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Why aren’t Britain and the US demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas? 

Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.

As Rishi Sunak sought to update the House of Commons yesterday on the outcome of his recent trip to Israel, a number of MPs used the moment to make impassioned calls for a ceasefire. Tory MP Crispin Blunt, a co-director of the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians, said it was a “watershed moment” between a “killing field in Gaza” or “a ceasefire and the opportunity to bring necessary aid there”. Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf spoke with reporters to deliver a plea from his wife, whose family are in Gaza “not to just ask for the border to be opened, but to demand that the Rafah Crossing is opened and there’s a ceasefire right now”. The calls came on the same day that Israel allowed 200 journalists to witness horrific bodycam footage of the Hamas terror attacks on 7 October, and also as it intensified its bombing campaign of the enclave. It’s not yet clear when Israel might launch a full ground invasion. “We want to bring Hamas to a state of full dismantling,” Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi said on Monday. “The path is a path of unrelenting attacks, damaging Hamas everywhere and in every way.” International diplomacy efforts have been focused on securing the passage of humanitarian aid into the region as the situation there becomes extremely dire. But while Mr Sunak and Joe Biden are clear on the need for food and medicines for the 2.2 million residents of Gaza, they’re not currently advocating for a ceasefire. Why? We’ll take a look, after the headlines.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

The Government has been accused of “burying bad news” by publishing hundreds of transparency documents on the days by-elections are held. When the polls opened for the Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire by-elections on Thursday, departments and agencies across Whitehall published 160 separate releases on the “transparency and freedom of information” section of government websites.

A global tax on billionaires’ wealth rather than their income could raise £204bn, an EU-funded research report found. An annual tax of two per cent levied on the wealth of 2,756 of the world’s richest people would help remedy the fact that billionaires effectively pay far less tax than ordinary citizens relative to their income, through their use of personal wealth-holding companies that shelter them from income tax, the 2024 Global Tax Evasion Report.

Facial recognition tech will be used to catch prolific shoplifters under plans to “create a hostile environment” for repeat thieves, the Government has announced. Shops will be encouraged to send in footage of suspected thieves, which will then be reviewed using police facial recognition software, as part of a new partnership.

Senior police officers have told i they are “sick” of the Government pushing them to “reach beyond the law” to arrest protesters for “political gain” following a row over a pro-Palestinian rally. A senior Met officer told i that those within the force were frustrated with Home Secretary Suella Braverman after she criticised them for failing to arrest protesters chanting “jihad” in London over the weekend.

Hopes of cleaning up polluted rivers by making them official bathing spaces have been abandoned in several locations across England, with campaigners blaming a Government rule change. Rivers in Cornwall and Cumbria no longer meet the criteria to apply for the status after Defra introduced a requirement for a minimum number of swimmers to visit the waterway. It means the rivers will miss out on additional checks to rid them of pollution.

What have international leaders said about a ceasefire?

Who is calling for a ceasefire? So far 73 British MPs have signed a parliamentary motion calling for an immediate ceasefire. Last week the UN chief António Guterres called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, and the UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Turk, has also called for one to allow more aid in. The UN fears without fuel, which has not been part of the aid sent in so far, hospitals and other essential services will be without power.A number of EU leaders are also set to back a “pause” in fighting in a confidential draft statement seen by The Telegraph. The paper also says that the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has argued that a halt to bombing would allow more time to negotiate with Hamas for the release of hostages. Yesterday Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin reiterated Ireland’s call for a ceasefire, saying it was a matter of “utmost urgency, the loss of life is enormous, is at a scale that has to be stopped.” Last week the UN Security Council failed to adopt a resolution proposed by Russia, which called for a “humanitarian ceasefire”, but also failed to specifically condemn the attacks by Hamas. China has also attempted to cast itself as a mediator for peace, but is yet to explicitly rebuke Hamas. Overnight, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Israel’s Eli Cohen the conflict was a “major choice between war and peace”.

What have Sunak and Biden said? Both leaders have been keen to stress Israel’s right to defend itself, but Mr Biden has also been clear that no further steps can be taken on efforts to negotiate a ceasefire until Hamas releases all of the hostages. Yesterday Rishi Sunak, responding to Crispin Blunt, said: “It is difficult to tell Israel to have a ceasefire when it is still facing rocket fire on an almost daily basis, and when its citizens are still being held hostage and it has suffered an appalling terrorist attack where it has a right to defend itself. But as I have said it is important that that is done in accordance with international law and it’s important that Israel takes every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.” He also told Labour’s Zarah Sultana, who is demanding an immediate ceasefire as well as condemnation of Israel, that: “There is a significant difference between a terrorist organisation that deliberately and specifically targeted… killing, mutilation and murder of innocent civilians including children and women and babies a couple of weeks ago, and Israel’s lawful right to defend itself and go after those perpetrators.” The US president has made clear that Washington will not consider backing a ceasefire until all kidnapped hostages are released. “We should have those hostages released and then we can talk,” Mr Biden told reporters on Monday. And White House national security spokesman John Kirby told CNN: ” I thought the message was pretty clear to Hamas: ‘release all the hostages’. That needs to be the first move here. We don’t believe that this is the time for a ceasefire. Israel has a right to defend themselves. They still have work to do to go after Hamas leadership.” State Department spokesman Mathew Miller also said: “What we will continue to do, with respect to this question, is focus on getting humanitarian assistance in to Gaza.”

