- Hamas responded on Tuesday to a proposal put forward last week under which the group would release Israeli hostages held in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and an extended pause in fighting. Though not all the details of this response were revealed, the Qatari Foreign Ministry deemed it "positive." Reuters (LR: 3 CP: 5)
- In a statement, Hamas claimed to have “engaged with the proposal in a positive spirit" but did not budge on its demand for a permanent cease-fire, something top Israeli officials have said is out of the question. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he would discuss this development with Israel on Wednesday. The Times of Israel
- Blinken, who will travel to Israel as part of a diplomatic tour through the region that includes stops in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the West Bank, said that Washington desires an “enduring” end to the war in Gaza and the release of the remaining hostages held in Gaza. Financial Times
- In Riyadh on Monday, Blinken discussed with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) the need to address humanitarian aid in Gaza, prevent regional escalation, and build "a more integrated and prosperous region." It has been reported that the Biden administration wants to use a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia as leverage to convince Israeli officials to support its post-war plans. Axios
- On Tuesday, following an Israeli intelligence assessment leaked to the New York Times that alleged 32 of the remaining 136 Israeli hostages of Oct. 7 have died since that date, Israel confirmed the death of 31 hostages held in Gaza. Unverified information indicates that another 20 hostages could have also died. New York Times (LR: 2 CP: 5)
- Israel is losing its war in Gaza. After over three months and dozens of thousands of dead Palestinians, Israel has failed to release hostages, to kill Hamas' top leaders, or to create conditions advantageous to ending this long drawn-out conflict. Even if Israel did manage to achieve the majority of its goals, it still would be left without a clear plan of action for what happens after the war. Destroying a group like Hamas is a fool's errand, and Netanyahu has dug Israel into a hole that it will have a tough time climbing out of. Israel should accept a comprehensive cease-fire.
- Though this war has been difficult and has caused suffering, it had been justified by Israel's steady progress in Gaza, first in neutralizing Gaza City before moving on to other population centers like Khan Younis. Israel has substantially degraded Hamas' military capabilities and leadership, and even partially degraded elite Hezbollah units stationed along Israel's northern border. Indeed, as Israel's enemies should recognize, Israel's raw military power should not be up for debate — the country will continue to fight and negotiate as it sees fit to achieve its goals.
THE DAILY BEAST
- There's a 50% chance that Israel will lift the Gaza Strip total blockade on four essential goods by June 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.
METACULUS (LR: 3 CP: 3)