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Media Summary

Apple tech giant to sue NSO Group

The BBC and Reuters report that Apple is suing Israeli spyware firm NSO Group and its parent company for allegedly targeting iPhone users with a hacking tool. NSO Group said its tools were made to target terrorists and criminals, but it has allegedly also been used on activists, politicians and journalists. NSO Group says it only supplies Pegasus to military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from countries with good human-rights records. The Guardian and the Financial Times write that the end of a 20-year disclosure of Foreign Office documents has revealed that hundreds of British passengers might have avoided being taken hostage by Saddam Hussein in 1990 if a call by a British ambassador regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait had been relayed to British Airways. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has apologised for the omission. The Independent reports that the Emirati in line to become the next leader of Interpol is suspected of torture and illegal arrests. British citizens Matthew Hedges and Ali Issa Ahmad say they were unjustly arrested held incommunicado, and tortured with the complicity of Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, who could face a probe over allegations of abuse.Roger Boyes writes in The Times that Interpol is being used by despots to track down critics not criminals. Reuters reports that UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi said on Tuesday he wanted to deepen cooperation with Iran in his talks in Tehran, days before the resumption of negotiations between the Islamic Republic and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal. The Guardian also notes that major authors including Kamila Shamsie, Monica Ali and China Miéville have backed Sally Rooney’s decision not to sell translation rights to an Israeli publisher, describing it as an “exemplary response to the mounting injustices inflicted on Palestinians”. In the Israeli media, the papers report that the government officially launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign for children aged 5-11 on Tuesday, hoping to stem the spread of COVID-19 in schools and patch the largest remaining gap in its drive for national immunity from the pandemic. Among the first to receive the shot was the Prime Minister’s son, David Bennett, aged 9. Meanwhile, the coronavirus cabinet has extended the Green Certificate Programme by another two weeks, pending approval by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. Restrictions on gatherings in closed spaces will also remain in place during next week’s Hanukkah holiday, as the infection rate rose yesterday to 1.09 per cent. There are currently 125 coronavirus patients hospitalised in serious condition in Israel, including 82 who are on ventilators. Maariv follows the latest developments in the corruption trial of Binyamin Netanyahu continued in the Jerusalem District Court. State witness Nir Hefetz said he met with Shaul Elovitch, the former owner of Walla, about 10 times and said they discussed job appointments for the website. Hefetz also said Netanyahu tried to get involved with the nominations of individuals to key positions. In the afternoon, the judges criticised state prosecutors for claiming that Hefetz’s testimony about Sara Netanyahu’s demands qualified as evidence of her husband’s knowledge of her demands from Elovitch. Judge Moshe Baram said, “This is problematic. I don’t understand— you’re asking the court to convict Netanyahu for incidents the prosecution connects to his wife? She’s not the defendant. On what do you base the knowledge between what he knew and what she said? If they were said in Netanyahu’s presence, I could understand. But they weren’t said in Netanyahu’s presence. Hefetz said that prior to the 2015 election the focus on Walla was done at Netanyahu’s initiative. After the elections, Netanyahu believed that the site’s importance was diminished. Hefetz said: “Most of the efforts regarding Walla was about Sara or Yair Netanyahu and things related to them, or Yair’s requests to me in the context of his attacks on the Elovitches.”  Haaretz reports that Australia has listed all of Hezbollah as a “terrorist organisation,” extending an existing ban on the group’s military wing to the entire organisation, which has considerable power in Lebanon. Australian Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said that the Iran-backed group “continues to threaten terrorist attacks and provide support to terrorist organisations,” and poses a “real” and “credible” threat to Australia, which has a large Lebanese community. The decision was welcomed by the Israeli government.  Maariv reports that Defense Minister Benny Gantz will begin an historic visit to Morocco today and is expected to sign a precedent-setting memorandum of understanding on security cooperation between the two countries. Security officials ascribe strategic value to the formalisation of security ties with Morocco. They said the visit is far more than being merely symbolic. Morocco is also dealing with significant security challenges from neighbouring Algeria and from the Polisario Front in Western Sahara, who are supported by Iran. Furthermore, in recent years Iran and Hezbollah have tightened their grip on the African continent, making security ties between Israel and Morocco particularly important. Israel Hayom leads with an exclusive report by Yoav Limor that the IDF is drawing up plans to use reserve units to secure transportation routes for troops and equipment in the event of a future war. Limor notes: “The IDF is deeply troubled by a spate of incidents that were happened during Operation Guardian of the Walls in May this year, which included not only violent clashes in the mixed cities but also attempts by Arab citizens of Israel to carry out terror attacks along main traffic arteries and near sensitive military installations, including military bases”. Limor says the domestic operation would deploy Border Police troops to maintain order in the mixed Arab-Jewish cities during the emergency and reserve units to prevent people from blocking roads and even attacking military bases. “We realise that whereas a driver transporting a tank used to be able to load up and drive freely from north to south, or vice versa, now he is going to need an escort,” one high-ranking official is quoted as saying. Kan Radio reports that Israel’s chargé d’affaires in Poland, Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, will return to Warsaw today, three months after being recalled by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for consultations following Poland’s ratification of a law limiting Jewish property claims stemming from the Holocaust era. Lapid has since praised Poland for sending several positive signals, including boycotting the Durban Conference and denouncing anti-Semitic attacks. Ambassador Yaakov Livne will remain in Israel for the time being.