The Guardian reports that the EU will upgrade relations with Israel in more than 60 areas including trade and diplomatic relations. The Independent follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments that Israel is on alert for attacks at the Olympics. There is continued coverage of Syria across most of the media. The Independent and the Guardian report that Israel might intervene to prevent chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah hands. The Times covers the ongoing fighting and suggests the US will step up its support for the opposition. The Financial Times shares concerns that the Syrian civil war could spill over the boarders into neighbouring countries. Malcolm Rifkind in the Times comments on the likely fall of Assad and the effect this may have on Iran. Benjamin Jensen in the Financial Times comments on the possibility of the Alawite sect forming their own enclave, with disastrous consequences for the region and Israel. The Daily Telegraph notes that a counter attack by Assad forces has helped the regime regain control of the capital. The Daily Telegraph also includes an editorial highlighting the responsibility of Russia to play a constructive role in Syria. In the Guardian’s analysis Samir Aita suggests the regime is so unpopular “some could even be imagined calling for Turkish or Israeli bombing just to get rid of the Assad’s”. The Daily Telegraph, Times and Independent report on the wheelchair-bound Israeli war veteran who set himself on fire yesterday at a bus stop near Tel Aviv. He was thought to be protesting the lack of help received by disabled ex-servicemen in Israel.
The front page of the Sunday Times declared, “Israel fears Iran attack at Games”. According to the paper’s Israel correspondent Uzi Mahnaimi, agents from both the Israel General Security Service and Mossad have been dispatched to the UK. Another article in the Sunday Times follows the investigation by Israeli security officials into the terror attack in Burgas and their conclusion that Israeli athletes in London are the next potential targets. The Mail on Sunday comments on the possibility that Assad would use chemical weapons against his own population as revenge for the killing of four of his closest aides. The Observer and Sunday Telegraph both follow the fighting that has now reached Aleppo. Both papers also include analysis speculating on the day after Assad. The Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph see the fall of Assad as shifting the balance of power in the region. Rupert Cornwell in the Independent on Sunday discusses Mitt Romney and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s friendship going back to Boston on the 70’s. Andrew Sullivan in the Sunday Times News Review also looks ahead to Mitt Romney’s trip next week to Europe and Israel. The Mail on Sunday also reports the Olympic Committee’s decision not to hold a minute’s silence at the opening ceremony.
In Saturday’s UK media the Independent and Telegraph cover the funerals of the five Israelis murdered in Bulgaria. Independent and the Guardian also cover the death of Moshe Silman who set himself on fire at the rally for social justice last weekend in Tel Aviv. The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland writes that “the crisis in Syria, will ‘radically affect the wider region’. Syria, which borders Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Israel, does not keep itself to itself. As one former Obama official says: ‘Syria won’t implode; it will explode.’ Put simply, the battle for Syria is a battle for the entire Middle East”. The Independent and the Times also relate to the complexity of any future solution. The Daily Express comments that “a replacement regime could easily be less stable, more sectarian, more aggressive towards Israel and even more hostile to the interests of the West”. The Daily Mail, Independent and the Sun cover the sentencing of a couple from Oldham for plotting a bomb attack targeting the Manchester Jewish community. The Manchester Crown Court heard they were “a serious terrorist cell”.
All of today’s Israeli media covers the likelihood of a potential split within the Kadima party. It appears that Kadima senior member and former Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi is leading negotiations to bring 7 Kadima MK’s into the coalition with the promise of Deputy Ministerial posts. Yediot Ahronot also leads on the serious concern that Israel will act if chemical weapons are smuggled out of Syria. Following yesterday’s news, Maariv confirms that security has been enhanced for the Israeli Olympic team in London. Israel Hayom notes Defence Minister Barak’s warning that the terrorist collaborator to the attack in Burgas could be on his way to London. Yediot Ahronot reports on the Yaalon plan to bring about the conscription of 6,000 ultra-Orthodox men by 2016, with an exemption until the age of 26. Israel Hayom refers to the “Silman effect”, as an IDF disabled veteran sets himself on fire. The Jerusalem Post reports on yesterday’s cross border shooting from Egypt at a bus carrying soldiers. Haaretz reports Egypt has starting allowing free entry for Palestinians without the usual security clearances and visas. Haaretz also notes Israel has complained to the UN after 500 Syrian soldiers and 50 vehicles crossed the demilitarised zone in the Golan Heights last week.
The Israeli media on Sunday continued to reflect on the aftermath of the terror attack in Burgas. As the investigation continues into who was behind the attack, Yediot Ahronot and Maariv quote Israeli officials who still believe Hezbollah was behind the attack, despite a delayed claim of responsibility by the Qaidat al-Jihad organisation. One official told Yediot Ahronot that the Burgas attack was part of a “global wave of terrorism,” citing in the past year alone 20 foiled attacks that had been planned by Iran and/or Hezbollah. Maariv notes concerns that the terror attack was a trial run in preparation for a planned attack against Israelis at the London Olympics. Yediot Ahronot notes Moshe Silman who set himself on fire last weekend, died of his injuries on Friday. Maariv reports on the hundreds that marched in his memory on Saturday night. Haaretz and Israel Hayom lead on Assad’s fight for control in Damascus. Haaretz also includes an opinion piece by British Shadow Cabinet Minister Tessa Jowell, in which she supports a minute’s silence to remember the Israeli athletes killed in the 1972 terror attack at the Munich Olympics. All papers follow the political intrigues inside Kadima and speculate whether some MK’s may quit the party.