- - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WEST BANK

Israeli transfers avert Palestinian crisis

RAMALLAH — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ government narrowly dodged a full-blown cash crisis after Israel agreed Wednesday — under intense international pressure — to resume the transfer of $100 million a month in frozen tax funds.

The episode illustrated the fragile financial foundations of Mr. Abbas’ West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and the broad international consensus that it needs to keep functioning to ensure some stability, especially at a time of diplomatic deadlock.

Israeli-Palestinian talks on the terms of a Palestinian state seem unlikely to resume before next year’s U.S. presidential election and an Israeli vote, possibly in 2013.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested Wednesday that he might stop the monthly transfers again if the Palestinians take more steps to bypass negotiations and seek U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. That could embroil Mr. Netanyahu in another embarrassing political zigzag.

Mr. Netanyahu decided only a month ago to freeze the transfers in retaliation for the Palestinians’ successful quest to join UNESCO, the U.N. cultural agency, as part of their recognition bid.

Mr. Netanyahu reversed himself and agreed to the cash transfers after coming under what a Western diplomat said was “massive” pressure.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Wednesday that the Palestinians are determined to keep pushing for full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state, but suggested a decision on the next stage — how to get around a deadlocked Security Council — might take time.

There are also indications that Mr. Abbas may put the U.N. bid on hold at least until the end of January, to allow another mediation effort by the “Quartet,” the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, to play itself out.

AFGHANISTAN

NATO: Pakistan resumes some cooperation

KABUL — Pakistan resumed some cooperation with U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan after NATO strikes that killed 25 Pakistani soldiers by working with the coalition to prevent another cross-border incident from escalating, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Pakistan is still outraged by the soldiers’ deaths and has retaliated by closing its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies, demanding the U.S. vacate an air base used by American drones and boycotting an international conference aimed at stabilizing Afghanistan.

But NATO said Islamabad communicated with the alliance to prevent an exchange of artillery fire late Tuesday from turning into another international incident.

German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a NATO spokesman in Kabul, expressed hope that Pakistan’s cooperation in resolving the incident in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia province signaled the two sides could recover from the recent tragedy. He did not provide more details about targets or who was doing the shooting but said no damage or injuries were reported.

YEMEN

Thousands flee shelling in flash-point city

SANAA — Thousands of residents fled the central Yemen city of Taiz on Wednesday when government forces shelled the city, killing one person.

The violence raged despite longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s agreement to step down. He has been the target of months of protests, and some units of his military have joined the rebels.

Government forces began shelling Taiz on Tuesday and continued Wednesday, according to activist Nouh al-Wafi. He said three people were wounded and several shops were destroyed.

Taiz is Yemen’s second-largest city and a hotbed of the opposition to Saleh.

The city is often shelled by the army in response to hit-and-run attacks by armed tribesmen and soldiers who support the anti-government protesters.

POLAND

Warsaw buries World War II flying ace

WARSAW — A former Polish air force officer believed to have been the country’s last surviving pilot from the Battle of Britain was buried on Wednesday in a state ceremony after decades in exile.

Brig. Gen. Tadeusz Sawicz died Oct. 19 in Toronto at the age of 97. His cremated remains were brought to Warsaw for burial at the historic military Powazki cemetery. His wife, Jadwiga, also came from Canada for the ceremony.

The ceremony for Sawicz opened with a Catholic Mass at the ornate armed forces’ cathedral. In attendance were Defense Ministry officials, Polish armed forces officers with army standards and troops from the Queen’s Color Squadron of Britain’s Royal Air Force.

In the summer of 1940, Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski, the head of Polish government in exile in London, signed an agreement with the British Government to form a Polish Air Force in Britain, that included Gen. Sawicz.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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