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European shares fall as banks hit by Greece fears

European shares are falling, dragged down by banks after Greece and its private creditors failed to come up with an agreement on a debt swap before the start of a European summit focused on growth and the region's debt crisis.

(REUTERS) London - Investors are hoping for a deal to avoid a messy default by Greece, which could cause havoc in the financial system and hit company profits.

There were worries Portugal may follow in Greece's footsteps, with yields continuing to rise in the country. Italian yields also rose as the country, which is also in the forefront of the region's debt crisis, is set to test demand for longer-dated debt later in the session.

Banking stocks, many of which have exposure to euro zone peripheral debt, were the worst performers, with the STOXX Europe 600 Banks index down 2.1 percent.

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Geopolitics

Should We Still Even Be Talking To Netanyahu?

After forming a governing coalition with right-wing extremists, will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu face a chill in relations with the West? The reshuffled geopolitical cards offer a fair share of paradoxes.

Photo of Benjamin Netanyahu listening to someone speak

Benjamin Netanyahu, aiming to stay in the conversation

Jini/Xinhua via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — No one has yet dared to call for a boycott of Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Paris for talks Thursday with French President Emmanuel Macron. And yet ... the political leaders with whom he's built his ruling coalition in Israel make Europe's far right look like centrists.

In Israel, it's an unsettling question. The government is seeking to defuse the risk of diplomatic isolation resulting from the Jewish state's extreme rightward turn. The first weeks of the new government have been like a storm warning for the region — both because of the outbreak of violence which killed dozens of Israelis and Palestinians in January, but also threats to Israeli democracy itself.

In a sign of the changing times, the Arab countries in the Gulf that have recently normalized ties with Israel after decades of conflict are turning a blind eye to the Palestinian question. Their security ties with Israel are more important.

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