News Nosh 12.7.17

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday, December 7, 2017
 
Quote of the day:
"Trump, who promised to bring the 'deal of the century,' did exactly the opposite. He gave Israel a reason to light the holiday lights on the walls, but did not bring the news of peace and did not give the slightest hope."
--Yedioth's Washington D.C. correspondent in an Op-Ed responding to US President Donald Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.*


Breaking News:
Palestinians Clash With Israeli Soldiers Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision
At least 16 wounded, one seriously as protests erupt in Gaza and the West Bank. (Haaretzand Ynet)

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Today’s Hebrew newspapers were unusually thin, as if all news stopped for the historic declaration of US President Donald Trump, who said what has been true for 70 years: that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The fact that a poverty report found that Israelis are the poorest people in the Western world was buried in the middle, as reactions, commentary and analysis filled the first halves of the newspapers.

In his speech (full transcript), Trump did not mention ‘E. Jerusalem,’ nor did he use the word ‘undivided’ in reference to the city, thereby leaving the division of Jerusalem between east and west open for future negotiations. For Trump, it was simply a 'recognition of reality' and the opportunity to do what Presidents before him ‘were too scared’ to do.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the official recognition and urged the world to follow the US lead, (indeed, the Philippine and Czech leaders also reportedly expressed interest in moving their embassies to Jerusalem,) but Israelis were divided about the benefits of this historic official declaration. (See Commentary/Analysis below.)

The Palestinians, however, were united in their agreement that this was only bad. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of 'wars without end' and said Jerusalem was the "eternal capital of the State of Palestine,” senior Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat, told Haaretz+, “The two-state solution is over. Now is the time to transform the struggle for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.” Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh called for a third intifada and a day of rage on Friday, saying Trump’s decision 'is a declaration of war.' The IDF sent reinforcements across the West Bank and as this is being written, clashes are taking place between protesting Palestinians and Israeli forces. Haniyeh said he and Abbas agreed during a phone conversation on the need to stage protests over Trump's expected declaration on Jerusalem.

Trump Declaration Reactions:
Quick Hits:
  • Israeli poverty falls but remains the highest in the OECD - National Insurance Institute finds large increase in poverty rates for children, ultra-Orthodox, declines for Israeli Arabs. 1.8 million are poor, 840,000 of whom are children. (Haaretz, YnetHebrew and JPost)
  • Israel slumps in international literacy-skills study, falling 11 places - Fourth-grade students were placed 29th out of 50 countries in reading test, below Slovakia and Kazakhstan, compared to 18th in 2011. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel bars 22 Palestinian researchers from EU-B'Tselem event - 22 West Bank Palestinians were denied entry to the show, marking the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation. (Haaretz+)
  • This activist wrote a viral song about a cop. Now Israel wants him jailed - Barak Cohen posted on social media a song targeting a police officer, but while many don't believe his act to be a crime, prosecution says he is 'likely to offend again.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Israel Air Force declares first F-35 squadron operational - Israel is the first nation outside the U.S. to boast of a squadron of F-35 ‘Adir’ jets, and a top source in the air force says the country is now in a 'completely different position' facing regional threats. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israeli court ordered Palestinian Authority to pay 3 million NIS in damages to family of Israeli murdered in 2003 - Today, the Israeli High Court ruled that the Palestinian Authority must pay the family of a terror victim who was murdered in 2003 three million shekels in damages. (Maariv and JerusalemOnline)
  • Coalition whip Bitan grilled again in massive municipal corruption probe - At Wednesday's hearing it emerged that police have proposed that a contractor turn state’s evidence in the case. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel renews ties with Swedish foreign minister who sought probe of 'extrajudicial killings' - Margot Wallstrom meets with Israel’s new ambassador in Stockholm and says a better atmosphere has been forged. (Haaretz+)
  • Revealed: Blackwater founder Erik Prince's Business Ties with Netanyahu’s disgraced chief of staff - U.S. businessman at center of storm over allegedly setting up back-channel between Trump and Putin has ties to Ari Harow and an Israeli financier. (Haaretz)
  • Mediterranean gas deal to position Israel as key energy player - Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy sign agreement to build undersea pipeline carrying natural gas from deposits in Eastern Mediterranean to Europe • Energy Minister Steinitz: Pipeline will "make Israel an important player in the European energy game." (Israel Hayom)
  • EU calls on US to stick to Iran nuclear deal - The U.S. exiting 2015 deal would be counterproductive and "would not put us in a better position to discuss the rest," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini says • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: We must counter Iran's destabilizing activities. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran asks Muslims to disrupt Israeli ties in region - Muslims must thwart "plot by unnamed countries" in the Middle East to foster diplomatic ties with Israel, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani decrees • Rouhani slams countries that "shamelessly" pursue ties with Israel, says "sinister plot" must be foiled. (Israel Hayom)
  • 2-day Gulf summit ends within hours amid Qatar crisis - Persian Gulf plunged into diplomatic crisis in June as countries cut ties with Qatar over its support of terrorism • Abu Dhabi, Riyadh to head "all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields," in Gulf, undercutting Gulf Cooperation Council. (Israel Hayom)
  • Saudi-led coalition's airstrike blitz forces residents of Yemen's capital indoors- The proxy war between regional arch-rivals Saudi Arabia - armed and furnished intelligence by the West - and Iran has already killed more than 10,000 people, with more than two million displaced. (Agencies, Haaretz)


