- - Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Officials: Aid ship diverts to Egypt

JERUSALEM | A Libyan aid boat carrying supplies for Gaza was sailing toward Egypt late Tuesday instead of trying to run a naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, Israeli military officials said, apparently defusing a confrontation on the high seas.

The latest challenge to the blockade came a day after Israel’s military admitted mistakes in the May 31 confrontation aboard a Turkish ship that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead and brought a wave of world criticism that forced the Jewish state to ease restrictions imposed on the Hamas-ruled territory.

A spokesman for the Libyan mission insisted the boat still intended to try to reach the Palestinian territory but indicated those on board would not violently resist any efforts to stop them.

“First and foremost, we want to arrive to Gaza. If this is impossible, we don’t want to subject anyone to danger,” Youssef Sawani, an official with the Gadhafi International Charity and Development Foundation who was in contact with the boat, told the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television station.

The Israeli officials said the ship’s captain informed the Israeli navy ships monitoring him that he was heading for the Egyptian port of el-Arish.


Emir: Ready to mediate in Yemen’s south

SAN’A | The emir of Qatar said Tuesday that his Persian Gulf state was prepared to help in safeguarding the unity of Yemen as southern calls for secession get louder.

“We would be happy to take part in finding a solution that helps the survival of the Yemen unity,” Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani told reporters after talks with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in San’a.

“We are always with the Yemenis in their problems, unless they refuse that. Until now, they have not refused,” the emir said, without specifying whether Qatar already was involved in mediation efforts.

South Yemen was independent from the time of Britain’s withdrawal in 1967 until it united with North Yemen in 1990. The south seceded in 1994, sparking a short civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.

Residents of the south, who complain of discrimination by the San’a government in the allocation of resources, have staged frequent protests, sometimes demanding full secession.


Bulldozers raze six buildings

JERUSALEM | Israeli bulldozers destroyed six buildings, including at least three homes, in contested East Jerusalem on Tuesday, resuming the demolition of Palestinian property after a halt aimed at encouraging peace talks.

Jerusalem house demolitions are a volatile issue because of conflicting Israeli and Palestinian claims to the city’s eastern sector. Israel sees it as part of its capital city, while Palestinians want it for their future capital.

The municipality said none of the structures razed were homes, and that all had been illegally built and were not populated. The demolitions were carried out by a court order, the municipality said in a statement.

But Palestinians disputed those claims, saying three of the demolished structures were homes and one was a warehouse.

On Monday, a Jerusalem municipal committee gave preliminary approval to 32 new apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, rolling back a decision earlier this year to quietly put new projects on hold.


Ahmadinejad in flap over wearing of ties

TEHRAN | President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has run into trouble with a conservative cleric over whether men are allowed to wear ties in the Islamic republic, the news agency ISNA reported Tuesday.

“I say to him that many religious dignitaries believe ties should not be worn,” said Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, who is normally a close ally of the president, a fellow hard-liner.

“The supreme guide [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] himself has said in a fatwa [religious edict] that the wearing of ties or bow ties is not permitted,” Mr. Khatami said.

In the latest such controversy, Mr. Ahmadinejad has gone on record as saying that no religious leader has banned the tie, which since the 1979 Islamic revolution has been regarded as a symbol of Western culture.

But the tie has been making a comeback in Iran, especially at events such as weddings and funerals.

Mr. Khatami also criticized the president for saying it was not a problem for a man to shave his beard. “I call on Mr. Ahmadinejad not to take up complicated religious questions because this weakens the government,” he said.

In June, the Iranian president aroused the wrath of fellow hard-liners and several top Shiite clerics for criticizing a police crackdown on improperly veiled women.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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