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Media Summary

UN looks to investigate Raisi over mass executions in 1988

BBC News reports that banks in Lebanon closed for the day following an attack on the staff at the headquarters of Lebanese Swiss Bank. Banks denounced the attack and announced that branches across the country would be shut down in solidarity with the injured employees. On Monday, a group of 100 people stormed the building of Lebanese Swiss Bank in Beirut demanding access to their accounts that had been closed.

The Associated Press reports on the circumstances that are making Lebanon unliveable. The report notes: “After 20 months of suffering with no end in sight, a new reality is setting in for most of Lebanon’s 5 million people: Days filled with severe shortages — from spare parts for cars to medicine, fuel and other basic goods in the import-dependent country.”

Reuters reports that the UN investigator on human rights in Iran has called for an inquiry into the role of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. The investigator said that he thinks “it is time and it’s very important now that Mr. Raisi is the president [-elect] that we start investigating what happened in 1988 and the role of individuals. Otherwise we will have very serious concerns about this president and the role, the reported role, he has played historically in those executions.”

David Gardner writes for The Financial Times about how the “historic low turnout in [Iran’s] presidential poll could presage rebellion of an alienated young population”.

The Telegraph reports that a former US diplomat has said Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK and she does not pose a danger to the public. Peter Galbraith, a retired US ambassador, told the paper that he has “talked to Shamima – she is part of the group of women who have absolutely rejected the Islamic State – I know enough about her to feel quite confident that she’s not a dangerous person”. Over the weekend the retired diplomat helped free a Canadian woman from the Roj detention camp, the same camp where Begum is being held.

The Times reports on the decision by the Canadian government to repatriate a Canadian woman who joined ISIS. The move contrasts with the positions taken by the UK and other European countries about allowing “jihadi brides” to return home. The woman had reportedly renounced ISIS ideology and provided information that was valuable to law enforcement.

Kim Sengupta writes for The Independent about the attempted coup in Jordan in April, and why it could have widespread repercussions for the Middle East. He writes: “The attempted coup has caused deep concern among traditional international allies such as the US and Britain about a country that has been viewed as an oasis of stability in a turbulent neighbourhood. It has also raised contentious questions inside Jordan, a country battered by the effects of the Covid pandemic on top of deep financial malaise, about the state of the country and about the royal family – hitherto considered sacrosanct.”

The Guardian reports on the trauma of mothers caught in the Israel-Gaza conflict. The report notes that “many women have lost children, been separated from newborns or are unable to breastfeed and bond with their babies because of the war”.

The Times reports that Israeli forces are gearing up to evict roughly 2,000 settlers illegally squatting on Palestinian land in the West Bank. The paper notes that the move is a “test of the new coalition government’s unity and resolve”.

In the Israeli media, Yediot Ahronot writes about Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to the United Arab Emirates yesterday where he inaugurated the new Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi. The paper says “Lapid’s visit presumably is part of the effort to increase strategic cooperation between the two countries,” noting specifically the shared interest in Yemen where the Iranian-backed Houthis are closing in on the outskirts of Marib. “The peace between Israel and the UAE is based, naturally, on shared interests, including interests that pertain to the Iranian threat. But it is based on more than that. Long before the Abraham Accords were achieved, Jews who live in the UAE repeatedly spoke about living in a country that was free from anti-Semitism. The UAE isn’t a democracy, and it probably isn’t a good idea to speak out against the regime there. But the country surprisingly teaches its children tolerance. When the last vestiges of Yemenite Jewry needed to be extricated, it was the UAE that offered to help.”

In Israel Hayom, Ariel Kahana argues that “two and a half weeks into the term of the new government, there can be no mistaking the new atmosphere between Washington and Jerusalem”. Kahana goes on to say, “But alongside the desire to correct past mistakes, the most important task facing Israel’s new leaders is not to confuse form for content, not to prioritise atmosphere over substance and not to walk by mistake into a honey trap. Who is going to demand that President Biden keep his explicit promise not to allow Hamas to rearm if not Bennett, Lapid and Gantz? Who is going to shut down a message about partitioning Jerusalem, which is the message that the Americans wish to convey to the world, if not the prime minister and his partner, the alternate prime minister? That is the big test facing the new Israeli leadership.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Air Force has participated in the international Tri-Lightning 2 exercise with F-35 aircraft from US Marine Corps and British Air Force. The exercise saw Israeli, American and British pilots practice various aerial scenarios including dogfights, dealing with advanced surface-to-air missile systems as well as attacking targets deep in enemy territory and combat scenarios over enemy countries. The drill was designed to “strengthen strategic-regional cooperation as well as cooperation with the international F-35 community,” the IDF said.

Channel 12 News reports that the residents of the Evyatar outpost in the West Bank has accepted a compromise proposal that was put to them last night. The new compromise arrangement is virtually identical to a previous proposal. The difference is that the new proposal will allow for a yeshiva to be established on the site within a matter of months, once the land’s legal status has been established, and that all residents are to leave their homes by the end of the week. An IDF company will be stationed in Evyatar instead of the families and will remain based there until the land survey has been completed. If the survey determines that the land on which the outpost was built can be designated state land, a yeshiva will be built on the site and subsequently a settlement will also be established by law.

Maariv quotes Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich who issued a statement in which he blasted the government for “backing out of the original agreement”. Smotrich’s said: “Now, contrary to earlier reports, the government is refusing to allow a continuous civilian presence in the settlement. I support the residents of the community and their tens of thousands of supporters and call on them not to allow the understandings to erode. There’s a limit to [the amount of] hypocrisy [we can accept]. As long as Khan al-Ahmar and tens of thousands of other illegal Arab structures remain standing, there is no reason in the world for Evyatar to be removed.”

Kan Radio reports that a vote on the controversial citizenship ordinance was delayed again because the coalition could not guarantee a majority would vote to approve the measure. Meretz MK Michal Rozin said that she and her fellow faction members are demanding changes to the wording of the ordinance before voting with the coalition. Rozin said: “We have announced unequivocally that we are opposed to the bill. We are trying to reach understandings. We’re trying to think about how it might nevertheless be revised, to arrive at the plenum in agreement. That means that either the vote needs to be delayed, a committee needs to be formed, we’ll discuss — there are lots of things that can be done. We need to be creative. This bill is too far-reaching, and the issues need to be reviewed individually.” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked warned United Arab List MKs that if they did not vote with the coalition, she would side with the opposition on drafting Basic Law: Immigration.

Haaretz notes that despite almost a year and a half since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has still not developed a sufficient mechanism at Ben-Gurion International Airport to stop the arrival of variants. The article says the newly appointed COVID commissioner for Ben-Gurion Airport, Ronny Numa, will have three issues to face on his first day on the job: enforcing the ban on Israelis travelling to “Red” countries; dramatically speeding up testing in the airport for vaccinated travellers who may have to quarantine on their return; and convincing the government to implement the new law passed in March that requires arriving passengers to wear an electronic monitor while they are in isolation.