Commentary/Analysis:
Trump Hasn’t Killed the Peace Process, He Just Pronounced It Dead (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) U.S. recognition of Jerusalem has shattered the illusion that if only the core issues could be resolved, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would come to an end
Thank you, President Trump (President Reuven Rivlin, Yedioth/Ynet) Jerusalem is not, and will never be, an obstacle for those who seek peace, writes Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, along with moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, are pivotal landmarks in the right of the Jewish people for its land and its quest for peace.
United Jerusalem? Trump's Recognition of Israeli Capital May Carry an Unexpected Price (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+) Over 300,000 Palestinians currently live in the city without citizenship rights, a situation the U.S. move could inadvertently force Israel to address.
Jerusalem declaration: Once again, Trump favors words over action (Yoav Fromer, Yedioth/Ynet) Instead of providing the ‘historic deal’ between Israel and the Palestinians, as he promised to do, the US president has apparently given up the hard and challenging work involved in diplomatic negotiations for the sake of empty statements.
Trump's Jerusalem Gesture Is Tainted by His Overall Record of Recklessness(Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Nonetheless, Palestinians should be grateful to Trump for at least one thing.
*The doorbell ring of fear (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth) Trump, who promised to bring the 'deal of the century,' did exactly the opposite. He gave Israel a reason to light the holiday lights on the walls, but did not bring the news of peace and did not give the slightest hope.
Trump opens the door to peace (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) As long as countries and organizations in the world continue lending credence to the Palestinians' false dream, the latter have no incentive to reach an agreement with Israel.
In battle against Jerusalem recognition, Palestinians united by Al-Aqsa (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) Both Hamas and Palestinian President Abbas are trying to lead the national conflict to the religious plane and to the Temple Mount. As far as they’re concerned, an American Embassy in Jerusalem is not a diplomatic decision, it’s a crusader takeover of Al-Aqsa.
An American Withdrawal From Peace (Haaretz Editorial) It’s true that his predecessors also didn’t impose a settlement, but at least since the 2000 Camp David summit they mediated between the parties.
To go naked and feel dressed (Itamar Eichner, Yedioth) Three of four years will pass until the establishment of the new embassy. In other words: The President only bought time. if Trump really wanted to, he could have with a wave of his hand announced that the embassy is being transferred tomorrow.
With Jerusalem Recognition, Trump Proves U.S. Was Never an Honest Broker (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) World leaders did little to advance peace, so why whine now?
For the sake of national security (Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom) The consistent failure to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is interpreted as capitulation to Arab pressure, fear of Islamic terror and adopting European feebleness.
Israelis, Why Are You Celebrating Trump's Jerusalem Decision? (Emilie Moatti, Haaretz+) Where did our national pride go? For it’s clear that every Israeli sees Jerusalem as his capital and most Israelis can’t understand the rejoicing over a declaration of the obvious.
The transfer of the US Embassy to its natural place is not an Israeli act (Meir Uziel, Maariv) If this is what the Americans want, why didn’t the transfer happened in the past? American presidents have so far acted against the wishes of their citizens because of fear and it seems that Trump in his speech decided to stop operating out of fear.
The main profitter: Iran (Alon Pinkas, Yedioth) The cries of the left-wing about the 'timing' and the 'ending of the peace process' are a bit silly. The cries of happiness of the right-wing are equally ridiculous. The US recognized an allegedly united city, with close to 40% Palestinians with the right to vote, and around it is the Palestinian Authority, which speaks aloud of 'one state.' Trump didn't bring anything new...he didn't change the policy...What is the US interest? There is no clear US interest and therefore his decision is based on internal-political considerations...If Iran were really the biggest challenge and strengthening the relations with the Saudis was key, yesterday's declaration could act oppositely. If there is a consideration to present a 'diplomatic plan,' yesterday it worked in the opposite direction. Third, who profits? Probably Trump, even though he did the right thing, he defined the big winner of the move - Iran.
