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Rep. Gregory Meeks. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Gett

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) last week called Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to protest over the demolition of a house in the West Bank owned by a Palestinian American accused of carrying out a terror attack, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The demolition — which sparked the Biden administration's first criticism of the new Israeli government on the Palestinian issue — took place while Meeks was leading a bipartisan delegation to Israel.

Behind the scenes: Last Thursday, Meeks called Lapid, whom he'd met a day earlier, and complained that the demolition was carried out during a visit intended to signal bipartisan support for the relationship with Israel, according to the Israeli officials.

  • The timing caught Meeks and his delegation off guard and exposed them to criticism from progressive Democrats.
  • Israeli Foreign Ministry officials feared a repeat of the March 2010 incident in which an announcement on settlement-building in East Jerusalem was released while then-Vice President Biden was visiting the country.
  • Lapid told Meeks the demolition had been approved by the Supreme Court and was meant to deter further terror attacks, but it was a "tough" conversation, one Israeli official says.

Between the lines: “If we did it after the delegation left, this incident could have been averted," the official added, noting that Lapid didn't like the timing either and understood why Meeks was upset.

What’s next: After the incident, Lapid spoke with Bennett and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz to set up a coordination mechanism that will prevent such incidents from happening again, per an Israeli official.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel and France hold secret talks to end NSO spyware crisis

Anyone listening? Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata secretly visited Paris several days ago for talks with his counterparts at the Élysée aimed at ending the crisis around the alleged use of Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO to hack the cell phones of President Emmanuel Macron and other top French officials, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The alleged misuse of NSO software has become a major diplomatic headache for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government. The crisis led to a partial freeze on diplomatic, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and France and the suspension of high-level bilateral visits.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."