News Nosh 04.01.14

APN's daily news review from Israel
Tuesday April 01, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Your campaign slogan was 'where is the money' -- the money is right there."
--MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) yelled at the Yesh Atid MKs after they voted to appropriate $50.6 million of taxpayer money to the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division.**


Front Page News:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
Maariv
  • not published today
Israel Hayom
  • Bribery - For the first time in the history of the state of Israel, a former prime minister was convicted of taking bribes - and is expected to go to jail - How shameful
  • In the end, the good people win // Amos Regev
  • Sanity has returned // Mordechai Gilat
  • The head of a crime gang // Dan Margalit
  • Mark of disgrace // Aviad Hacohen
  • "It's possible Pollard will be released in the negotiations"
  • Daughter of state witness Dachner: "After all the slandering - father won"
  • (State Prosecutor) Lador's victory: "A campaign was waged against us - and we were not deterred"

Peace Talk Highlights:
More than half of the pages of today's Yedioth Ahronoth were about the rulings in the Holyland trial and the conviction of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. The second biggest story was about the possibility that the US would release US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel releasing the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as well as other senior prisoners and making freezing settlement expansion.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry flew back to the region last night and held a three-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in order to salvage the peace talks, after Israel refused to make the agreed upon last round of Palestinian prisoner releases, then flew off. He did not meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. An Israeli official confirmed to Maariv's NRG Hebrew what the other papers reported from news agencies that the US is considering releasing the American-Israeli spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, if Israel agrees to make the fourth round of prisoner releases, including the Arab-Israeli prisoners, makes another round of releases - including senior Palestinian prisoners - and makes an undeclared freeze on settlement expansion. The Palestinians would then agree to extend peace talks, but it was not clear for how long. The senior Israeli source told NRG Hebrew: "This is serious, but nothing is closed yet."

Yedioth reported that the extra release of Palestinian prisoners would include popular Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti [who could ostensibly take the leadership of the Fatah party - OH]. 
 
Haaretz and Maan wrote that the unofficial freeze would be on most settlement construction outside of East Jerusalem till the end of the year and only construction in small rural areas would be allowed. Ynet wrote that Kerry [who must have crazy jet-lag], will return Wednesday to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

At the same time, the Palestinians gave Kerry a 24-hour ultimatum, according to which, if the dispute over the prisoner release is not resolved within 24 hours, the Palestinians will resume the campaign for international recognition at the UN. Haaretz+ also wrote that senior Palestinian officials said that Abbas had refused to discuss any Israeli proposals until Jerusalem agreed to carry out the fourth stage of the prisoner release - including the Israeli Arabs. At the same time, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, which met yesterday to discuss the issue, said that if Israel did not free the prisoners, the Palestinian Authority would not extend the peace talks. [Which means essentially that the Palestinian now agree to extend the peace talks if Israel releases the prisoners. - OH] One Palestinian official told Haaretz+: “We are witnessing a pace of work and a frequency of meetings and shuttling between Ramallah and Jerusalem that we have not seen in the last nine months. But in the meantime, it seems the door is half-locked. We are expecting a development at any time."
 
Meanwhile, Israeli opposition leader and Labor party chief Isaac Herzog met with Jordan's King Abdullah II and discussed the US-sponsored efforts to achieve peace.

Quick Hits:
  • Settler shoots, injures Palestinian man near Nablus - Nidal Yousef Shehadah, 25, was changing a flat tire on his car near the village of Jit when a settler opened fire at him with a sub-machine gun, injuring him in the foot. (Maan)
  • Settlers hurl stones, chant 'Death to Arabs' near Jenin - Settlers arrived in buses to an intersection near the town of Yaabad near Jenin. Under guard by Israeli troops, the settlers climbed a hill and began to hurl stones at Palestinian vehicles, smashing windshields, and chant, "Death to Arabs," witnesses said. (Maan)
  • Israeli forces fire at activists planting trees in southern Gaza - Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers near the border town of Khuzaa shot at the activists, who were planting olive trees to mark Land Day east of Khan Younis. There were no injuries. (Maan
  • Israel confiscates 300 dunams of Nablus land for settlements - The land is located near the village of Jalud, between the illegal Shilo settlement and outpost of Shvut Rachel and will be used to build a Jewish cemetery, school and farm. It is owned by Tawfiq Abdullah al-Hajj Muhammad and his brother Ahmad. (Maan)
  • **Yesh Atid backs transfer of millions of shekels to settlements - Tumultuous Knesset's Finance Committee vote sees Yesh Atid MKs vote in favor of giving 177 million shekels to WZO Settlement Division. Yesh Atid MKs say they received guarantee that use of the funds would be subject to Freedom of Information Law. (Israel Hayom
  • Study shows Palestinian textbooks rife with incitement - Survey finds that 150 new Palestinian Authority textbooks continue to delegitimize and demonize Israel, and call for violent struggle instead of peace. The books claim that the Jews have no rights to Israel, including to Jewish holy sites. (Israel Hayom
  • The Economist: As Hamas declines and Islamic Jihad strengthens, chaos could ensue in Gaza - By squeezing Hamas, Israel may be handing the strip over to Iran’s proxies or, worse still, it may have to confront a territory with no government at all. (Haaretz)
  • Czech police: Palestinian envoy not killed in safe blast - In contradiction of initial claims, Czech police new claim Palestinian envoy Jamal al-Jamal was not killed by booby-trapped safe. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • Egyptian officials charged with exporting 15 tons of palm fronds to Israel - Egypt's Agriculture Ministry first banned the export in 2011 of palm, considered a national treasure. (Haaretz)

Commentary/Analysis:
Israelis let Olmert lead them into their worst moral breakdown (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The elites who chose not to see the writing on the hill gathered around the corrupt mayor and anointed him king.
The sad truth: Olmert was one of Israel’s best prime ministers, but corrupt (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) His levelheadedness in the face of complex and fateful security decisions that prevented undesirable scenarios from unfolding in the region was an asset, as was his courage and willingness to reach out further toward the Palestinians than his predecessors had done. But for nearly three decades Olmert walked a fine line between the permitted and the forbidden. 
Yedioth will use Bennett, then discard him (Dr. Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) Naftali Bennett is having a hard time accepting that running a country does not boil down to a handful of slogans.
Israeli-Palestinian talks are going nowhere (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) It may be time for US to withdraw from peace negotiations, let Netanyahu and Abbas get along on their own.
Let all bribe-takers know (Haaretz Editorial) The judicial system must continue to uproot government corruption in Israel, and battle it with the same degree of seriousness with which it addresses other types of corruption.
Jewish state or a Jewish state? (David Barzilay, Maariv's NRG Hebrew) If we define Israel as a Jewish state we can include among us the minority that is not of our faith and allow mutual acceptance of Jews in Palestine.
KKK costumes and an incompetent city near Jerusalem (Joel Braunold, Haaretz+) What’s worse than 17 (Jewish Israeli) high school students dressing up as racist figures and parading past an Ethiopian immigration center? When the city council does nothing to condemn it.
Obama makes a pilgrimage to Riyadh (Zalman Shoval, Israel Hayom) We don't know if Abdullah-Obama meeting pushed some of the obstacles out of the way, but it seems that disagreements persist, particularly on Iranian issue.


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