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John Bolton. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Israeli officials told me they are closely following the escalating tensions in the Gulf and that they are concerned that the Trump administration's response against Iran so far has not been strong enough.

Details: The Israeli officials told me that based on the last few weeks, the Iranians believe President Trump wants to avoid military confrontation — which has led them to escalate their provocative actions. The officials said that without some kind of a military action by the U.S. — even a limited one — they believe the Iranians will continue to escalate.

Driving the news: Amid a new round of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Israel on Saturday for a trilateral summit with his Israeli and Russian counterparts. White House officials said the summit in Jerusalem, which will focus on Iranian actions in the region, will go ahead as planned.

Why it matters: This unprecedented summit was organized to address Syria and Iran's continued presence in the country, but the latest escalation in the Gulf will certainly make the scope of discussions much broader. While in Jerusalem, Bolton will have a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Petroshev. Russia may be the only country that has leverage over Iran and could help de-escalate tensions. 

What they're saying:

  • The Russian national security adviser Petroshev said in a briefing with reporters in Moscow that during the trilateral summit in Israel, Russia will ensure that Iranian interests in the region are also taken into account. 
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday that the downing of a U.S. drone shows Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States. Netanyahu added: "I repeat my call for all peace-loving countries to stand by the United States in its effort to stop Iranian aggression. Israel stands by the United States on this."

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

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Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.