The Guardian comments on the lack of progress in the six-power talks with Iran in Moscow this week. The paper writes that Israeli vice-premier Shaul Mofaz is urging a return to Israeli-Palestinian talks in the absence of progress on dealing with Iran. On the other hand, the Independent speculates that the failure of diplomacy will raise concern that Israel will press for Iran’s nuclear plans to be stopped by military means. The Times comments on the Egyptian presidential elections, noting the firm grip the country’s armed forces have on its politics, and stating “Egypt is not a country with a military, but a military with a country”. The Independent reports on the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza to Israel. The Guardian notes a UK-US initiative to end the fighting in Syria, with the emphasis on ensuring Bashar al-Assad stands down in return for a ‘clemency’ deal. The plan is likely to gain the support of UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, whose six-point plan has been largely ineffective. The Daily Telegraph and the Sun report that Manchester Crown Court is hearing the case of two terrorism suspects who were planning ‘jihad at home’ attacks on Jewish areas in Manchester and Salford.
Israel Radio news reports that the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, announced a ceasefire last night. The deal, brokered through Egyptian channels, was to have applied to all Palestinian armed factions in Gaza. However, there has been further rocket fire this morning, following over 70 missiles fired at Israel yesterday. The Israeli media concentrates heavily on the State Comptroller’s report into the Carmel forest fire, with extensive discussion of the extent of ministerial responsibility. The Jerusalem Post reports comments from Washington by Shaul Mofaz that Israeli-Palestinian talks would restart soon, and without the preconditions the Palestinians demand. Earlier in the week, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared the peace process ‘clinically dead’. However, Haaretz notes that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met both Mofaz and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat this week. The paper also notes a report by think-tank ISIS which claims Iran is ‘sanitising’ its nuclear facility at Parchin, ahead of possible international inspection.