News Nosh 02.26.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday February 26, 2014

Quote of the day:
"What's your deal with the Temple Mount, Moshe? Does it really stress you? Take two rounds on your BMX. There is no Tel-Aviv without the Temple Mount? Nu, really."
--Meretz MK Ilan Gilon responds to Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who said without Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, there is no purpose to our existence in this whole country.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
Today's top stories in the Hebrew papers were the Israeli confirmation that Israel attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon and the grenade that was thrown at a shop in the city of Petach Tikvah by criminal elements, injuring five passers-by. German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded her trip with statements on Iran and the boycott, which the Hebrew papers told differently. Right-wing MKs slammed the US Ambassador to Israel during a meeting about peace negotiations and former Israeli ambassador to the US has a plan for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, should peace talks fail. In the Knesset, right-wing MKs clashed with left-wing MKs in a debate about implementing Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, while Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian worshippers and protesters on the Temple Mount itself. Meanwhile, a Palestinian father of five from Jerusalem, who was jailed in Israel for a traffic violation, died yesterday after falling into a come from a beating by prison guards, say his family.
Statements by Merkel at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday were interpreted very differently by the different Israeli newspapers. The pro-Netanyahu tabloid Israel Hayom emphasized how Merkel agreed with Israel on all the main points: She said that she considers Israel a Jewish state, that a boycott of Israel "is not an option" and that Iran has changed its tone, but not it's ways, the paper noted. However, Haaretz+ pointed out that Merkel also said that Germany will be obliged to follow EU guidelines on settlement goods, i.e. a boycott, if such were decided. Maariv/NRG Hebrew noted that Merkel said that while nuclear Iran is a threat, the negotiations with Iran achieved more than the previous situation, when Iran continued to enrich and install further advanced centrifuges. [On the recognition of a Jewish state, Merkel simply said, “We in the federal government support a two-state solution: a Palestinian state and a Jewish state of Israel,” which some reporters mistakenly assumed meant that Germany believed the Palestinians needed to declare that Israel is a Jewish state, which it does not mean. - OH]
(Speaking of misperceptions, an awkward photo of Netanyahu and Merkel has gone viral.) Last night Merkel was awarded Israel's highest honor by Israeli President Shimon Peres for 'standing by' Israel and fighting against anti-Semitism and racism.
At a tense meeting Tuesday between U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro and members of the right-wing Knesset lobby for the Land of Israel, 16 right-wing coalition MKs, most of them settlers, slammed Shapiro for the US stance on the diplomatic process. Yisrael Beiteinu MK David Rotem asked: "When has the U.S. ever stood by Israel?" Haaretz+ wrote that Shapiro listened patiently to them all and responded that the US recognizes the historic bond of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel but that “there is another people here as well.”
Meanwhile, Michael Oren, the former Netanyahu-appointed ambassador to the US told Maariv/NRG Hebrew about his alternative plan to failed peace talks: a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. Oren argues that if the UN supports the Palestinians, in practice the Palestinians will have a state and an Israeli unilateral withdrawal will set the borders. Oren refused to draw maps or indicate whether and how many settlers would be evacuated from their homes. But he urged Israel not to flinch from a unilateral move. Oren explained that the main move is the Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank, in which Israel will unilaterally determine the borders of the Palestinian state, if and when it is established by them.
**For the first time in its history, the Israeli Knesset debated whether Israel should impose its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, sparking animated exchanges between left-wing and right-wing MKs. The bill to impose sovereignty was proposed by far-right-wing Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, who said: "Without the Temple Mount there is no purpose to our existence in this whole country." He demanded that Israel allow Jews to freely enter the compound holy to Jews and Muslims. To which, Meretz MK Ilan Gilon responded: "What's your deal with the Temple Mount, Moshe? Does it really stress you? Take two rounds on your BMX. There is no Tel-Aviv without the Temple Mount? Nu, really. In no place did any of the prophets ever say we need to light the powder keg that's here. You don't want the Temple Mount, you want the destruction of the Temple. Today, whoever wants the Temple Mount is an anti-Zionist. The realization of our historical rights in Israel will be completed, but in two separate entities. I love the Land of Israel no less than anyone of you." (NRG Hebrew) And on the holy ground itself, Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers and protesters clashed, injuring more than a dozen people. Maan reported that 50 protesters slept at the Temple Mount Monday night to be prepared for protests against the Knesset debate on Tuesday. But police entered the complex shooting and throwing stun grenades to disperse the protesters, while Palestinian protesters threw stones and firecrackers. Maan wrote that the Palestinian protest was also in reaction to reports that Israeli rightist organizations planned to raise Israeli flags on the Temple Mount. 

Maariv/NRG Hebrew reported that the Jordanian parliament held a special session ahead of the Israeli debate. Jordan is the guardian of the Temple Mount. Jordanian parliamentarians slammed the Knesset debate and several called again to cancel the peace agreement with Israel. Today the Arab League will hold an emergency session to discuss ways to respond to the "Israeli assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the disturbances taking place on the Mount against the rights of the Palestinian people." The Palestinian Ambassador in Cairo demanded that the international community intervene following the Knesset debate yesterday on implementing Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, NRG Hebrew reported. "It proves Israel does not want peace," said Barakat Fara, who also serves as the Palestinian representative to the Arab League. He said "Israel must be stopped from erecting the temple."
A few days ago, Maan reported that a Palestinian family from E. Jerusalem had refused the Israel Prison Service demand to sign discharge papers for Jihad Atwil, 47, who was hospitalized a week earlier after being beaten by prisoner guards, until they could ensure his healthy had stabilized enough for him to be discharged. Now the father of five who was imprisoned for three months for a driving violation is dead. The family said he got a heart attack after the beating and pepper spraying by the guards and fell into a coma and was hospitalized. His release date came while he was still in hospital. According to Haaretz+ he was released and then taken to hospital.

