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Israel Media Review

Peace in our time? 6 things to know for June 12

Israeli media takes a skeptical view of historic Trump-Kim summit that has raised hopes for a peaceful end to a decades-long nuclear standoff

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shake hands following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

1. The meeting between North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump has Israeli media abuzz with speculation if the historic summit will bring an end to a decades-old nuclear standoff.

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his commitment to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in a joint agreement signed with Trump, drawing broad international praise.
  • Hopes for peace on the long-divided Korean Peninsula, however, remain tempered by the many failed attempts in the past.
  • But in Israel, most newspapers take a cautious, almost skeptical approach to the summit, most noting the country’s dismal human rights record and its longstanding ties with countries hostile to the Jewish state.
  • Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer says the “unspoken” condition of the unprecedented summit between Trump and Kim is that any human rights concerns would not be on the agenda during the face-to-face meeting. He says that history will judge the success of the summit on the absence of war and the denuclearization of Pyongyang, and not the basic rights and dignity of some 20 million North Koreans. “Trump, just like every Western leader before him, is trying to buy peace at the price of the most basic human rights.”
  • The paper notes that while the rest of Asia and the world were watching the Trump-Kim summit live on TV, North Koreans were not afforded such a luxury.
The signatures of US President Donald Trump (L) and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (R) are seen on a document held up by Trump following a signing ceremony during their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, on June 12, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)
  • The Yedioth Ahronoth daily calls Tuesday’s summit “the hour of truth” for both leaders, but says the real diplomatic win was for Kim, who took full advantage of the media flurry surrounding the meeting to improve his public image. Orly Azulay says that Kim’s highly publicized late night stroll and his widely shared selfies “already made [Kim] the winner without him having to give anything in return.”
  • Writing for Yedioth is Channel 10’s Asia correspondent Nadav Eyal, who blasts the media hype and says the Trump-Kim summit is “nothing to celebrate.” He says that Pyongyang is an avowed enemy of Israel, and “is the closest thing we have today to Nazi Germany.” Eyal says that the West dialoging with North Korea is necessary, but “it doesn’t have to be the smiley, celebratory event in Singapore.”

2. Israeli police units were evicting Jewish settlers throughout the day Tuesday from 15 homes illegally built in the West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot. After the eviction, Israeli forces are expected to demolish the structures.

  • The High Court of Justice ordered the eviction two years ago because the homes were built on private Palestinian land.
  • Hundreds of settlers protested the impending demolitions, and police say two minors who confronted forces were arrested.
Blue-shirted, unarmed Israel Police officers arrive to evacuate residents of the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in the West Bank ahead of the court-ordered demolition of 15 illegally built homes in the settlement, June 12, 2018. (Jacob Magid/The Times of Israel

3. The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday determined that yesterday’s stabbing attack, in which an 18-year-old Israeli high school student was seriously injured in the northern city of Afula, was a terror attack.

  • Shortly after the attack, police arrested the suspected terrorist, identified as Nour al-Din Shinawi, a Palestinian man in his 20s from the West Bank city of Jenin, who had entered Israel without a permit.
  • Malka, who was seriously wounded, was rushed to Afula’s HaEmek Medical Center. As of Tuesday afternoon, she remains in serious condition and is being treated in the intensive care unit after undergoing emergency surgery.
  • The Shin Bet says that Shinawi did not have a record of being involved in terrorist activities, and that investigators are still working to determine a specific motive.

4. Netanyahu announced to his Austrian counterpart that Israel was stepping up contact with Vienna, marking an apparent thaw in Jerusalem’s boycott of a far-right coalition party that has been accused of Nazi links.

  • Netanyahu heaped praise on Kurz for his strong support of Israel and his commitment to combat European anti-Semitism, and said that he ordered the Foreign Ministry to “intensify” ties with Austria, a shift in from Israel’s policy of keeping interactions to a minimum in response to the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.

5. Israeli intelligence has revealed that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran has hit the country more severely than initially expected, according to the Haaretz daily.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, June 11, 2018. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)
  • The paper says that Tehran was counting on international foreign investment allowed under the accord, but the US exit has meant that several major government contacts with American and European companies have abandoned large contracts, leading to further discontent among Iranians and anger towards the regime. The report quotes Israeli officials who say that the growing discontent is widening the divide among political hardliners and moderates.

6. Police on Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of an investigation into a corruption case involving Israeli telecom giant, Bezeq.

  • Investigators have reportedly obtained new evidence from a key state’s witness reportedly implicating Netanyahu in an illicit quid pro quo deal involving the company.
  • A handful of protesters gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, calling on him to step down amid the investigation.

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