It’s a well-known conceit that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one case in which the same thing can happen ad infinitum and still be considered news. Monday morning presents a prime example of that trope, as the third prisoner release in half a year elicits the same protests, the same political hay-making and the same front page coverage as the previous two.
The release, slated for early Tuesday morning, will come just as John Kerry arrives in the region to present a framework peace deal for the two sides, though Sunday saw the Ministerial Committee for Legislation pass a controversial measure calling for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley, a largely symbolic move that still served to stir up passions among headline makers.
Israel Hayom’s Dan Margalit, who usually sides on the right flank in arguments, follows the lead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who is expected to halt its legislative progress) and calls the proposal a “populist move that will bog down the talks” while only serving to get some Likudniks right-wing bonafides.
“Anyone with any sense knows that in peace efforts with the Palestinians, revived by the Americans, a move like this won’t fly. Right now Israel cannot add one grain of sand or move one rock. But why not enjoy the popularity reigning at the center of the Likud at the expense of Netanyahu, who will be forced to grind his teeth in justifying the move to the Americans,” he writes.
A man-on-the-street survey by the paper, though, finds that three in four Jerusalemites are all about the proposal.
In Maariv, Shalom Yerushalmi calls the move an unneeded provocation: “We are freeing terrorists and murderers four times in order to prove that we are serious about talks. We’ll be left with the conflict, and are adding the Americans to it. Genius, no?”
Yedioth Ahronoth becomes the Nahum Barnea show, devoting its first three pages to a barn-burner of an analysis on the moment of truth standing before Netanyahu with Kerry’s coming framework agreement. (And in a not-so-subtle screw-you to the rainforests, the contents of page 1 are needlessly repeated anew on page 2.)
“The Americans are convinced that Netanyahu has come down from the stands to the field and is in the middle of the game,” Barnea writes in an homage to the art of mixing metaphors. “Using terms from baseball – their favorite game – he’s stuck between bases: It’s too late to turn back, too early to decide if he’s going to run for home. [Does Barnea know how baseball is played?] In less athletic terms, the chances of coming to an agreement are about 50 percent, more or less. It’s no wonder that the prime minister is suffering these days from a headache. No wonder that his attempts bring him no rest. He stands before a heavy, fateful decision.”
The other big news of the day, rocket fire in the north, merits an Amos Harel analysis in Haaretz, in which he notes that Israel’s once recognizable enemies along its borders are Balkanizing into smaller groups of guerrillas in the midst.
“Sunday morning’s rocket fire, like the series of incidents in recent months on Israel’s borders and in the Palestinian territories, reflects the new reality that is taking shape around Israel. For close to three years, Netanyahu has managed to act cautiously and protect Israel’s citizens inside a kind of ‘security bubble.’ In Syria, in a horrible civil war that is sometimes waged just a few kilometers from our Golan Heights border, more than 120,000 people have been killed. In Egypt, the regime has twice changed hands, through a combination of protest and violence. Thousands and by some estimates tens of thousands of extremist jihadist activists have been gathering on Israel’s borders with Syria and in Sinai and Lebanon. Military intelligence views the Sunni jihadist organizations as a new, disturbing danger, but very little of all this is felt in Israelis’ daily lives. It’s quiet in the eye of the storm. The situation began to change at the end of the summer. Since then, both as a result of the spillover of internal confrontations in neighboring countries and increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, the number of terrorist incidents has increased.”
In Yedioth, Alex Fishman says the attack bears the hallmark of the Abdullah Azam Brigades, an al-Qaeda offshoot that has become more puissant than pissant as Lebanon tears itself apart.
“The ephemeral al-Qaeda branch has become the permanent address for all sorts of hobgoblins no one wants to take responsibility for. The group has, by its own admission, prepared carbombs, sent suicide bombers, shot rockets at Hezbollah-controlled neighborhoods in the capital, set off a bomb outside the Iranian Embassy, shot to death Hezbollah leader Hassan al-Laqis, and sometimes, for balance, shoots rockets at open areas in Israel.”
Maariv reports that while nobody was injured in the rocket attacks in the north, Israel lost a victim to terror yesterday along the border with Lebanon as a woman injured during an attack on a bus in 1970 succumbed to her wounds after 43 years. Leah Revivo was 13 when she was one of 25 injured in the bazooka attack on a school bus in Moshav Avivim, which killed 12 at the time. She managed to live with a piece of shrapnel lodged in her brain since then, but the piece recently became infected, her health deteriorated over the last two years and on Sunday she died in Beersheba, where she lived. “She always supported us, said we need to overcome and deal with what we went through,” a friend from Avivim tells the paper. “When I heard she was the 13th victim I couldn’t stop crying.”