News Nosh 02.26.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday February 26, 2015

Quote of the day:
"We implore you to treat Mr. Yusuf Cassim with generosity and respect during the security checks.”
--Michael Freeman, Israel’s deputy ambassador to South Africa, asks Israeli airport security not to humiliate dark-skinned and heavily bearded South African MP, who is from an Israel-friendly party.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Expensive housing – Exchange of accusations following publication of State Comptroller report on housing
  • Housing crisis: Minimum government supervision is necessary // Hezi Sternlicht
  • Rumsfeld: (Obama) Administration’s conduct towards Netanyahu – “rude” –
  • Apple CEO in Israel: “Israel is a business arena”
  • Meni Naftali’s lawyer: He did not raise suspicions against Netanyahu
  • Tonight: Debate between 8 heads of medium and small-sized parties
  • Suspicion: Network of dozens of youth traded in drugs at schools in north Tel-Aviv
  • Tomorrow at 05:45 Tel-Aviv marathon begins

News Summary:
The failure of the Netanyahu governments to identify and resolve the spiraling housing crisis, as per the State Comptroller report released yesterday, making top story in all the Hebrew newspapers, with the exception, of course, of Israel Hayom. However, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not take responsibility and instead spoke about Iran, angering many. Israel Hayom focused on the ‘mutual accusations’ following the report. Meanwhile, the heat is still on Netanyahu from another direction. The Attorney General will decide today whether to open a criminal probe over the Netanyahu’s expenses at their official residences and the Israel Police are likely to question the couple on the issue. 

On the issue of Iran, the condemnation of Netanyahu by the US National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who called his planned speech destructive to US political bipartisanship on Israel, made Israeli news. The White House later clarified that reducing the US-Israel relationship to two political parties is "destructive" to the bond between the countries.
Two more US Congress representatives have joined the boycott of Netanyahu’s speech and in a rare rebuke, a US Democrat said he was 'disappointed' over Netanyahu's refusal to meet the Democrats and end the bipartisanship over the Republican invitation to address Congress.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu slammed the world powers for the agreement they are formulating, accusing them of “giving up” on their commitment to prevent Iran
from obtaining nuclear weapons. US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed back, saying Netanyahu supported the Iraq war, “and we all know how that turned out.”

And, the Atlantic's Jeffery Goldberg reported that Israel’s ambassador to the US worked frantically to try to get Arab representatives to attend Netanyahu’s speech, but was rejected. Goldberg also wrote that Netanyahu's national security adviser opposed the timing of the speech, just before elections. However, Netanyahu’s office denied Cohen opposed the speech.
Despite the tension between Israel and the US over the speech and negotiations with Iran, a Gallup poll has found that the US public's support for Israel remains high. Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 62% of Americans view Israel more favorably than Palestinians, while only 16% view the Palestinians more favorably than Israel. 
In all the discussion focusing on Netanyahu’s failures, the newspapers, with the usual exception of Haaretz+, failed to report on the mosque that was torched by extremist Jews in the Palestinian village of Jaba, near Bethlehem. It appeared only on their websites. The vandalism took place on the anniversary of the massacre by an Israeli killing Muslims at the Cave of the Patriarchs. A Star of David and biblical phrases were scrawled on the wall. (Video here) Haaretz+ noted that this was the 10th mosque to be set on fire and the Israel Police have caught no one. (More from Maan)

