News Nosh 04.01.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday April 1, 2015

Quote of the day:
"As a parent, it shocks me that such a thing is distributed in the public education system.”
-- Ofir Spiegler reacts to an unusually censored Haggadah given to kindergarten children in Kiryat Tivon.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Persian bazaar in Lausanne – Arm-twisting and games of deception: US announced progress was achieved, negotiations will be extended; Europeans: An agreement - or we leave
  • Exodus from Egypt of an Israel-supporting scientist
  • Starting on the Right(-wing) foot – 120 Knesset members sworn-in

News Summary:
The extension of Iran nuclear talks and the swearing in of the 120 members of the 20th Knesset were the top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. There was also some discussion of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
The Western powers agreed to an extra day to draft a nuclear deal with Iran, but threatened to break up the talks if an agreement weren’t reached. Yedioth’s Yaniv Halili wrote from the nuclear talks in Lausanne that “the feeling in Lausanne was that more than the Iranians want to reach an agreement, which will bring an end to the sanctions, the Americans see it as the highest goal.” Maariv’s Gidi Kotz wrote that the departure of the Chinese Foreign Minister before the conclusion of the talks "signaled that almost certainly no signed document will be released at the end of the talks, rather only a declaration." Israeli commentators argued over who a deal benefitted. Maariv’s Yossi Melman wrote that “in the absence of a comprehensive agreement, Iran is the big loser” because sanctions will continue. In Yedioth, Yaron Friedmann argued that Israel and the US were the losers. [See Commentary/Analysis below.]
The papers noted that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used the opening of the 20th Knesset to blast the nuclear agreement-in-the-making. He also said Israel's hand is outstretched in peace to its neighbors and that Israel must work to mend the rift in the nation. President Reuven Rivlin told the new MKs not to forget who put them there. 

Interestingly, Yedioth’s Yuval Karni noted that the non-Zionist Arab and ultra-Orthodox MKs did not rebel this time over the traditional version of the swearing-in, despite the difficulty some of them have had swearing loyalty to the Zionist state and its laws in the past. This time they expressed protest in other ways. The members of the mostly-Arab Joint List, the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Yehadut Hatorah and the ultra-Orthodox Mizrachi Shas parties refused to wear on their lapels the blue and white ribbon handed out to all the MKs as they entered the Knesset. And at the end of the swearing-in, before the national anthem began, some of the Arab MKs left the plenum “in order not to have to sing the words ‘Jewish soul yearns,’” wrote Karni. The only one from the Joint List who respected the event – “but not till the end” was Ayman Oudeh, its Chairman. “I chose to stay and simply stand in silence,” said Oudeh. “This was my protest against the anthem, which does not represent me, which for me is only another symbol of my exclusion.”
Today Palestine became a member of The Hague, much to the despair of Israel, which fears it might be taken to court. But a Palestinian source told Maariv that "turning to the court in The Hague is a double-edged sword" because the appeal court could lead to a counter-claim by Israel. According to international law experts, Israel may take the Iran, Qatar and Turkey to court, claiming they sponsor Hamas.

