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Media Summary

Lebanon’s Hariri resigns

BBC News, The Financial Times and The Independent report on the resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate, Saad Hariri. Nine months after continued political deadlock Hariri announced his resignation after indicating he was unable to agree on the makeup of the cabinet with President Michel Aoun. His resignation has exacerbated Lebanon’s turmoil and the worst ever economic crisis to hit the country. French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Lebanon’s failure to form a government a “terrible incident”.

The Telegraph reports that Tel Aviv has announced all dog owners will be required to provide their dog’s DNA in an attempt to hold pet owners accountable if they fail to clean up after their pets. Owners will need to submit the DNA when they renew or apply for a pet certificate. The city is currently dealing with 500kg of uncleaned dog excrement a month, with officials hoping this measure will curb the mess.

Jonathan Sacerdoti writes for The Spectator about Israel’s roll-out of the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He writes that: “Having been the fastest country to administer first and second doses of vaccines to a high percentage of its adult population, Israelis now worry their progress is being threatened by the spread of the delta variant. Because they acted quickly and early, the initial vaccine doses were given long enough ago that some people’s antibody levels may be reaching the lower end of acceptability.”

The Economist examines the challenges Israel is facing over deciding between investment and trade from China and a relationship with its strongest ally, the US. The US has been concerned about China gaining Israeli weapon technology, prompting Israel to set up a government body to assess deals with China. The paper quotes an expert who says that “it took Israel time to realise the extent to which the US now sees China as its chief rival” and outlines the steps Israel is taking to mitigate confrontation with the Biden administration on the issue.

In the Israeli media, Maariv leads with the headline “Programme for battling the New Outbreak” as the number of people contracting COVID-19 increases. Around 700 new cases had been diagnosed yesterday. The number of people in serious condition has increased by three, for a total of 54. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz agreed on Thursday to institute a “Revelry Pass” that will create limitations for weddings, parties and other large indoor celebratory events. It comes after Health Ministry officials expressed concern of the start of the wedding season next week. The cabinet also decided not to place any restrictions on restaurants, gyms or synagogues. The new criteria for large indoor events is scheduled to take effect next Wednesday once agreed by ministers and will apply to weddings, parties, conventions, and performances. Prime Minister Bennett told reception hall owners yesterday that his goal was to keep holding weddings even in the worst-case scenario at the height of the pandemic.

Channel 13 News interviews former COVID-19 manager Nachman Ash, the new director-general of the Health Ministry, who said that a renewed lockdown was a possibility for the High Holiday period that begins with Rosh Hashana and stretches for much of September. “I think that it’s possible we’ll get to the point where we’ll say ‘we need a lockdown’. I’m worried we might get there … in a few weeks, it’s possible we’ll get there.” Ash also warned the indoor mask mandate could remain in place until next Spring.

Yediot Ahronot writes that a new study has found the level of antibodies in the people who were the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is liable to drop below the necessary level of protection in three months. The study also found that vaccinated people enjoy a higher level of antibodies than do people who recovered, but that they lose them at a much quicker rate. The findings comport with the assessment of Prof. Hezi Levy, the former Health Ministry director general, who said that a third dose would need to be given in October. The government is yet to decide on the booster shot.

Israel Hayom reports that Defence Minister Benny Gantz has appointed Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi as the IDF’s next military advocate general, which carries a promotion to major-general and would make her the second woman in the IDF to hold that rank. Tomer-Yerushalmi is currently the army’s top adviser on gender issues, before which she headed the military prosecution’s legal advice. Gantz called Tomer-Yerushalmi “a groundbreaking woman” who has advanced the role of women in Israel’s military. Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post notes that an all-female crew of tank operators has been deployed on the Egyptian border and began their operational activity on Thursday. They will operate Merkava IV tanks, having completed their training last week.

Commenting on this week’s Knesset activity and the bills that the opposition managed to defeat, Sima Kadmon writes in Yediot Ahronot: “What we’ve been witnessing in the plenum in recent weeks is a war of attrition. The MKs go nights without sleep, making long and boring speeches whose sole purpose is to exhaust the coalition … so why should we be surprised that yesterday morning, after another such night, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy got confused and when the rabbinical court judges bill was put to a third reading, he accidentally voted against the coalition’s position and defeated the bill?” Kadmon also list the other bills that were defeated in the Knesset this week due to the coalition’s lack of a majority, such as a bill that would allow forensic samples from victims of sex crimes to be kept indefinitely for the purpose of producing DNA and a bill that would have decriminalise the private consumption of cannabis.

Also in Yediot Ahronot, Daniella Dekel relates to the opposition’s vote against the bill that would preserve forensic evidence from rape cases and writes: “This opposition discipline, for whose sake 51 MKs voted against a bill to hold onto rape kits, puts the idea of faction discipline in a new light. Even people used to the cynical ploys of Israeli politics are hard put to remember such hollow and contemptible discipline.” She concludes: “Beyond the dazzling shamelessness, a new contract is being drawn up that the new opposition is proffering to its future voters. In this contract, the only consideration is war. Total war, and nothing else. Is that also a wise tactical decision? I don’t think so.”

A new Israel Hayom survey finds just 14 per cent believe Naftali Bennett suited for the prime minister role whilst a majority of Israelis, 56 per cent, are unhappy with the United Arab List’s role in the coalition. The survey found that if elections were held today, the Likud would remain the largest political party, garnering 29 Knesset seats. Yamina would improve its standing to garner nine seats compared to its previous seven, while New Hope would fail to pass the electoral threshold. A plurality of respondents, 46 per cent, said Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu was the most suited for the premiership.