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Biden will seek to rejoin Iran nuclear deal within months, former aide says

Amos Hochstein tells Israeli TV that US president-elect backs two-state solution, wants to bring Palestinian issue back into spotlight

  • Then US vice president Joe Biden, left, talks with then State Department special envoy for international energy affairs Amos Hochstein at a working lunch during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, at the State Department in Washington, January 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/File)
    Then US vice president Joe Biden, left, talks with then State Department special envoy for international energy affairs Amos Hochstein at a working lunch during the Caribbean Energy Security Summit, at the State Department in Washington, January 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais/File)
  • US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winner of the presidential election. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
    US President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winner of the presidential election. (Angela Weiss/AFP)
  • US President Donald Trump returns to the White House in Washington from playing golf on November 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
    US President Donald Trump returns to the White House in Washington from playing golf on November 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)
  • US Vice President Joe Biden and Isreali President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
    US Vice President Joe Biden and Isreali President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with then-US vice president Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden's official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Amit Shabi/POOL)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with then-US vice president Joe Biden at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on March 9, 2016, during Biden's official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. (Amit Shabi/POOL)
  • Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP/Julio Cortez)
    Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP/Julio Cortez)
  • US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks on stage at the Chase Center before President-elect Joe Biden's address to the nation November 7, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)
    US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks on stage at the Chase Center before President-elect Joe Biden's address to the nation November 7, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)
  • US Vice President Joe Biden and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
    US Vice President Joe Biden and President Reuven Rivlin meet at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, March 9, 2016. (Mark Neyman/GPO)
  • Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Clark County Election Department after the Nov. 3 elections, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in front of the Clark County Election Department after the Nov. 3 elections, Nov. 6, 2020, in North Las Vegas, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Times of Israel liveblogged results and developments in the US election, and other news, as they unfolded.

Lapid scolds Netanyahu, Gantz and Ashkenazi for not congratulating Biden

Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid hits out at Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, all of whom have yet to issue a response to Joe Biden’s election win over Donald Trump in the US presidential race.

“The fact that Netanyahu, Gantz and Ashkenazi haven’t yet congratulated the president-elect of the USA is an embarrassing cowardice that hurts Israel’s interests,” tweets Lapid, who was the first Israeli politician to comment on the election outcome. “If the president of France, the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Minister of the UK can do it, they can, too.”

— Raphael Ahren

Ukraine’s Zelensky, who was at center of Trump impeachment, congratulates Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who found himself at the center of US President Donald Trump’s impeachment, is congratulating Trump’s replacement, President-elect Joe Biden.

In a tweet, Zelenskiy says “Ukraine is optimistic about the future of the strategic partnership with the United States.” He added that the two countries “have always collaborated on security, trade, investment, democracy, fight against corruption. Our friendship becomes only stronger!”

A 2019 call from Trump to Zelenskiy, in which he asked the new Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden and the Democratic National Committee, sparked an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that resulted in Trump’s impeachment last year.

Trump was eventually acquitted by the Republican-led Senate.

AP

Jordan’s King Abdullah congratulates Biden on election win

Jordanian King Abdullah II congratulates Joe Biden on his victory in the US presidential elections.

“Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris. I look forward to working with you on further advancing the solid historic partnership between Jordan and the United States, in the interest of our shared objectives of peace, stability and prosperity,” Abdullah II says in a tweet.

Jordan is an important regional ally to both Israel and the United States. While relations between Jordan and the United States remained close during the Trump years, the American administration’s policies were often deeply unpopular among the kingdom’s pro-Palestinian majority.

— Aaron Boxerman

King Abdullah II of Jordan, right, meets with then-US Vice President Joe Biden, at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, March 10, 2016. (AP/Raad Adayleh)

Trump met with jeers as he returns to White House after election loss

US President Donald Trump has returned to the White House and a very different Washington, DC, after losing his reelection bid.

Trump’s motorcade returns from his golf club in Virginia via roads largely cleared of other cars and people.

But as he approaches the White House, he is welcomed home with boos and raised middle fingers. Chants of “Loser, loser, loser” and profanities are also heard as his motorcade drove by.

Trump has so far refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and is promising legal challenges. He is the first president to lose reelection since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

— AP

US President Donald Trump returns to the White House in Washington from playing golf on November 7, 2020, after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

Celebrations in major US cities after Biden’s election win over Trump

Celebrations are being held in numerous cities around the United States following Joe Biden’s presidential election win over Donald Trump.

People are attending rallies in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and near the White House in Washington, DC, as well as in other cities.

Thousands gather at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House to celebrate the announcement that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States, on November 7, 2020, in Washington. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images/AFP)

Exiled Abbas rival hails Biden victory over Trump

ُIn a rare statement, exiled Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan has praised Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential elections.

“Joe Biden’s victory in the American presidential elections is a positive development, which will put an end to the many dangers of the Trump-Netanyahu alliance to the Palestinian cause, as well as providing new horizons to the path of a new peace based on the two-state solution as Biden promised personally during the campaign,” Dahlan writes on Twitter.

Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief, is seen as a key rival of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has lived in the UAE since 2011, when he fled the West Bank after losing an internal power struggle, and is seen as a close advisor to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed.

Dahlan utilizes his congratulatory message to reiterate his long-standing demand for reform in the Palestinian Authority.

“The end of Trump’s danger is not enough. It is upon us first of all to deal with the internal defects and end [political] division and elect legitimate leaders and frameworks who can confront changing developments,” he says.

— Aaron Boxerman

Mohammed Dahlan gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on January 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed, File)

UAE’s de-facto leader congratulates Biden on election win

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de-facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, puts out a tweet congratulating Joe Biden on his win over Donald Trump in the US presidential election.

The UAE recently inked a peace treaty with Israel as part of a normalization agreement that Trump helped broker.

Bahraini king sends letter to Biden congratulating him on election win

Bahraini King Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa has sent a letter to US President-elect Joe Biden congratulating him on his election win over President Donald Trump, according to a statement carried in state media.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain values its historical, strong, and extensive relations with the United States of America, which are more than 120 years old. We will work to continue constructive cooperation at every level which strengthens strategic relations,” King Hamad says in a statement

Hamad further expresses his hopes that “the friendly American people” will know “progress and prosperity.”

Bahrain recently agreed to normalize diplomatic ties with Israel as part of an agreement Trump helped broker.

— Aaron Boxerman

Sudanese PM congratulates Biden on election victory

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok puts out a tweet congratulating Joe Biden on his win over Donald Trump in the US presidential race.

Sudan recently agreed to make peace with Israel after Trump removed Khartoum from the State Department’s blacklist of state terror sponsors.

Trump still claiming to have won the election

US President Donald Trump is still claiming to have won the election.

In an all-caps tweet, his first since returning from a round of golf, during which the networks called the race for Joe Biden, Trump again falsely claims that observers were not allowed into the counting rooms.

“I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES. BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE,” he tweets.

A follow-up tweet notes  “71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!”

Joe Biden received almost 75 million votes.

 

Iran hopes for end to ‘destructive US policies’ after Biden win

Iran’s first vice president Eshaq Jahangiri welcomes news that Donald Trump has lost the US presidential election.

“I hope we will see a change in the destructive policies of the United States … finally,” Jahangiri tweets, according to a translation by Reuters.

“The era of Trump and his adventurous and belligerent team is over,” he says.

Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal and imposed a series of increasingly harsh sanctions on Tehran.

‘This isn’t over:’ Trump supporters protest across US

Chanting “This isn’t over! and “Stop the steal,” supporters of US President Donald Trump are protesting at state capitals across the country today, refusing to accept defeat and echoing Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that the Democrats won the election by fraud.

From Atlanta and Tallahassee to Bismarck, Boise and Phoenix, crowds ranging in size from a few dozen to a few thousand are decrying the news of Joe Biden’s victory after more than three exhausting days of vote-counting put the Democrat over the top. Skirmishes break out in some places.

In Atlanta, outside the state Capitol in the longtime Republican stronghold of Georgia, chants of “Lock him up!” ring out among an estimated 1,000 Trump supporters. Others chant, “This isn’t over! This isn’t over!” and “Fake news!” The streets were awash with American flags and Trump banners.

Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump to become 46th president of the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

No immediate violence was reported, though at one point, police moved to separate Trump opponents from supporters. Biden held a slim lead in Georgia, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat since 1992.

AP

Jerusalem police arrest 5 protesters, 1 person who pepper-sprayed them

Jerusalem police say that following large scale protests in the city, they have arrested six people.

After the weekly anti-government protests, most demonstrators dispersed, however, several hundred began marching through the city without permission, police say.

Five of them were arrested for disturbing the peace.

Also, police arrested a 19-year-old Jerusalem man for pepper-spraying protesters.

Israeli police officers detain an anti-Netanyahu demonstrator during a protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem, on November 7, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

AIPAC congratulates Biden, Harris; hails bipartisan US support for Israel

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, is congratulating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on winning the election, and hailing bipartisan US support for Israel.

“AIPAC congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victory,”

“We also congratulate the elected and re-elected senators and representatives — Democrats and Republicans alike — who will be joining an overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress,” the pro-Israel lobby says.

“Despite the current profound political polarization, there remains a resolute bipartisan commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance as both presidential tickets took strong pro-Israel positions. Whatever other issues divide us, America stands with Israel.”

Then-vice president Joe Biden addresses the AIPAC 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, DC, March 20, 2016. . (AP/Cliff Owen)

Trump Jr. touts Republican restraint: ‘Not one city burned to the ground’

Donald Trump Jr. is praising the restraint of angry Republicans.

“70 million pissed off republicans and not one city burned to the ground,” the US president’s son tweets.

His tweet appears to be a dig at Black Lives Matters protesters, some of whom rioted after the George Floyd killing.

Trump supporters are protesting at state capitals across the country today, refusing to accept defeat and echoing Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations that the Democrats won the election by fraud.

Ivanka Trump hasn’t tweeted since Friday, while Eric Trump has been retweeting Trump supporters protesting the network decision to call the election for Joe Biden.

 

Far-right MK: Netanyahu should get most out of Trump before he leaves office

Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich says there is no need for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate Joe Biden and should focus on getting the most out of US President Donald Trump before he leaves office.

“Netanyahu really does not need to congratulate Biden at this stage,” tweets Smotrich.

Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a Knesset plenary session at the Knesset, on August 24, 2020. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

“He needs to thank Trump and improve our standing on disputed issues before Biden takes office,” Smotrich says, calling on Netanyahu to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank, recognize unauthorized settlement outposts and greenlight as many building plans as possible in West Bank settlements.

Earlier this year Netanyahu suspended Israel’s plans to annex the settlements and the Jordan Valley in exchange for the US-brokered normalization deal with the UAE.

Netanyahu has not yet congratulated Biden, with reports saying he will wait for official results.

‘Sharpiegate’ over as Arizona attorneys end legal challenge

The #Sharpiegate controversy may be over now that the attorneys who challenged the use of the markers to complete Election Day ballots in metro Phoenix tell a court they’re dismissing their legal challenge.

Roopali Desai, an attorney for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, says she received notice Saturday from the court that the lawyers who filed the lawsuit are now ending the case.

A copy of the dismissal notice provided to The Associated Press doesn’t specify a reason for dismissing the case, and Alexander Kolodin, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, declined a request for comment.

Arizona election officials have said voting with a Sharpie would not invalidate their ballot. But many social media users have falsely claimed their ballots had been invalidated because they were told to use the markers to fill out their ballots.

The lawsuit alleged tabulation equipment was unable to record a voter’s ballot on Tuesday because she completed it with a Sharpie. One of the remedies sought by the lawsuit was for voters who used Sharpies to be present to watch workers count ballots, a proposition that the judge expressed skepticism about.

Election officials say votes wouldn’t be cancelled if ink from a Sharpie bleeds through the back side of ballots and that there is a process that would keep the ballots from being canceled out if problems arise.

–AP

Poll indicates Bennett closing in on Netanyahu as preferred leader

A poll today indicates that Yamina leader Naftali Bennett continues to close in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the best person to lead Israel in the eyes of the public.

Naftali Bennett visits the ultra-Orthodox city of Elad, September 6, 2020 (FLASH90)

The Channel 12 poll asks who is most suitable to lead the country. Thirty-two percent say Netanyahu, while 28 percent say Bennett who has seen his popularity surge since going into the opposition and presenting clear plans for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu on the other hand has been widely panned for his handling of the virus and the economy. He has also faced widespread protests since being charged in three corruption cases.

Netanyahu also dropped when people were offered opposition leader Yair Lapid as an alternative. Netanyahu garnered 40% compared to Lapid’s 20%. The gap in a previous poll was 28%.

Bennett’s Yamina also surged in a poll over party vote.

If elections were held today, Likud would drop to 28 seats, Yamina would more than quadruple its support to 22 seats. Lapid’s Yesh Atid gets 17, Joint  List has 13 and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White would score 11.

The poll also gives 8 seats to each of the ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and UTJ, 7 seats to Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and Meretz gets 6.

Thousands party outside White House

Tens of thousands of people are celebrating Joe Biden’s victory outside the White House, where US President Donald Trump is refusing to concede the election.

People started gathering in the afternoon after the networks called the election. Crowds continue to grow into the night with many cheering, singing, dancing, and drinking champagne.

Celebrations center on Black Lives Matter Plaza, a newly christened area near the presidential mansion that was the epicenter of protests this summer about racial injustice.

“I’m here to celebrate,” says Jack Nugent, a 24-year-old software engineer.

“I’m really happy with the outcome. It’s been so many years waiting for this day to happen.”

It was a moment of catharsis for many who felt marginalized under Trump, with flags from the LGBT community, BLM and others flying. Many also carried US flags.

Amanda Madden sprays champagne as people celebrate at Black Lives Matter Plaza after CNN called the race in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden over Pres. Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Kamala Harris arrives in Delaware for victory speech

A US Secret Service convoy arrives in Wilmington Delaware, bringing Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to Joe Biden’s home city where he will give a victory speech.

Harris is expected to speak before Biden.

Tens of thousands of people are waiving US flags and cheering in the area.

WATCH: Joe Biden delivers his victory speech

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will address the nation from Wilmington Deleware at 8 p.m. EST after winning the 2020 US presidential election.

Mexican president says too soon to congratulate Biden

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says that it is too soon to congratulate Joe Biden and he would wait for “all legal issues” in the US presidential election to be resolved.

“We don’t want to be imprudent. We don’t want to act lightly and we want to respect people’s self-determination and rights,” Lopez Obrador tells reporters.

“We have a very good relationship with the two candidates,” he adds.

“President Trump has been very respectful with us and we have reached very good agreements, and we thank him because he has not interfered and has respected us,” says the left-wing populist.

And “the same” goes for Biden, Lopez Obrador adds.

— AFP

In victory speech, Harris says Biden will be a president the world will respect

US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is introducing Joe Biden who will give his victory speech.

“Our democracy is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it,” Harris tells a huge cheering crowd. “We the people have the power to build a better future.”

“When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, the soul of our nation, you ushered in a new day for democracy.”

Harris hails Biden’s character as a family man.

“We have elected a president who represents the best of us, a leader the world will respect,” she says, promising he will be a president for all Americans.”

Harris made history Saturday as the first Black woman elected as vice president of the United States.

The 56-year-old California senator, is also the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks on stage at the Chase Center before President-elect Joe Biden’s address to the nation November 07, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP)

Harris calls “overlooked” black women the “backbone of our democracy.”

“Tonight I reflect on their struggle and the strength of their determination,” Harris says, adding that she “stands on their shoulders.”

She hails Biden for his “audacity” in breaking norms and choosing a woman as his running mate. She also vows that she will not be the last woman elected to this office.

 

In victory speech Biden vows to unify country, work for all Americans

US President-elect Joe Biden pledges to unify the country in his victory speech, promising to work for all Americans.

“I pledge to be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify, who doesn’t see Red and Blue states, but a United States,” Biden tells a cheering crowd in Wilmington, Delaware. “And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.”

