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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.

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon Michael Flynn

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

President Trump has told confidants he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
4 hours ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

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