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Majdi Mohammed / AP

A narrative is catching on among pro-Israel hardliners that President Trump's envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, is getting too close politically to the widely hated Israeli politician Tzipi Livni.

The argument, as laid out by an unnamed official quoted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, is that Livni has become a "mentor" of sorts to Greenblatt — and that he's meeting with her regularly and potentially undermining the Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Why this matters: Greenblatt is now dealing with what every American envoy to the Middle East ultimately has to confront. It's the most complicated region in the world and every encounter will be magnified and blown out of proportion.

The (much more boring) reality: Greenblatt and Livni have met and spoken with each other, yet while he respects her they are hardly close. He met Livni for the first time on Friday March 24, when she visited Washington. Two administration sources with direct knowledge of the encounter said Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer also attended the meeting. Livni then joined Greenblatt for Shabbat dinner. Two days later Greenblatt met with Naftali Bennett, who leads Israel's right-wing Jewish Home party, and on May 9 he had his second and final meeting with Livni. Dermer and the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman both attended that second meeting.

What to know about Livni: She's a major figure in Israeli politics — so it makes sense that Greenblatt would meet with her — but she's highly controversial, loathed by the Right, Left, and just about everyone in between. Much of the Israeli Right can't stand her because they think she's a traitor to their cause. She came up through the right-wing, was once a hawk, and is now regarded by hardliners as a sell out to the Palestinians. And because of her political history, the Israeli left will probably never trust her.

Go deeper

12 mins ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

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President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.