- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2010

SAUDI ARABIA

Forces free Germans kidnapped in Yemen

RIYADH | Saudi security forces rescued two German girls held hostage for nearly a year in the rugged north Yemen mountains, but the fate of their parents and an infant brother was unknown, officials said Tuesday.

Germany welcomed news of the rescue, while a relative of the family said they presumed the 1-year-old brother is dead. There also was no word on the fate of a Briton abducted with them.

Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Agence France-Presse that the two girls, aged 3 and 5, were in a Saudi hospital. “Their condition is OK,” he said.

A ministry statement said the girls were freed on Monday.

The girls were part of a group of seven Germans, a British man and a South Korean woman seized in Yemen’s northern mountains in June last year.

ISRAEL

Middle East envoy returns to region

JERUSALEM | U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell returned to the region on Tuesday for the first time since indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were launched on May 9, officials said.

Mr. Mitchell was to meet Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at his Tel Aviv home on Tuesday evening, Mr. Barak’s office said. On Wednesday, he is due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met his forum of seven senior ministers to prepare for the visit of the envoy, Israeli officials said. Mr. Netanyahu was to meet Mr. Mitchell in Jerusalem on Thursday.

EGYPT

Court to rule on citizenship

CAIRO | A court in Egypt is to rule next month on whether Egyptian men married to Israeli women are to be stripped of their citizenship, a judicial source told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

“The High Administrative Court will issue its verdict in June,” the source said, in a case that highlights Egyptian sentiment toward Israel, more than 30 years after an unpopular peace deal was signed with the Jewish state.

A lower court ruled last year that the interior minister must look into the cases of Egyptian men married to Israeli women, and their children, in order to “take the necessary steps to strip them of their nationality.”

The interior and foreign ministries appealed the case, saying it was for parliament to decide on such matters.

WEST BANK

Palestinians canvass against settlement goods

RAMALLAH | The Palestinians on Tuesday went door to door with their campaign against products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, infuriating settlers who called it “an act of terrorism.”

“This house-to-house campaign is part of the national campaign to combat settlement products, and today it has begun in all Palestinian cities,” said the project’s coordinator, Haitham Kayali.

Mr. Kayali said 3,000 Palestinian youths would visit some 427,000 homes across the West Bank to distribute booklets listing banned settlement goods and informing families about the dangers they pose to the struggle for statehood.

They then will hang posters outside the homes affirming that they are free of such goods.

The Yesha Council, the main settlers’ organization, decried the campaign as “an act of terrorism and ill will,” called for the closure of “all Israeli ports to Palestinian imports and exports,” and suggested Palestinian funds held in Israel should be used to compensate affected companies.

The Palestinians view the presence of some 500,000 Israeli settlers in more than 120 settlements scattered across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, as a major threat to the eventual creation of a viable state.

GAZA STRIP

Hamas executes three convicted killers

GAZA CITY | The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said three convicted murderers were executed in its Gaza enclave on Tuesday, in a move likely to draw fire from human rights groups.

“The interior ministry this morning carried out the death penalty on three criminals who had committed murders after completing all legal procedures,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the three had been given “every right to defend themselves in open trials attended by their lawyers and family members.”

It also said that it granted the opportunity for the families of the victims to forgive the killers and accept blood money, in keeping with Islamic law, “until moments before the death sentence was carried out.”

It was not immediately clear how the three were killed, as Hamas would not comment on the matter and police refused to allow reporters to view the bodies before burial.

Hamdi Shaqura of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights identified the three men as Rami Joha, 25, Mattar al-Shobaki, 35, and Amer Jandiya, 33.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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