News Nosh 03.13.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday March 13, 2014

Quote of the day:
"This is a chance of a lifetime to make a difference and strengthen Jewish life in the heart of Jerusalem!”
-- A far right-wing organization calls for donations to help renovate its newest acquisition: a large portion of a landmark building in the heart of Arab East Jerusalem's downtown.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • not published today
Israel Hayom
Security, Diplomacy and Peace Talk Highlights:
Today's top stories were the barrage of rockets from Gaza and the Israeli response as well as the speech British Prime Minister David Cameron gave to the Knesset - and the walkout that preceded it. Also high up in the news was the rage in Jordan over the IDF killing of a judge. The PLO and the Palestinian Authority blasted Israel for a 'culture of violence' for the spate of killings. On the peace talk front, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a Congressional hearing that trust between Israelis and Palestinians was at an all-time low. Minister Yaakov Peri warned the Palestinians in an interview with Israel Hayom that if the negotiations are not extended, it's possible Israel won't release the last round of prisoners. Meanwhile, the Knesset passed two controversial bills.
The Islamic Jihad fired seventy missiles at southern Israel, after Israeli soldiers killed three of its fighters a day earlier and Israel responded with 29 airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. A ceasefire was being discussed between the sides with Egypt mediating. Israelis living near the Gaza Strip were told to stay within 15 seconds of a shelter. UN's Ban Ki-moon condemned the rocket attack and Palestinan President Mahmoud Abbas urged an end to the 'Israeli military escalation.' NRG Hebrew and Haaretz online reported that Islamic Jihad uploaded a propaganda video in 'broken Hebrew' on YouTube just hours after the rockets began, in which activists threaten the residents of Israel's south.
[I tried understanding what was said, but it was indeed practically impossible. However, here is a translation of the Arabic captions:
You’re not secure in our country. 1. To the Zionist terrorist government: we’ll stand up to your planes and rockets, it’ll stop by our chests and you’ll pay a high price. 2. To the coward Zionist army: We at Al-Quds Brigades are ready to reach you and your military barricades, you have no choice but death or prison. 3. To the Zionist public: don’t let your lives be hostage to your extremist leadership, which doesn’t believe in peace on the ground, which is busy with war and destruction. The time has come for you to leave our country, look for your country outside.  (YouTube)
Haaretz+ was the only Israeli paper to find eyewitnesses of the IDF killing of the Jordanian-Palestinian judge. They described the skirmish between Raed Zeiter and Israeli soldiers that resulted in the shooting and categorically rejected the IDF claim that the judge tried to snatch a weapon or shouted “Allah is great”before he was shot and killed. The IDF insisted that, based on an initial inquiry, the Jordanian judge was shot in self-defense. The Jordanian parliament has given the government five more days to carry out its decisions: recall the Jordanian ambassador and release the prisoner Ahmed Akasma, who carried out the 1997 attack at Naharayim, killing seven Israeli schoolchildren. Hundreds of lawyers protested, while protests went on at university campuses around Jordan. Zeiter's wife has taken an Israeli lawyer to sue Israel. Also this week, thousands buried Saji Darwish, 18, a Bir Zeit University media student from the village of Beitin, who was shot dead near an Israeli settlement outpost when he was allegedly throwing stones at Israeli settler vehicles. studied media. (+Photos) Following the spate of IDF killings in the last week, which included Muataz Washha, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO denounced Israeli 'extrajudicial killings' and Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi blasted Israel for 'creating a culture of violence' and urged the world to take 'punitive' action over 'extrajudicial killings of Palestinian civilians.'
Just five days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to meet US President Barack Obama in the White House, Kerry told a congressional hearing that the mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians is high, but he still believes "it's possible, but difficult” to achieve a framework agreement by then end of April. “Narrative” issues were the most difficult knot to unravel, he said.  That would likely mean Israel’s demand for recognition as Jewish state and, possibly, the Palestinians’ demand that refugees be granted a “right of return” to Israel. "Certain narrative issues are so powerful and so difficult that neither leader is going to definitively cede on them at an early stage of the negotiation,” he acknowledged. 

