Wednesday Briefing

President Biden has long been a champion of Israel and of Jewish nationalism.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Biden faces divisions over his support of Israel

President Biden is facing deep anger over his solidarity with Israel among his supporters and even from some staff members, particularly those with Arab or Muslim backgrounds, who have said they feel disenchanted with the president. And for many in the Arab community, his words and actions after the Oct. 7 attacks have left them feeling like an afterthought in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Biden administration officials say the president’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself after Hamas’s deadly assault is only part of the story, and that Biden’s stance has allowed him to wield influence with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on issues like humanitarian aid and to make more forceful calls for the protection of Palestinian civilians.

Biden has long been a champion of Israel and of Jewish nationalism, saying often that “you don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist.” His unwavering support has at times put him at odds with some other Democrats, particularly among a left-leaning coalition that sees the Palestinian cause as an extension of racial and social justice movements.

Fifth day of cease-fire: Twelve hostages — 10 Israelis and two Thai nationals — were delivered into Israeli territory, and Israel released another 30 imprisoned Palestinians, the Israeli authorities said.

Analysis: Both Israel and Hamas are reaping benefits from the temporary truce, writes Patrick Kingsley, our Jerusalem bureau chief, but as the hostage-for-prisoner exchanges continue, Israeli leaders may feel growing pressure to resume the war.

The Al Wasl Dome in Dubai, where the U.N. climate summit will begin on Thursday.Credit…Peter Dejong/Associated Press

A climate summit to advance fossil fuel deals

As the host of the U.N.’s climate talks, the United Arab Emirates is expected to play a central role in forging an agreement to depart from coal, oil and gas. But behind the scenes, according to a leaked document, the nation intended to pursue a contradictory goal: to lobby on oil and gas deals around the world.

The file has cast a pall over the climate summit, which begins tomorrow, and experts have questioned whether the U.A.E. is blurring the boundary between its standing as host of the conference and its position as one of the world’s largest oil and gas exporters.

The talks opening this week are being led by Sultan Al Jaber, who also heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, or Adnoc, which provides about 3 percent of the world’s oil. He also runs the smaller state-owned renewables company Masdar.

Related: Pope Francis will not attend the climate summit, following his doctor’s orders as he recovers from a bout of flu and lung inflammation.

From the region: Saudi Arabia will host the World Expo 2030, a victory for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, as he seeks to reshape its authoritarian image.

Marianna Budanova, left, and her husband, Kyrylo Budanov.Credit…Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters

The wife of Ukraine’s spy chief was poisoned, officials said

Ukrainian officials said that Marianna Budanova, whose husband leads the country’s intelligence operations, had been poisoned and was recovering in a hospital. News of the incident has led to widespread speculation that Russia, which has a long history of poisoning adversaries, is stepping up efforts to target Ukraine’s senior leadership.

In other news from the war:

  • With Republican lawmakers stalled on granting Ukraine more military aid, NATO’s top diplomat warned that it would be “dangerous” to curtail support to the war.

  • Finland said it was temporarily closing its only remaining open border crossing with Russia.

  • A Moscow court extended the pretrial detention of Evan Gershkovich, an American reporter who has been held for nearly eight months on a dubious espionage charge.


Around the World

Credit…Luis Tato/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • A year into his term, Kenya’s president, William Ruto, is facing mounting public anger at home, even as he seeks to burnish his reputation internationally.

  • Rescuers in India pulled out 41 construction workers who had been trapped inside a road tunnel since Nov. 12.

  • Sierra Leone announced the arrest of 13 military officials in connection with an “attempted coup.”

  • France will ban smoking in many public places. And in New Zealand, the new right-wing government walked back plans to gradually ban all cigarette sales.

  • Why are there only 350 Americans studying in China?

Other Big Stories

Credit…Jordan Gale for The New York Times
  • The Koch brothers’ conservative political network endorsed Nikki Haley for president. She has risen in polls but still trails Donald Trump

  • Pope Francis told top Vatican officials that he would evict Raymond Burke, a retired U.S. cardinal who has been a vocal critic of his, from a subsidized apartment.

  • Egypt wiped out hepatitis C. Now it’s trying to help the rest of Africa to do the same.

  • Hunter Biden, the U.S. president’s son, offered to publicly testify to Congress about his family’s business dealings. House Republicans want him to first testify behind closed doors.

  • Google will soon delete accounts on its services — including Gmail and YouTube — that have been idle for two years or more.

What Else Is Happening

  • With nationalism in the air, few of the top candidates for jobs at Italy’s most prestigious art institutions come with international experience.

  • Amazon introduced Q, an A.I. chatbot for companies that aims to help employees with daily tasks.

  • Mortadella, the rose-pink Italian cold cut, is winning a new fan base of American chefs and consumers.

A Morning Read

Credit…Billy H.C. Kwok for The New York Times

Gold bars small enough to fit in carry-on cases. Apartments in Tokyo. Large stacks of foreign currency. Affluent Chinese have moved hundreds of billions of dollars out of China this year, in a sign of concerns about the country’s sputtering pandemic recovery.

Lives Lived

Charles Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s hugely successful investment firm, died at 99.


Dutch soccer’s criminal underworld: Organized criminals have targeted players for their own ends.

Fighting on the ice: All 10 skaters in an N.H.L. Senators-Panthers game were ejected from the ice for misconduct.

Soccer and the climate crisis: How does the sport become more sustainable?


Credit…Timo Lenzen

The year’s 10 best books

Every year, the staff of The Times Book Review debate which books — five fiction and nonfiction — would make their year-end list. “We spar, we persuade and (above all) we agonize until the very end,” they said. Here are a few that made it through the arduous process:

  • “The Fraud” by Zadie Smith, a tale of 19th-century London centered on a real-life criminal trial over the impersonation of a nobleman.

  • “The Bee Sting” by Paul Murray, a tragicomic tale about an Irish family whose fortunes plummet after the 2008 financial crash.

  • “Fire Weather” by John Vaillant, an account of a raging 2016 wildfire in Canada, and the perfect storm of factors that led to the catastrophe.

Read the full list here, and listen to Times editors discuss their picks on the Book Review podcast.


Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times

Cook: Make jollof rice in the oven.

Predict: Creative luminaries forecast next year’s trends.

Recall: Why your short-term memory falters, and how to make it better.

Covet: How a stick vacuum became a must-have luxury good.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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