Nov 28, 2018

U.S. demands Palestinians release citizen held for selling land to settlers

The Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim as seen from East Jerusalem. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration has demanded that the Palestinian Authority release a Palestinian — and U.S. citizen — currently being held in Ramallah. The man, Isaam Akel, was arrested two months ago by the Palestinian General Intelligence Service for allegedly selling real estate in East Jerusalem to Israeli settlers.

Why it matters: The Palestinian Authority is cracking down on sales of land by Palestinians to Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. According to Palestinian law, such deals are illegal. The Palestinians claim Jewish settlers are trying to buy property from Palestinians in East Jerusalem to prevent the eventual establishment of a Palestinian capital there — and it's exacerbated by the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, move the U.S. embassy to the city and downgrade the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that conducted relations with the Palestinians.

What they're saying: U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was given authority over U.S. relations with the Palestinians in addition to his portfolio as ambassador to Israel with the consulate downgrate, tweeted today that Akel's "suspected 'crime' is Selling land to a Jew. ... Akel’s incarceration is antithetical to the values of the US & to all who advocate the cause of peaceful coexistence. We demand his immediate release."

The big picture: Relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority are at an all time law. The Palestinians have boycotted the White House since Trump's Jerusalem announcement. The only channel of communication between the parties is between the CIA and the Palestinian General Intelligence Service — the same agency which arrested Akel.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,400

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

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,400 in the U.S. on Saturday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest week, between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. should expect to see deaths continue to rise in this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 17 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,197,405 — Total deaths: 64,606 — Total recoveries: 246,152Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 308,850 — Total deaths: 8,407 — Total recoveries: 14,652Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. 1 🏀 thing: The WNBA postpones start of training camps and season.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain tracks more cases than Italy

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Spain overtook Italy in its number of coronavirus cases on Saturday. The global death toll has surpassed 62,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: About half the planet's population is on lockdown amid the coronavirus crisis. Fatalities are exponentially increasing across Europe, with roughly half of deaths worldwide located in Italy and Spain.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health