News Nosh 03.18.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday March 18, 2014

Number of the day:
--Percentage of the 100,000 settlers living in areas likely to become part of a Palestinian state who would voluntarily evacuate after a peace agreement.**

Front Page News:
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • First apartment without VAT - Dramatic news for apartment buyers
  • Revolution // Sever Plocker
  • Putin the Conqueror // Nahum Barnea
  • "There are no brakes, no handbrakes, we are in life-threatening danger. Pray" - The terrifying phone call between the driver who lost his brakes and the emergency operator
  • Recommendation: Put back the beginning of the school year to September 1st
  • New statistics: Electricity Corp. employees use twice as much electricity (at home) as we do
  • not published today
Israel Hayom

Peace Talk Highlights:
Today's top story continued to be about the crisis with Russia over Crimea. Very little news came out of yesterday's White House meeting between US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, except for declarations. Obama told reporters that "tough political decisions and risks" need to be taken and Abbas, who said that the Palestinians had already recognized Israel, reiterated his support for a two-state solution and his call for the release of Palestinian prisoners by the end of the month, as was agreed upon in July with the Israelis. Abbas received support ahead of the meeting from Israeli President Shimon Peres, who said "Abbas is a true partner for peace," and from thousands of Palestinians, who took to West Bank streets in a show of support for Abbas last night. Even a Hamas-affiliated former minister participated. "We're here today to stand up to pressures upon us and make sure president Abbas adheres to his conviction," said Nasser Eddin al-Shaer the former education minister.

