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Nikki Haley speaks with Israeli UN representative Danny Danon. Photo: Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me they are concerned that U.S. withdrawal from the UN human rights council will make it harder to block anti-Israeli initiatives on the council. The officials say that even though they feel the council is extremely biased against Israel, U.S. membership helped to soften or fend off some anti-Israeli steps.

Why it matters: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in their announcement yesterday that one of the reasons for the U.S. withdrawal was the council's bias against Israel. Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the U.S. announcement and called the decision "a courageous decision against the hypocrisy and the lies of the so-called UN Human Rights Council."

Despite Netanyahu's remarks, senior Israeli foreign ministry officials tell me the timing of the U.S. withdrawal is problematic because it comes a few months before current UN human rights commissioner Prince Zaid Bin Raad ends his term. The said they hoped the U.S. would at least stay in the council until after the new commissioner's appointment, in order to ensure the person appointed for the job is more balanced.

The Israeli officials say there are at least two big anti-Israeli initiatives which will be much harder to block or deal with now that the U.S. has left the council:

  • The publication of the database or "blacklist" of Israeli and international companies which operate in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. A few months ago, U.S. pressure led the U.N. human rights commissioner to postpone the publication of the list.
  • The formation of a commission of inquiry on the violent clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza. The council has decided to form the inquiry, but Israeli officials tell me they are concerned that without the U.S. it will be close to impossible to influence the commission's composition, mandate and conclusions.

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A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
20 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

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The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for assistant AG

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

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