News Nosh 03.26.15

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

Quote of the day:
"He who fears the votes in the ballot boxes will end up with stones thrown in the streets."
--Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave another jab at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the latter's 'Arabs are voting in droves' statement on Election Day.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • “I will work to close the rifts in the nation”
  • Now it’s official: President charged Netanyahu with forming  government
  • Announcement on appointments will hasten negotiations to form coalition // Dan Margalit 
  • Another failure for Obama’s policies: Yemen completely fell in the hands of the Houthis
  • American bankruptcy // Boaz Bismuth
  • Tonight changing the clock
  • “3 bottles of champagne a day” (drunk by Sarah Netanyahu)? Unreasonable, I don’t believe it // Yair Gat, wine critic

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised he would mend the rift, which resulted from his re-election, as President Reuven Rivlin tapped him to form the next coalition government, but  appointed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon cancelled negotiations with Likud today after Netanyahu gave ultra-Orthodox parties chairmanship of two key Knesset committees, making the top story in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with leaders from the Joint List and some of the papers reported on the sudden political decision to freeze construction of Jewish homes over the Green Line in Jerusalem. And Ynet revealed the European Union has plans to pressure Israel to do more.

**Rivlin gave Netanyahu three priorities as next prime minister: first and foremost improving relations with the US, then stabilizing the government and giving the public reason to have faith in it and healing the societal divisions. Earlier in the day, Rivlin stung Netanyahu when he received the official election results from Central Election Committee chairman Judge Salim Joubran (an Arab), when he said: "The elections are the only referendum in our democracy. Shame on us if we view the fulfillment of the democratic duty of voting as a curse, or something that must be warned against,” referring to Netanyahu’s announcement that ‘Arabs were voting in droves’ on Election day. "Those afraid of ballots at the polls will end up getting stones thrown in the streets," said Rivlin. 
Ynet and Maariv reported that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hosted the leaders of the Joint (Arab) List on Tuesday and praised them for their political unity. The List is made up of the Jewish-Arab Hadash party, Balad party, the United Arab List, and the Taal party led by MK Ahmad Tibi, (Osama Saadi came in his stead, Maariv reported.) Haaretz reported that Abbas is planning to host a reception for Joint List MKs after they are sworn in and hold discussions with them on political developments in Israel.
Maariv reported that a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said, “The Prime Minister ordered to freeze the construction" of the massive project in E. Jerusalem. Ynet was first to report that Israel had suspended a project of 1500 homes in Har Homa "for neither planning nor professional reasons.” Planning officials familiar with the details of the plan told Ynet that the program is not being advanced due to the political sensitivity and that there had been no approval from the Prime Minister's Office to hold the planning discussions. Haaretz+ also reported on it, but oddly, Yedioth didn’t report on it in the print paper.
And now the EU hopes to pressure Netanyahu into doing more of such acts. Ynet’s Elior Levy had a scoop with an EU document that shows European plans to pressure Israel. The leaked report outlines 40 suggestions that are hoped will change Israel's anti-two-state solution and pro-settlement policy. Levy wrote that “the majority of the 40 recommendations may be hard for Israel to swallow.” An unnamed EU diplomat told Ynet that the EU does not believe Netanyahu's subsequent backtracking on the creation of a Palestinian state and that, as a result, "We are on a collision course. It's clear to everyone in Brussels that there must be a response to these statements."
Interestingly, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with the state, a Beersheva court sentenced a Hamas militant for attempted murder and kidnapping for fighting against Israeli soldiers inside the Gaza Strip last summer. [Imagine if a Palestinian court sentenced an Israeli soldier to jail for fighting Palestinian soldiers who had invaded Beersheva. – OH]

