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Media Summary

BICOM CEO Sorene discusses Tamimi case

Last night, Channel 4 News interviewed BICOM CEO James Sorene about the case of Ahed Tamimi and her arrest. It follows the publication of a video online which depicts an altercation between her and an Israel Defense Force (IDF) soldier. Sorene said “It’s clear that she and her siblings are being exploited to be able to create images that work for social media. It’s obvious that this is not a family or a group who are campaigning for peaceful dialogue and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The Daily Mail and Yahoo News UK report that an Iran-backed terror cell made up of Palestinians have been uncovered in Israel after planning suicide bombings with a leader based in South Africa. Israel said on Wednesday it had uncovered the militant cell suspected of having been recruited and handled by Iranian intelligence officers. The Shin Bet Security Service said in a statement on Wednesday that 29-year-old Mohammed Maharmeh of Hebron is suspected of being enlisted as an Iranian operative. Maharmeh was allegedly tasked with enlisting suicide bombers and gunmen for attacks against Israelis. The Shin Bet said Maharmeh received $8,000 from Iran for his activity.

The Guardian and the Daily Mail report on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to relocate African migrants in Israel. Netanyahu instructed the national security adviser, Meir Ben Shabbat, to look into forced expulsion as his Cabinet met to approve a plan to offer 40,000 people the choice of being deported with a cash payment or being incarcerated indefinitely. The plan offers African migrants a $3,500 payment from the Israeli government and a free air ticket to return home or go to ‘third countries’, which rights groups identified as Rwanda and Uganda.

BBC News Online reports that Palestinian officials have dismissed Donald Trump’s threat to cut US aid over what he called their unwillingness to negotiate with Israel, as “blackmail”. A spokesman for Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas insisted Jerusalem was “not for sale” a reference to Mr Trump’s recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. Abbas was not against negotiations, but they had to be based on “international laws and resolutions”.

Yahoo News UK reports that the IDF says it has struck militant sites in the Gaza Strip in response to repeated rocket fire toward Israel. The military hit what it described as “significant terror infrastructure” early on Thursday. It followed three mortars fired from Gaza at Israel the previous day. No casualties were reported in either incident.

The Daily Mail reports that the BBC has received complaints that “all villains are explicitly Jewish’ in Sunday night crime show McMafia”. The UK Lawyers for Israel group (UKLFI) has issued a statement over the portrayal of Semiyon Kleiman, a disreputable Israeli businessman and politician, played by American actor David Strathairn. The group also claim the show makes references to Israel which are not contained in the 2008 book of the same name by author, Misha Glenny and accuses the programme-makers of misquoting the motto of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad.

All the Israeli newspapers discuss the Knesset passing a preliminary reading of a bill supporting the death penalty for terrorists that have murdered Israelis. Haaretz reports that the Shin Bet security service has voiced its objections, suggesting it will trigger a wave of kidnappings of Jews around the world to use them in negotiations.  Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman has shared his negative opinion of the bill with the Security Cabinet.  Maariv focuses on a disagreement within the coalition, “Bennett v Lieberman” as the former argues the “death penalty bill is hollow and will change nothing”.  Yediot Ahronot quotes Netanyahu from the debate, “There are extreme situations of people who commit terrible crimes and therefore do not deserve to live, they deserve the full amount of punishment. We support a change in the law for these situations, and especially on the ability to make a decision not under the guidance of the government or the Defence Minister, but on the basis of the opinion of two out of three judges. This is the main change we are interested in.” He was also asked by MK Ahmed Tibi if this would also apply to Jewish terrorists. The Prime Minister replied “In principle, yes.”

Maariv reports the angry response by Palestinian leaders to President Trump’s tweets referring to cutting funding to Palestinians. “The Palestinians’ rights cannot be extorted,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official. “With Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital he has not only made himself unacceptable as a mediator, he has also completely sabotaged and absolutely destroyed the foundations on which peace might grow.”  The paper also includes commentary that argues, “President Trump’s anger with the Palestinians is understandable. The PA under Abu Mazen’s leadership came by his wrath honestly. There is a fundamental rule that all the veteran ambassadors and diplomats at UN headquarters know-don’t fight publicly with the United States even if you’re right because, at the end of the day, you’ll come away losing. Abu Mazen’s blunt statements against the president were a terrible mistake by the Palestinian leader.”

Haaretz reports that Israel will resume supply of electricity to Gaza.  It was cut off six months ago when the PA said they would no longer pay for it.  It is expected to begin in a few days.  One of the promises made as part of the Palestinian reconciliation process was restoring the Israeli power supply to what it had been before.

Yediot Ahronot reveals a new initiative from the  Justice Minister that would remove authority from the High Court of Justice’s to rule on land disputes in Judea and Samaria and transfer it to the administrative courts. The Justice Ministry issued a memorandum proposing that the district administrative court in Jerusalem be given the power to rule on petitions over land disputes and on several other issues. The memorandum advised that the administrative court had the means to precisely clarify the facts, as opposed to the High Court of Justice. Justice Shaked’s bureau said that this was a way of ensuring the principle of placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff rather than on the defendant. The Justice Minister’s initiative would leave the High Court of Justice with the power to rule on appeals.

On Kan Radio News, Jordanian Water Minister Hazim el-Nasser said that the implementation of the Red-Dead Canal had been delayed even prior to the shooting incident at the Israeli embassy in Jordan last summer, as a result of disagreements over financial and technical issues. Nevertheless, he said that the incident at the embassy put an end to the talks to resolve the disagreements.