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Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Israel asked the U.S. and other Western countries to condition aid to Lebanon on its government's action against Hezbollah's precision missiles project, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The U.S. has had a close relationship with the Lebanese government for many years, prompting a debate inside the Trump administration on whether aid should be frozen.

  • Much of the U.S. aid to Lebanon goes toward funding the Lebanese army. Over the last year, the U.S. military aid to Lebanon topped $100 million in addition to civilian financial assistance.
  • Many in the White House support freezing the aid, but the State Department and the Pentagon think it should continue.
  • The officials said the Israeli requests regarding the aid began before the latest protests in Lebanon — adding that Israel doesn't want to get involved in those domestic issues.

The big picture: Israel is concerned by the funding of Lebanon's army, claiming it is infiltrated by Hezbollah. It argues that aid could benefit the interests of the Shiite terror organization.

The state of play: Israeli officials told me that several weeks ago its foreign ministry ordered Israeli ambassadors in several capitals, including Washington, to convey messages to decision makers on the topic.

  • That argument centered on stopping aid to Lebanon as long as Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government — and as long as the government doesn't act to shut down the organization’s covert precision missile factories.
  • Israel is very concerned that Hezbollah will develop an industrial capacity of manufacturing precision missiles, which could pose a significant threat to its military bases and strategic sites.
  • The Israeli officials stressed that there is close coordination with the Trump administration on curbing Hezbollah's funding, prompting the Treasury Department to sanction several individuals and companies connected to Hezbollah's financial system.

Go deeper: Pompeo warned Lebanon about covert Hezbollah missile factory

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Experts predict major boom for North American sports stadiums

Rendering of the $375 million Moody Center on the UT-Austin campus. Photo courtesy of Moody Center

Stadium and arena construction in North America will total a relatively tame $5.8 billion this year, a 12% decrease from 2021.

The big picture: What the industry lacks in construction it expects to make up for in design, with experts predicting a sports venue boom over the next half-decade, SBJ reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

The latest: “I can’t comment on specific pieces of intelligence. But we’ve been warning about just this kind of tactic for weeks and we’ve spoken to that publicly," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Student debt getting in the way of millennial homeownership

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millennial homeownership is on the rise — but student loan debt is still keeping millions of members of America's largest generation from owning a home.

Why it matters: Buying a house remains the No. 1 way to build wealth in the U.S.

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