News Nosh 5.16.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday May 16, 2017
 
Quote of the day:
Israeli authorities "have proven once again that there is no importance to human life when it comes to Palestinians."
--The left-wing human rights NGO Yesh Din, which represented the family of Antar Shibli al-Aqra, responded after an Israeli court gave a very light sentence to the Border Police volunteer who killed the unarmed man who entered Israel illegally looking for work.*

You Must Be Kidding: 
"The claim (by a member of the Trump team) that the Western Wall is in the West Bank was met with shock."
--Said an Israeli official at the Prime Minister's Office, who apparently forgot that until Israel conquered E. Jerusalem in 1967, it was part of the West Bank.**


Breaking News:
Gulf States Offer Unprecedented Steps to Normalize Israel Ties in Exchange for Partial Settlement Freeze
Various Sunni Arab countries offer to establish direct telecommunication lines with Israel, among other steps, if Israel makes various gestures toward Palestinians, according to Wall Street Journal report. (Haaretz)

Front Page:
Haaretz 
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Tension before the [Trump] visit
  • Assad’s incinerator
  • The furnace is burning and the world is silent // Ben-Dror Yemini
  • IDF exposed on the wall [of Facebook]
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • This is how Obama froze [construction] in Jerusalem
  • US: Assad operating incinerators
  • Parents sent their son to pre-school with a recording device; the teacher demands 100,000 shekel
  • Fear in Rishon L’Tzion: “We don’t want security prisoners near pre-schools”
  • Parents of soldier Yiftah Grady, [who was killed by an Israeli in a nightclub]: “Only 15 years jail for his stabbing? Mockery”
  • “Don’t give a stage to draft-dodgers”: Call to prevent artists who didn’t serve in army from performing before soldiers
News Summary:
The US accused Syria of mass executions and burning the bodies, US officials told Israeli officials to stay away from US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Wailing Wall, because “this is not your territory, it's the West Bank,” and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu showed ‘proof’ that he requested from Trump the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, despite a Fox News report stating otherwise - making top stories in the Hebrew newspapers. Also in the news, the latest on the Trump visit, the latest on the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger-strike and a comparison of reporting and sentencing of people convicted of killing.
 
** US diplomats from the US consulate in Jerusalem snubbed Israeli officials Sunday about arrangements for Trump’s planned visit to the Western Wall during his trip to Israel next week, saying that the site is in the West Bank, and therefore the Israeli government has no authority over it. [Interestingly, Haaretz English used the word ‘claiming’ that the site is in the West Bank, although factually it is in the West Bank, which was conquered in 1967. But Israel later annexed it and considers it separate. - OH] As if making a point supportive of the Israeli view and not that expressed by US diplomats, the new US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman arrived in Israel on Monday afternoon and headed straight for the Western Wall to pray, where he had a chance encounter with Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

Fox News Foreign Correspondent Conor Powell Tweeted that Netanyahu asked Trump to hold off on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but Netanyahu's office released protocol from his February meeting with Trump, asking for the embassy to be moved and saying that it wouldn't lead to bloodshed. Nevertheless, Netanyahu continues to face criticism from his more right-wing coalition members of the Habayit Hayehudi party. Habayit Hayehudi leader, Minister Naftali Bennett, said Trump has changed his tune about Israel and that he must understand that ‘there will never be a Palestinian state.’ Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also called “to transfer the embassy to Jerusalem without delay."

