UAE prepares to launch first Arab space mission to Mars
The BBC reports that the UAE is set to launch the first Arab space mission to Mars within weeks. It will take seven months to travel the 493 million km to reach Mars and begin its orbit, sending back new data about its climate and atmosphere. In a briefing on Monday, the programme’s science lead Sarah Al-Amiri said the project should be a major incentive for young Arab scientists to embark on a career in space engineering. The report notes that the UAE has a track record of space travel, sending satellites into the Earth’s orbit and one of its astronauts to the International Space Station.
The Times’s Richard Spencer reports on new satellite images that show Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has built a fake American aircraft carrier and moored it at the entrance to the Gulf. Whilst the purpose of the carrier, which also has 16 fake fighter jets parked on its landing deck, has not been confirmed by officials, it is believed to be part of a military exercise to shore up domestic morale. The reports believes that Iranian hardliners are attempting to maintain anti-American fervour during one of the bleakest periods of the Islamic Republic’s recent history with sanctions, poverty and the Middle East’s worst outbreak of coronavirus. Five years ago a previous mocked-up carrier was attacked and sunk for the cameras by missiles after being used as a test target.
The Telegraph leads with Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s comments that he has submitted a counter-proposal the US peace plan, which envisages one-to-one land swaps in return for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. “We submitted a counter-proposal to the Quartet a few days ago,” said Shtayyeh, adding that it proposed the creation of a “sovereign Palestinian state, independent and demilitarised” with “minor modifications of borders where necessary”. The paper says the move is part of Palestinian efforts to win greater support from the EU, which has already warned it will impose sanctions on Israel if it pushes ahead with annexation of parts of the West Bank.
The Guardian note that PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh has said Palestine will declare statehood if Israel goes ahead with plans to annex land in the West Bank. The paper says that Shtayyeh described the possible step pledged by the Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as an “existential threat” to a decades-long international effort for Israelis and Palestinians to reach an agreement that establishes two states side by side.
The Times reports that Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli has been ordered to do nine months of community service and her mother, Tzipi Rafaeli, has been given a 16-month prison sentence as part of a plea deal with Israeli prosecutors in a £2 million tax evasion case. Bar Refaeli, one of the most in-demand models, will be able to continue working. Her lawyers said the deal reflected the fact that she had made some inadvertent “mistakes”.
The Financial Times notes that ISIS has increased its attacks in Iraq after Western members of the anti-ISIS coalition have pared back their presence in the country. The terrorist group staged at least 566 attacks in Iraq in the first three months of the year and 1,669 during 2019, a 13 per cent increase from the previous year, according to security analysts Michael Knights and Alex Almeida, who track the group’s activities. Colonel Myles Caggins, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition, said there are no plans to return the thousands of foreign military personnel, including soldiers from the UK, France and Canada, who left Iraq this year after coronavirus concerns halted the military training programmes they staffed.
Kan Radio News reports this morning that the number of people in Israel who have died of the coronavirus rose yesterday to 299, while 121 people tested positive for the virus yesterday. The number of active cases in Israel currently stands at 2,740, among whom 31 are in serious condition and 24 are on ventilators. According to a report by the National Center for Information and Knowledge in the Battle on the Coronavirus, Tel Aviv has the highest rate of infection, with 166 patients diagnosed since the beginning of June.
Haaretz reports that President Reuven Rivlin hosted the first meeting of an inter-ministerial committee yesterday that is seeking to improve police interactions with people with disabilities. Rivlin said: “If we manage to get to know and understand and make the required adjustments, we can ensure the safety and respectful and equal treatment of everyone.” According to the report, the President called for law enforcement officials to meet with “the various population groups that make up Israeli society, to get to know one another” and to train law enforcement on the complexity of their situations. The meeting comes after Israel border police shot and killed autistic Iyad Halak in Jerusalem after misidentifying him for a terrorist. Commenting on the death of Halak, President Rivlin called for “everything to be done so that such an incident does not repeat itself”.
All the Israel media report on the protest held in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Haifa last night over police violence and the death of Iyad Halak. In Jerusalem, police said they arrested six people for blocking the city’s light rail line. Protesters chanted: “A violent cop needs to be in jail.” In Jaffa, a separate demonstration over the Tel Aviv municipality’s plans to demolish a cemetery and to build a homeless shelter on the site turned violent. Demonstrators set dumpsters and tires on fire and pelted cars with stones. The windows of a bus were shattered, and the police had to intercede to pull out the driver. The rioters also vandalised a police car, fired firecrackers and threw stones at the police, who used force to disperse the riots.
Kan Radio News reports that an official plane of the UAE landed in Ben Gurion airport yesterday, carrying aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Gaza Strip. This is the second Emirati plane to fly from Abu Dhabi to Israel in less than a month. The PA rejected the coronavirus aid sent in May, saying that aid must be sent in coordination with the Palestinian leadership and not with Israel.
Ben-Dror Yemini writes in Yediot Ahronot that the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the 2017 Regulation Law has saved Israel from “real trouble” by demonstrating the independence of the country’s judiciary, which the International Criminal Court in The Hague will likely take into consideration when deciding whether to investigate Israel. He notes that whilst the ruling is “yet another expression of judicial activism,” many Israeli understand that “had the matter not been the subject of a petition to the High Court of Justice, then either the Palestinian Authority or a different actor would have found a way to bring the matter before an international tribunal. The damage to Israel would have been enormous.”
The Israel media also report on the arrival of German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to Israel for a brief visit today. Maas will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Maas is expected to relate the EU’s and Germany’s concern over a possible application of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank as part of the Trump plan. According to Kan Radio News, the German foreign minister is expected to tell his Israeli interlocutors that any decision to apply sovereignty will damage relations between Berlin and Jerusalem. Maariv reports that Israeli political officials said earlier this week that they believed that annexation might damage some of the cooperation between the two countries. Following his meetings in Israel, Maas will hold a videoconference call with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, after which he is scheduled to leave for meetings in Jordan.