Quick Hits:
  • Israel demolishing Bedouin homes on land settlers covet by Jerusalem - Twelve days after protesters demanded that Israel build in the E1 area, the Civil Administration has issued stop-work orders against the Salamat tribe. (Haaretz+)
  • 20 families in Jordan Valley ordered to leave homes for a day - Israeli forces handed notices on Tuesday evening for 20 Palestinian families in north of Jordan Valley to leave their homes for the day for Israeli military purposes. (Maan)
  • Israel seen using kid gloves in 'price tag' crackdown - Despite dozens of arrests, there have been few convictions; pro-settler vandalism continues almost weekly, with Arab towns, peace activists and even IDF targeted. (Agencies, Ynet
  • Israel Radio: Israeli military post comes under fire near Ramallah - Gunmen opened fire at an Israeli military post near Ramallah late Monday, Israeli radio said, with no injuries reported. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces detain human rights lawyer and activist in Nablus - Israeli troops ransacked the home of lawyer Faris Abu al-Hasan and escorted him to his office, where they confiscated files concerning Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. Then they arrested him and Ahmad al-Bitawi, a journalist and researcher. Both men work for Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights. (Maan
  • Three Palestinians wounded in clashes with soldiers on Gaza fence - Palestinians have now scuffled with the Israel Defense Forces for the second time in five days in demonstrations for the 20-year anniversary of the massacre at the Cave of the Patriarchs. (Maan and Haaretz+)
  • Luxembourg pension fund boycots major Israeli banks - Luxembourg's general pension fund has decided to boycott five major Israeli banks and a number of major Israeli investment companies over their involvement in supporting construction in illegal settlements in the West Bank. (Maan and Walla Hebrew)
  • Israel Electricity Corp. chairman: "I would disconnect Gaza from electricity" - At a hearing in the Finance Committee, Yiftah Ron Tal said that Palestinians have accumulated a debt of close to 1.4 billion shekels. "We are forced to continue to provide electricity to the Palestinian Authority." (NRG Hebrew
  • Palestinian Official: No threats from Israel to disconnect electricity - Mujahid Salameh told Ma’an that Israel informed the Palestinian Authority through Quartet envoy Tony Blair that it would not disconnect electricity. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces ransack home, arrest Palestinian in East Jerusalem - Ali Younis Jafar told Ma'an that Israeli troops raided al-Sawahira al-Sharqiya village and ransacked the home of the brother of Adli Jafar. Jafar, a member of the Palestinian security forces, was notified and returned home to turn himself in. (Maan
  • Netanyahu: Israel does whatever necessary to protect its safety - Lebanese media report Hezbollah commander killed in alleged Israeli strike on Syrian-Lebanese border late Monday night. (Ynet
  • Israel suspects Hezbollah will target top Israeli officials - Israel won't publicly admit to Monday's strike and Hezbollah is not making threats, but under the surface, the sides are locked in conflict. (Haaretz+) 
  • Hezbollah seeking advanced weapons, says Navy - Lebanese media says Israel struck a shipment of arms to Hezbollah on the Lebanon-Syria border Monday. (Haaretz)
  • Israeli submarine operations are on the rise in northern arena - Senior Navy commanders await two new submarines to further enhance Israeli secret operations at sea, claim Israel is on constant alert to secure assets against Syrian, Hezbollah threats. (Ynet)
  • Iran has studied Israeli strike tactics - Tehran collected photos of buildings destroyed during Second Lebanon War and changed its defense plans accordingly. (Agencies, Ynet)
Israeli balloons float 2,400 kilometers to Saudi Arabia - A picnicking Saudi Arabian spotted the white balloons bearing Hebrew writing. (Haaretz)

Police unit set up after Tomb of Patriarchs massacre: Waste of resources
A delegation of left-wing MKs touring Hebron with guiding provided by Peace Now were the only Jewish witnesses to the 20th anniversary of the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which was marked Tuesday. Twenty years ago Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslims as they prayed. In the wake of the massacre, a police unit was established. Chaim Levinson explains why this unit is inefficient and how the settlers have changed. (Haaretz+)
Israel should beware the 'Jewish statehood' trap (Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy, Yedioth/Ynet) Would we agree to recognize the Palestinians' right to an 'Arab-Muslim' state in parts of the Land of Israel? 
Should leftists leave Israel? No, don’t go (Tal Niv, Haaretz+) A rightist's call for Israelis who disagree with him to leave the country should be met by staying - and talking. 
The Civil Administration is not settlers' enemy (Yoaz Hendel, Yedioth/Ynet) Those who want Israeli law in the settlements cannot treat its representatives as a foreign rule. 
Bennett's bluff (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Bennett needs to decide if he counts Israeli Arabs as Israeli or Palestinians. 
Qatar's true colors (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) Qatar is funding terror groups on the one hand while promoting the Arab League's peace initiative on the other. 
Jewish muzzling of pro-BDS speakers only makes them stronger (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) As Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister says: 'When you tear out a man's tongue, you aren’t proving him a liar, you're telling the world you fear what he might say.' 
Tycoons pressing for peace deal to protect their wallets (Carolina Landsmann, Haaretz+) Boycotts are threatening the wealthy so they're coming out of the political closet to press Netanyahu to cut a deal with the Palestinians.

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