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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 24, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Kerry Renews Push for Israel-Hamas Truce

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry shuttled to Cairo late Wednesday, making a renewed bid for cease-fire negotiations after meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (Haaretz). Hamas signaled that it could accept a cease-fire that included guarantees that Israel would ease its restrictions on the movement of people and goods in Gaza (WSJ), with Turkey and Qatar serving as conduits to the militant group. Meanwhile, the U.S. aviation authority permitted flights to resume service to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport (WaPo) and the UN said three aid workers were killed in Gaza, the first UN fatalities since the Israeli offensive began (Daily Star).


"Hamas is looking beyond that at the benefits of the conflict. It is now much more difficult for Abbas to continue giving Hamas a secondary role in a Palestinian unity government. As for Netanyahu, his efforts to undermine such a government may have been damaged, since any resolution to the Gaza crisis may have to include the Palestinian government as a party," writes Michael Young in the Daily Star.

"The second-best solution might be to have the Palestinian Authority, which is more moderate than Hamas and after all is supposed to be nominally in charge of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, assert its actual authority in Gaza. Yet, surprisingly, there does not seem to be much discussion of this option. That may well be a tribute to Hamas's success–little discussed but hugely significant–in knee-capping Fatah's infrastructure in Gaza," writes CFR's Max Boot in Commentary.

"Without a process that includes all parties at the negotiating table, though, I fear this cycle of violence, punitive and disproportionate as it is, can lead only to an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-type extremism among the Palestinians. Only the darkest cynic would wish for that," writes Mohammed Omer for the New York Times.



Australian Rights Body Challenges Offshore Asylum Policy

The Australian Human Rights Commission called on the federal government to move families held in offshore detention on Christmas Island to the mainland for refugee assessment (SMH), calling attention to reports of self-harm. The government disputed some of the claims (BBC).

SOUTH KOREA: Seoul on Thursday announced a $40 billion stimulus package to revive a stagnant economy (Korea Times).



Afghan Ballot Audit Resumes After Second Suspension

Afghanistan on Thursday resumed its audit of the eight million presidential ballots cast. The review had been suspended on Wednesday due to a dispute over criteria for disqualification (TOLO); the electoral commission said the complete audit will take three to four weeks (Pajhwok).

BANGLADESH: A Bangladeshi regulatory agency established after the Rana Place garment factory collapse last year is asking retailers and clothing brands to pay an extra $6.8 million for factory inspections and worker education (Guardian).



Iraqi Prison Convoy Attacked

Iraqi militants attacked a prisoner convoy on Thursday, killing sixty people, an official said (WSJ). Meanwhile, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, in Baghdad, urged Iraqi political leaders to form an inclusive government (BBC).

Five CFR fellows offer their insights on latest developments in the Middle East.



CAR Rivals Ink Cease-Fire

Rival armed groups on Wednesday signed a cease-fire agreement in a bid to end more than a year of conflict. The predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels dropped their demand for the country's partition (BBC) in a deal with the rival anti-Balaka militia, which is predominantly Christian.

CFR's Global Conflict Tracker evaluates the risk of mass atrocities.

ALGERIA: An Air Algerie flight carrying 116 people early Thursday disappeared from radar and did not arrive at its destination (AP).



Russia Pledges to Assist with Crash Site Access

Russia said it would cooperate (Reuters) with the Dutch-led investigative team that is still awaiting access to downed flight MH17's crash site (WSJ). Initial access to victims' bodies and the plane's black boxes (NYT) was secured through Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak's diplomacy with Ukrainian rebels.

The EU and U.S. response to the downed airliner must focus on broader Russian policy toward Ukraine, says CFR's Stephen Sestanovich.

SPAIN: More than a thousand African migrants attempted to scale the border fence separating the Spanish enclave of Melilla from Morocco (El Pais) on Wednesday. The EU, concerned about mass migration, granted Spain ten million euros this year to reinforce its border fences (NYT).



Venezuelan Opposition Leader Goes On Trial

Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez on Wednesday went to trial on charges of inciting violence at antigovernment demonstrations that wracked Caracas earlier this year (AP).

UNITED STATES: The White House and senators neared a deal on compromise legislation that would limit the bulk collection of U.S. citizens' data. A bill could be introduced as early as Thursday (WaPo).



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