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Palestinians are carrying injured victims to the hospital following an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on March 7, 2024, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Majdi Fathi via Reuters Connect

No Gaza truce by Ramadan

The Hamas delegation left Cairo Thursday after four days of fruitless talks that Israel boycotted, meaning there will be no cease-fire in Gaza ahead of Ramadan.

The impediments: Israel boycotted the talks because Hamas refused to provide a list of living hostages in advance. Hamas, for its part, said it could not agree to any cease-fire without Israel committing to withdrawing its troops in a phased pullout.

The nightmare for Gazans: A quarter of the population is reportedly "one step away" from famine conditions — with 575,000 on the verge of starvation.

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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.

Paige Fusco

Graphic Truth: What would Ukrainians give up for peace?

Ukraine is days away from marking the second anniversary of Russia’s 2022 invasion. The war is largely stalemated, with few changes to the battlefield map in recent months. Ukrainian troops are engaged in brutal trench warfare reminiscent of World War I but with the added nightmare of deadlier modern weaponry and technology. After enjoying strong, steady support from its Western allies in the first year and a half of the war, Kyiv now faces a constant struggle to keep aid flowing in as it runs short on supplies and faces manpower issues. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no signs of backing down despite the myriad political, economic, and societal consequences the war has had for Russia.

But none of that is undermining Ukraine’s resolve. New polling from the Munich Security Conference shows that Ukrainians are strongly opposed to any cease-fire framework that would require Kyiv to cede territory to Russia — particularly Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. This suggests that Ukrainians are largely aligned with their government, which has pushed for a peace plan that would see Russia withdraw troops from occupied territories and recognize Ukraine’s 1991 post-Soviet borders. Moscow has scoffed at this proposal.

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