News Nosh 03.01.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday March 1, 2015

Quote of the day:
“Congress will applaud Netanyahu, but the power is in the hands of the President. What will Netanyahu gain from this trip? I just don't get it. What's his objective – applause? This trip is a failure waiting to happen.”
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan in widely-discussed interview with Yedioth on the subjects of Iran, ISIS and the recent war in Gaza.**

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

News Summary:
As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu departed today for Washington to give his speech to Congress against an agreement with Iran, the Hebrew newspapers continued to discuss what affect that controversial trip could have and what agreement is being hammered out between the world powers and Iran that will end the sanctions Netanyahu fought so hard for. Meanwhile, an Egyptian court declared Hamas’ political wing a terror organization and the Italian parliament recognized the Palestinian state in a non-binding vote.
Yedioth and Haaretz+ report that Iran offered to lower the number of active centrifuges by a third to some 6,000, to reduce the number of enrichment facilities - only leaving the one in Natanz - and to convert the Arak heavy water reactor making it difficult to manufacture plutonium there. Moreover, there will be strict international supervision over the nuclear reactors to make certain the agreement is not violated. Former Obama envoy to Iran, Dennis Ross, told Channel 2 News that the “US will be able to detect an Iranian sprint to nuclear bomb” and that the agreement being discussed would enable Western officials to perform "anytime, anywhere inspections." (Also in Maariv)

Haaretz’s Barak Ravid wrote that it was the surprise compromises by the Iranians on the centrifuges and the enrichment that led to the progress in the nuclear talks. A US official said that an agreement is not likely this weekDisputes remain over whether to gradually drop sanctions or end them all at once, how long the agreement will be in effect and what to do with the other centrifuges, writes Yedioth’s Alex Fishman.

A senior US official told Maariv that Netanyahu would not be able to affect the continuing negotiations with his speech to Congress. Nevertheless, Netanyahu insisted his controversial speech (he was invited by the Republicans behind the back of US President Barack Obama and just ahead of Israeli elections) was vital. Visiting the Western Wall ahead of his departure he said, “I respect the US president (but) as prime minister it is my responsibility to look after Israel.” Yedioth reported that Likud admitted it hopes the speech will bring them more votes. Ynet reported that pro-peace pro-Israel J Street lobby President, Jeremy Ben-Ami said Netanyahu was "crossing some lines that haven't been crossed before and is putting Israel into the partisan crossfire in a way it has not been before." Netanyahu will meet with Democratic and Republican Senate leaders in Washington. He will also speak at the AIPAC conference, where the White House is sending National Security Advisor Susan Rice and US Ambassador the UN Samantha Power to speak. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif slammed Netanyahu’s 'scaremongering' and that Israel is attempting to prevent peace.
Interestingly, Maariv online and Maan reported that a Kuwaiti newspaper quoted "well-placed" sources as saying that Obama threatened to fire on Israeli jets after Netanyahu took a decision to attack Iran in 2014. Details here.
Meanwhile, an Egyptian court deemed Hamas’ politburo a ‘terrorist organization, a decision the Islamist group called "shocking and dangerous.” A Hamas source said the organization will no longer accept Egypt as a broker between Palestinians and Israel. Israel Hayom has an extensive article interviewing numerous people on the issue. Maariv ran a long article on the subject in the print paper.

