CAIRO — Compared with Ramadan 2020, when mosques around the world were closed for prayer during the holiest month of the year for Muslims, and curfews prevented friends and family from gathering to break the fast, the religious holiday this year offered the promise of something much closer to normal.
“Last year, I felt depressed and I didn’t know how long the pandemic would last,” said Riyad Deis, a co-owner of a spice and dried-fruit shop in Jerusalem’s Old City. On Tuesday, the first day of the Muslim fasting month, its narrow alleys were alive with shoppers browsing Ramadan sweets and worshipers heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Mr. Deis, 51, who was selling whole pieces of turmeric and Medjool dates to a customer, recalled how empty and subdued the Old City had felt last year as virus cases surged and the authorities closed Al-Aqsa to the public. “Now, I’m relaxed, I have enough money to provide for my family and people are purchasing goods from my shop,” he said. “It’s a totally different reality.”
rising coronavirus infections across many countries.
In Kenya, the authorities have introduced longer curfews, closed bars and schools, restricted gatherings at spaces of worship, and limited travel in and out of five counties including Nairobi, the capital.
For Nairobi residents like Ahmed Asmali, this means a prolonged inability to break the fast with loved ones or attend prayers with larger congregations.
“It’s the second year now that we are in a lockdown,” said Mr. Asmali, a 41-year-old public relations worker. The experience, he said “feels weird. Feels out of place.”
Lebanon Crisis Observatory, a project by the American University in Beirut.
The pandemic still shadows much of the festivities. Shop owners in Jerusalem’s Old City said they were worried that Israel would not allow large numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank, where few have been vaccinated, to visit the Old City this Ramadan, depriving the area of their holiday spending.
Prepandemic, Israel usually allowed tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank to visit Jerusalem on Fridays during the fasting month. The arm of the Israeli government that liaises with the Palestinian Authority said on Tuesday that Israel would allow 10,000 vaccinated Palestinians from the West Bank to pray at the Aqsa on Friday. It also said authorities would permit 5,000 vaccinated Palestinians from the West Bank to make family visits in Israel between Sunday and Thursday next week.
Omar Kiswani, the director of the Aqsa Mosque, said he was overjoyed that the compound was open to worshipers — an estimated 11,000 attended the taraweeh prayers at the compound Monday evening — but he emphasized that people would still need to be careful. He said masks and two meters’ distance between worshipers are required at the mosque, and the indoor and outdoor spaces will be sterilized daily.
“These are times of great happiness,” Mr. Kiswani said. “We hope the blessed Aqsa Mosque will return to its prepandemic glory. But these are also times of caution, because the virus is still out there.”
Vivian Yee reported from Cairo, and Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem. Asmaa al-Omar contributed reporting form Istanbul and Abdi Latif Dahir from Nairobi.
A senior Palestinian official welcomed the move but said the Palestinian leadership, based in Ramallah, still hoped Mr. Biden would reverse several other measures carried out by the Trump administration.
“This is a positive, important and constructive step in the direction of rectifying Palestinian-American relations, which the Trump administration destroyed,” said Ahmad Majdalani, the social development minister of the Palestinian Authority. “We believe it can be built upon by dealing with some other outstanding issues.”
Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, both Republicans, criticized the move in a joint statement, saying that “resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza without concessions from the Palestinian Authority undermines U.S. interests.”
They added that they would scrutinize the package to ensure it did not breach the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits the United States from providing direct economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it stops payments to families of Palestinians who commit violence against Israelis or Americans.
Ned Price, the State Department’s spokesman, said on Wednesday that the funding was “absolutely consistent” with American law. He indicated that any aid going to the West Bank and Gaza would be done through “development partners” and “not through governments or de facto government authorities.”
Many humanitarian groups criticized the Trump administration for having denied the United Nations agency money that it had been expecting, which hurtled it into financial crisis. Other countries helped plug some of the shortfall, but the agency has continued to operate under severe financial constraints.
United Nations officials were clearly primed for news of the resumption of aid before it was officially announced. Asked about the Biden administration’s plan, a United Nations spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, said that “there were a number of countries that had greatly reduced or halted contributions,” and that “we hope the American decision will lead others to rejoin as UNRWA donors.”