We’re Fed Up With Your Protests (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The 'recommendations bill' — for this Israel will take to the streets. But what they should do is to come out en masse against Trump’s insane plan to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Prince Hassan of Jordan: Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Move Plays Politics With International Law - and Our Lives (Prince El-Hassan Bin Talal, Haaretz) There will be serious repercussions to the U.S. president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, an explicit violation of international law. He is expropriating the issue of the Holy City, and escalating an already dangerous conflict, for his own political purposes.
Self-awareness: It is important that Trump recognize Jerusalem, but it is even more important that there be those who love her (Shmuel Rosner, Maariv) The US president's announcement is an opportunity for us. Now we can invest more effort, in the capital. This is the capital because of the love of the Jews, not because of the recognition of the other nations.
With Jerusalem recognition, Trump gives Netanyahu a great tool to distract the masses (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) And if the doomsday predictions prove false, Bibi can say look, Jerusalem was recognized as the capital and the sky didn’t fall. All thanks to whom?
We American Christians welcome Trump's obedience to God's word on Jerusalem(Laurie Cardoza-Moore, Haaretz+) Donald Trump is advancing the most biblically historic initiative of his presidency. It means Judeo-Christian America can say again: 'Israel – We’ve got your back.’
Palestinian rage over Trump’s Jerusalem move won’t turn into a Third Intifada(Muhammad Shehada, Haaretz+) Despite Palestinian despair as deep as before the first intifada, there won't be a popular uprising or widespread officially-sanctioned violence. It's not in the interests of the PA or Hamas - and they've bought the obedience of the activists who would have led the charge.
Bravo, President Trump, for Standing Up to Palestinian Blackmail on Jerusalem (Elliott Abrams, Haaretz+) Trump is not destroying his own peace efforts but grounding them in reality: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. And he’s reacted to Arab and Palestinian ‘predictions’ (read: threats) of violence with the contempt they deserve.
Don't apologize (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The Left is vexed because a well-known television personality dared to speak the truth and call for retaliatory action after a group of Jewish children on a hike were the victim of an attempted lynch by Arab rioters.
After Trump's statement: Security forces are increasing their intel efforts (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The defense establishment has been burned more than once from wrong assessments about the Palestinians' response. So this time, they are focusing on preparing for every possible scenario. The alertness is high but the forces have not yet been moved.
On Jerusalem, Trump Just Offered Talk. Does Kushner's Peace Plan Offer Real Substance? (Daniel B. Shapiro, Haaretz) Trump's Jerusalem move, taken and rolled out in a frantic rush, stopped at mere rhetoric for Israel and nothing for Palestinians. Kushner and Greenblatt must show far more explicit U.S. support for two states - and it needs to happen soon.
American Jews: Look in the mirror (Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom) Though we seek the support of all Diaspora Jews, a growing number of U.S. Jews feel no empathy for Israel. We should concentrate on those whose support has never waned.
Trump Just Upended the Entire History of Middle East Diplomacy - and Delivered Netanyahu's Ultimate Coup (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is all about painting himself as more courageous than his predecessors, and to hell with the potential consequences for the region's people.
Dear Trump: Forget Jerusalem. Deal with Roy Moore's anti-Semitic 'sexual agenda'(Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Just as no evangelical should ever endorse child molestation, nor Jew-hatred, neither should any president.
Far from the target: Tehran's difficulties in achieving hegemony in the Middle East (Amos Gilboa, Maariv) Despite what we claim, there are currently no Iranians on the Golan border. The Russians have no interest in Iranian dominance in the country or a special interest in the continued rule of Assad and the Alawite community.
 
Interviews: 
From Bill Clinton to Trump: The never-ending story of the Jerusalem embassy move
Former ambassadors Martin Indyk and Dan Kurtzer tell Haaretz how a move of the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv is a lot easier to broach on the campaign trail. (Interviewed by Amir Tibon in Haaretz)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.
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