I sought this office to restore the soul of our nation,” he says. Biden also vowed to “make the US respected around the world again.”

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Biden hailed his running mate Kamala Harris, the first woman ever elected as vice president.  “Don’t tell me it’s not possible in the United States , it’s long overdue.”

Biden also promises a diverse administration reflecting the whole country. He pays special tribute to African Americans, whose vote was crucial for him.

“The African American community stood up for us again. You always have my back and I will always have yours,” he says.

Biden does not mention Donald Trump, who is refusing to concede, but promises Trump supporters he will be their president too and calls for both sides to lower tensions.

“We are all Americans,” he says.

 

 

Biden makes appeal to Trump supporters: ‘Let’s give each other a chance’

In his first speech after securing the White House, President-elect Joe Biden is making an appeal to supporters of US President Donald Trump.

Biden says Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, that “this is the time to heal in America” and pledges to be a president to represent even those who didn’t support him.

Noting “I’ve lost a couple times myself,” Biden said, “now, let’s give each other a chance.”

Trump has not conceded the race to Biden, pursuing legal challenges over ballot counts in several states.

Biden said “it’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again,” saying of his political opponents, “they are not our enemies. They are Americans.”

— AP

Gantz first senior Israeli leader to congratulate Biden

Defense Minister Benny Gantz becomes the first senior Israeli official to congratulate Joe Biden on his election victory.

“As the election results become final, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to
Joe Biden, a long-time supporter and friend of Israel, and to his running mate,
Kamala Harris, who has made history as the first woman elected VP,” Gantz tweets as Biden gives his victory speech.

“I look forward to continuing to deepen the steadfast bond and strong defense ties between our peoples, as allies in the effort to strengthen democracy, stability, and peace worldwide,” he says.

His message was sent out at 4 a.m Israel time.

As world leaders have congratulated Biden, Israeli leaders have been conspicuously silent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented yet, with reports saying he is waiting for results to be official.

Donald Trump has refused to concede the election. Netanyahu has been very close with Trump who has been seen as the most pro-Israel president.

Gantz also thanked Trump, calling him “a valuable partner of the State of Israel, committed to its security and invested in its future.”

“The Middle East has taken major steps forward thanks to the president’s bold leadership over these four years, and for that we are immensely grateful.”

 

In first act, Biden to unveil COVID-19 panel Monday

Joe Biden will unveil a group of scientists and experts to help him craft a plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic on Monday.

Biden announces his plans to launch the COVID-19 task force during remarks at his victory party Saturday night.

He says those advisers would help him take the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic — which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines — and turn those proposals into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.

Biden says the plan would be “built on bedrock science” and “constructed out of compassion, empathy and concern.” Biden made President Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic a central focus of his campaign and pledged that his top priority as president would be managing the virus.

Biden said that “our work begins with getting COVID under control,” adding Americans “cannot repair the economy, restore our economy or relish life’s most precious moments” without doing so.

— AP

Harris pays tribute to Black women, 100th anniversary of 19th amendment

US Vice president-elect Kamala Harris is paying tribute to Black women who “so often prove they are the backbone of our democracy.”

Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is the first woman to be elected to the vice presidency.

Harris noted her ascension to the role comes 100 years after the 19th Amendment was ratified and 55 years after the signing of the Voting Rights Act, which expanded who could participate in American democracy.

She praised Joe Biden for having “the audacity to break one of the most substantial barriers that exist in our country” by selecting a woman as his running mate.

“Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a county of possibilities,” Harris said.

The remarks were some of the most direct she has delivered about her history-making role as Biden’s running mate.

— AP

Pompeo slaps back after Khamenei mocks US election

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hitting back at Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who mocked the US election process.

“What a spectacle!” supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted late Wednesday.

“One says this is the most fraudulent election in US history. Who says that? The president who is currently in office. His rival says Trump intends to rig the election! This is how #USElections & US democracy are,” Khamenei goads.

On Saturday, Pompeo responded, attacking Khamenei.

“You’ve personally stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from your people. Your elections are a joke, with hundreds of candidates disqualified from even running,” Pompeo tweeted.

“Today, your people starve because you spend billions on proxy wars to protect your kleptocracy.”

Darrell Issa headed back to Congress after defeating Ammar Campa-Najjar

Former California Republican US Rep. Darrell Issa is victorious in his race to return to Congress where he once headed the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and became a GOP favorite for launching a string of investigations of the Obama administration.

The former nine-term congressman and ardent supporter of US President Donald Trump trailed early in the San Diego-area 50th District. But as more votes were counted after Election Day, he overtook Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. The latest vote count update gave him about 54% of the votes and a 23,000-vote lead.

In this Sept. 26, 2019, file photo, former Republican congressman Darrell Issa speaks during a news conference in El Cajon, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Both candidates are of Arab American heritage.

Issa’s father was a Lebanese American of the Maronite Catholic faith.

Campa-Najjar, whose father is a Palestinian Muslim and mother a Mexican-American Catholic spent part of his childhood in Gaza and is fluent in Spanish and Arabic.

Campa-Najjar has made clear that he has no personal connection to his grandfather, Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar who was a mastermind of the terrorist murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes and coaches at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Al-Najjar was assassinated a year later by Israeli commandos.

— TOI Staff and AP

Kushner said trying to persuade Trump to concede election

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly trying to convince him to concede the election.

“Some news — Jared Kushner has approached President Trump about conceding the election, per two sources,” tweets CNN’s White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.

No immediate word on how the conversation is going.

Trump, GOP sue in Arizona over ballot handling

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee file a lawsuit today in Arizona that seeks the manual inspection of potentially thousands of in-person Election Day ballots in metro Phoenix that they allege were mishandled by poll workers and resulted in some ballot selections to be disregarded.

The legal challenge against Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs centers on instances in which people are believed to have voted for more candidates than permitted.

When tabulators detect such an “overvote,” poll workers should give voters a choice to fix the problem, but the workers instead either pressed or told voters to press a button on the machine to override the error, leaving the devices to disregard the problematic ballot selections, according to the lawsuit.

People rally for US President Donald Trump outside City Hall, November 5, 2020, in Phoenix, Arizona. (AP /Matt York)

The lawsuit was filed hours after the dismissal of another Arizona election lawsuit that contested the use of Sharpie markers in completing Election Day ballots in Maricopa County. Even though election officials have said voting with a Sharpie would not invalidate a ballot, many social media users in the controversy known as #Sharpiegate have falsely claimed their ballots had been invalidated because they were told to use the markers.

Hobbs spokeswoman Sophia Solis said the secretary of state’s office is still reviewing the lawsuit, but added that the latest lawsuit “is seemingly a repackaged ‘Sharpiegate’ lawsuit.”

While the Trump campaign’s lawsuit doesn’t mention Sharpies, it focuses on how ink splotches on a ballot are handled by electronic tabulators and raises the possibility of overvotes.

— AP

FM Ashkenazi congratulates Biden on win

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is also now congratulating Joe Biden on winning the US election.

“It is an honor to congratulate President-elect  @JoeBiden and Vice President-elect
@KamalaHarris on their victory in the U.S. 2020 elections,” Tweets Ashkenazi, hours after Defense Minister Benny Gantz became the first senior Israeli official to congratulate Biden.

As world leaders have congratulated Biden, Israeli leaders have been conspicuously silent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have not commented yet, with reports saying they are waiting for results to be official.

Trump is refusing to concede the election.

Gantz waited for Biden to give his victory speech.

“The President’s-elect friendship and distinguished record of support for Israel dates back nearly half a century,” Ashkenazi tweets. “I strongly believe that under his leadership the strategic indispensable alliance between our two countries will continue to flourish and prosper.”

Breaking silence after 12 hours, Netanyahu congratulates Biden

Some 12 hours after Joe Biden was projected to have won the US presidency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu breaks his silence and congratulates him.

“Congratulations @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris. Joe, we’ve had a long & warm personal relationship for nearly 40 years, and I know you as a great friend of Israel. I look forward to working with both of you to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel,” Netanyahu tweets.

