Israel celebrates that it has vaccinated with at least one shot of Pfizer vaccine 5 million Israelis which is half of the population. After a lockdown for several weeks, the economy has been opened. For the first time in many months people are sitting and eating in restaurants, going to swimming pools, shopping in malls and children have returned to school.
Israel elections arriving in three weeks. Benjamin Netanyahu is counting on his success in vaccinating the nation which has brought down the number of hospitalizations below one thousand to 700 to bring to him additional mandates for him to continue to be Prime Minister. His opponents are still fighting against the popularity of Netanyahu from both sides the left and right. The only solid supporters of Netanyahu are his Likud friends and the religious parties. The other right parties Yamina led by Naftali Bennet and Gidyon Saar of New Hope party want to be Prime Minister. There is a much greater majority of mandates of right wing parties than left wing parties including the Arabs. For a right-wing party to join with the left side including the Arabs is doubtful.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century amidst the greater Arab–Israeli conflict. Various attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. Most Recently by Donald J Trump resulting in the historic .
The Joe Biden administration is planning to review the dealings between the US and Saudi Arabia. In fact, On February 27th, Biden stated there will be a new announcement coming on Monday pertaining the US- Saudi relations, which could lead to the US-Saudi crisis. It is unknown, if there would be sanctions laid against the Saudis.
Israel a small nation of no more than 10 million people in a world of much larger nations considers diplomacy of utmost importance to its existence. It is faced with a crisis concerning relations with its neighboring states Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria about the future of a Palestinian state. It has also danger from Iran who is interested in being the major power in the Middle East when it will complete its project to make nuclear weapons. The world is seeking a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis, stabilization of the region. America has interest in maintaining peaceful relations with Israel and in stabilization of the region.
Two million Israelis have already received first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, over 20% of the Israel population. An additional 110,000 have already received the second dose. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that vaccination campaign success will allow Israel to ease restrictions while Europe plans lockdowns well into March and April.
Jonathan Pollard arrived in Israel after having been released from parole restrictions in the United States. Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel when he was working as an intelligence analyst in 1984. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Israel considered the sentence severe because his espionage was for them, an ally of the United States.
Official media reported that a camp for Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon was set on fire on Saturday night, after a quarrel between members of the camp and a local Lebanese family. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed that a large fire broke out in a camp in the Minya region in the north of the country.
On December 24th, Iranian officials made a statement regarding the deployment of additional air defense systems. The Russian-made systems will be deployed under emergency measures. They will be strategically positioned near Iranian nuclear facilities to guard against possible US or Israeli strikes against them.
Christians are struggling to celebrate Christmas in Israel, like the rest of the world, because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Corona Pandemic has dampened Christmas Joy in Bethlehem and elsewhere. The officials in Bethlehem tried to make the most out of the situation. They remarked, Christmas is a holiday that renews hope in the souls.
Russia and China believe that Germany will not be able to upgrade to permanent member status on the United Nations Security Council. Furthermore, a Russian diplomat stated that Russia will not miss Germany when its term expires a the end of this month. The comments came on the heels of a scandal that broke out during the UN Security Council meeting.
Russia has multiple formats pertaining to its own foreign policy. Russia has large ambitions in the Middle East. These interests will be even more clear in 2021. Currently, the Kremlin has three prioritized directions. However, Russia seems to not be as interested in the former Soviet Bloc Asian nations.
The United Nations’ Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in The Hague has sentenced one of the main defendants in the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri to life in prison. The accused, who is a member of Hezbollah in Lebanon, was involved in plotting to assassinate Rafik Hariri in 2005.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announces that the number of children who have been unable to go to classes has risen again, and warns that school closures are the wrong response to the Coronavirus pandemic. UNICEF said that nearly one in five students worldwide were unable to go to school at the beginning of this month.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed its members in a confidential report on Friday (December 4th) that Iran intends to install more than 500 new centrifuges at the Nazanar nuclear facility in southern Iran. Reuters reports that it has seen the confidential report of the agency.
The Dow and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index are expected to record their largest percentage gains in November since 1928. Data from the Dow Jones Market Data Group show that the two indexes rose by 12.86% and 11.27%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite Index is expected to rise 11.86%, the best November since 2001.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an unannounced visit to Saudi to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the beginning of the week. The Prime Minister did not inform his partner in the government, Benny Gantz, that he was making this trip abroad.
At least 3 soldiers died and another was wounded following an air attack by Israel against positions in Syria belonging to the Syrian army forces and the Iranian Quds Force on Tuesday night. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the death toll includes about 10 dead, including three Syrians and other soldiers of foreign origin, presumably Iranian.
Bahrain Foreign Minister Aldulallatif Al-Zayani arrived in Israel to meet with Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo to sign bi-lateral agreements during the visit. This is the first official delegation to Israel. Gabi Ashkenazi Israel foreign minister greeted the delegates from Bahrain at Ben Gurion airport as the two countries look to broaden cooperation after establishing formal ties in September.
Following the Coronavirus epidemic, Turkey’s currency has depreciated by a record amount against the dollar due to Turkey’s dispute with its NATO allies. In a recent speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan forged bitter relations with several other countries, including France and the United States.
Russia conducted one of its most powerful attacks on the terrorists in Syria. The Russian military destroyed facilities where foreign private military contractors were training militants. At the same time, it is reported that the Iskander-M complex was used against them for the first time.
