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Jared Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in 2017. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, the head of the White House's Israeli-Palestinian peace team, traveled to the Middle East on Monday night on a visit to Morocco, Jordan and Israel, a senior White House official told me.

Why it matters: Kushner will arrive in Israel on Thursday, meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the tail end of a coalition crisis that could lead to new elections. Netanyahu's deadline for forming a new government is set to expire on Wednesday night, and new elections in Israel could be yet another hurdle for the Trump administration's peace plan.

  • Trump jumped into the coalition crisis over the weekend when he tweeted in support of Netanyahu's efforts to form a new coalition. An hour later Netanyahu used Trump's tweet to publicly slam his political opponent former Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, putting public pressure on him to join the coalition.

Details: Kushner arrived in Rabat Tuesday morning and will meet with senior Moroccan officials. On Wednesday, Kushner will arrive in Amman and meet Jordan's King Abdullah to discuss Jordanian participation in the U.S.-led Bahrain conference next month, which will launch the economic part of the White House peace plan. The Palestinians are pushing the Jordanians to boycott the conference.

  • Jason Greenblatt, the White House's special envoy for Middle East peace, and Brian Hook, the State Department's Iran envoy, are also joining Kushner on the trip.

Go deeper: The only Palestinian RSVP to the White House's Bahrain conference so far

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.