Quick Hits:
  • IDF: Thousands of rockets, high casualties in future Hezbollah attack - Home Front Command recently updated its assessment of a possible attack by Hezbollah and has begun distributing it to local authorities throughout the country. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Plan approved for construction of 2,200 Arab homes in East Jerusalem - District Planning and Building Committee invites submission of master plan for building thousands of housing units in Jabel Mukaber; right-wing activists: Plan helps divide Jerusalem. (Ynet)
  • France hopes U.S. won't stand in way of two-state resolution - Paris to unveil draft UN Security Council resolution in about 12 days and hopes for U.S. support in wake of Israeli election, French officials say. (Haaretz)
  • Poll: Support for two-state solution drops sharply among Americans - A majority of Americans support a nuclear agreement with Iran, though few believe it will curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. Over 40% say they've never heard of Netanyahu. (Haaretz
  • Temple Mount activists slaughter lamb in public 'rehearsal' of Passover sacrifice - Hundreds attend ceremony held by group advocating for the re-building of Jewish temple in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, in show of strength marking rising influence of their cause. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israel Police disobeyed court order to release detainee - Court tells police to pay NIS 1,500 in compensation to resident of south. Judge Eliahu Bitan wrote that “a situation in which the Israel Police does not uphold a court order and continues to keep a person in detention despite a judicial order for his release is intolerable." (Haaretz+) 
  • **Dome of the Rock erased from kindergarten's Haggadah - Al-Aqsa Mosque replaced with trees in picture of Jerusalem's Western Wall in Kiryat Tivon nursery school's Passover booklet. 'This is not the kind of education I would like my children to receive,' says shocked father. (Ynet)
  • Israeli city with 19% Arab population has no Arabic library books - Two residents file formal complaint over libraries in Upper Nazareth having books in Hebrew, Russian, English, Spanish and French, but not one in Arabic. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel still holding 19 bodies of Palestinian fighters killed in Gaza war - The IDF declines to say whether it seeks to swap for the body of a soldier killed in a bitter battle in Gaza City. (Haaretz+)
  • Report: Israel sought European mediation for talks with Hamas - Arab media outlets report Hamas leaders are conflicted over whether to have indirect lines of communication with Israel to discuss a five-year cease-fire, with Gaza-based leaders in favor, while leaders abroad remain opposed. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli soldiers come under fire near Gaza - None hurt in incident that took place near Kisufim; Israeli army responded with machine gun fire at 'suspicious locations' in the area. (Haaretz+) 
  • Fighting Hamas with foliage along Gaza border - Joint IDF-JNF plan to trees planted along the Gaza border will screen local kibbutzim from Hamas rocket and sniper attacks. (Ynet
  • American passengers to sue Hamas for rockets on Ben-Gurion Airport - Complaint on behalf of 26 Americans will be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice by Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin. (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • Top Palestinian official overseeing Gaza construction resigns - Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa was not available for comment on why he stepped down. (Haaretz)
  • Sharp increase in number of young immigrants from France joining IDF - Against the background of rising anti-Semitism in Europe, the number French immigrants who volunteered to join the army doubled. (Maariv)
  • Some 34,000 IDF soldiers receive financial aid - The army and various nonprofits help subsidize thousands, even those with families with 'unrecognized' problems like inability to repay gray-market loans. (Haaretz+)
  • It pays to be an MK in Israel - All 120 MKs will get a monthly salary of 39,562 shekels ($9,951), a car, two parliamentary aides, a mobile phone, a television in their office and rooms at hotels in Jerusalem when required, and a 49,000 shekel ($12,000) yearly budget for public outreach. (Israel Hayom
  • Israeli soccer club to compensate Palestinian team in player dispute - FIFA orders Israeli premier league club Hapoel Haifa and their former player, Ali Khatib, to compensate east Jerusalem-based Jabal Al-Mukaber‎ soccer club 450,000 shekels ($113,000) after Khatib left them without authorization in 2012. (Agencies, Israel Hayom
  • Obama lifts hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt - The decision will allow for the delivery of 12 F-16s, 20 Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • U.K. university cancels conference debating Israel's right to exist - Conference organizers accuse the University of Southampton of giving in to pressure and violating the principle of free speech. (Haaretz
  • U.K. parliament candidate resigns after calling for kidnapping of Obama - Jeremy Zeid, a candidate for the right-wing UKIP party, was angered by the publication in the U.S. of documents about Israel's nuclear program. (Haaretz)
  • Comedy Central defends Trevor Noah against Twitter outrage - Network says Jon Stewart's replacement, like many comedians, 'spares no one, himself included.' (Agencies, Haaretz and Ynet)