JERUSALEM — A popular Palestinian militant broke with the political party that controls the Palestinian Authority late Wednesday, escalating a power struggle and dimming the party’s hopes of retaining a monopoly on power in parliamentary elections.
The militant, Marwan Barghouti, 61, was long a revered figure in Fatah, the secular party that runs the Palestinian Authority and was co-founded by Yasir Arafat, the former Palestinian leader. Though serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison for five counts of murder, Mr. Barghouti commands considerable respect among many party cadres and is considered a potential future candidate for Palestinian president.
On Wednesday night, Fatah members acting on his behalf broke with the party, forming a separate electoral slate that will compete against Fatah in the elections in May and posing a direct challenge to Fatah’s 85-year-old leader, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.
Mr. Barghouti’s faction joined forces with another longtime protagonist of Palestinian politics, Nasser al-Kidwa, a nephew of Mr. Arafat and a former Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, who split from Fatah this year.
before withdrawing and supporting Mr. Abbas. He had been a leader of the Palestinian uprisings in late 1980s and early 2000s, and was convicted in 2004 for involvement in the killings of five Israelis.
He was sentenced to five life terms and campaigned for office from his jail cell.
Fatah’s supporters will now be forced to choose among three Fatah-linked factions — the official party, the Barghouti-al-Kidwa alliance, and a third splinter group led by an exiled former security chief, Muhammad Dahlan.
Members of Mr. Barghouti’s alliance said they had created the new faction to revitalize Palestinian politics, which has increasingly become a one-man show centered around Mr. Abbas, who has ruled by decree for more than a decade.
“The Palestinian political system can no longer only be reformed,” said Hani al-Masri, a member of the new alliance, at a news briefing on Wednesday night. “It needs deep change.”
A Fatah official dismissed the group as “turncoats.”
“Even with our prophet Mohammed, there were turncoats,” said Jibril Rajoub, the secretary-general of the Fatah Central Committee, at a separate press briefing outside in Ramallah, West Bank. “Fatah is strong and sticking together.”
Mr. Abbas has canceled elections in the past, and some believe he may seek to do so again in the coming weeks.
But at this point, a cancellation would be “very expensive, politically,” said Ghassan Khatib, a Ramallah-based political analyst and a former minister under Mr. Abbas. “There is a high political price for that.”
Mr. Abbas’s best hope would be for the Israeli authorities to intervene in the elections, Mr. Khatib said. Hamas has already accused Israel of arresting some of its leaders and warning them not to participate in the election, which Israel denies. And Palestinian officials say that the Israeli government has yet to respond to a request to allow voting in East Jerusalem.
This dynamic that could give Mr. Abbas a pretext to cancel the vote.
Mr. Abbas “needs an excuse that can justify such a decision,” Mr. Khatib said.
WASHINGTON — Stuart Force says he found solace on Facebook after his son was stabbed to death in Israel by a member of the militant group Hamas in 2016. He turned to the site to read hundreds of messages offering condolences on his son’s page.
But only a few months later, Mr. Force had decided that Facebook was partly to blame for the death, because the algorithms that power the social network helped spread Hamas’s content. He joined relatives of other terror victims in suing the company, arguing that its algorithms aided the crimes by regularly amplifying posts that encouraged terrorist attacks.
The legal case ended unsuccessfully last year when the Supreme Court declined to take it up. But arguments about the algorithms’ power have reverberated in Washington, where some members of Congress are citing the case in an intense debate about the law that shields tech companies from liability for content posted by users.
At a House hearing on Thursday about the spread of misinformation with the chief executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google, some lawmakers are expected to focus on how the companies’ algorithms are written to generate revenue by surfacing posts that users are inclined to click on and respond to. And some will argue that the law that protects the social networks from liability, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, should be changed to hold the companies responsible when their software turns the services from platforms into accomplices for crimes committed offline.
litigation group, which had a question: Would the Force family be willing to sue Facebook?
