Russia-Ukraine: Two years of war
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President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn to Marine One to start his trip from the White House to New York City.

Biden says cease-fire deal is just around the corner

As the war in Gaza nears its 5-month mark, US President Joe Biden says he hopes to have a temporary cease-fire in Gaza within the week. The proposed deal would involve aid deliveries to Gaza in exchange for the release of roughly 40 Oct. 7 hostages.
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South Korean doctors march towards the Presidential Office while holding a banner during the protest. South Korea has raised its public health alert to the highest level, authorities announced on February 23, saying health services were in crisis after thousands of doctors resigned over proposed medical reforms.

KIM Jae-Hwan / SOPA Images via Reuters

Hard Numbers: Doctors’ orders in Korea, runaway train in India, self-immolation in DC, Case closed on Nord Stream

4: The South Korean government has given junior doctors four days to end a mass walkout over government plans to increase medical school admissions. The authorities say the admissions plan is meant to solve doctor shortages, but the junior docs say med schools can’t cope with larger student bodies, and that the biggest shortfalls are actually due to low pay. At the end of the four days the government will suspend medical licenses and open criminal cases against the strikers.

43: Social media posts showed a ghost train careening through northern India on Monday, after the crew hopped out for a tea and forgot to set the parking brake. The freight train began rolling down a hill and managed to travel without a conductor for 43 miles before it was stopped by officials who laid woodblocks across the tracks. Not quite as cinematic a save as the time that guy caught a runaway Indian locomotive on a bike, but still, with 53 cars laden with stone chips barreling down the track, this version had plenty of blockbuster appeal of its own.

2: There have now been two incidents of pro-Palestine protesters setting themselves on fire in front of Israeli diplomatic buildings in the US. On Sunday, a 25 year old US airman died after igniting himself outside the Israeli embassy in Washington DC. In December, an unidentified protester self-immolated outside the consulate in Atlanta.

17: A full seventeen months after mysterious explosions rocked the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines linking Russia to Europe, Denmark has closed its investigation into the incident. The Danes follow the Swedes who did the same earlier this month. The explosions occurred in the two countries’ economic zones. Copenhagen says it’s sure there was “deliberate sabotage” but doesn’t have more than that. Remember our piece on who likely did it? Read or watch it again here

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Demonstrators hold placards as they take part in a rally calling for the release of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 25, 2024.

REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Palestinian Authority PM resigns amid truce talks for Gaza

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyehtendered his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, in a move that could set the stage for Gaza’s future government. Meanwhile, negotiations for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza have resumed in Doha between “experts” from Israel, Egypt, Qatar, and the United States, and representatives of Hamas.

What are the terms?

According to a framework drawn up in Paris on Friday, hostilities would pause for six weeks. Hamas would release approximately 40 hostages, while Israel would free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Israeli troops would be “redeployed” within Gaza, but not fully withdraw as Hamas had demanded. Israel would also enable the return of Palestinian women and children to northern Gaza.

The clock is ticking

March 10 marks the start of Ramadan and is considered the unofficial deadline for the talks. War cabinet minister Benny Gantz has said Israel will expand its offensive into Rafah if there is no hostage release deal by then.

Will a deal stave off operations in Rafah?

Not necessarily. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel’s incursion into Rafah “will be delayed somewhat” if the parties reach a hostage deal but will still happen. According to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, however, “the White House hasn't seen any Israeli plan for an operation in Rafah and for keeping Palestinian civilians safe,” and that no action in Rafah should go ahead in its absence.

Why did Shtayyeh resign?

Longer term, the United States has been pressuring the PA to clean up its act. Washington envisions a technocratic PA government overseeing post-war Gaza, but with its reputation for corruption and low esteem in the eyes of West Bank residents, a major government overhaul is seen as indispensable.

The Palestinian Authority has not held elections in nearly two decades, with Abbas ruling by presidential decree since the expiration of his nominally four year long term. The last time they attempted to democratically choose leadership, in 2006, Hamas won control of Gaza and pushed the Palestinian Authority out by force within a year. We have our eye on how the PA decides its future leadership, and whether a return to Gaza is even a feasible proposition.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinians carry bags of flour they grabbed from an aid truck near an Israeli checkpoint, as Gaza residents face crisis levels of hunger, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Gaza City, February 19, 2024.

