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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Xinhua/Rao Ainmin via Getty Images

Officials from Israel's Foreign Ministry warned in a classified Cabinet meeting last month that if the Israeli government doesn’t create a strong monitoring mechanism on Chinese investments, it could lead to a harsh confrontation with the Trump administration, 2 ministers who attended the meeting tell me.

Why it matters: The Foreign Ministry warning, which came on July 24, led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to postpone a vote on forming such a mechanism that was apparently too weak. Chinese investments in Israel have become the main source of tension with the Trump administration over the last 2 years.

  • President Trump and other senior U.S. officials have asked Netanyahu several times to take steps to limit Chinese investments.
  • Israeli officials say the Trump administration has started showing signs of nervousness about what it sees as foot-dragging by Netanyahu on the issue.
  • In their last meeting in March, Trump warned Netanyahu that not addressing the issue could harm defense and intelligence cooperation with the U.S., according to White House officials.
  • Those officials tell me Netanyahu told Trump he understands the sensitivities, but wants to find a balanced policy that won’t harm Israel’s relationship with China.

The latest: During a visit in late June from White House national security adviser John Bolton, Netanyahu committed to passing a decision through the Cabinet on monitoring Chinese investments before Israel's Sept. 17 elections.

  • 10 days ago, Netanyahu’s national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat presented to the Security Cabinet a draft resolution on this issue.
  • The plan was to vote on the resolution at the end of the meeting, but the Foreign Ministry raised deep reservations. They stressed that it was too weak and wouldn't address U.S. concerns.
  • For example, the draft resolution didn’t include monitoring of Chinese investment in Israel's high-tech sector — a major source of concern for the U.S., both for economic and security reasons.

Ministers who attended the meeting tell me the Foreign Ministry recommended that any monitoring mechanism on Chinese investments be tough enough that the U.S. would feel its concerns were taken into consideration.

  • They said the alternative was to risk confrontation with the Trump administration. That warning led to a postponement of the vote.

Israel's Ministry of Finance pushed back, warning that tight regulation on Chinese investments in the tech sector could harm Israeli companies and lead them to take their business abroad.

  • Netanyahu asked his national security adviser to hold another round of interagency consultations, including with Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer, the ministers tell me.
  • An amended text could be brought to the Cabinet as soon as Wednesday.

The other side: A White House official told me, "We hope the Israelis will take steps to address our concerns about China — including passing a resolution in the Cabinet on monitoring Chinese investments."

Go deeper

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.

Ina Fried, author of Login
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How smartphone cameras became the best cameras

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For years, the smartphone has been the most convenient camera, and in recent years it has also become the easiest and most versatile camera. But this year's high-end smartphones have taken things to a new level — capturing images that would be either tough or impossible even with a high-end digital camera.

Between the lines: Traditional cameras have the advantage of bigger sensors and better lenses, but smartphone cameras are rivaling and even surpassing them by tapping computational power.