Meanwhile, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri told Israel Hayom: ""If (Abbas) does not agree to extend negotiations with Israel for an additional year, it's possible that the fourth round of prisoner releases will not be carried out." Peri, who is perhaps the most dovish minister in the cabinet, blamed Abbas for stymieing progress in the peace talks, saying he "has a really hard time making compromises."
Another spoke in the wheels of peace-making was the law passed by the Knesset yesterday requiring popular approval through a national referendum for conceding E. Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
 The Knesset also passed a historic new draft law, which includes ultra-Orthodox conscription. The angry opposition boycotted both the votes because of the 'move' made by the coalition, according to which all the coalition members had to vote in favor of all three controversial bills, even if they ideologically opposed one or two of them. Because the coalition members outnumber the opposition, that meant the bills passed.
Later, Arab and ultra-Orthodox opposition members walked out of the Knesset just before the British Prime Minister addressed it to embarrass the coalition government. The ultra-Orthodox walked out as Netanyahu took the podium to welcome Cameron and the Arab lawmakers waked out in the midst of Netanyahu's speech. Opposition MKs who chose to remain in the plenum heckled Netanyahu during his speech.
In his speech, Cameron said he opposed boycotts of Israel, that Israel is "a homeland for the Jewish people" [Note, he did not say what the Israeli government had hoped for: that Israel is the Jewish state - OH], and that Israel should accept the international negotiations with Iran. He also called for "justice for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples." But most of all, he tried to convince Israelis that peace was in their interest. Netanyahu spoke before him and said, "Palestinian rejectionism - and not Jewish settlement - is the root of the problem."

Quick Hits:
  • **Israeli settler group buys property in heart of East Jerusalem - Ateret Cohanim says it purchased part of a 'large and strategic building’ in heart of Arab commercial district. Director wrote it would be used as an education center, with housing for pre-army yeshiva students. (Haaretz+)
  • Soldiers ordered Hebron resident to remove Palestinian flag (or Hebrew title: "Surrealism in Hebron: Settler invaded home, got caught in barbed wire and soldiers took his side" - Israeli soldiers in Hebron told a Palestinian to remove the Palestinian flag flying from his roof and threatened him with arrest if he refused. The soldiers issued the order after a settler had tried to remove the flag himself but got entangled in barbed wire. (Haaretz+ and Haaretz Hebrew + B'tselem video of entangled settler)
  • No (exposure to left-wing groups) allowed on right-wing group’s pre-army tours, Israelis say - Religious Zionist group, 'Hare'ut', organizes government- and donation-subsidized pre-army tours of West Bank, which it says are apolitical and offer left and right-wing views. But secular participants say it was all about "why Israel has to stay in Judea and Samaria." Peace Now director said his group is approached often by students who complain about “right-wing brainwashing during the (Palestinian) territories (tour) week.” (Haaretz+)
  • (Far) Right-wing lawyer, rabbis enter Aqsa (Temple Mount) compound - Rightist Jewish lawyer Yehuda Glick entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound Wednesday along with two ultra-Orthodox Jewish rabbis escorted by Israeli police officers. (Maan)
  • Video shows how Israeli undercover forces, mounted policemen disperse Jerusalem protest - Dozens marched through the streets of Jerusalem on March 2, calling for an end to peace talks and decrying the deaths of two Palestinians the week before. (Maan+VIDEO)
  • 5 injured after Israeli forces open fire on Beit Ummar protesters - One 16-year-old was shot in the thigh with a live bullet, two other teenagers were hit by bullet fragments - in the thigh and stomach, and two others were hit in their feet. Beit Ummar has seen frequent clashes in recent weeks as Israeli forces have blocked the main road into the village, leading locals to respond in anger. (Maan)
  • Israel demolishes blind man's home in E. Jerusalem-area village - A large number of Israeli troops raided El-Eizariya village, then bulldozers demolished home of Suleiman Jahalin, a blind man who said he has been living there since 1967. Before starting the demolition, Israeli troops forcefully removed Jahalin and ten of his family members from their home. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces demolish (Israeli) Bedouin village in Negev for 66th time - A large number of Israeli police and bulldozers surrounded the village in the early morning and demolished all of the residential steel structures, leaving dozens of people in the open despite heavy rains. (Maan)
  • East Jerusalem man arrested for plotting gas pipe terror attacks - 50-year-old man says he was angry at Jewish presence on Temple Mount, got idea from recent gas blast accident in capital. (Ynet)
  • Norwegian Cruise Line drops Tunisia over anti-Israel discrimination - Cruise company responds after Tunisia denies 20 Israelis permission to disembark. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Gantz thanks Friends of IDF at New York gala event - IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz attends Friends of the IDF organization event, which raises $20 million at gala honoring Israeli army. (Israel Hayom)
  • Strengthening Israel from abroad - Sixth annual Israeli American Council Gala held in Los Angeles. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, the event's distinguished guest, says, "The prime minister will not allow Iran's regime to develop nuclear weapons." (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. pledges more money for Iron Dome - but IDF lacks trained personnel - The IDF had planned for reservists to operate the batteries, but this could cause further delay as training reservists involves additional expenses. (Haaretz+)
  • Comptroller issues harsh criticism of defense establishment - Poor planning of defense of Israel's natural gas fields in the Mediterranean, inadequate preparation for chemical warfare, and an eroded capacity to muster reserves are among some of the issues brought up by the state comptroller's report. (Israel Hayom)
  • Samuel Lewis, Camp David-era U.S. ambassador, dies - Lewis played a key role in calming recurring tensions between President Reagan and Prime Minister Menachem Begin. (JTA, Haaretz)
  • No injuries in blast outside Israel’s Cairo embassy - Three cars damaged in improvised explosive attack late Tuesday night. The embassy has been vacant since September 2011, when it was stormed by protesters denouncing Israel's killing of six Egyptian soldiers inside Egyptian territory. (Haaretz)
  • Egypt: We've destroyed 1,370 tunnels into Gaza -Announcement comes as Gaza rockets south; shows yet another sign of Cairo's antipathy to Hamas. (Haaretz+)
  • Tent placed near Egypt embassy in Gaza to protest Rafah closure - Deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Bahar, who joined the inauguration of the protest tent, delivered a speech urging leaders of Arab countries to end the siege imposed on Gaza. (Maan)