After Mr. Force spent some time on a Facebook page belonging to Hamas, the family agreed to sue. The lawsuit fit into a broader effort by the Forces to limit the resources and tools available to Palestinian groups. Mr. Force and his wife allied with lawmakers in Washington to pass legislation restricting aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs part of the West Bank.
Their lawyers argued in an American court that Facebook gave Hamas “a highly developed and sophisticated algorithm that facilitates Hamas’s ability to reach and engage an audience it could not otherwise reach as effectively.” The lawsuit said Facebook’s algorithms had not only amplified posts but aided Hamas by recommending groups, friends and events to users.
The federal district judge, in New York, ruled against the claims, citing Section 230. The lawyers for the Force family appealed to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and two of the judges ruled entirely for Facebook. The other, Judge Robert Katzmann, wrote a 35-page dissent to part of the ruling, arguing that Facebook’s algorithmic recommendations shouldn’t be covered by the legal protections.
“Mounting evidence suggests that providers designed their algorithms to drive users toward content and people the users agreed with — and that they have done it too well, nudging susceptible souls ever further down dark paths,” he said.
Late last year, the Supreme Court rejected a call to hear a different case that would have tested the Section 230 shield. In a statement attached to the court’s decision, Justice Clarence Thomas called for the court to consider whether Section 230’s protections had been expanded too far, citing Mr. Force’s lawsuit and Judge Katzmann’s opinion.
Justice Thomas said the court didn’t need to decide in the moment whether to rein in the legal protections. “But in an appropriate case, it behooves us to do so,” he said.
Some lawmakers, lawyers and academics say recognition of the power of social media’s algorithms in determining what people see is long overdue. The platforms usually do not reveal exactly what factors the algorithms use to make decisions and how they are weighed against one another.
“Amplification and automated decision-making systems are creating opportunities for connection that are otherwise not possible,” said Olivier Sylvain, a professor of law at Fordham University, who has made the argument in the context of civil rights. “They’re materially contributing to the content.”
That argument has appeared in a series of lawsuits that contend Facebook should be responsible for discrimination in housing when its platform could target advertisements according to a user’s race. A draft bill produced by Representative Yvette D. Clarke, Democrat of New York, would strip Section 230 immunity from targeted ads that violated civil rights law.
A bill introduced last year by Representatives Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Anna G. Eshoo of California, both Democrats, would strip Section 230 protections from social media platforms when their algorithms amplified content that violated some antiterrorism and civil rights laws. The news release announcing the bill, which was reintroduced on Wednesday, cited the Force family’s lawsuit against Facebook. Mr. Malinowski said he had been inspired in part by Judge Katzmann’s dissent.
Critics of the legislation say it may violate the First Amendment and, because there are so many algorithms on the web, could sweep up a wider range of services than lawmakers intend. They also say there’s a more fundamental problem: Regulating algorithmic amplification out of existence wouldn’t eliminate the impulses that drive it.
“There’s a thing you kind of can’t get away from,” said Daphne Keller, the director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, “which is human demand for garbage content.”
Israeli leaders have paid almost no public attention to the Palestinian election — even though it might conceivably produce a united Palestinian leadership that could present a joint front in peace negotiations with Israel. Conversely, if the vote gives Hamas a bigger role within Palestinian governance, that could also affect Israel’s ability to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority — since Hamas does not recognize Israel and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and much of the international community.
By contrast, many Palestinians keep a close eye on Israeli politics, said Professor Abusada, who said it was “a sad thing” to see Israeli elections stuck in such a repetitive loop. But at least Israelis had the opportunity to vote so often, he said. “We haven’t been able to for a long time,” he added. “It makes us feel cynical about our own political system that we are not able to make any change.”
Within the confines of Palestinian politics, the prospect of an election has nevertheless shaken up some of the alliances and assumptions of the previously moribund Palestinian polity. For the first time in years, Palestinians can imagine the dormant Parliament buildings in Ramallah and Gaza City coming back to life. And Fatah, long the engine of the Palestinian national movement, now faces challenges not just from Hamas but from other parts of secular Palestinian society.
