. The death is the second at al-Tayba this year, after 59-year-old Adel Muhammad Yakoub died in early January for the same reason. (Maan)
  • Two masked attackers throw firebombs at Palestinian family's West Bank home (while they slept) - Police open investigation after someone (settlers from Karmel – Maan) also sprayed 'revenge' and possibly 'kingdom' on house in the South Hebron Hills. No injuries reported. (Haaretz+ and Maan)
  • Palestinians, settlers clash after suspected 'price tag' attack - Violent day in West Bank: Violent clashes between Palestinians and settlers; Palestinian home set on fire, vandalized in possible hate crime attack. (Ynet
  • Jewish settler runs over Palestinian child walking to school in Tuqu - Amir Majed Ahmad Suleiman, 10, was wounded after being run over by an Israeli settler's car on the main road of the West Bank village near Bethlehem as he was heading to school. The settler immediately fled the area despite the fact that Israeli forces were deployed on the main road of the village. (Maan)
  • Palestinian woman injured in E. Jerusalem after bus stoned - Unidentified assailants on Wednesday hurled stones at a bus in East Jerusalem, injuring a Palestinian woman. (Maan and Ynet)
  • Israel's High Court turns down request to stop demolition of terrorists' homes - 'The circumstances here, of cruel killing, time and again, of innocents' necessitates the use of the emergency regulations,” wrote one judge. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli court convicts mastermind behind kidnap-murder of 3 teens - Hussam Qawasmeh, a Palestinian from Hebron, admitted to planning and funding the attack, burying the boys’ bodies and hiding the perpetrators. (Haaretz)
  • Settler assaulted hospitalized Palestinian woman in Israeli custody - "While sleeping in her hospital bed, she was awakened by a Jewish settler grabbing her hair. He then slapped her in the face," the lawyer of Amal Taqatqa, a Palestinian woman who was arrested and being treated for gunshot wounds she received after attacking and lightly wounding settler in the West Bank. (Maan)
  • East Jerusalem settlement NGO ordered to vacate apartment - Dwelling is only one of 27 Elad organization sent security personnel to occupy in Silwan in September. (Haaretz)
  • Israel Police arrest Jerusalem abbey vandal - (Jewish) Man is arrested after jumping fence into grounds of the Dormition Abbey and damaging a wooden cross and a bench. The abbey, a popular site for pilgrims and tourists, has been damaged several times in recent years. (Israel Hayom)
  • Crowdfunding campaign spares veteran (E.) Jerusalem peace activist a stint in jail - Ibrahim Abu el-Hawa, who runs the Peace House guesthouse on the Mount of Olives, was fined 30,000 shekels for a resisting demolition order. His friends raised the money. But he still owes another NIS 288,000 in back fines for unapproved construction. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli home demolitions in (E.) Jerusalem leave 2 families homeless - The raid on Jabal al-Mukabbir brings the total number of Palestinian properties destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2014 to 561, displacing more than 1,165 people, according to UN figures. (Maan)
  • Ten soldiers commit suicide in 2014 - Army's mental health officers have been contacting soldiers who fought in Gaza, following suicide of four combatants. (Haaretz+)
  • Major roadblock to Palestinian traffic partially opened - DCO barrier near Ramallah was closed for years for 'security reasons.' (Haaretz)
  • Gaza border residents protest pending IDF removal of guards - Gaza border communities remain anxious in light of the threats from Hamas; demonstrator: 'Gov't is spending millions on election instead of protecting us.' (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Gantz, Ya'alon on 'Black Friday' recordings: 'If mistakes were made, we'll deal with them' - After Ynet obtains recordings of internal IDF communication following capture of Givati Brigade officer Lt. Hadar Goldin, IDF chief and defense minister respond, saying IDF still learning incident. (Ynet)
  • Gantz vows to trace leak of IDF recordings - IDF chief of staff orders Military Police to investigate how radio communications during the battle in Rafah that took place on August 1, (known as Rafah’s ‘Black Friday’)
  • reached website. (Haaretz+)
  • Egyptian forces uncover, destroy 19 Gaza tunnels -  
  • One of the biggest tunnels ended inside a house on the Egyptian side about 1,700 meters from the border. The operation comes as Egyptian authorities prepare to demolish all homes with a 1,000 meter radius from the border, potentially displacing thousands of local residents. (Maan)