Quick Hits:
  • **Poll: 30 percent of settlers outside blocs would evacuate without peace deal - Figure jumps to 50 percent in the case of an agreement. (JTA, Haaretz
  • Ashton: EU opposes Israel boycotts - EU's foreign policy chief reiterates offer of 'unprecedented' support for Israel, Palestinians if they reach a peace deal. (Haaretz)  
  • 2 Palestinians injured after settlers throw bottle at car near Nablus - The settlers "threw a beer bottle at us, which destroyed the windshield," said one of the injured Palestinians from the car that was driving to Nablus Sunday. (Maan
  • Soldiers raid Nablus town after firebombs thrown at settler car - Israeli military forces broke into several Palestinian homes in the town of Huwwara Monday, after a settler vehicle was attacked with firebombs, locals said. (Maan)
  • West Bank road being rebuilt, despite state promise to Supreme Court - The access road built on Palestinian property was torn up in July based on a state pledge to the court, but the land is again being used for settler traffic. (Haaretz+)
  • Settlers destroy 55 olive trees near Nablus - Settlers from the nearby Israeli settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh raided the village of Jalud and sprayed over 55 olive trees with toxic chemicals Sunday, killing them. (Maan)
  • Following settlers' demand, IDF removes Palestinian flag from Hebron roof - Owner says he agreed after soldiers promised to release neighbor they arrested for throwing stones. (Haaretz+)
  • Jordan condemns Israeli 'escalation' on Temple Mount - Amman furious after clashes broke out at the plaza following Housing Minister Uri Ariel's visit to the site. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Palestinian woman 'humiliated, assaulted' at Israeli checkpoint - The mother of prisoner Ahmad Abd al-Fattah said she was stopped at the Taybeh checkpoint near Ramallah and taken to a small room for a strip search, which she refused, for which she was beaten. (Maan)
  • Palestinian prisoners in Israel to go on hunger strike - Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails decided to go on hunger strike for one day Tuesday in a “protesting the ongoing aggressive attack against them,” the ministry of prisoners’ affairs announced. (Maan)
  • Palestinian prisoner 'at risk of death' 2 months into hunger strike - Waheed Abu Maria, who has been on hunger strike for 67 days, has lost 88 lbs, is unable to walk, and suffers from continuous head and chest pain in addition to shortness of breath, memory loss, and vision impairment. (Maan)
  • PA lawyer: Health of oldest Palestinian prisoner deteriorating - 76-year-old Fuad Shobaki is suffering from various illnesses amidst Israeli reluctance to offer him medical treatment, said a lawyer for the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. (Maan)
  • IDF rescinds limits on lawyers meeting with clients in military jail - Army had barred entry to attorneys lacking special authorization. (Haaretz+)
  • Poll: 95% of Israelis believe racism is a problem - Vast majority of respondents - some 79 percent - say Ethiopians experience more racism than any other population group in the country. (Haaretz
  • Foreign Ministry workers threaten to shut down Israeli embassies - Ongoing labor dispute in Foreign Ministry reaches new levels as diplomats threaten to go on general strike and cease all consular services and advocacy efforts. (Yedioth/Ynet)
  • Defense minister leans toward Israeli operation in Iran, as Obama portrays 'weakness' - Moshe Ya'alon says U.S. is acting feebly - from China through the Mideast to Ukraine. 'I hope the U.S. comes to its senses.' (Haaretz+ and Ynet
  • Peres calls King Abdullah to apologize for judge's death - Israeli president expresses deep regret to family and to the people of Jordan. (Haaretz)
  • Olmert, Dagan, Halutz embark on mystery business venture - Former prime minister, Mossad chief and IDF chief of staff form EOC Partners Ltd., whose nature remains ambiguous. Primary shareholders are three other Israeli companies. Top executives include Olmert's former media adviser Yaakov Galanti. (Israel Hayom)
  • JNF to receive greater state oversight - Despite avoiding criticism of the Jewish National Fund, Deputy Attorney General Avi Licht directs registrar of companies to list it as company for the public benefit. (Haaretz
  • Students from Abu Ghosh (Arab-Israeli) high school assault policemen - Riot erupted when high school principal called officers to remove a teacher who was fired. The students tried to prevent her arrest and, according to police, used tear gas, threw objects at them. (Ynet)
  • 0% VAT on first apartment (if you served in IDF) - If you are working, have kids, never owned an apartment and served in the IDF - you will have the right to buy an apartment without paying VAT. The plan is to help middle class couples..but it's not meant for those who did not serve in the IDF and therefore will hurt mostly Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox Jews. (Yedioth, p. 1)
  • Israel to get most advanced transport planes ever - When they arrive in two weeks, the 'Samson' planes will form a squadron giving the Air Force new capabilities. (Haaretz+)
  • Israir, Arkia to fly to Turkey and Georgia - Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz authorizes Israir to join Arkia on the Tel Aviv-Tblisi route. Arkia to add flights to Antalya, Turkey and Odessa, Ukraine. (Israel Hayom)
  • Navy and Palestinians exchange gunfire on Gaza coast -Israeli Navy intercepts small boat attempting to make its way from Gaza toward Egypt. No one wounded in incident. Palestinian who was freed in 2011 Schalit deal arrested. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gaza's only power plant lights up again after Israel allows fuel in - Israel cut off Qatari-paid fuel when it closed the border crossing following three days of fire exchange. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Thousands of Palestinians surround Jerusalem Old City for culture - Thousands of people surrounded Jerusalem's Old City from (Jaffa Gate) to (Lions' Gate) on Sunday in a defiant action marking a reading day celebration meant to empower the steadfastness of Jerusalem residents in uniting Palestinian culture. (Maan)
  • For Palestinians, Arab Idol offers welcome escape - For first time, pan-Arab contest holds tryouts in West Bank; hundreds of youths line up for a chance at a new career. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Islamic Jihad leader: Jews love Jerusalem more than we do - Palestinians must learn from the Jews, Ramadan Shalah advises, so they will strive harder to conquer the city. (Haaretz and Ynet
  • 2 Israelis arrested for trying to purchase Libyan oil - Senegalese man also arrested with the two in Cyprus for allegedly trying to buy crude oil bought from anti-government rebels in Libya. They are released shortly afterward because two hold diplomatic passports. U.S. Navy SEALs seize vessel. (Israel Hayom)
  • Egyptian man with Star of David tattoo charged with spying for Israel - Shenouda Ashraf Sobhy Zekry contacted Israelis on Facebook, asked about illegally immigrating to Israel. (Ynet)
  • Iran: Israel, US are behind attempt to sabotage Arak reactor - Tehran claims Western intelligence agencies sold contractors faulty pumps, that were then sold to the Islamic Republic. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Saudi bans Darwish at book fair in wide-ranging crackdown - Saudi authorities have banned hundreds of books, including works by renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, as part of a crackdown on publications deemed threatening to the conservative kingdom. (Maan)
  • Israel, U.K. sign digital governance pact - Under new Memorandum of Understanding, Israel will also be joining the D8 group of advanced digital countries. (Haaretz)

