During a Tuesday meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to persuade the Yesha Council, an umbrella group of mayors and community leaders from the settlements, to support the Trump peace plan. Yesha leaders have voiced opposition to the plan because they fear the final map will turn some settlements into isolated enclaves within a Palestinian state and deny settlers access to important West Bank roads. Much of the Israeli defense establishment opposes annexation of parts of the West Bank, fearing that it will undermine diplomatic relations with Jordan and increase Palestinian violence. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Monday that Palestinian security officers have already warned Israeli border guards not to enter Palestinian-controlled areas they have patrolled in the past. Former Shabak (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen is one of the few members of the Israeli defense establishment to support some annexations. However, even he believes that it should be limited to the settlement blocs and not include the Jordan Valley because extending sovereignty over so much territory and "surrounding the Palestinians on 360 degrees by dry land" would result in a "de facto single state."
After a Tuesday meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide informed Reuters that she spoke Tuesday with her Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, and urged Israel to resume direct talks with the Palestinians and avoid unilateral moves as "any unilateral step would be detrimental to the [peace] process, and annexation would be in direct violation and contravention of international law." Permanently chaired by Norway, the AHLC coordinates the delivery of international aid to the Palestinian territories. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at the AHLC meeting, "The message should be clear. Annexation will not go unanswered. For if it does there will only be fiercer conflict. Annexation will make the two-state solution an impossibility. We unequivocally warn against the grave consequence of annexation for the quest for regional peace and for Jordanian-Israeli relations."
A day after Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), with the help of UAE drones, recaptured the town of al-Asaba from the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN Mission in Libya stated late Monday that the LNA and GNA agreed to resume ceasefire talks. The UN mission provided no details about when the talks would commence. The LNA victory in al-Asaba marks the end of several weeks of uninterrupted GNA advances, dependent on Turkish air support and 10,000 Turkish-recruited Syrian mercenaries, in western Libya. Since Moscow supports the LNA, the arrival of Russian jets in Libya last week along with greater LNA adeptness at shooting down Turkish drones, suggests that the tide of the war was about to turn back in Haftar's favor.
International donors pledged $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid to Yemen during a virtual conference Tuesday, considerably less than UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres sought. Guterres said, "Aid agencies estimate they will need up to $2.41 billion to cover essential aid from June until December, including programs to counter COVID-19." Saudi Arabia was the largest contributor, pledging $500 million worth of aid while Britain pledged $200 million and Germany $139.8 million.
Forces of the internationally recognized government, backed by Saudi air power, killed at least 30 Houthis while repulsing a Houthi offensive in the Nihm District of the Sana'a Governorate intended to drive government forces away from the capital.
Unidentified gunmen assassinated Agence France-Presse photographer Nabil Hasan al-Qaiti, a finalist for the 2016 Rory Peck Award for News, outside his home in an Aden suburb. Reporters Without Borders commented that the Islah Party, which is fighting alongside the internationally recognized government against both the Houthis and the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC), often accused the UAE of funding Hasan. However, Emirati researcher Mansor Khalfan says that Hasan angered Abu Dhabi by photographing STC fighters with UAE-supplied arms.
State-owned Qatar Petroleum (QP), which operates all of the country's oil and gas activities, announced Monday that it signed agreements with South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, Hyundai Heavy Industries, and Samsung Heavy Industries to build more than 100 ships, costing altogether over 70 billion Qatari riyals ($19.23 billion), through the year 2027. Already the world's largest supplier of liquefied natural gas, QP aims to raise output from 77 million tons per annum today to 126 mtpa by 2027.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed in an Instragram post Tuesday that Professor Sirous Asgari was en route to Iran after being deported by the US. A professor at Iran's Sharif University of Technology, Asgari was indicted in April 2016 for stealing trade secrets while working at Case Western Reserve University, but was acquitted in November 2019. COVID-19-related flight cancelations stymied previous Department of Homeland Security attempts to deport Asgari. Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli denied that the US traded Asgari for Americans incarcerated in Iran.
Istanbul's prosecutor's office issued arrest warrants Tuesday for 118 people, mostly members of the military and security forces, accused of affiliation with the Gulen movement (FETO) and involvement in the failed July 2016 coup. So far, 72 of them have been apprehended. Turkish authorities have detained 80,000 people since the abortive coup. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the 2016 attempted coup on FETO, which Turkey declared a terrorist group in May 2016 after years of political feuding between the group and Erdogan's AK Party.
A Jordanian judicial source revealed Tuesday that the country's intelligence unit last February foiled a plot by 5 Jordanians to launch suicide attacks against Israeli targets in the West Bank and that the suspects are now standing trial in the State Security Court.
Judge Randolph D. Moss of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Iran and Syria can be held liable for damages for seven attacks perpetrated by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that injured and killed Americans because Tehran and Damascus provided "material support" to the terrorist groups.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum