Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to roll out new settlement construction after the upcoming release of more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons on Sunday, and nobody’s particularly thrilled about either prospect.
According to Maariv, the prime minister had agreed to refrain from announcing new settlement construction within a few weeks of the release of prisoners, so as to avoid enraging the Palestinians and risking a breakdown of talks. It quotes a senior Israeli official saying that “Netanyahu intends to announce broadened construction next week, alongside the release of prisoners.” The official explained that “political pressure was applied to Netanyahu that if there isn’t an announcement of construction alongside the prisoner release, it would be interpreted as Israeli weakness.”
The paper quotes Economics Minister Naftali Bennett’s statement to Army Radio that the recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis was a consequence of Palestinian incitement and Israeli weakness.
Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Netanyahu seeks to appease the right by approving settlement construction amid furor over the release of Palestinian prisoners during a new wave of violence against Israelis. It reports that he may try to mitigate criticism of the move by having the construction only in major settlement blocs.
The bulk of Haaretz’s coverage deals with the resumption of violence in southern Israel and the deployment of Iron Dome batteries in the southern cities of Beersheba and Sderot. It reports that the IDF is also investigating the death of Defense Ministry contractor Saleh Abu Latif, who was killed by a Palestinian sniper on Tuesday. According to an IDF source quoted by Haaretz, the fact that Abu Latif didn’t have a helmet or bulletproof vest was a “mistake.”
Despite the flareup of cross-border violence in Gaza, the paper’s Amos Harel writes that the clashes appears to be over, because “neither Hamas nor Israel is looking for a prolonged confrontation at this time, and Egypt’s urgent pleas to both sides seemed sufficient to put an end to the hostilities.” He nonetheless warns that Hamas “has been using its time wisely to reinforce its weak points” and develop rockets capable of hitting Israel’s major population centers.
“With more rockets capable of hitting Tel Aviv, dozens of ‘offensive’ tunnels intended for attacks and kidnapping operations on the Strip’s border and a growing arsenal of unmanned aerial vehicles, Hamas may have increased its abilities to harm Israel,” he writes.
For Israel Hayom, the issue at hand is the release of prisoners, who, the paper reminds its readers, were imprisoned for murder. Its main coverage focuses almost entirely on the prisoners to be let out of prison, and skirts the subject of Netanyahu’s disregard for the US’s request not to expand settlements during the talks. “In the meantime, it is not clear who of the terrorists will be released in the upcoming wave, but it’s clear that the two [waves] remaining will be especially painful: murderers of women and children will go free,” it writes. It then compiles a compendium of criminal acts performed by some of the prisoners on the list.
Yedioth Ahronoth focuses on the victims of terrorism rather than the perpetrators. It interviews several people whose family members were killed by those about to be released from prison. One man, Ayvi Moses, has led the charge against the government’s decision to release the murderer of his wife and child in 1987. “The government chose the easy option, and again it’s forgotten the victims of terror,” the paper quotes him saying.
“The first time they threw a Molotov cocktail at my car, I didn’t understand which circle of hell it would bring me to. Now I ask the government: don’t return me to that day, to hell, to this disaster.”
The paper publishes 30 names which it says are the Palestinian prisoners up for release in the upcoming wave. It also runs a promo for a story to be published this weekend about back-channel diplomacy between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas through a businessman in London and the prime minister’s confidant, Yitzhak Molcho.
According to the report, the back-channel talks went on mostly during Netanyahu’s previous term as prime minister, and have since taken a backseat to the formal talks between Israel and the Palestinians that restarted in July under American supervision. Despite the fact that the two leaders formally refused to talk to one another, “apparently Netanyahu and [Abbas] had an interest in holding communications between one another through a secret person, behind the backs of the official institutions, internal political systems and foreign governments. This interest bridged the void separating them on other issues.”
Maariv also runs a brief report on the court case filed against the African migrants who broke out of their detention center and marched on Jerusalem last week. The state seeks to have the 150 or so Africans thrown into jail for leaving the detention facility. According to a court document obtained by the paper, the state simply listed their prisoner numbers, not even their names.