Confirmed or potential challengers include Salam Fayyad, a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; Mohammed Dahlan, a former Fatah security chief who now lives in exile in the United Arab Emirates; and Nasser al-Kidwa, a former Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, and the nephew of Yasir Arafat, Mr. Abbas’s predecessor.
All three said they wanted to help found new alliances to compete against Fatah and Hamas, while allies of Marwan Barghouti, an influential Fatah militant jailed in Israel for five counts of murder, said he was considering it.
In Gaza, Hamas faces a threat from a generation of young Palestinians struggling to find work. The unemployment rate in Gaza hovers around 50 percent, largely because of the blockade that Israel has placed on the enclave in order to undermine Hamas’s military activity and rocket production. If Hamas were replaced by a unity government, some Gazans hope, the new leadership might defuse at least some of the tensions with Israel and improve living conditions.
TEL AVIV—In the world’s fastest coronavirus vaccine rollout to date, Israel has given at least one shot to nearly 60% of its residents, a feat propelled by an ample supply of doses and an uncommon healthcare system that combines competition with tax-funded universal coverage.
Israel, a small, wealthy nation with a young population, was uniquely qualified to confront the pandemic: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secured enough vaccine stocks by paying more, as well as by offering access to Israelis’ personal health data to gauge the vaccine’s effectiveness. Its healthcare system had the means to quickly deliver the shots into the arms of Israelis.
The country’s four health-management organizations used centralized data-keeping, technology and the cradle-to-grave ties between Israelis and their doctors to speed up the vaccination drive, targeting residents nationwide with text messages, emails and phone calls. The efficiencies of Israel’s HMOs have been honed by years of competing for patients—and for the tax revenue gained by adding each new member—as they try to outdo each other in quality and availability of care.
“It’s really a unique structure,” said economist Moshe Bar Siman Tov, who oversaw Israel’s coronavirus response last year. “I’m not sure it’s possible to duplicate it. It’s a mixture of socialist fundamentals and entrepreneurial spirit.”
Israel’s bars and restaurants reopened last week to vaccinated people, prompting street parties in Tel Aviv, and the country is now looking ahead to a broader economic rebound.
The tiered “green passport” system has drawn protests by some who don’t want to get inoculated. But, in a country where anyone can get a jab on the spot, this strategy has been broadly accepted. Mr. Netanyahu, who is up for re-election Tuesday, is campaigning largely on the vaccination drive’s success.
Agam Rafaeli-Farhadian, 33 years old, received his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in January. “I got the text and was like, ‘Whoa, this is cool,’ ” he said, adding that it took 30 seconds to sign up and five minutes to get each of his two shots.
While Israel’s vaccination rate is the world’s highest, its HMOs are still struggling to overcome reluctance in some population groups. Health officials say full herd immunity will require inoculating 80% of the population, a number that includes children under 16, for whom no approved vaccine exists so far.
Meanwhile, vaccinating as many remaining adults as possible will be key to avoiding more lockdowns and not overloading health systems. Trying to reach that goal, the HMOs are working with Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency response services, to set up pop-up vaccination points on busy streets, at workplaces and in night-life districts.
Unlike Israel’s healthcare providers, many of Europe’s national health services buckled under the wave of coronavirus infections last year, and European Union nations are still struggling with the vaccine rollout. The U.S., after initial difficulties, is rapidly gaining speed. The U.K., which has the fastest vaccination rollout among large countries, has an inoculation rate that is a third of Israel’s.
Since the start of the pandemic, 6,057 people or 700 per million have died from Covid-19 in Israel. In the U.S., the latest number is 536,914 people or 1,625 per million. In the U.K., the death rate was 1,857 per million.
Many in Israel credit its hybrid healthcare model with providing high-level care that kept the death toll low. Israel’s relative youth—the average age is 30—has also blunted the pandemic’s severity. Most of the coronavirus deaths world-wide have been among older people.
Another advantage: Israelis agree to share personal information with government-supervised systems, part of a cohesive social compact forged in a country where men and women must serve in the army and where military conflicts break out every few years. Patient data allowed Israel’s four HMOs to monitor individuals who contracted the virus and to intervene early as the disease progressed.
