APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday December 23, 2013
Quote of the day:
"The public space does not only belong to the Jewish majority."
--Christian Arab MK Hanna Swaid reacts to Knesset speaker's decision to his request to put a Christmas tree in the Knesset.**
Front Page News:
- Explosives exploded on bus in Bat Yam; Driver's alertness prevented numerous injuries
- No longer a lone terrorist // Amos Harel
- (Gaza) Flotilla affair: Turkey decreased its compensation demands and a reconciliation agreement is nearer
- Government recovery plan: 2000 Post Office employees to be dismissed, distribution to be narrowed to two times a week
- Lapid and Habayit Hayehudi agreed: Cancel 227 million shekel budget cut to yeshivas
- Seven minors arrested on suspicion of raping 12-year-old girl in center of country
- Arabs who bought assets on JNF-owned land run into years of red registering their properties
- Three years after the cancellation, The Pixies announced they would come to Israel
- Because of the storm: Price of electricity likely to rise - Electricity Co. looking into how to cover damages costing a billion shekels
- Horror bus ride of line #240
- Michal gave a lesson to the education system - instead of writing answers on her exam, 17-year-old wrote criticism of teaching. Education Minister: You're right
- Rape of little girl: 12 youth in detention
- After the terror attack in Bat Yam: Checkpoints and hunt for terrorists in south of country
- Where will the footprints lead? // Amir Rappaport
- The French connection to the crisis between Israel and the US over the sale of advanced technology to China (Hebrew)
- Netanyahu rejected Putin's invitation to opening ceremony of Winter Olympics in Sochi
- In exile in Berlin - In first press conference since he became free after 10 years in jail, the oligarch Mikhail Khorodovsky said he fears returning to his country.
- The condition for releasing the terrorists: release Pollard // Ben-Dror Yemini
- In opposition to Israeli law: Eritrea allows asylum seekers to transfer money to their homeland in exchange for 2% (Hebrew)
- Heroes of the day - Alertness of passengers on bus #240 in Bat Yam saved their lives - and prevented great disaster
- Ministers to the US: Enough with the hypocrisy, release Pollard
- Wave of arrests in rape of 12-year-old: "Many participated"
- Conduct of social services clerks - to be reviewed in Knesset Children's Welfare Committee
- Another blow to smokers: From 1 January - Cigarette-selling machines illegal
- IDB vs. Dankner: "He should pay the court fees himself"
Peace Talk Highlights and Diplomacy
Peace talks in separate rooms, a date for the presentation of the US peace agreement proposal and details of what the Palestinian President is and is not willing to compromise on were barely mentioned in today's Hebrew papers. A bus bombing in Bat Yam was the lead story along with the arrests of numerous minors in the gang rape of a 12-year-old girl, with calls for the release of US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in the wake of revelations that the US spied on Israel. Meanwhile, Turkey and Israel come closer to a reconciliation agreement.
An Arab League official said that US Secretary of State John Kerry will present a framework peace agreement by December 31st, i.e. early next week, but chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denied that. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the League that "once he receives the American proposal he will not respond but will present it to Arab nations to make a joint decision." Maan listed details of Abbas' position as follows:
1. Abbas would accept a Palestinian state with the entirety of East Jerusalem as its capital, with limited land swaps as long as the lands being traded were of equal value.
2. He would accept an incremental withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian land, allowing them up to three years to leave.
3. He would reject the idea of any permanent Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, but would welcome an international peacekeeping presence.
4. He would refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
5. He would reject any interim agreement, calling instead for a final solution.
6. He would reject any proposal that required Palestine to be an unarmed state, but said he would not get involved in an "arms race."
Interestingly, Erekat said that peace talks are being held separately - each side meets with the Americans, but not with each other, NRG Hebrew's Asaf Gabor reported.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the work of whoever set a bomb on a bus south of Tel-Aviv, which exploded only after passengers discovered it, leaving just one police officer wounded. However, neither of the organizations took responsibility for it. The military commentators say that unlike other recent attacks on Israelis, this one appears to be by an organization and not an individual working alone.
Meanwhile, Haaretz and Yedioth report that Turkish and Israeli negotiators are getting closer to a reconciliation agreement. The one thing preventing it is agreeing on the amount that Israel will pay each family of each victim killed by Israeli commandos who forcibly boarded a flotilla headed for Gaza. In May, Haaretz reported that Turkey demanded $1 million for the family of each victim, while Israel was prepared to pay only $100,000. A senior official told Haaretz said that at the Istanbul meeting Turkey made a lower offer. Barak Ravid writes: "In the event of an agreement on the compensation, Jerusalem and Ankara are expected to immediately announce an upgrading of relations and the exchange of ambassadors. In addition, the Turkish government will pass a law withdrawing all claims against IDF officers and soldiers connected to the flotilla raid and will block any similar claims in the future. Turkey will also cease to work against Israel in international forums." Yedioth's Itamar Eichner wrote that Israel is also raising the quota of Turkish laborers in Israel, a sign of opening a new page in Turkish Israel relations. The social-economic affairs cabinet made the decision but did not announce it publicly. The number of foreign workers from Turkey allowed to work in construction in Israel will increase from 800 to 1200. Turkey also agreed to allow Israeli airlines to land in Turkey with armed Israeli security guards.
