With the world awaiting the results of the Egyptian presidential run-off vote this weekend, the country’s high court complicated matters yesterday with its announcement of the dissolution of the recently elected lower house of parliament and the reinstatement of a Former Mubarak regime candidate to stand in the final round of the presidential elections. The move sparked anger within Egypt and curiosity in the Israeli press.
In its headline, Maariv calls the move, “A blow to the Muslim Brotherhood: Egyptian Parliament dissolves.” While Yedioth Ahronoth states simply, “Drama on the eve of elections.”
Israel Hayom’s headline focuses on the reaction to the news, “The [Muslim] Brotherhood declares: The army is enacting a putsch.” Inside, their coverage includes an analysis from Professor Eyal Zetar who writes that after the parliamentary elections, “The joy of the winners and the panic of Israel and the west was a bit premature, as the battle for Egypt is far from over.” He adds that the fate of Egypt will be decided in three phases: an immediate return to Tahrir Square, the final round of the Presidential election, and new Parliamentary elections. Zetar concedes that it is hard to predict any outcome, but that the fight in Egypt has resumed.
Haaretz provides two pages of coverage to the court’s decision and its fallout. Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Zvi Barel paints a grim picture of the Egyptian army’s control over Egypt in his piece, “The army returns to center stage.” Barel writes that all of the power now being in the army’s hands, including the decision that the new Egyptian president will swear allegiance to the military council and not the parliament, could be the breaking point for Egypt. He concludes the piece by saying that “Egypt may find itself in a formidable political struggle in which the army will not be considered as a partner, but rather as an enemy of the peoples’ protest.”
Presidents here and there
Israeli President Shimon Peres received the American Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday night, but due to the time difference between Washington and Israel, the Israeli papers didn’t get to fawn over it until today.
Three out of the four papers put Peres and Obama on their front pages, with Yedioth giving the most prominent coverage to the event. Yedioth’s page two spread shows Obama placing the medal around Peres’ neck while dignitaries look on. Included in the coverage was also a small article about Jonathan Pollard, whom Peres asked Obama to release. The article quotes Peres who said, “There are sparks of hope that Obama will consider a pardon in the future.”
Israel Hayom includes in its coverage of Peres’ award the results of a new survey about Israelis’ feelings towards the US and Obama. Israel Hayom gives away the results in the headline, “Israelis love America, but not Obama.” The article compares the results to a 2009 survey where 54 percent of respondents saw Obama in a positive light, compared to just 32% now. Thirty percent think that relations will improve if Republican candidate Mitt Romney is elected. However 70% of the respondents still consider the US to be a close ally.
Yedioth reports on the prison hardships of former President and current inmate, Moshe Katsav. The article reveals that inmates have threatened to attack Katsav if they see him in the canteen. While the article reports that Katsav was not intimidated by the threats, five inmates have been charged for threatening Katsav, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.
Preparing to leave
The ongoing crackdown on African migrants gets prominent placement in Maariv, who dedicated its second page to the interior Ministry’s deportation operation. “Going away party” reads the headline of the main article, which describes a party held at a community center for South Sudanese asylum seekers who are about to be deported. According to the article, the mood was understandably somber as the staff and participants read words of farewell. “If you can survive south Tel Aviv, you can survive South Sudan,” one staff worker joked, trying to lighten the mood. Next to the piece was an article about South Sudanese officials currently in Israel to coordinate the deportations, who asked the Interior Ministry for more time to prepare.
Also making waves in the papers today are the anti-gay comments made earlier this week by Yisrael Beytenu MK Anastassia Michaeli. Haaretz provides a dry account of comments that she made in the Knesset committee meeting on the status of women. Her comments, that homosexuals commit suicide at age 40 because of past sexual abuse and an attack at Israel’s Channel 10 for airing “gay content,” have elicited many negative responses. According to the article, even her party has distanced itself from her comments, stating that Michaeli, “spoke about her personal opinion and does not represent the opinion of the party.” Haaretz points out that this is not the first time Michaeli has caused controversy. In 2011 she threw a glass of water on a fellow Knesset member, Arab Labor MK Ghaleb Majadele, during a heated exchange.
In the opinion pages, Haaretz’s editorial urges Israel to stop discriminating against Arab workers, particularly those who are highly educated. The piece laments that more Arabs are getting advanced technology degrees only to find that Jewish hi-tech employers won’t hire them. According to the piece, the government created hiring goals for Arab employees in 2007 but has never lived up to them. “If the government leads the way and fulfills its quotas, it will be an important step towards hiring equality in Israel,” reads the editorial.