Amanda Lounsbury, a 33-year-old environmental researcher in Tel Aviv, tested positive in January. Right away, she started receiving daily calls from her HMO’s family doctors and nurses. The provider sent her a pulse oximeter to check her blood oxygen level and report the reading during their calls, a standard practice.
“I felt very much not alone,” said Ms. Lounsbury, who is originally from Connecticut. She has since made a full recovery.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech agreed to supply their vaccine to Israel ahead of other nations, in part, because the country’s assent to share medical data would provide them insights for future research. Privacy experts say the agreement shows how far Israel lags behind European nations in protecting confidential personal data.
“We’re all very, very happy about the results of the vaccine efficiency research, but you need to take a very, very careful look at the process,” said Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, a Jerusalem-based, nonpartisan think tank. “Israel is a kind of lab for the world. It’s frightening. We need to have stricter rules in terms of asking for consent.”
Israel’s healthcare system is mandatory. All residents pay up to 4.8% of their income in health taxes, part of their overall tax bill. Residents can switch their HMO provider, though only 1% to 2% actually do each year.
“There is no competition over money, because everybody pays the same.” said Ehud Davidson, chief executive of Clalit, the largest Israeli HMO. Many medical services are free with the occasional copay.
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Clalit and the three other HMOs, all of them not-for-profit entities, are reimbursed by the state according to a formula based partly on the number of members, their ages and where they live. Providers that lose patients to rivals also lose revenue. To retain members, the HMOs have an incentive to provide better levels of service and easier access to doctors, clinics and diagnostic facilities.
“We based our conversations with Pfizer on the very existence of Israel’s HMOs,” Israel Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said. “We were able to say to Pfizer, ‘If we get the vaccine quickly, we will run such a massive operation and such a quick one, the whole world will be talking about the Pfizer vaccine.’ ” Israel has almost exclusively relied on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
During the peak of the pandemic, hospitals in Italy, the U.K. and parts of the U.S. were overrun and had to ration access to lifesaving treatments. Israel escaped those shortages, even though it had similar or higher infection rates and significantly fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people. Some of this can be explained by the relative youth of Israel’s population. But with one of the world’s highest life expectancies, there are many Israeli’s in their 80s and 90s.
“There was enough equipment, ventilators, monitors and drugs,” said Mr. Davidson of Clalit. “There was never a situation of collapse in any Israeli hospital, and every patient received maximum treatment.”
Cradle to grave
Israel’s healthcare reform of 1995 required the country’s four HMOs to accept everyone and to provide similar medical services, regardless of either pre-existing conditions or affiliation with labor unions or political parties. Clalit accounted for 63% of the market at the time and has since seen its share dented by rivals, particularly Maccabi, now the second-largest.
In Israel’s system, family doctors affiliated with an HMOs each supervise between 1,000 and 1,500 residents, developing lifelong connections.
“In healthcare, Israeli citizens are very traditional. When they have a relationship with a doctor, they have it from birth to death,” said Sigal Regev Rosenberg, chief executive of the Meuhedet HMO, with 1.2 million members.
All four HMOs operate their own networks, in addition to providing coverage for independent and state-owned hospitals and, if care is unavailable in Israel, for treatment in specialized facilities overseas.
While all of Israel’s 9 million Jewish and Arab citizens have the same basic healthcare coverage, the quality of service is higher in affluent secular Jewish communities, such as in Tel Aviv, compared with poorer ultra-Orthodox Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
Dr. Osama Tanous, a pediatrician in Haifa who is currently at Emory University on a fellowship, said the system, with its roots in the Jewish settlement movement in the early 20th century under Ottoman and British rule, never adjusted to the needs of Israel’s 1.6 million Arab citizens. As a result, Israel’s Arabs have worse outcomes than Israel’s Jews in parameters that include heart disease, diabetes and neonatal health.
Unlike Israel’s Arab citizens, the 5.1 million Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip aren’t covered by the Israeli healthcare system. The exception are some 340,000 Palestinians, who are not citizens of Israel, living in annexed East Jerusalem.
