White nights, big hospital
Hebrew media review

White nights, big hospital

Workers hunker down for the night at Hadassah; a secret deal to send asylum seekers away; and low expectations for Iran nuke talks

African migrants protest outside the Holot detention center. (FLASH90)
African migrants protest outside the Holot detention center. (FLASH90)

Wednesday has turned out to be one of those days that newspaper editors hate, when the front-page story is obsolete by the time their readers wake up. The sit-in staged by Hadassah workers at the hospital entrance was front-page news for all the Hebrew dailies; unfortunately for them the story was resolved in the wee hours of the morning.

Nevertheless, the papers still provide perspective on the whole debacle. Yedioth Ahronoth’s Sarit Rosenblum thinks that the workers’ strike is akin to “shooting themselves in the foot.” She calls the actions of the workers “one of the main obstacles to an agreement… If they want to save Hadassah, they need to ensure that Hadassah becomes fully operational as soon as possible. Stagnation is the quickest way to cause Hadassah’s collapse.”

Over at Israel Hayom, Ran Reznick doesn’t focus much on the strike but rather asks, “Where did the Health Ministry go?” Reznick wonders what have the leaders of the Health and Finance ministries been doing in the past months since they learned about Hadassah’s financial troubles. Reznick takes a look around at the situation and concludes the piece with a solution of his own: “Immediately transfer the hospital to full ownership of the State of Israel.”

Instead of having pundits give their opinion of what’s going on, Maariv runs a letter from the chairman of the administrative staff, Amnon Baruchyan. He frames the debate in terms of weak versus strong and asks that Hadassah workers not be forced to pay for the mistakes of the management. “It should be clear: layoffs will not solve the problem at Hadassah,” he writes.

Haaretz is the only paper that doesn’t make a big fuss out of the hospital strike. Instead its top story is that the government is secretly flying asylum seekers to Uganda. The paper writes that according to Reut Michaeli, the director of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, government officials are asking asylum seekers to voluntarily fly to Uganda without any government assurances, though with a $3,500 grant. This could be trouble for those who go, since asylum seekers who volunteer might be deported in turn from Uganda.

Agreements, home and away

Two agreements that are being worked out also make big news in Wednesday’s papers: draft equality and a final Iranian nuclear deal.
Maariv reports that the Jewish Home party is acting like it’s the last to know that criminal penalties will be included in a future bill regarding the ultra-Orthodox draft. According to the paper, Jewish Home was trying to pretend that criminal sanctions were not fully decided by the committee, but even the ultra-Orthodox Shas party knew the score.

Ariel Atias from Shas told the paper, “Criminal sanction have already been decided on; all that remains is to see how it will be drafted. We now understand that Jewish Home deceived us all the whole time when they told us they were still struggling against criminal sanctions; they made a deal with Yesh Atid behind our backs.”

Israel Hayom’s Dan Margalit writes that Jewish Home has a split personality, trying to play both sides of the draft issue. But he doesn’t think that works, especially on an issue as important as this. “Justice demands equality here and now,” he writes. He goes on to urge an end to this manufactured crisis, since “even a government crisis will not remove the pressure for a decision to be made.”

Israel Hayom focuses on the Iran nuclear talks by way of summarizing a Jeffery Goldberg interview with Gary Samore, who until recently was US President Barack Obama’s go-to guy on issues of weapons of mass destruction. Samore believes that there is no chance for a long-term agreement with Iran. However, that doesn’t mean he believes negotiations are useless. “It’s not a waste of time,” he told Goldberg, “If we freeze the program for two years, that’s a positive good. It’s probably as good as you can do with diplomacy. Our strategy is to buy time.”

Haaretz’s Barak Ravid writes that the latest rounds of talks are quieter than the previous rounds, with less press interest. But the real story is happening in between rounds of talks on Twitter, which the various parties (especially the Iranians) are using to make their case. Iran Supreme Leader Ali Knamenei has been tweeting quotes from his speeches, like “Nuclear arms have neither provided security nor boost political power,” to prove that Iran doesn’t want such weapons.

Alex Fishman reports in Yedioth that the message from the opening of the talks to Israel is “don’t interfere.” Despite the low expectations around the talks, Fishman writes that the White House is worried that Prime Minister Netanyahu might try to upset the interim agreement through Congress. “The one thing that everyone at the talks agrees on,” Fishman writes, “is that no one wants the military option back on the table.”

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