Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Scoop: Democratic senators urge Blinken to press Israel on Gaza reconstruction

Fifteen Democratic senators have written to Secretary of State Tony Blinken urging him to press Israel to allow into the Gaza Strip materials needed for reconstruction and humanitarian aid. The effort is led by Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

Why it matters: The U.S., Egypt, Qatar and others have committed to rebuilding Gaza — where many homes, health care facilities and schools were destroyed in the fighting and crucial water infrastructure was damaged — as well as providing humanitarian aid. But Israel is threatening to hold up that process.

  • Israel has told the U.S. and Egypt that it won't allow the reconstruction to begin unless progress is made on securing the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas and the bodies of Israeli soldiers.

What they're saying: In a letter shared with Axios, the Senators wrote that the Biden administration should insist on the reopening of two border crossings "so that critical humanitarian personnel can enter and that fuel and building materials can be brought in to address the growing needs of the civilian population."

  • The senators called on Blinken to ask Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of Palestinians for medical treatment or to visit relatives. Very few Palestinians have received such permits in recent years.
  • They also called for U.S. funding to humanitarian efforts in Gaza to be restored to pre-Trump levels and urged the administration to appoint an ambassador to Israel, consul general in Jerusalem to coordinate with the Palestinians, and USAID chief of mission.
  • "In order for this ceasefire to be durable and avoid a renewal of the cycle of violence, it is critical that we improve the dire conditions in Gaza that only contribute to despair and further fuel extremism," the senators stressed.

Between the lines: Van Hollen and his fellow signatories didn't try to get any Republicans to sign onto the letter in light of the negative statements several Senate Republicans had made on U.S. aid to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to a Senate staffer familiar with the process.

  • Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cruz R-TX) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) visited Israel this week but didn’t visit the Palestinian Authority or meet with any Palestinians. Graham used his trip to call for more military aid to Israel.

What’s next: Blinken told me in an interview last week that the reconstruction process must move forward and not be conditioned on the return of the Israeli soldiers and citizens held by Hamas.

  • Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel visited Israel this week and conveyed the same message.

Full letter below:

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories