APN's daily news review from Israel
Friday April 04, 2014
Quote of the day:
"Our goal now is to stop everything - we are hardening our positions and then we will start from the
--An Israeli official tells Yedioth that Israel's strategy is sanctions against the Palestinians in order to get them to stop their UN bids - and get back to the negotiating table.**
Front Page News:
- Haaretz investigation: Asylum seekers being sent to Rwanda and Uganda without any status or rights
- Talks on hold: Following the (Palestinian) request to join international organizations, Israel imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority; The right-wing government within the government of Israel almost dragged us this week to elections // Yossi Verter; The crisis in the negotiations was born in the discussion rooms, but could explode across the West Bank // Amos Harel
- A hive of criminals: A return to the Olmert gang in 1999 // Gidi Weitz; His first week as a convict of bribery // Revital Hovel; Known businessman to be questioned in order to examine if he paid Zaken hush money
- Achievement for Arad residents: Health Ministry opposes phosphate mining at Sdeh Brir
- Already from kindergarten, female athletes in Israel deal with high hurdles
- Israel: We got a slap in the face from the Palestinians
- Cautious pessimism // Sima Kadmon
- Cyber attack - Hackers: We will attack Israel on Monday
- Stars on the way to being interrogated - Police suspect that Eyal Peleg supplied the famous with drugs
- The Palestinians demanded the release of Barghouti and 1200 prisoners, Israel announced it cancelled the fourth round (of prisoner releases) (Hebrew)
- Don't get confused: The guilt lies with the Palestinians // Ben-Dror Yemini (Hebrew)
- Tools on the US chessboard // Uri Elitzur
- The smiles attack - Despite the exposure of an arms ship: Iran continues to tango with the Western countries // Amir Rappaport
- State secrets - This is how the chairman of the Knesset legislative committee thwarted the vote for transparency of the activities of the Judea and Samaria settlement division
- Limits to debate - Arab Israeli who was convicted of collaborating with Hezbollah will lecture at Tel-Aviv University (Hebrew)
- Suspicion of obstruction of justice: Olmert expected to be questioned next week
- Corporal Elchai Shitreet of the Combat Engineering Corps was killed in the overturning of a Hummer at the entrance to Malchiya (Hebrew)
- Wheeler dealers (machers) of the press // Kalman Libskind on media's empathy for Olmert (Hebrew)
- Jericho Now - Yarmulkehs in the pocket, tzitziot in the pants and Hebrew spoken in whispers. One-time visit to the lowest city of the world // Orly Goldklang
- Israel: Abu Mazen must climb down from the tree - The Palestinians presented a list of blown-up demands; Livni: Fourth round (of prisoner releases) frozen
- It's always "no-no" // Dan Margalit
- Abu Mazen's failure // Boaz Bismouth
- Suspicion: Known businessman paid Shula Zaken 'hush money
- Supplied drugs to the famous and was arrested
- Tragedy: Corp. Elchai Shitreet, 19, killed in overturning of military vehicle
- Discounted tickets to Rolling Stones concert sold out in 27 seconds
The crisis in the peace talks worsened Thursday, making top story in the Hebrew papers today.
Maan revealed details of the Wednesday meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators and US envoy Martin Indyk, which were widely quoted in the Israeli press. The meeting, which began around 7:30 PM Wednesday and ended some nine hours later, at 4 AM, was described as a disaster. Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni, announced the fourth prisoner release will not go forward until the Palestinian Authority (PA) rescinds its request to join the UN bodies and that Israel will impose unprecedented sanctions if the PA does not rescind. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat responded saying, "If you escalate the situation against us, we will pursue you as war criminals in all the international forums." Later Thursday, at around 7PM, Livni announced Israel is canceling the prisoner release. PLO leader Yasser Abed Rabbo responded saying that the fact that "Israel has evaded agreements it has signed" by not releasing the prisoners means that "the terms of any future negotiations must change radically."
**An Israeli official told Yedioth: "Abu Mazen spat at us in the face, so are we going to say that this is rain?" He added: "Our goal now is to stop everything - we are hardening our positions and then we will start from the beginning." Indeed, the papers wrote that senior Israeli officials say the situation is still reversible and that the sides can still return to the negotiating table, and maybe spy for Israel, Jonathan Pollard, will still be released. With creative and proper conduct it is possible to overcome the crisis before the end of the negotiation period on April 29th, senior officials told Yedioth.
The official told Yedioth that the cancellation of the fourth release was the least dramatic sanction among a number of possible responses. One of the options for retaliation was massive settlement construction. The reason for the 'lesser choice,' the official said, was that the world understands that the Palestinians are responsible for the crisis and that they violated the agreement and therefore, a too sharp response would hurt us and play into their hands. Maariv reported that Likud is calling for severe moves against the Palestinians, such as publishing tenders for 4000 housing units in 'Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem' - meaning the West Bank and E. Jerusalem. Others possible sanctions include: forfeiture of the hundreds of millions of shekels of Palestinian Authority (PA) tax money that Israel collects and transfers to the PA and using them to pay the Palestinians' bills to Israel's Electricity Co, advancing construction in the sensitive E-1 area, revoking passage permits of Palestinian VIPs, closing borders and more, said Netanyahu's associates, according to Maariv.
The papers reported, some quoting Maan, that in the meeting, the Palestinians reportedly made more demands: the release of 1200 prisoners (instead of the 400 the US and the Americans had agreed on), that popular Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti be released (that was previously requested), and that Israel declare in writing that it recognizes the Palestinian borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital. Pro-settler Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the Palestinians would never get E. Jerusalem as their capital.
