US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrives in Israel
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin landed on Sunday in Israel, in the first official visit by a member of the Biden administration. Austin is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Austin is scheduled to travel from Israel to Germany, NATO Headquarters in Belgium, and Britain.
Netanyahu tapped to form Israel’s next government
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin nominates sitting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to try to form a new government, saying: “This was not an easy decision.” Netanyahu, who was recommended by 52 lawmakers to head the next government, has 28 days to try to cobble together a coalition of at least 61 lawmakers.
Iran gov’t welcomes ‘promising’ US comments on sanctions: spokesman
Jordanian prosecutor bans publication of information on Prince Hamzah rift
Amman’s prosecutor-general has banned the publication of information on the royal rift involving Prince Hamzah, the half-brother of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, including “all audiovisual media and social networks, as well as the publication of all images or video clips relating to this subject,” according to a statement read on state television.
Iran says it arrested ‘Israeli spy’
Iran announced on Monday that it has arrested an “Israeli spy,” as well as agents of other countries, in its eastern Azerbaijan province, according to reports.
Palestinian Authority President Abbas taken by helicopter to Jordan for unexpected flight to Germany
Three Jordanian helicopters have landed in the Mukataa, the Palestinian Authority’s presidential compound in Ramallah, to fly President Mahmoud Abbas to Jordan. From there, he is expected to fly to Germany for medical treatment.
Jordan’s Prince Hamzah, in audio recording: I will not obey military’s restrictive orders
Report: 2 rockets hit near Iraq airbase where US soldiers based
Two rockets hit near the Balad air base north of Baghdad in Iraq that hosts US soldiers, the AFP news agency reported, citing a security source.
Iran reportedly fired missile at Israeli ship in the Arabian Sea
Israel’s Channel 12 reports that Iran fired a missile at an Israeli-owned container ship traveling in the Arabian Sea between India and Tanzania. The missile hit the ship and damaged it, according to the report.
Rocket fired from Gaza Strip hits Israel, no injuries reported
A rockets was fired Tuesday evening from the Gaza Strip into Israel, landing in an open area near Beersheba, according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. No injuries were reported.
Saudi Arabia offers cease-fire to Houthi rebels in Yemen civil war
Saudi Arabia said Monday it would offer the Houthi rebels a cease-fire to end the nearly eight-year-old civil war in Yemen, The Associated Press reported. The plan would include the reopening of the airport in the capital, Sanaa. The offer comes after the Houthis’ relentless campaign of airstrikes against Saudi oil distribution sites. The Houthis later dismissed the offer as “nothing new” and called for the lifting of air and sea blockades first.
Istanbul stock exchange suspends trading as index falls on central bank fears
Iran TV: One dead, 3 wounded in explosion in SE Iran
Turkey arrests pro-Kurd MP who was expelled from parliament: party
Turkish police detained Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu early Sunday morning, according to the party. A court stripped Gergerlioglu of his position on Wednesday.
Saudi Aramco: 2020 profit slid 44.4% on lower crude prices
Energy giant Saudi Aramco on Sunday posted a 44.4% drop in 2020 net profit due to lower crude prices, reflecting the slump in global demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Aramco achieved a net income of $49 billion in 2020,” the company said in a statement, compared to $88.2 billion in the previous year.
Palestinian Authority to receive COVID-19 vaccine shipment
According to UNICEF Palestine, 61,440 coronavirus vaccine doses arrived today and will be delivered to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah ahead of Sunday’s launch of the National Vaccine Deployment Plan in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
4 more peace agreements on the way, Netanyahu says
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is poised to make four more peace agreements, telling an interview with the Ynet news website that he spoke Monday night to one of the leaders in the region for 45 minutes. “I brought four peace agreements,” Netanyahu said, and “there are another four on the way.” Referencing the normalization agreements with Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, he said that “I delivered peace for peace.”
Turkey, Egypt resume first diplomatic contacts since 2013: Turkish foreign minister
At least 20 dead in Egyptian clothing factory
At least 20 people are reported dead and 24 injured in a fire that swept through a clothing factory located on the outskirts of Cairo on Thursday afternoon. The cause of the fire is not immediately known.
Netanyahu will travel to UAE 2 weeks before elections
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Thursday, and will meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Israeli media is reporting. He had originally been scheduled to visit the UAE several months ago in the wake of the signing of a normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE, but the visit has been postponed several times, most recently in February. The visit comes less than two weeks before the country’s 4th national elections in two years.
Syrian president, wife test positive for the coronavirus
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife have both tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement issued Monday by the president’s office. The couple are experiencing only mild symptoms of the virus, according to the statement. They have gone into isolation in their home for the next two to three weeks. Syria began a vaccination campaign last week.
Palestinians claim 3 fishermen killed by Israeli Navy; Israel denies report
Palestinian media outlets reported Sunday morning that the Israeli Navy fired on three fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip, near Khan Younis. The Israeli military said it did not fire on anyone this morning, and was investigating the incident.
Civilian contractor who died of ‘cardiac episode’ during rocket attack on Iraq base was US national: Pentagon
First Emirati Ambassador to Israel Mohammad Mahmoud Al-Khajah to present credentials to President Reuven Rivlin
Israeli PM Netanyahu accuses Iran of attacking Israeli-owned cargo ship in Gulf of Oman last week
Syrian TV: Air defenses respond to Israeli attack in vicinity of Damascus
German court convicts Syrian in landmark crimes against humanity trial
Former Syrian intelligence agent Eyad al-Gharib, 44, helped to arrest protesters and deliver them to a detention center in Damascus in the fall of 2011. The German court sentenced him to four and a half years in prison for being an accomplice to crimes against humanity in the first court case over state-sponsored torture by President Bashar Assad’s government.
Israel will compensate families of Yemenite children who went missing in 1950s
Israel’s Cabinet approved a proposal for the state to recognize the over 1,000 children of immigrants from Yemen, as well as from the Balkans, North Africa and other Middle Eastern countries, who are alleged to have been kidnapped and put up for adoption during the 1950s. Known as the Yemenite children affair, the families charge that they were told that their children died in hospital and were immediately buried, and that instead the children were put up for adoption. The Cabinet allocated nearly $50 million in compensation for the family members of a child that died for whom notification – including cause of death – was not delivered to the family in real time, or of a child who died and whose place of burial has not been located, or whose place of burial was located after a long delay. The families will be able to file an application for financial compensation between June 2021 and November 2021.
US President Biden calls Israeli prime minister for first time since entering office
US President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night – the first such call to a Middle Eastern leader since he was inaugurated on January 20. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the long-awaited conversation, which lasted about an hour, included discussions on the continuation of peace agreements and the Iranian threat, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah says 2,000 COVID-19 vaccines on way to Gaza
After a delay of several weeks, the transfer of doses of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine against the coronavirus to the Gaza Strip began on Wednesday. The transfer through the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel was made at the request of the Palestinian Authority. Israeli reports say that 1,000 doses of the vaccine were transferred, but the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah said that some 2,000 doses were on the way,
White House says Biden call to Netanyahu will be first to Mideast leader
US President Joe Biden will call Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “soon” and it will be the president’s first call to a Mideast leader, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday during the regular briefing. She did not have an exact date for the call.
Palestinian officials accuse Israel of blocking entry of COVID-19 vaccine into Gaza Strip
Saudi Arabia releases jailed activist Loujain al-Hathloul: family
Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi women’s rights activist who was sentenced last December to almost six years in prison, has been released, family members say. She and 10 other female activists were arrested in May 2018 as part of a sweeping crackdown on women campaigning for the right to drive. Weeks after her arrest, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on women driving.
Houthi drone attack sets civilian plane alight at Saudi airport
The Houthis claimed responsibility for a drone attack on the Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia, that set a civilian airplane alight. The fire, discovered early Wednesday afternoon, was brought under control.