The 1993 Oslo agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that established the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza transferred the Israeli-run health infrastructure there under the Palestinian ministry of health, which provides far more limited services. In Gaza, where the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in 2007, a United Nations agency has become the most important healthcare provider.
The cash-strapped Palestinian Authority has been much slower than Israel in organizing a vaccination campaign, which will mostly rely on the Covax program led by the World Health Organization. Criticized by human-rights groups for neglecting to share with the Palestinians, Israel recently donated about 5,000 vaccine doses to healthcare workers in the West Bank. Last week, it began vaccinating some 120,000 Palestinians who work in Israel and the Jewish settlements in Israeli-run sites at border crossings and industrial areas inside the settlements. Covax doses also began arriving this week.
The United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, shipped some 20,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine to the Gaza Strip, as part of its world-wide vaccine diplomacy campaign.
Israel’s swift vaccine rollout figures prominently in Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election campaign. He showed up to receive the first shipment of vaccines at the Tel Aviv airport and got inoculated during a prime-time TV broadcast. In recent weeks, he has hosted the leaders of Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Hungary to share Israel’s vaccination experience.
Mr. Netanyahu, who faces a trial on corruption charges that he denies, is running to retain power in Israel’s fourth national election in two years after a previous coalition collapsed. His final campaign poster, released ahead of the vote, shows him standing with two thumbs up, surrounded by flying confetti; above, a motto proclaims: “Back to Life.”
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JABA, West Bank — When Joe Biden was elected president, residents of the tiny hilltop village of Jaba in the occupied West Bank cheered.
They hope the new American president will restore funding to a project to transform a rundown school in their village into a modern facility by adding an impressive three-story building with a library, a new science lab, more classrooms, an office for social workers and a shaded basketball court.
Work on the project stopped in 2019 after the Trump administration effectively ended aid to the Palestinians.
Jaba, home to about 1,300 residents near Bethlehem, is set on a series of small rolling hills that straddle Israel and a string of settlements. It has few businesses; its sole medical clinic operates one day a week; and its streets are narrow. It also suffers from a housing shortage because it is in an area where Israel rarely allows new construction.
The original plan to expand the school would have represented one of the village’s most significant upgrades in the past decade. It would have allowed it to increase its student body from 80 to 250, including 50 girls.
“We hope Biden will find a way to rectify the cruel decision to halt funding to the school,” said Jaba’s mayor, Diab Mashala, sipping coffee in his spacious living room. “It is vital to the future of our children.”
Many Jaba residents were excited about the school’s expansion because it would have made grades 11 and 12 available in the village. Students in those two grades must now travel to a larger school in the neighboring village of Surif, a one-and-a-half-mile journey that parents complain can be dangerous because of occasional assaults by ultranationalist settlers.
“I would feel much less anxious if my son could learn in our village,” said Muheeb Abu Louha whose son studies in Surif.
Along the trek between the villages, students must bypass a large roadblock — an orange gate surrounded by piles of burned trash and mounds of dirt — and then walk the rest of the way or hail a taxi or minibus. The only other option is a circuitous 30-minute car ride.
Humam al-Tos, a senior, said settlers have hurled stones at him more than once.
“It’s terrifying,” said Mr. al-Tos, 18, who hopes to study mechanical engineering in Turkey. “When the army comes, they stop them. But when the army isn’t in the area, they do what they want.”
The Israeli military would not say whether it was aware of settlers attacking students between Jaba and Surif, but said it “does not stand by” when it witnesses violence. And on a warm day in mid-February uniformed boys and girls walked along the narrow road without incident.
The roadblock has not been removed, Israeli security officials said, because the road does not meet Israel’s safety requirements and the Palestinian Authority must submit to Israel a plan to repair it before any efforts to reopen the road can begin.
Palestinian officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The school itself is a symbol — one example of how the Palestinians hope the United States will restore relations with them.
During a recent tour of the partially built structure in Jaba, layers of dirt, dust and trash were collecting in its interior, rebar protruded from its rooftop and walls of exposed concrete blocks appeared to be weathered.
