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Netanyahu at a Cabinet meeting in 2019. Photo: Gali Tibbon/Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will convene Israel's Security Cabinet at 7pm local time (12pm ET) on Thursday to discuss the military operation in Gaza and the possibility of a ceasefire.

Why it matters: Any ceasefire would require the approval of the Security Cabinet, and senior Israeli officials expect an agreement by this weekend.

  • Yes, but: Netanyahu has resisted international pressure toward a ceasefire so far. In an apparent signal that he wouldn't be rushed, Netanyahu canceled a planned Cabinet meeting on Wednesday after President Biden urged him to move toward a ceasefire.

The state of play: The ceasefire talks are moving on two tracks: Egyptian intelligence officials are talking to Netanyahu's office and to Hamas leadership in Gaza; while UN envoy Tor Wennesland is talking to Hamas political leadership abroad.

  • Wennesland arrived in Qatar on Wednesday for talks with Hamas officials.

Driving the news: Both sides have intensified their attacks in anticipation of a ceasefire. Gaza health officials said on Thursday that 230 Palestinians had been killed since the beginning of the crisis, with 1,710 wounded.

What they're saying: A diplomatic source told me the UN was "actively engaged with all the relevant parties in order to de-escalate the situation on the ground."

  • A senior Israeli official said he thinks a breakthrough toward a ceasefire could take place in the next 24 hours. Netanyahu's office declined to comment.
  • Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Wednesday that he expects the talks to produce a ceasefire within a day or two.

What to watch: Hamas officials have called on Israel to end police "incursions" into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, or Temple Mount, and stop the evictions of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem as part of a ceasefire.

  • Israel refuses to discuss any agreement that would link the Gaza conflict to Jerusalem, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2021 - World

U.S. has options if Iran talks fail, officials say ahead of Israeli PM's visit

Biden in the Oval Office. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty

If diplomacy fails, the U.S. will consider using other means to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, senior Biden administration officials said in a briefing ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's visit to the White House.

Why it matters: Iran is the main agenda item for Bennett's visit, and he is expected to push for a "Plan B" now that nuclear talks have stalled. The U.S. officials didn't say what exactly the administration would consider but are clearly trying to reassure the Israelis that they are willing to pressure Iran.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

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