UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is about to begin a two-day trip to Israel and the wider region, part of a procession of foreign leaders who have made a personal effort to prevent the conflict from widening.
(Bloomberg) — UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is about to begin a two-day trip to Israel and the wider region, part of a procession of foreign leaders who have made a personal effort to prevent the conflict from widening.
President Joe Biden said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had agreed to send as many as 20 truckloads of aid into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government had said it would allow humanitarian aid into southern Gaza from Egypt as long as it can be sure none of it will be diverted to Hamas.
Biden told reporters aboard Air Force One during a refueling stop in Germany on Wednesday that Sisi had given him the assurance during a phone conversation following his visit to Israel. Earlier, Biden said he would ask Congress this week for “unprecedented support” for Israel as it prepares to crush Hamas, but also announced $100 million in US humanitarian aid for residents of Gaza and the West Bank. He also said he’d been shown evidence by the Pentagon suggesting Israel wasn’t responsible for the deadly blast at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday night.
Sunak Will Be the Latest Foreign Leader to Visit Israel (1:10 a.m.)
Sunak is to land early Thursday, holding meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, before heading to “a number of other regional capitals,” his office said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. The office didn’t say what other countries might be on his itinerary.
His visit follows those of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday and Biden on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will travel to the region “as soon as I consider that we have a useful agenda and very concrete actions to drive forward.”
Biden to Address Nation on Thursday (12:15 a.m.)
Biden will deliver a speech from the Oval Office on Thursday night “to discuss our response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel and Russia’s ongoing brutal war against Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
Biden was returning to Washington after a brief visit to Israel. He is considering a supplemental request to Congress of about $100 billion that would include defense assistance for Israel and Ukraine alongside border security funding and aid to nations in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, according to people familiar with the matter.
Boeing Speeds Delivery of GPS Kits for Israel (7: 35 p.m.)
Boeing Co. is speeding delivery to Israel of as many as 1,800 kits that convert unguided bombs into precision munitions, according to congressional aides and a US official.
The Joint Attack Direct Munition, or JDAM, kits were pledged under a 2021 deal worth some $735 million. They were due to be delivered over several years, but that timetable has now been accelerated. The kits are for bombs of 500 pounds (227 kilograms) and heavier.
Biden’s Israel Envoy Pick to Push Forward on Saudi Deal (6:44 p.m.)
Jack Lew, Biden’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, told a Senate panel Wednesday he would advance pre-war negotiations to normalize ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia after the conflict ends.
The Biden administration, prior to the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, was pursuing a deal aimed at Saudi recognition of Israel in exchange for American security guarantees for Riyadh. Saudi Arabia paused the discussions amid the violence between Hamas and Israel, Bloomberg News reported.
“It was the mission I thought I was going over to start with,” Lew told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a Wednesday hearing. “I dearly pray we get back to that mission.”
EU Expedites Ability to Fine Social Media Platforms (6:32 p.m.)
The European Commission is speeding up the ability to fine tech companies for not doing enough to tackle illegal and gruesome content, as well as disinformation, in light of the conflict.
“As part of our discussions with the platforms, we have specifically asked them to prepare for the risk of live-streaming executions by Hamas – an imminent risk from which we must protect our citizens,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton is telling the European Parliament.
Breton didn’t give a date when the commission aims to set up the European Digital Services Committee, which was originally expected in mid-February next year. That’s a key step in allowing the commission to investigate and fine companies that don’t follow the DSA rules. He also proposed an international cooperation mechanism to speed up responses and channel evidence to the commission.
Israel Sets Conditions on Gaza Aid (6:29 p.m.)
The Israeli government said it will allow humanitarian aid into southern Gaza from Egypt as long as it can be sure none will be diverted to Hamas.
The government said it had agreed to allow deliveries of food, water and medicine for the civilian population in the south. Last week, Israel told residents of northern Gaza to move to the south as it continues airstrikes and prepares a ground offensive.
Israel also demanded that the Red Cross be given access to hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, amid calls for the relief group to be allowed in to help residents there.
Biden Says Israel Agreed to Let Aid in to Gaza (5:17 p.m.)
The US asked Israel to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza from Egypt and the government agreed, President Joe Biden said.
Israel won’t prevent the flow of food and water to those in southern Gaza, Biden said before departing. Supplies to the region have been largely cut off since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, causing a growing humanitarian crisis in the densely populated territory.
Biden also announced $100 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza and the West Bank.
US Vetoes UN Security Council Resolution on Israel-Hamas (5:16 p.m.)
The US vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on the war that was submitted by Brazil. The UK and Russia abstained in the vote, and the remaining 12 members approved. The proposal called for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid delivery to Gaza. It also a condemned the attacks by Hamas, referred to the group as “terrorists” and demanded the immediate release of civilian hostages, according to Brazilian officials.
The US vetoed the measure because it did not mention Israel’s right of self defense, said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the American ambassador to the UN, according to the international body’s website.
Protests at Egypt’s Crossing to Gaza as Aid Still Blocked (4:10 p.m.)
Aid workers staged a protest at Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza, as hundreds of tons of crucial humanitarian assistance remains blocked from entering the besieged territory.
“We’re staying until aid goes in,” they chanted at the gates of Rafah, the sole official entry point to the territory not controlled by Israel. The World Health Organization’s chief on Wednesday complained of supplies stuck at the border for four days: “Every second we wait to get medical aid in, we lose lives,” Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said.
Biden Says Pentagon Has Evidence Of Israeli Innocence (4:05 p.m.)
Joe Biden told reporters he was shown evidence by the Pentagon that Israel was not behind the explosion at a Gaza City hospital. He spoke hours after telling Benjamin Netanyahu that he believed Tuesday’s blast was likely the fault of the “other team, not you.”
Biden spoke to reporters Wednesday as he met with first responders and survivors of the Hamas-led raid on Israel on Oct. 7.
Participants included a 25-year old woman who helped organize the defense of her kibbutz, a grandmother held hostage for nearly a full day, and a family that narrowly survived an attack on their home. Others at the session included a doctor and emergency medic who have treated both Israelis and Palestinians injured in the conflict.
To hear a discussion on Biden’s options, click here.
US Sanctions Individuals Linked to Hamas (3:35 p.m.)
The US sanctioned several individuals associated with Hamas’ investment portfolio as well as two senior members of the organization’s leadership, in a move designed to limit its ability to raise funds.
Six of the sanctioned individuals are accused of running an investment portfolio worth hundreds of millions of dollars, with companies in Turkey, Algeria, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The network uses front companies to disguise its activities and generates revenue used to support senior Hamas officials, allowing them to live in luxury, the US Treasury Department said in a statement Wednesday.
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