Islamic State ambush kills 26 pro-regime fighters in eastern Syria: monitor
Biden says US will not lift Iran sanctions first to reopen nuclear negotiations
US President Joe Biden told CBS in his first network news interview since inauguration, set to air Sunday before the Super Bowl, that Iran will first have to stop enriching uranium at levels that violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal before the US will lift crushing sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that Iran will only return to its commitments under the nuclear accords after the US lifts sanctions.
Israeli PM postpones visit to UAE, Bahrain
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced Thursday morning that, due to the closure of Israeli skies in the effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had decided to postpone his planned trip to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
An explosion has been reported near the Israeli embassy in New Delhi, India. No casualties reported.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court orders accused killer of US journalist Daniel Pearl freed
Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who was convicted and later acquitted of the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter, had remained in jail since his conviction in 2002, pending an appeal by the family of Daniel Pearl. The Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Sheikh’s release and dismissed the appeal.
US Reportedly ‘Pausing’ F-35 Sale to UAE
The United States is “temporarily pausing” some foreign arms sales, including the F-35 jets to the UAE and munitions to Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg News defense correspondent Anthony Capaccio reports, citing unnamed State Department official.
Biden Administration will support two-state solution for Israel, Palestinians
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills told the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s policy for the Israel-Palestinian conflict “will be to support a mutually agreed, two-state solution, in which Israel lives in peace and security, alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
At least 28 reported dead in suicide attack in central Baghdad market
A “double explosion” hit a crowded market in the Bab al-Sharji area near Tayaran Square in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday, in what is being called a rare suicide bomb attack. At least 28 were wounded and more than 70 injured in the attack. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no claim of responsibility for the first suicide attack in Baghdad since 2017.
Death toll from tribal clashes in Sudan’s South Darfur rises to 47: tribal leader
More than 600 protesters arrested, army deployed in Tunisia over riots
The arrests of more than 600 Tunisian protesters, most ages 15-25, were announced on Monday after a third consecutive night of riots over a lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to the country’s economic crisis. The lockdown began on Thursday, which also was the decade anniversary of the deposition of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as part of the country’s Arab Spring protests.
Jerusalem Municipal Planning Cmte approves new US Embassy
The Jerusalem Municipality announced on Wednesday night that its Building and Planning Committee had approved plans for a new US Embassy, to be built on Hebron Road in Jerusalem, as well as the extension of the current temporary embassy in the Arnona neighborhood.
Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate, patron of Israeli prime minister, dies at 87
Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. a major donor to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to the Republican Party in the United States, has died after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Adelson was the founder and owner of Israel Hayom, a free daily pro-Netanyahu newspaper in Israel, published by his wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson.
Nabil Shaath hospitalized in serious condition
Nabil Shaath, foreign affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is in a Ramallah hospital in the West Bank in serious condition from an undisclosed ailment. Shaath, 82, served as the PA’s first foreign minister, from April 2003 to February 2005.
Abbas will order Palestinian elections
Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas will issue a decree within days ordering elections to take place in mid-May after Ramadan, Al-Mayadeen reported Thursday night citing senior sources.
Chaos in Washington: Protesters storm Capitol building as Congress debates Electoral College votes
Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani says he will attend GCC Summit
Saudi Arabia opens airspace, borders to Qatar ahead of GCC Summit
Iran resumes enriching uranium to 20% purity
In its most significant breach yet of the 2015 nuclear deal signed with the world powers, Iran on Monday began enriching uranium to 20% purity at its underground Fordow plant, a government spokesman told the Tehran-based Mehr News Agency. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which announced Friday that Iran had informed the nuclear watchdog of its intentions, has not confirmed the report. Weapons-grade uranium is at least 90% enriched. Fordow is reinforced against arial bombing.
Explosions, gunfire rock Yemen’s Aden airport as new gov’t arrives
Witnesses report a large blast and gunfire after a plane carrying the new government landed at the airport, with many dead said to be among the casualties.
Russia, Turkey to develop military ties despite US sanctions: Lavrov
Moscow and Ankara will develop defense industry cooperation despite US sanctions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday following talks with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul sentenced to 5 years, 8 months jail: local media
Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was sentenced on Monday to five years and eight months in prison by a court specializing in handling terrorism cases. Hathloul and 10 other female activists were arrested in May 2018 as part of a sweeping crackdown on women campaigning for the right to drive. She was charged with having contacts with foreign diplomats, journalists, and activist groups.
Turkey court sentences exiled journalist Dündar to 27 years jail: media
Can Dündar, the former editor-in-chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, who fled to Germany in 2016, was charged with terrorism and espionage and tried in absentia.
In late-night drama, parliamentary vote makes 4th Israeli election in 2 years all but certain
Overnight between Monday and Tuesday, Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, defeated a bill the would have postponed the Tuesday-night deadline by which a budget must be passed. As a result, barring any last-minute deals, the Knesset is expected to dissolve itself Tuesday night, sending Israel to the polls on March 23, 2021, for its fourth general election in two years.
Car bomb kills at least 8 in Kabul
A car bomb that exploded on Sunday morning in the Afghan capital Kabul killed at least eight people, including women and children. The attack appeared to be directed at the convoy of lawmaker Khan Mohammad Wardak. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Similar previous attacks in Kabul have been launched by the Islamic State.
Kabul province deputy governor and aide killed in bombing
Mahbobullah Mohebi, a deputy governor of Kabul province, and his secretary, were killed Tuesday in Kabul when a bomb attached to their vehicle detonated while they drove to Mohebi’s office, the Interior Ministry said. Two bodyguards were wounded in the blast – the latest in a wave of targeted killings in the country.
Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu enters quarantine until Friday
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu entered quarantine after meeting with a confirmed carrier of the coronavirus. The carrier was identified by Israeli media outlets as Michael Kleiner, president of the supreme court of the Likud party. Netanyahu has had two negative tests for the coronavirus since the meeting, but will remain in quarantine until Friday.
Algeria’s president in first TV appearance in almost 2 months
Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said Sunday he was recovering from COVID-19, in his first televised appearance since he was hospitalized in Germany almost two months ago.
Morocco to normalize ties with Israel, US to recognize Moroccan sovereignty in W. Sahara, Trump announces
Morocco normalizes ties with Israel, joining other Arab nations
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that Morocco will normalize relations with Israel making it the fourth Arab country to do so this year.
The President locked in the deal in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Thursday, the White House said.
“Another HISTORIC breakthrough today! Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!” President Trump wrote on Twitter.
The White House said that President Trump also “recognized Moroccan sovereignty over the entire Western Sahara territory,” infuriating the Algerian-backed Polisario Front which controls about one-fifth of the vast, arid region.
Morocco joins the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan in beginning to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, under the auspices of the U.S. united in their fear of Iran growing influence in the region.
Mohammed told President Trump that Morocco intends to facilitate direct flights for Israeli tourists to and from Morocco, according to a statement from Morocco’s royal court.
“This will be a very warm peace. Peace has never – the light of peace on this Hanukkah day has never – shone brighter than today in the Middle East,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to a Jewish eight-day holiday starting on Thursday night.
Hanan Ashrawi confirms resignation from PLO
Hanan Ashrawi confirmed her resignation from the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Ashrawi tweeted a statement about her resignation, effective at the end of the year, and included a photo of the letter, dated Nov. 26. She said that she will “continue to serve the Palestinian people and our just cause in every capacity, albeit outside public office.”
Hanan Ashrawi resigns from PLO executive committee
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi submitted her resignation from the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, according to Palestinian media reports. Her resignation was submitted several days ago and Abbas has not yet responded to her request.