  • Palestinian cabinet ministers hold weekly session in Gaza - The meeting comes on the second day of the unity government's second trip to Gaza since it was formed in June, amid criticism over the slow pace of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip in the wake of Israel's summer war that left around 2,200 dead and 110,000 homeless. (Maan)
  • Sapir College student admits to destroying 'slaughter the Jew' hamsa - 'I am certainly satisfied with the act of stopping public incitement against the Jewish people,' student wrote on Facebook. The Jewish artist says the student completely misunderstood the piece. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Channel 10 TV station gets six-month lifeline - Cash-strapped station was due to end broadcasts Wednesday night, but attorney general decided that its fate should not be determined during an election campaign. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian prisoner enters 14th year in Israeli jails -  
  • Munif Muhammad Abu Atwan has begun his 14th year in Israeli jails and suffers from weak eyesight which began when he was beaten during interrogation in Israeli custody, but has not received treatment for his sight issues, said Palestinian Prisoner's Society in Hebron. (Maan)
  • HarperCollins omits Israel from atlases sold to English-speaking Mideast schools - While Israel is not demarcated on the maps, the West Bank is clearly labeled. (JTA, Haaretz
  • President Rivlin welcomes New Year with leaders of Israel’s Christian community - President Reuven Rivlin met with the head of various churches in Israel and senior members of the community to mark New Year, fight extremism. (Ynet
  • U.K. Guardian names Israel President Rivlin one of its `Heroes of 2014' - Paper calls Rivlin `Israel’s conscience, challenging racism and standing up for Palestinian rights.' (Haaretz)
  • Israel's population numbers 8.3 million at close of 2014 - Some 6.2 million of the population are Jewish and 1.7 million are Arabs, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports. (Haaretz)
  • Immigration figures reach 10-year high in 2014 – (due to) large boost from French Jews - Tel Aviv was number 1 destination for Jews moving to Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Israelis go to sleep early on New Year's Eve - Israel and China are the two countries whose residents hit the sack earliest on December 31. (Haaretz)
  • US presses Israel to move forward on Noble Energy gas deal - State Department spokesman: We strongly believe natural gas deals in the Mediterranean will enhance energy security in the region. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discusses natural gas issue with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Middle East Updates / Assad makes rare trip to embattled Damascus district - Three Al-Jazeera English journalists imprisoned in Egypt for over a year to appear in court Thursday. (Haaretz)
  • Morocco's banning of 'Exodus' film causes controversy - Coalition party, filmmakers organization criticizes ban, saying decision 'risks discouraging film investment in our country and sending foreign productions to other destinations.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Saudi Arabia says Jews welcome to work in kingdom - Labor Ministry says religion is not a factor when issuing employment visas. (Haaretz)


Features:
“I wish we lived among the Jews”
After the horrifying massacre by ISIS people, the Yazidi refugees look to Israel with hope for aid. “There is a common fate between the peoples because you were also oppressed and persecuted like we are.” (Jacky Khougi, Maariv magazine supplement, cover)

2014 the toughest year on record for Gaza fishermen
They faced recurring attacks (by Israeli Navy) before, during, and after Israel's summer offensive costing the fishing sector in Gaza an estimated $9 million loss, particularly as a result of being prevented by Israeli forces from fishing during the 50-day summer war. This decline in revenues comes on top of the restrictions imposed for the last eight years as part of the Israeli siege, which severely limits the range Palestinians can fish and led to a poverty rate around 90% for Gaza’s 4,0000 fishermen, even before the war. (Maan)

Commentary/Analysis:
Enter the Palestinian 'nuclear option' (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Events of the last 48 hours are the best evidence of Israel's perilous standing in the international community.
American veto will not last forever (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) If US-Israel relations continue to deteriorate, we may one day face an American president who will make decisions contradicting Israeli right-wing leaders' opinions. 
Palestine's UNSC defeat is nothing 
to celebrate (Haaretz Editorial) Israel is now facing the conflict's internationalization - and potentially the dock of the International Criminal Court.
