US sanctions target Iran’s energy sector
The BBC reports that US congresswoman Ilhan Omar has hit back after a rare rebuke from Democratic colleagues over her remarks on Monday in which she tweeted that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban”. “Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided,” wrote the group, led by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, in a statement on Wednesday. However, yesterday Omar responded to the group, calling them “shameful” and accusing them of engaging in “Islamophobic tropes”.
The BBC’s Jerusalem corresponded, Yolande Knell, writes about the dilemma of rebuilding Gaza without rearming Hamas.
The Independent reports that Israel’s president has appealed to Prince Charles to allow a two-year-old Israeli girl with severe brain damage to be treated in Israel after the High Court in London ruled that her life support should be switched off.
The Guardian has published a commentary which argues that the conflict in the Middle East is sustained by the silencing of Palestinians.
The Financial Times and Reuters report that the US has dropped a handful of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector in what a senior Biden administration official said was evidence of Washington’s “good faith approach” in talks in Vienna.
David Gardner writes in the Financial Times that curbing Iran’s regional ambitions remains a distant hope for the West. Instead, Iran “regards the regional agenda as something to be negotiated with its neighbours, such as arch-rival Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers”.
The Times reports that the British-educated son of the former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is planning a return to public life and intends to stand in a forthcoming presidential election.
The Telegraph reports that the Pentagon has warned it may bomb the Taliban if it tries to retake Kabul in the wake of US forces withdrawing. Senior US defence officials are considering airstrikes in support of Afghan troops if a defence of the capital, or another key city, is needed.
Reuters reports that Amazon Web Services will open data centres in Israel, weeks after Israel signed a deal with AWS and Google for a more than $1 billion project to provide cloud services for its public sector and military.
All the Israeli media look ahead to Sunday’s vote of confidence in the Knesset in the Bennett-Lapid government. The papers note that the incumbent government has not yet released their guidelines, due to be published later today. All the newspapers cover the Likud statement that the transfer of power would proceed normally, as it always has in Israel. According to the Likud it is a mistake to compare Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks to former US president Donald Trump’s allegations of election fraud. The Likud stated that Netanyahu, as opposed to Trump, had complete confidence in the vote counting process, and that when he spoke about election fraud, he was referring to the fact that Yamina leader Bennett had broken his promises to the voters. Writing in Yediot Ahronot, Sima Kadmon notes, “The transition of power has not yet taken place, and members of the outgoing coalition are already blaming the incoming government for all their debacles. As if the Bennett-Lapid government had sold out the country, abandoned the Negev, and given everything to the United Arab List. And as if the Negev’s ten hardest years from a standpoint of governability, the spread of Bedouin settlements, the forsaking of personal safety and the repeated infiltrations of IDF bases had not happened on the Netanyahu government’s watch.”
All the Israeli media cover Likud MK Nir Barkat’s political rally yesterday in Tel Aviv, attended by around 4,000 people. Although it had the appearance of leadership campaign Barkat claimed that now was not the time to hold a Likud party primary. Maariv covers Barkat’s speech where he attacked the alternative government. “This is a government that was born in sin and is motivated by hatred, not by love of the land and country,” he said. “It has no vision and no path! This government cannot promote the values of the national camp, in spite of the national camp’s large majority among the people and in the Knesset. The paralysed government must be replaced, and quickly. Only a large and unified Likud can lead the national camp and bring about significant achievements, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government did. Now is neither the time for internal disputes, nor for a gratuitous party primary. It is incumbent upon us to unite and take action together to bring the Likud back to power.”
According to Yediot Ahronot, “It’s unlikely that Barkat intends to challenge Netanyahu. The one who does intend to challenge him is Edelstein, who has already formed a campaign headquarters and is gearing to run… Netanyahu wants to hold a party primary as quickly as possible, and both Katzes—Likud Central Committee Chairman Haim Katz and Likud Secretariat Chairman Yisrael Katz—are trying to block him. They want to postpone the election for the Likud chairperson to a later date, when Netanyahu will be weaker, when his luster will have dulled, or maybe he himself will have decided to go.”
Kan Radio News highlights that the Washington Post has reported that Russia will provide Iran with an advanced satellite that will allow Tehran to monitor IDF bases and activity, as well as other military targets in the Middle East and beyond.
Channel 12’s Ovda – Facts documentary series held an exclusive interview with the recently retired Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. Cohen gave a detailed description of the 2018 operation to capture Iran’s nuclear archive from inside safes in their warehouse in Tehran. He was also asked about the assassination of the most senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Cohen confirmed that he had been in Mossad’s sights for years, adding “If the man constitutes a capability that endangers the citizens of Israel, he must stop existing.”
Israel Hayom reports that the US State Department plans to condition aid money to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, responsible for Palestinian refugees. According to a new budget authorisation request sent to the US Congress for approval, the US State Department listed a series of reforms UNRWA would need to implement before receiving US aid. The main demand is to take effective steps to ensure the educational content taught in UN schools and summer camps respects human rights and does not incite. Among other necessary reforms, UNRWA would need to commit to maintain neutrality and prevent the entry of weapons into its facilities or the improper use of UNRWA facilities.
Haaretz reports that 3,000 Palestinians have signed a petition calling for Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas to resign from his triple position as head of the Fatah movement, head of the PLO and Palestinian Authority chairman. The pressure follows his cancelation of the Palestinian elections which were due to be held this summer, for the first time since 2005. The petition has been widely circulated on social media, and has become part of a Palestinian public debate for the first time.