Images of Mohammed Morsi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embracing are splashed across the front pages of Friday’s Israeli papers, while the headlines talk of stern warnings from Israel’s closest allies.
Maariv and Israel Hayom use the same quote from the American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey for their headlines: “I don’t want to be complicit in a strike on Iran.” Maariv gives a two-page spread with Dempsey’s quote as the main focus, but also includes an articles on Iran’s leader and the Islamic Republic’s ever growing enrichment capabilities. It highlights the comments from Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who during a speech at the Non-Aligned Movement conference said, “the Zionists wolves are continuing to commit crimes in the territories.”
Israel Hayom goes on to cover all the happenings on the Iranian topic in a pretty concise article titled, “Iran is speeding towards a bomb.” The main focus of the article is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report that Iran has doubled its centrifuges. Whereas Iran had just over one thousand centrifuges in May, the IAEA says that the country now has 2,140.
Yedioth Ahronoth focuses on relations with the Americans in an exclusive report about a shouting match/diplomatic meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Congressman Mike Rogers and the American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. According to the paper, Netanyahu, who arrived agitated to the meeting, opened by insulting Obama, whom Netanyahu felt should be pressuring Iran to stop its nuclear program rather than pressuring Israel not to attack. At one point, Shapiro became fed up with Netanyahu’s remarks and accused the PM of distorting Obama’s position on Iran. According to one source at the meeting, “sparks and lightning were flying.”
So, Dempsey may not want to be part of a strike on Iran, and Netanyahu may have had a little tiff with the American ambassador, but at least Germany is still on our side, right? Well, not according to Haaretz’s front page, Germany also warned Israel not to attack Iran right now. “Angela Merkel to Netanyahu: don’t attack Iran,” reads the under-the-fold headline of a reformatted Haaretz (more on that later). The paper reports that in a telephone call between the two leaders ten days ago, the German Chancellor told Netanyahu that Germany would not support a unilateral attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the near future.
To infinity and beyond?
The press is also in a tizzy over the expected increase in gas prices. The proposed hike would bring the price of fuel to 8.25 shekels per liter, the most expensive in Israel’s history. Maariv reports that unlike previous times when gas prices were about to break the mythical eight shekel mark, Netanyahu is not expected to intervene this time. The expected hike is due to an increase in taxes on fuel, which account for 51% of the price.
Yedioth also features a short piece on the forthcoming tax hike (which includes an increase of VAT from 16% to 17%) with some questions and answers about paying for appliances, furniture and other big-ticket items. According to the article, a refrigerator or a couch, which has been paid for but not yet delivered, will be subject to extra taxes. Same thing goes if you are paying for something in installments — after September 1, the remaining balance will be charged according to the higher tax.
Tragic news from Modi’in Illit, where a four-year old boy died after being left in a car on Thursday, with end-of-summer temperatures soaring. Israel Hayom reports that a teacher, who was taking the child to school, thought the boy had gotten out of the car when it stopped in front of the school. The teacher arrived at the destination and parked the car, not knowing that the child was still inside. According to the article, the teacher has been taken into custody and is expected to be charged with wrongful death.
Haaretz reports that embattled Jerusalem police commander, Nissan “Niso” Shaham, is resigning from his position. The move comes as Shaham is fighting charges of sexual offenses against seven female police officers who were under his command. Shaham originally took a leave of absence as the charges came to light, but the police requested his resignation when they realized the scope of the allegations.
Finally a medal!
A bright spot for Israeli athletes in London as Inbal Pezaro won Israel’s first Olympic medal of 2012: a bronze in the 50 meter freestyle at the Paralympic games. Yedioth quotes Pezaro saying, “I am excited to open the celebrations for the Israeli national team.” Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat praised Pezaro: “Inbal once again proved that she is a winner and an ambassador for Israeli sport.”
There are a few extra opinion pages in Friday’s papers as Haaretz deploys a new format which combines its traditional weekend supplement with its main section, placing more feature based reporting with its news section. In its actual opinion section, Neri Livneh writes in a piece called “Planet of the Apes” about boycotting Egged in Jerusalem because of their refusal to feature people in their ads in order to not offend the ultra-Orthodox. “Egged is now boycotting one kind of people who are the majority in a state where Jerusalem is the capital in order to appease a minority who lives in the dark ages?” she asks.
Writing in Israel Hayom, Hazi Shtrenlicht urges people not to be beholden to the economic data that is released every month. “Employment Service data are important, but they do not govern…economies have a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies.” Instead, he urges that despite the monthly economic data Israel must push on, and if the need arises, cut the 2013 budget. Shtrenlicht acknowledges that the price of fuel is felt in every family across Israel and hopes that “the rising VAT will signal that this is the last tax hike.”