News Nosh 01.01.14

APN's daily news review from Israel

Wednesday January 01, 2014

 

Quote of the day:

"Regards to John Kerry"
--Graffiti spray-painted on Palestinian home in village near Ramallah, where three cars were also torched, takes jab at visiting US Secretary of State.**



Front Page News:

Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronoth

Maariv

Israel Hayom


 

Peace Talks Highlights:
Kerry arrives in the country tonight and Maariv beats the other papers with the number of interesting news reports on peace process issues, such as the Israeli government suggesting transferring Israeli Arab citizens to the Palestinian Authority and President Shimon Peres saying Israel should invest in the Galilee and Negev, not the settlements. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are not only raising their faces, but putting their money where their mouth is. And some interesting items on the prisoner release.
 
Kerry arrives today armed with his 'framework plan' for peace and will be sharing it tomorrow with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He reportedly will attempt to bridge the gaps between the two sides, which will be hard because the framework draft is expected to include the 1967 borders with land swaps and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Far more interesting is that Israel has adopted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's plan for peace: instead of moving people, change sovereignty. According to Maariv/NRG's Eli Bardenstein, Israel is working to advance the transfer of areas in the 'triangle,' where many Israeli Arabs live, to the Palestinian Authority and in return annex the settlement blocs in the West Bank. The proposal, which aims to preserve the Jewish character of the state in a future peace agreement, was passed to Washington. An Israeli source involved told Maariv that "Many senior Israeli officials support the idea of land and populations swaps and the Americans know it is a possible solution. It appears this solution is seeping in to the American consciousness and it is giving off a signal." Nevertheless, writes Bardenstein, the US has not given its response to this idea and the Palestinians are expected to reject it. Israeli legal experts are examining the legal aspects, such as the question of the Israeli citizenship of the Arabs who, although they would not be physically transferred, they would be transferred to Palestinian sovereignty. According to Bardenstein, Israel realizes it is supposed exchange land for equal amounts with the Palestinians, but "from Netanyahu's point of view, he wants to receive a lot and give a little." Israel has told the Palestinians which lands in the West Bank it won't give up, but it hasn't stated how it is willing to compensate the Palestinians.

Maariv/NRG Hebrew also reportקג that their is concern in the right-wing that Netanyahu is under US pressure to examining additional gestures towards the Palestinians. Habayit Hayehudi held a secret meeting where its ministers claimed that Netanyahu has effectively ordered to freeze construction in the West Bank, and that due to US pressure he may order additional moves that will satisfy the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu's associates deny that.
 
At the Galilee Conference, politicians used the podium to call to stop giving budget and aid to Judea and Samaria instead of the Galilee and the Negev, Maariv reported. "We need to change the national priorities and invest in resources in the Negev and Galilee - higher education, infrastructure, hi-tech centers," President Shimon Peres said. "We don't need to give priority to settlements, like the government already declared already that it would not build more communities in the (occupied) territories." (By the way, Ynet reported that sources said that at the end of his term in July Peres intends to stay 'active and influential' in the peace process.) Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said at the conference, "If we do not resolve the conflict we will be in a bad place, and we are just weeks after Europe almost ceased scientific ties with Israel." More on what Livni said in Hebrew here. Interestingly, Israel Hayom reported from the conference, but omitted quotes from Peres saying not to give priority to settlements. It did quote Livni saying, "...instead of annexing to Israel settlements outside the blocs and turning us into an isolated and boycotted country, I prefer the cultural, economic, social and national annexation of the Galilee and the Negev."
 
Maariv/NRG Hebrew also reported that Israel's defense establishment rejects the American proposed security arrangements for the Jordan Beqaa Valley [despite it being tailored to satisfy Israel's security needs - OH]. The plan includes massive use of technological means rather than military presence in the area. The security establishment claims that the replacement will not ensure the security interests of Israel. In any case, the Palestinians and Jordanians are also opposed to the idea.

The Palestinians also rejected it and they reject the bill that Likud MK Miri Regev (see powerful Op-Ed below by Haaretz's Zvi Bar'el about her affect on Israeli public) proposed to annex the settlements and roads in the Jordan Beqaa Valley. The Palestinian Authority government held a symbolic cabinet meeting there Tuesday, which Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Asaf Gabor attended the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah told Gabor that the "Jordan Beqaa Valley is ours" and that the Palestinians committed to the nine-months of negotiations and would not pull out before that. (More from NRG Hebrew) At the meeting, the cabinet decided to invest $4 million in the Valley, Haaretz reported. Abbas also declared that "everybody should know that (the Jordan Valley) is a red line that can't be crossed." At the Fatah anniversary rally Abbas threatened legal action against Israel for settlement construction saying, "We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in (east) Jerusalem, and we will use our right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it."

Meanwhile, Yedioth reported that a host of world leaders will be arriving after Kerry.  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper lands in Israel on January 19 and he will give a speech at the Knesset. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will arrive on January 11. The two most important leaders in Europe will visit Israel in mid-February: British Prime Minister David Cameron will make his first official visit here followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And there are more. Read here.
 
