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TOP STORIES TODAY

UN agency for Palestinian refugees launches $95 million appeal to keep COVID at bay (United Nations News)

"The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a health and socio-economic emergency across the occupied Palestinian territory, the UN agency for the region warned on Friday, noting a swell of coronavirus cases in recent weeks."

"The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA), said that it requires some $95 million to cover the emergency needs of 5.6 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, until the end of December.  The funds will, among other things, focus on health, cash assistance and education."

Kosovo and Serbia give Israel diplomatic boon after US-brokered deal (The Guardian)

"Israel scored two diplomatic gains on Friday when majority-Muslim Kosovo agreed to recognise the Jewish state and Serbia said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv."

"Palestinians reacted with cynicism to the Kosovo and Serbia announcements, suggesting they were aimed at bolstering Trump’s re-election prospects in two months."

“Palestine has become a victim of the electoral ambitions of President Trump, whose team would take any action, no matter how destructive for peace … to achieve his re-election” in November, tweeted Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). “This, just like the UAE-Israel agreement, isn’t about Middle East peace.”

Saudi Arabia tells US it wants fair solution for Palestinians (Al Jazeera)

"Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz told United States President Donald Trump that the Gulf country wanted to see a fair and permanent solution for the Palestinians, which was the starting point for its 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, the kingdom's state news agency reported on Monday."

"King Salman told Trump that he appreciated US efforts to support peace and that Saudi Arabia wanted to see a fair and permanent solution to the Palestinian issue based on its Arab Peace Initiative."

"Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and site of its holiest shrines, does not recognise Israel. However, this month the kingdom said it would allow flights between UAE and Israel, including by Israeli aircraft, to use its airspace."

US sanctions senior ICC officials, calls court 'corrupt' and 'illegitimate' (Middle East Eye)

"US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington will impose sanctions on two senior International Criminal Court (ICC) officials, accusing the court of being an "illegitimate" and "corrupted" institution."

"In a news briefing on Wednesday, Pompeo said those newly blacklisted include ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of the court's jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation division."

Late last year, ICC prosecutor Bensouda announced a full-scale investigation into Israeli violations against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. "In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip."

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