Quick Hits:
  • Palestinian teen dies of injuries a week after clashes with Israeli forces - Hospital says Ali Safi, 17, was shot in the chest; Israeli forces had responded to stone-throwing at a protest against the West Bank separation barrier, witnesses say. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Family of Palestinian girl wounded in Gaza can stay in Israel, court rules - Three members of Aman family died from air force fire aimed at Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza. (Haaretz+)
  • State refuses to put Kahane’s grandson in administrative custody - Israeli army and Shin Bet say Meir Ettinger, grandson of founder of extreme right-wing Kach party, endangers security of the region. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli Arab MKs to march for Bedouin rights, despite Rivlin's unexpected absence - President Reuven Rivlin had promised to welcome marchers, but will be abroad when they arrive in Jerusalem to draw attention to the Negev’s unrecognized villages. (Haaretz+)
  • Bennett, Lieberman put controversial legislation at center of coalition talks - HaBayit HaYehudi leader demanding passage of NGO bill, nationality bill, while Yisrael Beytenu wants capital punishment enshrined in law. (Ynet)
  • Arab mayors say they refused Netanyahu meeting, add 'apology is not enough' - The Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities criticize the prime minister over his Election Day remark, in which he warned his rule was in danger because 'Arabs are voting in droves.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Test prep question asks students: 'Which race is superior' in Israel?' - Questions turns up on a worksheet for test on Holocaust at central Israel high school for teenagers who dropped out of state school system. The teachers' employer, said it regrets that the student received material that included the "hurtful question.” (Haaretz+)
  • IDF drafting long-term plan to counter regional threats - New plan will streamline budget and leave army better equipped to deal with any future conflicts; new IDF chief also orders wave of lay-offs. (Yedioth/Ynet
  • Palestinian militants committed war crimes in Gaza, Amnesty report says - The report noted there is “significant evidence” to indicate that some of actions of Palestinian militants, including Hamas’ armed wing, endangered civilians and that if the rocket that killed 13 Palestinians on July 28th was a misfired Palestinian rocket, as is believed, then it would mean Palestinians killed more civilians in Gaza than in Israel. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • French firm pulls out of controversial Jerusalem cable car project - Palestinian Authority complained to Paris about Safege’s involvement in the project. French finance and foreign ministries warned the company about the legal risks, and it pulled out. (Haaretz+)
  • Suspended tax transfers leave Palestinian economy on the brink - Israel has been withholding more than $500 million in protest after the Palestinian Authority applied to join the International Criminal Court. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 5 new Knesset members will have to give up foreign passport - 
  • The grandfather of Yoav Kish, a Likud MK, was the most senior Jewish officer in the British army. In addition to it, too, Haim Yellin (Argentina), Rachel Azaria (USA), Ksenia Svetlova (Russia) and Abdullah Abu Marouf (Russia) will have to stick with only an Israeli passport. (Maariv
  • Jeb Bush: Obama administration shows 'pattern of diplomatic scolding of Israel' - President George W. Bush's younger brother, widely considered a candidate for president, says U.S. and Israel must work together. Palestinian state will require 'leaders committed to delivering' on negotiated promises. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Ex-caretaker at prime minister's residence: Sara Netanyahu drank shocking amounts of alcohol - During cross-examination in his lawsuit against the Netanyahu's, Meni Naftali grilled over allegations of violent behavior, funding. (Haaretz+)
  • Fallen soldier's sperm at center of battle - In groundbreaking ruling, court finds parents of combat soldier can use son's sperm to father a child, despite objections of widow. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to visit Israel next month - The couple is reportedly visiting Israel before flying to Jordan. (Haaretz
  • Hillel chief agrees to meeting with J Street students - Eric Fingerhut writes Benjy Cannon, the board president of J Street’s campus organization, J Street U, agreeing to on-the-record meeting. (Haaretz
  • Saudi-led coalition strikes Yemen, declares airspace a 'restricted zone' - Warplanes attack Houthi-controlled airport in capital Sanaa, residents say; U.S. providing support to Saudi operation, White House says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Women's media group honors Israel-based photographer Heidi Levine - The International Women's Media Foundation in Washington announced that Levine will be awarded the Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award. (Haaretz and Winning Photos)

This Day in Jewish History / Bibi’s father and ideological compass is born
Benzion Netanyahu lived in the U.S. and Israel and developed a dark view of the world’s feeling about Jews. (David B. Green, Haaretz+)

A crushing win for Israel's right? It's a myth (Yehuda Ben-Meir, Haaretz+) Commentators say Israel chose Netanyahu's path these elections, but numbers don't lie: The right has been steadily losing power since 2009.  
West sees Palestinians as Israel's problem (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) Europe and US allegedly oppose Israel's settlement policy, but beyond paying lip service, West's elites have supported occupation and avoided imposing any significant sanctions on Israel.
Yes, Netanyahu won, but left-wingers have reasons for optimism (Avi Shilon, Haaretz+) There are several good reasons to be optimistic about the election results that have brought a narrow right-wing Netanyahu government to power in Israel.
Life on the brink of catastrophe: What were the elections really about? (Iris Lael, Maariv) The question of the elections was what being an Israeli mean to you? The answer of most of the public was "Likud." Which means separation, existential anxiety and vigilance against the intentions of neighbors. 
Israel's left is living in a bubble - but the right's bubble is much worse (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The satiated left must finally discover the rest of the people, but the rest of the people must open their eyes and discover the rest of the world, especially the U.S.
Lessons for the Left (Aharon Lapidot, Israel Hayom) To win elections, the Left must show that its legitimate attacks on the government are not directed at the state itself. 
‘Gideon’s Default: The relationship between the IDF and the brave biblical commander (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The Army is investing resources in the formulation of the "Gideon Plan," the goal is that the IDF, and all of its ranks and corps, its combat units, its support units on land, in sea and in air, regular soldiers and reservists - everyone will train together. But meanwhile, the IDF fears the next conflict. 
Secular, Israeli and proud to live in a bubble (Michal Yudelman O'Dwyer, Haaretz+) They chide the residents of Tel Aviv for being 'out of touch' with the Israeli 'public;' for brandishing liberal ideals that don't chime with Orthodox Jewish tradition. Why is supporting freedom and equality regarded as such?
Teach tolerance (Itamar Haikin, Israel Hayom) It's time for teachers and parents to undo the harm caused to our children by the aggression of the recent election campaign. 
There’s nothing undemocratic about protesting Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) The Israeli prime minister's decisions about West Bank Palestinians, who cannot vote, enjoy no democratic legitimacy at all. 
A historic hour: Obama and Netanyahu have a rare opportunity to work together (Shlomo Shamir, Maariv) The US President and the Prime Minister of Israel can lounge on the chairs of the government and keep feeding the bad atmosphere between them. But precisely because they both secured periods of undeniable rule, they have now opened a rare opportunity for political initiatives. 
What Netanyahu didn't say (Clifford D. May, Israel Hayom) A two-state solution isn't feasible under current circumstances. That's all the prime minister said.
With eye on Gaza, IDF changes tune (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The first order Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot gave was to improve readiness for possible conflicts, with an emphasis on training. 
Obama's personal vengeance campaign (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) The real story behind The Wall Street Journal report is U.S. President Barack Obama's desire to cast blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and no one else, for the spoiled relations between his administration and the Israeli government.

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