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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.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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