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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.
A senior Israeli delegation traveled Wednesday to Bahrain for talks on the drafting of the U.S.-brokered peace treaty between the countries, Israeli officials told me.
The state of play: Both countries need to draft a detailed and comprehensive peace treaty that will have a firm legal status and include side agreements on several fields of bilateral cooperation, according to the officials.
U.S., Emirati and Sudanese officials will hold a decisive meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday on a possible normalization agreement between Sudan and Israel, Sudanese sources told me.
Why it matters: If the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates accommodate Sudan’s requests for economic aid, an announcement on a normalization agreement with Israel similar to the ones struck with the UAE and Bahrain could be made within days, sources briefed on the process tell me.
The Trump administration has renewed its push for opening direct talks between Israel and Lebanon on the demarcation of their maritime borders in order to find a solution for the dispute between both countries over natural gas explorations in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Israeli and U.S. officials told me.
Why it matters: Israeli officials say the Trump administration hopes to launch Israeli-Lebanese diplomatic talks before November's election. There have been no such talks between the countries in 30 years, and renewing Israeli-Lebanese negotiations would be a big achievement for the White House.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNN on Tuesday that he expects more Arab countries to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel before Palestinian leadership agrees to a peace deal.
Why it matters: After hosting a White House signing ceremony on Tuesday that formalized diplomatic ties between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, President Trump told reporters that he expects seven to nine more countries — including possibly Saudi Arabia — to agree to a similar move.
President Trump presided over U.S.-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at the White House on Tuesday, cementing formal diplomatic ties between the countries through deals with few public details.
Why it matters: "The last Arab state to make peace with Israel was Jordan, in 1994. Egypt was the first, in 1979. The agreement is also significant for relegating the Palestinians to the sidelines," WashPost reports.
The agreement between the UAE and Israel that will be signed on Tuesday mentions the Palestinian issue and the two-state solution as part of a reference to previous agreements which were signed, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told me in a Zoom briefing.
Why it matters: Gargash’s comments gave the first substantive details from the agreement which up to now remained completely secret. The UAE pushed back on criticism against the agreement, with Israel stressing the deal will also help the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was balancing his greatest achievement against his greatest failure as he arrived in Washington on Monday.
Why it matters: Netanyahu on Tuesday will be among those at the White House to sign historic and strategic agreements normalizing relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, while back home, Israelis grapple with the economic and health crisis brought by a second lockdown to contain the coronavirus. The virus has made many Israelis indifferent to the big event at the White House.