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Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Vladimir Putin in 2018. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

Officials from the U.S., Russia, EU and UN will hold a video-conference today to discuss the possibility of an international meeting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Western diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: The meeting comes amid escalating tensions, with Israel threatening to move forward with annexations in the West Bank and Palestinian leaders announcing the suspension of all agreements with Israel and the U.S., including on security coordination.

The backstory: Russia has been working, with the support of the UN and the EU, to facilitate an international meeting that would include several countries in addition to the U.S. and the Palestinians.

  • Western diplomats think such a meeting could provide a path to a new political process that slows or stops Israel's moves toward annexation.
  • Contacts between the U.S. and the Palestinians have been frozen for 2.5 years, since Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
  • Israel's new government, meanwhile, wants to take up the annexation issue within months.

The latest: Palestinian newspaper “Al-Ayyam” reports that UN Secretary General António Guterres called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of a ministerial-level meeting, to be held under UN auspices.

  • Guterres said the meeting would include ministers from the U.S., Russia, EU, UN and several Arab states, and asked if the Palestinians would be willing to attend.
  • Abbas said the Palestinians would not agree to such a meeting if it was held on the basis of President Trump's peace plan, which the Palestinians emphatically reject.
  • That will likely be a sticking point with the White House, which wants any meeting to take place around Trump's plan.

Today's conference call will focus on the possibility of putting the meeting together. The U.S. will be represented on the call by White House special envoy Avi Berkowitz.

Go deeper: Israeli ambassador lobbies for annexation, fearing Biden victory

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2020 - World

Kushner to take first Israel-UAE flight, launch normalization talks

Kushner (center) at the announcement of the normalization deal. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Jared Kushner will travel next Monday on the first direct commercial flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi following a U.S.-brokered normalization agreement, the White House and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced.

Why it matters: Kushner’s trip will facilitate the beginning of direct talks on various aspects of the Israel-UAE normalization process amid tensions over a pending sale of F-35 jets from the U.S. to the UAE.

Updated 9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

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