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Media Summary

Israel will not be bound by any nuclear agreement says PM Bennett

BBC News reports that for the first time a court in Saudi Arabia has ordered the naming of a man convicted of sexual harassment. Yasser al-Arawi was sentenced to eight months in prison and a fine of £980. The unprecedented ruling comes after an anti-harassment law was amended last year to allow the names of those convicted of such crimes to be published. Despite the change, Saudi women have voiced concern that not enough is being done to stop harassment.

BBC News reports on how a video of an Egyptian woman belly-dancing has sparked a national debate. Aya Yousef was filmed without her permission and subsequently fired from her job as a teacher and divorced by her husband after the video went viral. The video has shed light on women’s rights in Egypt and the country’s conservative values.

A report in the Financial Times examines how a wealth fund in Abu Dhabi views a weak Turkish lira as a ‘great time’ to invest in Turkey, despite most foreign investors shying away from the state. The paper notes that ADQ, an Abu Dhabi state wealth fund, “is on the hunt for investments, from financial institutions to logistics and food, despite the economic turmoil”.

Reuters reports that Turkey has recorded its highest number of COVID-19 cases, with over 74,000 positive tests over the span of 24 hours. Turkey’s health minister warned: “As cases due to the Omicron variant become dominant, Omicron will be a source of danger for those in risk groups and it may lead to death among the elderly and the chronically ill.”

The Independent reports that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel would not be bound by any type of nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 in Vienna, emphasising that Israel will be free to act “with no constraints”. Bennett also noted his concerns regarding the ongoing talks in Vienna.

The Guardian reports on how the Israeli government was “asked to financially contribute to the 2022 Sydney festival by someone from the festival’s management,” a representative from the Israeli embassy in Canberra has claimed. The Israeli embassy was specifically asked to contribute $20,000 to sponsor a production by Sydney Dance Company. There has been disagreements about the contribution with politicians and Hamas joining the debate over the last couple days.

The Times reports on a new drone developed by Israeli company Smart Shooter. The drone, which can fire a rifle as it flies, has been named ‘Smash Dragon.’  The paper notes that “robot infantry could fly overhead and launch attacks with a fire control system that remains steady however fast the drone is travelling”.

The Israeli media covers Prime Minister Bennett’s press conference last night in which he reviewed the government’s response to the Omicron wave. According to a report on Channel 12 News, Bennett said: “Difficult weeks are ahead of us, naturally—but we will get through this. We are providing the best conditions possible for getting through this present wave, but we also have individual responsibility. There is no room for panic and no room for hysteria. We will get through this together.” Bennett listened to questions from business owners and answered that he understood “the difficulty, as someone who ran a business”. He said that the state had taken several steps to help businesses, such as extending the mandate of the fund that gives loans to businesses and postponing the VAT payments by 10 days. “If needed, we will extend it even longer.” The government has also announced a new NIS 250 million package for businesses, including compensation for the self-employed and salaried employees forced into isolation.

Kan Radio News reports the coronavirus cabinet convened last night for the first time in three weeks. Health officials briefed the cabinet saying they expected the current wave of infection would soon reach its peak. Professor Eran Segal, who serves as an advisor to the government, said that taking steps to prevent the ongoing spread of infection would be pointless. However, Health Ministry Director General Prof. Nachman Ash said at the coronavirus cabinet meeting that he was worried that the work done by medical teams might be paralysed if the infection rate were to remain high. Meanwhile, several ministers criticised the absence still of a comprehensive discussion about COVID in schools. The National Parents Association and the teachers’ unions are unable to agree on a new plan to provide a combination of in-class and remote study options.

Israel Hayom notes that an Israel Defence Forces soldier sustained minor wounds after a ramming attack yesterday near the West Bank settlement of Neve Tzuf. According to initial reports, the 19-year-old soldier was from the Giv’ati Infantry Brigade and was hit in his legs while standing at the junction on Route 450, at the Halamish Junction. The driver, identified as Mohammad Nazmi Yasin, a resident of Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah, tried to flee the area before he was caught and taken to hospital for treatment to his injuries. The suspected car ramming came amid a recent rise in violence by Palestinians against Israeli civilians as well as an increase in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.

Maariv reports that discussions have taken place in recent weeks between the representatives of Benjamin Netanyahu and the State Attorney’s Office over a plea deal in the corruption trial. According to the report, talks were kept secret until they broke down due to Netanyahu’s demand that the punishment not include moral turpitude, and thus no risk of imprisonment. The talks were reportedly initiated by Netanyahu who believed that Attorney General Mandelblit was interested in ending his term with a “clean slate”, and that the narrow window before Mandelblit’s retirement could be used to close a quick deal under pressure.

Yediot Ahornot writes that Israel has sent a $500,000 donation to Afghanistan for refugees who fled Taliban rule after the US pull-out. According to the Foreign Ministry, the donation is intended to integrate with other international aid efforts to provide health care, sanitation, shelter, education, food, and professional training for refugees. This is the first official Israeli donation via the United Nations Refugee Agency. Until now, Israeli aid to Afghan refugees has been provided through non-profits such as IsraAID, which funded rescue flights for Afghan refugees.

I24 news reports that Israel’s Supreme Court yesterday ordered the Interior Minister to stop denying residency in Israel to Palestinian spouses, saying the government was attempting to enforce a law that expired last July. “The basic laws of administrative law do not permit the application of a text that is no longer on the books,” wrote Judge Dafna Barak-Erez in a decision issuing a temporary injunction following a petition that had been filed by human rights groups on behalf of 27 Palestinians seeking Israeli citizenship. The government failed last year to renew a law banning the granting of citizenship to Palestinian spouses of Israeli Arabs. Minister Shaked has vowed to pass the law again, but it remains uncertain if there is a majority in the Knesset to pass it. “The minister intends in the coming weeks to reissue the law. Let’s hope that the opposition that had it annulled will not act against the state this time,” said an official close to Shaked.