Media Summary

Saudi businessmen call for boycott of Turkish goods 

The BBC reports that French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah has been temporarily released from prison in Iran with an electronic ankle bracelet. The academic was given a six-year jail term on national security charges in May, but her family hope this temporary release will become final. British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains on temporary release because of the coronavirus pandemic.

An investigation by The Sunday Times has uncovered details of how people in the UK have donated to, and promoted, an international crowdfunding operation reliant on an encrypted messaging app to funnel money to Syria and pay people-smugglers to spirit women and children out of the camps.

The Telegraph leads with the increasing numbers of Lebanese economic migrants risking their lives for the chance to work illegally in Cyprus. Every Friday for the last month, the men of Lebanon’s Tripoli have buried relatives who died trying to make the 100-mile journey to Cyprus. For years, boats filled with Syrian and Palestinian asylum-seekers have attempted the journey as a “back door” entry into the European Union, the economic crisis in Lebanon has meant more Lebanese men are making the trip too.

The Financial Times looks at Lebanon’s wealth disparities in its major cities. Few places symbolise the country’s wealth gap better than Tripoli, where smart apartment buildings fade into swaths of rundown neighbourhoods. The dilapidated city — the country’s second largest, with 600,000 inhabitants — is the hometown of the country’s two richest billionaires: former premier and current Tripoli MP Najib Mikati and his brother Taha, who made their fortune abroad in telecommunications.

Reuters notes that the head of Saudi Arabia’s Chambers of Commerce has called for a boycott of Turkish products amid merchants’ reports that animosity between Ankara and Riyadh is hindering the flow of goods between the two regional powers.

The Guardian reports that the Syrian regime has introduced new rules limiting the amount of subsidised bread available per person at bakeries, putting larger families at risk of starvation as the country’s crippling economic crisis deepens. Under a recent government order, a household of two is now entitled to just one packet of bread a day; a family of four to two packets; and a family of six to three packets. Families of seven or more people, however, are limited to four packets of bread, no matter how many are in the house.

Also in The Guardian, Simon Tisdall writes how ISIS may take advantage of the US Presidential elections and the uncertain transition periods that have traditionally followed to take unspecified action against the US or its allies.

Reuters reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given an interview to Russia’s Ministry of Defence TV channel Zvezda on the fifth anniversary of Moscow’s intervention in Syria. Assad said Russia’s two main bases were important to counter the West’s military presence in the region.  

Kan Radio News reports that the number of people who are hospitalised in serious condition due to COVID-19 now stands at 900, among whom 215 are on ventilators. Israel currently has 65,063 active cases. The number of people who have died of the coronavirus rose by 28 yesterday to 1,719.

Maariv reports that a Police officer was attacked in an attempted stabbing near the West Bank Gush Etzion settlement this morning. The attacker was neutralised and there are no reports of injuries.

Yediot Ahronot quotes the reactions of retired high-ranking police officers to the violent clashes between the police, demonstrators, and the ultra-Orthodox sector over the weekend. Former police commissioner Moshe Karadi said: “I’m disturbed by what we’ve seen on the ground. It looks as if the police are acting more out of obedience to the political echelon than obedience to the law. When the public feels that the police’s operational decisions are connected to the political echelon’s wishes, whether that’s true or not, that damages confidence in the police.” Maariv quotes Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai as saying in an interview to Channel 12 that the police have become a political tool in the hands of the government. Huldai said that the demonstration at Habima Square had been orderly until suddenly an order was given to the police to use force.

Commenting in Yediot Ahronot on the state of the unity government, Yuval Karni writes: “Five months after being formed, there appears to be no hope left for the coronavirus government. The political crisis has worsened, the parties are preoccupied with mounting their own campaigns, Netanyahu is preoccupied with suppressing the demonstrations, the coronavirus cabinet was dumped, and Blue and White is deliberating whether to stick with its flawed partnership with the Likud… Their assessment is that Netanyahu will invent some made-up crisis over the budget toward the end of the year, which will bring about elections in March 2021.”

Maariv reports that Gilead Sharon, the son for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, has sharply criticised the Likud because “the party has no freedom of thought”. He also questioned the government’s strategy over Gaza, saying: “”I am not satisfied with the laxity towards Gaza and everything related to our prisoners there. We give and give and receive nothing in return.”

Yediot Ahronot reports that the Civil Administration’s Planning and Construction Committee has set a date to meet in which it is expected to authorise planning and construction of between 4,000 and 5,000 settlement houses in the West Bank. After more than six months in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refrained from approving construction, approval to convene the committee was given after heavy pressure was brought to bear by the settlers in recent weeks.

Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz gave interviews to Gulf media yesterday in which he called for an international effort to change Turkey’s role in undermining peace-making efforts and destabilising activities in the region. Citing Turkey’s actions in northern Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as its Libya intervention and contacts with Palestinian Hamas militants, Gantz said: “All of this pushes away from stability”. Commenting on the recent normalisation agreements with the UAE and Bahrain and how they can help bring about peace with the Palestinians, Gantz said: “We just want to make sure that we find the right balance between maintaining our security and enabling Palestinian sovereignty.”