News Nosh 02.22.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday February 22, 2015

Number of the day:
--Amount of shekels (just over $1 million) that the Jerusalem Municipality plans to invest in building a Jewish ritual bath for Jewish settlers in an enclave in E. Jerusalem.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The testimonies (against the Prime Minister) and the invoices – Legal source: “There is no escape from a criminal investigation”
  • Likud: Postpone the publication of the report on the high cost of housing
  • Snow on my city // President of Israel Reuven Rivlin
  • Map of the disparities – 1.5 room apartment in Tel-Aviv costs more than a 5-room apartment in the north of the country
  • Lucky that I was born – Mazal Ben-Yishai, the healthy daughter of retarded parents, turned her life story into a movie 
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in hot water after the testimony of his former house manager over spending irregularities at the Prime Minister’s Residence and the reports of a White House ‘cold shoulder' over his planned address to Congress, making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with photos of the snow.
The Israeli Attorney General will decide this week whether to open a criminal probe into the spending at the PM’s Residences and, meanwhile, the Israeli Police are likely to question more Netanyahu household staff. Israeli Police Chief Yochanan Danino said there was room for a police probe into the Netanyahus' conduct. His comments came after a 12-hour testimony by former residence manager, Meni Naftali.
An Associated Press report that a senior US official said the White House is mulling snubbing the AIPAC conference in response to Netanyahu's Congress speech was a top story – except in Israel Hayom. That would be only one of the ways the White House was considering undercutting Netanyahu’s upcoming trip to Washington and blunting his message of a potential nuclear deal with Iran. However, Haaretz reported that an official source said the White House won't boycott the conference, but he wouldn’t say who was coming. The wave of criticism over Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress has not let up. Many members of the opposition slammed him, including former Military Intel chief, Amos Yadlin, now a Zionist Camp candidate, who said that Israel must mend ties with the US. More than 20 US Democrats wrote a letter to the House leader Thursday, asking him to postpone the speech. And the National Iranian American Council took out a full-page ad in The New York Times slamming the planned speech by asking: “Will Congress side with our president or a foreign leader?”

As the storm over the speech continues, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet today in Geneva for another effort to reach an understanding that will enable the signing of a framework for resolving the rift over Iran's nuclear program. Kerry acknowledged there were 'significant gaps' between the world powers and Iran and that US President Barack Obama does not want to extend the talks again beyond their scheduled end – March 24 for the framework agreement and the end of June for a comprehensive agreement.  But in a possible sign that talks could fast-track, both the top US and Iranian nuclear officials join the meetings today. Maariv and Israel Hayom quoted from a Wall Street Journal report that Arab states were concerned over a potential Iran nuclear deal.
And in the back of some of the papers was a report that the US fears that the Palestinian Authority will collapse due to Israel’s freeze of its tax revenue. This, Kerry told the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, could lead to the Palestinian government halting security cooperation with Israel or disbanding because of its economic predicament was real.

