News Nosh 09.11.13

APN's daily news review from Israel

Wednesday September 11, 2013


Number of the day:

4.5 million
--The number of shekels which the right-wing Elad organization has sued left-wing organizations, including Peace Now, in libel suits. Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer calls it 'legal terrorism.'**

Front Page News:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • On the way to a compromise - the commitment that will save Assad from an American attack - Syria: We will give up chemical weapons
  • Thrown to her death from the 6th floor - Suspicion: Nephew murdered his aunt during stormy argument in roof-top apartment in Beersheva
  • You shut up, we will pay - Family of Ben Zygier, the Mossad agent who committed suicide, to receive 4 million shekels from the state in compensation and will keep secret the details of the affair


Israel Hayom


News Summary:
The compromise in Syria and the ramifications for Iran were the top story in the Hebrew papers alongside more stories from the Yom Kippur War. After the Syrian regime said it would stop producing chemical weapons as part of a compromise to prevent a US attack, Obama asked Congress to put the vote on the attack on a back burner in order to explore the Russian-brokered deal, adding that the US military maintains its position in case diplomacy fails. AIPAC is still making a big push for military action and right-wing Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson volunteered to 'help out' the Obama administration with the Syria vote. Maariv published a Washington Post Op-Ed by former US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross, who said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to attack Iran now unilaterally because he will feel 'alone' if the US does not attack Syria.

Moreover, Maariv reporter Eli Bardenstein wrote that Israel is concerned that a special meeting to be held between the new Iranian Foreign Minister and the world's powers during the UN General Assembly could hurt Netanyahu's efforts to take advantage of the event to harness the world's support to stop the Iranian nuclear program. European officials warned Israel that "the US could make a facilitating  agreement with Iran" according to which in exchange for partial supervision of nuclear facilities, there would be an ease on the sanctions, which are considered one of Israel's greatest diplomatic achievements.

Quick Hits:

  • CIA document from 1983 indicates Israel built chemical weapons stockpile - Intel circles in Washington believe Israel amassed a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons decades ago, Foreign Policy reported Monday on its website. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • Israeli army closes probe into death of Palestinian protestor - Military advocate general cites lack of evidence in 2009 death of Bassem Abu Rahmeh, whose story was documented in the Oscar-nominated film Five Broken Cameras. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israel pays Zygier's family NIS 4 million to keep quiet - Agreement does not include an admission of responsibility for the death of Mossad agent, who committed suicide in prison. (Haaretz and Israel Hayom)
  • Hebron man beaten by Israeli forces transferred to hospital - A man assaulted by Israeli forces late Monday has been transferred to hospital for medical treatment, medics said. The group said that earlier Israeli soldiers raided Mufeed Sharabati's home, which is undergoing construction work. (Maan)
  • Aid groups call on Israel to release Polish NGO worker - The Association of International Aid Agencies on Tuesday called on Israel to release a Polish aid worker, Kamil Qandil, who was denied entry into the country on "security grounds" and has been held for over a week in an Israeli detention center. (Maan)
  • Israeli rightists enter Aqsa compound under guard - Some 150 Jewish extremists entered the mosque compound via the Mughrabi gate. The rightists formed groups and performed religious rituals, including songs. Witnesses said that 80 members of Israeli intelligence entered the mosque compound. (Maan)
  • PA ministry condemns Al-Aqsa violations - The ministry strongly denounced the entry of dozens of Israeli rightists to the mosque compound on Tuesday under heavy armed guard and urged the Arab League and UN to hold an emergency session. (Maan)
  • Right sues left: The liabilities of Israeli libel cases - The Im Tirtzu lawsuit, largely rejected this week, was latest in political battle being fought in courtrooms. Does tactic pay off or backfire? (Haaretz)
  • PA 'structural deficiency' behind finance crisis - As Palestinian Authority's officials complain about an imminent serious financial crisis, donor countries have responded positively delivering millions of dollars to the PA in the past few days. (Maan)
  • Saudi Arabia donates $10 million to UNRWA - Saudi Arabia has donated $10 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, a statement said Tuesday. (Maan)
  • Palestinian shops sell Jewish, Israeli souvenirs - Palestinian tourism industry struggles push beyond cultural taboo as owners of some souvenir stores start selling Israeli items to satisfy global visitors. (Ynet)
  • U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem issues 9/11 anniversary security message - Americans plan solemn ceremonies for 12th anniversary of September 11 attacks. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Study: PTSD in Israeli soldiers among lowest in the world - Medical Corps research suggests Israeli troops' mental resilience tops that of their peers in militaries worldwide. Regular army troops seem more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder than reserves' soldiers. (Israel Hayom)
  • Three Israeli universities make list of world's top 200 - The 2013 QS World University Rankings include the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Haifa's Technion, and Tel Aviv University. (Haaretz)
  • Survey: Israel is the 11th happiest country in the world - Columbia University's Earth Institute, along with researchers from LSE and University of British Columbia, rank 156 countries based on Gallup data. (Israel Hayom)
  • Study: More Israelis commit suicide than die in car accidents - Health Ministry finds that 500 Israelis commit suicide annually. But suicide prevention pilot program in three towns reduces suicides by 40%. Health Minister Yael German intends to launch program nationally. (Israel Hayom)
  • Cyprus: 'Friendly country' to test missiles in Mediterranean - Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioanis Kasoulides did not name the country, but said tests would be carried out this week, AFP reports. (Haaretz)
  • Egypt continues fighting terrorism: 9 militants killed in Sinai - Joint military operation in Sinai carries on, as 9 militants were killed, 10 arrested Monday. Forces seize items, weapons belonging to extreme Palestinian organizations. Meanwhile, Defense Minister al-Sisi may announce his candidacy for president. (Ynet)
  • El Al cancels day flights to Eilat, citing risks - Airline cancels day flights until further notice, saying new flight path and landing guidelines pose risks to Boeing 737s. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Iran's Rohani says 'win-win' nuclear deal possible - Time to reach such a deal is limited, says Iranian president. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Iran will not forgo its nuclear program, Rohani says - Iran recently said its Foreign Ministry would handle nuclear talks with world powers, leaving some in the West optimistic. (Agencies, Haaretz)

