The Times and the Daily Telegraph report on a statement by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who said Israel might have to consider a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if peace talks fail to achieve a breakthrough. The paper also runs a piece on Algerian athletes who refuse to compete against Israelis in the coming Olympic Games. BBC Online and the Independent reports that Israel returned the bodies of 91 Palestinian terrorists as a good will gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. BBC Online and the Financial Times report that Egypt ended its 30-year state of emergency yesterday, and notes that fresh provisions were added to it after riots outside the Israeli embassy last year. Financial Times columnist Philip Stephens criticises what he describes as Western hypocrisy and double standard in the Middle East.
In breaking news this morning, all online news outlets report that an IDF soldier was killed when Palestinian gunman crossed the Gaza Strip border fence and opened fire on an Israeli military force. In other news, Yediot Ahronot this morning features a piece by Alex Fishman, in which he writes that Israeli officials are monitoring the ongoing transfer of Syrian weapons systems into foreign hands, first and foremost Hezbollah. The Jerusalem Post quotes Israeli officials who link Iran to the massacre of civilians in Syria. Yediot Ahronot, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post also note that preparations are underway for the relocation of residents of houses in the Givat Ulpana neighbourhood to an alternative site. The relocation, which follows a court order to evict the illegally built neighbourhood, is likely to draw criticism from right-wing groups. Israel Hayom reports that 91 bodies of Palestinian terrorists were handed over to the Palestinians yesterday, as an Israeli gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas. Maariv, Ynetnews and Israel Hayom also note that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will be sentenced tomorrow in Cairo. Ynetnews carries comments by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, expressing opposition to unilateral actions by Israel or the Palestinians. Clinton’s statement came a day after Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak advocated unilateral Israeli withdrawals in the West Bank if negotiations remain stalled. Jerusalem Post also reports that Knesset members from Kadima, who opposed the party’s entry into a coalition with Likud, threatened to split from the party if the government increases VAT in the coming weeks.