Quick Hits:
  • (Jewish) Family's car hit by snowballs packed with stones in Jerusalem [sic - West Bank] - Kiryat Gat couple with daughter were driving to capital to enjoy snow when Arab youths hit their car with snowballs containing stones; none were hurt. (Ynet and Ynet Hebrew)
  • Israeli settlers assault 10-year-old Palestinian boy playing in snow in Hebron - Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, the boy's father, said Israeli settlers beat son Saleh while he was playing in the snow in the neighborhood and was hospitalized. (Maan)
  • Israeli settlers chop down 35 olive trees in southern Hebron - The trees, more than 25 years old, belong to the Abed Rabbu family. (Maan
  • Homeless Gaza families take stock of losses after winter storm - Scores of families are still living in tents set up beside their destroyed homes, trying their hardest to stay warm despite a severe shortage of electricity and fuel for generators or heaters. (Maan)
  • 'IDF implemented Hannibal Protocol after Hezbollah attack' - Lebanese Daily Star: To prevent kidnapping, Israel purposefully attacked UNIFIL outpost, killing one Spanish peacekeeper following cross-border Hezbollah missile attack in late January that killed two Israeli soldiers. IDF denies the allegation. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel holding over $250m it owes Iran for oil in secret account - A secret government bank account holds funds Israel owes Iran for oil it received before the 1979 revolution. Israel refuses to reveal who has been depositing money into and withdrawing money from the account. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli import restrictions lead Gazans to build makeshift homes - With cement, concrete, and iron bars strictly limited in Strip, Palestinians and aid groups turn to alternative materials to construct temporary shelters. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Likud pressuring State Comptroller to soften report on housing prices - MKs Miri Regev and Yariv Levin slam Comptroller over intention to publish report on housing problems close to election date; Likud source: 'We know the report will be published, our aim is to soften its content'. (Ynet)
  • More than half of Israeli households go into overdraft, says report - Survey shows 54 percent of households withdrew more than they had in the bank, with 34 percent being in overdraft for at least 10 months; significant gap between Arabs and Jews. (Ynet)
  • Herzog slams Likud efforts to stop release of housing report - After Likud demanded State Comptroller to push release of his report on housing crisis to after elections, Zionist Camp leader says PM is 'looking for new victims and this time he's sinking his teeth into the State Comptroller'. (Ynet)
  • Likud withdraws petition against leftwing NGO, citing insufficient evidence - Despite claims to have evidence linking V15 to the Zionist Camp, judge recommends ruling party withdrew their injunction request against the organization, which they accused to be using foreign funds for left's election campaign. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • WZO wrests control of Settlement Division away from state - Ynet has learned that the World Zionist Organization's executive committee decided to end the Prime Minister Office's oversight over the controversial division spearheading West Bank settlements, in move that could in fact increase transparency, harm settlement funding. (Ynet)
  • Lapid: British artists boycotting Israel don't realize radical Islamists would kill us all - 'I am not as grandiose as Richard Ashcroft,' says Yesh Atid head in letter to Guardian. 'What I want is far more modest: For people not to try to kill me just because I’m a Jew.' (Haaretz)
  • State Department's new travel warning for Israel cites deaths of U.S. citizens - Violence in Jerusalem and West Bank resulted in injuries and deaths of Americans, warning says, though no indication they were targeted due to their nationality. (Haaretz)
  • (West Bank) Ariel U. giving credits for non-academic study at Jewish seminaries - Chabad courses prominent among options; courses for women include 'Couple relations, marriage and family'; 'Kosher food' is one of the options for men. (Haaretz+) 
  • Lieberman to PM: Begin didn't make speeches before destroying Iraq reactor - Yisrael Beiteinu leader downplays significance of Prime Minister Netanyahu's planned US speech on Iran nuclear program, urges firm stance on Iran. (Ynet
  • Soldiers slept on floor without heat during storm - 60 new recruits were crammed into a room with thin mattresses in freezing cold while officers allegedly slept in heated quarters; angry parents say fighters were treated 'like refugees'. (Ynet
  • **Millions invested in Silwan mikveh - Jerusalem Municipality's plan to spend NIS 4 million on construction of Jewish ritual bath in isolated Jewish (settlement) neighborhood of Ma'ale Hazeitim (in E. Jerusalem) draws ire from opposition members. (Ynet)
  • Israel Prison Service disciplines 16 officials, replaces jail director over deadly shooting incident - Move stems from 2014 incident in which American-Israeli convicted murderer smuggled gun into Rimonim Prison and shot several people. (Haaretz+)
  • Hundreds join 'Open Shuhada Street' rally despite snowstorm - Locals and international solidarity activists marched in city's annual rally to call for the reopening of the major thoroughfare, which was shut down after the February 1994 massacre by US-born settler Baruch Goldstein, who opened fire at Muslim worshipers (in the Cave of the Patriarchs) killing 29. (Maan)
  • IDF’s intelligence unit adds three more millionaires to its rolls - Three veterans of IDF’s famed 8200 unit win big in Hyperwise exit. (Haaretz+)
  • U.S. urges Lenovo to remove Israeli software, fearing cyberattacks - Department of Homeland Security says Superfish makes users vulnerable to a type of cyberattack known as SSL spoofing. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Flight bookings from Israel to Paris are down 30% since terror attacks in French capital - Travel agents express surprise at the powerful impact the shootings have had on the vacation plans of Israelis. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israel to bring new desalination methods to Marshall Islands - Pacific island nation, which suffers from serious water shortage, to get its first water purification vehicle from Israel. (Ynet)
  • Gay rights activists assaulted at Bennett's party election rally - WATCH: Brawl erupts after gay pride flag unfurled at the party's election event; Habyit Hayehudi: 'The left has not learned a thing from the murder of Rabin.' (Haaretz+) 
  • More than 1,000 Muslims form 'peace ring' around Oslo synagogue - Norway's Muslims offer symbolic protection for the city's Jewish community while condemning synagogue attack in neighboring Denmark last weekend. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Young Muslims want Norway to be safe for Jews - Group organizing a peace rally this Saturday, in which participants will form a human ring around an Oslo synagogue in order to protect Jewish worshippers inside. (Ynet)
  • Middle East Updates / Yemen's former president flees Sanaa after Shi'ite Houthi rebels release him - U.S.-led coalition stages six airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria; Report: Syrian forces, allied militants kill 48 during last week's Aleppo offensive. (Haaretz)
  • UN investigators to publish Syria war crimes suspect names - Diplomatic sources say some or all of hundreds of names of perpetrators may be published soon, in push for new ways to bring them to account. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Hamas accuses Egyptian media of spreading anti-Palestinian lies - Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied reports that Palestinians have been traveling via tunnel into Egypt recently, denouncing what he called a "Zionist-like" network that had spread the rumors and sought to sow discord between Egypt and Palestine. (Maan)
  • Gaza police arrest 2 for planting explosive device - Gaza police on Friday arrested two individuals who allegedly planted an explosive device in front of the al-Quds Open University in the northern Gaza Strip. (Maan)
  • Egypt court acquits ex-oil minister of charges of selling cheap gas to Israel - Sameh Fahmy, arrested in April 2011, was accused of selling gas at preferential rates to Israel and others, costing Egypt billions of dollars in lost revenue. (Agencies, Haaretz)