On Sunday, Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers met with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman to discuss reviving peace talks with Israel and afterward in a joint press conference, the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that E. Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, while West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Safadi added that the issue of Jerusalem should be treated with caution. "Everyone is convinced that the president of the United States wants to act effectively for peace. The three of us felt a genuine commitment by Trump to resolve the conflict. "
 
*Killings comparison: The family of a soldier stabbed to death by another Jewish Israeli in a nightclub called the 15-year-sentence for the killer, who was convicted of manslaughter, “a mockery.” However, an Israeli Border Police volunteer was convicted of negligent homicide and got seven months prison for killing an unarmed Palestinian laborer,  23-year-old Antar Aqra. That conviction was only mentioned in Haaretz+ and on Ynet and not in any of the other main Israeli newspapers. According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments. Moreover, the Israeli Navy shot and killed a Gaza fisherman, 23-year-old Muhammad Majid Bakr, off the Gaza coast saying his fishing boat was outside the ever-moving Israeli-declared Gaza fishing zone and that he didn't respond to calls from the naval vessel. 
 
Marwan Barghouti threatened to escalate the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike by stopping drinking water if its demands were not met. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) released a list of what those demands were. It focused on communications with family members, medical treatment and hygiene. It included: Installing a public telephone regulation that will enable contact between security prisoners and their families, unlimited visits to all members of the family of the first and second-degree, extending visits from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, permitting photographs with prisoners' families, more regular and swift medical treatment, improved hygienic conditions (change of clothes and cleaner toilet cells), air-conditioners and limiting the number of prisoners in each room (Maariv.) Interestingly, regarding the years-long request for the installation of a public telephone, Barghouti also added that it will put an end to the corruption that is being waged in the prisons, which centers on mobile phone trade. [NOTE: IPS officially prohibits mobile phones, but often allows them unofficially. - OH] Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded saying, "The document of Barghouti's demands only proves how extreme and groundless they are."
 
