- - Tuesday, December 14, 2010

WEST BANK

Envoy: U.S. committed to Palestinian state

RAMALLAH | The U.S. will not be deterred by setbacks and will persevere until a Palestinian state is established alongside Israel, President Obama’s Middle East envoy said Tuesday after meeting the Palestinian president.

Envoy George Mitchell presented ideas on how to move forward, said Saeb Erekat, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He would not elaborate.

Resuming direct Israeli-Palestinian talks anytime soon seems unlikely because of Washington’s failure to persuade Israel to extend a curb on construction in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Mr. Abbas has said he won’t negotiate face-to-face as long as expanding Israeli settlements deepen control over West Bank lands the Palestinians want for their state.

Instead, the U.S. now plans to discuss the so-called core issues of the conflict, including the borders of a Palestinian state and security arrangements, separately with the two sides.

IRAQ

Bomb kills three at Shiite ceremony

BAGHDAD | A roadside bomb ripped through a Shiite procession commemorating the Ashura festival in western Baghdad on Tuesday, killing three worshippers, an Interior Ministry official said.

The attack, which struck at around 5 p.m. in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Ghazaliyah, wounded 18 people, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Another roadside bomb wounded 14 Shiites in the town of Khalis, in Diyala province, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad, the official added.

The violence came a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at another procession in the town of Balad Ruz, in Diyala, killing four Shiites and wounding 17.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Islamist websites eulogize Sweden bomber

DUBAI | Al Qaeda-linked Islamist websites on Tuesday posted a poem praising as a martyr a man named as Sweden’s first suicide bomber and calling for the destruction of cities in Europe, the “mother of dogs.”

Middle Eastern-born Taymour Abdulwahab, who moved to Sweden from England with his wife and children in 1992, was killed in a blast in an apparent attempt to attack a Stockholm train station or department store after the explosive belt he was wearing went off prematurely, Swedish prosecutors said.

The 80-line poem, posted by Web administrators, praises Mr. Abdulwahab as a martyr, describing him as part of a larger campaign against Europe, though the writer said he had never met the man.

GAZA STRIP

Hamas celebrates 23rd anniversary

GAZA CITY | Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters flocked to Gaza City Tuesday for a mass rally to boost support for the militant Palestinian group on its 23rd anniversary.

Streets, cars and buildings were adorned with Hamas’ trademark green, and huge crowds of flag-waving supporters clogged the streets to reach the rally, where Hamas leaders lauded the group’s history of fighting Israel.

“Hamas has not failed, Hamas has not collapsed,” Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told the crowd. “Hamas did not fail to bring together government and resistance.”

Hamas often has been torn between its roots as a militant group seeking to destroy Israel and a local government responsible for providing services to 1.5 million Gazans.

ISRAEL

Palestinian firefighters barred from Israeli fete

JERUSALEM | Organizers say a ceremony in honor of Palestinian firefighters who helped battle Israel’s worst wildfire had to be canceled after some of them were denied entry into Israel.

The 11 men planned to attend the event in northern Israel, where the fire raged earlier this month. The event was called off when three of them were refused entry.

Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli-Arab member of parliament and one of the event’s organizers, said Tuesday the army turned the Palestinians away on security grounds.

About 20 Palestinian firefighters joined the international effort against the blaze, which killed 43 people.

From wire dispatches and staff reports