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Media Summary

Turkey grants citizenship to senior Hamas operatives

BBC News, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, Reuters, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and The Associated Press all report on Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reaching a historic deal to normalise relations. US President Donald Trump, whose administration helped broker the agreement, was first to announce the news by tweeting a copy of the joint statement and writing: “HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!” As part of the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend its planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.

The Independent and Reuters report on how world leaders have reacted to the Israel-UAE agreement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the decision, saying the move to “normalise relations is hugely good news” and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reiterated the sentiment saying that agreement was “a much-needed boost for peace”. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister said history will not forgive the “hypocritical behaviour” of the UAE. Reuters adds that the Iranian Foreign Minister called the agreement “dangerous and illegitimate” while The Associated Press quotes a statement from Iran’s Foreign Ministry calling the agreement “a stab in the back” to all Muslims. The Guardian produced a short video showcasing reactions from Palestinians and Israelis to the agreement.

The Financial Times, The Associated Press and Reuters report that the US seized the cargo of four tankers transporting Iranian fuel to Venezuela. The ship was carrying a reported 1.2m barrels of fuel with an estimated value of $40m (£36m). Last month the US Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture lawsuit for the fuel, alleging that the sale was arranged by Iranian businessman Mahmoud Madanipour, with known ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated terrorist organisation. A senior US administration official said the seizure “sends a clear signal to the maritime community to avoid any business with the Iranian regime”.

BBC News and The Telegraph report on the US seizing millions of dollars from cryptocurrency accounts used by al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The US said it confiscated about $2m along with 300 cryptocurrency account and four Facebook accounts. A Justice Department official described it as “the government’s largest-ever seizure of cryptocurrency in the terrorism context.”

The Financial Times reports that the US Ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, has asked European countries to support extending the UN Iranian arms embargo, due to expire in October. With a vote on the US proposal to indefinitely extend the arms embargo likely to face defeat in the UN Security Council, the US has appealed to France, Germany and the UK for a compromise in extending the embargo.

From Istanbul, Hannah Lucinda Smith writes in The Times that Turkish President Recep Erdogan vowed retaliation after a Turkish ship was ‘attacked’ in waters contested by Greece. Greece accused Turkey of encroaching on its waters earlier in the week, resulting in the Greek Foreign Minister warning Turkey to “immediately cease its illegal activities, which undermine peace and security in the region.”

The Telegraph reports that Turkey has granted citizenship to senior operatives of a Hamas terrorist cell. This raises fears that the group will have greater freedom to plot attacks against Israeli citizens across the world.”

The Guardian reports that as a result of the catastrophic Beirut blast, several historic buildings are at risk of collapse. According to the paper, with 60 buildings at risk of total collapse, the “UN’s cultural agency vowed to lead the international campaign for the recovery and restoration of Beirut’s heritage”.

Ido Vock analyzes the agreement between Israel and the UAE in the New Statesman, writing that “the theory of ‘land for peace’ has been widely derided by the Israeli Right as a dangerous fiction in recent years. Normalisation with the UAE demonstrates quite the contrary: that when Israel is willing to make concessions on its territorial ambitions, Arab states will engage.”

The Economist frames the normalisation agreement saying “Israel and the UAE make their quiet affair public” but argues that while historic, it may not reshape the region.

All the Israeli media note another 25 fires broke out in southern Israel yesterday as a result of the incendiary balloons being released from the Gaza Strip. Last night the IDF again attacked Hamas targets in response. The IDF issued a statement that aircraft and tanks attacked a Hamas aerial defence outpost, underground infrastructure and observation points. Haaretz reports that Israel has decided that it will not allow money to enter the Gaza Strip from Qatar as long as Palestinians continue to launch incendiary balloons at Israel.

The Israeli media cover the latest Health Ministry data reporting more than 1,150 new cases of COVID-19 with current active exceeding 24,400. About 370 patients are in serious condition, with 110 are on ventilators. The number of people in Israel who have died of the coronavirus rose by 11 to 651.

