At a Likud faction meeting Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that he planned to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in July, believing the Trump peace plan offers an "historic opportunity that we have not had since 1948 to apply sovereignty wisely" and "this is an opportunity we cannot allow to pass us by." However, the US-Israeli mapping committee's work concerns some settler leaders. Yesha Council chairman David Elhayani said that the Trump administration refuses to revise the map released during the "Deal of the Century's" unveiling last January and the plan as it stands would cut many settlements off from Israeli urban centers, create de facto building freezes, and lead to the destruction of at least 15 settlements. Yesha Council director-general Yigal Dilmoni claims that the Trump administration vetoed Yesha representation on the US-Israeli mapping committee while Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said that Netanyahu blocked her party's access to the committee. Shaked reaffirmed Monday Yamina's opposition to any annexation initiative that involves recognition of a Palestinian state.
Prime Minister Netanyahu became Sunday the first sitting Israeli premier to stand trial, facing charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu and the three other defendants confirmed that they understood the indictments against them and the three-judge panel scheduled the case to resume on July 19, 2020 to hear preliminary pretrial motions. In a speech outside the Jerusalem District Court, Netanyahu rejected the legitimacy of the trial, saying, "People from the police and prosecution got together with left-wing journalists to fabricate ridiculous, bizarre cases against me." The most serious case involves the Prime Minister allegedly pushing regulatory favors for Bezeq Telecom Israel in exchange for positive coverage.
The Kremlin-aligned Wagner Group military contractor evacuated this weekend its 1,500-1,600 mercenaries fighting alongside Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) in the face of a slew of victories in recent weeks by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) attributable to Turkish air support.
The first of five Iranian oil tankers en route to Venezuela arrived Monday carrying more than a million barrels of fuel. Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, Venezuela faces a gas shortage due to a shortage of diluents necessary for the production of fuels, which limits refineries to operating at 10 percent of capacity. Caracas is paying for the Iranian shipment in gold and Ali Khatibi, Iran's former ambassador to OPEC, pointed to the transaction as a model for "sanctioned countries [uniting] to establish an organized cooperation system against the US sanctions to supply a great number of their requirements."
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen sent Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a letter calling for the "immediate suspension" of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's account "over his consistent posting of anti-Semitic and genocidal posts." In the past week, Khamenei on Twitter compared Israel to COVID-19, called it "a deadly, cancerous growth" that "will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed," and called to "expand the areas of #Jihad inside Palestinian territories."
Yemeni tribal elders negotiated a three-day ceasefire, starting Sunday, between the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi's internationally recognized government for the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Mediators say the truce could be extended. This follows two weeks of fighting in Abyan province after the Hadi government launched an offensive to retake Aden from the STC, which declared "self-rule" on April 25 in Aden and other places under its control.
Israel's national El Al airline on Sunday completed its first cargo flight to Turkey in 10 years, picking up humanitarian aid and protective equipment destined for US medical teams fighting COVID-19. Yet, in a Sunday video address aimed at American Muslims for Eid al-Fitr, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned "a new occupation and annexation project which disregards Palestine's sovereignty and the international law [that] was put into action by Israel" and promised Turkey "will not allow the Palestinian lands to be offered to anyone else."
Russia convinced Ankara to reopen for the first time in seven months parts of the M4 Highway, which links Syria's coastal region to the Iraqi border, captured by pro-Turkish militias during Turkey's offensive in northern Syria last October.
United Arab Emirates
The Dubai Media Office announced Monday that the emirate will allow most businesses to reopen Wednesday and operate between 6 AM and 11 PM. Face mask and social distancing requirements will remain.
Although the West Bank's lockdown was supposed to last until July 5, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced Monday that mosques, churches, and businesses may reopen Tuesday due to the declining number of COVID-19 cases.
The Egyptian Medical Syndicate (EMS), the country's largest healthcare worker union, issued a statement Monday holding "the health ministry entirely responsible for the mounting deaths and infections among doctors due to its negligence." According to the EMS COVID-19 has infected more than 350 doctors and killed 19. The union demands providing all doctors with personal protective equipment, more training for handling COVID-19 patients, and testing for doctors with symptoms or who have come into contact with infected people.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum