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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

What we’re tracking this week

White House special adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt are expected to visit Egypt this week as part of a Middle East tour that saw them stop in Jordan yesterday, the Associated Press reports The officials met with King Abdullah II to discuss, among other things, “the Trump Administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” according to a White House readout. Stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia are also scheduled. The visits come ahead of the expected rollout of a new Arab-Israeli peace plan later this summer.

On a related note, the US administration decided yesterday to withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council in protest of a perceived “bias against Israel and willingness to allow notorious human rights abusers as members,” the Washington Post says. “‘I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from our human rights commitments,’ the US’ UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said yesterday. ‘We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.’”

Parliament will begin voting on the Tenders and Auctions Act during a plenary session on Saturday, House Planning and Budget Committee deputy chair Yasser Omar tells Al Mal. The legislation would decentralize tender procedures and streamline the selection process for winning bids as well as set new quotas for domestic components and SME contractors. The House aims to pass the bill before summer recess, according to Omar.

The House will also vote on the government’s request for a EGP 70 bn overdraft for the FY2017-18 state budget during Saturday’s session. The Planning and Budget Committee had approved the overdraft, which the Finance Ministry said is necessary to cover overruns in expenditures on items including fuel imports, earlier this month.

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