Israel to oppose F-35 sale to Qatar
Over the weekend, the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner speculates on whether Saudi Arabia will sign a peace treaty with Israel, following the release of a three-part interview by former Saudi intelligence chief and long-time ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan al-Saud, who lambasted Palestinian leaders for criticising recent peace moves with Israel by Gulf Arab states. Gardner says that choosing Prince Bandar “was the clearest sign yet that the Saudi leadership may be preparing its population for an eventual deal with Israel.”
The Financial Times reports on the tensions in Israeli society between the ultra-Orthodox community and the rest of the public over the former’s high rates of infections and defiance of the restrictions.
Reuters notes that Israel’s intelligence minister said his country would oppose any US sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar. Minister Eli Cohen made the comments in response to a Reuters report that Qatar – whose Iran links trouble Israel – had submitted a formal request to Washington to buy the stealth fighter jet.
The Guardian leads with comments from the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, who said that “people in Gaza are searching through rubbish to find food as Palestinians battle unprecedented levels of poverty”. Lazzarini, an experienced humanitarian, was appointed commissioner general of UNRWA in April.
The Telegraph reports that thousands have been forced to leave their homes in crisis-hit Lebanon, Israel and Syria due to hundreds of massive wildfires. In Israel’s north, more than 5,000 residents were evacuated from their homes in the city of Nof Hagalil as the fires spread across Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The Independent writes that hundreds of Syrians are fighting in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan by the need to earn money.
Martin Chulov comments in The Guardian on the slow disintegration of Lebanon. He writes: “Across Lebanon, concerns are increasing daily that what comes next will prove deeply divisive. However, talk of a new round of sectarian fighting is doused by community leaders who instead say people will retreat to core identities; the notion of a pluralistic power-sharing state continuing to dwindle.”
The Israeli media focuses this morning about the coronavirus crisis and its broader implications for Israel’s political stability. Commenting in Yediot Ahronot, Yuval Karni writes: “The Netanyahu-coronavirus government has been preoccupied with political squabbles, arm-twisting and the million dollar question: will Netanyahu honour the alternating premiership arrangement with Gantz or won’t he? One cabinet minister told me the following simple truth: ‘The public no longer interests this government.’ The unbelievable way the state budget has been dealt with betrays the depths of cynicism to which Israeli politics has sunk… Israel is being held hostage to the prime minister’s political whims…. It’s sad to say, but the election train has already left the station. We’ll probably board it on December 23.”
Maariv describes Finance Ministry Director General Keren Terner-Eyal’s resignation last evening as “the last thing that Israel needed”. It further speculates that Finance Minister Katz “has failed at appointing civil servants and, barring a dramatic development, he is liable to fail as finance minister and dash his hopes of becoming prime minister in the future. And that is what Netanyahu wants.”
Yediot Ahronot notes that Terner-Eyal’s resignation is the fifth in the Finance Ministry since late July. Just six weeks ago, Budgets Department Director Shaul Meridor left in a storm, and a month before him, Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu announced that he would be leaving. In addition, Ariel Yotzer, the deputy director of the Budgets Department and David Bloch, the director of the Budgets Department’s strategic team both left in August. The paper says the wave of resignations is due to two reasons: “Firstly, the sense that Katz has succumbed to Netanyahu’s politicisation, who wants to hold onto an escape hatch from the coalition agreement at the expense of the national economy. Secondly, Katz’s aggressive conduct.”
Israel Hayom leads with a Channel 12 News report which says that Israel and Hamas are close to signing a six-month ceasefire agreement. According to the report, the coronavirus crisis has led to a severe economic and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, prompting Hamas to agree to a six-month settlement in return for the transfer of $100m in Qatari aid. Israel, however, conditions the agreement by achieving progress in the freeing of Israeli captives and fallen soldiers in Gaza.
Haaretz focuses on a new report by the Strategic Affairs Ministry which says that 90 per cent of the Arabic-language social media conversation about Israel’s agreements with the UAE and Bahrain is negative. The study examined conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube between August 12 and September 8, before the official signing ceremony at the White House.
Maariv reports that thousands of small businesses around the country opened their doors in protest to the economic shutdown enforced by the government during the second lockdown. The revolt of the small businesses gained traction last month in the Lo Yihye Beseger Facebook group. Many of the businesses that opened yesterday did not receive customers butopened their doors as a sign of protest, and only a few customers arrived to show solidarity with them. However, the trend of businesses reopening despite lockdown restrictions is expected to gain momentum. Fashion, commerce, and food chains, the largest in the country, announced yesterday that they planned to open the chains to the public this coming Sunday, October 18. Among the chains are Fox, Castro, Golf, Renuar, Tsomet Books, Big, Café Café, and Toys R Us.