President Joe Biden said he will 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.
(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden said he will 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.
Biden spoke during a brief visit to Tel Aviv. Earlier, he 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 that killed hundreds and threatened to plunge the region into chaos.
The attack will complicate US efforts to contain the conflict. Israel and Hamas — designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe — traded blame for the attack.
Biden’s Israel Envoy Pick to Push Forward on Saudi-Israel Deal (6:44 p.m.)
Jack Lew, President Joe 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.”
Separately during the hearing, Lew said it’s “not the moment” for the US to revive its 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Lew played a key role in the agreement as former US Treasury secretary.
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.
UN Security Council Resolution on Israel-Hamas Fails, US Vetoes (5:16 p.m.)
A Security Council resolution on the war that was submitted by Brazil was rejected Wednesday, with the US vetoing, the UK and Russia abstaining, and the remaining 12 members approving. The resolution condemned the attacks by Hamas, referred to the group as “terrorists,” demanded the immediate release of civilian hostages, and “condemned all violence and hostilities against civilians and all acts of terrorism,” according to Brazilian officials.
“Brazil made every possible effort, but each country voted according to its perception regarding the conflict”, said Mauro Vieira, the foreign affairs minister. Brazil’s ambassador to the UN, Sérgio Danese, said: “Sadly, very sadly, the council once again failed to adopt a resolution. Silence and inaction prevailed.”
White House Adviser Says Gaza Humanitarian Needs Among Priorities (5:11 p.m.)
Mitch Landrieu, senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator at the White House, said President Joe Biden is developing a plan with Israel to get aid to Palestinians that would not benefit Hamas. He added that finding a way to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and minimize casualties is a priority.
Biden “is, as all of us are, outraged by the hospital explosion that we saw and believes that innocent Palestinians that have nothing to do with Hamas should have access to food and water and medical care.” Landrieu spoke at Bloomberg CityLab 2023 in Washington, a summit for urban leaders hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies with the Aspen Institute.
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.
Oil Jumps, US Equity Futures Fall (2:20 p.m.)
Crude prices jumped more than 3% and stocks tumbled globally as investors responded to Iran’s call for an oil embargo. S&P 500 futures contracts lost 0.5%, while gold prices rose on haven demand.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. led a slump among airlines after warning of the potential blow to earnings from the suspension of flights to Tel Aviv.
“The risks of an escalation have risen on the back of the latest news reports regarding the hospital bombing,” said Jane Foley, head of foreign-exchange strategy at Rabobank. “On any clear escalation, we can expect to see a ratcheting up of risk aversion.”
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