Benjamin Netanyahu must feel a little like Donald Trump on the reality show “The Apprentice.” Watching his government ministers scramble for a solution to the imminent demolition of five buildings deemed illegal in Givat Ulpana, Netanyahu threw up his hands and decided to put a stop to the outpost “regularization bill” that he opposes by threatening to fire any minister who votes in its favor.
Netanyahu’s warning was paraphrased for the headlines across the front pages of Israel’s major papers. The inside articles got a bit more creative with Maariv leading the way. “Netanyahu flexes his muscles,” reads its headline, and Maariv lists those who have supported the bill in the past and how they are expected to vote (or not vote) today. But there is one decision still pending, “The million dollar question is how will Liberman decide?”
All four of the papers list the four ministers who publicly stated that they would support the bill despite Netanyahu’s threats: Yuli Edelstein (Information), Daniel Hershkowitz (Science), Ayoob Kara (deputy minister of development of the Negev and the Galilee), and Gila Gamliel (deputy minister).
Yedioth Ahronoth was the only paper to add Ze’ev Elkin to the list of supporters of the bill. Elkin is neither a minister nor deputy minister but a coalition chairman, so it is unclear if Bibi will tell him “You’re fired!”
Israel Hayom reports that the Ulpana residents may try to convince the Supreme Court to let them remain in their homes based on a Jordanian law which states that the government must compensate residents for their land. While the move is not expected to prevent the removal of the residents, they do hope it would prevent the demolition of the houses until their status is clarified.
Your passport and password, please
Haaretz reports on its front page on a new security tactic being employed at Ben Gurion Airport, asking for tourists for their email passwords. The article states that Shabak officers asked two female American tourists with “Arabic names” for their email and passwords. One of the women had previously visited Israel three times before, but after security guards searched through her emails and found pro-Palestinian emails, he denied them entry.
Israel Hayom reports that IDF Chief Benny Gantz is growing tired of all Iran talk. “Gantz attacks: Too much chatter regarding Iran,” its headline reads, and the article proceeds to clarify that Gantz is referring to former intelligence chiefs who have been over-vocal in their criticism. “There are people who knew things in the past, but today know nothing,” he complained.
Maariv’s top story is an exclusive interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While most of the interview was a rehash of the same talking points from the time of the flotilla, Erdoğan continued to take a hard line against Israel in everything, including tourists. “We don’t need Israeli tourists… in the past year we’ve had 31 million people.” Maariv strikes back Erdoğan in a side article, “Even a $286 weekend doesn’t bring Israelis.”
Yedioth Ahronoth prepares for the report on the Carmel Fire disaster of December 2010 by checking on the current state of firefighters in Israel. The article says that new recruits who joined after the disaster feel lied to. “They tricked us,” they told the reporter, adding that all of the money promised to the fire brigades for new and upgraded equipment goes to the West Bank security barrier.
Haaretz reports on the endless saga of the Harpaz affair. The article quotes Harpaz saying he knew both former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak and described their relations as “madness.”
While book week is in full swing, there are some people who are not happy about it: the authors. Maariv describes several prominent authors who are against the current sale of four books for 99 shekels, including David Grossman, Amos Oz, and Eli Amir. The reason that the authors give is that the sale price cuts into the already small amount they receive per book. Maariv provides a nice graphic that shows how the money is divided up for each sale of a book. For a 99-shekel book the author only receives between 80 agorot and two shekels.
Not forgetting the African migrant issue, Israel Hayom reports on page 13 that Interior Minister Eli Yishai has created a committee to deal with them. “The goal is the State of Israel without infiltrators,’” the headline quotes Yishai as saying. He hopes to have recommendations within two months so that the issue will be solved in the coming year.
In the opinion pages, Haaretz’s op-ed focuses on today’s vote for the outpost regularization bill. The piece, entitled “A Stain on the Knesset,” states that if this bill is allowed to pass, it will cause the international community to lose faith in Netanyahu, harm the rule of law in Israel, and, the paper concludes, cause difficulties for future peace negotiations. “Israelis, Palestinians and the international community will wondering how a prime minister who has difficulty in evacuating some invaders with a court order when he enjoys a coalition of 94 Knesset members will be ready to evacuate tens of thousands of settlers for peace.”