News Nosh 12.22.13

APN's daily news review from Israel

Sunday December 22, 2013


Quote of the day:

"There has never been an official, sanctioned government survey deciding that the West Bank is more essential than the western Negev."
--Haaretz military analyst writes that Israeli claims over need to retain W. Bank land for Israel's security are political statements.**

Front Page News:


Yedioth Ahronoth


Israel Hayom


News Summary:
The top story in today's Hebrew papers was the revelation that the US and UK intercepted emails of former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and former defense minister Ehud Barak. Israel's Intelligence Minister said it was 'unacceptable,' but in its defense, the White House said 'all countries collect information' and most Israeli commentators agreed, saying it came as no surprise. (See Commentary/Analysis below)
Meanwhile, the Arab League slammed the US proposal for security, that would allow and IDF presence in the Jordan Bekaa Valley. The Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby said Saturday that "Not one Israeli soldier will remain in future Palestine." He spoke at an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers convened at the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who wanted to brief them on the renewed negotiations. Reuters got a copy of the report circulated to the Arab delegates ahead of the gathering that was harshly critical of the proposal, saying it "achieved Israeli security expansionist demands, and guaranteed (Israel's) continued control of (the Jordan Valley) on the security pretext." The resolution passed was not as critical, however. Ynet has an interesting profile of US General John Allen, the 'Marine superstar,' who helped formulate the security proposal. According to an Egyptian report, Arab leaders also recommended extending Palestinian talks with Israel for another five months. It is not clear if that resolution was passed.

Interestingly, the Palestinians have less complaints about Kerry's economic initiative. Palestinian Minister of Economy Jawad al-Naji said that if it were successfully implemented, it would provide thousands of work opportunities to Palestinian citizens and it would allow the Palestinian people to access natural resources in Area C of the West Bank.
But a statement by Channel 2's military affairs correspondent, Roni Daniel, (who many Israeli journalists consider a mouthpiece for the IDF and the Israeli government) could reveal problematic official Israeli perceptions of a post-peace-agreement era. Speaking during a news broadcast, Daniel said, "Night arrests should continue for years even if there is a peace agreement" and that "Palestinian opposition to the night arrests does not matter." The Israeli military carries out nightly raids on villages in the West Bank, in which soldiers regularly enter houses after midnight and detain Palestinians, often minors. Over the past decade, Israeli forces have arrested, interrogated and prosecuted around 7,000 children between 12 and 17, mostly boys, at a rate equivalent to "an average of two children each day," according to a March report by the UN Children's Fund.

Could a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation be near? Mohamed Shtayyeh, a senior PLO official, said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority was ready for reconciliation with Hamas "at any price," signaling a new openness to engage with its rival party amid deadlocked peace talks with Israel, Maan reported Shtayyeh spoke hours after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government in a landmark speech in Gaza City. However, Shtayyeh warned that "Israel will block any Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation, even though at the negotiating table they will tell you, 'Well, what about Gaza? Do you speak for Gaza?'"

Quick Hits:

