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Obama to meet Palestinian leader Abbas on March 17

President Barack Obama will meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on March 17 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the White House said Thursday. "They will also discuss our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state," spokesman Jay Carney said. tq/jm/dc

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.

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

Arab ministers to discuss Israel-Palestinian talks

Arab foreign ministers are to meet in Cairo on December 21 to discuss troubled peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel, the Arab League said on Thursday. The announcement came as US Secretary of State John Kerry was headed to Israel and the West Bank on his ninth visit since he took office in January in his dogged quest for an elusive peace deal. The Arab foreign ministers' meeting has been called at the request of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, League deputy secretary general Ahmed Ben Helli said.

Israeli girl 'out of danger' after likely 'terror' attack

A nine-year-old Israeli girl was out of danger in hospital Sunday after being wounded in what police said was a probable terrorist attack in a West Bank settlement. Police said they were not ruling out the possibility of other motives for what was variously described as a shooting or a stabbing as the girl played in her garden in the Psagot settlement near Ramallah. "It seems to be a case of a terrorist attack, although at this stage no leads have been ruled out," police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

Israeli girl 'out of danger' after likely 'terror' attack

A nine-year-old Israeli girl was out of danger in hospital Sunday after being wounded in what police said was a probable terrorist attack in a West Bank settlement. Police said they were not ruling out the possibility of other motives for what was variously described as a shooting or a stabbing as the girl played in her garden in the Psagot settlement near Ramallah. "It seems to be a case of a terrorist attack, although at this stage no leads have been ruled out," police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

Israel bans E.Jerusalem children's puppet festival

Israeli authorities have banned an east Jerusalem theatre from hosting a children's puppet festival, police and the venue's director said on Monday. El-Hakawati theatre was initially ordered closed from June 22 to 30, after a decision by Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on the grounds that the festival's alleged sponsorship by the Palestinian Authority (PA) was illegal.

Palestinian president, premier to meet again Sunday

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will meet on Sunday with prime minister Rami Hamdallah in a new bid to defuse a political crisis that prompted the premier to submit his resignation, a senior Palestinian official said. The 11:00 am (0800 GMT) meeting at Abbas's offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah will be their third in 48 hours. They met for 90 minutes on Saturday evening, after which no statement was issued. Hamdallah, who only took office two weeks ago, presented his resignation on Thursday, then withdrew it after a meeting with Abbas on Friday.

Israel, Palestinians to resume economic links

Israel and the Palestinian Authority decided to resume economic cooperation suspended by the Jewish state last year, at a meeting of their finance ministers on Sunday. The Israeli finance ministry, announcing the agreement as host of the Jerusalem talks, said newly appointed Palestinian minister Shukri Bishara met Israel's Yair Lapid, who took office in March. They discussed "the implementation of confidence-building measures", it said, and a timetable was laid down after the meeting to renew economic ties between Israel and the Palestinians.
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