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ISRAEL

Surfboards given to peace effort

JERUSALEM — An 86-year-old Jewish surfing guru from Hawaii is bringing good vibrations to the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Dorian Paskowitz, a retired doctor, donated 12 surfboards to Gaza’s small surfing community yesterday in a novel gesture to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“God will surf with the devil if the waves are good,” Dr. Paskowitz said. “When a surfer sees another surfer with a board, he can’t help but say something that brings them together.”

Arthur Rashkovan, a 28-year-old surfer from Tel Aviv, said Dr. Paskowitz’s project was part of a larger effort called “Surfing for Peace,” aimed at bringing surfers closer together in the Middle East. He said eight-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater, who is of Syrian descent, is expected to arrive in Israel in October to take part in the drive.

LIBYA

U.S. paves way for renewed ties

TRIPOLI — U.S. Middle East envoy David Welch was in Libya yesterday on a trip designed to lay the groundwork for a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a further sign of the country’s return to the international fold.

During his two-day trip, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs will meet with Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgham and other officials, a Libyan Foreign Ministry official said.

Miss Rice expressed willingness to visit the oil-rich North African state after the release of six foreign medics who had been on death row in Libya after being convicted of infecting hundreds of children with the AIDS virus.

ISRAEL

Cell phones banned at Cabinet meetings

JERUSALEM — Ministers in Israel — where little news remains secret for long — were notified yesterday that they would no longer be allowed to bring their cell phones to Cabinet meetings, army radio reported.

After directives issued by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, ministers will have to leave their cell phones with security guards before entering the Cabinet room.

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