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Media Summary

US says China importing Iranian oil in defiance of sanctions

BBC news and the Guardian report that Iran has seized another oil tanker in the Gulf. Iranian forces seized an Iraqi ship for “smuggling fuel for some Arab countries” and detained seven sailors. Iraq’s oil ministry has said it has no connection to the seized vessel and that it is working to gather information about it. If confirmed, the Iraqi tanker would be the third foreign vessel to have been seized by Iran in recent weeks.

The Guardian reports that Australian defence minister Linda Reynolds has said Australia would seriously consider a proposal to take part in a coalition to patrol the Strait of Hormuz to prevent the interference of oil shipments by Iran during Australia-US ministerial consultations in Sydney on Sunday. Though, the Australian government has rejected suggestions it could host US mid-range missiles near Darwin – citing the fact the US has not made and does not expect to make such a request.

The Guardian argues the relaxation of the guardianship system in Saudi Arabia is long overdue, but more change is needed, and the credit for these reforms should go to the women who have fought for them.

The Guardian reports that a group of 40 migrants rescued by a German charity ship have landed in Malta and will be taken by other EU member states after a deal negotiated by Germany. The 40 people were rescued on Wednesday from a small boat off the Libyan coast by the ship Alan Kurdi, which belongs to the NGO Sea-Eye.

The Times reports that a British bank controlled by the Qatari state is providing financial services to UK-based organisations linked to Islamist extremists. Some of Al Rayan Bank’s clients have had their accounts with western banks frozen or closed in a security clampdown. Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hardline preachers and a mosque whose long-term trustee is a Hamas leader. David Roberts, of King’s College London, a former director of the Qatar office of the Royal United Services Institute, said Qatar saw a logic in engaging with “so-called moderate Islamists” as a firewall that “prevents people from going even further into extremism and terrorism”.

The Times reports that work on the first of a new class of US aircraft carrier, designed to maintain America’s superiority in naval power-projection for the next four decades, has ground to a halt after problems with its magnetic lifts meant it was unable to hoist armaments on to its flight deck.

The Independent reports that Twenty-six soldiers have been killed in an explosion blamed on a technical error in central Syria, according to a Syrian pro-government newspaper. Al-Watan quoted a military official as describing Saturday’s explosion at the Shayrat air base in the Homs province as severe.

The Financial Times reports the Trump administration is tracking the movement of tankers linked to China’s biggest state-run oil company amid signs that the vessels are helping to transport Iranian crude to China in defiance of US sanctions against Tehran. Bank of Kunlun, a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, has in recent months employed a fleet of tankers in an apparent bid to move oil from Iran to China, according to one person familiar with the situation and TankerTrackers, a group that monitors oil shipments.

The Financial Times and Reuters report that Turkey will launch a military operation in a Kurdish-controlled region of Syria, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned. Speaking on Sunday, Erdogan said Turkey would enter north east Syria to take over areas controlled by Kurdish-dominated militias backed by the US. “So far, we have been patient. But that patience has its limits,” he said.

The Financial Times reports that the International Atomic Energy Agency must be unyielding in reporting any failure by Iran to comply with a landmark nuclear agreement that is gradually unravelling, according to a leading contender to head the UN’s nuclear watchdog. Rafael Grossi, an Argentine diplomat who is in the running to take over the IAEA after the death of its previous director-general, Yukiya Amano, in July, said the agency had to “tell it as it is” and stick to its mandate of policing compliance with the 2015 deal.

Reuters reports that Israeli defence ministers have stated that Israel is around 30 years away from its ambition of deploying robot forces, and for now will choose between three prototypes of semi-automated armoured vehicles to cocoon its troops in battle, defence officials said on Sunday.

Reuters reports that the World Food Programme (WFP) and Yemen’s Houthi movement, which controls the capital Sanaa, have said they had reached a deal that could lift the UN agency’s partial suspension of aid which has affected around 850,000 people.

Reuters reports that the US State Department on Saturday said it welcomed news of a ceasefire in Northwest Syria – the last rebel bastion in the country – and urged an end to attacks on civilians.

The Jewish Chronicle and Guardian report that Community Security Trust (CST) research has found that antisemitism in the Labour Party has been “fuelled” by a small number of social media accounts run by Jeremy Corbyn supporters. The report says there was “no separation” between “generic pro-Labour Twitter accounts and campaigns” and “abusive Twitter accounts that claim to act in support of Labour in order to shut down allegations of antisemitism against the party.” The CST report, published on Sunday, said the “flow of antisemitic tweets” often use “hateful language to attack Jewish Labour MPs or other people who raise concerns about antisemitism”.

