News Nosh 02.25.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday February 25, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Perhaps we should also divide the Jewish population into Poles, Yemenites and Moroccans?”
--Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On slams the controversial law passed to distinguish between Muslim and Christian Arab citizens of Israel. **

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • "IDF attacked in Lebanon" - Day after Chief of Staff warned against "torches of pyromaniacs"
  • Interest rate dropped: 0.75%
  • You can take a shower with it - Samsung launched it's new smartphone, S5
  • Against the draft: Historic union of the ultra-Orthodox
  • 'Hesder' yeshiva programs: A testimony from inside - Captain A. tells about the short and easy service of (nationalist-religious) yeshiva boys
  • Bill by MK Isaac Herzog: State lands to be sold for half price for affordable housing
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
Today's top stories in the Hebrew papers were the Lebanese-reported Israeli air force strike against Hezbollah in Lebanon on the border with Syria, the drop in the interest rate and the battle of the ultra-Orthodox against the military draft. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made headlines in most of the papers following her arrival last night for a two-day visit. US President Barack Obama has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a visit at the White House and the Palestinian say they could turn to the UN if peace talks fail. UN human rights envoy denounces Israeli 'apartheid' just as 'Israel Apartheid week begins, with a focus at top British universities.  The Knesset discusses today applying Israeli sovereignty to the Temple Mount and the papers wrote features marking 20 years since an American-Israeli settler opened fire at the Cave of the Patriarchs, massacring 29 Muslim worshippers.
Maariv focused on Merkel's statement, "We came to show that we are real friends of Israel." However, Ynet and Haaretz+ noted that she also said that "part and parcel of the security of Israel is the two state solution...a Jewish state of Israel and alongside it a Palestinian state." Hours before her arrival, Germany's Foreign Minister slammed Israeli settlement policy calling it "disruptive" to peace efforts and saying it would be raised during two days of meetings with Israeli leaders. Ahead of Merkel's arrival, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told German TV that US Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts were the 'only way' to peace and reiterated his condition that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as he did in with Merkel last night.
Yesterday, Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Asaf Gabor reported on Palestinians who did not mind if the Palestinian leadership recognized Israel as a Jewish state.  "I don't want a Palestinian state, I want to live well," said one. " It annoys me that statesmen from the Arab League and Muslim countries interfere in my life," said another. "They sit in luxury hotels in Saudi Arabia and say 'fight for your rights.' I tell them, I now have the option to live here like a king. Do whatever it takes to reach an agreement - the main thing is that our lives will improve." 
But with negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis floundering, Obama has invited Abbas to visit after Netanyahu's meeting with the president in early March. Haaretz+ reported that Palestinian officials in Ramallah expected the invitation due to the lack of progress in the peace talks. Nevertheless, another round of talks was scheduled to take place next week between the Palestinians and Kerry’s team. One Palestinian diplomat, speaking to Ma'an on the condition of anonymity, said that the Palestinians could address the United Nations to boycott Israeli settlements if peace talks failed. "One may say that such a decision by the General Assembly wouldn't be binding, but if 50 countries show readiness to this boycott, that will be a triumph," he added.

Such a boycott is supported by UN rights envoy Richard Falk, who wrote a scathing final report about Israel to the U.N. Human Rights Council. Falk, who is finishing his six year term, denounced Israeli 'apartheid' in Palestinian areas and the 'ethnic cleansing' of E. Jerusalem. He said UN member states should consider imposing a ban on imports of produce from West Bank settlements and described how the Israeli occupation of Gaza particularly hurts farmers and fisherman because of the Israeli blockade that controls borders, airspace and coastal waters. Falk's final report came just as Israel Apartheid Week started in 87 cities worldwide. Haaretz+ reports that Britain is the center of the BDS event, with activities at Oxford, Cambridge and other prestigious campuses. There will also be several counter-initiatives by pro-Israeli student groups, such as a Facebook page and Twitter account entitled Rethink2014.
Meanwhile, the Knesset will discuss today for first time the question of applying Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, Maariv/NRG Hebrew reports. Shalom Yerushalmi writes that in Palestinian officials in Ramallah and at officials in Amman will be following the sensitive discussion closely. The bill, initiated by far-right-wing Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, was supposed to take place last week, but was postponed. Now, writes Yerushalmi, Netanyahu's office is acting to thwart any proposal for a vote on changing the status quo to make Israel, not Jordan, the sovereign over the Temple Mount. [Palestinians began rioting on the Temple Mount during the Knesset debate today - OH] Yerushalmi writes somewhat disparagingly of Feiglin who claimed that the Jews are the one's who are discriminated against. 
For the anniversary of the massacre of Muslim worshippers at the Cave of the Patriarchs by American-Israeli religious settler Baruch Goldstein 20 years ago, Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Asaf Gabor went to Hebron to talk to locals about the affect on the city. He interviewed numerous Hebronites, and came back with the sense that they miss the days of co-existence. "We need to think about life together and not about endless war," said one. One of the people he interviewed was shot in the leg during the massacre and said he hasn't returned since to pray there.

Quick Hits:
  • Settler group getting management of Western Wall area - Elad would also manage major sites nearby, including the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. Elad already manages the City of David National Park just outside the Old City walls and works to settle Jews in the Palestinian village of Silwan. (Haaretz+)
  • Suspected nationalist crime: security chief of Itamar settlement arrested - During a search Monday of the office of the para-military chief of Itamar settlement, numerous weapons were found, including grenades and rifle ammunition. Police: We need to find out how such a significant amount of very explosive and dangerous IDF weapons reaches settlements so easily. Residents: It is part of the community's preparedness. The para-military security chief was not identified, but a settler website named the chief of security as Matania Ben-Shitreet. (NRG Hebrew+PHOTOS)
  • Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian near Bethlehem - Khalaf Abu Mfarreh, 29, was shot in the foot during clashes in the center of the village of Tuqu. But the Israeli military said the "riot erupted as dozens of Palestinians gathered at the area of Teqoa (adjacent settlement), hurling rocks at security forces." (Maan
  • Israeli forces detain 12 Palestinians in overnight raids, including 2 minors - Israeli forces detained 12 Palestinians in the middle of the night in arrest raids across the West Bank. Soldiers detained Safwan Riyad Abu Srour, 17, after raiding his family home in Aida refugee camp. (Maan
  • **Knesset passes bill distinguishing between Muslim and Christian Arabs - Critics slam law as effort to 'divide and conquer' Israeli Arab population. Sponsor: aim is also to heighten involvement of Christians in Israeli society. (Haaretz+) 
  • High Court calls halt to building of new neighborhood in Ofra settlement - Justice rules that settlement construction violates court order forbidding the issue of building permits within the settlement's jurisdiction. (Haaretz+) 
  • Israel issues eviction orders to 40 Bedouin families near Jerusalem - The families, Palestinian Bedouin who live mainly in steel structures and tents in Ezariya, must leave their homes by March 3. They number 300 about people. (Maan)
  • PM will set Likud caucus agenda, Supreme Court asserts - Decision follows appeal of last week's Tel Aviv District Court ruling giving authority to set agenda to Likud Convention President MK Danny Danon, who may have included issues on peace talks that Netanyahu wanted to avoid. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel returns remains of 2 Palestinians from Tulkarem - The Israeli military liaison department delivered late Sunday the remains of Sarhan Burhan Sarhan and Muayyad Mahmoud Saleh al-Din, both from Tulkarem. (Maan)
  • For the first time: IDF will adopt victims of terror - Department of IDF casualties so far worked mainly with the bereaved families whose sons enlisted. Currently that activity will be extended to terror victimes. (NRG Hebrew
  • Jihad in Haifa? Radical Salafis threaten city's imam - Sheikh Rashad Abu Alhaija, the imam of Haifa and mufti of Istiqlal mosque, was threatened by Salafis from the Galilee region in northern Israel. Mayor Yona Yahav sends messsage of support to Alhaija. Salafis: He won't let us pray at his mosque. (Israel Hayom
  • Zygier 'almost certainly’ not Israel’s only Prisoner X, author says - Journalist Rafael Epstein, who has written a book on Australian-born Mossad agent Ben Zygier, notes court documents hinting at another secret prisoner. (Haaretz+)
  • Palestinian scouts rally across Middle East for right of return - he event, "Scouts Lead the Way, The Camp is Our Address, Return is Our Choice," was organized by by the Palestinian Scouts' Association and saw activities organized in Balata refugee camp, Shufat camp in Jerusalem, Ein al-Hilweh in Lebanon and Yarmouk camp in Syria. (Maan
  • Home Front Command holds emergency drill for schools across Israel - The annual drill aims to test students' readiness to deal with rocket attacks, will include sirens and alerts. (Haaretz
  • Historic unity: Ultra-Orthodox factions unite against conscription - Rabbis from three factions of the ultra-Orthodox sector cooperate for first time in history. Community promises hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox to attend protest. Netanyahu: "Law not perfect, but better than nothing." (Israel Hayom)
