- - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ISRAEL

Government offers concessions to settlers

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has made two overtures to West Bank settlers in the run-up to his party’s leadership race on Tuesday: It’s offering financial incentives to encourage people to move to settlements and opening the door to legalizing rogue settler outposts.

The gestures appear to be aimed at appeasing hard-line elements in the ruling Likud Party who are sympathetic to settlers.

While Mr. Netanyahu is expected to win the leadership race, a relatively strong showing by his ultranationalist rival would suggest many Likud voters consider the prime minister too soft in peacemaking with the Palestinians.

The moves threatened to derail tentative new peace efforts with the Palestinians.

A round of low-level peace negotiations ground to a halt last week, in large part because of Palestinian objections to Israeli settlement construction.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected in the region Wednesday in an effort to restart the talks.

YEMEN

U.S. air strikes kill 15 al Qaeda militants

SANAA — U.S. airstrikes targeting leaders from Yemen’s active al Qaeda branch killed 15 suspected militants, Yemeni officials said Tuesday.

Yemeni security and military officials said missiles struck a school and a car in Abyan province in an area between Lauder and Mood where the militants were believed to be hiding.

A Western official in Washington confirmed that the U.S. carried out a strike against suspected leaders from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula but said initial indications were that five people were killed.

The official did not say where the strike occurred or specify whether it was carried out by a drone or a warplane.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to release the information.

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