CIA and Mossad to hold talks with Egypt and Qatar on Hamas hostage deal

CIA and Mossad to hold talks with Egypt and Qatar on Hamas hostage deal

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Good morning.

The heads of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency are expected to hold talks with senior Egyptian and Qatari officials today in an attempt to revive negotiations on a deal to halt the Israel-Hamas war and secure the release of hostages held in Gaza, said people familiar with the process.

The negotiations, likely to be held in Cairo, come a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s demands for an agreement as “delusional” and vowed to press on for “total victory” in the war with the Palestinian militant group.

Despite Netanyahu’s stance, US President Joe Biden said yesterday he would do “everything possible” to broker a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the release of the hostages. He warned Israel its forces must not launch an offensive in Rafah, a crowded city of more than 1mn people near Gaza’s border with Egypt, “without a credible plan” to protect civilians.

Mediators hoped Mossad chief David Barnea’s plan to travel to Egypt was a sign that Israel was still open to discussions on a potential deal, despite Netanyahu’s rhetoric. Here’s what we know about today’s talks.

  • Israel-Hamas war: A Dutch court has ordered the government to stop sending spare parts for F-35 fighter jets to the Jewish state, citing a “clear risk” of serious human rights violations in Gaza.

  • UK Labour: The opposition party withdrew support for its candidate in an upcoming parliamentary by-election after he claimed Israel had deliberately allowed Hamas’s attack on October 7.

And here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Economic data: Labour figures are due in the UK and France while ZEW has results from its economic sentiment survey for Germany. The US reports consumer price inflation, which is expected to have declined in January. Opec publishes its oil market report.

  • Results: Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, Moody’s, Randstad and Tui are among those reporting.

Five more top stories

1. The EU is planning sanctions on three Chinese companies and one Indian business over their links to Russia, according to a European Commission document seen by the Financial Times. If member states approve the plan, it would be the first time businesses in mainland China and India have been hit by EU sanctions. Here’s what the measures would entail.

2. Joe Biden’s administration is being sued by both the oil and gas industry and green groups over its decision to severely restrict offshore drilling. The US government’s plans to hold record-low offshore lease sales were slammed by the sector for limiting access to resources, while environmental groups raised concerns over public health impacts. Here are more details on the separate legal actions.

3. Exclusive: Latham & Watkins is cutting off automatic access to its international databases for its Hong Kong-based lawyers, in a sign of how Beijing’s closer control of the territory is forcing global firms to rethink the way they operate. A person with knowledge of the matter said the world’s second-highest-grossing law firm was now “treating Hong Kong as the same as mainland China”. Read the full story.

4. The Bank of England was seeing signs of an “upturn” in the economy, its governor said yesterday, as he played down the significance of upcoming data some analysts said would show the UK was in a technical recession at the end of last year. Andrew Bailey said the BoE’s latest forecasts pointed to a “somewhat stronger growth story” ahead.

5. The EU’s chief diplomat and Germany’s chancellor have condemned Donald Trump’s suggestion that he would allow Russia to attack any Nato member that failed to spend enough on defence. They join other western leaders in criticising the former US president’s comments on the campaign trail, which the White House described as “appalling and unhinged”. Here’s how other US allies have reacted to Trump’s remarks.

The Big Read

Montage image of a building in ruins and various bar charts
© FT montage/AP

Millions of homeowners worldwide are on the front line of an insurance affordability crisis. Global warming is making extreme weather events such as storms, floods and wildfires more frequent and severe, and therefore increasingly difficult for the sector to cover. As companies exit some areas and demand higher premiums in others, affordable home insurance cover — for many an essential annual outlay, often a condition of their mortgage debt — is getting harder to secure.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • Ørsted: Mads Nipper, the chief of the world’s largest offshore wind developer, told the FT he would “fight with everything I’ve got” to revive the Danish company’s fortunes.

  • Artificial intelligence: The technology is too important to be monopolised, and public investment is needed to level the playing field, writes Marietje Schaake of Stanford University.

  • Russian protest: Some families of the 300,000 men conscripted to fight in Putin’s war have mounted a rare protest in Moscow to bring the soldiers home.

  • Mixed-race people: Do those of us in the “multiracial” group enjoy the “best of both worlds”? The reality is more complex, writes Stephen Bush.

Chart of the day

A sell-off in global bond markets combined with a rally in stocks have marked a break from the past year or more, when the two assets have tended to rise or fall together. Analysts say this could herald a return to the previous pattern where lower-risk fixed income acted as a counterweight to riskier equities.

Line chart of Rebased (%) showing Stocks ands bond diverge this year

Take a break from the news

It’s been a long road for Queen Camilla, who has stepped up as the public face of Windsor after her husband the King received treatment for cancer. She has emerged as a voice of normality and reason in the strange and fractious Windsor house, and is a terrific fit as an emblem of modern Britain, writes Jo Ellison.

Queen Camilla and King Charles
Queen Camilla and King Charles leave the London Clinic after the King received treatment last month © Reuters

Additional contributions from Benjamin Wilhelm

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