Israeli papers are looking ahead, but not necessarily looking forward to what is on the horizon: higher prices at the pump. The cost of a liter of gasoline is set to go up to NIS 7.99 on March 1, a record high, and both Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv lead with the issue.
Maariv writes that there will be a “wave of higher prices across the economy,” due to the higher prices. Everything from electricity prices to public transportation costs and airfare will go up with the gas prices.
Yedioth skips the news (aside from a short piece saying that Netanyahu is considering lowering prices) and goes straight for the jugular with an opinion piece by Sever Plotzker placing the blame for higher prices firmly upon the government, which accounts for nearly half the price of the gas through taxes. Plotzker takes aim at the excise tax, a flat fee of NIS 2.96 per liter, no matter the actual price of gas, which he says the government wants even higher.
“The hike in the excise tax was stopped thanks to pressure from last year’s protests,” he writes. “Were it not for the protests and the Trajtenberg recommendations, we would be paying another 40 agorot per liter — NIS 8.40.” Instead of just leaving it be, though, he says the government should lower the tax until gas prices calm down.
Haaretz leads off with the headline “The state surrenders, but Migron pushes off a compromise.” The staunchly anti-settler broadsheet writes that though most of their demands were met by the government, as announced by Benny Begin at a press conference yesterday, Migron settlers are still not prepared to accept a deal that would move them to a state-owned hill two kilometers away.
At issue for the settlers, who will lose their homes at the end of March if a High Court order stands, is whether the original homes will remain standing or whether they will be demolished. The Migron settlers aren’t the only ones unhappy with the deal. Yedioth has leftist group Peace Now calling the deal a prize for lawbreakers.
Maariv, which gave scant space to the issue, quotes Begin saying that this is the last deal the settlers will be offered and the government won’t move from it. Begin tells Maariv that he refuses to put in a clause saying their homes can stay up.
Writing in Israel Hayom, Dan Margalit calls on the settlers to take the deal and stop figuratively nickel-and-diming the government. “Migron will lose everything if they make the army move them out with force… It’s still not too late. The Begin compromise is waiting for them. If they bring up another trivial thing, they can lose their whole world.”
Not canned after all
The reopening of the Pri Hagalil fruit and vegetable cannery in Hatzor Haglilit is a bit of good news for journalists to feast on. Under the headline, “The battle bears fruit,” Yedioth happily reports that the government finally stepped in to grant the plant NIS 18 million to stay open and save the jobs of hundreds of workers. “We still need to close up some little things, but the factory workers, the owners and the residents of Hatzor Haglilit can smile even before Purim,” Yedioth quotes MK Carmel Shama Hacohen, who sits at the head of the Knesset Economics Committee.
The papers also all preview the handover this afternoon of the reins of the Supreme Court from Dorit Beinisch to Asher Grunis, who will become president of the highest court in the land. In Maariv, Ben Dror Yemini and Noam Sharbit mark Beinisch’s leaving. Yemini, no fan of the justice, starts off saying that he’ll say some nice things about her and then slams her for taking criticism of the court personally. “When Beinisch, like all members of her school, pushes off every criticism as an ‘attack’ on the court, she harms exactly the one positive and central aspect of it, since the criticism, most of the time, is to the point, not directed at certain people.”
Sharbit is nicer, writing a true appreciation of Beinisch: “One way or another, it was hard to stay apathetic toward Beinisch. You were for her or against her. But it seems that even her opponents need to thank her for more than 40 years of public service, during which she was revealed as an iron woman who battled for reliable values.”
Jesus and Spiderman
Haaretz has a story that celebrity archaeologist Simcha Jacobovici has another find, this time cave paintings next to the Talpiot tomb where he believes Jesus is buried, which he says bolster his claim.
“It seems that the finds — the most important of which was an incised drawing clearly showing a large fish swallowing or vomiting a human figure — were worth the effort. The carving underscores Jacobivici’s belief that Jesus was buried in the nearby cave because the fish, and the image of Jonah and the whale, were both early Christian symbols,” Nir Hasson writes.
On the lighter side, Maariv has a pre-Purim story on the most popular costumes. There are no surprises (beyond the exclusion of an Angry Birds get-up on the list) as Spiderman takes first for the boys and a generic Disney princess (Snow White?) for the girls.
In Yedioth’s op-ed section, comedian Nadav Abuksis writes that Pri Hagalil should stay shut and Hatzor Haglilit, his home town, should try to lure better jobs and turn into the next Yokne’am. “The older workers who were fired, some of whom I’m sure I know, will get severance pay. The younger ones won’t have a choice. But pretty much any work is better than working at Pri Hagalil,” he writes.
In Haaretz, Yuval Albashan writes that court watchers should be worried by the promotion of Grunis, who disagreed with the overturning of the Tal Law because he saw it as judicial activism that would have little effect in helping draft the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF: “Any judge who hands down an opinion for such reasons is not doing his or her job,” he writes. “Judges must be subordinate solely to their consciences and to the law, as they understand it. Judges must not issue rulings based on their chances of being implemented, based on who’s in power at any given time.”