Feb 17, 2019

Scoop: Netanyahu held secret meeting with Morocco's foreign minister

Netanyahu speaks at the UN General Assembly. Photo: Xinhua/Qin Lang via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York last September, an Israeli official told me.

Why it matters: Israel hasn't had diplomatic relations with Morocco since start of the second intifada in 2000. The two countries had full diplomatic relations between 1995 and 2000 after the Oslo Accords were signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

  • An Israeli official told me that Netanyahu stressed in the meeting that Israel wants to normalize relations with Morocco. He also said that he is interested in visiting Morocco publicly — like the visit he made in November to Oman.
  • Netanyahu and Bourita also discussed efforts to counter Iranian actions in the region, the official told me. Morocco has cut ties with Iran over alleged Iranian attempts to meddle in Moroccan internal affairs.
  • Netanyahu's office did not deny this account and told me: "We do not comment on contacts with countries Israel has no formal relations with."

Go deeper: Israeli report says Saudis won't back Trump peace plan without concessions

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
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Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.