The first phase of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 world powers finally came to an end last night, leaving Israel’s top pundits and commentators pondering and confused over the implications of the preliminary agreement for the Jewish state.
Yedioth Ahronoth writers Alex Fishman and Eitan Haber lament the signing of the agreement, respectively arguing that the international community has “sold us” for cheap, and has suffered “a magnificent defeat.”
Fishman argues that the Obama administration abandoned not only Israel, but all of the Middle East’s moderate states. Haber asserts that given the fact that the Islamic Republic has already invested billions of dollars in its nuclear program, it is highly unlikely that any deal would sway it from continuing to pursue its atomic ambitions. The West, Haber maintains, is tired of fighting, and therefore Iran will cheat and deceit until finally obtaining nuclear weapons.
Fellow Yedioth commentator Nahum Barnea, on the other hand, offers a less somber understanding of the nuclear deal and of the P5+1’s intentions when signing it. While Israel most certainly cannot rejoice over the terms of the deal, “Obama presented the agreement as the lesser of two evils,” Barnea writes. “The other options – striking at [Iran’s] nuclear facilities and thus starting a war, or continuing with sanctions and allowing Iran to get the bomb – would have led to a far more dangerous reality.” Barnea notes that a part of Tehran’s nuclear program will now be frozen and other parts discontinued – a far better outcome, he claims, than originally expected by Israel.
In Israel Hayom, the main headline screams out that a deal with Iran is “a historic mistake” — in a quote attributed to officials in Jerusalem. “Why should we start believing Iran?” Israel Hayom writer Boaz Bismuth asks rhetorically. “The key word is trust, and the Iranians cannot be trusted,” he states.
Meanwhile, Haaretz’s op-eds, written before the deal was done, are less concerned with Iran and more with internal politics. The paper’s front page does mention the deal’s significant clauses and sections, but shies away from offering any further analysis. Instead, Uri Misgav urges the leaders of the Zionist Union party not to join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government under any circumstances, while Yoel Marcus laments former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s downfall and expected imprisonment as he succumbed to greed rather than becoming the leader Israel deserved.
The paper’s editorial discusses Israel’s controversial new policy of expelling asylum-seekers to third-party countries in Africa. “[The Jewish] nation, which has experienced persecution and expulsion, is now turning into an aggressor; it is now forcing upon the asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan a reverse Exodus, from hope for freedom and redemption, to a new and dangerous exile,” the editorial argues. A cartoon accompanying the paper’s op-ed page shows two Israeli policemen loading an asylum seeker onto a plane with the words “kosher for Passover” written on its exterior. “Where are you this holiday?” one of the security officials asks the African migrant.
Back in Yedioth and Israel Hayom, both papers’ reporters paint a critical picture of Niv Asraf, 22, who is accused of falsifying his own kidnapping in the West Bank yesterday, putting the whole country on edge for several nerve-wracking hours. “Invented an abduction in Hebron,” Israel Hayom charges at Asraf and his friend, who is suspected of helping orchestrate the charade. “A prank that made the whole country jump,” the Yedioth headline states, without the slightest hint of amusement.
In Israel Hayom, military reporter Lilach Shoval presents a written account of 40-year-old recordings released yesterday for the first time by the IDF from the Savoy Hotel terror attack in Tel Aviv. In the recordings, one of the hostages, Kochava Levy, can be heard speaking both to an IDF negotiator and to a terrorist from the Palestine Liberation Organization in an attempt to mediate between them. The Savoy Hotel Attack ended after Israeli commandos from the Sayeret Matkal unit stormed the venue, killing seven terrorists and capturing the eighth. Five hostages were freed, while five were killed. Levy was commended by the IDF for her bravery during the attack. Commander Udi Slavi, who served in the Sayeret Matkal unit during the hotel attack, said yesterday that Levy provided the army with invaluable tactical information.
Finally, Yedioth gives us a back page story on the preparations for President Reuven Rivlin’s first official Passover Seder at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. The president’s three children and six grandchildren, as well as three lone soldiers, are expected to attend the holiday feast.
As an added perk, Yedioth publishes a kosher for Passover brownie recipe which was sent in to the paper by none other than Israel’s first lady Nehama Rivlin. Based on the amount of chocolate, sugar and pecans called for in the recipe, one can be sure the president’s guests will have a sweet Passover night.