Pope Francis to visit Iraq
The pope’s visit to four provinces in the Republic of Iraq, scheduled for March 5 to March 8 will be his first international trip in 15 months, the Vatican announced Monday. The Vatican said in a statement that the pope will visit “Baghdad; the plain of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham; the city of Erbil; as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.”
Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Gulf states must be consulted if a US nuclear agreement with Iran is revived , warning it is the only path towards a sustainable agreement
A bill to dissolve Israel’s Knesset passed in a preliminary vote
The bill to call early elections passed Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 61-54. It will now go to committee for discussion and must pass three readings before setting a date for Israel’s fourth election in nearly two years.
Israel poised for new elections, the fourth in two years
Benny Gantz announces Tuesday night that his Blue and White party will vote on Wednesday to dissolve the Knesset and go to early elections due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foot-dragging over passing a 2020-2021 budget.
Negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on maritime borders postponed
The US-mediated talks scheduled for Wednesday between the two sides have been postponed until further notice, according to reports, though US negotiators will continue to hold bilateral talks.
Car bomb kills at least 26 Afghan security personnel: officials
‘No doubt’ Israel is headed for elections: PM Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday, in response to a question about the growing rift between his Likud party and its coalition partner, “When agreements are not respected on the part of Blue and White, there is no doubt that we are on the way to elections.”
Canada names human rights activist Irwin Cotler envoy for Holocaust remembrance, combating anti-Semitism
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday the appointment of human rights activist, law professor, and former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler as the country’s first special envoy for promoting Holocaust remembrance and combating anti-Semitism. “We must never forget the painful lessons of the Holocaust, or the memories of those who lived through it, because anti-Semitism has no place in Canada, or anywhere else,” Trudeau said in a media statement.
Iran swaps jailed Australian academic for 3 Iranians: state TV
Iran has released Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was serving a 10-year prison sentence for spying, state television in the Islamic Republic reported Wednesday, in exchange for three Iranians. “A businessman and two [other] Iranian citizens detained abroad on the basis of false accusations were freed in exchange for a spy with dual nationality working for” Israel, the website of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting said, also identifying Moore-Gilbert by name.
Sea Mine Damages Tanker off Saudi Coast
The Malta-flagged, Greek-operated oil tanker MT Agrari was damaged by an explosion, believed caused by a mine, in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. The incident took place close to the kingdom’s border with Yemen.
Algerian court slashes activist’s prison term for blasphemy
An attorney for Algerian activist Yacine Mebarki, a leader of the Hirak anti-government movement, says an appeals court has reduced to one year his client’s 10-year prison term for “profaning the Quran” and “offending Islam.” It left intact convictions on lesser charges of “offending the precepts of [Islam], incitement to discrimination and unauthorized possession of weapons,” lawyer Hachem Saci wrote on Facebook.
2 bomb blasts kill at least 14 in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province: officials
Israeli prime minister to visit Bahrain ‘soon’ at invitation of crown prince
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday morning that he spoke on the phone with Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, and would soon visit Bahrain at the invitation of the crown prince.
Israeli PM, Mossad chief said to hold secret talks with MbS
An unnamed Israeli official told Hebrew media outlets on Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, secretly traveled to the Saudi Red Sea city of Neom on Sunday, where they held talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo is reportedly in Saudi Arabia to coax its leaders into establishing ties with Israel.
US to label anti-Israel BDS movement ‘anti-Semitic’
The US government will formally designate the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as anti-Semitic, and will crack down on groups affiliated with it, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday on a visit to Israel.
Pentagon confirms US troops in Afghanistan, Iraq will be reduced to 2,500 in each country by mid-January
US State Department designates 2 al-Shabab leaders as terrorists
In an announcement released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the department designated Abdullahi Osman Mohamed and Maalim Ayman, senior leaders of al-Shabab, the Somalia-based al-Qaida affiliate, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Mohamed was described as the group’s senior explosives expert. Ayman is the leader of a unit conducting attacks in Kenya and Somalia, including one that killed a US military member and two American contractors.
Palestinian Authority renews security coordination with Israel
The move comes six months after Palestinians severed ties over Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Jordanian king to meet Abu Dhabi crown prince, Bahrain’s king in UAE
Jordanian King Abdullah II will travel Wednesday to the United Arab Emirates for a three-way meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi; and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain. The meeting comes on the same day as a planned three-way meeting in Jerusalem with senior officials from Israel, Bahrain and the United States.
Speedy troop pullout from Afghanistan could have ‘high’ price: NATO chief
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that the alliance could pay a heavy price for withdrawing from Afghanistan too quickly. US President Donald Trump is expected to pull a significant number of troops out of Afghanistan in the coming weeks.
Moderna: Our Vaccine 94.5% Effective
The US biotech firm Moderna announced on Monday that early results from a clinical trial including more than 30,000 participants have shown its vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, to be 94.5% effective. “This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease,” CEO Stephane Bancel said.
Turkey’s Erdoğan Calls for Cyprus Talks Based on 2-State Solution
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on a visit to northern Cyprus Sunday, an area occupied by Turkey since 1974, that “there are two peoples and two separate states in Cyprus. There must be talks for a solution on the basis of two separate states.”
Helicopter Crash in Sinai Kills at Least 5 Peacekeepers
At least five peacekeepers from the Multi-national Force and Observers established to oversee the separation of Egyptian and Israeli troops in the Sinai Peninsula have been killed in a helicopter crash, according to local reports. The dead include American, French and Czech nationals. The peacekeeping group, known as the MFO, was established after Egypt and Israel ended their state of war in 1979.
Bahrain’s King Appoints Crown Prince as Prime Minister
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa has named his eldest son, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, as the new prime minister, according to the official Bahraini news agency. Salman replaces Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who died earlier Wednesday while undergoing medical treatment in the US.
Bomb Wounds 4 at World War I Cemetery in Jeddah
Four people in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, were wounded by a bomb that went off on Wednesday during commemorations marking 102 years since the end of the First World War. The event was being held at a cemetery for non-Muslim war dead. The French Foreign Ministry said officials from several nations were in attendance. There was no immediate comment from Saudi officials, or mention in Saudi media.
Bahrain’s Longtime Prime Minister Dies
Bahrain’s royal palace says Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa has died. He was 84 and a member of the royal family. The death took place at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, where he was being treated for an undisclosed ailment. He served as prime minister since 1970.
Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, 65, Dies from Coronavirus
Erekat, a veteran politician and diplomat who was the secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the PLO, had a lung transplant in the United States in 2017, and was hospitalized at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem in October after testing positive for COVID-19.
Ritz Carlton Manama (Bahrain) To Begin Offering Kosher Food
Starting November 20, 2020, the luxurious Ritz Carlton Hotel in Manama, Bahrain will become the first hotel in the kingdom to offer kosher certified food through the help of Orthodox Union (OU) Kosher, the world’s largest kosher certification agency.
Baghdad Authorities: Gunmen Kill 11 in Attack on Army Post
Police and medical sources in Baghdad say gunmen in four vehicles have opened fire on a military base in the western part of the city, killing at least 11 people, several of them soldiers. Others were reported wounded. A search is on for the attackers.
Mideast Nations Assess Meaning of President-Elect Biden’s Victory
At Least 10 Dead in Attack on Kabul Campus
US Citizen Receives Passport Citing ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ as Place of Birth
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman handed 18-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky a new passport on Friday at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. In it, Zivotofsky’s place of birth was noted as “Jerusalem, Israel.” The ceremony came a day after the State Department announced the new wording following years of a policy in which Jerusalem was left stateless in US passports and on other official documents owing to a hands-off policy on who the city belongs to.
US to Issue Passports Identifying Jerusalem as Israeli
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced that the State Department would allow US citizens born in Jerusalem to request passports that show the city as being in Israel. Until now, US passports have left the city stateless under a longstanding policy of neutrality on its future.
