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Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he and President Trump discussed the possibilities of a U.S-Israel defense treaty as well as Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank in their call last night.

Why it matters: This is mostly about domestic political positioning for Netanyahu as he and opposition politician Benny Gantz stare down a Dec. 11 deadline to form a government. Netanyahu gave the impression that Trump was favorably disposed toward both goals and called on Gantz to form a unity government to accomplish them.

Between the lines: If neither Netanyahu nor Gantz can get 61 members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to support their government, Israel will have its third elections in less than a year. Both Gantz and Netanyahu, who is facing three corruption indictments, blame the other for the impasse.

Both ideas are highly controversial.

  • Unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley could kill any peace efforts for the foreseeable future, and the entire international community is against it.
  • The defense treaty idea was, until today, rejected by most of the Israeli and U.S. defense establishments and would have big military and diplomatic consequences.

It is still unclear what Trump told Netanyahu on either topic. The White House issued a short readout of the call saying the leaders discussed Iran and the wider situation in the Middle East.

  • The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Netanyahu's characterization of the call.
  • In September, the White House only said its position on Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank hadn't changed and urged Netanyahu not to jeopardize Trump's long-awaited peace plan.
  • Netanyahu previously raised the defense treaty issue with Trump in a call days after Israel's September election. After the call, Trump tweeted that he would be happy to discuss the issue once Israel had a new government.

A senior official from Gantz's Blue and White party called Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley annexation remarks “election spin,” adding that Netanyahu hasn't taken that step in 14 years as prime minister.

  • “Blue and White supports the annexation of the Jordan valley only as part of a peace agreement but not unilaterally," the official said.
  • Later, Gantz issued a statement rejecting Netanyahu’s proposal of a defense treaty with the U.S, claiming it could limit the Israeli military's freedom of operation.

The latest: Netanyahu wanted to see Trump this week in London on the sidelines of the NATO summit but was politely rejected by the U.K. government, which said it could not host him due to logistical difficulties, taking into consideration that Israel isn’t a member of NATO.

  • Instead, Netanyahu wants to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later this week in Lisbon, Portugal.

Go deeper: Inside Netanyahu's fight for survival

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

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