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January 25, 2013

Israelis re-elect Netanyahu, centre-left rises

Israelis re-elect Netanyahu, centre-left rises

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Israel
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Binyamin Netanyahu
Image: US State Dept.

Binyamin Netanyahu is set to be re-elected as prime minister of Israel despite losses suffered by his party, Likud. An alliance of centre-left parties has increased their share of the votes.

Likud now have 31 seats in the Knesset. Netanyahu has stated he seeks to form “as broad a coalition as possible”. The newly-formed Yesh Atid party led by former television presenter Yair Lapid is set to play an important part in negotiations over the formation of a coalition government.

As a result of Yesh Atid winning 19 seats in the Knesset, Lapid has been approached by both Netanyahu to form a governing party and by Shelly Yachimovich from the left-wing Israeli Labor Party to join an opposition alliance. Yesh Atid supports changing the law to remove the exemptions ultra-Orthodox Jews have from mandatory military service, a move which along with economic reforms to support the middle class they dubbed “sharing the burden”.

Yachimovich invited Yesh Atid “to form a coalition of moderate, social, peace advocate and centrist forces without Benjamin Netanyahu as PM”. Yesh Atid have rejected that offer, with Yair Lapid saying that they will not join an “obstructive bloc”.

The election sees the highest number of women elected to the Knesset, 26 out of 120.

Jay Carney, the White House press spokesman, reiterated American support for Israel: “The United States remains committed, as it has been for a long time, to working with the parties to press forward the goal of a two-state solution. That has not changed, and it will not change.” Carney also laid out the White House view on how to deal with Palestine: “We believe that what needs to take place is direct negotiations between the two parties (Israelis and Palestinians) that addresses the final-status issues and results in a two-state solution”. The New York Times noted that a newly-formed coalition government may improve the relationship between Netanyahu and US president Barack Obama.

Dan Shapiro, the US Ambassador to Israel, took to Twitter to congratulate Israelis on the conclusion of their voting process: “Mazal tov to the Israeli people on their just completed elections! Always inspiring to see democracy in action! […] Fascinating election from a US perspective. Every democratic system is different. Important thing is the people have their say.” Shapiro said the US “looks forward to working closely with next government of Israel.”

Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi stated: “I am not going to say that now the chances of peace are going to be drastically improved or that we are going to see a sort of left-wing coalition and a peace camp that will take over and produce instant peace. You are not going to have a savior, suddenly producing instant peace.”



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December 11, 2011

Republican hopeful Gingrich fuels controversy over Palestinian \’invented people\’ remarks

Republican hopeful Gingrich fuels controversy over Palestinian ‘invented people’ remarks

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

File photo of Gingrich at Iowa fair.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Front-runner for the United States Republican Party Presidential candidacy Newt Gingrich declined an opportunity prior to Saturday’s Iowa debate to back down from his earlier assertion that the Palestinians are an “invented people”. Amongst condemnatory responses in the US, Democratic Senator Carl Levin issued a statement saying, “Gingrich offered no solutions — just a can of gasoline and a match.”

Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 2012 Presidential election campaign are jostling for support from the influential Jewish block; Gingrich’s inflammatory remarks were made earlier this week in an interview with cable TV’s Jewish Channel. “Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire,” Gingrich asserted. “We’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community […] They had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic”.

Hanan Ashrawi, spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), said Gingrich appeared to have “lost all touch with reality” and that his comments “reveal ignorance and racism as well as a cheap attempt to woo pro-Israeli voters at the expense of Palestinian rights and peace in the region.” She summed up her view of the US-Israeli relationship as, “many people, including Americans, […] consider Tel Aviv the architect of American foreign policy.”

Saturday’s debate between the candidates in Des Moines, Iowa, the twelfth since the start of campaigning, saw Gingrich’s rivals also criticising his background in Washington; Mitt Romney, ex-Governor of Massachusetts, pushed his ideas on rescuing the country’s economy and stated, “[w]e don’t need folks who are lifetime Washington people”.

Gingrich, in the debate, further defended his comments to the Jewish Channel about Palestinians: “Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists.”

Current polling by Gallup puts Gingrich 12 points ahead of Romney on 23%. The remaining five candidates, all with single-digit support, are Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman. Their degree of support runs down from 9% for Paul to 2% for former Utah governor Huntsman, who did not attend the debate.



