The dominant story in Wednesday’s Hebrew papers is a decision of the High Court of Justice to remove two mayors from their posts due to ongoing corruption trials, while allowing them to participate in next month’s municipal elections once again.
Calling the verdict “drama before the elections,” Israel Hayom reports that “the majority of an enlarged, seven-judge panel decided to immediately remove Upper Nazareth Mayor Shimon Gapso and Ramat Hasharon Mayor Yitzhak Rochburger from their post.”
Asher Grunis, the president of the Supreme Court, was outvoted by the other judges as he presented a minority opinion against the dismissal of the two mayors by the court. “I differentiate between the public aspect and the legal aspect,” Grunis wrote. “Since elections are upon us, there is no place for the court to replace the voter.
In their ruling, the other six judges wrote they were “uncomfortable” with allowing the two to contend for the job once again, but “saw no legal reason” to prevent them from doing so.
Haaretz highlights the judges’ statement that while they couldn’t ban the two from attempting to be voted in once more, they would likely interfere in the case that one (or both) of them was reelected.
“I respect the court’s decision,” Gapso is quoted as saying following the ruling. “I’ll continue to fight in order to prove my innocence, and will of course ask the public to show their faith in me in the upcoming elections.”
A column titled “The High Court of Justice is half pregnant” is featured on the daily’s front page alongside the relevant article, as legal expert Ido Baum lays out his opinion regarding the verdict. The ruling, he says, “is proof someone can be only half pregnant.”
“On the one hand,” Baum writes, “mayors who have been indicted are removed from their post by a majority decision,” an elaboration to the law which forces mayors convicted of such crimes to step down. But “on the other hand none of the judges revoked the legal right of these mayors to campaign for the public’s trust and get reelected,” sending a very confusing message to the public.
Yedioth Ahronoth calls the latest statements from Tehran “surprising” as it reports on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s announcement that his county will be flexible regarding its nuclear program.
In a Tuesday statement, Khamenei voiced his openness to “correct diplomacy” in his dealings with the West. The message, the paper notes, comes shortly after Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said similar things, and “this time comes from the real ruler of the nuclear program.”
“Khamenei’s statements are seen as very important because he’s the man who, on his own, controls the nuclear project and has until now been viewed as leading a hawkish approach,” the daily writes, throwing a little bit of analysis into its reporting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the paper reports, told the cabinet Tuesday that his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the end of the month would deal with Iran. The prime minister “said he intended to focus on the question of stopping Iran’s nuclear program,” the daily writes.
Netanyahu said the recent developments “prove Israel’s assumptions according to which a rogue state, which develops or obtains weapons of mass destruction, could end up using it — and, one could say, at the end of the day will use it.”
After covering Iran and the removal of mayors from their posts, Maariv reports that the Palestinian Authority’s security forces now include four Russian-trained female paratroopers.
The four “are in their early 20s, they volunteered for the course and were carefully chosen,” Hafez al-Rafai, a senior Palestinian security source told the paper. In addition to the four, the paper reports that some 25 men also attended the prestigious course and were trained as combat paratroopers.
Rafai explains to the paper that “this course is the first step on the way to an independent national army which will stand out in its combat level and quality compared to international measurements.”
However, the daily notes, an unnamed source told the Ma’an news agency that the Palestinian forces “have no planes or helicopters. The only place we can parachute from is tall buildings,” as he said the jumps in Russia weren’t a full training course, but rather a bonus given to a number of Palestinians undergoing other courses in Russia.