The next Arab country most likely to sign a normalization deal with Israel is Oman. Washington and Jerusalem are working extensively to make the deal come to pass before the US election. However, due to Oman’s recent appointment of new Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, Israeli officials cast doubt an announcement would arrive in the next 10 days as Oman is interested not to haste with its decision-making. Despite there not being formal relations between Israel and Oman, both have been conducting behind-the-scenes relations for some time. 2 years ago, Netanyahu visited Oman and met with the former Sultan, Qaboos bin Said.
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun nominated former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri to form a new government. After winning the backing of the majority of lawmakers during presidential consultations, Hariri has now to form the next cabinet. He was not backed by the Hezbollah terrorist group, which said it would not nominate anybody, although the Shi’ite Amal movement came out in his support. The Lebanese Forces, one of Lebanon’s key Christian parties and Hezbollah’s rival, did not back him either. The nomination also comes almost a year since Hariri himself resigned, facing a tidal wave of protests against government corruption and inefficiency. While Lebanon’s political system is designed to give some leverage to each of its religious factions, with Maronite Christians holding the presidency, Sunnis holding the PPM office and Shi’ites in control of the parliament speaker position, the protests that rocked Lebanon last fall were largely cross-sectarian, despite isolated clashes.
Times of Israel
Israel and Sudan will announce the establishment of diplomatic ties over the weekend or early next week in a US-brokered deal, Hebrew media reported, citing officials involved in the negotiations. The announcement will likely come after a phone call between President Trump, Sudan’s transitional leader Lt. Gen. al-Burhan, Sudan’s Prime Minister Hamdok and Prime Minister Netanyahu. The breakthrough comes after a high-level Israeli-US delegation traveled to Sudan for covert negotiations on the normalization of ties between Khartoum and Jerusalem. Israeli officials have long expressed a wish for better relations with Khartoum. But Sudanese officials had been rejecting the US effort to tie Khartoum’s removal from the blacklist to its normalizing ties with Israel.
Israeli representatives visited Sudan on Wednesday ahead of Khartoum’s declaration of normalization of ties with Israel.
President Trump announced the U.S. would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism as soon as Khartoum sets aside the $335m it has agreed to pay to American victims of militant attacks and their families. The deal could also set in motion steps by Sudan toward establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, according to a U.S. official. U.S.-Sudanese negotiations have focused on funds that Washington wants Khartoum to deposit in escrow to be paid for victims of al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, U.S. gov’t sources said. A Sudanese gov’t source said Khartoum was ready to pay compensation to American victims. While Trump can act on his own to remove Sudan from the list, congressional legislation is needed to ensure the flow of payments to embassy bombing victims and their families – and immediate action on Capitol Hill is far from certain.
Netanyahu met a delegation of top UAE senior officials at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to cement a historic agreement cementing economic ties. The event marked the first official visit made by UAE diplomats to Israel since the landmark normalization agreement, known as the Abraham Accords, were signed at the White House on September 15. Israel and the UAE also signed a visa waiver treaty marking the first time the Jewish state has reached such an agreement with an Arab country. Accompanied by Israeli Foreign Minister Ashkenazi, Netanyahu also welcomed US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who earlier this week accompanied an Israeli delegation to Bahrain where the two sides cemented a separate normalization agreement in Manama. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE delegation – led by its finance and economy ministers – were restricted to the airport and will remain on the grounds for their fie-hour visit. In opening remarks made before the international press, Netanyahu welcomed Israel’s newest Gulf Arab partner to Israel, and asked the delegation to “please convey to… [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan] our deep appreciation for his groundbreaking leadership.”
Times of Israel
Israel and Hamas reached a truce agreement mediated by Qatar that will see quiet for 6 months, Channel 12 news reported. In return, Qatar will transfer $100 million to Hamas in a deal coordinated with Doha by Mossad head Yossi Cohen alongside the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. Qatar’s envoy to Gaza, has regularly visited the strip in recent years with Israeli approval, bringing funds for purchasing fuel, paying civil servants and helping Gaza’s poor. The most recent set of funding was set to run out within weeks. With the exception of 2 incidents of rocket fire, an unofficial agreement between Israel and Hamas has mainly held since the end of August, when Hamas Gaza chief’s office announced that the terror group had accepted ceasefire terms negotiated by Qatar. Israel tacitly indicated its consent by lifting the restrictions imposed on the Strip since the beginning of the August escalation in violence. The recent understandings were not welcomed by local Israeli leaders in the south. See also ‘‘90% of Arab World on Social Media Against Normalization – Israeli Study’’ (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S.-brokered “Abraham Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel” was signed on Sept. 15 at the White House. Today the Israeli Cabinet unanimously approved Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to submit the Abraham Accords for Knesset approval prior to its submission to the Cabinet for ratification.
