Media Summary

The BBC, Reuters, the Daily Mail and The Guardian report that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again rejected the idea of creating a Palestinian state.


The BBC, Reuters, the Daily Mail and The Guardian report that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has again rejected the idea of creating a Palestinian state. His comments came hours after a phone call with US President Joe Biden after which the US leader indicated Netanyahu may still accept the idea. Netanyahu’s remarks appeared to deepen a public divide with the US. The Financial Times adds that the EU has urged member states to impose “consequences” on Israel if Netanyahu continues to oppose Palestinian statehood, as Brussels looks to step up pressure on the premier to advance efforts towards long-term peace. The BBC reports that Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was “disappointing” that Israel’s prime minister has rejected the idea.

The BBC publishes an explainer on the past week’s new rounds of violence across the Middle East, “deepening fears of conflict spreading in an already unstable region. Here is a brief guide to what has happened – and where it might lead.”

The BBC reports that Gadi Eisenkot has accused Netanyahu of not telling the truth about the military goals in Gaza. Netanyahu has publicly rejected the US push for a future Palestinian state and insisted the offensive would continue “until complete victory”. But Eisenkot said those advocating “absolute defeat” of Hamas were not “speaking the truth”. The retired general’s son was killed fighting in Gaza.

The Telegraph has published its view on the state of the conflict, saying: “It is not Israel that is intransigent, but Palestinian elites and their misguided Western supporters”.

The Telegraph reports that at least two people were killed and several others injured in a suspected Israeli drone strike on Sunday that targeted a car in southern Lebanon, security sources said. Ambulances rushed to the site near a Lebanese army checkpoint, according to residents. Security sources said that two Hezbollah terrorists had been killed in a direct hit. Their ranks were not revealed, though local media reported that one of those killed was from the VIP and Leaders Protection Unit.

The Times publishes a long read on the history of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK and how politicians have tried for decades to proscribe an Islamist hate group that is banned in Germany and much of the Middle East. The Times also publishes a leading article on this, saying it is “long overdue”.

The Times publishes an opinion from Matthew Syed article arguing: “Some will say that the Israel’s conduct of this war is justified. And I understand that position. I abhor Hamas and the other fanatical groups that surround Israel, a beacon of democracy that has long been an inspiration to many of us in the West. But let me pose a different question: is it wise? Is this carnage making Israel more secure in a world where it is becoming more isolated? Is it making Israel safer, when most pundits acknowledge that flattening Gaza will not, in and of itself, eliminate Hamas?”

The Times also publishes an interview with a holocaust survivor, Manfred Goldberg, who says that online hate is “poisoning young minds” and he didn’t think he’d “ever see this level of antisemitism rising again”.

The Times also publishes an update on the state of Netanyahu’s war cabinet and the divisions that are beginning to fractures between members.

The Economist published a piece on the International Court of Justice, arguing that “each new case brought before the ICJ in The Hague ought to give the world a chance to make good on its word and help strengthen the taboo against genocide by clarifying the obligations of countries to prevent and punish it. Alas, South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, heard by the icj this week, cheapens the term.”

The Economist also looks to the future for Israel, arguing that this war will shape its political scene, its economy and defence posture for years to come.

Sky News reports on life in northern Israel under attack from Hezbollah, including interviewing the few remaining in towns where people have evacuated elsewhere.

The Guardian reports chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said using the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s actions in Gaza is an “increasingly frequent, disingenuous misappropriation of the term”. He said the use of the term was a “moral inversion, which undermines the memory of the worst crimes in human history” and was designed to “tear open the still gaping wound of the Holocaust”.

The Guardian also reports that Alicia Kearns MP, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, is writing to the foreign secretary, David Cameron, asking him to clarify his claim that he had not taken any formal decision to allow arms sales to Israel to continue amid the Gaza crisis. “Written evidence presented by the UK Department for Business and Trade shows the foreign secretary on 8 December recommended arms sales licences be allowed to continue when presented with three options: stopping arms sales, pausing them, or allowing them to continue.”

