News Nosh 02.19.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday February 19, 2014

Quote of the day:
"If the state violated the law knowingly, what position does the government then have to come to a law-breaking citizen and punish him? I hope very much that this was a mistake that will be stopped immediately."
--Labor MK Merav Michaeli calls on the government to stop funding a military prep progam located in an settler outpost for 16 years.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • Barricading themselves at Hadassah - Employees spent the night on mattresses in the lobby
  • Wanted: A responsible adult // Sarit Rosenblum
  • "They shot at our house. Broke windows. Poured oil on the stairs. Why? We are also human beings" - Wards living in an AKIM apartment in Tzahala neighborhood of Tel-Aviv that was attacked talk about the fear, the pain and the insult
  • Ukraine is burning
  • The capital of divorces - Jerusalem has the highest number of divorces of Jewish couples in Israel
Israel Hayom

News Summary:
Today's top stories focused on the staff that barricaded themselves at Hadassah Hospital and the mentally-disabled people whose apartment was attacked by neighbors. Meanwhile, Haaretz+ reports that far-right wing Likud politicians won a coup against Likud leader, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in court, which could prevent him from making peace, NRG Hebrew asks whether US Secretary of State John Kerry will once again try to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state when the two meet in Paris and President Shimon Peres tells US Congressmen that Kerry is "irreplaceable." Hamas secretly sends a message to Netanyahu and Labor MK Merav Michaeli calls the government to stop budgeting a military prep program in a settlement outpost, causing sparks to fly.

The Tel Aviv District Court ruled Tuesday that the Likud party can discuss discuss anything at its convention, paving the way for Likud's central body to debate United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace plan and potentially blocking Netanyahu from making peace. Only Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom reported on this ruling, and only Haaretz noted the implications for the peace process. Likud Convention president Danny Danon took Netanyahu, the Likud party leader, and the Likud party to court after decisions by Likud's internal court, which barred the party from making changes to its regulations or holding debates on controversial issues at its convention. Netanyahu and Likud will have to pay the court fees.

NRG Hebrew (but not Maariv print) reported that tomorrow Kerry will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris to update on progress in the negotiations with Israel. Maariv's Arik Bender wrote that it was not known whether this meeting will deal with the issue of Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state. He noted that a month ago it became known that Kerry was putting "heavy pressure" on Abbas during his meetings with him to accept a framework agreement that includes recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and at the last meeting held with Abbas and a delegation of the Palestinian leadership, Kerry made ​​clear at that the recognition is not just an Israeli demand but an American position, as well. In a meeting with senior members of Congress, President Shimon Peres said that the Secretary of State's contribution to the peace process was "huge." According to Peres, Kerry and Obama "are working to end years of conflict."
Interestingly, Walla news website reported that Hamas President Ismail Haniyeh secretly asked Netanyahu to show restraint towards Gaza and to prevent a further escalation. Haniyeh's advisor Ghazi Hamad called veteran American-Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin and asked him to relay the request about two weeks ago. Baskin confirmed the report to Walla, however Haniyeh's office denied the report. Israel has not commented.
**Labor MK Merav Michaeli sparked an angry debate with pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi MKs when she called to stop giving a budget to the military preparatory program located in a settlement outpost. The government has been giving the Elisha military preparatory program budget money for 16 years despite the fact that it is located in the outpost of Tzofit, which makes it illegal by Israeli and international law, and thus the budgeting must end at once, said Michaeli. [Peace Now has reported on this outpost. - OH] Habayit Hayehudi MKs accused her of "hatred of settlers." Education committee chairman, MK Amram Mitzna, agreed it was inappropriate for the government of Israel to finance institutions that are located in an illegal place and gave the Defense Ministry till July 2014 to complete the regulation of the legality of the preparatory program or the state will stop its budget. The legal adviser to the Authority for Youth and Society, Shunit Harel, commented on the discussion over the question of the Ministry of Education funding of an institution located on land not regulated [i.e. West Bank land not declared by Israel that it will be taking it. - OH] "We transfer budget money to military preparatory programs on the basis of recommendations of the Ministry of Education. Therefore, we were not aware of the complexity. Currently now that we are aware of the situation, we will think and examine our steps." (NRG Hebrew)