21 years after Goldstein massacre, once-thriving Hebron is a mere memory
February 25 marks the 21 years since Dr. Baruch Goldstein entered the Tomb of the Patriarchs and gunned down 29 Muslims kneeling in prayer at the Ibrahimi mosque. What happened to the city since that day? (Amira Haass, Haaretz+) 
After fighting in Gaza, IDF soldiers move to border communities
Nahal soldiers move to Kibbutz Kfar Aza to help community get back on its feet in the wake of Operation Protective Edge. (By Etti Abramov, Yedioth/Ynet
Tongue-tied: Arab and Jewish Jerusalemites are flocking to study the other’s language
Arabs need Hebrew to work in the west of the city, which is coming off its most violent year in decades; Jews have more varied reasons for learning Arabic. (Nir Hasson, Haaretz+)
Schindler's twist: The bitter battle over the Righteous Gentile's legendary list
Forty years after the death of Oskar Schindler, a Jewish Argentinian woman is taking Yad Vashem to court for ownership of many of his personal documents, including the list itself. The Jerusalem trial is revealing new details about the German industrialist's personal life. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+) 

The man trying to return Kahanism to the Knesset (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) Israel's Supreme Court is letting right-winger Baruch Marzel compete in the election. A big mistake, so now it’s up to the media to get busy.
He came to work: The new agenda and the changes in the perception of Eizenkot (Alon Ben-David, Maariv) The first days of the new chief of staff have made it clear that, in his view, the Palestinian issue is the most urgent and explosive, and the round of appointments he has made has changed the face of the General Staff. 
New Israeli army chief doesn't have the luxury of worrying about just one enemy (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Between Iran, Hezbollah and Assad, on the fifth year of instability in the Arab world the most significant change is happening on Israel's doorstep.
Why is Obama fixated on Iran? (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) It is ardor for Islam and sympathy for Islamic ambitions of global leadership, not just distaste for American overreach, that apparently fuels Obama's efforts.
No speech will move Obama: The US President will not give up an agreement with Tehran (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The president is determined to mark his term in what he considers the most significant achievement of his foreign policy: ending the era of hostility between the US and Iran. And no sppech by Netanyahu will stand in his way.
When taking fire, Netanyahu knows exactly who to send to the front lines (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The Likud MKs and ministers were called to defend the festival of wastage at the PM's residences didn’t believe a word they said. But when what’s at stake is their place in the next government, they hold their noses and do what’s expected of them.
Liberal Zionism compels us to criticize Israel for her flaws (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) My devotion to Israel can be unconditional, even if I am critical - sometimes harshly critical — of Israeli policies that make no sense. 
Follow the money in the Netanyahu affair (Moshe Ronen, Yedioth/Ynet) If the prime minister's residence is in such poor condition, what happened to the NIS 1.355 million allotted for its maintenance? Are we witnessing a case of hedonism or – God forbid – corruption?
Number of Netanyahu scandals prods AG into action (Gidi Weitz, Haaretz+) Raw material from State Comptroller's report into Netanyahu expenses controversies persuades attorney general that more serious investigation may be called for.
Grading Netanyahu's economic policies (Amnon Atad, Mickey Peled, Tomer Varon and Dotan Levi 
Yedioth/Calcalist): A look at how the prime minister's economic policies have measured up in the past six years since he took office for the second time in 2009.
By confronting Iran while irking Obama, Netanyahu forgets Bush and ignores Churchill (Chemi Shlalev, Haaretz+) The British PM understood that without the president, the embodiment of American might, the United Kingdom would be rendered impotent against its evil enemy. 
It's not the PM's residence we should discuss, it's our life here (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) I really don’t care if the prime minister drinks champagne from crystal glasses every morning, as long as the champagne and crystal cause him to make the right decisions.
Is Obama an enemy of Netanyahu's Israel? Are you? (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Netanyahu makes a campaign promise he can keep: The next four years will be worse than the last. And they've already started.