The revelation from Edward Snowden's files that the US NSA was spying on former prime minister Ehud Olmert and on former defense minister Ehud Barak, including by renting an apartment near Barak to spy on him, has gotten right-wing Israeli MKs to call for the release of US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. The MKs say it is hypocritical not to release him Pollard when the US has done the same. However, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that US spying does not affect efforts to free Pollard, which are ongoing.
- 'Saudi delegation visited Israel, met with PM' - Iran's Fars news agency alleges Saudi officials met with Israeli counterparts in Monaco in recent days, says that Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Salman bin Sultan visited Israel 10 days ago, toured a military base. Israel offers no response to reports. (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli gunboats fire on Palestinian fishermen north of Gaza - Israeli gunboats fired two shells toward Palestinian fishing boats in the Sudaniya area in the northwestern Gaza Strip on Saturday evening. No injuries reported. (Maan)
- Israeli forces prevent students from reaching school near Qalqiliya - On Sunday morning students had left for school in Azzun, but Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the village prevented the male students from passing, even as they allowed the female students to go. (Maan)
- Palestinian NGO decries Israeli 'excessive force' - Palestinian Center for Human Rights expressed "deep concern" of use of excessive force Friday when Israeli soldiers shot dead Odeh Jihad Hamad, 27, and wounded his brother Raddad, 22, as they picked through scrap in wasteland next to the Gaza-Israel frontier. (Maan)
- Israeli setter runs over and kills Palestinian teen in Jerusalem - Amin, 13, from Anata village east of Jerusalem was riding a donkey along the bypass road adjacent al-Isawiya village when an Israeli settler ran him and the donkey over. (MaanPHOTOS)
- Head of Kafr Qaddum's protest movement detained by Israeli forces - Murad Eshtawi, who leads a weekly protest march in the village of Kafr Qaddum against Israeli settlement expansion and the separation wall, was arrested early Friday after Israeli soldiers warned him to stop the protests. (Maan)
- High Court asks Palestinians to drop land case against settlers - Request comes despite state's admission that Palestinian petitioners proved tie to land. But a justice said she would not hear evidence regarding ownership, only examine whether the IDF and Civil Administration should take administrative steps to evacuate the settlers. (Haaretz)
- Jews, Arabs stage anti-'price-tag' protest across from Prime Minister's Office - Protestors include residents of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, where a mosque was vandalized in a price-tag attack two weeks ago. Israeli legislators struggle with how to classify the occasionally violent attacks • Price-tag attacks ongoing since 2008. (Israel Hayom)
- Palestinian factions meet in Gaza to discuss national Palestinian reconciliation - Hamas called the meeting to discuss ways in which reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority could be achieved. The PFLP called for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government and hold elections within the next six months. (Maan)
- Israeli Arabs face red tape when leasing JNF land - Arab citizens who buy apartments on JNF-owned land have a hard time registering their properties, residents say. (Haaretz)
- Palestinians preparing for release of "a national hero" - Ahead of the release of Samer Issawi, a Palestinian prisoner from E. Jerusalem on hunger strike for over 200 days, his village is preparing the reception: "He bent Israeli authorities (to his will, forcing them) to sign his release." (NRG Hebrew)
- Israeli forces raid prisoner Samer Issawi's house day before release - The Israeli intelligence officer who led the raid threatened Issawi's father and warned him against causing problems, the family said. The Israeli forces also handed notifications to Issawi's brother and father to meet with Israeli intelligence Israeli authorities. (Maan)
- Beilin on Rabin: "He gave the settlers trouble for the sake of it" - The former minister was a guest on Dr. Ilan Rabinovich's program on Radio Tel Aviv and said about Rabin: "He just gave the settlers trouble for the sake of it. He should have treated them differently. When you want to remove thousands of people from their homes you need to show some empathy." On former Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovitch, he said: "Blunt and unpleasant." (NRG Hebrew)
- After Palestinian pressure, NBC denies plans to shoot TV series in East Jerusalem - NBC denies it ever intended to shoot 'Dig', co-written by Gideon Raff of Homeland fame, at City of David National Park. (Haaretz and Maan)
- Pixies, Soundgarden to perform in Israel in June - Both The Pixies and Soundgarden will perform in Israel for the first time in June at an international music festival. Producer calls it "a dream come true." The Pixies cancelled a planned 2010 concert in Israel in the aftermath of Gaza flotilla raid. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel refuses entry to 5 (foreign) Arab ministers for Christmas celebrations - Israel refused entry to five tourism ministers who planned to visit Palestine from various Arab states to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem. (Maan)