Kan Radio News reports that the Muslim Waqf called on Muslims who do not live in Jerusalem not to pray today at the al-Aqsa Mosque because of the increase in coronavirus morbidity in East Jerusalem. It issued a statement saying it was monitoring with concern the number of cases and that the data could not be disregarded, and that the current situation was liable to become disastrous.

The Israeli media note the Likud and Blue and White are continuing their negotiations in order to avoid  a fourth election. Both sides are looking to reach an understanding over passing the budget. Israel Hayom reports that senior officials from both parties have been meeting to discuss issues that have been impeding the government’s work, including the state budget, government bylaws, and senior nominations such as that of the attorney general and the state attorney. Sources involved in the negotiations said that the atmosphere between the parties is good. The paper quotes a ‘political insider’ saying “There is a true desire to find a solution, which you couldn’t necessarily say two weeks ago. There is a chance that a compromise will be found in the coming days.”

Ma’ariv includes its latest polling (carried out before the UAE announcement) which shows 78 per cent are displeased with the government’s performance. This polling shows both Likud and Blue and White continuing to lose seats. When asked, if elections were held today, for which party would you vote? The Likud received 27 seats, Yesh Atid-Telem: 20 seats, Yamina: 18 seats, Joint List: 15 seats, Blue and White: 9 seats, Yisrael Beiteinu: 9 seats, Shas: 8 seats, United Torah Judaism: 7 seats, Meretz: 7 seats.

All the Israeli media cover the normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE.  Ma’ariv covers reactions from across the political spectrum including congratulatory statements from figures in the Blue and White party and leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid. Leader of Yamina Naftali Bennett is wrote on twitter: “I applaud the agreement that will give an official stamp to the existing good ties with the United Arab Emirates, and I thank President Trump for consistently taking action for the sake of the State of Israel. However, it’s unfortunate that Netanyahu missed a once-in-a-century opportunity to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, Maale Adumim, Beit El and the rest of the Israeli settlements. It’s tragic that Netanyahu didn’t seize the moment and didn’t muster the courage to apply sovereignty over even a centimeter of the Land of Israel. But sovereignty over tracts of our homeland is yet to come, from somewhere else.”

All the papers cover the angry reactions of the settler leadership. Yediot Ahronot quotes several settler leaders including, Yesha Council Chairman David Elhayani, who said: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu misled us. He misled half a million residents of the area and hundreds of thousands of voters. Mister Prime Minister, you betrayed my trust and the trust of the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley in you, and you sold us lies for a year. Do not expect us to keep quiet. Don’t tell us that there will be sovereignty in a few months. The trust in you is gone.”

The commentary is also dominated by the announcement on normalisation. Nahum Barnea in Yediot Ahronot writes, “This agreement is happy news for two good reasons. One, this is Israel’s third normalization agreement to be signed with an Arab state and the first with one of the Persian Gulf states. It is of historic significance in both regional terms and in domestic Israeli terms. The second, it does away with the idea of annexation. The Israeli right wing will have to recalculate its course, just as it was forced to recalculate after the peace agreement with Egypt. Netanyahu deserves credit for these two actions. For the first time since being elected prime minister, he is doing something positive, not seeking glory by foiling others’ plans. This peace is on him. If it develops and prospers, it will be on him; if it runs awry and is cancelled, it will be on him.”

Ben Caspit in Ma’ariv writes, “If we ignore the background noise, then the announcement of a road map for normalisation between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is excellent and even historic news, and a nice achievement for the Netanyahu government. The problem is that in the Middle East in general, and in Israel in particular, the background noise is the real story, and it doesn’t bode well for Netanyahu. He gained a few points with the center-left, which loves agreements with Arabs, but he lost many more points with his base of right-wing voters. The reason is simple: they’ve all realised that the promise of annexation has expired. The dream has vanished. No sovereignty, no nothing. The parties, the popped champagne, the pompous declarations from that evening at the White House—they were all empty words. Instead, we got a vague declaration from the UAE about contacts that in a few weeks will develop into a “road map” that will lead to normalisation. And to put any doubt to rest, that declaration and the one that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman issued in parallel emphasized the key point (from their standpoint): annexation has been stopped. It’s gone.”