News Nosh 01.06.15


APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday January 6, 2015

Quote of the day:
"Herzog can’t compete with this unequivocal extremism. The messages he’s sending on diplomatic and security issues are too complex. After all, he truly believes in a two-state solution, but that will entail far-reaching concessions encompassing most of the territories — essentially, a withdrawal to the 1967 lines with territorial swaps. And go explain that to the people on the eve of an election."
--Haaretz+ economic analyst says that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's approach of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than resolving it will ultimately lead to Israel's economic collapse.**


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “We will change the system of government” – Netanyahu in attack against left-wing: “Buji and Tzipi won’t stand the pressure”
  • The Zero (degrees) hour – The real winter is arriving
  • Shula’s great deal – On the way to freedom: (Former Olmert aide’s) sentence was cut by a third and will be released at end of month
  • Victory of life – A year after the pesticide disaster in Jerusalem, the Gross family celebrates birth of son
  • The Americans and President Rivlin oppose decision to freeze Palestinians’ tax monies
  • Gas price to be reduced again? Price of barrel dropped to under $50

News Summary:
Aside from the incoming snow storm, the top stories varied among newspapers between Israeli Prime Minister’s promise (again) to change the system of government and his attack on the opposition and between Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s and the US’s condemnation of the government decision to freeze the transfer of tax funds to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett tried to defend himself after being accused by an Israeli journalist of causing the First Qana massacre and Ynet reported that the Israel Electric Corporation announced it will soon cut-off electricity to the West Bank, a day after two Palestinian children died in a fire sparked by a candle used due to power shortages in the Gaza Strip.
 
President Rivlin agreed with the US and slammed Netanyahu for freezing the transfer of Palestinian tax monies as a punitive measure for the Palestinian petition to join the International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC), saying it “does not benefit us, or them.” Under interim peace deals, Israel collects about $200 million of taxes monthly on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, $120 million of which is used to pay public servant salaries. Speaking to a closed meeting of Israeli diplomats to Europe, Rivlin accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of using the ICC bid to prevent direct negotiations with Israel. The US said it warned Israel that freezing the funds would cause tensions. The US is trying to convince the Palestinians to drop their bid. It is also weighing cutting aid to the Palestinian Authority over the move, another $440 million annually. Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called for activating a financial security web agreed upon in the Kuwait summit, with Arab countries providing $100 million per month to the PA until it is able to make ends meet. He said that Palestine will become a member of the ICC by March.
  
Ynet reported that the Israel Electric Corporation has warned Israel security chiefs of possible ‘disturbances’ [i.e. rioting – OH] because it plans to limit electricity it supplies to the West Bank due to a 1.7 billion shekel debt.
 
In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets yesterday calling for the rival Hamas and Fatah parties to find a solution to the Gaza Strip’s chronic electricity shortage after two children died late Saturday when a fire broke out in their home from a candle the father lit due to a power cut. Gazans typically have only a few hours a day of electricity, due to lack of fuel caused in part by the Israeli siege on Gaza with Egyptian support. Since 2010, 26 people in Gaza have burned to death due to the power crisis, said a local NGO. The Gaza Strip requires 360 megawatts of electricity – of which only 200 megawatts are currently available – to meet the needs of its roughly 1.9 million residents. Gaza currently has three sources for electricity: Israel, which provides 120 megawatts; Egypt, which supplies 28 megawatts; and Gaza's power plant, which generates between 40 and 60 megawatts every day. The power plant was hit by Israeli artillery in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge war and though working now is prone to breakdowns and it short on fuel, due to Israel’s limitations through its siege on Gaza and recently due to limitations by Egypt, which is trying to prevent cross-border smuggling through tunnels.
 
Habayit Hayehudi chief Naftali Bennett has taken to Facebook to defend his role in the IDF operation that left 102 Lebanese dead, following an article by Yedioth Ahronoth journalist, Yigal Sarna. Bennett was a company commander during Operation Grapes of Wrath in 1996. Sarna described Bennett as disparaging his commanders for what he considered their hesitant conduct in the military campaign. Sarna wrote that Bennett eventually decided, independently, to alter the operational plan. But when he subsequently encountered Hezbollah fire, Bennett called for help, and the ensuing artillery barrage accidentally killed the Lebanese civilians.

