Tuesday briefing: How a deal that could mean a truce in Gaza became possible

In today’s newsletter: Amid growing optimism that a deal to release the hostages is back on, a former Israeli peace negotiator talks about what each side gets out of it

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Good morning. Before Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza began three weeks ago, there was talk of a deal to secure the release of some of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for a pause in the bombardment of the territory. But the talks failed, and thousands of Palestinians and an unknown number of the hostages have been killed in the weeks since. Now there is growing optimism that a deal is back on.

Yesterday, Joe Biden said that an agreement was almost done; this morning, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said that officials were “close to reaching a truce agreement”. Al Jazeera quotes another Hamas official who says details will emerge in “the coming hours”. If that happens, it would be the biggest change in the dynamic between Israel and Hamas since 7 October – and some believe that it could even be a vital first step towards a more permanent end to the violence. But the US has also cautioned that until a deal is absolutely final, there is still a chance that it will collapse.

Environment | The world is on track for a “hellish” 3C of global heating, the UN has warned before the crucial Cop28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates next week. To get on track for the internationally agreed target of 1.5C, 22bn tonnes of CO2 must be cut from the currently projected total in 2030, the report said – 42% of global emissions.

Economy | Rishi Sunak has hinted at business tax cuts to boost economic growth as he promised to reduce the tax burden “carefully and sustainably” and “over time”. Sunak stressed the focus was “very much the supply side” of the economy in a signal that business tax cuts are more likely than personal ones.

OpenAI | Turmoil has engulfed the company behind ChatGPT after nearly all of OpenAI’s 700 staff threatened to quit unless ousted chief executive Sam Altman is reinstated. A letter to the company’s board said that the signatories could join Altman and OpenAI’s former president Greg Brockman at Microsoft, which announced it had hired the two on Monday.

Covid inquiry | Rishi Sunak would almost certainly have known scientists were worried about his “eat out to help out” scheme during the pandemic, Sir Patrick Vallance has said, directly contradicting the prime minister’s evidence to the Covid inquiry. An entry from Vallance’s diary from October 2020 also claimed that Dominic Cummings said that Sunak “thinks just let people die and that’s okay”.

Nature | Church surveillance cameras in the Netherlands have caught the first documented evidence of any mammal mating without intromission. In plain English, they have recorded bats having sex without penetration.

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