Quick Hits:
  • Oxfam: Rebuilding Gaza could take more than 100 years if Israel maintains blockade - Aid agency blames restrictions on imports of construction materials into the Strip, says around 100,000 people are still homeless after 50-day summer war last year. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Cops accused of abusing Bedouin family evade investiagtion - A Bedouin father and his two sons were detained during a protest. Their complaint of assault and serious abuse, was dismissed without any attempt to locate the policemen involved. (Haaretz+)
  • Christian center set on fire, vandalized in Jerusalem hate crime attack - Damage done to a building belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church near the Old City Thursday; graffiti denigrating Jesus was sprayed on one of the walls. (Haaretz+) 
  • Arab League condemns Israel attacks on mosque, church - The attacks were a result of an environment of "extremism and racism" and would likely increase in the run-up to Israeli elections, Arab League said. (Maan)
  • Jews, Christians and Muslims unite to repair Mount Zion cemeteries - Volunteers aim to ‘rescue Israel’s honor’ after a raft of hate crimes have produced no arrests. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian official: Jewish settlers deface West Bank school - 'Death to Arabs' sprayed alongside Star of David in what appears to be the third racially motivated incident this week, Maan reports. (Haaretz)
  • Israel to demolish homes of dozens of Bedouins in Abu Dis - Dozens of Palestinian Bedouins from the al-Jahalin community in eastern Abu Dis (between E. Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim) have received orders from Israeli forces to demolish their homes themselves. (Maan
  • Israeli forces suppress West Bank demos - Three Palestinians were injured by live bullets and dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation during a protest in Hebron against Israeli occupation of the West Bank. (Maan
  • Israel to use frozen Palestinian tax funds to offset PA electricity debt - Israel Electric Company to stop cutting power to Palestinian Authority in exchange for state's promise to use NIS 300 million in Palestinian tax revenues to defray PA's debt. (Haaretz+) 
  • Herzog: Netanyahu's government spent billions on settlements instead of solving housing crisis - Zionist Union leader and Netanyahu's main rival lashes out at prime minister, calls on him not to speak to Congress in March 3. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli army setting up unit to probe alleged criminal acts during wartime - Human rights groups have said the IDF’s investigations take too long and are still not carried out in full. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli Air Force and Paratroopers Brigade cooperated in military exercise that included landing in enemy territory - In the wake of the growing threats on all fronts the army held an unusual military training. Paratroopers exited from the back of a Hercules plane, just like in the Entebbe operation. (Maariv)
  • Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan to headline anti-Netanyahu rally - Dagan, who called Netanyahu's policies 'destructive to the future and security of Israel,' will speak at rally demanding regime change at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. (Haaretz+)
  • Police data shows spike in number of attempted attacks through checkpoints - New data published by police shows rise in criminal activity at Israeli checkpoints - ranging from individuals set to carry out attacks (14 last year compared to 4 the year before) to infiltrators (8% rise); 32 million people have crossed Israeli checkpoints in the past year. (Ynet)
  • Israeli troops 'violently' attack Palestinian teen at border crossing - Muhammad Asri Fayyad, 17, describes how he was told to strip before he was beaten Thursday morning after he arrived at Jalama crossing with a busload of young men and teenagers who had organized a trip to Israel and obtained the needed permits from Israeli authorities. (Maan)
  • Palestinian Prisoner Society: Israeli forces raid prisons, impose punishments - Israeli prison guards on Friday raided sector 11 of Eshel prison and proceeded to ban visiting rights for two months for some prisoners, said Palestinian Prisoner's Society. (Maan)
  • ADL: Attack ad on Susan Rice is perverse, incendiary - American-Jewish groups roundly condemn full-page New York Times advertisement claiming top Obama aide is 'blind to genocide.' (Haaretz)
  • Netanyahu's office denounces U.S. ads against Clinton and Rice - Prime Minister flies to Washington to address Congress: 'I am leaving on an important mission, representing all of Israel - even those that don't agree with me.' (Haaretz+)
  • Billboard campaign launched in Ireland to recognize Palestine - Palestine solidarity group Sadaka said that former Irish minister for foreign affairs Micheál Martin, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, and PA ambassador to Ireland Ahmed Abdelrazek urged the Irish government to recognize Palestine based on the two state parameters as part of the new campaign. (Maan)
