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Media Summary

Israeli National Library unveils Kafka papers

The Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times and Reuters report that Turkey and the US have agreed to establish a joint operation centre to manage tensions between Turkey and the US-backed Kurdish militia in northern Syria. The announcement came after three days of tense negotiations to forestall a Turkish attack on the Kurdish YPG group, which Turkey sees as a terrorist offshoot of the Kurdish PKK, which has fought an insurgency inside its territory for 35 years. The US Defence Ministry said in a statement that Ankara had agreed with US officials to “implement without delay” the first measures aimed at eliminating Turkey’s concerns. Reuters reports that Kurdish official Badran Jia Kurd has claimed that a Turkish attack on Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria would spark a “big war”.

The Independent reports that a recently published Pentagon report has claimed that the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria has left US allies ill-equipped to deal with a resurgent ISIS. ISIS has been rebuilding its capabilities since the defeat of the caliphate in March 2019. It has established “resurgent cells” in the country and carried out assassinations, suicide attacks, abductions and arson of crops, the report said.  The withdrawal of 2,000 US troops has “decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their forces need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence”.

The Independent reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson supported sending British troops to Yemen as foreign secretary, in a mission aimed at controlling Hodeidah port. The operation was proposed at a particularly bloody period, with mounting civilian casualties. It envisaged royal marines taking the port which had become the only effective lifeline for aid going into the country following the de facto Saudi blockade. That option “remains very much on the table”, according to government officials.

Reuters reports that the leader of the Taliban has accused the US of raising a cloud of doubt and uncertainty about an expected deal aimed at allowing it to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The message from Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber killed 14 people and wounded 145 in Kabul, in an attack the government claimed raised questions about the militants’ commitment to peace.

Reuters reports that the US has stated that the case of a deadly shooting in Lebanon should be handled in a way that achieves justice “without politically motivated inflammation” of tensions. Two aides of a government minister were killed in a 30 June shooting that has spawned a political conflict between Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Hezbollah. As a result, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s national unity government has been unable to convene, complicating government efforts to enact needed economic reforms.

The Guardian reports that a Bahraini dissident has said he was beaten and threatened with being thrown from the roof of the country’s embassy in London last month by staff trying to halt his rooftop protest against the execution of two men in the Gulf nation. Moosa Mohammed said he feared for his life in the struggle atop the five-storey Belgravia building.

The Independent reports that over a dozen Iranian women’s rights activists have sent an open letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for him to resign.  The letter argued that a “gender apartheid” and “patriarchal approach” has suppressed the Iranian political climate for four decades. Two of the 14 signatories have been arrested by Iranian authorities and the remainder are vulnerable to political persecution.

Reuters reports that southern separatists have clashed with presidential guards in Aden and three people were killed and nine injured. The violence highlighted a rift within the Saudi-backed coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen, with the separatists and internationally recognised Hadi government nominally united in their battle against the Houthis.

Reuters reports that a French diplomat has insisted that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has not been invited to this month’s G7 summit, denying a media report published as European leaders seek to defuse Tehran-Washington tensions. The official was responding to a report by Al-Monitor that French President Emmanuel Macron had invited Rouhani to the summit in Biarritz to meet US President Donald Trump. Rouhani rejected the proposal.

BBC News examines the impact of US sanctions on medical supplies in Iran: official Iranian figures show a snapshot of the past 16 months of overall Iranian imports of medical drugs and devices. These imports reached a peak of $176m (£145m) in September 2018, then fell significantly. By June 2019, imports of medical supplies had fallen by 60% to approximately $67m. This fall coincides with the imposition of US sanctions but the data is limited and it’s not possible to say with any certainty that sanctions are responsible.

BBC News reports that the lawyer for a British woman in Cyprus accused of making a false allegation of rape has resigned from the case. A court heard that Andreas Pittadjis had an unspecified “serious” disagreement with his client. The case was adjourned and the 19-year-old woman returned to custody. In July 2019, the woman said she had been gang-raped by 12 Israeli tourists in Ayia Napa, but later withdrew the allegation.

BBC News and Reuters report that Israel’s National Library has received the last part of a collection of Franz Kafka’s writings that it planned to put online, after winning an ownership battle for part of the Prague-born Jewish novelist’s literary estate. The National Library unveiled the documents after years of international searches and legal disputes. It was left the collection in 1968 by Max Brod, the friend who Kafka had trusted to burn his writings after his death in the 1920s. But Brod refused, later going on to publish them instead. Brod then left the papers to the National Library of Israel in his will.

