News Nosh 03.02.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday March 2, 2015

Quote of the day:
“I recruited him, I taught him to navigate and I say to him now, ‘Bibi, you are navigating wrong.’”
-Gen. (res.) and former Mossad deputy head Amiram Levine, who was Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s commander in Sayeret Matkal, joined 180 commanders in warning that Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress is a danger to the strategic alliance between the US and Israel, and actually helps Iran.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Head to head – Day before PM’s congress address, US President to publicly present his position regarding visit that was not coordinated with him
  • (The speech:) Historic? Hysterical // Nahum Barnea
  • No choice // Noah Klieger
  • Only words remain // Eitan Haber
  • Speech of failures // Shimon Shiffer
  • Restraining order from Eilat against two families who rioted at hotel
  • The hero speaks – Ayala Shapira, 11, who was severely burned by a firebomb, speaks for first time: “I knew what I had to do to survive”
  • The lost year – The things that did manage to get into the State Comptroller’s report on housing
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “Dangerous compromises” – Journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who is close to the White House: “Netanyahu has a case”
  • Politicians, it’s not the time for division in Israel // Haim Shine
  • Rice’s (AIPAC) speech will signal: This is how the President will respond
  • Livni took advantage of her immunity as an MK: Won’t come to testify
  • Began with a (military) exercise
  • The left-wing is trying to bring back the tent protest (over high cost of housing) – 20 tents set up on Rothschild St.
  • After the ‘chocolate flight’: The ‘Open the door’ incident at an Eilat hotel
  • Police: It was an assassination attempt, Tabib is not revealing everything
  • Princess Elsa is the star of Purim costumes

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu departed for the US ‘on a historic mission’ to give his controversial address to Congress against an Iran nuclear deal, while the US President plans to bypass him a pre-buttal and a veto and former commanders back home slam him and women for peace march against him, the Hebrew newspapers reported today.
Trying to convince Israelis and Americans that the trip was justified, a ‘senior Israeli official’ told Israeli reporters on the Prime Minister’s plane to D.C. that Israel has trustworthy information regarding the deal taking shape with Iran that points at concessions agreed to by the world powers, which run counter to Israel's interests and that Israel wants to share that information with Congress.
But, Obama “is planning to remove the sting from Netanyahu’s speech,” writes Yedioth’s Itamar Eichner. He will be giving an exclusive interview to Reuters news agency later today about the same time as Netanyahu’s speech to the AIPAC conference, which is expected to focus on the issue of Netanyahu’s visit in the US that wasn’t coordinated with him and his criticism of it and possibly about the negotiations with Iran in what was called in the US “an attempt to refute Netanyahu’s claims in Congress about Iran,” Yedioth wrote. In addition, the White House has just published 'five facts you need to know about U.S.-Israel relations under Obama' that describes how the 'American engagement with Israel has grown and strengthened to an unprecedented degree.' 
Moreover, as the newspapers pointed out, the White House has already said that Obama will veto any bill letting Congress influence the Iran nuclear deal, so what was the point of going, the commentators asked.
A poll found that nearly half of U.S. voters said the Netanyahu invite should have gone through Obama. The papers noted that US Secretary of State John Kerry has tried to calm the tensions saying that Netanyahu was welcome to speak in the US, but that he hopes that Netanyahu's speech doesn’t turn into a 'political football'. He also said that the US deserves 'the benefit of the doubt' to see if a nuclear deal can be reached with Iran. 
Making headlines in Hebrew newspapers, top Jewish Senator Dianne Feinstein slammed Netanyahu's “arrogant statement” about his ‘historic mission’ and she said, “He doesn’t speak for me on this.” (VIDEO) Yedioth ran an article by Binyamin Tobias on 5 about the “Jewish dilemma: between supporting Israel and between loyalty to the President.” Tobias wrote that Netanyahu lost when it came to Feinstein’s remarks.
Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog and co-leader of the Zionist Camp said Israeli leaders needed to consider the impact of their actions on Diaspora Jews because the government’s responsibilities weren’t limited to protecting and defending the citizens of Israel. The Zionist Camp also said Netanyahu was destroying ties with the US for the sake of few votes.
**Meanwhile, a group of over 180 senior Israeli security officials, known as Commanders for Israel's Security, held a press conference yesterday calling on Netanyahu to cancel his US speech, saying it harms Israel and helps Iran. (Also in Maariv)
And tomorrow, hours before Netanyahu gives his speech, hundreds of women from a new organization called ‘Women Wage Peace’ will march from Sderot and from Tel-Chai (in the north) to Jerusalem in opposition to Netanyahu’s ‘Scare Speech,’ Maariv reported on page 3.

