Media Summary

Human Rights Watch director leaves Israel

BBC News, the Guardian, Independent and Reuters report that Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli authorities of an “intensifying assault on human rights” following the deportation of Omar Shakir. The interior ministry revoked the work permit of Shakir last year under a law that bars foreigners who have supported Boycotts of Israel. Shakir will continue as Israel and Palestine director but will be based in Jordan.

Reuters reports that Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have to resign after being indicted for alleged corruption, bribery and breach of trust. Mandelblit had convened his senior staff to discuss if Netanyahu should be declared temporarily unfit for office, but concluded that “the issue of temporary unfitness for office should be left in the public-political realm”.

BBC News reports that a massive purge of IS accounts on Telegram – the main platform used by the group – has resulted in serious disruption of its propaganda distribution online. Europol said in a press release on 22 November that a concentrated day of action had meant “a significant portion of key actors within the IS network on Telegram” had been “pushed away from the platform”.

The Guardian and Reuters report that the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has defended its conclusion that chlorine was used in an attack in Syria in April 2018, after a whistle-blower alleged the report misrepresented some of the facts amid Russian claims that the watchdog is being politicised.

The Telegraph reports that videos have emerged of Iran’s brutal crackdown on protesters after the internet was restored following a week-long government-imposed blackout. In one video, machine gun fire answers rock-throwing protesters. In others, motorcycle-riding Revolutionary Guard volunteers chase after demonstrators.

The Times and Reuters report that Turkey has begun testing a newly acquired S-400 defence system against American-made fighter jets. The US fears that the S-400 system could help Moscow gather intelligence on western military capabilities.

The FT and Reuters report that Saudi Arabia has arrested at least eight writers, bloggers and journalists in a fresh crackdown on dissent.  The arrests took place in Riyadh, Jeddah and other cities, said ALQST, a London-based group that monitors human rights abuses in the kingdom.

Reuters reports that the Saudi-led coalition carried out a fresh wave of air strikes near Yemen’s Red Sea port of Ras Isa on Monday, in a rare operation since a UN-brokered ceasefire took effect in Hodeidah region.

Reuters reports that US officials met on Sunday with eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar as Washington presses him to end his offensive on the capital. Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying since April to take Tripoli, which is held by the internationally recognised Libyan government.

Reuters reports that Syrian constitutional talks have stalled after Damascus government delegates to the Syrian Constitutional Committee left the second UN-sponsored round before it began, in what opposition members said was a stalling tactic.

BBC News reports that a Coptic Christian woman in Egypt says she has won a legal battle to receive the same inheritance as her brothers. Under Sharia inheritance laws, female heirs inherit half that of male relatives. Huda Nasrallah brought the case to test the legality of the statute.

The Daily Mail reports that the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has vowed to ‘destroy’ the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia if they cross Tehran’s ‘red lines’. Gen Hossein Salami accused each country of stoking last week’s violent protests.

Reuters reports that Qatar and Kuwait have told the US that they will join a U-led naval coalition in the Gulf which was established in response to the series of attacks on oil tankers believed to have carried out by the IRGC.

The Guardian reports that a Moroccan rapper who recorded a viral track denouncing the state of the country has been sentenced to a year in prison for insulting the police in a case that rights groups have called “an outrageous assault on free speech”.

BBC News and the Times report that a Lebanese businessman has donated items of Nazi memorabilia he bought at a controversial auction in Germany last week to Israeli fundraisers. Abdallah Chatila said he purchased the items to prevent them from being used as neo-Nazi propaganda.

The FT and Reuters report that a senior banker who is standing trial on fraud charges has begun his defence in a prosecution brought by the UK Serious Fraud Office. The SFO alleges that he and two other bankers negotiated secret side deals with Qatar as it injected £4bn of emergency funding into Barclays in 2008, helping it avoid a state bailout during the Global Financial Crisis.

Reuters reports that Saudi Aramco has met with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to discuss a potential investment in the oil giant’s share sale that could raise $25.6bn.

The Times reports that WeWork boss Adam Neumann helped draft the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan.

The Daily Mail reports that pro-Palestinian students at a small Ohio college set up a makeshift memorial for the 34 people, including leading Islamic Jihad militant Bahaa Abu el-Atta, killed by Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip earlier this month.

In the Guardian, Michael Safi and Oliver Holmes argue that “Jordan and Israel’s 25-year peace deal [is] under more strain than ever”: “Unpopular but enduring treaty faces new test in form of Donald Trump’s plan for Middle East”.

In the Times, Melanie Philips writes that “Trump has been proved right about Iran” saying that the: “Uprising against the regime shows sanctions are working and we should stop appeasing evil”.

In the Times, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis asks “what will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” writing that Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism makes him “unfit for high office” in next month’s general election.

In the FT, Andrew England and Murad Ahmed explain why Gulf States are “betting on sport”: “Saudi Arabia is following Qatar and the UAE in spending big on sporting events. But the investments have increased scrutiny over human rights”.

Reuters examines the Iranian plot to attack Saudi Arabia: “Four months before a swarm of drones and missiles crippled the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, Iranian security officials gathered at a heavily fortified compound in Tehran”.

Attorney General rules Netanyahu can continue for now as PM: All the Israeli media report that the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, announced yesterday that there was nothing to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing to serve as the Prime Minister of a transitional government. He also addressed the allegation that an indictment could serve as grounds for the Prime Minister’s incapacitation saying that the issue should be a matter that would be decided in the public-political sphere, i.e. through coalition negotiations or a third election. As for the ministerial positions that the Prime Minister holds, the Attorney General said that he would not examine the issue because he believed that Netanyahu in any case intends to give them up. Mandelblit further said that at this time he would not address the question of whether it would be possible to give Netanyahu the mandate to form a new government because this was theoretical at this stage.

Demonstration in support of Netanyahu: The Israeli media looks ahead to tonight’s rally in Tel Aviv organised by Likud activists that has been badged: “Saving the Country and Stopping the Coup.” They are hoping that tens of thousands people will attend and are encouraging coalition partners; the ultra-Orthodox and settler community to bring their supporters to boost attendance. However Kan Radio News reported this morning that the Yesha (settlers) council has refused to support the rally because they do not identify with the demonstration’s message. Maariv reports that it is still unclear whether the prime minister himself would be at the event. Party officials reported that Netanyahu is considering surprising the crowd and arriving in the middle of the demonstration and making a speech, but others are advising that is is unwise and unnecessary. Yediot Ahronot reports that most of the senior Likud ministers have made their excuses and will not be in attendance.

Insight into Iranian planning: The Israeli media have published a Reuters report on decision making inside Iran from earlier this year.  According to the report, “Iranian security officials gathered at a heavily fortified compound in Tehran. The group included the top echelons of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the Iranian military whose portfolio includes missile development and covert operations. The main topic that day in May: How to punish the United States for pulling out of a landmark nuclear treaty and reimposing economic sanctions on Iran.”  The reports quotes Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, leader of the Revolutionary Guards, saying, “It is time to take out our swords and teach them a lesson,” the commander said, according to four people familiar with the meeting. Hard-liners in the meeting talked of attacking high-value targets, including American military bases. Instead the decision was taken to attack the Saudi Arabian oil installations.


Arab League condemns US announcement on settlements: Israel Hayom reports that the Arab League met yesterday in Cairo and rejected the decision by the United States to no longer consider settlements in illegal, saying the move was a threat to peace and a flagrant violation of international law.  The Arab League said it considered the US position legally null and void and showed “unprecedented disdain for the international system.”