Monday’s newspapers were fishwrap a few hours after they hit the newsstands, as the main headlines, previewing the then-upcoming decision on former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s fate in the Holyland graft case, was decided by 10 a.m. (guilty, by the way, in case you missed it.)
But should fishmongers decide to rifle through the newspapers before rolling some fresh tilapia in journalists’ hard work, they might find some other interesting catch in the great ink sea.
Yedioth Ahronoth for instance (after nine now-worthless pages of Holyland case coverage) reveals that those going shopping for cod with tomatoes will find prices of the red stuff climbing and climbing, with even more hikes expected in the run-up to Passover. The paper reports that prices have already reached NIS 12.80 (about $3.60) a kilogram for tomatoes in some places up from NIS 2.60 (about $0.75) just a few days ago.
The paper writes that there’s a dispute between growers, wholesalers, sellers and government officials over whether the weather or market forces, including overzealous wholesalers buying up oodles of tomatoes to drive up prices, are to blame. “It’s a shame that prices are going up right before the holiday, when consumers need to buy a lot more,” supermarket mogul Rami Levi is quoted as saying (his stores carried the fruit for NIS 1.80 a kilogram (about $0.35) yesterday). “You need to remember that the power is in the hands of the consumer. At these prices, simply don’t buy tomatoes until the fury passes.”
Just down the importance scale from tomatoes, mixed metaphor-loving fishmongers poring over Israel Hayom will find out that US Secretary of State John Kerry may motor back to the region in yet another last-ditch effort to throw a lifesaver to the currently rudderless peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, after Israel’s refusal to release the last batch of prisoners has sent the negotiations up night-soil creek without a paddle.
Unfortunately, the paper offers no source for the fact that Kerry is considering a return (though it’s safe to assume he’s always considering a trip to the region) but does quote an Associated Press report that American officials are holding marathon talks with both sides to try and get the negotiations back on track. The story notes that Netanyahu has yet to say whether the prisoner release is delayed or canceled, and government ministers are in the dark about the whole affair.
The crux of the issue seems to be keeping his coalition together and releasing the prisoners, which seems impossible with Jewish Home threatening to bolt if inmates are freed. “If Netanyahu decides to release the prisoners, I don’t think the coalition will survive, because Jewish Home will leave and other ministers will vote against,” a government official is quoted saying.
Haaretz’s lead photo is undoubtedly the catch of the day, showing an Israeli Border police officer shooting pepper spray point blank at a Palestinian woman at a Land Day protest in Jerusalem. According to the caption, the police claimed the woman attacked the officer.
The paper has some more details on American efforts to keep the talks afloat. “Nobody is interested in seeing the talks come apart,” a senior Israel official is quoted as saying. However, the paper also quotes the Palestinian official in charge of prisoner affairs as saying that Ramallah won’t be baited into negotiations without Israel making the first move. “[Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas will not discuss negotiations until the prisoners are freed,” he is quoted in the paper saying.
In Yedioth, former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin, who was responsible for the arrest of many of the Palestinians and Israelis being discussed, calls for Israel to keep them behind bars and go fishing to see if the Palestinians will accept a settlement freeze instead.
“I am against freeing Israeli citizens – Jews or Arabs – because of outside pressure. This is an exceptional case of meddling in the sovereign affairs of Israel, which de facto connects Arab citizens of Israel to PA citizens, which will create a dangerous precedent. Israeli citizen prisoners are an internal affair for the State of Israel and the decision to free them can only be made internally, not under pressure from a foreign country.”
As for Israel’s demand that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish State, there doesn’t seem to be much movement and it’s seemingly fallen off the news cycle, which has bigger fish to fry. For Haaretz opinionator Yitzhak Lior, that’s a good thing, since in the sea of Israeli society, there is more than just the jewfish. Thus, he writes in an open letter to Abbas that granting recognition would really grant a victory to the nationalist Israeli camp:
“Don’t lend your hand to the nationalists – those who wear kippot, or those who eat pork – in destroying even further the fabric called Israeli democracy, using ‘Jewish identity,’ which no one has a clue what that is. Even the love for the land has been translated for us into a military-religious-national phrase. I really love it, outside of this discourse. And in the name of love, I am writing you: This recognition is unnecessary.”