Coronavirus Updates and Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan

Grind for February 3rd
“Peace is its own reward.”

– Mahatma Ghandi

Don’t Panic

The Headline

World Health Organization says coronavirus outbreak is not a pandemic

The Grind

Chinese authorities reported a previously unidentified coronavirus in late December with 59 confirmed infections.

By January 28th, the virus had spread to every inhabited continent, infected more than 4,600 people, and caused 106 deaths. Nearly 60 million Chinese residents are under quarantine.

International airports throughout the world are screening passengers for symptoms of the virus. A trade union representing medical workers in Hong Kong is threatening to go on strike unless the government completely shuts down its border with China.

The latest reports suggest the virus is spreading rapidly inside China, with 1,700 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The Details

As people start to use the word “pandemic,” the World Health Organization has urged populations outside China not to panic.

“Make no mistake, this is an emergency in China,” says WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “but it has not yet become a global health emergency.”

To compare, the seasonal flu kills roughly 400,000 people each year. The coronavirus has killed less than 150, and all deaths occurred in China.

In the meantime, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a coronavirus testing kit to share with other states.

“We’re working on a plan now so that priority states get these kits as soon as possible,” says Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But in the coming weeks we’ll share these tests with domestic and international partners so they can test for the virus themselves.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who described the virus as a ‘demon that would not be allowed to hide,’ is confident that China can halt the spread of the disease.

“People’s lives and health are always the first priority for the Chinese government, and the prevention and control of the epidemic is the most important task at present, so I have been directing and deploying the works myself,” said Xi. “I believe as long as we can strengthen our confidence, stand together, scientifically prevent and control the epidemic, and adopt precise measures, we will definitely defeat this epidemic.”


The Headline

Palestinians reject President Trump’s Mideast peace plan

The Grind

President Trump on Tuesday unveiled a Mideast peace plan that offers Palestinians the nationhood they have long sought if they agree to a number of concessions, including demilitarization and Israeli control of all security arrangements from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.

The plan includes more land for a future Palestinian state and promises economic incentives to double the nation’s GDP, slash unemployment, and improve poverty rates, but blocks any action against Israel in the International Criminal Court for the next four years and requires Palestinians to stop all payments to family members of individuals locked inside Israeli jails.

The plan asks Hamas to yield control of Gaza.

The plan grants Israel control of Jerusalem and the permanent settlement of its eastern border in exchange for a four-year freeze on expanding settlements in areas that will eventually be part of the Palestinian state.

Arab residents living in Jerusalem will have the choice to become citizens of either state or to remain permanent residents of Israel without choosing a side. Palestinians who left their homes after Israel’s creation in 1948 will not receive the land they claim they own, but will be absorbed into the state or country of their choice and could receive monetary compensation.

Some elements of the plan, including the immediate annexation of existing Israeli settlements, will move forward regardless of the Palestinians’ opinion.

The Details

The Palestinian Authority immediately rejected the plan.

“We say a thousand times, no, no, no to the deal of the century,” said PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “We rejected this deal from the start and our stance was correct.”

Trump Administration officials insist the deal is the best the PA can expect given Israel’s security requirements, and some expect the Palestinians will succumb to Arab pressure and move forward with the deal.

“Egypt calls on the two relevant parties to undertake a careful and thorough consideration of the US vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue, under US auspices,” wrote the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry issued a similar statement on Twitter.

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