Quick Hits:
  • Israeli forces detain 9 Palestinians in the middle of the night - 7 of them youth - A spokesman for Beit Ummar's local committee told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers raided the Hebron town and assaulted three teenagers before detaining them. In Jerusalem, Israeli police detained four young Palestinians as they were leaving the Old City via the Lions' Gate. (Maan)
  • In video: Israeli bulldozers destroy 5 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem - On the day of the demolitions, Israel announced plans to construct over 550 new settler homes in East Jerusalem. (Maan+VIDEO
  • High Court allows settlers to take over 300 dunams in southern Hebron Hills - Justices reject petition by Palestinian family to return their land, saying the incursion is not fresh. This decision represents a reversal of the approach of prosecutors and courts in recent years. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel to build Jewish tourist center on privately-owned Palestinian land - The building and land surrounding it will feature a "museum of Jewish history" and a "Jewish national park." The government-led project is sponsored by the Ir David Foundation. (Maan)
  • State gives evacuated Beit El settlers four more public buildings - On top of expanding the settlement’s yeshiva, the government is to fund a new community center, girls’ school and local council building at 5 million shekels each. (Haaretz+)
  • West Bank trip for Israel's pre-army cadets sparks protest - Program graduates say they oppose political orientation of planned visit to Hebron; Israeli army: Aim is to 'encourage dialogue.' (Haaretz+) 
  • Leading intellectuals deny association with Temple Mount pressure group - Acclaimed Israeli authors A.B. Yehoshua and Haim Gouri are among those who say the group, which is critical of the handling of Temple Mount antiquities, wrongly lists them as members. (Haaretz+)
  • German-Israel ties at all-time low as Merkel prepares to visit Israel - Phone calls between Merkel and Netanyahu have degenerated into shouting while discussing Israeli policies toward Palestinians, according to Der Spiegel. (Haaretz
  • Israel bolstering ties with China - Special delegation headed by National Security Council chief Yossi Cohen to visit Beijing in the coming weeks, hold strategic dialogue. Current Israel-China ties based predominantly on bilateral trade. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli army finds 20-kilogram bomb near Gaza fence - Israel Defense Forces soldiers neutralized the bomb, but Gaza remains explosive. (Haaretz+)
  • Ambassador Prosor becomes first Israeli to chair elections to UN Human Rights Committee - Israeli ambassador to UN unanimously nominated by representatives of 170 countries to chair significant elections, says 'central role Israel plays to advance human rights is the real answer to anyone calling for boycotts against us.' (Ynet
  • Deutsche Bank denies boycotting Israel's Hapoalim - Bank denies report it flagged Israeli bank as morally questionable investment. (Haaretz)
  • Ultra-Orthodox MKs slam BOI claims that haredim, Arabs pulling growth rate down - After BOI governess claims ageing population and rise in births among haredim and Arabs threaten Israel's growth, ultra-orthodox MKs say: 'It is sad that you can throw all of the country's ills onto the haredi public.' (Ynet
  • Fight broke out at the event in appreciation for Arab volunteers - Young Arab men and women that serve in national civil service, who came to the ceremony, were pushed and spat on by Arab activists who oppose integration in the civil service. "They called us traitors and lepers," said one of the 700 youth present. (NRG Hebrew)
  • Israeli legislator trying to enlist pope to keep Christians out of army - MK Basel Ghattas criticizes effort to increase Christian recruitment to IDF while Muslims are exempted. (Haaretz+)
  • Netanyahu visits IDF field hospital in Golan Heights - Prime minister tours Israel's north to visit base where IDF treats those wounded in Syria, receives briefing on jihadi activity across the border. (Ynet)
  • Syria rockets hit Golan shortly after Israel PM visit - Two rockets fired from war-torn Syria struck the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights Tuesday shortly after a secret visit to the area by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Agencies, Maan)
  • Lieberman: American Jews are facing demographic catastrophe - The foreign minister vows to push through $365 million for Jewish education outside Israel. (Haaretz+ and Israel Hayom)
  • Olmert's former bureau chief: I learned corruption from you - Shula Zaken's outburst was provoked by the summations in the Holyland case, submitted last week to the court by the former premier. (Haaretz+)
  • U.S. Jewish foundation donates $13 million to Ben-Gurion University - Mandel Foundation gift represents their support for Beer Sheva and commitment to 'advancement of social leadership in Israel.' (Haaretz
  • 2,300-year-old village discovered near Jerusalem - Second Temple-era rural town first found six months ago during construction of a gas pipe line, has been under excavation since. (Ynet
  • Arabi Idol Mohammed Assaf invited to sing at FIFA Congress ahead of World Cup - Palestinian Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf has been invited to sing at the opening ceremony of the 64th FIFA Congress in Brazil, scheduled for two days before the start of the World Cup. The invitation comes days after the singer announced that he had been "banned" from singing at the World Cup's opening ceremony. (Maan)
  • El Al ranks last in on-time performance - Report released by global flight tracking company shows 35% of Israeli airline's flights in 2013 landed more than 15 minutes after scheduled arrival time. (Ynet)
  • Fatah official: Unity talks stalled until Hamas agrees to elections - The head of Fatah's reconciliation delegation will not travel to Gaza to discuss unity talks until Hamas agrees to hold elections, a Fatah official said (Maan
  • Egypt charges 2 'Mossad agents', 2 Egyptians with spying for Israel - Statement from public prosecutor names 'Mossad officers' Samuel Ben Zeev and David Wisemen, accusing them of 'spying for Israel.' Report claims two Egyptians had 'sexual contact' with Mossad agents. (Ynet
  • Egyptian TV airs anti-Israel stage production - Media watchdog Middle East Media Research Institute uploads video showing an Egyptian stage production, which was filmed and broadcast on television, purporting Mossad agents to have been behind the Arab Spring. (Israel Hayom)
  • Ex-Clinton aide returns to White House with Persian Gulf brief - Robert Malley wrote an article placing blame for the Camp David failure on Ehud Barak, as well as on Yasser Arafat. (Haaretz)
  • U.S. House majority leader links Holocaust, Iran sanctions - Representative Eric Cantor says U.S. must counter Iran's 'determined march' to produce nuclear weapons. (JTA, Haaretz)  
  • 'Talks with Iran have an almost zero chance of success' - The U.S. strategy in the nuclear talks with Iran is "to buy time," says Gary Samore, a former top White House expert on the Iranian nuclear program, in a Bloomberg interview. Rouhani "very constrained by the hard-liners," Samore says. (Israel Hayom)
  • Iranian animated film depicts nuclear 'holocaust' against Israel - Film depicts how the Islamic Republic might respond to an American or Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities. (Haaretz)

