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

Biden's doctrine: Erase Trump, re-embrace the world

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto, and Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Foreign policy will look drastically different if Joe Biden defeats President Trump in November, advisers tell Axios — starting with a Day One announcement that the U.S. is re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement and new global coordination of the coronavirus response.

The big picture: If Trump's presidency started the "America First" era of withdrawal from global alliances, Biden's team says his presidency would be the opposite: a re-engagement with the world and an effort to rebuild those alliances — fast.

Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

Trump dons face mask during Walter Reed visit

Trump wearing a face mask in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on July 11. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump wore a face mask during his Saturday visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to AP.

Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.