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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.

15 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

15 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

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