In a separate tweet, Netanyahu thanks outgoing president Donald Trump “for bringing the American-Israeli alliance to unprecedented heights.”

President Rivlin congratulates Biden, invites him to Jerusalem

President Reuven Rivlin sends his blessings to US President-elect Joe Biden, hailing the strategic alliance between the countries.

“I send the blessings of the Israeli people and of the State of Israel, to our friend Joe Biden on your election as the 46th President of the United States of America. I also send congratulations and best wishes for your success, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,” Rivlin says in a statement.

“Mr. President-elect, as a long-standing friend of Israel, you are now the leader of the free world and of the State of Israel’s closest and most important ally,” he adds. “The strategic alliance between our two countries and peoples is stronger than any political leadership, and is not based solely on friendship. It is rooted deeply in our shared values and in our long-standing commitment to freedom and democracy as the foundations of our societies.

“This is also the time to thank President Trump for four years of partnership in strengthening Israel’s security, and to thank the American people for their steadfast support and friendship. I have no doubt that our special relations and multifaceted cooperation will continue to flourish and grow in the future.
On behalf of the Israeli people, I wish you and your future administration great success, and extend my invitation to you to visit Jerusalem as our guest.”

Jewish Agency head Herzog hails Biden’s ‘record in fighting anti-Semitism’

Jewish Agency leader Isaac Herzog joins a flurry of Israeli leaders congratulating US President-elect Joe Biden, hailing his “record in fighting anti-Semitism and support for Israel.”

Like President Reuven Rivlin, Herzog also thanks the outgoing US leader Donald Trump for his staunchly pro-Israel term.

207 virus cases confirmed Saturday as testing rate drops over weekend

Just 207 coronavirus cases were identified in Israel yesterday, the Health Ministry updates, although that is a result of far lower testing rates on weekends.

Figures by the ministry say that 2.6% of the 8,045 test results that came back throughout Saturday were positive. (The previous few days had 30,000-40,000 daily tests)

There are 8,638 active cases in the country as the total tally reaches 319,022.

Of them, 319 are in serious condition, including 143 on ventilators. Another 92 are in moderate condition and the rest have mild or no symptoms.

The death toll remains at 2,664.

Stabbing attack thwarted near Hebron, attacker shot — IDF

A suspect has attempted to stab a soldier south of the West Bank city of Hebron, the military says.

Troops at the scene reportedly open fire at the suspect, injuring him. His condition is not immediately known.

No Israeli soldiers are injured, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The incident occurred outside the al-Fawar refugee camp.

— Judah Ari Gross

GOP chief in Israel doesn’t accept Biden’s win, says PM congratulated him ‘just in case’

The chairman of the US Republican Party in Israel, Marc Zell, says he doesn’t accept Joe Biden’s election win and says Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement congratulating him came just because “he needs to defend Israel’s interests in case Biden wins.”

“I don’t know of any defeat and I don’t accept the media’s announcements, including Fox News who were against Trump,” Zell tells the right-wing Radio Galey Israel.

“I am waiting for the legal process. You’ll see Arizona will go back to Trump,” he adds.

Arab Israeli lawmaker says world ‘saner’ with Trump out of office

MK Ahmad Tibi of the predominantly Arab Joint List party says the world without Donald Trump as the US president would be “saner and less absurd.”

Speaking to Radio 103FM, Tibi says he expects dialogue to resume shortly between the Palestinian Authority and Washington under leadership of Joe Biden.

Gantz, opposition step up talks amid reported talk of early elections

As the tumultuous US elections draw to a close, Israeli elections possibly on the horizon are becoming more likely, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

It reports that Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the top partner and former rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has met recently with Naftali Bennett, the leader of the opposition Yamina party, and that members of Gantz’s Blue and White party have met to coordinate their moves.

Gantz believes Netanyahu won’t hold true to his promise to hand over the premiership to him in November 2021 as per the power-sharing agreement they signed, and is frustrated by the continued delays in passing the state budget for this year and the next, which would guarantee he will be prime minister.

Blue and White and the opposition parties reportedly agree that the most realistic option is to agree on a law to dissolve the Knesset and coordinate a date for what would be the fourth national election since April 2019.

Abbas to demand Biden return US Embassy to Tel Aviv — report

An unnamed senior official in the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is quoted by the Israel Hayom daily as saying Ramallah will demand that Joe Biden immediately return the US Embassy to Tel Aviv and cancel Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Biden has previously said that while taking a more evenhanded approach to the Middle East conflict than his predecessor, he will not reverse those moves.

The official says Abbas has sent Biden messages that the PA would be willing to resume US-brokered peace negotiations with Israel, but only from the point where they were halted in 2016 under Barack Obama.

Abbas adviser Nabil Shaath says the PA will also demand that the US reopen the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, which Trump closed, and renew American aid to the Palestinians and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants, UNRWA.

Ex-US envoy to Israel: ‘No chance’ for Trump to reverse election result

Dan Shapiro, who served as US Ambassador to Israel under the Obama-Biden administration, says that while it is okay for Donald Trump to challenge the election results, there is “no chance to reverse the results in four states,” with some states having considerable gaps between the candidates.

Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster, Shapiro also says the establishment of a Palestinian state will go back to being a priority under the next administration.

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro attends at a farewell session at the Knesset ahead of his departure from the role on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Abbas congratulates Biden, urges him to ‘strengthen’ Palestinian-US ties

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls on US President-elect Joe Biden to “strengthen” relations between the Palestinians and Washington, which collapsed during President Donald Trump’s term in office.

In a statement congratulating Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris, Abbas urges the incoming administration “to strengthen the Palestinian-American relationship,” and to strive for Middle East “peace, stability and security.”

— AFP

Iran’s Rouhani says Biden win a chance for US to ‘compensate for mistakes’

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the next US administration has an opportunity to “compensate for its previous mistakes” following Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.

“Now there is an opportunity for the future American administration to compensate for its previous mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international commitments,” Rouhani says in a statement on his official website.

— AFP

Azerbaijani leader: Forces seize key Nagorno-Karabakh city

Azerbaijani forces have taken control of the strategically key city of Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh where fighting with Armenia has raged for more than a month, the country’s president says.

In a televised address to the nation, President Ilham Aliyev says “Shusha is ours — Karabakh is ours,” using the Azerbaijani version of the city’s name.

Shushi is of significant military value because it sits on heights about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the region’s capital of Stepanakert and lies along the main road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.

Nagorno-Karabakh is within Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since 1994. The latest outbreak of fighting started on September 27 and has left hundreds — if not thousands — dead.

Aliyev vows to continue the fighting until Armenia withdraws from the territory.

— AP

Netanyahu hails Biden as ‘big friend of Israel’ at start of cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses more warm words to US President-elect Joe Biden at the outset of the weekly cabinet meeting, and adds more praise of outgoing president Donald Trump.

“I want to start with well-wishes to Joe Biden and [Vice President-elect] Kamala Harris,” Netanyahu says in a Hebrew-language video released ahead of the online cabinet meeting.

“I have a long and warm personal relationship with Joe Biden, almost 40 years, and I know him as a big friend of Israel,” he says. “I am sure we will continue to work with both of them to continue to strengthen the special Israeli-American alliance.”

He also thanked Trump “on my behalf and on the behalf of all citizens of Israel for the great friendship he has demonstrated to the State of Israel, and also to me personally,” the premier adds.

“I congratulate him for recognizing Jerusalem and the Golan, for standing up to Iran, for the historic peace agreements and for bringing the partnership between Israel and the US to unprecedented heights. Thank you, President Trump.”

Prince Charles mourns Rabbi Sacks: ‘Will be missed more than words can say’

Britain’s Prince Charles eulogizes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, calling him “a leader whose wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal.”

Rabbi Sacks, 72, whose extensive writings and frequent media appearances commanded a global following among Jews and non-Jews alike, was in the midst of a third bout of cancer, which he had announced in October.

“It was with the most profound personal sorrow that I heard of the death of Rabbi Lord Sacks,” Prince Charles says in an official statement. “With his passing, the Jewish community, our nation, and the entire world have lost a leader whose wisdom, scholarship and humanity were without equal.