  • Photo of Lapid, Bennett in Nazi uniforms sparks online storm - Image posted in response to haredi draft bill depicts finance, economy ministers standing at Auschwitz, burning Torah and Talmud books. Spokesman for Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel says incitement in the haredi media is out of control. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli lawmakers to debate searches of soldiers' mobile phones - The army can't trample soldiers' basic rights, says Knesset Public Petitions Committee head Adi Kol, following Haaretz report. (Haaretz+) 
  • IDF troops barred from using Waze in Judea and Samaria - Order comes after a soldier erroneously enters Nablus while driving to meet a friend at an observation post. IDF officer: Waze does not mark what is allowed and what is not, and people driving with the app can find themselves in all kinds of places." (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's 'Captain Sunshine' may say 'aye, aye' to presidential run - The Knesset knows who to call if they don't want the president be an aging politician, the American-Israeli solar power innovator (and brother-in-law of famous comedian Sarah Silverman) tells IBA News. (Haaretz+) 
  • New Zealand activists claim Israel 'pinkwashes' - Police remove activists who broke through barricades to protest Israel's entry in pride parade. (Haaretz
  • Israeli businesspeople to enter US more easily - Israel joins global program facilitating entry to United States. Frequent low-risk travelers, businesspeople may qualify. Population and Immigration Authority to helm project. (Israel Hayom)
  • More Israelis being denied U.S. tourist visas, report says - State Department data shows 9.7% of Israelis denied visas last year, up from 2.5% in 2007, i24news reports. (Haaretz+)
  • Iran FM Javad Zarif under fire for calling Holocaust 'a tragedy' - Hardliners in parliament summon nukes negotiator to a closed session after he condemned the Shoah. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Government of Jewish zealotry (Haaretz Editorial) Naftali Bennett's obsession, which is shared by the current government, is to turn the Arab population into second-class citizens. 
Close the EU to Israeli settlement products (Willem-Gert Aldershoff and Michel Waelbroeck, Haaretz+) A new analysis of international law shows such measures do not constitute a boycott of Israel, but exclusively address Israel’s illegal settlement policy and its consequences. 
Hezbollah tried to use the stormy weather - and failed (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Is it safe to deduce there was indeed a strike against targets near the Lebanese-Syrian border last night, and it is safe to assume Israel was behind it. 
Israel and Germany, milk that has soured (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) German-Israel ties are in danger, regardless of the festive atmosphere surrounding Angela Merkel's visit. 
Under Merkel, boycott floodgates stay closed (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) In the international relations lexicon, friendship does not always imply unanimous accord. 
Germany escaping its past by lecturing Israel (Eldad Beck, Yedioth/Ynet) Has Germany done enough to justify Israeli trust or has it focused its efforts on making people forget the past by diverting the attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? 
Pressure our enemies, not our friends
 (Doug Lamborn, Israel Hayom) Given the unrest in the Middle East, many in Congress are baffled by the Obama administration's decision to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the crux of its policy in the region.
Break the language barrier (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth) Hendel calls on Israel to place greater emphasis on the study of Arabic. "In the Israeli reality, the lack of knowledge of Arabic is a fault," and cites the father of a soldier in his unit who said, "A young person must study the Bible and Arabic," because, "The Bible is where we came from and Arabic is where we live."
'Apartheid' is not just a word (Yossi Shain, Ynet) Use of phrase 'Israeli apartheid' is key part of campaign to label Israel, with or without Palestinian territories, as criminal state.
BDS Lie Week (Lena Abayev Bakman, Israel Hayom) Israel Apartheid Week is based on lies, and it is time to start our own campaign exposing the hypocrisy of those calling for BDS. 
Do American Jews really want to listen to Israelis? ( Beth Kissileff, Haaretz+) In response to Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove: It’s up to U.S. Jews to make more of an effort to understand how Jewish identity in Israel is different from, but not lesser than, American Judaism. 
Australian Jews' internal conflict (Ronen Bergman, Yedioth/Ynet) Australian Jewish community is caught between its traditional support for Israel and the criticism over the aggressive treatment Ben Zygier was subject to in Israeli prison.

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