News Nosh 02.03.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 3, 2015

Quote of the day:
"The nature of the Jewish settlement in the city and its way of action smear and disgrace the entire Israeli society.”
--Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer criticized the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the Jewish settlement enclave in Hebron.**

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

Israeli Election 2015 Polls:
Netanyahu surging in polls, but scandals may take tollRecent reports of alleged corruption at the prime minister’s residences haven’t dented his popularity in Haaretz+'s latest poll.
Likud – 26
Zionist Camp – 24
Habayit Hayehudi – 1
Joint List (Hadash and Arab parties) – 12
United Torah Judaism – 9
Yesh Atid – 9
Kulanu – 8
Shas – 7
Yisrael Beiteinu – 6
Meretz – 5
Yahad (Eli Yishai) – 3 (Doesn’t pass threshold)
Kadima – 0
Aleh Yarok – 0
Otzma Yehudit – 0
News Summary:
The State Comptroller announces he will publish the report on the Netanyahu’s residence expenses and says suspicion of “criminal activity” exists, the hospitals are overcrowded and Israeli soldiers got named heroes making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers.

Quick Hits:
  • **Rivlin, on visit to Hebron: I won't boycott the left or the right - A brawl broke out between Meretz activists, who came to protest the visit alongside Palestinians, and a group of extreme right-wing activists and settlers. Rivlin reiterates that he supports settlements as well as Palestinians’ rights. (Haaretz+, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Rightist Israeli politicians boycott democracy conference over NGO backing - Politicians from Likud and Habayit Hayehudi announced they would not participate in a conference initiated by Haaretz because of 'funding by an anti-Zionist body,' the New Israel Fund. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Jordan returning ambassador to Israel - Amman withdrew Amb. Walid Obeidat three months ago following escalation in East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Jordan: "Israel has taken steps to reduce tension at the Al Aqsa Mosque." Lieberman praises Jordan's decision. (Haaretz and Maariv)
  • New paper reveals Israel's damage control efforts on Palestinian ICC bid - Foreign Ministry report disseminated to all missions abroad outlines Israel's central arguments against ICC preliminary probe into possible war crimes. (Ynet)
  • USA Today against Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: “It could cost the lives of many American citizens” – The criticism continues in the US media. USA today editorial warned that Netanyahu’s speech for more sanctions against Iran could ruin the last chance for an agreement because of a ‘political game in Israel.’ It Instead of an alliance between countries, and accused Netanyahu of trying to “exchange the alliance between allies to an alliance between Likud and the Republicans.” (Maariv, p. 4)
  • "Black flag" report: Success with the ‘knock on the roof’ (warning method), problem with decision making - B'Tselem published a report which examined 600 cases in which people were killed. According to the statistics, 70% of those killed were not involved in the fighting. (Maariv, p. 6) 
  • Educators: We won’t go to work (in West Bank) without funding for armored cars - Bekaat Yarden Regional Council (in West Bank) is furious at Education Ministry for stopping to fund transportation of teachers and pre-school educators to the area in armored cars. Council threatening not to send the educators to the educational institutions. The children and youth are transported every morning to 19 schools and pre-schools in armored vehicles paid for by the Education Ministry. (Maariv, p. 6)
  • Pro-Palestinian hackers hacked the company that archives documents of Israeli government ministries - Sunday night the hackers broke into the websites of Archive 2000, Army Radio reported. They reportedly succeeded in copying part of the database, but no damage was caused to the information itself. (Maariv, p. 18)
  • IDF's Givati Brigade most highly decorated unit - After difficult year, infantry brigade stands out in commendations ceremony for operational activity during Operation Protective Edge, with 13 citations granted to Givati soldiers. (Ynet
