Netanyahu meets rival Kamala Harris

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Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to meet Monday with a member of the Israeli war cabinet and a longtime rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after Harris described the war in Gaza as a “catastrophe” and called for an immediate ceasefire.

The meeting is seen in Israel as a warning from the Biden administration to Netanyahu, who has rejected global calls for a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis and vowed to continue the war in Gaza until Hamas is crushed.

Harris will meet former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who joined Netanyahu's government in a show of solidarity after the October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel. Gantz, a centrist, is taking heat from his own government for making the trip. Talks will be held with National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

An official from Netanyahu's far-right Likud party, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Gantz's trip was not approved by Netanyahu. The prime minister chastised the increasingly popular Gantz, saying the country “has only one prime minister,” AP reported. Finance Minister Bezalel Smodrich said Gantz was helping the US “drive a wedge between Israelis” while advancing the two-state solution.

Not all Israelis opposed Ganz's trip. Lawmaker Danny Danon, a member of Netanyahu's party, said any meeting between the Israeli minister and US officials would be welcome.

Harris made headlines on Sunday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel.

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“People are starving in Gaza,” Alabama state troopers escorted peaceful civil rights marchers to mark the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. “The conditions are inhuman and our common humanity compels us to act.”

Kamala Harris urges Gaza ceasefire: He quotes 'Immense Suffering'

Developments:

∎ Lt. Col. “G” has been appointed commander of Israel's “Ovda” military base, becoming the first woman to command an Israeli air force base, the Israeli military announced. His full name has been withheld for security reasons.

∎ Yahya Shinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, has not been in contact with his own negotiating team for at least a week, raising concerns that a ceasefire deal pending Shinwar's approval could stall, Egyptian and Qatari officials told the Wall. Street Journal.

US Ambassador Amos Hochstein arrived in Beirut on Monday for meetings with Lebanese leaders aimed at avoiding an escalation of clashes between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants.

On Monday, Israel responded to a Hezbollah missile attack that killed at least one foreign worker in northern Israel, with an airstrike that killed three Hezbollah paramedics in southern Lebanon, state media said.

As Israel ends its war in Gaza, Hezbollah has said it will end daily cross-border attacks that have forced the displacement of some 60,000 northern Israeli residents. Thousands of people have also fled southern Lebanon due to the conflict.

Hochstein urged the parties to reach their own agreement independently of what is happening in Gaza. “The United States is committed to advancing durable security solutions achieved through diplomatic processes,” Hochstein said after meeting with Hezbollah ally Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

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National Defense Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir accused Hamas of stalling negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of hostages. Ben-Khir said Hamas hopes to increase international pressure on Israel during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next week. Hamas also hopes that Arabs living in Israel will rise up against the Israeli state, he said.

“We think that the negotiations must stop and we must immediately move to a more powerful phase in the fighting,” Ben-Khir said in a translated speech. TV7 Israel News.

Americans' opinion of Israel and the Palestinian Authority has worsened over the past year amid the escalating crisis, a new study suggests. A Gallup poll found 58% of Americans have a “very” or “mostly” favorable view of Israel, down from 68% last year and the lowest favorable rating for Israel in more than 20 years. Young people show the biggest decline, down from 64. Up to 38% favorable among 18- to 34-year-olds in 2023.

A positive opinion of the Palestinian Authority also fell to 18% from 26% a year ago. Republicans sympathize more with Israel, independents favor Israel, and more Democrats side with the Palestinians than the Israelis.

Telephone interviews of 1,016 adults were conducted February 1-20, 2024 with a margin of sampling error of ±4 percentage points.

A senior Hamas official told the BBC that it was impossible to know which hostages were still alive because of the ongoing Israeli bombardment. Basem Naim said the hostages were held by different groups in different areas and a ceasefire was needed to monitor them all. Naim also said that valuable information about hostages cannot be given away “for free”.

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Israel refused to send a delegation to cease-fire talks in Cairo, demanding that Hamas first provide an account that the hostages were still alive. Israel took the stance a day after the Biden administration said on Saturday that Israel had agreed in principle to a six-week ceasefire that would include the release of some hostages, but Hamas has yet to sign the deal.

An unpublished United Nations inquiry into Palestinian affairs has accused Israel of abusing hundreds of Palestinians detained in Gaza during the war. The New York Times It said it had reviewed the report. Those arrested by its authors, including at least 1,000 civilians later released without charge, are being held at three military bases inside Israel. Those arrested included men and women between the ages of 6 and 82, some of whom said they were beaten, broken, robbed, blindfolded, sexually abused and denied access to lawyers and doctors. Some died in detention, the report said.

The report was compiled by UNRWA, which is under investigation after it was confirmed that at least 30 of its 13,000 staff participated in the October 7 attack on Israel.

Contributing: David Jackson, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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