Prince Faisal bin Farhan. Photo: John MacDougall, Pool/Getty Images

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan said Wednesday that the kingdom supports peace in the Middle East on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalization with Israel to be paired with withdrawal from the occupied territories and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Why it matters: This could be interpreted as a cool initial response to the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the UAE.

Between the lines: Israeli officials said they'd hoped for a warmer reaction to the deal from Saudi Arabia, which has refrained from either praising or criticizing it. The Israeli government hopes Saudi Arabia, a secret ally in Israel's efforts to counter Iran, might follow the UAE in recognizing Israel.

  • During a press conference in Berlin with his German counterpart, the Saudi foreign minister also warned that unilateral Israeli steps, like annexing parts of the West Bank, will undermine the chances for peace and a two-state solution.

The big picture: The Israeli government hoped the UAE move would break a diplomatic deadlock among Arab countries, none of which had recognized Israel since Jordan in 1994 and Egypt in 1979.

  • A Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said yesterday that the North African country intended to follow the UAE's example, and it was already in talks with Israel.
  • But the foreign minister himself then intervened, saying he was "astonished" by the spokesperson's comments, which were "not authorized." The spokesperson was later fired.

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Sep 24, 2020 - World

Israeli PM announces strict lockdown plan after record coronavirus cases spike

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an August news conference in Jerusalem. Photo: Debbie Hill/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for a "full lockdown" after Israel reported a new daily coronavirus cases record of 6,923 infections Wednesday.

Why it matters: Israel last Friday became the first developed country to re-enter lockdown. While schools, retailers and other businesses closed for the three-week measure, there are exemptions including for people to pray, go to work, exercise and protest. The new two-week restrictions that still needs Cabinet's full approval aims to address this, AP notes. "The goal is to reduce the rate of infection, and the goal is literally to save many lives in Israel," Netanyahu said.

Sep 23, 2020 - World

U.S.-Sudan talks on normalization with Israel end without breakthrough

Negotiations in Abu Dhabi between the U.S. and Sudan have ended without a breakthrough on Sudanese recognition of Israel, sources briefed on the talks tell me.

The big picture: Sudan is trying to re-engage with the world economically as it transitions from the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, and needs U.S. sanctions relief to do so. The U.S., meanwhile, has pushed Sudan to become the latest Arab country to normalize relations with Israel. The talks in Abu Dhabi, first reported by Axios, were the most substantive to date on that topic.

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 32,626,165 — Total deaths: 990,134 — Total recoveries: 22,523,822Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 7,040,313 — Total deaths: 203,918 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,488,275Map.
  3. States: U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases — "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer — The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.