Quick Hits:
  • IDF calls up thousands of reserve soldiers in surprise West Bank drill - Another 10,000 received phone calls putting them on alert in drill simulating clashes and protests in the West Bank. (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • Study: Combat service pushes soldiers to vote for right-wing - Former fighters tend to support parties that take a hard line, according to a study conducted at the Hebrew University. Study showed that votes of combat soldiers who served in the Second Intifada was worth seven to eight seats in Knesset. (Maariv
  • Palestinian city plan to move forward after Israel agrees to water deal - State-of-the-art Palestinian city's development stuck amid conflict over connection to water, however its developer now says Israel has agreed to connect new city to grid, despite past conflict with settlers. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Palestinian activist: Boycott of Israeli products massively underway - The campaign to end entry of Israeli goods into West Bank announced last month on the heels of Israeli freeze on transferring tax revenue to PA. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Watchdog to reopen inquiry into cost of Netanyahu’s trip to Japan - The Netanyahus spent two days touring Kyoto, two and a half hours by train from Tokyo, but the family flew there on a 767. (Haaretz+) 
  • Tents pitched in Tel Aviv in attempt to reboot Rothschild housing protest - Nearly four years later, the hopeful, naïve young people are replaced by wiser and more impatient activists. The chosen theme: 'I'm 40 and I don't own my own home.' (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • After Egypt calls Hamas 'terrorist' group, Gaza braces for isolation - Though some in Gaza are angry at Egypt for officially labeling Hamas as a terror organization, other want the group to take a moderate line or relinquish control to Western-backed Abbas. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Head of Hamas' military wing makes rare appearance - Marwan Issa, head of Hamas' military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, says terror group replenishing rocket supply, forging new regional alliances ahead of future conflict with Israel. (Ynet)
  • Anti-Israel divestment push gains traction at US colleges - On campuses across America, pro-Palestinian activists have found success in promoting the isolation of Israel. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Middle East Updates / Bomb kills 2 in southern Egypt - Iraqi premier calls on Sunni tribes to abandon Islamic State; ISIS releases Assyrian Christians, says monitoring group; U.S.-backed Syria rebel group dissolves itself. (Haaretz)

The Israeli army's wary eye on photography great Robert Capa
The veteran war photographer recorded Israel's early days, accompanied by minders. The pictures are now on display at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. (Haaretz+)  
Inside the conflict: One night with elite troops in West Bank
Ron Ben-Yishai joins IDF combat soldiers from Duvdevan during an operation in Qalandia refugee camp, encounters the conflict first hand, and comes to an discomforting conclusion. (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet
Remembering Zimna Brahani, the Mossad operative who risked his life for Ethiopian Jewry
Brahani's colleagues in the daring immigration operations called him 'a hero of Israel.' Shortly before he closed his eyes, he received a last hug from former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy. Here is his exciting life story. (Ofer Aderet, Haaretz+) 
The website that keeps Israeli politicians honest on Facebook says gotcha when pols edit or remove politically problematic posts. Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett are the worst offenders. (Oded Yaron, Haaretz+)

