News Nosh 10.30.13

APN's daily news review from Israel

Wednesday October 30, 2013

 

Quote of the day:

"We don't like it, but we have a responsibility as a government to steer the country according to long-term strategic considerations."
--Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners last night.**



Front Page News:

Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv

Israel Hayom


 

Peace Process Highlights:
Last minutes protests and High Court appeals did not halt the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners last night, but to appease the right-wing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Gideon Saar agreed to advance immediate plans for construction in E. Jerusalem. Meanwhile, a top PLO official said Israel's stance in peace talks is the hardest in 20 years and the UN's special rapporteur suggested that if talks fail, the world court should opine on Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

**A small night protest by some Israeli Jews in front of Israel's Ofer military detention center in the West Bank did not stop the prison vans from leaving to take Palestinian prisoners to a drop off point from where they would be reunited with their families after decades. Some Israeli protesters even put signs near the graves of the prisoners' victims that read: 'Your death was in vain,' by a group called 'Sorry We Forgot.' Peace Now's Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer asked State Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open a criminal investigation into the acts. "Using the bodies and victims of terror for a political campaign is a degrading and cynical act, that severely harms the dignity of the deceased," he told Maariv. The High Court had earlier rejected the bereaved families' petition to halt the release of the 26 men, all of whom were convicted before or just after the Oslo Accords were signed. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon addressed the issue saying, "We don't like it, but we have a responsibility as a government to steer the country according to long-term strategic considerations. I remind that these prisoners are old and committed their crimes prior to the Oslo Accords. We will keep following them."

The release took place after 1AM Wednesday. The 21 men released to the West Bank were welcomed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he will not sign an agreement with Israel until all prisoners are released. Five men were released to Gaza.  Ynet has video. Thousands came out to greet the men. Maan shared photos of the released prisoners greeted by their relatives. Haaretz's Amira Hass writes that there was little joy in the West Bank over the prisoners' return home, despite efforts to show otherwise by the Palestinian media. She writes that the people on the street have more pressing concerns: The economy, refugees in Syria and settlement construction.

In the middle of the night, just hours after the release, an Israeli official announcement of settlement construction in East Jerusalem was made public. The newspapers had already gone to bed, but the papers' websites explained that it was meant to appease the right wing, who most strongly opposed the prisoner release. Maariv/NRG Hebrew's political affairs reporter Eli Bardenstein posted an article about it already at midnight.
The construction is to take place in four places in E. Jerusalem:
1. The establishment of the controversial Mount Scopus Slopes National Park, between two Palestinian neighborhoods.
2. The reviving of the plan to establish the Kedem Center, a tourism and archaeological center in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, adjacent to the Old City.
3. "Reinforcing" the plan to build 1,500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo. This means that within several months, it will be possible to start issuing building permits and marketing land to contractors.
4. Reviving three more building plans in Ramat Shlomo that will allow construction of an additional room to existing housing units there, and hence, an increase in the number of residents. (More from Ynet)
 
Meanwhile, Top PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo said in a statement that "The current Israeli negotiating position is the worst in more than 20 years...They want security first, and that the borders of the state of Palestine should be set out according to Israeli security needs that never end, and that will undermine the possibility of establishing a sovereign Palestinian state."

UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights Richard Falk said if renewed peace talks fail, the UN General Assembly should seek an opinion from International Court of Justice about the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories, calling it "an affront to international law." Falk was speaking at the UN Human Rights Council, where Israel was defending its human rights record. There was a long line to speak. Some 76 countries signed up to speak during the half-day debate, with Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi among the first. He thanked diplomats whose behind-the-scenes negotiations brought Israel back. "I think Israel only understands the language of pressure," Khraishi said.  A string of European countries also took Israel to task, with Britain saying it was "deeply concerned" about the situation in the territories, while the US's deputy ambassador praised Israel's track record. However, he did have a critical note, urging Israel to boost resources for Israeli Arab and Bedouin communities, and guard against the clout of Orthodox rabbis in determining policies that could discriminate against non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews.

All UN member states must undergo a review of their human rights record every four years and Israel was due for its review yesterday - and almost did not show up. It had been boycotting the Council for 20 months, since the Council decided to probe the human rights impact of Israeli settlements on Palestinians. Last week, it decided to end the boycott after Germany had warned Israel that it would be diplomatically detrimental to Israel if it did not show up. Other European countries as well as the US and Canada had also pressured Israel to show up. Their fear was that if Israel did not attend its review that would give a green light to other rogue states to do the same. Israel would have been the first state to do so. Israel demanded two conditions be met: It become a full member of the council's Western Europe and Others Group (WEOG) of the Council and that the Council's Article 7, which stipulates that every conference must include a separate discussion on human rights in Israel, be ended. A compromise was reached according to which Article 7 would be limited and Western nations would nominate Israel for full membership in the WEOG.
 

