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Jerusalem's old city. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli foreign ministry effectively boycotted Sven Koopmans, the new EU envoy for the Middle East peace process, during his first visit to Jerusalem last week, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Israeli officials said the boycott was to protest against EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s handling of the recent Gaza fighting. They claim Borrell didn't condemn Hamas' attacks strongly enough or give sufficient support to Israel’s right to defend itself.

Driving the news: Two weeks ago, Koopmans told the Israeli government he wanted to come to Jerusalem for meetings.

  • The Israel Foreign Ministry told Koopmans the timing for the visit wasn’t good and he should postpone.
  • When Koopmans came anyway, all his requests for meetings with representatives of the Israeli government were denied except for one meeting with a Ministry of Defense official, Israeli officials say.

What they're saying: EU diplomats rejected the Israeli criticism and told me: “Koopmans, who has been mandated by the 27 EU foreign ministers as their collective envoy to travel to the region, looks forward to engaging further with Israeli authorities."

Go deeper

Jun 8, 2021 - World

Biden likely to appoint Middle East envoy, Israeli foreign minister says

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R) with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP via Getty

Outgoing Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a farewell briefing to reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration is likely to appoint a Middle East envoy who will focus on strengthening the normalization agreements between Israel and the Arab world and will push for more.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has said it plans to build on the Trump-brokered agreements, but hasn't taken any action so far. Ashkenazi said senior Biden administration officials told him they were waiting for a new government to be formed in Israel before starting to push the normalization issue.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

White House acknowledges U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal

Fireworks in New York City to celebrate the state reaching a 70% vaccination rate. Photo: Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Biden administration acknowledged on Tuesday that it will likely miss its goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4.

Why it matters: Despite falling short of the goal, the White House still believes most Americans will be safe to fully celebrate Independence Day, as COVID-19 cases and deaths remain at low levels throughout much of the country.