News Nosh 03.30.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday March 30, 2015


Quote of the day:
"After scaring us for a generation over the final catastrophe that will be here when that happens, here it is happening, and at that very second he will have to start calming us down. Otherwise, he will remain here alone. Let's see if he is as good at calming, as he is at terrifying."
--Maariv's political commentator Ben Caspit writes about what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can do the day after an Iran nuclear agreement is signed.**


Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • 14 days in Iran – Special: Yedioth correspondent Orly Azoulay reports from Teheran
  • US: Advancing towards an agreement
  • Israel Prize to Erez Biton
  • Fateful morning for Olmert
  • This is how the suicide co-pilot convinced the pilot to leave the cockpit
  • Not without my brother – Politics divided, cancer brought together: This is how Tzipi Livni renewed broken relations with her brother Eli
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • “Iran is lying – and it will still get a prize” – Netanyahu: “The Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis endangers humanity and must be stopped”
  • The agreement – A glorious chapter in the march of folly // Boaz Bismuth
  • Incomprehensible policy, bordering on delusion // Haim Shine
  • Far, deep and silent – New submarine
  • Michael Kalganov: Once an Olympic medal winner and world champion and today, lives on unemployment
  • Today: Ruling in (Olmert’s) “cash envelopes”
  • Poet Erez Biton won the Israel Prize for Hebrew poetry

News Summary:
The Israeli papers reacted differently to the expectation that an nuclear agreement will be signed between Iran and the world powers this week, although differences still remain, making today’s top story. Meanwhile, a six-week-old barely discussed report that the US declassified a document exposing Israel's nuclear program regains life in the right-wing media, Maariv reports on US plans to renew the Saudi Peace Initiative and Ynet notes that Hamas has taken a risk on the Yemen crisis.
 
Unlike Israel Hayom, Yedioth and Maariv seemed open and positive about the agreement they expected would be signed with Iran. Yedioth published today part of its Washington correspondent Orly Azoulay’s report from her two-week trip to Iran, marking not only Yedioth’s commendable interest in sharing with Israelis the Iranian side, but also signifying Iran’s same interest because it is highly unusual for Iran to allow Israelis to travel to Iran (unless they are also Iranian citizens). Azoulay reported on how hard Iranians lives were due to the sanctions and how badly the Iranians wanted the agreement with the US. This is the second time Azoulay has traveled to Iran to report. A picture of her wearing a scarf loosely over her head and standing in front of an ornate mosque was on the front page. That said, hawkish military affairs commentator Alex Fishman wrote that the success of the agreement depends on "perfect supervision" over Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Fishman does not believe is possible. Hence he concludes, “When the Americans talk about a historic agreement, in Israel and the Middle East they react with hysteria.” Maariv’s Ben Caspit and Yossi Melman agree that there could be a better agreement, but that Israelis do not need to start packing their bags - this agreement is not the apocalyptic end all for Israel. (See Commentary/Analysis below.) Despite the inevitability of an agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued to make declarations against it yesterday, saying that the “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis endangers humanity and must be stopped.” Haaretz+’s Barak Ravid prepared a “Nukes for Dummies: A primer on Iran talks.”
 
Meanwhile, a 1987 Pentagon report on Israel's top secret nuclear program that was declassified in mid-February is suddenly being reported on again and going viral on right-wing websites and already being discussed on Fox News. The right-wing reports noted that "by publishing the declassified document from 1987, the US reportedly breached the silent agreement to keep quiet on Israel's nuclear powers for the first time ever, detailing the nuclear program in great depth.” Some are accusing US President Barack Obama of releasing it as ‘revenge’ for Netanyahu’s Congress talk, due to the timing of the release: a couple weeks before Netanyahu’s Congress speech. But the question is why is it being reported on now just as a nuclear deal is about to be signed with Iran – and mainly in the right-wing media - when it was declassified six weeks ago? Reuters reported on it as soon as it was declassified in February, giving everyone access, and noted that the Pentagon report showed that the US helped Israel with H-bomb. Yet, Israel Hayom reported on it only yesterday
and the settler news website Arutz Sheva reported on it last week, saying that the declassification of the report was “missed by the mainstream media.”  Was it “missed” or was it just ignored? Indeed, it was reported on in February by the NRG Hebrew news website, which is owned by the same publisher, Sheldon Adelson, as Israel Hayom. An Internet search shows that only a few small English-language websites reported on it in February. Despite the accusations of revenge, many of the right-wing reports noted that Israel’s nuclear capability is known. (One researcher discusses that here and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg called for ending Israel’s ‘nuclear ambiguity’ over a year ago.) 
 
