Bennett calls on Netanyahu to “let go” over proposed government
The BBC and Reuters report that Palestinian activist Muna el-Kurd was questioned by Israeli security forces over her participation in protests against the possible eviction of Palestinian families from homes in East Jerusalem. Video footage showed Muna el-Kurd being taken in handcuffs from her home in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Muna el-Kurd’s twin brother Mohammed was also questioned after handing himself in to police. Both were later released.
The Times reports on what is describes as “a Trumpian outburst” at a meeting of Likud party members in Jerusalem yesterday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the government about to be formed “the biggest election fraud in the history of the state, and I think in the history of democracies”. The Telegraph notes that Netanyahu denounced incitement and violence “from any side”, but accused the media of remaining silent “when they call out against me, terrible calls for violence, including specifically to murder me, my family members, my wife. Silence, almost complete silence in the general public and media discourse”.
The Guardian publishes a commentary which says, “The burning desire to depose Israel’s longest serving leader is certainly the driving force behind the disparate eight-party coalition that hopes to replace him. But another factor also unites them – by default, if not by design: the consensus that in determining the future of the Jewish state, the conflict with the Palestinians can be managed in perpetuity.”
The Times reports that the families of two young men awaiting execution in Saudi Arabia for crimes allegedly committed as minors have appealed to the foreign secretary to raise their cases when he visits Saudi Arabia this week. Human rights groups say that the authorities there have taken notice in the past of calls for clemency from British leaders.
The Financial Times focuses on Egypt’s new capital, where construction workers are putting the finishing touches to the $3bn “government district” before it’s launched in August. The project — forecast to cost $45bn when it was launched six years ago — embodies President Sisi’s vision of development and how it should be done: the military is unabashedly front and centre and it is being built on a pharaonic scale.
The Telegraph reports that Turkey’s President Erdoğan has promised an emergency pollution clean-up as the country faces the biggest outbreak of hazardous “sea snot” on record. The shores of the Sea of Marmara, to the south of Istanbul, have been blanketed in a thick grey slime that threatens both marine life and the fishing industry.
Reuters notes that US and British diplomats have urged Houthi forces to end an offensive in northern Yemen on Sunday after at least 17 people were killed in an explosion which the Saudi-backed government blamed on a Houthi missile strike.
The Times reports on Lebanon’s worsening economic and political crisis, but finds that Lebanese gin makers are a surprising economic winner at a time when most people struggle to put food on the table.
In the Israeli media, the papers focus on the political speeches from Yamina leader Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last night. Bennett took the opportunity to try to allay public concerns about the proposed Bennett-Lapid government’s intentions and plans, on the one hand, and to appeal to Netanyahu, to “let go” and to “free” Israel to move on to being governed by a new coalition. Bennett urged Netanyahu not to leave “scorched earth” behind. Earlier in the day Netanyahu attacked the intended government as the “biggest election fraud in the country’s history”. Netanyahu appeared irritated at the notion that criticism of the new government qualified as incitement, saying: “When a huge public feels that it has been deceived, when the national camp is vehemently opposed to a dangerous left-wing government, it is their right and their duty to express protest in all legal and democratic means.”
In Yediot Ahronot, Nadav Eyal writes that “Netanyahu deliberately decided to push the current situation to the edge. That is why he concluded his day of rage with an interview to Channel 20 in which he described the incoming prime minister as a ‘liar.’ Netanyahu could have blasted Bennett in any number of ways. He could have accused him of not really wanting to form a right-wing government and of preferring to form a government that he would lead. But Netanyahu is going to have a much harder time taking Bennett to task on the question of credibility given his own personal history. But more importantly: in light of that same history, the right thing would be for the prime minister to try to calm tempers and not try to fan the flames further. In any event, his political fate is going to be decided by two MKs at most; he doesn’t have to drag the entire country into the fire.”
Kan Radio reports that Jewish Power MK Itamar Ben Gvir is preparing to make use of his immunity and march through Damascus Gate and the Muslim Quarter even if the Israel Police ban or re-route the planned March of Flags this week. After a situation assessment meeting held last night by Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yaakov Shabtai, a statement was issued noting that the march would be permitted at a time and in a format that would be coordinated by the police soon.
In Yediot Ahronot, Ben-Dror Yemini argues that “there is no prohibition on raising the Israeli flag … there is a difference between raising the flag in various places in Jerusalem and Israel and the provocation of the ‘march of the flags’ organised by Smotrich and Ben Gvir, which has nothing to do with strengthening Jerusalem. Their goal is to cause strife. And if, by chance, there also happens to be bloodshed, then their provocation will be crowned a success.”
In Maariv Kalman Liebskind describes the statement that Israel Security Agency Director Nadav Argaman released on Saturday about the dangers of escalating verbal violence, as being “not a legitimate call. We aren’t in the Soviet Union. The public that feels that it has had its vote stolen has the right to cry out. It has the right to cry out loudly. It has the right to issue a deafening cry. It has the right to disturb the peace all around. And it has the right to do so without the security services interfering. As long as that outcry is legal, no one has the right to stop it.” Liebskind devotes most of his article to condemning his fellow journalists for failing to protect freedom of speech for right-wing opponents of the future government because of political bias.