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Morning Brief: Israel’s ‘final act’

Top Story “Hopefully we’re in the final act,” said Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as fighting in Gaza slowed somewhat after a night of intense aerial bombardment and negotiations intensified over bringing the offensive to an end. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was dispatched to Washington to help finalize a peace deal. Israel is still objecting to ...

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Top Story

“Hopefully we’re in the final act,” said Israeli PM Ehud Olmert as fighting in Gaza slowed somewhat after a night of intense aerial bombardment and negotiations intensified over bringing the offensive to an end. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was dispatched to Washington to help finalize a peace deal. Israel is still objecting to some terms of the proposed deal, including a time limit on the ceasefire and allowing Hamas to police border crossing points. 

Speaking at an emergency summit of Arab nations in Doha, Hamas head Khaled Meshal said Hamas would not accept a ceasefire until the Israeli offensive ends, contradicting earlier reports that the group was seeking a truce. 

Hamas Interior Minister Said Siyam was killed by an airstrike. Israel has apparently also destroyed Hamas’s Revolutionary Guard-trained “Iranian Unit.”

The UN condemned Israel’s use of white phosphorus shells in civilian areas.

Rocket attacks on the southern Israeli city of Sderot continue, but are now less frequent.

U.S. Presidential Transition

Waterboarding is torture, says attorney general nominee Eric Holder.

Janet Napolitano breezed through her “warm and fuzzy” confirmation for homeland security chief. 

In preparing his inaugural address, Barack Obama may be gunning for Lincoln.

Americas

Bank of America received $20 billion in government aid to help it absorb Merrill Lynch.

President Bush defended his record in a farewell address to the nation.

Hugo Chavez is soliciting bids from multinational oil companies for his country’s oil deposits.

Africa

Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak is still not under control. The death toll has passed 2,000. The country also introduced a $100 trillion banknote.

Islamist militants attacked the Somali presidential palace.

Somali pirates freed a Danish ship that had been held for over two months.

Europe

European leaders discussed how to end the ongoing gas crisis with Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he hoped Obama would help create a better U.S.-Russian relationship by not pushing for NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.

Ireland plans to nationalize the troubled Anglo-Irish Bank.

Asia

Civilians are fleeing Sri Lanka’s northern war zone.

Philippine troops are searching for kidnapped Red Cross workers.

The growth of China’s currency reserves seems to be slowing down.

Middle East

Slumping oil prices have Gulf states looking at recession.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be softening his anti-American rhetoric with President Obama on the way.

The fight over where to hold an emergency Gaza summit is exposing rifts between Arab governments.

Photo: Abid Katib/Getty Images

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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