News Nosh 03.06.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday March 06, 2014

Quote of the day:
"The younger generation of American Jews is much more Barack Obama than it is Netanyahu. Its world of values is the liberal world. Its perception of reality is a pacifist perception. It utterly rejects the occupation, the use of force and human rights violations."
--Peter Beinart writes that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is turning his back on the generation of US Jews who still have a deep emotional affinity to Israel, but cannot accept the settlers and the Occupation.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
Israel Hayom
  • Our forces at their best - Some 1500km from Israel's coasts, Navy Seal fighters took over the KLOS C ship with the help of missile boats and a naval helicopter
  • The Iranian mask is tearing // Yoav Limor
  • An intelligence and operational achievement // Dor Ben-Basht
  • Broke her silence: Shula Zaken gave her incriminating version against Olmert
  • The takeover of the missile boat, step-by-step; The missile that was caught: threat to millions of citizens; The long arm of the IDF

Security News and Peace Talk Highlights:
The daring raid and takeover by Israeli Naval commandos of a ship carrying missiles in the Red Sea was today's top story in the Hebrew papers. What was interesting was how most of the Israeli media took the IDF declarations about the sources and the recipients of the missiles, as fact. Iran and Hamas, whom Israel accused, both denied having anything to do with the missiles. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, visiting the US, said the catch exposed Iran's face as a supporter of terror. The US acknowledge, which was involved in the operation, said it would not stop nuclear talks with Iran. On the peace track, the Palestinians said they had nothing left to give. And a former Palestinian negotiator told students at Tel-Aviv University that Palestinians need to learn about the Holocaust.

Most of the Israeli media reported as fact: "Israel seizes ship with missiles heading from Iran to Gaza." The IDF said the shipment came from Damascus, flew to Teheran, then was shipped to Iraq, and from there it was on its way to Sudan. The IDF said the shipment was meant to be taken overland through Sudan and Egypt over the Sinai Peninsula to "Gaza terrorists" including Hamas. The Hebrew papers report as fact that the missiles were meant for Hamas. Yedioth wrote that "Hamas can threaten half of Israel"  with these missiles. Maariv/NRG Hebrew's Amir Rapport wrote that the majority of the missiles would go to Gaza's Islamic Jihad and some would go to Hamas.

Hamas has denied being the intended recipient. But only three Israeli journalists questioned any part of the IDF declarations. Ynet's Palestinian affairs reporter Elior Levy stands out in writing why Hamas could not have been the intended recipient of the missiles: "The once-powerful Hamas has alienated Tehran and Damascus by backing the Syrian rebels, and has fallen from grace in Egypt," he explains. "It is unlikely that Damascus and Tehran would make any effort to strengthen Hamas, and it's hard to believe that Hamas, in its current weakened political situation, would risk the transfer of advanced rockets over Egyptian soil." Levy also writes: "Not one of the multitudes of press briefings the IDF has given to the Israeli and international media since the ship was seized has specifically mentioned who in Gaza was expecting the missiles." Yet, the Times of Israel quotes the IDF naming Hamas as a recipient. The Times of Israel's Mitch Ginsburg also questions the likelihood of that: "This seemed unusual considering the deep rift between Iran and Hamas and the ongoing fighting in Syria, pitting Hamas-like Sunni fighters against Hezbollah and other Iran-backed fighters...However, whether or not Hamas ordered the missiles, it would have been nearly impossible to get them into Gaza without the terror group knowing." The Times of Israel's Spencer Ho gets credit for also being careful to note that the alleged sender and recipient of the missiles were Israeli claims.  He also wrote that the "Video from the ship showing a bag of cement marked “MADE IN IRAN” seems to back up claims of Iranian involvement." The US is also not claiming that the shipment was meant for Gaza. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki confirmed that Israel did indeed “interdict a shipment of illicit Iranian arms,” and added that some details have yet to be confirmed. Ships have been caught in the past with alleged Iranian weapons that were meant for Hezbollah in Lebanon or for Syria.

Most of the papers wrote that "An initial inventory by Israel revealed a large supply of rockets, including the Iranian-made 302m, which hit Haifa during the 2006 Second Lebanon War." Yet, an IDF Spokesman's Unit video says the missiles are Syrian-made M300 missiles, which originated from Syria months ago and were tracked by Israel's long arm. Iran denied the missiles were Iranian-made.

