Over the weekend, the Star and the Sunday Express carried comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that “In the coming days the world will witness Iran’s announcement of its very important and very major nuclear achievements.” The Observer had a piece by the BBC‘s Paul Wood, reporting from the Syrian city of Homs. The Observer also ran a comment piece from Nicholas Noe, arguing for dialogue with Assad. Sunday’s Maariv claimed an exclusive with details of the ‘Blair package’ of gestures offered to the Palestinians to continue peace talks. The Israeli media concentrated on the end of a four-day general strike, ostensibly over the issue of rights for contract workers. Yediot Ahronot and Maariv reported that neither Israel’s finance minister nor the interior minister are expected to lose their jobs, despite a harsh State Comptroller’s report on their handling of last year’s Carmel Forest fire. Israel Hayom reported President Sarkozy’s remarks that “France will never unilaterally and unconditionally recognize a Palestinian state.”
In the UK media today, the BBC leads with the failure of the Arab League to agree on a peace mission to Syria, although the organisation did agree to cut links with the Assad regime and to begin talking with opposition groups. The Times and the Daily Telegraph report a message of support for anti-government protesters in Syria from Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Independent reports the tensions within Hamas following the Palestinian unity deal with Fatah. The visit of Ismail Haniyeh, from Hamas’s leadership in Gaza, to Teheran, has angered Israel. The Daily Telegraph publishes a piece by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who argues that failing to deport Muslim cleric Abu Qatada from the UK is a costly folly. The Daily Express brands Abu Qatada a ‘hate cleric.’ The Times notes comments by Iran that Azerbaijan was involved in the attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists last month.
Maariv leads with Mahmoud Abbas’s statement to the Arab League meeting in Cairo yesterday, in which he said that talks with Israel in Amman had failed and that he would again turn to the United Nations and other international organisations to advance the Palestinian demand for independence. Haaretz quotes the Daily Beast‘s report that a recent visit to Washington DC by Mossad chief Tamir Pardo was intended to determine how the US would react to an Israeli strike on Iran. Ynetnews reports that the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff will give evidence to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee today regarding the impact of budget cuts on the defence establishment. Ynetnews also reports on the ending of the general strike in Israel, which it declares a ‘knockout’ victory for the Finance Ministry. The Jerusalem Post notes that, with the swearing in today of Shakib Shanan to replace Ambassador-designate to China and former Homefront Defence Minister Matan Vilnai, the Knesset will have 15 non-Jews amongst its 120 members.