Saudi Citizen Wounds Guard in Attack at French Consulate in Jeddah: State Media
3 Killed in ‘Suspected Terrorist Attack’ at Church in Nice, France
The suspect reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is the greatest) after stabbing multiple people at Notre-Dame basilica in Nice, killing at least three, including at least one who was decapitated. The suspect was arrested and taken to the hospital.
Turkish Court Jails US Consulate Local Staffer for Helping ‘Terror Group’: State Media
Houthi Youth, Sports Minister Assassinated
Hassan Zaid, the minister of youth and sports in the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s National Salvation Government in Sanaa, has been shot and killed by unknown assailants, the Houthi-affiliated al-Masirah TV channel cited the group’s Interior Ministry as saying.
Tens of Thousands Stage Anti-France Rally in Bangladesh Capital
The protesters in Dhaka called for a boycott of French goods and burned an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron after he defended cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
Monitor Group: Russian Military Strikes Kill 34 Turkey-backed Rebels in Syria
Libyan Factions Sign ‘Permament’ National Cease-fire after Talks: UN
Hariri Tapped to Form Lebanon’s Next Gov’t
Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Thursday asked former prime minister Saad Hariri to form a government. Hariri has led three governments. He stepped down as prime minister last fall in the wake of wide-scale protests stemming from the country’s deep economic woes. Since then, no one has been able to lead a stable, functioning government.
Officials Say Taliban Ambush Kills at Least 25 Afghan Security Personnel
Israel, UAE Agree on Visa-free Travel for Nationals: Netanyahu
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to reciprocal visa-free travel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday, making Emirati citizens the first in the Arab world to not require Israeli entry visas. “We are exempting our nationals from visas,” Netanyahu said after the first-ever official delegation from the UAE landed in Israel for a day of talks following a US-brokered deal to normalize ties.
US to Remove Sudan from List of States Sponsoring Terror
US President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Sudan had agreed to pay $335 million in compensation to US terror victims and their families. “Once deposited, President Trump wrote, “I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.” The move is widely thought to be a precursor to a Sudan-Israel normalization agreement, which could be signed in the coming few days.
Palestinian Negotiator Erekat Transferred to Israeli Hospital for Corona Treatment
The condition of Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, diagnosed in early October with the novel coronavirus, has deteriorated. He has been transferred, in critical condition, from his home in Jericho to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Israel Says Formal Diplomatic Ties with Bahrain to Begin Sunday
Israel and Bahrain will officially establish diplomatic relations on Sunday at a ceremony in Manama, an Israeli official says, after the two states reached a US-brokered normalization deal last month.
Israeli-American Delegation to Visit Bahrain Next Week
At the request of Bahrain, an Israeli-American delegation will visit the Gulf state next week. The parties are expected to work on the drafting of the peace agreement between the countries, as well as to establish joint teams to draw up additional agreements in a number of areas.
Jordan’s King Abdullah Swears in New Govt
Jordan’s King Abdullah swore in a new government led by veteran diplomat Bisher Al-Khasawneh on Monday. Khasawneh, 51, was appointed to replace Omar al Razzaz. The king urged the new prime minister to accelerate IMF-backed economic reforms at a time of sharp contraction due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UAE Crown Prince, Israeli PM Discuss Development of Ties
Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, says he discussed the future of UAE-Israel ties over the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. This came in a tweet the crown prince posted on Monday, shortly before Israel’s cabinet voted in favor of a September 15 agreement to normalize relations. There was no mention as to when the phone call took place, during which time Netanyahu reportedly invited him to Israel.
Iraqi Militias Offer Halt to Attacks on US Targets in Return for Withdrawal Timetable
A spokesman for Kata’ib Hizbullah, the main Iran-backed Iraqi militia said to be targeting US troops and Washington’s embassy in Baghdad, has told the Reuters news agency his group is willing to suspend these attacks in return for a timetable laying out an American withdrawal from the country. Mohammed Mohi said the offer covered attacks by all of the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces, an array of Iraqi Shi’ite groups that take their orders from Tehran.
US Officials: Wanted in Beheadings, ISIS Members being Extradited from Iraq
Unnamed government sources in Washington are being quoted as saying that two members of a four-man Islamic State execution squad dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British background are being extradited to the United States from Iraq on Wednesday.
Kuwait’s New Emir Chooses Crown Prince
The new emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, has chosen Sheikh Meshaal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah for the post of crown prince. Meshaal, 80, is the younger brother of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the emir who died last week at 91.
Israel, Lebanon to Open Direct Negotiations on Maritime Border
The speaker of the Lebanese parliament confirmed in a speech that the two countries will open direct contacts to determine the maritime economic border between them. According to Israeli sources, negotiations are expected to begin after the Sukkot holiday at the UNIFIL base in the Lebanese town of Nakura.
Emir of Kuwait Dies
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, has died. He was 91 and in poor health.
PLO Official: Fatah, Hamas to Cooperate in Legislative Elections
Wasil Abu Yousef, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, has told Turkey’s Anadolu news agency that the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, have agreed to hold legislative elections, perhaps by early 2021. The last elections were held in 2006, with lawmakers disbanding the following year. Fatah and Hamas have made similar declarations in the past.
Turkey, Greece Agree to Talks over East Med: Turkish Presidency
Russian Official: We’ll Cooperate Militarily with Iran after UN Embargo Ends
Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says that once the United Nations drops its arms embargo against Iran, Moscow will seek military cooperation with Tehran. “New opportunities will emerge in our cooperation with Iran after the special regime imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231 expires on October 18,” Ryabkov told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Tuesday. On Monday, the TASS news agency quoted him as saying: “We are not afraid of US sanctions; we are used to them.” Ryabkov was referring to Washington’s threat to sanction countries that do not act as if the embargo was extended, a move the UN Security Council refused to take.
EU Sanctions 3 Firms for Breaking Libya Arms Embargo
According to AFP, the EU on Monday imposed sanctions on three companies – one Turkish, one Kazakh and one Jordanian – for breaching the UN arms embargo on Libya. Two individuals were also hit with the sanctions, which include asset freezes and travel bans, for supplying material to Libya, where the UN-recognised government in Tripoli has been under attack from strongman Khalifa Haftar, who runs a rival administration in the east.
Israel Tells Pilgrims to Come Home as Ukraine Bars Entry
Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who heads a committee dealing with Israeli pilgrims traveling to Uman, Ukraine, has called on the travelers to return to Israel and follow the coronavirus quarantine instructions after the Ukrainian government barred their entry into the country.
Rockets Launched at Israel as White House Normalization Ceremony Proceeds
Rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday evening as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani stood with US President Donald Trump prior to signing normalization agreements. Two people were reported injured by sharapnel.
Netanyahu Denies Settlement Freeze Part of Normalization Accord
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is denying claims by a left-wing member of the opposition that Netanyahu had agreed to a freeze of West Bank settlement construction as a condition for the normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli leader is now in Washington, where he is to sign a normalization accord with both the UAE and Bahrain on Tuesday.
Monitor Group: Airstrike in Syria Kills Pro-Iran Militia Members
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says suspected Israeli airstrikes south of Albu Kamal, in eastern Syria, left 10 pro-Iran fighters dead on Monday. The group identified eight of the victims as Iraqis and two as Syrians, adding that weapon depots and vehicles were destroyed in the raid. There has been no comment from Israel.
Afghanistan-Taliban Talks Get Underway
Talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban have gotten under way in Doha.
Beirut’s Devastated Port Hit by Fire
Oil and old tires that are ablaze are sending thick, black smoke into the sky. Firefighters are at the scene.
Senior Official Conveys Chad’s ‘Willingness’ to Open Diplomatic Mission in Jerusalem
Following a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, Chad’s cabinet chairman, Abdelkerim Déby, who is the son of the country’s president, expressed Chad’s “willingness to open an official mission in Jerusalem.”
