News Nosh 01.02.14

APN's daily news review from Israel

Thursday January 02, 2014


Quote of the day:

"If Israel wants to redraw the map we are in favor of returning to the 1947 partition lines."
--Hadash party MK Afu Agbaria responds to the Maariv/NRG report that Israel suggested transferring Israeli Arabs to live under Palestinian Authority sovereignty.**

Front Page News:



News Summary:
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives and settlement construction announcements are delayed and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman surprises with calls for giving peace a chance. Israeli Arab politicians say they don't want to be transferred to Palestinian Authority sovereignty, a Labor party MK tries to block the Jordan Beqaa Valley annexation bill with a bill of his own and a new poll shows that most Israelis and Palestinians want a peace agreement. Meanwhile, the state will consider implementing numerous recommendations on how the military should deal with violent events.
Kerry landed in Israel today for the tenth time in one year and Israeli officials say this visit must not be underestimated. In honor of Kerry's arrival, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has put new settlement construction tender announcement plans on hold until after he leaves because 'nobody wants to stick a finger in Kerry's eye.' Kerry hopes to bring the sides closer to a "framework agreement" that would enable the peace negotiations to be extended by a year. But Haaretz+ reported that Palestinian leaders prefer to turn to the UN rather than extend peace talks, particularly if the peace talks don't move forward.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made clear that he expects all pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners to be freed, including those with Israeli citizenship. Maan reported that Abbas' office released a statement saying that Palestinian negotiators phoned the American mediators to discuss remarks made by Netanyahu that Israeli Arabs would not be released in the next round.  The Americans confirmed that all prisoners detained before Oslo would be freed, including those with Israeli citizenship, the statement said.

Lieberman, the man who said that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders will end the conflict, has now reportedly praised Kerry for his efforts to make peace and Lieberman even said Israel needs to give his efforts a chance, Haaretz+'s Barak Ravid reported. Ravid writes that Lieberman believes that Kerry's efforts are genuine and he is also affected by the significant change in Washington's attitude toward him since his return as foreign minister.

**[However, the real reason may be connected to Maariv/NRG Hebrew's report yesterday that the Israelis suggested transferring Israeli Arabs living in an area in Israel known as the 'Triangle,' to Palestinian Authority sovereignty as part of a land swap in exchange for settlement blocs. This is an idea that Lieberman proposed in 2004, also known as the 'populated-area exchange plan.' - OH]

**Today Maariv/NRG Hebrew reported that Arab residents of the Triangle don't want to be transferred to Palsetinian Authority sovereignty. Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, a resident of the Triangle, said: "They treat Arab citizens like chess pieces that can be moved around and exchanged. The population exchange offer will not be accepted by the residents and not by the Palestinian Authority. In the past, they feared our nationalism, now they fear our citizenship." Arab MK Masud Ganaim said: "This is an indecent and delusional proposal. This is the legitimate home and country of the Arabs and they can't be compared to occupying settlers who sit in the West Bank without any legal or legitimate justification." MK Afu Agbaria said: "If Israel wants to redraw the map we are in favor of returning to the 1947 partition lines."

Meanwhile, Labor party MK Hilik Bar is working on a response to the Jordan Beqaa Valley annexation law proposed by MK Miri Regev, Yedioth and Maariv/NRG Hebrew report. Bar's bill states that only through a permanent two state solution agreement could Israel annex land, not during negotiations. "Unilateral annexation would be a death blow to negotiations," said Bar. And just to make things clear, the Jordanian government released a statement, following the approval of the Beqaa annexation bill by the ministerial committee, reaffirming "that the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip are Palestinian lands under occupation, and part of the Palestinian state and its national soil."

The good news: a Hebrew University study shows many people on both sides are eager to achieve peace, but are wary of the opposing side's true aim.
Meanwhile, following the Marmara affair in which Israeli soldiers killed nine Turkish citizens, Maariv asks whether criminal liability of the political and military leadership will be cancelled. This coming Sunday, the government will approve the establishment of a team, headed by Joseph Ciechanover, to implement the conclusions of the Turkel Commission that investigated the incidents of the Turkish flotilla to Gaza in 2010. The Commission stated that for Israel to improve its supervision and investigation mechanisms, the team members will need to examine, inter alia, whether to film Shin Bet interrogations, Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Eli Bardenstein reports. It also recommended the rule that commanders must report on events in which Palestinians were injured from IDF forces or security forces, into a law and to impose sanctions on officers who don't follow it.

