Israel announced Monday that it had successfully launched a new spy satellite into space. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the launch of the Ofek 16 satellite, telling his cabinet, "[the launch] increases our ability to act against Israel’s enemies, near and far alike." Some officials hinted that Israel may have been behind a massive fire at an Iranian nuclear site last week, but Netanyahu made no reference to the incident. Israel, which accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, has neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the fire, though in a speech on Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi noted that it was Israel’s long-term strategy to prevent Iran from gaining the ability to build a nuclear weapon. Ashkenazi made no mention of the Natanz incident, but said that Israel takes “actions that are better left unsaid.”
On Monday, the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs approved a bill that will contribute funds to Israel security, as well as provide aid to the Palestinians. The bill directs $3.3 billion to Israel, and $225 million toward helping address "the needs of the Palestinian people, which may include support for UNRWA,” the committee said through a statement. Chairperson Nita Lowey also announced the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act of 2020, which will invest in economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians. If approved by the full committee, the bill will head to the Senate, where some prominent Democrats have proposed an amendment that would prevent any aid from being used for the annexation of/application of sovereignty to territories in the West Bank.