News Nosh 02.17.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 17, 2015

Quote of the day:
"Address for sending donations: Netanyahu Family, 2 Balfour St., Jerusalem."
--Title to commentary by Maariv's Ben Caspit following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's posting of the 'Dilapidated House' video on his Facebook page.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • In his quiet way – Uri Orbach 1960-2015
  • The last column // Uri Orbach
  • “Not even one day of grace” – The 21st IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot took office yesterday
  • State Comptroller report: How much did the Prime Minister’s houses cost
  • The dilapidated kitchen that we saw, and the renovated one we did not (on the show with the interior designer)
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • Good luck! 21st Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, took office
  • Everyone loved Uri (Orbach)
  • Humor as a flavor of life // Jacky Levy
  • “A responsible prime minister cannot refuse to speak about our existence”
  • Today: State Comptroller report on expenses of PM’s residences
  • Following three incidences of death: Use of ‘Lentocilin’ antibiotic stopped

Election 2015 Polls:
27 days to go and the latest elections poll released Monday by Channel 2 puts the Herzog-Livni Zionist Camp one mandate ahead of Likud with 25 seats. Nevertheless, a tally of the seats (without the Ashkenaqi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party) still puts a right-wing coalition ahead of a center-left one with 60 mandates compared to 53, and that is including the Joint Arab List in the center-left coalition, despite the fact that no Arab party has ever been invited into a government coalition and it is not clear that it will be now. However, if United Torah Judaism joined the center-left coalition then the two largest parties would be even. 

In the most recent poll, the Joint (Arab) List is a far third place with 12 seats and Haaretz+ wonders why Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has gained momentum, tying the far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi with 11 mandates. 

The battle that recently began between Likud and Habayit Hayehudi for the right-wing pro-settler vote has caused one party to rise when the other drops. In Channel 1’s poll from February 11th, Likud pulls ahead 27 seats and Habayit Hayehudi only 11. Two days later the Walla! Hebrew news website poll showed Likud with 25 and Habayit Hayehudi with 13. Another two days later on February 15th, the i24news poll showed Likud pulling ahead again with 27 to Habayit Hayehudi’s 11. Zionist Camp got 24. 

The Joint (Arab) List remains steady with 12 or 13 mandates in all of the last week’s polls. The Joint (Arab) List is targeting Jewish left-wing voters with an anti-racism, pro-democracy Hebrew campaign. Some of its votes are said to come from Meretz voters, the only Zionist real left-wing party. Meretz is also battling for votes from the Zionist Camp and the result is that it is left with only 5 or 6 mandates in most of the polls. 

News Summary:
The IDF gets a new Chief of Staff whom Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told “will not have a single day of grace” because the years ahead will be worse, tension is high ahead of the release of the State Comptroller’s report today on the expenses of the Prime Minister’s residences and far-right-wing minister Uri Orbach, who was loved by all, dies making top stories in the Hebrew newspapers.
The Likud party is preparing a ‘blitz’ against others in order to defend Netanyahu after the 16:00 release today of the report of high expenses of his official residences. Haaretz+ reported some Likud MKs balked at being asked to defend Netanyahu’s personal conduct. Maariv reported that various political sources said the report’s findings are “very difficult." The big question is how will the report affect Netanyahu’s image and his chances of winning a fourth term. Both Likud and the rival Zionist Camp conducted in-depth polls to determine the impact of upcoming probe into bottle-deposit scandal, Haaretz reported.
**The Netanyahu’s attempt to lessen the effect of the report by releasing a video of a tour of the residence given to a designer that showed the residence is far from luxurious, may have backfired. Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said the footage was a severe security breach, and that “any foreign intelligence service or terrorist organization would have paid a fortune to get all of these details.” Maariv reported that it was likely that relevant security apparatus was not consulted in advance about the making of the video. The Opposition has called for the removal of the ‘Crumbling House’ video and a probe into who paid for it, saying it was a campaign stunt meant to detract attention from the report, Maariv reported. In a biting piece titled “Address for sending donations: Netanyahu family, 2 Balfour St., Jerusalem,” Maariv commentator Ben Caspit made fun of the Netanyahu’s, saying that if they needed to show a stylist and the country what a terrible house they are living in why are they battling to stay there? He noted that the designer did not ask to go to the second floor, where he would have found a modern, sophisticated and well-equipped kitchen, unlike the one he was shown.

Quick Hits:

