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Pence with Netanyahu. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence personally asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to target Israel's newly announced coronavirus quarantine at only visitors from the U.S., but to "go global," senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: On Monday, Netanyahu announced a new policy of self-quarantine for a period of 14 days for anyone who enters Israel regardless of their country of origin — thus implementing Pence's request, made during a call on Sunday. Israeli officials say Pence's request significantly influenced Netanyahu's decision.

Behind the scenes: Pence stressed to Netanyahu that he understands Israel's concerns about a coronavirus outbreak, but said the Trump administration would not look favorably on a policy that only affected the U.S. and several European countries, like Italy.

  • If the policy included the entire world, though, Pence said the U.S. would raise no objections, the Israeli officials say.

Netanyahu's office didn't deny this account but said Pence stressed to Netanyahu that Israel is free to make its own decisions and praised the Israeli policy toward the crisis.

  • Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, told Axios he listened in on the call and disputed this characterization, though he would not clarify what was said.

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.