US Sanctions 2 Lebanese Ex-ministers for Support of Hizbullah
The United States on Tuesday applied sanctions to Lebanese former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former transport minister Yusef Fenianos for alleged corruption and support of Hizbullah, the pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim militia and political party.
Saudi Arabia Sentences 8 to Long Jail Terms in Final Khashoggi Verdict: State Media
Riyadh: Open Skies for “All Countries” Sending Flights to UAE
The move comes days after the kingdom allowed a 737 belonging to Israel’s El Al Airlines to traverse its airspace on the way between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, and then back again, cutting flight times by more than half. The new policy is a tacit nod to the United Arab Emirates’ decision to normalize ties with the Jewish state – although the Saudis themselves insist they prefer to wait for peace between Israel and the Palestinians before following Abu Dhabi’s lead.
France’s Charlie Hebdo Says Republishing Mohammed Cartoons for Terror Trial Start
Iran’s Khamanei: UAE ‘Betrayed’ Muslim World With Israel Deal
Hamas Announces ‘Deal’ to End Escalation With Israel
First Direct Flight from Tel Aviv Lands in Abu Dhabi
A Boeing 737 of El Al, Israel’s national carrier, landed in the United Arab Emirates on Monday afternoon, completing the first direct passenger flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. During the flight, the captain noted that the aircraft was traversing Saudi airspace, another first for an Israeli plane.
Sudan Gov’t, Rebel Groups Agree to Peace Deal: Official
Lebanon Names Adib Prime Minister-designate
Diplomat Mustapha Adib has been tasked with forming a new Lebanese government and serving as its prime minister. Adib received the support of 90 parliamentarians (out of 120), including MPs from the Future Movement of former prime minister Saad Hariri, as well as Hizbullah, the Free Patriotic Movement, the Amal Movement, and a number of smaller political blocs.
Historic First: Direct Tel Aviv-Abu Dhabi Flight Takes Off
As he prepared to board, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, said: “I prayed yesterday at the [Western] Wall that Muslims and Arabs from throughout the world will be watching this flight, recognizing that we are all children of God and that the future does not have to pre-determined by the past.”
Pompeo Lands in Sudan on First Visit by US Chief Diplomat in 15 Years
US Secretary of State Takes Off on First Official Direct Tel Aviv-Khartoum Flight
Iran Detains UAE Ship, Crew: State TV
The incident occurred the same day the United Arab Emirates Coast Guard killed two Iranian fishermen.
Saudi Foreign Minister: We Are Committed to Peace on Basis of Arab Peace Plan
Sudan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Fired for Statement on Israel Normalization
Special UN Tribunal: No Proof Syria, Hizbullah behind 2005 Hariri Assassination
Gaza’s Sole Power Plant Shuts Down
The sole power station in the Gaza Strip shut down on Tuesday due to a lack of fuel. This follows Israel’s blocking of fuel imports into the Strip as part of its response to rocket and incendiary balloon attacks launched from Gaza into Israel. As a result, homes and businesses in Gaza will have only three to four hours of electricity per day.
UAE Opens Direct Telephone Service to Israel, Unblocks Israeli News Websites
The United Arab Emirates removed its block on phone calls to and from Israel and access to Israeli news websites on Sunday as the two countries began normalizing bilateral relations. The inauguration of telephone service between the two countries was marked by a phone call between Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
Netanyahu: I Put Annexation on the Table – and it is Still on the Table
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pushes back against right-wing critics of the agreement with the United Arab Emirates by saying he will continue to push the idea of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, emphasizing that the agreement means just a “temporary” delay.
It’s All in the Presentation: Israelis Tout Coming Normalization, Emiratis Highlight Deal against Annexation
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is beginning to receive pushback from fellow right-wingers who say sovereignty will still be extended to parts of the West Bank as planned.
Trump: UAE Agrees to Full Ties with Israel in Return for End to Annexation Plans
Israel to Stop Entry of Fuel into Gaza in Response to Incendiary Balloon Attacks
Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled enclave have in recent days launched dozens of balloons laden with incendiary and explosive materials across the border into Israel. Stopping the entry of fuel, which could shut down Gaza’s power plant, follows earlier measures aimed at ending the balloon attacks, including the closing of the main commercial border crossing, airstrikes on Hamas targets, and reduction of the area off the coast permitted for fishing.
Over Half of Beirut Health Facilities ‘Nonfunctional’: WHO
More than half of Beirut’s healthcare facilities are “nonfunctional” following last week’s deadly portside explosion, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. Following an assessment of 55 clinics and health centers in the Lebanese capital, “we know now that just over 50% are nonfunctional,” said WHO’s regional emergency director, Richard Brennan, at a virtual press conference in Cairo. Three major hospitals were non-functional and another three operating at well below normal capacity, he said.
Israel Thwarts Major Cyberattack on Defense Industry
Assad Interrupts Speech Due to ‘Low Blood Pressure’
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad halted a speech he was delivering to parliament on Wednesday due to what the state news agency SANA called “low blood pressure.” It added that he resumed speaking a few moments later, but gave no further details.
Turkish Drone Kills 2 Senior Iraqi Officers in Kurdistan: Iraqi Army
Iran Convicts 2 of Spying for Israel, Germany, UK: State TV
Lebanon PM to Announce Gov’t Resignation Monday: Minister
Lebanese Finance Minister Becomes Fourth Cabinet Member to Resign
Lebanese Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni has resigned, the Agence France Presse news agency reports, citing a ministry source. This makes Wazni the fourth member of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to resign since yesterday in the wake of last week’s catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port.
Lebanese Justice Minister Resigns
Marie-Claude Najm resigned on Monday as Lebanon’s justice minister, becoming the third member of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet to step down following last week’s catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port. On Sunday, Environment Minister Damianus Kattar and Information Minister Manale Abdel Samad submitted resignations of their own.
Donors Pledge Disaster Aid to Be Delivered ‘Directly’ to Lebanese People
Trump Calls on Lebanon to Hold ‘Transparent Investigation’ of Blast
Lebanese Environment Minister Second to Resign
Damianus Kattar on Sunday became the second member of Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government to resign over last week’s massive explosion at the Beirut port. He follows Information Minister Manale Abdel Samad, who submitted her own resignation earlier in the day. ‘I want to apologize to the Lebanese people,” Samad said, ‘whose aspirations we were unable to fulfil due to the difficulty of the challenges facing us.’
Lebanese Information Minister Resigns
In first post-blast government resignation, Manale Abdel Samad says in statement: ‘I want to apologize to the Lebanese people, whose aspirations we were unable to fulfil due to the difficulty of the challenges facing us.’
Up to 300,000 Homeless after Blast Damages Half of Beirut, Senior Port Officials Placed under House Arrest
Macron Will Travel to Lebanon Thursday After Beirut Blasts: French Presidency
Large Explosion Rocks Beirut, Smoke Rises from Capital’s Port Area
Lebanese Foreign Minister Resigns
At Least 20 Dead in Raid on Afghan Prison Claimed by Islamic State: Officials
US Imposes Sanctions on Syrian Leader Assad’s Son
The United States has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s son eldest son, Hafez, 18, as well as Syrian businessman Wassim al-Qattan, under the recently passed Caesar Act, extending efforts to block funds for the war-torn country’s regime. Hafez al-Assad, named for his grandfather, the late Syrian president, will not be allowed to travel or maintain assets in the US, the State Department said.
Jordan to Hold Parliamentary Elections November 10
Jordanians will go to the polls on November 10 to vote for a new parliament. The date was set within hours of a decree issued Wednesday morning by King Abdullah II calling for elections. Most power lies with Abdullah, but politicians from the opposition have complained about harsh measures instituted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that they say restrict civil and political rights.
