Don't Miss: 5 of this week's must-read stories from

The past week's essential reads include a look at the delicate diplomacy of ceasefire talks, a report from Ottawa on a controversial foreign policy draft and an interview with an author who thinks "character" is key to a child's success.

In case you missed them, here are five must-read stories from the past week.

Israel and Hamas — the delicate diplomacy of a ceasefire

A Palestinian looks at Israeli soldiers as they stand guard behind the fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (Ibraheem Abu Mstafa/Reuters)

Israel and Hamas reached a truce mid-week after days of deadly airstrikes on, and rocket attacks from, the Gaza Strip.

CBC reporter Mark Gollom looks at the difficult route to a ceasefire and the "diplomatic dance between the two main parties, who refuse to deal with each other directly."

Secret foreign policy draft puts money ahead of morals

Greg Weston, CBC's national affairs specialist, reports on a classified government document that suggests Canada should pursue economic goals "even where political interests or values may not align." 

The draft plan for a new foreign policy says Canada has been late to develop ties with key emerging markets, particularly in Asia, and as a result, the country's economy is still firmly tied to the troubled U.S. 

The draft policy "drops any pretense of using trade deals to pressure countries such as China on human rights and other matters of democratic principle," Weston writes. "Instead, the draft doctrine is mainly about money, recasting Canada's international role from aiding the world's needy to reaping its riches."

Secession questions

Jack Lesher, owner of Chuck's Firearms in Atlanta, says he understands the U.S. political right's frustrations with President Barack Obama's leadership but says breaking up the country isn't the right way to deal with a gloomy economic outlook. (Matt Kwong/CBC)

The results of the U.S. election are in, and some in the U.S. South are so upset with Obama's win that they've launched petitions seeking secession. 

"People want their voices to be heard, and this is how they decided they're going to do it," Atlanta-based gun seller Jack Lesher tells reporter Matt Kwong.

Lesher doesn't think secesion is the right way to deal with the country's current troubles, but others are serious about the petition push, including real estate agent Joy McGraw, who says the U.S. is "not the same country anymore."

Renter beware

CBC's Kathy Tomlinson talks to three former Budget Rent a Car employees who contacted Go Public to allege the company's Vancouver-area branches systematically and intentionally rip off customers, by grossly overcharging for minor vehicle repairs that sometimes aren't even done. The general manager for Budget Rent a Car of B.C. tells Go Public he is looking into all of the ex-employees' claims.

Kids' character: grit, curiosity, self-control

Author Paul Tough's new book explores "the hidden power of character" and looks at how it relates to a child's success. The Canadian-born, New York-dwelling journalist explains to CBC News why grit, curiosity, self-control, social intelligence, zest, optimism and gratitude matter.