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West Bank annexation appears to be off the table for now, after the U.S. brokered a normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Why it matters: Trump spoke about for annexation for the first time since presenting his peace plan on January 28. However, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed gave contradictory remarks about the annexation in their statements on the deal.

  • Netanyahu characterized it as a temporary suspension, while Bin Zayed said the deal stopped annexation.

For the record: Trump twice deferred questions about the differences between Israel and the UAE to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who said: “We prioritized peace in the region over West Bank annexation...you can't have peace and annexation at the same time"

What Trump is saying: “Israel agreed not to annex parts of the West Bank. It is more than taking it off the table — they agreed not to do it. This is a very smart concession by Israel. It is off the table now”.

What the U.S. ambassador is saying: Annexation is off the table now but might be discussed again in the future.

What's next: Trump also said at the press conference he wants to convene a summit between Israel and the United Arab Emirates at the White House in three weeks to sign the deal.

  • The U.S. president sees the Israel-UAE deal as one of his landmark foreign policy achievements and a boost his election campaign.
  • Trump said more Arab countries are already talking to the White House in order to follow the UAE and normalize relations with Israel.

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Scoop: Senators urge Trump to label goods from West Bank settlements "Made in Israel"

Sen. Tom Cotton. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

A group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him to issue an executive order allowing goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be labeled “Made in Israel." Axios obtained a copy of the letter.

Why it matters: While the rest of the world views the settlements as illegal under international law and not part of Israel, the Trump administration has taken several steps intended to legitimize them and blur the differentiation between Israel and the West Bank.

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Israel's plan to influence Biden on Iran

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israel is drafting a strategy for engaging with the incoming Biden administration on Iran, two Israeli officials tell me.

What they're saying: “We don’t want to be left out again," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset foreign relations committee in a classified hearing last week. He said Israel had to avoid the mistakes that left it isolated as the Obama administration negotiated the 2015 Iran deal.

Nov 17, 2020 - World

Biden speaks with Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Rivlin

Biden (L) with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images

President-elect Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as part of series of congratulatory phone calls with leaders around the world.

The big picture: The order in which these calls are returned by an incoming president is closely watched. Biden called Netanyahu and Rivlin after speaking with the leaders of nine other U.S. allies over the past few days.