The Guardian publishes an editorial on Netanyahu, saying: “Perhaps Netanyahu genuinely believes a two-state solution could not work. Perhaps he hopes, by adopting a hardline stance, he can persuade Israelis that he, despite leading them into disaster, is still their best hope of future security. Perhaps he thinks this will save his job until a second Trump presidency comes to his rescue. He’s wrong on all counts. Netanyahu is no partner for peace. He is its enemy. Now is the moment for the Biden administration, Britain and all of Israel’s friends to tell him to get out of the way. Now is the moment for Israelis to throw him out.”

The Guardian further publishes an opinion piece that argues that peace is impossible because Israel has caused “Hamas’s likely survival and its potentially growing influence both despite and because of the enormous damage inflicted on the movement itself and the people of the Gaza Strip.”

The Guardian also reports that “Without flags, placards or chants, hundreds of people joined a silent multi-faith peace walk in London on Sunday in response to the Israel-Gaza war. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists walked side-by-side from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square and back in solidarity with people affected by the conflict in the Middle East. ‘War hurts our hearts,’ said Rabbi Alexandra Wright, the president of Liberal Judaism and senior rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, as faith leaders read prayers on the steps of Trafalgar Square before setting off on a one-mile walk alongside non-religious people.”

The Daily Mail reports that Israel dropped leaflets on the southern area of Rafah urging Palestinians seeking refuge there to help locate hostages held by Hamas, residents said.

The Daily Mail also reports on Nasreen Yussef, a farmer who captured five Hamas terrorists on October 7th. “Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com she said: ‘I told him to look me in the eyes and that I wasn’t afraid of him. I asked him to tell me where is he coming from and if are any other people with him. He looked me and pointed to a greenhouse that had other terrorists hiding in them.’ Yussef then went on to not only capture four more terrorists but was also able to relay critical information back to the IDF soldiers about where hundreds of other gunmen were hiding.”

The Financial Times reports that Iran has accused Israel of killing five members of its elite Revolutionary Guards and a number of Syrians forces in an air strike that targeted a building in Damascus. Tasnim, an Iranian news agency affiliated to the guards, described the Iranians killed on Saturday as “military advisers”. The guards confirmed the deaths of its members, blaming an Israeli air raid, but it did not give their rankings.

ITV News focuses on the rising “Palestinian death toll in Gaza from over three months of war between Israel and the territory’s Hamas rulers which has soared past 25,000, the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry said.” This is also reported on by Reuters

Channel 13 releases a video showing the October 7 kidnapping of Yotam Haim, 28, who was later accidentally shot dead by IDF soldiers in the Shajaiyah neighbourhood of Gaza City, along with the hostages Alon Shamriz and Samer Talalka. In the video, Haim is seen being led, shirtless through the kibbutz fields by armed terrorists, and forcibly put into a vehicle.

Ynet reports that over 400 Israeli soldiers have been seriously injured since the start of the war in Gaza. 233 Israelis currently remain injured in hospitals, 48 of them in serious condition. Health Ministry data indicates that 13,572 Israelis in total have been treated in hospital since October 7. Ynet also quotes Dr. Hefziba Green, director of the internal medicine department at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, explaining how the loss of staff to reserve duty has affected the hospital’s capabilities. “This affects the ability of the surgical and orthopaedic departments to receive wounded people not related to the war, and they can find themselves instead in the internal medicine departments. The rise in illness in the winter also does not take into account the fact that there is a war, and we are busy,” Green says.

Haaretz features Hamas Health Ministry statistics suggesting that a total of 25,105 Palestinians have been killed and 62,681 wounded in Israeli strikes in Gaza since October 7. The ministry also claims that 178 Palestinians were killed overnight Saturday and Sunday, which would make it one of the deadliest 24 hour periods of the war.

