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Media Summary

Brussels hosts Iran deal summit

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The Guardian, the Financial Times, BBC News Online, the Independent, Express, the Telegraph, the Times all covered the meeting yesterday between EU Foreign Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressing the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). BBC News, Channel 4 News and the Times report on the conversation between UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Zarif which focused on Johnson’s appeal for the release of UK-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is currently imprisoned in Iran. BBC News, the Daily Mail via AFP and the Independent report on Trump’s impending decision to extend the waiver on sanctions which were previously imposed on the Iranian government.

The Guardian reports on the current situation faced by migrants in Israel. They report that “thousands of asylum seekers face a dilemma: leave Israel with a cash sum or be imprisoned”. In the story they interview three men from Eritrea who have been told that if their application for asylum fails, they must either leave Israel within three months with a lump cash sum or face imprisonment. They also reported on the protests that took place in Tel Aviv to defend the migrants.

The Independent  has published an obituary of Israeli novelist Aharon Appelfeld. He passed away last week and was hailed by author Philip Roth as “fiction’s foremost chronicler of the Holocaust”.

The Guardian, Express, Telegraph and the Financial Times report on the protests in Tunisia. The report states that despite the reforms following the Arab Spring, the underlying economic and social grievances that sparked the original regional uprisings seven years ago remain and that the social, economic and political situation of states like Tunisia remain fragile. Tunisian authorities have arrested hundreds of people after nights of violent rioting sparked by anger at austerity measures agreed with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a $2.9bn loan.

The Independent published a column by Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk about the real-estate deal between Jared Kushner’s family’s company and Israeli insurance company Menora Mivtachim. The columnist asks whether a hypothetical advisor to the President who happened to be Muslim and would be the beneficiary of trusts in a company that was doing business in the Palestinian West Bank would be seen as acceptable practice for a Middle East envoy.

BBC News Online and the Daily Mail via AP reports that two Palestinian youths have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said troops had come under attack from a “massive barrage of rocks” and that they had fired at the main instigator. Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told the Wafa news agency that Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint there opened fire “without any reason”.

The Daily Express published an editorial yesterday stating that “giving aid to Palestinians only helps to fund barbarous terror”. It highlights the story of Kay Wilson and Kristine Luken, who were hiking near Jerusalem and were attacked by a Palestinian man with a knife. The comment states “that [Wilson] is now understandably writing to the International Development Committee asking why aid is going to the Palestinian Authority”.

BBC News Online and the Daily Mail report on the posting of a photograph of Israeli actress Gal Gadot in a dress by Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab which has caused consternation on social media. The Wonder Woman star was wearing a blue sash dress by the designer as she appeared at the National Board of Review Awards Gala in New York on Tuesday. An image of Gadot then appeared on Saab’s Instagram page with a description of the ‘flawless’ actress in ‘Ready-to-Wear Spring Summer 2018’. Israel and its northern neighbour Lebanon have technically been at war since 1948 and the post immediately sparked a backlash online before being removed altogether. The deleting of Saab’s picture has drawn a mixed reaction on social media. While one user praised the decision to remove the post, another called the whole debacle “shameful”.

The Daily Mail via AFP reports on the US Justice Department announcing the creation of a special task force to investigate what it called “narcoterrorism” by the powerful Lebanese movement Hezbollah. The unit will comprise specialists on money-laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime, targeting Iran ally Hezbollah’s sprawling network, whose reach extends across Africa and into Central and South America.

The Times reports that Houthi rebels in Yemen are packing boats with explosives in an attempt to shut one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and halt Saudi Arabia’s military offensive against them. Houthi fighters, backed by Iran, have loaded a remote-controlled vessel with bombs and set it on a course to strike and blow up a Saudi oil tanker in a stretch of water that controls access to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean from the Indian Ocean.

The Times reports that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has taken a dramatic new step in his attempts to restructure the country’s economic system: the part-nationalisation of the construction group owned by the Bin Laden family. The company is headed by Bakr bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s half-brother, who is among the businessmen and royals detained in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh as part of a corruption probe. Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) is to be taken under the authorities’ managerial control, with some of its assets transferred directly to the state.

Maariv and Yediot Ahronot note the IDF and other security figures are continuing the manhunt for the terrorists who killed Rabbi Shevah, maintaining the checkpoints around the city of Nablus and nearby villages. It is understood that the attack was committed by a professionally-trained cell and not by a lone-wolf terrorist.  Maariv also reveal that in wake of this week’s terror attack Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the Defence Ministry to connect the Gilad Farm outpost to the power grid.

Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz report on two Palestinians killed yesterday in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Yediot Ahronot described it as “severe disturbances”.  Ali Omar Qino, 17, was killed by IDF fire in a clash in the village of Iraq Burin south of Nablus in the course of sweeps conducted by IDF troops for the murderers of Rabbi Shevah. Another teenager, Amir Abdel Hamid Abu Musaed, 16, was shot near the Gaza Strip border fence.  Meanwhile, in Hebron, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, three Palestinian sisters were caught who were suspected of being on the way to commit a stabbing attack; they were each carrying a knife. Border Policemen stopped the three at a checkpoint. Today disturbances are expected at the end of the Friday prayers, and the state of alert has been elevated.

Yediot Ahronot quotes Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai discussing the situation in Gaza. Speaking at the Globes Israel Business Conference, he said, “The Gaza Strip is a failed area. Ninety percent of the drinking water is not potable, unemployment among young people reaches 60%, and I can give many more statistics here. It is largely the problem of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, but the State of Israel is strongly affected by it. Gaza can be turned into a great economic opportunity. Investments can be made in infrastructure and gas exploration and it can become a success. A failed economy in ungovernable areas can generate terrorism and war. A stable economy can make it possible to avoid reaching a state of war and clashes, and that is another tier in the IDF’s security doctrine.”

Haaretz includes an interview with Reza Pahlavi the son of the Iranian Shah now in the US.  Referring to the protests he tells the paper, “People Chant, ‘Death to the Dictator.’ This is about much more than economic issues.” He added that although “’I’m in exile outside my country for four decades now and I’ve never been more optimistic.”

Maariv reports the latest opinion polls. Respondents were asked: “If Knesset elections were held today, for whom would you vote [the number in parentheses is the number of seats that the party won in the 2015 election]?” The poll results were: Yesh Atid: 27 (11) Likud: 22 (30) Zionist Union: 14 (24) Jewish Home: 13 (8) Joint List: 11 (13) Kulanu: 9 (10) United Torah Judaism: 8 (6) Meretz: 7 (5) Yisrael Beiteinu: 5 (6) Shas: 4 (7).

Yediot Ahronot quotes a defiant State Attorney Shai Nitzan defending the law enforcement agencies and warned that anyone involved in governmental corruption would pay a high price for it. He said “Let anyone who is about to commit an offence know. You can never rely on one of your partners, aides or close associates not to turn you in at some point.  You can’t rely on them—not on the personal secretary who has accompanied you for decades. Not on the loyal chauffeur. Not on the personal assistant and certainly not on the person giving or brokering the bribe. In the moment of truth, anyone who committed a crime together with you, or was aware of your actions—and there are always people like that—can turn state’s witness against you.”