France's Carla Bruni-Sarkozy steals the show
In his first presidential visit to Israel, Nicolas Sarkozy has said Israeli-Palestinian peace is immediately attainable, talked tough against Iran's nuclear program and delivered an address to parliament.
But nobody has seemed to notice. Instead, most of Israel's attention has been showered on Sarkozy's glamorous wife, the model-turned-singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
The front pages of Monday's newspapers were filled with pictures of a smiling Bruni-Sarkozy overshadowing her husband, the AP reported.
In the Haaretz daily, a close-up of Carla, taken upon the first couple's arrival at Israel's international airport Sunday, dominated the front page. Sarkozy and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert meekly appeared in the background.
"Queen Carla," said a headline on the front page of Yediot Ahronot, Israel's largest daily. Inside was a two-page spread with a collage of her photos and a breakdown of her wardrobe - including the $2,500 Prada dress she wore upon arrival, a $1,200 purse and a $650 pair of sandals.
The tabloid "Israel Hayom" crowned her the most beautiful first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy. Israeli leaders seemed equally impressed. President Shimon Peres blushed and several ministers giggled as she stepped off the plane Sunday.
Even the Arabic-language media got in on the fun. The Al-Quds newspaper, the main Palestinian daily, devoted its top left hand photograph, normally devoted to scenes of Palestinian suffering, to Carla walking down stairs in a fitted brown dress.
Israel Radio's Arabic channel devoted an entire segment to Carla and brought in a local fashion designer to discuss her choice of clothes.
Motti Kirshenbaum, an Israeli TV commentator, said the obsession was a typical case of Israeli escapism.
"Here we are tired of dealing with the important things - like death and war. So all of a sudden we can deal with how much her purse costs and it's fun," he said.