  • Dozens arrested as Haredi protest IDF draft for yeshiva students - Demonstrations held in Jerusalem, Ashdod, Hadera and Bnei Brak; 40 arrested after mass protest in Ashdod; two policemen lightly hurt. (Ynet)
  • Prime Minister’s Office using state resources to monitor media reports on Netanyahu family - Personal stories deemed even higher priority than collecting news items on diplomatic, security or economic issues. (Haaretz+)
  • Comptroller seeks legal action over leaked draft report - Reporter Raviv Drucker posts two-year-old draft of allegations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his blog. Comptroller: Publication of a draft is illegal. Drucker: Law is obsolete. Likud: No end to efforts to topple Netanyahu. (Israel Hayom)
  • Abbas' son is a senior adviser to OneVoice International - The son of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is a member of OneVoice's Advisory Council in the Palestinian Authority. OneVoice's Israeli arm is working with V15 campaign to unseat PM Netanyahu. Zionist Camp leaders deny connection to V15 campaign. (Israel Hayom)
  • Perry tells Maariv studio: "Netanyahu led me and the public astray" - Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Perry sharply criticized the prime minister saying,"His term was just killing time.” He called Yesh Atid’s alliance with Bennett “a mistake.” (Maariv+VIDEO)
  • Firearm permit applicants now required to pass psych evaluation - Committee appointed by public security minister seeks to reduce number of guns, tighten oversight. Firearm advocacy group: Allowing trained, capable civilians to carry guns contributes to national security. In 2013, 13 people were wounded by gunfire. (Israel Hayom)
  • Ariel University suspected of inflating number of academic articles - U.S. engineer who has never taught at Ariel or set foot on campus lists affiliation with West Bank institution, which could bump up its gov't funding. (Haaretz+)
  • Islamic State terror cell in Israel slaughtered sheep as part of training - Indictment states members of cell trained at farm that belongs to Attorney Adnan Jamil Ala a-Din, the self-proclaimed 'IS chief of staff in Palestine'; Haifa court extends suspects' remand. (Ynet)
  • Bethlehem mayor recruiting pope to intervene on West Bank barrier - Planned route would cut off convent and its school from Bethlehem, make West Bank city economically unsustainable, says Vera Baboun ahead of visit to see Francis. (Haaretz
  • New York family testifies in $1B suit against Palestinian authorities - Mark Sokolow and his family testified Monday in the lawsuit brought by victims of terrorist attacks in Israel. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.S. Christian group hosting Israel trip retains staffer after alleged hate comments - American Family Association, taking 60 top Republicans to Israel, reduces role for Bryan Fischer — but retains him as blogger, radio host; other AFA leader says God disapproves of Israel’s secular government. (Haaretz+)
  • Al-Manar claims: Obama “Unfriends” Netanyahu on Facebook - It’s not nice to make trouble between friends. (Hezbollah media network) Al Manar says that
  • the situation between the Presidents is worsening after a social media fight and that the US president would rather see the Iranian foreign minister Zarif. (Maariv)
  • Protesting Charlie Hebdo: Iran to hold Holocaust-denial cartoon contest - Second such international contest response to 'recent publication of the cartoons insulting Prophet Muhammad,' according to Tehran Times. (Haaretz)
  • Middle East Updates / U.S., allies stage 27 airstrikes on ISIS forces in Iraq, Syria - Egypt sentences 183 Muslim Brotherhood members to death over 2013 police death; wife of slain ISIS hostage expresses grief, pride, remembers husband's drive 'to inform the rest of us of the tragedies of war.' (Haaretz
  • Documentary 'Above and Beyond' tells the story of American Jews behind Israel's air force - Film, first screened in Jerusalem and currently making rounds of film festivals, was produced by Nancy Spielberg and directed by Roberta Grossman. (Haaretz)

