News Nosh 01.16.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday January 16, 2014

NOTE: News Nosh will be off tomorrow for Tu B'Shvat.

Quote of the day:
“I don’t want Jews to do to others what others did to us. I believe that Israel is the home of the Jewish people, so I want it to live up to those standards."
-- Manuela Grayson, a Jewish lawyer from London, joined a tour visiting West Bank settlements, Palestinian villages, E. Jerusalem and the Ofer military court.

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
Today's two top stories were about a graft case involving a famous rabbi, a police superintendent and a US congressman and about an offshore bank account Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held in New Jersey while finance minister. Nevertheless, the fallout from the harsh statements by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon remained a key story. Meanwhile, the Yesh Atid party has launched a new campaign to make peace-making more attractive to Israelis.

The US demanded that Netanyahu publicly renounce Yaalon's statements against US Secretary of State John Kerry. That has yet to happen. But Kerry has responded saying that he won't let Yaalon's comments (that Kerry is 'obsessive and messianic' undermine his peace efforts. Maariv/NRG Hebrew's commentator Amnon Lord writes today that the reason Yaalon spoke out so angrily was because Kerry was trying to persuade reserve military gnerals to support a withdrawal from the Jordan Valley. Israeli President Shimon Peres praised US support for Israel following the uncomfortable diplomatic incident. "We should be thankful that they support us militarily and diplomatically," Peres said at a conference on U.S.-Israel relations at the National Defense Institute. "Without the American veto, we would have no standing at the United Nations." Haaretz+'s Barak Ravid called Peres' words "a subtle rebuke" to Yaalon. Israel Hayom writes that Kerry is waiting for answers from both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the principles for a framework deal.

Meanwhile, the Yesh Ati party of Finance Minister Yair Lapid has launched a new public campaign in the wake of the political disputes surrounding peace-making. The slogan is: "The time has arrived to part in peace from the Palestinians." NRG Hebrew quoted Lapid as saying in a statement: "We're not dealing with peace, but the need to say goodbye."

Quick Hits:
  • Mosque set on fire in suspected price-tag attack - Only week after radical settlers enter Palestinian village of Qusra and are beaten and arrested by Palestinians, they set fire to a mosque in the village of Deir Istiya in Samaria (West Bank) and spray-paint it with 'Arabs out' and 'Best regards from Qusra.' (Israel HayomYnet and Maan)
  • Hundreds of settlers raid private Palestinian land in Hebron - Over 300 settlers raided land near Kiryat Arba settlement belonging to Rashid al-Zarou, Hamid al-Zarou, and Hamdy Abu Rmeila. The settlers planted some trees on the land and dug up private land. (Maan)
  • Palsetinian Minister orders formation of local committees to protect mosques - The minister also instructed installing cameras on mosques near settlements in order protect them from further attacks. (Maan)
  • UN says pace of Israeli settler attacks up 4-fold - Tensions in West Bank between settlers and Palestinians reach new highs. 'Price tag' attacks and Palestinan security incidents continue to plague IDF. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Helium balloons fly over Israel to protest settler attacks - Annual rate of settler attacks against Palestinians has almost quadrupled in last eight years, according to UN figures. (Haaretz)
  • In PR offensive, settlers arm themselves with chopsticks - The food business is a departure for Esh Kodesh, a small unauthorized outpost whose residents are better known for their frequent attacks on local Palestinians. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli forces issue demolition orders to residents near Hebron - Residents of the village of Sair were given until Feb. 12 to evacuate their homes in preparation for the demolitions. Israeli forces issued demolition notices for houses, tents, and wells in southern West Bank village. (Maan)
  • Academic delegation to Palestine endures 10-hour interrogation - A delegation of six academics and a labor activist came to the West Bank to conduct meetings with Palestinian scholars and were interrogated at the border in the Jordan Valley for 10 hours. (Maan)
  • Israel Police held Palestinian for 72 hours without questioning - Murad Shtewi was arrested on his way to a weekly march from his West Bank village of Kafr Kaddum to protest the closing of its access road. (Haaretz+)
  • Danon: French Jews are right-wing, we want them here - Deputy Defense Minister spoke at an event launching the establishment of a lobby to promote Jewish immigration from France. "We need to bring families to Har Homa and Gush Etzion," he said, referrring to a settlement neighborhood of Jerusalem and a settlement bloc in the West Bank. (NRG Hebrew)
  • PM to Birthright participants: Israel is your home - Some 3,000 young Jewish adults from seven countries attend Taglit-Birthright Israel mega-event in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "This is your country. Come back again and again." (Israel Hayom+VIDEO)
  • Outside ruling coalition, Israeli MKs can effect very little change - According to an analysis by 'Social Guard,' the ruling coalition keeps the Israeli legislature on a short leash, virtually dictating which bills will become law and which will never make it past a committee vote. (Haaretz+)
  • NGOs call for more accessibility for disabled in West Bank - Small organizations lending medical equipment to physically handicapped Palestinians in east Jerusalem and West Bank say 'disabled community faces an uphill battle.' (Ynet)
  • Palestinian Authority short of medicines, medical equipment - Public hospital doctors and patients have recently been complaining about shortages in indispensable medicines and equipment, because the Ministry of Finance has not paid the suppliers. (Maan)
  • Netanyahu held tax haven bank account - "Globes" reveals that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an account in the Channel Islands tax haven of Jersey. (Globes)
  • Israel to free 2 Jerusalem prisoners on condition of exile - Israel agreed to free a member of the Palestinian parliament and a former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs. lawmaker Muhammad Tutah and former minister Khalid Abu Arafah have been detained for two years on the charge of entering Jerusalem "illegally," after Israel revoked their Jerusalem IDs [for being members of the Hamas party. However, Israel allowed Hamas members to run in 2006 elections in Jerusalem - OH]. (Maan)
  • US congressman 'got half a million dollars from Israeli rabbi's followers' - FBI investigation puts Republican congressman with assistant of influential Rabbi Pinto; assistant now facing embezzlement charges. (Ynet)
  • Israeli gas companies fight over Jordanian gas deal - Conflict centers on whether Tamar or Leviathan get to supply $2 billion worth of gas. (Haaretz+)
  • Why is the state preventing the terror victims from receiving compensation? Terror victims wishing to receive compensation from Iranian government funds that were invested in an Israeli government company, the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline, but were surprised to discover that the prime minister prevented the divulging information that would allow the court to give them the money. Netanyahu said the information would harm the state and its allies. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
  • European intelligence seeking info on jihadis in Syria - from Assad regime - Western intelligence seeking info on European jihadists operating in Syria, WSJ reports. (Haaretz)
  • Obama officials to Jewish groups: New Iran sanctions are 'dangerous' - A number of pro-Israel groups, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, are lobbying intensively for new sanctions. (JTA, Haaretz)