“His immense learning spanned the sacred and the secular, and his prophetic voice spoke to our greatest challenges with unfailing insight and boundless compassion. His wise counsel was sought and appreciated by those of all faiths and none, and he will be missed more than words can say.

“Although Rabbi Lord Sacks’s death is a cause of the greatest possible sadness, we give thanks for the immeasurable contribution which — in the tradition of the most revered teachers of the Jewish people — he made to all our lives.

“I send my deepest condolences to his family.”

Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks escorts Prince Charles at his farewell dinner (photo credit: John Rifkin/courtesy)

Rivlin says he looks forward to future Biden visit to Jerusalem

President Reuven Rivlin, in a video, extends further congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

“Mr. President-elect, I was pleased to welcome you to Jerusalem as vice president and I look forward to welcoming you to Jerusalem as president of the United States. As a longstanding friend of Israel, you are now going to be the leader of the free world and of Israel’s closest and most important ally. Our bond is more than friendship. It is based on values, on our shared commitment to freedom and democracy,” says Rivlin in the English-language statement.

“I also want to thank President Trump for four years of partnership, strengthening Israel’s security, and to thank the American people for their support and friendship. I have no doubt that we will continue to grow and flourish in the future. God bless America. God bless all of you.”

Government approves establishment of new town in Gaza periphery

The cabinet green-lights a plan to build a new town in the region adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

The new town has been tentatively named Hanun and will include hundreds of homes, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Virus testing lab now ready at airport; awaiting Health Ministry approval

Ben Gurion Airport has completed setting up its coronavirus testing labs for travelers, according to Hebrew media reports.

The lab, which includes both fast testing and those that require a longer wait, is still awaiting Health Ministry approval before declaring itself operational.

It will likely open in the coming days, reports say.

Street-front stores reopen, after weeks of closure

Tens of thousands of street-front stores reopen, as the government eases the lockdown rules to stem the pandemic.

Stores open for business with a maximum of four customers allowed in at a time, and in compliance with coronavirus regulations.

The stores have been closed since mid-September, when Israel introduced a nationwide lockdown that excluded only essential businesses.

On Wednesday, ministers voted to allow stores to reopen, over the objections of health officials who have urged a slow and gradual reopening of the economy, schools and more. However, the move only covers street-front stores, seemingly excluding those in malls or shopping centers.

A store owner prepares for reopening in downtown Jerusalem as Israel steps out of coronavirus lockdown and rolls back restrictions on November 05, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 )

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also reportedly reluctant to okay the openings, warned that the government could snap back some restrictions if numbers continued to mount.

On Saturday, Foot Locker and Nike stores at the Tel Aviv Port were fined NIS 5,000 ($1,500) each for opening to customers a day early, according to Kan news.

Former US envoy predicts Biden will reenter Iran nuclear deal

In an interview with Army Radio, former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer predicts that President-elect Joe Biden will reenter the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, though not without consulting Israel.

Says Kurtzer on Biden: “He’s been a very longtime supporter of Israel and of Israel’s security and wellbeing. He has a very long relationship with the prime minister and with most senior officials. He genuinely likes Israel and I think we’re going to see an administration that tries to build on a strong relationship to make it even deeper and better.

“Of course there are always some issues on which we will disagree. I think [the] Iran nuclear program may be one of those. But I would anticipate that President-elect Biden will try to talk very seriously about this with the prime minister rather than doing anything unilaterally. I think we’ll get into very deep strategic dialogue on some of the issues where we disagree.

“I certainly would like to find a way to again stop the Iranian program, which that deal [the 2015 nuclear deal] actually accomplished. During the three years when it was in effect, the Iranian program was stopped dead in its tracks, and then it restarted after the Trump administration pulled out of the deal,” he says.

Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer at Princeton University, February 1, 2011 (AP/Mel Evans)

“So my guess is that the Biden administration will want to find a way to go back in. I think they’ll talk to Israel about it before they do anything. But there will be a very significant interest in resuming that kind of an arrangement that stops the Iranian program and stops the enrichment of uranium.”

Russian opposition leader Navalny congratulates Biden; Putin mum

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny congratulates US President-elect Joe Biden on his victory before there was any reaction from the Kremlin to the US election results.

Navalny in a tweet congratulates Biden, running mate Kamala Harris and Americans for “defining the new leadership in a free and fair election.”

“This is a privilege which is not available to all countries,” says Navalny, who is recovering in Germany from a suspected poisoning earlier this year.

World leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson congratulated Biden, but by mid-afternoon Sunday there was no statement yet from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has been accused of interfering in the 2016 US election to help get Trump elected, in the hopes he would take a softer line with Moscow.

This file photo taken on July 20, 2019, shows Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaking with journalists during a rally to support opposition and independent candidates after authorities refused to register them for September elections to the Moscow City Duma, in Moscow. (Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP)

Biden is expected to take a tougher stand and during the campaign slammed Trump for having “embraced so many autocrats around the world, starting with Vladimir Putin.”

Navalny, Russia’s leading opposition figure, collapsed on a plane in late August and was taken to hospital in Siberia for two days before being flown out to Berlin, where tests found he had been poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-designed nerve agent. Navalny has claimed Putin was personally responsible for the poisoning, while the Kremlin has rejected all allegations it could have been involved.

AFP

Netanyahu eulogizes Rabbi Sacks, says his insights will live on for generations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extends his condolences over the death of former British chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who succumbed to cancer on Saturday.

“His insights on the heritage of the Jewish people and on anti-Semitism will live on, for our generation and future generations. May his memory be a blessing,” tweets Netanyahu.

Lebanon ex-FM says US demanded he reject Hezbollah before slapping him with corruption sanctions

Lebanon’s former foreign minister Gebran Bassil says the United States had urged him to sever ties with Shiite movement Hezbollah before targeting him with sanctions over alleged corruption.

The punitive measures announced Friday are the first against a senior Christian ally of Hezbollah, long targeted by US sanctions and blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

Bassil in a televised statement says the US embassy informed him he “should immediately comply with four demands or US sanctions would be implemented.”

“Throughout all this discussion, the word corruption was never mentioned,” the 50-year-old son-in-law of Lebanon’s president adds.

He says the first demand was for him to “immediately sever ties with Hezbollah,” which then became the only request.

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, attends his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

He does not elaborate on the three other initial demands.

When he refused to comply, it appeared the sanctions “were linked to corruption and Hezbollah was barely mentioned, although they had not talked to me about anything but Hezbollah,” he says.

He describes the measures against him as a “crime,” and says he would be directing lawyers to appeal the decision and demand “moral and material compensation” in a US court.

He speaks after his father-in-law, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, on Saturday said he had requested evidence of Bassil’s alleged wrongdoings.

The US Treasury said it had targeted Bassil “for his role in corruption in Lebanon,” alleging in particular that he “steered Lebanese government funds to individuals close to him through a group of front companies” as energy minister.

Supporters of Hezbollah terror group leader Hassan Nasrallah chant slogans ahead of his televised speech in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, January 5, 2020. (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Bassil has been a minister in all cabinets from 2008 to 2019, most recently foreign minister in the government that stepped down under pressure from massive street protests last autumn.

He is also head of the Free Patriotic Movement political party founded by Aoun, which together with Hezbollah and other allies holds a parliamentary majority.

AFP

Trump may never officially concede, some of his associates say

US President Donald Trump never admits defeat. But he faces a stark choice now that Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House: Concede graciously for the sake of the nation or don’t — and get evicted anyway.

After nearly four tortured days of counting yielded a victory for Biden on Saturday, Trump is still insisting the race was not over. He is throwing out baseless allegations of voter fraud, promised a flurry of legal action and fired off all-caps tweets falsely insisting he’d “WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT.”

Trump is not expected to ever formally concede, according to people close to him, but is likely to grudgingly vacate the White House at the end of his term. His ongoing efforts to paint the election as unfair are seen both as an effort to soothe a bruised ego and to show his loyal base of supporters that he is still fighting. That could be key to keeping them energized for what comes next.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally in Beverly Hills, California, Saturday, November 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

“He intends to fight,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said as it was becoming clear that the president was headed for defeat.

