The Roundup: Ma’ariv calls on Israel and AIPAC to team up to release American spy; Israel’s most important columnist denounces “Appartheid Law”; IDF General thinks conflict with Hama is “inevitable”
The Headlines: Israeli-American Relations
> Ma’ariv is calling upon Israel to act now – with AIPAC’s help – to facilitate the release of the American spy Jonathan Pollard, who has spent the last 25 years in a federal prison, after being convicted of gathering intelligence for Israel. More details on this can be read in the Columnists’ Corner, below.
> Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Clinton met for 7 hours in Washington, but it is very hard to gauge whether progress was made. Afterward the meeting, both sides issued bland statements, promising to move negotiations along.
> Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Center issued a travel warning for Israelis in Sinai, advising them to leave immediately, because of fears of a planned kidnapping by extreme Islamist terrorist groups. The Sinai has known bloody terrorist attacks against Israelis in recent years, but also many travel warnings which came to nothing, and many ignore them.
> A new ugly fight for the position of Chief of Police in Israel mirrors the still ongoing ugly fight for IDF chief of staff. This time the struggle involves sexual harassment allegations, not forgery.
> Two IDF pilots were killed in an accidental plane crash.
> 80% of defendants in civil cases do not have legal representation.
The Columnists’ Corner: Barnea Denounces “Appartheid Law” in Jerusalem
> Every weekend, the roundup brings you a summary of what the four newspapers’ major columnists have to say.
> Nahum Barnea (Yedioth), in an excellent column, discusses a report issued by the Jerusalem Institute on Sheikh Jarakh. The report sharply criticizes the decision to evacuate Palestinians from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood, and hand them over to settlers who bought them from Jewish owners who held them before 1948. Palestinians are not allowed to reclaim assets they owned in Israel before 1948, and Branea calls the 40-year old legislation that created this situation an “Apartheid law”. On the issue of settlement of Ariel, Barnea criticizes prominent cultural figures who call for a boycott on the new performance hall. He thinks this will not be effective, and might strengthen those who call for a broader boycott on Israel. And on Israeli-Russian relations, he is lukewarm, and doesn’t see much in common or real friendship between the two countries.
> Yossi Verter (Ha’aretz) thinks there was excessive coverage of the disqualification from public office of Tsahy Hangeby (Kadima), an ex-minister and power broker, convicted of perjury. Hanegby is an influential figure, and was working on getting Kadima inside the coalition. Netanyahu wants that, in order to give him cover for advancing negotiations with the Palestinians, but is unwilling to dump his far-right partners. But neither can Kadima bring the government down. That is the coalition’s job, Verter stipulates, and segues to the coalition’s “sick man”: the Labor Party. A sharp attack on the party’s leader, Defense Minister Barak, from trade union leader Ofer Eini, backfired, garnering sympathy for much-hated Barak and diminishing Eini’s hopes of heading Labor himself. Another potential head of Labor is outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who is another one of Barak’s bitter rivals.
> Dan Margalit (Yisrael Hayom) has [Heb] another take on the Hanegby verdict, focusing on its effectiveness in curbing illegal political nominations, which were the cause of Hanegby’s legal troubles. He criticizes the decision to plan more building in East Jerusalem as an unnecessary slight to the US, whose support Israel will need in international forums. Margalit still believes in a two-state solution, but bemoans the bad company of those darn leftists, who are just opposed to everything Jewish. This just once again proves that the number of states is an afterthought: the real distinction is between those, like Maraglit, who support racist discrimination, and those who oppose it. And on the Ashkenazi issue, if Verter was neutral-to-favorable, Margalit is hostile to the general.
> Ben Caspit (Ma’ariv) complements the triangle: he takes the pro-Ashkenazi angle. Caspit defends the Chief of Staff’s role in the distribution of a forged document maligning his intended successor, Yoav Galant. He also attacks Galant for his involvement in the illegal takeover of state land. But the bulk of Caspit’s column is a strident call on the government to facilitate the release of American spy Jonathan Pollard, who has spent the past 25 years in federal jail for passing on information to Israel. Based on an interview with a former Israeli diplomat who has worked on the case, Caspit argues that Israel, mainly through AIPAC’s help, can secure Pollard’s help, but chooses not do so. The call to involve AIPAC is especially charged because of charges of “dual loyalty” often hurled at pro-Israeli Jews.
The Sidelines: A New Gaza Conflict is “Inevitable”, says IDF General
> The new head of Israel’s Southern Command states that the next conflict with Hamas in “inevitable”.
> Foreign Minister Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) announces his party will oppose another settlement “freeze”, even for a single day, and argues that Syria is not a “partner” for peace.
> Two IDF generals, commanders of both the Northern and Central Command, testified [Heb] in favor of a lenient penalty for a battalion commander, convicted of ordering a soldier to fire at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian detainee.
> Finance Minister Steiniz (Likud) promised [Heb] that Ariel College, residing in a settlement, will become a university in two years.
> The Knesset debated [Heb] the transfer of confiscated Palestinian assets in East Jerusalem, without tender, to right-wing settler non-profits.
> Israeli Rabbis and Palestinian Muslim clerics pray together for rain near Jerusalem (Ma’ariv).
> Students in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem are fighting for university workers employed through a manpower company, who did not receive their pay.
> The chaotic operation of military checkpoints, which restrict Palestinian movement within the West Bank, and between the West Bank and Israel, causes confusion and delays about who is allowed to enter.
The Bottom Lines: Migrants Continue to be Under Threat
> The municipality of Bnei Brak is planning to publish the names of apartment owners who rent them to refugees, and to crack down on those who do so while violating planning codes. The municipality has already shut down a business operated by a refugee. The campaign was initiated by rabbis who ruled that Jews should not rent apartments to refugees in the mainly ultra-orthodox city (Ha’aretz).
> A judge issued an interim injunction against the deportation of 12 migrant worker children, who were disqualified from staying because they are not old enough to attend elementary school.