Weekly Roundup: Regional protests denouncing President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Lebanon’s Prime Minister withdraws his resignation, and movie theaters return to Saudi Arabia

Egypt

Russia President Vladimir Putin visited Cairo on December 11 to discuss bilateral relations, trade, and regional issues with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Important items regarding Egypt’s relations with Russia are the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt and the construction of the Dabaa nuclear plant. Ahead of the visit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said there was no specific date to resume air flights, but he said communications are ongoing to enhance security measures at Egyptian airports.

Palestine/Israel

Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza  clashed with Israeli security forces following the United States’ official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. Nevertheless, protests largely did not reach anticipated levels of violence. As Israeli officials expressed their approval of President Trump’s move, Palestinian leaders expressed their dismay, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cancelling a planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence in Bethlehem later this month, while Hamas called for a third Intifada against Israel. The American decision throws into doubt the future of the peace process in the region, with the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, stating that hopes for a two-state solution have disappeared—although this seemed to reflect a widely-shared sense of frustration amongst Palestinians rather than a formal policy shift.

Jordan

Thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition, Jordan’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs instructed all preachers in the Friday sermons to talk about Jerusalem, while the Ministry of Education instructed schools on Thursday to dedicate the first period in schools to talking about the importance of Jerusalem.

Syria

The UN children’s agency has called for the evacuation of 137 sick children needing urgent assistance from Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held area 15 km away from Damascus which has been beseiged by government forces for four years. According to UNICEF, there is an estimated 400,000 Syrians living in Eastern Ghouta who have been cut-off from medical assistance since 2013.

Lebanon

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the withdrawal of his resignation a month after stating that he is leaving his post as Lebanon’s prime minister. He stated that the issue leading to his resignation was resolved following all members in Lebanon’s government agreeing to stay out of other Arab states’ affairs.

Violent protests broke outside the US embassy in Lebanon on Sunday in response to President Trump announcing formal US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Lebanon’s police fired tear gas following some protesters throwing rocks and setting tires on fire.

Qatar

Qatar announced this week the purchase of 24 Typhoon fighter jets worth $8 billion from the United Kingdom. The deal between the two countries was signed in Doha by Qatar’s Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah and his British counterpart, Gavin Williamson. It is the biggest order for Typhoon fighters in more than a decade.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will reopen movie theatres for the first time in 35 years. The move to allow access by early 2018 is part of a broad campaign by the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman to transform Saudi society as part of his domestic political vision. This follows decisions to allow concerts, as well as giving women the right to drive and attend soccer matches.

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