Israel

The big picture

Biden and Netanyahu are on a collision course over Iran

Netanyahu has personally started campaigning against any return to the Iran deal

Dec 9, 2020 - World
The only Trump foreign policy Biden wants to keep

The push could help Biden build positive relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders in the Persian Gulf.

Dec 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy
Israel's plan to influence Biden on Iran

“We don’t want to be left out again."

Nov 18, 2020 - World
Behind the scenes: How the Israel-UAE deal came together

The breakthrough came two months ago, amid the dispute over annexation.

Aug 13, 2020 - World

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Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Jan 21, 2021 - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

Jan 20, 2021 - World

Lincoln Project founders join campaign against Netanyahu in Israel

Netanyahu campaigns last March. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his main rival, Gideon Saar, will both have Republican strategists running their campaigns ahead of the elections on March 23.

Why it matters: The competition between Netanyahu and Saar’s American advisers will be an extension of the rivalry inside the Republican Party between the pro-Trump and "never Trump" camps. 

Jan 20, 2021 - World

Netanyahu attempts Hail Mary on settlements before Biden inauguration

Netanyahu will be disappointed to see Trump wave goodbye. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to execute a “Hail Mary” decision to legalize dozens of illegal settler outposts deep in the West Bank one day before Biden’s inauguration. He failed.

Why it matters: The mass legalization of outposts would have been a highly provocative step, broadening Israeli control over land in the West Bank and further reducing the chances of a future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Jan 15, 2021 - World

Abbas announces first Palestinian elections in 15 years

Abbas is 85 and in the 15th year of a 4-year term. Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published a decree on Friday announcing the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority.

Why it matters: This is the first time since 2009 that such a decree has been published, and that election was ultimately called off. The last presidential elections took place in 2005, with Abbas winning, and the last parliamentary elections took place in 2006, with Hamas winning.

Jan 13, 2021 - World

Fate of U.S. consulate in Jerusalem uncertain as Biden takes office

The consulate in 2013. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman made the case against reopening the U.S. consulate general in Jerusalem on Monday in a hearing of the foreign relations and security committee in the Israeli parliament.

Why it matters: During the election campaign, Biden said his administration would reopen the consulate, which had served as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians until it was shut down by the Trump administration and merged into the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Jan 13, 2021 - World

Netanyahu may appoint envoy to Biden administration on Iran

Yossi Cohen (R) is one potential envoy for Netanyahu (L). Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty

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.

  • He's also considering appointing a special envoy for talks with Biden over the Iran nuclear deal.
Jan 13, 2021 - World

Israel to push Biden to take it easy on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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.

Jan 11, 2021 - World

Jared Kushner briefed Jake Sullivan on Trump's Middle East policy

Kushner (C) in the Oval Office with Trump and Brian Hook. Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

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.

Jan 7, 2021 - World

Scoop: Netanyahu demands full control over Israel's Iran policy, sparking pushback

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

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.

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