Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign has air of desperation as election polls tighten

Jerusalem (CNN)“The 15-second Video That Could Kill Netanyahu’s Rock-star Election Campaign” thundered a gleeful headline in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper — recycling online video of Benjamin Netanyahu being hustled away from election hustings amid sirens warning of incoming rockets from Gaza. But an air of desperation, perhaps something close to panic, has entered the Likud campaign as polls show them evenly matched by the centrist Blue and White party of rival Benny Gantz. To beat them, polling shows that Netanyahu needs every right and far-right wing vote he can garner. Dogged by allegations of corruption in three cases that may yet lead to his indictment, “Bibi” Netanyahu used to be known as the “Teflon PM” — the man against whom …

For a week, Israel and Lebanon seemed on the brink of war. But neither has the appetite for it

Maroun al-Ras, Lebanon (CNN)On the edge of a parking lot overlooking Lebanon’s southern border, a family poses for a photograph as smoke billows behind them. Farout was sitting at a park some 400 meters from the demarcation line separating Israel and Lebanon. A children’s playground doubles as a mock training camp, with a miniature model of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock poking out between trees. The place is called Iran Park, a gift from Hezbollah’s benefactors. The borderlands of the two regional arch-rivals stretch out below it, a wire fence cutting through the valley. On most days, the view is picturesque, belying the fact that it is one of the Middle East’s most politically charged fault-lines. Sunday, with the valley …

Iran shows growing fury in the Gulf. It really is desperate to talk

Abu Dhabi (CNN)The British Heritage super tanker is owned by BP, under a British flag, and on charter to an Anglo-Dutch company, so it’s unsurprising that the ship appeared to abandon suddenly its plans over the weekend as it sailed within sight of Iran. The skipper’s instincts were dead on. According to sources in the British Ministry of Defence, the Montrose drove off three Iranian gunboats that sought to herd the tanker into Iranian waters in or near the Straits of Hormuz. HMS Montrose manned its guns and leveled its 30-millimeter automatic cannon to add menace to the verbal warnings given to the Iranian ships to clear off. The Iranians deny the incident ever occurred. But the United States says …

Khashoggi’s killing was ‘gruesome’ but new UN report is ‘flawed,’ says Saudi minister

(CNN)The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was “gruesome” but a United Nations report into the journalist’s killing is “flawed,” Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Thursday. Callamard said that Saudi Arabia was responsible under international law for Khashoggi’s “deliberate, premeditated execution,” and that current sanctions on some senior officials do not go far enough. “We disagree with her conclusions,” al-Jubeir told CNN. “We don’t believe she has a mandate, we believe that her report is flawed, we believe there are internal contradictions in the report, we believe it was based on media reporting and anonymous sources, we believe the description of the trials in Saudi Arabia, calling them secret, is not correct.” According to the report …