What happens now? Today the UN Security Council meets on the conflict, where a US-drafted resolution on the conflict is expected to be voted on. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is said to be attending the meeting, along with the foreign minister of Israel, the Palestinians, Iran, Jordan, France and Brazil. According to the Associated Press, the text was still being negotiated late on Monday. However reports say it will call for the release of the hostages Hamas is holding and emphasise Israel’s right to defend itself. It is also expected to urge Iran to stop exporting arms to militias and terrorist groups in the region. The AP says the resolution urges respect for international laws on conducting war and protecting civilians, urges all countries to intensify efforts to prevent a spillover, and demands immediate humanitarian access to Gaza. According to Axios, it does not call for a ceasefire. Russia is expected to veto it.

Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza has intensified (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Around the world

Israel will place the hostages kidnapped by Hamas “front and centre” of its military planning as its forces prepare to mount an invasion of Gaza, according to a former hostage negotiator. Scott Walker, who worked for military intelligence as a detective in counter-terrorism and kidnapping operations, said opinion would “turn against” the Israeli government if it continues its bombardment of Gaza without appearing to prioritise the hostages’ safety.

Premature babies relying on oxygen will die within 72 hours if fuel runs out at their hospital, according to a neonatal doctor in Gaza. Dr Hatem Edhair, head of the neonatal unit at Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, said the hospital had around 48 hours worth of fuel left in stock, which is used to power medical equipment needed by the babies.

An off-duty pilot has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, after he allegedly tried to crash an Alaska Airlines plane during a flight on Sunday. The suspect was sitting in the cockpit of the flight behind the captain and the first-officer.

A severe drought in the Amazon River has revealed human faces sculpted into stone up to 2,000 years ago on a rocky outcropping. “The engravings are prehistoric, or precolonial. We cannot date them exactly, but based on evidence of human occupation of the area, we believe they are about 1,000 to 2,000 years old,” said archaeologist Jaime de Santana Oliveira.

A record-breaking tropical storm that unleashed a year’s worth of rain in a single day has left unusual lakes in Death Valley national park, stunning images have shown. “Some spectacular things happened in Death Valley following the floods we received from remnants of Hurricane Hilary back in August,” the park wrote in an Instagram post. “Ephemeral lakes popped up around the park, which is both pretty rare and amazing! Lakes in the sand dunes wasn’t on our 2023 bingo card.”

 Watch out for…

 the Court of Appeal, where Shamima Begum’s legal fight over the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship commences.  

 Thoughts for the day

Creating new laws to stop ‘jihad’ protestors will set a dangerous precedent for free speech. Free speech restrictions have unintended consequences, warns Ian Dunt.

Israel’s fury is justified, but peace-loving Palestinians deserve safety too. How will unleashing fresh hell on an impoverished and repressed people help the cause of peace, asks Ian Birrell.

What fat shaming jokes like Emily Blunt’s actually do to people like me. Fatphobia has been used to justify the gamut of social prejudices, writes Kub Shand-Baptiste.

Emily Blunt has apologised for a fat-shaming joke she made on TV in 2012 (Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Culture Break

Britney Spears: The Woman in Me is more powerful and more traumatic than any celebrity memoir. The sensationalist headlines about this memoir’s various revelations do Spears a disservice, writes Kate Solomon.

Britney Spears on location for the video ‘Sometimes’, 1999 (Photo: Ron Wolfson/WireImage)

The Big Read

Women with PMDD wait up to 30 years for diagnosis as condition ‘drops through the cracks’. Women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder – a severe form of PMS – say they are being ‘bounced’ between NHS departments, reports Connie Dimsdale.

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‘I cried a lot’: Victor Orta on leaving Leeds, facing Arsenal and replacing Monchi at Sevilla. Former Leeds sporting director Victor Orta exclusively reveals how he fell back in love with football following his departure from Elland Road.

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 Something to brighten your day

It was formed from the debris left over when a planet-sized object called Theia smashed into Earth, but the exact moment in time the Moon was created has been a small mystery. Now scientists have found it is about 40 million years older than we had previously thought, according to a new analysis.

(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

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