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May 12, 2024, 2:44pm EDT
Middle East
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Egypt joins South Africa’s genocide case against Israel as Rafah operation grows

Insights from POLITICO, The New Yorker, and NBC

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A scene from inside gaza.
REUTERS/Hatem Khaled
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The News

Egypt said it would join South Africa in an International Court of Justice case alleging that Israel has committed genocide in Gaza. The decision was made “in light of the worsening severity and scope of Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs letter posted to X on Sunday stated.

The decision comes as negotiations in Egypt between Israel and Hamas faltered once more; it’s unclear how Egypt’s role as a mediator might change going forward. Meanwhile, United States President Joe Biden said if Hamas released Israeli hostages a ceasefire would be more possible, but Hamas said the comments threatened to “setback” negotiations even as international calls to reach an agreement mount amid concerns over Gazans in Rafah.

Aid is a major point of contention: The Israel Defense Forces said it has taken control of the Gaza side of the Egypt-Rafah border crossing, a crucial artery for humanitarian aid already in short supply. Some 300,000 people have fled the city, once a haven for displaced Gazans.

As the offensive continues, the matter of US-provided munitions is also becoming more salient: A report to Congress suggested Israeli forces had potentially violated international humanitarian law using US weapons. On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said if Israel launches a full military operation on Rafah, certain systems won’t be supported or supplied due to “real concerns about the way they’re used” unless Israel has a “clear, credible plan to protect civilians.”

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

US lawmakers unite in dissatisfaction over new report

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Source:  
Politico

In the US, the new Congressional report into America’s role in the war briefly united some Democratic and Republican lawmakers in that members of both parties criticized its findings, albeit for slightly different reasons. Some Democrats said the report stops short of holding the US accountable, Politico reported, and one senator said it “essentially ducks the critical question at hand” and that the US has weakened its credibility on human rights. Meanwhile, some Republicans called the report “redundant” and contributed to “politically-motivated anti-Israel sentiment.”


Rafah offensive further strains Israel’s relations with its neighbors

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Source:  
The New Yorker

While Jordan cannot afford to sever ties with Israel due to its relationship with the West, the two countries will likely have a “cold relationship,” a former Jordanian foreign minister and Carnegie researcher told The New Yorker. Jordanian officials are increasingly concerned that Israel’s objective is not just to destroy Hamas “but also to effect the mass transfer of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt and from the West Bank to Jordan,” which one minister likened to “an act of war” that affects Jordan’s national security. As aid deliveries to Gaza have all but ceased, there are growing calls for Jordan to open up its borders, making security forces “very worried that such protests might be redirected against Jordan, against the system itself.”

Biden is caught in a “no-win” situation

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Sources:  
NBC News, Axios

Biden is stuck in a “no-win” situation while trying to “thread the needle” on Israel’s war against Hamas, NBC News’ Jonathan Allen said. Biden’s recent threat to stop sending arms to Israel “left some in Washington wondering whether he’s lost that thread.” In an election year where he would like to end a war, Biden’s current message is counterproductive and “relieves the pressure on Hamas” to release hostages, one lawmaker told NBC on condition of anonymity. Republicans in Congress are also likely to push for a vote on the Israel Security Assistance Support Act, which would complicate Biden’s withholding of Congressionally approved military aid to Israel — and likely further divide Democrats.

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