The hopes of a better day, of a nuclear-free Iran, a unified Israel and a terror-free region seem dashed to itty bitty pieces by Monday morning’s Hebrew-language papers, where the same old song and dance of strife returns to its set place as the guiding theme for the Middle East.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s bitterly scathing attack on Netanyahu a day earlier puts paid to rumors that a unity government could be in the making after the nuclear deal briefly turned him into a bosom body of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On top of that, the revelation that a Palestinian convict freed as part of the Gilad Shalit swap deal broke his promise to not return to terror activities also has the press in a tizzy. And Israel Hayom thinks it’s finally found the smoking gun – or in this case safety – that will expose the Iranian nuclear deal for the apocalyptic death certificate it is. Details at 11.
Herzog’s fiery speech gets above-the-fold treatment in both Haaretz and Yedioth, yet both papers somehow miss the fact that Herzog clearly took inspiration from Dr. Seuss when making it clear that he will not be joining Netanyahu.
For instance, this passage of short declarative sentences cited in Haaretz laying out whether he likes green eggs and ham Netanyahu and the nuclear deal with Iran or not:
“I say no to bolstering the Iranian reign of terror.
No to the failed Netanyahu government that failed to prevent this bad agreement.
Yes to rehabilitating our relationship with the United States, which Bibi destroyed.
No to the prime minister’s divisiveness and incitement, which sets parts of the Israeli public against each other.”
Or this passage, cited in Yedioth, on whether he will join the government.
“We need to send [Netanyahu] H-O-M-E.
I say and say again,
And again I say,
Again and again and again.
If there was somebody who was maybe busy when I said it before
Or maybe listened to the pundits who get me wrong every time
Or somebody who prefers not to listen
I say again I will not enter.”
Of course, Herzog being a politician, the populace can’t be faulted for believing him about as much as they would believe a terrorist who is let out of prison who claims his terrorizing days are behind him.
Nonetheless, the press is still shocked, shocked, that the man behind a terror cell that left one Israeli dead and three others injured in a West bank shooting attack was none other than Ahmed Najar, who killed six Israelis and then was released in the 2011 Shalit swap and is now directing a terror cell from Jordan.
Yedioth Ahronoth calls it a revolving door, and notes that Najar is far from the first of the 1,027 people released who have since been wrangled again for terror activity, such as the terrorist behind the shooting of Danny Gonen several weeks ago and the Palestinian who shot policeman Baruch Mizrachi to death in 2014.
“Only the death penalty for terrorists will return deterrence. Seventy percent of the terrorists freed return to terror. Once they know that they will get the death penalty, there will be a drastic reduction,” widow Hadas Mizrachi tells the paper, which challenges neither her statistic nor the fact that the death penalty will do little to discourage suicide bombers or the high number of terrorists who are killed during the course of attacks.
In Israel Hayom, Yaov Limor opines that what could be really troubling is not the fact the Najar was held by Israel and then freed, but that he is operating from Jordan despite the fact the kingdom is supposed to be helping Israel keep Hamas from running amok in the West Bank, though his fears are notably based on a series of assumptions.
“Since [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashaal was booted from Amman, Jordan has been careful to fight terror openly – by itself and with Israel along the border between the countries. Seemingly, the activities were supposed to ramp up given the threat on the kingdom from Islamic State and al-Qaeda and the fear of a strengthening Muslim Brotherhood – but in actually it’s not clear what the fact that Najar was operating from Jordan signals,” he writes. “Given the (reasonable) assumption that Israel warned Jordanian authorities, though it hasn’t been officially confirmed, one might be troubled by the possibility that this shows the turning of a blind eye to the quiet return of Hamas activities to Jordan.”
Not so fine print
It’s one thing to pretend you don’t see terror, but it’s quite another to actively help a despotic regime protect its nuclear program, yet that’s what Israel Hayom is pretty sure the West just signed up to do.
The paper sounds the alarm over a single clause it found buried in the 159 pages of the Iranian nuclear agreement, which reads that the powers will offer “Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”
What that translates to, according to the paper, is the West will effectively help Iran guard its nuclear program, a prospect the tabloid calls “unbelievable.”
“Even great supporters of the deal will have trouble explaining this after they read paragraph 10 on page 142 of the deal,” the paper claims. “In a close reading of the deal, which was done by the National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Office, they found the clause, which is seemingly small and insignificant, but very troubling. Israeli experts that read it said it’s possible to understand from it that the West will be committed to stopping initiatives to sabotage the Iranian centrifuges over the next decade.”
Haaretz spills little ink on the Iran deal beyond reporting that Netanyahu is planning on going full court press to convince Congress to vote against lifting sanctions.
The paper’s lead editorial instead tackles the controversial demolition of the Bedouin village of Susya in the West Bank, claiming that the government’s argument that it is merely upholding the law in taking down the illegal homes is actually twisted backward, since the law itself is unjust.
“In Susya, as in all of Area C, the Israeli authorities enlist planning laws to justify restricting and blocking Palestinian construction and development,” the paper writes. “This is all misleading. Parallel construction laws enable the expansion of settlements while displacing as many Palestinians as possible and forcing them into Areas A and B, where the Palestinians have civilian authority. Thus, invoking the law is a particularly cynical move.”