News Nosh 02.11.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 11, 2014

Quote of the day:
"My big dream is to go to Yemen."
--Israeli singer Zion Golan, known in Yemen as Ziyan Joulan, has become a big star in the conservative Muslim country from which he is banned from visiting.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
Unusually, only one Hebrew newspaper ran a story related to the peace process today - and it had quite a few details. The top stories focused on the crisis threatening closure of the two Hadassah hospitals in Jerusalem and the deal between Habayit Hayehudi and the ultra-Orthodox that shortened the service for religious Jewish yeshiva students in the 'hesder' program instead of lengthening it.  
Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Eli Bardenstein reported that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu won't see US Secretary of State John Kerry's framework agreement until Netanyahu visits the White House early next month, but Bardenstein shared many interesting details:
1. It would include Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
2."The Palestinians accept the demand to annex the settlement blocs." 
3. Another "victory" for Israel: "Negotiations will be conducted on the basis of the '67 borders with land swaps, taking into account the demographic changes in the West Bank." Israeli sources said that the Palestinians rejected this sort of formulation because it is not possible to draw a line for a border based on it. Abbas demanded that the wording would be "'67 lines with land swaps and the settlement blocs"... so that it would be clear where Israel can continue to build (in the blocs) and where it cannot (outside the fence)." But Netanyahu refused Abbas' formulation because it would be possible to draw a map from it and Kerry apparently accepted Netanyahu's position.

Bardenstein writes that despite the agreement on various issues, there are still major disputes, particularly over the issues of Jerusalem and security. While the Palestinians demand East Jerusalem be recognized as the capital of the Palestinian state, Netanyahu is only willing for the Americans to recognize the aspirations of the Palestinians to view Jerusalem as their capital. On security, the Palestinians are willing to allow an Israeli presence for up to five years in the Jordan Valley, while Israel demands ten years. In any case, neither Israel nor Jordan is willing to accept the Palestinian proposal that NATO forces be deployed in the land after the Israeli withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the Europeans are not so excited about the US framework agreement and have said they are not on board unless changes are made, Bardenstein reported. In messages transmitted by European officials to Washington, it appears that the European Union will not rush to adopt the American document if it involves the EU withdrawing from positions it has stated in the past. This is especially true regarding the issue of East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. European messages also indicated that the issue of Right of Return should have wording that leaves the Palestinians the right, but will not allow the actual return. Europeans also want that the formulations be presented as parameters for negotiations and a permanent settlement and not as an obscure paper that is not binding. The Europeans also noted that the US document presently appears biased in favor of Israel, and if changes are not made to it, there is no way Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas can accept it. In recent days, Kerry spoke several times with Prime Minister Netanyahu and yesterday lower level contacts were made between Livni and of senior American officials.
Haaretz and Israel Hayom noted that the Israeli Ambassador to the US came out in defense of Kerry, when he told US media that Kerry did not intend to pressure Israel when he spoke about boycotts.