The Jewish News and Guardian report that Tower Hamlets council has declined to host the closing rally of an annual bike ride raising money for psychologically traumatised Gaza children because it was worried about breaching the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Organisers of The Big Ride for Palestine, which has raised £130,000 since 2015, were told by officials at Tower Hamlets that they could not host the event in the borough because of the race’s “political connotations”. The website for the Big Ride contained numerous reference to ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Israeli apartheid which prompted concerns.

The Israeli media is dominated by analysis of the story that all Likud election candidates were asked to agree a pledge to support only Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. Yediot Ahronot writes that behind the scenes, the initiative elicited great anger and fierce criticism of Netanyahu. The Likud MKs and ministers who signed the pledge were quick to say, in closed-door meetings, that while they had agreed the pledge, the document had no legal force and it was meant to allay Netanyahu’s fear of a unity government being formed without him. “Obviously, if anyone in the Likud is planning a coup, this declaration is the last thing they will care about,” said one Likud source, “and this certainly won’t save Netanyahu from a situation in which he can’t form a government again. More than the Likud wants the leader, it wants to be in power. So, if such a situation arises, there are more than a few MKs who will want to rethink, and in such a situation, his seat is not all that secure.” Other Likud sources said: “This is a dictatorship. This is nuts.” Others said, “this is a personality cult, there hasn’t been anything like this since the party was established.”

Ben Caspit in Maariv argues that Netanyahu knows that there is no Likud MK who can afford not to immediately support the pledge of allegiance, but he knows that these text messages are worthless. They have a clear expiration date: The moment that it becomes clear, if it should indeed become clear, that Bibi is a lame duck. That he cannot form a government this time too. At that moment, “circumstances will change.” Netanyahu is losing his composure and his peace of mind. Over the course of the years and the terms, he has succeeded in avoiding the shows of panic that characterized him in the first part of his political journey. He learned how to withstand pressure, not to be overly disturbed by background noise. Now, when he understands that the fork in the road that lies ahead is a life-changing event, he is losing his balance. The reality is simple: The Likudniks are loyal to Netanyahu. That is true, they are with him. As long as he puts them in power. Once he fails to put them in power, they will recalculate their course.

Yossi Verter in Haaretz writes that even before the work on collecting the signatures was finished – or more precisely the confirmation through emojis and WhatsApp messages – the initiative seeking to force Likud Knesset candidates to declare their support for Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister following next month’s election ranks just in the middle of the 10 most ridiculous moments in Israeli political history. He adds that the moment that it becomes clear, if it becomes clear, that Netanyahu cannot form a government, Likudniks who have forgotten what it feels like to be in the Knesset opposition will demand that the party engage in soul-searching over going into the wilderness of the opposition with Bibi, or pick another candidate who would keep the party in the sweet, addictive position of power. It is not binding politically, legally or in the eyes of the public. More than anything, it reflects the extent of the hysteria and frayed nerves at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Ben-Dror Yemini in Yediot Ahronot also criticises Netanyahu asking how was it that no other leader before Netanyahu, in the Likud or in any other party, ever needed a panicky rush to have people sign such an embarrassing petition? Because none of them ever trembled in fear. Netanyahu is a different story. In the past, he was known as the “magician.” The man who could extract himself from any political tangle. He didn’t need signatures. He used his proven ability to do wonderful things for Israel. I’ve written about these things many times. But the old Netanyahu is gradually vanishing, and a new one is taking his place, and he is neither a magician nor strong, but rather a man who has replaced the state’s interests with his own interests. He concludes that I swear on all that is holy that I do not belong to the choir of “anyone but Bibi.”  But as the time goes by, it’s clear that the gap between what is best for Netanyahu and what is best for Israel is continually growing. The “loyalty petition” is not only unnecessary, not only a clear sign of weakness, but mainly shows that some people have gone off the rails. Serious people in the ruling party are gripped by panic. They were silent as fish when Netanyahu forged a connection with Kahanists. Now they are ashamed and signing. What next? We must only ensure that what has happened to them does not happen to Israel.

Maariv reports that half a billion shekels have been promised to Eilat. At a special meeting in Eilat, the Cabinet approved a plan worth over NIS 500 million to develop the city of Eilat and the Hevel Eilot Regional Council area. Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu also said that “we are going to continue to move forward on the planning for a railway line from the center of the country to Eilat. This vision will also be realized. Eilat has a bright future. All Israelis share in the desire to see this future arrive as quickly as quickly as possible. Because of this, we are here.”

Yediot Ahronot, Maariv, Haaretz and Israel Hayom all cover the report the reopening of the murder investigation of Nava Elimelech. The decision to exhume her body 37 years after the murder, was made after the evidence was reexamined. The girl went missing on March 20, 1982, after leaving her parents’ home in Bat Yam to visit a friend, who lived 300 meters away. After 10 days of searching, Elimelech’s head and other body parts washed up on various beaches in central Israel, wrapped inside plastic bags.