Most of the newspapers did not report about the Palestinian prisoners who were released. Ynet's Hassan Shaalan visited the five E. Jerusalemites who went home. Ahmed Halef, a resident of Jerusalem's Old City who was imprisoned for 21 years had this to say:
"The protest held across from my house as well as all the others will do no good. Much like the bereaved families have victims, so do we. Those who want peace must forget the past and look towards the future." Maan shared photos from the release here.

Another 26 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners remain to be freed in March. They are the 'heavy weights,' as the papers describe them. The main problem Israel has with the last release is over 14 of them, who are Israeli Arabs. Yedioth reported that a group of bereaved parents whose relative's killers are Israeli Arabs are calling on Netanyahu to stand by his promise - and leave the murderers in jail. "We won't allow for them to be released home and then they go celebrate their release in the shopping mall near our house," said the brother of one of the murder victims.
 

Quick Hits:

  • **Settlers torch Palestinian vehicles after prisoner release - A group of extremist settlers torched three Palestinian vehicles in Ramallah near the Israeli settlement of Beit El early Tuesday. The vandals also spray-painted "blood will flow in Judea and Samaria," "this is a war" and other graffiti on the wall of a house nearby. (Maan, NRG Hebrew and JPostVIDEO)
  • Settlers attack local official in south Hebron hills - Five settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Maon, four of whom were children, attacked the villagers of At Tuwani as they worked on their land in the south Hebron hills. One of the settlers approached Hafez Huraini and hit him over the head with a rock. (Maan)
  • (Palestinian) Girl killed, brother seriously injured in East Jerusalem blaze - Cause of fire in Sur Baher home unclear. (Haaretz)
  • Yeshiva planned for contentious East Jerusalem neighborhood - City pushing plan for Jewish learning center in Arab neighborhood despite objections from its own experts and likely opposition both internationally and at home. (Haaretz)
  • Police in (East) Jerusalem suburb mistreat prisoners - State comptroller's ombudsman harshly condemns Judea and Samaria police for trying to cover up officers' disregard for regulations such as regularly keeping detainees cuffed even when the detainees are in a closed prison cell. (Haaretz)
  • All-time record number of arrests in 2012 - Since '97, there has been a steep rise in the number of prisoners, according to data presented at the "Arrests without restraint" Conference. Source in State Prosecutor's office: "The police turned making arrests into a goal." (Maariv, p. 12/NRG Hebrew)
  • Legal challenges mounted against planned visitor center in East Jerusalem - Proponents say it will bring much-needed development to Arab neighborhood, while critics argue plan could hurt residents, alter city's character and ignite religious tensions. (Haaretz)
  • Rightist MK makes headlines at ministerial committee for legislation - Initiative to annex Jordan Valley may be on hold, but MK Miri Regev is waiting for the right time to propose other controversial bills. (Haaretz)
  • Rage on the Right: " Small business day - also for residents of Judea and Samaria" - Ad published by a left-wing organization called not to buy from "occupied territories." MK Shuli Muallem (Habayit Hayehudi) told Bank Hapoalim: "Make known your support also for businesses in Judea and Samaria (W. Bank)." (Israel Hayom, p. 15) ['Left-wing organization not named. - OH]
  • New initiative integrates Golan Druze into the IDF - New initiative, named for Maj. Salim Shufi, who fought in the IDF's Sayeret Matkal elite special forces unit, will see better integration for Druze in military, economy and academia. Project collaborates with International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. (Israel Hayom)
  • Commander: "We will pay at war time for the cuts to training" -  At a hearing before the chief of staff in a forum of senior officers the fear rose that the reduction in training leads the IDF to the lack of preparedness it had on the eve of the Second Lebanon War. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
  • Dimona reactor snubs founder President Peres from celebration - Last week's ceremonial event marking 50 years for Negev Nuclear Research Center fails to invite man who helped establish Israel's nuclear reactor - Shimon Peres. Someone high ranking gave order not to invite him. (Yedioth, p. 8/Ynet)
  • New bill: Allow judges to deny potential pardons to terrorists - In light of third round of Palestinian prisoner release, MKs Shaked, Tzur put forward plan to give courts option of denying clemency to murderers at sentencing. Bill aimed to 'fix injustice', address criminal charges as well. (Ynet)
  • Netanyahu on Palestinian prisoners: Murderers are not heroes - PM condemns Abbas for praising Palestinian prisoners and says peace will be achieved only when incitement against Israel will cease. (Haaretz)
  • Moving on up: 125 soon-to-be soldiers arrive in Israel - Some 125 young Jews from the U.S. and Canada planning to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces arrive on Nefesh B'Nefesh flight. Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver: We will do everything to make your absorption successful. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gas mask era might come to an end in Israel - Cutting the funding of emergency kits could save around 300 million shekels a year but will likely lead to hundreds of layoffs at production facilities. (Haaretz)
  • Arab town advertises for ordained rabbi to head local education - The tender also specified preference would be given toTaibeh residents. Taibeh municipality explained the contradictory requirements as compliance with all the Interior Ministry, Education Ministry and Civil Service demands. It also said it wanted to avoid hurting religious sensibilities of any individual who might apply for the job. (Haaretz)
  • School bars students from celebrating New Year with Santa hats - Students from Tel Aviv high school say were threatened with suspension for wearing Santa hats to school. Some students call new instruction 'racist', aimed against Russian students for whom wearing hats on Dec. 31 is tradition. (Ynet)
  • Dozens of Israeli defense firms suspected of export law violations - Defense Ministry stepping up efforts to enforce the law after 172 violations were recorded this year. (Haaretz)
  • Rock strikes Habima vehicle on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road - Vehicle carrying Habima Theater performers back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem on Route 443 [that cuts through West Bank - OH] comes under barrage of rocks thrown by Arabs. No one injured in incident. (Israel Hayom)
  • Deep Purple adds second Israel gig - Veteran British rock band to perform at Tel Aviv's Nokia Arena on February 22, 23. (Ynet)
  • Birthright breaks record as 1,600 participants arrive in one day - 39 groups, totaling 1,600 Jewish young adults from across the globe, land at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday. Tourism Minister Uzi Landau tells participants: "Israel will always be your home as tourists, immigrants, Jews and Zionists." (Israel Hayom)
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon outlaws NGO representing Hamas in Europe - Ya'alon declares the Council for European Palestinian Relations an 'illicit association.' European MPs in the group's directorship could be arrested if they land at Ben Gurion airport. (Haaretz)
  • British ex-minister could be arrested if she enters Israel - Israel invokes special statute criminalizing activity of Council for European Palestinian Relations, a pro-Palestinian group that lobbies for Hamas. Senior leadership of group  U.K.'s former international development secretary. (Israel Hayom)
  • Hamas rejects Egypt's terror label of Muslim Brotherhood - Prime minister of the Hamas Gaza government tells reporters that no one can push Hamas to 'abandon their ideology.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Thousands celebrate Fatah anniversary in Gaza - Tens of thousands of Fatah supporters rallied in Gaza City on Tuesday to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the Palestinian nationalist movement's founding. (Maan)
  • Jordanian-Palestinian charged with incitement, insulting king - A Jordanian-Palestinian critic of Jordan's monarchy has been charged with incitement and insulting the king after calling for revolt on social media. (Maan)
  • Iconic Lebanese singer Fairouz stirs controversy with 'love' of Hezbollah chief - The beloved singer gets dragged into Lebanon's warring divisions as comments by Fairouz's son touched off the increasing divisions in the country over Hezbollah. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Jordan assumes UN Security Council presidency - Jordan to begin two-year stint today after Saudi Arabia turned down the seat in protest against failure to end the Syrian war and act on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jordan's U.N. ambassador has reputation as outspoken on human rights issues. (Agencies, Israel Hayom)
  • Iran: Nuclear deal with world powers to be implemented in late January - Iranian official says both sides reached understandings on details of the November nuclear deal. (Agencies, Haaretz)

