The High Court of Justice unanimously rejected a series of petitions seeking to prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government while under indictment and invalidating the coalition agreement signed by Likud and Blue and White. Yet, the decision left open the possibility of the court striking down legislation included in the coalition agreement if passed. The national unity government will be sworn in on May 13.
In an interview that will appear in the Jerusalem Post on Friday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Washington's conditions for recognizing Israeli annexation of the West Bank territory allotted to it by the Trump peace plan include: Israel freezing settlement construction in the 70 percent of the West Bank allocated for the Palestinian state and Prime Minister Netanyahu displaying a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority over the establishment of a Palestinian state in that 70 percent. However, Friedman stated that American support for Israeli annexation is not dependent on Palestinian receptivity to Netanyahu's overtures. On Wednesday, the Israeli government approved construction that could accommodate around 7,000 housing units in the settlement of Efrat, which is located in territory assigned to Israel in the Trump peace plan.
Israel and Greece signed their first arms deal, with Israel leasing the Heron unmanned aerial vehicle maritime patrol system to Greece for three years and giving Athens the option of purchasing it afterwards.
The Iraqi parliament early Thursday swore in former Director of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service Mustafa al-Kadhimi as the new prime minister. His predecessor, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, resigned last November after two months of deadly protests against government corruption, unemployment and poor public services. Since then, two other prime ministers-designate failed to win the confidence of parliament over the objections of either the Sunni and Kurdish factions on the one hand or Shiite parties on the other. Although parliament rejected some of al-Kadhimi's proposed ministers, they approved the most important ones, including interior, defense, finance, and electricity.
Facing resistance to production cuts from many oil companies operating in Iraq, Baghdad is struggling to meet its commitment under the April OPEC+ deal to reduce oil output by more than 1 million bpd during May and June, so far only reaching an agreement with one oil company, Basra Oil. OPEC's second largest producer and the country required to make the third largest cut under the OPEC+ agreement, Iraq has been the biggest cheater in previous production cut deals.
Three rockets hit a military complex near the Baghdad International Airport Wednesday, one landing close to a facility where US forces are stationed. There are no reports of damage or casualties. A security source told AFP that the target was the Iraqi Special Operations Forces' headquarters, where American troops are based.
President Donald Trump Wednesday vetoed a war powers resolution "to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran that have not been authorized by Congress." Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the resolution after the January 3 killing of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Neither chamber of Congress passed the non-binding resolution with a veto-proof majority. Trump's veto statement said, "My Administration has taken strong actions, within statutory authority, to help keep our Nation safe, and I will not approve this resolution, which would undermine my ability to protect American citizens, service members, and interests."
30 died during clashes in South Darfur province on Tuesday and Wednesday after members of the non-Arab Falata tribe allegedly robbed sheepherders from the Arab Rizeigat tribe. Local authorities imposed a round-the-clock curfew and deployed troops to keep the peace. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok issued a statement saying that the violence has subsided.
Although Lebanon's central bank will maintain the dollar peg for now to finance imports of wheat, fuel, and medicine, Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told lawmakers Wednesday that the country will shift to a flexible exchange rate after receiving foreign funding to bankroll the government's economic reform plan. Beirut is conducting negotiations with the IMF for a loan of at least $10 billion. Pegging the Lebanese pound to the dollar in December 1998 made most Lebanese manufactured goods uncompetitive internationally, destroying the country's industrial base and making it reliant on imports for almost everything it consumes.
After incurring condemnation from many corners of the Muslim world for a character in the Ramadan TV drama "Exit 7," broadcast by the Saudi-controlled MBC Group, justifying normalizing ties with Israel and accusing Palestinians of ingratitude for past Saudi support, the Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday affirmed that the Palestinian cause remains a "central issue" for Arabs and Muslims.
At a Wednesday press briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US will send $225 million in additional emergency aid to the UN World Food Program's operation in Yemen. Approximately 80 percent of Yemen's population, or 24 million people, depend on foreign aid.
The Ministry of National Defense announced Tuesday the seizure of four sub-machine guns, four ammunition tanks, 55 conventional bombs, and 20 kilograms of TNT in Bouira, a longtime al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb stronghold.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum