Why it matters: The U.S. has responded to standoffs with North Korea, Russia, Iran and Venezuela in unorthodox and unpredictable ways. Alliances are rupturing, authoritarians are rising, and China is steadily becoming the most powerful rival America has ever faced.
Palestinian leaders attacked Thursday's U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
What they're saying: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement after an emergency meeting on Thursday with officials that the UAE betrayed the Palestinian people.
West Bank annexation appears to be off the table for now, after the U.S. brokered a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Why it matters: Trump spoke about for annexation for the first time since presenting his peace plan on January 28. However, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed gave contradictory remarks about the annexation in their statements on the deal.
For the record: Trump twice deferred questions about the differences between Israel and the UAE to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who said: “We prioritized peace in the region over West Bank annexation...you can't have peace and annexation at the same time"
What Trump is saying: “Israel agreed not to annex parts of the West Bank. It is more than taking it off the table — they agreed not to do it. This is a very smart concession by Israel. It is off the table now”.
What the U.S. ambassador is saying: Annexation is off the table now but might be discussed again in the future.
What's next: Trump also said at the press conference he wants to convene a summit between Israel and the United Arab Emirates at the White House in three weeks to sign the deal.
Former top diplomats who worked with Susan Rice have signed a letter rebutting a recent New York Times column in which Bret Stephens referred to her as “inept” and a “sycophant to despots.”
Why it matters: Rice has long been a target of conservative criticism, but many former colleagues have lined up to offer support during her return to the national spotlight as a potential running mate to Joe Biden. She's now seen as a leading contender for a top job, perhaps secretary of state, in a potential Biden administration.
The breakthrough in talks between the U.S., Israel and UAE on a normalization deal came two months ago, White House officials tell me.
Behind the scenes: Talks had been ongoing for more than a year, but they gained new urgency ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's July 1 deadline to move ahead on West Bank annexations.
Greece has asked Israeli leaders to lobby the Trump administration to take a stronger position in an intensifying dispute with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Behind the scenes: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias arrived in Israel for a short visit today. He asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and urge the U.S. to intervene more forcefully, Israeli officials briefed on the visit tell me.
Joe Biden released a statement Thursday applauding the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as a "welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship."
Why it matters: It's a rare moment of public praise for a deal brokered by President Trump, underscoring Biden's support for Israel at a time when some progressives have pushed — without success — for the Democratic platform to recognize the Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian territory.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address Thursday that he remains "committed to annexing parts of the West Bank," but agreed to “temporarily suspend” those plans in order to reach a normalization deal with the UAE.
Why it matters: In a joint statement hailed as "historic" by President Trump, Israel said it would not move ahead with annexations as part of a deal for "the full normalization of relations" between Israel and the UAE. But Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) have since offered diverging statements.
Next Digital is fighting for its life. One of the last truly independent media outlets in Hong Kong, its high-profile publisher, Jimmy Lai, was arrested this week as part of China's crackdown on pro-democracy activism.
Driving the news: Apple Daily, the company's flagship newspaper, is the most-read outlet in Hong Kong. Lai's arrest caused his company's stock to rise elevenfold in a single day, thanks to thousands of Hongkongers flocking to the market to bid up the shares.
The Trump administration is designating the Chinese state-funded Confucius Institutes as "foreign missions," requiring them to provide administrative data on all personnel and property in the U.S. as if they were foreign embassies or consulates, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday.
Why it matters: Critics of the Chinese culture and language program, which runs about 550 institutes around the world and 75 in the U.S., say it's a "soft power" tool used to spread Beijing's influence on college campuses.
President Trump announced a "historic" deal Thursday which will see Israel and the UAE open full diplomatic relations and Israel suspend its annexation plans in the West Bank.
Why it matters: This is a major breakthrough for Israel, which lacks diplomatic recognition in many Middle Eastern countries but has been steadily improving relations in the Gulf, largely due to mutual antipathy toward Iran.