Maariv leads with “The IDF returns to the Egyptian front,” and reports that the Defense Ministry has requested an additional NIS 15 billion in the next five years to reinforce the southern border. In case Israelis had forgotten over the past 30 years, Maariv reminds them that Egypt has the largest army in the Middle East and they’ve fought a war or two. A chart puts the figures into perspective: 500,000 regular soldiers, 500,000 reserves, 3,000 tanks, 30 missile ships, and loads of other nasty weapons.

Half a million soldiers, who will fight them? Haaretz and Yedioth Aharonoth report on Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Plesner Committee’s battle over ultra-Orthodox IDF enlistment. Yedioth Aharonoth reports that there is a divergence of opinion between the committee and the prime minister on some particulars. Its headline brands the prime minister as “fighting for the ultra-Orthodox.”

The committee called for individual punishment for draft dodgers, Netanyahu wanted institutions — like yeshivas — to be slapped with fines instead. The committee advocated a quota of ultra-Orthodox who are exempted from army service, Netanyahu thought quotas unsatisfactory.

Haaretz reports that Netanyahu called on Shas to ease its positions regarding ultra-Orthodox enlistment to the IDF. The prime minister asked MKs Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias to put forth alternatives to the committee’s proposals, which they agreed to do immediately. Haaretz calls Shas’s compliance a first sign of “sobering up” among ultra-Orthodox parties regarding the draft issue.

United Torah Judaism MKs are the most adamant in their opposition to setting a draft exemption quota. “We are not cattle,” Haaretz quotes them as saying. MKs Yaacov Litzman and Moshe Gafni told Netanyahu on Tuesday that they refused to agree to any quotas or penalties — whether individual, institutional, or collective.

Israel Hayom publishes a suggestion by the Plesner Committee to enlist ultra-Orthodox Israelis to the Shin Bet and Mossad in addition to the army and national service. If the recommendation is accepted, it will be the first time that the ultra-Orthodox will have been drafted into these security organizations.

No joke: the Turkey shoot

Israel’s political cartoonists took issue with the recent crisis between Turkey and Syria

Haaretz shows two trees, one topped by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s head, the other by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s head. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu carry a ladder and are rushing towards Assad. Erdogan says “Let’s go climb another tree.”

Photo of political cartoon in Haaretz June 28, 2012

Photo of political cartoon in Haaretz June 28, 2012

Maariv shows Erdogan stepping out of a boxing match with Netanyahu to box a glove-less Assad. Erdogan tells Netanyahu “I’ll be right back.”

Photo of political cartoon in Maariv June 28, 2012

Photo of political cartoon in Maariv June 28, 2012

Maariv publishes statements by Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zubi that Assad’s troops may have mistaken the Turkish plane shot down on Friday for an Israeli jet.

Settlement settlements

The presidents of all Israel’s universities petitioned the prime minister not to allow the Ariel University Center of Samaria to be recognized as a full university. Haaretz quotes their letter saying that the significance of establishing a new university “grievously injures higher education as a whole, and the universities in particular.”

“The universities have suffered many years of underfunding, causing damage to Israel’s research abilities, which has led to brain drain, and forestalled the development and advancement of research and instruction infrastructure. These years are known as the ‘lost decade’ and the universities are coping with the consequences to this day,” the academics wrote.

“There is no room for another research university in Israel,” Technion University President Prof. Peretz Lavie told Haaretz.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz favor the decision to make Ariel a full-blown academic research center. The Council on Higher Education is expected to decide on the matter in the coming weeks.

Israel Hayom reports that residents of the Migron outpost have purchased 80% of the land on which the settlement is situated from its Palestinian owners. They hope the move will forestall a court-ordered evacuation slated for August 1.

Legal expert Dr. Aviad Hacohen writes in Israel Hayom that the High Court of Justice should reopen the case on Migron in light of this development.

“If the news regarding the purchase of the land on which the houses of Migron sit is correct — all of them or some of them, and legally, willingly and fully paid for,” Hacohen says, then the court should “reopen the discussion in the HCJ in order to find an outcome that would be more just.”

Haaretz editorialist Meron Rapoport writes that “the settlement movement in the territories has suffered a serious defeat” in its failure to prevent the evacuation of illegal buildings in Beit El’s Givat Ulpana neighborhood. She claims that some settlers are starting to realize that the status quo is “an anomaly” and the current legal status of settlements and Area C cannot continue.

“Givat Ulpana may help bring the settlers down from the hilltops,” she says.