100-vessel traffic jam in the Suez
The BBC leads with the headline, “Netanyahu falls short of majority amid vote count,” noting that “with nearly 90 per cent of votes counted, his right-wing bloc is eight seats short of the threshold to form a government”. The Times, Reuters, Independent, Financial Times, Telegraph and the Guardian have similar messages, with their reports saying Israel’s fourth election appears to be nearing another stalemate after latest tallies predict that Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition will fall just short of a majority in the Knesset.
The BBC, Telegraph, Independent and the Guardian report on the stranded container ship in the Suez Canal which after losing control caused a traffic jam of over 100 cargo vessels in the region. Tugboats were deployed to help shift the 400m-long ship but there are fears it could remain trapped for days. The owners of the ship said the vessel was “suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate… and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground”.
The Financial Times notes that the UAE has agreed a multibillion-pound investment partnership with the UK to invest in British health, technology, clean energy, and infrastructure, delivering a significant post-Brexit boost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Times, Independent and the Guardian report that Agnès Callamard, who became a UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2017, said she was issued with an open death threat by a Saudi official after she investigated the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Independent looks at how a building less than 1m wide and built out of a family feud in the 1950s has become one of Beirut’s most valued real-estate.
Reuters reports that Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s deputy ruler and the United Arab Emirates’ long-serving finance minister, has died. Sheikh Hamdan, 75, was the brother of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. He had been unwell for some months and had surgery abroad in October.
The Israeli media is dominated by the election and first reactions to the exit polls. In Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea writes: “Presumably, the exit polls should have sparked a huge Likud celebration… yet, lo and behold, the top Likud politicians aren’t in any rush to regale. There are several good reasons for that. First of all, the Likud took a beating at the ballot boxes, and the person who gave it that beating was Netanyahu. His decision to enlist himself and the party completely in the service of Smotrich and Ben Gvir brought the Likud down to the 32-seat area and yielded the Kahanists seven seats — or eight if one counts the 28th slot on the Likud’s list that was given to them as well. That isn’t just a blow to morale; it’s an ideological catastrophe. The Likud is now hostage in the hands of an anti-democratic, racist, homophobic, terrorism-sponsoring group of people. Even if Netanyahu doesn’t want to, he won’t have any choice but to bring them into the holy of holies, the security cabinet meetings and the state institutions.”
In Maariv, Ben Caspit notes that Netanyahu’s campaign drive toward the Arabs might have saved him from an electoral loss. “The bottom line is that Netanyahu split the Joint List, and if Abbas does find himself left out, then those are the four seats that switched sides and decided the campaign, or at least made it a close one. If the Joint List had repeated or at least gotten close to its achievement, the blocs would now be 62-58 in the anti-Netanyahu bloc’s favour.”
Yediot Ahronot’s Sima Kadmon writes that Yamina leader Naftali Bennett will likely have the casting vote on whether Netanyahu forms the next government or not. “Bennett, who just the other day in a live television broadcast signed a pledge not to serve under Yair Lapid, holds the keys to the next government. He can decide whether it will be a fully extremist right-wing government, with Smotrich and Ben Gvir—and we know what his position is on them—or a government of change that will restore Israel’s sanity. He can either fall under the influence of the man who humiliated him and his family, or join forces with the person who for a long period of time was in a brotherly alliance with him.”
In non-election related new, Kan Radio reports that the IDF struck Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip last night in retaliation for a rocket fired in the Beer Sheva area. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked a rocket production site and a military post belonging to Hamas. The rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip yesterday evening exploded in uninhabited territory near Beer Sheva while Prime Minister Netanyahu was visiting the city. No one was injured and no damage was caused.
Yediot Ahronot reports that Quartet – the UN, US, Russia and the European Union – met virtually on Tuesday to discuss relaunching peace talks. A statement from the meeting said the envoys discussed returning “to meaningful negotiations that will lead to a two-state solution, including tangible steps to advance freedom, security and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis, which is important in its own right.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that the director of the Israel Institute for Biological Research (IIBR), Prof. Shmuel Shapira, announced that he will resign from his role this May. The announcement came after several delays to the IIBR’s development of an Israeli coronavirus vaccine. The Defence Ministry said that Shapira’s successor has not yet been determined.