APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday November 07, 2013
Quote of the day:
"There were arrests, there were all kind of arrests. But the high point of the night was drawing fire,
creating a situation where they fired at us."
--Testimony of a former soldier from the Golani Brigade. His commander had said: "I want bodies full of bullets."**
Front Page News:
- Court unanimously acquitted Lieberman
- Deal with Iran forming: Freeze nuclear program for half year in exchange for easing sanctions
- Security establishment transfers 30 million shekels a year for security of communities not in danger
- Final report finds: Poison found in Arafat's body
- Organized environmental crime is growing and making hundreds of billions of shekels
- Surprising turnovers in leadership in Petah Tikva, Afula and Yehud in second round of municipal elections
- The acquittal and the blow - The judges unanimously ruled: Avigdor Lieberman is not guilty of fraud and breach of trust. Black day for State Attorney General
- Abuse in paratroopers: Soldiers buried alive and kadish mourning prayer said for them
- Shock in judicial establishment over acquittal of Lieberman. State Attorney General Weinstein: I fulfilled my duties (Hebrew)
- Iranian Foreign Minister to Maariv: "The military option never succeeded, there is no place for threats of use of force" (Hebrew)
- 40 women ran for mayor across country - only three were elected
- Ecstasy in the kingdom - After beating Uzbekistan, Jordanian national team is two games away from historic rise to World Cup
Peace Talk Highlights:
The big story in today's papers was the acquittal yesterday of former and soon-to-be-again foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, and to a lesser extent, the poisoning of former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. But the meeting between visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry Israeli and Palestinian leaders over peace talks was a sidebar. While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed the stuck peace talks on the Palestinians, Kerry 'chastised' Netanyahu, said settlements were 'illegitimate,' and gave the Palestinians money. The Israeli papers reported on Kerry's visits with the two leaders sharing very different information. The papers noted what might be the Lieberman effect on peace talks, the Labor party chief explained why she would not joint the government coalition now for the sake of peace and Haaretz reported on a poll showing Palestinian pessimism.
The acquittal of MK and leader of Yisrael Beiteinu party Avigdor Lieberman on fraud and breach of trust charges does not bode well for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. While many responsibilities were transferred away from the Foreign Ministry in his absence, he is expected to get many of them back upon his reinstatement as Foreign Minister. (There has been no foreign minister for almost one year.) Maariv's Eli Bardenstein writes that Lieberman will not likely be able to take away from Justice Minister Tzipi Livni the position of chief Israeli negotiator in peace talks, since it was given to her as part of a coalition agreement. Nevertheless, he writes, he will demand more involvement and updates and he will want to meet with Kerry from time to time, something that did not go successfully during Hilary Clinton's term as Secretary of State. Clinton saw him as an extremist who opposes a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, Bardenstein wrote. Ynet's political affairs reporter Atilla Somfalvi writes that "The current assessment is that he will not keep silent on the matter of negotiations, but will not actively destroy talks, out of respect for Israel's ties with the US. Either way, a return to the foreign ministry will give Lieberman an important voice in Israeli discussions on the talks. Although Netanyahu ultimately makes the final decisions, Lieberman could potentially make things difficult for the prime minister."
The Palestinian Authority fears that Lieberman's return means that negotiations will likely fail, Maariv/NRG Hebrew reported. Nabil Shaath, a senior official in the PA, said that "Although the (Israeli) militant line leads the (Israeli) government, there is no doubt that the return of the former foreign minister is a clear sign for the future talks between the sides, which as it is suffer from lack of seriousness from the Israeli side and from actions meant to cause them to fail."
Kerry met with Netanyahu yesterday to put pressure on him to be flexible in peace talks. Ironically, it was Netanyahu who told Kerry that he was concerned over the progress of peace talks and said that it was the Palestinians who were unable to make 'historic decisions.' He again claimed the Palestinians were "continuing to create artificial crises," referring to the Palestinian claim that they never agreed to settlement construction in exchange for Palestinian prisoner releases, as Netanyahu and some of his ministers claimed. Indeed, that was all the pro-Netanyahu freebie, Israel Hayom, reported. The other right-wing Israeli paper, Maariv, did not bother to report on the meetings at all.