REUTERS/Kosay Al Nemer/File Photo

As Gazans face starvation, aid organizations struggle to help

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war is dire, and it’s being exacerbated by the convoluted array of logistical and political obstacles that aid organizations are facing.

With nearly two million people displaced from their homes and the specters of starvation and disease looming, here’s a look at the challenges aid organizations face to save lives.

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FILE PHOTO: President of the Supreme Court of Israel Esther Hayut and all fifteen justices assemble to hear petitions against the reasonableness standard law in the High Court in Jerusalem, on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

DEBBIE HILL/Pool via REUTERS

Will Israel give Hamas terrorists a fair trial?

Five months after Hamas' deadly Oct. 7 attack, Israel’s public defenders have suggested they aren’t prepared to represent the accused terrorists. But with Israel’s human rights record literally on trial, some are calling for a public proceeding to demonstrate Israel’s commitment to the rule of law.

Background: When Israeli agents captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, his trial was broadcast to show precisely how Nazi Germany coordinated and executed its plan to extinguish the Jewish people. No Israeli lawyer would defend Eichmann, but a German attorney took the case, and advocates of civilian trials for Hamas suspects say the process could be a model.

Dilemma: Israel detained hundreds of people on Oct. 7, and the strength of evidence to prosecute varies. First responders focused on saving survivors, not on collecting forensic evidence for trial. While a special police unit has been poring over thousands of hours of video and other evidence, it is unclear whether trials will proceed for each of the accused.

Simcha Rothman, who heads the Knesset’s subcommittee examining the question, said he’d rather circumvent civilian courts and either process detainees through military tribunals or hold them indefinitely without trial, Guantanamo Bay-style.
Why is Julian Assange in the news again?
Why is Julian Assange in the news again? | Ian Bremmer | World In :60

Why is Julian Assange in the news again?

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

What's left to sanction with Russia and have existing sanctions been effective?

There's very little left to sanction with Russia that the Americans and their allies want to sanction. I mean, you could try to cut off Russian oil exports to, say, India, but no one wants to do that because that would cause a global recession. Food, fertilizer, same thing. At the end of the day, the sanctions that the West can put on Russia without a massive impact to themselves and the world they've already put. But because Biden said there'd be hell to pay if anything happened to Navalny in jail and he's dead now, and it's pretty clear the Russians, the Kremlin killed him. That means they have to sound tough. But ultimately, the only thing that is changing Russian behavior is the provision of significant military support to the Ukrainians, and that is determined by US Congress going forward.

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Palestinians families flee Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza towards the southern areas amid ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas.

Mohammed Talatene/Reuters

Israel orders evacuations in north Gaza, but where will people go?

Israel on Tuesday ordered new evacuations in Gaza City as it prepares for a controversial ground offensive in Rafah, the enclave’s southernmost town.

The news is a reminder that roughly 300,000 Palestinians are still estimated to be in northern Gaza despite evacuations that pushed waves of people south after Oct. 7. It’s also indicative of the myriad challenges Palestinians face amid the Israel-Hamas war. It’s estimated that up to 1.9 million people in Gaza have been displaced since fighting began, and around 1.5 million are sheltering in Rafah.

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As Israel presses conflict, US frustration grows
Biden frustrated by Israel's insistence on conflict | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

As Israel presses conflict, US frustration grows

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. Of course it is the Middle East that we are first and foremost exercised about. Not the biggest topic in Europe for the Munich Security Conference. That was Navalny and Russia and Ukraine. But back in the United States and for most of the rest of the world, it is still the Middle East.

And that is in part because there is less optimism about an imminent deal on the remaining hostages, which has led the Israeli government to step up the pressure, saying if you don't give all of the hostages back, in short order, that they're going to engage in ground warfare against Rafah, where over a million Palestinians are sheltering, if we can call it that, having already been resettled from other parts in the rest of Gaza, and they have nowhere to go.

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