Hebrew media review

Gas-trick bypass

As lawmakers prepare to vote, all eyes are on whether Avigdor Liberman will help the coalition pass gas legislation

Gas rigs in the Tamar field, off the coast of Israel, in June 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Gas rigs in the Tamar field, off the coast of Israel, in June 2014. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Gaza bound-flotilla may not have managed to give Israel the diplomatic black eye they were supposedly hoping for, but they at least managed to screw over Israel’s main newspapers by being boarded in the dead of night, thus rendering a goodly chunk of the papers out of date before they even hit the newsstands.

The result isn’t total fish-wrap though, as the papers also devote major coverage to the gas dispute, the Greek debt crisis and Iranian nuclear talks.

The controversial gas deal, which is supposed to come to a head in the Knesset on Monday, leads both Israel Hayom and Haaretz, though the papers split on whether Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman will offer key support to the measure to bypass an antitrust ruling, allowing an Israeli-US partnership to turn on the gas and get the roustabouts to work.

While Haaretz reports that Liberman’s party is expected to support the measure despite sitting in the opposition, Israel Hayom says “the political system” believes he will oppose it, though the paper itself seems of two minds on the issue.

“Sources close to Liberman say his possible support in the Knesset vote is not a signal of his intention to join the government,” the paper writes. “Having said that, sources in the political echelon estimate that the pause in attacks from Liberman against the prime minister are designed to eventually pave the way for his entrance into the coalition.”

Haaretz reports that the deal the government wants to give the Delek-Noble partnership would shield it from antitrust action until 2030, though reporter Avi Bar-Eli, writing as a commentator, says not to expect the lawmakers voting on the measure to know that.

“The Knesset members who will be asked to vote today for bypassing the antitrust commissioner’s authority and moving it to the government’s aegis don’t have the professional background for that. They will vote for or against the same decision made by eight of their colleagues four years ago, without having a grip on the needed considerations that were needed then to make a decision – and which today have become redundant,” he writes. “The attorney general’s decision to allow behavior like this is surprising. From within the system and in the heat of the action, creative blocking maneuvers like these perhaps seem like they have service to the public.”

In Israel Hayom, though, Haim Shine puts on a show of logical gymnastics and calls for lawmakers to put the pedal to the metal on the gas extraction at whatever cost necessary, summing up protests against as a whole bunch of jiggery-pokery.

“After years of delays, and it doesn’t matter who is to blame, the time has come to vote and hit the gas. The few protesters who organized a demonstration against everything and for nothing, just prove that the public is sick of talking and wants to see the gas flowing at respectable numbers for their good and their welfare,” he writes.

If Israelis needed a reminder of how important a diverse economy can be, they need look no further than Athens, where the country’s financial impasse is termed by Yedioth a Greek tragedy.

Israelis will be most interested in what the Greeks’ pain means for them, and the paper offers some helpful advice to those looking to spend their vacations there without sunbathing in an ATM line.

Firstly, the paper says, bring cash, and secondly, don’t expect to spend any less to hang out with Cretans, just because they are the black sheep of the Eurozone, as prices for vacations there did not take any nosedive.

It’s no surprise for Israeli tour operator Sivan Zamir, who says the debt crisis isn’t quite the Homeric epic it’s being made out to be.

“The last 24 hours have maybe seen a little less action, but the Greeks are not in hysterics, they are even a bit apathetic,” Zamir tells Yedioth. “They’ve been preparing for a situation in which they leave the Eurozone. In the meantime, there’s no problem with credit cards, businesses are open, and tourists are not feeling the crisis. For now, there’s no reason to panic. It’s still possible to have an enjoyable vacation here.”

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