- - Wednesday, December 10, 2008

ISRAEL

Likud voters move right

JERUSALEM — Israel’s opposition Likud Party has selected a hawkish slate of candidates for upcoming parliamentary elections, making any movement toward peace with the country’s Arab neighbors increasingly unlikely if the party wins the February vote.

By making the Likud appear more extreme, primary results announced yesterday reflect a sharper contrast with the centrist Kadima party, which favors pressing ahead with current U.S.-backed peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Kadima has been falling further behind its Likud rival in recent polls.

Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu had hoped to present a more mainstream list of candidates to bolster support among the general public ahead of the Feb. 10 national elections.

But party members rejected many of the newcomers and largely chose candidates with uncompromising views. Those include Benny Begin, son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and Moshe Feiglin, an extremist settler whose theocratic platform calls for barring Arabs from Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

IRAQ

Blackwater victims want harsh penalty

BAGHDAD — Iraqi victims of a deadly shooting last year in central Baghdad demanded the harshest penalty Monday for the Blackwater Worldwide guards charged in the case, saying punishment is needed to keep other security contractors from acting with impunity.

The case has been thrust back into the spotlight more than a year after the Sept. 16, 2007, shootings that killed 17 Iraqi civilians as five Blackwater guards were charged with manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using a machine gun in a crime of violence.

IRAN

Regime scoffs at Obama offer

TEHRAN — Iran has rejected a proposal by President-elect Barack Obama that a combination of economic incentives and tighter sanctions might persuade the Iranian government to change its behavior.

Mr. Obama said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday that the international community could develop a set of incentives that would persuade Iran to alter its nuclear program.

“The carrot-and-stick policy has no benefit,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi told reporters

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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