News Nosh 04.02.15

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday April 2, 2015

Note: News Nosh will be off for part of Passover holiday. There will be no Nosh tomorrow April 3, Sunday April 5th and April 9-12. News Nosh will be back on Monday April 13th. 

Quote of the day:
"The first stage in this necessary process is to tear down the walls that divide us. This begins with each of us learning the Other's story – Arabs learning the story of the Jews, Jews learning the story of the Arabs."
--Posted on Facebook in the name of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who also 'announced' that for this task he has appointed Arab MK and leader of the Joint List, Ayman Oudeh, as Education Minister. However, it was an April Fool’s joke.**

Front Page:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • General of Southern Command reveals: “Even now Hamas people are digging tunnels”
  • State Prosecutor speaks: “I’m proud of a state that can convict a prime minister”
  • Path of peace, path of victory – Prime Minister and his wife danced on stage with singer Pe’er Tasi to song “Path to Peace” at party Likud held for its election victory
  • Lieberman and Deri: Don’t increase the number of ministers
  • Be Kahlon, oppose // Ariella Ringel-Hoffman
  • The ‘Wand’ (missile defense system) that will defend Israel
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links)
Israel Hayom
  • This is how Kerry dragged Lavrov into continuing nuclear talks – In the closed room: Our correspondent Boaz Bismuth eyewitnesses behind the scenes
  • “On the Iranian issue – Israel will do what is right for Israel” - Head of IDF Planning Branch Gen. Nimrod Sheffer in interview
  • Disconnected: Sanctions against students who use smartphones in class
  • “Magic Wand” in successful test: Defense system will be operational by end of year

News Summary:
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again blasted the nuclear talks with Iran that were extended another day as Israel prided itself on the successful testing of its ‘response to Iran and Hezbollah’ – the ‘Magic Wand’ air defense anti-missile system, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry blasted the joining of the Palestinians joined the International Criminal Court at The Hague, making top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers. Also, Ynet posted an interesting interview with Hamas’ politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal.
Following the second extension of the nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Israeli commentators no longer seem so sure that an agreement will be reached. Indeed, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was quite confident, saying that a paper of intentions might be signed, but it won’t lead to a deal with Iran. Maariv’s Yossi Melman, who was previously positive about an agreement, writes: “Whether an agreement is reached or not, it is clear that the talks ended in a failure. Even if some sort of document is formulated it will be like make-up to cover up the wrinkles and hide the shame, and not really in order to show progress. The gaps between the sides are too great to bridge, at least at this stage.” Maariv’s Gideon Kotz writes interesting reports from Lausanne about the nuclear talks. Firstly, he spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif, which in and of itself is significant if Zarif knew that he was speaking to an Israeli newspaper. That, however, is unclear. Zarif told Kotz that the Iranians “don’t have a schedule. Everything depends on solving the problems on the agenda.” Zarif’s answer to Kotz’s second question, whether Zarif was satisfied with what was achieved until now, suggests Zarif knew Kotz was writing for an Israeli paper: “I would be happier if we had closed everything on Tuesday, as was planned, but not everyone wanted that, and you know who I mean. In any case, we are progressing and Iran can be satisfied with what it achieved until now.” In a separate article about French support for Israel, Kotz wrote that he was asked by the French Foreign Minister’s advisor to join a small group of journalists who would meet the minister and hear why he planned to leave the Iran nuclear talks: that he was tired of Iran’s foot-dragging. But in the end, writes Kotz, Laurent Fabius left without a word. Nevertheless, “It was obvious that it was important to the French Foreign Minister that his position regarding the nuclear talks would receive good coverage in Israel, unlike, for example, France’s plan to raise again a resolution to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the UN Security Council," Kotz writes, adding: “In these sensitive negotiations France appears as the most loyal representative of the Israeli interests.” And he notes that the recent Israeli ‘last minute’ delegation first knocked on France’s door. Haaretz+’s Barak Ravid reported that US President Barack Obama told Secretary of State John Kerry to show Iranians he was ready to blow up the negotiations.

