Hebrew media review

Iran, Migron, and judicial mayhem

A symbolic outpost gets taken down, legal minds battle, and some other country in the Middle East keeps making it to the front pages

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Protesters at the Jewish settlement of Migron being led away by Israeli border police on Sunday. (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)
Protesters at the Jewish settlement of Migron being led away by Israeli border police on Sunday. (photo credit: Oren Nahshon/Flash90)

The four major papers had to choose one of several big stories to take their front page, and each one picked a different issue. Migron was evacuated on Sunday, Iran is always on the horizon, and domestic issues are always pressing.

Yedioth Ahronoth reports on back-channel discussions between the United States and Iran, in which Washington told Tehran it was opposed to a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The headline (which takes up half a page) reads, “Don’t retaliate against us.”

Senior officials in Washington reportedly communicated with their counterparts in Iran via two European intermediary countries. They made it clear to the Iranians that “the US is not planning to get sucked into the fray should Israel decide to attack unilaterally and without coordination” with the Americans. The further told Iran that they expect Tehran “not to attack American strategic targets in the Persian Gulf.”

The paper also cites Israeli sources calling the relations crisis between Jerusalem and Washington “an unprecedented decline.”

The author of the report also published Friday’s story on the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, in which “sparks flew.”

Haaretz‘s lead story celebrates Sunday’s evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron. Its headline exclaims with near-visible jubilation, “Migron, the symbol of the illegal outposts, evacuated after 6 years of legal battles.”

All 50 families left the settlement without provocation or violence, and the paper reports that 10 families even left the evening prior so as to avoid even seeing the police. Some families held out to the bitter end, and in symbolic protest of their removal, refused to pack their things. Instead they left their belongings to be packed and carted off by government employees.

The paper also reports that the police have planned for the possibility of retaliatory “price tag” attacks by radical right wing settlers in response to the evacuation.

Maariv reports on legal trash-talking of the most epic proportions. In the red corner, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, and in the blue corner, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Neeman is pushing for a bill which would allow judges to mandate external mediation in monetary claims suits in excess of NIS 2.5 million before bringing it before the court.

The justice minister argues that the bill will help relieve the over-congestion in the legal system. Grunis laid the smack down, saying that only was the bill unconstitutional, but “the damage would cause to the legal system would outweigh the benefits.”

Former Supreme Court president Dorit Beinish even jumps in on this judicial pig pile saying the bill would effectively allow “privatization of Israeli judicial services.”

“Grunis’s position is likely to be the death strike to the bill,” Maariv writes.

Israel Hayom provides some much-lacking jingoism to the mix. Its front page triumphantly spotlights a statement by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz that the IDF can strike back “any time and anywhere.” The paper quotes Gantz saying that the military is prepared to confront any threats endangering the Jewish people.

Gantz’s quotes are followed by equally determined statements regarding Israel’s defense capabilities by President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Barak is quoted by Israel Hayom giving a thinly veiled reference to an attack on Iran: “The IDF is that which shall protect the security and future of the state, the IDF is that which shall provide a response when the signal is given.”

The paper also quotes US Vice President Joe Biden charging Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney with being ready to take the US to war with Syria and Iran before the missions are over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Curious opinions and potpourri

Akiva Eldar opines in Haaretz that US President Barack Obama should go to Tehran. His are not the ill wishes of a Tea Party radical, nor is it a hackneyed claim that Obama is Muslim. Rather, Eldar argues that the tension between the US and Iran is reminiscent of relations between the US and China 40 years ago.

“[Former US president] Richard Nixon’s surprise meeting with Mao Zedong 40 years ago, in an election year, changed history,” Eldar writes. “What does Obama have to lose by flying to Tehran to begin a dialogue about ending the nuclear arms race and stopping Iran’s support for terror organizations and for the genocide in Syria?”

He notes that Nixon was reelected after visiting China in ’72.

Dan Margalit retaliates in Israel Hayom against naysayers to an Israeli strike on Iran and those who advocate waiting for diplomatic pressure to work.

“More and more it turns out that those who seek to delay the Israeli operation are hiding themselves behind waiting for American involvement; they argue between the options of a strike on Iran and the painful acceptance of a nuclear Iran they prefer to sit and do nothing,” he says.

In fact, he argues, there are three options: an Israeli strike, an international conflict, or accepting Iran’s acquisition of a bomb. He says that denouncers of Netanyahu and Barak do not weigh in on which of the three options they prefer.

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