The front page pictures across Israel’s four major dailies paint a picture of discontent among the Bedouin community. Thousands of Bedouins protested across the country in response to the Prawer Plan, which aims to expand some Bedouin communities while removing other, illegal, ones.
Israel Hayom‘s front page employs an unattributed quote as its headline: “We won’t tolerate riots.” The paper gives a rundown of the facts — 30 Bedouins arrested, 10 police officers lightly hurt, traffic jams for miles — before getting to the reactions. Declaring that there would be no tolerance for lawbreakers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also urges that the plan be implemented — “We will continue to promote the law for a better future for all residents of the Negev.”
Bedouin community leader and former Knesset member Taleb el-Sana said, “The protests are a warning to a government that continues a policy of displacement and ethnic cleansing.” However, Doron Almog, who is in charge of implementing the Prawer Plan, told Israel Radio that the protests are the work of a vocal minority and that 85% of the Bedouin agree with the plan.
Maariv runs an op-ed by Almog with its coverage of the protests. Almog rejects the idea that the Prawer Plan has any objective other than improving Bedouin communities and says, “We are trying to resolve a land dispute that has lasted for over 40 years, to the benefit of all Bedouins.” He rejects the idea of tying the plan to the Palestinian movement or any other group and conclude concludes his piece, “Bedouins are citizens with equal rights in Israel and certainly deserve to receive a higher quality of life, for the prosperity of the Negev and for a future of hope all citizens of Israel — Bedouins, Arabs and Jews alike.”
Haaretz‘s front page bizarrely juxtaposes a picture of police arresting a Bedouin man with a story next to it about creating new towns in Israel’s north, not south. The paper writes of a new plan by the settlement division of the World Zionist Organization, which is an operational arm of the government, to increase the Jewish presence in the north so there is more of a balance between the Arab and Jewish populations there. According to the paper, the plan calls for creating new communities for 100,000 residents in the central Galilee region.
Yedioth Ahronoth‘s top story is a followup to its Friday exclusive on discrimination faced by Druze soldiers. The paper reported on Friday that while on a training exercise at the secretive Dimona nuclear facility, Druze soldiers who arrived with their unit were singled out and forced to wait outside while their comrades were allowed in. Netanyahu responded to the story saying, “Members of the Druze community are our flesh and blood. They serve in IDF combat units, and they deserve to be treated as equals.”
Money lost, money found
The budget battles earlier in the year between the IDF and the government were front page news, with the IDF arguing it couldn’t operate with the budget it had. Maybe one cost-saving measure could be be to buy some locks so all of their gear wouldn’t get stolen. Haaretz reports the IDF lost NIS 50 million (about $14 million) in military equipment in 2012. Most of the equipment was stolen, and the army is worried because thieves are becoming more brazen. Some of the equipment that went missing: Gil anti-tank missiles, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and fuel from a base in the south. Things don’t look better in for this year either, as expectations are for the figure to rise in 2013.
Yedioth reports on money that newly arrested former chief rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger earned while in office. Overall the rabbi took in over $3 million, much of it in questionable ways. “Chutzpah: He took NIS 300,000 (about $85,000) for a ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto,” the paper writes. That’s not all — he attempted to give his assistant a million dollars to take the fall for him. The attempted bribe didn’t work, as his assistant (unbeknownst to Metzger) had already turned state’s evidence.
If not under house arrest, Metzger might want to take a vacation to the Galilee, but even he might not be able to afford the parking price increase. As Maariv reports, the price of parking along the Sea of Galilee is set to rise by 50 shekels a day. Maariv ties the price increase to the development of new beaches and general improvement for public access to the lake: “But this upgrade has a price and it will cost — the public of course — a lot more money.” Just how much more money? The current price for all-day parking is NIS 70 (about $20) and will rise to NIS 120 (about $34).
Over in the opinion pages, Israel Hayom’s Dan Margalit writes that President Barack Obama has come to terms with a nuclear Iran. Margalit argues the agreement hurts all of America’s allies in the region: “It expresses the collapse of all his obligations, and it’s a break that’s hard to fix, not only with Israel but also with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Gulf and to some extent even with Turkey.” Margalit writes that Iran will become a perpetual “threshold state,” always on the edge of producing nuclear weapons, and if the world doesn’t accept a demand from Tehran then the ayatollahs will declare that they have the bomb. All of this leaves Margalit to conclude, “Obama’s America is folding. Its pact with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Egypt doesn’t speak to its heart. Not just [the rest of] the world will pay the price, America will too, but only after Obama has left office.”