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Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Benny Gantz. Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty Staff, Jack Guez/Getty Contributor

The White House is opposed to Israel's moves to annex the West Bank prior to the release of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening.

Between the lines: The U.S. officials said the Trump administration has made its position clear to the Israeli government, and Netanyahu is aware that the U.S. doesn’t want Israel to take any unilateral steps before the peace plan is published.

Details: Netanyahu's new annexation statements came after his main opponent in upcoming elections, Benny Gantz, visited the Jordan Valley and announced he will annex the Jordan Valley "in coordination with the international community" if he wins on March 2.

  • Netanyahu quickly announced he is ready to bring annexation to a vote in the Knesset.
  • A Twitter brawl erupted between the prime minister and Gantz after Netanyahu's announcement — with the politicians attacking each other for not being serious about annexation.
  • The back-and-forth underscores the fierce fight for right-wing voters.

The bottom line: It is still unclear when the U.S. peace plan will be presented. U.S. officials say Trump is expected to announce his decision in the next few days.

  • President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner had been scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday to discuss the issue with Netanyahu and Gantz, but cancelled his trip due to bad weather.
  • Kushner was also supposed to visit Israel to participate in an international conference on fighting anti-Semitism.

Go deeper: Trump to decide in coming days on when to release Middle East peace plan

Go deeper

56 mins ago - Health

U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines

A health care worker administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Ruleville, Mississippi. Photo: Rory Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. is now vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, up from 1.3 million in early February.

Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.