Internationals

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Mon
26
Nov
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Hopes For a United Palestine Begins With Pardons

 

The Hamas government in Gaza has decided to pardon citizens involved in lawsuits concerning the political divide with rival movement Fatah, in a move local observers say reopens the road for reconciliation talks between the two Palestinian factions.

“This decision stems from the government’s sense of a need to restore elements of national unity and rise above the internal Palestinian conflict,” Hamas spokesman Taher Nuno told local press on Sunday.

Hamas’s amnesty followed conciliatory language by the Islamic movement toward PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s bid to win UN recognition for a Palestinian nonmember state this Thursday. Initially, Hamas condemned the UN gambit as futile, but it changed its stance so as not to seem allied with the US and Israel, which both oppose the statehood bid.

Sun
25
Nov
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Secession For Catalonia

 

So what happens next? After the dust settles from Sunday's elections, widely forecast to return a pro-independence majority to the regional parliament, where does Catalonia go?

Angels Folch, a national coordinator of the hugely effective Assemblea Nacional Catalana (ANC), the grassroots association that organized September's 1.5 million-strong independence march, is fairly sure how things will pan out.

"We are confident of the outcome – independence," says Folch, a retired primary school teacher. "We have talked at length and in detail with all the main political parties in the regional parliament except the People's party [of the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy], which refused.

"And we are certain that those who dissolved the last parliament are absolutely sincere in their intention to give Catalonian citizens the right to vote and determine their own future. They will see this through."

Sat
24
Nov
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Egypt Divided: Factions at Odds Morsi in the Middle

 

Supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed Friday in the worst violence since he took office, while he defended a decision to give himself near-absolute power to root out what he called "weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt.''

The edicts by Morsi, which were issued Thursday, have turned months of growing polarization into an open battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and liberals who fear a new dictatorship. Some in the opposition, which has been divided and weakened, were now speaking of a sustained street campaign against the man who nearly five months ago became Egypt's first freely elected president.

Thu
22
Nov
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Gaza Celebrates: Hamas Declares Victory

 

Palestinians in Gaza marked a national holiday on Thursday to celebrate what Hamas leaders said was a victory over Israel, after eight days of intense hostilities ended in a cease-fire on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Across Gaza, Palestinians celebrated, waving flags of Hamas, Fatah and smaller groups such as the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine – as well as the Egyptian flag in a nod at the involvement of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in brokering an understanding between Israel and Hamas.

Wed
21
Nov
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Rockets Cast Shadows Over Gaza Strip

 

Gazan rocket fire at southern Israel resumed on Wednesday morning after a relatively quiet night on the Israeli side.

Terrorists fired over 62 rockets at various cities and communities in the South, with one person mildly injured according to Magen David Adom. One rocket hit a house in Be'er Tuviya directly. No one was injured in this attack.

The Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted at least 20 rockets fired from Gaza on Ashkelon, Beersheba, Be'er Tuviya, Hof Ashkelon and Ashdod on Wednesday morning.

Overnight Tuesday IAF airstrikes and naval attacks hit around 100 targets throughout the Gaza Strip. Approximately 50 of the terror sites targeted were underground rocket launchers, the IDF Spokesman's Office stated.

On Wednesday morning, Palestinian sources reported one killed in an IDF drone strike of a group of people in eastern Jabaliya.

Tue
20
Nov
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Sec. Clinton Heads To Israel

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to arrive in Israel Tuesday night. Clinton will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, according to a source.

White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that the message of Clinton's trip will be that it is in nobody's interest for there to be an escalation of military conflict in Gaza. He added that Hamas must end rocket attacks into Israel and that Egypt can be a partner in helping to resolve the conflict in Gaza.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for an immediate ceasefire and said an Israeli ground operation in the Palestinian enclave would be a "dangerous escalation" that must be avoided.

Ban spoke at a news conference in Cairo after talks with Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. Later on Tuesday, the UN secretary-general will travel to Israel for talks with Netanyahu.

Mon
19
Nov
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Israel Continues to Strike Gaza

 

Israel's assassination of senior Hamas militant Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday appears to be just the start of the farthest-reaching offensive on Gaza for years. Various Israeli officials had been agitating for days for serious retaliation to rocket fire from Gaza, never mind Hamas promising to stop the rockets on Tuesday. Today, those officials' wish was granted.

But how serious will the retaliation be? That is the question that has yet to be answered. There have been at least two dozen airstrikes in Gaza so far today, and there are unconfirmed reports coming out of the territory that other senior Hamas officials have been targeted.

Will there be a ground incursion? Israeli Home Defense Minister Avi Dichter seemed to call for one when he said Tuesday: "There is no precedent in history of destroying terror by air power alone. It hasn't happened and it won't happen. Thus it is necessary to reformat Gaza altogether."

Sun
18
Nov
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Explosion on a bus in Kenya's capital kills at least 5

 

A Kenya police official says that an explosion on a bus in Kenya's capital has killed at least five people and injured 13.

Nairobi police chief Moses Ombati says at least five people were killed Sunday after an explosion on a 25-seater public transportation vehicle, and that there will likely be more casualties. He says 10 men and three women were injured in the blast. He did not give details on the cause of the blast.

Kenya has been hit by a string of grenade attacks that are blamed on sympathizers of al-Shabab, Somalia's Islamist extremist rebels who are linked to al-Qaida.

Sun
18
Nov
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Israel's U.S. ambassador tweets support for dialogue with Hamas, then deletes post After a CNN Interview

 

Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren deleted a tweet on Saturday which claimed the Israeli government is willing to sit and talk with Hamas if the barrage of rockets from Gaza stops, the website BuzzFeed.com reported.

The original tweet read: "Just appeared on the set of #CNN: #Israel willing to sit down with #Hamas -- if they just stop shooting at us."

A short while later Oren twitted again: "Correction: the earlier tweet about my CNN interview was sent erroneously by a staffer."

According to the BuzzFeed report, "the deleted tweet Oren attributed to a staffer appeared to be a paraphrase of a comment he made during his CNN interview were he said, while not mentioning Hamas directly, that Israel would be willing to sit down and negotiate."

Fri
16
Nov
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China's Concerns About President Obama's Asian Trip

 

China is watching Obama's trip to neighboring Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia this weekend with a wary eye. But Myanmar could offer an opportunity for China and the US to work together, say analysts.

 

As President Obama heads to Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand on Saturday, China is keeping a wary eye on the latest US move in the sometimes bruising tussle between the two giants for influence in the region.

Beijing is nervous that Mr. Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” a drive to strengthen old US friendships and forge new ones, is a strategy designed to hem China in.

Myanmar (also called Burma) is Exhibit No. 1 in the case for such fears. A nascent civilian government has recently stepped out of neighboring China’s orbit and leaned toward the West with liberal political and economic reforms there.

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