In 2013, possibilities for stability from Somalia to South China Sea
Policymakers in many of the world's hot spots have a common New Year's wish: for unity to usher in and consolidate political and economic stability.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table without preconditions at any time and indicated that the Palestinians’ failure to do so shows they are not serious about peace. But Palestinians say they cannot afford to negotiate while Israel steadily expands settlements in the West Bank. Nearly 10 percent of Israeli Jews now live over the 1967 borders, which the recent UN resolution recognized as the basis for a future Palestinian state.Skip to next paragraph
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In 2013, Palestinians want to see an end to settlement expansion before it is too late to implement a two-state solution. “We are witnessing today a very crucial moment … a moment of irreversibility,” says Mustapha Barghouthi, a former Palestinian presidential candidate and democracy activist.
Israelis, for their part, seek Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, as well as assurances that a peace deal will mark the end to the conflict and not merely a stepping stone to regaining all of historic Palestine.
East Asia's symbiotic ties
In a year when China made several neighbors nervous over its territorial claims, Beijing's most alarming spat was with Japan over a handful of uninhabited islands known in China as the Diaoyu and in Japan as the Senkaku. Although a war over the issue is highly unlikely, it has come to be seen as not altogether impossible, as tensions have risen in recent months.
But it is the economic fallout already under way that analysts say the two must address immediately. "China is Japan's biggest market, and Japan is a very important source for China to learn new science and technology," says Zhou Weihong, a Japan expert at Beijing Foreign Studies University. If the second-largest economy in the world [China] and the third-largest [Japan] are not getting along, "that is bad news for the rest of the world," Professor Zhou says. "There are big enough motives for both sides to want to improve their relationship."
The reach of Chávez
The biggest story of 2012 in Venezuela was the reelection of President Hugo Chávez in October, despite significant gains made by the opposition. But now, facing illness, Mr. Chávez might not be able to stand for his Jan. 10 inauguration – and may have to step down.
Venezuela is holding its breath – as is the region that sees Chávez as a beacon of the left, some of whose members, like Cuba, depend heavily on his largess. Within the oil-rich country, political tensions will flare in 2013 until a new leader is selected, while daily problems such as crime and inflation mount, says Caracas-based political analyst Jose Vicente Carrasquero. "Over time, we will adjust under a new government," he says, "and surely after this process of transition we will discover a new way of doing politics in Venezuela, something that we need."