Obama is Netanyahu’s greatest political asset (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz) The U.S. president bears some responsibility for the sorry state of Israel-U.S. relations. He has allowed himself to be maneuvered into a position where he can only help Netanyahu in Israel’s elections.
Mr. Netanyahu, don’t go to Washington (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Ynet's National Security Correspondent urges prime minister to consider the consequences of his address, in the face of such strong opposition from the Obama administration. 
Escalation' is when Palestinians cease their self-restraint (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The IDF sees itself as only reactive: not responsible for escalation and certainly doesn’t initiate it. If not for the Palestinians stuck between IDF camps and West Bank settlements, it could have fulfilled its real goal – as a nature protection organization. 
Is it really worth quarrelling with US president over a meaningless speech? 
(Dan Shilon, Yedioth/Ynet) Is there anyone in Washington, Tehran or even Jerusalem who believes that as soon as Netanyahu ends his address, US will backtrack on agreement with Iran and step up sanctions?
With AIPAC fete as backdrop, the Obama-Netanyahu faceoff begins (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The pro-Israel lobby tried to pretend that bipartisan business is as usual, until Dianne Feinstein dispelled the Kumbaya atmosphere. 
Israel and the U.S.: The manufactured crisis (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) The current crisis in relations between the U.S. and Israel is the result ‎of deliberate decisions in Washington to have such a crisis.‎
The unlikely broker between Hamas and Egypt: Islamic Jihad (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) Delegation of senior Islamic Jihad officials arrives in Cairo in an attempt to reduce tensions between the sides and reach a compromise that would allow the opening of Rafah Crossing. 
The right speech at the right time (MK Yuli Edelstein, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu's speech to Congress is about whether we, free people committed to democratic ideals, are still capable of standing together and resisting the temptation to appease our foes.
AIPAC delegates: Stand with Israel, not Netanyahu (Don Futterman, Haaretz+) Before you give him a standing ovation, think of whether the Israeli prime minister is leading the kind of Jewish state you support. 
Iran nuclear deal will be decided by Khamenei (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) While Netanyahu stands on Congress podium, American and Iranian diplomats will be working on final details of fatal agreement which may remove sanctions imposed on Tehran. But will the Iranian supreme leader even approve the deal?
The world doesn't get it, Israelis do: The two-state solution is unrealistic (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) The reason prospects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement are hardly discussed ahead of the election is that the vast majority of Israelis don’t believe in them at all. 
Who is behind the ad defaming Susan Rice in The New York Times? (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) Sheldon Adelson funded it and Rabbi Shmuely Boteach drafted and produced it. Both are die-hard fans of Netanyahu and despise Obama. But for Israel it is also a lethal connection because both acted on their own.
This is not the U.S. Netanyahu once knew (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) Netanyahu is trying to portray himself as perpetuating the legacy of prime ministers who ignored the fear that had gripped the White House to defend Israel’s security. 
An existential threat called Ayman Odeh (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) The Joint List head represents a new stage in the struggle of the Arab population in Israel, which today seeks to be a major force in determining the country’s future. 
Netnayhau's speech - historic or hysteric? (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Most Congress members don’t know much about foreign policy, but they do know politics; they will assume it's Netanyahu's perfomance in the polls and not Iran that brought him over at this time.
Arm Muslims against radicalization by giving them a voice (Michele Groppi, Haaretz+) The absence of discourse between Western governments and their Muslim communities demonstrates a lack of understanding and vision, and could herald counterproductive anti-radicalization policies.
Netanyahu's politics of poverty (Iris Lea, Haaretz+) An apathetic society is an obedient herd, and the entire herd moved rightward unthinkingly, in direct relation to their economic security. 
A premier with 20-something seats does not represent the people's will (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) It will be obscene if, the day after the election, Herzog – heading a slate of 20-something MKs – declares that the people have spoken. And it will be truly obscene if Netanyahu claims that the people want him to continue governing.

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