But Kerry set the record straight in Bethlehem. After his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he said, "I want to make it extremely clear that at no time did the Palestinians in any way agree, as a matter of going back to the talks, that they could somehow condone or accept the settlements. That is not to say that they weren't aware - or we weren't aware - that there would be construction." That sentence was only reported on by Maan and Yedioth. Yedioth put the Kerry-Netanyahu meeting in a negative light, with the title 'Chastisement from Kerry.' The short news item reported that Kerry "expressed his displeasure with Israel for taking advantage of the release of Palestinian prisoners to announce massive settlement construction across the Green Line." Kerry also clarified on the legitimacy of the settlements: "Let me emphasize at this point the position of the United States of America on the settlements is that we consider them... to be illegitimate." Kerry said it would be better if settlement building were "limited as much as possible." In Bethlehem, Kerry announced the US would be giving the Palestinians $75 million more in desperately needed aid.
Unlike Netanyahu, in his meeting with Kerry, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke about the importance of achieving peace, saying the price to achieve peace becomes higher every day and time is running out. Kerry noted to Peres that the alternative to lack of peace is chaos, and the two sides cannot live in the shadow of war. Meanwhile, Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said she would not be joining the Netanyahu government, NRG Hebrew reported. Speaking at Haifa University at a conference marking 20 years since the Oslo Accords, she responded to Livni's call to join the government coalition and advance the negotiations saying: "This is not a call for peace, we will end up serving as a fig leaf for Netanyahu." Israel Hayom reported that she also said, "Israel has never tried the two-state solution. Our leaders were always busy going one step forward, two steps backwards and 'exposing the real face of the Palestinians.' Hence a dialogue of threats and scares was created without a spark of optimism."
A new Palestinian survey found that 70% of Palestinians believe the peace talks with Israel will fail and 57.8% think a third Intifada will break out in the West Bank, Haaretz reported. The poll shows little faith in talks under US arbitration. Here are some of the finds. (Full survey here.)
- 44.2% supported a return to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations under American auspices; 53.8% rejected.
- 21.6% expected the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations held under American auspices to succeed within the defined period of nine months; 70.3% expected them to fail.
- 48.9% supported the Palestinians continuing these negotiations; 49.1% rejected.
- 58.6% expected the USA to intervene and to exert pressure on some side to lead the negotiation to a successful end.
- Among respondents who supported an intervention by the USA to exert pressure on some side to lead these negotiations to a successful end, 59% expected the pressure to be exerted on the Palestinian side; 14.4% expected it to be exerted on the Israeli side, while 25.1% expected it to be on both sides.
- 26% think that the USA is serious this time in leading the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis to a successful end.
- 10.7% considered the US an honest arbitrator between the two sides of conflict.
- 90.1% looked at US policy towards the Palestinian issue as generally biased towards the Israeli side; 3% said that it is biased towards the Palestinian side, while 5.4% said that it is neutral.
- 81.5% supported conducting a referendum among Palestinians before signing any peace agreement with Israel; 15.7% rejected.
- 40.7% supported reaching a provisional agreement similar to that of the Oslo Accord as a result of these negotiations; 53.6% rejected.
- Now that 20 years have elapsed since the signing of the Oslo Accord, 66.2% of respondents believe that it has hurt the Palestinian cause; 27.1% said it has benefited it.
- 51.8% supported the two-state solution, provided that there will be a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel; 46.2% rejected.
- 28.8% said that they are optimistic towards the success of the peace process between the PA and Israel; 66.7% said that they are pessimistic
- 57.8% expected the outbreak of a third intifada (uprising) in the West Bank in case the current peace negotiations fail.
- 38.5% supported the rise of an armed uprising (intifada) in the West Bank; 55.7% rejected.
- 58.7% supported the rise of a nonviolent, unarmed popular uprising (intifada); 37% rejected.
- 35.8% supported dissolving the Palestinian Authority should the current peace negotiations fail; 57.7% rejected.
