Israel has administered more COVID-19 vaccinations than any other nation, with over 1 million people receiving jabs — a rate of 12.59 doses per 100 people, new data from an Oxford University-run tracking site shows.
Why it matters: As countries like the U.S. fall behind on immunization goals, Israel has given coronavirus doses to over 10% of its population of 9.2 million since it began administering Pfizer/BioNTech's vaccine on Dec. 19.
After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly stated last week that he wants to improve relations with Israel, the Israeli government decided to start a low-profile outreach to Turkey in order to determine whether his intentions are sincere, two Israeli officials told me.
Why it matters: Relations between Israel and Turkey, once close allies, started deteriorating in 2008 and have entered a state of ongoing crisis. In 2018, Turkey downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel after unrest surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Turkey and Israel both played key roles in Azerbaijan's recent victory over Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. Now, several weeks after the ceasefire, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev is trying to mend relations between his two allies, senior Israeli officials tell me.
The big picture: Drones and other weapons systems from both Turkey and Israel helped Azerbaijan gain military superiority over Armenia. But relations between Turkey and Israel have been frozen for most of the past decade.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita is urging the incoming Biden administration to preserve the deal sealed by President Trump earlier this month, under which the U.S. agreed to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and Morocco agreed to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.
What he's saying: "We realistically think the administration will find a good rationale to preserve this," Bourita told me in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of a trilateral U.S.-Israel-Morocco summit on Tuesday in Rabat.
Israel’s power-sharing government collapsed on Tuesday, only seven months after it was formed, putting Israel on course for its fourth elections in two years.
Why it matters: The government was formed by two rivals — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz — to end a political stalemate, but it was totally dysfunctional. Its collapse means Gantz will not rotate in as prime minister next November, as the two had agreed in their coalition deal.
President Trump signed a bill Monday that will give Sudan immunity from future lawsuits by the victims of the 1998 American Embassy bombings in East Africa and provide Sudan with close to $1 billion in U.S. financial aid and loans. But the bill will not give Sudan immunity from lawsuits by families of 9/11 victims.
Why it matters: The legal aspect was a critical part of the deal between the Trump administration and Sudan, which included removing the country from the state sponsors of terrorism list and the normalization of Sudanese relations with Israel.
The Trump administration is concerned Chinese investments in the Israeli tech industry could harm Israeli and U.S. national security, assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs David Schenker said Monday at a conference organized by the SIGNAL think tank, which focuses on Israeli-Chinese academic cooperation.
Why it matters: The Trump administration has previously raised concerns in private about Chinese involvement in Israel’s booming tech sector. This is likely the first time the administration has done so in public.
A senior U.S.-Israeli delegation will travel to Morocco next Tuesday to begin talks on resuming diplomatic relations between Israel and Morocco, traveling on the first-ever direct flight of an Israeli airline from Tel Aviv to Rabat, U.S. officials told me.
Why it matters: The trip will take place 10 days after President Trump announced that the U.S. would recognize Western Sahara as part of Morocco, a historic and controversial decision that paved the way for Morocco to begin the process of normalizing diplomatic ties with Israel.
A fallout between President Trump and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led to the breakthrough that resulted in the Morocco-Israel normalization deal, sources briefed on the matter told me.
Why it matters: Inhofe is Washington's most avid supporter of the Polisario Front — a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement aiming to end Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara. He has travelled many times to Algeria for meetings with Polisario leaders.
President Trump announced a deal with Morocco on Thursday that included two major provisions: Morocco will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, and the U.S. will recognize Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Why it matters: The U.S. is now the only Western country to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, reversing decades of U.S. policy. With six weeks left in his term, Trump provided Morocco a diplomatic breakthrough for which it has lobbied for decades.