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Protesters rally in Istanbul after Friday prayers. (AP's Lefteris Pitarakis)

New details President Trump's calls to the region before recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

Israeli and U.S. officials say Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump spoke by phone at least twice in the 10 days before Wednesday's announcement. A White House official said that conversation was part of "a raft of calls to regional leaders" on Tuesday, including four Arab leaders, to "get reaction ... and keep regional partners informed."

  • Israeli officials say Netanyahu told Trump in their last phone call, on Tuesday, that by taking this step "he is making history." The officials added that Netanyahu gave Trump his commitment not to make any change in the status quo in the holy places in Jerusalem, mainly the Temple Mount, or Haram Al-Sharif.
  • Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, is supposed to arrive in the U.S. in the next few weeks for a medical procedure. Trump wants to use this opportunity to see him and try to defuse the crisis, and invited Abbas to the White House. Officials said the invitation was general, and no date was set.

P.S. A senior Palestinian official in Abbas's ruling Fatah party told Haaretz that Vice President Pence, due to visit the region later this month, "is unwelcome in Palestine."

Go deeper

4 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

4 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.