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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Negotiate, Talk, Negotiate — And A First Small Sign That Israel Is Listening

In Qatar, Egypt, Paris or on the phone, negotiators are busy trying to secure the release of hostages, push for "humanitarian pauses", and prepare for the political aftermath of the war. Meanwhile, the war rages on in Gaza.

-Analysis-

PARIS — War is not just the actions of soldiers, but also the movements of negotiators that are sometimes even harder to see.

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Report: Deal Close For 10-15 Hostages In Exchange For Brief Ceasefire – Mideast War, Day 33

Qatar is leading negotiations for one to two day humanitarian truce in exchange for the release of up to 15 hostages held by Hamas.

Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hamas for the potential release of 10-15 captives in exchange for a short ceasefire, AFP reports.

“Negotiations mediated by the Qataris in coordination with the U.S. are ongoing to secure the release of 10-15 hostages in exchange for a one- to two-day ceasefire,” an anonymous source told the news agency.

Qatar has been a key player in talks aiming to secure the release of an estimated 240 captives held by Hamas, and has already led the successful negotiation for the the handover of four captives.

Since taking power 10 years ago in Qatar, the 43-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has been determined on positioning his country as a key player in global geopolitics. And the war between Israel and Hamas, a group indebted to Qatar, has allowed Thani an opportunity to raise his profile.

With rare access to Hamas, whose leaders are in exile in Qatar, Al Thani also enjoys a good rapport with Israel and the U.S, giving him a potentially unique position to help extract the hostages.

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Unlike other countries in the region, Qatar is not worried about an uprising or a challenge to his rule from political Islamists. Instead, Al Thani hosts Islamist terror groups, including Hamas, alongside a trade office for Israel and thousands of American troops at the Al Udeid Air Base, from which the United States routinely carries out operations in the region.

The deal to exchange a limited number of captives for a brief humanitarian "pause" in the fighting would still be far from the conditions necessary to obtain a lasting truce or hostage release.

Another key country trying to mediate and look for a long-term solution is Jordan, which is uniquely situated with a special relationship with the Palestinians, decades of peace with Israel, and its king's historic standing in the Muslim world.

Until the occupation by Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, what is now the West Bank belonged to Jordan. Even before that, Jordan was considered an important guardian of Palestinian interests.

On Monday, it was reported that Jordanian planes were dropping aid supplies over Gaza, thanks to an accord with Israel. As German daily Die Welt reports, the Israelis now need Jordan as a mediator, and Jordan must hope for moderation from the Israeli government.

Jordan continues to see the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas and his secular Fatah as the main point of contact in the Occupied Territories. Jordan will therefore advocate handing Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority following a Hamas defeat and strengthening the Palestinian Authority so that it can meet the challenge.

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A U.S.-Iran $6 Billion Prisoner Exchange: Ransom Or Realpolitik?

With $6 billion freed up to go in the coffers of the corrupt and repressive regime in Tehran, nobody is happy. But sometimes there is no alternative to the imperfect nature of international diplomacy.

-Analysis-

PARIS — We find ourselves in the kind of scenario John Le Carré would have written about: five prisoners on one side, five on the other, brought to the same place at the same time for an exchange of freedom — simultaneously, $6 billion are transferred to bank accounts. The significant difference is that Cold War prisoner exchanges of Le Carré stories usually took place in Berlin; here, we are in Doha, Qatar, and the prisoners are American and Iranian.

The agreement carried out Monday is making a big splash. Principally because it has been a long time since there have been positive news between Washington and Tehran, and one can legitimately wonder if there will be any repercussions on the impasse regarding the Iranian nuclear issue.

But this exchange is also controversial: it has its critics in the United States who accuse the Biden administration of paying a "ransom" and putting all Americans at risk.

