Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Studying the electoral rolls in Ramallah. Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is seriously considering postponing the May 22 parliamentary elections and could announce the move within days, Palestinian and Israeli sources say. The Biden administration is hinting it wouldn't object to such a move.

Why it matters: The May vote would be the first election in the Palestinian Authority in 15 years. A postponement would be a sign of the deep democratic deficit in the West Bank and Gaza and could lead to protests.

  • Abbas and his close aides are concerned they could lose the election and strengthen Hamas.
  • Israel and the Biden administration privately share those concerns.

Driving the news: On Monday, Abbas convened a meeting of the leadership of his Fatah party.

  • In a public statement after the meeting, he stressed his commitment to holding the election on time.
  • But in the meeting itself, he discussed the possibility of postponing it, citing possible interference with voting in East Jerusalem.
  • In another statement, Abbas and the chair of Hamas' political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, stressed that the elections must include Jerusalem. This was a change for Hamas, which hadn't previously held up voting in Jerusalem as a pre-condition for holding the elections. 

The state of play: The Palestinians asked Israel several weeks ago to officially allow the elections to take place in East Jerusalem. Israel neither rejected nor approved the request.

  • Israeli and Palestinian officials say that to this day, Israel hasn’t responded. Netanyahu still hasn’t made a decision on the issue, Israeli officials say.
  • In private talks, Israeli officials have told their U.S. and European counterparts that Israel won't sabotage the election and noted that Israel did allow voting in East Jerusalem in 2006. But they haven't committed to allowing voting this time.
  • Meanwhile, the Israeli police have prevented Palestinian candidates from holding election rallies and press conferences in Jerusalem and even arrested several candidates.

Behind the scenes: Abbas had been telling foreign dignitaries that the Biden administration pressed him to hold the elections. When U.S. officials got wind of that, they asked Abbas and his aides to stop because it wasn’t true, sources familiar with the issue told me.

  • The Biden administration isn’t pressing the Palestinians to postpone the elections either, but it is signaling it would not object.
  • “We have taken a consistent position that the exercise of democratic elections is a matter for the Palestinian government and people to determine, not the U.S. government. That remains our position. It is up to the Palestinians to determine how to proceed," a senior U.S. official told me.

What they're saying: Abbas' adviser Nabil Shaath told An-Nahar newspaper on Tuesday that the elections could be postponed if Israel doesn't respond to the Palestinian request — the first time a Palestinian official raised the possibility of postponement publicly.

  • Palestinian and Israeli officials said Shaath’s statement reflects Abbas’ thinking.
  • “The penny finally dropped, and Abbas finally understood he is way over his head, that his party is weak and divided and that the price of postponing the elections could be lower than continuing with it," an Israeli official said.

What’s next: Palestinian sources say Abbas is now looking for a public explanation for a potential postponement, and East Jerusalem is the likely rationale. Hamas' view on a delay is less clear.

Go deeper

Updated 45 mins ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

Olympics medal tracker

Data: International Olympic Committee; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. students fell 4 to 5 months behind during pandemic

An empty classroom in Pinole, Calif. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Elementary school students in the U.S. ended the school year four to five months behind their expected level of academic achievement, according to a new report.

Why it matters: Months of school closures and often inferior remote education eroded what schoolchildren would have learned since the pandemic began, and caused some to go backwards.