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Updated Dec 20, 2023, 7:42am EST
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

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Israel and Hamas appear open to new talks

With insights from Haaretz, The Washington Post, and The Guardian

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People protest following an announcement by Israel's military that they had mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages being held in Gaza by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, December 15, 2023. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura
REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura
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The News

Israel and Hamas appeared open to new talks after hostage negotiations broke down earlier this month following a temporary ceasefire agreement.

Hamas’ leader arrived in Cairo Wednesday for talks on a new ceasefire, a day after Israel’s president said the country “was ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages.”

While an agreement seems to be some way off, officials on both sides have restarted informal talks through Qatari and Egyptian mediators. Israel is offering a one-week ceasefire to Hamas in exchange for three dozen hostages, Axios reported.

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SIGNALS

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

Israel must look beyond the war

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Source:  
The Washington Post

Israel has indicated the war could last for months, but both Israeli and U.S. officials seem to agree that a withdrawal from Gaza is in sight, David Ignatius noted in The Washington Post. “Think of what’s ahead as the day before ‘the day after,’ ” he wrote. It’s likely that fighting will continue, but efforts will be made to establish a governing body that can step in as Hamas’ authority breaks down. Israel needs to plan “for what will be a massive rebuilding of the shattered landscape in Gaza,” Ignatius argued.

Is Netanyahu angling for a broader Mideast conflict?

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Sources:  
Haaretz, Semafor

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to pull the U.S. into a broader conflict in the Middle East, Israeli newspaper Haaretz argued. The war is playing out not only in the Gaza Strip, but in the Red Sea, where Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have targeted shipping vessels. The U.S. considers the attacks an undeclared war by Tehran — but it’s unlikely Washington is interested in a broader conflict. “Netanyahu is blatantly trying to gaslight both the U.S. administration and the Israeli public by advocating repeatedly that this is a much bigger war than Gaza,” Alon Pinkas wrote.

Israeli support for war is still high

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Source:  
The Guardian

Protests have been growing in Israel as the government has stalled on securing the release of more hostages. But support for the war remains high, in part because the Israeli public is so inextricably linked to the Israel Defense Forces, one expert told The Guardian. “In Israel, the people are the army and the army is the people. It’s impossible to direct criticism directly at the army because their children, husbands and brothers are still busy serving right now,” Dahlia Scheindlin, author of The Crooked Timber of Democracy in Israel, told the newspaper.

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