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Friedman (L) with Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

The agreements will be signed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the Ariel University in the West Bank.

  • They concern three joint U.S.-Israeli foundations for scientific cooperation, which invest government money into research and development projects.
  • When the agreements were first signed in the 1970s, they included a territorial clause stating that funding would only go to projects inside Israel's 1967 lines. That clause has been deleted from the amended agreements.

Behind the scenes: This policy shift was driven by Friedman, Israeli officials say. He intended it as a gesture to Netanyahu and to Israeli settlers after Netanyahu's vow to annex parts of the West Bank was taken off the table as part of Israel's normalization deal with the UAE.

What they're saying: An Israeli official told me this move is a signal of U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank.

  • I asked Friedman about that claim and he denied it, saying the deal was only meant to enhance scientific cooperation.
  • But Israeli higher education minister Zeev Elkin had a different view. He tweeted that the deal was "a big achievement for Israel’s sovereignty" in the West Bank and "another step towards international recognition of our rights" there.

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden turns the page on Trump's Israel-Palestine policies

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: David Furst/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration laid out its Israel-Palestine policy at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of repairing ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Driving the news: According to the new policies, the U.S. will resume aid to the Palestinians and reopen the PLO office in Washington and the consulate in Jerusalem.

Senate confirms former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy.

Why it matters: Granholm, only the second woman to head the department, will play a key role in President Biden’s efforts to accelerate the U.S. shift to clean energy and help other countries do the same.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: How data and the pandemic have democratized the "high-performance lifestyle — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains — Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine
  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus

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