The historic vote on Thursday night that upgraded the Palestinian status at the United Nations to that of nonmember observer state is top news in all the Hebrew dailies. Although each paper dedicates about two pages to the story, they manage to cram a lot of opinion into that limited space.
Most of the dailies leave opinions out of the headlines, with Yedioth Ahronoth using “The UN decides: Palestinian state.” Maariv comes up with an almost-identical headline, while Haaretz uses the more dramatic “The world decides.” Only Israel Hayom breaks the mold and goes on the offensive with “Israel: The UN has given a prize for terror.”
Israel Hayom continues its rally against the decision with its main article titled, “Their happiness, our embarrassment.” The article quotes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated that “the UN decision doesn’t change anything on the ground.” The article also includes reaction from Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, who called Mahmoud Abbas “a political terrorist.”
Dror Edar writes an opinion piece in which he describes the speech that Abbas delivered at the UN a “Hamas speech.” Edar claims that the speech used “keywords straight from the dictionary of the global radical left, the Israeli left, Holocaust deniers and from anti-Semitic circles, like: Israel committed ‘war crimes,’ ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘apartheid,’ ‘racism’ and of course ‘Nakba.’” Edar rallies against the unfairness of Abbas’s speech, which made no mention of Palestinian violence, and then against the hypocrisy of the UN. He concludes his piece by expressing disappointment with Europe (for voting for the resolution): “Europe abandoned Israel and repeated what it once did in the past: the sacrifice of the Jewish people on the altar of false peace.”
Yedioth includes in its coverage a report from Ramallah, where Palestinians expressed their excitement. One Palestinian man told the paper, “I’m happy. This is the first time in 64 years that we have taken a step toward a real state.” Many Palestinians gathered in the main square of Ramallah to celebrate the occasion and told the paper, “We are not against Israel, we are against the occupation. And it is important that the Israeli public understand that.”
Yedioth also includes an opinion piece by Nach Kleiger who asks the Israelis “Why are you panicking?” His basic argument echoes Netanyahu’s comments — that the UN decision doesn’t change anything on the ground. Despite the UN’s decision, a Palestinian state “will never be established without an agreement with Israel. Not the UN. Only with Israel.”
In Haaretz, Avi Issacharoff writes that the move is already influencing Palestinian politics because “Palestinians are uniting around Abbas.” Issacharoff writes that Abbas may have someone in the Israeli government to thank for that: Avigdor Liberman. Issacharoff thinks that Liberman’s anti-Abbas media campaign backfired and “thanks to the negative campaign by the Israeli government, Abbas was widely covered in the international media.” Issacharoff points to a rally on Thursday in Ramallah where Fatah and Hamas stood on the same stage together and “suddenly the phrase ‘Palestinian Unity’ doesn’t seem so imaginary.”
Maariv covers the event by highlighting the numbers in its main article. “138 for, 9 against,” reads the article headline which highlights the “overwhelming majority” that voted for the resolution. The article quotes large portions of Abbas’s speech that he gave at the General Assembly on Thursday, including, “We came here to save the peace process.”
Maariv also includes an article that states that 71% of Israelis don’t understand the significance of November 29 and 86% don’t even know the date of the UN vote 65 years ago that established Israel. Even more surprising is that of those who don’t know the significance of the date: 47% of them are aged 65 or older.
Poverty on the rise
Bad news for Israeli society as poverty levels are on the rise, including for families who have jobs and are working. Yedioth reports that according to the National Insurance Institute, one out of every five families in Israel are under the poverty line. Moshe Kahlon, the outgoing Minister of Social Affairs, stated, “It was a year of growth, but that growth has not penetrated down.” What is the poverty line for a family of four in Israel? The National Insurance Institute defines it as monthly income no greater than 6,401 shekels per month (about $1,675).
Both Israel Hayom and Yedioth issue new polls on the upcoming Israeli elections and both pretty much say the same thing: Likud will win. Israel Hayom’s poll predicts that Likud will receive 39 seats in the next election, Labor will receive 20, followed by Shas with 11 and Tzipi Livni’s newcomer The Movement receiving 7 seats.
Yedioth’s poll gives roughly the same numbers with the only major difference being The Movement getting 9 seats in its poll. Aside from the seating predictions, Yedioth’s survey also asked who should be the next prime minister of Israel, and in head-to-head challenges, Livni was deemed the best challenger to Netanyahu, with Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich coming in second.
Yachimovich this morning was still awaiting the results of the Labor party’s primary election, which was held Thursday. As Haaretz reports, Labor party members went to sleep not knowing the outcome of the primary after Labor decided to revert back to paper ballots instead of using the same computer system that gave the Likud so many problems. The results of the primary, with one of the largest turnouts (58%-60%) in party history, came in on Friday morning.
Writer gone wild?
“Stop supplying them [Gazans] with electricity, stop providing them with food.” Those are the words of Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua, whom Maariv reports made the surprising remarks during an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica last week. Yehoshua later backed off from the comments in a follow-up interview with Maariv, saying that his comments weren’t fully understood by the Italian paper.