  • Palestinians behind cyber attacks on Israeli army and government targets - Hackers working primarily from Gaza, Egypt, Morocco responsible for attacks on Israeli government, military and infrastructure systems. (Haaretz+)
  • ADL slams settler video of leftist doing Nazi biddings: Holocaust analogies never appropriate - Samaria Residents Council video 'uses offensive Nazi analogies and anti-Semitic stereotypes to incite hatred and divide society,' says Abraham Foxman. (Haaretz+)
  • Bennett: Palestinians need to forgot about statehood - In interview with AP, Bayit Yehudi leader says 'Israel not going to give up more land' and urges Palestinian to lower expectations, saying all Israel can do is 'make their lives better.' (Associated Press, Ynet)
  • Yesh Atid prioritizes regional agreement over peace with Palestinians - Lapid offers alternative approach to peace process, telling Ynet that Israel should negotiate with Arab League and promising 'Jerusalem will not be divided.' (Ynet)
  • Israeli ambassador: Netanyahu address to Congress on Iran deal worth price of ties with Obama - Jewish leaders and Democrats urged Netanyahu and Republicans to defer the speech until after the Israeli election, a senior Israeli official said, but they refused. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu in message to Obama: If Iran deal is good, why hide details from Israel? - Meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders, Netanyahu reiterates he is determined to appear before Congress, and that 'Israel's survival is not a partisan issue.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Blow to Netanyahu: Congress speech to be vetted for election propaganda - Coming two weeks before Israel's elections, broadcast of PM's address to US Congress on Iranian nuclear agreement will be subject to five-minute delay. (YnetMaariv and Haaretz+)
  • Rivlin wants election campaign to refocus on ‘content and values’ - President apparently hints that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress should have been in Hebrew, to Israelis. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinians warn Netanyahu against visiting flashpoint Hebron holy site - Likud wants PM in West Bank to draw votes from settlement supporters. (Haaretz+) 
  • Gaza mortars explode near Israeli border - Mortars fried from within Gaza explode hundred of meters from Israeli border; fire could be Palestinian infighting, not attempted attack on Israel. (Ynet)
  • Gazans protest Chapel Hill shootings - Death of 3 American-Palestinian Muslims prompts Gaza youths to protest, shut down US aid organization in protest of what they called a 'hate crime.' (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Three of five Israel Prize judges to quit panel - In a statement, the three said the jury could not possibly render a 'professional and fair decision' now. (Haaretz+)
  • Danish Jews say community not properly protected, despite security threats - PM Thorning-Schmidt denies synagogue wasn’t sufficiently protected; local Jewish leader says it took Denmark time to realize 'we need a different approach with all that is happening across Europe.' (Haaretz+)
  • Copenhagen gunman openly hated Jews, ex-classmate says - Police: Omar el-Hussein had criminal record and gang past, may have been inspired by Islamic terrorists in Paris. "In particular, he often discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (And) he was not afraid to say openly that he hated Jews." (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Suspected Copenhagen gunman reportedly swore fidelity to Islamic State - In a post on what is believed to be Omar El-Hussein's Facebook profile, he pledges allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 'in full obedience in the good and bad things'. (Ynet)
  • Support rally for Copenhagen attack victims draws 30,000 - 'We stand shoulder to shoulder. Muslims, Jews and Christians, people of different political convictions,' says Danish PM; Danish Jews not keen to leave despite terror attacks: 'Denmark has a very good history of taking care of the Jewish community'. (Ynet)
  • Danish solidarity with Jews is no mere slogan, says envoy - In Haaretz interview following double murder in Copenhagen, Danish Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr warns against tarring all Muslims with crime. (Haaretz+)
  • (Israel's) French aliyah drive turns into junket for Israel's periphery - Kiryat Gat, Beit She’an, Nahariya among bloated delegations to Paris immigration fair. (Haaretz+)
  • French PM repeats plea for France's Jews to stay - Valls' comments come after hundreds of Jewish graves desecrated in eastern France, calls by Netanyahu for Europe's Jews to move to Israel. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • U.S. Jewish leader: No need to tell European Jews to flee - 'What we should do is organize an orderly transition for those who want to leave, while ensuring the protection of those who remain,' Malcolm Hoenlein says. (Haaretz+)
  • French teens held for vandalizing Jewish graves - Five French teens held for defacing roughly 300 Jewish graves in eastern France; teens arrested after the youngest of the group came forward in wake of massive outcry. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Former politician: French PM 'under the influence of his Jewish wife' - Former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas widely criticized in French social media and mainstream media. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Hezbollah leader denounces ISIS mass beheading - Nasrallah says Mossad and CIA are behind ISIS, and that the group serves Israeli interests; calls for regional governments to cooperate in facing terrorist threat. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Nasrallah's speech: "The blood of Imad Mughniyeh will continue to pursue the enemy" - Nasrallah gave to mark 30 years since the establishment of the organization and he ired in all directions: "The source of ISIS’ brutality is Hollywood movies." (Maariv)

Six times that U.S.-Israel ties hit rock bottom
Think relations between Washington and Jerusalem are bad now? They are, but they've been in crisis before, too. (Alona Farber, Haaretz+)
10 hours of fear and loathing in Paris
A month after attack at kosher supermarket in Paris, NRG correspondent, wearing tzitzit and a kippah, takes what proves to be an intimidating walk across the French capital. "What is he doing here, Mommy? Doesn't he know he will be killed?" a boy asks. (Zvika Klein, Israel Hayom)
The Israeli agent behind enemy lines
Israelis knew him by his pseudonym Pierre Baudry, which he used while working as Yedioth Ahronoth's correspondent in Baghdad, but Roger Auque was much more than your average journalist – Auque's ties to the Mossad and CIA, and his kidnapping by Hezbollah, are now revealed in a new biography that has been published after his death due to cancer. (Lior Zilberstein, Yedioth/Ynet)

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