Would Trump ever concede? “I doubt it,” says Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump in July. Stone asserts that Biden, as a result, will have “a cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing that he was illegitimately elected.”

AP

UK PM Johnson reaches out to Biden on climate, trade, international security

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson strives to bury differences with president-elect Joe Biden as he stresses the enduring UK-US alliance and a future partnership against climate change.

Johnson’s hostile comments in the past about the Democratic administration of the former vice president and Barack Obama have come back to bite him as Biden prepares to take office following his hard-fought victory over Donald Trump.

But the Conservative prime minister emphasizes the bigger picture, as he downplays discord now over post-Brexit plans for Northern Ireland, whose peace agreement is dear to Biden.

“The United States is our closest and most important ally. And that’s been the case under president after president, prime minister after prime minister. It won’t change,” Johnson says in a broadcast interview.

“And I look forward to working with president Biden and his team on a lot of crucial stuff for us in the weeks and months ahead: tackling climate change, trade, international security,” he says.

AFP

US President Donald Trump (R) and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speak before a working breakfast at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, on August 25, 2019. (Erin Schaff/Pool/AFP)

Virus cases worldwide near 50 million mark; 1.25 million have died

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,250,879 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Sunday.

At least 49,910,930 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 32,492,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections.

Many countries are testing only symptomatic or the most serious cases.

On Saturday, 7,370 new deaths and 602,036 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were the United States with 991, followed by India with 559 and Mexico with 485.

People wearing face shields and face masks to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus queue to vote at a polling station in Rakhine state on November 8, 2020. (Str / AFP)

The United States is the worst-affected country with 237,123 deaths from 9,861,898 cases. At least 3,851,465 people have been declared recovered.

After the US, the hardest-hit countries are Brazil with 162,269 deaths from 5,653,561 cases, India with 126,121 deaths from 8,507,754 cases, Mexico with 94,808 deaths from 961,938 cases, and the United Kingdom with 48,888 deaths from 1,171,441 cases.

The country with the highest number of deaths compared to its population is Belgium with 111 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Peru with 106, Spain (83) and Brazil (76).

China — excluding Hong Kong and Macau — has to date declared 86,212 cases, including 4,634 deaths and 81,168 recoveries.

Latin America and the Caribbean overall has 411,726 deaths from 11,599,214 cases, Europe 304,881 deaths from 12,549,042 infections, and the United States and Canada 247,605 deaths from 10,120,352 cases.

Asia has reported 176,524 deaths from 11,012,350 cases, the Middle East 64,398 deaths from 2,730,050 cases, Africa 44,804 deaths from 1,870,001 cases, and Oceania 941 deaths from 29,927 cases.

As a result of corrections by national authorities or late publication of data, the figures updated over the past 24 hours may not correspond exactly to the previous day’s tallies.

AFP

Renowned world correspondent Seymour Topping dead at 99

Seymour Topping, among the most accomplished foreign correspondents of his generation for The Associated Press and the New York Times and later a top editor at the Times and administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, died on Sunday. He was 99.

Topping passed away “peacefully” at White Plains Hospital, his daughter Rebecca says in an emailed statement.

Born December 11, 1921, in Harlem, New York, Topping was the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He wrote that he developed a fascination with China at a young age and decided at 16 as a high school editor that he wanted to become a newspaper correspondent there.

That led him to enroll at the University of Missouri, whose journalism school had connections to China and the Far East, and he graduated in 1943. After serving as a US infantry soldier in the Pacific in World War II, Topping demobilized in the Philippines and began to put his journalist training to work in 1946, first as a part-time stringer and then as a staff reporter in Asia for the International News Service.

From there, he was sent to China and landed a better-paying job with the AP in Shanghai.

As a correspondent for the AP in 1949, he was eyewitness to the fall of Nanking, then the capital of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government, to Mao Zedong’s Red Army. It was the key victory in the Communist conquest of China, and Topping was first to report it to the world.

After the Communists consolidated their hold and publicly aligned with Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Topping and other American correspondents were ousted from the mainland, with Topping arriving in Hong Kong in late 1949. From there, after a home leave visit to the United States and an urgent detour to Canada to visit and marry his future wife, Audrey, he returned to the AP bureau in Hong Kong.

He was hoping that the Chinese Communist authorities would agree to his request to go back to China. While awaiting their answer, Topping accepted an assignment in French Indochina.

After postings to London as diplomatic correspondent and West Berlin as bureau chief for the AP, Topping in 1959 joined the Times, where he was to work for the next 34 years.

Known as “Top,” he was chief correspondent in Moscow and Southeast Asia, foreign editor, assistant managing editor, deputy managing editor and finally managing editor under Times Executive Editor A.M. Rosenthal for 10 years from 1977 to 1987. He became director of editorial development for the New York Times newspaper group until his retirement in 1993 from the company.

For the next decade, he served as administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes at Columbia University and simultaneously held the San Paolo Professor of International Journalism Chair at Columbia Journalism School.

He stopped teaching in 2002. He remained engaged in writing and in international affairs and journalism as a member of the International Press Institute and the Council of Foreign Relations, among other organizations, and was a frequent attendee at events at the AP and the Overseas Press Club well into his 90s.

AP, with Times of Israel staff

Construction of new Jerusalem light rail routes to begin in coming weeks — TV

The construction of the “green line” of the Jerusalem light rail will begin in the coming weeks, reports Channel 12.

The 27-kilometer line, which will run from Gilo to Mount Scopus, is expected to have 50 stops, according to the network.

In addition, the existing “red line” running from Mount Herzl to Pisgat Ze’ev will be extended to the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in the north and the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in the south, the report says.

The green line and extensions to the red line will gradually become operational between 2022 and 2025.

A poster of the Teachers’ Lounge coexistence project at a station of the Jerusalem Light Rail. (Courtesy Ella Tzuberi)

First flight carrying Israeli tourists lands in Dubai

The first flight carrying Israeli tourists to the United Arab Emirates lands in the city-state of Dubai, the latest sign of the normalization deal reached between the two nations.

FlyDubai flight No. FZ8194 landed at Dubai International Airport just after 5:40 p.m., bringing the tourists to the skyscraper-studded city after a roughly three-hour trip. The low-cost carrier had sent one of its Boeing 737s to Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv earlier Sunday morning to pick up the passengers.

The flight flew across Saudi Arabia and then over the waters of the Persian Gulf to reach the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms also home to Abu Dhabi.

In this Oct. 27, 2010 photo, a Boeing 737 being delivered to FlyDubai is seen in Seattle (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The arrival of tourists comes as Dubai in particular tries to revive its vital tourism industry amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The UAE and Israel have agreed to launch regular commercial flights between their countries soon, while other recent flights have carried business and governmental delegations.

FlyDubai plans to begin its flights to Tel Aviv later this month. The airline said described Sunday’s flight as a “charter” for the incoming tourists.

AP

Biden launching transition teams to review federal agencies

US President-elect Joe Biden will launch an “agency review teams” this coming week. It’s the group of transition staffers that have access to key agencies in the current administration to smooth the transfer of power.

The teams will collect and review information such as budgetary and staffing decisions, pending regulations and other work in progress from current staff at the federal departments.

The teams are meant to lay much of the groundwork so that the thousands of new staffers and appointees who will take over in January will have a road map and guidelines for how to continue the federal government’s work without pause, and how to shift the departments toward Biden’s priorities.

Biden’s campaign launched a transition team in May, and they’ve been working alongside designated staffers in President Donald Trump’s administration on transition planning for months. But the agency review process begins in earnest after a new president is elected. Biden has just over 10 weeks to prepare before he is inaugurated.

On Monday, he plans to announce a team of scientists and experts that will work to craft a coronavirus response plan that can be enacted when he takes office.

Biden’s transition team has also come out with a transition-focused website — BuildBackBetter.com — and is launching transition-focused social media accounts under the username “Transition46.”

