Rumors of peace and rumors of war dominate the headlines, with Hezbollah officially announcing its intervention in the Syrian civil war and US Secretary of State John Kerry putting his foot down and insisting Israeli and Palestinian leaders get back to the negotiation table.
Haaretz reports that Kerry, following his latest trip to Israel and the PA and yet another set of talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, “feels that for the time being he has exhausted his dealings with the two leaders and now the ball is in their court.” Before departing, Kerry was said to tell Netanyahu and Abbas that he expects them to make “difficult decisions” regarding renewed negotiations within a week or two.
According to the report, the outline of Kerry’s proposal is that Israeli and Palestinian leaders reenter direct talks with no preconditions, that the negotiations start with sorting out borders of a Palestinian state and Israel’s security arrangement, and that those borders would be based on the ’67 lines — with adjustments for “changes on the ground.”
Maariv leads with the expectation that President Shimon Peres would address Abbas from the podium at the World Economic Forum in Jordan on Sunday and say that “the majority in Israel [favor] a return to the ’67 lines.”
“You’re my partner and I’m your partner. Let’s advance peace. I know that you know that there are not many gaps between us. I know that you know that the gaps that exist can be bridged,” the paper believes he will say. “Israel wants peace. We have a clear majority for a political solution under the premise of two states for two peoples along 1967 lines, with agreed and equal adjustments of the border.”
For Yedioth Ahronoth, the prospect of peace takes backseat to the rumblings of war from Syria, and gives priority to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speech Saturday night in which he publicly admits for the first time that his fighters are engaged in the Syrian civil war.
“Hezbollah will not abandon Syria because what happens there is important and crucial for Lebanon and the entire region,” the paper quotes him saying.
“Israel is arming the residents of the Golan Heights,” he charged. “The Israelis are importing Jews from Ethiopia, from Argentina, and Romania, giving them money, providing them work and arming them,” then demanding the southern Lebanese disarm, he said.
Former Brig. Gen. Yisrael Ziv writes in the paper that Nasrallah’s announcement is proof that the fortunes of Syrian President Bashar Assad are on the rebound and that “the axis of evil is alive and rising anew.”
Israel Hayom considers floundering business mogul Nochi Dankner, whose holding company IDB is NIS 9 billion in the hole, and who might lose control of it. Second to that, but far more interesting, is its report that Better Place, the much-lauded Israeli electric car company, filed for bankruptcy.
Citing a CNN report, Israel Hayom writes that entrepreneur Shai Agassi’s groundbreaking initiative to bring electric vehicles to the Israeli public was on the verge of collapse, threatening to put hundreds of workers in Israel and abroad out of a job. According to the paper the company went on a “expedition to find new investors in the company, but it appears that the chances of doing so are not high.”
Environmental Minister Amir Peretz said that Israel must do what it can to save the failed company and prevent its closure. A few dozen protesters gathered outside company headquarters and asked, “What are we going to do with our cars!?”
The Knesset’s Peri Committee in charge of military service reform was set to vote Sunday evening on a constellation of amendments to the present conditions of enlistment, including draft of the ultra-Orthodox population. Maariv reports, however, that should the vote pass, it will only do so by the skin of its teeth on account of fierce opposition from Jewish Home MKs to lengthened service for hesder yeshiva students. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) has also threatened to scuttle the draft bill.
“Peretz also expressed determined opposition to criminal sanctions against yeshiva heads” who do not comply with draft regulations, the paper writes, quoting Peretz saying, “Did someone think of levying a criminal punishment on principals whose schools have low draft numbers?” Peretz also opposed criminal punishment for yeshiva students who dodge the draft.
“If we determine today that in another three years it will be a criminal offense, we will presently turn the matter into a crisis,” Maariv quotes him saying.
According to Haaretz, the crux of the opposition to the bill lies with Jewish Home and Yisrael Beytenu’s insistence that any universal draft measure include enlistment of Israeli Arabs as well. The paper says the two nationalist parties have formed “a united front” in their demand to draft Israel’s Arab minority.
“We will insist that drafting [Arab] minorities will be no less than enlisting the ultra-Orthodox population,” Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) is quoted saying.