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Hebrew media review

Two many ministers

Netanyahu takes his licks in the Hebrew press as he scrapes together his 2-seat majority government

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 10, 2015. (Photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90)

After weeks of political twists and turns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally secured a narrow, two-seat majority coalition, but the new government is already facing its first major challenge, namely, to authorize the expansion of ministerial posts. The measure, which will overturn legislation passed during the last Knesset limiting the number of ministers and deputy ministers, will head to the parliament for a vote on Monday and will ultimately allow the Israeli leader to hand out more top jobs to members of his ruling Likud party.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with a thinly veiled criticism of the prime minister, asserting that Netanyahu is seeking to form a “government without limits.” The paper’s overline states forthrightly that Netanyahu is faced with a problem of “not possessing enough government offices for Likud,” and has thus come up the simple solution of “changing the law.” An image of a sly-looking Netanyahu staring at the abyss is plastered opposite of a picture of Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, who over the past week has been extremely vocal about his opposition to the prime minister’s intentions. Lapid, who had been the main proponent of the cabinet-limiting measure set to be overturned, has stated that he would appeal to the High Court of Justice in order to stop Netanyahu from achieving his goal.

Israel Hayom focuses on the increased number of ministers as well, announcing that of the 20 government office positions expected to be filled by coalition members, 12 will go to the Likud. The daily also assess that Netanyahu’s measure is likely to be supported by all 30 members of Netanyahu’s party. On page 3, analyst Mati Tuchfeld dissects Lapid’s “populist arguments” against Netanyahu, noting that while the Yesh Atid chairman had spearheaded the legislation to limit the number of ministers to 18, he himself had nevertheless served as one of 22 ministers in the former government. “Maybe you should calm down a bit, Mr. Lapid,” Tuchfeld quips. “It’s only an increase of two ministers [beyond the amount currently required by law].”

Rather than discussing the ministerial post conundrum, Haaretz leads with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s indication that he will fight the prime minister’s plans to allocate approximately NIS 160 million as a part of his coalition deals. The left-leaning paper specifically highlights Weinstein’s opposition to the allocation of NIS 50 million to the Settlement Division, which is charged with the development of infrastructure in Israeli controlled territory in the West Bank.

Following up on the tumultuous protests by members of Israel’s Ethiopian community over the past weeks, Yedioth reports that another alleged case of racially motivated police brutality has surfaced. According to the paper, video footage shot at the Ashdod beach shows a cop choking, hitting, and forcefully pulling an 18-year-old into a patrol car, before transferring the teen for detention at a nearby police station. While police originally insisted that the 18-year-old and several of his friends had attacked the officer after being requested to clean up a mound of trash in their vicinity, the footage reveals no such assault on part of the teens. Police officials later indicated that they would launch an investigation into the incident in order to determine whether the officer had employed unnecessary force during the arrest.

Back in Israel Hayom, reporter Gadi Golan records the tragic death of a 19-year-old Bedouin hiker, who drowned while swimming in southern Yatir water reservoir. Divers and rescue units located the hiker’s body after two days of intensive searches. The paper notes that the reservoir is considered unsafe for swimming, and that it is generally closed off to the public.

The daily goes in to bring us a bizarre story about a fight that broke out between two men in their fifties during a typical Saturday afternoon neighborhood soccer match in Jerusalem, which ended in one player biting and tearing off the ear of the other. The assailant admitted to the violent act after being located by police, while the earless victim underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct his missing appendage.

Yedioth Ahronoth gives publicity to a pleasant initiative by Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority aimed at preserving endangered plants and wildflowers across the country. The report states that the Authority is urging nature lovers to take photographs of plants they deem to be endangered, in order to map out the locations where such species grow. The move would allow the Authority to petition against construction products in the areas and ultimately better protect the rare flowers. Future generations enjoying the sweet smell of flowers in bloom may one day thank the picture takers.

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