UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is meeting Israel officials on Thursday, as efforts intensify to contain the Israel-Hamas war and push for the entry of vital aid to Gaza. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due in Egypt, while Germany’s top diplomat will visit Jordan, Israel and Lebanon before the weekend.
(Bloomberg) — UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is meeting Israel officials on Thursday, as efforts intensify to contain the Israel-Hamas war and push for the entry of vital aid to Gaza. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is due in Egypt, while Germany’s top diplomat will visit Jordan, Israel and Lebanon before the weekend.
US President Joe Biden, after speaking to his Egyptian counterpart, said as many as 20 truckloads of humanitarian assistance will be able to enter Gaza via Egypt. Israel said it’ll allow aid into southern Gaza only if none will be diverted to Hamas, which the US and Europe have declared a terrorist group. Biden also said he would ask Congress for “unprecedented support” for Israel.
On global markets, investors continued to seek haven assets amid concern of escalation, keeping gold prices near an 11-week high. Israel’s shekel slid for a ninth day.
Israel’s Iron Dome May Be Overstretched if War Widens (11:21 a.m.)
Israel’s air defense system risks getting overwhelmed by missile attacks if the war expands into a wider regional conflict.
Even a small drop in the Iron Dome’s interception rate to around 80% would mean many more rockets would get through should Hamas and others start another round of intense attacks. Hezbollah, to Israel’s north in Lebanon, has an estimated 100,000 missiles and rockets at its disposal.
German Foreign Minister Heads to Middle East (11:20 a.m.)
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will visit Jordan, Israel and Lebanon on Thursday and Friday for talks that’ll focus on attempts to free the hostages held by Hamas, the humanitarian situation and getting German citizens out of Gaza.
“The humanitarian situation for hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Gaza is catastrophic,” Baerbock said in a statement. “Ensuring that international aid, food, water, and medical supplies reach the people of Gaza quickly and without hindrance is essential.”
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius made a surprise trip to Lebanon to visit Bundeswehr troops based there as part of a long-standing UN peacekeeping mission.
Shekel Slides Again (9:35 a.m.)
The shekel weakened for a ninth day, its worst streak since 2020. The currency fell 0.1% to 4.03 against the dollar in early trade, near an eight-year low reached earlier this week. Israel’s dollar bonds declined 1.6% this week through Wednesday.
Globally, investors continued to seek haven assets on concerns over escalation, with gold prices approaching an 11-week high. Stocks in neighboring Egypt have rallied to fresh highs despite the tensions, as investors hedge against expectations of another currency devaluation and record inflation.
Sunak Lands in Israel (9:10 a.m.)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arrived Thursday in Israel, where he’ll have meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. As part of a two-day regional trip, he’ll then head to “a number of other regional capitals,” his office had said in a statement Wednesday, without specifying what other countries are on his itinerary.
Sunak Lands in Israel as UK Joins Effort to Contain Conflict
He is following German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who visited on Tuesday, and US President Joe Biden, who was there on Wednesday. French President Emmanuel Macron is considering a visit “as soon as I consider that we have a useful agenda and very concrete actions to drive forward.”
Kuwait Lender Sees War Escalation Hitting Foreign Investment (8:05 a.m.)
Rising violence in the Middle East will “impact definitely FDIs” and “no doubt lead to more pressure on hope for soft-landing scenarios for the global economy,” National Bank of Kuwait Deputy Group CEO Shaikha Al-Bahar told Bloomberg TV.
Although high oil prices benefit Gulf states, the impact is global, she added.
Israel Says It Hit Hundreds of Hamas Targets in Past Day (7:37 a.m.)
Israel’s military struck more sites in Gaza, including tunnel shafts, positions for launching anti-tank missiles and intelligence infrastructure, it said in a statement. Numerous Hamas operatives were targeted and more than 10 killed in a “precision aerial strike.”
Also killed, according to the Israel Defense Forces, was Rafat Harb Hussein Abu Hilal. He was the head of the military branch of the “Popular Resistance Committees” in Rafah in the south of Gaza. The PRC is a grouping of armed factions that have similar aims to Hamas.
Biden to Address Nation on Thursday (12:15 a.m.)
Biden will deliver a speech from the Oval Office late Thursday “to discuss our response to Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israel and Russia’s ongoing brutal war against Ukraine,” the White House said.
Biden returned to Washington after a visit to Israel on Wednesday lasting about eight hours. He is considering a supplemental request to Congress of about $100 billion that would include defense assistance for Israel and Ukraine, along with 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.
Boeing Speeds Delivery of GPS-Guided Bomb Kits to Israel
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.
Biden’s Israel Envoy Pick to Push On With 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 on Wednesday. “I dearly pray we get back to that mission.”
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