Netanyahu on the ropes: Things have gone from bad to worse in recent days for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longtime prime minister. Protests — the biggest anti-government mobilization in years — swept the nation after Israel recorded the highest number of new daily COVID cases amid its worst-ever recession. But one thing Netanyahu has always had going for him is the steadfast loyalty of his Likud party… until now. As the Israeli PM's approval rating dipped to 26 percent, several Likud members broke with decades of precedent by speaking out against his poor handling of the country's "second wave." (A whopping 49 percent of Israelis say they've lost faith in the government and want new elections.) Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett, a former protégé of Netanyahu who heads the far-right Yemina party, is surging ahead in the polls. In recent weeks it seemed increasingly likely that Netanyahu would steer the country towards new elections (the fourth in less than two years) in order to bypass a parliamentary stalemate on key issues. But with his upcoming corruption trial and cratering support, it seems like the forever leader's options might be running out…
TikTok, ya don't stop: The wildly popular video app TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American lawmakers for many months now. Why? Because the app is owned by a Chinese company, raising national security concerns that it could funnel personal data on its 100 million American users to the Chinese government. The plot thickened in recent days after President Trump abruptly threatened to ban the app altogether, risking a backlash among its users and imperiling US tech giant Microsoft's efforts to buy the company's operations in the US. Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After a weekend conversation between Microsoft and the White House, the sale negotiations are back on but US lawmakers say any deal must strictly prevent American users' data from winding up in Chinese Communist Party servers. And Trump says that unless a deal is reached by September 15th, he'll go ahead with the ban. The broader fate of TikTok — which has now been banned in India, formerly its largest market, and may be broken up under US pressure — nicely illustrates the new "tech Cold War" that is emerging between China and the United States.
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For those who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict closely, July 1 has long been a date to watch. After the Trump administration presented a blueprint for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians earlier this year, Israel's emboldened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would start the process of annexing parts of the West Bank starting on July 1. That day has now come and gone, but...nothing happened. Why?
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, who masterminded the Trump administration's new Mideast peace proposal, had tough words for Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, accusing him of being more interested in "flying around" the world than running his government efficiently for his people.
To understand Jared Kushner's comments in a broader context, here are a few things to consider:
What are the settlements? In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel captured the West Bank from neighboring Jordan, and soon after began setting up communities of Jewish settlers on this land. The West Bank is now home to over 400,000 Jewish Israelis, living in settlements among some 1.9 million Palestinians who, in turn, are not considered citizens of Israel and who must regularly pass through Israeli military checkpoints.