Nearly a month after the nuclear pact was announced, the fallout of the deal between Iran and world powers continues to dominate headlines in Israeli papers on Thursday, as the Iranian foreign minister’s meeting with Hezbollah leaders prompts speculation of stronger ties between the Islamic Republic and its proxy. Another, new and controversial, deal — on the offshore gas fields — is also prominently featured, and the fate of migrants in Israel tops the agenda as well.
Over in Yedioth Ahronoth, the daily spotlights Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s meeting with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. “The true face,” it splashes across its front page, over a photo of Zarif and Nasrallah. While the news report offers a straightforward account of the Lebanon meetings, including comments by Zarif that it offers a “historic opportunity” to deal with Israel’s threats, its front-page tabloid sub-headline is more openly disdainful: “Before the nuclear deal with world powers was signed, the Iranian foreign minister was all smiles and spoke moderately. Now he no longer needs to.”
Above the photo, another headline reads: “The Iranian foreign minister embraces Hezbollah and attacks Israel.”
The paper quotes an unnamed Israeli official saying the Zarif-Hezbollah meeting is “a rude awakening to those who expected that Iran will change its ways in light of the deal.”
“The meeting between Zarif and Nasrallah is proof that Iran intends to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars, that it will receive from sanctions relief, to sponsor its global terror and continue its aggression,” an official said.
The daily also reports that US Ambassador Dan Shapiro has been receiving death threats over the Iran deal. His security detail has been beefed up as a result. The US envoy’s Facebook page was also filled with posts condemning the Jewish diplomat as a “kapo,” and maintaining the US “abandoned Israel.”
Over in Israel Hayom — the newspaper owned by Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson — the Swiss decision to lift sanctions on Iran makes the front pages.
“About a month before the US Congress decides whether to reject the deal with Iran, last night it became clear that other countries aren’t waiting. The Swiss government was the first to jump up and say that today it will announce the lifting of sanctions on Iran.”
In Haaretz, the paper publishes the Hebrew version of the New York Times article on the dispatch from Iran by The Forward’s Larry Cohler-Esses — with a headline that says precisely the opposite of that of the Times. “Reporting From Iran, Jewish paper sees no plot to destroy Israel,” the New York Times wrote. “A Jewish journalist visits Iran, reinforces stereotypes about its approach to Israel,” the Haaretz headline on Rick Gladstone’s report reads.
Yedioth, meanwhile, dedicates its first pages to a preview of the Cohler-Esses report, to be published in full over the weekend in Hebrew. The headline: “A kernel of hope,” with the Hebrew for kernel — garin — a play on words that also means nuclear.
The offshore gas deal also makes headlines in Thursday’s dailies, and resigned pundits are, for a change, reserving judgement.
“The deal reached may not be ideal, but it’s good enough to allow the energy companies to move forward. It opens up competitition by selling the Karish and Tanin [fields]. It sets a reasonable gas rate. And it’s supposed to allow some sort of stable regulation,” writes Israel Hayom columnist Hazai Strenlicht.
Over in Yedioth, columnist Amir Ben-David also takes a wait-and-see approach.
“Let’s just stop the torrent of criticism and see what the outcome is. As in every compromise, the deal is not perfect. It has some better components, and some less good elements. But if it works, it will bring about something significant and important — the development of the natural gas resources, and search for additional resources,” he writes.
Haaretz on Thursday dedicates a bulk of its coverage to the situation of migrants, after a High Court decision earlier this week ruled that they can be kept in Israel’s holding facilities for just 12 months, not 20, while upholding the government’s “infiltration law.” As a result of the ruling, some 1,200 of the 1,700 migrants in Holot are set to be released, Haaretz reports, while “hundreds” of others are expected to be detained. “The authority has refused to divulge how many people are due to be sent to Holot, despite repeated requests from Haaretz,” it says.
In its editorial, the paper slams Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for her “belligerent incitement campaign” against the migrants, dubbing her a “cyber thug.”
“Writing on her Facebook page, Shaked announced that, in anticipation of the court’s ruling, she would post video clips every two hours showing the plight of residents in south Tel Aviv due to the presence there of asylum-seekers. She posted a clip showing a black man beating a woman – which transpired within minutes to be a clip filmed in Turkey.”
“That’s an example of the superficial, shabby incitement practiced by some ministers, who behave like the worst cyber thugs. In a law-abiding state, a justice minister who tries to intimidate the court with lies and racist urban legends would be forced to resign.”