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Netanyahu and Trump at Davos last month. Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Israel is backtracking on Prime Minister Netanyahu's statement that he has been discussing the possibility of annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank with the Trump administration. After we reported on that claim, a U.S. official told me the U.S. hasn't received or agreed to any such proposals.

Between the lines: This is the first time since Trump went into the Oval Office that there is any daylight between his administration and the Netanyahu government on the Palestinian issue.

Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman, tells me: "Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the President’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative."

  • The backdrop: Netanyahu told lawmakers at a Likud faction meeting on Monday that the annexation discussions had been ongoing "for some time now," the first time he sounded support for annexation of the settlements as prime minister. Israel has refrained from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, in part because of U.S. opposition.
  • An Israeli official now says that Netanyahu has been talking for some time with the Trump administration about Israel's national interest in a future peace deal with the Palestinians, but at no point but at no point did he present any specific annexation proposal, and the Trump administration has never agreed to such a proposal.
  • The Israeli official added that Israel updated the White House on different draft bills which were raised in the Knesset regarding annexation. The official said the U.S. has stated its clear position that it wants to promote the Trump administration's peace plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu's position is that if the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage in peace negotiations, Israel will present its own alternatives.

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.