News Nosh 02.17.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Monday February 17, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Freedom of expression is the most precious thing in a democracy; but in Israel, it is not absolute."
--Knesset legal advisor Gur Bligh fights in High Court to punish any Israeli who calls for a boycott of Israel or settler products.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • The hotel, the money, the apartment - The file that Rabbi Pinto prepared against Superintendent Arabiv is revealed
  • To feel like an MK - Knesset invites public for virtual tour
  • Jihad on the Eilat border - 4 killed in tourist bus explosion on Egyptian side of Taba border terminal
  • Senior EU officials: Doubt if we can reach final agreement with Iran
  • Jihad on the fence
  • Message to Al-Sisi // Dr. Mordechai Keidar
  • "The main problem is public's lack of trust in police, which does not succeed in creating deterrence against the crime organizations" - 3 former senior police officials on the wave of criminal assassinations in recent months
  • Official forecast: In another five years, every Israeli will wait another hour daily in traffic jams
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
The explosion of a tourist bus on the Egyptian side of the Taba border crossing near Eilat (Egypt refused help from Israeli ambulances) and the seemingly incriminating evidence against the top cop whose job was to fight mobsters were today's top stories. But what was said by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting in his offices with hundreds of Israeli students also made headlines - albeit only Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom ran it in print. Maariv and Yedioth posted the interesting event on their websites. What was particularly interesting was the different issues each paper/website chose to emphasize through the headlines:
Haaretz+Abbas: Palestinians won't share Temple Mount, but Jews can pray at Western Wall - Palestinian president, addressing Israeli students, says East should go to Palestinians, West to Israel; shows flexibility on refugees issue.
Yedioth's YnetAbbas signals flexibility on Palestinian refugees - In most conciliatory statement yet, PA president says he doesn't want to 'drown Israel with millions of refugees.' Also slams Israeli demand for recognition, and admits: 'Incitment (against Israel) exists. 
Maariv's NRG HebrewAbu Mazen "Hamas is expected to recognize the agreement with Israel" - In the framework of a meeting with two hundred Israeli students, Palestinian Authority Chairman also discussed Jerusalem, saying "leave it open without borders." 
Israel HayomAbbas to Israeli students: I am not a Holocaust denier - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tells group of Israeli students in Ramallah that Palestinians are not interested in seeing a massive return of refugees to Israel • Abbas: Even if the talks with Israel fail, we are committed to nonviolence. 
And the Palestinian Maan News AgencyAbbas: Palestinians want to open, not divide Jerusalem

The event, which had between 200 and 300 Israeli students, depending which media you read, was organized by Labor MK Hilik Bar, who heads the Lobby for the Promotion of a Solution for the Israeli-Arab Conflict and the OneVoice organization, an Israeli-Palestinian group promoting Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Other interesting statements:
In contrast to the Israel Hayom report yesterday that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama had agreed to extend the peace talks by a year, Abbas said the talks will come to an end in two months and “Israel has to decide whether it wants peace or not," Maan wrote. NRG noted that Abbas said he "got the impression" from the Hamas leadership that if there were a future agreement with Israel, it would recognize it. Abbas also said that the future agreement would also include the Gaza Strip. Haaretz+ wrote that "Hamas leadership assured him that should a deal be reached that corresponds with the Palestinian consensus Hamas will follow suit." He also talked about incitement and recognizing the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, Ynet reported that chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned the Palestinian Authority would collapse if peace talks failed, which would force Netanyahu to take control of West Bank. Erekat made the comments during an interview given to Al-Jazeera last Friday before an audience of hundreds of students at Britain's Oxford University.

