Over the Jubilee weekend, the majority of UK Middle East coverage focused on Syria. Various outlets followed President Assad’s speech where he blamed the violence on “foreign meddling” and yesterday’s announcement by the rebels that they are no longer committed to the ceasefire. The Times on Monday commented on the threat of the Syrian conflict re-igniting Lebanon’s long dormant civil war. On Saturday, the Times suggested that Stuxnet, the computer virus that targeted the centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear plant, was the product of a joint American-Israeli cyberwarfare project. The Independent, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times note that this cyber attack was ordered by President Obama. Also on Saturday, the Independent and Telegraph cover the death of an Israeli soldier and Palestinian militant near the Gaza strip. The Telegraph also noted Madonna’s message of peace as she launched her latest world tour in Tel Aviv. The Economist notes the rise in racial tension in Israel over the influx of African asylum-seekers. On Monday the Guardian noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened Israel with a “lightening response” if it were to attack its nuclear facilities. The Times ran an AFP report, itself emanating from Der Spiegel, which suggested Israel’s new submarines from Germany will have the capacity to deliver nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Yesterday both the Independent and Guardian noted the arson attack in Jerusalem that targeted Eritrean migrants. The attack was strongly condemned by the government.
In the Israeli media, the past three days have been dominated by the political discussions over the future of the Ulpana neighbourhood near Bet El. The neighbourhood’s five buildings, home to 30 families, are due to be demolished at the end of the month according to a high court ruling as they were built on private Palestinian land. To prevent this, right wing politicians are preparing a bill to be submitted later this week to circumvent the court’s decision. On Sunday, the PM announced he was against the proposed legislation and instead suggested moving the buildings in their entirety to a new slot originally set aside for the army. In addition, the Prime Minister promised to build ten new homes for every one destroyed. Ma’ariv sees the chance of Likud ministers voting for legalisation of the Ulpana houses as a “mutiny”. Ma’ariv includes an interview with a construction engineer highlighting the exceedingly high cost and logistical implausibility of moving the buildings. Sunday’s papers noted the decision of the Egyptian courts to sentence former President Mubarak to life imprisonment, with Israel Hayom noting the crowd in Tahrir square calling for his death. Yediot Ahronot also reported that the US is planning on intensifying sanctions against Iran. Yesterday’s media noted that senior Likud ministers will support the Prime Minister’s proposal regarding Ulpana to the chagrin of the settlers. Ma’ariv reports on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’s approval of the Prime Minister’s plan to build 300 new homes in Bet El. There is considerable concern across the board regarding the arson attack against Eritrean migrants. Ma’ariv includes an op-ed that is concerned that the efforts to bring in Ultra-orthodox males into the army should not diminish the roles played by female recruits.
In today’s UK media, the Guardian profiles a Palestinian prisoner still on hunger strike, despite a deal struck last month to end a mass hunger strike by Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails. The Independent and Guardian report that Tel Aviv University has refused to host a concert playing Wagner due to public sensitivities including holocaust survivors. In regional news, Syria remains the focus, Financial Times, BBC online continue to report from Syria as western ambassadors are banned. Financial Times online also include a comment piece suggesting “time to consider military options in Syria”.
The Israeli media continues to be dominated by today’s vote on the “legalisation bill”, which seeks to retroactively legalise unauthorised West Bank construction. All the papers lead on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that any minister who supports the bill will be dismissed. Yediot Ahronot explains that “the legalization bill is intended to circumvent the High Court of Justice ruling for the evacuation of the five buildings on Givat Haulpana in Beit El”. Ma’ariv compares this to former Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement moment. Haaretz confirms that the Attorney General supports the Prime Minsiter’s plan to relocate the neighbourhood. Yediot Ahronot also notes the reaction of the settlers, already protesting outside the Knesset, some on hunger strike and speculates as to their plans if the buildings in Bet El are to be demolished. Ma’ariv also prominently runs an interview with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Jerusalem Post covers an interview the Prime Minister gave to German Bild newspaper where he expresses concern than Iran could still build a nuclear bomb even if it complied with the world power’s demands. Israel radio reports the IAF targeted two weapons warehouses in Gaza as a response to rockets fired into Israel recently. Ynet, Haaretz and Times of Israel report on a meeting between President Obama and US Jewish leaders where he reemphasised his support for Israel.