**When Diaspora Jews visit a West Bank court
The Ofer military-court and prison complex doesn’t appear on any must-see list of Israeli tourist attractions. But concerned Jewish tourists may be changing that. In recent years, the Ofer courtrooms, in particular the juvenile court, have been drawing increasing diplomatic and media attention, spurred in part by reports from Israeli human rights organizations. Last week the first such group of 10 British Jews, mainly lawyers, made a tour organized by London-based group Yachad. (Haaretz+)
Raised Muslim in Gaza, now bar mitzvah in Israel
A new immigrant to Israel unknowingly married a Gazan Arab and was abused until she was able to escape with her children. Today, Yad L'Achim, an organization that focuses on preventing the assimilation of Jews, supports her family. (Israel Hayom)

Does Netanyahu agree with Ya'alon about Kerry? (Haaretz Editorial) When Ya’alon presents Kerry as “obsessive and messianic,” he is presenting the goal of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians as obsessive and messianic.
Ya'alon's serious blunder (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) Why do some politicians insist on making it look like Israel is the side rejecting peace?
Blair's moral failure (Mustafa Barghouthi, Haaretz+) Tony Blair's words of praise for Ariel Sharon, the 'Butcher of Beirut' and symbol of Israel’s wider impunity on the international stage, show his bankruptcy as Quartet envoy.
Netanyahu fumbled the Ya'alon affair (Alon Pinkas, Yedioth/Ynet) In a parallel universe, Netanyahu would have reprimanded his defense minister and personally apologized to Obama. But this is Israel, where the prime minister has been verbally attacking the US president for five years.
Will Labor's new leader be more like Peres or Rabin? (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz+) Israeli democracy pays the price of appeasing the right wing, which has no majority every day, but here's an opportunity to change the country's direction.
What Ya’alon doesn’t understand (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) To actually take the long road that will guarantee Israel’s strength and future, the government of Israel must honor John Kerry and respect John Kerry’s peace initiative - and must say yes to it.
Speaking the truth (Gonen Ginat, Israel Hayom) Ya'alon expressed the thoughts of the wide majority of Israelis who have no faith in the peace talks.
Still falling into the disengagement trap (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Sharon conducted no 'revolution'; his policies were the natural extension of the aggressive Israeli strategy developed by his friends-rivals in the Labor Party

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