Morning news brief
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
One of the diplomats trying to stop the Israel-Hamas war gave a warning.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
He said an attack on U.S. forces could widen the war instead of ending it. The prime minister of Qatar is in Washington for talks with U.S. officials, trying to work out a framework of a deal to pause or end the war in Gaza and get Israeli hostages released.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from Tel Aviv. So what's this warning about?
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: It all stems from this attack against U.S. forces. Three American service members were killed in a drone attack in Jordan. The U.S. says the attack came from an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq. And officials tell NPR that the air defense systems at the base were thwarted. It appears that a U.S. drone was in the sky at the same time as this enemy drone, and so operators were confused. They didn't know whether this was a friendly or an enemy aircraft, so it was able to attack the base. More than 40 other U.S. troops were injured. And now what everyone is waiting for is the U.S. response.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. And then there's concern that that response, whatever it happens to be, could derail these talks.
PERALTA: Yeah. That's right. The prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, is in Washington for talks with U.S. officials. Qatar is playing a critical role in the negotiations with Israel, the U.S. and Egypt. And speaking to the Atlantic Council, he said the situation in the Middle East is boiling. Everyone, he says, is dancing at the edge, and everyone knows that this attack against U.S. forces in Jordan will have consequences. Let's listen.
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PRIME MINISTER MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL THANI: I hope that nothing would undermine the efforts that we are doing or jeopardize the process, yet it will definitely have an impact on it. And it will - one way or another, it will have an impact on the regional security. And we hope that things get contained and not to get escalated beyond control.
PERALTA: And look. This attack against U.S. forces is coming at a really critical time in this Israeli war against Hamas. The death toll is mounting. There are still more than a hundred Israeli hostages in Gaza. They've been there since October 7. There's been high-level meetings in Paris to reach a deal or to try to stop or pause the fighting and to release the hostages. And the worry is that these attacks in the region can complicate those talks.
And what the prime minister of Qatar is saying is that whatever that American retaliation is, has the potential to throw the peace process between Israel and Hamas into disarray. And that's important because so much of this chaos has emerged from this conflict. Just to put that in context, the Pentagon says that there have been about 160 attacks against U.S. bases since the Gaza war broke out.
MARTÍNEZ: And about that peace process, Eyder, I mean, what are the chances of something coming out of it?
PERALTA: Our understanding is that right now, it's with Hamas - that they are considering the deal that was hashed out by the international community. And the outside world seems much more hopeful about the prospects. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there was a, quote, "real hope" for a deal.
But since those talks wrapped, there have been dueling statements issued by Israel and Hamas that leave an impression that there is still a lot of work to do. There's even disagreement about what a cease-fire would mean. Would it be for a determined amount of time, or would it be a permanent cease-fire? And meanwhile, the war continues in Gaza. More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza's health ministry. And yesterday evening, Hamas launched rockets toward here in Tel Aviv. That hadn't happened in weeks. And in the West Bank city of Jenin, Israeli military raided a major hospital there and killed three militants. They say they were planning an attack. The hospital says that they were actually patients.
MARTÍNEZ: All right, that's NPR's Eyder Peralta, reporting from Tel Aviv. Thank you very much.
PERALTA: Thank you, A.
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MARTÍNEZ: The dispute between Texas and the Biden administration over immigration and border control is escalating.
INSKEEP: The Texas attorney general says federal Border Patrol agents may not access a strip of land on the northern bank of the Rio Grande river. This is a bit of land that's been used for illegal border crossings. And on orders from Governor Greg Abbott, Texas seized control of a park in that border city of Eagle Pass to try to deter migrant crossings.
MARTÍNEZ: Julian Aguilar with The Texas Newsroom is following the story. He joins us now from El Paso. Two weeks of this border standoff, what's the state of Texas' argument for its hard-line stance?
JULIAN AGUILAR, BYLINE: Well, Texas - Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton again told the Department of Homeland Security, in short, Texas isn't budging and won't surrender control of Shelby Park. That's the area in Eagle Pass that was heavily traversed by migrants who were seeking asylum until Texas National Guard and state police took control.
Paxton's response came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that U.S. Border Patrol agents can remove some of the barriers erected by state officers, which includes miles of razor wire. Agents said they have a right to access the river to perform their duties, which include apprehending migrants and processing them according to federal law.
But here's Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Friday, basically telling the federal government, give it up and move on.
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DAN PATRICK: So I would say to President Biden, you say you want to secure the border. You can prove it by getting out of our way here. You don't need to be here.
MARTÍNEZ: So, OK, Texas is a state which sits on the border with Mexico, but Texas is part of the United States, so that makes its border with Mexico America's border with Mexico. So, Julian, what's the question here?
AGUILAR: So this all centers on who has the authority to control the borders and immigration. Texas' actions are part of Operation Lone Star, which Governor Greg Abbott initiated three years ago to stop what he claims are the Biden administration's, quote, "open border policies." And while Border Patrol agents apprehend and process migrants, which is part of their job, Texas is arguing that migrants should be arrested on the spot and detained. And that's what state officers have been doing with control over the park - arresting migrants on trespassing charges. That's different from what federal agents do when they detain migrants, then release some of the migrants while they await immigration hearings.