- Swiss team: Arafat poisoned to death with abnormal amounts of polonium - Al Jazeera English reports Swiss team found levels of polonium at least 18 times higher than normal; Arafat's widow: This is proof of 'political assassination'; Israel dismisses report, says findings 'inconclusive.' (Haaretz)
- **Soldiers expose the underside of occupation during N. American tour - Harvard law professor hails 'new mission' of two Breaking the Silence activists, compares them to Vietnam whistle-blowers. (Haaretz)
- Norway government split on lifting Israel arms sale ban - The junior partner in Norway's new right-wing coalition is pushing to lift the prohibition on weapons exports to Israel. (Globes)
- Lawyer: Israeli prison guards assault prisoners in Megiddo - Israeli wardens on Tuesday assaulted Palestinian prisoners in their cells in Megiddo prison and destroyed their personal belongings. The prison wardens stormed all sections of Megiddo prison after prisoners demonstrated protesting the death their inmate 22-year-old Hasan Turabi. (Maan)
- Abbas meets freed prisoners from Bethlehem - President Mahmoud Abbas met Tuesday evening in his Bethlehem headquarters with veteran prisoners from Bethlehem who were freed last Tuesday. Additionally, the Palestinian Authority is pressuring Israel to release sick Palestinian prisoners. (Maan)
- Lebanon: "Israel is building spy stations on our border" - Country's parliament speaker said that the spy stations include advanced equipment that can cover the entire country, and asked to file complaint to the UN Security Council. (NRG Hebrew)
- Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers enter Gaza - Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered eastern Gaza City Wednesday as civil defense crews continued their search for the bodies of two people killed in an Israeli attack. The bulldozers began digging up lands near the border with Israel. (Maan)
- IDF soldier hazing in a 'grave' - Humiliation of young paratroopers: Commanders in battalion 202 were shocked to discover that new soldiers were forced to lie in a deep hole while their comrades said kadish mourner's prayer. "This is inferior criminal culture accompanied by a show of threats." said Paratroopers Brigade Commander Eliezar Toledano. (Yedioth, p. 1)
- Israeli forces assault female student in Aqsa compound - An Israeli police officer assaulted a female Palestinian student in the Al-Aqsa compound on Wednesday. Around 40 Israeli intelligence officers entered the Al-Aqsa compound via the Moroccan Gate and were greeted by jeers and calls of 'Allah Akbar' by students. (Maan)
- Habayit Hayehudi MK attacked on way home to Hebron - Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Struck says bus she was traveling on from Jerusalem to Hebron on Monday night was hit by five firebombs thrown by group of Arabs. Struck: Israel Defense Forces must admit terrorism is on the rise in Judea and Samaria. (Israel Hayom)
- State spends NIS 30m to protect 'frontline' towns not in danger - New plan will reduce the number of communities defined as 'frontline' from 345 to 260 and spending on them will be reduced. The communities of Omer, Mishmar Hanegev, Nevatim, Nof Eilon, the Segev communities, Kfar Hanassi, Ramat Hakovesh and others are not in danger of a terrorist attack, yet receive funding from the defense establishment, he said. (Haaretz)
- U.S. couple donates $50 million to Weizmann Institute - Funds will go toward operating state-of-the-art personalized medicine center. (Haaretz)
- Israel to spend $127 million on Diaspora outreach program - Strategic dialogue conference held in Jerusalem outlines plans to bolster Israel's relationship with the Diaspora, reinforce youths' Jewish identity. Plan formed by special Prime Minister's Office team, will receive annual budget of NIS 450 million. (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli and Palestinian celebrity chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi cook up a storm - London-based chefs get together in the Washington Post's kitchen to promote their cookbook. Israeli Ottolenghi and Palestinian Tamimi prefer to avoid label of food as Israeli [and reporter does not understand that's because one of the cooks is Palestinian! - OH] (Haaretz)
- Yosef Harish, former Attorney-General, dead at 90 - Appointed Attorney-General in 1986, Harish was involved in several notorious cases, including the Bus 300 affair and the trial of John Demjanjuk. (Haaretz)
- Egypt court dismisses motion to suspend Brotherhood ban - Islamist movement banned by court from operating amid clashed following overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in July. Urgent Appeals Court dismisses Brotherhood's injuction request to suspend ban. (Agencies, Ynet)
- White House: U.S. seeking 'phased approach,' offers Iran 'limited sanctions relief,' as Geneva talks resume - Talks between Iran and six world powers are serious and substantive and offer the possibility of a verifiable diplomatic agreement, U.S. says. (Haaretz)
- Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to NRG/Maariv: "There is no place for the threat of force" - Before getting on stage at the UNESCO general assembly, Zarif answered Maariv reporter's questions about the Israeli threat and the military option against Iran by western powers: "No military option has never succeeded." When asked about the possibility of relations with Israel, said: "It is not on the agenda." (Maariv p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
- Poll: Iranians strongly support nuclear program despite sanctions - Overwhelming majority of Iranians say international measures against their country is hurting their livelihood, Gallup poll reveals. (Haaretz)
The useless reporter's glossary to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) The language used by journalists covering the conflict is as visceral and bloody as
the conflict itself. No handbook is going to change that fact.