New play puts spotlight on Israel's 1948 war of independence
Marat Parkhomovosky's '1948' is inspired by Benny Morris' historical book about the formation of the state, and has triggered much discussion among audiences. (Tamar Rotem, Haaretz+) 
Holy war – The book that angers the Iraqi government
The story of a 200-year-old Torah scroll has evoked the wrath of the Iraqi government and raises again the controversial issue regarding the future of the treasure of holy books belonging to the Jewish community of Babylon. It’s not entirely clear how it reached Israel, but it is known that it reached Jordan and from there to the Israeli embassy in Jordan and then was transferred to Israel. [I’ve read elsewhere that US soldiers gave it to the Israeli embassy in Jordan – OH] Before being put in the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s synagogue, it was given to a Jerusalemite expert who mended it. The news reached Baghdad and the Iraqi Ministry of Antiquities sent a protest letter to the Americans, requesting clarifications and announcing they plan to involve Interpol, saying it was “illegally taken” and that the scroll is “part of the Iraqi heritage, with official stamps of Iraq on it.” (Jacky Khougi, Maariv)
Beyond Bottle-gate: The top 11 scandals that have touched Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu
Sara Netanyahu's empty bottle deposit habit is just the latest headline-grabbing antic during the prime minister's political career. It seems the Israeli public is very forgiving. (Haaretz)
Who will save Gaza? (Zvi Bar’el, Haaretz+) While Gazans experience insufferable economic distress, Hamas is losing its status in the Arab world.
Not alone on the front (Dr. Gaby Sivony, Maariv) The events in the north raised concerns of an escalation, but the rise of the ISIS and jihadi organizations could make Israel a player of secondary importance in the coming years, both to Hezbollah and Iran.
The visible links between Israel's invisible citizens (Khaled Diab, Haaretz+) Were they willing to embrace their commonalities, Mizrahi Jews and Palestinian-Israelis could form a formidable voting bloc that could effect political change. 
Netanyahu is right: He's the problem, not his wife (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister's private life is the furthest thing from normative, however much he may dissemble, and there is no way his public life isn't affected.
No one cared when Bibi bombed Gaza, but now everyone's shocked about his wine budget (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is burying the dream of a Hebrew state, and all people have against him is how much he spends on wine?
Gone are the days of quiet (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) We can no longer rely on the scars suffered by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah during the Second Lebanon War, nor can we continue relying on Israeli deterrence, which we learned last week comes with an expiration date.
Netanyahu is playing dangerous games on the playground (Niva Lanir, Haaretz+) Those who play with fire draw fire, Netanyahu warned. This is not the man who should be leading the country in emergency situations.
The Likud has a case against NGOs (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) According to reasonable interpretation, V15 is clearly part of the election campaign as it is defined by the law. The same definition may even apply to a famous newspaper which is actually affiliated with Netanyahu.
With Left too scared to talk about the occupation, Israel's better off with Bibi (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) Some say Netanyahu's rivals are only pretending to be right-wing as an election strategy; but we can't trust them to hoist the banner of peace after hiding it in the cellar.
Time to lay the cards on the table (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The media is digging around the prime minister's recyclables while ignoring the much more serious matter of an attempt by foreign-funded radical Left groups to intervene in the elections.
Israel’s attempt to undercut ICC is world’s worst tribute to Auschwitz liberation (Jess Salomon, Haaretz+) Why is the Jewish state seeking to unhinge the sole international body that's out to fulfill the promise of 'Never Again'?
WATCH: Could the threat of a Democratic walk-out prompt Netanyahu to cancel his Congress speech? (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz VIDEO+) Haaretz's U.S. editor Chemi Shalev describes what long-term impact the fall-out between Netanyahu and Obama will have on Israeli-American ties, and suggests whether the prime minister is likely to cancel his contested speech.

Decorated army medic recalls dramatic night
First Sergeant Erez Halfon to receive Head of Regional Command Citation for saving soldier's life in the heat of battle. (Interviewed by Rotem Elizera in Ynet

‘I made eye contact with the terrorist’: A decorated IDF soldier remembers the Gaza war
'We didn't wipe out a whole neighborhood just because we felt like it," said Capt. Tal Rabinowitz, a company commander in an armored battalion. (Interviewed by Gili Cohen in Haaretz+)
Meet the woman who prevented terrorists from infiltrating Zikim
Cpl. Noa Teitel,19, spotted a group of terrorists coming on shore near Kibbutz Zikim during Operation Protective Edge and alerted troops to the danger. "Thank you, but I was just doing my job," Teitel says after being recognized for her work. (Interviewed by Lilach Shoval in Israel Hayom)

IDF soldier goes solo into Hamas terror tunnel
Sergeant Major Ohad receives citation for mission after entering tunnel to gather information that would allow its destruction and prevent Hamas from infiltrating Israel. (Interviewed by Yoav Zitun, Ynet)

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