Meanwhile, in the wake of the ongoing crisis in Yemen, Sunni Arab leaders have made plans to create a joint Arab defense force against. Interestingly, notes Ynet’s Arab affairs correspondent, Elior Levy, Hamas has taken the side of the Sunni rule in Yemen, risking its ties to Iran that it just began mending after relations went sour when Hamas opposed Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, another Iranian ally, in Syria’s civil war. "Hamas is on the side of political legitimacy in Yemen and the Yemeni people's choice, which was made democratically," a Hamas statement said.

Quick Hits:
  • In exchange for freed tax funds, Palestinian Authority won’t pursue Israel over settlements at ICC - Israel pledges to release frozen funds accrued, but whether it releases upcoming revenues dependent on PA actions, say sources in Jerusalem. But PA denies: Netanyahu released the money to try to improve his image for the international community. (Jerusalem Post/Maariv and Yedioth, p. 12)
  • Settlers destroy 1200 Palestinian olive trees near Hebron - Israeli settlers from Asfar settlement, also known as Metzad, attacked al-Shuyukh village north of Hebron and destroyed 1,200 trees - nthe third such attack on the villagers' livelihood in recent memory. (Maan)
  • Putin pledges support for Palestinian state with capital in East Jerusalem - Russian president pledged his support Saturday during a meeting of the Arab League in Sharm el-Sheikh. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Putin letter to Arab summit triggers strong Saudi rebuke - Saudi Foreign Minister accuses Russian president of hypocrisy for urging peaceful resolution in Mideast while supporting Syria's Assad. (Ynet and Maariv)
  • Sa'ar, Tibi engage in Twitter row over Nakba Day - Arab MK Ahmed Tibi and former Likud minister Gideon Sa'ar argue over events of 1948 war, after Sa'ar slammed former education minister Shai Piron for backing inclusion of Nakba Day in Israeli schools. (Ynet)
  • March for Bedouin rights ends at President’s Residence in Jerusalem - Protesters submit master plan for recognizing, developing impoverished Bedouin communities in southern Israel. (Haaretz)  
  • Zionist Union sources: Some MKs talking behind Herzog’s back to join coalition - Herzog aide, however, insists center-left alliance headed for opposition, saying 'Netanyahu is not built for the ideological revolution of the type that partnering with us would impose on him.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Who's been promised what so far in Israel's coalition negotiations? - Ultra-Orthodox parties got their economic demands in early, much to the annoyance of Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party. (Haaretz+)  
  • Hamas engineer convicted of terror offenses in plea bargain; could get 21 years - 'Father of the rockets' Dirar Abu Sisi was commander of Islamist groups's military wing, has been in Israeli custody for the past four years. (Haaretz+) 
  • Government defense firms more open to army women - In policy shift, women with army rank below colonel will now be included in database of candidates for defense company boards of directors. (Haaretz+) 
  • Anonymous vows 'Electronic Holocaust' against Israel - Hacker group threatens to take down Israeli servers and sites on April 7 in new video, promising to 'erase you from cyberspace'. (Ynet
  • Hillary Clinton: Return U.S.-Israel ties to constructive footing - Potential 2016 U.S. presidential candidate warns that Israel should never become a partisan issue. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli envoy: UN ignores murder of Christians in Arab states - Ron Prosor to U.N: Israel is the only place in the Middle East where minorities are free to practice their faith, says that Christians fled both Hamas and PA rule in Gaza, West Bank. Calls on international community to support Kurdish fighters in Iraq. (Israel Hayom)
  • New Rabbi Shmuley Boteach ad in N.Y. Times urges Obama not to appease Iran - The ad comes as the United States and other world powers work to achieve an interim deal on curbing Iran's nuclear program before a March 31 deadline. (JTA, Haaretz
  • Philadelphia to allow bus ads showing Hitler with Palestinian leader - 
  • American Freedom Defense Initiative's proposed ads will appear on sides of 84 buses, carrying the tagline: 'Jew Hatred: It's in the Quran.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 11-year-old boy fighting for life – but you can help - Cancer patient Noam was diagnosed 2 years ago; doctors say only an expensive new drug can save him; organization accepting donations. (Ynet)
  • Israeli doctors save life of Iraqi toddler with heart defect - Team of Hadassah Hospital surgeons spend eight hours performing complicated operation that included moving main arteries and creating path through Maryam Mansour's heart so it would function normally. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel’s fourth submarine, ISS Tanin, to start operations within weeks - Israel Navy also expecting to receive four new German-built ships in coming years, to protect offshore gas and oil platforms. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli rescue and recovery team to assist at Germanwings crash site - The experts will travel to the French Alps to help with efforts to gather the remains of victims of last week's fatal crash. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • UN agency: Emergency fund for Palestinians in Syria near empty - UNRWA said to need around $250 million to provide cash distributions for roughly half a million Palestinian refugees affected by Syria war. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Runners 'hit the wall' in third Palestine Marathon - Held in the West Bank city, the marathon was won by Gazan runner Nader al-Masri, whose house was destroyed in last summer's war. (Haaretz)
  • Israel fears for safety of Yemen's remaining few Jews - With Saudi and allies striking Iranian-backed fighters, Israel and Jewish Agency increasingly frustrated by refusal of handful of Jews left in the country to leave. (Yedioth/Ynet)

