The Financial Times reports that American and British officials are seeking stronger action against North Korean arms sales in the Middle East, amid fears that the country could look to sell nuclear technology in the region. Western intelligence suggests that North Korea has sold ballistic missile technology to countries including Iran, and co-operated with Syria on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed in 2007. The Independent covers that ongoing hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The Daily Telegraph notes Israel’s concerns that the hunger strike could lead to renewed violence in the West Bank. The Guardian, BBC and the Daily Mail report on the deadly explosions that killed 55 people in Damascus yesterday. BBC also notes yesterday’s television debate between Egyptian presidential front-runners Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh of the Muslim Brotherhood and Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League.
In the Israeli media today, Ma’ariv reports on US concerns that the formation of a new unity government in Jerusalem may also bring about a change in Israeli policy against Iran’s nuclear threat. Israel Hayom Ma’ariv also reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu has recently established a special forum that meets weekly to assess various subjects related to the possibility of a major strike on Israel’s population centres. Haaretz also notes American efforts to encourage PM Netanyahu to take steps to renew negotiations with the Palestinians now that Kadima have joined the coalition, reducing the impact of right-wing forces in the government. Interviewed in Ynet and Israel Hayom, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz defends his decision to join a unity government with Likud. Mofaz notes that the new government offers a unique opportunity to advance key social and legislative issues. Several news sources note that a special ministerial forum will convene today to discuss the High Court of Justice’s ruling that houses built on private Palestinian land in Givat Haulpana neighbourhood near Beit-El are to be demolished. Yediot Ahronot reports that efforts to draft new legislation on the conscription of ultra-Orthodox men to military service are underway. Ynet and the Jerusalem Post note a statement by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in which he indicated the Islamist group will not let itself be dragged into a war against Israel if it attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities. Haaretz and Ynetnews report that in the first ever presidential debate in the Arab world, top contenders for Egypt’s leadership called for a review of the peace agreement with Israel.