Israel marks day of remembrance, prepares for Independence Day
The main item of Middle East related coverage in the UK media today is the claim by the Damascus-based western diplomats that Iran is aiding Syria in its repression of internal protests. The Guardian, Sky News Online and Times note this claim. The Independent, BBC Online, Scotsman, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times and Reuters also note the on-going heavy repression in Syria. The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK is now opposed to Syria receiving a place on the UN’s Human Rights Council. The Guardian notes that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is pressing Israel to release tax revenue raised on behalf of the PA, which Israel did not transfer following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement. The Daily Express runs apiece noting claims that Quartet Middle East Envoy Tony Blair received £400,000 from the Department for International Development that was then spent on rooms at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. The Daily Telegraph notes that former-Mossad Head, Meir Dagan, has described the idea of bombing Iran as ‘stupid.’
Over the weekend, the on-going crackdown in Syria dominated middle east related coverage. Most papers reported on the repression and the entry of Syrian forces into the city of Banias. In other items, the Guardian on Friday noted a dispute over an award by City University of New York to a playwright, Tony Kushner, who is critical of Israel. BBC Online looked at the implications of the Arab Spring for Israel. The Sunday Express, Daily Mail and Sunday Times had a piece on the new Palestinian unity deal. The Financial Times on Saturday reviewed a new film about the campaign against the Security Barrier. The Independent on Saturday noted plans for a marathon in Gaza. The Daily Telegraph on Saturday reviewed a new book about reporting in war zones. The Independent had an article on the Habonim Zionist youth movement.
In the Israeli media today, all papers focus on Israel’s marking of Memorial Day. Haaretz reports that Egypt is attempting to induce Hamas to soften its stance in the negotiations for the freeing of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. The paper also notes that Israel is to invest one billion dollars in its Iron Dome missile defence system. The Jerusalem Post notes a statement by President Shimon Peres that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains Israel’s ‘partner’ despite the Palestinian reconciliation deal. The paper also reports that Netanyahu has asked the US to send the PA a clear message not to reconcile with Hamas. Ynetnews notes that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal over the weekend called for continued ‘armed resistance’ against Israel. Ma’ariv report that French President Nicolas Sarkozy offered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to host a peace conference in Paris at the end of June in order to restart the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Sarkozy raised the idea during the meeting with Netanyahu last week in the Elysee Palace in Paris.