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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Feb 24, 2021 - World

Scoop: Netanyahu asked Biden to keep Trump's sanctions on International Criminal Court

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/ANP/AFP via Getty

Netanyahu asked Biden in their first phone call last week to keep sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in place, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli officials are concerned that removing the sanctions would hamper Israel's efforts to stop a potential war crimes investigation into Israel, and that the court's prosecutor could see it as a signal that the U.S. isn't firmly opposed to that investigation.

Feb 24, 2021 - World

Biden in no rush to reverse Trump's move on Western Sahara

A Moroccan flag waves in Western Sahara. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty

There are no signs that the Biden administration intends to roll back the Trump administration’s recognition of Western Sahara as part of Morocco anytime soon.

Why it matters: Trump’s move on Western Sahara was a dramatic shift in U.S. policy. Undoing it would damage relations with Morocco and could cause Rabat to reverse its promise to resume diplomatic relations with Israel, made as part of the deal with Trump.

Feb 24, 2021 - World

U.S. puts Jerusalem consulate issue off until after Israel's election

The former U.S. Consulate. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The State Department is putting plans to reopen the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem on hold until after Israel's March 23 elections, sources familiar with the matter tell me.

Why it matters: Biden committed during the campaign to reopening the consulate, which will be a major step toward normalizing U.S.-Palestinian ties. But it also requires Israeli approval.

Feb 24, 2021 - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to convene strategic forum on Iran

Biden and Netanyahu in Jerusalem in 2016. Photo: Debbie Hill/AFP via Getty

The United States and Israel have elected to reconvene a strategic working group on Iran, with the first round of talks on intelligence surrounding the Iranian nuclear program expected in the coming days, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have sharply contrasting views of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but the resumption of the working group is a signal that their governments are starting with a serious and professional dialogue rather than a political fight.

Updated Feb 23, 2021 - World

Blinken asks for Israeli help in facilitating COVID vaccines to the Palestinians

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked his Israeli counterpart in their phone call on Monday for Israel to facilitate the transfer of COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli officials told me.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister’s office announced that Israel has decided to send a "symbolic amount" of vaccines to the Palestinian Authority and to several countries that have asked for assistance.

Feb 22, 2021 - World

Netanyahu corruption hearings postponed until after Israel's election

Netanyahu ahead of his most recent court appearance. Photo: Reuven Castro/Pool/AFP via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got some good news on Monday: The testimony phase of his trial won't begin until after Israel's March 23 elections.

Why it matters: Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If witness testimony and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could have dominated the news cycle and damaged his hopes of winning a majority.

Feb 20, 2021 - Health

Israel to reopen gyms, hotels to people who have been vaccinated

A health worker administering a COVID-19 vaccine to an Israeli at a bar in Tel Aviv on Feb. 18. Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will soon be able to download a certificate that would allow them to attend cultural events, fly abroad and go to gyms.

Why it matters: Preventing unvaccinated people or those who have only received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the country from using those additional services or attending extracurricular activities has created a number of legal, moral and ethical questions for Israel’s government, the New York Times noted.

Feb 19, 2021 - World

Israel sounds alarm after U.S. backs nuclear talks with Iran

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Eric Baradat (AFP), Gali Tibbon (AFP)/Getty Images

The Israeli government has raised concerns about Secretary of State Tony Blinken's announcement on Thursday that the U.S. is willing to open discussions with Iran about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.

What they're saying: “Israel believes that going back to the old nuclear agreement will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. We remain committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Feb 18, 2021 - World

Russia brokers unusual prisoner exchange between Israel and Syria

Netanyahu (L) and Putin in Moscow in January 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has brokered an unusual prisoner swap that saw Syria release an Israeli woman who crossed into the country on Thursday, Israeli officials say.

The big picture: The two weeks leading up to the deal involved a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the capture of two Syrian shepherds by Israel as bargaining chips, and the refusal of a Syrian prisoner to leave prison as part of the deal.

Feb 17, 2021 - World

Biden finally calls Netanyahu

Biden sits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a dinner at the prime minister's residence in 2010, in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

President Joe Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one month after taking office.

Why it matters: In recent weeks, the White House faced questions over Biden’s decision to call the leaders of a dozen allies and world powers before calling Netanyahu. 

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