- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2008

ISRAEL

Polls show Livni leads party race

JERUSALEM | Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has a clear edge in the Kadima party race to replace scandal-tainted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, polls showed Friday.

Two of the three polls published in major Israeli newspapers also showed Mrs. Livni running nearly neck and neck with rightist Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, should snap parliamentary elections be called.

Polls in all three major newspapers showed Mrs. Livni with a wide lead of eight to 18 percentage points over her closest Kadima rival, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz.

Mr. Olmert threw Israel into political turmoil that could hamstring Middle East peacemaking by announcing Wednesday that he would stand down as prime minister after a Sept. 17 Kadima leadership contest.

Israeli police questioned Mr. Olmert for three hours Friday over allegations he took bribes from an American businessman and made duplicate claims for travel expenses when he was trade minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

GERMANY

Farmer gets double arm transplant

MUNICH | A German farmer who lost both his arms in an accident has been successfully fitted with two new limbs in what is thought to be the first complete double arm transplant, his surgeons said Friday.

Reiner Gradinger, medical director at the Munich University Clinic, said doctors spent 15 hours on July 25-26 grafting the arms onto the body of a 54-year-old man who had lost his just below the shoulder in the accident six years ago.

The farmer’s name was not released.

CUBA

9/11 plotter denies Hamdan role

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE | The accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks told a U.S. war crimes court at Guantanamo on Friday that Osama bin Laden’s driver had no role in al Qaeda attacks and was unfit to carry them out.

Anyone who thought all bin Laden’s associates were involved in his plots “is a fool and does not understand al Qaeda,” Khalid Shaikh Mohammed said in written comments submitted as defense evidence in the trial of Yemeni prisoner Salim Hamdan.

The jury of six military officers is scheduled to begin deliberating on their verdict after the attorneys give closing arguments Monday.

GAZA STRIP

Hamas arrests Abbas aides

GAZA CITY | Hamas security forces arrested Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas‘ top Fatah representatives Friday in the Gaza Strip, ratcheting up tensions between the rival factions.

Hamas security men detained Ibrahim Abu an-Naja and Zakaria al-Agha, who were appointed by Mr. Abbas to oversee Fatah in the Gaza Strip after Hamas Islamists seized control a year ago, Fatah officials said. Hamas forces also arrested three local governors appointed by Mr. Abbas, whose West Bank-based government is backed by the United States and other Western powers.

CANADA

Bus attack suspect appears in court

TORONTO | A man who witnesses said stabbed and beheaded his seat mate on a Greyhound bus in Canada made his first court appearance Friday, while police offered no motive for the savage attack against a 22-year-old carnival worker.

Vince Weiguang Li, 40, of Edmonton, Alberta, has been charged with second-degree murder. He shuffled into the courtroom Friday in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, with his head bowed and feet shackled. He only nodded slightly when asked whether he was exercising his right not to speak. He was not required to enter a plea.

Authorities have not released the victim’s name, but friends identified him as Tim McLean and said he was headed to Winnipeg after working with the carnival in Edmonton.

AUSTRALIA

400 Iraqis to be resettled

CANBERRA | Australia has resettled about 400 Iraqis and their relatives who were at risk for helping Australian troops and diplomats in their troubled homeland, officials said Friday.

The Iraqis who accepted a government offer of humanitarian visas to settle permanently in Australia were flown in secretly by military aircraft over the past two months, a Defense Ministry official said.

The governing Labor Party, which opposed the Iraq war while in opposition, announced the visa offer to Iraqis after winning elections last November.

PAKISTAN

Pro-Taliban agents seen as problem

ISLAMABAD | A Pakistani spokeswoman conceded Friday that the government needs to root out Taliban sympathizers from its main intelligence agency, but officials rejected allegations that the spies helped plan a bloody bombing at the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan.

Government spokeswoman Sherry Rehman said there are “probably” still individual agents whose ideological convictions were formed in the 1980s, when the Inter-Services Intelligence agency marshaled Islamic warriors to battle Soviet troops in Afghanistan with U.S. support.

Such agents “act on their own in ways that are not in convergence” with Pakistan’s interests or policies, Ms. Rehman said. “We need to identify these people and weed them out.”

The New York Times reported Friday that American intelligence agencies concluded ISI agents were involved in the July 7 embassy attack in the Afghan capital, which killed about 60 people. The Times said the conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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