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

All Israel stories

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.

Israel's Netanyahu condemns the attack on Congress

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) at the White House, Sept. 15, 2020. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack on Congress, which came as it was certifying the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden, and stressed that American democracy will prevail.

Why it matters: Netanyahu, who has been President Trump’s most loyal ally among world leaders, delivered the statement at the top of his meeting in Jerusalem with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The prime minister neither criticized Trump nor referred to him directly.

Jan 6, 2021 - World

Scoop: Embassies are "natural next step," Moroccan king tells Netanyahu

Security forces in Rabat, Morocco, monitor protests against normalization with Israel. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty

Morocco went most of the way to normalizing relations with Israel last month, but only committed to opening liaison offices, rather than embassies.

Why it matters: That decision led to speculation that Morocco was waiting to see if the Biden administration would roll back Trump's recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara before going all the way with Israel. It also disappointed Netanyahu, who hoped Morocco would commit to full embassies, according to a senior Israeli official.

Jan 6, 2021 - World

Netanyahu aides fret that "Obama people" will shape Biden's Iran policy

Some members of Netanyahu's inner circle aren't happy to see Susan Rice and John Kerry back in the White House.

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle are concerned that President-elect Joe Biden is filling his administration with veterans of the Obama administration, some of whom they've had difficult relations in the past, particularly over Iran.

Why it matters: The Biden and Netanyahu administrations are on course for an early clash over the Iran nuclear deal. Several of Netanyahu’s aides at the Israeli National Security Council have been grumbling about the fact that Biden will be surrounded by "Obama people" — including the deal's architects and some of its fiercest advocates.

Jan 5, 2021 - World

Israel tightens COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

Despite launching one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in the world, Israel has had to counter a spike in new COVID cases in recent weeks. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

Israel will impose new restrictions in its countrywide lockdown, closing schools and nonessential businesses beginning Friday to combat surging cases of the coronavirus, government ministers voted Tuesday.

The big picture: Israel’s COVID-19 cases, which dropped in October, have jumped to more than 5,000 reported daily in the new year, Johns Hopkins University data shows. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the public Tuesday to heed new restrictions as a faster-spreading variant of the virus first detected in the U.K. multiplies.

More Israel stories