  • For Habayit Hayehudi, an independent Palestine amounts to 'suicide' for Israel - Leader Naftali Bennett's alternative? 'Autonomy on steroids' for the Palestinians – in 40% of the West Bank. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Party leaders lock horns on election eve debate - Despite absence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor-Hatnuah leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni from Channel 2 debate, panel proves rife with drama. Heads of eight parties trade barbs over agendas, policies, affiliations and vision. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Far-right settler) Zionist rabbis switch from Naftali Bennett to Eli Yishai - Signatories of public letter announcing support of ultra-right party include rabbis Dov Lior, Zvi Tau, and Shlomo Aviner, among others. (Haaretz+) 
  • Sara Netanyahu’s war-time phone defense of PM made public - Maariv publishes transcript of PM’s wife call lambasting Sderot’s mayor Eli Moyal during Operation Protective Edge. Moyal said the recording should be made public: “The nation needs to hear what was on the prime minister’s wife’s mind, on the day we buried four of our finest [soldiers)." (Times of Israel)
  • Sara Netanyahu decries 'concerted effort to humiliate' her - Benjamin Netanyahu's wife rebuffs allegations of interfering in affairs of state. She was interviewed by writer Naomi Ragen in Maariv and Jerusalem Post. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu says he won't form government with Zionist Union - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells ultra-Orthodox radio station that decision to exclude haredim from previous government was forced upon him. PM says Tzipi Livni, Isaac Herzog "learned nothing" from disengagement, want to divide Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • Thousands protest in Nazareth against distribution of Charlie Hebdo - High Court last week allowed Yisrael Beiteinu to give French weekly away for free. Nazareth mayor calls on Avigdor Lieberman to apologize for insult to Muslim community. (Haaretz+)
  • Nadia Hilou, first Arab Christian woman to serve in Knesset, dies at 61 - Hiilou served in the 17th Knesset as a member of the Labor-Meimad faction. During her tenure, she was chairwoman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Protest erupts as Herzog and Livni visit Arab town - Zionist Camp politicians visit majority Arab-populated area of Wadi Ara in Haifa district and met with protests who call center-left group 'radical right wing' and accused them of murdering children in Gaza. (Ynet)
  • Report: Israel lobbying Congress for $300m more for its missile defense programs - Bloomberg reports Israeli officials have turned to U.S. lawmakers instead of to White House or Pentagon in effort to secure additional funding for David's Sling and Arrow-3. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel, Jordan sign Red–Dead canal agreement - Project will provide potable water to Aqaba and Eilat and sea water to raise the level of the Dead Sea. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli film 'The Flat' becomes part of German high-school curriculum - Documentary directed by Arnon Goldfinger presents in part his grandparents’ connection to a senior Nazi official. (Haaretz+)
  • Royal Shakespeare Company casts Palestinian as Shylock in new production of 'Merchant of Venice' - Makram Khoury has almost 50 years' experience on the Israeli screen and stage and was the first Arab recipient of the Israel Prize. (Haaretz)
  • With closed borders, Gazans unable to make Muslim pilgrimage - Thousands of Gazans hoping to go to Mecca turned away because Egyptian border remains closed. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Qatari businessman to pay for 50 Gaza weddings every year -  
  • The generous donation, said Haniyeh, would be a serious relief for young men who have been suffering from dire economic conditions in Gaza since Israel imposed a crippling siege on Gaza about 8 years ago.  (Maan)
  • 1 killed, 1 injured as Israeli ordnance explodes in Gaz - 
  • Naji Khalid Youssef Abu Sableh, 21, was killed and his brother Akram, 18, was injured as Israeli ordnance blew up in eastern Rafah. (Maan)
  • Farmers continue to face hardship months after Gaza war - A survey of 285 farmers conducted by a aid group found that 84 percent assessed had been forced to take out loans to cope with the loss of income incurred by damage to their land. (Maan
  • Hamas stops Palestinian novelist from attending Casablanca book fair - Atef Abu Saif describes travel ban as 'an act that cannot be justified,' accuses Hamas of 'numerous violations and banning of cultural events and activities as well as literary traditions and heritage.' (Ynet)
  • 200 Gazans to attend Friday prayers in Aqsa mosque - All of the group were over the age of 60 and will return on Friday afternoon. (Maan)
  • Middle East updates / Iraq says ISIS attempting to sell artifacts after destroying priceless antiquities - ISIS attacks Samarra ahead of Iraqi army offensive; UN condemns ISIS's 'barbaric terrorist acts' in Iraq; White House 'hopeful' on coalition for Iran nuclear talks amid Netanyahu visit. (Haaretz)