Quick Hits:
  • Israel cutting power to parts of West Bank, for second time this week - The company said Monday following the first blackout that it was owed large sums of money by Northern Electric, the electricity Palestinian firm. Palestinian firm said it had no outstanding debts and was unsure why Israeli authorities cut power for one hour. (Haaretz+ and Maan)
  • Israel sets up iron gates at checkpoint (that connects between northern and southern West Bank) - Bethlehem governor says iron gates and newly created car lanes and a passage for pedestrians opposes all agreements “as all talks were geared towards removing the checkpoint.” (Maan
  • Palestinian child, 15, sentenced to 4 months in Israeli prison - Israel's Ofer military court on Wednesday sentenced Khalid al-Sheik, 15, to four months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 2,000 shekels ($506). (Maan)
  • Israeli forces open fire at farmers in central Gaza - Soldiers stationed in military towers on the border east of Deir al-Balah opened fire at farmers in the area. Farmers fled the area, with no injuries reported. (Maan
  • Israeli police detain 5 women at Aqsa compound - Israeli police on Tuesday detained five Palestinian women as they left the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. (Maan
  • Ruling verdict: "Automatic search on detainees who are naked is prohibited" - Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ordered the state to exercise its judgment when making a body search without clothes. "The cases in which prisoners are hiding prohibited items on their bodies is rare." (Maariv)
  • 'A personal victory and also a victory for all the people of Israel' - Relatives of terror victims express satisfaction after jury holds PLO and PA accountable for supporting terrorist attacks in Israel during Second Intifada. "We have been fighting for 11 years, and finally the truth has come to light," says terror victim. (Israel Hayom)
  • **Israeli envoy urges airport security: Treat our South African Muslim MP with respect - Israeli embassy in South Africa implores Ben-Gurion airport security not to humiliate Yusuf Cassim, whose party is friendly to Jerusalem. (Haaretz++PHOTO)
  • Al Jazeera, Britain's Daily Mail retract false reports that Israel opened dams to flood Gaza - Both admit error, declare that no such dams exist; story also circulated on AFP, Palestinian news sources social media. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF: Hamas foiling direct trade with Gaza - Top Israeli official responsible for coordination with PA tells Palestinian journalists that Israel will ease restrictions only when Hamas stops commandeering building supplies to use in terror attacks. (Ynet)
  • Police suspect complaint against former caretaker of Netanyahu residence is bogus - Police suspect the complaint against Meni Naftali is trumped up and that the man who submitted it had ulterior motives. (Haaretz+) 
  • A group of 200 Israeli generals: "Warn against electing Netanyahu – he is not Mr. Security" - A group of about 200 retired brigadier generals and higher are concerned about re-election of prime minister: "Under the current leadership our security is getting worse. We must initiate a diplomatic initiative." (Maariv
  • Likud officials fear embarrassing Sara Netanyahu tape may leak to press before election - Netanyahu is heard scolding Monique Ben Melech, wife of former Sderot mayor, Eli Moyal, for Moyal's criticism of the prime minister's performance during Gaza war. (Haaretz)
  • Court allows Lieberman to distribute Charlie Hebdo - Overturning decision by election panel, High Court says magazine featuring drawing of Mohammed is ‘legitimate political material.' (Haaretz+)
  • (Arab) Girl stabbed in high school classroom by rejected suitor - Police arrest suspect, a 23-year-old man from nearby town. Survey found 84% increase in reported violence among 10th- and 11th-graders in Arabic-speaking schools in last four years. Hebrew-speaking schools saw a 30% decrease over the same period. (Haaretz)
  • Leaked 'spy cables' show Mossad tactics - Purported secret documents leaked to Al Jazeera reveal that South African intelligence According to Al Jazeera, South Africa assigned counter-intelligence officers to carry out surveillance against an Israeli spy, called Mossad 'difficult and insistent'. (Ynet)
  • Middle East updates / ISIS abducts at least 220 Assyrian Christians during three-day offensive - Dozens of suspected militants killed in Egypt's Sinai; U.S. condemns Islamic State attacks on Christian villages in Syria. (Haaretz)
  • Middle East updates / ISIS may attack Jordan malls, U.S. Embassy warns - ISIS abducts at least 150 Christians in Syria; Turkish police detain dozens over illegal wiretapping. (Haaretz)
  • Muslim forum on 'terrorism' seeks education reform - A counter-terrorism conference attended by senior Muslim scholars from around the world on Wednesday called for education reform to tackle religious extremism. (Agencies, Maan)
  • Iran smuggles in $1B in cash to skirt sanctions, report says - At least $1 billion in cash has been smuggled into Iran as it seeks to avoid Western sanctions, a bigger figure than previously reported, Iranian officials and Western intelligence and diplomatic sources say. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

The East Jerusalem powder keg
Despite reports of a significant reduction in violence around Jerusalem, a tour taken by Ynet of the seam line reveals a front threatening to explode. 'There's only an illusion of quiet; if we don't provide the stone-throwers with education, we will see a different Jerusalem'. (Roi Yanovsky, Ynet+VIDEO

Netanyahu is main culprit in Israel's housing crisis (Haaretz Editorial) Likud would have us believe housing report shouldn't have been released so close to election. But the public deserves as much information as possible. 
Beyond chutzpah: Here's how Netanyahu could have handled the Iran nuclear talks (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) If Netanyahu moves were really guided by fear for Israel’s security rather than for his own political survival, the Israeli PM would have sought to get the Obama-Khamenei agreement to include a few Israel-related points.
Post-Zionist government leading us to a binational state (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) The Netanyahu governments, even when they include Labor and Yesh Atid members, are disassembling the Zionist project of the 'Jewish and democratic' state. 
My West Bank village marks a decade of civil disobedience (Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, Haaretz+) Bil'in's villagers have become known as the 'Palestinian Gandhis' for our popular struggle against the occupation in general, and the separation fence in particular. 
Israel is galloping to the next war in Gaza (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Israel is heading to the next violent eruption with the Palestinians as though it is some sort of natural disaster that can't be avoided. 
Israel’s new existential threat (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The right of Netanyahu and Bennett is corroding the two primary principles of Zionist policy. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, Israel will slowly sink.
A US-Iran convergence (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The U.S. can take solace in an Iranian commitment not to become a nuclear state in the next decade, while the Iranians welcome the immunity and legitimacy the emerging deal will afford their nuclear program.
From Camelot to Spamalot: Why Mrs. Netanyahu is no Jackie Kennedy (Ilan Manor, Haaretz+) When the prime minister's wife gave a tour of her harsh living conditions, she proved nothing more than how out of touch she is with Israeli reality. 
Harsh rhetoric sets stage for High Noon drama in Netanyahu’s Congress speech (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The prime minister’s onslaught could convince Tehran to take the nuclear deal and to widen current U.S.-Israel rift to a historic rupture. 
Israel's economy is looking up (Hezi Sternlicht, Israel Hayom) While the media is trying to convince us things are gloomy, Israel's economic data is actually positive. 
Housing crisis report: The people are paying the price (Or Kashti, Haaretz+) If the ministers had to cope with similar problems, they would probably be doing more and talking less. But their families are all taken care of. 

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