MARTÍNEZ: But how can the state continue to block access even after the Supreme Court order? I mean, is Texas openly defying the Supreme Court here?
AGUILAR: So legal experts say that Texas isn't in outright defiance of the Supreme Court order - at least not yet. So the 5-4 order only vacated a lower court order that forbade federal agents from cutting the wire as the case plays out in the courts. But the justices didn't explain why in their one-page order. Steve Vladeck, a constitutional scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, said the High Court's ruling essentially protects the federal government from sanctions if they remove the wire, but it didn't order Texas to withdraw or stop doing anything. The larger issue that the court will eventually have to tackle is who is the supreme authority on immigration, individual states or the federal government?
MARTÍNEZ: And immigrant rights groups are voicing concern that this whole thing could escalate. I mean, how worried are people about that?
AGUILAR: Yeah, sure. So nerves are somewhat frayed, but, you know, it's not as if state guard troops and federal agents are, you know, locked and loaded and pointing weapons at each other. In the past, there has been good cooperation between the state and federal officers. Specifically, state officers turn over migrant women and children to Border Patrol on most occasions.
But a group that calls itself Take Our Border Back put out on social media an open call to active and retired law enforcement and military, ranchers, truckers and other, quote, "freedom-loving Americans" to rally in Arizona, California and Eagle Pass, Texas, this weekend to call on the federal government to, quote, "secure the border." It's billed as a peaceful event, but there have been reports of messages and online chat rooms that include some alarming language that gives a nod to vigilantism and possible violence.
MARTÍNEZ: That's Julian Aguilar with The Texas Newsroom. Thank you.
AGUILAR: Thank you.
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MARTÍNEZ: Angry French farmers have surrounded Paris in what they're calling a siege of the French capital.
INSKEEP: The highways leading in and out of the city are blocked by hundreds of tractors. It's all part of a standoff between the farmers and the French government.
MARTÍNEZ: Reporter Rebecca Rosman joins us now from Paris. Rebecca, a siege - that sounds very intense. Why are farmers using the word siege?
REBECCA ROSMAN, BYLINE: Well, for one thing, it's a great attention-grabbing word - right? - siege. But whatever you call it, they're causing major traffic disruptions. The farmers are blocking the main highways that enter Paris one by one. I was at the A1 highway last night, which is the main road between the city and Charles de Gaulle Airport. Hundreds of farmers are camped out there. Dozens of tractors are blocking all lanes in both directions. And the farmers are settling in for what could be a long week. They have tents set up, barbecues and even portable toilets.
MARTÍNEZ: Wow. All right, so what's got them so angry that they're using tractors as traffic barriers?
ROSMAN: Well, they've got a long list of complaints, and it's a bit complicated, but let me walk you through some of the big ones. There are mounting complaints about poor working conditions, unfair competition caused by cheaper agricultural products coming in from elsewhere in the EU, even, countries like Spain and Italy and beyond. And then you have this question of overregulation.
I spoke with one farmer whose family has been in this business for over a hundred years. His name is Pierre de Wilde. And here's what he had to say.
PIERRE DE WILDE: (Speaking French).
ROSMAN: So he's saying things have become increasingly difficult in the last 10 years in particular, with too much regulation at both the French and EU level, which has significantly lowered the farmers' output, which has in turn lowered their profits.
MARTÍNEZ: All right. So how's the French government responding?
ROSMAN: Well, these protests actually began in the south of France and have steadily been moving north. So the French government actually did make some concessions last week. They promised to change some of these bureaucratic regulations, give farmers some emergency funding and guarantee a living wage. They also said they would scrap plans to get rid of a diesel subsidy for farmers.
But it obviously hasn't been enough to please them entirely. For example, France's regulations for organic produce are stricter than the rest of the EU, and the farmers say that's not fair. Regulations to do with climate change are also stricter. And all this puts the French farmers at a disadvantage compared to other farmers in the EU. And the new French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, is supposed to address all this in Parliament later today.
MARTÍNEZ: So what do the French people have to say about this? It sounds to me, Rebecca, like they're the ones most affected, from what the farmers produce to having their commutes being blocked.
ROSMAN: Yeah, you're right. But I have to say, there's actually pretty big widespread support. One poll has shown that 90% of the French population supports the farmers on this one. I spoke to Toufik Barakat, and he's a taxi driver, someone whose livelihood is directly impacted by all this, right? And here's what he had to say.
TOUFIK BARAKAT: (Speaking French).
ROSMAN: So he's saying he doesn't have a problem with what they're doing, and he's actually ready to lose money if it means the farmers are going to get more help from the French government. You have to remember this siege - it's not even 24 hours old yet. And the farmers say they're going to stay at least until Thursday, when French President Emmanuel Macron is going to be in Brussels for an EU summit. And the farmers are demanding that Macron use this visit as an excuse to carry this fight to the EU level.
MARTÍNEZ: That's reporter Rebecca Rosman in Paris. Thanks a lot.
ROSMAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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