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Israel and the United Arab Emirates agree to full diplomatic relations. The UAE got Israel to hold off annexing land. What makes Palestinians feel betrayed? They've turned around and stabbed in the back.
I'm Noel King here with Steve Inskeep. And this is up first from NPR News.
The president told Fox News why he opposes extra funding for the U.S. Postal Service. That means you can't have universal mail in voting.
He said it benefits Democrats. He makes false claims of fraud. How is the USPS doing and how will it handle millions of ballots?
Also, an NPR poll suggests Americans are more concerned about the pandemic and less supportive of the president.
In what way are those two findings connected? Stay with us. We'll give you the news.
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Israel is visibly shifting its relations with the Arab world, right? So here's the history. Ever since Israel's independence in the 1940s, it hasn't had diplomatic relations with most Arab countries. A few of them made peace after multiple wars.
And Israelis have said for a long time that they are quietly cooperating with some Arab leaders. But yesterday, the United Arab Emirates said it out loud. This small, very wealthy country in the Persian Gulf established full diplomatic relations. And President Trump says his administration helped arrange that deal.
Just a few moments ago, I hosted a very special call with two French Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, where they agreed to finalize a historical peace agreement.
Israel made a concession, quote, suspending its plans to annex parts of the West Bank where Palestinians want to have a state of their own.
Palestinians are very much a part of this story, as we will hear from NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. Michele, good morning.
Good morning. How big a deal is this announcement?
The Trump administration sees it as a big deal and a sign of a changing Middle East. Gulf states and Israel have a common enemy that is Iran. And while these countries have been quietly cooperating with Israel, the UAE was the first to go public agreeing to normalize ties. The next step is for Israeli and Emirati leaders to come to the White House and sign a series of bilateral agreements on trade, tourism, security, and they're planning to open up embassies.
Trump is hoping that the UAE will be the first of several to normalize ties with Israel. As he puts it, the ice has been broken.
Of course, the big one there would be Saudi Arabia. That would be the big, big Persian Gulf power if they were to make some kind of deal with Israel, which hasn't happened yet. But why did the UAE and Israel move now?
A big reason is Israel's threat to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. A lot of experts say that would pretty much end the idea of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, Steve, earlier this year, the Emirati ambassador to Washington wrote an op ed in an Israeli paper. He basically argued, you know, it's normalization or annexation. And it seems to have been an easy choice for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he faced a lot of opposition around the world for his annexation plans.
It could have complicated his relations with many countries, including with the U.S. if Joe Biden defeats Trump in the elections. Biden has made clear that he opposed the annexation plans.
Hmm. I guess we should explain Arab nations tend to support Palestinians. That's a big reason that most of them have not established full diplomatic relations with Israel. And so that's how the Palestinians became part of this negotiation. But in exchange for diplomatic relations, did Israel permanently give up annexing the West Bank?
No. I mean, the key word is suspended. So it's temporary. And there's a lot of ways this can go. In the coming weeks, Israelis might try to get other Arab countries to join the UAE or these Gulf states might try to pressure Israel to make other concessions.
OK, so what are the Palestinians think?
Well, they think the UAE betrayed them. The Arab League position, as you mentioned, is normalization after the Israelis and Palestinians reach a two state solution. And while the annexation plans may be on hold, the reality is the Israelis have built up settlements in the occupied West Bank and that isn't changing. Michelle, thanks for the update. Thank you. That's NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. His critics often say the president says the quiet part out loud, that phrase certainly applied yesterday when the president gave his reason to oppose funding for the Postal Service.
He was talking to Fox Business News and he said if he blocks the money, he can also block mail in voting. Now, as is often the case with President Trump, it was startling, but it was also very confusingly worded. And then later in the day at a press conference, he said something more nuanced, which we'll explain. But first, here's Trevor Potter, the president of the Campaign Legal Center.
I think it may have occurred to him that he was too honest yesterday, that what he said yesterday was that he wanted to make it as difficult as possible for the majority of Americans to vote. And I hope and expect that he realized that it was a mistake to say that because in a pandemic, it is clearly safer to vote by mail.
The president, of course, for months has fanned suspicions of mail and voting, though without evidence. NPR's Miles Parks has been covering that story for quite some time either Miles. Hi there. OK, so how did the president's statements change during the day?
So initially he seemed to say that as part of the next congressional stimulus package, he did not want postal service funding. This is the billions of dollars that Democrats put in their proposal that they note the USPS has asked for because they're heading towards falling off a financial cliff. Now, Trump said he opposed it essentially because it would allow Democrats to implement what he called a universal mail in voting system.
This part of it just isn't true. Each state run their own elections. There isn't some sort of federal elections body making all of these decisions. Each state runs their own elections and only a handful are planning to send ballots to all registered voters. And many of those.