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August 15, 2007

Yasser Arafat may have had HIV

Yasser Arafat may have had HIV – Wikinews, the free news source

Yasser Arafat may have had HIV

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Reports are surfacing that say former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat had HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, present in his blood stream when he died. A number of reports say the virus had been injected to him prior to death and the actual cause of death was a separately administered poison that HIV was intended to mask.

The claims come from Doctor Ashraf al-Kurdi, a former doctor for Arafat and former member of the Health Ministry located in Jordan, who says the virus was injected into Arafat’s blood stream just before his death; but al-Kurdi also stated that Arafat’s death was not caused by the virus. Doctor Ashraf al-Kurdi also states that Arafat’s wife prevented him from attending to Arafat while he was dying.

CNSNews.com claims that Arafat may have been a homosexual and that syphilis was the cause of his death. CNSNews.com also claims that Israel caused his death by poisoning him.

Ion Mihai Pacepa, an ex-head of Romanian intelligence, and Terry McAuliffe, an aide to Bill Clinton, have unrelated claims that Arafat was homosexual.

It has been alleged that the PLO’s leader may have contracted HIV as the result of risky homosexual behavior in the years preceding the AIDS scare of the late 1980s. Arafat’s sexual proclivities may have been largely ignored by Arab, and indeed other, state leaders.

Arafat died on November 11, 2004 at Percy hospital in Paris. French officials never fully explained the cause of death, but instead transferred his medical records to his nephew Nasser al-Qudwa, his next of kin.

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February 7, 2007

Hamas, Fatah leaders begin talks to end clashes

Hamas, Fatah leaders begin talks to end clashes

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Damascus-based chief Khaled Meshaal ofHamas arrived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia for negotiations in an attempt to end the fighting between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza strip.

Ever since the Hamas movement, which refuses to recognize Israel and stop attacks on Israel, won elections for the Palestinian parliament last year, there have been repeated clashes between the two groups.The result has been over 80 deaths.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called the talks in order to stop the violence and help both sides to come to an agreement and establish some sort of unity government.

Hamas and Fatah officials said they hoped the leaders would come together for a meeting with King Abdullah later on Tuesday night. The leaders are expected to take a pilgrimage to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, before opening talks, which are expected to continue on Wednesday.

The United States and the European Union have labelled Hamas a terrorist organization and have blocked financial aid until the movement recognizes Israel and agrees to uphold previous agreements with Israel signed by the Palestinian Authority.

Senior Abbas aide, Azzam al-Ahmad, said the talks would aim to persuade Hamas to accept the program of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which would involve an implicit Hamas recognition of Israel that could end the aid blockade.

If indeed such a government can be formed it will allow the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that were stopped in 2003. Previous attempts to negotiate an agreement between the two Palestinian groups have ended in cease- fire that have lasted only a short time.

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August 31, 2005

Rhode Island District Court freezes Palestinian Authority assets in the US

Rhode Island District Court freezes Palestinian Authority assets in the US

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (left) with US President George W. Bush (background).

A Rhode Island district court has frozen all the US assets of the Palestinian Authority (PA), prompting Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayyad to request the aid of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The frozen assets include US holdings in an investment fund worth $1.3 billion, which was used to finance economic development, and $30 million from the Palestinian Monetary Authority.

The ruling was passed upon the PA when they refused to compensate the relatives of a Jewish couple shot dead by members of Hamas in 1996.

US citizen Yaron Ungar and his wife Efrat were killed while returning from a wedding near the West Bank, when their car was shot at repeatedly, killing the couple. Three Hamas militants were jailed as a result.

A lawsuit was filed in 2000 against the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, Hamas, and Yasser Arafat in Rhode Island.

Yasser Arafat hired lawyer and former attorney general Ramsey Clark as his defense. In the case, Clark argued that the PA was a sovereign state, and that it deserved immunity from prosecution accorded to most countries. The court disagreed with this, and in 2004 they ruled that Palestine is not a state, and ordered them to pay the Ungars $116 million. A federal appeals court upheld the verdict in March.

The head of Washington’s PA office, Hasan Abdul Rahman said that his office had been “paralysed” by the verdict.

“It paralyzes the function of the office, and I think that is the intention of the plaintiffs.” he told Associated Press shortly after the decision, and called upon the US administration to intervene.

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