News Nosh 02.10.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 10, 2015

Quote of the day:
“To our shock, no Arab expert is participating as a speaker at the conference, not even as a representative of the youth. Similarly, the conference organizers did not see fit to hold a session that deals with the unique problems affecting the welfare of Arab children in Israel.”
--Shutafut-Sharakah Organization for a Shared, Democratic, and Equal Society wrote in a letter to Knesset members asking them to boycott the Be'er Sheva Conference on the Wellbeing of the Child. The letter got results.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
  • Head to head – Difficult differences of opinion between US President and Prime Minister
  • Dilemma of the dual loyalty // Shlomo Shamir, New York
  • IDF destroyed tunnels exposed in Operation Protective Edge
  • Symbolic act // Yossi Melman
  • Thousands of Israelis held some $10 billion in bank in Switzerland
  • Expensive revelation // Yehuda Sharoni
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on live TV from Bar-Ilan University that he would not give up on his address to Congress against a ‘bad agreement with Iran,’ US President Barack Obama warned Netanyahu on live TV from Germany that he would sour the nuclear talks with Iran by giving the address, making the top story in Israeli newspapers. Also in the news, was the Palestinian Authority boycott of a number of Israeli companies, the arrest of three Jerusalemites over false sales of Palestinian land to settlers, and the destruction of a Gaza tunnel. 

Yedioth called it a “dramatic chapter in the unending saga over the prime minister’s speech to Congress.” Maariv said the relations have “already deteriorated to a frontal confrontation.” Both leaders emphasized that relations between the two countries would not be affected. Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan University came after an Israeli official told Reuters that Netanyahu had decided not to give his speech, confusing everyone. But then came a denial followed by Netanyahu’s speech at Bar-Ilan.
Interestingly, but not surprising, Israel Hayom, did not describe in its article the reasons Obama gave why Netanyahu does not need to come now to give his speech, nor did it quote Obama stinging Netanyahu when he said about the latter that Angela Merkel would not have asked to come for a visit before the elections. While the other papers dedicated the first pages to the spat between Obama and Netanyahu, Israel Hayom focused the first pages of its paper on attacking Yedioth for allegedly running a smear campaign against Netanyahu. However, Maariv and Haaretz have also been critical of Netanyahu.

Police arrested three Jerusalem residents, two of them lawyers, one Jewish and one Arab, and an Arab middle man, for allegedly signing off on more than 10 deals worth millions of shekels in the West Bank with forged documents. They are suspected of selling a number of Palestinian privately-owned West Bank plots to the settler-owned Al-Watan company that buys West Bank land for Jewish settlements, without the owners of the land knowing. The plots are located in Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El, Amona outpost, Givat Asaf outpost, and Migron outpost (Haaretz+, Yedioth, p. 22, and Maariv)

The IDF destroyed a Hamas tunnel inside that originated in Saja'iyya and reached into Israel, some three kilometers from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. [Note: Some of the newspapers wrote that it reached the kibbutz, but Maariv’s Yossi Melman was more specific. Melman also writes that this act was only symbolic. Old combat things were found inside. The purpose of the destruction was to prevent Hamas from to reusing the tunnel in a future war, writes Melman.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is visiting Sweden amid the country’s spat with Israel over Sweden’s recognition of a Palestinian state. The Swedish Foreign Minister said the visit would be used to 'prepare for a revived peace process'. 

