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World Digest: Israel hardens stance on U.N. Gaza report

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MIDDLE EAST

Israel hardens stance on U.N. Gaza report

Israel hardened its opposition Tuesday to international calls for an independent inquiry into its offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter, saying it would urge the United States to stop the issue from advancing at the United Nations.

The decision came at a cabinet meeting called to discuss a U.N. report that has accused both sides of committing war crimes during the three-week operation. The report, which was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council last week, recommends war crimes proceedings if Israel and the Palestinians do not conduct credible internal investigations.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a fierce critic of the report, blocked a planned cabinet discussion on whether to launch such a probe. Instead, ministers created a lobbying team that will urge the United States to use its veto power in the Security Council to prevent legal action against Israelis, officials said.

-- Associated Press

Abbas signals January elections

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday he would issue a decree Sunday to hold elections by Jan. 24, a move that could raise pressure on Hamas to sign an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.

Egypt has been trying for more than a year to close a rift between Abbas's secular Fatah party and Islamist Hamas, which won a parliamentary election in 2006 and took over the Gaza Strip in a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007.

-- Reuters


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