News Nosh 04.03.14

APN's daily news review from Israel

Thursday April 03, 2014
 

Quote of the day:

“Although Netanyahu is genuinely concerned about isolation and demography, he believes that the current status quo is the best option.”
--Molad director Avner Inbar shares the view held by many at a conference of security and foreign policy experts this week in Jerusalem.** 



Front Page News:

Haaretz

Yedioth Ahronot

  • Effort to save the deal - Disappointment in the US from the explosion of the talks: "We did our part"
  • Correcting a historic injustice // Tammy Arad on releasing spy Jonathan Pollard
  • Shopping for (Passover) holiday is 10% cheaper (this year)
  • Female pupils were pimped for 50 shekels

Maariv

  • not published today

Israel Hayom


 

Peace Talk Highlights:
While senior American officials were quoted as saying that the US was taking a step back from peace talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry was still encouraging the sides to get over the impasse, however the release of spy Jonathan Pollard remained in question - and vigorously debated, today's Hebrew papers reported on their front pages. The Hebrew papers quoted Maan, which reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to prevent the talks from collapsing. The two agreed to continue calls in the coming days, and Abbas emphasized that the Palestinians were committed to international resolutions to arrive at a just peace with Israel. In the meantime, the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams met Wednesday evening with US special envoy Martin Indyk.

The Israeli papers write that the collapse of the peace talks began Wednesday when Abbas signed papers to join 15 international conventions. The Palestinians say their move came after Israel refused to release the last round of Palestinian prisoners last Saturday, as it had committed to do. 
  
However, Yedioth noted in its front page article that the Palestinians were not the only ones to make a unilateral move. The paper wrote about the deal that Kerry had prepared according to which Israel would release the 26 Palestinian prisoners  and an additional 400, who did not have 'blood on their hands' and make a partial unofficial settlement freeze in exchange for the release of Pollard and the extension of peace talks. "But while (Kerry) was holding negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel announced approval to build hundreds of housing units in E. Jerusalem...," wrote Yedioth's Orly Azulay and Itamar Eichner. Later in the article it was noted that both sides were blamed by a senior member of Kerry's team. "Both sides took unhelpful steps in the last 24 hours," said a US diplomat in Brussels, who was not named. And a White House spokesman said: "We are disappointed by the unhelpful, unilateral actions that both parties have taken in recent days."

**Indeed, security and foreign policy analysts said that Netanyahu prefers the status quo over working for a peace agreement. Speaking at a joint conference in Jerusalem of the Israeli 'Molad' organization and the Center for American Progress, analysts also said that Israel does not fully grasp the changes in US policy toward Iran. The US media consensus is that Pollard's release is futile and that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are dying.

The Palestinian Authority said Palestine wants to become signatory to treaties on apartheid and the laws of war, which the UN said it had received. The Palestinian ambassador to the UN said accession to the Geneva Conventions would take effect immediately because Palestinian territory 'was under occupation' and that Palestine was eligible to join 550 international organizations.

The Palestinians insisted they were not turning away from talks. Haaretz quoted Palestinian officials who said that the Palestinian Authority would stop the UN application process if the prisoners are released. But if it does not release the prisoners, the PA may wage an international campaign against Israel, focusing primarily on allegations of human rights abuses, the Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs Issa Karaka told Army Radio.
 
Many Israeli right-wing and centrist politicians expressed outrage at the Palestinian move. An Israeli official told Yedioth: "The Palestinians are returning to a diplomatic intifada." The US also said any unilateral action could be 'tremendously destructive' to the peace process and US lawmakers warned the Palestinians could lose US aid over a statehood move at the UN.

The release of spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, is now in question. Without real progress, Pollard won't be sitting at the Passover seder table. Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer said, "We're now into Plan B, which has two parts: the blame game, which is well underway, and a last-ditch effort by the United States not to have the collapse lead to violence." Nevertheless, relatives of victims of terror wanted to make sure that no Palestinian prisoners were released in exchange for Pollard and demonstrated in Jerusalem yesterday. 
 
Meanwhile, the Arab League is rallying behind Abbas blaming the crisis on Israel's refusal to release the prisoners. Arab ministers will meet April 9 in an emergency meeting on the Israel-Palestinian talks, at Abbas' request.
 