In late February, the United Nations Development Program and the Education Cannot Wait fund solicited bids for completing a small part of the project, but program officials said while they would work to make an 11th-grade classroom available, there were no funds to construct a 12th-grade one. It also said it would install a multipurpose room and a canteen.
For handicapped students, the project is crucial because it would be much easier not to have to travel to Surif. “Finishing high school here would be a difference-maker for me,” said Khader Abu Latifa, 14, a ninth grader who has a muscle-related disease.
Khader started walking at the age of eight but he still struggles to take steps. He said he hoped his father would drive him to Surif when he entered 12th grade, but worried the older man would not always be available to give him a ride.
And for a handful of girls, the school project embodies their only hope to obtain an education.
Several religiously conservative families in the village refuse to allow their daughters to study in other towns, forcing them to drop out before completing high school, said Mr. Mashala. “Giving these girls the option to complete their studies could be transformative for them,” he said.
But while a number of people in Jaba say they are optimistic that the Biden administration will restore the needed funding, bipartisan legislation known as the Taylor Force Act, signed into law by Mr. Trump in 2018, could complicate efforts to do that.
The act restricts the U.S. government’s ability to disburse aid that “directly benefits” the Palestinian Authority as long as the authority pays salaries to families of Palestinian security prisoners and slain attackers.
Analysts, however, said that what “directly benefits” the Palestinian Authority must be defined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“Would funding construction of this school, which is controlled by the Palestinian government, be considered direct support of the Palestinian Authority? It may or may not be,” said Joel Branould, an expert on U.S. law surrounding foreign aid to the Palestinians. “It is up to the secretary of state to decide.”
A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. looks forward to resuming economic and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, but would do so in a manner consistent with relevant U.S. law.
The Palestinian Authority hasn’t announced plans for any significant reforms to its highly popular payment system in the coming months.
Mr. Mashala, who has been mayor since 2017, questioned the logic of holding students accountable for policies they had no part in developing.
“Our kids have nothing to do with politics,” he said. “They are totally innocent. Why should they pay the price for something they have nothing to do with?”
Hours after the interview was broadcast in the U.S. on Sunday, Britain was already grappling with the shock wave rippling out across the Atlantic, exposing a deep royal rift.
For many Black Britons, in particular, the interview offered a scathing assessment of the royal family and resurfaced barely submerged tensions over entrenched racism.
Recap: Meghan Markle made dramatic disclosures, including that there were “concerns and conversations about how dark” her son Archie’s skin might be when she was pregnant with him. (Harry later said neither Queen Elizabeth II nor Prince Philip was the source of that comment.) Meghan also disclosed that her life as a member of the royal family had become so emotionally desolate that she contemplated suicide. When she asked for help, she said, palace officials rebuffed her. Here’s what else we learned.
Reactions: The interview left the country divided, with major news outlets publishing biting commentary. On social media, some denounced the couple’s infidelity to the family, while others firmly defended them. The palace has not yet responded, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to stay out of royal matters.
attracted 17.1 million viewers on CBS, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. The program is airing in Britain Monday night.
setting up makeshift operations on university campuses, hospitals and Buddhist pagoda complexes.
On Sunday, security forces stormed Yangon General Hospital and universities in Mandalay. “I think they are trying to prepare for a brutal war against the people,” a security guard at Mandalay Technological University said. The abbot of the Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay said that soldiers had taken over the pagoda’s grounds for a month.
U Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, gave the U.N. General Assembly the defiant three-finger salute adopted by the protest movement, calling the military rule illegitimate. The generals fired him, but his replacement refused the job and the U.N. declined to recognize his dismissal, so he remains at his post.
plans to vaccinate at least 110,000 Palestinians over the next two weeks, including about 80,000 employed in Israel and about 30,000 employed in the West Bank.
Israel has outpaced the rest of the world in vaccinating its own citizens, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, but has faced intense criticism for providing only token amounts of vaccine for Palestinians living under its control. The new vaccination campaign was worked out with the Palestinian Authority more than a month ago and approved by the Israeli government late last month.
episodes of high heat and high humidity that go beyond the limits of human survival, according to a new study.
