What’s news? Depends whom you ask.
Were you to inquire of Mr. Yedioth Ahronoth, he would likely tell you that the story on everybody’s minds is the price of gas going up and up and up. “Pressure on Netanyahu to lower the gas tax,” screams the patriotic red, white and blue headline on the paper’s front. Inside (on Page 16, if that gives any indication of how confident they were that this was THE story), dear readers will learn that the pressure to bring down gas prices from an expected all-time high of NIS 8.30 a gallon is coming from the opposition and the head of the Knesset Finance Committee. The opposition is critical of the prime minister? We know, the world has gone mad. “The government is required to give a basic and creative response to the rising price of gasoline, even if it comes out of a rise in the global price of oil and the strengthening of the dollar,” said MK Carmel Shama Hacohen, from the prime minister’s own party. Shama Hacohen said he would convene his finance committee to discuss the matter.
The pressure is not uncalled for. Netanyahu, a sucker for populist moves (see Shalit, Gilad) has lowered gas prices at the last moment in the past.
For sir Haaretz, the top story is the arrest of eight minors and an adult in the brutal beating of an Arab teen in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The paper is most interested in the fact that the assault was planned, according to the charges filed. According to the story, the kids went out that night hoping to beat up on some Arabs. Once they found some sitting in “their” area they moved in for the kill. “She and the others decided to beat them. One of them told the others: ‘Whoever is a man will hit Arabs,’” the indictment reads, according to the article.
Madame Maariv believes readers really want to know about planned cuts to National Insurance, along with other painful austerity measures the state will have to take in its 2013 budget. According to the story, the issue will have the power to tear the coalition asunder and lead to early elections. The cuts to social welfare programs and the like will serve to protect the Defense Ministry from having to absorb any losses. Netanyahu knows the move will be unpopular and is trying to push off any discussion of them until after the upcoming Jewish holidays, likely so they don’t fester in the media during the silly season that ensues while offices are closed. “The prime minister is leaning toward pushing off taking care of the cuts until after the holidays. After that he hopes to gain the agreements of his coalition partners (Shas and Yisrael Beytenu) on the cuts. If he fails to bring an agreement he will be forced to push elections forward and take care of the unpopular measures after the vote.”
About the only consensus big story is Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon’s words at a memorial ceremony in Burgas yesterday, which the Duke of Israel Hayom leads with. The speech contained some strong words especially against Iran and Hezbollah, which Israel says was behind the bombing. “Iran must decide: Atoms or survival” reads the paper’s lead headline. The story contains some of Ya’alon’s choicer quotes, including: “It’s up to us, the enlightened Western nations, to get involved and fight to the bitter end against extremist Islamic terror, which is based, funded, planned and armed by Iran.” So it would seem maybe the atoms are not the main problem?
What say you to these charges, Tehran? Israel Hayom may not have a direct answer, but it packages the Burgas story with a piece on an Iranian general admitting his country’s role in Syria. “Today we are involved in fighting every aspect of a war, a military one in Syria and a cultural one as well,” said Gen. Salar Abnoush, commander of IRGC’s Saheb al-Amr unit, according to the free daily, which cribbed off of The Wall Street Journal.
Holy mortgage figures, Batman
Yedioth celebrates Gilad Shalit’s birthday on Tuesday by running a short message from the freed soldier, who has yet to make a public appearance in Israel. “I received yesterday many blessings from different people, some I knew, some strange… So I’ve decided to take advantage of my birthday to thank all you people, to thank the nation of Israel that supported the struggle for my release and didn’t forget me. To thank the country and its agencies, and of course to thank my family.”
In the news-that-can-no-way-ever-turn-bad section, Israel Hayom reports that Israelis are taking more mortgages and for more money. The country saw an 8.5 percent jump in people taking mortgages in July and a nearly 15 percent rise in the amount those mortgages are for, to the holy number NIS 613,000 up from NIS 565,000 the month before.
Succor for security prisoners
In the op-ed section, Haaretz praises a move by President Shimon Peres to commute the sentences of seven Arab Israelis serving time for terrorism, writing that unlike Palestinian terrorists who can get out in prisoner swaps, Israeli terrorists are afforded no such succor. “The step now taken by Peres has remedied this injustice, to some extent. Other Israeli-Arab security prisoners still remain behind bars, and their sentences have not been lightened. And there are other inequities: The punishments accorded to Israeli-Arab terrorists are often many years longer than those given to murderers convicted in criminal cases. In addition, the terms of their imprisonment are much harsher than those endured by other security inmates.”
In Yedioth, which uses the old Migron migraine joke for its cartoon, Sever Plotzker opines on Netanyahu’s investment fund change request, saying that it’s not so much the request that is problematic but what stands behind it, and he doesn’t mean Iran. “The prime minister requested approval for him to secretly override the decisions and norms that governed prime ministers before him, and all just so he would be able to prevent a possible loss in his investment fund.”