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Israel Radio that after consultations between American and Israeli officials, it was decided that Israel would act against the vessel. Shapiro is currently accompanying Netanyahu on the Prime Minister's trip through California. Netanyahu was getting updates while attending a film screening in LA for Israeli tourism in which he was the star. Afterward, he lauded the IDF and the Mossad and castigated Iran, saying it revealed Iran's face as supporter of terrorist groups. 
Indeed, Israeli commentators wrote that this was the real goal of the dangerous operation so far from Israel's borders: to make a case against a nuclear Iran by showing the world its support of terrorist groups. Israel hoped this operation would be a game-changer, like the takeover of the weapons-laden Karine A ship in 2002, changed then president George W. Bush's perception of then-Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. However, the White House later said that the weapons shipment would not affect negotiations on the Iran's nuclear program. The Israeli commentators noted that the announcement of the raid put the commandos in danger, because it was made while the navy commandos were still at sea with the ship, . However, they write, the goal was to make the announcement while Netanyahu was still in the US and before Turkey, whose crew members were on board, or Panama, whose flag was on the ship, gave the news first.
Hamas said there was another goal to Israel's announcement: to justify its siege on the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Ministry of Interior spokesman Islam Shahwan said the Israeli claim that Gaza was the recipient of the missiles was a "dangerous move" to justify Israel's seven-year long blockade. The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by Israel since 2006. 

The Palestinians responded to U.S. President Barack Obama's promise to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "to make tough decisions" in their March 17 meeting, saying they have nothing left to make concessions on. "It is important for you to know Mr. President that there is nothing left that we can make concessions on. Don't be partners with Netanyahu in order to put us in a corner, because the choices before us are limited and clear. Is this what you want?" The Palestinian Authority added that two-state solution was 'evaporating.'
A former Palestinian peace negotiator said Palestinians need to learn about the Holocaust. Speaking at an event at Tel Aviv University, Nabil Shaath insisted that both sides should understand the narrative of the other. "We (the Palestinians) have to understand the Holocaust in order to live with the Jews", he said, adding that Israelis also had to study the narrative of the Palestinians and their wounds. Shaath spoke at a public discussion on a final status agreement together with former Israeli deputy prime minister Dan Meridor, organized by the University, the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society, and Israel-Palestine: Creative Regional Initiatives (IPCRI), in conjunction with the Swiss government.