Extreme heat and high humidity prevent the body from cooling down, stressing the cardiovascular system. The tropics, a region that encircles Earth at the Equator, is home to more than 3 billion people. Above, Aceh, Indonesia, part of the region.
Here’s what else is happening
Australia murder case: In 2003, a court sentenced Kathleen Folbigg to 40 years in prison for smothering her four children, with tabloids calling her a murderer. But after years of her claiming innocence, saying the children died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, 90 scientists say she is right and are demanding her release.
George Floyd: Jury selection is scheduled to begin on Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in connection with Mr. Floyd’s death. Mr. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Afghan peace: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has proposed a United Nations-led peace conference in Turkey aimed at forming an inclusive Afghan government with the Taliban and establishing a three-month reduction in violence leading to a cease-fire. The U.S. has not decided whether to withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by May 1.
Foreign Affairs article by Cai Xia, a former Chinese Communist Party insider, on why she backed away from Beijing.
Now, a break from the news
Thai curry risotto, effortlessly lending lots of flavor.
Read: Imbolo Mbue’s “How Beautiful We Were” is set in an African village ravaged by an American oil conglomerate. What starts as a David-and-Goliath story slowly transforms into a nuanced exploration of self-interest, of what it means to want in the age of capitalism and colonialism.
Do: Here are five workouts that take less than 10 minutes.
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And now for the Back Story on …
A translator’s book recommendations
The prolific translator Margaret Jull Costa, who has brought Portuguese- and Spanish-language fiction and poetry into the English-speaking world, spoke to our Books desk about what she’s reading.
What books are on your night stand?
Well, none, since I never read in bed, but there’s always a pile next to my favorite chair. At the moment, this includes “Buddenbrooks,” which we’re reading with a group of friends, “Le Château de Ma Mère,” by Marcel Pagnol, which my husband and I are reading with our French tutor, a collection of novellas and short stories by the Portuguese writer Maria Judite de Carvalho, who I’m keen to translate more of. And Michael Gorra’s “Portrait of a Novel,” about the writing of “Portrait of a Lady” (possibly my favorite novel), which has been on my pile for far too long and should be read soon.
P.S. • We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is the second part of our look at the biggest issues facing the Biden administration. • Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Sounds from owls (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here. • The Times won 127 awards in the Society for News Design’s Best of Digital Design competition. The Best in Show award went to our piece “Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi?”
“People on the conservative side saw this as an example of the weakness and absence of the Palestinian Authority, and the impotence of the Palestinian condition,” said Sari Nusseibeh, a Palestinian intellectual and former head of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Though Palestinian society was once more accepting of diversity, it has grown more conservative in recent years as the struggle for statehood sputtered and some Palestinians turned to tradition and religion to sustain their identity, Prof. Nusseibeh said.
Ms. Abdulhadi was born on the eve of a more hopeful time, in October 1990. Her family had been living in exile in Jordan since 1969, after the Israeli authorities expelled her grandmother, Issam Abdulhadi, a leading women’s rights activist.
But as peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians gathered pace in the early 1990s, Israel allowed certain exiled leaders to return with their families, in a gesture of good will. Among them were Issam and her family, including young Sama’ and her older brother and sister. Her father, Saad, is a publisher and events manager, and her mother, Samira Hulaileh, runs a forum for businesswomen. She met for this interview in their hilltop home, as Ms. Hulaileh served homemade lamb dumplings.
As a child, Ms. Abdulhadi was always a trailblazer. With her grandmother, she successfully lobbied her headmaster to let her form a girls’ soccer team (she later played for the national team). As a teenager, she organized hip-hop battles and break-dancing events, and acquaintances from the time remember her as a powerful presence.
“It was the same feeling that you still get today,” said Derrar Ghanem, a contemporary who also later helped build Ramallah’s electronic music scene. “She walks in and you think, ‘Who’s that?’”
Ms. Abdulhadi began to experiment as a D.J. amid the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising that killed about 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians during the early 2000s. She used her father’s sound equipment to play music at friends’ events.