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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 7, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Hamas Vows Escalation as Jewish Suspects Confess

Hamas's military wing on Monday vowed to avenge the deaths of fighters killed overnight in Israeli airstrikes (NYT), which came as Gaza militants fired more than twenty rockets into Israeli territory. The latest escalation comes as three Jewish suspects confessed to the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir in a suspected revenge attack for the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank (Haaretz). Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a condolence call to Abu Khdeir's family, promising that the suspects will face trial. The events follow violent clashes that erupted again on Sunday night in East Jerusalem and Arab towns throughout Israel (WaPo).


"Within a 24-hour span, two of the Israeli defense establishment's long-standing and well-established basic premises were disproved. The first one was that Hamas had been deterred. Seeking to de-escalate the situation, the reasoning went, Hamas was interested in quiet at any cost. The second premise was that the outbreak of a third intifada in the territories was improbable," writes Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor.

"But for Hamas there is, we must be aware, an 'up side' for provoking an Israeli response. Once again Hamas would play the victim, and the condemnations of last month for the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teens would quickly turn into cries of solidarity with the poor targets of Israeli assaults," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams.

"As the Obama administration steps back from Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the wake of the collapse of the most recent round of talks in April, this current surge in violence should be seen as yet more evidence that the United States cannot simply feed the meter on this conflict. If left unresolved, it will continue to assert itself, unpredictably and tragically," writes Matt Duss for ThinkProgress.


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Australian Court Halts Asylum-Seekers' Transfer

Australia's High Court on Monday issued an injunction to stop the government from returning 153 asylum seekers to Sri Lanka (SMH), the same day Australia confirmed it had handed over forty-one to Sri Lankan authorities after screening their refugee claims at sea (AP).

NEW ZEALAND: Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe met with his New Zealand counterpart, John Key, on Monday to make headway on Trans-Pacific free trade ties and discuss defense cooperation amid Japan's more assertive defense posture (Japan Times).



Afghanistan's Elections in Jeopardy

Western officials urged an audit of preliminary Afghan presidential results, which candidate Abdullah Abdullah said he would reject, alleging widespread fraud (FT). Meanwhile, Afghan forces stepped up an offensive in parts of Helmand province controlled by the Taliban (WSJ).

CFR's Alyssa Ayres wants to rationalize the U.S. State Department's Af/Pak bureaucracy.

INDIA: Parliamentary debate on the budget began Monday (Hindu) with opposition parties mustering a strong challenge to the regulatory and spending overhauls sought by new prime minister Narendra Modi (WSJ).



'Islamic State' Head Makes Public Appearance

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the self-proclaimed Islamic State that has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, made a rare public appearance at Friday prayers in Mosul to rally his followers (Guardian).



Kenyan Opposition Rallies

Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in the Nigerian capital on Monday to pressure the government to accept a national dialogue on reform (AFP). The demonstration comes two days after twin attacks attributed to militant group al-Shabab killed twenty.

NIGERIA: More than sixty women abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria escaped as their captors clashed with the military (AFP). In Abuja, demonstrators were turned away from the presidential palace after protesting the absence of more than two hundred schoolgirls.



Ukrainian Military on Offensive in East

Ukraine's army prepared for a showdown with pro-Russian separatists who have retreated to the regional capital of Donetsk (WSJ) after capturing the insurgent stronghold of Slovyansk over the weekend (Kyiv Post).

Kimberly Marten explains Russian president Vladimir Putin's balancing act in Ukraine.

GERMANY: German officials are demanding answers (DeutscheWelle) from the United States over allegations that an employee of Germany's intelligence agency was working for Washington as a double agent (NYT).



U.S. Banks Curtail International Transfers

U.S. banks are curtailing international money transfers under regulatory pressure from counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts—a move that is hitting Latin American and African immigrants who send remittances home to their families (NYT).

ARGENTINA: Economy Minister Axel Kicillof is expected to meet in New York on Monday with a mediator appointed to oversee Argentina's negotiations with hedge funds that held out from a debt restructuring deal (MercoPress).

In Foreign Affairs, Felix Salmon criticizes the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against Argentina.



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