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Outside the Bubble

International news for the week of Nov. 19

Ceasefire in Gaza

On November 11, seven Palestinians in Gaza were killed by an Israeli special forces operation. This was the latest event in the violent, decades-long occupation of Gaza by Israel, though there had been a ceasefire since 2014, with Israel easing up its siege and allowing money and fuel to be sent over the border. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ political leader, said on November 13 that if Israel “stops its aggression,” it would be possible to return to the ceasefire understanding of before. Even with the ceasefire, Gazans still live in unfair and inhumane conditions.

On November 14, an agreement was reached between the Palestinian and Israeli governments with the help of the deal brokered by Egyptian officials. Egypt has also been engaged in blockades against Gaza, restricting movement at the border between Egypt and Palestine. This deal, which was agreed upon in order to avoid the possibility of war, has reportedly already decreased violence in the region. The possibility of peace seemed to be in jeopardy after Israel’s covert mission, but Haniyeh has stated that “[Hamas] will respect this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy respects it.” Yahya Sinwar, another leader of Hamas, has said that he would also like to avoid war. “Through war, we achieve nothing,” he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wishes to avoid war, as evidenced by his agreement to the deal. Gideon Levy, an editor at Al Jazeera, commented that while “both parties are not interested in war, [neither are] doing enough to prevent one.”

UK and EU Reach Deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a Brexit deal this past Tuesday November 13, calling an emergency Cabinet meeting. Since the 2016 referendum, where over 50 per cent of UK citizens voted in favour of leaving the EU, there have been extensive deliberations on how Britain can and should exit the European Union.

May’s deal includes details of the 21-month withdrawal and transition period, the new rights and commitments of EU and UK citizens, as well as the the sum of money to be paid to the EU. On November 14, the deal was approved by Cabinet, but not without opposition. Since an agreement was reached, two Cabinet ministers and numerous junior ministers have resigned, and Prime Minister May has received several letters of non-confidence. If May is presented with 48 letters, a vote to oust her as leader and Prime-Minister could be held.

The deal will be up for EU approval at the emergency summit to be held on November 25. If passed, the current deal will be voted on within the UK Parliament. If Parliament does not back the deal, the government has 21 days to produce a new deal, or face following re-negotiations, or even hold a general election. If Parliament votes in favour of the deal, the EU will produce an official Withdrawal Bill which will have to go through a number of stages of approval at the EU ahead of the withdrawal, which will occur on March 29 2019.

Conflict in Cameroon Escalates

Dozens have been killed in Cameroon this past week as fighting increases between Cameroon militia and separatist rebels. The increase in casualties on both sides follows the October re-election of President Paul Biya for a seventh term. Biya is the oldest leader in sub-Saharan Africa; he has ruled Cameroon for almost 40 years.

The conflict stems from a divide in the predominantly French-speaking nation between Anglophone separatists and government forces. The then-German protectorate of Kamerun was split between France and England by the League of Nations in 1919, causing the current language divide. Following a referendum in 1972, French and English speaking territories came together to form the United Republic of Cameroon.

Separatist rebels seek the creation of an independent, English-speaking state called “Ambazonia.” Separatists have targeted English-speaking areas that conform to the Cameroonian national identity, including kidnappings and violence in Western Cameroon. However, it is often unclear who is behind the violence. To stifle the rebels, army forces have actively killed, kidnapped, and targeted villages. Strict and enforced curfews have been imposed in English-speaking zones to limit separatist activities after dark. Reports indicate that more than half of the English-speaking city of Bamenda have fled their homes, with schools closing, and roads remaining unsafe. The crisis has forced civilians to flee Anglophone regions for French-speaking ones, or to neighbouring Nigeria.