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Palestinians fail to get Arab League to condemn Israel-UAE deal

The Palestinian Authority failed on Wednesday to get the Arab League's foreign ministers to endorse a resolution criticizing the U.S.-brokered normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Why it matters: This is a very unusual development and a big blow to the Palestinians, who hold the rotating presidency of the Arab League. For decades, Arab League foreign ministers have endorsed every draft resolution the Palestinians have put forward.


  • After the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan was released in January, the Palestinians managed to get the Arab League to condemn the plan — but, this time, many Arab countries refused to condemn the UAE.
  • The Arab League’s assistant secretary-general Husam Zaki said during a press conference after the meeting that the foreign ministers discussed the Palestinian text and entered several amendments, but couldn’t reach a consensus and decided not to put out any statement on the Israel-UAE agreement.

What they're saying: Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki condemned the Israel-UAE agreement in his speech and called upon Arab countries to announce that there will be no normalization with Israel before the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

  • Emirati minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash defended his country’s decision in his speech. He said the normalization agreement was not done at the expense of the Palestinians, adding that the deal managed to stop Israel’s annexation plans in the West Bank.
  • Other foreign ministers — mainly the Saudi foreign minister — pledged their support for the Palestinians and their aspirations, but stopped short of criticizing the UAE.

What’s next: The White House plans to invite foreign ministers and ambassadors from many Arab countries to attend the deal's signing ceremony next week in order to show the deal has Arab support.

  • It is still unclear how many Arab countries will send representatives.

Donald Trump's political team disavows "Patriot Party" groups

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Why it matters: Trump briefly floated the possibility of creating a new political party to compete with the GOP — with him at the helm. But others have formed their own "Patriot Party" entities during the past week, and Trump's team wants to make clear it has nothing to do with them.

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DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to improperly alter election results

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Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

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Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

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GOP Sen. Rob Portman will not run for re-election, citing "partisan gridlock"

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022.

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Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

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Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

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Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that a "new cold war" could turn hot, and must be avoided, in a speech on Monday to at World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Agenda” conference.

Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell moves the goalposts on a run for Minnesota governor — again

The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

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