Iran stops sharing images of sensitive nuclear sites with the IAEA
In the BBC, Jeremy Bowen writes that both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory in the media as the conflict between both sides is only paused. “Like the previous rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the ceasefire is just a pause. The conflict is not just unresolved. It is not even frozen. The ceasefire will hold until it is tested by a crisis. That could be a rocket fired out of Gaza, or more Israeli police violence towards Palestinians in Jerusalem … or it could be the lawsuit brought by Jewish settler groups to evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.”
Similarly in The Times, Anshel Pfeffer writes, “One of the biggest threats to the fragile ceasefire that ended 11 bloody days of fighting between Hamas and Israel lies in a side street in east Jerusalem, now blocked off by the police to all but its residents. Tensions in the area remain extremely high, with thousands of young Palestinian activists celebrating a ‘victory for the resistance’ and jeering the Israeli police, leading to 33 arrests over the weekend.”
The Financial Times reports how the Hamas leadership is remaining defiant in their claims of victory despite the Gaza Strip being left in ruins from Israeli airstrikes and is now under a tighter blockade.
Nesrine Malik writes in The Guardian: “That negative profile of the unsavoury Palestine supporter is being challenged. The latest assault on Gaza, met once again with the same robotic excuses for Israel’s actions, seems to have shifted the balance. The geopolitics may be the same, but the ability of governments to maintain a monopoly on explaining what is happening on the ground in Israel and Palestine is weakening.”
The Independent reports that as many as 8,000 people are now permanently homeless in Gaza because of the latest escalation. For some, this was not the first time their home was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.
The Telegraph follows the latest developments in Syria’s election this Wednesday. The article says, “Syrians go to the polls on Wednesday to vote in a presidential election that the authorities here would like to present as a return to normality after a decade of devastating warfare.” However, “there is little doubt about the outcome of the election. Fifty-one candidates have been whittled down to three, and incumbent Bashar al-Assad shows no willingness to relinquish his grip on power after 21 years.”
The Guardian reports a petrochemical complex that houses a factory that makes Iranian drones has suffered a major explosion days after Israel had claimed that Iran was providing drones to Hamas in Gaza. The blast at the weekend injured at least nine workers. Iran is yet to provide any information on the cause of the explosion.
The Times reports that Iran is no longer sharing images of its sensitive nuclear activity with United Nations inspectors, a senior politician has said, straining international efforts to save the JCPOA nuclear deal. Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, Speaker of the parliament, said that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, backed the decision to stop sharing surveillance images. However, Iran’s state broadcaster quoted an unnamed official as saying that sharing could continue for another month if world powers met Iran’s “legal demands”. Yesterday the agency was trying to negotiate an extension to continue inspections after an agreement expired on Saturday.
The BBC reports that an Egyptian court has denied a request made by the owner of the Ever Given ship to have it released. The owner wanted his vessel to be released pending the determination of another case in which the Suez Canal Authority is seeking compensation up to £647m for the six days blockage of the canal. The authority says the compensation covers the costs of freeing the ship, damage caused and diversion of ships away from the canal.
The Financial Times reports that Saudi Arabia is hoping to raise $55bn through privatisation as the Finance Minister outlines plans to boost revenue and narrow the country’s budget deficit.
The Times reports that photographs of Princess Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum have been released more than three years after she was seized from a yacht while trying to escape the emirate. Latifa, 35, visited the Mall of the Emirates centre in Dubai two weeks ago and again on Saturday. She was accompanied by Sioned Taylor, a Royal Navy veteran and teacher working in Dubai. The British government has been asked to impose sanctions on the ruler of Dubai for the abduction of his daughter who appears to have been freed from her “villa jail”.
In the Israeli media, the attention turns back to the political situation. Maariv reports that Yesh Atid intends to push ahead with its efforts to form a coalition despite talks with Yamina ending, and has scheduled meetings today with Blue and White, Yisrael Beiteinu, Labour and Meretz. The goal is to conclude the negotiations with those parties and to reach signed agreements, making it harder for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to win over defectors. Yamina leader Naftali Bennett wrote a very critical post of Netanyahu yesterday on social media, in which he said: “Netanyahu appoints mediocre people who, in turn, appoint mediocre people. The decision-making process is crooked and is dictated by personal and political considerations, and all that is done amid creating a smokescreen of a personality cult for the leader, in which anyone who dares to criticise him is attacked severely. In the past few weeks and days there hasn’t been a citizen who hasn’t felt ill at ease because of the country’s situation.” Yesh Atid officials believe that the post was designed to improve his bargaining position in negotiations with the Likud.
