With a reported breakthrough in talks between Likud-Beytenu and the Jewish Home Party on Sunday, the fun can finally begin, with papers assuming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form a government with Jewish Home and Yesh Atid. On Monday, some in the Hebrew press get down and dirty speculating who will be given which ministries.
Yedioth Ahronoth places its bets right on the front page, putting money down on Yesh Atid getting the Foreign, Education, Interior and Welfare ministries, with Jewish Home taking away the Housing, Industry and Religious affairs portfolios, plus one to be named later.
Israel Hayom, on the other hand, reports that Jewish Home wants the Finance Ministry, and that Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman will have Defense reserved for him, assuming his defense in court stands up.
Maariv and Haaretz don’t hazard guesses.
Yedioth quotes a senior Likud-Beytenu source saying with the breakthrough in talks, facilitated by Netanyahu telling the Haredi parties to hit the road, things will begin to move quickly, with discussions of the portfolios possible even beginning Monday. “Netanyahu intends to close with [Yesh Atid head Yair] Lapid and [Jewish Home head Naftali] Bennett on coalition agreements by the end of the week,” the source tells the paper.
While things are going swimmingly in Netanyahu’s ice cream-filled palace, the Haredi parties, left in the cold, have begun shooting in all directions, the papers report. Maariv writes that Shas, seemingly forced into the opposition because of the Labor Party’s refusal to join with Netanyahu, has threatened party head and she-devil Shelly Yachimovich with working to prevent her from leading the opposition if she dare not join the government and save them. Confused? You should be.
Haaretz, meanwhile, notes that Shas has promised to join up with peace camp and oppose settlement building as revenge for Jewish Home’s maneuver to keep them out of the government.
“We are going to walk all over the settlements, we’re not afraid. We’ll vote to evacuate outposts, we’ll vote to freeze construction, we’ll support diplomatic initiatives, we’ll vote to cut funding to the settlements,” a senior Shas official told Haaretz.
Shas joining leftists, settlers joining north Tel Aviv cigar smokers. Has the whole political system turned upside down? Why, yes it has, Matti Tuchfeld writes in Israel Hayom, with Shelly Yachimovich improbably turning out to be the kingmaker. But instead of grabbing the opportunity, she let it slip through her fingers.
“She could have had the whole world if she joined the government, but sometimes the opposition can be formative. The role of opposition head can be a not-bad springboard to power, but sometimes the only way to go from the position is down,” he writes.
Somebody who knows a thing or two about being in the opposition is President Shimon Peres, a perennial political loser who finally found his own as a Facebook-loving, peacenik, soon-to-be nonagenarian president. And how does Peres stay so spry? As Yedioth reports, it’s not by munching on Doritos and Mars bars. In fact the president’s diet mostly consists of crackers, green tea, an assortment of soft cheeses and yogurts, and some fish, chicken or meat for lunch. “Even from a first glance you can see that President Peres’s menu is balanced, varied and distributed correctly throughout the day,” says Sarah Kaplan, the head of the Peres Academic center in Rehovot, which requested the diet’s publication.
A week after reporting on an Arab woman being attacked on the Jerusalem light rail, and a day after the arrest of a suspect, Maariv gives a bit of the attacker’s side of the story. According to the report, the 17-year-old’s lawyer, right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, says the pictures of the attack actually show a number of Jewish people defending themselves from the onslaught of the lone Arab woman: “The girl doesn’t deny there was violence, but claims it was self-defense, “Ben-Gvir tells the paper. “She intends to serve a complaint to the police against the Arab woman.”
Hotheaded Lapid and cold Turkey
In Haaretz’s op-ed section, Yitzhak Laor takes a jab at Yair Lapid’s holy war against the ultra-Orthodox, saying the Israeli public is being incited against the minor infractions of the religious while ignoring the greater evils of society: “The air resonates with denunciations, constant righteous indignation. An example? How about the spitting at a little girl in Beit Shemesh a year ago, a criminal incident that was magnified to hysterical proportions? Or the campaign around a woman who refused ultra-Orthodox demands that she sit at the back of the bus, who was dubbed the ‘Israeli Rosa Parks’ — implicitly comparing us, the Israelis, to blacks in Alabama while Palestinians are barred from riding buses that carry Jews. In short, the battle for human rights has quickly become incitement against a minority.”
In Israel Hayom, Eyal Zisser writes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent lashing out against Israel could be seen as just another instance of verbal diarrhea, but it could also be the sign of something deeper happening in Ankara, once a friend of Jerusalem.
“The new Turkey wants to be a leader in the Muslim world. … Accordingly, its ties with Israel do not jibe with these Turkish interests. On the contrary — Erdogan and his friends believe that an anti-Israel Turkey helps them advance their position in the Middle East. … Even after Erdogan, this music will continue, although perhaps with a different tune.”