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Gracias, Messi! 28 International Front Pages Mark Argentina’s World Cup Win

It’s been hailed as one of the most riveting finals in World Cup history ever. After 120 minutes of improbable reversal of fortunes, Argentina beat France on penalties. Argentine striker Lionel Messi scored twice (plus a penalty in the decisive showdown), securing his status of one of the sport's all-time greats.

This is how newspapers in Argentina, France and the rest of the world featured the historic match on their front pages.

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Russia
Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra and Sophia Constantino

LGBTQ+ International: Russia’s Short-Lived Queer Museum, Italy’s Gender-Neutral Toilet — And Other News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Society
Paolo Valenti

Morocco Has Become The World Cup Flag Bearer For A Nation: Palestine

The World Cup in Qatar has been political on many fronts. Right now, with the event in an Arab country for the first time and Morocco as the first Arab team to make the quarterfinals, the Palestinian question is now very much on the agenda.

When Morocco beat powerhouse Spain at Qatar's Al Rayyan stadium on Tuesday, it was a small bit of soccer history: the first time Morocco had qualified for the quarterfinals of the World Cup.

But the victory traveled well beyond the field, and beyond Morocco. Joy and celebration erupted across the Middle East and North Africa, where people of different nationalities gathered to celebrate that Morocco was also the first ever Arab team to ever qualify for the quarterfinals.

And those who were at the stadium or watching the post-game celebrations on the field will have noticed a peculiar detail: waving in the hands of the victorious players was not the Moroccan flag, but the Palestinian one.

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Society
Reinaldo Spitaletta

Let's Not Forget The Original Sin Of The Qatar World Cup: Greed

Soccer is a useful political tool for dictatorships. But Qatar is able to milk the World Cup as much as possible because the sport is infected by unbridled capitalistic greed.

-OpEd-

BOGOTÁSoccer lost its innocence years ago. Its history of spectacular feats and heart-wrenching moments contain a catalogue of outrages. Beyond the miracles and goals, the "beautiful game" must face up to its own infection by capitalism and greed for profits.

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Society
Suman Mandal

The Singular Legacy Of Qatar's World Cup: Dead Migrant Workers

The deaths of migrant worker deaths and Qatar's poor human rights record will linger over the upcoming World Cup. Foreign powers need to intervene to help the situation of those trapped in slavery-like conditions.

When the captain of the winning team lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy above his head in Qatar’s Lusail stadium on Dec. 19, football fans will celebrate another sporting success story. There will be heroes and villains, missed opportunities and glorious goals.

Not celebrating will be the families of the migrant workers — most from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – who died to make the event possible in the first place.

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Society
Laura-Mai Gaveriaux

Lusail Postcard: City Of The Future, Window Into Qatar's Ambitions

The Qatar World Cup has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. However, the newly constructed city of Lusail in the country makes one thing clear: the West is not the target audience for this World Cup. Qatar has different, even bigger ambitions.

LUSAIL — In business class on Qatar Airways, the screens are showing a series of 3D images of a high-tech, utopian city. The focus is on environmental performance, luxury and sophistication. Shopping centers, high-rise apartment blocks and luscious green spaces reel past, 50 seconds of refinement and harmony accompanied by elevator music. In the final scene, a man wearing a white thobe and keffiyeh, the iconic traditional dress of the Gulf region, proclaims: “Lusail City, it’s my home.”

Some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) from the center of Doha, the “city of the future” is still emerging from the ground. Only three of the planned districts are ready to move into, but according to Lusail Real Estate Development, 90% of the homes have already been sold. However, it is impossible to know exactly what state the construction site is in – the authorities have not responded to inquiries. Lusail is a symbol of the new era that Qatar ushered in in 2010 when its bid to host the 22ndFootball World Cup was successful. The city is due to host the final match of the competition on Dec. 18.

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Shaun Lavelle

LGBTQ+ International: World Cup Pressure, Buenos Aires Pride — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Laure Gautherin

LGBTQ+ International: Rainbow Flag On Putin Peak, Lula Relief — And The Week’s Other Top News

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

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Geopolitics
Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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