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Premier convenes forum ahead of Arab summit

JERUSALEM | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday convened ministers in his inner circle, but his office denied widespread press reports that they debated extending the West Bank settlement freeze.

Israeli media said the meeting was to focus on the issue of a 60-day extension of the settlement freeze in exchange for a U.S. deal offering security and other guarantees, details of which were leaked by a U.S. analyst last week.

Army radio had said Mr. Netanyahu was to discuss the reported U.S. proposal in a bid to win over hard-line opponents within the group of seven ministers, which includes leaders of the parties in his largely right-wing coalition.


Settlers replace burned Korans

BEIT FAJJAR | Jewish settlers on Tuesday gave new copies of the Koran to Palestinians in a West Bank village whose mosque was burned in an attack blamed by Palestinians on militants in the settler movement.

Several copies of Islam’s holy book were scorched in the arson attack and threats in Hebrew were scrawled on the wall of the mosque of Beit Fajjar early on Monday.

The village sits on the edge of the sprawling Jewish settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

Suspicion immediately fell on settler militants opposed to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, in which some settlements would be turned over to a Palestinian state.

From wire dispatches and staff reports