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Media Summary

Corbyn praised activist who vandalised Warsaw Ghetto Wall

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The Daily Mail, the Sun and The Times report that Jeremy Corbyn praised an activist who vandalised walls of the Warsaw ghetto and called for Israeli MPs to be assassinated. The Daily Mail reports that Corbyn described Ewa Jasiewicz as a ‘very good friend’. In 2010, Jasiewicz desecrated the last remaining walls of the Warsaw ghetto – where an estimated 92,000 Jews died – with pro-Palestinian graffiti. She explained her actions by claiming that Israel had ‘co-opted’ the Holocaust to serve ‘agendas of colonisation and repression’. Jasiewicz is due to speak at a Momentum festival this month. The Sun reports that Jasiewicz and another activist wrote “liberate all ghettos” and “Free Gaza and Palestine” on the last remaining section of the Ghetto wall. The Times reports that in 2002 Jasiewicz called for “activists” to “do” the Israeli parliament or “a sophisticated politician bump-off” rather than targeting Israeli civilians. At the time Jasiewicz was living in Jenin, in the West Bank. In a 2,700-word dispatch at the height of the Second Intifada, Jasiewicz wrote that the son of the family she was staying with “went and opened fire on some Israeli civilians in a market somewhere a few months ago”, adding: “I don’t get why activists can’t go and do the Knesset [Israeli parliament] or something, or do a sophisticated politician bump-off like the PFLP?”

The Independent reports that a senior trade union ally of Corbyn has condemned left-wing activists for criticising Israel but not standing up against Iran and Saudi Arabia. Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite trade union, said it was wrong that Corbyn-backing campaigners had protested against the Israeli government and Donald Trump but not against Islamist terrorism and oppressive regimes in the Middle East.

Reuters reports that European states have urged Israel not to demolish a Bedouin village in the West Bank. Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Britain called on Israel on Monday not to raze the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar after Israel’s top court last week cleared the way for its demolition. In a statement, the five EU powers said: “We therefore join (EU) High Representative/Vice-President (Federica) Mogherini in reiterating our call to the Israeli government not to go ahead with its plan to demolish the village – including its school – and displace its residents.”

The Daily Mail reports that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has praised the US decisions to close the Palestinian mission in Washington. “The US made the correct decision regarding the PLO mission in Washington,” Netanyahu said in a statement published on Twitter. The Israeli premier’s comment comes a day after the US State Department’s announcement, accusing Palestinian leaders of refusing to engage with the US or Israel. “Israel supports American actions that are designed to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attempts to attack Israel in international forums will not advance peace,” Netanyahu said.

Writing in the Telegraph former Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor comments that the extreme Left has started to dominate debate on Israel “not with rational, legitimate criticism but with irrational, racist hatred”. Prosor writes that Corbyn’s politics would fit in at the UN. “I can safely say that Corbyn has all the qualities needed for a successful career at the UN. He faces accusations of anti-Semitism, hates Israel and is happy to do the bidding of some of the worst dictators and terrorist groups. He’d fit right in!”

The BBC, Guardian and the Daily Mail report on the Syrian army’s assault on Idlib. The BBC reports that a US-backed militia alliance has begun what it says is the final stage of a campaign to clear the Islamic State (IS) group from north-eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces launched a ground offensive on Monday against jihadist militants around Hajin, a town in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. Between 15,500 and 17,100 militants are thought to be based in Iraq, where IS no longer fully controls any territory. The Guardian reports that UN Secretary General António Guterres has appealed to Russia, Iran and Turkey to “spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians” in Idlib and said it was “absolutely essential” to avoid a full-scale battle there. Speaking to reporters in New York, Guterres said: “I understand that the present situation in Idlib is not sustainable and the presence of terrorist groups cannot be tolerated. But fighting terrorism does not absolve warring parties of their core obligations under international law.” The Daily Mail reports that the anti-ISIS ground offensive, dubbed Operation Roundup, is being conducted by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with powerful air and artillery support from the US-led coalition in northeastern Syria. The coalition said it would not leave Syria once IS loses control of the last pockets.”Moving forward, we will continue coordination with the SDF and other partners to promote regional security and stability that will ensure a lasting defeat of ISIS,” said Major General Patrick Roberson, commander of the coalition’s Special Operations Joint Task Force.

All the Israeli media report the US decision to close the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). Israel Hayom includes reaction from various voices including Likud Minister Zeev Elkin, who said: “The PLO under Abu Mazen’s leadership is an organisation that encourages terrorism by funnelling huge salaries to terrorist murderers, incites against the State of Israel in the Palestinian education system and media and operates against us with all its might in the international arena. The American decision proves once again what I’ve said more than once: Abu Mazen isn’t a partner for peace but, rather, is an obstacle to peace.”  Similarly, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said: “That representative office wasn’t involved in advancing peace but in spreading hatred and incitement. Good news for the new year.”  The paper also quotes Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi, who said that “the decision to close the PLO’s offices joins the decision to suffocate the Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem and the despicable attempt to shut down UNRWA…No decision of that kind will defeat the Palestinian people and its leadership, and nor will it make the refugees disappear or change the fact that East Jerusalem is occupied territory.”  Maariv notes that Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki met Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit to discuss the Trump administration’s decision. He is quoted saying: “The administration’s measures are damaging to the Palestinian issue and reflect a clear American bias in favour of the Israeli occupation. The US has completely adopted the Israeli government’s positions and that is a clear snubbing of the peace process and UN resolutions.”  The paper also covers the response of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which described the decision as “troubling,” and added: “This is another sign that the US has lost its role as an objective mediator in the peace process. That will encourage the destruction of the efforts to achieve the two-state solution.”

Haaretz, Israel Hayom and Yediot Ahronot report on the arson attack in a nature reserve close to the Dead Sea and the extensive damage caused.  According to Kan radio news the Jerusalem Magistrates Court extended until tomorrow the remand of two of the people suspected of setting fire to the Einot Tzukim nature reserve during the holiday, a fire that destroyed 125 acres of plant growth near the Dead Sea. The court denied the request of the police to extend the remand of the suspects, residents of East Jerusalem, by 15 days. One of them, aged-19, denied that he had deliberately caused the fire and said that he and his friends had thrown out an empty fuel can near the side of the road and that a lit cigarette had perhaps caused the fire. The third suspect, a Palestinian resident of al-Azariya, will be brought today before a judge in a military court.

Yediot Ahronot reports that there are 450,000 hungry school children in Israel. The paper explains that almost 60 per cent of the children entitled to receive a hot meal at school do not receive it because the parents are not paying even the small symbolic contribution. In a similar vein Maariv and Haaretz reveal that Israel invests one fifth of what is the standard investment in preschool children comparative within the Western world, the lowest in the OECD. Israel is also below the OECD median in funding children all the way up to high school, low in teachers’ salaries, and above average in class size. In response, the Ministry of Education claims these stats are outdated.

Kan radio news reports a 27-year-old American woman who is running for a spot in the New York Senate said that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesperson to the foreign media, David Keyes, sexually assaulted her. Julia Salazar said that she had spoken in the past to a number of reporters who had researched the allegations against Keys but only now decided to go public in the social media after she had learned of the intention to reveal her identity. Salazar did not say when and under which circumstances she had been assaulted. David Keyes denied her allegation and said that this was a false accusation from a woman who had been shown to not tell the truth about her life.