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli soldiers assault Palestinian student near Jenin - The undergraduate student, Muhammad Osama Suleiman, was assaulted by soldiers as he walked home at night in the village of Ajja. (Maan
  • Israelis 'attempt to take over home' in Old City of Jerusalem - An Israeli "settler" accompanied by an Israeli government employee broke the lock of a storage room that is connected to the house of the Sublaban family and began to remove belongings before family members and neighboring Palestinian youths stopped them. (Maan
  • Settlers destroy 70 olive trees near Hebron - The trees had been planted a week ago near the town of Sair, in an area threatened with annexation near the illegal settlement of Metzad, located in the Gush Etzion bloc west of Bethlehem. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces detain Palestinian official during tree planting demo - Jamil al-Barghouthi was arrested while taking part in a tree planting demonstration in Silwad on land that is under threat of Israeli confiscation. Witnesses said Israeli forces assaulted al-Barghouthi and other participants in the activity before making the arrest. (Maan
  • Israeli army declares West Bank desert area 'closed military zone' - Israeli military banned Palestinians from entering a desert area stretching from eastern Anata to Bethlehem, south to Hebron, and east to the Dead Sea as part of an Israeli policy of land theft and "Judaization" of the West Bank, said Bassam Bahr, the head of the committee to defend land and resist settlements. (Maan
  • Israeli forces open fire at Gaza march - Dozens of demonstrators took part in the march, which was organized by a national committee to end the eight-year blockade of the coastal territory. No injuries were reported. (Maan
  • Israeli bulldozers raze lands in Gaza - Israeli bulldozers entered more than 100 meters into the town of Beit Hanoun Monday and razed lands in the area, forcing farmers to leave their lands. (Maan)
  • Israeli troops 'seize money' from family of Hebron man killed in 2014 (accused of kidnapping of 3 Jewish teens) - Troops took some 50,000 shekels when they raided and ransacked the home of the parents of Amir Abu Aisha, who was accused by Israel of kidnapping and killing three Israelis teens. Before they left, they handed Amir's father a summons demanding that he go to an Israeli police station for questioning. (Maan
  • **Protests against exclusion of Arabs in child welfare conference win out - Organizers respond to requests from legislators, invite several Arab experts to speak in conference. (Haaretz+)
  • 5 Israeli-Arabs indicted for throwing firebombs at (settler) Jews' homes - Suspects belong to wide-scale Fatah-led terror network in At-Tur neighborhood in East Jerusalem, Shin Bet says. [Note: 'terror' was used to describe charges of intentionally causing damage to a vehicle, rioting, attempted aggravated assault of a policeman, negligent use of weapons and aggravated battery. - OH] (Ynet)
  • Hamas backs Qatar minister's 'courage' in Israel spat - In a statement, Izzat al-Rishq backed Qatar's foreign minister for his "strong, courageous statements and response to the lies of the 'Zionists,' and his defense of Hamas and the resistance during the Munich security conference." (Maan)
  • PFLP accuses Fatah official of impeding reconciliation efforts - "During a meeting in Ramallah yesterday, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad impeded and delayed the arrival of the reconciliation delegation representing all Palestinian factions to the Gaza Strip," the PFLP said in a statement. (Maan
  • Senior Fatah, Hamas officials to meet in Cairo - PLO executive committee member Jamil Shihada told Ma'an that the top officials will meet in Egypt to discuss "activating reconciliation" and a visit to Gaza by the PLO. (Maan
  • Palestinians announce boycott of six Israeli companies - Committee representing all Palestinian factions decides to ban the sale of companies' products in the West Bank, in response to Israel's punitive measure following the PA's UN bid. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • East Jerusalem sees no mail delivery for 2 weeks, residents say - Postal service says temporary staff shortage there led to mail backup. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu rejects judges’ candidacy for Israel Prize pane - Professors Avner Holtzman and Ariel Hirschfeld were informed of the decision after they had already begun their work. (Haaretz)
  • Lawyer petitions Election Committee to end Israel Hayom's pro-Netanyahu 'propaganda' - Shahar Ben Meir brands Sheldon Adelson owned newspaper 'propaganda platform pretending to be a newspaper', compares it to Orwell's 1984. (Ynet)
  • 'Yedioth is trying to topple the government for personal gain' - Netanyahu lashes out at Yedioth publisher Noni Mozes, saying Mozes "has no qualms about using every possible means to topple the government, shut down Israel Hayom and restore Yedioth's aggressive hegemony over print media." (Israel Hayom)
  • Likud aims to drive Lieberman out of the Knesset, party officials say - Netanyahu's party is targeting Yisrael Beiteinu voters, hoping to become largest party after elections - even at the price of pulling Lieberman below electoral threshold. (Haaretz+)
  • State comptroller to probe V15 after elections - State Comptroller's Office to investigate Victory 2015 campaign's ties to Zionist Camp following March 17 election. Audit to review origins and scope of group's funding, possible campaign financing violations. V15 says it will cooperate with probe. (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanyahu's latest expense scandal: The $5,200 breakfast - A morning meal in Caesarea for Netanyahu and a group including U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, was said to cost NIS 20,000, in 2011. PMO: Meal only cost NIS 85 per person. (Haaretz+)
  • Alan Parsons rejects Roger Waters' call to boycott Israel - Veteran British musician refuses to cancel Tel Aviv show, telling former Pink Floyd frontman that music and politics should not be mixed. (Ynet)
  • Shi'ite pilgrims flock to ancient tomb on grounds of Israeli hospital - Some Shi'ite Muslims believe Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, lay interred for centuries at what is now known as Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon. (Haaretz)
  • Jews continue to leave Europe, says report - From 9.5 million in 1939, the number of European Jews has fallen to 1.4 million; and as anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in the continent, some speak of a new 'exodus'. (Ynet)
  • Assad says Syria receiving information on U.S.-led campaign against ISIS - Syrian president denies direct dialogue with U.S., tells BBC information is conveyed through third parties. (Haaretz)
  • Sheldon Adelson shells out $40 million for Birthright Israel - Casino mogul gives foundation which promotes trips to Israel for young Jews another hefty sum; Azrieli gives another $5 million. (JTA, Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Putin arrives in Egypt for first state visit in a decade - The Russian leader will discuss the situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with his Egyptian counterpart. (Haaretz)