Quick Hits:
  • Israel confiscates Palestinian land near Nablus - Israeli Civil Administration seized four dunams (one acre) of land in the al-Wafra area between the villages of Burin, Tal, and Madma south of Nablus. The confiscation will prevent Palestinian residents from reaching 300 dunams (74 acres) of their land. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces prevent farmers from planting near Bethlehem - Israeli forces accompanied by settlers forced the Palestinian farmers and international activists to leave their privately owned lands at gunpoint, after they had already planted 100 olive trees and despite showing papers proving ownership of the lands, including an Israeli document. (Maan)
  • Court orders state to provide water for sheep in unrecognized Bedouin village - Water Affairs Court rules that lack of access threatens both the herd owner’s livelihood and the animals themselves. (Haaretz+) 
  • **Defending anti-boycott law, state says free speech 'not absolute' - State Attorney's Office concedes that law infringes on free speech, but says it does not undermine its fundamental principles. ACRI and other Israeli human rights organizations who petitioned against the law say it was created to harm use of boycott as tool for a non-violent protest against Israel's 'occupation policies.' (Israel HayomHaaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Israel to add 35 West Bank settlements to new 'national priorities map' - 'Border proximity’ criterion gets more weight in new system. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli forces arrest Fatah leader at Nablus checkpoint, let go lawmaker - Israeli forces on Sunday arrested Fatah leader and preventive security officer Jamal al-Nabulsi, who was released from Israeli jail several months ago after spending 10 years behind bars. Lawmaker Nasser Juma, who was with al-Nabulsi, said that he refused to sign any papers regarding his arrest so he was let go. (Maan
  • Anticipating court decision, Israel builds wall around Abu Dis hotel - Family that owns the hotel has been waging a legal battle to stop the wall construction around the hotel. All the owners hold Palestinian identity cards. The wall will separate the hotel from the East Jerusalem Palestinian town of Abu Dis, so that with time, it can be confiscated under Israel’s law of absentee property. (Maan
  • Bedouin in northern Israel protest evacuation - Ramya residents' efforts to thwart eviction have been going for decades; state says it signed a fair deal with them. (Haaretz+)
  • Sapir Sabah filed complaint with police against school principal - After she complained against her teacher, Adam Verete, Sabah arrived yesterday at the tearchers' room where a solidarity meeting was held (for Verete). She claims: "I only wanted to film and the principal attacked me." The school denies: "She broke into the room." The students: "She is enjoying the media coverage of her." (Yedioth, p. 25)
  • Israeli ministers back barring welfare payments to freed security prisoners - Security prisoners with Israeli ID (includes E. Jerusalemites) who are freed early in political deals will not be eligible for welfare payments for the duration of their original sentences. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Prisoners complain of poor living conditions in Israeli jail - Israel's Nafha prison has insect and rat infestations, say Palestinian prisoners in Ward 3, where the floors are damaged and wastewater floods into the rooms. Ward 3 is meant as a holding space until prisoners are moved to other wards, but in an unusual move, the Israeli Prison Service transferred 80 men to it over a month ago. (Maan)
  • Arab League to address Palestinian prisoners' plight - The Arab League is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to address the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, with special focus on sick prisoners. The document will be submitted to UN organizations so as to give momentum to their plight. (Maan)
  • The Mossad: Hired a full-time rabbi due to the high number of religious Jews (who have joined) - Religious members of the Mossad want the advice of a rabbi on various subjects, such as kosher food and violating the Sabbath during secret operations. "There are many religious Jews in the Mossad and in recent years there number has increased." The rabbi's name cannot be divulged. (Maariv, p. 9/NRG Hebrew)
  • 'Swastika' created using pictures of Ben-Gurion causes legal uproar - Culture and Sports Ministry demands removal of (Arab Israeli) artist Ashraf Fuahri’s painting from his exhibition at Cabri Gallery in Galilee and threatens to cut gallery’s funding. (Haaretz+ + PHOTO)
