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World Briefs: U.N. sees jump in cholera cases

- - Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The United Nations says Haiti has seen a jump in the number of cholera cases as the rainy season begins.

The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says in a bulletin released Tuesday that the new cholera cases were found in western Haiti.

In early March, when nightly rains began, health officials recorded 77 new cases a day for the entire country.

The fresh cases come after a steady decline. During last year's rainy season, aid workers saw peaks of more than 1,000 cases on some days.

Health officials say the waterborne disease has killed more than 7,000 people and sickened another 530,000 since it was likely introduced by a U.N. peacekeeping unit after the January 2010 earthquake.

ISRAEL

Netanyahu wants deal to prevent 'binational state'

JERUSALEM — Israel's prime minister said Tuesday that he still hopes to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, because the alternative would be absorbing them into Israel and destroying the Jewish character of the state.

"I want to solve the conflict with the Palestinians because I don't want a binational state," Mr. Netanyahu said at a rare news conference. "For as long as it depends on me, we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel."

The statement was notable because it in effect concedes a key argument made by Mr. Netanyahu's ideological opponents on Israel's Zionist left: A pullout from territories the Palestinian claim for a state is not just a concession that could be made in exchange for peace - but also an imperative for an Israel that wants to remain a Jewish state that is democratic.

Jews make up roughly 80 percent of Israel's almost 8 million people. However, if Israel were combined with the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - the lands it occupied in the 1967 Middle East war - then the Arab population nears parity, and in the view of some demographers likely to become a majority soon.

Indeed, as the prospect of peace seems to grow more remote, increasingly there are voices on the Palestinian side predicting - as a threatened default rather than a desired outcome - a "one-state solution" in which Jews and Arabs have equal status.

KENYA

Rhino poaching at crisis level, African wildlife specialists say

NAIROBI — Wildlife officials say rhino poaching in Africa has reached crisis levels with nearly 1,000 animals killed in the last five years.

Wildlife specialists from across Africa said in a Tuesday statement they would lobby for harsher penalties and fines for people involved in the illegal rhino horn trade.

In a meeting in Nairobi, wildlife specialists and private conservation groups also resolved to reach out to the governments of countries where there is demand for the rhino horn and work with them to create stringent laws against the trade.

China and Vietnam are some of the destination markets for the horn, which is believed to have medicinal qualities.

Last year, 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa, which has the largest rhino population in the world. Conservationists say this year poachers have killed 135 rhinos there.

MYANMAR

President calls elections won by Suu Kyi's party 'successful'

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Myanmar's president said Tuesday that elections won by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and her party were successful, issuing the first government endorsement of the historic polls.

When asked by the Associated Press if he thought the weekend by-elections were free and fair, President Thein Sein said: "It was conducted in a very successful manner."

Mr. Thein Sein's remark was the first comment by a top government official since Sunday's polls. He spoke on the sidelines of a summit in Cambodia of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which gave him a vote of confidence Tuesday.

LIBYA

Clashes in rival towns kill 22 in western Libya

TRIPOLI — Militias from rival towns in western Libya battled each other with tanks and artillery on Tuesday in fierce fighting that killed at least 22 people, local officials said.

The clashes erupted over the weekend between the Arab-majority town of Ragdalein and the Berber-dominated town of Zwara, some 70 miles west of the capital, Tripoli.

The violence is fueled by deep-rooted animosity between the neighbors, who took different sides in Libya's civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi last year.

The fighting is the latest in a series of local rivalries that threaten to divide Libya along tribal and regional lines.

From wire dispatches and staff reports