The U.S. will not be endorsing any candidate in the April 9 elections in Israel, a senior White House official tells me.

A giant election billboard in Tel Aviv. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is stressing his close relationship with President Trump in his election ads and on his campaign. The White House official was reacting to an ad published by Netanyahu's Likud Party that shows Netanyahu and Trump shaking hands. The ad was published on several huge billboards along the main highways in Israel.

"It’s no secret that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu have a strong relationship based upon mutual respect and that they reflect the mutual admiration and affection of the American and Israeli people."
— Senior White House official

It is standard practice for presidents to decline to make public endorsements in elections overseas. Shared today from Trump's Instagram account, though, was a post from Netanyahu featuring the handshake ad. The White House official said that was not a political endorsement.

What's next: Netanyahu is planning a visit to Washington two weeks before the elections. He will give a speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference and is expected to have a meeting with Trump in the Oval Office — a perfect photo opportunity for Netanyahu on the eve of the elections.

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