There were five other Palestinian demands to renew talks on the list leaked to Maan that were supposedly announced during a the Wednesday night meeting, according to a high-ranking source in the PLO. But later in the day, Erekat said the leaked list doesn't represent the PLO official stance and that the list of demands came from Fatah officials, not him.
Interestingly, Israel Hayom reported that Israel considered revoking citizenship and deporting Israeli Arab terrorists that were meant to be freed in the fourth round of releases, in a bid to enable Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett to vote in favor of prisoner release and stay in the coalition.
A top US official told the Washington Post that (US President Barack) "Obama thinks (US Secretary of State John) Kerry's efforts reached their limit" and that any continued efforts may make Kerry look "desperate."
Nevertheless, after the release was cancelled, Kerry called both Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and tried to convince them to show restraint in their actions. Abbas told Kerry that he "does not care if he is killed, and will not refrain from joining international organizations," Palestinian negotiator Erekat was quoted saying. Netanyahu’s strategy, he said, was to have the Palestinian Authority without actual authority, occupation without cost, and Palestine without Gaza. In public statements from Algeria, Kerry urged the two leaders to "demonstrate leadership" to prevent the collapse of the peace process.
PA officials said they have begun explaining the PA's stance to foreign diplomats in Palestine, and the feedback they're getting indicates the world understands it was Israel that violated the agreement by refusing to carry out the fourth prisoner release, wrote Jack Khoury in Haaretz. Indeed, a US official blamed the Israelis for collapse of the talks. Haaretz said the US official blamed Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi party) for sabotaging the talks by announcing a tender to build more homes in E. Jerusalem and calling to cancel the Oslo Accords. The official "suspects the tender is an old one Ariel presented at this time precisely in order to torpedo the talks once and for all," writes Haaretz.
Yedioth wrote that the White House spokesperson 'pointed an accusing finger at Israel and said that the decision not to release the prisoners "created a challenge."'Jerusalem did not like the US reaction, wrote Yedioth and said: "It's a pity that Kerry doesn't say the truth and doesn't exact a toll from the one that broke the game rules." Palestinian Prime Minister Riad Al-Malki said he does not believe that the Americans will punish the Palestinians for their UN move.
Israel already began imposing sanctions. A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon instructed the IDF to prepare a list of possible punitive measures against the Palestinians in the West Bank. One of the proposals accepted was the suspension of an Israeli permit allowing the Palestinian wireless provider Wataniya, which operates in the West Bank, to bring equipment into the Gaza Strip for the company's planned mobile communications infrastructure there, wrote Haaretz.
- Settler attempts to abduct 2 Palestinians near Nablus - A settler from Brakha pulled out a gun on a Palestinian cellular phone shop owner and his friend. They seized the gun and escaped to a Palestinian security center where they handed over the settler’s gun. (Maan)
- Jerusalem panel approves controversial City of David visitors’ center - Right-wing Elad group proposes 16,600-square meter building as gateway to City of David (in the E. Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan). (Haaretz)
- Knesset’s bid to increase transparency at WZO’s settlement arm fails - Centrist and left-leaning parties wanted the World Zionist Organization’s settlement division to reveal more information on spending. (Haaretz)
- Over 1,000 rabbis urge Jerusalem mayor not to pick Islamophobe for chief rabbi - Rick Jacobs, Julie Schonfeld, Asher Lopatin and Debra Waxman among signatories who say choice of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, now chief rabbi of Safed, would send 'message of divisiveness and intolerance.' (Haaretz)
- Palestinian shot with live bullet in Nabi Saleh - A statement from the popular resistance movement said Rami al-Rimawi was shot with a live bullet in the foot during clashes in the villages. (Maan)
- Vandals slash tires of 40 cars in hate crime in northern Israel (Arab village) - Racist graffiti found reading: 'Only goys [non-Jews] should be driven out of our land.' (Haaretz and Maariv/NRG Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
- Israeli forces demolish house, detain 6 near Ramallah - Israeli forces claimed the building was used for “criminal” and “terror” activities, and that it was unlicensed. (Maan)
- In an ironic twist: Settlement movement petitions court to evict squatters from West Bank home - Amana, a group which usually fights against evictions, wants court to intervene in case of settlers who refused to breach injunction and sign lease for property under deliberation. (Haaretz)
- 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)
- Hamas: PA arrests 144 members in West Bank - Hamas accused Palestinian Authority security forces of arresting 144 of its leaders and members recently in the West Bank and handing them to Israel. Hamas spokesman said the 'attack' was “poisonous to reconciliation.” (Maan)
- Fearing cyberattack, Israel curbs gov't websites' foreign traffic - From Friday through Monday, Israel will temporarily suspend some of its government websites' international traffic to fend off a potential mass-cyber attack by pro-Palestinian hackers. (Ynet)
- IDF soldier killed in car crash near Lebanese border - Additional two soldiers lightly wounded after Humvee overturns in Upper Galilee not far from border with Lebanon, where soldiers had completed an administrative mission before hand. (Ynet)
- Israeli drone crashes in Nablus area - Israeli police said Wednesday that an unmanned drone crashed while flying above Nablus on Wednesday night. [Oddly not reported on in Israeli media. Also no recent report of drones used in W. Bank - OH] (Maan)
- Iron Dome, friend or foe? Iranian general says it will ruin Israel - Anti-ballistic system not only can't save 'the Zionists,' it threatens them, sneers Islamic Revolution PR. (Haaretz)
- Imprisoned in Iran: 'They knew I was Jewish' - The three American hikers held as prisoners in Iran in 2009 share terrifying details of their experience in new memoir; Josh Fattal, one of the hikers, is son of an Israeli citizen. (Ynet)
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.