French President Emmanuel Macron becomes the latest world leader to visit Israel, where he’ll meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is expected to call for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Hamas released two women who were among around 220 hostages taken to Gaza when the militant group — designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Qatar and Egypt were intermediaries in arranging their release.
There are growing calls in Israel to rethink the scope of any ground invasion of Gaza, with concerns including Hezbollah missile attacks from neighboring Lebanon, the fate of hostages and the risk of military casualties. Meanwhile, the US is sending more forces to the Middle East, while weighing a plan to evacuate thousands of citizens if the war expands.
(All time stamps are Israeli time)
Macron to Call For Resumption of Peace Process (7:30 a.m.)
Macron, whose visit follows those by leaders from the US, Germany, the UK and others, is set to meet Netanyahu and French families affected by the Oct. 7 attacks.
He’s expected to call for the resumption of a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the creation of a Palestinian state and the “halting of colonization” of the West Bank, according to his office.
US Weighs Evacuation Plan If War Widens, Post Says (6:41 a.m.)
The Biden administration is looking into the possibility that thousands of US citizens will need to be evacuated from the Middle East if the Israel-Hamas conflict expands, the Washington Post reported, citing four officials familiar with the contingency planning.
One official said it would be irresponsible not to have a plan, which the people called a worst-case scenario. There were about 600,000 Americans in Israel and another 86,000 believed to be in Lebanon when Hamas first attacked this month, the Post reported.
Biden-Netanyahu Call Centers on Hostages, US Military (5:25 a.m.)
Biden and Netanyahu discussed by phone the release of two hostages from Gaza on Monday, as well as plans for additional US military deployments in the region.
Biden also emphasized the need to sustain the transport of humanitarian assistance into Gaza, the White House said in a statement, adding that the two leaders plan to speak again in the coming days.
US, Europe to Meet Over Hamas Fundraising, Ukraine (3:51 a.m.)
US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will travel to Europe from Oct. 27-Nov. 1 to discuss efforts “to deny Hamas and other terrorist organizations the ability to raise and use funds.” They will also discuss initiatives to “degrade Russia’s ability to financially sustain its illegal war in Ukraine,” the department said in a statement.
On Friday, Adeyemo will discuss the effort to prevent Hamas from accessing funds during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London. On Oct. 31, he’ll speak at a conference in Berlin.
Blinken Plans UN Meetings on Tuesday (3:25 a.m.)
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to New York to take part in a ministerial meeting at the United Nations Security Council about the Middle East, his spokesperson said in a statement, without detailing who the top US diplomat would be meeting with.
China Repeats View That Israel Must Protect Civilians (2:55 a.m.)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reiterated that Israel must protect civilians even as it has the right to defend itself in a conflict. The remarks come as Wang prepares for a high-profile visit to Washington.
“Every country has the right to self-defense but should abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians,” Wang told his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in a telephone call Monday, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.
War Will Be on Agenda When China’s Wang Visits US (1:25 a.m.)
Wang will visit Washington this week for high-level meetings, according to senior Biden administration officials, as the US and China continue a series of diplomatic engagements intended to manage tensions even as a new war in the Middle East shows the limits of potential cooperation.
Wang will be in Washington Oct. 26 to Oct. 28 and will meet with Blinken and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the officials said on a briefing call with reporters on Monday.
Hostages Released by Hamas Were Seized When Kibbutz Was Overrun (11:15 p.m.)
The elderly women released by Hamas late Monday are Nurit Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz, who lived on the Nir Oz kibbutz, which was overrun by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to the Jerusalem Post and the Times of Israel. Their release came after Hamas released an American mother and her daughter on Friday in a deal mediated by Qatar and Egypt.
The hostages were turned over to the International Committee of the Red Cross and were on their way home, the ICRC said in a statement. The women had been seized along with their husbands, who weren’t released, according to the Associated Press. Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by the US and European Union.
Israel Latest: Hamas Releases Two More HostagesPlay
Hamas Credits Qatar and Egypt in Release of Two More Hostages (9:40 p.m.)
Hamas said it agreed to the release of two more hostages after mediation with Qatar and Egypt.
The release came days after two other hostages from Illinois, mother and daughter Judith and Natalie Raanan, were freed.
US Says It’s Sending More Forces to the Middle East (9:30 p.m.)
John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the US will be deploying more military forces to the Middle East. “The president has added additional military forces to the region and more forces will be coming in days and weeks ahead, to try to deter any actor from widening or deepening this conflict,” Kirby told reporters
The US has already deployed two carrier strike groups to the region, and over the weekend shot down missiles and drones from Yemen suspected to be headed toward Israel.