• The suspect in the French Jewish school (and also French soldiers) killings, Muhammed Merah, is in custody after a long stand-off. He claims to belong to Al Qaeda and that the killing was done to avenge Palestinian deaths. [NYT]
• Of course, this makes Catherine Ashton’s remark connecting the attack to Gaza, which Israelis are furious about, all the more striking and, I’d argue, heinous. [NYT]
• In his annual Nowruz message, President Obama wished Iranians a happy new year while slamming their leaders for curtailing free speech and access to world opinion as well as for their continued refusal to meaningfully negotiate about their nuclear program. [JPost]
• It does look like a new round of negotiations is set to begin next month, though we can’t know how meaningful those will be yet. [Haaretz]
• Israel wants to remove the contents of its embassy in Cairo, which in the past year has been stormed once. Not clear if diplomats also would leave; what this could mean for diplomatic ties; and why Israel is afraid the embassy might soon be under assault again … . [Reuters]
• The administration exempted those countries that have already taken substantial steps to stop doing business with Iran—chiefly European countries and Japan—from new, biting sanctions. [NYT]
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.