A long night ahead in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces said Palestinian militants had fired more than 400 rockets and mortar shells at Israel since Monday — the largest 24-hour barrage ever, and more than twice the amount of ordnance fired on a single day since the 2014 war. In response, Israel has begun ground, air and naval operations against more than 150 targets. All told, at least six Palestinians have been killed, and scores more on both sides have been injured. Palestinian Islamic Jihad has warned that it will begin targeting the Israeli port city of Ashdod and the southern city of Beersheba if Israel doesn’t stop its attack. The IDF, meanwhile, has warned that it has plenty of military targets in Gaza to strike if it wants to. Israel is reportedly rebuffing mediation efforts by Egypt and the United Nations, and reports that Hamas is planning to stop its attacks before nightfall have not been confirmed. Whether Israel escalates the fight will depend partly on political pressure on the Israeli government, but also on its assessment of whether Hamas has developed new missile capabilities. Otherwise, Israel’s bigger threats are still to its north — Hezbollah and its new missiles in Lebanon and Iran in Syria. Remember: The biggest beneficiary of a Hamas-Israel war would be Iran.
It’s decision time in Italy … again. Rome is due to submit a revised 2019 budget to the European Commission, which took the unprecedented step last month of rejecting the first draft. The problem is, Italy shows no sign of backing down. According to reports, the most it is willing to concede is its forecast on economic growth, which Rome admits was a tad optimistic. (It may change its budget in the future if it fails to meet its expectations for growth.) That won’t be enough for the European Commission. It has threatened to move its review of Italy’s finances up to Nov. 21 from next spring, putting it one step closer to deciding whether to sanction Italy for its violations of eurozone rules. The commission has simply come too far to back down now. It can’t afford to show that its rules can be ignored, and though Brussels can’t force Italy to comply, it can make noncompliance hurt. In preparation for the fight, the European Central Bank’s chief economist said Tuesday that policymakers have discussed using the EU’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, to prevent an Italian crisis from spreading. That announcement is primarily a signal to the markets, which the European Commission had hoped, and still hopes, would resolve the dispute for it – without reigniting a euro crisis in the process. Either way, the EU wants to wrap this up quickly. Italy, however, is just getting started, and practically any outcome will be a victory for its euroskeptic parties.
The Quad: not yet an alliance. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States, will meet Wednesday, according to Indian media. If push came to shove, each of the four countries would be indispensable to a multinational military effort to contain China (as would Singapore, which will host the meeting). But this is just the Quad’s third meeting since it was revived last year. And once again, only mid-level officials are expected to attend the talks, which have focused primarily on regional economic cooperation. All this illustrates just how far the group is from becoming a formal military alliance, much less an effective tool for blunting China’s expansion. India, and to a lesser extent Australia, are simply too worried about backing China into a corner to join a formal group. Don’t pay attention to the headlines. Pay attention instead to how the members develop bilateral and trilateral military ties – and to whether infrastructure development meant to undermine the coercive power of China’s Belt and Road Initiative obviates the need for a military alliance.
- According to Japanese officials, the U.S. has told Japan that it may revive major military exercises with South Korea if no tangible progress is made in the denuclearization talks with North Korea.
- The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will be signed Nov. 30 at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, according to Mexican media.
- The U.S. Commerce Department has submitted draft recommendations to the White House on its investigation into whether to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and auto parts.
- The proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership won’t be finalized this year as planned, according to ministers attending negotiations on the deal this week in Singapore. When it is, it will be the world’s largest free trade bloc.
- China says talks with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea won’t be completed for three years.
- China’s chief trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, spoke over the phone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ahead of a possible visit to Washington.
- Japan will bring in between 260,000 and 340,000 foreign workers if legislation amending immigration laws passes the Diet, according to a government estimate obtained by the Nikkei Asian Review.
- Iran has continued to abide by the main nuclear restrictions set by the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- In Italy, the leaders of Libya’s rival governments are meeting for the first time since May.
- Net capital flight from Russia between January and October increased threefold compared with the same period last year, according to Russia’s central bank.