- - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

JERUSALEM — Israel has lifted a ban on Palestinian travel between the Jordan Valley and the rest of the West Bank that an Israeli rights group says had made lives of local residents miserable.

“About two weeks ago, all the checkpoints between the Judaea and Samaria area and the Jordan valley were opened to Palestinian traffic,” the Israeli Defense Ministry said Monday, adding that passage would be subject to usual security checks and situation reports.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said earlier that only registered Palestinian residents of the valley, which runs along the West Bank’s eastern flank, had been allowed through military checkpoints at the entrance to the sector.

The southern stretch of the Jordan Valley is designated as Area C, a sector of the West Bank which is under full Israeli civilian and security control.


Parliamentary elections set for Jan. 23

AMMAN — Jordan’s electoral commission has scheduled the country’s parliamentary elections for Jan. 23.

The polls are part of reforms launched by King Abdullah II to stave off an Arab Spring revolt in Jordan. Uprisings elsewhere have so far toppled four longtime Arab leaders.

The Independent Electoral Commission announced the date of the polls Tuesday. It is made up of renowned judges and was set up last year to manage and supervise the elections — a task previously in the hands of the government.

Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood has said it will boycott the polls in protest against an election law it sees as biased in favor of pro-government loyalists.

The government insists it has adopted a globally recognized election system and that the Islamists’ alternative would inflate their own representation.


Egypt probes Islamists over Tahrir clash

CAIRO — Egypt’s state prosecutor has asked the General Intelligence Service and Interior Ministry to provide possible evidence in a probe of Islamists over clashes with liberals last week, state media said Tuesday.

The prosecutor was acting on 53 complaints, some against senior members of President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, of orchestrating Friday’s unrest in which dozens of people were injured, Al-Akhbar newspaper reported.

Essam al-Erian, the acting head of the Brotherhood’s political party, is among those accused of organizing the rally that degenerated into the worst clashes between supporters and opponents of Mr. Morsi since his election in June.


Parties in talks on delayed constitution

TUNIS — Tunisian political parties met Tuesday for crisis talks on adopting a new constitution.

The meeting, called by Tunisia’s main trade union, the UGTT, gathered more than 40 political groups in a bid to resolve the impasse over drafting the text by the National Constituent Assembly.

Reflecting ongoing political tensions, two of the ruling coalition’s three parties — the Islamist party Ennahda and the center-left Congress for the Republic — decided Monday to boycott the meeting.


Security sources say militants fired missile

JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants have made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli aircraft over the Gaza Strip with a surface-to-air missile, Israeli security sources told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

In last week’s incident, militants fired a Soviet-made Strela missile at an Israeli aircraft but missed, they said, without specifying what had been targeted.

The sources said the military has been aware for some time that Gaza militants had such weapons in their arsenal, but that this was the first confirmed firing of a Strela from the coastal territory.

The incident occurred as Israeli aircraft were in action during a spike in cross-border violence, with militants firing rockets and mortar rounds.

The latest bout of unrest began Oct. 7, when an Israeli airstrike targeted two Gaza Salafists in the southern city of Rafah, killing one and critically wounding a second.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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