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Photo: Alex Kolomiensky/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

After facing widespread public criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is backtracking on his decision to fly with his family on a private jet to the signing ceremony of the Israel-UAE normalization agreement next week at the White House.

Why it matters: Netanyahu’s office tried to hide the fact he is planning to travel on a private jet, but when the story broke yesterday in the Israeli press Netanyahu was attacked for being indifferent to the economic and health crisis in Israel.

What they are saying: Netanyahu’s office issued a statement blaming the Israeli media for trying to “divert public attention away from the historic peace deal with the UAE."

  • Netanyahu’s office said he will now fly on a bigger plane with stricter social distancing to keep him safe from COVID-19 infection.

What’s next: Netanyahu and his wife and two kids will now fly to the U.S. on Sunday aboard a chartered EL AL Boeing 777 with the whole Israeli delegation.

Go deeper

Dec 9, 2020 - World

Biden and Netanyahu are on a collision course over Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Gali Tibbon (AFP)/Getty Images

The incoming Biden administration and the Israeli government are on a collision course over the future of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Why it matters: There is a growing gap between Biden’s stated intention to re-enter the deal and Israel’s expectations and public demands against it.

Nov 19, 2019 - World

Behind the scenes of Trump's shift on Israeli settlements

(L-R) Pompeo, Netanyahu and Friedman visit the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem. Photo: Abir Sultan/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman pushed for a change to the U.S. position on the legality of Israeli settlements early in the Trump administration, but former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opposed the move.

Behind the scenes: Friedman, the key driver behind the major policy shift announced yesterday, raised the issue again when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came in. This time he got a "green light," U.S. officials tell me.

Top 2020 Dems wouldn't reverse Trump's Jerusalem embassy decision

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Democratic presidential front-runners have accepted President Trump's Jerusalem move.

The bottom line: Over the last week, Axios reached out to all of the top tier candidates, and not one of them — including former Vice President Joe Biden — would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv.