Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters Israel's third elections in 10 months with momentum — and with his corruption trial looming just two weeks after the vote.
Why it matters: Israeli politics have been deadlocked for nearly a year as Netanyahu and his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, grapple for power. Monday's vote could provide the breakthrough, or set Israel on course for yet another election.
Behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's historic visit to Oman lay a failed effort to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and an embarrassing diplomatic incident that almost torpedoed the visit, Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: The October 2018 trip ranks as one of Netanyahu's signature foreign policy achievements, as he was the first Israeli leader to visit Oman in 22 years. But the story of what exactly took place has not previously been told.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has ordered its embassies in Russia, Canada and Bulgaria to cancel planned speaking events by an Israeli academic and prominent Iran expert, claiming he criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy on the Iranian nuclear program, officials told me.
Why it matters: For many years, the Israeli Foreign Ministry would send Israeli academics who disagree with the government on speaking tours around the world in order to convey the strength of Israeli democracy. Israeli diplomats view the move against the academic as a sign of retaliation and growing fear of dissent on politically charged issues.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is set to begin on March 17 at the district court in Jerusalem, the court announced today.
Why it matters: Netanyahu's trial will begin two weeks after the March 2 elections, likely in the middle of efforts to form a new government.
After blocking a Palestinian draft resolution at the UN Security Council rejecting its Middle East peace plan, the White House is signaling that it's willing to make changes to the plan if the Palestinians return to the table.
The backstory: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan in remarks today at the Security Council. That was to be followed by a vote on a resolution condemning the plan, but the Trump administration managed to delay the vote.
A UN Security Council vote on a Palestinian draft resolution rejecting President Trump's Middle East peace plan has been postponed. It's unclear if and when it will take place.
Why it matters: This is a significant setback for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is expected to give a speech opposing the plan at a special meeting of the Security Council tomorrow.
The White House hosted a secret trilateral meeting in December between the U.S., Israel and the UAE on coordination against Iran, Israeli and U.S. officials tell Axios.
Why it matters: The meeting, which took place on Dec. 17, is one in a series of steps from the Trump administration to facilitate closer ties between Israel and the Arab states. It included discussion of a UAE-Israel nonaggression pact — an interim step on the way to diplomatic normalization.
Israel and the U.S. have been discussing a deal that would see the U.S. recognize Moroccan sovereignty in the occupied Western Sahara and Morocco take steps to normalize relations with Israel, according to Israeli and U.S. sources.
Why it matters: This would be a major diplomatic achievement for Morocco's king, Mohammed VI, and a boost for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who would get a high-profile public visit to Morocco — in perilous political times.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met today in Uganda with the leader of Sudan's governing council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and discussed the possibility of normalizing relations, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Why it matters: Today's meeting follows years of hostility from Sudan toward Israel and signals a diplomatic opening under the joint civilian-military government that replaced longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.
Pro-Netanyahu commentators in the Israeli media started on Sunday what looked like an orchestrated campaign against President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, attacking him for stopping the Israeli prime minister from annexing parts of the West Bank after the unveiling of the White House peace plan last Tuesday.
Why it matters: The right-wing commentators who were attacking Kushner on various media outlets in Israel on Sunday are Netanyahu supporters and surrogates. When comparing their tweets and remarks on the air, they largely used many of the same talking points.