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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

Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

3 hours ago - World

Beijing's antitrust push poses a problem for Western regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government's anti-monopoly machinery presents a major challenge to U.S. and European regulators, a new book argues.

Why it matters: China's huge markets are attracting investment from multinational corporations and shaping the behavior of its own globe-trotting companies — giving international heft to the country's idiosyncratic antitrust enforcement and putting it on a collision course with Western-style regulation.