The long road to The Hague (Elior Levy, Ynet) Palestinian president pleased as he balances his people's demands for action without ruffling too many diplomatic feathers.
Behind the UN vote: How the Palestinian bid was defeated (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth/Ynet) How US helped lead blitz to torpedo unilateral Palestinian resolution in UN Security Council, and how a phone call helped Nigeria's surprising change of heart.
**Strong in tactics, weak in strategy (Yossi Melman, Maariv) 2014 was good from a military-security aspect: Israel has enhanced its operational capabilities, countries in the region have become weaker, courtesy of radical Islam, and Israeli deterrence has been preserved. However, there are still quite a few threats. Militarily, Israel is challenged, at least potentially, by three factors: radical Islam, Hezbollah and Iran...On the southern front - and that may be the most interesting and important development of 2014  - Israel has established with Egypt a level of military, intelligence, security and operational cooperation unparalleled, even during the peak of secret relations between Israel and Egypt, when President Hosni Mubarak was in power and Minister of Intelligence General Omar Suleiman was at home at the Mossad headquarters in Glilot. Israel and Egypt, under the leadership of President General al-Sisi, see eye to eye when it comes to Gaza, Hamas and terrorism in the Sinai. The cooperation and understanding between Israel and Egypt were shown last summer in the war against Hamas in Gaza. The IDF dealt a major blow to Hamas, which also contributed to improving Israel's military strength. Hamas at the beginning of 2015 is no longer a terrorist organization, as the government of Israel and the IDF call it, but a regime that controls territory and organizes its power in the form of a semi-regular army. Something between a guerrilla organization and a real army. But this is a weakened army, which lost two-thirds of its rocket capabilities (six thousand rockets were destroyed or were fired), almost all of its attack tunnels that it dug into Israel and which were intended to be used as a strategic tool in the military campaign, but were uncovered and destroyed from the air, by bombings or floods of sewage...The Palestinian issue was and remains the number one problem of Israel, and it will also be an important challenge, possibly the existential one, of Israel in 2015. Without a breakthrough of a peace agreement, one of two scenarios could happen and maybe both: A popular Palestinian uprising in the West Bank, the beginnings of which we have already seen in the past year, or the continued deterioration of Israel into a state similar to the apartheid regime in South Africa. This means a deepening of the international isolation of Israel, perhaps to the point of imposing sanctions on it, without the United States taking action to help Israel and impose a veto.
I love Israel - and I apologize (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Apologizing would not solve anything or atone for anything, but it could signal a genuine intention to turn a new leaf.
Accident year (Ron Kaufman, Maariv) Ron Kaufman summarizes 2014, and did not really find good things to note: the political process was a scam, relations with the United States deteriorated to an unprecedented low, the Knesset was pitiable in its pathetic attitude towards citizens and more.  What to expect in 2015? Nothing positive. 
Longing for Likud (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The historic role of Moshe Kahlon's party, Kulanu, is to be a true successor to Begin's Likud, which now belongs to the settlers, hotheads and wheeler-dealers.
Likud still the people's party (Dr. Gabi Avital, Israel Hayom) Likud has often been demonized by the media, but there is no dispute over its great achievements. 
Generational battle on Israel's right (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) The Likud and Habayit Hayehudi, linked through the settlement umbilical cord, can be compared to two sisters. The Likud is the older, aging, and less desirable sister, while Hayabit Hayehudi is the sexy younger one.
Turkey: America's unacknowledged problem (Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom) The Obama ‎administration refuses to recognize ‎that Turkey is a Trojan horse in NATO and that it undermines American interests.‎
Most influential Arab leader in 2014: ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) In six months, al-Baghdadi turned the Islamic State from a little-known militia in Syria to a very threatening organization that dictates international policy.
The Middle East's five big losers in 2014 (Ilene Prusher, Haaretz+) This year's losers are the people living in the countries where leaders, militants and war-mongers wreaked havoc, while the world stood and watched. 
In 2015, Hamas wants Netanyahu to win. Six reasons why - and now a new one (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) A year ago at this time, Hamas desperately needed a friend. It found one in Netanyahu. It certainly doesn't want to lose him now.
 

Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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