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FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump dancing during the campaign rally for the Republican primary for the 2024 American presidential election. Manchester (NH), USA, January 20, 2024.

David Himbert / Hans Lucas via Reuters Connect

For China, Russia, and Israel, patience is a virtue in 2024

In January, Taiwan elected pro-independence candidate William Lai and, despite warnings, China’s response has been restrained, possibly influenced by Beijing’s belief that the leading US presidential candidate may treat Taiwan like a “discarded chess piece.”

That’s what Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Chen Binhua said would happen if Donald Trump won the US election in November after the former president refused to say whether he would defend Taiwan. His comments shook US ally Japan strongly enough that senior Kishida administration officials are reportedly contacting Trump’s camp to warn against cutting any kind of deal with China.

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Luisa Vieira

Israel’s political crisis, explained

What happened, exactly?

Since taking office last December, the far-right coalition led by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu had been trying to get legislation passed that would give the executive full control of the supreme court’s composition and allow the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to overturn supreme court rulings with a simple majority.

While many of the reform’s proponents are motivated by a desire to check what they’ve long viewed as an overly activist, liberal, and anti-democratic judiciary, Bibi himself primarily saw it as a means to stay out of prison and in power.

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Israelis demonstrate during "Day of Resistance" as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist coalition government presses on with its contentious judicial overhaul, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

What We’re Watching: Chaos in Israel, Franco-British thaw, Trump's deepening legal woes, Biden’s budget battle

Israel’s unraveling

The situation in Israel continued to unravel on Thursday when protesters against the government’s planned judicial overhaul took to the streets in a national “day of resistance.” In a bid to create a balagan (state of chaos), Israelis blocked the Ayalon Highway, a main artery leading to Tel Aviv’s international airport, to try to disrupt PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s planned trip to Rome (he got out)! Indeed, footage shows police using heavy-handed tactics to break up the crowds, but that didn’t appear tough enough for far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who proceeded to fire the Tel Aviv district commander, decrying police for “not fulfilling my orders.” Israel's attorney general has since ordered the freezing of the police chief's ouster, citing legal concerns. Meanwhile, in a very rare emotional speech, President Isaac Herzog – who holds a mostly ceremonial position and remains above the fray of day-to-day politics – urged the government to ditch the judicial reforms. Crucially, things took a turn for the worse Thursday night when a Palestinian gunman opened fire on gatherers in central Tel Aviv, wounding at least three people. With deepening twin crises at home – a constitutional catastrophe and deteriorating security situation – Bibi is going to have a harder time than ever keeping his discordant far-right coalition intact.

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Bolivian riot police officers clash with demonstrators as protests following the arrest of Santa Cruz governor and right-wing opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

What We’re Watching: Bolivia’s angry farmers, Russia’s response, Bibi’s bumpy beginning

Bolivian farmers vs. the government

Political trouble is brewing in Bolivia. For over a week now, farmers have been blocking roads in and out of the agricultural hub of Santa Cruz after the region's governor, right-wing opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho, was arrested for his alleged involvement in the 2019 ouster of then-leftist President Evo Morales. Camacho lost the 2020 presidential election to Morales’ protégé Luis Arce, and the two have butted heads ever since. But there's more to it: The protesters also want the national government to carry out a long-delayed census that would give Santa Cruz — a relatively affluent region populated mainly by non-Indigenous Bolivians — more tax revenues and seats in Congress. For his part, Arce says that the farmers are a front for business elites who don't want to share the profits of their lucrative beef and soy exports with poorer metal-producing regions, where the president's Indigenous base resides. So, what might happen next? The protesters won't go home until Camacho goes free, and meanwhile, the standoff is costing Bolivia millions of dollars in lost agricultural trade.

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