Barghouti also told his lawyer that the IPS was trying to "break him" by "playing very loud noise for ten hours a day. It prevents him from sleeping," Shkirat said. "When I met him, he had toilet paper stuffed in his ears. Haaretz+ reported that “a compromise reached with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross over the frequency of family visits might produce a breakthrough in these indirect negotiations, which Israel prefers to keep low-profile.” Meanwhile, Palestinian activists have blocked West Bank roads for the second day, calling for increased support of hunger strikers
Quick Hits:
  • High Court issues injunction against separate IPBC news division - Court gives State a month to defend amendment to Public Broadcasting Law that enables establishment of a separate news division for the IPBC. The injunction will be extended until the court rules on the petitions filed against the amendment, thus delaying the establishment of the separate news division. (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • Israeli minister cancels Jordan visit after stabbing - Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis tells Army Radio he will be skipping an Amman accelerator launch over Jordan's reaction to one of its citizens who stabbed an Israeli policeman before being shot dead; 'Peace with Jordan is very important but standing up for the truth is more important than anything.’ (Ynet)
  • For Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Israeli Bureaucracy Goes From Bad to Intolerable - Dr. Samir Masri was forced to embark on a Kafkaesque journey through the Interior Ministry's bureaucracy after his son was born prematurely during a trip to the U.S. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli family rescued [i.e. led to police by Palestinian youth] after accidentally entering Palestinian village - The family of six entered Birzeit, near Ramallah, before being turned over to Palestinian police who took them to a nearby station; 'I feared for the safety of the children,' says mother Ayelet Cohen. (Ynet)
  • Israeli justice chief mulls giving ministers say in choosing legal counsels - Ayelet Shaked's proposal is related to a bill that, according to the Israeli Democracy Institute, undermines the aim of advisers - to serve the public. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli Watchdog Raps Minister for Allotting Funds to Groups Close to Him - State Comptroller Joseph Shapira says he wants the attorney general to explore decisions by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, notably for activity when he was housing minister. (Haaretz+)
  • Former chief Sephardi rabbi convicted of fraud - Bakshi-Doron, who served as Israel’s Sephardi chief rabbi from 1993 to 2003, was the final defendant in the case, in which several other former officials had been convicted previously. (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • Shin Bet junior officials accused of theft, fraud - Prosecution asks that the two remain incarcerated throughout proceedings. (Haaretz
  • Israel warns arms dealers of crackdown on bribery - Reminder issued in advance of OECD report on anti-corruption in Israel's weapons trade. (Haaretz+) 
  • AG, police commissioner and MK clash over police polygraph bill - After approving a previous version of a bill having all police officers up for the rank of maj. gen. or higher undergo polygraph test, AG Mandelblit comes out against MK Amsalem, whose rewritten version would have all 1,600 investigating officers undergo it; Police Commissioner Alsheikh and Public Security Min. Erdan, who promoted original bill, have also rejected Amsalem's version. (Yedioth/Ynet
  • Israel Police bans all cops from casinos, even while on vacation abroad - Disgruntled cops: Placing a few bets when on vacation abroad doesn't mean someone is a compulsive gambler. (Haaretz+)
  • Soldiers exchanging shifts on Facebook - and harming IDF - In a closed Facebook group, IDF medical personnel exchange shifts, reveal sensitive information harming field security. IDF: The guidelines for field security were made clearer to the soldiers." (Yedioth, p. 28)
  • IDF lends power and technology to protection of animals - In a new project, IDF spotters use thermal binoculars and knowledge of the terrain to identify hunters and antiquities thieves and call in law enforcement • "As soldiers who defend this country, we must also help protect its environment," officer says. (Israel Hayom
  • IDF to reinstate shows by artists discharged for justified reasons - In 2007, as part of effort to fight draft-dodging, Education Corps banned popular artists who did not serve in IDF from performing before soldiers • But the IDF is said to be reconsidering after some 10 barred artists volunteered to hold shows for troops. (Israel Hayom
  • Law license of activist charged with targeting bankers suspended - Barak Cohen’s alleged offenses were committed as part of his activities with Ba’im Lebankim, a group of anti-banking activists. (Haaretz+) 
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel launches biggest season in its history - Some 33,000 Jewish youngsters from 33 countries expected to visit Israel this summer • Season kicks off with 131 groups expected to arrive this week • "This summer we will celebrate 600,000 participants," says Birthright CEO Gidi Mark. (Israel Hayom)
  • JNF opens ancient caves from era of Bar Kokhba revolt - Khirbet Burgin archaeological site is opened to public as part of the Jewish National Fund's 115th anniversary • Visitors can tour tunnels and caves used by famed Jewish leader Simon Bar Kokhba and his followers during the revolt of 132 C.E. (Israel Hayom)  
  • From our archives: When Ivanka Trump visited Israel in 2008 to scout real estate property - Ivanka Trump made her first trip to Israel at 26 to scout investments. (Haaretz
  • Never Again? U.S. Claims of Assad Regime Crematorium Spark Holocaust Comparisons - After the U.S. said the bodies of thousands of prisoners have been burned, reactions on social media bemoan that the world - again - has failed to react to mass murder. (Haaretz+)
  • Like father, like son: Hamza Bin Laden calls for Jews to be killed - In recently released audio and video messages, Hamza Bin Laden praises attacks against Israelis and calls on jihadists to 'find Jews everywhere and kill them,' including in Europe and the United States. (Yedioth/Ynet)


Features:
A drone and three agents in the Gaza Strip: this is how the assassination of (Hamas military man) Mazen Fuqha was carried out
The head of the Hamas security forces revealed that the perpetrators said they had received "direct orders from the Occupation," in his words. He added: "They admitted to shooting at buildings and government institutions." (Yasir Ukbi, Maariv
The Mystery of Israel’s Missing Christian Pilgrims
Experts put the potential for Christian faith tourists at 10 million a year, compared with 700,000 at present. What's Israel doing wrong? (Moshe Gilad, Haaretz+)
 
