Sports, books and politics
Hebrew media review

Sports, books and politics

From Syria and Turkey to the Hebrew book festival and UEFA soccer championships

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash 90)
Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Gili Yaari/Flash 90)

Wednesday’s Hebrew papers share a variety of topics with their readers, from the UEFA Championships taking place in Israel and a coalition crisis, to the Shin Bet chief’s take on renewing the peace process and the annual Hebrew Book Week opening later in the day.

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s front page is dominated by an assessment by Yariv Levin (Likud), the coalition chairman, who said the government will collapse if the bickering between its component factions continues.

“It’s time the coalition members, from the party heads to the last MK, decide whether they came to work and run the country or to fight and stop others from acting,” Levin said. The daily quoted him as being even more blunt in closed circles, where he reportedly said it was “only a matter of time before we fail in a critical vote.”

Maariv‘s top story quotes Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet security agency, saying Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t believe in a peace agreement with Israel.

During a meeting with the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Cohen told legislators that Abbas was still thinking of the terms offered to him by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, and had yet to face the reality of having Netanyahu at Israel’s helm.

An MK in attendance told the paper that Cohen’s assessment wasn’t what they had expected, noting that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s renewed efforts to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the negotiation table had been encouraging. Cohen, the MK said, said the Palestinians were waiting for Netanyahu to leave office and for Olmert to return so that negotiations could be picked up from where those parties had left off.

The protests in Turkey are central to Haaretz‘s front page coverage. The paper reports that members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party have criticized the manner in which the government and police addressed the protests as they continue to inflame Turkey.

Haaretz quotes Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, who on Tuesday denounced the excessive violence used by police against the protesters. The crackdown was “wrong and unjust,” Arinc said, adding he “apologized to those citizens” hurt by the police.

“Hezbollah wants to open a front on the Golan Heights,” reads Israel Hayom‘s headline, citing security sources’ concern that the terror group is building up force on the Syrian side of the border in an attempt to execute terror attacks against Israel from the war-torn country.

Unnamed sources told the paper that Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Shiite terror group, made his intentions clear. The Lebanese based organization had thousands of fighters aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, as they continued to strengthen ties with the regime in Damascus. However, they noted, since the attacks against weapon convoys — strikes said to have been conducted by Israel — no serious attempts to transfer such munitions have taken place.

All the papers discuss upcoming Hebrew Book Week, which kicks off nationwide on Wednesday. Yedioth features a special section in which authors write about their relations with books. Meir Shalev chose to share the reason he read a lot as a child, telling readers his parents “didn’t have money to send him to the cinema, and there was no TV.” David Grossman described his relationship with the pen, saying that writing is a sign of choosing life. “You can’t stop and can’t give up.”

UEFA’s Under-21 Soccer Championship, the most prestigious tournament hosted by Israel in recent decades, is covered by all the papers. Israel Hayom describes the games as an opportunity for the world to see Israel, as hundreds of foreign reporters will be covering the matches. The sport sections of Maariv and Yedioth are filled with interviews with the blue-and-white national team, and quotes from team coach Guy Luzon, who knows his squad is an underdog but promises “they will give all they have” on the pitch.

In Yedioth, veteran columnist Sima Kadmon writes about yet another unkept promise by Netanyahu: his failure to appoint former communications minister head of the Israel Lands Administration. Kadmon writes that Kahlon didn’t even bother complaining that the prime minister he failed to keep his word, though the promise was inked into clause 15 of the coalition agreement. But Kahlon didn’t say those words, Kadmon writes, because he knows it’s pointless. He knows what the prime minister’s reply will be. “So I promised.”

Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi also writes along those lines, calling the idea of nominating Kahlon “fictitious from the start.” Both men involved, writes the columnist, know how the manipulation game is played. “You don’t need to have been a fly on the wall to know what was said at the meeting” between the two of them, he writes.

“No one wants to go from being a minister to being a clerk,” Kahlon said a few weeks ago, and, as Yerushalmi explains, the political situation would have kept him in check by both Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, two people from rival parties whom Kahlon would rather be telling what to do.

Now, Yerushalmi writes, it’s time to follow Kahlon’s steps in the next few days very closely. The former minister “would like to head the Likud and run the country one day, that’s clear.”

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