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In shift from Netanyahu, Israel tries diplomacy with U.S. on Iran deal

Israel has been trying to influence the Biden administration's approach to the Iran nuclear deal in a series of high-level meetings with U.S. officials, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel didn't engage with the Biden administration over the deal except to vehemently oppose it and stress that Israel wouldn't be constrained by it. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his new government also oppose the deal, but are trying to engage with the U.S. on the issue.


“Bennett and Lapid don’t agree with the Biden administration on the nuclear deal. But unlike Netanyahu, who just rejected it out of hand and refused to engage, the new government wants to try and influence the result and argue in private with the Biden administration about the details."
Senior Israeli official, to Axios.

Flashback: Netanyahu ordered all Israeli officials to decline to discuss the details of the deal and the negotiations around it with their U.S. counterparts.

  • Many Israeli officials have argued that policy and Netanyahu's public criticism of the Obama and Biden administrations over the deal only isolated Israel and left it with no influence on the negotiations.

State of play: The new Israeli approach comes at a critical time. After six rounds of indirect talks with Iran, the Biden administration hopes a return to the deal is just weeks away.

Driving the news: The Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Aviv Kohavi, met Wednesday at the White House with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. Both sides said the meeting centered on Iran, and an IDF spokesman said Kohavi focused on the flaws of the deal and what could be done to mitigate them.

  • Kohavi also raised ways to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and respond to Iran’s regional activity with Sullivan and in meetings with CIA director Bill Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

What's next: Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is expected to hold his first meeting with Secretary of State Tony Blinken in Rome on Sunday.

  • Israeli officials say Lapid is expected to stress Israel's reservations about a U.S. return to the deal and to highlight several conditions Israel thinks the U.S. must demand from Iran as part of a return to the deal.
  • On Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will meet President Biden at the White House. Rivlin met on Wednesday with Bennett and Lapid to coordinate the message to the U.S. on Iran.

Worth noting: Bennett is every bit as hawkish as Netanyahu on Iran, but Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed that Bennett is not strong enough to stand up to Biden over the nuclear deal.

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

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Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

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Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

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Bipartisan Senate group releases $1 trillion infrastructure bill

A bipartisan group of senators released full legislative text for their $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill late Sunday night, setting it up for debate on the floor this week.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kept senators in town for a rare legislative weekend in order to formally begin debate on the 2,702-page bill. Now the Senate can begin a potentially days-long amendment process before a final vote this week.

Read the bill.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

American Raven Saunders protests oppression with "X" sign on Olympic podium

U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders told AP Sunday she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the Olympic podium after winning a silver medal to stand up for "oppressed" people.

Why it matters: The International Olympic Committee has banned protests during the Tokyo Games, but Saunders, who is black and openly gay, said she wanted to take a stand.

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High-ranking Democratic lawmaker in New Mexico House resigns amid allegations of fraud

A high-ranking New Mexico Democratic state lawmaker has resigned amid a federal investigation into possible fraud, racketeering, illegal kickbacks and money laundering,

Driving the news: Sheryl Williams Stapleton stepped down Friday as New Mexico's House majority leader, and from her seat, after state and federal authorities served subpoenas on an Albuquerque school district where Stapleton is employed.

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House poses obstacle to passage of infrastructure bill

A 2,700-page bipartisan infrastructure bill was headed to Senate desks Sunday with promises it will pass the chamber by the end of the week. A final version was promised after additional edits.

Why it matters: While that's progress for the president’s most prominent 2021 legislative goal, the House is shaping up as a potential obstacle before money starts flowing to build new roads, bridges and expand broadband access.

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Gabby Giffords calls on Congress to enact stricter gun control laws 10 years after shooting

Ten years after she returned to Congress, former Rep. Gabby Giffords tells Axios it's "a huge disappointment" the House and Senate have been unable "to pass even the most basic, commonsense gun safety laws."

Why it matters: In the decade since the Arizona Democrat and 17 others were shot — with six killed, including an aide — outside a supermarket in Tucson, there have been more than 200 mass shootings in the United States.

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