Summary of Editorials from the Hebrew Press

Two papers discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting yesterday with US President Barack Obama:

Ma’ariv believes that “Both sides had a strong interest in the success of the meeting.” While the author asserts that no Israeli prime minister can handle long-term crises with the White House without either “capitulating or losing office,” he says, “The more interesting question is: Why has Obama changed tactics?” The paper suggests that the previous US approach prompted “the Arab leaders to present more hard-line positions,” and ventures that “The administration understood that the campaign to pressure Netanyahu has brought about the maximum possible result at the current stage and that its continuation is likely to undermine regional stability, and that Netanyahu cannot be expected to pay a political price and continue the freeze without being able to show a significant diplomatic achievement.” The author avers that President Obama wants to bolster his position ahead of the November Congressional elections but also notes that “There are American sources that claim that the President is honestly convinced that Netanyahu is ready to make ‘the most significant’ concessions’ in order to advance the peace process,” and speculates that “Obama is not an easy man to convince; perhaps the concern being voiced by the settlers’ leadership is justified?”
Yisrael Hayom suggests that the summit was a disappointment to all those in the media who “talked about the decline of Israel’s standing in the US because of the Netanyahu government.” The author cites the warmth with which President Obama received the Prime Minister and speculates that the former “needed those pictures more than Netanyahu,”  because “Congressional elections are around the corner and the polls predict a decline for the Democrats.”
Haaretz urges PM Netanyahu to revive the idea of a broad agreement on Israel-Hamas relations, which was to include a cease-fire, an end to terrorist attacks and the launching of Qassam rockets, an end to efforts to acquire more weapons for use against Israel and the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. Israel needs to embark on an initiative that would fundamentally alter the situation along the southern border, without fearing dialogue with Hamas. It must not regard the current situation as simply fate.
Yediot Aharonot reminds its readers that the 2008 “Arab peace initiative” recently brandished by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmud Abbas “is in the form of an ultimatum that no self-respecting state could accept as a basis for discussion.” The author points out that the initiative sets various demands – including a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines and that all refugees, who wish to, be allowed to return to their homes – and unequivocally calls on Israel to accept them as is. The paper notes that Israel is not being asked “to study proposals, raise possible alternatives or conduct negotiations as between equals. There are demands and that is that.”
The Jerusalem Post comments on the raising of the tax on cigarettes: “Though resorting to a total ban on cigarette sales would only give rise to a flourishing black market and criminal activity, smokers should be strongly encouraged to stop. A cigarette tax hike is one among many welcome ways of achieving this objective.”