Your Friday Briefing: Israel’s New Government

Benjamin Netanyahu will lead Israel for a sixth time.Credit…Pool photo by Ariel Schalit

Israel’s new government

Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s prime minister again. He was sworn in yesterday as the country’s new hard-right coalition took control.

The coalition will test Israel’s ties with the U.S. and Europe. Many fear that Netanyahu’s partners will undermine Israel’s liberal democracy and its stability.

  • Some expect increased tensions with Palestinians. The coalition has declared the Jewish people’s “exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel” and pledged to bolster settlement in the occupied West Bank.

  • Others foresee the undermining of Israel’s democratic system. Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption, and his new administration is pressing for a contentious overhaul of the judiciary that critics say would curb its power.

Both moves could complicate Israel’s relations with Europe and the U.S., perhaps its most important ally. But both seem as if they plan to wait and see. President Biden said he looked forward to working with Netanyahu, but said that the U.S. would continue to support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

L.G.B.T.Q. people: The coalition could also roll back protections by amending an anti-discrimination law. And an ultraconservative anti-gay minister has been given wide powers over some programs taught in public schools.

American Jews: They are some of Israel’s strongest supporters abroad, but they identify with more liberal streams of Judaism than some of the new government’s policies on religion.

A Russian strike damaged Olga Malyshko’s house, in Kyiv.Credit…Laura Boushnak for The New York Times

Russia hammers Ukraine

Russia launched what appeared to be one of its biggest strikes to date on Ukraine’s energy grid yesterday. The wave of strikes rocked Kyiv and other cities and towns, and several regions reported power outages.

The Ukrainian authorities had been warning for days that Russia was planning more strikes on the electrical grid ahead of the New Year holidays. Many people may be without power as the year turns over.

The latest attacks are part of Russia’s three-month attack campaign on Ukraine’s infrastructure, which military analysts say is an effort to plunge Ukraine into cold and darkness and to demoralize the population. Lviv’s mayor said that electricity had been lost for 90 percent of the city, and Kyiv’s mayor said that 40 percent of the capital was without electricity.

Details: Ukraine said that Russia’s strikes combined missiles and drones, including Iranian-made exploding drones, but that its defense forces shot down 54 of 69 missiles and knocked out drones. These new strikes are likely to renew Ukraine’s appeals for Western air defense systems.

Pelé was carried off the field after his final game in 1977.Credit…George Tiedemann/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

Pelé has died at 82

Pelé, a transformative 20th-century soccer player, was revered as a national treasure in his native Brazil. He died yesterday at 82 in São Paulo after struggling with colon cancer.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento in an impoverished village where he used rolled-up rags for a ball, Pelé sprang into the international limelight at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden as a slight 17-year-old. He scored two goals in the final as Brazil won its first of a record five World Cup trophies. Reports of his prowess raced around the world, and he soon became the global face of soccer.

During his 21-year career, he revolutionized the sport and increased its popularity around the world. Just about everyone who ever saw Pelé play celebrated his peerless talent and originality on the field. He also endeared himself to fans with his sunny personality and his belief in the power of soccer to connect people across dividing lines of race, class and nationality.

Resources: Here’s a look at his career in photos and a short video about his life.


Asia Pacific

Guests at the 17-story complex in Cambodia jumped from windows to escape the flames.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • At least 19 people died in a fire at a casino hotel in Cambodia yesterday.

  • Some Chinese were disappointed by the new U.S. negative test travel requirement. But many were just indifferent.

Around the World

  • Three white men were arrested and charged after a violent attack on two Black teenagers at a resort pool in South Africa on Christmas Day.

  • The Jan. 6 committee withdrew its subpoena for Donald Trump, conceding that U.S. lawmakers had run out of time.

  • Algeria has cracked down on its last remaining independent media outlet.

  • New York state has begun legal recreational cannabis sales.

The Week in Culture

Mickey Mouse was introduced to the world in the 1928 short film “Steamboat Willie.”Credit…Disney
  • The version of Mickey Mouse from “Steamboat Willie” will enter the public domain in 2024. Expect a fight from Disney.

  • The Met Opera in New York, battered by pandemic woes, will withdraw up to $30 million from its endowment and stage more popular, modern works. Tomorrow, it will take a fresh look at “Fedora,” the 1898 opera by Umberto Giordano.

  • Maya Ruiz-Picasso, one of Pablo Picasso’s daughters and an authority on his works, died at 87.

A Morning Read

Politicians and business leaders think that converting empty offices into housing can transform downtown neighborhoods.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Downtown areas may never return to how they once were. What would it take to turn empty offices into housing?

Lives lived: Arata Isozaki was a prolific Japanese architect, urban planner and theorist. He died this week at 91.


The year in review(s)

What a year it has been. My colleagues around the newsroom took a look back at 2022. Here’s a selection of our recaps, both zany and sober.

  • Queen Elizabeth II, Mikhail Gorbachev, Sidney Poitier and Jiang Zemin are some of the famous people who died this year. Here’s a tribute to artists we lost, in their own words.

  • Start 2023 with this year’s best movies, best albums, best books, best podcasts, best songs and best TV shows.

  • Coo at these 10 unforgettable marriage proposals.

  • Revisit these sports highlights.

  • Nuclear fusion, generative A.I. and bee tracking: This year produced some noble, clever and socially valuable tech projects.

  • NyQuil chicken, #GentleMinions, butter boards: A tour through micro news. And, lest we forget, the 93 stylish “people” who stood out in 2022.

  • Try one of our 20 most-popular recipes and check out some memorable wines. Also, the year’s best cookbooks.

  • Finally, check out our annual year in photos feature, and the most notable illustrations published in The Times.

And some good news: The “Pocket Chinese Almanac 2023,” compiled by a geomancer in Hong Kong, suggests things are looking brighter. Thanks for reading us in 2022. See you next year!


What to Cook

Credit…Chris Simpson for The New York Times

Eric Kim has reimagined the Korean New Year’s tradition of tteok guk. Here’s a recipe for the rice cake soup with dumplings.

What to Listen to

Check out these five classical albums.

What to Watch

“Warriors of Future” is a mad apocalypse tale packed with veteran Hong Kong stars.


Essaouira, a Moroccan port city, is coastal North Africa at its most quaint and picturesque.


Here’s a guide to writing a thank-you note.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and here’s a clue: Suspicious (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for this year! See you in 2023. — Amelia

P.S. The word “timberbeast” appeared for the first time in The Times yesterday in a story about lumberjacks.

“The Daily” is about post-Roe America.

Email us at [email protected].

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