Dec 6, 2018

Scoop: U.S. blocking Israel-Croatia arms deal

Netanyahu and Trump at the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The Trump administration is blocking a $500 million arms deal between Israel and Croatia, for the sale of 12 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets refurbished and upgraded by Israel, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. was also fighting for the Croatia tender, and U.S. officials claimed Israel was being dishonest and trying to profit off the back of the U.S., according to the Israeli officials. This is a very rare standoff after two years of incredibly close relations between Israel and the Trump administration, especially when it comes to military and defense cooperation.

The latest: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting in Brussels on Monday, according to Israeli officials who said Pompeo told Netanyahu he was not against the deal but Secretary of Defense James Mattis was blocking it.

How things broke down ...

Netanyahu announced the deal last March after a meeting with his Croatian counterpart, but the U.S. didn't give Israel the approval needed to sell the jets to a third party. Israeli officials tell me they started receiving messages from Washington three weeks ago indicating that the U.S. would block the deal.

  • Trump administration officials were furious that Israel upgraded the old F-16's with new and sophisticated Israeli-made electronic systems in order persuade the Croatians to buy the jets from Israel and not from the U.S., the Israeli officials tell me.
  • The Americans claimed Israel was never supposed to sell the U.S.-made jets to a third party without U.S. approval — especially not in direct competition with the U.S.
  • Israeli officials tell me the Croatians are also furious that the deal is stuck and have conveyed a message to Israel that they expect it solve the problem as soon as possible. 

Netanyahu's office did not deny this account but refrained from commenting. The State Department declined to comment on the issue, and the Pentagon hasn't provided a comment.

Go deeper

Biden says he'll follow CDC mask guidance: "Listen to the Faucis of the world"

Joe Biden said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that he will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendation that people wear face coverings when they leave home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: After the White House announced the guideline last week, President Trump said he will likely not wear a mask and emphasized that the guidance was "voluntary."

Louisiana governor says state will run out of ventilators on April 9

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that modeling projects his state will run out of ventilators for coronavirus patients on April 9 and hospital beds on April 11.

Why it matters: New York is the only state in the country with a worse per-capita death rate than Louisiana, where around 12,500 people have been infected and 409 have been killed.

Go deeperArrow44 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 1,216,422 — Total deaths: 65,711 — Total recoveries: 252,478Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 312,245 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.