In today’s UK media, BBC online reports on heavy fighting inside the Syrian capital Damascus. The Times and the Independent report on the 57-year-old Israeli who set himself on fire in Tel Aviv on Saturday night at a march marking one year since the first protest calling for social justice. The Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Independent note US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit to Egypt with the aim of “easing the power struggle between the country’s military and newly elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi”. BBC online also covers her visit to Egypt and Israel where she will discuss Israel- Egyptian relations, the peace process with the Palestinians and the Iranian nuclear issue. The Financial Times also follows the domestic political tension in Israel surrounding military service of ultra orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs. The paper also comments on the growing concern over Syria’s possession of chemical and biological weapons. The Times includes an obituary of Yaakov Meidad, a former Mossad agent and Nazi-hunter.
In Saturday’s papers, the continued bloodshed inside Syria is reported in most of the papers. The Daily Mail quotes Foreign Secretary William Hague as describing the mass killings as “shocking and appalling”. The concerns that Syria is moving chemical weapons out of their storage facilities is reported in the Daily Telegraph, Independent the Guardian. The latter includes insight from a senior Israel officials explaining the weapons are “dispersed and under the control of a dedicated army unit that has a high degree of loyalty to the regime and is commanded by senior Alawites [Assad's sect]“. The Daily Telegraph continues to follow the disclosures of Sir John Sawers, the head of M16. The paper notes fears of intelligence agencies that a nuclear armed Iran would be “emboldened to support more terrorist activity around the world” and increase the chances of terrorists using a “dirty bomb”. The Guardian also includes a piece on Rita Jahanforuz, an Israeli singer who has recorded an album in her native Farsi. Her music, officially outlawed in Iran is being sold covertly and is proving very popular.
In Sunday’s UK media, the Independent relays the security concerns for this summer’s Olympics by recounting the 1972 massacre in Munich. The author, Alan Hubbard describes being there “the longest, most awful day, I have experienced in over half a century as a journalist”. The Observer gives a roundup of the pressure and tension in Israeli politics over new legislation to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews to the army service. The Sunday Telegraph briefly notes the arrest in Cyprus of a man with a Swedish passport of Lebanese origins, for allegedly plotting an attack on Israeli tourists. The Sunday Times reports on an American academic, Prof Kenneth Walz, who suggests Iran be allowed to attain nuclear weapons as this will bring “stability to the world, acting as a deterrent to war”. The article notes that this “is a view with few supporters in Washington”.
The Israeli media today continues to discuss the case of Moshe Silman’s self immolation. Maariv accuses government bureaucracy for turning its back on a needy citizen. Yediot Ahronot reports on the “demonstrations of rage” that came out in support of Silman. All the papers note that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel yesterday, following her visit to Egypt. Maariv reports Clinton’s comments in Egypt, “in which she called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel, without blaming the stand still in talks on Israel”. As well as Clinton, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta will also visit Israel in the next couple of weeks for consultations on Iran, and according to the paper, to prevent an Israeli attack on the eve of elections in the US. Tom Donilon, the US national Security Adviser was also in Israel last week to discuss a “range of regional security issues”. Maariv continues to follow the political tension with the coalition and suggest Likud sources are now predicting elections at the beginning of 2013. Maariv prominently covers the Sun newspaper exclusive in exposing a Nazi war criminal in Hungary, responsible for the death of 15,000 Jews. Israel Hayom also notes the Minister of Education Saar’s decision to turn the Ariel centre into a University.
In the Israel media on Sunday, all the newspapers focus on Moshe Silman, who set himself on fire at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on Saturday night. Yediot Ahronot reports that prior to his self-immolation he had distributed a letter describing his desperate situation. This included his inability to work due to illness and how the country had robbed him, leaving him no money for medicine or rent. He remains in critical condition. All the papers also cover the arrest in Cyprus of a Hezbollah terrorist who admitted planning a terror attack on Israeli tourists. Israel Hayom praises the “painstaking intelligence work” that goes into uncovering such threats. Yediot Ahronot continues to follow coalition negotiations over the draft of the ultra-Orthodox into the military. The paper quotes the Prime Minister as saying he would prefer “a moderate plan that will create a larger amount of conscripts without creating a split in society.” Maariv covers comments by French President Hollande, who said that “If Israel attacks Iran, Iran will not be able to respond adequately, and will be humiliated in the confrontation with Israel. The Iranians know this, and that is the reason for all of the belligerence and threats”. Maariv also reveals that Israeli Ambassador to the UN has asked the UN OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) for clarification over the mandate and activities of the agency. This follows concern that in a number of instances they are violating of the law.