  • Gaza report: Palestinian shot dead by IDF - Palestinian sources say one killed, three injured of IDF gunfire Friday near Gaza border fence. IDF Spokesperson's Unit says several suspects were identified approaching border fence. Thousands attend his funeral. (Ynet and Maan)
  • Israeli forces fire at Gaza farmers, injure young man - Israeli forces opened fire early Saturday at Palestinian farmers in their fields in the southern Gaza Strip. (Maan and Haaretz)
  • U.S. furious with Israel following the sale of military equipment to China - US asked Israel last month how China acquired advanced cooling system for missiles. Israel explained it sold it to European company. US still considers that violation of agreement. Supervisor of military exports in Defense Ministry flew to Washington this week to apologize for the sale and announced his resignation. In past, Israeli officials paid with their jobs for similar transactions. Concern is that equipment reached Iran. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
  • Palestinian officials affirm 'respect' for BDS after Abbas disavowal - Embassy of Palestine in South Africa and BDS South Africa confirmed its support for the boycott of Israeli settlement products, stressing that it "respect(s) and uphold(s) the right of Palestinian civil society to initiate and lead local and global BDS campaigns." It stopped short of declaring its support for the boycott of Israel. (Maan)
  • Call to release Pollard in wake of US spying on Israel - After the publication of US email interception of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a former senior administration official, Lawrence Korb, said that the spy, Jonathan Pollard, should be freed. (NRG Hebrew)
  • Israeli forces open fire on protests across the West Bank - Israeli forces dispersed Palestinian protests across the West Bank on Friday, injuring dozens of demonstrators with rubber bullets and through the excessive use of tear gas. (For a rundown of what happened in which villages: Maan)
  • British ambassador warns Israel over 'damaging' NPOs bill that targets left-wing organizations - In response to Ministerial Committee for Legislation approval of bill, Matthew Gould tells Israeli officials that the law would damage the country's international standing. (Haaretz)
  • Minors, female prisoners suffer from extreme cold in Israeli jails - Both minors and female prisoners were told they had to buy extra blankets from the prison's shop, despite the unusually severe cold weather the region is currently experiencing, but the prices were too high. Israeli prison administration refused a request from the Palestinian Authority to distribute extra blankets and clothes from the PA. (Maan)
  • IDF barred Israeli activists from West Bank - On commander's orders, group that came to protect Palestinian farmers was turned back at border. (Haaretz)
  • Former Palestinian PM caught speeding near Jerusalem held 3 hours by police - Police chase black Mercedes speeding through greater Jerusalem area only to find out former Palestinian PM Qureia in vehicle. After car refuses to stop, police set up roadblock, almost leading to serious diplomatic incident. Qureia said "Israel disrespectful of PA people and of relations" (Ynet, Maan and NRG Hebrew)
  • Ambassador: Abbas to visit Russia in January - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to pay a visit to Russia in January to update the Russians on the latest developments regarding peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestine's ambassador to Russia said. (Maan)
  • Al-Ahmad heads to Lebanon to oversee Fatah conference - Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad said on Friday that he will head to Lebanon to follow up the situation of Palestinian people in the Diaspora. (Maan)
  •  Israel's proposal to aid Golan Druze towns draws praise - but also suspicion - The government's plan to spend $59.8 million between 2014 and 2017 on Druze communities has some residents questioning the motive. (Haaretz)
  • IDF directive: Caution when screening 'Bethlehem' - IDF issues directive not to show the film "Bethlehem" to rank-and-file soldiers. The film describe the relationship between a Shin Bet agent and a Palestinian collaborator. Officers and soldiers in special units are authorized to see the film. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gazans spoof Van Damme video to highlight plight - Group behind Palestinian clip says it hopes to draw attention to Strip's woes like electricity, water cut-offs. (Agencies, YnetVIDEO)
  • Hamas secures housing for families displaced by storm - Authorities in the Gaza Strip on Friday decided to close emergency shelters after securing houses for all displaced people following a 4-day storm that caused widespread damage in the coastal territory. (Maan)
  • Raw sewage from Gaza polluting Ashkelon beaches - The Gaza Strip's sewage treatment plants reportedly suffering frequent blackouts due to a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. (Haaretz)
  • Venezuela to send humanitarian aid to Gaza via Palestinian Authority - The government of Venezuela is to send $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza via the Palestinian Authority in order to help the Strip's suffering civilian population in the wake of winter storm Alexa. (Maan)
  • 1,000 French high school students say 'Bonjour' to Israel - The Jewish Agency and Keren Hayesod bring the 11th cycle of Jewish French high school students to Israel for a week-long educational trip. (Israel Hayom)
  • El Al rabbi irks non-Jewish passengers - Israeli airline receives complaints for playing Jewish prayer on sound system during flights instead of regular background music. (Ynet)
  • Hezbollah's Nasrallah vows to avenge Israel for commander's death - Nasrallah says he is confident Israel behind assassination of organization's arms chief near Beirut. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • To save the life of a child, whoever he may be - Israeli doctors perform life-saving heart surgery on 4-year-old Syrian refugee from war-torn Homs. As the boy recovers, his father says: "The man we thought loved us is trying to kill us and the supposed enemy saves my son's life. I could live here." (Israel Hayom)
  • Iran sends 'peaceful message' in aerial drill - Iranian fighter, transport jets to take part in large-scale Air Force exercise above Persian Gulf. Top Iranian Air Force officer says drill is meant to test defense systems, improve combat readiness. (Ynet)
  • Obama: Now is not the time for new Iran sanctions - U.S. President says at a news conference that if West is serious about nuclear agreement it must not increase 'Iranian suspicions.' (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Clinton: Israel's criticism of nuclear deal helps U.S. - Former Secretary of State explained in closed discussion that Israel is seen as an ally of the U.S. and therefore Netanyahu's threats of military attack in Tehran are taken seriously. Also said that Israeli criticism helps Americans in regards to Russia and China, which are closer to Iran. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)


