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Media Summary

Shin Bet unveils Iranian plot to lure former IDF chief, other Israeli officials abroad

The BBC and Financial Times report on the resignation of Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi yesterday. The Arab member of the coalition said she could not tolerate its leaders’ “right-wing stances” towards her section of society. The unexpected move means the coalition commands only 59 seats out of 120. The most diverse coalition in Israel’s history has been in power for just under a year. Her departure puts the coalition in a precarious position. The government will now find it harder to function and would be vulnerable in the event of a no-confidence vote.

The Telegraph, Independent and the Guardian follow reports in Israel that the Israeli military police will not investigate the death of Shireen Abu Aqla because the soldiers based in Jenin at the time have denied any involvement. Media reports in Israel have also suggested that the military fears the findings would be too controversial for Israeli society. Abu Aqla’s colleagues, who witnessed the shooting, have blamed the Israel Defence Forces while the Israeli government said she may have been killed by Palestinian militants. A recent report by the investigative website Bellingcat also found it was likely but not confirmed that the bullet was fired by Israeli soldiers.

The Telegraph publishes an editorial comment piece about President Erdogan’s refusal to rubber-stamp Sweden’s NATO membership application. However, analysts believe Turkish support can be secured via modest concessions. Let us hope they’re right, the Telegraph says.

The Financial Times writes that UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed takes power in the country as dynasty speculation swirls that the new president could break with tradition and choose his son as heir apparent, instead of one of his brothers.

The Independent reports that a Qatari citizen has become the ‘first’ openly gay doctor. As the spotlight continues to fall on Qatar and its treatment of LGBT+ people, physician Nas Mohamed has taken the bold move to come out.

The Guardian reports that the widow of a British-based photographer who was murdered by Col Gaddafi’s forces in Libya in 2011 has accused South Africa of withholding crucial information about her husband’s death that could help in efforts to locate his body.

In the Israeli media, most of the commentary is dominated by the news of Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi leaving the coalition. Referring to Zoabi’s interview with Channel 12 News yesterday, Nadav Eyal writes in Yediot Ahronot: “When Zoabi finally spoke, she left most of her options open. Her behaviour mattered more than her words: who goes on a TV interview without first telling their faction members, even as a courtesy? Who doesn’t inform their party chairman, who put them in this capacity and reserved a spot on the party slate for them? These are ostensibly negligible matters, but they show bad taste. In fact, it’s the bad taste that Israeli politics has been giving all of us for a long time now.” He concludes: “This is a small coalition whose brittle majority is evaporating. Every bastard is a king, every renegade a queen, and the impossible can happen.”

Also in Yediot Ahronot, Sima Kadmon points out: “The resignation of these two women [Yamina MK Idit Silman and Zoabi] does a very big disservice to women politicians. Not because they resigned—anyone can resign if that is right for them—but because in both cases, they are not even dreaming of vacating their positions, positions that they were parachuted into without being elected in a primary. That evokes disgust. Instead of choosing the moral alternative and announcing their resignation from the Knesset, they are thinking about how they can leverage this into a promotion down the line.” She predicts: “It’s hard to estimate the damage that Zoabi’s resignation has caused … if an Arab MK is the one who causes a government with a left-wing coalition to fall, the damage that it will cause to her party and its leader cannot be overstated. More and more, it seems that the experiment of a government of change will have been a one-time event. It doesn’t work. Something is screwed up if every time one hole in the creaky ship is plugged, the water bursts in from another hole. The day is not far off when the leaders of the coalition parties will have to admit failure and the message will be that a wall-to-wall coalition and partnership with Arab parties simply does not work.”

Israel Hayom follows the announcement yesterday by the Shin Bet security agency about an Iranian plot to lure former IDF chief, other Israeli officials abroad. Iranians used fictitious email accounts to contact Israeli officials while impersonating real-life academics, journalists, businessmen, and philanthropists who are unaware their identities are being used for such a purpose, the Shin Bet said. The statement further detailed that the Iranians would present a believable “cover story” and try to gather information on the Israeli officials or invite them to conferences abroad, possibly to abduct or hurt them. One of the Israeli officials targeted by the Iranian operatives was former IDF Chief of Staff and former Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon. According to reports, Ya’alon immediately understood that he was being scammed and alerted the Shin Bet.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel’s Ministry of Public Security on Thursday rolled out a new anti-violence initiative – titled “Believe in Security” – aimed at improving ties and mutual understanding between Arab Israelis and Israeli law enforcement as Israel aims to combat the wave of rising crime in Arab towns and cities across Israel. There were 51 Arab murder victims in Israel in 2014 – compared to 113 in 2020 and 110 in 2021. “The fight against crime and restoring a sense of security to the residents are a fundamental duty of the state and part of a social change that must be done together and in cooperation with Arab society and its public leaders,” said Deputy Minister of Public Security Yoav Segalovich.

Maariv reports on the rising level of violent attacks in hospitals throughout the country. Last night at Wolfson Hospital a patient hit a doctor in the face in the emergency room and broke his glasses. On Wednesday hospitals workers went on strike for 24 hours to protest the violence against medical staff. The strike was decided on after disturbance at Hadassah Hospital Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem last week. On Tuesday night there was another attack at a hospital. Dozens of family members of a motorcycle rider from Abu Snan who was injured and died in the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya tried to break into the trauma room and beat guards and workers.

Kan Radio reports that Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu has requested to visit the Temple Mount unaccompanied by Israeli officials during his visit to Israel next week. The request has created tension between Jerusalem and Ankara, particularly regarding security. The Foreign Ministry replied that it would not comment on unfinalised details of a visit. President Herzog visited Turkey approximately two months ago. Foreign Minister Cavusoglu is the highest-ranking Turkish figure to visit Israel ever since diplomatic tensions between both countries erupted. The sides will discuss reinstating ambassadors during the visit.