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A sign points the way to the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Photo: Sergey Orlov\TASS via Getty Images

Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania, in coordination with Israel, today blocked a joint EU statement criticizing the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Israeli officials and European diplomats told me.

Behind the scenes: The initiative to publish the statement was led by France and several other EU member states. Israeli officials say the goal was to present to the U.S. a common position against the move by all 28 member states, and to embarrass and isolate the Trump administration ahead of Monday's ceremony.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials, the draft statement circulated in European capitals had three points:

  1. Jerusalem should be the capital of both states — Israel and the future state of Palestine.
  2. The final status of Jerusalem should be negotiated and only determined through negotiations between the parties.
  3. The member states of the EU will not follow the U.S. and will not move their embassies to Jerusalem.

According to European diplomats and Israeli officials the French and other member states wanted to publish the statement today as a statement by the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini supported by all 28 EU members.

  • But earlier today, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania announced they object to the statement and made it impossible to reach the consensus needed to publish it.
  • A senior European diplomat told me with a lot of frustration: "The Hungarians didn’t want to poke Trump in the eye and the Czechs and the Romanians are considering to move their embassies to Jerusalem against the EU position. This is the state of the EU these days".  

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Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.