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A sign points the way to the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Photo: Sergey Orlov\TASS via Getty Images

Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania, in coordination with Israel, today blocked a joint EU statement criticizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli officials and European diplomats told me.

Behind the scenes: The initiative to publish the statement was led by France and several other EU member states. Israeli officials say the goal was to present to the U.S. a common position against the move by all 28 member states, and to embarrass and isolate the Trump administration ahead of Monday's ceremony.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials, the draft statement circulated in European capitals had three points:

  1. Jerusalem should be the capital of both states — Israel and the future state of Palestine.
  2. The final status of Jerusalem should be negotiated and only determined through negotiations between the parties.
  3. The member states of the EU will not follow the U.S. and will not move their embassies to Jerusalem.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials the French and other member states wanted to publish the statement today as a statement by the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini supported by all 28 EU members.

  • But earlier today, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania announced they object to the statement and made it impossible to reach the consensus needed to publish it.
  • A senior European diplomat told me with a lot of frustration: "The Hungarians didn’t want to poke Trump in the eye and the Czechs and the Romanians are considering to move their embassies to Jerusalem against the EU position. This is the state of the EU these days".  

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U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

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Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

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Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.