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Israel

Hamas Offers Hints Of A Newfound Pragmatism

A recent reconciliation deal signed with Fatah may be proof that Hamas is maturing politically. But is the Islamist group ready to enter into a full fledged unity government?

Palestinians calling for national reconciliation in Gaza, March 2011.
Palestinians calling for national reconciliation in Gaza, March 2011.
Benjamin Barthe

GAZA STRIP – The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement signed on May 4 in Cairo has yet to bear fruit on the ground. But observers say the deal does highlight gradual transformations taking place within the Hamas movement.

The leaders of the two rival groups, at odds ever since Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, are still in the Egyptian capital negotiating the terms of the agreement. Among other things, the accord calls on the two sides to form a unity government before the next general elections, which are expected to take place a year from now.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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