News Nosh 02.18.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 18, 2014

Quote of the day:
"This is not a marriage that we seek with the Palestinians. This is a divorce."
--Finance Minister and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid in a passionate plea at the opening of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Left alone - 5 bodies removed from rubble of building in Acre's Old City, which blew up in the middle of the night. "My father saved me," said the little girl Amna Sarhan, who lost her whole family. Relatives say the explosion was caused when a fire was started over a dispute about cellular phone antennas (on the building roof)
  • Israel's medical file: 25% of deaths caused by cancer, 16.9% caused by heart illnesses.  30 is median age for first child, 50% of population overweight
  • New scandal at Prime Minister's residence - House manager left job and threatnes: I will publish embarrassing information about the conduct of the Netanyahu couple
  • "Phantom (jet) parts - to Iran" - Greek media: Company from Binyamina tried to transfer parts and was stopped by the US
  • Burning hatred - A peek inside the Leava organization, that aggressively prevents Jewish girls from dating Arabs
  • Basic mistake - The military base city that will open this year in the Negev - and still there is no way to transport the many soldiers there
  • And the world is silent - UN report: N. Korea is committing crimes against humanity like the Nazis
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
The explosion of an apartment building in Acre's Old City - possibly over a dispute between neighbors and the attempt of Israeli arms dealers to sell Phantom jet parts to Iran were today's top stories. On the peace process front, Israeli leaders shared their views of the peace process on the stage in Jerusalem at the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, but only Haaretz and Israel Hayom reported on that in print.  Here are the highlights:
**Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu: called those who boycott Israel 'anti-Semites.' He also said the idea of an international force in the Jordan Valley - was "an illusion." And he repeated his demand of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. (NRG Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, who serves as Economy Minister and Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs: suggested Israel may try to assume a greater degree of control over the highly contested Temple Mount in Jerusalem - just a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would not agree to share sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Bennett also denied there was an occupation: “There’s a land dispute, that’s no secret, but it’s no occupation because you can’t occupy your own home." (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
Yesh Atid Chairman and Finance Minister Yair Lapidmade a passionate plea for peace, saying Israel must do everything in its power to reach an accord with the Palestinians saying, "Every moment in which we do not separate from the Palestinians is a downright threat to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state...This is not a marriage that we seek with the Palestinians. This is a divorce."
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Israel told Ynet that the framework draft agreement should be finalized before the end of the nine-month peace talk period, US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris to convince him to say yes to the draft, and the Palestinian Prime Minister met with visiting US lawmakers in Ramallah and discussed Kerry's $4 billion economic plan. 

The Yesha settler council is mocking Kerry in a new satirical website, a Republican presidential hopeful said the Palestinians don't want peace and a Palestinian minister accused Israel of 'medical crimes', saying at a news conference that sick Palestinian prisoners were being targeted through medical negligence, until they become irrevocably sick. Palestinian Prisoner's Minister Issa Qaraqe added that a list of 80 people with serious medical conditions was given to Abbas to include in negotiations for their release.

