You might be forgiven for thinking today’s papers have all been replaced by real estate circulars — very violent and fiery real estate circulars, to be specific. Eight hundred and fifty-one houses to be built! Come and get em (or condemn ‘em) the papers cry out (except for Maariv, which has decided to pre-evacuate one house, giving the total as 850 on the front page and then reinstating the one home on page 3.)
Oh, but it’s never so simple. For these homes are reparations for the 30 (in five buildings) that are to be moved from Givat Ulpana. But yea, the settlement movement was not mollified; hence the scenes of settlers, fire, police, sideburns, helmets, intersections, tents and protest placards (“Netanyahu, we are not Sudanese” reads a particularly tasteful one slashed across Yedioth Ahronoth) featured on all the front pages.
Yedioth, the only paper to focus on the failed vote which set off the protests and not Netanyahu’s peacemaking offer, crowns the prime minister as king of all the Knesset. “Netanyahu returned yesterday the power that was stolen away by the Feiglinites,” Sima Kadmon writes, referring to the right flank of Likud led by Moshe Feiglin. “The vote yesterday was a return to proportionality. The right may rule the Likud committee, but in the Knesset, only one man rules.”
Maariv’s Ulpana resident diarist calls for an end to the madness, but she doesn’t mean the burning tires and power politics playing out in Jerusalem. Why don’t those leftists come defend her, she wants to know. “Understand how little sense it makes that someone fights with all his strength to keep people that aren’t Israeli in Tel Aviv — but we, who were born and served here — hardly get a peep.”
Maariv also reports that the protesters who had been camping out in front of the Knesset will now saddle up and move their tents to Givat Ulpana. If one unit destroyed is worth 10 new homes, maybe they figure one destroyed tent equals a new couch?
In Israel Hayom, Ze’ev Jabotinsky (no, not that one, his grandson) is none too pleased with Netanyahu’s decision either, quoting his grandfather’s speech from the 1920s on the importance of giving up not even one inch of land (on both sides of the Jordan, natch).
The papers also note that Netanyahu is working hard to remove MK Ze’ev Elkin, from the Likud’s aforementioned right flank, from his post as coalition chair. Elkin had the gumption to vote in support of the Ulpana regularization bill that failed in the Knesset yesterday, and thus must pay.
He said what?
The other big story is the war of words waged yesterday between former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and his old boss Ehud Barak over the ever deepening Harpaz Affair. Ashkenazi’s zinger, that “Barak is obsessive, he wants my head,” proves popular among headline writers. (Barak’s one liner about Ashkenazi throwing sand in the eyes of the public wasn’t quite as popular.)
Maariv’s Ofer Shelah takes Ashkenazi to task for striking out against his old boss and not being the best darn IDF chief of staff he could be. “For Ashkenazi, it was not ‘a few personal mistakes,’ but one big sin: He put himself, his insults and suspicions, before his job as chief of staff.
Yedioth goes a step further, releasing testimony gathered in the course of the Harpaz Affair. (If you’re not familiar with the case, consider yourself lucky; I mean, look here for a primer). The quotes aren’t case-bustingingly good, but interesting nonetheless. Like this one: Barak: “Ashkenazi said that if I decide on the next chief of staff when I want to, there’s gonna be a war. I said to him ‘Do you hear what you are saying? You are subordinate to me, that is how there won’t be a war between us.’”
Enough of these boring power games, though. Old people are pissed, and you should know about it. No, it’s not that you don’t call enough (although you don’t). Tel Aviv’s great plan to turn the hip Rothschild Boulevard into a pedestrian-only zone on weekends has a number of the infirm ready to take to the streets, if they could, Maariv reports. By cutting off car traffic, the city has essentially trapped them in their homes. One has even gone to court to stop city hall.
Old people aren’t the only ones with a beef. The Foreign Ministry is also angry that a group of white-faced performers from Israel, the Voca People, who have found international success, are not making sure everyone knows that they come from the land of milk and Bamba and start-ups, instead lying to poor folks round the world and telling them they come from the planet Voca. Israel’s consul in St. Petersburg saw the group of liars and made sure to complain to his superiors, Yedioth reports. “Unfortunately, the group doesn’t give even a hint about its Israeli connection and will even deny it. In conversation between the consul and one of their managers, he said in all seriousness that they represent the star Voca.” No word on whether the ministry has called for a boycott of the Voca star, but this outraged writer won’t be traveling there anytime soon.
Haaretz reports that towns in the Negev are gearing up for an influx of thousands of army officers thanks to the opening of the country’s large superbase in the south by marketing themselves to them. Sayeth one official in the town of Ofakim: “If we market our town correctly with all the pluses we have, the closeness to the center, to the capital of the Negev, good weather… maybe some of the families serving in the area will think of us as a not-bad option to raise their children in a warm and safe environment.”
Like I said: Real estate circulars.
Nowhere to turn
In Yedioth’s op-ed section, Guy Bechor writes that the Iranians are fencing themselves in. “They already don’t have whom to sell gas to, and in the Persian Gulf are anchored some 30,000 containers of gas without a buyer.”
In Haaretz, Uri Misgav says Netanyahu has gone bonkers if he thinks he’ll be able to take apart five homes in Givat Ulpana and put them back together elsewhere. “We’ll need an engineering miracle. Unlike the Templer buildings, the Ulpana buildings were built on a hill. Of course, that’s not the main point. The sawing of these houses will be a pristine moment — a perfect symbol of a nation that has totally lost its mind.”