Quick Hits:
  • Nablus farmers capture tree-chopping Israeli settler - Palestinian farmers on Wednesday detained an Israeli settler after they caught him chopping down olive trees in their fields near the village of Talfit. The farmers notified the Palestinian liaison department, who contacted their Israeli counterparts to arrange for the settler's release. (Maan)
  • Scholars launch petition against censorship of Israel critics - Petition, launched by Judith Butler and Rashid Khalidi, has garnered 150 signatories so far and condemns censorship and intimidation, particularly those who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. (Haaretz
  • MK Stern: Investigate political involvement of 'hesder' yeshivas - MK Eliezer Stern (Hatnua) petitioned the attorney general to investigate allegations that the yeshivas are convincing yeshiva student-soldiers to vote for (the pro-settler) Habayit Hayehudi party. (Maariv, p.1/NRG Hebrew)
  • Israeli forces demolish Bedouin homes in Negev (Israel) - Bulldozers escorted by Israeli forces demolished homes belonging to Bedouin citizens of Israel in al-Zaarura, a Negev village unrecognized by Israel, on Wednesday morning. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces order families to leave homes during army exercise - Israeli soldiers ordered 21 Bedouin families in Wadi Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley to leave their homes from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in order for the army to conduct military exercises in the area. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces impose curfew on 2 Nablus villages - Israeli forces imposed curfews on Huwwara and Beita after Palestinian youths hurled Molotov cocktails at an Israeli settler vehicle earlier in the day. (Maan)
  • Suspected terrorism: Residential gas lines cut in Jerusalem - Police suspect attempted terror attack in capital after gas lines in residential buildings on three different streets are cut. Burning candles found near gas line in one location. Fire and Rescue Services report rise in similar incidents in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom
  • Collapsing Israeli newspaper Maariv seeks court protection - Paper owes NIS 120 million, expected to sell its website and purchase most of its content from Makor Rishon. (Haaretz+) 
  • Hamas: Egypt no longer impartial in Palestinian reconciliation - Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas lawmaker, condemned the Egyptian court decision to ban activities of Hamas in Egypt and seize the group's assets. "The Egyptian judge who made the decision did not bring a single evidence incriminating Hamas. Thus, the movement considers the Egyptian decision a pure political decision rather than a judicial decision, and that decision serves the Israeli occupation." (Maan)
  • IDF opens fire at Hezbollah fighters on Israel-Syria border - Men suspected of trying to plant bomb Wednesday near Golan Heights-Syria border, says army spokeswoman. (Haaretz)
  • IDF raises level of alert on Syria border after shooting of Hezbollah terrorists - Video shows three terrorists attempting to plant explosives on Israel-Syria border fence. (Ynet
  • Assad adviser: Israeli officers fighting alongside rebels - Buthaina Shaaban, media adviser to Syrian president, says in a television interview that Israel physically participates in war in Syria. (NRG Hebrew
  • Under U.S. pressure, Israel issues first statement on Ukraine crisis - Terse statement, which precedes Lieberman-Kerry meeting in Rome, is careful not to insult Russia or President Vladimir Putin. (Haaretz+ and full text
  • U.S. Rep. Bachmann: American Jews sold out Israel - Minnesota congresswoman says U.S. Jews have prioritized Obama's ambitions over the best interests of Israel. (Haaretz+)
  • UAE's Etihad Airways denies omitting Israel from in-flight map - The official airline of the United Arab Emirates also refutes claims that it won't carry passengers with Israeli passports. (Haaretz)
  • West Bank separation barrier technology coming to U.S.-Mexico border - Israel's Elbit beats top U.S. defense firms to $145 million deal. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Iran: Revolutionary Guard has multiple-warhead missiles - Western sanctions can't stop Iran from boosting its ability to deter attack, Tehran says. (Agencies, Haaretz)
**AIPAC speech pits Netanyahu vs. Herzl on the nature of moral divides (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) The Israeli government cannot claim the high ground against its despotic enemies until it struggles with its own moral corruption in the West Bank. 
The real aim of the operation: Exposing Iran (Amir Rappaport, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) According to foreign reports, the Air Force and Navy have operated in Sudan. The fact that the Navy made an operation that could have gone, instead of making a much less dangerous aerial strike value, relates to the desire to embarrass Tehran in view of its growing global legitimacy. 
In seizing Gaza-bound missiles, Israel prevented a game-changer (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) The Iranian rockets were likely on their way to Islamic Jihad militants, not Hamas, to provide them with a capability to strike greater Tel Aviv.
Not a Karine A moment (Itamar Rabinovich, The Times of Israel) From the Obama Administration’s point of view, the fact that Iran was caught red handed stoking the fire in Gaza is embarrassing, but as the President’s interview to Bloomberg clearly showed, he does not tend to be deflected from his chosen course by awkward revelations about problematic interlocutors.
Iran's attempt to evade Iron Dome failed (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Iranian arms smuggling was likely aimed at preparing ground for response to attack on Tehran's nuclear facilities. Question remains whether weapons were intended to reach Gaza organizations or Sinai terrorists. Admirable intelligence move spared Israel the answer. 
The capture of the weapon delivery: Perfect timing (Amnon Lord, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) Capturing the ship is Israel's Bingo: With the renewal of nuclear talks, while Netanyahu warns America of Iranian missiles reaching its coast. 
Israel hopes missile-ship intercept will expose Iran (Mitch Ginsburg, Times of Israel) Jerusalem considers the Klos-C a similar smoking gun to the capture of the Karine-A arms ship in 2002. The IDF says the missiles were meant for all terror organizations, including Hamas. But this seems unusual considering the deep rift between Iran and Hamas and the ongoing fighting in Syria, pitting Hamas against Iran-backed forces. The rockets themselves are damaging, yes, but likely not the game-changer they have been made out to be.
Like an iceberg in the Sahara Desert (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Lapid is using the tactics of Benjamin Netanyahu. Like Bibi, Lapid believes in the process and not in the goal, in wasting time rather than using it to advantage. 
Bibi, time is not on our side (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) Now of all times, when Arab world is flat on its face, we should try to reach deal with Palestinians. 
The America that Netanyahu ignores (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The Zionism of the 21st century must be open and liberal, as it was in the days of David Ben-Gurion, Abba Eban, Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise. 
The Left's confusion (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) Israel's Left cannot understand the warm reception Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received in Washington.
America, the splintered reed (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) United States' weariness is disappointing and worrisome to its friends and to all lovers of liberty, wherever they may be. 
US security guarantees are worthless (Guy Bechor, Yedioth/Ynet) West's betrayal of Ukraine proves 'security arrangements' Kerry is offering Israel are just a piece of paper.
AIPAC, the Kremlin of U.S. Jewry (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) If AIPAC wants to show true friendship, it should stop cheering long and start whispering in the PM's ear that people in the U.S. are fed up with Israel.
Senator Ted Cruz: Obama is most hostile U.S. president to Israel in modern times
In interview with Haaretz, the controversial Texas Republican lambasts the president’s 'appeasement' of Iran and Vladimir Putin, tears his Israel policies to shreds and even has an unkind word for AIPAC. (Interviewed by Chemi Shalev in Haaretz+)

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