Middle East related coverage in the UK and international media today continues to be dominated by events in Syria. The Times reports on the referendum on constitutional reforms held yesterday in Syria, which has been widely regarded as farcical, and on Syrian acquisition of weapons through Turkey. Several papers cover the Syrian referendum online, as does BBC Online. The Financial Times has a report on Turkish diplomacy which questions Turkey’s influence in Syria. The Independent reports on a major arms deal through which Israel will supply drones and anti-aircraft to Azerbaijan, which borders Iran. Delays in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are also widely reported. Both Metro London and the Guardian recommend the Israeli drama series ‘Hatufim’ (Prisoners of War) which is being shown on Sky Arts, and which is the basis of the US hit drama ‘Homeland’.
On Friday, the Jewish Chronicle reported online on the decision of BICOM CEO Lorna Fitzsimons to step down after nearly six years in the role, and BICOM Chairman’s Poju Zabludowicz’s praise for her leadership. The weekend press included more comment and analysis on Syria, with Saturday’s edition of the Independent, the Sunday Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday and the Observer all carrying commentary on the uprising and the West’s response. In addition the Mail on Sunday ran an article by Peter Hitchens criticising Prime Minister David Cameron’s withdrawal as a patron of JNF, whilst the Sun reported on British preparations for war in the Gulf. The Sunday Times reported on a new Israeli submarine undergoing sea trials. On Saturday, the Financial Times reported on the latest IAEA report on Iran’s expanding uranium enrichment programme.
In the Israeli media this morning, Haaretz leads with a report on an Israeli military intelligence assessment that without progress in the peace process, violence may escalate in the West Bank. Haaretz also reports on plans by the Israeli transport ministry to build a rail network in the West Bank. Yediot Ahronot, Israel Hayom and Haaretz focus on the controversial closure of drinks factory in northern Israel. Yediot Ahronot, along with Maariv, also focuses on what it describe as the ‘bloodbath’ in Syria, with the Jerusalem Post also carrying a front page story on the Syrian referendum. The Jerusalem Post also reports on the conviction of Shula Zaken, a former aide to Ehud Olmert, on charges of fraud. It also has a report on Israeli fears of Syria non-conventional weapons leaking to Hezbollah. The broadcast media this morning is focusing on a strike that has been launched by hospital nurses over terms of employment. Mahmoud Abbas’s comments on Jerusalem made yesterday are widely reported. The Israeli media also continues to report the fallout of the Supreme Court decision to declare the Tal law unconstitutional, with Maariv reporting on a meeting among senior ultra-Orthodox Rabbis at which they decided to fight the decision. Online Israeli news sources also report that talks between the state and residents of Migron, the largest illegal settlement outpost in the West Bank, have failed to secure an agreement for their relocation, which the courts have determined must be carried out by the end of March. The Times of Israel leads this morning with the success of an Iranian film that beat an Israeli candidate, ‘Footnote’, for best foreign film at the Oscars.