Jan 26, 2019

Trump administration asked Israel to publicly support push against Maduro

President Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration has asked Israel to publicly support the U.S. push to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and recognize the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaido, as the interim president, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: Israel has no diplomatic relations with Venezuela. Since Guaido declared himself president and received recognition from the U.S. earlier this week, Israel has kept silent and declined to issue any public statements. Israeli officials told me there are concerns in Jerusalem that if Israel publicly supports the opposition, the Maduro regime would harm the 6000 members of the Jewish community in Venezuela.

Details: An Israeli official told me the U.S. message to Israel was conveyed on Thursday by State Department officials to diplomats in the Israeli embassy in Washington. A similar message was conveyed to several U.S. allies that still haven't issued statements of support in the U.S. push against Maduro.

  • The official told me that on Sunday, there will be a special meeting on the Venezuelan crisis at the foreign ministry in Jerusalem in order to draft recommendations for Prime Minister Netanyahu. "Netanyahu will have to decide whether Israel keeps mum or joins its Western allies in support of Guaido," the official said.

Go deeper: Venezuela at crossroads as world leaders split on presidential support

Go deeper

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Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration to eliminate nuclear waivers tied to Iran deal

Pompeo testifies on Iran in February. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. is ending waivers that had allowed foreign companies to work at Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: This will eliminate most elements of U.S. sanctions relief still in place two years after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo said "continued nuclear escalation" made the move necessary, but critics warn it will encourage further Iranian enrichment.

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.