Tiring of the coalition crisis
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Hebrew media review

Tiring of the coalition crisis

Kahlon appears to compromise, but the Hebrew media’s heart is no longer in the matter, and some are preoccupied by laptops

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 13, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 13, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

Interest in the already tedious subject of the public broadcaster is starting to wane in the Hebrew press on Wednesday morning after a week of rumor churning and spin doctoring. But worry not, those happy few who care about this issue for no apparent reason: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will return tomorrow and will doubtless stir things back up.

Haaretz continues to do its due diligence in reporting on every unsourced rumor and keeping the crisis at the top of its agenda, perhaps out of hope that the current government will be replaced by one more to its liking in the case of elections. It quotes an unnamed Likud source saying that there was no compromise between the two sides on the horizon, and that both sides are sticking to their guns.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is the center of attention in Yedioth Ahronoth’s coverage. It reports that Kahlon was also outraged by the appointment of Geula Even-Sa’ar, the wife of Netanyahu’s former Likud party rival, as the lead anchor on the future public broadcasting corporation’s main news broadcast.

Kahlon denies that he’s trying to stick a wrench in negotiations to reach a compromise, and doesn’t oppose Netanyahu’s demand to sack the heads of the future broadcaster. “What are they, my in-laws?” the paper quotes him saying. He further stated behind closed doors (Yedioth Ahronoth doesn’t say how it was privy to those comments) that the heads of the corporation “want elections” and “as far as they’re concerned, this is the preferred option, because then the corporation will open as is.”

Israel Hayom, as previously, downplays the issue as much as possible, sticking the story on Page 7. In substance, Israel Hayom’s report is virtually identical to that of Yedioth Ahronoth. They apparently have the same “insider sources” in Kahlon and Netanyahu’s offices feeding them the same unsourced material.

The real question is what the point of this whole exercise in political horse trading and backroom dealing is. Yedioth Ahronoth’s Shlomo Piotrkowski pens praise rarely seen in the newspaper’s pages for the prime minister in a backhanded criticism of this whole affair.

“Netanyahu is one of the most quality leaders Israel had. A rare combination of diplomatic sense, vision and developed political sense, which allow him to advance things he believes in. In light of this it appears his behavior is especially peculiar,” he writes. “He’s mustering all his political resources for points of no strategic significance, while using his heaviest artillery.”

He says the Likud party needs to tell him to desist. “From within the Likud this demand must go out to Netanyahu: change your behavior or be deposed, before you harm the entire right wing.”

For the meantime, the tabloid newspapers by and large put the coalition on the back burner. Israel Hayom opts instead to report on the US and UK’s new bans on laptops on flights from certain countries. Israel Hayom bends the story for a local audience as the ban doesn’t directly affect Israeli flights.

“Flying to the United States or United Kingdom with Turkish Airlines or with Royal Jordanian through Istanbul or Amman? You’ll be forced to part with your laptops, tablets and cameras before getting on the plan in future flights, or keep them in your checked luggage,” the paper says. The new bans, it cites security officials explaining, came because of intelligence about threats by al-Qaeda to carry out bombings. Israel’s airport authority tells the paper there was no change in its policies and advised passengers with connecting flights to the United States to check with their carriers if there any instructions concerning carry-on luggage.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett is in Yedioth Ahronoth’s crosshairs in Wednesday paper after he reportedly put the kibosh on giving the Israel Prize to celebrated artist Yair Garbuz in retaliation for his speech at an anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv before the 2015 elections.

The committee that selects Israel Prize laureates must vote unanimously in favor of a nominee, the paper notes, and in two meetings of the committee Garbuz was rejected twice by a single member. In such a case, the paper says, the decision passes to the education minister, who decided not to award the prize in the fine arts category and thus deny Garbuz the prize. An unnamed source familiar with such proceedings says that deadlocks of this kind are exceedingly rare, as are consulting the education minister. Bennett’s office denied involvement in the committee’s proceedings.

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