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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
The breakthrough came two months ago, amid the dispute over annexation.Aug 13, 2020 - World
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been hoping to reach a plea deal on the corruption charges against him before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit left office at the end of January, but Mandelblit has reportedly notified Netayahu's lawyers that won't be possible.
Why it matters: The deal Mandelblit and Netanyahu had been discussing would have kept him out of prison but seen him banned from politics for seven years. Netanyahu broke his silence on the plea talks after they collapsed and said he'd never accepted the seven-year ban.
To avoid tensions with Washington, Israel coordinated with the Biden administration in advance of a high-level tech and economy summit held virtually with Chinese officials on Monday, two Israeli officials tell Axios.
Why it matters: Monday's summit, led by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, followed low-profile consultations on China last month between the U.S. and Israeli governments — a sensitive issue given U.S. concerns about Chinese investments in Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.
Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett proposed a Russia-Ukraine summit in Jerusalem to Russian President Vladimir Putin in their meeting last October, Ukrainian and Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: Israel is one of the few countries that has good relations with both Kyiv and Moscow and is able to pass messages between them. The Ukrainian side first broached the idea of a summit in Israel with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last spring when Russia was massing troops on the border, but it never gained much traction.
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has for several weeks been negotiating a plea agreement with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, according to Israeli media reports.
Why it matters: One key sticking point is whether the deal, which would require Netanyahu to plead guilty to corruption charges, would also require the former prime minister to step away from politics. Any deal would create a political firestorm in Israeli and could bring down the current government.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is facing growing criticism as Israel continues to set new records for daily COVID cases, but he's decided to try to ride out the fifth wave without new lockdowns.
Why it matters: Bennett has taken a big bet that the Israeli health system will be able to withstand the Omicron wave.
The Biden administration and the Israeli government held low-profile consultations last month on China — a sensitive issue given U.S. concerns about Chinese investments in Israel.
Why it matters: The meeting on Dec. 14, led by deputy national security advisers from both sides, was the first wide-ranging consultation between the two countries on China since President Biden took office. The Israeli side aimed to keep it very discreet, fearing a backlash from Beijing.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned national security advisor Jake Sullivan in their recent meeting that more active U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is needed to avoid a new crisis in the region, Palestinian Minister for Civilian Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh tells Axios.
Why it matters: After a diplomatic deep freeze under the Trump administration, the Palestinian leadership hoped Biden would be much more active in rolling back Trump’s policies and taking steps to advance the two-state solution. So far, they've been disappointed.
The head of Israeli military intelligence told ministers during a Security Cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel will be better off if the Iran nuclear talks lead to a deal rather than collapsing without one, two Cabinet ministers who attended the meeting tell me.
Why it matters: While Israel campaigned vigorously against the 2015 nuclear deal, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett continues to take hawkish positions on diplomacy with Iran, the statements from Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva reflect a broader shift in the thinking of the Israeli defense establishment.
Israel's top health official has approved the rollout of a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose to people most vulnerable to the virus, AP reports.
Why it matters: The country is the first to approve the fourth dose, as much of the world faces a surge in cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.