Welcome to Israel: Would they treat you better in Germany? (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz) Before you complain about the reception you get upon landing in Israel, be honest about the attittude of clerks in the place you've chosen to live.
Letter to the Editor: Airport staff should be grounded (Joe Charlaff, Jerusalem, Haaretz) The account of Zeev Avrahami’s treatment at the hands of female inspectors at Ben-Gurion Airport is nothing short of scandalous.
The gaps between Israel and the world powers are insurmountable on Iran (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The deadline for reaching an agreement between the world powers and Iran is in four weeks. If an agreement is reached - and at this stage of the discussions that is very doubtful - it will happen about two weeks after the controversial speech of Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress. In any case, even if no agreement is reached in the next frame, then both sides have another target date for achieving an agreement: the end of June 2015. The big question is, of course, will an agreement be reached in the next month or by June. Whether he is motivated by a deep internal conviction or obsessive messianism - or both - Prime Minister Netanyahu is afraid of the agreement and is turning the battle against it into a foreseer of everything. This is even at the price of a serious confrontation with President Obama, to the point of endangering strategic relations with the United States, Israel’s biggest and most important ally.  
Navigating the Iran endgame (Richard Baehr, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu knew Israel did not have a friend in ‎the White House, but ‎even he may not have expected the ferocity of the current ‎undermining of Israel. 
Rethinking security to restart the peace process (Maya Kornberg and Roee Kibrik, Yedioth/Ynet) Institute for National Security Studies project will broaden definition of security to reframe Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and break deadlock.
Netanyahu resorts to accusations of treason — again (Haaretz Friday Editorial) Faced with the damaging state comptroller's report, the Israeli PM has lashed out at his political rivals, much the way he did before Yitzhak Rabin's assassination.
Warm winds of a cold war (Ronen Bergman, Yedioth/Ynet) Judging from the attendance at Munich Security Conference's different sessions, today's world is very interested in what is taking place in Ukraine but is mostly indifferent to the situation in the Middle East.
Have we Israelis gone crazy, or what? (Yoel Marcus, Haaretz+) There is no problem in Israeli-American relations. The problem is Netanyahu's arrogrant, foolhardy challenge to Obama.
I still have a dream - and it means that I, a Bedouin Arab woman, must vote (Hanan Elsana, Haaretz+) A self-interested Knesset and inciting government made me want to boycott the election. But the joint Arab list and fresh faces among the candidates give me hope and persuade me to go out and vote.  
The Arab parties' big move || Israeli Arabs shouldn't participate in a fixed political game (Jamal Abdo, Haaretz+) The merger of all the Arab parties is welcome, but we already know what impact they will have in the next Knesset — and the one after that, too. 
An American about face, into the arms of Iran
(Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom) If the rumor about the shift in the U.S. approach toward Iran is true, Israel is on the precipice of one of the toughest periods in the history of Israel-U.S. relations. Israel must prepare for a harsh period culminating with an entirely changed region.
Replace Netanyahu to restore Israel's dignity (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) Netanyahu family's warped lifestyle is not unrelated to Netanyahu's failure as prime minister. 
The intellectual terrorism of Roger Waters and BDS (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) If people like the anti-Israel musician and the boycott supporters had their way, Jews would once again be targeted, and left without shelter.  
How Diaspora Jews can vote on Israel's future (Zoe Jick, Haaretz+) World Zionist Congress elections let Jews worldwide influence Israeli policy decisions.

Entire world is responsible for Gaza's fate, says Blair
The former British leader turned Mideast peace envoy talks to Nahum Barnea about his revolutionary three-pronged plan for the troubled Gaza Strip, even as the countdown to the next conflict has started. (Interviewed by Nahum Barnea in Yedioth/Ynet)

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