24 September 2020
Israel will sell natural gas to Egypt and Jordan as part of a deal estimated at $30b
Israel will sell natural gas to Egypt and Jordan as part of a $30b deal. Israel is one of seven countries that launched the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum at an event organized by Cairo, the seat of the forum’s headquarters. Ambassadors from forum members Italy, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Cyprus, and the Palestinian Authority, tuned in from Cairo. The ambassadors of three other countries interested in joining the forum – France as a member state and the US and the EU– also participated. The EMGF was established by Israel Energy Minister Steinitz and Egyptian Energy Minister Tarek el-Molla as an informal grouping after Israel and Egypt discovered offshore natural gas fields.
An Israeli delegation of high-ranked officials left for Bahrain to discuss the final details of the historic peace agreement between the countries, Walla News reported. The mission to Manama was decided during a phone call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs participated last week in the landmark Abraham Accords ceremony at the White House, alongside his Emirati counterpart. The signing in Washington, however, constituted only a “declaration of peace” — not a formal peace agreement. The Israeli expedition is headed by Acting Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office and Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, alongside senior officials of the National Security Council and of other gov’t ministries. Jerusalem and Manama are set to formulate a detailed peace agreement that will cover a range of areas, according to Walla News.
According to The New Arab’s Arabic-language and data from the Palestinian finance ministry service, Ramallah has received no aid from Arab countries since March, in addition to a 50% decrease in foreign aid. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki examined the reasons behind the fall in funding claiming that “most of the Arab countries did not abide by the decisions of the Arab summits to provide a financial safety net for Palestine in the face of US and Israeli sanctions.” This financial situation happened amid the pandemic, but also during a period when normalization agreements were being negotiated. President Trump told Netanyahu that he had “asked the rich Arab countries not to pay the Palestinians”, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. European Parliamentarians have called for a thorough investigation into how European taxpayers’ money is ending up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists, insisting that any loopholes in the law through which the money is slipping must be closed.
Hundreds of people joined convoys on the streets of Beirut this month for the annual commemoration of Bashir Gemayel, the Christian militia leader and Lebanese president assassinated in 1982. But this year’s parade erupted into chaos when supporters of two rival Christian groups — the Lebanese Forces who had organised the event and Lebanese president Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement — clashed. While nobody was seriously hurt, the Lebanese army intervened to break up the latest in a spate of armed clashes that have fuelled fears of a deteriorating security situation as politicians struggle to form a new government in the wake of last month’s catastrophic port explosion.
10 March 2020
Celebrating Iranian Cinema Saturday 21 March – Tuesday 7 April
Saturday 21 March, 5.30pm (Tickets £8-£6)
Persepolis is the autobiographical tale of Marjane, and her experiences as a young girl coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Based on Satrapi’s graphic novels, this striking animation covers her childhood in Iran, her escape to an education in Vienna and then a bittersweet return to her native country.
Raving Iran (18)
Saturday 28 March, 2pm (Tickets £8-£6)
Anoosh and Arash are at the center of Tehran’s underground techno scene. Tired of hiding from the police and their stagnating career, they organise one last manic techno rave under dangerous circumstances in the desert. Back in Tehran they try selling their illegally printed album without permission. When Anoosh is arrested, there seems to be no hope left. But then they receive a phone call from the biggest techno festival in the world. Once landed in Switzerland, the haze of the instant euphoria evaporates quickly when the seriousness of the situation starts to dawn on them.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (15)
Wednesday 1 April, 7.45pm (Tickets £8-£6)
The first Iranian Vampire Western. Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps and other sordid souls, is a place that reeks of death and hopelessness, where a lonely vampire is stalking the town’s most unsavoury inhabitants. But when boy meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom… blood red
A Separation (PG)
Sunday 5 April, 1pm (Tickets £8-£6)
A Separation is a suspenseful and intelligent drama detailing the fractures and tensions at the heart of Iranian society. When his wife leaves him, Nader hires a young woman to take care of his suffering father. But he doesn’t know his new maid is not only pregnant, but also working without her unstable husband’s permission. Soon, Nader finds himself entangled in a web of lies manipulation and public confrontations.
The Cow (18)
Tuesday 7 April, 7.15pm (Tickets £6)
We are delighted to be hosting a very rare screening of the Iranian New Wave classic, The Cow. In a small village in Iran, Hassan cherishes his cow more than anything in the world. While he is away, the cow mysteriously dies, and the villagers protectively try to convince Hassan the cow has wandered off. Grief stricken; Hassan begins to believe he is his own beloved bovine.
24 February 2020
THE NEW YORK TIMES • MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Hosni Mubarak, the former autocratic president of Egypt, whose hold on power was broken and place in history upended by a public uprising against the poverty, corruption and repressive police tactics that came to define his 30 years in office, died on Tuesday. He was 91. His death was confirmed by state TV.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • MAGGIE MICHAEL
USAID said late Monday that it will suspend aid to Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen, where most of the country’s people live, if the rebels don’t remove impediments obstructing aid operations. In a statement, the agency said it informed partners including U.N. agencies about the plan last week. It said the suspension will start in late March if Houthis take no action. “We continue to do everything we can to avoid a reduction in aid in northern Yemen,” the agency said.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • EDITH M. LEDERER
The U.N. Security Council on Monday reiterated its support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in its first statement following the unveiling of the U.S. plan for resolving the decades-old struggle three weeks ago. President Donald Trump ‘s plan sided with Israel on most of the conflict’s main sticking points, and the Palestinians rejected it outright. The U.N. statement, which was approved by all 15 council members including the U.S., made no mention of Trump’s plan. It also didn’t directly address Palestinian demands for an independent state including all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem — areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war — and the removal of many of the more than 700,000 Israeli settlers from these areas.
THE JERUSALEM POST • TOVAH LAZAROFF
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he plans to authorize the construction of 3,500 homes in an undeveloped area of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement known as E1. “We are building up Jerusalem and the outskirts of Jerusalem. I gave an immediate directive, to deposit plans to build of 3,500 housing units in E1,” Netanyahu said.
12 February 2020
Lebanon’s new cabinet won a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday based in part on a financial rescue plan it put forward for grappling with a deep financial crisis. Speaking just before the vote, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said his government’s priority was preserving foreign currency needed for critical imports and that all options for dealing with Eurobonds maturing this year were being studied.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ninety-four percent of Palestinians reject President Donald Trump’s Mideast initiative, according to a poll released Tuesday, which also found plummeting support for a two-state solution with Israel and nearly two-thirds backing armed struggle. The first survey of Palestinian public opinion to be released since Trump’s plan was announced undercuts the administration’s claims that opposition to the plan is largely confined to the Palestinian leadership and raises concerns that the implementation of the proposal, which heavily favors Israel, could ignite a new round of violence.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held a joint press conference in New York on Tuesday where they denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, viewed by Palestinians as largely favoring the Israeli side. The televised address came just hours after Abbas said the U.S. initiative strengthens “the apartheid regime” during a fiery speech at the United Nations Security Council. Olmert and Abbas held negotiations during the former’s term as prime minister. Olmert was forced to resign a decade ago ahead of a corruption indictment that later sent him to prison for 16 months. “The only partner in the Palestinian community that represents the Palestinian people and has manifested that he’s prepared to negotiate,” Olmert said. See also, “ Palestinian Chief and Ex-Israeli PM Show 2 Sides Can Talk” (NYT)
22 January 2020
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL • NAZIH OSSEIRAN AND DION NISSENBAUM
Lebanon announced a new government coalition led by a Hezbollah-backed candidate and establishment figures, prompting protesters who unseated the previous regime to call for more demonstrations as they seek far-reaching changes to the country’s sectarian political system. Hassan Diab, a 61-year-old computer-engineering professor who teaches at the American University of Beirut, will serve as prime minister. He served as education minister from 2011 until 2014.
THE JERUSALEM POST • TOVAH LAZAROFF AND JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his office appealed to the White House on Wednesday for a green light to apply Israeli sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and the northern region of the Dead Sea before the March 2 elections, Kan 11 News reported on Wednesday morning. Netanyahu would otherwise, according to senior Likud officials, have already announced his intention to hold a cabinet vote Sunday and a Knesset vote on the matter Tuesday, the report stated.