As the West and Iran get ready to continue negotiations this week over the Iranian nuclear issue, Sunday’s Hebrew papers set the stage for possible developments (including a deal).
Maariv highlights the fact that nothing about the Iranian nuclear negotiations is clearcut, including the American position on them. The paper reports that there is a difference of opinion even within the State Department as Wendy Sherman, the under secretary of state for Political Affairs, worries an agreement would be a “historic mistake.” A source told the paper that Sherman’s reluctance comes from her participation in nuclear talks with North Korea in the 1990s, when the North Koreans gave assurances not to go nuclear but then did.
While there may differences of opinion in the State Department, Haaretz reports that like good parents, the American government is presenting a unified front. According to the paper, the US has a plan to prevent the sanctions from collapsing entirely if an agreement is signed soon. Part of the plan includes making it very clear that any agreement will only be for six months and if no permanent agreement is reached, the sanctions will be back and harsher than ever.
Israel Hayom could be renamed France Hayom with all the love it puts in its front few pages for the French President François Hollande, who is set to arrive in Israel on Sunday. “Bienvenue Monsieur Le President,” is written in French on the front page, while inside the paper showers the French with praise for blocking the agreement between Iran and the West.
Columnist Boaz Bismuth notes, “We are facing a crucial week. It won’t be easy to prevent a transaction, especially when the Americans and the Russians are eager to get it signed.” Bismuth goes on to say that Obama wants an agreement as his approval ratings are plummeting after the introduction of Obamacare. “If anyone can promise Netanyahu that the Iranian nuclear project will be as successful Obama’s health care reform, then he could sleep well at night.” But Hollande isn’t in the clear either. Bismuth points out that though France blocked an agreement before, he might not have the political will to do it again, as his approval ratings are as low as Obama’s.
Only Yedioth Ahronoth leaves Iran off its front page, instead opting for public outrage as it reports the Israeli government chose China over terror victims. American tourist Daniel Wultz was killed in a 2006 terror attack in Tel Aviv and his family is suing the Bank of China, which they claim funneled money to Islamic Jihad — the group that carried out the attack. Key to their case was the testimony of an Israeli counter-terrorist expert who had warned the Chinese in 2005 that terrorist organizations were funneling funds through the bank. On Friday, the Israel government replied to a subpoena for the government official, saying that they would not allow him to testify. Daniel’s father, Yekutiel Wultz, told Yedioth, “The Israeli government promised to support me, to stand behind me, to provide assistance. After five years I suddenly find that all the officers have run away. They tell me: You’re on your own.”
A mysterious scandal
A major celebrity scandal seems to be brewing in Israel and pixelated pictures and op-eds are filling in for facts. Last week the story broke that a popular singer (who renames unnamed due to Israel’s privacy laws, though everyone knows who he is) is being investigated for having sex with underage girls. Yedioth provides four pages of coverage, including the fact that the father of the singer knew that the girls were underage. One of the girls said of the singer, “We slept together and smoked drugs, but I said I was 18.” She told the paper, “We would meet at his house and at hotels. He bought me diamonds and gave me his credit card. His father would sleep with my friends and he knew that they were underage.”
Israel Hayom also gives a scandal update, with the paper predicting that arrests will be made sometime this week.
Israel Hayom columnist Dan Margalit urges calm and instructs the media to stop reporting rumors. “We don’t know the truth,” he writes, “an indictment is dependent on facts, not rumors.”
While Dan Margalit is worried about a rush to judgment, a Yesh Atid member worries that there is a growing rift between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid. Maariv reports Science Minister Yaakov Peri said the peace process and ultra-Orthodox conscription are driving a wedge between the two parties. He fears that these two issues will have to force one of them to leave the government, possibly causing new elections.
Finally, in the Haaretz opinion pages, Amir Oren writes that America doesn’t want any more to do with war or the Middle East. “The American voters, and the Obama White House, are sick of Middle Eastern wars, and are ready to give diplomacy a chance. If Netanyahu insists on standing in front of this steamroller, he may find himself under it.”