The Palestinian economy: Israel's control over Area C comes at a price
The Palestinian economy needs to exploit the potential for economic development, but Israel thwarts any attempt. (Danny Rubinstein, Ynet
They left the anti-Semitism behind: Meet the land of the French in Israel
They left behind radical Islam, their growing sense of alienation, but also part of their identity. An Israeli journey into the land of the French that was established in Netanya, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and also in (the settlements) Eli and Ofra. (Mordechai Chaimovitz, Maariv
Steven Spielberg's latest project: Encounters of the Arab-Jewish coexistence kind
Undaunted by tensions in the city, Jerusalem Cinematheque is determined to draw East Jerusalem audiences to screenings of films which now have Arabic subtitles, thanks to a project funded by a Steven Spielberg nonprofit. (Nirit Anderman, Haaretz+)

Breakthrough in Iran talks might be terrible for Israel but wonderful for Netanyahu (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Despite widespread criticism, news of an impending deal could turn PM’s Congress speech into a dramatic, Hollywood-style closing argument. 
Netanyahu entangled American Jews in the dilemma of dual loyalty (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Even if the Prime Minister decides to finally give up on his speech before Congress, the damage he his ambassador have already caused to Israel's relations with American Jews will be very difficult to repair, if at all.
Netanyahu tramples on the Israel Prize (Haaretz Editorial) Prime minister's gross intervention in procedure of appointing judges to Israel Prize gives impression of fear of 'other' opinions. 
Netanyahu needs some damage control, and fast (Eytan Gilboa, Yedioth/Ynet) If the prime minister is so insistent that the timing of his Congress speech has nothing to do with the elections, he should have no problem delaying it.
Weak and desperate, Hamas tries to rebuild (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Gaza's regime believes its rocket reserves have dropped below the red line and it’s working as quickly as possible to manufacture its own rockets, given the difficulty now with smuggling weapons into the Strip. 
Artistic freedom and distortion go hand in hand (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) There are two places where the Holocaust can be ridiculed: Anti-Semitic circles and the field of art.
The U.S.-led coalition is fighting ISIS with no clear goal (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) The coalition forces fighting the Islamic State have made gains, but no one knows what the end-game is. 
We remained with the tunnels: Israel's biggest problem still exists (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The destruction of the tunnels at Nahal Oz is a symbolic act that complements one of the important goals of Operation Protective Edge. But Hamas continues to build because it knows this is a strategic tool that it needs to enhance and improve. 
Bedazzled by Sara Netanyahu (Benny Ziffer, Haaretz+) Meeting her, the reason for our national Sara-phobia suddenly struck me: fear of the erotic woman, the ghost that hovers over Israeli politics.
Putting interests above everything (Zalman Shoval, Israel Hayom) For the ayatollahs, even a minor boycott of Netanyahu's speech to Congress is a gift from above.
Europe is not hostile to Israel (Nadav Tamir, Haaretz+) Israel has a supreme interest in drawing close to Europe for ethical reasons - shared Western values - and practical ones - an export-based economy in which Europe is the biggest commercial partner.
The road to corruption is paved with good intentions (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The attorney general's attempt to improve the distribution of coalition funds is similar to a decision to improve a bank robbery preparation process. 
Who invented Sara Netanyahu? (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz+) There is only one person to blame for turning Sara into a lightning rod for blame and object for incitement - her husband. 
Convict, then dismiss (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Balad MK Hanin Zoabi is not worthy of serving in the Knesset, but expelling politicians without a trial is how democracies lose their way. 
Wake up, Herzog! (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) What’s astounding about the Labor leader’s strategy is that while he can land a gut punch precisely on the decisive question - who will better protect our children? - he isn’t throwing the punch. 
A choice between Right and Left (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Both Likud and Labor-Hatnuah have a vested interest in having the election campaign focus on a choice between the bigger political blocs. 
Congress speech gives Israel a seat at P5+1 talks with Iran (Seth Lipsky, Haaretz+) This whole charade with Iran is being conducted in exclusion of the very state against whom Iran intends to use the nuclear weapons it covets.
A real test for Israel's leaders (Ronny Douek, Yedioth/Ynet) Asking politicians what they would do in their first 100 days in power would give them focus, and make them truly accountable. 
Jews to Europe, Palestinians to Haifa (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) If Haneen Zoabi weren’t around, the right would have to invent her. Because if not, where else could one channel the hatred that is raging here?

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