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli forces demolish 5 Bedouin structures east of Jerusalem - Israeli soldiers forcibly evicted five families from their homes after midnight, without giving residents time to gather their belongings, leaving 55 people homeless.  The structures also housed a greengrocer and a car wash, which provided the main source of income for the community. (Maan)
  • Witnesses: Israeli forces open fire at farmers in southern Gaza - The gunfire came from Israeli military watchtowers north of Khan Younis, causing farmers to flee the area. An Israeli army spokesperson said she was not familiar with the incident. (Maan
  • Israeli forces detain former Palestinian prisoner, wife - A Palestinian woman from Yaabad village was detained at the Allenby Bridge crossing as she was returning from Jordan. Her husband, former prisoner Adnan Hamarsha, was detained at an Israeli checkpoint as he was on his way to the crossing to meet his wife. (Maan)
  • Israel company removes 50 water meters (of Arabs) in Jerusalem - Gihon Israeli water company removed meters from 50 houses, home to 300 people in the Old City of Jerusalem, without prior notice for accumulated debts. (Maan)
  • Germany's largest bank flags Israel's Hapoalim as morally questionable investment - Deutsche Bank includes Israeli bank on a list of companies whose conduct is ethically questionable, possibly due to its activity in the settlements, Israeli website Walla reports. (Haaretz
  • Israel boycott fears prompt foreign bidders to abandon ports tender - Only three groups remain in contention to build the private facilities in Haifa and Ashdod. (Haaretz+) 
  • Edelstein, Feiglin agree to postpone Temple Mount debate - MKs postpone debate after failing to reach agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on wording of sensitive document. MK Moshe Feiglin has sent all MKs a letter urging them to support Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount. (Israel Hayom)
  • Netanayahu to Spain: Keep your passports to yourself - Not everyone is happy with the Spanish law will allow Jews to obtain citizenship. Prime Minister Netanyahu joked: "I appreciate the gesture, but keep your passports to yourself," he hinted to the Government of Spain. (Maariv/NRG Hebrew
  • Thousands lay Hebron man to rest - Halima, the mother of Mohammad Mustafa Hasan Shahin al-Darabee whose body was delivered Sunday to his family by Israel, said a feeling of joy overcomes all her grief after waiting 12 years for the moment to bury her son. (Maan)
  • Jewish Australian leaders slam documentary about alleged Israeli abuse of Palestinian children - 'Stone Cold Justice' was broadcast by flagship Australian journalism program and purported to show 'new' IDF policy of targeting kids in the West Bank. (Haaretz+) 
  • Newest IDF weapon: The little robot that could - Lean, mean, and good in the dark, the IDF's elite engineering unit welcomes the American robot with open arms. (Ynet)
  • Ariel University senate set to vote Thursday on controversial faculty charter - Original vote in May 2013 was postponed following objections that charter would violate academic freedom at the university, situated beyond the Green Line. For example, Article 4 states that in their public activities, faculty members “will take care to promote the good name of the university and will make sure not to harm it.” (Haaretz+) 
  • Knesset defense committee lags as chairmanship stays empty - The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee continues to show signs of inertia after House Committee is asked to allow the Knesset speaker to designate another temporary chairman, who would serve until mid-May. (Israel Hayom
  • Bank of Israel chief says demography a factor in national economic slowdown - Karnit Flug raises issue of high unemployment among ultra-Orthodox men and Arab women in Israel. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Google Street View offers sneak peek at Israeli sites - Visit the Knesset, Western Wall Tunnels and Ben-Gurion's home without leaving your house. (Haaretz
  • Google purchases fifth Israeli company - Google continues its buying streak with the acquisition of a fifth Israeli company, SlickLogin. The three-person company developed tools to verify user identity through audio signals sent from a smartphone application. (Israel Hayom
  • Gaza wedding singer unable to join Lebanon singing competition - “My only wish is to be able to travel and perform during stage two of X Factor (Arabia),” said Mahmoud Abu Dawood. The Rafah crossing terminal has been closed most of the time preventing him from leaving. (Maan
  • Egypt accuses: "Israel involved in Ethiopian water robbery" - A dam the Ethiopians are erecting on the Nile threatens Egypt's water supply. Egypt threatens to take action to preserve its rights over the river and accuses Israel of involvement in setting up the project and of the desire to control water as a means of pressure against Egypt. [Strangely, article does not confirm or deny whether Israeli companies are involved or not - OH] (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew
  • Iran's Khamenei backs nuclear talks despite reservations - World powers, Iran to resume talks in Vienna on Tuesday; Iran's supreme leader says Tehran 'will not renege' but that 'there is no use' for the talks. (Agencies, Haaretz
  • Iran seeks new Russia nuclear reactor in exchange for oil - Tehran, Moscow are in talks to build a second nuclear power reactor in Bushehr in exchange for a reported 500,000 barrels of crude shipment per day.
  • (Agencies, Ynet
  • Diplomats: Iran complying with landmark nuclear agreement - But International Atomic Energy Agency is likely to report that Iran's stockpile of lower-grade refined uranium has increased in recent months, diplomat says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Netanyahu: More pressure needed on Iran, even if it is not 'fashionable' - Speaking at The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, prime minister says boycotters of Israel are 'classical anti-Semites in modern garb.' (Haaretz
  • Report: Israeli arms dealers tried to sell Iran spare jet parts - Greek newspaper Kathimerini says secret probe exposes attempt to supply Islamic Republic with parts for the F-4 Phantom fighter jet. (Haaretz)  
  • Iranian bank sues U.K. for $4b over sanctions - Iran's largest bank demands compensation after British court calls the government's singling it out 'irrational.' (Agencies, Haaretz)

