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Media Summary

UN urged to investigate war crimes in Yemen

Writing in The Telegraph, Defence Editor Con Coughlin argues that Tehran’s nuclear ambitions are anything but peaceful. “It is time for the West to take a firm line.”

The US is trying to push Russia, China and some Arab Gulf states to persuade Iran to moderate its negotiating stance to return to the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal after talks in Vienna faltered badly last week, according to the Guardian.

Reuters reports that the UAE’s top national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan is visiting Iran today to discuss expanding bilateral ties with the Islamic Republic.

The BBC publishes a video about the Six Palestinian prisoners who are due in court this week after tunnelling out of one of Israel’s maximum security prisons in September.

The Financial Times notes that several companies in Israel and the UAE have signed deals together in recent weeks, bolstering optimism about the corporate benefits stemming from last year’s normalisation of relations between the Jewish state and the Gulf monarchy.

The Times reports that the UN is facing urgent calls from campaign groups to form a body to investigate suspected war crimes in Yemen amid claims that Saudi Arabia “bullied and bribed” member states to quash a previous inquiry. Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, told the paper that the UK, as a supplier of Typhoon military jets and weapons to the Saudi regime, has an “extraordinarily important role” to play in ensuring that the UN creates a new body to investigate violations.

The Telegraph looks into the state of the Christian community in Syria after thousands have moved abroad since the start of the 10-year civil war. “There will be no Christmas celebrations for the last three Christians in the Assyrian village of Dizen in northeast Syria,” The Telegraph says.

The Financial Times reports from Iraq that five years after the defeat of ISIS, there are signs of a fragile economic resurgence in the Iraqi city of Ramadi.

In the Israeli media, Kan Radio reports that a ramming attack occurred in the West Bank this morning. A 16-year-old Palestinian driving from the direction of the settlement Avnei Hefetz ploughed into a guard at the Teenim roadblock and caused him serious injury. Another guard shot the driver, neutralising the threat. The injured guard was taken to Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer where he remains conscious and listed in stable condition. The driver was taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba. Defence Minister Benny Gantz has instructed raising the state of alert at all the crossings in the West Bank and has also ordered a comprehensive inquiry into the incident and so as to find ways to improve the guards’ safety. Meanwhile, Yediot Ahronot reports that the investigation into the conduct by the Border Police troops who shot and killed a Palestinian man outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday after committing a stabbing attack is expected to be closed for lack of guilt. The two Border Police officers are expected to receive a letter of commendation after the case is formally closed.

Maariv reports that US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides presented his credentials yesterday to President Isaac Herzog. Following the ceremony, Nides said that US fully supported replenishing Iron Dome interceptor missiles, as President Biden said, and added that the US and Israel would continue their close cooperation to advance peace and to deal with the threat that Iran poses to Israel and the region. The ambassador said that the US is committed to ensuring that Iran never develops nuclear weapons.

Writing in Yediot Ahronot, Ofer Shelach urges the Israeli government to dial down its threatening rhetoric “that nobody takes seriously,” and to focus instead on strategic planning while taking a sober view of the threat posed by Iran. Shelach writes: “We should consolidate a broad regional front with the countries that are just as concerned as we are about the possibility of a nuclear Iran, but which today are gravitating closer to Iran in the absence of an alternative vision; we must continue our covert campaign and, at the same time, help the world think about broadening the conversation and creating challenges and opportunities for Iran on other fronts, taking into account its other broad range of interests; and we need to work quietly on our military options, which are solely a last resort. We need to recognise that the goal is not to push the Iranians to the point that they have to make a decision; rather, the goal is to help them not reach that point.”

Commenting in Israel Hayom, Oded Granot says: “The Biden administration’s weak threats to consider other options has made no impression on [Iran’s Supreme Leader] Khamenei, who believes that Biden will not order a military operation. However, a clear American statement that if the Iranians fail to stop their headlong race towards nuclear capability, the administration will give Israel a green light to operate and will provide Israel with heavy bombers and bunker-buster bombs that have not been supplied until now to Israel — could be far more effective and deterring.”

Yediot Ahronot reports that following the first person to have been found to be infected with the Omicron variant in Israel — a foreign worker from Malawi — another 10 people have since tested positive for the new variant. Six of them had returned to Israel from South Africa, while the others had returned from the UK, France and the US. For the first time a person who was infected locally with the Omicron variant was found in Israel. He was infected by someone who had returned from South Africa. Out of the 24 people who are suspected to be infected with the Omicron variant, 16 are defined as being unvaccinated (people who haven’t been vaccinated, people who recovered from infection more than six months ago, and people who have only received two vaccine doses). The others are all defined as fully-vaccinated or as having recovered from COVID-19 within the past six months.

A new poll published by Channel 12 News shows that were elections to be held today, the Likud would win 34 seats, followed by Yesh Atid on 19, Shas 9, Blue and White 9, Labour Party 7, UTJ 7, Religious Zionist Party 7, Yamina 6, Arab Joint List 6, Yisrael Beiteinu 6, Meretz 5 and the United Arab List 5. Justice Minister Gideon Saar’s New Hope would fail to cross the 3.25 per cent electoral threshold. Neither the current government nor the current opposition would win a majority 61. In terms of personal performances, 47 per cent rate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as bad and 44 per cent as good; Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also has a net negative rating, with 47 per cent rating his performance so far as bad compared to 42 per cent as good. The poll shows that only Defence Minister Benny Gantz has a net positive rating, with 55 per cent seeing his performance as good compared to 33 per cent as bad. The cost of living (39 per cent) and violence and crime (34 per cent) are the two most urgent issues facing the government, according to the poll. Only 12 per cent and 6 per cent cited the Iranian nuclear programme and COVID-19 as the most urgent issue, respectively.