  • Israel returns body of Dura man - Mustafa Hasan Shahin Al-Darabee was killed on Dec. 27, 2002 after he and Ahmad Ayid Faqih broke into the Israeli settlement of Otniel south of Hebron and opened fire inside a yeshiva, killing two Israeli soldiers and two settlers before being killed. (Maan)
  • JNF plans to invest NIS 1 billion in Negev, Galilee - Jewish National Fund chairman says organization seeks to boost periphery, maximize areas' growth potential and reduce the social gaps between the periphery and central Israel. JNF's budget for 2014 set at 1.29 billion shekels, its biggest yet. (Israel Hayom)
  • Lawmaker: Hamas leader arrested in Gaza - A leader of the Hamas movement, has been arrested in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha was arrested after breaking the law, the deputy head of Gaza's legislative council said, without elaborating about the nature of the crime. (Maan)
  • Egyptian army launches campaign to create buffer zone on Gaza border - The campaign began with a military operation in the border town of Rafah, where tunnels leading into the Gaza Strip were destroyed and the homes they were located in were subsequently blown up. (Maan)
  • In annual rally, Druze demand Israel return Golan Heights to Syria - Rally marks 33rd anniversary of Israel's annexation of strategic plateau which it captured in 1967 Six-Day War. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Nasrallah: The enemy does not scare us - In annual speech, Hezbollah leader says group ready for Israel threat, but laments: 'Nowadays, no one wants to talk about Palestine and the Israeli enemy'. Promises to pull troops out of Syria if others do the same, saying 'stop the war on Syria.' (Ynet)
  • Iran got something for nothing,' prime minister says - Talks on long-term accord start in Geneva this week amid lukewarm expectations on both sides. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Report: Iranian parliament seeks to question FM over Holocaust remarks - Report by Iranian Press TV claims some 70 MPs seek to question FM Zarif over remarks to German TV in which he said Holocaust was 'horrifying tragedy… that should never occur again.' (Ynet)

On the way to nowhere
When Ismail Khaldi travels in countries abroad and fights against a boycott against us, he represents Israel as a proud diplomat and shows by his own position that minorities in Israel enjoy equal rights. But when he returns home to his Galilee village, Khawalid, not far from Haifa, it turns out that from the point of view of the State, he is just another Bedouin who has no need for his village to be connected to civilization. Now, his friends in the Foreign Ministry have joined his struggle for the paving of a road to his house. (Yedioth, '24 Hours' supplement, cover)
In photos: Rooftop garden flourishes atop Bethlehem refugee camp
A new project in a Bethlehem-area refugee camp seeks to help reverse the history of forced urbanization, after Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes and have faced decades of Israeli land confiscation that severed their ties to the land of what was historically an agricultural society. The project seeks to revitalize connections to agriculture, while at the same time increasing Palestinians' control over their food sources, especially organic vegetables. (Maan)
Gaza bodyguards open first private security firm
As hoards of excited fans scramble to reach Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf, they are pushed back by a group of tough-looking men in shades -- the face of Gaza's first private security firm. Guarding the young singer on a rare trip back to his hometown is the very first assignment for "Secure Land," a newly-formed team of bodyguards whose mandate covers everything from minding VIPs, securing hotels and businesses to ensuring the safe delivery of cash in transit. (Agencies, Maan
Army vet from Down Under rises up to IDF challenge
Joe Rasmussen, 22, who served over a year as a combat soldier in the Australian army, will soon conclude basic training with the IDF's Nahal infantry brigade. "The combat experience I gained in Australia I share with my friends," he says. (Israel Hayom)

Freedom of expression at stake in Boycott Law deliberations (Aeyal Gross, Haaretz+) Boycott calls may annoy people. but protecting freedom of expression is particularly necessary when that expression is liable to antagonize and be unpopular. 
Anti-boycott law breeds boycotts (Boaz Okon, Yedioth/Ynet) Law considering a boycott call a civil offense is a dangerous attempt by the State to silence people. 
