A presidential hangover
Hebrew media review

A presidential hangover

The euphoria of a great presidential race has faded and the papers wake up and say, ‘huh?’

All good now. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Reuven Rivlin meet on Wednesday in Jerusalem (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
All good now. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President-elect Reuven Rivlin meet on Wednesday in Jerusalem (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

The political after-parties are over and as Reuven Rivlin enters his second full day as president-elect, the papers have taken off their rose colored spectacles and taken a tougher look at the election that was.

Readers of Yedioth Ahronoth get a front page that proclaims that the Labor party is furious with failed candidate Meir Sheetrit for possibly hiding a past sexual offense. The incident came to the public’s view Wednesday night after Channel 10 reported Sheetrit paid 270,000 shekels (approx. $78,000) to a former housekeeper who had allegedly been sexually harassed by Sheetrit. According to Yedioth, Labor party boss Isaac Herzog asked Sheetrit point blank if he sexually harassed her, and Sheetrit denied it, saying it was instead a financial dispute.

But now Herzog is furious at Sheetrit for being duped into again backing someone with possible legal issues. The paper reports he told Sheetrit that the party was reeling from Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s financial scandal and didn’t want to back another scandal maker.

As for Ben-Eliezer, Israel Hayom reports that he was questioned for a second time on Wednesday for receiving money from abroad and not declaring it. Ben-Eliezer told investigators, “I have nothing to hide.”

The paper also reports on the Sheetrit scandal, quoting a police official who seems intent on pursuing the matter. “If he harassed her, then there is no escaping an investigation,” the unnamed police source said. Israel Hayom leaves out what Yedioth left in, which is that police heard about the complaint in 2013 and investigated, but didn’t press charges.

Aside from the scandal updates, Israel Hayom report on the winner of the presidential election and his meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday. The two supposedly buried the hatchet, with Netanyahu apologizing to Rivlin for his conduct during the election. Netanyahu seemed happy after the meeting, saying, “We’ve known each other for few decades. We’re both Jerusalemites, both sons of professors who were trained in the Jabotinsky’s school of thought, and we have a lot in common, like our soccer team.”

Over in Haaretz, the paper’s top story isn’t the presidential race but rather the lingering questions about the deaths of two Palestinian youths in May. According to sources that were present at the autopsy of one of those killed, he was killed by live fire. The IDF has always maintained that only rubber bullets were used to disperse the demonstration and not live ammunition. Officials who were at the autopsy told the paper the body was in good condition and entry and exit wounds could be identified. The autopsy was done with Palestinian, Israeli, American and Canadian experts. However, the paper points out, the official autopsy report hasn’t been completed yet.

Unnecessary tragedy

Both of the front pages of Yedioth and Israel Hayom report on the senseless killing of two children by their father. Since the news broke in the middle of the night, neither paper has a lot of details, but Yedioth does notes the horrific scene that greeted police and first responders when they entered the home. “We’re talking about a very difficult scene,” a first responder said, “It was impossible to look at what happened there; it was simply not human.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only murder in Israel. Israel Hayom reports that an 84-year-old man was arrested for beating his 77-year-old wife to death with a hammer. The couple, who had been married for 61 years, had not had any violent history. The man told police that they had an argument and that she annoyed him, so he killed her. He will be sent for a psychiatric evaluation while in custody.

Republican politics

American Republicans make a showing in Thursday’s Hebrew newspapers, including in Haaretz. The paper reports that Texas Senator Ted Cruz told a gathering of people at a Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs conference, “Israel may strike Iran in a number of months.” He went on to say, “I don’t think Israel should have to act to prevent Iranian nuclear-weapons capability because it is so profoundly in US national security interests that we should act, rather than forcing Israel to act.”

Over in Yedioth, the paper profiles Eric Cantor’s surprise loss in his primary campaign. “A star has fallen” is how the paper characterizes the Jewish Cantor’s loss. The paper also recounts what a good friend Cantor has been to Israel. He has met with Netanyahu during his tenure in Congress, and he questioned Obama’s handling of the peace process. As a member of Congress, Cantor also helped to increase the military assistance that Israel receives from the United States.

In the opinion pages, Israel Hayom columnist Dan Margalit writes that Rivlin and Netanyahu must get used to the idea of working together. He writes that it was obvious that the two had bad blood, but if Wednesday’s meeting is any indication, they also realize they need to put that behind them. Margalit also advises Rivlin not to try and fill the shoes of the presidents who came before him, but rather to have his own style.

Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit writes about Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s recent interest in the peace process. He sarcastically praises Lapid for creating a peace plan but says the real test is to recommend a settlement freeze. While he says Lapid’s interest in peace is better late than never, he is part of a government that has built 10,000 housing units in the West Bank over the past year. Shavit claims the old peace process is dead and the new one isn’t born yet, so the only way to keep a two-state solution alive is with a freeze. If Lapid doesn’t call for this, Shavit writes, “there will be no future for Yesh Atid and no future for its leader.”

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