- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WEST BANK

Rabbi condemns mosque desecration

YASUF | Israel’s chief rabbi made a rare visit to a Palestinian village on Monday to condemn the torching of a mosque, allegedly by Jewish extremists, saying the attack brought back memories of the Holocaust.

The visit by an Israeli dignitary to a Palestinian village, along with the reference to the emotionally charged issue of the Holocaust, reflected the depth of concern caused by last week’s mosque attack. Israeli leaders have been scrambling to reduce tensions.

There have been no arrests from Friday’s blaze. But authorities think Jewish extremists carried out the attack in retaliation for a government-ordered slowdown in settlement construction. The attackers burned prayer carpets and a bookstand with Muslim holy texts, leaving Hebrew graffiti on the floor.

He said the arson was especially troubling to Jews because their holy places were targeted in attacks by the Nazis.

“There were hundreds of synagogues. They took all of the holy books out onto the street and burned them,” Rabbi Yona Metzger said. “We are still living this trauma. And in the state of Israel we will not allow a Jew to do something like this to Muslims.”

ITALY

Security questions follow Berlusconi attack

ROME | Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in pain and will remain hospitalized until at least Tuesday with a fractured nose and two broken teeth from an attack by a mentally disturbed man who hit him in the face with a statuette, doctors and aides said.

The attack shocked Italy, already gripped by a tense political climate and highly polarized between Mr. Berlusconi’s supporters and his critics.

It also raised questions about the security surrounding the prime minister. A government official said he expected Mr. Berlusconi’s protection to be tightened, as security officials held an emergency meeting.

The 73-year-old Berlusconi was rushed to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan with his face covered in blood after the attack in the northern Italian city Sunday afternoon.

GUINEA

Coup officials reject mediation

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso | Guinea’s military leadership on Monday rejected a proposal from a regional group to bring in foreign troops to prevent further violence, saying it would consider such a move an act of war.

Col. Moussa Keita spoke after a Sunday meeting of African, American and European diplomats to discuss a plan to return Guinea to civilian rule.

“Any country that plans to send troops should desist, because if they send troops, we will consider their actions a declaration of war and consequently we will take measures,” Col. Keita said.

The West African economic bloc on Sunday called for troops to be sent to Guinea to prevent further violence after a military-led massacre at a stadium in September that human rights groups said killed at least 157 people.

ROMANIA

Court certifies Basescu’s re-election

BUCHAREST | The Constitutional Court on Monday declared Traian Basescu the winner of Romania’s disputed presidential election.

The court ruled that Mr. Basescu had won a second term as president after days of uncertainty after a vote the opposition claimed was rigged.

The court said that Mr. Basescu had won the most votes in the Dec. 6 runoff. Election authorities finished re-examining about 138,000 voided ballots Monday, and decided the outcome of the election was not changed.

Mr. Basescu won 50.33 percent of the vote to defeat former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, who won 49.67 percent.

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