Yedioth hasn’t spent much newspaper paper on the talks in the last few days. Today it only gave them a three-paragraph article on the bottom of page 2, focusing more on the successful anti-missile defense system test that is meant to protect Israel from long-range missiles coming from Lebanon and Iran. Despite Israel Hayom’s claims that Yedioth is pro-Ehud Olmert, the paper made space for an exclusive interview with State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who said how proud he was that Israel succeeded in convicting a former prime minister. It also ran two pages on people who won’t be having a great Passover and may be losing their jobs. There are more needy people and fewer donations this year, the paper reported.
Israel slammed the Palestinians and the ICC for the joining of Palestine to war crimes court yesterday. Israel called it 'cynical and hypocritical' and said it undermined the two-state solution. Israel isn't a member, but Israeli leaders could now face charges for alleged crimes on Palestinian territory. Despite Israel declaring this week that it would transfer the Palestinian Authority tax revenues it had collected and kept for months as a punishment for the Palestinian bid to join the ICC, the Palestinian finance minister said that Jerusalem has yet to transfer the monies.
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal gave an interesting interview to BBC’s Jeremy Bowen, which Ynet reported on. Mashal lamented Netanyahu’s re-election saying that "even in the eyes of Americans and Europeans, Netanyahu is the most extreme leader and the one who lives to shed blood the most. That's why we're expecting difficult times with him." Mashal said it was “(Netanyahu's) stubbornness and Israeli extremism” that prevented peace and that it was the international community's responsibility "to put a stop” to that, saying the Palestinians have already shown they are "flexible, serious and keen to achieve a just and rightful peace." He described Hamas ideology as 'moderate' and compared himself to Nelson Mandela and George Washington.

Quick Hits:
  • Majority (59%) of Palestinians support end to security cooperation with Israel - Some 72% support going to UN to obtain recognition of Palestine on 1967 borders, while 20% said they support one-state solution to conflict. Some 32% called for PA’s dissolution. (Maan)
  • Poll: US support for two-state solution lowest in 20 years - Just 39% of respondents in Washington Post survey say they back Palestinian statehood, while 36% say they oppose it. (Ynet)
  • 79 Democrats urge Obama to keep pushing for two-state solution - In letter to president, lawmakers say they were concerned with Netanyahu's pre-election comments against a Palestinian state. (Agencies, Haaretz)  
  • Boehner in Jerusalem: 'US-Israel bond as strong as ever' - Top Republican heads congressional delegation visiting Middle East allies; Netanyahu: 'One thing remains rock solid – our alliance.' (Haaretz+ and Agencies, Ynet)
  • Suit claims city has not provided playgrounds in East Jerusalem - Plaintiffs: one playground per 1,000 Jewish residents, compared to one per 30,000 in Shuafat and Beit Hanina. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israeli forces seize solar panels, injure child in village raid - Israeli forces on Wednesday injured a child who was left unconscious during a raid on a West Bank Bedouin village of the Jahalin tribe near Abu DIs, and they confiscated 12 solar energy panels donated for electricity by a local sustainability organization. (Maan
  • Israeli forces raid Beit Jala during Palm Sunday celebrations -  Palm Sunday celebrations in Beit Jala were brought to an abrupt end on Sunday when Israeli troops raided the majority-Christian town near Bethlehem and began threatening locals. (Maan
  • 80 tons of matzah, 39 tons of meat - an IDF seder - Many soldiers and officers will celebrate first night of Passover away from home, at dozens of outposts and bases across the country. (Ynet
  • Watch: Bibi and Sarah dancing to "Path of Peace" song with singer Pe’er Tassi - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife attended a toast with Likud activists, and singer Pe’er Tassi sang his hit, which did not leave them indifferent. (Maariv with VIDEO)
  • Israel's 'David's Sling' missile defense system passes advanced testing - The system, also known as 'Magic Wand' and designed to intercept medium-range missiles, could go into operation as early as next year. (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • **Did Netanyahu just appoint an Arab MK to be education minister? - No, it's an April Fool's Day prank by Netanyahu himself - a mock Facebook post in the PM's name. The Likud is not amused. (Haaretz+ and Maariv
  • Israel okays plan for thousands of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem - Right-wing groups tried to torpedo plan, which is the largest Jerusalem housing project for Palestinians since 1967. (Haaretz and Maan)
  • Israeli forces open fire at Gaza fishermen - Israeli forces opened fire at three boats, preventing them from fishing in an area of 2 nautical miles despite last summer's ceasefire agreement where Israel agreed to expand it to 6 nautical miles, and to continue to expand gradually. (Maan
  • Nearly 200 Palestinian children in Israeli jails - Military Court Watch, a Palestinian legal monitor focused on the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, said in a statement that the numbers showed a substantial increase over January's figures. (Maan
  • Palestinian woman sentenced to 70 months in jail - Muna Qadan, 43, was one of the prisoners freed in the 2011 Shalit prisoner swap deal. She was jailed for being associated with Islamic Jihad political organization. Rights groups criticized her rearrest as clear violation of prisoner swap terms. (Maan)
  • Israeli author Yehonatan Geffen’s assailant indicted - Defense attorney says defendant, 33, is mentally unstable. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel losing needed doctors to foreign schools - Some 500 Israelis go abroad for medical training every year. Many don't come back, even though Israel's physician shortage is growing worse. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel falling behind West on poverty, education and social gaps - Bank of Israel says GDP per capita 14% lower than OECD average; BoI chief says Israel need NIS 2B rise in tax revenue. (Ynet
  • Gaza man sells bombed doorway for $175 - then realizes it's a Banksy mural - Father of six from northern Gaza had no idea who Banksy was when he sold his bombed out doorway, adorned by the famous artist, which could be worth over $500,000. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Saudi Arabia contributes $60 million to PA budget - Ambassador Ahmad Qattan said in a statement that the amount of $60 million covers $20 million for each month. (Maan)
  • ISIS takes over much of Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus - If group gains full control of Al-Yarmouk, it will be jihadists' closest stronghold to heart of Assad regime. The takeover marks another blow to refugees in the camp who have paid a heavy toll as a result of the conflict in Syria. (Haaretz and Maan)
  • Middle East Updates / Iraq declares 'magnificent victory' over ISIS in Tikrit - Turkish police shoot two attackers outside Istanbul HQ; ISIS reportedly infiltrates Palestinian camp in Syria; Iran asks UN's Ban to press for end to Yemen strikes. (Haaretz
  • 'Moderate' settler rabbi from U.S. changes tune: Iran, not Obama, is Haman - Shlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat and former N.Y. modern Orthodox leader, retracts weekend statement that 'the president of the U.S. is lashing out at Israel, just like Haman lashed out at all the Jews.' (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Report: Iranian cyber threat will pose greater danger than nuclear program - Islamic Republic said to have increased cyber-security spending 12-fold over 2 years; reportedly able to cripple US' military or economy. (Ynet)

