Before the ink could dry on the UN’s decision to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to a nonmember observer state, Israel announced its reaction to the decision: 3,000 new housing units in the West Bank and around Jerusalem.
Yedioth Ahronoth leads its coverage with the headline “Recognition and punishment,” leaving no doubt as to the reason for the timing of the announcement. The planned construction, some of which will take place in the E1 corridor that connects Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim, has drawn ire from the United States and Europe. “Building in E1 is a red flag for the Americans and the Europeans,” the paper explains, “The reason: in the eyes of the international community the connection between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim breaks the territorial continuity of the Palestinian state.”
The paper quotes US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responding to the building by stating, “The expansion of settlements delays peace.” She wasn’t the only one; Tzipi Livni also criticized the move: “The UN decision on a Palestinian state was bad for Israel and so was Netanyahu’s response. The decision to use the building of thousands of new housing units to punish the Palestinians only punishes Israel.”
Haaretz‘s headline uses even stronger language: “US is furious over Netanyahu’s decision to expand building to prevent a state in the West Bank.” The paper explains that the US’s anger at the decision stems from the fact that Netanyahu and Barak pledged in 2009 to President Obama and Clinton that there wouldn’t be any more building in E1. Haaretz reports that Ehud Barak, who was in Washington, DC, over the weekend, tried to explain away the announcement as an election stunt.
Maariv reports on its front page about another critic of the building announcement — the security establishment. The paper reports that at the cabinet meeting to approve the new building, representatives of the security services were against the move, which an anonymous source called “an unnecessary sanction.” The security services wanted to use the construction as a response only if the Palestinians decided to file charges against Israelis at The Hague.
Labor pains or gains?
Israel Hayom’s lead headline reports on the Labor Party primary, whose results were released on Friday, “Labor – war.” Despite the dramatic headline, the coverage is pushed back to Page 9 and seems less like war and more like politics, with Amir Peretz demanding that party head Shelly Yachimovich pledge not to join a Netanyahu government.
Yedioth includes a comparison of Labor and Likud’s top 25 members on each list. Labor’s list is slightly older (with an average age of 52.3 compared to Likud’s 51), would send more news personalities to the Knesset (14 compared to Likud’s 4) and would send more women (7 to Likud’s 5). Likud bests Labor in the categories of academics it would send (21 to Labor’s 20) and the number of religious members (5 to Labor’s 1).
Haaretz reports that with only four days to go until the final filing deadline for Knesset lists, Tzipi Livni is trying to draft members to her newly formed party, Hatnua. Expected to announce his decision on Sunday is former leader of the Labor Party, Amram Mitzna, who is expected to take the second spot on the list. Haaretz reports that also expected to join are former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and moderate Likud member Dan Meridor, who failed to make Likud’s list in that party’s recent primary.
A father and a doctor
Maariv reports on its front page the sad story of a doctor who helped his terminally sick daughter die and then took his own life. Keren Shtalrid, 33, had battled cancer for three years and it was apparent that she could not beat the disease. The paper quotes a letter she wrote, “I am not ready to live a life of pain.” Police believe that her father, Dr. Mordechai Shtalrid, a physician in Rehovot, helped end her life and then took his own.
Israel Hayom reports that Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy sentenced to life in prison in the United States, was rushed to a hospital on Saturday. The paper reports that for the past few weeks Pollard has been in severe pain, but the exact reason for his hospitalization is unknown. Pollard’s wife, Ester, says she is very worried about her husband’s health.
A report, finally?
In the unending saga of the Harpaz Affair there may finally be some resolution. Yedioth reports that this week the final report from the State Comptroller’s office will be released. The report is expected to be favorable to former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi, clearing him of trying to organize a “putsch” against Ehud Barak and declaring that he did not interfere with the selection process of his replacement. No criminal charges are expected against anyone mentioned in the report.
In the opinion pages Haaretz’s op-ed rallies against the government’s settlement decision. “Instead of internalizing the fact that a sweeping majority of nations are sick of the Israeli occupation and want a Palestinian state, Israel is entrenching itself even further in its own rejection and deepening its isolation and the disconnect between itself and the international reality.” The piece warns of the dangerous, long-term consequences that the decision may have for Israel’s future problems. “The next time Israel needs the world’s help, the world will remember this decision.”
Writing in Israel Hayom, Professor Avinoam Reches argues in favor for allowing terminally ill patients the right to die. Professor Reches writes that there should be no difference between a patient on life support and someone who is terminally ill. “Patients like Karen Shtalrid cannot realize their basic human and civil rights and opt for early death under the law. They are discriminated against compared to those whose life depends on a respirator and who can, when they want, disconnect it and die.”