AP

PA prime minister congratulates Biden, says ready for ‘immediate engagement’

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh congratulates US President-Elect Joe Biden on his electoral victory, saying that the Palestinian leadership is ready for “immediate engagement” with the United States if their conditions are met.

“We look forward to constructive bilateral US-Palestinian relations towards achieving a just and lasting peace within the frame of two states and ending the Israeli occupation,” Shtayyeh says in a tweet. “President Mahmoud Abbas is ready for immediate engagement when there is a partner and a serious process with clear terms of reference.”

The PA has boycotted Washington since US President Donald Trump’s 2017 declaration that the American embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Relations between the two sides have been sour for years: the Trump administration cut aid, expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization’s envoy to Washington, and formulated a peace plan which the Palestinians saw as firmly pro-Israel.

Biden has said he will reverse some of the Trump administration’s policies, including restoring the PLO mission in the American capital.

The Palestinian leadership hopes that the incoming Biden administration will place the Palestinian cause “on their list of priorities,” Shtayyeh says in another statement from today.

Shtayyeh concludes that Ramallah hopes to strengthen its bilateral ties with the United States “without any connection to Israel.”

Aaron Boxerman

Health Ministry’s No. 2 announces resignation

The Health Ministry’s Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto announces he will resign after 13 years in the position.

He will leave office at the end of the year.

Grotto announces his resignation in a letter to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein and the director-general of the ministry, Chezy Levy.

Grotto says he’s leaving “in order to rest a bit and embark on a new path.”

Edelstein commends him for his contribution to public health, particularly during the pandemic.

Prof. Itamar Grotto at press conference about the coronavirus COVID-19, at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on May 31, 2020. (Flash90)

Democratic US House majority whip urges Trump to concede

The highest-ranking Black member of Congress, a Democrat, says US President Donald Trump should concede the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden, although he says it’s more crucial what the rest of the Republican Party does in the wake of the 2020 election.

US House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina tells CNN on Sunday that the GOP “has a responsibility here” and that he’s watching to see “whether or not the Republican Party will step up and help us preserve the integrity of this democracy.”

Clyburn also says he sees the United States as “teetering” following Trump’s term, advising that “we had better get a hold of ourselves and this country and stop catering to whims of one person.”

Clyburn also talks about his endorsement of Biden ahead of South Carolina’s early primary, a nod that helped boost Biden to win that contest, gain momentum and ultimately clinch the nomination. Saying the field was full of good candidates, Clyburn says he “came to the conclusion that Joe Biden was our best bet.”

AP

US House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic US Senate candidate Jaime Harrison on Nov. 2, 2020, in Orangeburg, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

In Egypt, France FM affirms ‘deep respect for Islam’

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is in Egypt hoping to ease tensions following the publishing of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked ire in the Arab world.

Le Drian met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and will also meet Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s highest Muslim authority.

Le Drian’s highly anticipated meeting with Tayeb, head of Al-Azhar — considered the foremost religious institution for Sunni Muslims — will tackle French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s decision in September to reprint the cartoons.

Last month Tayeb denounced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron of “Islamist separatism” as “racist” and spreading “hate speech”.

“I have emphasized, and emphasize here the deep respect we have for Islam,” says the French minister during a press conference with Shoukry.

“What we are fighting is terrorism, it is the hijacking of religion, it is extremism,” he adds, noting he came “to explain, if need be, this fight, and at the same time the fight for respect for the freedom of belief.”

Demonstrations erupted in several Muslim-majority countries after Macron defended the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, seen by many as insulting and an attack on Islam.

Macron’s remarks came after a suspected Islamist extremist decapitated a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb in October after he showed the cartoons to pupils during a lesson on freedom of expression.

Sisi himself had weighed in on the controversy last month, saying that “to insult the prophets amounts to underestimating the religious beliefs of many people.”

Drian’s visit also included discussion on Egypt’s conflict-hit western neighbor Libya.

AFP

Romney: Trump has right to legally challenge results, should tone down rhetoric

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney says that US President Donald Trump is within his rights to pursue recounts and legal challenges in close races that decided last week’s election but urges Trump to dial back his rhetoric.

Romney tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he thinks it’s unlikely that a recount or legal challenges will change the outcome and suggested Trump “be careful in the choice of words.”

The Republican senator, who has been a frequent critic of Trump’s, says when a president says an “election was ‘corrupt’ or ‘stolen’ or ‘rigged,’ that that’s unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world.”

Romney, who was the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, added that Trump’s language also “discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home.”

AP

Likud minister: Biden knows changes needed to Iran deal

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) says US President-elect Joe Biden knows the Iran nuclear deal requires changes, while denying that the Islamic Republic is closer to building a nuclear bomb than several years ago.

In an interview with Army Radio, Steinitz says Iran is not enriching to the same levels as in 2012-2013. He also predicts a Biden administration won’t avoid a military attack on Iran, if needed.

Steinitz urges “dialogue with the new administration” in order to prevent the new US leadership from reentering the pact under the previous terms.

The Iran nuclear deal was forged in 2015, when Biden was vice president. Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018, earning praise from Israel, which was fiercely against the deal.

Netanyahu huddles with US officials over Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with the US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrahams and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to discuss Iran, the US mission says.

https://twitter.com/usembassyjlm/status/1325464258998640642

Biden to appoint top health officials Murthy, Kessler to oversee virus response

US President-elect Joe Biden is planning to name former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler as co-chairs of the coronavirus working group he’s launching this week.

Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield announces the two public health experts will lead the task force during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Murthy and Kessler have been part of a group of experts and doctors that have briefed Biden on the pandemic for months throughout the campaign.

Murthy served as surgeon general during President Barack Obama’s second term, and Kessler was FDA commissioner in the 1990s and now serves as board chair at the Centers for Science in the Public Interest.

Biden said during his victory speech Saturday night that he’d unveil the full COVID-19 task force on Monday. They’ll be tasked with taking the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic — which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines — and turning them into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.

Biden made President Donald Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic a central focus of his campaign against the Republican and pledged if elected to make combating the pandemic his top priority.

AP

Trump golfs and shows no sign of conceding

Donald Trump is spending his first day as a lame duck president golfing.

Trump arrives at his Virginia golf club just before 10 a.m. on Sunday for the second day in a row. He is welcomed by several protesters, including one who holds a sign that reads, “Orange Crushed.”

Trump was also on the golf course Saturday when The Associated Press and other news outlets called the race for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, because he had won enough votes to deny Trump a second term.

Trump has yet to concede the race and is continuing to baselessly dispute the results even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

AP

Biden attends church as president-elect

Joe Biden begins his first full day as president-elect the same way he does nearly every Sunday, heading to church near his home.

Biden enters St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, shortly after the start of 10:30 a.m. Mass. He typically arrives a bit late and leaves a few minutes early so the presence of Secret Service agents doesn’t bother other attendees.

It feels like any other Sunday, except for a huge swarm of media camped near the church entrance — having anticipated Biden’s arrival.

Biden enters with his daughter, Ashley, and his grandson, Hunter, the son of the president-elect’s late son, Beau, a former Delaware attorney general.

Biden has no other public events on his schedule but is expected to swiftly move to begin appointing key members of his team for the transition to the White House, including a chief of staff.

AP

US sees new record number of coronavirus cases: 126,000 in a day

The US has set another record for daily number of coronavirus cases.

The country reports more than 126,000 positive cases and more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the most recent data from Johns Hopkins University.

It marks the fourth day in a row that new cases topped more than 100,000 as the country has broken its own record for daily cases with nearly every passing day this week.

The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the US rose over the past two weeks from more than 64,000 on October 24 to nearly 104,000 on November 7, according to the university’s data.

The virus death toll is also rising in the country.

There have been more than 9.8 million cases and more than 237,000 deaths from the virus in the US since the pandemic started.

Globally, there have been nearly 50 million positive cases and more than 1.2 million deaths from COVID-19.

AP

Coronavirus infections top 50 million worldwide — AFP tally

More than 50 million novel coronavirus infections have been detected worldwide, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1615 GMT on Sunday.

