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Media Summary

Netanyahu: Trump still has time to correct Iran’s controversial nuclear deal with the West

The Daily Express reports that US President Donald Trump still has time to correct the terms of Iran’s controversial nuclear deal with the West, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. Speaking to Fox News host Mark Levin, Netanyahu claimed Iran had been “let out of its cage” with carte blanche to “conquer countries” – and urged tough restrictions to be put in place until it “changes its behaviour”.

The Times has published an article by Melanie Phillips about the Facebook group called Palestine Live, a pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel forum created in 2013 whose members included politicians and other members of the Labour Party and the left. She calls this Facebook group a “veritable cesspool of antisemitism” arguing that: “Appallingly, this bigotry is given further cover by Jewish ultra-leftists who bash Israel. David Collier identified six such anti-Zionist activist Jews who belonged to the Palestine Live group. One told it in 2014 that using Jews in this way was a ‘political weapon’. Indeed it is. There’s a popular belief that Jews can’t be antisemitic; so Jewish anti-Zionists serve as the antisemites’ human shields.”

The Daily Mail via AAP reports that Israeli rabbi, Yitzchak Dovid Grossman has withdrawn his support for former Melbourne school principal and alleged child abuser Malka Leifer to be released on house arrest under his supervision. Grossman had offered to take care of Leifer if she’s granted home detention by Israel’s Supreme Court. “Last night, I notified the courts that I am completely withdrawing my involvement in the case of Malka Leifer, and my recommendation that she be placed under house arrest with my supervision,” Rabbi Grossman said in a statement released on Monday.

The Daily Mail via AFP reports that the White House will hold a conference on the humanitarian situation in Gaza on Tuesday, but it is unclear whether any Palestinian officials will attend. The Trump administration “believes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza require immediate attention,” US special envoy for Middle East peace negotiations, Jason Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the conference. The meeting is expected to include top White House aide Jared Kushner, National Security Council staff and “many of the relevant parties,” according to Greenblatt. It is unclear whether Palestinians officials will break their de facto boycott of US officials to attend.

The Telegraph reports that a Saudi general may have been tortured to death and several wealthy businessmen allegedly abused in captivity at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent crackdown on powerful figures in Saudi Arabia. According to the New York Times, some of the powerful detainees may have suffered abuse at the hands of their captors as they were coerced into agreements to hand over billions of dollars to the Saudi government in return for their freedom. Saudi Arabia has dismissed the allegations of abuse as “absolutely untrue”. The most dramatic accusation involves Major General Ali al-Qahtani, an aide to a senior Saudi prince seen as a potential rival to the 32-year-old Prince Mohammed, who died in government custody in mid-December. Sources told the newspaper that the general’s “neck was twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken” and that his body had burn marks which appeared to be the result of electric shocks.

The Telegraph and BBC News Online reports that the Turkish military says it has surrounded the Kurdish-held city of Afrin in northern Syria, the focus of an offensive against a Kurdish militia. A statement said troops and allied Syrian rebels had also captured “areas of critical importance” in the surrounding Afrin region. There was no immediate confirmation from local Kurdish officials.

The Guardian has published a column by Owen Jones on the Conservative Party’s ties to Russia and Saudi Arabia. He says that “In the past five years, moreover, Saudi Arabia and other autocracies spent £700,000 on luxury trips for MPs, more than 80 per cent of whom were Tories. Just under £200,000 of that was money from Saudi Arabia to pay for the excursions of 41 MPs, 40 of whom were Conservatives.” He further questions “How is it morally acceptable for the Tories to take the Russian or Saudi shilling?”

The Guardian reports that nearly half of US arms exports over the past five years have gone to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia consolidating its place as the world’s second biggest importer, a report has shown. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday that global transfer of major weapons systems between 2013 and 2017 rose by 10 per cent compared with the five-year period before that, in a continuation of an upward trend that began two decades ago. According to the report, the Middle East, a region where in the past five years most countries have been involved in conflict, accounted for 32 per cent of global imports of weapons.

The Israeli media is dominated by discussions over the possibility of early elections. Haaretz’s front page headlines “Netanyahu trying to secure majority in favour of elections in late June” while Yediot Ahronot goes with “Netanyahu’s choice” and Maariv “Moment of decision” and Israel Hayom “Up until the last moment”.

Kan Radio News this morning reports that the new conscription law will be voted on this afternoon in a preliminary reading after which a marathon debate will begin on the state budget, which was approved last night by the Finance Committee. Kan Radio news also reports that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein agreed to the request of the Yesh Atid and Meretz parties to hold a vote in the Knesset on a Bill to dissolve the Knesset within 90 days immediately after the vote on the draft law amendment Likud figures believe that elections will be held at the end of June while Opposition Chairman Issac Herzog said that Netanyahu wanted early elections so as to circumvent the Attorney General, who has to decide whether to accept the recommendations of the police to indict him in Case 1,000 and in Case 2,000.

Yediot Ahronot quotes top coalition figures who called the crisis over the conscription law a “fake crisis” and pointed an accusing finger at the Prime Minister. “This is a window of opportunity for Netanyahu to hold elections in the role of “suspect” and not in the role of “defendant”…all the resuscitation attempts are artificial – Netanyahu is working on the date for elections, not on a compromise.”

In the opinion pieces Maariv publishes two articles about Defence Minister Lieberman as does Israel Hayom which it titles, “an enigma named Avigdor Lieberman”.

Yediot Ahronot reports on a potential election surprise with polls predicting five seats for Orly Levy-Abekasis, a former Yisrael Beitenu MK who split from the party and this week announced she would form her own party

Ha’aretz reports a High Court statement that asks how asylum seekers can defend themselves against being transferred to Uganda and Rwanda if those countries deny there is an agreement with Israel in place.

The Jerusalem Post reports that dozens of Palestinian prisoners who are being held by Israel plan to launch a hunger strike next month if Israeli authorities do not stop holding Palestinians in administrative detention.

The Jerusalem Post cites a “senior Israeli diplomatic source who claims that two more Latin American nations, Honduras and Paraguay may soon relocate their embassies to Jerusalem.

The Times of Israel also reports that police have seized dozens of weapons and 22 suspects in East Jerusalem.