Quick Hits:

  • Palestinian teen shot, injured by Israeli troops near Bethlehem - 17-year-old Ahmad Riyad Sabbah was hit by a gunshot to the back Tuesday evening after fierce clashes broke out between Israeli troops and young men in the village of Tuqu, east of Bethlehem. (Maan)
  • Israeli rightists tour Aqsa compound, witnesses say - Around 63 Jewish Israelis toured the compound in three groups, mainly consisting of religious students and teachers. Dozens of Palestinian students shouted slogans condemning the visit. Israel maintains a compromise with the Islamic trust that controls the site not to allow non-Muslim prayers in the compound.(Maan)
  • Israeli forces raid African-Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem's Old City - Israeli forces raided the African neighborhood of the Old City and assaulted Moayyad Salaymeh, 22, before detaining him on Tuesday, leading to clashes with locals. (Maan)
  • Israeli bulldozers demolish apartment building north of Jerusalem - Israeli forces surrounded an apartment building belonging to Rushdi Shwaidi at 4 a.m. and forced the family members to get out. The 4-floor building has four apartments with four families, around 20 people in total, including women and children. (Maan)
  • Israeli military court sentences Hebron man to life imprisonment - Hussein Ali al-Qawasmeh, 39, was sentenced for planning to carry out an operation in Jerusalem to kidnap Israeli soldiers. To the judge he said: "I do not regret anything. You stole my homeland, killed my brothers, sisters, and you expect that I will dedicate a bouquet of flowers for you?" Israeli forces killed two of his brothers and another brother is in an Israeli jail. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces raid Jenin village, clashes break out - Five military vehicles raided the town of Silat al-Harithiya and fired tear gas in the center of the village, causing dozens of students to suffer from excessive tear gas inhalation. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces demolish a wall, two rooms, and water tank in Nablus village - Israeli bulldozers early Tuesday morning demolished a water tank, two rooms, a wall, and several agricultural properties in al-Taweel area near the village of Akraba south of Nablus. (Maan)
  • Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran; Kerry: We won't succumb to fear tactics - White House says leaders also discussed Israel-PA peace talks. US secretary of state on Israeli demand for more pressure on Iran: 'Some have suggested that somehow there's something wrong with giving diplomacy a chance.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Foxman slams Kerry remarks as White House courts Jewish leaders on Iran - After meeting with Susan Rice and other officials, select Jewish group expresses support for 'effective and transparent diplomatic solution' to standoff with Tehran. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Knesset speaker boycotts Hollande's Israel visit - Yuli Edelstein orders cancelation of French president's visit to Knesset after latter decides withdraws plan to address plenum in favor of other venue. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Lack of vaccines leads to dozens of West Bank livestock deaths - Dozens of animals have died in the West Bank due to a lack of vaccines against a deadly disease affecting livestock. (Maan)
  • Israeli hospital to hold radiological attack drill - U.S. Energy Department will take part in Nov. 7 drill at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The medical center will simulate treating 70 patients in its underground facilities. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli military seeks massive top-up of 2014 defense budget - While other ministries have been forced to slash spending, Defense Ministry wants billions more to enable IDF 'to fulfill its most basic missions.' (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Gantz: Budget cuts violate officers' basic rights - Chief of staff, defense minister say will not allow cuts to affect basic rights of soldiers in permanent service, following plan to cut IDF personnel by some 4,500 officers, NCOs. (Ynet)
  • Soldiers from the Ethiopian community lag behind - A quarter of soldiers of Ethiopian origin fail to complete their military service, twice as many as the overall draft. (Haaretz)
  • Students from Golan Heights will travel to Damascus for studies - One day late, due to the Israeli army's refusal, dozens of Druze students from the Golan left this morning to begin their studies at the University of Damascus. (Maariv, p. 10)
  • Netanyahu puts onus on Israeli Arabs for economic development - The prime minister calls for the rule of law and entrepreneurship for the community to integrate into the economy. (Haaretz and Globes)
  • (Governor of BoI) Flug calls for more Arabs, haredim in workforce - In her first public speech as Governor of the Bank of Israel, Karnit Flug said, "The economy is in good shape," but warned that current demographic trends would reduce annual growth by 1.3%. (Globes)
  • Report: Elderly in Israel - poorest in Western world - Prior to tax, pensions, poor are in great shape in relation to global situation. After - picture changes completely. Taub Center report says one fifth of Israel's elderly live below poverty level - seven times more than in most developed countries. (Ynet)
  • NIS 14 million approved for Jewish Identity Administration - Two days after Finance Minister Yair Lapid opposed paid paternity leave due to costs, Finance Ministry requests millions to build organization to 'enhance Jewish awareness in Israel'; other budgets approved. (Ynet)
  • Yeshiva funding for foreign students restored, but with a Zionist twist - Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students will have to attend lessons in Zionism, meet with soldiers and visit IDF memorial sites. (Haaretz)
  • Controversial civil union bill tabled, precipitating coalition tumult - Habayit Hayehudi vows to oppose civil union bills, threatens a split with ally Yesh Atid over the issue. Former Supreme Court judge says the lack of civil marriage constitutes a violation of the constitutional right to marry. (Israel Hayom)
  • In the footsteps of Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Dozens of his devotees moved to Morocco - The Jerusalemit Rabbi, who fled Israel following complaints filed against him of sexual harrassment (and rape), has an extensive community life in Marrakesh, where some 10 families with 40 children live and learn with him. Morocco does not have an extradition treaty with Israel. (Maariv, p. 21)
  • Israel rejects Lebanon EEZ compromise - Israel has rejected a US compromise on the dispute with Lebanon over offshore borders and exploration. (Globes)
  • Carmel Caves named newest UNESCO World Heritage Site - Caves, in northern Israel, become the 10th Israeli site on the list. UNESCO: Site provides "a definitive chronological framework at a key period of human development." (Israel Hayom)
  • Obama spokesman evades question on NSA monitoring Netanyahu's phone - Jay Carney refuses to speak of 'specific assurances' regarding Netanyahu, Washington Examiner reports. (Haaretz)
  • Egyptian Minister: Egypt, Brotherhood should pursue reconciliation - Deputy PM, often at odds with government hardliners, says Brotherhood leaders in jail need not halt progress; Minister hopes for stronger economic growth. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • US senators seek to cut Iran's oil sales in half - again - Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez tells AIPAC he's pushing package of sanctions aimed at cutting Iran's current oil exports; White House officials meet with Jewish leaders ahead of Geneva talks. (Agencies, Ynet)


