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Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

What he's saying: Hinting at the new administration in Washington, Netanyahu said, "The international reality has changed. There is an intention to go back to this dangerous deal. I am the only one who will stand against the entire world."

  • Netanyahu added that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons to destroy Israel and asked, “Who will defend you from annihilation? I will not hesitate to do anything against whatever threatens our country."

Between the lines: Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric diverges widely from the policy line Israel's top national security officials, including himself, agreed to in a high-level meeting 10 days earlier.

  • The officials agreed to avoid a public fight with the Biden administration for now, focusing instead on holding strategic consultations with the White House on the Iranian nuclear issue.

Go deeper: U.S., Europeans scrap plan to censure Iran at UN nuclear watchdog meeting

Go deeper

Mar 3, 2021 - World

Israel's COVID diplomacy runs into trouble

Moderna doses from Israel arrive in Guatemala. Photo: Ohan Orodonez/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tapped Israel's stockpile of Moderna vaccines to conduct COVID diplomacy with friendly governments — without consulting the relevant government ministries.

Why it matters: Netanyahu's unilateral move may have broken Israeli law, allegedly violated Israel's contract with Moderna, and risked exposing Israel to lawsuits. He was forced to backtrack, but not before thousands of doses had already been transferred.

Mar 3, 2021 - World

U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is going nowhere fast

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Iran's cool response to the Biden administration's push for diplomatic engagement, along with rising tensions in the region, makes clear that salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal may be far more difficult than many had anticipated.

The state of play: Both the U.S. and Iran have entered the diplomatic dance, but it seems to be moving in circles.

Mar 4, 2021 - World

U.S., Europeans scrap plan to censure Iran at UN nuclear watchdog meeting

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi at Thursday's meeting. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty

France, Germany and the U.K. have backed off a plan to censure Iran for its lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the UN nuclear watchdog's quarterly meeting in Vienna, European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. and the three European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal (known as the E3) are attempting to revive diplomacy with Tehran, while also responding to Iran's continual breaches of the deal. But after the plan to censure Iran emerged, Iran reacted angrily and rejected a proposal for nuclear talks.