Netanyahu’s never-ending excuse for opposing a two-state solution (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) His argument has been the same for over 20 years: you can’t trust the Palestinians to act peacefully.
Palestinian issue is not the only thing US should reassess (Efraim Halevy, Yedioth/Ynet) The inadequate Israeli action vis-à-vis the Palestinians, compared to the abundant Israeli political activism in Washington, raise troubling questions about what is happening in Jerusalem's corridors of power.
Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne: Is this the Munich Conference of our day? (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) Only a last-moment awakening of public opinion in the free world in the face of Iranian audacity can stop the the most abject march of folly of our time. 
Obama, Passover, and true freedom (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Obama is not treating Israel as a liberated entity, but rather as a vassal state and banana republic.
There is still hope that Iran won't emerge victorious in Lausanne (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) There are a few indications that positions on the Iranian nuclear deal are hardening in Washington, probably due to pressure from Israel and Congress. 
The invigorated Middle East (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom
The new Middle East theater is shaping up to be one where Arab rulers are not afraid to fight the Iranian threat and ward off regional chaos.
Why I'm still a liberal Zionist, despite it all (Dov Waxman, Haaretz+) The best way to combat right-wing, militaristic Zionism is to offer a more humane, tolerant alternative.
Noha Hashad's exodus from Egypt
Egyptian nuclear scientist Noha Hashad expressed interest in Israel and found herself under the scrutiny of Egyptian intelligence, who interrogated her under suspicion of spying for Israel. She was imprisoned for 11 years, tortured and left handicapped. (Interviewed by Emily Amrousi in Israel Hayom)

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