Commentary/Analysis:
A Bill Based on Moldy Conceptions (Tzvia Greenfield, Haaretz+) Discussion over the unnecessary nation-state legislation has sparked a renewed and welcome ideological debate about religion, culture and Jewish identity. 
Nationality Bill’s only purpose: Showing Arabs who’s boss (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) The proposed legislation, which passed a preliminary Knesset reading last week, offers no dramatic changes and simply repeats things that already exist in the State of Israel’s different laws. Its main goal—giving Israel’s Arab citizens the finger—has already been achieved. 
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda Is Turning in His Grave Over Israel’s Humiliation of Arabic (Seraj Assi, Haaretz+) The humanist reviver of modern Hebrew, who explicitly sought help from "her sister, Arabic", would not recognize the idea the two languages are each other's nemesis, as Israel’s nation-state bill seems to imagine.
Taking From Israelis, Giving to the Settlers (Noa Osterreicher, Haaretz+) Ayelet Shaked is a passionate devotee of free market economics, except for when it comes to the territories. 
With Politicians Like These, Israel Is Better Off Without Public Broadcasting (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) Maybe public broadcasting can succeed in other countries with a democratic tradition like Britain, but not in this sweaty country where politicians want to control everything that moves. 
Wanted: a leader - Israel must have at its head people who will put the country above all (Uri Savir, Maariv) Any future decision for peace will bring violent resistance at the beginning. There is a need for leaders who have the courage to do the right thing for the identity of the state and not for their political benefit. 
It Was Israel That Fell in the Candy-bar Trap (Odeh Bisharat, Haaretz+) The Tortit trick against Barghouti was essentially a struggle over awareness. The Palestinians dismissed it and were disgusted by the low point the occupation had sunk to. 
Dealing with effigy-burning extremists (Dr. Hanan Mandel, Israel Hayom) While violence directed at religious soldiers and women in the military may be marginal, it is not a phenomenon we can afford to ignore.
It's the Most Successful Israel Boycott Ever. And It May Yet Yield Results (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is said to fear that Trump and adviser Lauder may actually be trying to do exactly what they've been saying. And that they might just get somewhere.
Peace Talks First. The U.S. Embassy Can Wait (Haaretz Editorial) Moving the embassy to Jerusalem isn't a real-estate deal. It's a crucial diplomatic declaration that shouldn't be negotiated between Sheldon Adelson and Trump. 
Jordan's double game (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Israel benefits from peace with Jordan and makes an effort to accommodate the Jordanians, but terrorism cannot be a part of the kingdom's "game." 
A White House at war with itself can’t make peace in the Middle East (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) Hopes that President Donald Trump might be able to achieve the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israel and the Palestinians is a misplaced fantasy given the current chaos in his administration. 
Palestinians shift strategy, playing national security card with Trump (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) Officials are pushing the indispensability of Palestinian Authority and suggesting that if the two-state solution disappears, consequences for the region would be grave. 
While the Right-wing was celebrating, the Palestinians did their homework with Trump (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The American president is probably not really what we thought. Now, it turns out that when our government rejoiced at his election, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world did not rest for a moment. And Netanyahu? He knew the truth all the time. 
Israel's Persian voice falls silent (Menashe Amir, Israel Hayom) Israel Radio in Farsi was the most effective tool the country had to communicate directly with the people of Iran, but the new broadcasting authority has killed this grand enterprise.
'We Live in an Orwellian State' Turkish Academics Are the Latest Victims of Erdogan's Purges (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) A Turkish researcher shocked the audience at an Athens conference recently when she described the fear rife in Turkish academia, where pursuing one's field of research becomes fraught with danger 
 
Interviews:
A trailblazer for women in the army: 'IDF chief? Maybe when I'm 47'
Maj. Dana Ben Ezra, who was recently appointed the deputy commander of a co-ed battalion in the Jordan Valley, is the woman with the most senior combat role in the IDF. In an interview, she talks about her best friend who was murdered in a terror attack, explains why she's not worried by Rabbi Levinstein's disparaging comments on women in the IDF, and asserts that women should take the reins in all fields. (Interviewed by Eti Abramov in Yedioth/Ynet)

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