World News Brief, Wednesday May 1

Israel launches attack on Gaza -- first since cease-fire; US and South Korea finish naval drills; US underlines committment to Japan in face of burgeoning missile threats from North Korea; UK to stop giving aid to South Africa; Queen Beatrix of Netherlands abdicates; and more

Top of the Agenda: Israel Launches First Gaza Attack Since Cease-Fire

Israel launched on Tuesday its first targeted attack (Reuters) on a militant in Gaza since its eight-day Pillar of Defense operation in November, killing a Palestinian in an air strike that put further strain on a five-month-old cease-fire. The attack comes on the heels of violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian killed a Jewish settler. Hamas, which rules Gaza, condemned the Israeli attack but also signaled eagerness to preserve the truce. Meanwhile, Arab countries endorsed a Mideast peace plan (Haaretz) Monday that allowed for shifts in Israel's 1967 border, moving them closer to President Barack Obama's two-state vision.


"It seems that the main, if not the only, difference among the initiatives is that the policy during the Bush administration (2001 to 2009) was ABC — Anything But Clinton; when Obama took over in 2009, the policy gave way to ABB — Anything But Bush. And the unfortunate result of these games of ego and politics is the same: ABP — Anything But Peace," writes Akiva Eldar for al-Monitor.

"Nothing can change unless Mr Obama chooses to lead. Mr Kerry's economic initiative may lead to marginal improvements in a Palestinian economy strangled by the occupation. Mr Obama now needs to put flesh and bones on the vision of Palestine he evoked last month," writes a Financial Times editorial.

"Some Israeli analysts suggested that with Hamas governing Gaza - the coastal territory should be stabilised and treated as a state separate from the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority controls Palestinian areas," writes Yolande Knell for the BBC.



South Korea, U.S. Wrap Up Drills

The United States and South Korea concluded air, ground, and naval drills (AFP) amidst soaring tensions on the peninsula as relations between Seoul and Pyongyang soured further this month by a row over the Kaesong factory park, once a symbol of inter-Korea cooperation.

JAPAN: U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stressed defense commitments (JapanTimes) to Japan in the face of burgeoning missile threats from North Korea.

CFR's Sheila Smith discusses tensions between Japan and China over disputed islands in the East China Sea in this Contingency Planning Memorandum.


UK to stop giving aid to South Africa

Queen Beatrix of Netherlands abdicates


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