- **No Christmas tree in Israeli parliament, speaker decides - 'I do not believe it appropriate to order the erection of a Christmas tree as you requested,' speaker Yuli Edelstein writes Christian lawmaker. (Haaretz)
- Bethlehem eyes tourist boom after dark decade - After a decade of unrest, Bethlehem has seen a surge in visits to Christ's traditional birthplace, raising hopes of a tourism bonanza in the West Bank town despite Israel's separation barrier. (Maan)
- American academic boycott of Israel draws congressional fire - Heads of bipartisan Israel Allies Caucus slam US association for 'double-standards.' (Ynet)
- Billionaire businessman, Jewish advocate Edgar Bronfman dies - Long-serving president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Seagram Company dies at 84. "He was the first of his kind, a titan of industry that dedicated himself fully to advocating the Jewish people," Samuel Bronfman Foundation says. (Israel Hayom)
- State Archive publishes Mandela-Mossad document, after Haaretz report - Shows agency unwittingly trained ANC leader in 1962. Mandela Foundation says it's found no evidence of such connection. (Haaretz)
- Hezbollah threatens to avenge commander's death - Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group says Israel is responsible for assassination of weapons program head Hassan al-Laqqis. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah: "The killers shall be punished sooner or later. The blood of our martyrs will not go in vain." (Israel Hayom)
Israel can give up the Jordan Valley (Reuven Pedatzur, Haaretz) Strategic benefits that Israel would reap from the signing of a peace agreement with
the Palestinians far outweigh the security rationale for continued Israeli control of Jordan Valley.
**Christmas tree in the Knesset: Edelstein, take an example from Obama (Arik Bender, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) The Speaker of the Knesset should have acted like Obama, who marks Hanukkah by lighting a menorah in the White House, and allow making a gesture for the Christian population in Israel.
These fans deserve red cards (Haaretz Editorial) In trying to gain politically by widening the rift between the establishment and the Arab community, Miri Regev is doing great harm to one of the few areas in which Jewish-Arab coexistence is particularly successful: soccer.
Breaking the rules (Ronen Bergman, Yedioth/Ynet) Now that it turns out Americans spied on every possible target, they must free Jonathan Pollard.
For John Kerry, ''67 lines' is a euphemism (Moshe Arens, Haaretz) The Israeli army's experience dictates that the only effective defense against terror is what Americans call 'boots on the ground.'
NSA: These are the dots (Elliott Abrams, Israel Hayom) Hysteria over NSA intelligence gathering could be stopped by effective leadership. Or by a terrorist attack.
A Nobel laureate's ignoble savages (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz) If the University of Haifa decides to award an honorary doctorate to Prof. Yisrael Aumann, it would be in recognition of how he has upgraded the laws of the jungle to fit the modern world.
An open secret (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Obviously other countries do what the U.S. does, but they have not been caught carrying out surveillance of this magnitude.
Why so quiet on the Kerry plan, Netanyahu? (Amiel Ungar, Haaretz) It was predictable that Mahmoud Abbas would oppose John Kerry's 10 year staged plan for Israel to evacuate the Jordan Valley, but where was Netanyahu?
Without prior warning, West Bank terror spills into Israel (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Rising tensions, frequent incitement in West Bank, motivated by Hamas' growing involvement, is possible explanation of bus bombing attack. Increase in number of clashes between IDF, Palestinians in West Bank bodes poorly for possible calm. Source: Palestinians not interested in intifada
Bus bombing marks slow but sure rise in Palestinian terrorism (Amir Oren, Haaretz) Sunday's attack differs from other recent incidents, which were typically unsophisticated and carried out by individuals.
Big Brother Obama (Orly Azoulay, Yedioth/Ynet) Most troubling aspect of spying affair is extent of American addiction to any piece of information.
U.S., Israel can relax: Spying on allies is older than the Jewish state itself (Amir Oren, Haaretz) What would the Israeli government prefer - for it to stop spying on other countries in exchange for not having to worry about being spied upon, or to continue the status quo?
Pollard's release date has been known for years, but his fate lies in limbo (Amir Oren, Haaretz) Politicians across the spectrum are calling for Pollard's release, in the wake of revelations that the U.S. bugged Israeli ministers.
Against the closing of the Orthodox mind (Harris Bor, Haaretz) There's nothing more 'authentic' about an Orthodoxy that prizes a narrow, isolationist worldview over open, critical thinking about Jewish ideas and Israel, which Limmud personifies.
(Israeli) Lawyer Michael Sfard is effective voice for Palestinians
Sfard is Israel's most prominent human rights lawyer, known for his high profile cases, one of which resulted in rerouting of separation fence. 'I'm not a Palestinian freedom fighter,' Sfard says, 'I'm an Israeli human rights attorney who fights to strengthen Israel.' (AP, Ynet)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.