Monday, March 22, 2010

FP morning post 3/22

Tensions flare in West Bank as Netanyahu heads to Washington

Top news: As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departed for Washington today on a trip meant to address a growing rift in U.S.-Israel relations, tensions were flaring back home after the killing of four Palestinian teenagers by Israeli soldiers over the weekend.

Two of the youths were killed in Nablus on Sunday. The Israeli military says they were trying to stab a soldier on patrol while Palestinian authorities claim they were innocent farmworkers. Two other teenagers were killed in a clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators near a Jewish settlement on the West Bank on Saturday. The circumstances of that killing are also disputed. The Israel Defense Forces also carried out an airstrike on a smuggling tunnel in Gaza on Sunday night in response to the recent firing of several rockets into Israel.

During his visit to the United States, Netanyahu will address a meeting of the pro-Israel lobbing group AIPAC and meet with President Barack Obama to address a dispute over the construction of more housing for Israelis in disputed East Jerusalem. At a cabinet meeting on Sunday Netanyahu indicated no plans to reverse the decision to build. "Our policy toward Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli governments in the past 42 years and it has not changed," he said.

Speaking in Amman, Jordan, U.S. envoy George Mitchell reiterated the U.S. commitment to peace talks and urged restraint from both sides. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also address the AIPAC conference today where she is expected to reaffirm that despite the current dispute, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains "rock solid."

U.S. politics: By a vote of 219-212, the House of Representatives voted to approve a massive overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system.

Middle East
  • As he slips behind Ayad Allawi in the overall vote, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling for a manual recount of the ballots from parliamentary elections.
  • Iranian authorities arrested the grandson of former president and opposition leader Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
  • Egypt has freed an Israeli journalist who was arrested while trying to illegally cross the Egyptian-Israeli border for a story.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with the militant faction Hezb-i-Islami for peace negotiations.
  • Philippine generals denied rumors that they are planning a coup if presidential elections on May 10 do not produce a clear winner.
  • Three employees of British-Australian mining firm Rio Tinto pleaded guilty to taking bribes while working in China.
  • French President Nicholas Sarkozy's party was soundly defeated in the final round of regional elections.
  • The German Archdiocese says six people are now under investigation for sexual abuse claims dating back decades.
  • European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reconsider her opposition to financial support for Greece.
  • The U.N. has rejected requests by Tanzania and Zambia to sell off their ivory stocks.
  • A senior commander of the Somali rebel group al-Shabaab was killed in a gunfight.
  • Donors pledged $850 million for the reconstruction of Darfur at a conference in Cairo, far less than was expected.
-By Joshua Keating


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