Hebrew media review

When Bibi met Obama

The president’s statement that the military option remains open gains wide coverage; back in Israel, a possible coalition crisis

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama following a meeting in the White House's Oval Office, Monday, September 30, 2013 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama following a meeting in the White House's Oval Office, Monday, September 30, 2013 (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Tuesday’s Hebrew dailies all prominently report on the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, highlighting statements by the two regarding the new diplomatic attempt to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Obama’s comment that the US isn’t being naive and will “take no options off the table, including military options,” is thoroughly covered by the Hebrew press, making it on to all the papers’ front pages.

“I believe that it’s the combination of a credible military threat and the pressure of those sanctions that have brought Iran to the negotiating table,” Netanyahu said during the joint press briefing, another remark which is played up by all four major Hebrew dailies.

Haaretz leads with Obama’s bottom line, its headline reading “We won’t allow a nuclear Iran.” The article’s underline states that “in their meeting at the White House, the president promised the prime minister that a military operation in Iran was still on the table, despite the warming of relations” with Iran.

“As president of the United States, I’ve said before, and I will repeat, that we take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have a — nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America,” the paper quotes from Obama’s address. “In all of this, our unshakable bond with the Israeli people is stronger than ever.”

Yedioth Ahronoth tells readers “Obama tried to calm Netanyahu at the White House,” its headline quoting the president as saying the US will be careful. The paper also highlights what Netanyahu didn’t say, suggesting the Israeli prime minister’s decision not to talk about stopping Tehran from developing a civilian nuclear program could be “a sign of flexibility.”

Netanyahu “sounded yesterday like a man who used few words when sitting in the Oval Office alongside President Obama,” the article states. Instead of “speaking about an Iranian trap” or repeating his position that President Hasan “Rouhani’s UN address was a speech full of lies,” he chose to tell Obama that Israel was “waiting for the bottom line,” to see if Iran would or wouldn’t obtain nuclear capabilities.

In her column, Orli Azulai writes that Netanyahu “has accepted the new situation” and decided not to fight the US’s decision to try the diplomatic route with Iran. In fact, he joined the president’s approach of examining the bottom line, and “like Obama, was willing to put Iran to the test.”

“Netanyahu didn’t preach and didn’t act like the gatekeeper. Instead of ruining the party, he joined it,” Azulai writes, making an important observation: Netanyahu, she states, doesn’t look like he’s enjoying the party. Rather, he seems to be waiting for his first opportunity to say “I told you so.”

“Clear eyed,” Israel Hayom‘s headline states, quoting yet another statement made by Obama in the public address following the leaders’ meeting. The paper writes that “the president avoided committing not to ease the sanctions, but promised any easing in the pressure would be a result of facts on the ground.”

The pro-Netanyahu tabloid’s story highlights Obama’s statement that “we are very much looking forward to continuing to work with our friends in Israel” in the effort to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The cooperation, the president stated, is meant “to make sure that US security interests are met, [and] Israel’s security interests are met.”

Unlike the other three papers’ relatively positive leads, Maariv‘s headline states that “Behind the smiles and display of unity: large gaps between Netanyahu and Obama.”

“During the three-hour meeting the prime minister demanded that Iran freeze its nuclear program during the negotiations, and if it refused that sanctions be hardened,” the story states. “However, Israel is worried the demands presented to the Iranians will be much less.”

Maariv also reports on a looming crisis in Netanyahu’s coalition, as the Jewish Home party appears to be backtracking from its agreement to impose a mandatory draft on ultra-Orthodox men at the age of 21. Sources in Yesh Atid are quoted by the daily as saying that there will be no change in that part of the new legislation regarding mandatory conscription, “even if it leads to a coalition crisis.”

“It contradicts the very idea of the law,” MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said in response to the surprising move by the Jewish Home. “What equality will we create like this? It can’t happen and it won’t come to be.”

Israel Hayom and other papers also report on a dangerous mix-up at the Schneider Children’s hospital, where two bottles of mothers milk were accidentally swapped, resulting in a baby being fed with milk from a carrier of HIV. Thankfully, the paper writes, the risk level is very low.

The dailies report that on Saturday, a nurse accidentally fed a 4-month-old infant with breast milk from a young woman who was diagnosed as HIV positive. The infant, who was hospitalized in the children’s ward of Petah Tikva’s Schneider Hospital, was issued preventive medication against the deadly virus after the mistake was discovered.

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