Tal Lev-Ram, in Maariv, concludes that “the Israeli conversation is becoming polarised. It is either a complete surrender to Hamas in exchange for the hostages or employing military pressure and achieving victory, which will include the hostages’ release but with no reference to the timeframe. It would seem that there are other options between these two. For example, an Israeli initiative on a hostage release deal with terms that Israel can agree to discuss and with the realization that it will have to pay a price. If the military pressure is so effective, as officials claim, then Hamas will also have reason to compromise. As of now, both Israel and Hamas are toughening their positions and there has been no progress, and the US and Qatar are working behind the scenes just to find the right formula to begin to talk about a new plan.”

In Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea untangles the complex web of competing interests and priorities currently driving US policy for an end to the war. “The Americans tailored a complicated package, one of the most complicated packages ever tailored in the history of the Middle East,” he writes. “In the first stage, the sides are supposed to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza for a set time, hostages and prisoners will be released, and the humanitarian aid to Gaza will be expanded. In the second stage, the sides are supposed to come to an overall halt in the fighting, along with an Israeli withdrawal, the release of more hostages and more prisoners, the deployment of an international force in Gaza, and the gradual transition of power to a strengthened Palestinian Authority, with Hamas’s integration into the PA.” Barnea summarises that such an arrangement is being sold to the relevant parties in the following terms: “The carrot for Israel: Saudi consent to normalisation; the carrot for Saudi Arabia: a defence pact with the US; the carrot for Gaza: the Gaza Strip’s rehabilitation with the help of the Persian Gulf states’ money; the carrot for the PA: an Israeli and American commitment to the two-state solution. On the way, the process is also supposed to solve the crisis in the north: Lebanon will receive American and Arab aid for its collapsing economy, Hizbullah will withdraw beyond the Litani River, and the residents on both sides of the border will return home.” With Netanyahu’s public rejection of such terms, “the American plan pits Netanyahu against Biden in a head-to-head battle. The possibility should not be ruled out that Netanyahu will win this war—but only ostensibly.”

Haaretz’s Amos Harel writes of an apparent split between Hamas’s domestic and foreign-based leaderships. “Yahya Sinwar, the top leader in the Gaza Strip,” he writes, “told the Egyptians that his organisation had already won the war when it invaded Israel on October 7. On the other hand, Hamas leaders in Qatar signalled their readiness to discuss demilitarisation of Gaza at the end of the fighting, something Sinwar firmly opposes.”

Yediot Ahronot details a letter written by commanders and officers in the reserves who have recently fought in Gaza. The officers urge that their accomplishments not be surrendered. “It is incumbent upon us,” they write, “to ensure that the sole accomplishment that has been achieved in the war up to the present stage not be snatched from us, and that is the ground accomplishment. In an unprecedented step, we evacuated the majority of the population of Gaza City and achieved operational control over wide swaths of the city. We must preserve this achievement to continue the fighting, and first and foremost, we must complete the mission of evacuating the population of the northern Gaza Strip, and then we must verify that the corridor is completely blocked, based on Wadi Gaza. The moment the process is complete, we must declare that the residents of Gaza City cannot return home as long as the hostages are not returned.”

Israel Hayom reports further details of the security cabinet yesterday which approved the transfer of withheld tax funds Israel has collected on behalf of the Palestinians to an international trustee, likely to be Norway. The paper reports that “ministers got into a sarcastic dispute during the security cabinet meeting to vote on the arrangement. The prime minister told Minister Ben Gvir, who opposed the arrangement, ‘Well, Ben Gvir, surprise us, I’m in suspense about what your stance is.’ Ben Gvir replied, ‘Notice that the Americans aren’t providing a guarantee. We must not strengthen the PA. They’re terrorists in suits.’ Smotrich replied, ‘I’m convinced that this is an accomplishment. Not because we have to comply with the Americans’ demand, but because we brought them closer to our position.’”