Quick Hits:
  • Pregnant Palestinian denied quick hospital access - Route that would have been short-cut to hospital is 'not meant for Palestinians.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Israel demolishes Palestinian home in East Jerusalem - The building was constructed 18 years ago in the E. Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabl Mukabbir and the owner said he has been "trying in vain" to obtain a construction license from Israel's Jerusalem municipality. The demolition took place without any prior warning. (Maan)
  • Hebron man 'detained, left blindfolded in desert' - Bilal Rizq al-Salayma, 27, was heading to his workplace at the ceramics center at the Palestinian Ministry of Education when Israeli soldiers stopped him, searched him, took his ID card, handcuffed and blindfolded him, and forced him into a military vehicle, releasing him hours later in the middle of the Hebron desert. (Maan
  • Vandals slash tires of 16 cars, spray anti-Arab graffiti in East Jerusalem - The graffiti read on the cars in Silwan neighborhood read: "Enough of assimilation" and "Arab labor = assimilation." The attackers reportedly came from an illegal outpost on the outskirts of the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood. (Haaretz+, Ynet and Maan)
  • Israeli forces 'damage grain fields' in southern West Bank - The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture on Monday sent tractors to damage Palestinian crops planted east of Yatta in the south Hebron hills on the pretext that it was located within Israel's borders. (Maan
  • Israeli Arab gets 18 months for trying to join fight against Assad - District Court Judge rules that supporting Syrian rebels poses serious threat to Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • Hamdallah cancels Area C village visit after Israeli 'threats' - Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah cancelled a visit to the West Bank Bedouin village of al-Khan al-Ahmar, on the road near Maaleh Adumim settlement, after Israeli authorities threatened to prevent the visit from taking place. Israel has repeatedly threatened to demolish the school village and other structures. (Maan)
  • Danish parliament speaker: Row with Israel 'storm in a cup of water' - During visit to Ramallah, Lykketoft makes light of his decision to visit West Bank but not Israel. (Agencies, Ynet
  • 'Give the Palestinians full voting rights' says Habayit Hayehudi MK - Habayit Hayehudi MK Zvulun Kalfa says Palestinians should become full citizens of Israel as part of a one-state solution. On the possibility of Israel losing its Jewish character, Kalfa says: One way or another, the Jews will remain the majority. (Israel Hayom)
  • Knesset committee votes to shorten men's IDF service to 32 months - Shaked Committee says no majority for extending women's service by four months. (Haaretz+)
  • IDF warns of shortage in soldiers if service term reduced - Knesset committee votes to shorten compulsory army service for men by four months; army says it will face shortfall of 9,300 soldiers. (Haaretz+)
  • "Raising the threshold will help the Arab parties' - Position paper submitted to the Knesset by Prof. Sammy Smooha and senior members of academia suggests that raising the threshold to enter the Knesset will actually benefit the Arab representation in the Knesset. (NRG Hebrew)
  • Arab MKs likely to agree to gradual raising of threshold to enter Knesset - MKs of Arab parties, who until now fiercely opposed raising the threshold, have changed their position. MK Jamal Zahalka said they are now willing to examine raising it from 2 - 3.25%, if it will be raised gradually over a number of elections. (Israel Hayom, p. 9)
  • Netanyahu to make rare visit to Colombia, Mexico - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyah accepts invitations from presidents of Colombia and Mexico to visit their respective countries. The trip, to take place in April, is intended to strengthen ties with the Latin American Pacific Alliance free-trade bloc. (Israel Hayom)
  • New bill: Top officials to address public in State of the Nation speeches - An Israeli version of the US' State of the Union is proposed, requiring top six political and public officials to 'look public in the eye' and report their achievements and failures once a year. (Ynet
  • How much will an Israeli 'Air Force One' cost? According to Finance Ministry, a private plane for use by the prime minister and president would cost between $40 million and $50 million. Government established public committee to look into options after criticism of high costs of overseas flights. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinians plan for airport, seaport and railway - PA transportation minister announces plans for additional airport in West Bank, modern seaport in Gaza Strip, and a railway from Gaza to Cairo. (Ynet and Maan)
  • Palestinians Say West Bank Exit Tax is Too High - Palestinian West Bank residents say $43 charged as exit fee for those crossing Allenby Bridge, connecting between West Bank and Jordan, is too steep. (Ynet)
  • **Israeli singer is a surprise hit in Yemen - Known in Yemen as Ziyan Joulan, Zion Golan's songs are distrubted on bootleg CDs and downloaded from the Internet. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Group says Palestinian Authority arrested dozens of its members over Abbas criticism - Pan-Islamist party Hizb al-Tahrir said the PA made the arrests in reaction to the group's criticism of Abbas' suggestion that NATO troops be deployed at borders of future Palestinian state. The group suggested that a NATO presence in Palestine would create a situation where Palestinians would be sent to secret American prisons instead of Israeli ones. (Maan
  • Gaza terrorist organizations and civilians moving over to two-wheel vehicles - Thousands of motorcycles were recently smuggled into Gaza through tunnels. Many Gazans - both civilians and terrorists - want to save on gas and maintenance expenses and travel in style. (Maariv, p. 8/NRG Hebrew
  • Dura man buried 12 years after death - Thousands of people in Dura south of Hebron participated in the funeral of Ahmad Ayid Faqih, whose remains were released after 12 year by Israeli forces Monday. (Maan)
  • Cyprus conflict threatens Israel-Turkey offshore gas trade - Turkey will refuse to recognize any gas deals that would involve the Greek side of Cyprus. (Haaretz+) 
  • Escaping the siege: Hundreds evacuated from Homs - After more than year-long blockade, some 1000 people evacuated from Syria city since weekend as part of temporary cease-fire. (Agencies, Ynet)

Justice Ministry launching new campaign against discrimination and racism
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who initiated the campaign: "We will continue to show zero tolerance for these phenomena. It's time we look each other in the eyes and understand that we are all equal before the law and before G-d." Campaign includes TV, radio and newspaper ads, as well as social network ads that call on people to upload photos of their eyes as a sign of solidarity with the message of the campaign. (Yedioth, '24 Hours' supplement, p. 16)

Israel's West Bank construction policy: In thrall to settlers - not justice (Chaim Levinson, Haaretz+) The government is now on its fourth policy to combat illegal settlement construction in the West Bank. None has yet to be implemented, and this one won’t be any different.
John Kerry deserves a 'Righteous Among the Nations' medal (Avraham Burg, Haaretz+) The U.S. secretary of state aims to save Israel from itself, and is offering the country another concept of patriotism: the patriotism of sustainable existence. 
Peace talks and the Kerry document: A predictable ending (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) As has been proved countless times in history, peace cannot be forced on anyone.
Fire of incitement is destroying Israel (Sefi Rachlevsky, Haaretz+) The fate of the country lies in the hands of two people: Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni. If they fail, it's the end of days. 
If they want - they will recognize. If they don't want - they won't recognize (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth) Hendel discusses the issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Most Israelis do not believe in the possibility of signing an agreement with the Palestinians...Recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish state' is significant only for those who think that it is possible to sign a peace agreement that solves the conflict. In other words: Those who are negotiating in order to reach a formula – on paper – that ends a 100-year-old religious and national conflict need mutual recognition...It is absurd that we demand recognition from the Palestinians, but flee from a broad national agreement on defining the Jewish state." Hendel notes that Israel lacks both a constitution and any consensus on what being a Jewish state means.
When squeezed, both Netanyahu and Abbas will accept Kerry’s plan ( Aaron Magid, Haaretz+) Netanyahu and Abbas have not even met once during John Kerry’s marathon peace planning – yet the forces pushing both leaders to accept will be stronger than those holding them back. 
The false link between peace and the cost of living 
(Sami Peretz, Haaretz+) By making the cost of living in Israel contingent on peace, Breaking the Impasse gives the government an excuse not to act on economic reform.

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