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Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Pool, Gali Tibbon/Getty Images

While Joe Biden and Donald Trump were giving their initial election night reactions, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ordering ministers from his Likud party to refrain from any public statements on the vote, two ministers tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu has closer relations with Trump than any other world leader, but he doesn't want to give even the slightest impression that he's taking sides before the results are final, Israeli officials told me.

What they're saying:

  • Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein dodged a question about the U.S. election at a press conference today, saying he wanted to wait until all the votes were counted.
  • Settlement Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, also from Likud, wouldn’t discuss the election in a radio interview except to say that he didn’t think a Biden administration would roll back Trump’s policies on “legalizing” West Bank settlements. Biden has publicly opposed settlements.

Flashback: Trump was disappointed that Netanyahu declined to publicly endorse him during a phone call held before TV cameras on Oct. 23, one Netanyahu aide told me.

  • During the call to announce an Israel-Sudan normalization agreement, Trump asked Netanyahu if “Sleepy Joe” could have sealed such a deal. Netanyahu gave a diplomatic answer and said he'd be happy to work for peace with any American partner.
  • One of Trump’s advisers told his Israeli counterpart about Trump’s disappointment in an informal conversation, Netanyahu’s aide said.
  • The Israeli side then checked in formally with the White House to see if there was an issue, but was reassured that things were fine.
  • Between the lines: Netanyahu has been hoping his ideological ally will win, but he doesn't want to get off on the wrong foot with a potential President Biden.

Behind the scenes: Netanyahu was following the coverage overnight on multiple American TV networks. He also spoke on the phone with Israel's U.S. ambassador, Ron Dermer, for updates and analysis.

  • One aide to Netanyahu said the prime minister came into Election Day concerned about a Biden landslide.
  • But by Wednesday morning in Israel, Netanyahu was cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a Trump victory.

Go deeper: U.S. election result will shake up Israeli politics

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - World

The global line for coronavirus vaccines stretches back to 2023

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There’s a wild scramble at the front of the line for COVID-19 vaccines, with the EU discussing export bans and legal action to ensure its supply speeds up in the coming months.

The flipside: The back of the line likely stretches to 2023 and beyond. Almost no low-income countries have managed to begin distribution in earnest, and total vaccinations in all of continental sub-Saharan Africa currently number in the dozens.

20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.