Jan 2, 2019

Pompeo and Netanyahu can't come to terms on Israel-Croatia arms deal

Pompeo and Netanyahu in Israel last year. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

During their meeting in Brasilia on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to make a deal regarding the Trump administration's objections to a proposed $500 million deal for F-16 jets between Israel and Croatia, a senior Israeli official told reporters.

Why it matters: Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said earlier this week that he was waiting for the outcome of the Pompeo-Netanyahu meeting and threatened to cancel the deal if Israel and the U.S. could not resolve their differences. The deal was supposed to be implemented before the end of 2018, but has been held up by the U.S. for almost two months.  

  • The Israeli official said the F-16 deal was the only issue Netanyahu and Pompeo could not make progress on in their meeting, adding the issue "is stuck in deep bureaucracy."
  • As I reported last month, the Trump administration objects to the fact that Israel wants to sell Croatia 12 F-16 fighter jets with upgraded Israeli technology included in the planes. The U.S. wants Israel to return the jets to their original condition before transferring the jets to Croatia, but the Croatian government has demanded the "Israeli version" — or has threatened to cancel the deal.
  • Netanyahu is personally trying to solve the crisis, raising the issue in a phone call with former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who rejected his request to soften the U.S. conditions for the deal. Israeli officials told me that Mattis' position practically killed the deal.  

Go deeper: U.S. lays out terms for $500 million Israel-Croatia arms deal

Go deeper

Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.