Features:

Druze delights: New tourist spots on the Golan
From Birkat Ram lake to the main street of Majdal Shams and the promenade on the Sa'ar stream, Golan Druze are setting aside politics and investing in tourism. (Haaretz)
Hezbollah remains threat to Israel
After second Lebanon War, Shiite group rebuilt its strength, arsenal, now poses acute threat to State of Israel. (Ynet)
Playing for time? Strategic flexibility in a 'post-ideological' Iran
As Iran approaches what many see as the threshold of critical capability, friends and foes remain divided on its ultimate goal. Have the revolutionaries finally grown up? Israeli experts share their views. (Haaretz)

Commentary/Analysis:

Shunned and isolated, Hamas reaches unprecedented low in Gaza (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) With anti-government demonstrations at home and a new chill from Cairo and Tehran, the Islamist organization is in a tight spot all around.
The Shoah for five-year-olds (Haaretz Editorial) Teaching the Holocaust to kindergarten children, as Israel's Education Minister proposes, is a dangerous step that is liable to imbue them with the feeling that they are eternally in danger of annihilation. 
Equal laws, discriminatory practice: the plight of (East) Jerusalem children (Rifat Odeh Kassis, Maan) Israel's Youth Law provides special safeguards to minors in conflict with the law, regardless of their nationality, during the entire legal process. The reality, however, is otherwise for Palestinian Jerusalemite children.
One small crime at Ben-Gurion airport (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz) In the larger scale of things, it's so easy to brush aside a little humiliation suffered by one Palestinian woman in a wheelchair.
Afghanistan already here (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Global jihad spreading like cancer throughout Middle East; Israel preparing for the worst.
Support the government or quit (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) In a democratic country, the principle of shared responsibility applies to all government ministers. 
Which Arab state has the vision to find common ground with Israel? (Dave Sharma, Haaretz) As Arab antagonism towards Israel crumbles, now is the time for open cooperation between Israel and the Arab world, taking a lead from ASEAN's birth. 
Don't stand in way of peace (Merav Betito, Yedioth/Ynet) Those damned murderers we are releasing today are some of bad symptoms of reality of occupation. 
Israel's foolish boycott backtrack (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) No good can come of Israel subjecting itself, yet again, to the hypocritical judgment of its detractors in the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Obama administration bowing out of the Middle East (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Peace process is a no-risk option, with no potential of military intervention and no strategic threat that could lead to a regional war.

 

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

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