Following an agreement with UAE, a peace treaty with another Arab country Bahrain is a new step in a cherished dream of Israel and America to win recognition of the Jewish State of Israel without having to complete negotiations for the two state solution which has been most difficult considering the objection of the Palestinians to any type of compromise.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be able to remain in office even when his corruption trial starts in January. This was the decision of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday. This is on the condition that Netanyahu will refrain from interfering with law enforcement appointments and actions.
Russia is expected to change the policy to reflect the upcoming geopolitical conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean. It should be noted that Russia does not have a traditional or historical attachment to this conflict. However, the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque by Turkey impacted the Russian Orthodox Church and caused a wave of dissatisfaction.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 11 people, including seven “Iranian government-affiliated militias,” were killed in an Israeli airstrike south of Damascus. According to the watchdog, which monitors the Syrian civil war, the death toll includes one civilian, three Syrian army soldiers, and seven Iranian-backed militants.
The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on the repatriation of ISIS fighters, which could have been crucial to the fate of those involved in terrorist activities. The UN Security Council’s resolution on Islamic State militants was intended to prosecute, and rehabilitate those involved in terrorist acts.
The inflation rate in the Middle East is now estimated to be 8.8% in 2020. With Egypt, possibly the fastest growing Arab country, growing at only 2%, most oil producing countries in the region are seeing economic contractions. The combination of Covid-19 hitting the local population and the oil decline has severely affected this region.
Arab oil exporters are forecasting oil supply cuts of about 50% in 2020 and 2021, levels that have been approved by OPEC agreements. The combination of significant cuts in production, $42 a barrel for oil, and Covid affecting local marketplaces, will have a significantly negative impact on regional economies.
The United States has welcomed the conviction of a Hezbollah member by an international tribunal for the murder of Rafic Hariri. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed satisfaction with the sentencing of Salim Ayyash in absentia, and said that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization serving the sectarian goals of Iran.
Turkey continues to experience tumultuous economic times. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been grandstanding on the world stage without having the funds to back such actions long term. Turkey took on the Syrian and Libyan conflicts. The reasoning is personal ambitions for Erdogan to restore the Ottoman Empire.
On Monday was reported that Israel had attacked Iranian positions in Syria near Demascus killing several Syrian and Iranian warriors including a member of Hezbollah. Syrian air defense was successful in knocking down several Israeli missiles but the missile attack was successful to destroy weapon storehouses in Syria which were intended to ship to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Syrian newspapers said that Hezbollah will retaliate for the group’s fighter being killed in the attack. Nasrollah had already warned Israel that if they would harm their soldiers in Syria they will face retaliation. Israel replied to Nasrollah that his fighter was killed by accident.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called for more cooperation from European countries to better control the EU’s external borders. Without this cooperation, he says, “we may soon see a new wave of asylum seekers entering the European Union, which will be more severe than the 2015 crisis.”
Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution, which jeopardizes humanitarian aid for civilians in northwestern Syria. The draft resolution was prepared by Germany and Belgium, with the 13 other members of the Council giving their approval.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has reported that the Assad regime and its Russian allies have committed war crimes by targeting vital civilian facilities in Idlib and its environment. The Commission strongly condemned the attacks on civilians in the northwestern part of Syria in a report released on Tuesday.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has spoken of the dangers posed by the outbreak of coronavirus disease to world peace. Guterres has expressed concern over the political exploitation by extremist groups around the world, such as al-Qaeda and Daesh, of the outbreak of COVID-19.
A UN report released today states that numerous war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity, were committed in the province of Idlib, northwest Syria. The crimes were said to have taken place during an offensive by the Bashar al-Assad government in the period between late 2019 and early 2020.
According to Russian news outlet avia.pro, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that it is time for Turkey to actively continue its military operations in Syria’s Idlib province. The publication quoted him as saying that the Turkish military will continue to fight all “terrorist organizations” that pose a threat to Turkey’s security, whether inside its borders or outside them.
Eastern Syria has once again witnessed an airstrike. AFP reported on Saturday that Lebanon had reported an airstrike on one of the positions of forces affiliated with Bashar al-Assad’s government in eastern Syria. The attack is said to have killed six members of the Syrian army and forces backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In its annual report, released on Wednesday, the US State Department described the Islamic Republic of Iran as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. According to the report, “traces of Iran’s support for terrorism can be traced from Gaza to Pakistan.”
The State of Israel was established in 1948. The United Nations recognized its independence, but its borders were never secure. The Arab states surrounding Israel— Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria– also gained independence prior to this, after the expiration of British and French mandates, each one with its allocated borders.
A Syrian doctor, who was practicing his profession in Germany and entered the country as a refugee, was arrested on Friday. The suspect, known as Alaa M., is accused of involvement in torture and “crimes against humanity” he committed in his country against detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
Nearly 80 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes due to war and conflict, fear of terror and violence, as well as economic collapse and poverty. According to a recent report released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday, the number of refugees in the world has reached 79.5 million.
Israel, in the last two weeks has made an attempt to return to normalcy. Schools have been reopened. The children are required to wear face covers and obey social distancing. Synagogues are active, for the most part, allowing up to 50 congregants again, so long as they wear face masks and obey social distancing.