News 2020


Yemen’s President Announces New Power-Sharing Gov’t

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen announced a new power-sharing cabinet that would include southern separatists in the internationally recognized government, part of a deal to end a power struggle between the nominal allies. The government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, based in the southern port of Aden, and the separatists are allies within the coalition, which has been at war against the Iran-aligned Houthis that have controlled the capital Sanaa since 2014. However, the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared self-rule in Aden earlier this year, and the two sides have been fighting in the south, complicating UN efforts to forge a permanent ceasefire in the overall conflict. The new government followed 2 weeks of separation of forces and redeployment of troops in the south that would see their return to battlefronts with the Houthis in the north and to outside Aden, the heavily disputed port city. The clashes within the anti-Houthi camp were one factor holding up UN efforts to negotiate a nationwide ceasefire to pave the way for a resumption of political negotiations, last held in December 2018, to end the wider war. Riyadh has struggled to prevent another front developing among its allies in Yemen’s multifaceted war, which has been locked in military stalemate for years. The conflict, widely seen in the region as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, has killed more than 100,000 people and caused what the UN says is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.



Morocco to Establish Full Diplomatic Relations with Israel

Morocco has agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. As part of the deal, the US will recognize the Western Sahara as part of Morocco. Under the normalization agreement, Morocco will open a diplomatic office in Israel and Israel will open a diplomatic office in Morocco. In addition, direct flights will be held between the two countries. 


Biden Plans to Tap Lloyd Austin, Former Iraq Commander, as Defense Secretary


President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is expected to nominate retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, a former commander of the American military effort in Iraq, to be the next secretary of defense, according to two people with knowledge of the selection. If confirmed by the Senate, General Austin would make history as the first African-American to lead the country’s 1.3 million active-duty troops and the enormous bureaucracy that backs them up.


Macron: Will Sell Arms to Egypt Irrespective of Rights

French President Macron said he would not condition the sale of weapons to Egypt on human rights because he did not want to weaken Cairo’s ability to counter terrorism in the region




New UK-Israel defense agreement. Israel and Britain have signed an agreement for further cooperation between the IDF and the British Armed Forces that will see the two militaries cooperate in a variety of fields, including training and defense education. Cooperation will include defense-oriented medical training



Israel and Bahrain signed three deals to boost trade and tourism in the latest example of quickly growing ties between Israel and Gulf states.


Hebrew language and Israeli culture institute opens in UAE

First-of-its-kind school opening in 4 locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for businesspeople interested in Israeli conversation, culture and cuisine.


Greece, UAE Sign Political, Defense Agreements

Greece and the UAE signed a foreign policy and defense agreement as their mutual tensions with Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea continue. Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis visited Abu Dhabi and signed a “strategic partnership” and an “agreement on joint foreign policy and defense cooperation,” he said in a tweet. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed met with Mitsotakis. Nahyan said on Twitter that the UAE and Greece established a partnership on political, economic and cultural cooperation. Neither countries’ Foreign Ministry has released details on what exactly was in the agreement. The two leaders discussed terrorism and Turkey’s actions in the region at the meeting, according to Greek Reporter. Greece is an important European ally for the UAE. Lately, their interests have converged on the issue of Turkey’s foreign policy in the region. In Libya, the UAE backs the Libyan National Army against Turkey’s ally, the Government of National Accord. In the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey is currently conducting energy drilling in what Greece and Cyprus say are their territorial waters. 




Cyprus, Israel, and Greece Agree to Boost Defense Cooperation

The defense ministers of Greece, Israel and Cyprus agreed to step up military cooperation they said will keep their armed forces better prepared, help create more jobs and bolster security. Defense Minister Benny Gantz said it was agreed during talks in Nicosia to “promote large-scale industry cooperation that will bolster our defense abilities and create thousands of jobs for all three economies.”




Khalifa Bin Salman al-Khalifa, Leader Of Bahrain’s Government, Dies At 84


Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who ran Bahrain’s government as prime minister for nearly five decades while defending the ruling dynasty and quashing opposition, died. At his death, Prince Khalifa, a brother of Bahrain’s previous monarch and uncle of its current king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, was the world’s longest-serving prime minister.



I24 News

Israel Expects Oman to Announce Normalization Next

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. 

I24 News


Times of Israel

Israel, Sudan to Reach Final Agreement to Normalize Ties

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.




Trump: U.S. to Remove Sudan From Terrorism List 

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.


I24 News

Netanyahu Meets 1st UAE Delegation for Historic Signing

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.” 



Knesset Endorses UAE Deal by Large Majority; Netanyahu: Palestinians Will ‘Sober Up’


Israeli lawmakers endorsed on Thursday the normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates by a large majority, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Knesset he “still believe that the Palestinians will one day sober up.” The 80-13 vote took place at the end of a lengthy debate, where the prime minister, leader of the opposition Yair Lapid, and other lawmakers spoke.



Israeli and Lebanese Officials Hold First Border Negotiations in 30 Years


Israeli and Lebanese officials on Wednesday morning sat down in the same room — or tent, to be exact — for indirect maritime border negotiations in what has been called a “historic” achievement with the potential to bring more stability and prosperity to the region. However, both countries have stressed that the talks, which lasted for about two hours, are merely aimed at resolving a decade-old dispute on the exact delineation of each other’s territorial waters in an area that may contain undersea natural gas reserves, and do not presage peace negotiations or a normalization process.



Times of Israel

Israel and Hamas Said to Reach a 6-Month Ceasefire

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.


Kuwait’s Cabinet Hands in Resignation, Emir Asks PM to Prepare for Election


Kuwait’s new emir has asked the Gulf state’s cabinet to carry on its duties and prepare for parliamentary elections due this year after the prime minister handed in his government’s resignation, state news agency KUNA reported on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah met Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who assumed power last Wednesday, and as per the country’s constitution “submitted his resignation and that of his government to ensure ministerial responsibilities are held by those who enjoy the emir’s confidence”, KUNA said.

Jerusalem: From Past Divisions to a Shared Future?
Tuesday 27th October 2020
10am – 6pm GMT

Click here to reserve your place at our one-day online conference.

The conference is free but please consider a donation to the charity to keep us going.

For hundreds of millions of followers of the three Abrahamic faiths around the world Jerusalem is a sacred city. Being able to access freely its holy places is for them of primordial importance. And, for Palestinians, East Jerusalem must be the capital of their future state. Putting the city back on the table is the purpose of this major conference. Inclusive, not exclusive, solutions will be sought by a range of distinguished expert speakers.

  • Rt Hon Alistair Burt, former FCO Minister for the Middle East, and foreign affairs consultant
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy Q.C., Barrister and human rights lawyer, former Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford
  • Daniel Levy, President, US/Middle East Project, regional expert and former peace negotiator
  • Rula Salameh, Education and Outreach Director, Palestine, Just Vision, documentary film-maker and East Jerusalem women’s leader
  • Daniel Seidemann, Founder, Terrestrial Jerusalem, Israeli lawyer and world-leading expert on the city
  • Professor Avi Shlaim, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, Oxford, and distinguished historian of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

10.00 – 10.10:        Introduction
Welcome: Sir Vincent Fean (BP Chair of Trustees)10.10 – 11.20:        Session I: History
Chair: Andrew Whitley (BP Trustee)
Keynote Speaker: Avi Shlaim
Panellists: Menachem Klein & Mick Dumper11.20 – 11.25:        Break11.25 – 12.35:        Session II: International Law and Human Rights
Chair: John McHugo (BP Trustee)
Keynote Speaker:  Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Panellists: Iain Scobbie & Daniel Seidemann12.35 – 13.30:        Lunch Break13.30 – 14.45:        Session III: Religion and the Holy Sites
Chair: Bishop Michael Doe (BP Executive Committee)
Keynote Speaker: Daniel Seidemann
Panellists: Rabbi Jeremy Gordon & Imam Monawar Hussain & Bishop Christopher Chessun14.45 – 14.50:        Break14.50 – 16.05:        Session IV: Contemporary Realities and Plans to Share the City
Chair: Imad Karam (BP Trustee)
Keynote Speaker: Daniel Levy
Panellists: Rula Salameh & Yudith Oppenheimer16.05 – 16.10:        Break16.10 – 17.15:        Session V: Britain’s Role in the Coming Years
Chair: Sir Vincent Fean (BP Chair of Trustees)
Keynote Speaker: Rt Hon Alistair Burt
Panellists: Conservative MP, Labour MP, LibDem MP, SNP MP17.15 – 17.20:        Break17.20 – 17.55:        Session VI: Questions and Answers17.55 – 18.00:        Closing Remarks 
Sir Vincent Fean


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. 


Israeli Delegation Heads to Bahrain to Formulate Peace Deal

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. 

Palestinian Funding From Arab Countries Dropped in 2020

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

Persepolis (12A)
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

Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Leader Ousted in Arab Spring, Dies at 91


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.

U.S. to stop aid in Yemen’s Houthi areas if rebels don’t budge


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.

U.N. reiterates support for 2-state Israel-Palestine solution


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.

Netanyahu says authorizing 3,500 settler homes in West Bank’s E1


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 Government Wins Confidence Vote From Parliament


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.

Poll Finds Palestinians Overwhelmingly Reject Trump Plan


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.

Yent News

Abbas, Olmert Denounce Trump’s Peace Plan in Rare Joint Address

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

Lebanon Announces New Government


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.

Netanyahu seeks green light from White House to annex Jordan Valley


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.