News Nosh 03.03.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday March 3, 2015

Quote of the day:
"Who's a chicken, eh? Who's a chicken?"
--Israeli soldier heard saying to 16-year-old Hamzeh Abu Hashem in video as soldier sets attack dog on the boy.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Obama calms: “The rift is not personal, but Netanyahu erred in the passed in his estimates about Iran. The chance for an agreement – low”
  • The speech test // Nahum Barnea in Washington 
  • “Iran? Hundreds of people in emergency ward aren't forgetting their own lives” - Dr. Dafna Mansfeld at Sheba Hospital, which is collapsing from overload, responds to PM, who puts Iranian threat at head of his priorities
  • The Israelis who helped Hamas build tunnels
  • Celebrating Purim – Dressing in costumes at kindergartens and schools today and going on holiday
  • Bad business – Dreaming of opening a small business? Special Yedioth study reveals that what your chances of succeeding are
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • The day of the speech – Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner to Israel Hayom: “Time is critical, Netanyahu must speak to Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat”
  • The goal of the speech: To remind Obama who are the bad guys // Boaz Bismuth
  • In the US they broadcast, in Israel they censored // Haim Shine
  • US Jews must oppose the nuclear agreement // Avraham Ben-Tzvi
  • The indictment: Israelis in the service of Hamas
  • I am Purim 1: In costumes at the movies: They are also celebrating on the big screen
  • I am Purim 2: With chocolate, pralines or mocha: The best hamentaschen

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu spoke at the AIPAC conference, three Jewish Israelis were indicted for smuggling tunnel-building material to Hamas and a video of IDF soldiers setting an attack dog on a defenseless Palestinian youth that went viral on the Internet were the top stories in today's Hebrew newspapers.

The commentators noted that Netanyahu tried to soften the rift with US President Barack Obama in his speech to AIPAC, devoting most of his address to emphasizing the great friendship between the US and Israel and all that Obama has done for Israel. The Americans stressed that they would not make a bad deal with Iran. But, Maariv and Yedioth noted that in an interview with Reuters, Obama said Netanyahu's visit ahead of Israeli elections was a mistake and that on Iran, Netanyahu has also been mistaken in the past, yet relations would remain strong. At the AIPAC conference, Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that Netanyahu's demands from a nuclear agreement were 'unrealistic and unachievable' because Iran “can't unlearn the scientific and nuclear expertise it already possesses.'” And US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said, “The U.S. will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Period.”

Yedioth's Itamar Eichner wrote that Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer spent the 10-days before Netanyahu's trip in Jerusalem helping him write his AIPAC and Congress speeches. Sources told Eichner that Dermer should have stayed in Washington. Maariv reported that Yesh Atid MK and former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Perry said that he knows of “at least one top security official establishment “who tried to discourage the Prime Minister from traveling, but without success.” The paper also reported that the German newspaper 'Der Speigel' wrote that “Obama-Netanyahu relations are crashing.” Zionist Camp political candidate and former Military Intel chief Amos Yadlin said that Netanyahu’s speech was an apology for the damage he made to US-Israel relations.

Meanwhile, more senators have announced they are skipping Netanyahu's Congress speech, including Al Franken, a Jewish Democrat from Minnesota.

Moreover, the White House warned Netanyahu that he better not reveal any details on the Iran talks as one of his associates promised he would. That,would be 'betrayal' of U.S. trust, said the White House. 

As if to stress that US-Israel relations would remain strong, US Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the UN Human Rights Council for 'unbalanced focus' on Israel.

Speech or no speech, Netanyahu is as popular as ever in the US, according to a Gallup poll, particularly among Republicans. Nevertheless, the group American Muslims for Palestine has launched an ad campaign on buses across DC criticizing Netanyahu's actions and urging the US to end aid to Israel.

Interestingly, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz hinted he prevented an attack on Iran. Gantz told Channel 2’s Uvda investigative program about a dispute between the political leadership, which was moving toward a military strike, and the IDF, which opposed to such a move.

**All the papers reported on the video showing soldiers from the Oketz unit siccing an IDF-trained attack dog on Palestinian teen, which went viral after ultra-nationalist former MK Michael Ben Ari posted the clip on his Facebook page, praising it and calling the boy a 'terrorist.'The Joint Arab List called for ‘swift investigation’ and the IDF said it was opening a probe. Gili Cohen, the military affairs reporter of Haaretz, Israel's most left-wing newspaper,  played down the attack in a relatively short article, writing that the soldiers only 'threatened' the boy with the dog, when actually the dog grabbed the boy (Maariv).  The other newspapers also reported that the boy's other arm was  actually being held by a soldier yet the soldiers continued to sic the dog on the boy. (Times of Israel)

