Refusal is the name of the game in Friday’s papers — Palestinians refusing to let soldiers arrest someone in Jenin, soldiers refusing to clean toilets or stand guard, and politicians refusing to ally themselves with one another. With all the dissent in the air, it’s surprising the papers didn’t go on strike.
Maariv shows the image of several Palestinian youths clambering on the back and roof of an IDF jeep as it drives down a street in the West Bank city of Jenin. The paper reports that hundreds of Palestinians rioted Thursday to prevent soldiers from leaving the city after attempting to arrest a suspected Islamic Jihad operative. Maariv says the soldiers did not find the wanted man at the location, but Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the Palestinians forced the soldiers off their quarry.
Rioters threw stones and Molotov cocktails, burned tires, and jumped on the IDF vehicle, which made off at great speed.
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the soldiers carried out their mission and didn’t flee, nor did they make any arrests or injure anyone. Palestinian security sources are quoted as saying that one Palestinian was injured by nonlethal crowd-dispersal weapons, and that Israeli arrest operations undermine the authority of Palestinian security forces with the population and thus the prospects for peace.
Yedioth Ahronoth also reports on the abandonment of an IDF post on Mount Hermon by soldiers of the Golani Brigade. The soldiers were protesting the fact that their commanding officers weren’t dispatching new recruits to the base. They claimed that they were forced to carry out tasks that are often considered beneath experienced soldiers, including guard duty and cleaning.
The paper reports that “the soldiers abandoned the country’s eyes” as the intelligence installation at Mt. Hermon is affectionately known. The 17 were sentenced to between a week and 21 days in the brig for their insubordination, with four of the ringleaders getting the heaviest punishments. Yedioth notes that the Golani Brigade is no stranger to rebellion, with several cases like that of Thursday occurring in the past several years.
Yedioth’s headline story, however, is its interview with former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, who rails against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and accuses him of putting personal interests above those of the state, and of gambling with the country’s security. He bashes the integrity of outgoing Defense Minister Ehud Barak who, Diskin recounts, would attend high-profile security meetings about Iran and drink alcohol liberally and smoke cigars with disregard for others.
He tells the paper that in all his years working with the political elite — from prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to Netanyahu and Barak — he always got a sense that most of Israel’s leaders, whether or not they necessarily made the right decision, always placed the nation’s interests above their own.
“Unfortunately my feeling, and that of many senior officials in the security agencies, was that when talking about Netanyahu and Barak, with them the personal, opportunistic, present interest was something that drives them above all other things,” he says. He adds that he and his colleagues did not feel comfortable placing the country’s security in the hands of Netanyahu and Barak in regard to the Iranian issue.
Yossi Verter writes in Haaretz that tensions for the Likud party are running high with only 18 days remaining before the Knesset elections, as the party continues to bleed seats to the Jewish Home party in the polls. “Likud is now losing six seats, but Yisrael Beytenu losing only two,” he writes, referring to the impact of the joint list’s slide in the polls, and the relative number of prospective MKs from each of the two parties who now look like missing out on seats. “Liberman is riding Likud’s back into the next Knesset. Is it any wonder that Likud’s grass-roots activists and Central Committee members are furious at the partnership?”
Verter adds that Likud MKs and ministers are concerned as to how Netanyahu and Liberman agreed to divide the ministerial portfolios after the elections. “According to the regular model, Yisrael Beytenu will get six portfolios, one more than in the outgoing government, and Likud nine — five fewer than it has now.”
Haaretz and Israel Hayom share the same headline about Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich “changing direction.” On Thursday, she said for the first time that her party would not join a Netanyahu-led government should Labor not come out of the elections on top.
“I will either be prime minister or leader of the opposition,” she said. “There is no other way.”
Israel Hayom notes that, until Thursday, Yachimovich had avoided closing any doors to a post-election agreement, quoting her saying previously that it was “political folly to veto potential coalition partners” in reference to allying with Netanyahu. It quotes Likud Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan saying Yachimovich was cognizant of the fact that her latest statement was a falsehood, a tactic “disconnected from her aspirations to join the government.
“It is just a political ploy to draw attention,” he said.
Haaretz reports that a similar statement was made almost simultaneously by Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid, who notified followers on Facebook that he would not become a fifth wheel to the religious and right-wing government. While he did not outright negate the possibility of joining a Netanyahu government, Lapid “hinted that it would be difficult for him to take part in a right-wing government made up of ultra-Orthodox and settlers.”
Israel Hayom also reports that despite rumors that Yisrael Beytenu leader Liberman may try to assume the position of defense minister in the next government, if he can surmount his legal difficulties, internal party documents reportedly indicate that he is aiming to become foreign minister or finance minister. The party will reportedly demand seven ministerial positions, including the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, and the Housing Ministry.