News Nosh 12.31.13

APN's daily news review from Israel

Tuesday December 31, 2013


Quote of the day:

"The boycott is moving and advancing uniformly and exponentially. Those who don't want to see it, will end up feeling it."
-Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni warns of the economic consequences of not making peace.**

Front Page News:


Yedioth Ahronoth

  • The release and the protest - 26 Palestinian murderers left jail last night
  • Lesson in humiliation - School in Yavneh required every pupil leaving the classroom to hold a sign saying where she/he was going - even to the bathroom
  • The winners and the losers - The state's subsidized 'health basket'
  • Law against smoking in playgrounds
  • Womb for rent - Olga is one of dozens of Israeli women who gave birth to children from another couple


Israel Hayom

  • And not see you later - 26 Palestinian prisoners released
  • Kerry arriving - and this time he wants to advance a 'framework agreement'; Tension in the political establishment: "The US document could be explosive."
  • Israel: There is no agreement on releasing Arab Israelis
  • Captain George is revealed
  • Free abortions - even without a medical reason
  • Indictment against (tycoon) Nochi Dankner likely


News Summary:
The top stories in today's Hebrew papers were the release of Palestinian prisoners last night, the release of the identity of the controversial prisoner interrogator who allegedly raped a prisoner and what medicines and medical treatments a state panel decided the state would pay for. Haaretz reported that days ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be sharing an outline for peace with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been trying to downplay the significance of the document among right-wing ministers, while centrist ministers said Israel must 'divorce' from the Palestinians. Meanwhile, the battle over between Palestinians and Israelis for the Jordan Beqaa Valley has begun with politicians from both sides visiting the area this week.

Unlike the last two Palestinian prisoner releases, for the first time, residents of Jerusalem were released, meaning people who have Israeli ID cards (not citizenship) and are allowed to travel freely in the country and receive state benefits. This outraged some Israelis and last night dozens of bereaved families marched through pouring rain from Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem to the family home of one of the prisoners in the Old City to protest. Some 20 extreme right-wing activists joined the protesters at the entrance to the Old City
The papers say that in order to decrease the criticism from the right-wing, Netanyahu told Kerry he would not agree to release the Arab Israeli prisoners in the last release to take place in March. Instead, he plans to release 26 Palestinians who are from either the West Bank or Gaza. Yedioth wrote that now it is a possibility that Israel would agree to release the 26 Arab Israelis that have been imprisoned since prior to the Oslo agreements in exchange for the release of US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.
Maan reported that when the prisoners were released from Ofer detention center last night, Israeli forces fired tear-gas canisters at the crowds of Palestinians who gathered outside to celebrate the release. Similarly, Israeli troops dispersed with stun grenades hundreds of Jerusalem residents who crowded near al-Ezariya to celebrate.

The Palestinians say that the prisoner release conditions prove Israel is not acting in 'goodwill.' Residents of East Jerusalem are banned from visiting the West Bank or Gaza Strip following their release, while West Bank residents are banned from leaving their district for months, and in some cases up to a year, following a return to civilian life. Many of the prisoners are also prohibited from leaving the country for varying periods of time depending on their sentence, with some permanently banned.
Kerry is due to fly to Israel on New Year's Day and Netanyahu is trying to calm right-wing fears over a U.S.-brokered 'framework agreement,' Haaretz reported. Barak Ravid writes that "most ministers seem to underestimate significance of the outline: Kerry won't let Netanyahu pull the Israeli trick of saying yes but meaning no." Ravid believes that "No one, including Kerry himself, currently knows what the "framework agreement" he is seeking to finalize by the end of January will look like."

**But at the Calcalist economic conference, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said it was 'time to separate from the Palestinians...we want to divorce from them because we can not absorb four million Palestinians in our midst." (NRG Hebrew) Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said, "We're living in a bubble, disconnected from the world" and that a country usually only finds out the cost of living in a bubble after it bursts, such as in the case of South Africa. She said that Israel's policy regarding the Palestinians trumps all internal issues and that an international boycott on settler products is bound to be felt in rest of country.
The battle for the normally quiet Jordan Beqaa Valley has begun. Today the Palestinian Authority is holding its weekly cabinet meeting in the valley's village of Ein Al-Beida. [Israel has done the same thing in Sderot in order to bring the international media's attention there - OH]  The PA government cabinet secretary said it was in response to the Knesset bill to annex the the Valley and it was a message to Israelis reminding them that the Jordan Valley is Palestinian land.

Meanwhile, Israeli Minister Gideon Saar is creating facts on the ground. Maariv/NRG Hebrew reported he will inaugurate a new settlement in the Beqaa Valley when he does a tour of the valley communities this week with the Land of Israel lobby. The lobby called on MKs to join the tour and "learn about the strategic importance of the Jordan Beqaa Valley." The lobby hopes to send a clear message to Netanyahu not to give up the Valley. But in a meeting of the Likud faction yesterday, Netanyahu said Israel committed itself not to making unilateral moves and that he sees the negotiations with the Palestinians as an important strategic interest of Israel. Nevertheless, he made clear that any peace agreement would be approved in a national referendum. (NRG Hebrew) A senior minister Yisrael Beiteinu was quoted in Maariv/NRG Hebrew slamming Likud ministers for voting for the annexation: "None of the Likud ministers really cares about the Jordan Valley, but rather for the media value." Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that negotiations had failed and there was no need to complete the nine months allotted, NRG Hebrew reported.

