Media Summary

New intelligence suggests Iran is hiding machinery in nuclear programme

The Telegraph leads with new reports by Western intelligence officials that suggest Iran is deliberately concealing key components of its nuclear programme from UN inspectors that can be used for producing nuclear weapons.

The BBC reports from the small Israeli town of Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert and describes how the coronavirus pandemic could impact tomorrow’s election. “The streets don’t echo with the sound of political rallying. Election posters are as unlikely to be seen as foreign tourists,” the article says. Many residents who have suffered badly from the lockdowns appear to be turning away from Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ruling Likud party. “It’s no, no, no to Bibi and his friends,” says Boaz Katz, who runs Desert Prime tours that has seen business drop by two-thirds since the start of the pandemic.

The Financial Times looks at the main strategy adopted by Netanyahu that has led him to become Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister. The article says, “As Benny Gantz risks political oblivion, historians will note echoes of a strategy that Netanyahu has successfully deployed for much of his three-decade parliamentary career: seduce and co-opt rivals, then outmanoeuvre and consign to the wilderness.”

Reuters publishes an explainer into Israel’s fourth election in just under two years. In a separate article, Reuters looks at whether Israel’s vaccination success will lead to a Netanyahu victory or not.

The Guardian follows the mass protests on Saturday night in Israel. Thousands of Israelis demonstrated outside the official residence of the prime minister, calling for citizens to vote him out in Tuesday’s general election.

The Times covers the UAE’s public rebuke to Prime Minister Netanyahu for using their relationship for electioneering. However, the article says that despite the rare diplomatic mishap, “many expect Netanyahu to find a way to cling on to power”.

Amnesty International has called on FIFA to be more “hands on” over Qatar labour reform before the 2022 World Cup, according to the Independent. In a letter to FIFIA president Gianni Infantino, the human rights group said football’s governing body must use the “full extent of its influence” to ensure Qatar lives up to high-profile commitments to improve working conditions.

The Israeli media is dominated by tomorrow’s election. Kan Radio notes that the tens of thousands of police, border police and volunteers will be deployed throughout the country to ensure the integrity of the voting. The police are preparing for the possibility of voter fraud using names of dead people, people who are hospitalised or who are overseas.

The Prison Service has completed its preparations for Election Day as well. There are approximately 8,300 people who are eligible to vote and about 2,000 staff. Sixty-one polling stations have been allocated to prisons, some of which are mobile. In the last elections, the voter turnout in the prisons was 80 per cent.

Yediot Ahronot’s Yuval Karni paints in broad strokes the two scenarios that currently appear to be most viable, provided the public opinion polls are accurate. The most likely is a government that Prime Minister Netanyahu calls “fully right-wing:” a coalition headed by the Likud, with the ultra-Orthodox parties, the Religious Zionist Party and Yamina. Karni describes this government as “narrow” and that “every partner would be able to extort it”. Alternatively, Yesh Atid, Yamina, New Hope, Yisrael Beiteinu, the Labour Party and Blue and White (with Meretz possibly) could form a government. However, this government would be very complicated and have trouble functioning, says Karni. Plus, the question of who would be prime minister remains unresolved.

Maariv looks at the implications of the Netanyahu victory and what could happen were his “full on” right-wing government to materialise. The article says, “If Netanyahu does win the election tomorrow and has a right-wing-Haredi majority, the sky will be the limit. Benny Gantz’s term as justice minister is due to expire a few days after the election. He won’t be able to continue to serve as the acting justice minister. Netanyahu has refused to allow a permanent justice minister to be appointed instead of him, and for good reason. Everything is primed and ready for sacking Mandelblit. Amir Ohana will introduce the motion, the cabinet ministers will receive a sheet of paper citing the candidate’s CV, and Mandelblit’s metaphorical body will wash up a few days later on a distant beach.”

Israel Hayom’s Matti Tuchfeld describes the high number of undecided voters ahead of tomorrow’s election, which he said could “tip the scales”. A second factor that the polls cannot anticipate is the vagaries of voter turnout in different sectors. Tuchfeld writes: “The election results are definitely unpredictable. Only one thing is clear—we should not be surprised if we ultimately are very surprised.”

In non-related election news, Yediot Ahronot reveals that in the past several weeks state officials have been formulating various compromise proposals to be put to members of the Jahalin tribe who reside in Khan al-Ahmar. According to the article, the residents want to be relocated in the same area to allow them to preserve their way of life. The pro-settlement group Regavim said: “Allowing the Palestinian Authority outpost in that strategic territory to be rendered permanent by the Israeli government is tantamount to capitulation to the strategic Palestinian plan to create territorial contiguity between Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah.”

Kan Radio notes that a former advisor to the Saudi monarchy has written an article in the Palestinian al-Quds paper saying the door to normalisation between Israel and Saudi Arabia had opened but that this was contingent on a Palestinian state with full sovereignty being established.

Meanwhile, Israel revoked the VIP card of Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki who is responsible for talks between the PA and the International Criminal Court. Israeli officials told Kan Radio last night that there was no reason to let Malki enjoy extra privileges at the border crossings while he was taking steps that could affect the freedom of movement of Israeli officials overseas and even compromise their safety. In response, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Israel’s actions proved once again that Israel was a vindictive country.