Welcome to Bethlehem, Secretary Kerry (Mayor of Bethlehem Vera Baboun, Maan) You are most welcome in Bethlehem, a city surrounded by 27 ever-expanding Israeli settlements, sealed off by an annexation wall built deep inside our district's land. Even under these circumstances, we are working hard to look after our city.
'PM Lieberman?' A huge win for the Israel whose whole message to the world is: F You (Bradley Burston, Haaretz) Lieberman may one day be just the man to make peace - because there is every indication that he has no principles whatsoever.
Lieberman acquittal: The loss is all ours (Yael Paz-Melamed, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Paz-Melamed fears that, "(Lieberman's) return to the Foreign Ministry will be disastrous," and explains: "In recent months there has been a certain rapprochement between Israel and the EU, and some of the sanctions that the EU imposed on Israel have been lifted. This has great scientific and economic importance. Now returns the one who thinks that the language of diplomacy is nonsense and that his role is to tell the countries of Europe his true opinion of their views on Israel and toward the Palestinians...Lieberman will return to the Foreign Ministry stronger than ever, sure of himself, hungry to continue destroying Israel's foreign policy, a mission he successfully began under the previous government."
Cleared of corruption charges, Lieberman eyes role of prime minister (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) To reach that lofty goal the former foreign minister will have to act in the responsible, cool-headed manner of a leader who sees the whole picture.
Judges let Lieberman off, but they don't want him in the government (Amir Oren, Haaretz) The justices write that Lieberman's deeds as revealed in the fraud case 'are unseemly, immoral and not of the standard expected of a public figure' in Israel.
Clock not at zero yet (Matthew Gould, Yedioth/Ynet) UK ambassador to Israel says his country entering diplomacy with Iran with its eyes open.
How Iran is winning the war of words (Emily B. Landau, Haaretz) Iran's most effect bargaining tactic is to reframe the issues and repeat its own messages over and over again, until they begin to sound like common knowledge.
America in isolation (Zalman Shoval, Israel Hayom) Secretary of State John Kerry can't even muster up the integrity to criticize Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers.
Erdogan's poisonous rejection of Israel (David Landau, Haaretz) Turkish prime minister's unbalanced hostility toward Israel damages both countries' strategic and political interests and is also a violent revocation of a proud, shared history between Muslims and Jews.
Does the US stand for anything at all? (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) The political leaders in the U.S. today, on both sides of the aisle, would angrily deny they are isolationist, but the facts on the ground and things being said are a testament that the claim has some merit.
Is Bnei Akiva on the road to 'radical religious misogyny?' (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz) A call for Bnei Akiva schoolgirls to demonstrate against Women of the Wall was like 'a knife in the stomach' to many Orthodox women, highlighting a disturbing rightward drift.
Lieberman acquittal makes Likud-Beytenu split more likely (Amir Mizroch, Israel Hayom) The acquittal of Avigdor Lieberman and his expected return to the cabinet table will usher in a new phase of this government's story.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.