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Netanyahu (R) visits Johnson in Downing Street last September. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a request from U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to allow ventilators to be exported from Israel to the U.K., Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.K. is one of Israel's closest allies, and it's facing one of the world's worst coronavirus outbreaks. Raab made the request last week while deputizing for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalized with severe coronavirus symptoms but has since been released.

The backstory: Several British companies have attempted to purchase ventilators from Israeli suppliers but have been unable to because Netanyahu had issued an emergency decree banning the export of such technology, Israeli officials say. That led the U.K. to raise the issue on a political level.

  • Raab asked for an exemption from the export ban because of the U.K.'s urgent need.
  • Netanyahu expressed understanding, but said Israel needed the ventilators for domestic use.
  • Israel also faces a severe coronavirus outbreak, and the decision to ban the export of ventilators came amid fears of a domestic shortage as hospitalizations increased.

Spain also sought ventilators from Israel, with the foreign minister calling her Israeli counterpart earlier this week seeking 30 ventilators for Spanish hospitals.

  • The Spanish foreign minister said the ventilators had been ordered prior to the export ban and partially paid for. She demanded that Israel release them as soon as possible, Israeli officials say.
  • Israel’s foreign minister said the ventilators could not be exported at this time.

The Prime Minister’s office and Israeli Foreign Ministry did not deny this account but declined to comment on conversations held in diplomatic channels.

Go deeper: Israeli intelligence bought 100,000 of the wrong coronavirus test kits

Go deeper

Biden says Russia likely to invade Ukraine

President Biden addressed the brewing conflict between Russia and Ukraine during a press briefing Wednesday, saying of Russian President Vladimir Putin, "my guess is he will move in."

Why it matters: U.S. officials have issued a series of warnings about Russia's threatening military buildup on the border with Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Kyiv earlier Wednesday that Russia could invade "on very short notice."

Biden challenges GOP agenda: "What are Republicans for?"

President Biden pushed back against Republican efforts to obstruct his agenda during a press conference Wednesday, asking "What are Republicans for?"

Why it matters: Biden's speech comes as he approaches one year in office, facing low polling numbers and a stalled agenda.

Nathan Bomey, author of Closer
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Biden’s face mask campaign requires more imports from China

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

American mask manufacturers are getting whiplash, having gone from sleepy sector to mission-critical industry overnight — only to see sales collapse before now being suddenly in demand again.

Why it matters: As the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 rages, health experts now say Americans need legitimate N95 or KN95 masks to best protect themselves — not widely available fakes or less effective cloth masks.