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An International Al-Quds Day protest in Tehran last month. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Israel and the United States formed a joint working group a few months ago that is focused on internal efforts to encourage protests within Iran and pressure the country's government.

Why it matters: The Obama administration almost completely refused to discuss any potential efforts for stirring unrest or encouraging protest inside Iran with Israel due to its efforts to complete the Iran nuclear deal. The joint team is a major example of the Trump administration's policy shift in the region.

What we're hearing: The Israeli officials told me that both the domestic situation in Iran and the work of the joint team were discussed during a meeting between national security adviser John Bolton and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat and his American counterpart John Bolton at the White House several weeks ago. Both Bolton and Ben-Shabbat think that raising internal pressure on the Iranian regime might have a positive influence on Iranian regional behavior.

"Nobody is seriously thinking about regime change, but this team is trying to see if we can use the internal weaknesses of the Iranian regime in order to create more pressure that will contribute to changing Iranian behavior."
— An Israeli official
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office declined to comment. A spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House said: "We don’t confirm or provide details of internal deliberations."

The big picture: In the last few weeks, both Israel and the U.S. started using social media to convey anti-regime messages to the Iranian people. And Netanyahu has recently posted four different videos on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter — translated to Farsi — in which he speaks to the Iranian people and encourages them to protest against the regime.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote a series of tweets supporting the protesters in Iran, criticizing mass arrests of protesters by the Iranian regime and highlighting the regime's growing funding of the Revolutionary Guards Corps as controversy build over Iran's domestic spending.

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Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Suspect in FedEx shooting identified as 19-year-old former employee Brandon Hole

Crime scene investigators walk through the FedEx parking lot in Indianapolis the day after a mass shooting left nine dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images.

The suspected gunman who killed at least eight people and wounded several others in Indianapolis before killing himself has been identified by local police as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, a former FedEx employee, a company spokesperson told the AP.

The latest: At least 100 people were in the FedEx warehouse at the time of the shooting, authorities said Friday. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Craig McCartt told reporters that Hole worked at FedEx through 2020. He did not specify the circumstances of Hole’s departure.