Commentary/Analysis:
The world is ignoring Netanyahu (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) To ensure that the national, religious or private demon of a single person or couple will not send Israel to oblivion, a completely different leadership is necessary here. 
The upcoming agreement with Iran: Not a sword on our neck (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The deal being formulated in Switzerland (and there is no guarantee that in the end it will be reached) even if is not ideal, is not included in the category of "a sword resting on the neck." True, you could, perhaps, get an infinitely better agreement, but also the in emerging draft Iran surrendered. 
Israel reduced to heckling Iran pact from afar (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) With Netanyahu's loud bickering with the White House, culminating in his Congress speech, Israel's PM has inadvertently positioned himself as someone whom the Americans won’t take seriously. 
Netanyahu must understand: a Palestinian state is a fait accompli (Uri Sevir, Maariv) Israel can choose cooperation with international moves to establish a Palestinian state in exchange for diplomatic, security and economic achievements. 
Herzog and Livni must not become Netanyahu's fig leafs (Haaretz Editorial) Instead of joining a unity government, they must present a clear alternative to Likud's destructive policies from the opposition, and develop a political force that will eventually replace rightist rule. 
After the elections, the right doesn't care (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Right-wing politicians, who would have caused a ruckus had Netanyahu transferred Palestinian tax money before the elections, are now keeping quiet for fear of being left out of his new government. 
Netanyahu's biggest problem: Obama believes him (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) The prime minister will try to sell his emerging right-wing coalition to the international community as a centrist one, even though few will buy that. Before that, though, he has to contend with the problem that is Naftali Bennett. 
**The sun will shine even after signing the agreement, which may even lead to a unity government (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The agreement with Iran is full of holes, and full of the foolish naivete of the free world. However, we must not forget: the day after the signing of this agreement, the sun will shine. Iran will be stopped on the edge of the bomb, it will be distanced from the bomb by a period of nine months to a year. So you should stow away your apocalyptic prophecies of destruction for other opportunities. If all this happens, Netanyahu will find himself in a strange situation. After scaring us for a generation over the final catastrophe that will be here when that happens, here it is happening, and at that very second he will have to start calming us down. Otherwise, he will remain here alone. Let's see if he is as good at calming, as he is at terrifying. One thing is for sure: that a country the size of Iran, a great regional power with a large area, huge population and endless oil reserves, will reach nuclear capability if it decides to. It is impossible to prevent that from it. It could take longer, cost more money and blood, but it will happen. This evaluation is accepted by everyone, everyone. From the President of the United States to the last clerk in the Mossad. Even if Israel attacks Iran, it will only put it back by two or three years, and maybe spur it on more to reach the bomb. The question is what are our priorities, what are the alternatives, how wiling are the parties to pay and to sacrifice to achieve their goal (on the one side: achieve nukes, on the other side: prevent them). The Israeli Prime Minister was supposed to reach this moment of truth in a completely different situation. If this moment of truth is really that fateful, historical and formative, he should have been preparing for it for years. He needed to build a railway to all European capitals, to become a member of the family at the White House Oval Office, to create personal trust relationships with every enlightened leader there is. What Netanyahu did was just the opposite. He made himself the leader that nobody believes a word he utters (as expressed in that memorable conversation between Obama and Sarkozy). He has used up and lost his international credit in Europe and America. He is seen as a radical leader, who instigates strife, does not hede to the path of peace and is mainly interested in his own political survival. This is how he went to influence the world powers. It would have been better not to have approached them at all. Netanyahu's speech in Congress moved the Iranian case two or three places up on the media and public agenda, but the bottom line is that it is hard to