THE MIDDLE EAST

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel Must Share Jerusalem, Sarkozy Tells Parliament

French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Israeli parliament Monday that there could be no Middle East peace unless Israel drops its refusal to cede sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians, challenging one of Israel's most emotionally held positions.

Putting himself forward as a possible peace broker, he also offered to mobilize French troops if necessary. He said peace with the Palestinians was possible if Israel stopped all settlement activity, lifted the checkpoints in the West Bank, ended a blockade of the Gaza Strip and accepted Jerusalem as the capital of two states.

"Create the conditions for movement," Sarkozy told lawmakers, urging them to back a proposal for settlers to leave the West Bank in return for compensation and rehousing in Israel.

Lebanon Deploys Forces

Lebanese troops deployed in the country's second largest city Monday, bringing calm after two days of sectarian fighting that has killed at least nine and dented a deal to restore political stability.

Witnesses said soldiers and policemen in armored troop carriers entered the outskirts of the northern city of Tripoli, the scene of fighting between Sunni Muslim government supporters and Alawite gunmen close to the Hezbollah-led opposition. The clashes subsided, then stopped as the forces deployed on the front line.

RUSSIA

Yabloko Party Chief Quits

Grigory Yavlinsky, veteran chairman of Russia's most prominent liberal political party, Yabloko, has stepped aside after internal disputes about the party's direction, a party official said Monday.

His departure marks the end of an era for Russia's liberals, whose credibility has plummeted in recent years due to persistent infighting and Vladimir Putin's wide popularity during his presidency.

Yavlinsky gained notoriety for advocating radical reforms during the time of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika policies. Yavlinsky ran for president in 1996 and 2000.

Party members voted over the weekend to name Moscow branch chief Sergei Mitrokhin the new chairman.

Sharif Barred From Pakistani Ballot

Pakistan's most popular politician, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was ruled ineligible Monday to run in upcoming parliamentary by-elections, effectively barring him from becoming prime minister. The court decision could deepen a rift between Sharif and his partner in the governing coalition over reinstating fired judges, further destabilizing the government.

Many Taliban Fighters Killed, U.S. Says

U.S.-led coalition troops killed about 55 Taliban insurgents who ambushed them Friday in southeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border, the U.S. military said Monday. The U.S.-led coalition force does not usually disclose Taliban casualties except in general terms.

From News Services


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