Gaza's 'bridge to the world' is laid to rest
Dr. Eyad Serraj, who talked to Hamas, Israel, top diplomats - and any journalist who knocked on his door - will be missed as a voice of moderation and interpretation from Gaza. (Ilene Prusher, Haaretz)
Battle over Agriculture: Arab women against Thais
More Arab women are eager to work outside the home because of the difficult economic situation, but the number of jobs for women without a college education is low. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
'The State of Israel is a problematic, brief episode'
Novelist Agur Schiff carries some heavy burdens: His given name, the fear of repeating his father's painful literary career, and the fate he is submitting to by remaining in Israel. (Haaretz)


Occupation, occupation, occupation: Religion isn't Israel's big problem (Oren Yiftachel, Haaretz) Rather, it is the Jewish takeover of the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. A response to Eva Illouz.
**When it comes to setting Israel's borders, little is about security (Amir Oren, Haaretz) By touting the professionalism of its military men, the government conceals the political agenda behind the so-called security concerns.
NGOs on confrontation line (Yoaz Hendel, Ynet) There is no difference between Kahane Chai, radical group working to boycott Israel because of its Jewish identity. 
In Snowden's show, Israel is but an extra (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Reports the U.S. was listening in on Israel, too, didn't cause too much shock in Jerusalem: We, better than most Western nations, understand the rules thrust into view by Edward Snowden.
The wrong Christmas message (Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom) Shame on Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal for using his annual "Christmas message" to blame Israel for the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
Hamas is alive and kicking in the West Bank - but in remote control (Amos Harel, Haaretz) The organization's new leadership has coalesced in Gaza and its branch in the West Bank has been reinvigorated, exacting a price from Israel while undermining the Palestinian Authority.
Making the desert bloom with new Jewish settlements (Zafrir Rinat, Haaretz) Right-wing complaints have no basis; the government is working tirelessly and doing much to settle Jews in Israel's Negev region.
The inconvenient truth (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) In almost every sphere of public life in Israel, we see a lack of strong leadership to make decisions and carry them out in the face of public opposition.
The migrants aren't the problem - Israel's racism is (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Israel should allow the migrants already here to rebuild their lives, and offer them the prospect of becoming citizens. That's how it's done in normal countries.
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Can interests trump differences? (Dore Gold, Israel Hayom) What often placed Israel and Saudi Arabia on the same side of major conflicts in the Middle East was the rise of leaders with hegemonic aspirations who threatened the security of both countries.
Changing course in the Israel Navy (Amir Oren, Haaretz) The army and air force dominate the public discourse in Israel, but that's just how the navy's commander, Maj. Gen. Ram Rothberg, likes it.
Boycotting your way to coercion (Dr. Eithan Orkibi, Israel Hayom) The actors who have called for a boycott of the Ariel cultural center are not guided by their conscience; rather, they have been pressured by their peers.
Mandela and the Mossad: How Israel courted Black Africa (David Fachler, Haaretz) The unknown story of how Israel secretly trained anti-apartheid activists in 'judo, sabotage and weaponry,' including Nelson Mandela himself.
Israel's ties to apartheid South Africa cannot be washed away (Yossi Sarid, Haaretz) Israel would like to forget its dealings with apartheid South Africa and South American dictators. Nelson Mandela reminded us that we can't.
No secrets on the phone (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) Intelligence services have much better ways of collecting information than tapping phones or emails
Deadline: nine months to peace deal (Yoel Marcus, Haaretz) Time is not on our side. It is in our interest for the negotiations with the Palestinians to succeed.
What if Abbas says the magic words? (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state should not automatically mean Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line.
Israelis are turning a blind eye to injustice (Tsafi Saar, Haaretz) What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask what you did to stop the state's ill-treatment of the poor and weak?
For Netanyahu, revenge is like pistachio ice cream: best served cold (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz) What is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thinking with his outlandish plans for private jets and grand palaces? Maybe he's seeking the ultimate revenge on his critics.
There's no bigotry in the boycott (Henry Siegman, Haaretz) Israel has been singled out for special treatment, not punishment - the rewards of American largesse, despite its predatory occupation of the Palestinians and their land.
Making the desert bloom with new Jewish settlements (Zafrir Rinat Haaretz) Right-wing complaints have no basis; the government is working tirelessly and doing much to settle Jews in Israel's Negev region.


Interview with Ilan Pappe: An Israeli 'New Historian' and BDS activist
You've taken some radical positions against the state of Israel. Why and when did you decide to stand on the Palestinians' side? And what were the consequences for you being Israeli? (Interviewed by Frank Barat in Maan)


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