Wednesday’s Hebrew papers are dominated with reports and analyses following a day of speeches by world leaders at the UN, especially those of US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. In addition, the deterioration in the health of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef takes up a large portion of the dailies’ front pages.
The US and Iran are in the process of reconciliation — coupled with a heavy dose of mutual suspicion, Haaretz‘s lead headline states, as the paper features a number of columns discussing and digesting the new dynamic between Washington and Tehran following their leaders’ statements at the UN General Assembly.
The daily quotes parts of Obama’s speech which show his apparent interest in changing the relationship between the two countries, while acknowledging that the process won’t occur in the blink of an eye.
“The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This mistrust has deep roots… I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight – the suspicion runs too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road towards a different relationship – one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.”
Hemi Shalev’s piece on the American president’s address, titled “The Obama Doctrine,” puts the emphasis on the president’s silent but obvious u-turn from his 2011 statement that he will not have a doctrinal approach regarding the Middle East.
“Unlike the cloudy wording that ‘all options are on the table,’ which Obama used to use in the Iranian context, in the doctrine he promises America ‘is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force’,” Shalev writes. “So that there will be no misunderstandings, he says the US ‘will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction’ — including chemical and nuclear weapons.”
Israel Hayom also focuses on Obama’s address, emphasizing the president’s openness to a diplomatic solution that will stop Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon, while quoting the part of his speech in which he made it clear “conciliatory words will have to be matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”
The paper writes that the diplomatic effort on the Iranian front has “taken a step forward,” as it reports not only on the content of Obama’s address and Rouhani’s speech, but also on a rebuffed US offer for the two to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA gathering.
Obama, the tabloid writes, had lunch with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a meal that Rouhani was also supposed to attend. “Many thought the event would lead to a ‘spontaneous’ handshake between the two,” it reports. However, the Iranian leader didn’t come to lunch and Obama headed back to Washington DC shortly after.
Yedioth Ahronoth throws Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Obama’s address into the mix, reporting on the Israeli leader’s openness to a diplomatic solution — andhis heavy cautioning not to be misled by Iran’s charm offensive
Netanyahu instructed the Israeli delegation to walk out before Rouhani’s address, saying that Israel would listen to his speeches after he stopped racing toward a weapon meant to destroy it. After the Iranian leader’s speech, the Israeli prime minister warned the world not to fall for Iran’s “cynical PR charade.”
The daily quotes from Netanyahu’s statement, telling readers how he slammed Rouhani who “condemned terrorism at a time when the Iranian regime carries out terrorism in dozens of countries worldwide,” and that Iran “is not investing a fortune in ballistic missiles and underground nuclear facilities in order to produce electricity.”
Maariv reports that sources in Jerusalem were disappointed by Obama’s speech, since he tied Middle East instability to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said an independent Palestine was needed for Israel’s security.
“Netanyahu decided not to criticize Obama, especially not ahead of their meeting in Washington next week,” the paper writes. However, it says Jerusalem hoped to hear a tougher and more reliable stance regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
European sources, the daily reports, have warned Israel it should prepare for a possible deal between Washington and Tehran regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The chances for such a deal, they say, “not only haven’t been reduced, but, in light of Obama’s speech, have grown.”
The daily also quotes Finance Minister Yair Lapid as criticizing Netanyahu’s decision to order the country’s delegates to leave the hall during Rouhani’s speech, saying it portrayed Israel as a country who wasn’t interested in peaceful resolutions.
The one thing the columnists in all four dailies seem to agree on is that Obama sent a message to Israel: the US will continue to support Israel’s quest to stop Iran only as long as Israel continues the US quest for a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Barak Ravid of Haaretz called the idea “Bushehr for Yitzhar,” referring to one nuclear facility in return for one settlement.
All four papers continue to follow and report on the latest developments from the hospital room where Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is being treated, as his situation continues to deteriorate.
While bringing emotional pictures of thousands gathered to pray for the rabbi’s health and family members, and politicians and friends in line to visit the 93-year-old religious leader, the papers also report that the battle over his political inheritance has started.
Maariv reports that former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar has received the support of Yosef’s family members to be named the next spiritual leader of Shas.
Newly elected Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef discussed his father’s medical situation with the Hadassah medical crew and shared his feelings with the hundreds who came to pray with him. Israel Hayom quotes the chief rabbi as saying, “Prayers are the only thing to hang on to,” because, medically speaking, the doctors aren’t giving his father many chances of recovery.