Ongoing violence in Syria dominates Middle East coverage in the UK media today. The Daily Telegraph, Times and Independent report on the diminished hopes that a UN-backed ceasefire will take effect today. Syrian troops reportedly opened fire at targets in Lebanon and Turkey. The Financial Times looks at the role of various rebel factions including Jihadist groups in Syria. The Times refers to the death toll inside Syria, and quotes a rebel questioning the role of the Western world as Russia and Iran continue to support the regime. The Telegraph notes the Palestinian Authority’s intention to renew unilateral measures at the UN. There is also continued coverage of reactions to Gunter Grass’s poem. The Independent note Haaretz’s editorial that referred to the Interior Minister’s ‘over-reaction’ by declaring Grass persona non grata. Financial Times reports the poem elicited responses from the Israeli Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other politicians.
Over the Easter bank holiday, several UK papers reported on the upcoming P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran as the last chance to diplomatically resolve the crisis. The Financial Times reports that Egyptian’s former head of intelligence Omar Suleiman will run for the country’s presidency. The Guardian includes analysis critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy over settlements in the West Bank. The Times notes that the only agreement between Syrian opposition factions is that Assad must go. The Telegraph notes analysis that appeared in Jane’s Defence Weekly claiming Israel would need to seek alternative means to attack Iran’s nuclear programme as their air force is would be unable to destroy it. Several papers continued coverage of Israel’s decision to declare Gunter Grass persona non grata. A Times editorial noted the author risks having his literary greatness being eclipsed by political notoriety. The Telegraph, Guardian and Daily Express cover the successful appeal of Sheikh Raed Salah to remain in the UK.
In today’s Israel media, Yediot Ahronot leads on President Shimon Peres’s request by letter to US President Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard. A White House spokesperson said yesterday that the administration’s position on Pollard remained unchanged. Ma’ariv leads on an apparent commitment Prime Minister Netanyahu gave to President Obama that Israel would not attack Iran before the autumn. However he refused to promise he would not strike before the November elections. Yediot Ahronot, Haaretz and Israel Hayom look ahead to Sunday and the provocative ‘flytilla’ in which pro-Palestinian activists are expected to fly into Ben-Gurion airport. Israel Hayom and Ynetnews report that the Sinai gas pipeline was sabotaged again on Sunday night. Both Haaretz and Israel Hayom report on Patriot missile battery being deployed in Haifa.
The Israeli media over the weekend period was dominated by low expectations ahead of international negotiations with Iran. Maariv lists PM Netanyahu’s and President Obama’s demands for the Iranian nuclear programme. The Israeli media also continues to cover events in Syria. Ma’ariv quotes the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman saying that there are no “written guarantees” when dealing with “armed terror gangs.” Haaretz’s front page features a translated New York Times article on the friendship between Netanyahu and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. All the papers note that Esther Pollard, the wife of the Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard jailed in the US, met with President Shimon Peres. Yediot Ahronot noted that she asked President Peres to exert pressure for the release of her husband, who fell ill this weekend in prison and is currently hospitalised and in serious condition.