Coming home from kindergarten to discover Israel demolished your home
Authorities this week demolished homes in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Saawa in Israel – for the fourth time. (Gideon Levy and Alex Levac, Haaretz+)  
British Jews ever so carefully begin to criticize the occupation
Observers say views of broader Jewish community are more moderate than those of leaders. (Daniella Peled, Haaretz+)

Israel has more to worry about than Iran's nuclear program (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Military intelligence has warned that violence could break out over religious incidents in Jerusalem, deaths of Palestinian children or security prisoners.
A mere presentation: Netanyahu has no chance to change even a comma in the emerging agreement with Iran (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) In both of Netanyahu's speeches – at AIPAC and to Congress - he will get a stormy applause. But when this unnecessary show ends, the Prime Minister will have nothing concrete left in his hands except another row (of bricks) in the wall of enmity that is rising between him and the White House. 
The writing is on the wall (Amos Regev, Israel Hayom) Signing a nuclear deal with Iran would be like leaving a loaded gun in the hands of a killer, trusting him not to kill again. 
Israel is tearing Jewish communities apart (Ilan Baron, Haaretz+) Diaspora Jews want to have it both ways: keep our ties with Israel without being held accountable for its policies.
Israel will feel US rage after Netanyahu leaves Washington (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet) White House officials already working on plan for day after Congress speech; Israel, which has asked for another $317 million for defense, may find out America far less generous than before.
If Netanyahu's right, why is he so wrong? (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Even if he is correct about Iran, Netanyahu's steps have minimized Israel's ability to exert influence, and his moves on Obama's turf have politicized U.S.-Israel relations so much that no one seriously addresses his points any more. 
Between Esther and Congress (Emily Landau, Israel Hayom) On the same day we observe the Fast of Esther, Prime Minister Netanyahu will walk into Congress, accompanied by 8 million citizens of Israel and the weight of 2,300 years on his shoulders.
Leave Bibi alone (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) Netanyahu has made his priorities very clear: Who cares that many Israelis will never own a home when Tehran is inching closer to the bomb?
The real drama isn’t Netanyahu in Congress, it’s Susan Rice, 'the gladiator' in AIPAC’s lion den (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) Zealous supporters of Netanyahu are stoking the right’s resentment of the National Security Adviser who called the prime minister’s visit 'destructive.'
The propaganda agents for Hamas (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) There are some Israelis who support the manipulation of the facts of the history of Israel, from the story of the Jews under Muslim rule to the very legitimacy of the state.
An impossible reality for us (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) A bad deal with Iran will mean an Islamic republic with 6,500 centrifuges, allowed to enrich uranium, developing ballistic missiles and calling for Israel's destruction.
The Israeli embassy tweet that will annoy the White House (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) What would the New York Times front page look like 10 years after a deal with Iran is signed? Not good at all, according to Israel's D.C. embassy tweet.
The shattered dream of a home in Israel (Daniel Bettini, Yedioth/Ynet) Seventeen years after making aliyah from Switzerland, leaving behind a comfortable life, I have almost no chance of buying an apartment here.
Why kippa walks and Muslim peace rings won't solve Europe's crisis (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) These stunts distract us from Europe’s real problem.
Government abandoned Israel's weak populations (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) The second and third Netanyahu governments are exclusively responsible for the total failure to help families from the lower echelons with affordable housing.
The Left's diplomatic decorum will not stop Iran (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) PM Netanyahu's Congress address seeks to promote discourse on the Iranian threat, and the anxiety of Obama administration officials indicates it is the correct strategy. The Zionist Union, however, prefer to do nothing and hope Obama gets it right.
Why Netanyahu's party hopes Obama stays angry (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) It seems as if every slap in the premier's face from members of the Obama administration only strengthens his electoral base at home. 
David Landau remembered: 5 op-eds that resonated (David Landau, Haaretz+) On the occasion of his 'shloshim' (days since his burial), Haaretz republishes five opinions by the former Haaretz editor-in-chief.
David Landau: Mentor, friend and shield 
against complacency (Peter Hirschberg, Haaretz+) Marking the 30th day after Landau's passing, Peter Hirschberg recalls the indelible imprint the former editor of Haaretz English Edition left on the lives of many.
America and Israel: A love story (Guy Bechor, Yedioth/Ynet) While Israeli public has been misled into thinking that we are in a crisis with US public, annual Gallop poll points to record high support for Israel.
**“Netanyahu has caused Israel the most strategic damage on Iran”
In exclusive interview, ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan says he agrees with prime minister on threat posed by nuclear Iran, but warns Netanyahu 'is single-handedly motivating the Americans into rushing to reach an agreement.' (Interviewed by Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer in Yedioth’s Friday newspaper)
Israeli politicians' reactions to the interview with Dagan here.
'Netanyahu's speech will elevate public dialogue on Iran'
"I'm amazed at the undiplomatic way this administration is handling Netanyahu's visit," former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld tells Israel Hayom. Iran funds terror every chance it gets; its behavior is beyond any reasonable expectation, he says. (Interviewed by Boaz Bismuth in Israel Hayom)
"Netanyahu's speech severely harms the support for Israel"
Tamara Wittes, former US deputy secretary of state in Middle East Affairs, finds the failures in the relations between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, lays out the regional map and analyzes the actors: On ISIS ("the campaign is beginning to succeed"), on Assad ("I think it will be difficult to see a situation where Assad can take control back over Syria"), and Iran ("Without nuclear aspirations it will become more aggressive"). (Interviewed by Ben Caspit in Maariv's Sunday magazine and Jerusalem Post

ISIS is bright, Greece is right and Israel is a perfectly safe place to be
Michael Levitt, a U.S.-Israel Nobel laureate in chemistry, goes
way beyond science in a wide-ranging interview with TheMarker. (Interviewed by Dafna Maor in Haaretz+)
'The world will appreciate our determination'
Nobel laureate Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann says Israel can learn from Iran how to stand its ground and get its way. Aumann supports Netanyahu's Congress address: "If you chase peace it only eludes you. That's not game theory; that's history." (Interviewed by Nadav Shragai in Israel Hayom)

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