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Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told me in an interview today that the U.S. will support Israeli annexations in the West Bank, as long as they're consistent with the maps presented in the U.S. peace plan.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he'd bring plans to annex the Jordan Valley and all settlements in the West Bank before the Cabinet on Sunday. He would not have taken such a dramatic step without U.S. backing.

What he's saying:

“We set markers for the things we thought acceptable, and in exchange [for annexation] Netanyahu is prepared to take lands that are demarcated in our maps and hold those for a future Palestinian state."
— Mike Pompeo

Pompeo said the Trump plan was the best opportunity the Palestinians would have, and he urged Palestinian leaders to reconsider their decision to reject it, or to perhaps present a counter-offer.

Pompeo warned that Trump's plan could be the final offer the Palestinians receive.

“There is a real offer that sits on the table for the Palestinians — all they need to do is to say yes. We are prepared to begin negotiations based on this vision. We can start the process towards their having the state they always wanted."

Pompeo said he was not concerned that a Netanyahu loss in the March 2 election would affect the viability of the plan.

  • He said Netanyahu’s opponent, Benny Gantz, told Trump “the plan is something he will be happy to engage in, and something he thought made sense for Israel, and that can form a basis for negotiations."

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.

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