Netanyahu has personally started campaigning against any return to the Iran dealDec 9, 2020 - World
Biden's team has refused to comment on the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.Dec 2, 2020 - World
President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.
Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.
Iran has been accumulating bargaining chips and laying out its strategy for engagement with Joe Biden, who arrives in office promising to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear deal if Iran returns to compliance.
Why it matters: Recent statements from Iran's leaders indicate that they're willing to strike such a deal. But the sides differ over who will have to make the first move, and when.
Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration is "a long way" from executing its plan to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and he plans to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before doing so.
Why it matters: America's partners in the Middle East have been publicly raising their concerns about a possible return to the 2015 agreement and calling on the Biden administration to consult with them first.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is forming an interagency team to prepare a strategy for engaging the Biden administration on the Iran nuclear file, officials in the Prime Minister’s office tell me.
Israel plans to lobby the incoming Biden administration to avoid confrontations over human rights and other contentious issues with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, senior Israeli defense officials tell me.
Why it matters: President-elect Biden has promised to put human rights and democracy at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy, and he skipped over all three when placing phone calls to the leaders of 17 countries after his election victory. He was particularly critical of Saudi Arabia during the campaign over the war in Yemen and human rights issues.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terror group, labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism and risked provoking China by lifting restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials — all within 48 hours, and with less than two weeks left in President Trump's term.
Why it matters: The administration, and in particular Pompeo, has made little secret of the fact that it's trying to tie President-elect Biden's hands, in particular when it comes to Trump's hardline policies on Iran and China.
The Trump administration is facing a revolt on Capitol Hill over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's last-minute decision to designate Yemen's Houthi rebels as a terror group despite concerns the move will exacerbate the world's most dire humanitarian crisis.
Behind the scenes: A call the State Department held this morning to brief House and Senate committee staff on the Yemen move devolved into a shouting match and left staffers from both parties shocked by the apparent lack of a plan to ensure that food and aid continue to reach Yemeni civilians, millions of whom are already on the verge of famine.
Jared Kushner has briefed incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the Trump administration’s Middle East policies, David Friedman, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel, told a closed hearing in the Israeli parliament on Monday.
Why it matters: Friedman said Kushner had briefed Sullivan in particular on the Abraham Accords process through which four Arab countries have normalized relations with Israel, according to lawmakers who attended the hearing. Trump's advisers hope President-elect Biden will continue that process and encourage other countries like Saudi Arabia to sign on.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has designated Yemen's Houthi rebel group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization despite warnings that such a move will exacerbate Yemen's humanitarian crisis and make peace harder to achieve.
Why it matters: The Houthis ousted the Yemeni government in 2014 and still control large swathes of the country after six years of war with a Saudi-led coalition. The people of Yemen are facing what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian disaster, with 80% of the population lacking sufficient food or clean water, and millions on the brink of famine.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding full control of Israel's Iran policy as Joe Biden prepares to assume the Oval Office, setting off a fierce fight at the highest echelons of Israel's government, senior Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to take a very hard line over Biden's plan to return to the 2015 nuclear deal, in contrast with the more moderate approach favored by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and the heads of Israel's security services.