Playing with fire - The seduction girls of Kahane
"Beach police," informants, fictitious Facebook accounts, aggressive WhatsApp groups. Hundreds of activists of the Leava organization are prepared for everything, including entering Arab villages in order "to prevent Jewish girls from dating goyim." "The moment an Arab goes out with a Jewish girl it is already considered an attack, so our response is self-defense," says Benzi Gopstein, a student of Rabbi Meir Kahane, explaining the controversial method of operation of the Leava organization, which he heads. Gopstein, 44, met Rabbi Kahane for the first time when he was 14 and since then he has been in the business of war with the Arabs. Four years ago, he established the Leava organization to battle against romances between Arabs and Jews. A rare look from inside at the radical (religious) right-wing organization that is gaining fans at a disturbing rate, by our reporter, Akiva Novick, who spent 24 hours with the organization's activists, who claim: "We aren't racist at all." (Yedioth '24 Hours' supplement, cover)

An open letter to Naftali Bennett (Nasser Nawajah, Haaretz+) Unlike you, and most Israelis, water is not something I take for granted. It is a daily existential struggle. 
Israel needs to be smart on Iran (Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, Yedioth/Ynet) The disasterous attempt to sway American policy on Iran's nuclear program seems to have resonated inside Israel. 
Netanyahu’s silent contempt (Emily L. Hauser, Haaretz+) Every day that Netanyahu avoids Israeli reporters is another day in which he treats the democratic process - and his own people - with shameful scorn. 
If we don’t divide Jerusalem, we'll lose it (Moshe Amirav, Yedioth/Ynet) Within a decade, Jerusalem will have a Palestinian majority. In the next elections, the city may already have a Palestinian mayor.
Don’t expect Abbas to sign anything (Shlomo Avineri, Haaretz+) So far, the Palestinian negotiating tactic has been to get concessions, then cut off talks and 'start where we left off.' 
We are all 'migrants' in Tibi's eyes (Uri Heitner, Israel Hayom) A Jew who moves to Israel is not a migrant, but rather is returning home.
Have faith in our teachers (Haaretz Editorial) Education Minister Piron should set no new boundaries on freedom of speech. 
In nuclear talks, UK is not relying on Iran's smiles (Matthew Gould, Yedioth/Ynet) 'I know Israelis worry Iran will develop nuclear weapons under our noses. But we are not naïve,' British envoy to Israel Matthew Gould writes.
Water torture for the Palestinians (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Water discrimination is another tool being used to wear down the Palestinians socially and politically. 
If Israel does not respond, the boycott will become a deadly disease (Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Palestinians are allowed everything, according to European logic, because they are the "occupied side." On the other hand, Israel does not have a serious response to the increasing boycott campaign. 
The right anti-Semitism (Kobi Niv, Haaretz+) It’s clear why the head of the Jewish state ran over to brag about his son dating a Norwegian shiksa: to show the goyim that we’re just like all those perfect European blond people. 
Smug Iran has no need for a final agreement (David Shein, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) "The current situation is good for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The conservative faction is receiving what it wants. Iran is standing on Prime Minister Netanyahu's red line and the centrifuges are continuing to turn. When the Iranians decide, they will have nuclear weapons. The reformist faction and the Iranian people are also satisfied with the improvement in the economy and Iran's entry into the international community...So long as there is a diplomatic process, Israel is hamstrung and cannot attack Iran...If there is no attack, there is no pressure." Shein dismisses the six-month deadline for concluding a final agreement and hints that it will be extended.
Netanyahu fires opening shot against Iran nuclear talks (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Prime minister’s hard-hitting speech to American Jewish leaders showed no signs of willingness to compromise on nuclear issue. 
The face of the Tzahala neighborhood is like the face of the nation: Values are abandoned for real estate (Aviv Lavi, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Some of those who are waging an all-out wars against their neighbors from AKIM (organization for mentally handicapped) are not necessarily doing it because they are prejudiced (against mentally handicapped people): they are concerned about a drop to the value of their property... 
Syria’s Kurds follow their brothers in bid for autonomy (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Syrian Kurds are preparing a constitution and gearing up for an election - but that doesn't mean anyone recognizes them. 
Intra-Jewish fissure over Israel bubbles to the surface (Mira Sucharov, Haaretz+) What it means to 'be at odds with Israel' is an increasingly vague measure, yet it seems to be more important to Jewish communal gatekeepers than ever before.

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