Jun 2, 2018

Israel denies new deal with Russia in Syria

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Israel denied claims today by Russian officials and reports in Arab media outlets about new understandings that were allegedly reached about the situation in Southern Syria. An Israeli official told me that no deal was reached with the Russians so far.

Why it matters: The Syrian army is about to start a military operation against rebels in Southern Syria near the Israeli and Jordanian borders, which would violate a ceasefire deal signed by the U.S., Russia and Jordan last July.

The state of play: The Russians want to update the deal because of the Syrian army operation. Israel, the U.S. and Jordan are open to the Russian proposal but want to make sure it will include a firm commitment from the Russians that Iranian forces, Hezbollah and Shia militias will not take part in the operation and will be completely removed from the areas close to the Israeli and Jordanian borders. 

What they're saying: Russian ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya told reporters in New York on Friday that an agreement on disengagement in the Southwest part of Syria was reached with Israel.

  • He added: "Whether it has been implemented as of now I can not answer, but I understand that the parties that were involved in reaching the agreement are satisfied with what they reached. If it has not been done by now it will be done in the near future."

An Israeli official told me: "The Russian attitude towards getting the Iranians out of Syria is much more positive than before. The Russians are moving in the right direction but until now we only heard ideas from the them and we haven’t seen anything on paper. The devil is in the details and the big test is the implementation."

The details: The Israeli official added that Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed in his phone call with Russian president Putin on Thursday and in his phone calls with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday and Friday that Israel wants the Iranian forces, Hezbollah and Shia militias out of the entire Syrian territory and not simply out of the areas close to the Israeli border.

  • The official said that Netanyahu told Putin and Pompeo Israel will maintain full freedom of operation against Iranian military entrenchment attempts anywhere in Syria.

Go deeper: U.S. and Israel coordinate terms for new deal in Southern Syria

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,094,068 — Total deaths: 58,773 — Total recoveries: 225,519Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 273,880 — Total deaths: 7,077 — Total recoveries: 9,521Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: Wisconsin's governor called for a last-minute primary election delay. "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said on the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
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Government will cover uninsured patients' coronavirus treatment

Azar at Friday's briefing. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government will cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a White House briefing Friday.

How it works: The money will come from a $100 billion pot set aside for the health care industry in the most recent stimulus bill. Providers will be paid the same rates they get for treating Medicare patients, and as a condition of those payments, they won't be allowed to bill patients for care that isn't covered.

More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists. The order goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will remain in place through April 30. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a statewide social distancing order on Friday.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

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