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Supporters and armed members of the Fatah movement protest against the Palestinian Hamas government during a rally in Jabalya camp September 22, 2006.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Palestinian factions talk peace in Beijing

With the US still trying, in vain, to negotiate a cease-fire in Gaza, China stepped into the fray with some olive branches of its own this week, hosting Fatah and Hamas, the rival Palestinian factions, for reconciliation talks in Beijing.

The backdrop: The secular nationalists of Fatah, who recognize Israel, and the Islamists of Hamas, who don’t, have long vied for control of the Palestinian movement. After Hamas won the 2006 elections, a brief civil war left Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah running the West Bank.

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FILE PHOTO: Fatah and Hamas officials wait for a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and representatives of Palestinian groups and movements as a part of an intra-Palestinian talks in Moscow, Russia February 12, 2019.

Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS

Rival Palestinian factions try to make nice in Moscow

Hamas and Fatah, rival Palestinian factions with a bloody history, were in Moscow on Thursday for reconciliation talks.

Why is this significant? The jihadists of Hamas and the secular nationalists of Fatah are Palestine’s most powerful factions. They fought a war in 2007 that left Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah running the occupied West Bank. Reconciliation would be crucial for establishing any stable Palestinian state in the future.

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Palestinians inspect a house hit by an Israeli strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip February 16, 2024.

REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/File Photo

Israel sets hostage deadline, Palestinians go to Moscow

Israel has issued a firm deadline for the release of its remaining hostages: March 10, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

If the deadline for their release is not met, former defense minister and current war cabinet member Benny Gantz on Sunday said Israel would launch a ground invasion of Rafah, escalating from bombings and raids. Gantz promised that Israel would ensure civilian evacuations in coordination with the US and Egypt to minimize casualties.

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Visitors look at Chinese Air Force fighter jets at a military base in Hangzhou.


What We’re Watching: China targets Taiwan, Palestinian election heats up, Russia-Ukraine border tensions

Chinese jets swarm Taiwan: This week, multiple Chinese warplanes penetrated Taiwan's airspace. While Beijing does this quite often to flex its muscles, this time the jets took a different route, and one even got close to the Japanese island of Yonaguni, located less than 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Taiwan. The maneuvers have been interpreted by experts as a direct warning from the Chinese to Japan not to overplay its hand. (It's worth noting that Tokyo could get dragged into a US conflict with China over Taiwan because, like Taiwan, it has a mutual defense treaty with the US.) More broadly, the flight patterns also indicate that China could surround Taiwan on three sides in an eventual invasion, cutting off the territory from US and Japanese military support. All this comes as the Biden administration has expressed serious concern (paywall) that Beijing is indeed planning to invade Taiwan in the very near term. With US-China relations getting hot, more rumblings over an invasion of Taiwan will surely turn the temperature even higher.

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