The folly on the hill
Hebrew media review

The folly on the hill

Election rhetoric heats up following military clashes with right-wing extremists, and US lawmakers make last-ditch effort to avoid economic meltdown

Soldiers walk through the remains of a makeshift structure in the West Bank outpost of Oz Zion on Saturday, Dec. 29 (photo credit: Flash90)
Soldiers walk through the remains of a makeshift structure in the West Bank outpost of Oz Zion on Saturday, Dec. 29 (photo credit: Flash90)

Reports on Friday’s fiasco, in which a group of right-wing activists clashed with security forces and caused the army to forgo a planned evacuation of a ramshackle West Bank outpost of Oz Zion, appear on the front page of all the Hebrew newspapers this morning.

While the roughly 200 right-wing youths left the outpost peacefully immediately after Shabbat, the political reverberations of the incident linger on.

“The right pressured and the evacuation was postponed,” reads the top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth. The story reports on how coalition chairman Likud MK Zeev Elkin played a role in convincing the army to stand down and push back the outpost’s demolition to Saturday evening.

Similarly, Maariv’s top headline reads: “Elkin: I prevented the evacuation of Oz Zion.”

The decision to postpone the evacuation at the last minute, after five border policemen were injured in the clashes, came under fire from both the political left and the police. Maariv features a story on Page 4 in which senior police officials blame the army for being indecisive and not following through with the planned mission. One of the officers accuses the military commander on the scene of being scared to confront the settlers. “We have no problem with negotiations, but that’s something you do before the evacuation and not when the evacuation fouls up. The moment the order was given it needed to be followed through. It looks bad. This is not the rule of law,” says the officer.

“The evacuation and the tempest,” reads the front page headline of Israel Hayom. The story focuses on the political reactions to the story and features quotes from Hatnua head Tzipi Livni, Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich and Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-on — all of whom blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right — as well as a statement by Likud-Beytenu’s Yair Shamir, who says the mistake lay in attempting to carry out the evacuation on Friday evening, before Shabbat.

Haaretz and Israel Hayom dedicate prime front page real estate to last-minute efforts by US lawmakers to reach an agreement on the “fiscal cliff” and thus prevent a major recession. Both papers provide news on the most recent developments, including US President Barack Obama’s message of optimism regarding the possibility of striking a deal before tomorrow’s deadline, and Israel Hayom features a sidebar on how a downturn in the US economy might affect the Israeli economy.

Another foreign news story that receives prominent coverage in the papers today is the mass protests in India following the death of a student who was brutally gang-raped last week. Reports on the outcry make the front page of both Maariv and Israel Hayom.

Yedioth Ahronoth offers a front page story on a pregnancy gone bad. The story reports on Hila Shvuron, 36, who was incapable of digesting food or water during the last seven months of her pregnancy, due to acute nausea. Shvuron gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Monday after receiving all the nourishment both she and the fetus required intravenously.

Israel Hayom reports on Page 17 on a police officer who was nabbed in a police sting operations to catch online pedophiles. The police officer reportedly held sexual conversations, both in chat rooms and over the phone, with a police decoy who claimed she was a 13-year-old girl. Moreover, the officer used police databases to dig up information about her and other women he encountered in chat rooms. According to the report, he will be charged with attempted sexual harassment as well as breach of trust.

Forget politics, bring in the experts

Amnon Lord writes in the opinion pages of Maariv that Israel should learn from the successful experiment of appointing Stanley Fisher as Bank of Israel chief and reach out to other non-natives to fill key government positions. Lord argues that recruiting world-renowned experts in their fields to work in the service of the state will provide a much-needed boost to the current crop of public officials. He nominates Italian politician Fiamma Nirenstein to the post of Israel’s ambassador to the UN and former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler to a cabinet post in the foreign service.

In Yedioth, Eitan Haber looks closer to home when suggesting a likely candidate for the next defense minister. Though he never mentions his name in the op-ed, Haber believes that the person Netanyahu wants by his side in his next term is none other than outgoing defense minister Ehud Barak. “The voters might not like it,” writes Haber, “but a day after the elections, who’s asking them?”

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