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Netanyahu and Merkel in 2016. Photo: Dominik Bindl-Pool/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a decision by President Trump to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal might lead to the collapse of the agreement and, as a result, could lead to a regional war. German officials told me Merkel made this position clear when she met Netanyahu at the world economic forum in Davos Switzerland on January 24th.

Why it matters: The meeting between Merkel and Netanyahu took place two weeks after Trump announced he'd withdraw from the nuclear deal if Germany, France and the U.K. couldn't agree on significant changes to the deal by May 12th. Since then, senior diplomats have been engaged in intense negotiations to save the deal. The Europeans now believe the chances of finding a formula which will satisfy Trump are very slim.

A German official said Netanyahu presented all his arguments against the Iran deal to Merkel during the meeting.

  • Merkel listened and then told Netanyahu: "What is your alternative?" According to the official, she told Netanyahu that without the diplomatic solution, the military option would be back on the table.
  • Merkel stressed that a U.S. withdrawal would divide the west. According to the German official, Merkel said to Netanyahu: "It will put us, the Brits and the French on the same side with Russia, China and Iran when the U.S. and Israel will be on the other side. Is this what you want?"
  • The German chancellor also told Netanyahu that the European powers do not want do violate their international commitments and that U.S. withdrawal would harm the credibility of the West. That would make it harder to reach diplomatic solutions with problematic countries in the future because, "No one would take our word anymore," she added.

Netanyahu and Merkel spoke tonight on the phone. The purpose of the call was for Netanyahu to congratulate Merkel on forming a new government, but the two also discussed the Iran deal.

Netanyahu's office did not dispute the account of the meeting with Merkel in Davos, and said in a statement:

"Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasizes Israel's vital security interests at every meeting and he will continue to do so. The Prime Minister is convinced that the Iran deal should be fundamentally fixed or fundamentally nixed because this deal would lead for sure to Iran having an arsenal of nuclear bombs."

Go deeper

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

3 hours ago - World

Beijing's antitrust push poses a problem for Western regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government's anti-monopoly machinery presents a major challenge to U.S. and European regulators, a new book argues.

Why it matters: China's huge markets are attracting investment from multinational corporations and shaping the behavior of its own globe-trotting companies — giving international heft to the country's idiosyncratic antitrust enforcement and putting it on a collision course with Western-style regulation.