Let me just Miles, let me make sure I understand this. The president said he was going to block funding for the Postal Service, which needs it, in order to stop something that nobody was proposing at all. Is that correct? Right.
So some states are expanding their mail and voting and they say basically the post office does need more support to do this. But it's not like some sort of national situation where the entire country is going to this system kind of on a whim, obviously. Also, the USPS does a lot more than just send mail ballots. They send very important prescriptions to people and all sorts of other things. So then yesterday afternoon, President Trump sort of walked it back in his press conference saying this would not be a sticking point for him, that he would potentially sign legislation that includes money for the post office if it comes to him.
But he still strongly opposed to the general idea of mail voting expansion, which most states, Republican and Democratic led are doing at this point.
What are you hearing from people who run elections in general? I'm hearing a lot of worrying. You know, this is an area where they have very little control. They can print the ballots on time. They can get all of these security measures in place that are in place for these mail ballots. They can get them sent out on time to the right addresses. And then at that point, it's kind of out of their hands and in the hands of the postal service.
I talked to Maggie to lose Oliver, who's the secretary of state of New Mexico, and she also leads the National Association of Secretaries of State.
I'm just really sad, quite frankly, that voting in general continues to be such a partisan issue. And it's really discouraging, I think, for voters.
Now, what's really shocking here is that she has yet to hear from the new leadership at the post office. This is the head of the group of the most important election officials in the country. And she said her and the leadership of the association have requested a conversation with the postmaster general and they haven't received a response yet.
He is a major Trump contributor who's got a lot of questions about his investments, who's running the Postal Service? Is the Postal Service likely to get the money after all this?
It still seems likely, I'd say for no other reason, that the post office is just extraordinarily popular, both nationwide and in Congress. There's numerous Republican senators who have come out in support of USPS in the past few weeks. And then broadly, a Pew study found in April that 91 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the post office, which is just an extraordinarily high number, higher than any other federal agency or organization that Pew asked about.
NPR's Miles Parks, thanks. Thank you.
Joe Biden has expanded his lead over the president nationally, including among some groups who will be pivotal in November. Right.
That's according to a new NPR PBS NewsHour Marist poll that's out this morning. It surveyed around 13 hundred American adults.
And NPR's Domenico Montanaro has been studying the results either Domenico. Hey, how much is the Biden lead now?
Well, he now leads Trump by 11 points, 53 to 42 percent, which is up from an eight point advantage at the end of June. Last time we asked about it.
And he's doing well with key groups. Biden, he's reached a majority with independents. He leads Trump with this crucial group, by the way, by 16 points. And Trump still retains support from his base voting groups, but he's seeing his lead dissipate with importantly, white voters for context. Trump won white voters in 2016 by 20 points.
And in this poll, Trump and Biden are tied.
While it's been rare in recent generations that Democrats have been competitive among white voters, they'll get a large minority, but not usually half as anything changed about the major issue of the year, the pandemic.
Well, Trump's overall approval rating has ticked down to 39 percent, and Americans are saying they're even more worried about coronavirus than they had been a few months ago. Seventy one percent now say they see it as a real threat. That's up from 56 percent in March. The last time we asked the question about whether they think it's a real threat or not and on who voters would like to see handling it, they prefer Biden on this by 16 points.
If President Trump really if he hopes to be reelected, he's going to have to improve on this front because many voters are saying it'll be a significant factor in their vote. But making things harder for President Trump is that just 31 percent say that they can trust the information coming from the president about coronavirus.
So, frankly, Steve, a lot of Americans are just tuning him out, while just 31 percent, meaning there are a lot of people who say they're going to vote for the president who don't trust what he has to say about the coronavirus. That's true.
If 39 percent are approving of him and only 31 percent are saying they trust the information coming from him. Yeah.
Now, let me ask about something else that was in this survey. People were asked about the vaccine whenever it may arrive, whether they would take the vaccine. What what did they say?
Yeah, this was pretty striking. More than a third of Americans, 35 percent say that they will not get vaccinated when a vaccine comes available for coronavirus, 60 percent say they will.
There are huge splits by education and party those with college degrees, 19 points more likely to get vaccinated than those without Democrats. Twenty three points more likely than Republicans to do so. And those skeptical of vaccines, Steve, is a huge concern for public health experts in the country who say the U.S. needs to overcome this pandemic by getting vaccinated.
Yeah, you have a higher percentage of people take a vaccine the more effective it is overall. Domenico, thanks. You're welcome. That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. And that's a first for this Friday, August 14th. I'm Steve Inskeep. And I'm Noel King. Up first is produced by Lily Chiros. Our editors are Denise Kuchera and Reena Advani. Our technical director is Brian Jarboe and our executive producer is Ken. You're young. You can follow us on Twitter at up first.
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