Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

A temporary cease-fire paired with the releases of hostages held in Gaza and of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is not likely to begin until tomorrow at the earliest, Israeli officials said, as negotiators continued to hammer out details of an agreement between Israel and Hamas.

The new timing appeared to rule out the possibility that hostages could be freed on Thursday, as many of their families had hoped, and it underscored the fluidity of the negotiations.

The two sides have not announced specific plans for an exchange of at least 150 Palestinian women and children jailed by Israel for at least 50 Israeli women and children held in Gaza, including details on exactly when people would begin to be released and whom would be included.

In Gaza: The Israeli military said that it “continued to fight,” highlighting that an agreement to pause the conflict was not yet in place. The U.S. has pushed Israel to take broad measures aimed at lessening the harm to Palestinian civilians, including such actions as setting up safe areas, allowing in more medical aid and permitting larger deliveries of fuel.

In Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the agreement was a step toward Israel’s objective of freeing all of the captives held in Gaza. For weeks, Israeli leaders were divided about whether a temporary cease-fire might help Hamas regroup and endanger the remaining hostages.

Behind the scenes: The path to the deal has been a long and treacherous one, Peter Baker, our White House correspondent, writes.

More details:

  • Hamas and Israel still disagree on how many captives are being held in Gaza, making it hard to work out whom exactly will be released, according to Israeli officials.

  • The pause would allow for an increase in humanitarian aid to Gaza, through both the Egyptian and Israeli borders. But there is not yet agreement on the amounts of supplies that would be allowed through, according to an Israeli official.


In national elections in the Netherlands, Dutch voters threw the most support behind the party of Geert Wilders, a political provocateur long known for his anti-Islam and anti-Europe stances who had campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform. The results sent shock waves through Europe and dismayed the Dutch political establishment.

If the preliminary results hold up, the Netherlands will be at the threshold of uncertain new political terrain after 13 years of stewardship by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a stalwart of Dutch politics and a dependable presence on the E.U. stage. Wilders’s party is projected to win 35 seats in the 150-seat Parliament, making a coalition of some sort inevitable.

Quotable: “The Dutch voter has spoken,” Wilders said in a speech. “The voter has said, ‘We are fed up.’” He added that he wanted to return “the Netherlands to the Dutch.”


First he was fired, then he found another job, and now he’s back: Sam Altman was reinstated as the chief executive of OpenAI late last night. His return coincided with the departures of several board members who had pushed him out last week.

Rosie Schaap, a writer from New York City who is now based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, didn’t grow up saying grace. But when she found herself at lunch with Sister Agnes, above, of St. Cecilia Church in New York City, she was struck by how the sparky, soft-spoken nun gave thanks.

”Long before I’d heard the phrase ‘farm to table,’” Rosie writes, “Sister Agnes made me think about all it had taken to get food from the place where it was grown to the place where I sat down to eat it, about the many hands that had labored in the service of my meal.”

A marred Brazil-Argentina match: Lionel Messi said crowd trouble at the game “could have ended in tragedy.”

Stadium plans: What each Premier League team has done to its home field and what could come next.

By the numbers: Cocktails cost $135 at the $500 million Las Vegas Grand Prix, and 1.3 million American TV viewers tuned in for the race.

Recordings of a loved one reading folk tales. A scavenger hunt, or a hand-designed board game. Teaching someone a skill they are interested in.

The holiday season is a time of high spirits and spirited spending. But while gift givers often assume that more expensive gifts convey a higher level of thoughtfulness, recipients don’t typically see them that way, and some of the most cherished gifts represent little monetary value but a great deal of time and effort.

Perhaps the best known example of such a gift is the game Wordle, which was created as a present by a software engineer for his partner — but which has ended up being a gift to millions of others.