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Tor Wennesland. Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images

Tor Wennesland, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has been holding extensive talks with both Israel and Hamas over the past 24 hours in an effort to restore peace, a diplomatic source tells Axios.

Driving the news: The source said Wennesland spoke on Sunday to Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and other senior Israeli security officials as well as Hamas officials and Egyptian intelligence officials.

What they are saying: “The talks the U.N. envoy is having with all parties are in an attempt to restore calm in Gaza and Israel, and avoid another devastating full-scale war," the diplomatic source said.

  • An Israeli official didn't deny the call between the U.N. envoy and Israel national security adviser took place but claimed: "There are no cease fire talks. The operation in Gaza continues."
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter what seems to be a toughening of the U.S. position: "All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately"

Blinken spoke both the with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about the violence.

Between the lines: Both countries have pushed for calm in the region.

  • Blinken also spoke to the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and discussed the ongoing efforts to bring the current violence to an end.

Go deeper: Israel to continue Gaza operation, officials rule out cease-fire for now

Go deeper

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Israeli PM Bennett to visit Biden in midst of Afghanistan crisis

Biden delivers remarks on Afghanistan. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's first visit to the White House will come with President Biden attempting to manage the worst foreign policy crisis of his presidency.

Why it matters: Bennett will visit next Thursday, the White House confirmed, which will likely make him the first world leader to meet Biden during his "Saigon moment."

Aug 18, 2021 - World

Dispute with Poland on Holocaust shows Israel's shift on EU relations

Netanyahu (R) in 2019 with Polish President Andrzej Duda (C) and then-Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

The diplomatic crisis over a Polish law limiting the ability to introduce claims to property confiscated during World War II is a manifestation of the shift in Israeli policy toward Europe under the new government.

Why it matters: The bill will mostly impact Holocaust survivors and their descendants, and it's seen by the Israeli government and the Biden administration as another step by Poland's government to rewrite the country's history around the Holocaust.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.