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Monday morning news: December 18, 2023


WORLD Radio - Monday morning news: December 18, 2023

News of the day, including Israeli soldiers discover a massive Hamas tunnel near busy border crossing and the Senate stays late to try and pass a foreign aid package

Israeli soldiers are seen in a tunnel that the military says Hamas militants used to attack the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. Associated Press/Photo by Ariel Schalit

Israel pressure » Israel is facing renewed pressure from some of its closest European allies to agree to truce amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

British lawmaker Layla Moran says some Christians who live in Gaza have sought shelter in their local church.

MORAN: It started off, maybe about 100 people. It swelled to 300. They’re sleeping on mattresses in the Sunday school rooms, and the situation there has been deteriorating over the 60 odd days that they’ve been there.

Growing calls for a prolonged cease-fire follow the accidental killing of three Israeli hostages.

The United States has not called for a cease-fire. But it is expected to pressure Israel to scale back major combat operations when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visits today.

Back in Washington, Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen says President Biden was right to stand with Israel in its objective to destroy Hamas.

VAN HOLLEN: No more October 7ths. But he’s also right that how Israel conducts this operation, how the Netanyahu government conducts this operation, is important.

Israel-Hamas / tunnel » The Israeli Defense Forces announced Sunday that it uncovered a large tunnel shaft in Gaza close to what was once a busy crossing into Israel.

HAGARI: [Speaking Hebrew]

IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari called the tunnel the “flagship project of Hamas.” He added that “This is no ordinary tunnel. It is a city of terror underground.”

Hagari said the tunnel stretches for more than 2½ miles and links up with a sprawling tunnel network across Gaza.

The IDF says Hamas vehicles apparently passed through the tunnel, carrying weapons and terrorists in preparation for the Oct. 7 attack.

Ukraine-border deal » Meantime, on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are still hoping to strike a deal on legislation to fund continued aid to Ukraine while also tightening security at the U.S. southern border.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons told CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday:

COONS: I have spoken with a number of the negotiators. They have been working hard this weekend. I am hopeful that we can reach a conclusion this coming week.

But GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham sounded less optimistic about the talks, telling NBC’s Meet the Press:

GRAHAM: They sent over a supplemental with border security provisions that did nothing to change policy. The bottom line here is, we feel like we’re being jammed. We’re not anywhere close to a deal.

The White House is still seeking more than $100 billion dollars to fund aid for Ukraine, Israel, and other priorities. But many Republicans say they will not agree to fund more Ukraine aid unless Democrats agree to major policy changes to address the border crisis.

Impeachment inquiry latest » House Republicans are pushing forward with their investigation of President Biden and his family after formalizing an impeachment inquiry last week.

GOP Senator John Cornyn says he supports the effort.

CORNYN: It seems like we're peeling back layers of an onion, and the investigation is revealing new and very serious evidence along the way.

But Democrats insist that after months of digging, Republicans haven’t found evidence of any wrongdoing by the president while in the Oval Office. Congressman Ro Khanna:

KHANNA: I don't think the President did anything wrong as President of the United States. Look when you impeach someone, it's because they took conduct, as President, that was— violated the law and there's not a shred of evidence of that.

Republicans say Biden was inappropriately involved in his son’s business dealings, effectively running an influence peddling scheme. But that largely centers on his time as Vice President. The White House insists Biden has done nothing wrong.

Hunter Biden reaction » House Republicans are also sounding off about the president’s son, Hunter Biden defying a subpoena to testify last week.

Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna:

PAULINA: I think that once we bring a contempt charge against him, I think that a lot more people are going to second guess whether or not they want to play games with Congress.

The younger Biden chose not to appear last week behind closed doors for testimony inside the Capitol, opting instead to host a press conference on the Capitol grounds.

Congressman Jason Smith told Fox’s Sunday Morning Futures:

SMITH: The fact that he is the president's son and he's doing that is creating a very severe constitutional crisis.

Hunter Biden demanded he be allowed to testify publicly. House Republicans say that may come later, but for now, he’s legally required to answer their questions behind closed doors.

Presidential politics » The latest polls continue to suggest that President Biden is now the underdog heading into next year’s election. An average of recent head-to-head polls has Biden trailing Donald Trump by 3.5 points, nationally.

Nikki Haley leads Biden in a one-on-one matchup by about 5 points. And her campaign has continued to pick up steam, securing the endorsement of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu. Haley trails Trump by more than 20 points among Republicans in New Hampshire. But Sununu says that doesn’t tell the whole story.

SUNUNU: Forty percent of our state is what we call undeclared or independent. If they come out in record numbers, which they will, now Nikki Haley really has a shot here.

Nationally, Haley has almost caught up to second place Ron DeSantis in primary polls. She now has roughly 12 percent support, trailing DeSantis by less than 1 point.

But Trump still enjoys a nearly 50-point lead over the rest of the field.

I'm Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: A special report on Legal Docket about military justice for victims of sexual abuse. Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.

This is The World and Everything in It.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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