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UN monitor accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing', 'apartheid'

A UN rights expert who probes Israel's conduct towards Palestinians on Friday accused the Jewish state of a campaign of ethnic cleansing and apartheid policies. "The realities on the ground are worsening from the point of view of both international law and from the point of view of the Palestinian people," Richard Falk, an 82-year-old American who is an emeritus law professor at Princeton University, told reporters.

Israel spy agency says 8 Iranian Jews 'murdered' in 1990s

Israel's spy agency Mossad has concluded eight Iranian Jews who had tried to emigrate to Israel in the 1990s were murdered en route, the prime minister's office said on Friday. The announcement came as Iran marked the Persian New Year, and as Israel chided Western powers for negotiating with the Jewish state's arch-foe Tehran. Mossad "has brought to a conclusion the affair regarding the Iranian Jews who have been missing since the 1990's," Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Israel advances plans for 2,269 West Bank homes

Israel has moved forward in planning for more than 2,000 new housing units in six West Bank settlements, an official said Thursday, which is likely to further endanger peace talks with the Palestinians. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the defence ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said a ministry committee had furthered existing plans for 2,269 homes at a meeting last month. Inbar confirmed claims by Peace Now about decisions on two sets of projects, which the settlement watchdog said the committee had examined on February 19.

Israel advances plans for 2,269 West Bank homes

Israel has moved forward plans to build more than 2,000 new housing units in six West Bank settlements, a defence official told AFP Thursday. Guy Inbar, a spokesman for the defence ministry unit responsible for civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories, said a ministry committee at a hearing last month had furthered existing plans for 2,269 homes. jjm/al

Qatar to sign projects worth up to $50 billion in 2014: Central bank

DOHA (Reuters) - Qatar's government is expected to sign contracts for construction projects worth as much as $50 billion this year as it builds infrastructure needed to host the soccer World Cup in 2022, the central bank governor was quoted as saying on Tuesday. The projects will be in transport, energy and other sectors, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani said at a conference held by regional media group MEED, according to the official news agency QNA.

Palestinians seek investors to drill for oil in West Bank, but project remains in question

The Palestinian Authority has announced plans to explore for oil in the West Bank, throwing a new element of uncertainty into troubled U.S.-backed peace efforts. Mohammed Mustafa, deputy prime minister for economic affairs, said Tuesday the Palestinians were seeking proposals from international firms to help explore and develop oil in the northern West Bank. However, there was no word on whether Israel has agreed to the plan.

Amnesty condemns 'shameful' Cyprus treatment of migrants

Amnesty International Tuesday condemned what it termed the "shameful" treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers in Cyprus, saying they were being detained in prison-like conditions for extended periods awaiting deportation. Refugees from the Syrian conflict and women separated from children figure among those detained in the EU member state, it said in a report which the Cyprus government immediately rejected as "one-sided".

Amnesty condemns 'shameful' Cyprus treatment of migrants

Amnesty International on Tuesday condemned what it termed the "shameful" treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers in Cyprus, saying they were being detained in prison-like conditions for extended periods awaiting deportation. Refugees from the conflict in Syria and women separated from young children figure among those detained in the EU member state, it said in a report.

Mideast peace talks at 'pivotal' juncture

Top US diplomat John Kerry urged Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday to work hard to narrow huge differences with the Israelis at a "pivotal" time for peace talks. Palestinian and Israeli leaders have been locked in talks the US secretary of state fought hard to launch in July after a three-year hiatus, but as negotiations have faltered, Israel has kicked up more obstacles to a peace deal that would end decades of conflict.

Egypt pledges 'decisive' action after militants kill soldiers

Egypt's interim government pledged "decisive" action and ordered heightened security on Sunday after gunmen killed six soldiers at a Cairo checkpoint, as the countdown began to presidential elections this spring. The shooting on Saturday morning came two days after gunmen killed a soldier in Cairo, as militants once based in the Sinai Peninsula widen attacks that surged after the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July.
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