In Yedoit Ahronot, Nadav Eyal writes, “The increasingly pervasive sentiment within political corridors the past few days … is that the possibility of forming an alternative government is back on the table in full force. That kind of talk has been fuelled by people who have spoken with Yamina MKs, coupled with a number of public petitions that have cropped up on WhatsApp groups with demands by Yamina’s ‘grassroots’ activists to join an alternative government. Is that real or is it just another negotiating tactic to secure additional reserved slots on the Likud’s list from Netanyahu? The answer to that question lies in the space between Naftali Bennett and/or Ayelet Shaked’s left and right ears. Make no mistake, the other members of the pro-change bloc are prepared to forget about the past two weeks and to form a government with Yamina.”
Two polls were published yesterday by Channel 12 and Channel 13. Both showed the Likud remained unchanged after Operation Guardian of the Walls, as opposed to Yesh Atid, which gained four and five seats respectively relative to its current strength in the Knesset. The polls found the public to be overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the government’s decision to reach a cease-fire, and only a very small portion of Israelis said they believed that Israel had emerged victorious from the fighting with Hamas. Both polls also showed a marginal lead for Netanyahu over Lapid in a head-to-head vote for prime minister: Channel 12 poll had Bibi on 41 per cent to Lapid’s 37 per cent; Channel 13 poll had Bibi on 40 per cent compared to 35 per cent for Lapid.
All the papers report on the reactions by the parties to the High Court’s ruling yesterday in in which the court ruled that the amendment to Basic Law: Knesset, which postponed the date for passing the state budget, qualified as abuse of the Knesset’s authority. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) said: “The High Court of Justice’s ruling that it may disqualify a basic law lacks all authority and is shocking. We are seeing an insane event, a handful of six people who don themselves in the mantle of justice in order to undertake a governmental coup.” Religious Zionist Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich said: “The High Court of Justice disqualifies a basic law without batting an eye. As usual, it does this cleverly, without upsetting too many people and without outraging the public. This was ‘just’ a warning of disqualification, but the principle has been set. The solution is simple — not to comply with its absurdities.” Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid said: “The Knesset speaker’s attack is the direct continuation of Netanyahu’s attack on all the institutions of government. Yariv Levin is cooperating with the Kahanists in their unbridled incitement that borders on death calls. This is the utter unraveling of government.” Justice Minister Benny Gantz said: “The High Court of Justice’s ruling is binding and the attacks by public representatives on the court disgraces the institution of the Knesset and of the attackers themselves. As long as I am justice minister, I will ensure that the institutions of the rule of law are not undermined.”
Writing in Yediot Ahronot, Tova Tzimuki says the High Court’s ruling is “a major signal to the right-wing ahead of the possible disqualification of the unbalanced nation-state law and the alternating premiership arrangement”. Tzimuki adds: “In the absence of a true democratic tradition—since the last governments that were formed relied on unstable coalitions and their members were contemptuous of the rules of the game, particularly those relating to the Supreme Court — the political establishment has been using basic laws like Band-Aids. Instead of treating them like the chapters of the State of Israel’s future constitution, the MKs have traded in them. President Hayut said the following: ‘The year 2020, the year in which the world and we were plagued by the coronavirus, which took a toll in human lives and on the economy, was also a bad year for constitutional law in Israel. The State of Israel was and is still in the throes of an unprecedented political crisis, and it appears that basic laws, like the state budget, have become a pawn in this crisis.’”
Kan Radio reports that all coronavirus restrictions will be lifted in eight days, on June 1, with the exception of the restrictions on entering and leaving Israel. Health Minister Edelstein announced last night the decision not to extend the restrictions because the infection rate in Israel has remained low even after commerce and schools were reopened.
All the papers note that five Israelis were among the 14 people killed in Italy Sunday after a cable car they were taking up the Alps plummeted to the ground. The victims were members of the same family – two maternal grandparents, two parents and their two-year-old child. The couple’s older son, six years old, has been hospitalised in critical condition. Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, Dror Eydar, said in an interview with Army Radio that the child had an emergency operation and was in intensive care. “The matter is being investigated. We will not rest and not give up until we find out exactly what happened there.”