Quick Hits:

  • '5-year high' in number of Palestinians killed in West Bank - Israel killed 27 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2013, making it the deadliest year for Palestinian fatalities since 2008, said Israeli rights group B'Tselem. (Maan)
  • Secret Palestinian report warns of danger of new intifada - Secret document obtained by Ynet presents potential for marked escalation in West Bank terror. Return of fighters from Syria could lead to al-Qaeda foothold mere miles from Israeli cities. (Yedioth, p. 8/Ynet)
  • Specter of settlers' return looms over Hebron neighborhood - Before they were evicted, the Israeli settlers at the Rajabi building threw bottles of urine, attacked children and poisoned a horse, say locals. And they were forced out of the nearby Abu Rajab house last year. They may soon be returning to both. (Maan)
  • For first time, Palestinians acquitted of stone throwing - Military judge cites discrimination after police fails to bring settler involved in the clashes to court. (Haaretz+VIDEO)
  • Palestinian ambassador in Prague dies from injuries after explosion - Palestinian foreign ministry says explosion occurred when he moved an old safe. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • IDF reports 50% reduction in military suicides in 2013 - Seven soldiers committed suicide in past year, lowest figure since IDF establishment in 1948. Forty soldiers passed away in 2013, five in operational activities. (Ynet)
  • 'Green Knesset' project to make Israeli parliament greenest in world - Knesset Speaker Edelstein says launch of environmental initiative part of 'irreversible policy' led by parliament; project includes installation of solar panels, LED bulbs, water desalination. (Ynet)
  • Israeli military gets first female combat-battalion commander - Maj. Oshrat Bachar to head a field intelligence battalion, which operates along the Egyptian border. (Haaretz+)
  • New units take shape as Israeli army drafts more ultra-Orthodox Jews - The rate for drafting Haredi men in November was slightly lower than the army had planned, but it was enough to form a second company. (Haaretz+)
  • Preparing for Gaza: IDF to dig tunnels to do practices - In the wake of growing underground activity of terrorist organizations, the IDF plans to establish training facilities for soldiers fighting in the tunnels that resemble conditions. (Maariv, p. 16/NRG Hebrew)
  • Peres to petition Obama: Freeing Pollard a 'mitzvah' - President receives petition signed by 106 MKs asking Obama to release convicted spy. Lobby includes Arab politicians, humanitarian issue too great to be ignored say initiators. (Ynet)


The year of living dangerously? In 2014, American Jewish leaders might lose control of the Israel debate (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) Washington's failure to clinch two-state deal would shift Palestinian focus to international groups and college campuses where organized Jewry holds little sway.
Kerry's ever-changing draft plan (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decides to pursue a deal, he would have to have Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on board.
In Jerusalem, there's no hiding the dividing line (Haaretz Editorial) Israel would be better off recognizing the reality in Jerusalem, instead of using municipal tools to annex territory and deprive Palestinian residents.
Rejecting false linkage (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) The rollback of Iran is necessary for peace with the Palestinians to emerge, and not vice versa.
IDF barely ready for 2014 (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) 'Jihadist tsunami' on Israel's borders, Hamas' underground system, renewed threat to strike Iran and possible violent conflict this summer are just some of challenges facing Israeli army in coming year.
Pity the poor interrogator (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) No one is denying that Captain George, a former IDF interrogator, committed contemptible acts, but no one is appalled by them either.
We fought hard, and lost with dignity (Yossi Tzur, Israel Hayom) Bereaved families need to prepare for the next battle.
Caught between Syria's regime and rebels, Palestinian refugees are starving to death (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Meanwhile, Syria's minorities share a common fate: No Geneva accord could allay their fears.
Dividing ourselves for conquest (Zuher Andrawous, Haaretz+) A dangerous sectarian devil has reared its head among Palestinian Arab communities in Israel, pitting Muslims against Christians and Christians against Muslims.
Christians and Jews, a symbiotic relationship (Aharon Lapidot, Israel Hayom) Israeli Christians have realized that they should identify themselves independently from the Palestinian-Muslim community.
The contortions and distortions of a prime minister's inner circle (Alon Pinkas, Haaretz+) Prime ministers who are told only or mostly what they want to hear get a distorted perception of reality, particularly on foreign policy matters.
Protests about Palestinians (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) More attention is paid to Israeli construction announcements than to Palestinians starving in Syria.
Will Fox News' Bill O'Reilly battle the war on Christmas in Israel? (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) First, a holiday update for our Israeli readers. Then a holiday question for the North Americans out there.


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