Fat chance against a slim majority?
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Hebrew media review

Fat chance against a slim majority?

The two-vote margin of victory for the prime minister’s cabinet expansion measure makes headlines, as do dastardly opposition plans to, you know, oppose him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) seen with other members of Knesset, after a Knesset vote on enabling an increase in the number of government ministers, May 11, 2015. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) seen with other members of Knesset, after a Knesset vote on enabling an increase in the number of government ministers, May 11, 2015. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The government passed its first test Monday as the Knesset okayed a measure that will allow it to expand the cabinet, and the close tally, as unsurprising as it is, still manages to enthrall much of the Hebrew-language press Tuesday morning.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s front page is splashed with the count of 61:59, representing the number of those who voted for the bill on first reading and those who voted against, though it’s the total of 120 that the tabloid is most impressed with. The paper seems enamored of the fact that the vote featured all of Israel’s elected representatives actually doing their jobs and casting votes on the measure.

“It was a rare sight, which is only seen in the plenum once every few years: all 120 Knesset members, from the first to the last, showing up to vote on a measure that doesn’t deal with their swearing in or dissolution,” the paper reports breathlessly.

Yedioth is also taken with the opposition’s plans to filibuster the bill, pimping a picture of Labor MK Itzik Shmuli turning his office into a bedroom for the expected all night legislate-a-thon. In order to push off the vote on expanding the coalition, Yedioth reports, the oppositions will push a number of nonsensical amendments and discuss them at length from the floor. Among the proposals: Moving the government seat from Jerusalem to Mount Olympus, changing the word “government” to “Bibi’s Friends” in bills, legislating that the deputy prime minister send Netanyahu flowers once a week, and enshrining in law that Netanyahu is prime minister of everyone, except “those who go to voting booths in droves on buses,” a not so gentle dig at Netanyahu’s inopportune election day plea to supporters.

Proving that childishness isn’t the reserve of only one side of the debate, Israel Hayom’s A1 reports on Likud’s “I know you are but what am I” response to those who vilify the attempt to expand the cabinet.

“I hear the cries of the opposition and I ask: remove the cobwebs from your eyes,” Likud enforcer Ofir Akunis is quoted saying. “This is the heights of hilarity to hear this from factions that sat in cabinets larger than the one we are proposing.”

Indeed the paper even quotes Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich remarking that had her party been the one governing, they would have also looked to add ministers, a move that earned her no small amount of pushback from her side of the aisle.

Haaretz keeps from getting too excited about the vote and the coalition battles surrounding it, running only a straight report on the vote. The paper does, though, give ample real estate to Labor leader Isaac Herzog’s claim that Netanyahu failed in creating a government, and new elections should be called right away, with him even calling on new coalition members to back out, saying a majority of 61 MKs is no majority at all.

“I turn to your sense of national responsibility, to your feeling of responsibility that brought you to this building,” he’s quoted saying at a faction meeting. “You cannot lead the country willingly in the way of Netanyahu. We won’t let you lead, you cannot rule.”

Israel Hayom columnist Haim Shine, apparently not a fan of dialectics, has a message for Herzog and his insidious attempts to undermine Netanyahu with his darn opposing him all the time: You lost, go home.

“If the Israeli public was interested in seeing Herzog as their head, it would have given him more mandates,” he writes, before slamming the opposition’s attempts to oppose Netanyahu even before the elections were called late last year. “In professional language, the planned procedure by Herzog and his partners was a ‘putsch.’ The move, which was secret and led to elections, has come into the light where everyone can see it.”

Haaretz sees in the hubbub over the formation of the government the chance to speak out against a little-mentioned enterprise: The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division, which was given to Jewish Home control along with a nice NIS 50 million nest egg under the coalition deal.

“These coalition agreements are full of injustices and distortions, including the wholesale distribution of social and financial assets needed to assure a sustainable future to cobble together a coalition. But the Settlement Division clause is particularly problematic; not only is it not legally legitimate, it is also immoral because it is a tool for expanding and perpetuating the occupation,” the paper writes in its lead editorial.

While Netanyahu and his coalition buddies are facing their first major test, students in Israel are not getting the chance to face other important tests, because the exams keep getting leaked.
Yedioth reports that the leaking of the English high school matriculation exam, discovered Monday, is the fifth instance of a state test getting into the wrong hands in 2015 alone, and officials are ready to put somebody in detention over the incessant screw-ups.

“This is a farce,” the paper quotes Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger, who also heads the education committee for the umbrella body of local governments. “This is the fifth time that a matriculation exam has been leaked in the last half year. It’s time to realize that something isn’t working in the guarding of the tests.”

Just say no ( to Obama)

In Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth takes some solace in the fact that Gulf states are abandoning US President Barack Obama in the wake of the Iran nuclear pact, after several leaders canceled trips to Camp David for a summit with the leader of the free world.

“Though in Riyadh they are broadcasting business as usual, Gulf commentators are flooding news outlets with praise for their leaders for keeping their dignity and not rushing to the summit planned by the American president who chose to look for American interests in Iran,” he writes.

Some solace, though, doesn’t mean there’s not still room for a kvetch.

“So what’s in store for us,” Bismuth continues. “The Gulf states will demand to upgrade their security and demand a balance-breaking weapon. At the end of the day, nobody will happy, except for Tehran.”

For a real friend, it seems, Israelis turned Monday to Berlin, which would never do anything bad to Jews. The marking of 50 years of ties is celebrated with festive stories and spreads in all three major papers.

In Haaretz, Ofer Aderet takes a look back at the relationship between the countries, and notes that in the course of time, the ties have become less and less freighted with the bitterness of history.

“In addition to diplomatic, economic and defense relations, the story of 50 years of relations between Israel and Germany is also the story of the average citizens on both sides,” he writes. “In the 1960s, many Israelis boycotted German goods. But this unofficial boycott has died out over the years. Fifty years later, the barrier to most Israelis owning a Mercedes, BMW or Audi is no longer moral or historic, but economic. If once brands tried to hide their German origin, now it is usually considered a sign of quality and advanced technology.”

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