Commentary/Analysis:Solid evidence, little appetite to strike: Obama's dual-track approach to Syria (Amos Harel, Haaretz) From now, the president will operate on both diplomatic and military channels; the trauma of flawed intel dogs the U.S. on the anniversary of 9/11; Assad's may show his chemical capabilities once again. Three perspectives on the Syrian crisis.
Russia and U.S. make Syria an offer it cannot refuse (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) The Russian-American initiative to eliminate Syria's chemical arsenal may serve all the parties involved in the short term, but it's unlikely to resolve the ongoing crisis.
Purposefully dragging America down (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Obama has set for himself the goal of weakening of the United States on the global stage, and he is doing a great job of it.
Israel is ignoring the neighborly hand extended by Iran (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Israel fears losing its justification for an attack on Iran and that the U.S. will fall for Hassan Rohani's 'smooth' talking.
State must do more to prevent political muzzling (Haaretz Editorial) Tossing the Im Tirtzu libel suit is one step in the right direction to ensure freedom of speech; courts must make it more difficult to file unwarranted legal claims whose purpose is to prevent criticism. 
**Legal Terrorism (Yariv Oppenheimer, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Libel suits have become a tool of the right-wing elements to exploit and intimidate. To avoid frivolous lawsuits, there are sanctions against the plaintiffs...(The right-wing) Elad organization has turned libel suits into a real hobby and made a libel suit against left-wing activists for a total of 4.5 million shekels. In cases against Peace Now and Ir Amim, whose discussion in court has ended, Elad's claims were rejected and in some of the cases the court forced Elad to pay the court fees of the defendant. Among the serial suers are: Samaria Regional Council, Samaria residents committee and right-wing activist Arieh King. Recently Habayit Hayehudi MK Orit Struck ahs joined the list (and she enjoys immunity from being sued for libel) when she threatened to sue the women of Machsom Watch for a satire they posted on their website....
Blocking action on Syria makes an attack on Iran more likely (Dennis Ross, Maariv/NRG Hebrew and Washington Post)Those who oppose an attack on Syria do not understand that they closed the door to a limited action, but opened it to a much more dangerous move. If the US does not act it is possible to say that the end to a diplomatic solution has closed with Iran. Netanyahu, who fear s a second Holocaust will feel he was left alone. In this situation it is very likely that he would give an order to attack.
The endurance of cold peace (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) That the Camp David Accords never created peace between peoples but only between governments can be seen as a huge failure or as lesson on how to make peace with the Palestinians. 
Fatah has eyes for Gaza (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) There are persistent rumors that Fatah has not given up on renewing its control of the Strip and is going to reinstate itself with Egyptian assistance.
An opening in Syria for Obama (Aner Shalev, Haaretz) Had Obama not issued a real military threat and stationed forces off the coast of Syria, it's inconceivable the Syrians would have agreed to give up their doomsday weapons - about 1,000 tons of poison gas. 
It's no longer possible to hide the facts: Obama is a morally weak president (Tamir Morag, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Whoever is not instinctively ready for action immediately when he sees photos of children who were sprayed with gas, but instead sinks in deliberation, is not worthy of serving as the leader of the free world...
Freedom of movement is the key to any agreement (Dan Goldenblatt, Haaretz) Israel after a peace agreement should be an integral and important part of the Middle East, contributing to the sustainable development of the entire region. 
Compromise? What compromise? (Prof. Eyal Zisser, Israel Hayom) It is hard to believe that Assad, who earnestly believes that he was destined to rule over Syria, will back down at the last minute. 
We women also belong at the helm (Tzipi Livni, Haaretz) Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is in charge of diplomatic relations with the Palestinians, in a special column on women in positions of leadership, ahead of UN resolution 1325's implementation in Israel.
Between the sublime and the ridiculous (Boaz Bismuth, Israel Hayom) Obama is supposed to be the leader of the world, but right now Putin is in charge.
Assad could try to emulate Saddam and create 'linkage' between Syria and Israel (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) Obama is saved by a Russian bell; Moscow may grow an ambition to succeed; Assad will try to rebuild his image; Israel and its supporters risk being seen as the last warmongers standing.

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