3rd Iraqi Protester in Week Dies After Being Shot with Tear Gas Canister
A protester died Tuesday morning after being shot in the head and chest with a tear gas canister in clashes with police overnight in Baghdad. He was the third protester in a week to die from injuries after being shot with tear gas canisters in the Iraqi capital. According to medical sources, more than a dozen others were wounded.
Exchange of Fire Reported on Israel-Lebanon Border
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Office reported Monday afternoon that an “incident” had occurred near Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. According to initial reports, Hizbullah fired shots toward an Israeli army patrol in Israeli territory, and Israeli troops responded with gunfire, as well as tank and airplane fire.
Passengers ‘Injured’ After Israeli Fighter Jet Gets Close to Iranian Airliner Over Syria – Iran Media
The Iranian airliner was reportedly forced to land in Beirut.
Erdoğan: Turkey to Stay in Syria ‘Until the People Are Free’
Turkey will maintain its military presence in northern Syria “until the people are free,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Tuesday.
Israel Faces Full Weekend Lock-down beginning July 24; Non-essential Businesses to Close; Food, Pharmacy Essentials to be Available
UK Court: Schoolgirl Who Joined ISIS Can Return to Fight for Citizenship
A British Court of Appeals has ruled that east London schoolgirl Shamima Begum, who traveled to Syria to join Islamic State, must be allowed to return to the UK to challenge the revocation of her British citizenship.
Multiple Ships Catch Fire at Iranian Port
At least seven vessels are reported to have caught fire on Wednesday at the Iranian port of Bushehr, according to the Tasnim news agency.
Iran: We’ve Executed CIA Spy
Iran’s judiciary branch announced on Tuesday that Reza Asgari, an ex-Defense Ministry employee, was executed last week after having been found guilty of selling missile secrets to the CIA.
Houthis Announce Striking Deep into Saudi Arabia, Targeting Warplanes, Patriot Antimissile Systems
Pope Condemns ‘Hell’ of Migrant Detention Camps in Libya
Turkey Trial of Saudi Suspects in Khashoggi Murder Begins in Absentia
Palestinian Rivals Fatah, Hamas Vow to ‘Unite’ Against Israeli Annexations
France Pulls Out of NATO Med Operation Over Turkey Tensions
France is pulling out of a NATO Mediterranean maritime security operation until it gets a response to its concerns over the behavior of fellow member Turkey, a French defense official said Wednesday. “We have decided to temporarily withdraw our assets from the operation Sea Guardian” until France’s concerns are addressed, the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters. The decision follows an escalation in tensions with Turkey over the Libya conflict.
Putin Slams New US Sanctions Aimed at ‘Suffocating’ Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced the United States for imposing new sanctions on Syria’s regime during the coronavirus pandemic. “Despite the call from the UN secretary-general for easing the pressure of sanctions under pandemic conditions, Washington like Brussels decided to prolong measures against Syria,” Putin said during a televised meeting with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts on Syria. “In addition, new sanctions presumably aimed at economically suffocating Syria have been adopted,” he said.
Iran Condemns Journalist to Death over 2017 Protests
An Iranian court on Tuesday sentenced Ruhollah Zam to death for allegedly having incited economic protests that engulfed the country in 2017. Zam ran a website that specialized in videos and other material deemed embarrassing to top officials.
Iran Issues Arrest Warrant for Trump, Asks Interpol to Help, Over Killing of Top General Soleimani
Israel’s Annexation Plans ‘Illegal’: UN Rights Chief
Israel’s aim to annex parts of the occupied West Bank was clearly “illegal,” the UN’s human rights chief said on Monday, warning that the consequences could be “disastrous.”
“Annexation is illegal. Period,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement, adding that “the shockwaves of annexation will last for decades, and will be extremely damaging to Israel, as well as to the Palestinians.”
Gunmen Attack Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi
9 Iran-backed Fighters Killed in 2nd Syria Raid in 24 hours: Monitor
Turkey: Court Sentences 121 to Life in Coup Trial
Pakistan Int’l Airlines Grounds Almost a Third of Its Pilots in Licence Probe: Official
Hamas Warns Israel: Annexation a ‘Declaration of War’
Turkey Playing ‘Dangerous Game’ in Libya: Macron
Jordanian FM Arrives in Ramallah for Meeting With Palestinian President
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi arrived in Ramallah a short while ago for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “part of efforts to confront the annexation decisions.” Al-Safadi also delivered a letter from King Abdullah to Abbas.
France Condemns ‘Aggressive’ Act by Turkish Ships in Med
France’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday denounced an “extremely aggressive” intervention by Turkish ships against a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The French sailors were trying to check a cargo ship a few weeks ago on suspicions of taking arms shipments to Libya – forbidden under a UN embargo – when a Turkish frigate carried out targeting maneuvers that suggested a missile strike was imminent, the ministry said. It condemned an “extremely aggressive act that is unacceptable by an ally against a NATO ship.”
French Court Hands 4-year Term to Uncle of Syria’s Assad for Graft
A Paris court on Wednesday convicted the uncle of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to four years in prison after convicting him of money laundering and misappropriation of Syrian government funds. Rifaat al-Assad, 82, did not appear in court, having been hospitalized in December after doctors diagnosed internal bleeding. The court also ordered the confiscation of Assad’s vast real estate assets in France, worth some €90 million ($100 million).
Taliban Raid on Afghan Security Post Kills 12
Taliban fighters killed at least 12 Afghan security personnel Wednesday in a predawn raid on a northern checkpoint, officials said, the latest violence claimed by the insurgents. Five security force members were injured and four were captured by the militants in the attack in Jawezjan province, said Maroof Azar, spokesman to the governor. He said five Taliban fighters were killed in the fighting, which ended after Afghan security reinforcements arrived at the scene. The Defense Ministry confirmed the attack and said six of its soldiers were among the dead. The Taliban spokesman for the group’s fighting forces, Zabihullah Mujahib, claimed the attack but gave a higher toll.
UN Nuclear Watchdog Resolution ‘Counterproductive’: Iran
Reacting to a resolution expected to be tabled by European states at this week’s Board of Governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, said: “Introduction of this resolution aiming to call on Iran to cooperate with the agency … is disappointing and absolutely counterproductive.”
French Court Jails 6 for Pakistani, Saudi Arms Sale Kickbacks
Talks on Regional Issues between Turkey, Russia Postponed at Last Minute
Talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and their Turkish counterparts, which were set to be held in Turkey on Sunday, were called off at the last minute. No reason was provided, and there was no mention as to when they will take place.
In Op-ed Published in Israeli Media, UAE Diplomat Warns West Bank Annexations Could Destroy Normalization with Arab World
Nearly 50 Dead in Migrant Shipwreck Off Tunisia
Nearly 50 people, mostly women, died when a boat carrying migrants bound for Italy sank off the coast of Tunisia, the Defense Ministry said Thursday. It was initially reported that 35 were dead when Tunisian authorities were alerted by fishermen near the port city of Sfax on Tuesday. Since then, another 13 bodies have been recovered, raising the death toll to 48.
Syrian President Bashar Assad Fires Prime Minister Imad Khamis
Palestinian PM Submits ‘Counter-proposal’ to Trump Plan that Includes ‘Demilitarized State’
Iran Releases US Navy Veteran Michael White
The freeing of White, who had been detained in Iran for two years, comes in the wake of the American deportation of Iranian scientist Sirous Asgari. Nevertheless, the governments of both countries deny that the releases of the two men are linked.
Turkey Announces Reopening of Borders with Iraq, Iran for Trade
Iran Says 230 Killed in November Protests: State Media
Iran Says Sirous Asgar, Scientist Jailed in US, to Return in Days
Iran to US: ‘Stop Violence Against Your People, Let Them Breathe’
Emirates Airline Sacks 180 Pilots, More Layoffs Likely
The Dubai-based airline, the largest carrier in the Middle East, said Sunday it had decided to cut “a few” jobs over the coronavirus crisis. It will reportedly announce further layoffs on Monday.
