The big picture

Why Israel’s annexation plans matter for the region

Decades of tensions could explode across the region

Jun 30, 2020 - World
Behind the scenes of Trump's shift on Israeli settlements

Rex Tillerson was opposed, but Pompeo gave the "green light"

Nov 19, 2019 - World
Report finds uptick in "anti-Israel" activity on college campuses

American students ran at least 28 campaigns during the 2018–19 academic year to protest the Israeli government.

Nov 3, 2019 - World
Top 2020 Dems wouldn't reverse Trump's Jerusalem embassy decision

Despite having chastised Trump for moving it to Jerusalem in 2017.

Jul 14, 2019 - Politics & Policy
Palestinians prepare charm offensive for Biden

President Mahmoud Abbas desperately needs to rebuild his standing in Washington.

Nov 25, 2020 - World
Bibi Barometer: Gantz's "submarine affair" probe signals end of pact

Israel is on course for another election.

Nov 25, 2020 - World

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Nov 25, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Nov 22, 2020 - World

Netanyahu says Biden must not go back to Iran deal

Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that President-elect Biden's administration “must not go back to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran."

Why it matters: The comments — at the annual memorial ceremony for David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister — signal that Netanyahu is planning to repeat the public campaign against an Iran deal that he engaged in during the Obama administration.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 20, 2020 - World

Trump's last-minute foreign policy whirlwind

Trump visits Afghanistan in 2019. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is working quickly to shift U.S. policies and, where possible, bind the incoming Biden administration to them.

Why it matters: All of these steps are being taken without any coordination with Biden's team, which still lacks access to the intelligence and resources typically made available during a transition. In many cases, the Trump administration is trying to proactively thwart Biden's agenda.

Nov 19, 2020 - World

Goods from West Bank settlements to be labeled "Made in Israel," Pompeo says

A red blend named for Pompeo at the winery he visited today in a West Bank settlement. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

After visiting a winery in the Jewish settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new policy on Thursday of allowing products from the settlements to be labeled as “made in Israel."

Why it matters: The policy announced by Pompeo is more radical than the Israeli government's policy regarding the settlements. It signals U.S. recognition of de facto Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank and seems to be a violation of the spirit of the “Abraham Accords” and the recent UAE-Israel peace treaty, under which Israel agreed to suspend its annexation plans.

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Israel's plan to influence Biden on Iran

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israel is drafting a strategy for engaging with the incoming Biden administration on Iran, two Israeli officials tell me.

What they're saying: “We don’t want to be left out again," Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told the Knesset foreign relations committee in a classified hearing last week. He said Israel had to avoid the mistakes that left it isolated as the Obama administration negotiated the 2015 Iran deal.

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Scoop: Senators urge Trump to label goods from West Bank settlements "Made in Israel"

Sen. Tom Cotton. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

A group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him to issue an executive order allowing goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be labeled “Made in Israel." Axios obtained a copy of the letter.

Why it matters: While the rest of the world views the settlements as illegal under international law and not part of Israel, the Trump administration has taken several steps intended to legitimize them and blur the differentiation between Israel and the West Bank.

Nov 18, 2020 - World

Israel launches airstrikes on Iranian-linked sites in Syria

An Israeli Merkava battle tank takes part in an August military drill at the Golan Heights, near Israel's border with Syria, where Israel said Syria planted improvised explosive device. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli Air Force conducted air strikes Tuesday night on Syrian army and Iranian Quds Force targets near Damascus — hours after several improvised explosive devices were discovered on the Israeli side of the border in the Golan Heights.

Why it matters: Tuesday marked the second time in three months that explosive devices were discovered on the Israeli side of the border. Israel claims Iran's Quds Force is using pro-Iranian militias and local Syrian operatives to open a front with Israel in the Golan and engage in attacks on Israeli forces.

Nov 17, 2020 - World

Biden speaks with Israeli leaders Netanyahu and Rivlin

Biden (L) with Netanyahu in 2010. Photo: Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images

President-elect Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as part of series of congratulatory phone calls with leaders around the world.

The big picture: The order in which these calls are returned by an incoming president is closely watched. Biden called Netanyahu and Rivlin after speaking with the leaders of nine other U.S. allies over the past few days.

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