Quick Hits:
  • EU seeks to bolster Quartet by involving Arab states - Instead of expanding four-member Middle East organization, EU foreign chief says Quartet to meet with Arab League in coming weeks. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Gaza woman told to coordinate wedding date with Israeli army - IDF implies that close family members can leave for the wedding, but not the bride. (Haaretz+)
  • Wife of Palestinian prisoner gives birth to twins using smuggled sperm - The number of babies born to long serving Palestinian prisoners using their smuggled sperm rose to 35 on Monday after the wife of a prisoner from Tulkarem in the northern West Bank gave birth to a boy and a girl. (Maan)
  • 3 Israelis charged with smuggling materials meant to rebuild Gaza tunnels - Shin Bet calls the operation a 'well-oiled machine' meant to increase Hamas' military prowess in Gaza. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Report: Egyptian army given green light to strike Gaza - Following the Egyptian Supreme Court's decision to label Hamas a terrorist group, the government's legal adviser sanctioned the legitimacy of an attack in Gaza, say media reports. Senior Egyptian officials say likelihood of actual attack is slim. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas says it's rearming but doesn't seek clash with Israel now - Gazans are more concerned that Egypt might attack, the Hamas military chief says. (Haaretz+)
  • 300 soldiers get disability benefits after Operation Protective Edge - Some 150 soldiers have 20 percent or higher disability, with nine classified as 100 percent disabled. Defense Ministry received more than 500 requests for disability recognition. Several dozen more disabled expected to be recognized. (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF soldiers go AWOL to dodge punishment for drinking on duty - Three soldiers guarding Gaza border caught drinking on guard duty near Gaza border and fled homes to avoid punishment; only one has returned so far. (Ynet)
  • Israel orders Palestinian family to evacuate Sheikh Jarrah house - Israeli authorities on Sunday ordered 83-year-old Palestinian grandfather Ayyub Shamasnah and his family to voluntarily evacuate their 2-room home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, which was targeted by settlers. (Maan)
  • Lapid backtracks on promise to support head of largest party after elections - Zionist Union's Isaac Herzog has been unable to secure the agreement of the leader of Yesh Atid to back him in creation of next government. (Haaretz+)
  • Joint Arab List head accused of inciting against Arab IDF soldiers - Attorney Hor Uriel Nizri [from right-wing Honenu legal aid organization - OH] wants Aiman Ouda investigated for his statements that Israeli Arabs who serve in IDF are "pathetic."  Ouda says that his party supports volunteer service, but opposes "making civil rights conditional upon volunteering." (Israel Hayom)
  • Middle East updates/ U.S.-led coalition conducts nine airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria, Iraq - Coalition strikes five targets in Iraq, four in Syria. (Haaretz)
  • Israel's natural gas royalties hit record high - Fees and royalties from natural resources add NIS 744 million ($186.5 million) to state revenue in 2014. Natural gas royalties up 39 percent from 2013. Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom: A blessing for the economy, helps reduce cost of living. (Israel Hayom)
  • Dead to be honored at Olympics, but not specifically Israeli victims - Olympic Committee approves moves after facing criticism for refusing to hold moment of silence at 2012 Games for Israeli victims of 1972 Munich attack. Steps include special mourning area in Olympic Village, "moment of reflection" at closing ceremony. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)

The truly invisible people : every third  elderly person  in Israel is poor
Hundreds of thousands of elderly, who drove the economy and paid taxes, find it difficult to live in this country that they helped build. While prices of care-giving, medicines and food soar, the pensions and allowances for elderly continue to erode. (Yuval Bango, Maariv)

Obama switches tactics against Netanyahu’s speech: instead of anger, disdain (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) The PM describes his address to Congress as crucial, but Susan Rice seems to think it’s just sound bites.
Netanyahu's colossal failure as prime minister (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Likud leader has facilitated Iran becoming nuclear threshold state under umbrella of international legitimacy, and destroyed relationship with US that is so critical to our security.
Don’t fund the ‘twilight zone’ that helps settle the West Bank (Haaretz Editorial) The State of Israel must regain control of its settlement policy and stop funding transactions outside the framework of the law.
Netanyahu's AIPAC speech made an impression, but but it's not clear that it's useful (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The Prime Minister knows that in declarative terms his speech was meaningless. It's doubtful he was able to soften the foul atmosphere prevailing between him and President Obama. But he understands that it won't hurt him to get some points for having 16,000 people before he gets to Congress.
Netanyahu may be Superman at AIPAC, but he's no Churchill (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Israeli prime ministers love nothing more than the rock star reception they receive at AIPAC's annual conference - this is especially true for Netanyahu, and it's even truer this year.
Time for unity (Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) We should all pray for the success of Netanyahu's mission, as our lives depend on it.
Drama over Netanyahu's speech to Congress is shifting in his favor (Seth Lipsky, Haaretz+) Congress and millions of Americans are eager to hear what the Israeli prime minister has to say on Iran, and, once he leaves, it is U.S. President Barack Obama who will be on the spot.
It's Netanyahu's duty to address US Congress (Noah Klieger, Yedioth/Ynet) All of Israel's party leaders should have escorted the prime minister to Washington to prove their solidarity and support for an issue threatening the Jewish state's future.
The Iranian nuclear deal looks like a reasonable compromise (Avner Cohen, Haaretz+) There is only one alternative: continued sanctions, renewed enrichment and in the end military conflict.
Stop the tsunami: The signals from Europe need to be taken seriously (Arik Bender, Maariv) We can not wait for them to impose sanctions, because then the damage will already be done. The next government will have to take the initiative, and not let the other side play alone on the stage. 
A welcome Qatari guest in Washington (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) The secret to garnering Obama's respect is apparently to brazenly and repeatedly defy his wishes.
What’s missing from Netanyahu’s arguments in Washington (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) There are real problems with the emerging Iran deal. But are they the real reason for the Congress speech?
Netanyahu's alternative speech to Congress (Aluf Benn, Haaretz+) 'Iran has a government we can do business with,' the prime minister should, but won't, say in his address to Congress.
What a murder in Russia can tell us about Israel’s next government (Dmitry Shumsky, Haaretz+) The message that the peace process must be based on Jewish consensus, while Arab voices are ignored, has been perfectly internalized since Rabin’s murder.
Think Netanyahu's speech is really about Iran? Think again (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) As prime minister, dealing with the specter of a nuclear Iran is one of Benjamin Netanyahu's primary responsibilities. He's shirking it.

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