Afghan Troops Killed in First ‘Taliban Attack’ Since Ceasefire End: Officials
Seven Afghan soldiers were killed Thursday in an attack that officials blamed on the Taliban – the first deadly assault since a three-day ceasefire ended. The militants attacked a checkpoint in Parwan, north of the capital, said Waheeda Shahkar, spokeswoman to the provincial governor. “The Taliban have also suffered casualties,” Shahkar added. District police chief Hussain Shah said Taliban fighters set fire to the checkpoint, killing five security force personnel. Two more were shot dead.
Israeli Private Plane Lands in Khartoum
An Israeli private plane landed in Khartoum airport on Tuesday, two days after a telephone conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the president of the Sudanese Council of Ministers, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. During the opening of the Israeli cabinet session on Sunday, Netanyahu said that he had called Burhan to congratulate him on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, according to a tweet by Netanyahu.
Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity Reopens
Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born, reopened on Tuesday more than two months after closing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Israeli Officials: Palestinian Authority Has Ended Security Coordination
Israel Must ‘Abandon Threats of Annexation’ in West Bank: UN Envoy
US Hits Top Iranian Officials, Including Interior Minister, With Sanctions for Rights Abuses
Afghan Taliban Leader Says Committed to Deal With US
The leader of the Taliban said Wednesday that militants were committed to a landmark deal with the US despite being accused of carrying out thousands of attacks in Afghanistan since it was signed.
“The Islamic Emirate is committed to the agreement signed with America and urges the other side to honor its own commitments and not allow this critical opportunity to go waste,” Haibatullah Akhundzada said in a rare statement.
Barr: Phone Evidence Links Islamists to Saudi Attacker at Florida Air Base
The FBI says a cell phone belonging to a Saudi airman who killed three US military personnel at a naval airbase in Pensacola, Florida, last December shows ties to al-Qaida. This was announced on Monday by Attorney General William Barr.
Israeli Man Accused of Firebombing Palestinian Family in West Bank Found Guilty on 3 Counts of Murder
Emirates Considers Cutting 30,000 Jobs, Retiring Airline’s A380s Faster
Afghan President, Rival Sign Power-sharing Deal: Spokesman
Chinese Ambassador to Israel Found Dead in Herzliya Home
Israel Postpones Gov’t Swearing-in Ceremony until Sunday
This swearing-in ceremony for Israel’s incoming national unity government, which was scheduled to take place Thursday night, has been delayed until Sunday due to discontent within Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party over various ministerial appointments.
Taliban Say They’re Behind Deadly Afghan Truck Bombing
At least five people were killed when a booby-trapped truck blew up on Thursday near a courthouse in Gardez, in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, the death toll in two Tuesday attacks – on a maternity hospital in Kabul and a funeral in an eastern province, and which the Islamist group disavowed – has now reached 56.
Pompeo: Iran Trying to ‘Foment Terror’ During Pandemic
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a trip to Israel, told reporters that “even during this pandemic, the Iranians are using the ayatollah regime’s resources to foment terror across the world, even when the people of Iran are struggling so mightily.”
Report: Suicide Attack on Afghan Funeral Kills Dozens
Dozens of people are believed to have been killed or wounded in a suicide blast on Tuesday at a funeral in eastern Afghanistan, a spokesman for the local government said. The attacker detonated his explosives in the middle of the ceremony, said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province. “Initial information shows about 40 people killed and wounded in the attack,” he added. The attack targeted the funeral ceremony for a local police commander, according to Khogyani.
Gunmen Attack Hospital in Afghan Capital: Gov’t
Israeli Soldier Killed by Rock Thrown in West Bank: Army
Israeli PM Netanyahu Appoints Gilad Erdan as Ambassador to US, UN
Veteran Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan (Likud) has been appointed as Israel’s next ambassador to both the United Nations and the United States. Erdan currently holds the public security, strategic affairs, and information portfolios in the Israeli cabinet.
Saudi Arabia Asks Aramco for Million-Barrel per Day Cut in Oil Output
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Ministry has asked oil giant Aramco to make an additional voluntary output cut of one million barrels per day starting from June to support prices.
New Israeli Gov’t to Be Sworn in on Thursday at 1 PM Israel Time
Kabul Sees String of Roadside Bombs
Four roadside explosive devices went off in less than 90 minutes on Monday in a northern neighborhood of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Four civilians, including a child, were wounded, according to the police.
Northwest Syria Clashes Kill 22 in Highest Toll Since Truce: Monitor
Israel’s President Tasks Netanyahu with Forming Next Government
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday gave a mandate to caretaker Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a government. The move followed a failed attempt at coalition building by Netanyahu’s rival, the centrist Benny Gantz, who, according to an agreement reached last week, will now share prime ministerial duties on a basis of rotation. Gantz explained his willingness to sit in a government with Netanyahu – which he promised voters he would never do owing to the prime minister’s upcoming trial for alleged corruption – by citing the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Israel’s top court turned down several petitions calling on it to block Netanyahu from leading a government, even on a rotational basis.
International Tourism to Plunge Up to 80% Due to Virus: UN
Israel’s Top Court Dismisses Anti-Netanyahu Petitions, New Gov’t Due May 13
The Israeli High Court of Justice late on Wednesday ruled against petitioners seeking to block Binyamin Netanyahu from leading the next government due to his upcoming corruption trial. It also turned down requests to invalidate the political agreements that led to a proposed governing coalition. Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, quickly issued a joint statement with his rival-cum-partner, the centrist Benny Gantz, saying the government, which will see them alternate as prime minister, is to be sworn in on May 13.
Backing by Washington for Israeli Annexations Conditional on Peace Talks Push
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tells The Jerusalem Post that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will have to agree to negotiate with the Palestinians over statehood in the remaining areas of the West Bank if the US is to back any Israeli annexations. Previously, the conditions called for by a US peace plan were somewhat unclear on this aspect, other than saying that Washington favored Palestinian statehood in about 70% of the territory.
Syrian Death Toll Rises to 14 from Airstrikes Attributed to Israel
Israel is being blamed for two airstrikes in Syria that were carried out overnight between Monday and Tuesday. One of those attacks, in the eastern Deir Ezzor region, is said to have killed 14 people, all Iranian troops or members of Iran-backed militias. The other airstrike was reportedly directed against targets in northwestern Syria. Israel has remained mum on the matter, although its defense minister has openly hinted that such attacks would be his policy.
Nasrallah Condemns German Ban of Hezbollah
The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement on Monday condemned Germany’s ban of his group as bowing to US pressure and insisted it was not active in the country.
The ban, announced last Thursday, was a “political decision that reflects Germany’s submission to America’s will and to pleasing Israel,” Hassan Nasrallah said.
“When we say we are not active in Germany, we are being 100% honest,” he said in a televised speech.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion to The Media Line: Mahane Yehuda Market, Closed by Coronavirus Restrictions, to Reopen Friday
Berlin Outlaws Hizbullah
Germany’s Interior Ministry has banned all activity undertaken by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hizbullah on German soil. Previously, only activity that could be traced to the Iran-backed group’s armed wing had been banned, a policy that parallels the current European Union stance. Now, even activity linked to its political wing is considered illegal.
Truck Bomb Kills More than 20 in Northern Syria
The explosive device was apparently inside an oil tanker, which exploded in the city of Afrin.
West Bank Teen Stabs Woman in Israel
Israeli police say a 19-year-old male from the West Bank stabbed a 62-year-old woman in the city of Kfar Saba on Tuesday, the country’s Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and terror victims. The woman was described as being in serious condition. The assailant was shot and, according to medical sources, lightly wounded by a passer-by. He is now in custody and receiving medical treatment.
