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The Health Ministry reported 613 new coronavirus cases on Sunday. The contagion rate has risen to 2.7%. There are currently 7,767 active cases of which 294 people are hospitalized in serious condition and 130 on ventilators. There have been 2,732 coronavirus related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The Israel Land Authority announced on its website Sunday that it had opened up tenders for more than 1,200 new homes in the strategic settlement of Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem. Construction could then begin within months. Critics say construction in the settlement would seal off Bethlehem and the southern West Bank from east Jerusalem. It could also anger the incoming US administration, since President-Elect Biden has promised to resume relations with the Palestinian Authority and work towards a two-state solution, which would most likely include freezing all new settlement construction.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the Psagot Winery, located about four miles southeast of the settlement of Psagot, which is just east of the city of Ramallah. This is the first time a US Secretary of State will travel to an Israeli settlement, exactly one year after he announced that Washington no longer considered settlements illegal. He will also be the first secretary of state to travel to the Golan Heights, which the US recognized as part of Israel in 2019. Pompeo’s 10-day tour of the region also includes stops in Turkey, Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin announced yesterday that Israel would send its second astronaut into space at the end of 2021, when former IAF fighter pilot Eytan Stibbe will join a scientific mission to the International Space Station.
Minister of Justice Avi Nissenkorn has announced that he will promote the legalization of recreational cannabis use in Israel. From age 21, people will be allowed to use cannabis at home and at special stores.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, the second largest airline in the UAE after Emirates, has announced that it will begin operating daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv on March 28, 2021.