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Pence speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington. Photo: Jose Luis Magana /AP

Vice President Mike Pence is planning to give a landmark speech at the Knesset — the Israeli Parliament — during his trip to Israel in Mid-December. Israeli officials said the initiative for the speech came from the Vice President and his advisers, and received a positive response from the Israeli side immediately.

The Israeli officials said Pence will arrive at the Knesset on December 18th, will be given a formal welcoming ceremony and will have a working meeting with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein before his speech.

A White House official said: "The Vice President's trip is still in the planning stages. Therefore, we cannot confirm the speaking venues at this time".

The big picture: Pence will use his visit in Israel and his speech at the Knesset to talk about the U.S.-Israel alliance and common threats like Iran. But he will also use it to further boost his foreign policy credentials and Pro-Israel record for a possible presidential run in the future.

Go deeper: Pence is the Trump administration's point man to the Jewish and Pro-Israel community. He will be the first U.S. official to give a speech at the Knesset in almost a decade. The last such speech was given in May 2008 by then-President George W. Bush. President Obama thought about giving a speech at the Knesset during his visit in 2013 but decided to move it to a conference center in Jerusalem to avoid possible protests by Israeli Members of Knesset during the speech. President Trump wanted to give a speech at the mount of Masada but eventually picked the Israel museum in Jerusalem as the venue for his speech to the Israeli people.

Go deeper

Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.