SANA: 3 Civilians Killed, 4 Wounded in Overnight Israeli Airstrike Near Damascus
US Envoy Calls for Afghan ‘Humanitarian Ceasefire’ to Fight Virus
Israel: Netanyahu, Gantz Sign Unity Gov’t Deal
After nearly 18 months of political gridlock, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has inked a deal to form a goverment with his former rival, Benny Gantz. Barring any judicial intervention, Netanyahu, who is under indictment, is expected to continue serving in his capacity for the next 18 months before stepping aside for Gantz.
Saudi Arabia to Raise Oil Exports to Record 10.6M Barrels Per Day from May: Official
Israeli PM Netanyahu to Enter Quarantine
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and close staff members will enter a self-imposed quarantine after aide Rivka Paluch, the prime minister’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, tested positive for the coronavirus overnight Monday. The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that Netanyahu will be isolated until an “epidemiological investigation is completed” and will then take appropriate measures based on test results.
British PM Johnson Tests Positive for Coronavirus
No. 10 Downing Street reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, and is experiencing mild symptoms.
Report: Unity Gov’t Deal Takes Shape in Israel, Blue & White to Split
Israel media sources report that a deal to form a national unity government is coming together. According to the reports, Binyanim Netanyahu would continue to serve as prime minister for the coming 18 months, after which Blue and White leader Benny Gantz would head the government. Until the unity deal is finalized, Gantz would serve as Knesset speaker. He is expected to take the foreign affairs portfolio in the new government, with fellow Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi serving as defense minister. Yair Lapid, Blue and White co-chairman and head of the Yesh Atid party, would serve as opposition leader in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Two Rockets Hit Baghdad’s Green Zone: Iraq Military
Speaker of Israel’s Parliament Resigns Rather than Obey Ruling by Top Court
Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, tendered his resignation on Wednesday morning rather than submit to a Supreme Court ruling that he allow a legislative vote aimed at replacing him. His unwillingness to allow the vote has been part of a greater issue of political deadlock and efforts by the country’s centrist Blue and White list to unseat his Likud party from power.
Japanese PM, IOC President Agree to Postpone Olympics Until No Later Than Summer 2021
Iran’s Coronavirus Death Toll Close to 2,000
Iran is reporting 122 additional deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus, bringing the country’s total to 1,934. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization says 85% of all new cases are in Europe and the United States.
Emirates to Suspend ‘Most’ Flights by March 25
The Dubai-based airline walked back an announcement made earlier on Sunday that it would stop all passenger operations, saying it had bowed to “requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travelers” and would maintain some routes “as long as borders remain open and there is demand.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Orders 2-Week West Bank Lockdown
Iranian Health Ministry: 129 New COVID-19 Deaths, Raising National Toll to 1,685
Israel Registers First COVID-19 Death, 25% Overnight Jump in Cases
An 88-year-old male resident of senior-citizen housing in Jerusalem became Israel’s first coronavirus fatality overnight between Friday and Saturday. An 89-year-old woman from the same housing facility is in critical condition, as are four other people in the country. As of Saturday, Israeli health authorities were reporting 883 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the official name given the respiratory illness by the World Health Organization, a 25% overnight jump being attributed at least in part to an increase in testing.
Israel Imposes New, Stricter Coronavirus Guidelines
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says all people aside from essential personnel are being asked to remain at home for at least the next seven days, except for those who require food or pharmaceuticals. He said it would be short of a curfew but that authorities would clamp down on those ignoring the directives.
Eurovision Song Contest 2020 Canceled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic: European Broadcasting Union
Jordan Announces National Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Pandemic: State Media
Iraqi President Names ex-Najaf Governor Adnan Zurfi as PM-designate
Iran Temporarily Frees 85,000 Prisoners Amid Virus Outbreak
An Iranian judiciary spokesman says the country has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Rockets Hit Iraq Base Hosting Foreign Troops: Military
Israel Sends Workers Home in Hopes of Reducing Spread of Coronavirus
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announces that 70-80% of employees in both the public and private sectors will either work from home or go on unpaid leave until at least mid-April, with only essential services remaining at full strength. As of Monday night, with coronavirus testing moving into higher gear, the number of confirmed cases in the country stood at 298, with no deaths.
Iran Reports 129 New COVID-19 Deaths, Country Total Now 853
Israel’s Gantz Tasked with Forming Gov’t, Calls for ‘Unity’
Bahrain Records First Coronavirus Death in Gulf: Ministry
Jordan’s King Abdullah Tests Negative for Coronavirus
The Hashemite Kingdom has seven confirmed cases, the latest six being announced on Sunday as involving two Jordanian citizens and four French tourists.
Moroccan Foreign Ministry: All Int’l Passenger Flights Suspended Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
WHO Confirms More Than 150,000 COVID-19 Cases Globally
Iran Reports 113 New Coronavirus Deaths, Raising Total to 724
Israel’s Joint List Meets President, Recommends Gantz for PM
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with the Arab-majority Joint List this morning, to hear its recommendation for prime minister. The entire list recommended Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, paving the way for a possible center-left government.
Israel Delays Start of Netanyahu Corruption Trial till Late May
The Jerusalem court that will try Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of public trust in three separate corruption cases announced on Sunday that it was delaying the start of the trial from Tuesday until May 24. It cited new government restrictions on public assemblies due to the spread of coronavirus.
US Hits Iran-backed Iraqi Militia Believed Responsible for Fatal Rocket Attack
US air strikes overnight between Thursday and Friday targeted Kataib Hizbullah, one of several Shi’ite militias known collectively as the Popular Mobilization Forces, according to a Pentagon statement.
World Health Organization Declares Coronavirus Outbreak a Global Pandemic
Health Ministry: Qatar’s Coronavirus Cases Jump by 238 in One Day
El Al to Place 80% of Entire Workforce on Unpaid Leave: Report
Jordan Bars Entry from Israel, West Bank, Iraq, Egypt Due to Coronavirus
Israel: Arrivals from Abroad Must Go Straight to 14-day Quarantine
Starting Thursday night, non-Israelis will be allowed to enter only if they can prove they have a place to quarantine themselves, according to the Health Ministry. The new policy goes into effect for returning citizens immediately, with a review in another two weeks.
2 US Soldiers Killed in Iraq Clashes with IS: Coalition
Two American soldiers fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq were killed during an operation alongside Iraqi forces, the coalition against the jihadists said Monday.
“Two US service members were killed by enemy forces … during a mission to eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold in a mountainous area of northcentral Iraq, March 8,” the coalition said in a statement.
Saudi Aramco Stock Price Tumbles 10% at Opening of Trade
State Media: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok Survives Assassination Attempt in Khartoum
Saudis Close Off Shi’ite Region over Coronavirus Outbreak
Saudi Arabia has placed the eastern, mostly Shi’ite province of Qatif on lockdown following the confirmation of four more cases of coronavirus. The kingdom had remained mostly untouched by the epidemic, but now has a total of 11 confirmed cases, all in Qatif, and all among people who had either traveled to Iran or come in close contact with those who did. Iran is considered the Middle East’s epicenter for coronavirus, with close to 200 confirmed deaths as of Sunday.
Bahrain Rules Out Spectators for March 22 Grand Prix
The Gulf state is citing coronavirus as the reason the second round of this year’s Formula 1 circuit will only be televised. “As an F1 host nation, balancing the welfare of supporters and racegoers is a tremendous responsibility,” it said in a Sunday morning statement. “Given the continued spread of COVID-19 globally, convening a major sporting event, which is open to the public and allows thousands of international travelers and local fans to interact in close proximity, would not be the right thing to do at the present time.”
Erdogan, Putin Announce Cease-fire for Syria’s Idlib Province
Decision made during meeting in Moscow. Truce to go into effect at midnight local time.