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Netanyahu (L) with Trump, Pence, Pompeo and Kushner at the White House in January. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is expected to hold high-level meetings this week to discuss whether to give the Israeli government a “green light” on annexing parts of the West Bank, American and Israeli sources tell me.

Why it matters: Israel won't move forward on annexation without the approval of the White House, and there are disagreements on the issue inside both the Israeli government and the Trump administration. Security and intelligence officials from both countries fear annexation would lead to violent escalation in the region.

The meetings are expected to take place Monday or Tuesday and include Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is expected to travel to Washington to attend.

  • White House envoy Avi Berkowitz had been expected to travel to Israel but stayed in Washington to attend the meetings.
  • President Trump is expected to join the discussion at a certain stage, and will make the final call on any decision.

Behind the scenes: Friedman supports giving the Israeli government a “green light” for annexation now but others in the administration are more cautious. 

  • Pompeo returned from his trip to Israel last month with many reservations about annexation, due to concerns about regional stability and internal disagreements inside to Israeli government. Pompeo has appeared to shift since then and move closer to Friedman’s position, sources say.
  • Kushner's position is unclear. He is not ideologically opposed to annexation but is deeply invested in the Trump peace plan and wants to make sure Israel's steps don't undermine it.
  • One of the main points of discussion will be the disagreements on the issue between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
  • U.S. officials have said they want to see broad consensus among Israel's leaders on any annexation steps.

The big picture: Any unilateral Israeli annexations would be widely considered a violation of international law and fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, countries in the region including Jordan, as well as the European Union.

  • Netanyahu has vowed to move forward with the annexation of at least some territory in the West Bank as soon as July 1 .
  • America's Arab allies, mainly Jordan and the UAE, have been warning the
    Trump administration and Israel both privately and publicly against
    annexation.
  • The foreign ministers of many EU member states raised their concerns in a video conference call with Pompeo last week. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Netanyahu privately presents 4 plans for annexation

Go deeper

Sep 24, 2020 - World

Israeli PM announces strict lockdown plan after record coronavirus cases spike

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an August news conference in Jerusalem. Photo: Debbie Hill/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans for a "full lockdown" after Israel reported a new daily coronavirus cases record of 6,923 infections Wednesday.

Why it matters: Israel last Friday became the first developed country to re-enter lockdown. While schools, retailers and other businesses closed for the three-week measure, there are exemptions including for people to pray, go to work, exercise and protest. The new two-week restrictions that still needs Cabinet's full approval aims to address this, AP notes. "The goal is to reduce the rate of infection, and the goal is literally to save many lives in Israel," Netanyahu said.

Sep 23, 2020 - World

U.S.-Sudan talks on normalization with Israel end without breakthrough

Negotiations in Abu Dhabi between the U.S. and Sudan have ended without a breakthrough on Sudanese recognition of Israel, sources briefed on the talks tell me.

The big picture: Sudan is trying to re-engage with the world economically as it transitions from the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, and needs U.S. sanctions relief to do so. The U.S., meanwhile, has pushed Sudan to become the latest Arab country to normalize relations with Israel. The talks in Abu Dhabi, first reported by Axios, were the most substantive to date on that topic.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.