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News Wrap: New fighting casts doubt on Mideast negotiations

August 8, 2014 at 6:06 PM EST
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JUDY WOODRUFF: The three day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended today and the fighting resumed. Militants in Gaza launched more than 50 rockets into Israel, starting before the truce expired. At least two Israelis were wounded. Israel answered with airstrikes in Gaza. Palestinian officials said at least five people were killed, including three children.

The new fighting cast doubt on whether negotiations in Cairo will continue.

MARK REGEV, Israeli government spokesman: The negotiations in Cairo were based on a premise, and that premise was an unconditional cessation of al violence. Now, when Hamas broke the cease-fire, when Hamas launched rockets and mortar shells at Israel, they broke the premise of the talk. And there will not be negotiations under fire.

SAMI ABU ZUHRI, Hamas Spokesman (through interpreter): The way will not be closed for the continuation of the Palestinian negotiations and the ball is in the Israeli court. It’s on the occupation to decide, and our people, God willing, are ready to deal with all the choices.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Hamas has demanded that Israel end its seven-year blockade of Gaza. The Israelis say that won’t happen, unless Hamas agrees to disarm, which the militants have rejected.

The rival presidential candidates in Afghanistan agreed to a power-sharing deal today. Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani committed to resolving the disputed election and inaugurating one of them as president by month’s end.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the agreement in Kabul.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State: The agreement is a critical opportunity for both candidates to do what they just said, which is move beyond the campaign and into the process of governing. It’s a pivotal moment for Afghanistan. The stakes are high. It will depend on them and the United Nations to help move this forward appropriately.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on the agreement, we turn to NPR correspondent Sean Carberry in Kabul. I spoke with him a short time ago.

Sean, thank you for joining us again.

First of all, tell us, what is this arrangement that Secretary Kerry has worked out?

SEAN CARBERRY, NPR: Well, today was really a recommitment of the agreement that was struck last month when the secretary came.

There are two pieces to it. One was the 100 percent audit of the ballots cast in the June 14 election, and that both candidates will abide by the results of that audit. The second part is a political agreement, where the winner will form a government of national unity, and there will be a role for the loser in that government.

So these are the same basic terms that were agreed to last month. What they did today was issue a joint communique reaffirming their commitment to these two principles, and they fleshed out a couple of details. One is that they said they will make sure the audit is completed by the end of August, with the goal towards having a new president in place before the NATO summit on September 4.

And they put a little more detail to the political agreement, but there is still a lot of elements of that that they say they need to flesh out.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, does it appear Abdullah and Ghani will stick to this, this time, which was thought would happen last time?

SEAN CARBERRY: Right, and that is the question. People thought last time the secretary came, Secretary Kerry solved the issues, that this would be a smooth-sailing passage to getting a new president in place.

But shortly after Secretary Kerry left, the deal started to unravel, they started to squabble about some of the terms, so the secretary came in again and calmed things down. The hope is that this will be enough, but one longtime political analyst here that I spoke with today said she expects that there will be more bumps in the road and a continued need to re-broker the deal as things go forward.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And very quickly, Sean, when will we know if this is working?

SEAN CARBERRY: Well, presumably over the next few days as the audit progresses, it will be clear whether or not it’s picked up speed. If you start to see candidates balking at terms or prolonged arguments, then that raises the question about whether or not someone’s going to have to come in and put more pressure on the two of them again.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Sean Carberry joining us from Kabul, we thank you.

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa an international public health emergency today. And Nigeria became the latest country to declare its own state of emergency.

Paul Davies of Independent Television News reports on the worsening situation and the challenge for doctors.

PAUL DAVIES: A temperature check, looking for the first signs of a killer disease.

This is Sierra Leone’s major airport. Everyone traveling in or out now is being screened, part of the international effort to prevent the spread of Ebola ordered by the World Health Organization today. The death toll is rising, 961 victims now. And if stopping Ebola is a battle, then this young doctor from London is in the front line.

Oliver Johnson from King’s College took a temp placement at Connaught Hospital in Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, before the epidemic. He now finds himself dressed in protective clothing trying to care for Ebola patients.

OLIVER JOHNSON,
Volunteer Doctor: So you want to be human. And you want to sit with those afraid patients and you want to hold their hand and support them, but it’s challenging when you’re in the heat and sweat of a suit to try and restore the humanity of the situation and to remember these are people just like you. They’re afraid, they need reassurance, they’re away from their family. And so as much as possible, we try and sit with them.

PAUL DAVIES: He knows other doctors have contracted the disease, but he is determined to stay where he’s needed.

OLIVER JOHNSON: That’s the real challenge now is, how do we all hold our nerve and stick to our posts and see this through?  Because if we all step away, this is going to get away from us.

PAUL DAVIES: The World Bank today pledged another $200 million to support medical teams in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia and those communities stricken by what’s already the worst ever outbreak of this disease.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Hawaii today, Tropical Storm Iselle lashed the state’s Big Island with heavy rain and winds of 70 miles an hour. The storm, seen here from the International Space Station, was downgraded from hurricane status before making landfall. Still, it knocked out power to several thousand. Hurricane Julio is close behind, but it’s expected to bypass the islands this weekend.

On Wall Street, stocks shot up after Russia announced that it’s ended military drills near the Ukrainian border. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 185 points to close just short of 16,554; the Nasdaq rose almost 36 points to close near 4,371; and the S&P 500 added 22 to finish at 1,931. For the week, all three indexes gained just under half-a-percent.