Knee-deep in diplo doo-doo
Hebrew media review

Knee-deep in diplo doo-doo

Israel’s press builds up the drama surrounding the European condemnation of settlement expansion plans, the nurses continue their strike, and judges tell actors to butt out

An actress dressed up as former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir performs at the Knesset in February (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
An actress dressed up as former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir performs at the Knesset in February (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Tuesday’s front pages are dedicated to the recent diplomatic drama over Israel’s plans to build thousands of housing units in the settlements and Jerusalem’s defiant response — to announce the construction of even more.

Haaretz‘s top headline reads “Not just E1: Israel advancing plans for thousands more East Jerusalem housing units.” The article states that in addition to the plans for several thousand units announced on Friday, Jerusalem will also fast-track approval for thousands of new homes in areas of the city east of the Green Line. The article also reports that construction inspectors have been scoping out houses in East Jerusalem, reportedly to demolish houses built without permits as an additional punitive measure against the Palestinians.

Israel Hayom‘s top headline reads: “We will not reverse the decision, even in the face of international pressure.” The story quotes an unnamed senior diplomatic official and attributes the words to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The source says Netanyahu has made it clear that European objections will not prevent Israel from building in the settlements and that those who complain about the construction push should have thought about the repercussions before voting to grant the Palestinians upgraded status at the UN.

Maariv‘s top headline tells us Israel is under a “Diplomatic offensive: Five ambassadors reprimanded in Europe.” The article reports that the Israeli ambassadors to the UK, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain were summoned yesterday for a dressing down by their hosts and that Washington, too, condemned Israel’s settlement expansion plans.

“Europe: Price tag” quips the top headline of Yedioth Ahronoth. Yedioth adds Holland to the list of governments that called in their Israeli ambassador to be scolded, and reports that were Netanyahu not scheduled to be traveling to Germany, Berlin would have likely done the same. It also says that Israel diplomats suspect the US is behind the diplomatic blitz.

The article quotes two unnamed Foreign Ministry officials, one who calls the condemnations “an attempt to unduly influence Israel’s January elections” and another who says that the censure and threats “should not be taken lightly” and that construction in E1 crosses a line.

Shimon Shiffer writes that it will be the Israeli public that foots the bill for the government’s defiance. This time, he writes, we can’t brush aside the international pressure with a Ben Gurion-esque quip about the meaninglessness of the UN. This time the world means it and will not settle for cautious statements and hand-wringing, but will take actions that will touch the lives of all Israelis.

“Following the UN vote, Netanyahu behaved like a crime boss, not like the head of a member state,” Shiffer quotes a senior European diplomatic figure as saying. Starting now, Israelis will pay the price for their leaders’ decisions, he adds.

One Israeli already feeling the heat, though not from the international community, is Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball player Guy Pnini.

Pnini was stripped of his captain’s title for the rest of the season and suspended indefinitely from the team, along with a team-imposed fine of NIS 100,000 (roughly $25,000), on Monday, for calling Hapoel Tel Aviv player Jonathan Skjöldebrand a Nazi during the teams’ Sunday intra-city showdown.

His face appears on the front page of Yedioth, Maariv and Israel Hayom. Yedioth shows him weeping as he utters his apology.

Britain’s royals also get much front-page attention from the Hebrew press with stories on the expected princeling appearing in Yedioth, Israel Hayom and Haaretz.

One story that has for the most part fallen off the front pages is the nationwide nurses’ strike. Maariv reports on Page 3 that union representatives meetings with Finance Ministry officials late Monday night failed to produce results, and that for the second day in a row, the country’s nurses would not be working, causing much suffering and sorrow to Israel’s ailing.

Yedioth reports on Page 12 that the Treasury is considering suing the union in Labor Court and forcing the nurses back to work.

Maariv reports about underworld outsourcing with a page 12 story on organized crimes behind bars. According to the article, police suspect convicted mob boss Zeev Rosenstein of hiring the services of a Taibe-based crime family to oversee his affairs while he serves out his term in prison. A police source says investigators were building a case against the Kadr family gang for two years and that one of Rosenstein’s relatives was at the Kadr family home when the police conducted a raid there.

Israel Hayom reports that the Supreme Court has ordered stage actors to butt out. The court ruled Monday that performers would no longer be allowed to smoke on stage, even if the role demands it and even if it is considered an expression of free speech. According to the judges, the word of the law strictly prohibits smoking in public spaces. They note that there are legal ways to produce the same effect.

In political news, Anastassia Michaeli announces her resignation from the Knesset following a theatrical term for Yisrael-Beytenu, Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich presents her party’s economic plan, the Knesset approves the defection of seven Kadima MKs to Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party, and the Jewish Home and National Union parties make their merger official.

read more: