5 minute read
Cleo Brock-Abraham; Andrew Katz; Jacob Davidson

Mideast Peace Talks: One More Time, Without Feeling

Optics are crucial. Late on July 19, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced from a podium at a Jordanian airport that Israelis and Palestinians were, for the first time since failed talks in 2010, willing to negotiate for peace. In his sixth trip to the region since taking office, America’s top diplomat seemed to have pulled off the impossible. But he stood alone.

Perhaps both sides had other plans–Muslims were breaking their daily Ramadan fast, and Jews were preparing for the Sabbath. Or perhaps their absence was a measure of their enthusiasm. By the following Monday, excitement over the “breakthrough” had waned, with both camps suggesting a reluctance to meet.

Palestinians want the release of long-detained prisoners–which Israel has said may occur–but also demand that the starting point of talks include an Israeli settlement freeze and recognition of the territorial borders of 1967. They remain fixed on a long-standing goal: a state incorporating the West Bank, Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

Israel says there can be no preconditions and insists on direct dialogue on all issues. Despite presiding over a fractious government that could easily come undone over a peace settlement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed talks, saying they are “an essential strategic interest for Israel.”

Kerry wouldn’t offer details of the arrangement but said representatives from both sides would soon meet in Washington to iron out how the “final status” talks would reboot. Nobody in the Middle East was holding their breath.



Australia’s Immigration Fight: Sound Familiar?

Public opinion about the thousands of boat people who arrived seeking a better life in this island nation–founded by forced emigration–has ebbed and flowed over the past 25 years. Here are the basics of Australia’s most hard-line measure yet to restrict new arrivals:



Mercer ranked the cost of living in the most expensive cities. Lunch in:


N’Djamena, Chad


Luanda, Angola





*A club sandwich was substituted for a hamburger

Three Essential Facts About


Prince Philippe, 53, was crowned the new monarch on July 21 after his father King Albert II’s abdication. Belgium’s capital, Brussels, may help unify Europe as home to the E.U. headquarters, but many Belgians harbor separatist sentiments and have called for an end to the monarchy. Here’s why the new King has his work cut out for him:


Divisions remain rife between the northern, Dutch-speaking Flemish region and southern, French-speaking Wallonia. Political parties like N-VA angle for greater autonomy for Flanders.


After the 2010 elections, politicians needed 500 days to form a government, exacerbating Walloon-Flemish tensions. Elections set for next spring are expected to be no less fraught.


Belgium’s economy, like all of Europe’s, continues to struggle. Unemployment recently increased to 8.6%, although that’s below the E.U. average.

Conflict in Cairo

EGYPT A man fires a weapon on July 22 during clashes between supporters and opponents of Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was ousted from the presidency three weeks earlier. Since Morsi’s removal by the military, clashes have broken out in Cairo and other cities. Brotherhood fighters are reportedly regrouping in the Sinai; the former leader is being held in an undisclosed location.



Number of girls and women who have undergone female genital mutilation, as estimated by UNICEF in a new assessment. The practice is declining, however.

Rocky voyage

Australia was flooded with mostly Asian immigrants after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd eased entry restrictions in 2007 in his first term. At least 600 asylum seekers have died since 2009 trying to reach Oz by boat. Now Rudd wants to stem the flow.

Welcome to … Papua New Guinea

Asylum seekers who arrive by sea are being sent to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Refugees can stay; others will be sent home or to a third nation.

Perilous island

Settlers in Papua New Guinea may face a hard life. The country suffers from low life expectancy, offers no social safety net and has been hostile to newcomers.

Perilous politics

Tony Abbott, a conservative opposition leader, said Rudd’s plan is too lax, and he demanded legal guarantees that no refugees could end up in Australia.


In exchange for Papua New Guinea’s cooperation, Australia agreed to fund the redevelopment of a hospital and share the cost of reforming the country’s education system.


‘I appeal to the protesters to keep the protest … the way it impressed all Europe.’

ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, Bulgarian President, asking demonstrators in Sofia to be peaceful. They are protesting corruption and demanding judicial reforms. On July 23 they blocked the doors of parliament and clashed with police

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Researchers say tree loss has slowed by about one-third since 2000 in the Congo Basin, likely owing to a focus on mining and oil, not agriculture


The Bank of England unveiled novelist Jane Austen as the new face of the £10 note, probably from 2017


Two U.S. fighter jets dropped four unarmed bombs into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef during a training exercise gone wrong


In the UAE, a Norwegian sentenced to jail for having sex outside marriage, after reporting to police that she had been raped, was pardoned

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