Quick Hits:

  • Israeli settlers 'smash Palestinian car' in Nablus village - A number of settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli outpost of Ahiya stormed Jalud and "smashed a car" belonging to local resident Riyad Ahmad Hammoud. (Maan)
  • Israel refuses to let Gaza athlete run in Bethlehem marathon - Top Palestinian runner set to petition Supreme Court to demand state reverse 'unjustified' decision. (Haaretz)
  • Arab youths stone Israeli's car in (E.) Jerusalem - The driver, a Jerusalem resident, is unharmed in the attack, but his car sustains damage. "This kind of thing happens here every day and no one does anything about it," he says. Police launch investigation. [Article fails to note the incident took place over the Green Line - OH](Israel Hayom)
  • IDF destroys illegal structures in Yitzhar settlement - IDF and Israel Border Police arrived early Wednesday to Yitzhar settlement and destroyed illegal structures. During the operation, three vacant wooden structures were demolished and two tankers were evacuated. (Ynet)
  • After Holyland, groups take on proposed Old City 'monstrosity’ - Right-wing Elad association proposes massive museum and visitor center complex as gateway to City of David. It has now emerged that municipality’s conservation committee did not approve the plan in its current extensive form. (Haaretz) 
  • Knesset panel postpones hearing on transparency of WZO settlement arm - Panel delays indefinitely the justice minister's request to expose spending of state-funding of the settlement division, which is the government’s operational branch for construction and infrastructure. It receives enormous budgets intended for both the settlements and for construction within the Green Line, but these funds are disbursed without any transparency. (Haaretz
  • Tel-Aviv University students protest lecture by former Palestinian prisoner - Members of rightist and centrist political movements at Tel Aviv University call on management to cancel Land Day lecture by 'terror aide' who served 30 months in prison. (Ynet)
  • Israeli forces escort hundreds of worshipers to Nablus tomb - Over 15 buses escorted by Israeli military vehicles arrived at Joseph's Tomb overnight, with worshipers performing prayers until daybreak. Local youths threw stones at the buses, with no reports of clashes or injuries. (Maan)
  • Six lawyers arrested for smuggling letters for jailed Hamas leaders - Heads of East Jerusalem law firm suspected of managing network of Palestinian attorneys who passed coded letters to Hamas activists on the outside, some of which were answered in the Palestinian media. (Haaretz and Ynet
  • Fighting for their new home - Five N. American young women who recently immigrated to Israel and live on Kibbutz Hanita join Israel Defense Forces, Border Police. "They are very motivated and determined to assume combat roles," says an Israeli official involved with the program. (Israel Hayom)
  • Palestinian Authority edging toward deal to pay electricity bill - Even as peace talks unravel, negotiations over Palestinians' ballooning debt to Israel Electric Corp are making process. (Haaretz)
  • West Bank gas stations buying 'smuggled fuel' - Suheil Jabir, spokesman for the union of West Bank gas station owners, told Ma'an that fuel bought directly from Israeli dealers is cheaper than fuel bought through official PA channels. (Maan)
  • Byzantine monastery unearthed in Negev Desert - Second-century structure features stunning mosaic floors in vibrant colors. Excavations discover clay and glass vessels and ancient coins. Antiquities Authority plans to reconstruct the monastery at nearby tourism site. (Israel Hayom)
  • Defense establishment seeks NIS 3.8 billion addition to 2014 budget - Request is in addition to the NIS 2.75 billion increase authorized by the prime minister and defense and finance ministers. Defense establishment now expecting NIS 57-60 billion in 2015, rather than the NIS 52 billion allotted in original budget. (Israel Hayom)
  • Fatah bloc wins Bethlehem University elections - The Al-Quds Wa Al-Awda bloc won the majority 19 seats of 31, while the leftist Wattan bloc earned the other 12 seats. (Maan
  • Plan to finance IDF move south via bond sales meets opposition - Defense, finance ministries object to new gov’t company effectively taking over financing, authority for project. (Haaretz)
  • Foreign investment in Israel totaled $74 billion in 2012 - Investments in Israeli companies from abroad grew 14.5% compared to 2011 and 40.7% since 2010. Initial figures for 2013 show that foreign investment has grown by an additional $1 billion. (Israel Hayom)
  • UN chief tells Egypt he's concerned by mass death penalties - More than 500 Morsi supporters were sentenced to death last month by an Egyptian court. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Four blasts hit Cairo University, 1 dead - Egyptian state TV says the bombs were crude and homemade. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • Israelis warned against travel to Sinai, Turkey - Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister's Office issues travel warnings ahead of Passover holiday. Israelis urged against traveling to Sinai, Turkey and Morocco over "concrete intelligence indicating a clear and imminent threat." (Israel Hayom)
  • US military chief: Israel believes US would strike Iran if need arises' - I think they are satisfied that we have the capability to use a military option if the Iranians choose to stray off the diplomatic path,' Gen. Martin Dempsey says. (Ynet)
  • Cheney endorses Israeli strike on Iran at GOP gathering -  Republican presidential wannabes and donors respond with laughter, applause as former VP blasts Obama's foreign policy. (Haaretz)

