Hamas use fake online profiles to try and lure Israeli soldiers
A Guardian editorial fears that “while Barack Obama stuck to the script of US foreign policy in the region, his successor, Donald Trump, says he won’t” in a shift which “will suit [Israel’s Prime Minister] Mr Netanyahu”. It continues: “This accelerating rightward trend leads to a situation where the occupation in the West Bank becomes seen as permanent, and further annexations envisaged. Israel would find it difficult to be a Jewish and democratic state if Palestinians did not have their own nation.”
The Independent covers media reports in Israel and the US which indicate that under Trump the US Ambassador to Israel could be based in the US Consulate in Jerusalem, with the embassy remaining in Tel Aviv. Trump has pledged to move the embassy to Jerusalem, in a move which would anger the Palestinians.
The Telegraph reports that the Israeli army has uncovered multiple attempts by Hamas to use fake profiles of seductive women on social media to trick Israeli soldiers into downloading software to their phones which would allow them to be tracked and monitored. Dozens of soldiers apparently fell into the trap.
The Independent covers further reported revelations regarding conversations between Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yediot Ahronot publisher Noni Mozes. It is alleged that the two discussed a quid pro quo arrangement and the latest reports indicate that Mozes offered Netanyahu to hand pick journalists in return for supporting a bill limiting circulation of rival Israel Hayom.
Andrew Billen reviews the first part of Al-Jazeera’s undercover documentary “The Lobby,” which generated headlines earlier this week after an Israeli embassy employee was filmed discussing “taking down” MPs. Billen concludes: “For the life of me I could not see what Israel was doing wrong here. The Lobby sensationally exposed the existence of, well, a lobby.”
The Telegraph online reports that Russia has sent up to a dozen more fighter jets to Syria, despite President Putin’s announcement that Moscow would scale back its presence in Syria.
The i says that Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun has visited Saudi Arabia in an attempt “to mend relations” after the Saudis cancelled military aid to Lebanon last year over Beirut’s refusal to condemn violent demonstrations at Saudi missions in Iran.
In the Israeli media, the top story in Haaretz and Israel Hayom is further revelations in the alleged conversations between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Noni Mozes. Haaretz reports that Netanyahu told Mozes he would “deal” with him if he were heavily criticised in the run-up to the last election. Israel Hayom says that Mozes will soon be questioned by police again, followed by Netanyahu. Israel Radio news covers comments made last night by Netanyahu, who repeated his mantra that “there will be nothing because there is nothing” to investigate.
The front page story in Yediot Ahronot is claims that American intelligence officials told their Israeli counterparts during a meeting not to share sensitive material with the Trump Administration yet, in case Trump is compromised by material possessed by Russia. Ronen Bergman’s report says: “The Israelis who attended the meeting said that the Americans advised them not to reveal any sensitive sources to members of the Trump administration, lest that information reach Iranian hands, until it becomes clear that Trump does not have a compromised relationship with Russia and is not vulnerable to extortion.”
Also in Yediot Ahronot, Alex Fishman reports that the Syrian government is negotiating to weaken rebel forces near the Israeli border and replace them with its own army, which could also mean the deployment of Iranian and Hezbollah forces just across the border. The report says that because “the Trump administration has not yet recruited the top officials who will serve under the president or his Secretary of Defence” there is a “vacuum that the Syrian-Iranian effort has filled and which could set off the keg of dynamite on the Golan Heights”.
Israel Radio covers comments made by a senior official in Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, who said that Turkey and Israel are entering a new stage in bilateral ties, which will include visits by various ministers and stronger defence cooperation.