Media Summary

Netanyahu set on 1 July annexation date

The Telegraph, Reuters, Sky News and BBC News report that a defiant Benjamin Netanyahu raged against attempts to “topple” him on Sunday as he became Israel’s first sitting prime minister to appear in the dock on criminal charges.
Reuters and the Associated Press report that Israel will not miss a “historic opportunity” to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, calling the move one of his new government’s top tasks.
The Times reports that SNP activists have reported a nationalist MSP to the authorities after he called the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians a “self-inflicted tragedy.”
The Associated Press reports that Egypt’s medical union on Monday blamed the government for increasing levels of coronavirus infections and deaths among healthcare professionals, its sharpest criticism yet of the country’s handling of the pandemic.
BBC News reports that Iran has reopened its major Shia Muslim shrines, two months after they were closed to combat the coronavirus.
The Associated Press reports that Lebanon’s migrant workers’ plight continues to worsen as its coronavirus crisis cases multiply.
The Telegraph reports that Islamic State scattered video game controllers set to explode at the push of a button in Yazidi homes as they were expelled from Iraq, a new film about the persecuted group’s brave minesweepers has revealed.
The Times and Reuters report that Russia’s elite mercenary corps, the Wagner Group, has been forced into a humiliating retreat in a victory for Turkey’s rival military adventure in Libya.
The Independent, Reuters and BBC News report that shipments of Iranian petrochemical products have arrived in Venezuela despite US protests against a deal that is part of a broader blossoming of relations between the Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.
The Times reports that an exiled Saudi intelligence chief who played a key role liaising with western anti-terrorism operations claims his brother and two of his children have been seized as hostages by the authorities.
The Financial Times reports that Qatar is forging ahead with the expansion of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas project and eyeing investment opportunities overseas despite a slump in global energy demand and the collapse of oil prices.
Reuters reports that Saudi Arabia will begin easing restrictions on movement and travel this week, more than two months after stringent measures were introduced to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In The Independent, Bel Trew and Ben Lynfield show how the opening of Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial has bitterly divided Israel, as rival protests held during the prime minister’s first court session underscore the growing rift in the country.
In The Guardian, Oliver Holmes asks whether Mahmoud Abbas’ call to end security ties with Israel is just another Palestinian bluff, as some call the PA leader’s move a “cry for help”.
In The Guardian, Beth McKernan describes Turkey’s strategic goals in Libya and assesses how it is widening its influence across the eastern Mediterranean.

All the Israeli media continues to report on the first day of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial. Most of the papers focus on the controversial speech that Netanyahu gave on the steps of Jerusalem District Court before the trial began, in which he claimed that his prosecution was a conspiracy to overthrow the right-wing government. Ravit Hecht in Haaretz writes that whilst Netanyahu is right to argue his innocence, that right “is completely different from a shocking attack on your investigators and prosecutors. Netanyahu has tried to intimidate public servants and has combed their pasts for skeletons in order to launch character assassination.”

Nahum Barnea writes in Yedioth Ahronoth that the support Netanyahu received from outside the courthouse from Likud MKs and supporters resembles a cult. “Israel has known periods of personality cults before. Ben Gurion enjoyed this kind of adulation in the state’s early years; Begin enjoyed it among his public. Netanyahu was able to intensify the cult and to broaden it. He was able to dismantle the rage, frustration and social alienation and to reassemble it around himself.”

Ma’ariv leads with quotes from members of the opposition who condemned Netanyahu for his attacks on the law enforcement system. Opposition leader Yair Lapid said yesterday at the beginning of the Yesh Atid-Telem faction meeting: “Netanyahu led an attempted coup. He tried to harm the police, the State Attorney’s Office, the courts, the media and to threaten his judges. The Netanyahu trial began with unbridled incitement against the rule of law. From the moment that he dragged his ministers to the courthouse, from the moment that he openly incited his followers, from the moment that he tried to lead us to civil war — he must not continue to serve in his capacity.” Lapid went on to criticise Netanyahu’s partners in government, Blue and White, saying: “A week ago, when they joined the government, they said, ‘We won’t accept attacks on the rule of law.’ An attack is being made on the rule of law. A terrible, violent, frontal attack. What do you intend to do about it? Is there any principle at all that you’re willing to fight for?”

Times of Israel’s David Horovitz tells readers that the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “exposes the emptiness at the heart of Netanyahu’s inflammatory allegation that a leftist establishment is engaged in an attempted political coup”. He continues: “In fact, it was the police and the prosecution that tenaciously brought down his leftist predecessor, a prime minister who had played a central role in uprooting Gaza’s settlements, and who, far more dramatically, was ready to uproot most of those in the West Bank as well.”

Yedioth Ahronoth reports that the Hong-Kong based Hutchinson has lost its bid to build Israel’s largest desalination plant. Despite being favoured to win the tender, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Energy said this morning that the Israeli company IDE has received the tender for the construction of the “Shurak 2” desalination plant, which offered the lowest price. The decision comes two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced his concerns about Israel’s continued cooperation with China, which he said might be “dangerous” in light of the current coronavirus outbreak and could undermine the relations with its “strategic partners”.