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Today’s Top Stories
1. A deal allowing Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria to return to the West Bank flopped. The Times of Israel explains why:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Abbas that Israel agreed to the request, on the condition that the refugees sign a document in which they forgo the “right of return” to areas within Israel.
Abbas said he rejected that condition.
2. Mother Nature colludes with the Zionists: Winter storm floods, collapses Gaza smuggling tunnels.
The underground trade has halted during the stormy weather due to concerns that many tunnels remain unstable, the official in Egyptian Rafah said.
Meanwhile, YNet reports Palestinians stoned a snow-bound Israeli car near Hebron. The Kinneret’s water level rose a whopping 69 cm, adding “an estimated 100 million cubic meters of water to the lake.” CNN posted cool IDF footage of soldiers rescuing a family stranded on the roof of their Tayibe home.
3. Mohammed Morsi met with Khaled Meshaal and Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. According to the NY Times:
The three main issues on the table are the formation of a national unity government (and who would lead it); the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections; and the reconstitution of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Mr. Abbas leads, to include Hamas and other militant factions.
Both sides say they support all three, but Hamas argues that the new government should be formed first, and lead the elections process, while Fatah wants elections first.
Israel and the Palestinians
• Worth reading: Zvi Gabay (Israel HaYom) on Jewish refugees from Arab countries:
Arab propaganda was able to conceal the population exchanges between Israel and Arab countries during the 1948 War of Independence from international discourse. Arab propaganda argues the validity of the right of return for Palestinians who fought against Israel, some of whom fled for their lives for fear of what might happen had they stayed. It has managed to instill in the public’s perception, on a global level, that the Palestinian Nakba was the only tragedy that took place at the time of the state’s establishment.
• Over at the NY Times Magazine, Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman had an extensive interview with Shimon Peres. The Q&A touched on all the usual issues; I was more impressed with Bergman drawing out things about Peres’ personal life he never really talked about. There’s a reason his late wife, Sonia, almost never appeared in public.
• Jordanian elections are two weeks away, and fuel prices have doubled. So the government did the only sensible thing: it lowered cigarette prices.
“Some people are suckers for that, you know?”
• Bashar Assad’s speech didn’t get rave reviews in Aleppo for the simple reason that there’s no electricity and nobody knew or cared about it. The Media Line did learn something more important though. The rebels are losing popular support:
Many here can no longer tell the difference between the regime and the opposition fighting it. “Bashar is no worse than the Free Army (FSA),” says a man named Muhammad, referring to the band of rebels fighting the regime. “They do the same things Bashar’s men do.”
Rest O’ the Roundup
• A slew of Israeli election ads ruled “too offensive” for broadcast became big hits on YouTube. The Lede rounded them up.
(Image of Peres via Instagram/shimonperes)
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.