Papers seem to agree that the government won’t be toppled, at least not quite yet; plus one writer opines that killing is okay, so long as someone else tells you to do it

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, April 22, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, April 22, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)


Like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in the puzzle that is Israeli politics, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to stabilize his government looks like it could lead to its fall, in the latest twist of a slow-burn coalition crisis bubbling for weeks.

That fear/hope dominates the news agenda Sunday morning, after a minister quit over the expected appointment of Avigdor Liberman as defense minister and senior coalition partner Jewish Home is saying loudly that it will block the appointment if Netanyahu doesn’t reform his top-level security cabinet.

Jumping on any chance to oppose Netanyahu, Yedioth Ahronoth seems to forcefully take Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett’s side in the fight, running as a headline a quote from a Bennett talking point: “I’m not ready for soldiers to die because of somebody’s ego,” reflecting his belief that his demand for greater ministerial oversight over security matters will somehow save lives.

The paper reports that Bennett and Netanyahu will meet later Sunday to try to put the crisis behind them.

“If they don’t, it’s likely Jewish Home will torpedo the Knesset vote on expanding the government,” the paper reports, though it notes that two Jewish Home MKs have not come out and said they support Bennett’s position.

Analyst Yoaz Hendel, seemingly speaking as Bennett’s mouthpiece, writes that Netanyahu will fold.

“In a few hours – or a few days in a worst-case scenario – the crisis will end with the signing of an agreement. This will happen just after Netanyahu accepts Bennett’s demands. That’s the way of the world, that’s the way of Netanyahu. Pressure works,” he writes. “Representatives of the prime minister and education minister know well the starting point of educators in the Jewish nation: What a person learns at the start of his journey he can never forget. This is true in politics as well. Bennett learned the significance of a power play, and he’ll use it in concert with his worldview.”

Left-leaning Haaretz, which would be loath to back Bennett even if he is the enemy of enemy No. 1 Netanyahu, instead leads off with the resignation of Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay, describing his protest of the coalition deal as “sharp.”

Yet what the paper really wants to get across to readers is its own take on the coalition bedlam, which it puts on the front page instead of any actual news coverage. Thus instead of reading about Gabbay or Bennett, readers are treated to analyst Yossi Verter predicting that even if this crisis doesn’t bring down the government, bad blood will remain.

“The moment the coalition of 66 MKs is approved in the Knesset, which is likely early in the week, the dust will settle and events will move on. But the residue has accumulated and the expectations will fulfill themselves in the end,” he writes. “It could happen over some foolish thing, something unexpected that develops under the radar.”

Israel Hayom is the only paper not to lead with the story, and editor Haim Shine is uncharacteristically forgiving in taking aim at Gabbay for daring to compare the appointment of Liberman and the death of the coalition as he knew it to the loss of the Third Temple – yes that Temple – in an homage to Moshe Dayan’s mournful quote during the darkest moments of the Yom Kippur War.

“One can sharply criticize the government’s actions, including the appointment of a minister. It’s allowed and important to call on Israeli society to fix itself, but from there to the prophesies of doom on the destruction of the Third Temple is quite distant,” he writes. “The job of the leadership is to give hope, to raise spirits and to look upon the great awakening of Jerusalem. Anyone not ready to raise the nation’s spirits does not have a place in the leadership.”

Any balance Shine may have given the paper is immediately thrown out of the window, though, with a column that stretches the bounds of humanity beyond its breaking point, essentially justifying the killing of a wounded Palestinian assailant and attacking the military leadership for daring to say such a thing is immoral.

“Our soldiers got a little confused,” reads a headline that the paper felt so good about it also put it on the front page, and gave Amos Regev two pages to spew his ideas.

And what ideas they are. Regev argues that the army “went out on a limb” by claiming to be moral in the wake of the Hebron incident, writing that the soldier who shot the assailant dead should be prosecuted not for killing but solely for disobeying orders.

“The Hebron terrorist that was shot with his friend who was killed beforehand didn’t go out for a walk with a chihuahua. He came to kill Jewish soldiers, our forces. The soldier shot him, and he has his own version, which a judge didn’t automatically discount at a remand hearing, and now he can present his case to the bench. The case has just begun,” he writes. “The correct thing would have been if the soldier didn’t shoot in this case, after the incident occurred, unless he was given an order. He wasn’t given an order. He damaged the military echelon. For that he should stand trial, not for murder, not for manslaughter. Whoever claims otherwise should take a glance at history. War is hell. Things happen. We had Kafr Kassem in 1956, the American had Mai-Lai in Vietnam. Hebron is neither. How about some proportionality?”

The other story dominating the news agenda is about another dead person – the suspected killer of two people in Rishon Lezion last week and the subject of a massive manhunt — though with little hemming and hawing over the cop that shot him dead.

Seeing an opportunity for some hard-boiled storytelling, Yedioth’s news coverage tries to put readers inside the suspect’s head.

“Jan Gabrieloff understood, it seems, that the cops has closed in on him. After three days of hiding, the suspected killer of Anastasia Rostov and Eliezer Kandinov found himself in the heart of a residential area of Lod, surrounded on all sides. When an unmarked car rammed against his car from behind he drew his weapon,” the story reads. “But Gabrieloff wasn’t fast enough. Even before the killer could pull out his weapon and shoot it at cops, district commander Motti Cohen shot and killed him.”

All that’s missing from the cliched scene is Gabrieloff growling “you won’t take me alive.” While he might have had a death wish, he also might have gotten an early whiff of a front page story in Haaretz reporting that conditions in prison aren’t quite at “Orange is the New Black” standards, and may not be getting any better.

For years, a panel has issued reports pointing to prison overcrowding, unsanitary or inhumane conditions and other problems in the lockup, and the wardens heard just about enough, the paper notes.

“Some of the external bodies’ reports have been submitted to Israel Prison Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger, who has told justice and public security ministry officials privately that the number of external overseers visiting prison facilities should be reduced. Instead, Klinger would like to see internal oversight by medical personnel, social workers and other officials. However, some insiders say Klinger is still angered by the external bodies’ reports, which she considers too harsh and are released to the media in a prejudicial manner,” the paper reports. “The prison service does have its own oversight department, but it doesn’t extend such oversight to senior officers and is yet to publish reports that are transparent enough to show a serious approach when it comes to self-criticism.”

As reported by The Times of Israel