Signup to receive the Early Edition in your inbox here.
A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the weekend. Here’s today’s news
President Biden vowed yesterday to respond after three U.S. troops were killed and 34 injured in a drone attack in Jordan carried out by “radical Iran-backed militant groups” on a U.S. patrol base. The Pentagon called the strike a “One-Way ‘Suicide’ Drone Attack on a Patrol Base” near the Syrian and Iraqi border in northeastern Jordan. Nick Robertson reports for The Hill.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson dismissed the U.S. accusation about Tehran’s involvement in yesterday’s drone attack on the U.S. base in Jordan as “baseless.” Nasser Kanani insisted Iran was “not involved in the decision making of Resistance groups” in how they “defend Palestinians or their own countries.” BBC News reports.
Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a large number of weapons used by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks and in the war came from the Israeli military itself. While analysts have long pointed to underground smuggling routes, recent intelligence shows that Hamas has been able to build rockets and anti-tank weaponry out of the thousands of munitions launched into Gaza by Israel that failed to detonate, according to weapons experts and Israeli and Western intelligence officials. Maria Abi-Habib and Sheera Frenkel report for the New York Times.
Several right-wing Israeli ministers attended a conference yesterday calling for Israelis’ “resettlement” of Gaza, with National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich delivering keynote speeches. The conference, dubbed “Settlement Brings Security,” was led in part by the Nachala organization, a group endorsing the expansion of Jewish settlements. The event called for Israel to rebuild settlements in both Gaza and northern parts of the occupied West Bank. Chantal Da Silva reports for NBC News.
Israel said “significant gaps” remain after ceasefire talks yesterday with the United States, Qatar, and Egypt but called the talks constructive and said they will continue over the next week, a tentative sign of progress on a potential agreement that would see Israel pause military operations against Hamas for an extended period of time in exchange for releasing the remaining hostages. Najib Jobain, Wafaa Shurafa and Melanie Lidman report for AP News.
Israel ramped up efforts yesterday to prevent Israeli protesters from blocking the flow of aid into Gaza, two days after the International Court of Justice said it must allow more supplies to enter the enclave. The military declared the area around the border crossing into Gaza a closed military zone. The order is intended to bar access to all unauthorized people and will remain in force through next Saturday. Isabel Kershner reports for the New York Times.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — REGIONAL RESPONSE
Senior national security officials from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority secretly met in Riyadh 10 days ago to coordinate plans for the day after the war in Gaza ends and to discuss how a revitalized Palestinian Authority could govern the region, according to three sources with knowledge of the meeting. The Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian security chiefs told Majed Faraj, director of the Palestinian general intelligence service, the Palestinian Authority needs to conduct serious reforms that will enable it to revitalize its political leadership, the sources said. Two sources said U.S. and Israeli officials were briefed on the discussions by some of the participants. Barak Ravid reports for Axios.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
Several countries have suspended funding for the U.N. Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) after the agency announced it fired several staff over allegations they were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. The donor countries suspending aid include Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Established in 1949, UNRWA is the largest UN agency operating in Gaza and employs around 13,000 people inside the enclave. Sarah Fowler and Lipika Pelham report for BBC News.
UNRWA said it could be forced to suspend its operations if donor states do not reinstate funding they recently paused over allegations that some of the agency’s staff participated in the Oct. 7 attacks. “I urge countries who have suspended their funding to reconsider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response,” the agency’s Commissioner General, Philippe Lazzarini, said in a statement. “The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability.” Omar Abdel-Baqui and David Luhnow report for the Wall Street Journal.
Uganda has distanced itself from an opinion written by a Ugandan judge serving at the International Court of Justice who dissented from the panel’s ruling on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. “The position taken by Judge Sebutinde is her own individual and independent opinion, and does not in any way reflect the position of the government of the republic of Uganda,” the government said. Judge Sebutinde was the only judge out of the 17-member panel to vote against all six measures adopted by the court ordering Israel to prevent acts of genocide and ensure humanitarian relief as it battles Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Reuters reports.
ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR — U.S. RESPONSE
The Biden administration is discussing leveraging arms sales to Israel to convince the Israeli government to scale back its military campaign in Gaza, according to three current U.S. officials and one former U.S. official. At the direction of the White House, the Pentagon has been reviewing what weaponry Israel has requested that could be used as leverage, the sources said, adding that Israeli officials continue to ask for more weapons including aerial bombs, ammunition, and air defenses. Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube report for NBC News.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing criticism after suggesting some pro-Palestinian protesters are “connected to Russia.” Pelosi said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that “for them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin’s message.” Aileen Graef reports for CNN.
Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian landed in Pakistan today for “in-depth talks” on de-escalating tensions following the deadly airstrikes by Tehran and Islamabad earlier this month that killed at least 11 people. Both ministers are expected to hold a joint news conference later today. Munir Ahmed reports for AP News.
MILITARY CONFLICT WITH HOUTHIS
Yemen’s Houthis claimed they launched a missile at a U.S. warship in the Gulf of Aden yesterday evening. The operation was part of “military measures in defense of Yemen, reaffirmation of the decision to support the oppressed Palestinian people,” military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said. Meanwhile, a U.S. Defense official rejected the Houthi claims and said there had not been any reported attacks on Washington’s vessels. BBC News reports.
Iran executed today four men convicted of planning sabotage and having alleged links with Israel’s Mossad secret service, according to the official IRNA news agency media. The State-run outlet reported the men were convicted of conspiring to target a factory in 2022 owned by Iran’s defense ministry, with the operation allegedly engineered by Mossad. AP News reports.
The self-styled Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for a shooting at a Catholic Church in Istanbul yesterday during Sunday mass that killed one person. Turkey’s interior minister later said on X that the two murder suspects had been captured, without providing details on the motive of the attack. Orla Guerin and Lipika Pelham report for BBC News.
U.S. and Chinese officials will meet in Beijing tomorrow to convene a working group designed to crack down on the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs targeting U.S. users. A senior White House administration official said yesterday that this is a “platform for ongoing coordination to support concrete enforcement actions with the goal of countering the evolving threat of synthetic drugs.” Cate Cadell reports for the Washington Post.
The Philippines denied that China had a “special temporary arrangement” with Manila to allow for delivery supplies to Philippine troops in the South China reef, calling the claims a “figment of imagination.” Reuters reports.
Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso have announced they are leaving the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The junta-led countries had already been suspended from the bloc, which has been urging them to return to civilian rule. Vicky Wong reports for BBC News.
The U.N. Security Council is due to meet to discuss tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia over a controversial port deal with the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. BBC News reports.
The E.U. will deliberately harm Hungary’s economy if it blocks fresh aid to Ukraine at this week’s summit under a confidential plan drawn up by Brussels, according to the Financial Times. The strategy will explicitly target Hungary’s economic weaknesses, imperil its currency, and shake investor confidence if it refuses to lift its veto on aid to Kyiv. Reuters reports.
Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the first round of Finland’s presidential election yesterday and will face ex-foreign minister Pekka Haavisto in a runoff next month. The vote focused on the country’s role as a NATO country and Russia’s assault on Ukraine. The president of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy, unlike most other european countries. Jari Tanner reports for AP News.
Ukraine’s security service said it uncovered corruption in an arms purchase by the military worth around $40 million. The security agency said five seniors in the defense ministry and an arms supplier were under investigation, adding that the defense officials signed a contract for 100,000 mortar shells in August 2022, but no arms were ever provided despite payment being made in advance. George Wright reports for BBC News.
Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is conducting offensive operations along the frontline, with Ukraine’s military trying to hold its position as ammunition runs low and U.S. funding remains stalled in the U.S. Congress. “The enemy is amassing forces … they assault every day,” Sergeant Oles Maliarevych of the 92nd Separate Brigade said. Andrew Carey, Maria Kostenko, and Christian Edwards report for CNN.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to return to the Pentagon today after nearly a month away and will host NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to a defense official. Austin was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 1 due to complications from surgery to treat prostate cancer. “Beyond planned physical therapy and regular post-prostatectomy follow up appointments, he has no planned further treatment for his cancer,” Austin’s medical team said. Oren Liebermann reports for CNN.
House Republicans released articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas yesterday, blaming him for the increase in illegal border crossing and fentanyl trafficking. The House Homeland Security committee will consider the impeachment articles tomorrow, with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) vowing a floor vote “as soon as possible” after that. Democrats and legal experts have criticized the move, saying Republicans have failed to show that Mayorkas has committed any high crimes and misdemeanors, the constitutional standard for impeachment. Stef W. Knight reports for Axios.