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Netanyahu with Jared Kushner. Photo: Getty Images

The White House has made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that it expects him to hold off on any immediate unilateral steps — like annexing parts of the West Bank — after President Trump's peace plan is presented later today, three Israeli and U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu hoped to get a green light from the White House to begin annexations in the West Bank, something that would mobilize his base ahead of the March 2 elections.

State of play: Netanyahu is joining Trump for the unveiling of the plan, which is supported by both him and his primary rival, Benny Gantz. The Palestinians boycotted the process and have preemptively rejected the plan.

Behind the scenes: Israeli and U.S. sources tell me the White House position was also conveyed to Gantz, who met President Trump yesterday.

There are several reasons for the White House position: 

  1. The White House wants to get public support for its plan from Arab states, several of which have already told the White House they'll call it "a good start", according to Arab officials. Annexations could change that equation.
  2. The White House knows the Palestinians will reject the peace plan immediately, but wants to leave them space to reconsider if Trump wins a second term. Annexation by Israel could shut the door permanently. 
  3. King Abdullah of Jordan, whose statements on the plan will be closely watched, vehemently objects Israeli annexations.

The White House refrained from commenting.

  • The latest: Earlier today, Netanyahu surrendered his immunity from three corruption charges just minutes before the Knesset was set to form a committee expected to strip it from him.

Go deeper

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

4 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.

5 hours ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.