Quick Hits:

  • B'Tselem report: Israeli forces killed 27 West Bank Palestinians, 9 Gazans in 2013 - Six Israelis killed by Palestinians during year, five of them in the West Bank. In 2012 four Israelis died as a result of Palestinian rocket and mortar fire. (Haaretz)
  • Gag order lifted on 'Captain George': controversial IDF interrogator accused of torturing Lebanese operative reveals own name - The man who was charged with raping Mustafa Dirani during interrogation to find MIA Ron Arad is father of three from central Israel, Doron Zahavi. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Rocket fired from Gaza strikes open area in southern Israel - Rocket alert fails to sound prior to attack. No injuries or damages reported. (Haaretz)
  • Palestinians in Italy send blankets to Gaza - The Palestinian community in Italy in cooperation with the Union of Palestinian Women announced Monday the 'Blanket for Gaza' fundraising campaign. (Maan)
  • Gaza residents visit relatives in Israel's Nafha prison - 93 Gaza residents including 23 children left the Gaza Strip to travel to Nafha prison in Israel to visit 49 relatives held in Israel's custody. Some 420 Palestinians from Gaza are in Israeli jails. Israel deprived them of family visits for several years after Hamas took over the coastal enclave. (Maan)
  • Founder of Black Panthers in northern West Bank was among those released - "I am now 83, and very frankly and honestly I never expected my son to be freed while I am alive," Ahmad Awad Kamil's father told Ma'an. "...My happiness is far greater than what a normal person can feel." (Maan)
  • Knesset: Outside supervision necessary for medical treatment of prisoners - Knesset continues to discuss Yedioth investigation (on lack of proper medical treatment for prisoners). Prison Authority official Ofra Klinger said it is aware of long waiting time till patients are seen by specialist - and it is being dealt with. (Yedioth, p. 20)
  •  Special Golani Regiment named top IDF unit of 2013 - New reality in north of country brings out best in Reconnaissance Regiment, earns it exalted Chief of Staff Award. 'We undertook a variety of special operations that never reached media,' commanding officer says. (Ynet)
  • The city of forefathers and daughters: New spokesperson in Hebron - The legendary spokesman for the Jewish community, Noam Arnon, left his position and is passing it to his daughter, Neria, 26. The goal: "To change the image of (the Jewish settlers of) Hebron." (Maariv backpage/NRG Hebrew)
  • Israeli population surpasses 8 million - Population grows by 147,000 in 2013, including 19,200 immigrants from around the world. Jewish immigration from France soars by 63%. (Israel Hayom)
  • Defense industry lobbying to ease exports to China - Prime Minister's Office, economy and foreign ministries are open to proposal but face opposition from Defense Ministry. (Haaretz)
  • PFLP: Hamas should not abandon ideology - Hamas is vital component of the Palestinian nationalist struggle and should not abandon its ideology, said the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The statement from the leftist group was in response to a recent call by the PLO for Hamas to dissociate itself from the Muslim Brotherhood. (Maan)
  • UNRWA: 15 Palestinians dead from hunger in Syria camp - At least 15 Palestinians, including children, have died of hunger since September in a besieged refugee camp in the Syrian capital Damascus. Most of Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus is under the control of the armed opposition, and it has been under a siege by troops loyal to President Bashar Assad for around a year. (Maan)
  • Eretz Israel Museum names hall for US fugitive - Former Comverse CEO Kobi Alexander, who fled to Namibia after being indicted in the US for fraud, donated to the museum. (Globes)
  • What is Hezbollah leader Nasrallah doing on a Christmas tree? Militant Islamist group injects a little Christmas spirit into its television broadcasts from Lebanon. (Ynet)


Israel's return fire over the border is like shooting in the air (Haaretz Editorial) It's doubtful whether Israel's artillery fire is being interpreted by Lebanon the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants.
Netanyahu's headache (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) As US-brokered negotiations approach their home stretch, prime minister faces a crucial decision.
Take back Temple Mount (Aryeh Eldad, Haaretz) Classified report on Waqf's transgressions means Israel has no control over Judaism's holiest site.
We cannot give up the Jordan Valley (Zvika Fogel, Israel Hayom) As the curtain falls on 2013, it remains to be seen whether Obama's process of withdrawal and deterioration, with all its dangers, will continue at its current rate.
Long live Israestine (Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) The ministers who supported the annexation of the Beqaa Valley supplied another victory to those leading the apartheid propaganda and turned themselves into collaborators of the de-legitimization of Israel camp. It's easy to attack Miri Regev (MK who proposed annexation bill), but the construction outside settlement blocks is the personal contribution of Netanyahu to the destruction of the Jewish state.
Where's the all-powerful Israel lobby now? (Dov Waxman, Haaretz) AIPAC's power is legendary, not least to conspiracy theorists, but the pro-Israel lobby's latest push for Congress to impose more sanctions on Iran reveals the limitations of its influence.
Populism at the expense of negotiations (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Most ministers who voted for the Jordan Valley bill don't expect the government to actually approve it.
Bring down the regime (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz) The 'Jewish State' that the Netanyahu regime wishes to impose is a racist disaster, which must be stopped.
The year Obama would rather forget (Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, Israel Hayom) As the curtain falls on 2013, it remains to be seen whether Obama's process of withdrawal and deterioration, with all its dangers, will continue at its current rate.
No home for BDS in Hillel (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz) American universities, despite the hype, are not hostile anti-Israel environments. But that doesn't mean Jewish pro-Israel groups like Hillel should give their enemies a platform.
Jihad in our future (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom) Israeli intelligence assessments say that clashes with world jihad groups along our borders are likely to increase.


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