 

Commentary/Analysis:

As Kerry falters, where is Netanyahu leading Israel? (Haaretz Editorial) Israel should have fully accepted Kerry's proposal with alacrity; there will be no better one. 
Peace process must be saved (MK Nachman Shai, Israel Hayom) Netanyahu crossed the Rubicon, carrying Pollard on his back, and there is no turning back. 
Israeli-Palestinian blame game is on, but the outcome is known in advance (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) Both sides are practicing clever claims and crushing retorts, but basic reality will clinch it: Israel is the occupier and Palestinians are the occupied. Period. 
Undo historical injustice, free Pollard (wife of MIA, Tami Arad, Yedioth/Ynet) If Sharon made shameful deal with Hezbollah to secure drug dealer's release, says wife of missing IDF airman Ron Arad, Netanyahu can definitely release Israeli spy in exchange for murderers.
A state governed by civil law (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) It's good that that those who take bribes should be afraid and punished; but the occupation is Israel’s biggest act of corruption. 
We want Pollard, but not like this (MK Danny Danon, Israel Hayom) Introducing the name "Pollard" into the equation is a cynical, harmful attempt to exploit certain Jewish values. 
Palestinians signaling: The Hague is next (Aeyal Gross, Haaretz) Whether to accept Palestine as a signatory to 15 international treaties rests mostly with UN Secretary General Ban, who will be hard-pressed to say no.
Proposed Pollard deal: The victory of reason (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Possible release of Israeli spy in exchange for Israeli Arab murderers proves there are no sacred principles binding decision makers at all costs.
If this is what’s called left (Tal Niv, Haaretz) If the left that Ari Shavit represents throws up its hands in despair, what will right-wingers say?
Abbas broke the rules and made a terrible mistake (Dr. Cielo Rozenberg, Maariv's NRG Hebrew) Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas joins a line of dishonorable Palestinian leaders, who will be remembered infamously for their attempt to thwart any move for peace.
Sheldon Adelson’s culture of hate (Peter Beinart, Haaretz) If anyone said about Jews what the American Jewish billionaire says about Palestinians, he’d be considered a Jew-hater in the same league as Farrakhan and Ahmadinejad.
Bitter pills and sugar (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) A Palestinian prisoner release and a freeze on settlement construction is a tough dose to take. Netanyahu is hoping that seeing Pollard free will help the medicine go down.
What's the point of extending peace talks? (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Both Israel and the Palestinians have a lot to gain if they keep talking, but it's not certain that either of them will use it well. 
Is Abbas’ pen mightier than Arafat’s sword? (Matthew Kalman, Haaretz) Where Arafat encouraged suicide bombers with his repeated boasts of 'millions of martyrs,' Abbas advocates peaceful boycotts and the creative use of diplomatic channels to pursue the rights of his people.
Brinkmanship tactics (Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom)
With Pollard or without him, is Israel prepared to accept some kind of limitation on construction in Judea and Samaria? That is the key decision facing the Israeli government. 
Mr. Kerry, go home (Barak Ravid, Haaretz) Netanyahu, Abbas must be made to realize that without U.S. they're knee deep in mud – or blood.
Dear John, it's time for Plan B (Ari Shavit, Haaretz) After promising peace, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must find a way to deliver.


 

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

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