Building a Palestinian state, one city at a time
While still struggling with Israeli bureaucracy, panoramic view and affordable prices bring much attention to newly constructed West Bank city of Rawabi, which is expected to be populated next year. (Ynet)

Holy place - pissing is prohibited (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) One or two more pieces of legislation and Israel too will be able to get rid of the definitions that distinguish its villa from the jungle. 
Only four numbers: 1967 (Eitan Haber, Yedioth) Haber writes that withdrawing to the 1967 lines means, "presenting the State of Israel as a state whose borders are temporary and given to change," and cautions, "From here, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, it is only a short way to trying to push the State of Israel to the UN partition lines from 1947...(this is) the main reason for the Israeli demand in the current negotiations to recognize Israel as the Jewish national state and to recognize the agreement – if one is achieved – as concluding the conflict and putting an end to all claims," but adds, "Such recognition is likely to impede the Palestinians' dream of portraying Israel as a temporary and provisional state, and international recognition of such a settlement would impede it even more."
Abbas won't agree to a nominal state (Akiva Eldar, Haaretz+) During 21 years of partial interim agreements, the PA president has learned that in Israel, there is nothing more permanent than something that's temporary. A response to Shlomo Avineri. 
Dangers of the Palestinian state (Yossi Ben-Aharon, Israel Hayom) As a sovereign state, Palestine would enjoy immunity under international law, and nothing could stop it from striking deals with Iran or North Korea.
Open debate in Hillel means a victory for Israel. At Berkeley, for example (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) I was once president of Berkeley Hillel. This is what I learned: The more that Hillel opened itself up to a broader range of views, the less politicized and the more welcoming it became.
The trouble with talking about AIPAC (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, Haaretz+) Rabbis are under pressure from the left and right when they speak up, as leaders should, on Israel; but just as legitimate is the pushback from dissenting congregants. 
Egypt primitively downplaying Israel ties (Smadar Perry, Yedioth/Ynet) Egypt is on fire, but its government rejected Israel's offer to treat terror attack victims and its official daily's top story is a new 'sensational' espionage affair involving the Mossad. 
Rights of return: Spain, Jews and the Palestinians (Khaled Diab, Haaretz+) Spain could have sent a powerful message to the Middle East had it apologized to and embraced both the Muslims and Jews expelled by the Inquisition. 
At Iran talks, pessimism is name of the game (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) What are the possible different scenarios as the two sides meet in Vienna for more talks? 
The preschool defense forces (Haaretz Editorial) Civilian service volunteers cannot be an alternative to salaried workers; the Education Ministry must demand additional funds.

Iara Lee on global justice, activism and Palestine
In May 2010, Iara Lee, a Brazilian activist filmmaker, was a passenger on the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked in international waters by the Israeli navy, leading to the murder of nine humanitarian aid workers. Her video footage of the raid, which was hidden from Israeli authorities, was later released to the world after a screening at the United Nations. Lee talks about the Cultures of Resistance Network she founded, an organization that promotes global solidarity, supports peace with justice projects and brings together artists and change-makers from around the world. (Interviewed by Charlie Hoyle in Maan)

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