Dec 13, 2017

Muslim leaders see Trump's Israel move as withdrawal from peace talks

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses with other leaders of Islamic nations prior to the opening session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Extraordinary Summit in Istanbul. Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said at a meeting of Muslim countries in Istanbul on Wednesday that it's "out of the question for a biased United States to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine," according to Reuters.

Why it matters: In a statement on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website, Reuters reports, the leaders labeled Trump's decision "as an announcement of the U.S. Administration's withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace." Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called it "the greatest crime," per Reuters, and that the U.S. could not longer be trusted to play a part in negotiations due to suspected bias in Israel's favor.

  • Background: More than 50 Muslim countries sent leaders to the meeting in Turkey; an "Istanbul Declaration" given to journalists said that the leaders urged countries to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian territories, Reuters reports.
  • Israel's Channel 10 News reporter, and an Axios contributor, Barak Ravid tweeted a White House reponse on Wednesday to Abbas' remarks: "The United States continues to take no position on any final status and the United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides... We will continue to work on our plan for peace."

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 859,556 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

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The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 858,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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