Media Summary

Iran arrests two French citizens

BBC News notes that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will report the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqla to the International Criminal Court (ICC). PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said during her memorial service that Israel was “fully responsible” for her death. He went on to say that she “sacrificed her life” and called her a “martyr of the free world”. The Times reports that Israel admitted one of its soldiers may have killed Abu Aqla after initially claiming that Palestinian gunmen were responsible for her death.

BBC News and The Guardian report that Iran’s arrest of two French citizens was met with swift condemnation by France’s foreign ministry. An employee of a French education union and her husband had gone missing while on holiday in Iran and this week Iran said it had arrested two European citizens who had planned to cause “chaos, social disorder and instability”. Iran claimed they were agents sent to the country to “take advantage” on ongoing protests. The French foreign ministry condemned what it called “baseless arrests”.

The Associated Press reports that Iran has arrested at least 22 people in southern cities who have been protesting the rising cost of food. Iran announced this week that the cost of staple foods such as cooking oil, chicken, eggs and milk would rise by as much as 300 per cent. This is due to global supply issues as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Independent reports on how a new trade route has emerged in Iran because of the war in Ukraine. The paper notes that transport time has been “slashed from six weeks to as little as six days … Iran is also emerging as a tempting bridge between landlocked countries of central Asia and the rest of the world.” This comes despite sanctions and efforts by the US to isolate Iran from the global economy.

The Financial Times reports on the difficulties facing Dubai’s working class as the cost of living soars. One group of workers particularly impacted are Dubai’s food delivery riders because “the salaries are too low and petrol is too high”. The rising cost of fuel has led to a “rare outbreak of industrial unrest”.

Reuters and The Associated Press report on Lebanon’s parliamentary election this Sunday and how newcomers are hoping to “break the hold that dominant sectarian politicians have on power”. This will be the country’s first election since facing the worst economic crises in Lebanon’s history and the deadly Beirut port bombing that killed 215 people and destroyed vast parts of the city. While some view the election as an opportunity, there remains “a widespread sense of apathy and pessimism … with most observers agreeing the vote is unlikely to make much difference”.

In the Israeli media, Yediot Ahronot reports on political reactions to United Arab List (UAL) leader Mansour Abbas’s interview yesterday during which he disclosed WhatsApp chats with Likud MK Yoav Kisch. Senior coalition officials responded yesterday to Abbas’s revelation, saying: “The report confirmed what we knew all along: Netanyahu ‘koshered’ Mansour Abbas and the United Arab List and held coalition negotiations with him. Netanyahu was willing to do anything to stay in power.”  The Likud denied the allegations, claiming the exchange of text messages with Abbas focused on just one issue: A Likud initiative to legislate direct election of the prime minister. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman praised Abbas yesterday for his party’s decision to remain in the coalition. Speaking to Ynet, Liberman said, “For the first time, we have a leader who has on camera and said publicly that Israel is a Jewish state and will remain a Jewish state. He didn’t say it behind closed doors.” Asked about his level of optimism that the current government would survive, the finance minister said, “The government will complete its term in office.”

Also commenting on the weekly political developments in Yediot Ahronot, Sima Kadmon writes: “It was a good week for the coalition. Netanyahu, who began the Knesset summer session feeling like a bill to dissolve the Knesset would get through a preliminary reading this week, ended the week having seen the coalition emerge victorious on every vote … [including] the no-confidence motions that were introduced on Monday, when the coalition was in a weakened state (the UAL wasn’t supporting the government).” Kadmon adds: “All Netanyahu‘s promises that he had recruited another defector have gone up in smoke for the moment. The potential defectors are voting with the coalition. Most importantly, the coalition was able to function even without the UAL; that also showed the coalition could function without Idit Silman, who found herself stuck in limbo this week and is becoming less and less relevant.”

Kan Radio reports that the police have released a statement accusing Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi of abusing his parliamentary immunity when interfering with police officers in the neighbourhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem who were taking a young person for questioning yesterday afternoon. Tibi reportedly even enabled him to escape. Officers said that Tibi had pushed, used vituperative language, and even used force to release the suspect from the police. The young person had been surrounded during violent disturbances after throwing a suspicious object. He fled but was apprehended after a short pursuit and was taken for questioning.

Maariv reports that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement this morning regarding the arrest of a Likud member who is suspected of sending threatening letters with a bullet to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s family. Netanyahu said: “I condemn any kind of violence – against a prime minister or anyone else. If it is proven that the suspect did indeed do what was attributed to her – her membership in the Likud will be terminated.” Yesterday the media reported that Ilana Haniya from Ashkelon is suspected of sending the letters.

Haaretz reports that The Higher Planning Council within the Defence Ministry approved nearly 4,500 new construction units in West Bank settlements yesterday. The authorisation of 2,791 of the units is final, and the other 1,636 are for construction submitted for public comment prior to final approval. The plans include legalising two previously unauthorised outposts: Mitzpeh Dani and Givat Oz VeGaon. At yesterday’s session, the council approved 25 construction plans, which include 56 units in the isolated settlement of Negohot in the South Hebron Hills and 534 units in Shvut Rachel, which is also located beyond the major blocs of West Bank settlements. The council approved 364 units in Dolev, 761 in Betar Ilit and 156 in Kiryat Arba, just outside Hebron.

Israel Hayom reports that Israeli naval commandoes intercepted a Gaza-bound weapons shipment last month. Cleared for publication by the IDF yesterday, the joint Israel Navy-Shin Bet operation took place on April 8 and saw Israeli forces seize maritime smuggling infrastructure through which weapons and components were being shipped into the Gaza Strip. The infrastructure was taken down mid-smuggling attempt, the military said. Three suspects were arrested as they were trying to cross into Egypt’s territorial waters.

All the papers report that security tensions continue in the West Bank this morning as IDF troops shot and wounded a Palestinian assailant who had thrown a brick at a passing Israeli vehicle near the community of Beit El. Forces also found a knife and a Molotov cocktail in his possession. He was transferred to hospital for medical treatment in serious condition. In Jenin IDF troops engaged in a heavy exchange of gunfire with armed Palestinian. According to Channel 12 News, Daoud Zubeidi, the brother of Palestinian terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi, was wounded in the battle. According to reports, Israeli forces were surrounding a house in the city and two large explosions had been heard. Elsewhere, the IDF arrested two Palestinian suspects in the Kifl Haris village in the northern West Bank near the settlement of Ariel. IDF forces also confiscated weapons in Hebron.