Sapir Sabah: the protected flower of the "Kahane Chai" movement (Shalom Yerushalmi, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) The student (who complained against her teacher, Adam Verete, who allegedly said that the 'IDF is immoral') claimed that her school is not pluralistic, which shows that she has no idea what she is talking about, and you really cannot take her seriously. Sabah became a protected flower of the "Kahane Chai" movement [outlawed as a radical right-wing Jewish terror organization - OH]in its new incarnation, and she receives awards from Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir. She walks around with this group of racists and receives compliments, which everyone in this country would be ashamed to get. Such a girl is the last one who can preach pluralism, and we really don't need to give her a stage. 
She lost her way (Merav Betito, Yedioth) Betito writes about the incident this week when the student Sapir Sabah tried to document what was being said inside the teacher' room at a solidarity breakfast the Kiryat Tivon school teachers held for Adam Verete, the teacher Sabah complained had said the IDF was immoral. Sabah said that the school principal pushed her after discovering her outside the door. "...Sabah was the last person who should have been hanging around near the closed door of the teachers' room, trying to document what was said inside...Besides the chutzpah, insolence and tactlessness she displayed, it appears that Sabah has adopted some of the gimmicks of the right-wing organizations when she called the incident an invention of the media - and in this way she has achieved for herself a free life lesson: The Israeli public likes someone who fights for his rights only when he is actually right."
The Jewish-democratic Rubik’s cube (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) The time has arrived for Jewish and Arab democrats to stop dancing to the tune of the right and define the state in which they want to live.
When will Israel recognize the Jewish state? (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth/Ynet) Absurdly, we are demanding recognition from the Palestinians but failing to create broad national consensus over the definition of a Jewish state.
That’s the way it was in South Africa (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) I don’t wish us the reality of South Africa, but Bennett and Yogev are making every effort to bring us there, and they are doing so with skill and an impressive ability to navigate.
Not just an Egyptian problem (Alex Fishman, Yedioth) "The Taba-Eilat-Aqaba tourism triangle, which receives over five million tourists a year, is an attractive target for Global Jihad...Yesterday's attack on South Korean tourists is not only an Egyptian problem," even though it took place in the context of the Egyptian military's war against radical Islamic terrorists in Sinai. "Israel is in a frustrating bind. The peace agreement with Egypt is, from its point-of-view, a supreme interest. Any violation of Egyptian sovereignty means a blow to the peace accords. Therefore, Israel is not acting to foil terrorist attacks on Egyptian soil. Its principal line of defense is intelligence gathering, security coordination, using defensive measures such as Iron Dome, and mainly lots of restraint and luck."
Attack on Sinai tourist bus is a test for Sisi (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Strongman wants to be Egypt's president, but has yet to pacify peninsula.
Terror attack's target: Israeli, Egyptian tourism (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Egypt and Israel are the common enemy of the radical Salafist-jihadist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, likely responsible for Sunday's attack which left four dead. The group's weapon of choice: Scaring tourists off. 
Disappearing Arab nations (Moshe Arens, Haaretz+) Under the dictatorial rule of Hafez el-Assad and later his son Bashar, there presumably was a neighboring nation-state with whom a peace treaty could in principle be negotiated. There is no such partner on Israel’s northern border at the present time.
Kerry's wise peacemaking tricks (Alex Mintz, Ynet) The US secretary of state is successfully maneuvering between the political barriers of Israel and the Palestinians on every issue and in every stage of the negotiations. 
Time to reclaim Rachel's Tomb (Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom) Security needs have turned the once serene place into a fortified compound, reminiscent of a military jail.
Bennett’s horror show: Israel’s retreat from the civilized world (Carlo Strenger, Haaretz+) By overplaying the Holocaust card, the Habayit Hayehudi leader and his minions are putting Israel's friendships at risk.

**Meretz chief: I oppose boycotting Israel, but won't buy from settlements
Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On sees a direct link between ending the occupation, social justice and economic prosperity for all Israelis. (Interviewed by Sami Peretz and Zvi Zrahiya in Haaretz+)

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