believe that he will cause Congress to go against the President. It will not happen. Therefore, we may find ourselves with a bad agreement with Iran, and a bad relationship with the United States. Precisely because of the Iran issue, the unity government in question may be born. True, at this moment there are no negotiations and it is all spins and scenarios of analysts, etc., etc. But if an agreement is signed in the coming days, and if Netanyahu decides he has had enough of his usual (political) blackmailers from the right-wing, he could take advantage of the bad agreement evil…to call on (Zionist Camp and Opposition leader) Isaac Herzog and to tell him that in these troubled times, when the future of the Jewish people lay writhing at stake, there is no choice but to join hands and forget old disputes and all that nuclear jazz. The odds of that? Very low, but it exists. Then, when we know that at the wheel of the state there are two pairs of hands of the leaders of the two major parties, we can finally rest easy.
Reality wins out (Dr. Gabi Avital, Israel Hayom) We need to examine why the opinion of intellectuals and ex-defense officials, who are repeatedly wrong, are held in such high esteem by the media.
From the U.S. South, an Israeli’s lesson in racial segregation (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) A journalist's search for a museum in North Carolina led to a lake in New York State and a link between lynchings of years past and the South’s legal system. 
The Saudi threat: The war in Yemen and the Iranian nukes made us forgot how dangerous Saudi Arabia is (Jacky Khougy, Maariv) Saudi Arabia, which is considered the moderate, is battling to weaken Iran and its supporters in every possible arena in the region: Iraq, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon and now in Yemen. The current crisis shows that it is actually a war between bad and bad. Saudi Arabia is as dangerous a country as Iran, and even moreso. The fact that only a few believe that is not related to its weapons arsenal nor to its intentions. This is a result of good public relations from which Saudi Arabia enjoys. 
Netanyahu is faking democracy, so we must fight for it (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) What more needs to happen for our economic freedom fighters to understand that Netanyahu and the extreme right have emptied democracy of its values?
US foreign policy detached from reality (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) In two years from now, no one will remember Obama and Kerry who led to Iran's recognition as a nuclear threshold state, but the ruins they left in every corner they touched in the Middle East will remain with us for many years to come.
Sunnis, Shiites, and hate for Israel (Efraim Herrera, Israel Hayom) The bitter war between the two biggest Islamic factions don't prevent them from cooperating against a common enemy. 
Iran deal would be worst breach yet of U.S. solidarity with Israel (Seth Lipsky, Haaretz+) The last time an Israeli premier stood quietly by while the U.S. tried to cut a separate peace, the Jewish State got bubkes.
Mr. President, you are mistaken: Israel is not to blame for the conflict (Avishai Ivri, Maariv) President Reuven Rivlin's reaction to the prime minister's attitude toward Israeli Arabs lined up precisely with the narrative of our enemies. (But) Netanyahu did not prevent the Arabs from voting, he only urged his supporters to get to the polls. 
Netanyahu’s 'Arab droves' remark showed our black U.S. brothers what we're up against (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) Bibi’s election remark hit a nerve with Obama. It seems the president suddenly felt that he too was a member of an excluded horde – a punching bag for the arrogant white man. 
Israeli media should do some fact checking (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) While there is little information about the distribution of Israeli voters according to social-economic-demographic characteristics, claims that the Likud only received votes from Sephardim and people with a lower income have been adopted without any reservations.
Israel will ride out the Obama Doctrine (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) The U.S. president appears to be giving Iran some slack at the expense of Israel and Saudi Arabia, but his influence will wane as the U.S. election cycle heats up.
Judicial system fears right-wing government would limit Supreme Court's powers (Tova Tzimuki, Yedioth/Ynet) The judicial system worries a contrarian justice minister would not only fail to protect it from initiatives seeking to limit the court's power, but actually lead the charge, with potential coalition partners already preparing several bill proposals in that vein, including the nationality bill.



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