The Knesset is in vacation mode. Its current session will close in just under two weeks and there’s a lot to do before then: stop the mail, water the plants, pass a trifecta of laws that (depending on whom you read) may change the nature of Israeli democracy. So late Sunday night, the opposition parties came together and said, “No.”
Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page gives the breakdown: “The coalition votes, the opposition boycotts.” The opposition decided to boycott all the debates on the laws, which are scheduled to be voted this week. The paper provides a rundown of the three bills that are giving the opposition such a fit.
First there is the draft bill, which the ultra-Orthodox parties are not happy with. Then there’s the law which would raise the Knesset threshold for smaller parties to enter the Knesset, which the smaller parties aren’t happy with. Finally, there’s the referendum law which would require a public vote on any Palestinian peace deal, which dovish parties oppose.
Left-leaning Haaretz gives a dry summary of the opposition’s decision on its front page, but its op-ed directly tackles the three laws and comes out in favor of the opposition. The paper concedes that the ultra-Orthodox draft bill has been debated extensively, but the other two bills have not and objections to the bills haven’t been heard. These three bills are “significant enough for coalition members not to have to indulge in political horse-trading,” the paper writes. “There’s a difference between good governance and political wheeling and dealing,” and you can guess which category the paper thinks this falls into.
Over in Likud-friendly Israel Hayom, columnist Dan Margalit takes a swipe at the coalition partners (Yesh Atid, Jewish Home) for not trusting each other to pass each law individually. Margalit writes that each party really only wants to pass one of the three laws, but they don’t trust each other to do it individually. Margalit writes that the absence of the opposition gives the passage of the laws a bad feeling and that it is up to the Likud to take charge. “Likud must be the the responsible adult who stands up and says, ’…woe to the democracy that does not protect the rights of the opposition.’”
The new/old Iran
While Israel Hayom gives two pages of coverage to the Knesset drama, its first two pages are focused on the Klos-C, filled with pictures of the captured weaponry and how Iran is still the same ol’ Iran. The weapons seized on the ship include 40 M-302 missiles (which have a range of 160 km), 181 120mm mortars, and 400,000 bullets.
The paper also includes a short article about EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, who’s in Iran meeting with Iranian officials about their nuclear program. The focus of the article is on a quote from Netanyahu who said, “I want to ask her if she asked her hosts about Iranian arms shipments to terrorist organizations. And if she didn’t ask – why not? No one has the right to ignore the murderous activities of the regime in Tehran, and I think the international community should be cognizant of Iran’s real policy, not its policy propaganda.”
Yedioth columnist Alex Fishman also writes about the Klos-C and says, “There isn’t any new Iran.” Fishman concedes that Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, probably didn’t know about and didn’t approve any arms shipment, but that’s just part of the game. Fishman writes that Rouhani can try to charm the world (and especially the West) while the Revolutionary Guard continues its covert moves against Israel. He says that to see how dedicated Iran is to its ideals one need only look to Syria, where despite Iran’s dire financial mess it still supports the Assad regime. With the seizure of the Klos-C, he writes, Israel is saying, “We’re still here, and we too want answers for your actions.”
Haaretz carries on its front page an article in which a Treasury official says that government funding is biased against Arabs. Budget Supervisor Amir Levy told the paper that the way the government decides to allocate funds “is not equitable” as there are large gaps in funding between the Jewish and Arab communities in areas like transportation and education. However, Levy also put part of the blame on the communities themselves, urging mayors to pressure the Treasury and not wait for the Treasury to come to them.
While the way the government funds Arab and Jewish communities may be under attack, Israel Hayom reports that American support for the Iron Dome project is not. The paper reports Netanyahu was told that Congress is expected to approve another $160 million to build additional Iron Dome batteries. The paper quotes American government officials saying the additional cash proves the American commitment to Israel’s security. The US government had previously approved $210 million for the project back in 2010.