As the country waits for the Knesset to officially to dissolve itself and start the true election season, the political parties are wasting no time. Election coverage made the front page of the four major daily newspapers, but depending on the paper, the focussed varied.
Left leaning Haaretz’s top story focused on right wing Netanyahu running on a combined ticket with Avigdor Liberman. The article is an excerpt from their weekend supplement and reports that the idea arose after rumors that the three center-left parties — Labor, Kadima, and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party — would all run on a combined ticket. If Netanyahu does decide to run on a shared ticket it will also include Ehud Barak and his Independence party, the story goes.
The top story in Yedioth Ahronoth, the larger of the centrist tabloids, is about a deal Netanyahu made with the Haredi parties to help bury the Tal Law. According to the article, Netanyahu told the Haredi members of Knesset that if they support the dissolution of the Knesset, Netanyahu will dissolve it quickly and therefore delay the discussion on the Tal Law until after the elections. This upsets Liberman who was trying to pass a “draft for everyone” bill before the Knesset dissolves. A point of hope for Liberman: If 61 Knesset members voice support for Liberman’s bill on Sunday, it could come to a vote.
The other centrist paper, Maariv, focuses it political coverage on the Shas party and the division between its current leadership and its former leader Aryeh Deri. “Shas takes off the gloves,” reads Maariv’s headline and the article describes how Deri is set to form a new political party and that his former party, Shas, is not too excited about it. Shas has threatened that if Deri decides to run, a video from five years ago will be released showing Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the party’s spiritual leader, admonishing him. Shas is worried that a new party headed by Deri will take votes away from Shas.
Right leaning tabloid, Israel Hayom, leads its front-page election coverage with a headline about Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. “Lapid reserves 8 years for himself,” say the headline and the page two opinion piece by Mati Tokfeld criticizes Lapid for having a party with no primaries and whose charter states that the chairperson cannot be changed until 2020. “The member who pays his membership fees doesn’t get a chance to participate or make any decisions [until 2020].”
Haaretz reports on its front page that the state investigator assigned to investigator the Harpaz Affair has recommended reopening the criminal case. The affair, in which a forged document was created and circulated about how to choose the next IDF chief, drew harsh criticism about politics in the IDF and drew the eye of police and state investigators. A draft report was distributed in March and focused much of its criticism on then-IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and his aide, Colonel Erez Weiner. The renewed push comes as Weiner wishes the state to release the evidence it has against him, while the state argues that any disclosure of information could hurt a future criminal prosecution.
Yedioth Ahronoth’s page two is a giant feature about the release of Hagai Amir, brother of Yitzhak Rabin assassin Yigal Amir. On the top half of the page is a short, heartfelt piece written by Noah Rotman, granddaughter of Rabin. “Hagai Amir is being released from prison. That’s the way it is in democracy, I know this…but my heart isn’t rational, my heart burns.”
On the bottom of the page is a picture of Hagai Amir with the headline, “Released, but not sorry.” Besides wanting to work and raise a family, the article quotes Hagai as saying, “Now we’re waiting for Yigal.”
Yesterday a haze enveloped the Gush Dan region that prompted numerous calls to many city halls across the country. Maariv reports on page six about the “Mystery cloud of smell.” It posed no danger to residents, but the source of the foul smelling haze is still a mystery. Maariv lists causes that have been ruled out already, including: offshore oil rig, water treatment facility and local factories. The Minster of Environmental Protection, Gilad Erdan, has decided to open a criminal investigation into the matter.
Israel has received a new German submarine, according to an article in Israel Hayom. Germany officially gave the keys to the Israeli navy for the fourth Dolphin class submarine. Defense Minister Ehud Barak stated that, “This submarine will provide additional power to the abilities of the IDF and the independence of Israel.” The submarine will undergo further modifications and is expected to arrive in Israel sometime in 2013.
The back page of Maariv has a short little article on the benefits of government work: a free iPad. Yesterday the Treasury approved a plan for all ministers and their deputies to be able to trade in their government issued laptop for a new iPad.
The reason, as one minister is quoted as saying, “Someone in the government understood that this is work tool and that the style of working must match the technology.” Or maybe government ministers just want to play Angry Birds.
Writing in Israel Hayom, Dr. Yossi Avner talks about yesterday’s handling of the mysterious cloud in Tel Aviv in an article titled, “Prepare – in order to prevent a disaster.”
While he believes the cloud was pollution, and not hazardous, the government’s reaction to it was a complete failure. “Yesterday’s event illustrates the need for Israel to decide on how to handle a hazardous materials event.”
One solution he posits is to emulate the US and some European countries and transfer the responsibility for hazardous material incidents to the fire departments. Avner states that the current situation involves an underfunded ministry and no clearly defined roles. If this was a real hazardous materials event, he says, the results would be horrific.