A total of more than 50,010,400 cases, including 1,251,980 deaths, have been recorded globally since the pandemic erupted in China in December last year.

Europe, with 12.6 million confirmed cases for more than 305,000 deaths, is the worst hit region, ahead of Latin America and the Caribbean with 11.6 million infections and 411,000 deaths and Asia with 11 million cases and nearly 177,000 deaths.

AFP

Shoppers throng a market area between Teen Darwaja and Bhadrakali Temple ahead of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Ahmedabad on November 8, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)

Melania urging Trump to concede loss — CNN

Melania Trump is urging the US president to concede defeat in the election, CNN reports.

“She has offered it [her opinion], as she often does,” says a source familiar with the conversations.

Health official: Virus transmission on the rise, restrictions may be reinstated

In a press briefing, senior Health Ministry official Sharon Alroy-Preis warns the rate of transmission of the coronavirus is on the rise.

Alroy-Preis, acting head of the ministry’s public health services division, also says the government may be forced to reinstate lockdown restrictions as cases climb.

“We are seeing the basic reproduction number rise. We may reach a situation in which additional restrictions [are imposed]  if the numbers once again get out of control,” she says.

She also says the ministry is expected to approve the reduction of quarantine time from 14 days to 12 days by the end of the week.

Report: Trump plans to hit Iran with major sanctions before inauguration

The Trump administration, in coordination with Israel and Arab states, is seeking to impose wide-ranging sanctions on Iran before the inauguration, in a bid to prevent the Biden administration from rejoining the nuclear deal, the Walla news site reports.

Sources tell the outlet that US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrams plans to announce a raft of fresh sanctions on Iran every week from now until January 20. These will target Iran’s missile program and its support for terrorist groups, as well as focus on its human rights violations, making it harder for Biden to roll back such punishments.

The reasoning: Israel and Arab states believe Biden will swiftly lift other sanctions on its nuclear program to restart diplomacy with Iran, shedding some of its leverage over the cash-strapped country. But these other sanctions will keep up pressure on Tehran to compromise and likely keep Biden out of the international pact unless he lifts these sanctions.

“The goal is as many sanctions as possible by January 20,” an unnamed Israeli official is quoted saying.

An Arab official involved in the negotiations tells Walla: “The goal of the Trump administration is to impose sanctions that Biden cannot lift.”

The 2015 nuclear deal was clinched when Biden was vice president. Trump in 2018 withdrew from the deal, reimposing sanctions.

‘Jeopardy!’ host Alex Trebek dies at 80

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek has died at the age of 80, the iconic American game show announces.

Trebek announced last year that he was battling pancreatic cancer.

208 new virus cases diagnosed Saturday, as testing slides

The Health Ministry says 208 new virus cases were diagnosed on Saturday, as testing dipped over the weekend. Another 241 cases were diagnosed since midnight, according to the ministry.

According to the ministry, just 8,336 tests were conducted yesterday, down from 30,000-40,000 last week. It says 2.6 percent of tests came back positive, slightly higher than the previous week.

The number of active cases in the country stands at 8,004. The ministry says 330 people are in serious condition, 143 of them on ventilators. Another 109 are in moderate condition, with the rest displaying mild or no symptoms.

The death toll from the virus hits 2,674 — up by 10 since this morning.

Bush says election was ‘fundamentally fair,’ Biden ‘a good man’

Former president George W. Bush says the American people “can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

He says in a statement that “no matter how you voted, your vote counted.” And Bush says President Donald Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, with any unresolved issues to be “properly adjudicated.”

Bush says now is the time when “we must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future.”

Bush says he has spoken with Joe Biden and thanked the president-elect for what Bush says was “the patriotic message” in Biden’s national address on Saturday night after being declared the election winner.

Bush says in a statement that while he and Biden have political differences, the former president says he knows Biden “to be good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”

AP

Health officials mulling restrictions over Hanukkah — TV

Health officials are warning that new restrictions could be imposed over Hanukkah if the virus continues to spread, Channel 12 reports. The report says health officials are concerned that gatherings over the week-long holiday could significantly drive up infection rates.

The government could restrict family gatherings, in addition to other rules, the network says.

Hanukkah begins in the evening of December 10.

Biden wants to reenter Iran nuclear deal within months, ex-aide says

Amos Hochstein, a former aide to President-elect Joe Biden, tells Israeli television that rejoining the Iran nuclear deal remains “high on his agenda.”

“I believe that in the first months [of his presidency], we’ll either see him rejoin the deal fully, or what I would call ‘JCPOA-minus,’ meaning lifting sanctions in exchange for suspending some of the Iranian nuclear programs [developed] in the past three years,” he tells Channel 12.

Hochstein, who oversaw energy sanctions on Iran under former president Barack Obama’s tenure, says Biden wants “some changes” to the pact clinched in 2015 — which Trump withdrew from in 2018 — including its expiration date.

On the Palestinians, Hochstein says Biden “sees the two-state solution as preferable to one state. And his fear is that if there is no two-state solution, in the end, it will lead to a binational state.”

The Biden administration will “bring back the Palestinian issue to the heart of the discourse.”

Hochstein also says he does not believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s delay in congratulating Biden will affect relations. “He’ll smile and move on,” he says of Biden.

Iran grants furlough to jailed human rights lawyer Sotoudeh

Jailed human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been granted temporary release, the Iranian judiciary’s Mizan Online news website reports.

“Sotoudeh… has been released temporarily, with the consent of the prosecutor in charge of women’s prisons,” the website says.

Her husband Reza Khandan later confirms the news on Twitter.

“Friends, Nasrin came out on furlough minutes ago.”

Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh in her office in Tehran, Iran, on November 1, 2008. (AP/Arash Ashourinia/File)

The UN had called on Iran to free Sotoudeh, a winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize, as well as other political prisoners excluded from a push to empty jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawyer was moved in late October from Tehran’s Evin prison to a women’s detention center outside the capital, while her family insisted she needed hospital treatment.

In August, she announced that she was going on a hunger strike to demand the release of political prisoners and to focus attention on their plight due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But health issues prompted the 57-year-old Sotoudeh to stop the hunger strike more than 45 days after she started it, her husband said in September.

Sotoudeh was sentenced in 2019 to serve 12 years in jail for defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws in the Islamic Republic.

AFP

Pompeo due in Israel on November 18 for talks on Iran — report

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Israel on November 18, Axios reports, citing Israeli and American officials.

Pompeo will also visit other countries in the region, it says.

The talks will reportedly focus on a final effort by the Trump administration to step up sanctions on Iran.

Melania Trump: ‘Illegal’ votes shouldn’t be counted

First Lady Melania Trump says Americans deserve fair elections and lashes out against “illegal” votes, seemingly siding with her husband’s position.

CNN reported earlier that she was trying to convince Trump to concede defeat.

UNRWA head congratulates Biden, hopes US aid will be restored

The head of UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and expresses hope that his administration will “resume the longtime US tradition of supporting” Palestinians.

The United States ended its annual $300 million contribution to UNRWA in 2018.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, along with Israel, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by extending refugee status to millions of descendants of Palestinians who fled or were forced out of homes in today’s Israel at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, rather than limiting refugee status only to the original refugees as is the norm with most refugee populations worldwide.

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Far-right MK: Netanyahu should get most out of Trump before he leaves office

Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich says there is no need for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to congratulate Joe Biden and should focus on getting the most out of US President Donald Trump before he leaves office.

“Netanyahu really does not need to congratulate Biden at this stage,” tweets Smotrich.

Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks during a Knesset plenary session at the Knesset, on August 24, 2020. (Oren Ben Hakoon/POOL)

“He needs to thank Trump and improve our standing on disputed issues before Biden takes office,” Smotrich says, calling on Netanyahu to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank, recognize unauthorized settlement outposts and greenlight as many building plans as possible in West Bank settlements.

Earlier this year Netanyahu suspended Israel’s plans to annex the settlements and the Jordan Valley in exchange for the US-brokered normalization deal with the UAE.

Netanyahu has not yet congratulated Biden, with reports saying he will wait for official results.