Once elections were announced in October, every political party went into campaigning mode, with the Likud becoming on Sunday the first major party (sorry, Jewish Home) to go to the polls to elect its Knesset list for the upcoming elections. At least that’s how it was supposed to go. Computer crashes and long lines prompted the party to extend its primary for another day while the papers all took potshots at the flawed process.
Pro-Likud paper Israel Hayom’s headline didn’t pull any punches: “Failure and embarrassment,” was accompanied by a picture of party members waiting in a long line to vote on Sunday. “Everything was ready for the Likud primaries — except for the voting system,” reads the teaser on the front page. The paper goes on to detail how some party members couldn’t vote due to teh glitches.
Yedioth Ahronoth calls the day a farce and its coverage is a rundown of everything that went wrong throughout the day. One Ramat Gan voter who waited two hours to vote told the paper, “This is an embarrassment and disgrace for the ruling party.” Aside from reporting on the problems on Sunday, the paper also includes a “Guide for the perplexed voter,” which includes questions and answers on Monday’s voting.
Haaretz include a front-page opinion piece by Yossi Verter in which he highlights some of the frustrations of Likud voters. According to the piece, one frustrated voter yelled at Knesset Speaker Rueven Rivlin as he voted, “We took a day off work to come vote and we have been waiting in this line for over an hour. You vote and leave, what about us?” Verter is also skeptical of the balloting company’s excuse that it was attacked by a hacker: “In which case, we’re lucky that this hacker didn’t try to interfere with the Iron Dome operations during the week of warfare in the south.”
Maariv reports on another facet of the primary fiasco — voting improprieties. Likud MK and chairman of the aviation employees organization Haim Katz, wanted aviation employees to come vote for him, but instead of organizing a bus for transport, they arrived in company cars — a no-no. Katz responded by saying, “There is nothing to prevent workers from exercising their democratic rights.”
The Likud’s disaster of a primary was not the only political news, as Yair Lapid is stepping up to the plate in an effort to convince Tzipi Livni to join him. Israel Hayom reports that after Labor Party chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich offered Livni the second spot on her ticket, Yair Lapid is making the same offer to Livni despite past pledges that he wouldn’t. The paper reports that despite the offer, Livni is expected to decline and announce her own party on Tuesday.
Iron Dome gets a friend
While the papers may be down about the Likud fiasco, they are giddy about the first test of the new medium-range missile defense shield, David’s Sling. “The sling of victors,” declares Yedioth, which goes on to say, “Iron Dome is not alone. David’s Sling, the Israeli answer to Hezbollah’s advanced rockets, is nearing operational capacity.” On Thursday the system successfully completed its first test by downing a rocket on its first try. Aside from reporting on the test, the article shows how David’s Sling is just one part of a multi-level missile defense shield that includes the Iron Dome for short-range rockets, David’s Sling for medium-range, and the Arrow system for long-range missiles. According to Yedioth, David’s Sling is expected to become operational in 2014.
While Israel is taking steps to shield itself from missiles, Haaretz reports that the European Union is taking steps to shield itself from unruly settlers. “The EU is formulating a list of violent settlers that will not be allowed into their countries,” reads the headline. According to the paper, the move comes after a EU paper charged that Israel was not doing enough to stem settler violence. The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, pointed out the flawed logic of the proposal, “How will a person be defined as a ‘violent settler’ if he hasn’t been convicted? And if he has been convicted, then Israel has brought him to justice.”
Yedioth reports that recovering former Mossad chief Meir Dagan is expected to receive a special visitor at his Ichilov hospital room today, President Shimon Peres. Peres will be the second big-name politician that Dagan has received since undergoing a liver transplant in October, as Ehud Olmert stopped by last week. Despite the good prognosis for Dagan, the paper reports that he is still unable to speak and communicates only through writing.
While Shimon Peres visits Dagan, Maariv columnist Shalom Yerushalmi revisits the 1988 primaries that pushed Netanyahu into the Knesset. Yerushalmi recounts how Netanyahu returned to Israel in 1988 after six years of living in the United States and how he wanted fair and open primaries. Then Yerushalmi fast forwards to this year’s primaries and points to MK Haim Katz as a symbol of what is wrong. “The [aviation] workers are dependent on him,” he writes. “MK Haim Katz has 15,000 workers who will do his bidding. Even Netanyahu wants to make a deal with him. Do you call this democracy? I call it shady.”