In the Guardian, Palestinian national Raja Shehadeh examines his generation’s failure to liberate Palestine: “Ramallah, my home city, has been utterly transformed during its half-century of struggle against occupation. But what has really been achieved?”.

In the Times, Richard Spencer examines the ‘hidden war’ between Israel and Iraq: “Israel wants to stop Iranian militias from getting too close to its back yard and is targeting them in Iraq”.

Yediot Ahronot reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu attacked Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich and accused him of aspiring to have the State of Israel be run in keeping with biblical law and Halacha. On Monday Smotrich said that his aspiration was to have “the state conduct itself in keeping with the Torah and in keeping with Halacha,” but said that that this aspiration was currently unfeasible. Netanyahu told visiting US politicians that: “A member of the coalition, not from the Likud, from another party, has said that he would like Israel to be a Halachic state. Well, that is pure and utter nonsense. It’s pure BS. And no one can attest to that more than the recently appointed justice minister from the Likud, who is putting forward a bill today for universal adoption by parents regardless of gender. Some Halachic state. This is ridiculous.”

Maariv reports that Netanyahu is afraid that he will not be able to cobble together a coalition again after the elections, given Avigdor Lieberman’s unwillingness to join his Government. Netanyahu has made it his goal to be the head of the largest party, regardless of the size of its political bloc, despite the protests of the right-wing parties, in order to create “facts on the ground” and force the president to assign him with the task of forming the next government even if he does not have the support of 61 MKs. The Likud leader has set two goals to improve his situation: the first is to reduce the number of votes received by Otzma Yehudit [Jewish Power] and Zehut, and thus prevent votes from going to waste. The second goal is to take seats from the United Right. According to a source who attended a meeting, Netanyahu said, “It’s preferable for the United Right to have 7 or 8 seats in a right-wing coalition led by the Likud than for them to win 12 seats—which would make it impossible for the Likud to form the government and would put them in the opposition.” New Right leader Ayelet Shaked said on Facebook Live: “Anyone who votes for the United Right receives two things—Benyamin Netanyahu as prime minister and a right-wing party that will work with a right-wing spirit. It’s actually one vote that works as two.”

Yediot Ahronot maps out different scenarios after the elections. In Scenario A: “The right-wing bloc [without Yisrael Beiteinu] wins 61 seats or more. Netanyahu forms the next government, which is comprised of right-wing parties and the Haredi parties. In Scenario B: The right-wing bloc without Yisrael Beiteinu fails to win 61 seats, a result that will create a political situation in which several different kinds of coalition governments could feasibly be formed, such as a unity government, a government with an alternating premiership and a government led by Benny Gantz (though that option appears to be unlikely). The paper adds that there are several other possible scenarios that appear to be unlikely, but nevertheless should be reviewed: One is a Likud-United Right-Yisrael Beiteinu-Haredim coalition with an alternating premiership agreement between Netanyahu and Lieberman. The second is a a right wing-Haredi coalition with the Labour Party.”

Yediot Ahronot, Maariv, Haaretz and Israel Hayom report that Welfare Minister Haim Katz is likely to be indicted but the indictment will not include a bribery charge. The indictment alleged that Katz bought stock on the basis of inside information and illegally accrued profits as a result.

Kan Radio reports that the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said that placing cameras in the area of polling stations under certain circumstances could constitute a criminal offence, if the placement of those cameras served as an impediment to the voting process. Mandelblit said that the Central Elections Committee was barred from issuing instructions to place cameras on its behalf at polling stations as long as it was not explicitly empowered to do so by law or, at the very least, in election-related ordinances. In April’s election, the Likud party spent hundreds of thousands of shekels to buy 1,200 cameras and give them to Likud members serving as polling officials in Arab towns. It said the goal was “to monitor the integrity of the elections.”

Haaretz reports that the Israel National Library in Jerusalem yesterday unveiled a new collection of Franz Kafka’s papers, ending a decade-long legal battle to make the papers available to the public. The library recently obtained the manuscripts, including drafts of stories, personal letters and exercise books for Hebrew study. The library began the process after Haaretz reported that the literary estate was being held in private hands, out of public view. Dr. Stefan Litt of the National Library told Haaretz that he was surprised to find the Hebrew study notebook, which had been previously unknown to researchers.