 

Commentary/Analysis:

Methodically, if not quietly, Miri Regev is changing the Israeli consensus (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) Wherever there is an absence of initiative, vision or policy, the Likud MK creates her own - and others are compelled to follow.
Israel says Bedouins 'trespass' on state land. New study: Not so (Oren Yiftachel, Ahmad Amara and Sandy Kedar, Haaretz) Their ancestors bought land from the Turkish and British authorities, records show.
Has Kerry lost his mind? (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) US secretary of state is determined to end Mideast conflict. What if he succeeds?
A persistent dilemma (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) The Israeli public has shown that it handles terrorism better than the threat of economic and academic isolation.
Sleeping with the enemy (Prof. Tamar Hermann, Ynet) Supporting PM's peace efforts will destroy Left's chance to grow stronger in next elections.
President Abbas, you should meet Kerry in the Subuh family's living room (Amira Hass, Haaretz) From that vantage point in the West Bank, talk about Israel's security may take on a totally different dimension.
Beware of future terrorism (Zalman Shoval, Israel Hayom) Only a gullible person would believe the Palestinians' counterterrorism efforts would be more effective after establishment of a state.
Regev and Anelka: A meeting of minds (Itay Meirson, Haaretz) The populist politician is doing exactly what she rails against: sullying sport with politics.
Murdered for the second time (Lea Federing, Ynet) Terror victim's daughter slams Israeli leaders for shaming her father's memory by setting his murderer free.
Seeing is believing (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Our good fortune is that today's Israeli leaders understand the illusion of peace is as dangerous as war.
Guess who's invited to Hillel? (Rachel Cohen, Haaretz) Even though they pose significant challenges to the Israel's democratic commitments, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman should not be banned from Hillel.

 

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

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