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Gaza athlete still runninng despite West Bank marathon ban

By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters) - Kicking up dust on the back roads of northern Gaza within sight of the Israeli fence that seals off the enclave, Olympic athlete Nader Al-Masri is still training, despite being barred from competing in his people's largest sporting event. Masri, who has participated in 40 international contests including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was denied a permit by Israeli authorities to travel to the occupied West Bank for the Palestine Marathon on Friday.

Palestinian killed by Israel at border was 'Jordan judge'

Israeli troops on Monday shot dead a Palestinian Jordanian who allegedly tried to snatch a soldier's weapon at the main Jordan border crossing, with Amman saying the man was a judge. The shooting, which was sharply condemned by the Palestinian Authority, took place at the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan. Palestinian security officials identified the victim as 38-year-old Raed Zeiter and Amman confirmed he also held Jordanian nationality.

Blocking aid to Damascus camp may be war crime: UN rights chief

Syria's repeated obstruction of aid convoys to the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus might be considered a war crime, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Friday. "Impeding humanitarian assistance to civilians in desperate need may amount to a war crime," Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement. Rebels control swathes of Yarmuk, but for months Syrian government forces have imposed a suffocating siege on the camp, where some 20,000 Palestinians live despite terrible shortages.

Palestinians apologise for illegal arms at Prague embassy

Palestinian diplomats have apologised for hiding illegal weapons at the Prague embassy where a blast killed the ambassador on New Year's Day, the Czech foreign ministry said on Tuesday. "A high-ranking Palestinian foreign ministry official... issued an official apology from the Palestinian side for the illegal presence of weapons on the premises of the Palestinian embassy," the ministry said in a statement. After the deadly blast, police found 12 firearms at the embassy, including submachine guns and sidearms that were not officially registered in the Czech Republic.

Mystery shrouds Palestinian ambassador's death in Prague

Czech and Palestinian investigators were probing Thursday the mysterious death of the Palestinian envoy to Prague, who was killed by an exploding safe. Czech police have said they believe the blast was caused by the accidental detonation of an anti-theft device on the safe at the envoy's residence rather than an attack. "A Mystery," read the front-page headline of MF DNES, the top-selling Czech broadsheet daily. Jamal al-Jamal, 56, who had been in the post of ambassador only since October, suffered fatal injuries to his head, chest and stomach in the explosion.

Kerry to Mideast next week for peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week for talks with Palestinian and Israeli officials on the peace process, a Palestinian official said Saturday. "Mr Kerry has told the Palestinian Authority he will return to the region on January 4 to discuss the peace process and negotiations with Israel," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. According to a well-informed Palestinian source, the US chief diplomat plans to stay in the Middle East for a "number of days" in what would be his 10th visit to the region since March.

Kerry to Mideast next week for peace talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry will return to the Middle East next week for talks with Palestinian and Israeli officials on the peace process, a Palestinian official said Saturday. "Mr Kerry has told the Palestinian Authority he will return to the region on January 4 to discuss the peace process and negotiations with Israel," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. na-agr/dv/bpz

Israel forces kill 3 Palestinian militants

Israeli security forces killed three Palestinian militants late Tuesday after attempting to arrest them near the West Bank city of Hebron, the Shin Bet internal security service and army said. Shin Bet said in a statement it had along with special police forces killed "two members of a Salafist jihadist network that was active in the area and planned an attack" after an attempt to detain them. An AFP correspondent said the army had sealed off the area and was searching for a third suspect who apparently had been in a car with the two when the shooting took place.

Palestinians condemn 'destructive' Israel settlement move

The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday that Israel's plans to build 1,500 new settler homes in occupied east Jerusalem was destroying the peace process. The move "destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law," Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, said in a statement. sy-agr/al/dv

Qatar offers $150 million debt relief to Palestinian Authority: Kerry

PARIS (Reuters) - Qatar has agreed to provide $150 million in debt relief to the Palestinian Authority, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris after talks with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah. (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Alison Williams)
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