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In the first visit by a US president while Israel is at war, Joe Biden urged the Jewish state not to be “consumed” by rage in its reaction to this month’s deadly Hamas assaults, to avoid repeating Washington’s “mistakes” after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
During his visit yesterday, Biden joined Israel in blaming a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital on a misfired rocket by Palestinian militants, citing Pentagon data. But he also called for “clarity” about Israel’s war objectives and whether it was on course to achieve them.
On the same day, Eli Cohen, Israel’s foreign minister, told the country’s Army Radio that “at the end of this war, not only will Hamas no longer be in Gaza, but the territory of Gaza will also decrease”, in comments that appeared to refer to the possible goal of establishing a buffer zone in the enclave.
The remarks came as Israel prepared for a ground offensive into Gaza that many fear could further stoke tensions in the region. Biden told reporters aboard Air Force One that there had been a “long talk” with the Israelis about “alternatives” amid fears of more civilian casualties and an expansion of the conflict.
Biden called on Israel to let emergency aid through to Gaza, saying the country risked “losing credibility worldwide” if it did not “relieve the suffering of people who have nowhere to go”. He said yesterday evening that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, had agreed to open the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza to allow in up to 20 trucks of humanitarian assistance.
Israel had earlier said it would not prevent “humanitarian assistance from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine” for civilians in southern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled. It added that passage of the aid was conditional on the supplies not reaching Hamas, which controls Gaza, while Biden said there would be “inspections” of the shipments.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
Economic data: France releases business confidence data.
Companies: Blackstone, Hargreaves Lansdown, Philip Morris International, Renault, Roche, Schroders and TSMC are among those reporting results. Deliveroo, London Stock Exchange Group, L’Oreal, Nestlé and Pernod Ricard have trading updates.
Five more top stories
1. The Bank of Israel is under pressure as traders increase their bets against the shekel after Hamas’s attack on the country, with short positions reaching their highest level since January last year. The Israeli currency has fallen 4.8 per cent against the dollar since the assault on October 7. Here’s why the central bank is in a bind.
2. Exclusive: Europe’s largest private equity group could launch its initial public offering next week in Amsterdam, according to people with direct knowledge of the plans. CVC, which has €161bn under management, is planning to sell shares in an entity that will receive its management fees and part of its carried interest. Here’s more on the group’s mood-defying move.
3. Netflix will raise prices for subscribers in the UK, France and the US, effective immediately, after the streaming service added 9mn subscribers in the third quarter. The better than expected figure and a growth in revenue were attributed to its crackdown on password-sharing. Here’s how much more subscriptions will cost.
4. Exclusive: Meta’s chief artificial intelligence scientist has argued against premature regulation of AI, which he says will only reinforce the dominance of tech giants and stifle competition. Yann LeCun said some big tech companies had a “superiority complex” that only they could be trusted to develop AI safely, which he called “incredibly arrogant”. Read the full Financial Times interview.
5. Mobile and broadband bills in the UK are set to rise 9 per cent on average next year, an independent consumer watchdog has warned. The research comes amid a probe by regulator Ofcom into the fairness and transparency of price increases while consumers continue to grapple with higher living costs. Here are more findings from Citizens Advice.
Fresh evidence of sticky inflation in the UK is likely to harden the Bank of England’s resolve to keep monetary policy tighter for longer. But the data leaves Britain’s central bank with an increasingly difficult challenge as rising prices coincide with signs of sluggish growth. Can it stamp out inflation while sparing the economy from unnecessary pain?
We’re also reading and watching . . .
Chart of the day
The US economy’s lead over that of Europe is set to last into 2024 and beyond, experts forecast. The trend was first evident in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and cemented during the coronavirus pandemic, but what explains the persistent divergence between two of the world’s richest regions?
Take a break from the news
A century ago, the London Society, an influential civic group, produced a plan for the capital’s future that turned out to be a surprisingly accurate forecast. In a similar venture this month, the organisation’s new book is noticeably free from visions of flying taxis or swirling glass skyscrapers, observes Deyan Sudjic. Exploring the scenarios it puts forth, the director emeritus of the city’s Design Museum asks: What will the London of the future look like?
Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm and Gordon Smith