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Jess Frampton

Washington watches as Beijing bargains

China announced last Friday it had brokered a deal to restore diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia for the first time in seven years. Beijing will also reportedly host a summit later this year, bringing together representatives from Iran and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Like all early stage diplomatic breakthroughs, this one remains fragile. It will take at least two months to hammer out details, and Iranians and Saudis aren’t about to become fast friends. But President Xi Jinping wouldn’t trumpet this news unless he believed all relevant parties were sincerely interested in an agreement of substance.

This is something Joe Biden might call a “big F deal.”

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People hold Israeli flags during a demonstration in Tel Avis against PM Benjamin Netanyahu's plans for judicial overhaul.


What We're Watching: Israel's mega-protest, Iran-Saudi détente, BBC own goal

Israel on the brink

Half a million demonstrators took to the streets Saturday night in what was billed as the biggest protest in Israel’s history to blast PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s controversial plan to overhaul the judiciary, which many see as a threat to democracy. That was a huge turnout for the 9-million-strong country that has seen 10 weeks of protests, with dismay over the reforms cutting across large segments of Israeli society, from the tech sector to army reservists.

The situation is quickly spiraling for Bibi. The country faces a constitutional crisis if parts of the civil service and security forces refuse to obey government orders. (On Saturday, heads turned when Tel Aviv police chief Amichai Eshed joined the rally in uniform. He's been making waves since National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir fired him for not cracking down hard enough on the protesters, although his dismissal was later overruled by the attorney general.)

All of this is happening as Israel tries to get a handle on a recent spike in violence in the Palestinian territories. The PM’s far-right coalition, meanwhile, may not survive a backtrack on the reforms. Can Bibi hold on?

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