Dozens of new medicines have been approved for the Israeli public but there doesn’t seem to be any magic pill that will make Avigdor Liberman’s legal troubles disappear. The ongoing saga of the Likud-Beytenu head and former foreign minister captures the top spot in three of the four Hebrew dailies.
“Night investigation,” reads Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page headline, referring to the latest development in the case: a 40-minute police interview on Tuesday night. The papers reports that this followed a Likud-Beytenu rally in Jerusalem and focused on new evidence raised by Danny Ayalon, Liberman’s former second-in-command. Not much was leaked from the session but the paper states that the session focused on Liberman’s attempt to appoint Zvi Ben Aryeh as ambassador to Latvia.
Maariv places the story on its front page and includes in its coverage an opinion piece on how Likud, and especially Netanyahu, need a resolution to Liberman’s problems. Liberman’s problems are not the only item giving the Likud headaches, as Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party is sniping away votes from the Likud. “Every week we are losing half a mandate [Knesset seat],” Likud sources told the paper. Those same sources said that the negative campaign launched against Bennett for his statements on refusing orders should have been handled differently. “It should have been addressed… but not by the prime minister.”
Haaretz also places the Liberman investigation on its front page but inside it runs an article on the event that preceded Liberman’s nighttime investigation: the Likud-Beytenu campaign kickoff. “Netanyahu launches the campaign: without corruption, without the Bar-Ilan speech and without tightening the budget,” reads Haaretz’s article headline, drawing out what it sees as the highlights from the speech. The paper quotes Netanyahu urging voters not to waste their vote on a small party, “Don’t throw away your vote. Choose someone who can lead Israel in this time.”
Israel Hayom was the only paper not to place the Liberman saga front and center, instead choosing to lead with Netanyahu’s kickoff speech. “Netanyahu: We’ll take care of the Iranian problem.” The article also focuses on Liberman’s speech at the kickoff, in which he addressed those opposed to the latest plans to build in Jerusalem and the West Bank. “We have only one dispute with the world. That dispute is building in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs. We need a strong and unified government that knows how to deal with pressure. That’s the difference between us and the left. We want a developed Jerusalem and they want to divide it.”
Let them be healthy
The Health Ministry approved 88 new medicines and treatments for patients that will go into effect on January 1, which, Yedioth reports, will save patients a lot of money. Yedioth lists a selection of some of the new medicines that are now free and how much they previously cost. Included are a cervical cancer vaccine which used to cost NIS 2,200 (about $580); treatment for ovarian cancer that used to cost NIS 203,000 (about $54,000); and a diaphragm pacemaker for ALS patients that used to cost NIS 161,000 (about $42,900).
Maariv gives a more tempered view of the new approved list by highlighting how many treatments were left off it. “Over the year, 680 requests with a total cost of two billion shekels were submitted; only 88 requests were approved with a total cost of 300 million shekels.” That works out to about one out of every eight applications approved. One treatment that was left off the list was a continuous blood sugar monitor that diabetes patients were hoping would be added to the list. Professor Moti Ravid of the Israeli Diabetes Association told the paper, “I don’t know why they approved nonessential medicines and didn’t approve this essential device. Maybe the lobby for the drugs was stronger.”
New world order?
Haaretz reports on its front page that the Foreign Ministry expects that the European Union will try to force a political settlement on the region in 2013. An internal document states that the last four years have hurt Israel diplomatically, especially in the EU. In a conversation with the paper, a foreign ministry official said the old way of doing things is over: “No more will the two sides will sit alone in a room.”
While Foreign Ministry is fretting over the EU, Israel Hayom is hopping mad at Yedioth Ahronoth for being anti-Netanyahu. “The shticks and tricks of Yedioth Ahronoth” is the title of Dror Eydar’s opinion piece, in which he takes aim at the competition for trying to take down Netanyahu. At the center of the attack is a piece Yedioth ran on Tuesday in which a high-level source said that “Netanyahu is leading us to a disaster.” The article is the straw that broke the camel’s back for Eydar, who accuses the paper of having an agenda of trying to return Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and even Shimon Peres to power. Eydar takes a swipe at the paper: “At Yedioth, they are searching for every way to send the message, ‘Just not Netanyahu.’”