Most polarized Knesset in 15 years, at least (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Israel's 20th Knesset was swears-in as speculation remains over Netanyahu's next coalition.
Israel will benefit from an Iran nuclear deal (Ron Ben-Yishai, Yedioth/Ynet) We can relax, even without an agreement in Lausanne, nuclear war will not break out any time soon. The parties are eager for an agreement and therefore the negotiations will continue in the summer. And Israel? It also knows that just like any political agreement, an attack would only lead to a decade-long delay in Iran's nuclear project.
In the war of nerves and spin between Iran and the world powers, there is only one big loser (Yossi Melman, Maariv) The talks in Lausanne are no success story, if not a failure. Even if the some document is formulated, it is clear to everyone that the gaps between the parties remain deep. However, this failure is not final. In fact, the pre-determined deadline for an agreement on Iran's nuclear program is at the end of June 2015. The contacts and the talks, in this format or another, will continue until then… What becomes clear at the moment, in the absence of a comprehensive agreement, is that the big loser is Iran. The big winners are President Barack Obama and Israel. Iran is losing because international sanctions on it continue and its economy continues to falter, while in the background, and regardless, oil prices continue to fall. The Iranian regime put its whole lot into an agreement, which on the one hand indeed reduces its nuclear program, but on the other hand was meant to remove the sanctions from the state and give it breathing room. And that is not happening at this point. The Iranian regime has no good tidings for its people, which is looking forward, with tight pockets, to a bit of economic prosperity. President Obama is in a good state. He can accuse Iran of being responsible for the failure of the talks. The US President can argue that in spite of his desire for an agreement and his flexibility in his positions, he refused to compromise and concede to Iran. In this way he prevented a "bad agreement," as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Republican rivals have accused him. The main beneficiary in the absence of an agreement is Israel… The main reason an agreement was not reached was the negotiating tactic – the bazaar method, which Iran excels in. But more than that, it comes from deep divisions between the moderates reformists in Iran led by President Rouhani, seeking to lift the embargo on the country, and the extremists in religious leadership and in the Revolutionary Guards, who are entrenched in their old positions and see every concession on their nuclear program as a violation of national honor and capitulation to the Great Satan - the United States. In any case, as the song says, "the talks will continue." What happened in Lausanne is another chapter in the never-ending saga of an international effort to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. A saga that has continued for 12 years.
Nuclear deal will be good for Iran, bad for Iranians and bad for Israel (Yaron Friedmann, Yedioth/Ynet) If signed, the framework agreement between Tehran and world powers will mostly serve as a lifeline for the Shiite terror state, saving it from economic collapse; also, should Israel worry about the formation of a united Arab military over the war in Yemen?
Iran has time on its side (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) The world powers, especially the Americans, cannot afford to come away from Switzerland empty-handed, and Iran knows it.
Is Israel ready for the new Arab leader Ayman Odeh? (Don Futterman, Haaretz+) The rise of the Joint List chairman presents a unique opportunity to improve Jewish-Arab ties. 
The Americans are being naive about Iran (Alex Fishman, Yedioth/Ynet) The US administration either believes that the supervision on Iran's nuclear program will be perfect, or that the Iranians have no intention of cheating. Either way, when the Americans talk about a historic deal, Israel and the Middle East react hysterically. 
If Sephardic Jews want to end their discrimination, they must become proud Arabs (Salman Masalha. Haaretz+) Ashkenazi Zionism, which established the country in an ongoing confrontation with the Arab world, created a serious emotional crisis for Jews from Arab countries.
The collapse of Olmert's house of cards (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Olmert and his allies owe us an apology. 
Our sister Yemen's role in Netanyahu's strange mental world (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Anyone who demands that the international community bare its teeth against Iran's occupation of Yemen is inviting it to pounce on Israel as well.
Israel's new inhuman measures against asylum-seekers stain its moral image (Haaretz Editorial) This criminal policy of Israel's immigration authorities can be understood in the context of the general abandonment in principle of the asylum seekers.

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