President Biden has been pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to scale back the war in Gaza.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times
Signs of strain between the U.S. and Israel
No other episode in the past half-century has tested the ties between the U.S. and Israel so significantly as the current war in Gaza. President Biden’s initial resolve to stand by Israel has given way to frustrating phone calls, sharp public comments and exhausting marathon meetings as the relationship has grown fraught.
Time and again, Biden and his team have intervened to steer Israel away from what they consider the excesses of its retaliation for Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack — only to have the Israelis defy them at critical moments. Among Democrats, resistance to Biden’s backing of Israel is growing, and the U.S. has found itself at odds with other countries at the U.N.
The friction appears to be coming to a head as the new year arrives and as the death toll in Gaza mounts, though there is no serious discussion inside the administration of a meaningful change in policy, like cutting off the arms supply to Israel. Conversations between Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are increasingly strained.
What’s next: The sharpest dispute between Washington and Jerusalem has centered on what to do in Gaza after the war ends. Netanyahu has resisted suggestions that a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank, run a post-Hamas Gaza, to be followed eventually by the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Analysis: Within Israel, there is nearly universal support for the toughest action against Hamas and little concern about possible consequences.
In other news from the war:
Despite his plummeting popularity, Netanyahu has made clear he has no intention of resigning after the war ends.
Defying U.S. pressure, Israeli forces deepened their engagement in Gaza. Some 165 people were killed in a 24-hour period, Palestinian health officials said on Saturday.
American helicopters sank three Houthi boats in the Red Sea after coming under fire, killing all the crew members, the Pentagon said.
Ukraine steps up its subterfuge
As both Russia and Ukraine fail to make substantial advances on the front in their war, Ukraine has been turning to guerrilla tactics, including sabotage, assassinations and the targeting of Russian trains and tunnels.
Russia is using similar tactics. Last month, 14 people were convicted in Poland on charges of carrying out sabotage under the direction of Russian intelligence, Polish officials said. Russia’s main targets were trains moving military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, officials said.
Elsewhere in the war: Russia pummeled Kharkiv, a city in Ukraine’s northeast, with missiles and drones after Ukraine made what appeared to be its deadliest strike yet on Russian soil.
Queen Margrethe to step down
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, the longest-serving monarch in Europe, announced in her New Year’s speech that she would abdicate her throne on Jan. 14 after more than a half-century. Her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik, who is 55, is set to succeed her.
Margrethe, 83, said that her age and health were factors in her decision. “Such a long time does not pass unnoticed for anyone — not even me,” she said. “Time wears, and ailments increase.”
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
In Chile’s oldest and most overcrowded prison, the inmates have found solace and companionship in hundreds of stray cats.
Burundi’s president said that gay people in his country should be stoned, amid a widening crackdown against L.G.B.T.Q. people.
The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, was declared the winner of an election marred by severe logistical problems and protests.
Other Big Stories
Several major news publishers have been in talks to license content to the creator of ChatGPT, but agreement on the price and terms has been elusive.
A top data scientist argues that the flood of negative stories about climate change is obscuring our ability to imagine solutions to the crisis.
Apps that remotely track and control cars are being weaponized by drivers’ abusive partners.
A Morning Read
Greggs, a mass-market bakery founded in 1939 to deliver door-to-door baked goods to mining communities around Newcastle, England, is riding out Britain’s cost-of-living crisis with gusto.
Most of the omnipresent chains that clutter Britain’s dwindling high streets are barely tolerated. But while Greggs has faced some criticism for its more calorific products, the company remains beloved.
Tom Wilkinson, known for his performances in movies like “Michael Clayton” and “The Full Monty,” has died at 75.
The Wild West: Remembering “Soccer Twitter” in the early 2010s.
Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia: One year on.
Formula One 2023: Looking back on an extraordinary season.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The Times asked readers if they’d ever made New Year’s resolutions that had changed their lives. Here are some of our favorites, lightly edited and condensed. Read the full list here.
Every night a calendar pop-up reminds me to record a “joy note,” and I enter one or more things that gave me joy during the day. At the end of 2023, I will have 365 or more reminders of things that gave me joy. No one else will see my notes, but I will always have them as a record to inspire me. — Denise Abboud, Cleveland
In January 2023, I resolved to buy only secondhand clothes (except for basics like underwear) as my small attempt to help the planet. Almost a year later, and I haven’t bought anything new. I have discovered a new world of secondhand shops and apps — and even the joys of shopping in my closet. — Claudia Rosani, Milton Keynes, England
During the darkest period in my 60 years, I resolved to try every new thing offered to me. Some were duds, but each one taught me something or made the next new thing easier. Now, two years later, my life is vastly different. I accepted jobs overseas. I made deep new friendships outside my typical circle. I met a partner whom I plan to marry. I’m invigorated again. I would never have imagined these results. — Paul Murdoch, Jacksonville, Ore.
Cook: Start your year with elegant baked eggs.
Invigorate: Sign up for our six-day energy challenge.
Learn: Here are 72 of our favorite facts that appeared in our report last year.
Read: “I Must Be Dreaming,” by the cartoonist Roz Chast, collates some of her nocturnal imagination’s wilder moments.
Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.
That’s it for today’s briefing. Wishing you an excellent start to the year. — Natasha
You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].