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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 9, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Israel Escalates Strikes as Gaza Rockets Increase Range

The Israeli air force on Wednesday ramped up its campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip (WaPo) as long-range rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave reached deep into Israeli territory (Haaretz). Twelve Palestinians were killed in the strikes Wednesday, Gaza's health ministry said, bringing the total death toll since Monday to thirty-five (Ma'an). The Arab League on Tuesday called for the UN Security Council to convene an emergency session (AFP). Meanwhile, Israel's Gaza campaign has renewed debate on its policy of using telephone calls and leaflets to warn occupants of buildings about to be bombed or shelled (NYT).


"When external crisis strikes Israel, its politicians tend to close ranks. Not this time. Upset with what he sees as the vacillating policies of Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared he is dissolving the 20-month-old pact between their two political parties," writes the Economist.

"If I were John Kerry, I'd go to Israel now under only one condition. If Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas called, asked for my help, and made clear they were prepared to deal seriously with the peace process when this round calms down. Otherwise, Mr. Secretary, stay home," writes Aaron David Miller in Foreign Policy.

"A third approach is needed. While protecting Israel's civilian population militarily, Israel should try to catalyze Hamas's ultimate transformation to an unarmed political party in a Palestinian state. For theological reasons, even in a best case scenario Hamas will remain at arm's length from a final status agreement," writes Ofer Zalzberg in the Times of Israel.



Candidates Claim Victory in Indonesia's Presidential Race

Both candidates vying for Indonesia's presidency declared victory after polling places closed Wednesday and unofficial counts showed a tight race. Outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for the candidates to exercise restraint ahead of the release of official results slated for July 22 (FT).

CFR's Karen Brooks explains the election's high stakes for the world's third-largest democracy.

CHINA: Two days of high-level talks between Beijing and Washington kicked off Wednesday with U.S. Treasury secretary Jack Lew pressing China on currency reform (WSJ). U.S. diplomatic efforts have been complicated by the concentration of decision-making power with President Xi Jinping (NYT).



UN: Afghan Civilian Casualties on the Rise

Afghan civilians killed or injured in war-related incidents rose 24 percent in the first half of 2014 as fighting between government forces and insurgents proliferated near populated areas (TOLO), the UN said in a Wednesday report.

This Backgrounder explains the sources of the Taliban's resilience.

SRI LANKA: Australian immigration minister Scott Morrison defended his government's lack of transparency on the whereabouts of 153 asylum-seekers (SMH).



Iraqi Forces Suspect Massacre

Iraqi security forces found the bodies of fifty-three people apparently executed in a predominantly Shia village southeast of Baghdad, raising fears of sectarian killings (AP). The incident comes as Iraq reported to the UN that a disused chemical weapons facility had fallen into militants' hands (DailyStar).



Somali Security Chiefs Sacked

The Somalian government fired its police and intelligence chiefs a day after militants attacked the presidential palace (AP) in Mogadishu. Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the assault (WSJ).

SOUTH SUDAN: South Sudan commemorates its third year of independence from Sudan, an anniversary marred by conflict, displacement, and looming famine (VOA). Outgoing UN mission chief Hilde Johnson said the conflict had set the country "back decades" (SudanTribune).



Germany Investigates Second Suspected U.S. Spy

German authorities are reportedly investigating a defense ministry employee suspected of working for the CIA (DeutscheWelle). The development comes amid reports that the CIA withheld information from the White House about an arrested German intelligence officer confessing to passing secrets to the United States (NYT).

UKRAINE: French and German leaders are expected to press their Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, to agree to a new truce with separatists in the country's east (BBC) as Ukraine prepares to lay siege to Donetsk, the rebels' largest remaining stronghold (WSJ).



Obama Requests Emergency Funds for Border Crisis

The White House requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to address the influx of young Central American migrants, but the proposal met resistance from Republican lawmakers (WaPo).

In Foreign Affairs, Ananda Rose writes that crossing the U.S.-Mexico border is more dangerous than ever.

VENEZUELA: Emergency rationing has left some residents of Caracas without water for as many as four days a week (Miami Herald).




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