Obama desperately needs a Plan B (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) After its meeting with Abbas on Monday, the U.S. will realize no framework agreement is possible.
Putin the Conqueror (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth) Barnea reminds his readers that, "Russia is a superpower," and adds, "Superpowers have degrees of freedom all their own. Take, for example, the Chinese invasion of Tibet: The Chinese occupation was an action far more brazen and deplorable than Putin's occupation of Crimea. Nevertheless, the enlightened world has accepted it. It did not accept the occupation of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein. More than a few Israeli politicians are jealously monitoring Putin and what he is doing to Ukraine. Why not us? Why can't we occupy Gaza tomorrow morning or annex the West Bank? They should relax: It still isn't clear if Putin will emerge victorious from his power move in Ukraine, but even if he does, we will not learn from his example. Our Putins should recall the warning given to those watching a circus show: Don't try this at home."
When Israel talks, the world shrugs (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Israel wasn't able to attract international press for seizing Iran's arms ship, because the occupation prevents us from being taken seriously. 
The term "transfer" should return to the negotiating table (Asaf Golan, Maariv's NRG Hebrew) Even if we do not talk about the elephant in the room it will still be there and respectively even if we do not talk about the Palestinian identity of Israeli Arabs it will, nevertheless, continue to exist in reality.
Free to be... disappointed (Vered Kellner, Haaretz+) From the Zionist dream to 1970s feminism, great ideological movements often fall short.
Why do they refuse a Jewish state? (Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Israel Hayom) The goal of the Arabs was and still is to completely eliminate international recognition of our right to Israel. 
Obama’s objective: Avert Israeli-Palestinian meltdown in midst of crisis in Ukraine (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Obama may have once asked for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but now he is probably praying for them to simply leave him in peace. 
Keep boycott concerns in perspective (Eli Hazan, Israel Hayom) It does not really matter what we, as Israelis and Jews, do -- we will always be the target of one boycott or another.
Netanyahu has left Abbas naked at the White House (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) The prime minister has proven his expertise at sleight of hand in the negotiations, says Nahum Barnea, but can the trickster be trusted?  
What are they hiding in the report on asylum seekers? (Haaretz Editorial) If Israel were decent and humane in its treatment of asylum seekers, there'd be no reason to conceal or fudge. 
Blame those damn settlements! (David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom) Let's keep the settlement issue in proportion. Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria neither explain Palestinian unwillingness to make peace with Israel nor excuse radical Islam's jihad against Israel.
Did Obama increase funding for Israeli missile defense or slash it? (JTA, Haaretz) Answering this question proves to be less straightforward than you would think, it depends on what you mean by 'missile defense.'
Put the pressure on Abbas (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom)
Obama must make clear to Abbas the cost of continued Palestinian rejectionism.
Rift with Egypt forces Hamas to turn back to Iran (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Hamas' leadership is liable to change its attitude toward Assad after failure to be accepted by Arab countries. 
Saji was not a victim, and neither am I (Wa'd Abbas, Maan) Until this moment it has not been confirmed if Saji Darwish, my fellow student, was really throwing rocks at settlers and the soldiers protecting them -- since you know, most people assume that Israeli occupation forces need a reason to shoot and kill Palestinians. There is no shame in fighting back against the occupation. What is shameful is not fighting back and fabricating stories only to fit the victim role that will never help nor change the reality we're living in. Yes, we are victims of the Israeli occupation, but that does not mean we should be helpless, passive, and hopeless victims. 
Internal rift rattles Abbas' Fatah (yet again) (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) Forget Obama and the framework peace agreement, forget about reconciliation with Hamas; the big story is antagonism within the PLO, which is supposed to be leading Palestinians to peace. 

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