Barak splits from Labour to form new party
In the UK and international press, the Times reports that the New York Times ran an article that showed US and Israeli involvement in the Stuxnet computer worm virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear programme. The Telegraph reports that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday that Hezbollah will not support prime minister Sa’ad Hariri in his effort to form a new government. The Independent and the Scotsman note that a new proposal to build 1,400 apartments near the Jewish neighbourhood of Gilo in East Jerusalem has drawn strong condemnation from the Palestinian Authority.
Over the weekend, the Observer and BBC Online reported that the US sent its first ambassador to Syria after a five year absence. The Independent on Saturday and Reuters on Sunday noted that Iran took a group of envoys, mainly from the Gulf and Arab states, on a tour of two of its key nuclear sites. The Guardian reported that on Saturday thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Israel against the Knesset law to probe the funding of human rights organisations in Israel. The Financial Times on Sunday reported that the US administration showed signs that it will veto a UN resolution presented by the Palestinians saying that such a resolution will disrupt efforts to revive the peace process.
In the Israeli press, all papers note that Ehud Barak and four other MKs are set to split from the Labour party today. In other news, the papers also report that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah yesterday accused the US and Israel of causing the Lebanese government to collapse. Meanwhile, UK Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt arrived in Israel yesterday and met with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to discuss regional developments including Lebanon, Tunisia and Iran’s nuclear programme. Haaretz reports that during the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Labour of stalling the negotiations with the Palestinians because of its plans to leave the coalition. The Jerusalem Post notes that the Quartet to the Middle East will meet on 5 February to formulate new ideas to make progress in the peace process. Haaretz and Ynetnews note that the US has sent Robert Ford, its first ambassador to Syria in five years, to Damascus.