In Israel, Arabs get less (Haaretz Editorial) The state keeps its Arab citizens in municipal ghettos, rife with poverty, ignorance and neglect. 
AIPAC is not what it used to be (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) Obama's absence from this year's AIPAC conference marks Jewish lobby's decline in eyes of US administration. 
Israel's morning shave syndrome (Yossi Klein, Haaretz+) Like an aging man, Israel avoids looking too hard in the mirror, lest it see the 2 million Palestinians in its midst. 
Why John Kerry’s peace mission should worry liberal Zionists (Peter Beinart, Haaretz+) There’s mounting evidence that Kerry is pushing a framework that gives Palestinians less than they were offered by Bill Clinton and Ehud Olmert. 
Temporary alliances (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom) When it comes to loyalty, Israeli politicians know how to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.
Chief of staff will be judged by history, not popularity (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Benny Gantz will be judged according to the actions of the army he commands - and this army kills and kills, slowly committing war crimes without hindrance. 
Iranian-inspired rocket fire from Gaza (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Islamic Jihad avenged killing of its activists, but massive rocket fire may have also been response to seizure of Iranian arms ship. Use of short-range rockets implies organization is not interested in further escalation.
Queen Esther wins the Hunger Games (Don Futterman, Haaretz+) The story of Purim is just one of an entire genre told by Jews throughout history, parables and parodies exploring Jewish vulnerability.
Showing Cameron Iran's true face (Yaakov Ahimeir, Israel Hayom) Unlike his predecessors, British PM David Cameron has been much less concerned with foreign matters. 
Cameron visiting to shore up base, not press Israel on peace (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Despite the deadlocked diplomatic process, Britain-Israel relations have rarely been better. 
Is America really an honest broker in the peace process (Seth Lipsky, Haaretz+) The contrast between the statements made by President Obama and the State Department regarding the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state are troubling.

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