Even though no date has been declared, Israel’s political parties are gearing up for the next general elections. The major news in today’s papers is Tzipi Livni’s exit from politics and Yair Lapid’s entrance. Livni-Lapid coverage occupies the front page of three out of the four major Hebrew dailies, with only Haaretz opting to leave Livni off the front page.
Yedioth Ahronoth’s headline about Livni reads: “Leaving, not quitting.” The paper quotes the former Kadima leader speaking during yesterday’s press conference, “At this stage I am leaving the Knesset, but I am not leaving public life.” Yedioth also includes a graphic showing the results of a hypothetical combined Lapid/Livni ticket, which would give Lapid’s newly created Yesh Atid party 16 seats with Livni, or just 11 without.
Maariv covers Livni’s departure with a detailed article about the press conference, with more quotes about her time in government: “I am not sorry that I did not agree to be a political partner in this coalition… even though there was a high political price for that decision.” The coverage also includes a timeline of Livni’s time in government.
Israel Hayom ties its coverage of Livni’s decision to that of Yair Lapid, contrasting the two in its Page 2 article. The article leads with the latest election news, reporting that barring an unexpected development, elections will be held on September 4. The article briefly discusses Livni’s exit and then focuses on Yair Lapid’s new political party and his speech yesterday detailing his plan to draft the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF and national service.
There is a plan
Haaretz covered Lapid’s plan in a front-page opinion piece. The plan calls for a five-year deferment period before introducing mandatory military or civil service for the ultra-Orthodox. The delay would allow the IDF and the country to prepare for proper absorbtion of the new recruits. Yossi Verter’s opinion piece asks, “Why five years? Why not two? The country needs equality now, not in five years.” Verter comments that with Lapid’s announcement yesterday that he is not getting into politics to sit in the opposition, it is hard to imagine Livni joining him. “Her associates say that her options are open,” Verter writes, “But let’s be honest, her options are waning.”
Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth also cover Lapid’s plan, with Maariv providing a graphic detailing the particulars of the plan, which include revoking government subsidies for studies and creating a new model for reserve duty that includes more benefits for those who serve.
Yedioth Ahronoth has a Page 6 story about a reserve IDF officer who is suing his former employer, who he claims fired him for doing his reserve duty. The officer, who took part in a battle with terrorists during the August 2011 attack on Highway 12, found that when he returned to his office he was fired for failure to complete work while he was in uniform. The article states that the officer is not alone and over the past year there has been a jump in companies firing people due to their reserve duty.
Haaretz’s other front-page story is on the state comptroller’s report that was released yesterday. The headline paraphrases the report: “The education system is privatized, and the parents are paying.” The article mentions, among the many failures of the education system, the fact that the system charges parents between 2 and 3 billion shekels annually.
Israel Hayom reports on Page 9 that Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus, confessed to charges of obstructing the state’s investigation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Ben Aryeh is expected to do six months of community service. Despite the lengthy investigation of Liberman for a variety of fraud allegations, the attorney general still has not decided whether to press charges against him. A decision is expected within the next few weeks.
Maariv’s Page 10 is completely dedicated to articles on rape. The top story on the page is about a Palestinian youth who was arrested for trying to rape an Ashkelon resident in front of her daughter. Below it, Maariv tells a troubling tale of suspected rape, this time at a high school party just outside Jerusalem. According to the report, police arrested four men who worked at a villa where a high school graduation party was held and where a woman was in a side room. A third article is about former president Moshe Katsav, who is finally conforming to prison regulations and wearing an orange jumpsuit when meeting visitors. Katsav, who is serving a seven-year sentence for rape, had until now refused to wear the proper apparel required when prisoners leave the cellblock to meet with visitors.
Haaretz’s editorial laments the stagnant Israeli political situation in a goodbye letter to Tzipi Livni. The piece recalls how Livni made Kadima Israel’s largest political party but failed to turn it into a viable opposition party. “Livni was imbued with the idea that it was possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians… and there aren’t a lot of politicians who share that faith,” the editors write about Livni. But while they don’t see this next election cycle bringing about any fundamental changes in the Israeli political landscape, Haaretz is confident that Livni will return to public life. Maybe not with Kadima, maybe in a different role, but the public has not seen the last of Tzipi Livni.