Quick Hits:
  • Report: Amman angered by Palestinians' UN bid - Jordan deemed PA statehood move hasty and doomed, due to lack of int'l support and plan to restart talks with Israel; meanwhile, PA reconsidering new UN initiative. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamas slams Abbas' plan to resubmit UN bid as playing with fate of Palestinian people - Abbas said Sunday that he was discussing the move with Jordan. (Haaretz)
  • In 2014, 80% increase in Israeli detentions of Palestinians - The Palestinian Prisoner's Center for Studies said in a statement that 7,110 Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces in 2014, compared with 4,250 in 2013. And, a 57% increase in Israeli detentions of children: 1,200 Palestinian minors were detained in 2014, 760 detained in 2013. (Maan)
  • PA: Health conditions of Palestinian prisoners deteriorating - Khaled Hassan al-Qadi, 40, suffers from Hepatitis B, a disease he contracted after he was jailed in 2003. He is currently receiving no medical treatment. Additionally, Zaid Beseisi, 37, suffers from a foot injury. He has not received the necessary treatment and is currently unable to bend his leg. (More cases at Maan)
  • Defense minister may outlaw anti-assimilation group Lehava - Sources close to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon say that anti-assimilation group Lehava fits some of the criteria of a terrorist organization. Lehava activists are taught the ideology of the late extremist militant Rabbi Meir Kahane. (Israel Hayom
  • Netanyahu wants bill to make chair of largest party PM - Likud launches election campaign; Netanyahu to promote bill bypassing president's authority; Herzog and Livni call plan 'pathetic'; Feiglin quits Likud to set up independent party. (Ynet
  • Israeli forces demolish shops in Bethlehem-area village - Bulldozers destroyed Palestinian shops near the entrance of Hussan, with Israeli soldiers claiming the structures were built without permits. (Maan)
  • Border Police soldiers stop terrorist who tried to stab them - Suspect ignored troops' instructions to identify himself, drawing a knife from his coat pocket; soldier hit the suspect with his weapon, neutralizing him. (Ynet)
  • Israeli reservists demand end to army’s criminal probe of Gaza war - At least 250 reserve officers and combat soldiers sign letter, saying only commanders should be allowed to probe allegations of criminal misconduct in wartime. (Haaretz)
  • Golani soldiers leave base over commander's conduct - Several fighters who saw combat in summer war did not report for duty, saying captain prevented medical leave and mental health counseling; IDF says they refused to perform tasks. (Ynet)
  • British activists launch lawsuit over Gaza flotilla 'war crimes' - Lawyers representing British pro-Palestinian activists pass information to London police, claiming it proves Israeli military commanders committed war crimes during the 2010 Gaza flotilla. Five Israeli commanders were named to police. (Israel Hayom)
  • In Jerusalem, Islamic leader urges Muslims to visit Al-Aqsa - Head of world's largest Islamic bloc, after praying at Dome of Rock: 'It is our right to come here and to pray here.' (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Petition to High Court: Lift secrecy surrounding Israel's controversial pipeline - The circumstances necessitating a confidentiality order placed on the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company in 1968 - first and foremost the ties with Iran - no longer exist, an environmentalist group argues. (Haaretz+) 
  • Delegation heads to NY to prepare defense against PA terror charge - A Palestinian delegation will travel to the US to attend a court hearing of a case against the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for their "financial and resourceful support for seven separate attacks in Israel that killed or injured US citizens" in the Second Intifada. (Maan
  • Following Gaza war, Israel's diamond exports failed to shine in 2014 - Industry still awaiting full recovery following 2009 global recession and this summer war. (Haaretz+)
  • 13 Palestinians leave Gaza to visit relatives in Israeli jails - Israel allowed 13 Palestinians from Gaza to enter Israel on Monday to visit family members jailed in Eshel prison. Some 450 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are in Israeli jails. Israel denied Gaza prisoners family visits when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, but in July 2012, family visits resumed. (Maan)
  • Hamas and Islamic Jihad meet to coordinate Gaza efforts - Groups, meeting in office of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, discuss Israeli-Egyptian restrictions on Strip, support for reconciliation government's services, Ma'an reports. (Haaretz)
  • Pew poll: Jewish representation in new U.S. Congress drops - but still holding strong - The incoming 535-member Congress has 28 Jewish members, five fewer than the previous one; of the controlling bloc of 301 Republicans, one is Jewish. (Haaretz)
  • Einstein postcard from Palestine trip up for sale - Unique note signed by Jewish German physicist, including self-portrait sketched during his only visit to Land of Israel in 1923, will be featured at a live auction in Boston this month. (Ynet)
  • Syria's political opposition group elects new leader - Khaled Khoja, a 49-year-old physician, was elected to head the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. The group participates in efforts to find a solution to the country's nearly four-year civil war. (Haaretz)
  • U.S. Air Force reportedly short of drone pilots and staff to fight ISIS - Air Combat Command is declining to fill the Pentagon's increasing requests for drone flights, the Daily Beast reports. (Haaretz)


Features:
The secret hands guiding Israel’s controversial pipeline
EAPC made the headlines in December 2014 after a disastrous oil spill at a southern nature reserve. The trail of companies behind it is even more labyrinthine than its pipelines. (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+)

Commentary/Analysis:
Freezing Palestinian tax money a double-edged sword for Israel (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Israel's freeze on transferring tax revenues could boomerang if other countries bail out the PA, and if the latter imposes sanctions on business dealings with Israel.
Netanyahu's repeated empty promises (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Instead of pledging to change government system again, prime minister should deal with real issues concerning Israeli voters: Standard of living and housing crisis.
A politicized Supreme Court is paralyzing the Knesset (Amiel Ungar, Haaretz+) And so long as it does, the lie that Israel is an occupier will go undisputed. 
The Avraham Burg syndrome (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) How did one of Zionist left's leaders, a former Jewish Agency chairman and Knesset speaker, move to margins of anti-Zionist camp?
An unfortunate nation: Israel in the post-political era (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz+) The roots of the disconnect between citizens and their representatives are far in the Zionist past. Today, they sprawl comfortably alongside the power from above: big business and the army.
**Israel will pay the price for Netanyahu's 'management' of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) Netanyahu's approach of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict rather than resolving it will ultimately lead to economic collapse.
PA has not done its homework (Omer Dostri, Israel Hayom) Contrary to popular belief, the International Criminal Court does not deal with the conviction or investigation of a nation's crimes. Mahmoud Abbas cannot "sue Israel."
On the campaign trail, Lapid and Bennett accomplish more than they did in office (Moti Bassok and Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz+) The Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi leaders take credit for achievements they had little
 to do with as finance and economy minister, respectively, and ignore inconvenient facts.
State of Israel vs. one famous thief (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The State Prosecutor's Office should be pursuing today's criminals, not those who have already been caught and convicted and have paid their debt to society.
The protocols of Avigdor Lieberman’s warped mind (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) With his Yisrael Beiteinu party under a corruption probe, the foreign minister is attacking anyone he encounters — even Israel’s friends in Europe.
Tango with Rohani (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) Young Iranians participating in secret ballroom-dancing lessons have something in common with their president: All are learning to take two steps forward, one step back.


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