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Netanyahu. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi held a secret summit in Egypt on May 22nd to launch efforts toward a Gaza stabilization deal, U.S. officials told me.

Why it matters: This meeting was pivotal in the Egyptian-led efforts over the last three months to reach a deal between Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority on stabilizing Gaza. The Egyptians updated the Trump administration about their efforts and got the backing of the White House.

Netanyahu traveled to Egypt on May 22nd with a very small group of advisers and security guards. He stayed in Egypt for a few hours and went back to Israel after midnight. Netanyahu's trip stayed secret and most of the members of his security cabinet were kept out of the loop.

According to U.S. officials, Netanyahu and Sisi discussed a deal that included a long-term ceasefire in Gaza as well as...

  • Easing the Israeli and Egyptian siege on Gaza.
  • The return of the Palestinian Authority to the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip.
  • The reconstruction of critical infrastructure in Gaza.
  • Solving the issue of Israeli soldiers and civilians held by Hamas.

During the meeting, the Egyptian president told Netanyahu that any solution in Gaza must include the return of the Palestinian Authority to the strip in order to gradually retake control from Hamas.

  • Sisi stressed in the meeting that the full demilitarization of Gaza shouldn’t be a precondition to the initiative.
  • Sisi's message to Netanyahu was that Israel, the Sunni Arab countries and the international community must put pressure on Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to go back to administrating Gaza, regardless of his reluctance to do it.

The leaders also discussed the Trump administration's long-anticipated Middle East peace plan.

Go deeper

2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Border Democrats want migrants vaccinated

Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.) Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some Democrats representing border districts want President Biden to vaccinate migrants crossing into the U.S. — especially if he lifts public health restrictions that have prevented them from claiming asylum on American soil.

Why it matters: Inoculating migrants treads a fine line of protecting the U.S. population while possibly incentivizing more migration with the offer of free COVID-19 vaccines. Republicans are likely to pounce on that.

2 mins ago - World

State Dept. fears Chinese threats to labor auditors

A space for media is designated by Chinese authorities near a mosque in the Xinjiang region of China. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department is concerned organizations performing supply-chain audits in China are coming under pressure from Chinese authorities.

Why it matters: U.S. law prohibits importing products made through forced labor, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to verify whether products from China are tainted.

By the numbers: States with most guns, homicides

Data: USA Facts, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

President Biden unveiled his anti-crime plan Wednesday following a surge in violent crime across the country — particularly in big cities.

Why it matters: Part of the administration's plan involves cracking down on gun dealers. The U.S. has witnessed mass shootings on a weekly basis this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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