May 15, 2019

Netanyahu wary of being dragged into U.S.-Iran escalation

Secretary of State Pompeo with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

At a special meeting on U.S.-Iran tensions with Israel's intelligence chiefs and top military brass, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would make every effort not to get dragged into the escalation in the Gulf and would not interfere directly in the situation, Israeli officials tell me.

The backdrop: Israel was one of the main sources of intelligence on alleged Iranian plots against the U.S. and its allies in the region. The U.S. has spread the alarm about such threats and deployed additional military assets. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke on the phone earlier this week with Netanyahu to coordinate their responses to rising U.S.-Iran tensions, the officials say.

The assessment from Israeli intelligence is that there is not imminent risk of attack by Iran or its proxies against Israel in Lebanon, Syria or Iraq as a result of recent escalation, according to Israeli officials.

  • During the emergency meeting, Netanyahu ordered security and intelligence chiefs to boost monitoring of Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias in the region, Israeli officials said.
  • A State Department official told me Pompeo and Netanyahu speak frequently on a wide range of issues, including about the threat posed by Iran. The official refrained from discussing the call this week, but didn't deny that it took place. 

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George Floyd updates

Protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds have assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct. A memorial service was held for Floyd in Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor him until sunset.

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Tens of thousands of people have continued to rally in cities across the world against racism and show their support this week for U.S. demonstrators protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 6,852,810 — Total deaths: 398,211 — Total recoveries — 3,071,142Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,917,080 — Total deaths: 109,702 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.