- The Washington Times - Monday, May 25, 2009

ISRAEL

Israeli Arabs can’t mark Naqba

JERUSALEM | The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a draft law aiming to ban marking the Naqba, the “catastrophe” the 1948 creation of Israel represented for many Palestinians, a government official said.

The draft law is scheduled to be submitted for parliamentary approval next week and will propose punishment of up to three years in prison for breaches of the prohibition, the official told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity.

The government’s legal commission brought forward the law at the instigation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party.

Israeli Arab lawmakers immediately slammed the proposal, branding it the act of an “apartheid regime.”

SRI LANKA

Tigers confirm leader’s death

COLOMBO | The defeated Tamil Tiger rebels confirmed Sunday that their supreme leader was killed in the group’s final battle against Sri Lankan troops.

The almost mythic commander, Velupillai Prabhakaran, led a terror-driven Tamil insurrection in Sri Lanka for more than a quarter century. Last week, the government declared that it finally killed Prabhakaran and proclaimed victory against his Tamil Tigers, crushing the rebellion that the U.N. estimates cost between 80,000 to 100,000 lives.

But many Tamils didn’t believe it.

Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the rebels international spokesman, confirmed in a statement Sunday that Prabhakaran, 54, “attained martyrdom fighting the military oppression of the Sri Lankan government.” He died on May 17 in a bloody battle on the island’s northeastern coast.

AUSTRIA

Knife battle bloodies temple

VIENNA | Sikhs wielding knives and a handgun attacked two preachers at a rival temple in Vienna on Sunday in a brawl that left at least 16 people wounded, police and witnesses said. A related clash later broke out in northern India.

Witnesses said a group of bearded and turbaned men attacked the religious leaders at the temple in Austria’s capital and their followers moved to defend them.

The preachers were among the six people who suffered serious wounds and were identified by Indian diplomats and police as Niranjan Das and Sant Rama Nand. Police said both were out of danger after undergoing operations for gunshot wounds.

Police spokesman Michael Takacs said the scene was “like a battlefield.” Six suspects were in custody with more arrests possible, he said.

WEST BANK

Christian cemetery damaged by vandals

RAMALLAH | Vandals desecrated about 70 graves in two Palestinian Christian cemeteries Sunday in what a Palestinian Authority official said was a rare attack on the Christian minority in the occupied West Bank.

A church official in the village of Jiffna near Ramallah where the attack took place called in Palestinian security officials to investigate, but neither he nor the investigators said they had any initial clues who was responsible.

“This unfortunate incident has brought Muslims and Christians closer and many from the Muslim community have shown solidarity with us and have condemned this action,” said Greek Orthodox Church official George Abdo.

He said that gravestones had been smashed and that metal and stone crosses knocked off graves in the attack, which was discovered Sunday. The head and a hand of a statue of the Madonna adorning one of the graves were also broken off.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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